We asked Dietitian Cassie, Registered & Licensed Dietitian and #1 Best-Selling Author, to talk about the mystery of weight loss and low energy levels that so many people experience and how her team of dietitians goes about solving this. This is just a taste of what she’ll be teaching us in the MOTRwell program, which is kicking off next week! Sign up here by Thursday!
By Dietitian Cassie, RD, LD from DietitianCassie.com
“I’m a mystery case. Good luck figuring me out.”
Every client who has walked through our doors has felt like they were the ones to stump us. I get it. It makes sense. There are articles in magazines and online every day that bombard us with how EASY losing weight can be. All you need to do is follow “these simple steps” and everything will be fine. Well, we all know that those don’t work. If they did, everyone would be at their ideal weight!
With all of the myths being pumped into our minds, it’s no wonder that someone (or everyone) might feel like they are the anomaly. And that feeling is often accompanied by frustration, hopelessness, and depression.
And I HATE THAT!
You aren’t the problem. The real problem is that those quick-fixes and simple-solutions are only showing you a fraction of the metabolism equation.
One of the main reasons why the programs I’ve developed have such a high rate of success is because my team of dietitians and I look at the FULL picture of health, which includes over a dozen puzzle pieces that could be missing from your personal energy, weight and health puzzle.
If any of these pieces of your personal puzzle aren’t in place, or worse — are completely missing — then, you can seemingly do “all the right things” yet see no results. So it’s no wonder why so many women are beyond frustrated and feeling defeated. Of course women are throwing their hands up in the air and saying, “Well, I guess I’m a mystery case!” because they work SO hard at eating right and exercising, yet they still aren’t able to shed the weight.
If you feel like there’s something wrong with you, or that you’re a “mystery case” whose issues cannot be solved, the exciting news is: There is hope for you--you just haven’t found all of the pieces to your personal puzzle!
When it comes to the mystery of low energy levels and stubborn pounds, the answers often lie in areas that are commonly overlooked or never talked about — many of which, have nothing to do with food!
So what do these puzzle pieces look like? To name a few:
Hormones. Estrogen, progesterone, testosterone… oh my! Underneath it all, if your hormones are imbalanced, it’s tough for any of the pieces of your puzzle to come together. When your hormones are in harmony you feel amazing, energized, in control of your moods and cravings and ready to conquer the world! When they’re out of balance you feel exhausted, out of control, and that’s when you gain weight. In women especially, hormones fluctuate all the time, and it’s important that they are balanced in order for weight loss to happen and energy levels and moods to remain stable.
Common hormonal-related symptoms like hot flashes, irritability, mood swings, cravings, cramps and bloating may be common but they are not normal. These are side effects of imbalanced hormones, and the exciting news is that you can balance your hormones naturally, and it’s not that hard to do! Understanding how these work and how to get them in balance is imperative.
Gut Health. A really big missing piece of the puzzle for many women is their gut health, although people often think this is only a concern for those with digestive issues. Gut Health isn’t just about gas, bloating, or emergency bathroom trips—there’s much more to it than that! Making gut health a priority is REALLY important when it comes to your weight loss, sugar cravings, energy levels, and moods.
Practically everything that happens in your body is connected to your gut, including your weight and energy levels, because your gut is where your metabolism starts. If you are prone to sugar cravings, you’ll also want to make sure you are targeting your gut, because the neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) that determine whether or not you get cravings at all are actually made in your gut! You can be eating “all the right foods,” but if you aren’t digesting them properly, you aren’t making the most of these foods. If your gut isn’t in tip-top shape, the pounds won’t come off, the cravings will still be persistent, and your energy levels will remain low.
Thyroid. This little gland is the master of your metabolism, and low thyroid function (hypothyroidism) is incredibly common in women. We see hundreds of clients struggling with their thyroid. So many clients who can’t figure out why they’re gaining weight have never examined how efficiently their thyroid is working, or they’ve been told by their doctor that it’s “normal.” “Normal” ranges in lab results are just based on a statistical average, which is created using people who go to the doctor—not healthy people.
The causes of hypothyroidism vary and are layered. A lot is likely due to an increase of soy in our foods, decreased sodium recommendations - where many people get their iodine which is needed for optimal thyroid function, and low-fat diets. Regardless of the cause, your thyroid regulates metabolism and so getting your thyroid function back in working order will do you a world of good, both for energy and weight loss. This could absolutely be a missing piece to your puzzle!
