Esther is a personal trainer and nutrition coach who works primarily with compassionate women to help them lose weight and become happier, healthier, and more confident. She has a BS in Exercise Science from Boston University and a variety of certifications in nutrition and exercise but her best education has come from working one-on-one with hundreds of women to help them take back control of their health. You can find more about her, including her blog and services, at www.estheravant.com
Mathea Ford: [00:00:27] Hi there! It’s Mathea. Welcome back to the Nutrition Experts Podcast. The podcast featuring nutrition experts who are leading the way by using food starts today right now with our next guest. It’s great to have Esther Avant on the show today. Esther, welcome to Nutrition Experts.
Esther Avant: [00:00:45] Thank you so much. I’m really excited to be here.
Mathea Ford: [00:00:47] Esther I’m excited to talk to you today. Can you tell my listeners a little more about you and what you do?
Esther Avant: [00:00:53] I would love to. My name is Esther event and I am a nutrition coach and also a personal trainer. I specialize in women’s weight loss and my clients are typically what I refer to as kind of do gooders. They work in selfless fields like nursing, social work that kind of thing. Basically caregivers who just put everyone and everything before themselves. And we work a lot on breaking old patterns and habits and taking a multifaceted approach to not just losing weight but also become happier, healthier and more confident.
Mathea Ford: [00:01:26] So that’s a really interesting market because how do you get someone to stop putting everybody else ahead of them even though they know it’s detrimental to their health. Like you said they’re caregivers, they’re nurses, they’re other health care. They know that they need to exercise, lose weight, whatever. But how do you how do you start to get them to think differently?
Esther Avant: [00:01:51] A lot of it is in how you frame it that typically these women are so selfless that they don’t want to you know put themselves first. It feels like there’s so many other people I could be helping that’s not the best use of my time. But when you kind of reframe the thought into think about how much better able you’ll be able to help people or how many more people you’ll be able to help if you’re feeling your best, if you’re not tired, if you’re not missing work for medical appointments, if you’re just you know if you’re not feeling good overall how well can you really help other people? And I think putting it in that light helps women realize “Well, you know what? It’s not selfish to take care of myself. It’s actually doing the people who are relying on me a disservice if I don’t take care of myself because then I can’t help them as well.”
Mathea Ford: [00:02:40] So, what types of things do you usually start with when somebody is determining the best weight loss approach? You know how do you figure out what is the best way to help them with weight loss or if if that’s even not necessarily your first target so to speak?
Esther Avant: [00:03:00] So I think the most important thing in a lot of a lot of things but is is communicating. You know when I do an initial call with a new client I want to know, we know what their goals are and not just the surface value of all “I want to lose weight” but you know really why. What is the emotional root of your goal. Is it because you’re scared that you’re dependent on these prescription medications and you want to get off them to live a long healthy happy life? Is it that year that you feel like your weight is holding you back in your career and that if you took better care of yourself and lost some weight and were healthier you’d be able to advance? Things like that that a lot of times it’s not just about the weight, it’s about something deeper and more emotional. So, uncovering that is really important to start off and then I’m really big on not trying to squeeze a square peg into a round hole. And I think that’s an issue with a lot of the weight loss industry is that some coaches and some businesses can be really dogmatic in their philosophy that if you’re not following this type of diet you’re wrong. That kind of thing and it just ends up confusing people and ultimately paralyzing them into doing nothing. And really there isn’t just one way that works. Lots of things work. And it’s about figuring out what works for a certain person and more specifically what works for that person at this time in their lives. And if I were to marry to a certain idea or assumes certain philosophy and I would be doing my client a disservice. So, I think the most important thing at first is being open minded and recognizing that there is no one way that’s going to work best for everybody. And we both need to recognize that. That you know in the short term kind of something more cookie cutter approaches often do work but when you start thinking long term or about how to not gain the weight back that’s when it becomes a different story. And it’s a matter of being able to stick with something long enough that you reap the benefits. So in my coaching calls with clients or in our initial meetings or even just in a lot of blog posts and content that I put out, I encourage women to think about a number of different things but you know one being are you someone who does well with moderation or do you feel like if you give yourself an inch you take a mile? Balance and moderation are like really involved but they’re not necessarily the best idea for everyone. And there was actually a Gretchen Rubin book