Episode 48: Our Personal Stories Of Stress And Ways We Combat It

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Thanks for joining us for episode 48 of The Ancestral RDs podcast. If you want to keep up with our podcasts, subscribe in iTunes and never miss an episode! Remember, please send us your question if you’d like us to answer it on the show!

Today we are sharing our personal stories of our struggles with the stress in our lives as well as ways we combat it.

Stress! It comes in many forms. There’s the pressure to fit in, to be financially stable, or to be successful. There’s the effects of events, of dealing with an illness, or simply trying to keep up with a daily jam-packed schedule. Then there’s the feelings of fear, loneliness, or inadequacy associated with the stress. It may seem like an impossible feat to even begin to conquer it. But there’s hope!

Everyone has their own methods to combat stress, some healthy and some not so healthy. Today we are sharing methods we have found to be effective in combating stress and its effects on health. While we all experience varying types of stress and effects from it, the strategies we discuss can be of tremendous benefit regardless of those differences.  Today is the day you can begin to step out from the cloud of stress over your life! Relax and enjoy the show.

Here’s what Laura and Kelsey will be discussing in this episode:

  • Stressors and their effects in Laura and Kelsey’s lives
  • Laura’s struggle with the pressure of physical appearance being the value and proof of knowledge of a person both socially and professionally
  • Kelsey’s struggle with the onset of a chronic health condition that changed the appearance and function of her body
  • How Laura and Kelsey changed the thoughts about their bodies to one of acceptance for they way they are
  • Learning to approach health and fitness decisions to benefit health, not aesthetics
  • The importance of eating in a way that supports the individual
  • How prioritizing sleep can greatly affect health and performance
  • The power of creating and maintaining supportive social relationships
  • Expressing gratitude for the supportive people in life gives big benefit to lowering stress levels
  • Changing the focus from the negative to the positive in life
  • The importance of remembering to not take the good in life for granted

Links Discussed:


Kelsey: Hi Everyone. Welcome to episode 48 of the Ancestral RDs podcast. I’m Kelsey Marksteiner and with me as always is Laura Schoenfeld.

Laura: Hey, guys.

Kelsey: Hey, Laura.

Kelsey: How’s it going?

Laura: Oh, just recovering from a pretty intense week, I’d say, that we had.

Kelsey: Yes.

Laura: It’s earlier in the week that we’re recording this and I was hoping to have a fairly relaxed weekend and it ended up being pretty intense as well.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: I’m really excited for this upcoming weekend. I’m going to be going to Florida to visit my grandmother.

Kelsey: Oh, nice.

Laura: I’m like, I think I’m going to try to sleep eighty percent of the time that I’m there.

Kelsey: Perfect. Yeah, just go out in the sun and fall asleep.

Laura: Yeah, essentially.

Kelsey: Awesome.

Laura: I was going to tell our audience about something really cool that I did this weekend with my mom who is also a nutritionist. We did an interview with her, it was probably a year ago at this point. I don’t actually remember how long ago it was. But I was contacted by another RD named Steven Smith, who actually I feel like we should see if he would want to be a guest on the podcast to talk about his documentary at some point. But he is creating a documentary about omega 6 fats and how that’s a really big issue in the American diet and causing all these health problems. I actually believe that omega 6 fats are probably the worst thing in our diet as far as picking things that people say are bad for us. I‘m not super convinced that sugar is a huge deal, especially if you’re not eating a ton of it.

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: I’m not convinced that gluten is bad for everybody. I think there’s enough evidence that those foods have been eaten for thousands of years. People could have good health with those foods. If you’re eating sugar instead of other foods, then that might not be a good thing. But having a little sugar on top of your food, not that big of a deal.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: But with the omega 6 fats, those are something that have really only existed in the last 100 years or so, maybe 150. I don’t’ know the exact timeline. But I think there’s a lot of evidence that those fats are really, really unhealthy for us and there’s absolutely no reason that we should be eating them. When I say omega 6 fats, I’m not saying essential omega 6s that come from things like nuts and seeds in moderation, chicken skin, that kind of thing that’s going to be found in food naturally. I’m talking about the oils that contain primarily omega 6 fats, so things like corn oil, soybean oil, canola oil, all of those oils that really are not ones that humans would have ever used in the past before machinery that could extract oils from those products was available.

He contacted me to see if I wanted to do an interview for the documentary. I said yes because I do think it’s a really important topic. I was a little nervous about it because he was also interviewing people like Chris Masterjohn and Mark Sisson, and he’s going to be interviewing Paul Jaminet and Chris Kreseser. And I’m just like….

Kelsey: Ahhhh!

Laura: Yeah. What am I going to say that’s going to be so interesting? But I think I did a good job. My mom also was interviewed. I encouraged her to be an interviewee because she’s very knowledgeable about the dietary guidelines side of things. Especially because this year, or I guess the 2015 guidelines really promoted increased consumption of polyunsaturated fats, which is just outrageous. She was talking a lot about that side of things. But I was talking more about, what was I talking about? I’m trying to remember.

Kelsey: It’s been a long week.

Laura: I feel like when you’re in an interview you kind of don’t pay attention to what you’re saying because you’re speaking and trying to think of what you’re going to say next. But I think I mostly focused on the fact that…you and I try to make people’s diets as unlimited as possible, and try to make people not worry too much about things that aren’t not really that big of a deal.

