Menopause myths stymie real growth

Prompting 3,000 comments and ranking as one of the most read stories of 2023, the New York Times article Women Have Been Misled About Menopause by Susan Dominus made it clear that people going through menopause — about half the population, want to talk about it and want to be taken seriously.

Instead of the doom and gloom, invisibility narrative of aging, the sweaty menopause jokes and just suck it up and deal with it (it’s not really that bad) attitude, we deserve a comprehensive, anti-shame, pro-embodiment approach.

We want evidence-based facts, not information from a 32-year-old Insta-influencer. We want options to treat symptoms that may profoundly affect the quality of our lives. We want support with every facet of our wellbeing so that we emerge boldly from our reproductive years, sharing our wisdom with zest and, most importantly, so that we may thrive.

As a 55-year-old, post-menopausal woman, that’s the conversation I needed more than ten years ago when I started experiencing perimenopausal symptoms – hot flashes, night sweats that led to poor sleep and fatigue, anxiety, joint pain, forgetting what I was saying mid-sentence. Those are just some of 34 plus symptoms cited by the North American Menopause Society (NAMS). I didn’t know that those signs were signaling the beginning of my transition toward menopause and that for me, they’d last more than a decade.

Desperate to ease my discomfort I dove down the rabbit hole of Dr. Google and loads of misinformation and in particular, DIY hormone programs promising to fix my “broken” hormones. Let me spare you the time, money, energy, and years that I spent on those restrictive food plans. No, they did not relieve my symptoms. And honestly, I bet the stress from food restriction and under fueling my exercise aggravated my symptoms and perhaps contributed to my osteopenia diagnosis after a recent DEXA scan for bone density.

My menopause experience could have been much different.

Menopause support
Menopause support

In Dominus’s article, she shares the history of menopausal hormone therapy and how it used to be the most prescribed treatment in the United States. But in 2002, a single study, The Women’s Health Initiative, imperfect in its design, found links between hormone therapy and elevated health risks for women of all ages. Panic set in and prescriptions plummeted.

Hormone therapy carries risks, to be sure, as do many medications that people take to relieve serious discomfort, but dozens of studies since 2002 have provided reassurance that for many people the benefits of taking hormones outweigh the risks says Dominus.

That being said, hormones are not a cure-all. ‘Hormone therapy is not a fountain of youth and shouldn’t be used for that purpose,” says medical director of the NAMS, Dr. Stephanie Faubion.

Today, you have a range of options for symptom relief that may include hormone-therapy, non-hormonal drugs, and recommendations like cognitive behavior therapy for hot flashes, based on your health history and risk factors. Find a menopause informed healthcare provider to support you and screen for health conditions that you’re more vulnerable to such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, dementia. Discuss medication options if needed and give your attention to modifiable behaviors to reduce your risk.

Expanding the menopause conversation

An empowered approach to menopause includes exploring all facets of your wellbeing. Learn strategies to regulate your emotions and manage stress such as journaling, calling a friend who’s a good listener or scheduling time with a mental health professional. Reap the many benefits of physical activity like supporting your heart and bone health. Nurture your relationships, social connections, spiritual wellbeing and prioritize joy and fun.

And let’s talk nutrition. There are many strategies to support menopausal health such as adding in fiber-filled whole grains to lower your cholesterol and blood sugar levels versus eliminating and restricting foods. Don’t get sidelined by diet culture nonsense that promises to fix your hormones and body.

Normalize menopause body changes

We deserve shame-free conversations about midlife body changes. As an exercise coach in my early perimenopausal years, I couldn’t imagine the menopausal reality of gaining weight and not having a flat stomach in the future. Even with no changes to your diet or exercise, it’s normal and natural to find yourself sizing up. Clothes weren’t designed to fit post menopause bodies where hormonal changes contribute to the re-distribution of body fat from our thighs and hips to our abdomens. Move beyond the scale and outward appearance. Approach your aging, changing body with this comprehensive pro-embodiment approach to your wellbeing.