that talked about these different personality types and how some people just operate better when they give themselves more black and white guidelines. So, just as an example like there’s nothing inherently wrong about eating at night. Calories are still calories it doesn’t matter what time of day. So, there is no like scientific reason necessarily to stop eating at a certain time. But some people actually find it easier to house just a personal rule of “I don’t eat after 8.” And it’s not because those calories will immediately show up on their thighs or anything like that. It’s just because it’s easier than bargaining with themselves night after night about whether they should have dessert or have a snack. So, the same thing goes for weight loss approaches that eliminate or restrict certain foods, certain times of eating. Maybe the whole thing just feels easier if you don’t have to think so much about it and you just follow the “rules.” So that’s one thing to consider is do you like having rules or do they just buy their existence does it make you want to rebel against them. So that’s a factor that can play into what kind of approach you take. Another thing is are you drawn to a more introspective kind of touchy feely approach or are you somebody who likes numbers who likes hard data because intuitive or mindful eating is an approach where you pay close attention to your body? What it’s telling you it needs, how you’re feeling if you’re eating for reasons other than through hunger? How different foods make you feel things like that. And working on becoming a more intuitive eater is a skill that really would benefit all of us. But for some it comes easier than others. So, someone very in tune with her body and her emotions might really thrive in that kind of intuitive based approach. Whereas, if you have somebody who really likes numbers likes having data and target them being really specific then someone with that kind of drive might go absolutely crazy trying to be more intuitive right off the bat. It might feel really intangible and out there and they would do better focusing on something numerical. Whether it’s calories or macronutrients while learning about the energy content of foods and things of that nature. So that’s another consideration is do you prefer to introspect and rely on your intuition to guide your food choices or would you rather take more numbers based approach?
Mathea Ford: [00:08:04] You reframe a little bit and you talk about how it’s going to be better to be healthier and lose weight and they agree. But how do you really get that commitment because I think we all know it’s better and of course if knowing was the way to lose weight we would all be thin. But how do you get to that agreement or commitment to do the things that they need to do whatever they are? Mindful calorie restriction, not eating certain times. How do you get to that?
Esther Avant: [00:08:37] That’s something that in earlier in my coaching career I struggled a lot with the like “I know what these people need why won’t they just listen to me and like do what I say?” And through the course of various certifications and continue education, I was introduced to this a theory or a practice called motivational interviewing which helps someone like me help a client make their own choices and decisions that just by human nature if you go to the doctor and he says “you need to start eating better because you have high blood pressure.” You’re going to smile and nod and you’re probably going to continue doing what you always do. And that’s because you know that’s kind of being dictated to you is like “you have to do this!” Well, “I don’t want to I don’t want you to tell me what to do.” And the same thing goes with working with clients in my field as well that if I were to just tell you you have to do this because it’s good for you you don’t have the buy in. Really. And the buy in comes from I think to two things. One, is uncovering that emotional reason for their goal that you know you’re not just doing this because you want to lose weight. You’re doing this because you want to live a long life to see your grandkids grow up.
Esther Avant: [00:09:58] That kind of gives you some some perspective into an emotional root of “why we’re doing this again? Oh yeah. It’s actually really important to me because of this reason.” And the other thing is to work with the client to have them figure out what they want their next step to be is “I’m not going to tell you this is what you have to do. We’re going to figure out together what do you want to do.” And even if it might not necessarily be what I think is the best first step. I will kind of gently say “here’s my suggestions. What do you think about this or you know where would you like?” I can lead the conversation but ultimately at the end of the day if the client’s decision just say “here’s where I want to start. This is what I want to focus on.” And better to be consistently doing something in the right direction then having all of these starts and stops where you don’t really make any progress. So, even if I think okay this person has you know a major they’re drinking so many liquid calories it would make a huge difference if they just you know quit the capuccinos and put the soda. You know if I present that as a as a possibility and they absolutely shoot it down. Okay, then we’re not going to start there. Where feels comfortable to you? What are you willing to work on right now and let’s just take it from there and that way you’re in charge. You were the catalyst behind the change. I’m just kind of guiding you along the way.