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: Sugar is a great example where most people can probably have a little bit of sugar and its fine, not that big of a deal. You and I have gluten here and there. I don’t eat it all the time, but I’m not afraid if it gets in my food or if it’s something that I chose to eat that has gluten in it once and a while.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: But I do think that omega 6 fats are one of those things that really there’s no reason that anyone should eat, and there’s no reason that you would even have to eat it unless you literally can’t eat in your own home for whatever reason. Replacing omega 6 fats with healthier fats like butter, coconut oil, olive oil, that kind of stuff in your cooking, not difficult at all. It actually tastes way better too. So there’s no reason that if they eliminate those fats…they’re not like well what other fat am I going to eat if I can’t eat omega 6 fats? Whereas as if somebody’s trying to eliminate carbohydrates for example, it’s like well what do I eat if I can’t eat starches?

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: But with that said, even though I think avoiding omega 6 fats as much as possible is really important, I also understand that we live in a society that most foods out of the home are cooked with omega 6 fat rich oils. I also wanted to caution people against social isolation if they’re so afraid of omega 6 fats that they won’t even go out to eat with a friend, or if they’re traveling and they’re like I don’t know how I’m going to eat because the only restaurants here use omega 6 fats. It is a big deal and you do want to avoid them as much as possible, but it’s not so much of a big deal that if you have it once in a while it’s going to be a really severe issue for most people.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura:  I have a client who gets reflux if he eats a lot of omega 6 fats, but I think a little bit doesn’t bother him too much. It’s one of things that it would be great if we could eventually just eliminate them from the American diet all together. But until that happens, which I don’t anticipate happening for a long time, people should (a.) try to avoid it as much as they can, and (b.) not freak out if they go to the Whole Foods hot bar and it’s like Oh my gosh, this food was cooked with canola oil. I can’t eat this. Then its’ like they choose to not eat anything instead of eating some generally pretty healthy food, just maybe not the best oil.

Kelsey:  Yeah. I think if you’re eating a home a significant amount of time, which I would say most people are. Obviously we all eat out from time to time. Even if you just get lunch everyday outside of your house, just switching what you use at home, like you said, is a really easy switch first of all. But it also makes a significant difference because let’s say you’re eating out once a day, even that is 2/3 of the oils that you’re taking in that you are now replacing with something much, much healthier.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Kelsey: While I’d say still probably getting some dose of that every single day is not the best idea, still just thinking of it as I’m using better oils or fats the majority of the time that I’m eating. That still makes a very big difference for a lot of people.

Laura: Yeah. I mean, it’s better than just saying well since I eat it at lunch every day, might as well just eat it at breakfast and dinner too.

Kelsey: Exactly.

Laura: Yeah. I mean, it’s pretty bad because the way that the omega 6 fats affect a lot of different things in our body including insulin sensitivity. One of the things that I was talking about in the interview was how people blame carbohydrate consumption for insulin resistance. There was actually this interesting article by Dr. Eades and he talks about how different types of nutrients affect insulin sensitivity. It turns out from a biochemical perspective that, shocks of all shocks, that eating more carbs actually increases your insulin sensitivity and eating more fat reduces it. However, omega 6 fats, I forget exactly the biochemical mechanism for this, but omega 6 fats actually reduce it even further than saturated fat does. If you’re eating carbs with omega 6 fats in them, which is what most Americans eat, that’s actually going to cause a lot more insulin resistance than if you’re eating something like a traditional Asian diet, or a Pacific Islanders diet where they’re eating mostly saturated fat with their starches.

Kelsey: Interesting.

Laura: Yeah. I thought that was a really important point to come across because I think in the Paleo community a lot of people just get that eating too many carbs equals insulin resistance meme all the time.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: I don’t think that that is accurate at all. If somebody’s not getting a lot of omega 6 fats in their diet, and they’re not eating a gross amount of excess food, if they’re generally meeting their calorie needs and not eating thousands of calories more per day, then there’s really no reason that a high carb diet should cause insulin resistance.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: In fact, a lot of our clients, myself included, find that our insulin sensitivity is better on a moderate to high carb Paleo diet. I think that’s a really big myth in the Paleo community that confuses a lot of people, gets a lot of people that should be eating more carbs afraid of carbs. They’re afraid of fruit sugar. They’re just avoiding these foods that are totally natural and really healthy. Some of them really need more because of the amount of activity that they’re doing.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: That was my goalwas to say I’m not saying that someone with diabetes should eat a very high carb diet. I’m actually not even really sure, that might work for someone that has diabetes to eat very low fat, high carb Paleo diet. I don’t know. But most people that have a healthy blood sugar metabolism, there’s no reason that a higher percentage of carbs in their diet should cause any sort of pre diabetes blood sugar dysregulation.

Kelsey: Right. Even over time as they get older, there’s no reason that as long as you’re eating a healthy diet that may be higher in carbs that they would get something like that.