Inflammation. At the root cause of almost all weight gain and chronic disease is inflammation. Almost all of us have it for one reason or another thanks to stress (I’m still working on mine), sugar (I used to be a sugar addict), artificial sweeteners (I used to use these thinking they were healthy), overexercising (I’m guilty again—I used to be obsessive about getting in workouts) and lack of sleep (still working on prioritizing this, too).
Chronic inflammation is low grade and systemic. It is silently damaging your metabolism and is a huge culprit behind low energy levels and stubborn weight loss. That’s because your body sees inflammation as a fire that it needs to prioritize fixing. This means if you’re struggling with low energy, difficulty losing weight, or even digestive issues, it’s going to be nearly impossible for your body to fix these without reducing inflammation first. Whether you want to lose weight, lower your risk for disease or simply be healthier, you need to take care of this debilitating chronic inflammation.
Food sensitivities. You’d be surprised how many of our clients suffer from food sensitivities they weren’t even aware of! Regularly consuming a food you’re sensitive to could be the culprit behind stubborn weight that won’t budge. Gluten, dairy, eggs, soy and nuts are the most common.
A lot of people don’t realize that you can have a food sensitivity without having a full blown food allergy. And if you are eating foods you are sensitive to, an inflammatory reaction takes place in your body and you are NOT going to lose weight, because remember, when inflammation is present, your body uses all of its energy and resources focusing on healing areas that are affected (damaged and inflamed) by the food you are eating.
It’s important to identify food sensitivities and, if they are present, to address them so you aren’t causing further damage and can heal the damage that’s been done. That’s when your body will thank you with boosted energy levels and shedding pounds.
Stress. We live in a society where being stressed out is viewed as the equivalent to being a productive, valuable, contributing citizen. Yet, if you’re superwoman, both at the office and at home, then it doesn’t surprise me if your health (and waistline!) is paying the price for it.
Stress can cause weight gain without you eating any differently because it triggers cortisol (more commonly known as your “stress-hormone”) which causes your blood sugar to rise, leading to your body packing on pounds. This means that anytime you're stressed out, it's like you're eating bags of chips and boxes of cookies all day long! Except, you aren’t even eating any of those things…but you're still suffering from similar effects. And that’s not even mentioning the fact that most of us reach for not-so-healthy foods when we are stressed out!
Another downer is that stress causes insulin—your fat-storing hormone—to be released and do its job of transporting sugar from your bloodstream to your cells to be stored as fat. This is how you gain weight when you’re stressed…independent of your nutrition...without even eating any more, less or differently!
Long story short: Stress needs to be addressed in order to get your body back into tip top shape.
Sleep. Just like with stress, if you’re short on sleep, your body will fight against you in your weight loss efforts. Sleep can seem like a luxury thanks to busy schedules, obligations, work, family, and overcommitting, but it needs to be a priority. We see a lot of clients who seem to be eating all the right foods at the right times, but they’re hardly sleeping — or not sleeping soundly. Or, a huge no-no that I used to be guilty of, they are sacrificing sleep for exercise. This messes up your hormonal balance which, as we discussed earlier, is critical for weight loss. Sleep controls hormones that are in charge of your appetite and your metabolism. Sleep also plays a key role in keeping your immune system strong, which you need not only for staying healthy, but to lose weight, too. All systems need to be working properly for your body to lose weight, and since sleep affects the entire body, discovering how to make this a priority can be a huge piece of your weight loss puzzle.
Sugar. I’m sure you know that cutting down on sugar is one of the best things you can do for your waistline. So why is it so hard to do? As a sugar addict, I can share with you my strategies for getting cravings under control and keeping sugar out of your life so you won’t even miss it. (Yes, sugar addiction is a real thing. Most people don't know it, but sugar has the same effect on the brain as cocaine.) Kicking sugar addiction has nothing to do with willpower and everything to do with balancing your brain chemistry. It’s important for you to address this piece of the puzzle and learn the steps you can take to get your biochemistry in balance so that you don’t keep reaching for the white stuff.
These are just ten of the overlooked puzzle pieces to address when it comes to your weight loss. There is SO much I could go into on each of these topics.
That’s why in Why Am I Still Fat? The Hidden Keys To Unlocking That Stubborn Weight Loss, I cover, in depth, the ten topics listed above, and several more, in detail, plus action steps you can take to make lasting changes. This book has been life changing for those who have struggled with weight loss and that’s probably why it’s a #1 international bestseller. It’s time for you to grab your own copy and find your missing keys!
Today I’m excited to offer a super special deal to Moms on the Run: 20% off! Just use the code MOTRSTRONG at dietitiancassie.com/book.
May this book be a fresh perspective and serve as a catalyst for you to unlock the hidden keys to that stubborn weight loss once and for all! Grab your copy of the book here, and be sure to join me for the MOTRwell Program to learn even more!