Mathea Ford: [00:11:28] So how do you talk to people who really want this tomorrow? Like they want. So, you know there is on one hand there’s people who are willing to take small steps and understand that it’s them to use often used phrase “it’s a marathon not a sprint.” What about those people that are like “oh, I want to do I’m going to do my start exercising 60 minutes a day and I’m going to get up and meditate for a half an hour and I’m only going to eat 1200 calories. And they’re going to do everything right now. How do you manage that? Or maybe you don’t ever experience that?
Esther Avant: [00:12:04] The vast majority of clients do exactly that and I’m guilty of it myself in other areas where you just like “I want this! I want it now! And now motivated, I’m going to change everything and it’s going to be great. And today my life changes” and you know we all from experience that is rarely how it pans out. So, I think you’ve identified two really important things here. One, is having unrealistic expectations. And two, is trying to do too much at once. So, on the realism front, we have a conversation about you know with regards to weight loss. Specifically with you know what is healthy realistic weight loss. Reality shows like on The Biggest Loser was in its prime. It was really skewing people’s expectations because you’d see somebody losing you know 24 pounds a week and you’d think “Okay, well I’m not on the show. You know I have my life going on maybe I’ll only lose half that. Maybe I will lose twelve pounds a week.” And then when you lose two pounds which is actually you know within a very healthy and safe range, you feel like an absolute failure.
Esther Avant: [00:13:11] You’re like “I lost two pounds out of my 12 pound goal. What am I doing wrong or get this?” So part of it is just education on what even is realistic. And the second part of addressing doing too much at once. One of the most successful approaches that I’ve ever taken and I use it on myself all the time is somebody says you’re like you’re saying “I’m going to wake up at 6 AM and I’m going to meditate, I’m going to exercise everyday and I’m going to eat all these vegetables and I’m going to do everything perfectly” is you know all this I’ll smile and nod and I’ll say “Okay. On a scale of 1 to 10, how confident are you that you can do that this week? Whatever that goal might be?” And typically when you I don’t know if it’s the sliding scale or what but typically when you ask somebody to assign a number to it they actually take a step back and they’re like “oh. You know what?” I’ve had clients say before like “I think I’m like a 4” like “Okay that’s fine. But what if we scaled the goal back to something that you’re more confident you could do? Do You think it would feel better and might be more motivating if you set a smaller goal that you just knocked out of the park? As opposed to set this like really ambitious goal and then fell short? Because what I see time and time again is you missed a day you said you going to do everyday. You miss a day. You feel like a failure. You skipped the next day and then you end up like in that cycle where you know every Monday you’re starting over again. So, what’s more realistic? What do you 90 percent confidently you could do? What’s a nine out of a 10? And I mean scaling it way back. It might mean I think I can do one day this week. “Okay, great! Then do that one day. Give yourself a pat on the back. That’s your accomplishment. Feel good about it. And then when you feel ready this upcoming week what’s your next goal? Make it a little bit bigger. Do you think you can do a second day? Do you think you know whatever it is” and not just you know setting those more realistic goals but also addressing preemptively what obstacles you might foresee. So, you know say you’re only going to do one morning to work out next week. What happens if you don’t? What if you set that morning and you sleep through your alarm? What’s your plan B? So, it really comes down to having that realistic plan of attack, anticipating the obstacles that might occur and then being prepared to handle them when or if they do happen. And you’re literally what it boils down to is set goals that are action based. Make them so small that they’re almost Fail-Safe, meet or exceed your own expectations and then set the bar a little higher the following week. And it can be challenging at first to wrap your head around like you want me to do less like “This is never going to work. I need to do more.” But typically it only takes a few weeks of that consistent behavior to be like “wow! You know what I’m really experiencing a snowball here! That just the fact that I’m accomplishing my goals is motivating me to be more health conscious when I’m eating to walk more to all sorts of things and just kind of snowball” and it just stems from getting that early win and building some confidence yourself.