Laura: Yeah, especially for active people. There was this interesting book the guy Steven, the one who is doing the documentary, he brought this book and showed it to me. It was talking about how people as they grow, their muscle mass will get much more insulin sensitive as well and have better glucose tolerance. If you are having blood sugar issues, or if you feel like you get high blood sugar after meals, then doing things like strength training would actually potentially improve that. And people who already do strength training, or cross fit, or whatever type of heavy lifting that you’re doing, those people actually will be more tolerant of glucose because their muscle really like to use glucose as a fuel source.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: The more muscle mass you have, the less risk you’ll have of having high blood sugar after a meal because your muscles are going to just essentially suck up the glucose really quickly.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: I think there is a lot of research for diabetes treatment where strength training is one of the most effective things for people to be doing. I just thought that was interesting because we get so many clients that are doing all this strength training and they’re so afraid that carbs are going to make them insulin resistant. I’m like, no! You have so many muscles. You’re not going to get insulin resistance.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: He was with us all day and we had a lot of really interesting conversations. I’ll be excited when that documentary comes out, I think either at the end of this year or early 2017. So I’ll certainly be sharing that with people when it’s available.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: It was cool. I don’t usually talk about omega 6 fats with my clients because I’m sure you’re the same way, all of our clients are already sold on the idea that omega 6 fats are not good for them. But obviously a lot of people out there don’t know. It was funny. I went to my friend’s house to watch the UNC basketball game on Saturday just to hang out. They were asking me about what I talked about on the interview and I was telling them, oh it’s about omega 6 fats and how they’re really bad for you. Then they were asking all these questions. Then my friend’s husband went into their kitchen and brought out two and half jugs full of canola oil and vegetable oil and he was like so you’re saying we shouldn’t be eating these? I’m like, uh no. And he said, but how am I going to make brownies if we don’t have vegetable oil. I was like, you could try butter. It’s probably going to taste even better.

Kelsey: Yes, it does.

Laura: He literally threw all three of the jugs into the garbage.

Kelsey: Oh yay! You made a difference, Laura.

Laura: Yes, one person at a time. But it’s just so funny because sometimes I feel like when we’re working with these clients all the time that already know these things, you forget how much other people don’t know.

Kelsey: Right, because it’s promoted as healthy.

Laura: Right.

Kelsey: Why would they think it? Everything that they’re seeing is promoting these types of oils and they’re cheap. You just buy a huge jug at Costco or something and it lasts you for like half a year. Hopefully it lasts you longer than that so you’re not using a lot. But it’s just like you wouldn’t’ even think to question it. I think that’s why a documentary like this is really important because hopefully people who maybe don’t think about this stuff as often as we do or talk it about it as much as we do are going to see something like that.

Laura: Yeah. So hopefully it will get a lot of attention because it’s important.

Kelsey: Awesome. My update, let’s see, obviously this week has been really long for both Laura and I, so I’m looking forward to now, I’m speaking at a retreat in California in April, which is going to be nice because I’m just giving two lectures and then I’m just there for the week sort of being able to enjoy the retreat which will be fun. Chris is talking and I think actually Diane Sanfilippo is talking as well. So it’ll be really fun to just go relax a little bit, even though some of those days I’ll be really nervous because I’ll be talking. This is going to be my first big sort of public talk, I guess. So a little nervous about that though, but hopefully it will go well.

Laura: What’s your topic?

Kelsey: One of them is talking about under-eating because it’s a retreat for people who are sort of starting Paleo. It’s kind of based on Chris’ Paleo Reset sort of thing. I wanted to talk about the dangers of under-eating because I think that’s kind of where I see a lot of the under-eating start is when people begin Paleo just because it can be really easy if they’re not eating a lot of carbs and they’re just taking things out but not replacing them with anything. So that’s one of my topics. Then the other topic is how to eat for a healthy microbiome, so what foods that you can eat on a regular basis that will help to feed bacteria or add bacteria to your microbiome and why that’s important for your health.

Laura: Cool.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: Do you know how many participants there are?

Kelsey: I actually don’t know yet. But I think it’s a pretty small group. So it should be nice and intimate, which for me as doing my first big talk that sounds much better than this giant room full of people. I’m looking forward to more of an intimate experience. I think people will be able to sign up for consults with me as well, so I may get to know some of these people either before or after the talk. I think it will be really small, intimate, and we’ll all sort of know each other by the end of the week a little bit better. That’s a nice way to start off doing talks I think.

Laura: Oh yeah. And then if they’re pretty new to Paleo, it’s going to be a much less intense audience and they’re not going to be arguing with you or trying to catch you being wrong about something. Whereas if you were giving a talk at the Ancestral Health Symposium, they might be like, well actually the research that I’ve done has shown XYZ and this is why you’re wrong. Whereas this audience should be like, oh that’s great information, thank you so much.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: It’s funny because I did a talk at one of the churches I used to go to in the area, like a lunch and learn type thing and I was really nervous. And then I got there and I realized that literally they didn’t know anything what I was talking about and they were so interested in it. There was absolutely no chance that anyone was going to argue with me.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: Once you realize that everyone’s on your team and they’re really interested in what you’re saying, it’s so much easier to talk because you realize that, oh they’re not going to jump up and bite me or something.