We’re not less of ourselves on the other side of menopause, were more.

More powerful beyond menopause

“There’s a veritable legion of people post menopause who feel even more like themselves – even better, more at home in their bodies,” says author Heather Corinna in her book “What Fresh Hell Is This: Perimenopause, Menopause, Other Indignities, And You.”

We’re more direct. “The force of the impulse to speak out will feel like driving a Maserati for the first time – it takes a little while to get used to the power,” says Dr. Louann Brizendine, author of “The Upgrade: How the Female Brain Gets Stronger and Better in Midlife and Beyond.

Consider that 80% of Forbes’ 100 most powerful women of 2024 are 50 plus and the No.1 woman is 65 years old. She’s Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission.

“Post-menopausal people express big feelings of freedom, self-acceptance, confidence, connection, and deeper intimacy, of being able to find a clarity about their wants and feelings and a greater ability to express them,” says Corinna. “Margaret Freaking Mead talked about the power of this post-menopausal zest.”

Empowered conversations about menopause honor that knowledge is power — and that we can be more powerful beyond menopause.

(This article was originally published in the March 27, 2024 edition of the Jackson Hole News and Guide).

Womentum March Onward 2024

Womentum March Onward 2024!

The evening before International Women’s Day and during Women’s History Month, join Womentum as four local healthcare professionals share their stories that highlight the need for a paradigm shift in our approach to women’s wellbeing: separating wellness and our worth from weight, food, and our bodies.

The pursuit of health and wellness for women in our society too often leads to diminished personal power in the form of negative body image and a preoccupation with food, exercise, and weight.

This event will arm attendees with the knowledge to make educated choices for how we spend our time, attention, and money on our physical appearance and health. We envision a shift towards celebrating what our bodies can do in the world and also developing our potential beyond our physical self!

You can watch the event recording here!

About Dr. Kelly Baxter, Family Medicine Physician

Dr. Kelly Baxter is deeply passionate about improving healthcare for those who are at greatest risk of experiencing medical and societal bias based on age, body type, sexual preference, gender identity, socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, and other forms of discrimination that contribute to worse health outcomes.

Kelly has a special interest in women’s health at all ages. She follows the evolving science of hormone replacement therapy and strives to support women through the menopausal transition. Kelly recognizes the harms of diet culture on mental and physical health. After 15 years in premedical, medical, and residency training, Kelly was shocked to find a complete lack of education around eating disorders and a general lack of understanding and compassion around body image and weight. She has independently pursued training and mentorship in these areas, but she has found the most meaningful education has come from her patients directly. Kelly is humbled and honored to share the sacred space of the patient-provider relationship and feels that all people deserve unbiased and individualized care.

Dr. Kelly Baxter is board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine. She is certified in Integrative Medicine through the University of Arizona. She earned her bachelor’s degree from University of Wyoming and her medical degree from the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, Washington. She completed her family medicine residency at Saint Anthony North Hospital in Denver, Colorado.

About Mary Ryan, Licensed Clinical Social Worker & Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Mary Ryan’s practice, Beyond Broccoli LLC, welcomes adults and adolescents struggling with a wide range of issues, with a special focus on problems with food, eating, exercise, and body image. She began her professional journey as a dietitian more than two decades ago. Her interest in the many links between nutrition and mental health, and her passion for empowering clients to improve their relationship with food and their bodies, led her to pursue additional education, training, and licensure as a psychotherapist to help clients move beyond the “what” and towards the “why” of eating and other struggles. Integrating nutrition and psychotherapy is particularly important when there are issues such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, or difficult childhood experiences that impact every aspect of how we function later in life.

About Tanya Mark, National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach

With over 20 years of experience in the field of wellness, Tanya Mark, started her career as a massage therapist and shifted to fitness coaching (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist) and then became a Nutrition Therapy Practitioner (NTP). After witnessing client frustration from failed diets and body dissatisfaction Tanya pursued additional education as a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor and a Licensed Be Body Positive Facilitator to support her clients in disentangling from diet culture and the false belief that there’s a “right” way to have a body.