Mathea Ford: [00:16:20] When you’re talking to your client, how do you help them to really figure out what is going to work? Because I guess in a way like we all know kind of the things to do exercise, eat right. But how do they figure out what’s working for them and then how do they measure that? Like do you help them to be able to see the difference between like you started with once a week exercising, now, you’re at 5 or how do they figure out what’s going to work to help them to achieve that goal whatever it is?
Esther Avant: [00:16:51] The starting point is having a conversation about what has or hasn’t worked in the past is just as example you know a client will come and say “I’ve lost 40 pounds of weight watchers three times.” And so you have to keep losing the same weight over and over again. Has it really worked? Like you don’t want to be beating your head against the wall during the same thing over and over and wondering why it’s not working. You want to learn from your past and use that as your guide to guide your future decisions. As for how to determine what’s working, I’m a big advocate of data collection and using a variety of Progress Indicators. A lot of times women are very caught up in the scale which is totally normal but you know a lot of us know that we don’t necessarily have the healthiest relationship with the scale. That it can make or break your day. It can make you feel like either a success or a failure but everything is kind of riding on that number. So, with some clients who have a history of disordered behavior with a scale all incurred to not even use it at all. But even when we do use the scale it’s in conjunction with a variety of other indicators so I really like using circumference measurements because those are a really good way to see changes in your body that you might not pick up on otherwise and kind of see that recomposition where maybe the scale isn’t moving much but it’s because you are dropping Fat and putting on muscle and the shape of your body is changing. Even though mass isn’t necessarily.
Esther Avant: [00:18:29] I’m also really a big fan of progress photos which oftentimes clients are reluctant to do either initially or always but I have never had a single person tell me that they regret having the pictures and as hard as they might be to take in the beginning they can be so telling that when you hit you know inevitably you’re not going to be motivated all the time. Never they are going to have these times where you just kind of grinding along and you’re like “Oh! I’m Still doing this and I feel like I’m not seeing any changes.” When you have those pictures to compare, it can be undeniable. Similarly, how clothing fits. They’ve had a lot of clients, not even doing that really intentionally but you know they’ll put on a workout shirt that they wear all the time and they’re like “Huh! This has to be way tighter. This is sitting differently now” or belt loops or things like that. So those are kind of the the number base means of gauging progress. And then I think it’s really important to also focus on other stuff too. Like you mentioned energy levels. Are you hitting that 3:00 PM slump or are you feeling like you can power through the day? Are you sleeping better or longer or falling asleep more easily? The gym is a great way to gauge progress is a lot of my clients start off having pretty minimal recent work out experience and no go from either being unable to do certain things or from using a very light weight and they can just see over time. I used to do five pounds on this and now I’m doing 20 or I used to have to walk after three minutes jogging and now I can jog a whole mile. There are just so many things besides the scale that can help us determine whether we’re on the right track. And I work with clients to figure out what’s important to you. How will you know if you’re being successful? And yes if you want this girl to be a factor at but what else? Even if you know if you’re goal weight, if your dream body was 10 pounds heavier than the number you thought it would be. How would you know that you were successful? What would that look like? What would that feel like? What would your life be like? And then those are the things we look at week after week to say “okay we’re trending in the right direction or you know what? We’re not seeing the results that we want. How can we shift gears to be more successful?”
Mathea Ford: [00:20:52] What are some of the consistent changes that you’ve seen people make? You that you’ve been doing this for 12 years at least and the changes people make that seem to work best in the long term. I know that individuals have different things that happen but just a pattern, have you seen a pattern or anything that consistently works over the long term?