Kelsey: Right. And it’s funny because in my dietetic internship I did a few of these kinds of talks and just worked with groups, kind of like probably what I’ll be doing for this retreat. I never had any issue with it. It did not feel uncomfortable. But I feel like now within the Paleo world, I get really nervous about stuff because everybody wants to argue with you about something. I totally agree that I think especially because I think it was sort of advertised to people who are new to Paleo, I’m sure there will be some people who aren’t necessarily new and just want to kind of reset for whatever reason, but there are not going to be people who are ready to argue with me about any little thing that I’m saying and they’re excited to learn. So I think it’ll be a lot of fun.

Laura: Great. Well that’s really exciting and hopefully you have a good time and get some nice R and R since I know we both need it.

Kelsey: Exactly. Alright. So let’s jump into our topic for today. But before we do that, here’s a word from our sponsor.

Alright. Laura and I wanted to talk a little bit about our stories today with stress, and how we struggle with that, and how we combat that in our life. Laura, do you want to start with your story and I’ll just kind of chime in as we go along?

Laura: Yeah. We’re going to link to both of our posts that we’ve written about these so if you want a little bit more information and more details about our particular experiences than that, those links will be available in the show notes.

But basically, I think with stress, stress has been something that definitely has gotten worse over my life. I don’t know if I was that stressed in high school. College wasn’t stressful for me as far as the educational side of things. It was more of the social side of things that was stressful. And then after college, grad school, and now starting a business, and launching online programs, and that kind of stuff has been very stressful for a lot of different reasons.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: Just being a business owner, there’s a lot of pressure to be financially successful. As a health professional, there’s a lot of pressure to be healthy. Also, I feel like especially as a female health professional, I feel like there’s a lot of pressure on us to be physically attractive, and have the perfect body, and be a representation of what our knowledge is. Obviously, you could be eating a really diet, and exercising regularly, and doing all that you can to be healthy, and that doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to be a size 4 and have abs or something.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: For me a lot of the stress has been…when I was younger, it was definitely a lot more about social pressure to fit in and wanting to look more like the people that I saw that were popular. When I went to college, I lost, how much weight did I lose? I think I lost 30 pounds as a freshman.

Kelsey: Oh wow.

Laura: Because of being on the volleyball team. Basically after I lost all that weight, I started getting all this attention from people. I was always kind of a shy person in high school, didn’t have a lot of friends. I had a few that are still friends of mine. I just always felt really shy and always like I wasn’t the kind of person that people would be friends with. So when I got to college and lost all that weight, and then all of a sudden started getting all this attention, I got accepted to a sorority, I think subconsciously I started to connect my weight with my social acceptance. Not that I ever did anything crazy. I never developed any eating disorder or anything like that. But I definitely was always thinking about how can I lose weight? And how can I get abs? What’s the best workout to do? And how many calories should I be eating? Reading women’s health magazines and that kind of thing. It wasn’t dangerous and because my mom is a nutritionist, I don’t think I ever was doing anything that was seriously a problem. But I had a ton of time to be paying attention to this stuff.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: College was super easy for me. I didn’t really have to spend that much time on work, so I had all this extra free time to be focused about my fitness and all that stuff. I was putting a lot of emphasis on my physical appearance as my value in college. And then as time went on and my life started to get more busy and more stressful, and I didn’t have time to go to the gym for two hours a day, I didn’t have a cafeteria that I could just go pick any food out that I wanted to eat and eat something that was healthy and also high protein and all that, I started to gain some of the weight back that I had lost as a freshman. And I started to start to feel bad about myself about gaining weight, especially because I was starting a nutrition program. And I’m sure your experience was similar to mine where a lot of the people in a nutrition program are very skinny.

Kelsey: Yes.

Laura: It’s easy to feel self-conscious and especially when I was always kind of waving the Paleo flag and saying like, oh Paleo is the right diet and saturated fat is not bad for you.

Kelsey: Right. You’re saying something different than what everybody else was doing.

Laura: Exactly. And I was always thinking, oh I better look like I know what I’m talking about from a physical perspective because if I’m overweight at all, or If I’m even just a little bit more fat than these girls are, and a lot of them were like tiny bird girls so I was never going to be as skinny as them. But anyway, I always thought that oh they’re never going to believe what I’m saying if I don’t look the way that I should. I feel like that added to the pressure. It became more of a proof of my knowledge as opposed to a proof of my social value.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: It’s just adding more pressure on me to be a certain physique. As I got more stressed, and as time went on, and I was gaining weight in grad school because of being super busy and super stressed. And honestly I think that some of my dietary restrictions or diet approaches probably made my body feel like it needed to put some fat on because it was nervous or something. Whatever I was doing was making my body feel like gaining weight was a better idea that losing weight. It just started to become something that I was very self-conscious about, that I felt kind of like I would never be successful unless I could get a hold of my physical fitness. I would say that the stress just kind of kept building until last year I was in a car accident, which wasn’t super serious, but it was enough that I couldn’t work out for like three months and I gained like ten pounds in three months because I couldn’t really hardly even move.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: That was kind of the peak of me being very depressed about the way I look and kind of feeling like why do I even do this? I’m never going to be able to be a good influence on people. Nobody’s going to want to listen to me if they see me looking this way. Obviously a lot of it was in my own head. I’m not going to say any of this was real things that should be stressed about. But when you’re in a position like we are where you’re trying to basically sell yourself as a product, there’s a lot of pressure to look a certain way and a lot of pressure to be representing your knowledge in a physical sense. I just started to feel really discouraged.

