During the uncertain months of the spring of 2020, with the school closures, business shut downs, and the events industry being cancelled for the foreseeable future, my career as a portrait and wedding photographer hung in the balance. What would life look like without the events industry? More importantly, what would I do career wise if it weren’t an option moving forward?
I decided that since we were basically forced to sit in our rooms like scorned children and think about what we’ve done to get ourselves to this point, I wanted to be using this time productively. This would involve at least doing something more productive than binge watching Friends and tie-dying matching sweatsuits for myself and my daughter. My drawers were Marie Kondo’d and my kitchen was never going to be totally clean, so I settled for a satisfactory mark and moved on.
After all, when would we ever be able to put our lives on pause like this again and visit (or revisit) our passions, hobbies, or explore new avenues of being?
I enrolled in the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN) in NYC for a 6 month accelerated certificate program as a virtual student to further my passion for nutrition. If my daughter could do virtual kindergarten, then I surely could take on 15-20 hours a week of course work to begin a career in health coaching, right!?
Spoiler: I can, and I am, but it’s been anything but easy. Highly rewarding and eye opening? Absolutely. Do I need a nap constantly from juggling all the things while raising my daughter who hasn’t been in physical school since March? Yes. Is it 100% worth it? You bet.
Through IIN, I learned that health is so much more than the foods we consume. It’s all-encompassing in every aspect of our lives. Removing gluten and dairy is cool, for a while, but have you ever removed a toxic relationship or pivoted your career to something you truly love and watched what it does for your life?
The foods we eat DO play a major role in our daily lives from our moods to our energy levels, and from digestion to sleep. What I didn’t realize was when our primary foods are out of balance, what we choose to put on our plates isn’t as important.
Primary foods include your level of satisfaction when it comes to relationships, career, spirituality, and choice of physical activity. You can be extremely meticulous about what you put (or do not put) on your plate, but if you’re unhappy in your day job, experiencing an unhappy relationship, hating going to the gym, or not taking the time to explore and connect with your spirituality, what you eat honestly doesn’t matter as much. Mind blowing, right?
As soon as I started focusing on my primary foods (aka all of the above) the eating part felt less stressful and I was able to listen to my body’s hunger cues. This meant I was able to realize what I was actually craving versus emotionally craving and honor those requests rather than trying to find the “perfect meal” to continue a perfect day of eating to chase the illusive perfectly toned physique (LOL to whatever that is). Food choices became easier because I leaned into what my body wanted, rather than what I felt it “needed”, or didn’t “need”. And instead of turning to food to fill an emotional void, I called a friend, hopped on my bike, or took my daughter out for a walk disguised as a scavenger hunt around the neighborhood.
I went back to basics and focused on the relationships that gave me life rather than the ones that drained my energy. I made physical activity part of my daily routine. And this was not for the aesthetic qualities it produces, but for what it did for my energy levels while also serving as a positive, productive outlet for my anxious, overwhelmed mind. I created a community of other like-minded women who were also wanting to make positive changes and we poured into each other daily. I rediscovered my passion for food photography and leaned into the parts of my photography business that truly gave me life, instead of focusing on the aspects that felt tedious and strenuous or the fact that the events industry just couldn’t happen right now. I developed and grew a practice with reiki and meditation, I reorganized my home and began to fill it with things that brought me immense joy ... and my life? It started flourishing.
The more emphasis I placed on balancing my primary foods, the easier it was to focus on secondary foods - a.k.a. the foods I chose to nourish my body with. I stopped worrying about eating perfectly and focused on creating meals that made me feel good. The better I felt, the easier it was to keep it going.
Now this is the part where everyone wants to know … what DO you eat!? It’s January, I need a diet right!?
Honestly, this is where diet culture and the food industry traps us. There’s not one perfect way to eat. There are hundreds of different dietary theories out there and not one is better than the other. What works for me may not work for you — and vice versa. This is a GOOD THING. Our bodies and our interests are so diverse that of course our food choices will be too.
What made me fall in love with my program and want to seek a career in health coaching is that I thrive when I’m helping other people, women specifically. I love helping them to find balance in their own lives through their primary foods and, as a result, discover secondary foods that allow them to thrive in all aspects of their life and to live as vibrantly and happily as possible. I love to see them show up as the women they know they are capable of being not only for their families or career, but for themselves.
I know firsthand what it’s like to eat so meticulously with hopes of loosing weight when every other aspect of my life was in utter turmoil and yet still being confused as to why the scale wouldn’t budge.
I know what it’s like to start a new fitness regimen and not be able to keep up with everyone else in the room and want to quit and try something else.
I, unfortunately AND fortunately, know what it’s like to start over in every aspect you can imagine and brick by brick rebuild your life from the ground up.
As a health coach, I use my experience and my education at IIN to help others to take inventory of their lives, uncover choices that will allow them to show up as their best selves day in and day out, and ditch the yo-yo dieting and truly find a customized plan for life … all while guiding clients to truly hone into their intuition and trust themselves fully, with both primary and secondary foods in balance according to the client’s desires.
To inquire about my health coaching practice, you can find me at allthefixingsblog.com or on IG @allthefixingsblog. To follow my photography — jessicafixphotography.com or on IG @jessicafixphoto.
Here is one of my favorite healthy recipes that I thought I’d share with you all:
Almond Butter Honey Dates
I reserve these sweet little treats for when I’m craving something indulgent but want to curb that craving with REAL whole food ingredients. Dates are filled with fiber and are high in disease fighting antioxidants. The fats of the nut butter are satiating and, when combined with the fiber in the dates, it satisfies hunger while preventing a spike in blood sugar. The drizzle of honey and flaky sea salt are the cherries on top, making this a truly decadent sweet/salty treat!
Dates of choice, pits removed
Nut butter of choice — my favorite is Nutzo
Honey — my favorite is Manuka for its antibacterial properties
Sea salt — the flakier the better!
Spoon nut butter into pitted dates
Drizzle Manuka honey, sprinkle sea salt.
Nutritional facts: Don’t worry about it. It’s real food with whole ingredients. Enjoy it and move on with your life :)
Jessica Fix, Health Coach