Esther Avant: [00:21:14] One of the things I think is really important in the long term is knowledge about the energy content of food and I’m not an advocate of counting calories or tracking macros indefinitely. But I think as a tool it can be really useful because a lot of people you know if I say if I even say the word calorie or macronutriet, they don’t know what that means. They don’t know what appropriate portions are. They don’t know how their lifestyle, their activity level, their job, their age their sex, their gender. They don’t know how that plays a role in how much food their body needs. So, I think the clients who are willing to be educated on just kind of the nutrition basics do really really well in the long term because those are tools, those are skills that serve them long after they’re tracking where they’re weighing or measuring. I think within that specifically learning about appropriate portion sizes is really important and that can be as numbers based as using a food skill or it can be a little bit more practical in the day to day sense in that you use your hand as a guide. “Okay, I want my protein to be about the size of my palm. I want the serving of fat to be about the size of my thumb” but just gaining that awareness. I guess that’s if I had a pick with an overarching theme it would be awareness. That clients who are willing to pay attention and be mindful and increase their awareness on health related things do best in the long term and the ones who are willing and able to make the connections between “oh I started doing this and as a result I’m feeling this. Therefore, I should keep doing it” using that kind of you know logical deduction makes a big difference. And then I guess I have to be more specific. Clients who prioritize having a lean protein source at most if not every meal do well in the long term. Clients who prioritize eating a lot of vegetables do well in the long term. Clients who make an effort to slow down when they’re eating actually chew their food, actually taste it, allow the digestive process to do its thing and pay attention to “am I stuffed or can I cut the brakes a little bit sooner so that I’m not feeling like I need a nap after a meal.” That’s a really important thing and obviously an exercise habit is something I feel pretty strongly about but even outside of that clients who are successful long term often embrace just kind of the active lifestyle overall. And I don’t mean like you go for century bike rides in your downtime. I just mean you’re inclined to “hey!I have to go from one end of the mall to the other, I’m going to walk instead of repass my car or I’m only going up two floors, I’ll take the stairs its probably faster anyway.” The people who are willing to just kind of embrace you know “Yeah! Give them a little bit of activity whenever I can.” That typically makes them successful in the long term as well.
Mathea Ford: [00:24:35] I think those are great examples. And it’s interesting because it’s truly what we’ve known for a while but once you kind of embrace it and understand that the calorie portion thing can be huge because you don’t pay attention to how much is in something usually.
Esther Avant: [00:24:55] Right! And We have all these processed foods now that you know if you’re talking only about whole foods, your body is able to self regulate pretty well. You know those foods are relatively high volume you start to feel full or satisfied around you know what your body needs for portions. And then we get into these like super processed foods that you’re not going to feel full after a serving of chips. You’re right is not going to be like “Oh I think that’s enough.” It is going to keep eating until you reach the bottom or you run out of time or something happens. So, you know just kind of our internal checks and balances aren’t able to work as well with foods that are made in labs with who knows what.
Mathea Ford: [00:25:36] Many people probably come to you and they’ve been cyclical dieters. So, they’ll diet like you said they lose the fame 40 pounds on Weight Watchers and Weight Watchers is neither good nor bad it’s just how you manage it. But what do you think seems to keep people from continuing that healthy eating and exercise plan once they’ve seen some success like why did they fall off the wagon?
Esther Avant: [00:26:03] I think one part of it is I guess probably subconscious like self sabotage. That if you’ve been wanting to lose weight for a long time and you kind of convinced yourselves that “once I am this weight you know everything is going to be better. I’m going to find love and I’m going to get promoted. I’m going to you know whatever it is” that we kind of in the back her mind somewhere are scared of reaching that goal because what if you reach that goal and it doesn’t change everything? So, sometimes it can be easier to not reach it and not have to be confronted with that possibility than it is to go full force ahead. And then get there and potentially be like oh “I’m thinner but not much else has changed.”
Esther Avant: [00:26:47] That’s one part of it I think. Another is that I used to be very opposed to any kind of short term diet or goal or anything like that and I’ve changed my thinking on it some because I get the appeal of seeing early wins, seeing results kind of proving to yourself that you can do something that you can do this. So, I understand wanting to undertake you know a challenge for 21 days or for a month or something like that or to sign up for you know a diet or a weight loss program that you just kind of do as you’re told. I think the main issue that causes people to fall on and off the wagon and just be in that cycle of “lose it,stop doing anything, gain it back, repeat” is that there’s not really a transition plan from what you’re doing to lose the way to how you’re going to keep it off. I think that’s really the missing piece for a lot of people is you know it’s okay if the way you’ve lost it is in maybe sustainable for the rest of your life but you need to have that plan in place to help you get to something that is sustainable in the long term.