I think part of the reason why I gained weight during that time was probably because I was emotional eating, saying well forget it. I might as well eat whatever because I don’t even care at this point. And I stopped weighing myself, which I’m not saying people should weigh themselves. But I just was seeing the weight go up and I just was like whatever, I’m just going to not weigh myself because this is frustrating.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: And then when I finally was ready to get back into the movement and eating well, when you see how much weight you’ve gained, it’s just kind of like oh my gosh. I seriously gained that much weight? Now what am I going to do?

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: There was just a lot of, I don’t know, especially in the Paleo community I think there’s been so much negativity about the way women look. I remember one time I went to Paleo f(x), was it Paleo f(x)? It was one of the conferences a couple of years ago, and somebody was commenting on one of Michelle Tam’s Nom Nom Paleo’s blogs about how oh all the men look so lean, I wonder why the women aren’t lean?I’m sure they were just being like I wonder why the women don’t look like that? But I got so mad because I was like, first of all, women are not supposed to look like men.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: So if that’s what you’re expecting….

Kelsey: Not going to happen.

Laura: That’s clearly the wrong approach. And then I just got mad because…and a lot of this is me feeling insecure about my own ability to be successful, which that’s a whole other side of it.

Kelsey: Topic for another day.

Laura: Right. Maybe not for a podcast. But I think I was just mad because I feel like women have such a higher expectation of what they’re appearance needs to be before they can be successful, regardless of if it’s a health field or not. It just makes me irritated because it’s basically telling any woman that’s not beautiful, or super fit, or whatever, that they are not going to be successful. And I know that isn’t true.

Kelsey: Right. And that gets ingrained really easy.

Laura: Right.

Kelsey: It’s easy and I think the same thing struggling with this. I think it’s just really easy for that to be the mindset for yourself when you sort of hear it and see it everywhere in your life.

Laura: And you see people that say like oh that woman has a belly. She shouldn’t be talking about nutrition or something.

Kelsey: Right! Yeah.

Laura: That actually happened to my mom. She was doing a video on, I forget what the topic was. But she’s almost 60 years old, so give her a break. But anyway, this guy was like this woman’s not a nutrition expert, just look at her belly. And my mom was skinnier than me. She just went through menopause and God forbid got a little bit of belly fat after menopause.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: That’s just an example where it’s like unless you look like you stepped off the cover of Sports Illustrated, people are going to question your knowledge. And then on the other hand, you could know nothing about nutrition and health and because you look like that, people will just do anything that you say.

It’s just really frustrating. And it’s something that in the health world we have to deal with so much because there’s just so much influence of these people that yeah they have abs, and so people are like well if they have abs they must know what they’re talking about.

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: It’s so dangerous for people to be following a lot of these other non-experts’ recommendations. And it’s just really something that bothers me, and it sound like it bothers you as well.

Kelsey: Yes. Oh, for sure. I mean, it’s something for me for the last few years I’d say has been more on my mind lately because I have always been a pretty skinny person. I would never say I’ve been even a little bit overweight, and that’s just my genetics. My mom is really skinny, my sisters are really skinny. That’s just our family.

But I have sort of a different story than you, Laura, in that over the last few years I’ve been dealing with a new health condition, which I’ve talked about before on here. But for those of you who haven’t heard it, it’s called IST, or Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia. It just means that my heart beats faster than most other people and that can make exercise hard. And especially when it first sort of started happening, I just didn’t feel good a lot of the time. I would get dizzy, I’d get out of breath doing things that normal people would consider very, very easy. Even something just like standing can be really not fun, so never mind actual difficult exercise. I really kind of stopped exercising. Or I would go through periods where sometimes I’d feel pretty good and I would be able to do most exercises that I’ve done. I could hike, I could do kickboxing, I could do yoga. But then there would be months at a time where I really felt I could do nothing.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Kelsey: Over the last few years, I’ve gained probably 15 pounds, 20 pounds, which on me I’m 5’5”, have sort of a slight stature to begin with, that’s very different looking and feels very uncomfortable to me. It just feels so different. It’s something that has been more on my mind lately as a health professional and as a business owner because all of a sudden I don’t look like I have looked my entire life and what I’ve come to know as my identity. And so that’s really frustrating and for a while I was like, and for multiple reasons, I would be like turning down speaking engagements because I didn’t want to go in front of people not only because I felt like my body was not correct for what I was doing, but also because my physical sort of limitations at that point. It was a couple different things, but I felt like I was sort of holding myself back because of what was going on. And that’s so sad. That’s terrible to do that to yourself. I eventually realized that. But it took a long time to sort of accept. Right now I probably have lost maybe 5 pounds from the heaviest weight gain that I was at. But still, I still look different. I’m still not back to where I was before and that’s okay. And even know it’s frustrating and I wish I could just snap my fingers and go back to what I looked like before and how I felt before, it’s just not going to happen.

Laura: Oh, yeah.

Kelsey: And that’s okay, and maybe I’ll never get back down to that weight. I don’t know. I just realized all of a sudden, like okay, maybe that’s not the most important thing about me.