P.S. Here’s what one reader posted on Amazon:
"Cassie isn’t here for some quick fix, fad diet. This is not another hopeless remedy. She really cares to help people and shows us that though our food system may be screwed up, it isn’t impossible. I have never felt so much freedom in my life than I have now! Cassie shows you HOW without deprivation or feeling overwhelmed, but also going deep and getting to the bottom of the cause — so much deeper than just food. This life-transforming message and truth needs to be in everyone’s hands!"
Note from Karissa: We're so excited to partner with Dietitian Cassie this spring through the start of our very own nutrition program, MOTRwell! You're going to love her common sense approach and practical tips to help you get the real results you're looking for from your workouts. Today she helps us get past that tough question of what to eat AFTER we run! Read on, learn with us, then sign up for more! www.MomsOnTheRun.com/MOTRwell
By Dietitian Cassie, RD, LD
As a Registered Dietitian, runner and overall fitness fanatic, I’m constantly asked which foods are the best to eat before and during a workout in order to maximize performance. What I’m not asked nearly as much is a question we should all be pondering: Which foods are best after a workout?
You worked your tail off hitting the pavement, so don’t sabotage your results by neglecting your post-workout nutrition. Following up your running routine with the right foods will help maximize your workout results and reduce your recovery time—while the wrong ones could undo all your hard efforts! I’d even argue that what you choose to fuel your body with after your workout could be just as important as the workout itself.
Especially as runners, we should pay extra attention to what we eat after a workout due to the intense type of exercise we’re doing. That’s why it’s important to eat the right foods after a workout. Otherwise you’ll never be maximizing your workouts or making the most of your sweat-filled time running.
The absolute best post-run fuel includes a combo of all three macronutrients: protein (P), fat (F) and carbohydrate (C). While each macro plays an important role in your recovery, having your P, F and C together provides the nourishment, balance and recovery nutrition your body needs to get the most from your workout. When you exercise, your body is breaking down muscle fibers, and post-workout is the time when your muscles are repairing. Provide your body with everything it needs to rebuild, repair and recover so that you’re making the most of your exercise efforts.
The Best Post-Workout Foods
Top 3 Ps:
Eggs: Not all protein sources are created equal, and if the perfect post-workout food exists, it might be the incredible egg. Eggs, yolk included, provide your body with the most bioavailable form of protein—egg protein is the easiest to digest, break down and absorb, so your body can use all of it. Eggs are a “complete” source of protein, meaning they contain all of the essential amino acids your body requires. They help your body repair and recover completely from your workout by building your muscles back up—perfect if you’re looking to gain lean muscle mass or lose weight. Hard-boil a dozen eggs for a portable protein source, or fry ‘em in coconut oil with a side of sautéed sweet potatoes for a PFC-balanced post-workout meal.
Salmon: Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which aid in calming post-run inflammation and leading to a quicker recovery. Wild Alaskan salmon is your best bet. Bake a fillet or crack open the canned kind for a quick and easy post-workout protein source. Make it PFC balanced by mixing canned or chopped salmon with olive oil or avocado for healthy fat, and chopped celery and grapes for your carb. Or, if you’re bored with fish fillets, mix it up by keeping some travel-friendly salmon jerky in your gym bag.
Grass-Fed Beef: Once held behind bars by nutrition police everywhere, beef is back. The nutritional value of beef extends beyond the punch of quality protein: Nutrients like B12, iron and zinc are involved in boosting your metabolism and helping your body utilize the rest of the nutrients you’re eating with your beef. Precook and cut into strips, or make meatballs and freeze or refrigerate so they’re ready to grab and eat post-workout! Stir-fry strips of steak in coconut oil for your healthy fat, and add veggies for your carb to make it a PFC-balanced meal.
Top 3 Fs:
Coconut Oil: Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), a type of fat that’s digested quickly and has great energy and metabolism-boosting effects. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, coconut oil can reverse inflammation, speeding up your recovery. Rule of thumb: Unrefined things are always better for you than refined things. Make sure you’re picking up unrefined coconut oil! Cook a batch of spinach and other greens in coconut oil, then pair them with your hard-boiled egg or serve with a can of wild-caught salmon over greens.
Avocado: Avocado makes for excellent post-running fuel because it provides your body with a variety of vitamins and minerals for recovery—ones like magnesium, potassium and vitamin K—as well as phytosterols and healthy fat, which have anti-inflammatory properties. If you don’t feel like eating after your workout, make a PFC-balanced protein shake by blending half an avocado with a handful of frozen berries and a scoop of your favorite protein powder, or drop in an egg.