Esther Avant: [00:28:05] So, if you do Weight Watchers and again I’m not necessarily opposed to Weight Watchers either it’s just easy example. But you know if you if you lose the weight with Weight Watchers and then you’re like “Okay, I’m at my goal now I don’t need this anymore.” You need to do something to stop you from just reverting back to what you did before you lost the weight. And that’s I think where the importance of working on your day to day habits in conjunction with whatever else you’re doing is really important that hopefully, however you’ve lost weight has also been teaching you things like we were just talking about portion control and macronutrients and listening to hunger and fullness cues and things like that being more active in your day to day life. So that by the time you are at a healthy and happy weight you are also equipped with all the skills that you need to maintain that weight loss just by kind of continuing to do what has become second nature.
Mathea Ford: [00:29:07] Well I know I know about Weight Watchers, they do have a transition program and you’re able to stay and come to meetings and over a period of time to help you sustain that but it does seem to be that you need to change some on the inside as well. The stress and the anxiety and whatever factors it was that caused you to over eat after change either your reaction to them or you have to change what’s going on. Those are the things that we don’t necessarily associate with why we’re overweight but they’re definitely associated with why we’re overweight.
Esther Avant: [00:29:45] Absolutely! 100 percent. You need to confront the root issue at some point. And I think you know one of the main issues with a short term approach is that it can just be a bandaid that you know you can kind of push yourself through anything for a few weeks. You can tell yourself you know “I committed to this program. I’ve paid a lot of money for it. I’m going to make the most of it.” You can do that temporarily but if then afterwards you revert back to snacking in front of the TV every evening then those results are going to be short lived. So, you’re absolutely right that at some point you need to be confronting “How did I end up here?” What’s really at play? You know I am an emotional eater? And if so how am I going to walk through those emotions in the future in a way that will not leave me putting the pounds back on? And that’s where you know hopefully you’re working with someone qualified to help you do those things kind of concurrently that you know. “Yes! We want you to start seeing the weight come off. We want you to see that what you’re doing is working.” Of course we want you to be motivated to keep putting in the work. But at the same time, we also do need to be turning in a little bit and figuring out you know “Okay, what pattern’s are there? What habits do I need to break? What do I need to work on changing within myself that is going to give me a different result long term?” Because if you look at a lot of research there there’s no shortage of ways to lose weight. The main issue is maintaining that. So, you need to have that longer term outlook. It’s you know it’s not going to be fun, it’s not glamorous to assess why do I eat when I’m sad. And that’s why we don’t want to do it because it’s hard and it can be emotional and there’s no easy answer. Nobody can just tell me “here’s what you do” but if you really want those changes to stick then you do have to get a little bit introspective and figure out “okay, what’s going to be different? How am I going to change literally from the inside out to make it so I am a person who doesn’t have to struggle everyday to keep the weight off?”
Mathea Ford: [00:31:58] When you think about that as far as having like a healthy life and weight loss, how do you help people measure that? Like we talked a little bit before about what are their goals, what do they want to do, motivational interviewing, what are they willing to commit to. But how do you how do you measure that you’re now healthy so to speak?