Tanya completed her studies as Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach, NBC-HWC and Certified Sleep, Stress Management & Recovery Coach (SSR). She coaches clients on whole health, beyond nutrition, including physical activity, sleep, stress resilience skills, and help them gain clarity on their personal values, priorities and what they really want out of life — what matters most. Tanya works with clients virtually, 1-1 or in her group Intuitive Eating and Be Body Positive coaching programs.

About Eden Morris, Registered Dietitian & Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor

Eden Morris is a former collegiate softball player turned mountain biker and skier who loves pocket snacks, tacos, playing outside, hanging with her Australian cattle dog, and camping in new places. Eden internalized so many of diet culture’s messages when she was a young girl. She didn’t understand that dieting would damage her body and hinder her performance in sports until she was diagnosed with Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport at age 22. 3 stress fractures in her left foot, osteopenia, and an absent menstrual cycle for 3+ years were the wakeup calls that showed her that health had to be about more than eating “clean” and weighing as little as possible.

Eden has spent the last 12 years immersing herself in the Intuitive Eating framework, making peace with food, her body, and movement. Healing her relationship with food was the healthiest thing she’s ever done for her physical and mental health. She’s a huge fan of mantras and affirmations–she often states, “A well-fed body is a resilient body.” Eden aims to live a life to show you that a fueled body performs better. No matter what phase of life we’re in, no matter what kind of movement we enjoy, our bodies deserve nourishment from foods that give us energy and bring us joy!

Eden works with active individuals of all ages who are looking to learn how to fuel their bodies without restriction, who are ready to appreciate their body for what it does for them vs how it looks, and who want to find a peaceful, accepting relationship toward themselves in order to live a life of empowerment.

Join us for Womentum March Onward 2024!

Normalize bodies to obtain overall health

There’s no “right” way to have a human body.

Yet “we’ve reached a point in history where nearly every person is in some way affected by society’s heightened focus on beauty, health and weight,” says co-founder of The Body Positive, Connie Sobczak.

The “emphasis on how we look and what we weigh has influenced the way most people perceive and care for their bodies.”

Girls as young as 3 years old report body dissatisfaction, thin-ideal internalization and self-objectification. Teens worry about the natural body weight increases during puberty while parents struggle to feed them in a “healthy” way.

Body image experts and authors of More Than a Body, Lindsay Kite and Lexie Kite gave up competitive swimming, a beloved piece of their childhood identity when they observed their bodies didn’t fit a swimmer’s body “ideal.”

Consider how many women prior to their weddings stress over every morsel of food and exercise obsessively to fit into a dress size smaller than their actual body. Or maybe you’re attending a 25-year high school reunion and you’re worried about how others will judge you. And how about the pressure that post-partum women feel to get their pre-baby body back or men being mocked for having “dad bods.”

A changing body is only a problem if we believe that our bodies aren’t supposed to change.

There's no right way to have a body

Many of us believe that self-care means engaging in the latest food plan or exercise craze. Yet what’s perceived as normal “health” behaviors, may be disordered and lead to dangerous eating disorders that affect people of all sizes, ages and genders. Women “diet” or “eat clean” while men “bio-hack,” diet culture’s masculine equivalent.

In the New York Time’s opinion piece, “Welcome to the bro-y world of extreme dieting. Or is it disordered eating?” author Thomas Stackpole describes how he ate almost nothing but lean ground turkey and broccoli over greens for two months as part of a YouTube bodybuilder’s plan and cycled through wellness trends like ingesting metabolism-boosting mushrooms.

And midlife women, be aware. Diet culture is taking advantage of the “lucrative menopause market” targeting perimenopausal and menopausal women for any and all signs of aging such as weight gain and body fat redistribution. Of course, “diets” are the solution.

The belief that there’s a “right” way to have a body may burden us for a lifetime. Grandma refuses a homemade brownie from her granddaughter choosing a pleasureless low-fat, sugar-free, 100-calorie Weight Watchers bar instead.