Olives: Rich in antioxidants and healthy fat, olives are fantastic for post-workout, as well as an easily portable but sadly forgotten source of healthy fat. You can eat ‘em straight or add them to a dish or a big salad with your choice of protein and carbohydrates to make it PFC balanced. You can find olives pre-packaged, making ‘em easy to toss into your workout bag!
Top 3 Cs:
Sweet Potato: Starchy veggies like sweet potatoes, yams, squash and pumpkin provide antioxidants, fiber and complex carbohydrates to replenish your glycogen stores after a tough workout. Pre-cook large batches of sweet potatoes, pumpkin or butternut squash in the oven, then freeze or refrigerate to have a quick, nutritious real-food carbohydrate on hand for your post-workout meal. Top a half cup with a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil and a sprinkle of cinnamon, and pair with your favorite protein source for a PFC-balanced meal or snack.
Blueberries: High in antioxidants, blueberries are also one of the lowest-sugar fruits, so they can bring your blood sugar levels back up after a workout and help keep them stable for hours. This means high energy levels and a faster recovery without the crash. Blend frozen berries into a smoothie with coconut milk and protein powder, or have them on the side of a salmon fillet cooked in coconut oil.
Dried fruit: A quick, easy, portable, nutrient-dense source of carbohydrates, dried fruit makes it easy to get in your post-workout carbs! Keep in your workout bag and pair with dried salmon or dried beef and nuts or seeds for a PFC-balanced post-workout snack.
In a Hurry? A couple Ideas:
There you have my best post-workout foods.
Now go check out my free video: “Top 10 Nutrition Tips for Running” where we’ll talk pre-workout, portions, snacking, hydration and more!
Download this video (for free) at https://www.dietitiancassie.com/top-10-nutrition-tips-running — see ya there!
Dietitian Cassie is a Registered, Licensed Dietitian,
#1 Best-Selling author, marathon runner and CEO of DietitianCassie.com.
So what is MOTRwell, anyway?! The brand new Moms on the Run nutrition program is actually 5 years in the making, and here is the story from our founder on how it all came to be.
I love nutrition. Well let me back up. I love the concept of nutrition. I will be the first to admit I’ve had many struggles in this area over the years and I regularly come up short of being the role model I should. But all I know is this: when I was a young mom, nutrition changed my life. And I wanted to tell the world.
It was shortly before Moms on the Run was born that I experienced firsthand the benefits of completely changing how I eat. I knew I had found a secret that need to be shared, but I didn’t quite have the platform to do so at the time! Fast forward to 2012, and now hundreds of women who have never run before are discovering a new level of fitness. They are making major lifestyle changes, but to me something feels missing.
These women need to know how to properly fuel their new lifestyles and get the results they’re looking for, right? But there were many roadblocks along the way to addressing this. First there was the overwhelm of becoming a franchise company, and then there was my own anxiety as a people pleaser and the fear of conflict (nutrition is controversial you know!), and then there were failed attempts to partner with organizations that have better credentials than me, but just didn’t really get our demographic or what I was trying to accomplish. I needed to be true to my own convictions, but my sports nutrition certification wasn’t going to cut it – I needed a solid partner in this endeavor.
And now it’s time. I found new courage when I learned that that there is actually a Licensed and Registered Dietitian who has similar philosophies about health and wellness as I do. So let me tell you right now what I mean by that: this program is not politically correct! When I stopped following all of the “rules” I had learned about calorie counting and fat reduction and sugar substitutes based on the latest (biased) “research,” I developed a whole new energy level and zeal for life.
There’s just something about having children that changes your perspective. For me, seeking skinny became seeking healthy. Eating balanced became about real food and not about counting calories or fat grams. The most important parts of the nutrition label were now the words and not the numbers. (And if there is no label, even better!) And I began to feel the difference; so much so that nutrition became an extreme passion of mine and I began a long journey of studying and speaking out whenever I had the chance.
I realize that nutrition is a topic that will conjure up plenty of opinions that may be different than mine, and that may be different than the dietitians that are stepping up to lead this program. I do not feel I have chosen a curriculum that should bring too much controversy; I hope we can all unify behind the goal of incorporating more real, natural foods into our diets. We are #MOTRstrong and we are #OneTeam. If this program isn’t for you, totally cool! Let’s keep the spirit of unity alive as we move forward and learn together. I for one am looking forward to a nutritional reset this spring. Let’s do this!
Learn all about MOTRwell here. Sign up to join us today!
Karissa Johnson, Founder of Moms on the Run