Esther Avant: [00:32:18] There’s an obesity doctor in Canada almost positive name is Gianni Freedhoff who wrote a book I read years ago about weight loss and obesity. And in it he talks about how the goal for all of his patients is for them to live the healthiest life that they enjoy and that has stuck with me for years and I’ve used it over and over again because I think that’s what it boils down to is you know everybody’s healthy life is going to look a little bit different that you know to a lot of people they would kind of look at my life, my activity level, my diet and be like “Wow! She is like super into that stuff.” And you know there are certain other circles that would be like “Oh! She’s never done a marathon, she’s never done an iron man, she doesn’t eat by a certain way, you know she’s just a recreational healthy person.” So there’s just such a spectrum of you know whatever your norm is. And I think it’s just about taking someone from their current norm which is you know by their own admission, less healthy than they would like it to be. And figuring out how much can we cripple up that spectrum until you reach a point where you like “you know what? If I keep changing more, I’m going to totally hate my life.” And that’s the conversation that I have had often with clients and especially with a relatively thin women who say or you know wanting to lose the last two three or five pounds or get down to a certain body fat percentage is you know that’s possible. “It certainly is doable. I know you’re willing to work hard. You are physiologically capable of doing that. But is it worth it to you? If going from where you are now to that last little bit means sacrificing so much more of your happiness then is it really worth it?” So, sometimes it’s about figuring out “you know what? I’m doing pretty well most of the time and that’s good enough for me that you know I have an occasional drink, I have an occasional dessert. I don’t feel bad about it but overall my habits are pretty healthy then great. Then that is a healthy life and a healthy weight for you. I think the issue is when clients are too far one way or the other. Either they’re obsessively exercising and counting every morsel that goes into their bodies or they just seem like they don’t care at all about their health and it’s just about kind of working towards the middle until you strike your personal balance where you’re like “you know what? I’m doing pretty well. I’m pretty healthy. You know I don’t have any major health concerns and I’m doing the best I can and I’m also enjoying this kind of living and being social with people that I love and care about. And you know and that makes me happy.” And that’s where balance is.
Mathea Ford: [00:35:15] Yeah I was going to ask you kind of how do you help them figure out what is out of balance and what is good balance point?
Esther Avant: [00:35:23] That depends not just on the personal also like where they are in their lives that you know it’s okay to be off balance sometimes. And if you can read a lot of places that there’s no such thing as balance that something is constantly getting more of your attention. So, it’s instead of like a seesaw perfectly balanced it’s like you’re kind of going between one side is higher and the other side is higher. And as long as you’re sort of rotating between priorities then you know there’s no such thing as perfect balance. So there’s that too. Like for example if your daughter is getting married and you’re like I want to look like the hottest mother of the bride that you know this family has ever seen. Then, you know maybe that’s a time that you are going to be a little bit more or even a lot more concerned and you know caring about what you’re eating, how much you’re exercising and maybe it’s not sustainable long term. But you find a dress that you love. You look awesome in it. You look amazing in the pictures, you get tons of compliments and you feel great. Then, you know then that was balance for right then and then as long as you’re able to transition back to something that will help be healthier in the long term. Where you like “Okay, I’m going to ease up now and I sacrificed a lot of time at work or with my family because I was at the gym so much. So, now I’m going to devote more time to my job or to my family and kind of let that take a backseat like I’m not going to not a turn a dial all the way off. I’m going to stop from going, I’m just going to rebalance, we’ll recalibrate a little bit. That’s big. Its just figuring out like “okay, right now what do you feel like you can do?” Something a use often with clients is the idea of bare ass minimums or we call them BAMs and figure out like there are going to be times that you know you are slammed at work. If you’re accountant and you’re an accountant and it’s tax season and you are working 16 hour days. What’s the minimum effort you can put to your health that you can still feel good about at the end of the day? Maybe it’s making sure you eat a vegetable at dinner. Maybe it’s making sure you walk for 30 minutes at lunch. There’s always going to be kind of those ebbs and flows in what gets more of your attention. And I think as long as you’re able to move from you know flow from one to the other without shutting anything completely off then you’re in a pretty good place.
Mathea Ford: [00:37:50] What are some ways you think that our listeners could use the information we’ve talked about today in their day to day life? Whether they’re seeing clients, seeing patients or just for them personally? Do you have any kind of overarching ideas about how they could use it?
Esther Avant: [00:38:06] Yeah I have a few. First one being to learn from your past instead of repeating the same mistakes. If something doesn’t sit right with you, you don’t have to do it even if you know half your neighborhood has success with it. There are plenty of ways to skin a cat. Be open to destroying a bunch of things and see what’s going to work for you. And that goes right into the second one which is to keep an open mind. If you’re curious about something and you’ve done enough research to know that it is safe, give it a shot. Treat it like an experiment. You don’t need to be married to a certain approach and be willing to admit when or if it’s not working for you. Its just kind of there’s nothing to say that you can’t try something and give it your best effort for a month and say “you know what? That wasn’t for me. I did my best and I just don’t see it. I don’t see a penny out. I’m going do something else.” There’s nothing wrong with that. Keep an open mind about you know you might have certain thoughts about how you have to do this or this is the only thing that’ll work. And you know this kind of be open to having your mind changed.