Those human experiences not only break my heart, but they’re also not making us mentally nor physically healthier.

We must come together, in community, as teachers, coaches, peers, parents, and healthcare professionals to change the conversation around bodies, weight, health and self-worth.

We weren’t born hating our bodies. It’s learned. Those three-year-old girls observed their mother’s body dissatisfaction. And if you’re a parent struggling to feed your kids “healthfully,” author, Virginia Sole-Smith shares advice in her book, “Fat Talk: Parenting in the Age of Diet Culture.”

“We’re programming kids to grow up and turn to diets. They need to learn how to trust themselves, intuitively” shared Sole-Smith on Dan Harris’s Ten Percent Happier podcast episode “How to Stop Obsessing Over Your Body and Eat Sanely in a Toxic Culture.”

One way to start untangling from diet culture says Sole-Smith is to explore Intuitive Eating, a self-care eating framework developed by dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. We’re recognizing the critical need to redevelop eating as a skill. We were born knowing how to eat, but over time, we lose it, living in our “there’s a right way to have a body” culture.

Dan Harris fell prey to the male version of diet culture like Stackpole. He entered calories and macros into MyFitnessPal, wore the ring to track his sleep and ate no carbs or sugars. But he “dropped all that other stuff” after a life-changing interview with Tribole about Intuitive Eating.

“Why are you torturing yourself trying to get a body you had in your thirties or for some aesthetic ideal? There’s no correlation between the ideal body and actual underlying health and why are you giving these messages to your son about some foods being sinful like carbs and sugar,” says Tribole.

“And I was like, yeah. Yes. I was a hard core, idiot” says Harris.

Yet, initially, Harris was skeptical about Tribole’s non-diet approach to nutrition and health. Harris describes himself as judgmental and dismissive, something he says as a mindfulness practitioner, he’s working on. If this perspective on nutrition seems radical, I recommend listening to “The Anti-Diet” episode.

More than four years later, Harris admits he’s still a work in progress. Freeing ourselves from culture’s harmful messages about food and our bodies takes time and commitment. It takes far more than reading the Intuitive Eating book and briefly exploring the exercises. It requires examining deeply ingrained beliefs with critical thinking.

I suggest reading “Anti-Diet” by Registered Dietitian, Christy Harrison. Harrison unpacks the history of the BMI (body mass index) and diet culture, which she calls “the life thief,” and explains why obsessing over what you eat is bad for your health.

And if you’ve ever been told “You Just Need To Lose Weight,” consider reading Aubrey Gordon’s book with this same title. Gordon tackles, with in-depth research, 19 ingrained myths about weight. Or for something lighter (and funnier), listen to her podcast, Maintenance Phase, where she and co-host Michael Hobbes debunk the junk science behind health and wellness fads.

Liberate yourself from the false and disempowering belief that there’s a right way to have a body.

Explore your relationship with food and your body and take a gentle approach to nutrition.

Shift from striving to achieve an aesthetic or “normal” BMI to moving your body because it feels good, supports your mental and metabolic health and your functionality.

Value your sleep, social connections, and mental fitness skills as equally important.

Explore who you are, what you want, your values and priorities, and what makes life meaningful to you.

Be a part of an empowered generation that speaks kind and loving things about your body in front of your three-year-old and that one day, happily accepts the homemade brownie from your grandchild.

For however long we’re on this planet, our bodies are where we live. Feeling connected to and at peace with them is crucial to your health, happiness, and wellbeing.

(This article was originally published in Hole Health, a special section of the Jackson Hole News and Guide, February 21, 2024).

Normalizing Body Changes in Midlife

It’s time for empowering conversations, normalizing body changes in midlife.

The fact that many women in perimenopause, menopause and beyond feel dissatisfied with their bodies has more to do with the cultural expectations we’ve been taught than any real problem with our health and wellness.

Diet culture drives the narrative that midlife women’s bodies are a “problem” that need fixing; that any and all weight gain or increase in abdominal fat as we age is always bad – unhealthy and unattractive which is the meaning that diet culture has assigned to those body changes.