Laura: Right. It’s crazy. It’s like I think women just have this ingrained expectation that the way they look literally is the most important thing about them.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: I think that’s the root cause of a lot of our problems when it comes to our health, and our self-image, and that kind of thing. Either you feel bad about yourself and you don’t do anything because you’re just discouraged, which I definitely went through that phase last year when I was physically incapacitated. I mean, not the same issue that you have, but similar that you just can’t exercise. And it’s just well forget it. I might as well not even do anything.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: Then the other side of things being going in the opposite direction and over-exercising, under-eating, all that stuff that I definitely have had experiences doing. And eventually I think my body was just kind of like, Laura, give me a break and just leave me alone.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: I feel like right now, the way that I’m approaching body fat loss, because I’ve lost about maybe 6 pounds since the weight that I gained from  the car accident, so I probably have another 5 or so to go before I feel like I’m back to kind of where I want to be from an aesthetics perspective. But the way that I’m approaching it now is way different because I don’t want to screw my body up. I don’t’ want to feel like crap. I don’t want my weight loss goals to be causing my brain to stop functioning because that was something I was experiencing when I was doing low carb and also heavy weight training at the same time. I just couldn’t concentrate at all. And there was even a period of time where I was telling my trainer like I can’t work out in the morning because I will literally not be able to do anything the rest of the day from a brain perspective.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: Now that I’m eating in a way is actually supportive of that training modality, I mean I’m not saying that I’m not a little tired after the workouts. They’re definitely hard. And I only do them two to three times a week. So it’s not like every day that I’m doing this. But I feel like my brain is still functioning after I get done with a workout.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: The main change for me was just increasing my carb intake, and reducing my fat intake, and doing a little bit of a calorie deficit to be able to lose some weight, nothing crazy to the point where I’m going to be telling my body that I’m in starvation mode and I need to hold on to all the body fat that I can.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: I think mine was mostly self-induced as far as the kind of health problems I’ve experienced. So having a lot of anxiety, having poor exercise tolerance, feeling cold and shaky at certain times, having trouble sleeping. And it’s funny because the more I focus on the topics that we put forth in our online program, Paleo Rehab, the more I start to actually perform well in the gym, feel really good, sleep really good. For example, I’m drinking decaf coffee this week and I slept…I want to say I slept 10 hours last night because we are really tired after this launch period. But normally if I had too much coffee in the morning, which I definitely got in the habit of doing last week with the launch, I couldn’t sleep. I was just lying in bed feeling super anxious.

It’s so silly, but you have to really make decisions about your health that regardless of how they’re going to affect the way you look, they need to make you feel good. First and foremost, that has to happen. You can’t be doing things that make you feel like garbage for the sake of losing weight or looking better, or looking like you fit the expectations of whoever you’re trying to impress. For us, we’re trying to impress our audience. We’re trying to impress our colleagues. We want to try to fit into this health and wellness sphere. I don’t think Kelsey or I are unhealthily overweight by any means, but there is so much pressure to look a certain when you’re a health professional.

I even had this conversation with my trainer yesterday. He was doing this cyclic low carb diet because he’s trying to lose a little body fat because he wants to do some photos for his gym. He got really, really sick for a couple of days and then he came in yesterday and he was like so I’m not going to do the low carb thing anymore. I was like, alright Matt, well finally we’re on the same page here. It was just funny because he realized that, oh my gosh, this low carb approach with my heavy weight training and the fact that he’s super active as a trainer, he’s walking around, lifting weights to put weights on people’s barbells, that kind of thing.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: He lost a decent amount of body fat, but then his body just crashed.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: That’s something that I think I’ve definitely experienced where my attempt to push myself too hard either as trying to get the physical result I’m looking, trying to get the financial result I’m looking for in my business, just hustling everywhere in my life, my body just was not okay with that. Maybe that means I’m never going to be a multi-millionaire. I’m very much okay with that.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: Maybe that means I’m never going to have a six pack. I am totally okay with that. I think for me the main changes I made, again like I said earlier, I started eating a lot more carbohydrates and I’m really playing around with the idea that higher carb, lower fat diet might be a better fit for me.

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: My exercise routine is very, very different than it used to be. I used to work out five or six days a week for an hour and a half to two hours a day. And now I’m doing two to three days a week of an hour and then maybe I’ll do some walking with my dog everyday if it’s nice out. That’s a fifty percent decrease in total amount of time spent at the gym and it’s actually been way more effective as far as results are concerned. I think that that’s an important point, that people who think it’s required to exercise six days a week to get good fitness results, that’s absolutely not true.

Prioritizing my bedtime was a huge thing. The last week has not been so good, but up until our launch week I was really doing quite good at going to be early, not being on the computer or on the TV past 8-9 o’clock. I actually think the sleep that I was getting really contributed to some of the physical performance boost that I had at least last week. This week my chin-ups were not doing so well. But that week that I was sleeping really well, I got not only my first chin-up, but then I was getting two chin-ups in a row. That to me was proof that the sleep really impacting my performance.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: And then I also really focused on changing the thoughts that I was having about my body. So not thinking negatively about my body. If I want to lose body fat, there’s no morality associated with that. It’s not going to make me a better person or a worse person.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: And being able to approach fat loss from a non-self-loathing approach is very important because the behavior changes that I’m making, they’re not because, oh my God I have to lose weight and that’s the only thing that matters. It’s more, hey I can lose weight in a way that actually helping support my health, and I feel much better doing this, and yeah I’m actually losing weight too, which is awesome.