Esther Avant: [00:39:13] And then I think the last thing is something that we’ve talked about but is so important that it bears repeating is that at the end of the day, no matter how you approach your weight loss the most important thing is that you’re simultaneously working on building the habits that will allow you to keep the weight off when you stop dieting. So, that means finding ways to incorporate regular movement and healthy foods into your day to day life in such a way that they don’t feel like a chore or something that you’re being forced to do. They just become what you do.
Mathea Ford: [00:39:44] I think those are great ways and we sometimes as a dietitian personally I get very focused on what does the research say, what is kind of the medical approved way or whatever. But if I pay attention to the other things outside of that, I can learn things from there, I can improve things and that’s also what my clients are listening to so I need to know a little bit more about them. Maybe even you know think about how it would work in real life just so that I can empathize and understand what might be thinking about too so.
Esther Avant: [00:40:28] Yeah, I think those of us with you know the degree, you know the science degree and the background and you know the better kind of scientifically minded and like are interested in the research. It can be hard to kind of shelf that and think about it from like practical points also is that like “Okay, you know just because research indicates something doesn’t mean that there is no validity in you know what this client is saying or what I keep jeering. And you need to kind of figure out where you know where you mesh the anecdotal and the scientific to you know to not forget that you’re working with an actual person not you know a lab rat.
Mathea Ford: [00:41:12] Yeah absolutely. So, Esther I always try to ask my guests what is your favorite food?
Esther Avant: [00:41:20] Well so I’m pregnant right now. And I think that all my favorite foods are just the ones that I can’t have. So I want a rare steak. I want some sushi, I want some Poke which is huge here in Hawaii. So, those are big right now just because you always want we can’t have. In general though I’d say my favorites would be kind of run the gamut here. So, potatoes, eggplant farm, pork nachos and sour gummy candies.
Mathea Ford: [00:41:48] Those are some really good. What’s pork nachos? Just nachos with some pulled pork on them?
Esther Avant: [00:41:54] Yeah.
Mathea Ford: [00:41:54] Okay. And I personally don’t know what Poké is. So, what is it?
Esther Avant: [00:41:59] So, it’s raw fish like cubed raw fish. Typically Ahi but you see salmon sometimes and octopus sometimes. What is that like with sesame oil and like chive or green onion. Sometimes there’s a spicy kind that’s like with some kind of Mayo. It’s kind of it’s similar to like a like sashimi just chopped up with some stuff. Yeah but it’s so good.
Mathea Ford: [00:42:24] That explains why I don’t know what it is because I do not eat fish in general but I don’t eat raw fish for sure.
Esther Avant: [00:42:33] Probably, not for you then.
Mathea Ford: [00:42:35] No, probably not. But I always find it interesting what is kind of trending and people have started doing kind of these smoothie bowls and just everything bowls putting together stuff. So, I think that that’s a great. That’s awesome it used to be wraps you know. It used to be anything so. It’s great! As long as if you want to try new things and you can make it healthy that’s great! So Esther. Thank you so much for being on the podcast today. It was a pleasure to have you on the show.
Mathea Ford: [00:43:10] I know my listeners have learned a lot about just thinking differently when it comes to even just changing habits not necessarily weight loss but changing habits for the long term, thinking about thinking differently about how that works long term. So if listeners want to connect with you what is the best way to do that?
Esther Avant: [00:43:29] The best way would be my Web site which is EstherAvant.com. I’m also on Facebook my business page is Facebook.com/EstherAvantWellnessCoaching. And I’m on Instagram where I do a lot of those infographic content and my handle there is @Esther.Avant.
Mathea Ford: [00:43:53] Great! Thank you so much!
Esther Avant: [00:43:55] Thank you. It was a pleasure to be here.
Mathea Ford: [00:43:57] Well guys this has been another great episode of the Nutrition Experts Podcast. The podcast that is about learning more so you can do more with nutrition in your life.
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