by Katie Jeffrey, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, CDN
My life’s work is centered on fitness and nutrition. I love being physically active and fueling my body in ways that meet my unique needs in order to optimize my sports performance and health. I’m grateful for my body’s strength and proud of my abilities as both an athlete and active individual. Through my personal experiences and passion for healthy living, it is my mission to help every client feel comfortable in their body, be proud of their physical achievements, and enjoy a lifetime of physical and emotional strength.
In my journey to establishing FitNutrition, I faced numerous challenges from overeating to restrictive eating as well as coping with sensitive stomach issues. In my high school and college years, I enjoyed team sports and was a strong athlete. But I also experienced times when I felt uncomfortable in my skin, carrying more weight than I felt was ‘right’ for me. Like many of us, I faced emotional triggers—for me it was boredom, procrastination and food availability—that led me to craving food and snacking too much when I wasn’t hungry. Sound familiar? I also fell victim to not ‘fueling’ my body properly (not eating sufficient protein, hydrating adequately or consuming energy during long workouts) based on my activity level as a collegiate athlete and later training for road races and triathlons. Many of us have experienced that sense of frustration with our bodies thinking that hard work, eating three meals a day plus healthy snacks is enough, but in fact that’s just the beginning to properly nourishing and fueling your body.
It was only years later when I was training for my first half marathon that I became fully aware of practicing mindful eating. I had the fortunate opportunity to work with both a trainer and a dietitian who helped me develop the appropriate physical and nutritional program to properly support my needs for the race. I trained hard and also began to really think about how I was fueling and nourishing my body.
This was the beginning of my practice with mindful eating – and I loved the results! I began eating when I was hungry and because my body needed the energy. Therefore, I naturally reduced the times that I ate just because I was bored, procrastinating or food was available (particularly hard if you have a baker in your family tempting you with fresh baked cookies – thanks Dad!). By paying close attention to the amount of food that was right for me, I began to stop eating when I was comfortably satisfied rather than too full…I didn’t deprive myself. Yet, I was aware of what and how much I was eating as well as the types of foods that made me feel best.
Each week during my training, I made small modifications to how and what I was eating. Because of these changes, I began to feel better and surprisingly my body composition changed – I had more energy, strength and stamina. I began experimenting with different portions and types of food. I learned that I was not eating enough protein at breakfast and snacks. I also tended to want something sweet in the afternoon at work when I was getting tired. I figured out that a yogurt and berries was a perfect snack for me after lunch. It was sweet, creamy and contained protein which gave me energy until dinner. I was drinking more water and also learned that meal and snack timing were vital to helping me recover and train hard. And the race? Well, let’s just say I ran faster than my goal time!
During this time I also learned how, what, and when to eat so that I would not experience an upset stomach. There are many people who suffer from sensitive stomach issues—indigestion, cramping and other related digestive problems. For me, many foods bothered my stomach if I ate them close to working out. I felt I could only eat certain foods or drink particular liquids before being physically active until I began to experiment based on tested sports nutrition guidelines. Boy, did I feel better when I drank water and fueled my body during workouts that lasted more than one hour! It amazed me (and still does) how properly fueling your body leads to greater energy, more stamina, reduced soreness, better recovery, and less sickness which, of course, leads to greater sports performance.
I was now eating mindfully by listening to my body. Learning to honor my body and eat mindfully has helped me to realize what “triggers” me to feel the need to overeat and to find a solution other than food to take care of myself and cope with that particular issue or feeling. Mindful eating has enabled me to trust my body, enjoy ALL foods and maintain my weight. It put me in charge of my food choices rather than feeling that certain foods controlled me or that I needed to control certain foods my restricting my food choices.
Mindful living and eating has also enabled me to build a stronger more resilient foundation. Eating and living with intention (purpose) and attention (focus) is my way of taking care of myself by putting my needs first so that I can be the best person that I can be.
Now, as a registered dietitian and athlete, I’m giving back this knowledge to help athletes and active individuals realize their potential. My passion is to help others be the best they can be physically and emotionally. Each individual on this earth is unique and so is their body. It’s important to respect your body for its uniqueness and not try to become something it is not designed to be. Strength and fitness is not one-size fits all, it comes in all shapes and size! It is my goal to help you appropriately nourish and fuel your body in a way that enables you to optimize your health and athletic performance based on your lifestyle, current health status (i.e. diabetes, food allergies, autoimmune disease, etc), food preferences and health goals without feeling deprived.
After becoming a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics in February 2010, I realized that there is a difference between fueling your body for peak athletic performance and nourishing your body for optimal health. Who knew? I am passionate about helping athletes determine when to fuel their bodies for peak performance and when to nourish their bodies for optimal health. Finding this balance can be confusing and overwhelming since we are constantly inundated with advice (which may or may not be accurate) about what to eat and drink to achieve greater endurance, build stronger muscles, and improve body composition. My job is to sift fact from fiction in order to provide you with the tools to properly fuel AND nourish your body.
Think. Fuel. Excel. TM
~ Katie Jeffrey, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, CDN