Kelsey: Right. It’s not like a sacrifice of everything else.

Laura: Right. I mean, there’s definitely sacrificial choices.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: I’m not going to eat ice cream every night. I’d love to eat ice cream every day, but if I want to lose weight, I probably can’t do it.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: But that doesn’t mean I’m never going to have ice cream. It just means maybe I have it once a week instead of daily. And then the final thing that helped me was focusing on spending time with friends who challenged me to change my way of thinking. In college a lot of my friends were friends of convenience who ended up causing way more drama in my life than probably was healthy or appropriate. I’m single and I don’t really have a great history of relationships with men that are appropriate as far as being mutual affection I would say. The last ten years of my life, not really a lot of supportive social relationships other than my parents and my family. But the friends that I spend my time with now, the ones that I met through my church, they are just like totally, totally different from the past friends that I’ve had. I hope that if any of my friends are listening that they’re not thinking, well what if she’s talking about me saying that we’re bad friends. If you’re listening to this, it’s probably not you, so don’t worry.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: But I spent so much time trying to fit in, and trying to impress people, and trying to have good friends. Now that I finally have friends that really I feel are unconditionally friends with me, I have so much less anxiety about needing to look a certain or needing my physical appearance to affect what kind of friends that I have.

Kelsey: Right, because you realize it doesn’t matter. People will always be there for you.

Laura: Right, and there’s a level of vulnerability with our relationship that we all talk about the issues that we struggle with and you find out that other people struggle with the same things. And there’s a level of closeness that comes from that vulnerability that I didn’t really have very much in college and certainly the last ten years in general. It’s been a struggle to find a group of friends that I felt very open with. That has made a huge difference. We talk about that in the program, about social relationships being a huge factor in stress management. Because if you’re hanging out with people that are either toxic relationships, or you’re not hanging out with anybody, that can make a lot of your stress levels so much higher that they need to be.

Kelsey: It’s a hard thing to change. I’m sure for you, you’re very lucky in that you met people through your church, and you realized that they could be great friends to you. And a lot of times it can be hard when you recognize that you maybe don’t have people in your life that are supportive or are unconditional friends to you. We talk about this in the program because that’s a tough place to be in. But you do have to break out of that somehow.

Laura: Oh,I will say that this group of friends, I really put a lot of effort into meeting these people. I met our pastor at a meet up group and then he invited me to go hang out at a home group that I didn’t know anybody and I was a little bit nervous about going. But I was like you know what, forget it, I’m just going to go and see what happens. Now they’re like my best friends. Good friends don’t just, especially when you’re out of college, good friends don’t just fall in your lap. They really do take effort. Even now that we’re friends, my friends have kids, my friends have husbands. They’re not just like, oh lets go get a drink and hang out.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: It really takes a lot of effort and planning for us to have time together. Then when you’re actually together you have to make the decision to be open and vulnerable with them so you can have a relationship that’s more than just hanging out.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: I want people to understand that these friendships that I’ve developed in the last two years or so, I’ve put a lot of effort into this because I’ve prioritized it and I’ve realized that it’s much more important for me to go spend my afternoon with a friend who is supportive and makes me feel better about my life than worse compared to going to the gym if I’m choosing between the two. So people need to put social relationships pretty high up, if not at the top, of their priorities list when it comes to their health.

Kelsey: Yeah. I think, what was I going to say? You reminded me of something Laura, but it left me as soon as I thought of it.

Laura: Well, do you want to share if there’s any specific changes that have helped you improve your health?

Kelsey: Yeah. Oh, you made me remember it. One of the things that I have really done, because with my story it’s not something that I’ve been dealing with for a very long time. I’d actually say that for me, I never really felt like my stress levels were high until truly I was diagnosed with a chronic health condition, or started dealing with the symptoms, because that to me just sort of flipped my world entirely upside down. I couldn’t do things that I was doing before, and like I said, my body was different. It’s just like a totally different world to live in. For me, a lot of the things I have focused on to help combat that have been things that are more accepting of a new body, both in terms of how it looks but also how it functions.

You reminded me of what I was going to say where I just need be grateful for the things that are in my life and that come easily to me. One of things is having a really awesome supportive community of people in my life. I’ve been with my fiancé for almost ten years now, which is like crazy to be at such a young age and have been with someone for that long. But literally, he’s so supportive of everything that I do in my life. And that makes such a difference when you feel like your life is totally different, because if I didn’t have someone to kind of help support me through that, I don’t know if I would have done as well with it. Granted in the beginning I still don’t feel like I did that well with it. But at this point, I feel like I’ve sort of accepted it for what it is. And I’m still working on it and trying to heal it as much as possible, but I’ve also come to realize that it may never completely go away. And if it doesn’t, that’s okay.

Laura: Right.

Kelsey: Having him, having my family, I’m marrying into an awesome family of people that are really supportive and I just have really good open honest relationships with, that makes such a difference. I think I sort of took that for granted for a long time. Being sick made me realize how incredibly lucky I am with having those types of relationships. I work hard on them, but it never felt like hard work so I didn’t think about it that way. But I do really focus on it in that sense now where I really try to keep those relationships up because you can fall out of touch with people really easily if you don’t work on it. I’ve just become more grateful for that sort of stuff in my life and that helps to kind of work against the emotional frustration that can come from dealing with a chronic illness. That’s really helped me just sort of combat that really frustrating experience and make me feel like it’s not as frustrating. That’s been very helpful.

Laura: Yeah, and it’s interesting that you say that it’s more about being grateful for it than the fact that you have it. And I’ve been here before too, because I know my parents and my family are super supportive and that’s something that a lot of people don’t have is a supportive family that if something went wrong or if something happened and I couldn’t work and I was financially struggling, I know that my parents would be there to help me. Being grateful for it I think really actually makes it helpful because if you’re not grateful for what support you do have or the friendships that you do have, you’re not going to get the benefits of those relationships.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: If you’re where I was and you felt like you didn’t have supportive relationships in your physical environment, which my parents until recently were living in New Jersey, my siblings don’t live here, I was really struggling to find my tribe as we would call it in North Carolina. You can’t just sit back and wait for friends to show up. You really have to take action and look for ways to make friends. If you do have relationships in your life that are physically there, and you’re seeing people, and maybe your engaged, or you’re married, you have to really focus on building those relationships and appreciating those relationships because if you have a relationship that you just take for granted, it’s not going to give you any sort of benefits to your stress levels. Because that gratitude, especially expressing that gratitude to that person, or if your journaling or something, that can make you feel so much more positive about your situation than if you just ignore that those people are there for you.

Kelsey: Right. It’s really easy then to focus on the negatives in your life. Things are negative. Having a chronic illness sucks. It’s not fun, not going to lie about that. But when you start to think about all of the great things in your life, it’s like well this is just one facet of me. Having a chronic illness does not define my entire world. There are so many other things that are great about my life that I need to just remember and not take for granted.

Laura: Yeah. I think the approach that we’ve both taken even though the way that we got to this health situation in our lives was very different, I think these strategies that we use to improve our health are very similar. And those strategies are the ones that we’ve outlined in our program Paleo Rehab: Adrenal Fatigue. Unfortunately by the time this podcast is live, we’re not going to be accepting new students into the program for this spring’s session. We don’t have another on the books yet, but we’re thinking maybe in the fall we will do another session of Paleo Rehab.

But if you want to read Kelsey and my stories on our blogs with a little bit more detail about what kind of things we’ve struggled with and how we’ve changed our lifestyle to help fix the health problems that have come up from either obsession with nutrition and fitness to the point of orthorexic behavior, or having a chronic disease come up and then that kind of spiraling into other health issues that could be dealt with a lifestyle approach, our program really took the best of both of those situations and how to deal with those situations and have combined it into one program that can help a lot of people.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: If you’re interested in getting into the next group that we’re going to do, you can join the mailing list at MyPaleoRehab.com. You’ll get a free e-book that you can get started on some of these principles right now. And if you want to join us for our next round of Paleo Rehab as a live student, we are going to be opening it up probably in the fall sometime. And we’ll announce that via email so that way you can get in with us when we have our next class.

Kelsey: Awesome. Yeah. This stuff is tough and I think everybody deals with it in a different way. Just reading both my own article that I wrote and Laura’s article, a lot of the stuff that we end up using, like the techniques that we’re doing are very similar. But some of those stressors are different depending on the background of your own story. I really do encourage you to read both of our stories, see what you resonate with, and you can start with some of the things that we have tried and what has worked best for us. Because there’s a million different things that you can do to reduce stress, but the things that will work best for you sort of depend on what you’re dealing with. We’ve really kind of infused that into Paleo Rehab to help you to identify the places that you may really be struggling and how to combat those issues. Read our stories, sign up for the mail list if you want to get that e-book, and then we really hope to see you in the next class!

Laura: Yeah. One thing I wanted to mention is that the recommendations we make in the program are evidence based. So it’s not just like, oh well we’ve heard that this helps, so try this.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: We actually did a ton of research to figure out what the most effective techniques would be. So people who really commit and do the recommendations that we talk about in this program get fantastic results. We unfortunately don’t have a magic pill that’s going to solve everyone’s health problems. I would be very glad to sell that to people if it existed. But the recommendations we make, if taken seriously and enacted in peoples’ lives, can make a huge differences. I know it’s made a big difference in our lives and we’ve seen dozens of people write to us after the program telling us how much their health has changed just from the very simple lifestyle changes that we recommend in the program.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: Alright. Well, thanks for joining us everybody and we’ll be back next week with another new episode. In the meantime, if you have questions you’d like to submit, go to the contact tab on our website at TheAncestralRds.com. And we do have a Facebook community group that if you want to join and talk about the episode or meet other people that are interested in a real food approach to health, then the link to that will be in the show notes for this episode. Anyway, thanks for joining us and we’ll see you around next time.

Kelsey: Alright. Take care, Laura.

Laura: You too, Kelsey.


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I'm a women's health expert and a registered dietitian (RD) with a passion for helping goal-oriented people fuel their purpose.

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