This messaging is harmful because it can lead women into disordered behaviors with food that are normalized such as “diets” that claim they’re not diets, excessive exercise, eating disorders, and stress our physical, mental, and relational health.

Midlife weight, body changes and our health are complex and individual and aren’t easily explained by just one thing, such as hormones.

Midlife is a time to have empowering conversations in community about menopause, a natural biological event.

It’s a time to support women in caring for their whole selves by listening to our bodies and eating nourishing food for the most part (gentle nutrition), moving our bodies in ways that build us up versus break us down, getting the best possible sleep, rest and recovery that you can and building in stress resilience practices – as midlife can be a particularly challenging time period.

In midlife we can bond by openly discussing the normal and natural body changes as we age instead of connecting over negative body and self-talk.

And it’s a time for us to reflect on what’s most important in our lives now, what makes life meaningful and aligns with our values and priorities.

When you feel drawn to blame yourself or your body, remember that it’s not you or your body that’s the problem.

Normalizing body changes in midlife and ditch diet culture

It’s diet culture. Diet culture has tapped into the global menopause market – projected to reach $24.4 billion by 2030.

Join me Mon. Jan. 8, 12-1pm MST at The Mental Wellness Collaborative in Jackson Hole, Wyoming (in person or Zoom) for an empowering conversation with Yvette Warner, LCSW and her Thriving Through Midlife community. Free and Open to the public. Please RSVP to yvette@yvettewarner.com to attend in person or receive the Zoom link. Hope to see you, Tanya

What’s the difference between coaching and therapy?

Curious about what’s the difference between coaching and therapy?

Coaching and therapy are both forms of support and personal development, but they serve distinct purposes and have different approaches.

Coaching or therapy?

Coaching is primarily focused on helping individuals or groups achieve specific personal or professional goals, improve performance, and develop skills. Coaches work with clients to identify their strengths, set objectives, and create action plans to reach their desired outcomes. Coaching is forward-looking and future-oriented.

Therapy, also known as counseling or psychotherapy, is focused on addressing and resolving emotional, psychological, and mental health issues. Therapists work with clients to explore their past experiences, emotions, and thought patterns to alleviate emotional distress, improve mental well-being, and promote healing. Therapy often delves into the past to understand and heal past wounds.

How is the coach approach different than therapy?

Coaching typically operates on the premise that clients are inherently capable and resourceful, and the coach’s role is to facilitate self-discovery and personal growth. Coaches use questioning, active listening, and feedback to help clients gain clarity, set goals, and take action. The coaching relationship is often more collaborative and equal, with a focus on empowerment and accountability.

Therapy involves a therapeutic relationship in which the therapist provides expertise and guidance to help clients understand and manage their emotions and mental health challenges. Therapists may use various therapeutic techniques and modalities to address specific issues, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), psychoanalysis, or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). The therapeutic process is often more structured and may involve deeper exploration of past traumas or issues.

What’s the difference in scope of practice?

Coaching be applied to various aspects of life, including career development, leadership skills, relationship improvement, personal growth and wellness. It is suitable for individuals who want to enhance their performance and make positive changes in their lives.

Therapy is typically used to address mental health disorders, emotional challenges, and psychological issues. It is essential for individuals who are struggling with conditions like anxiety, depression, trauma, addiction, or other significant mental health concerns.

It’s crucial to note that while coaching and therapy have distinct purposes and approaches, there can be some overlap in the techniques and skills used by professionals in both fields. Some coaches may have training in therapy or counseling, and some therapists may incorporate coaching techniques into their practice. Ultimately, the choice between coaching and therapy depends on an individual’s specific needs and goals, and it’s essential to consult with a qualified professional to determine the most appropriate approach for your situation.

the difference between coaching and therapy

So why might you choose coaching instead of therapy?

Eight Benefits of Coaching

Choosing coaching over therapy or vice versa depends on your specific needs, goals, and circumstances. Here are some reasons why you might choose coaching over therapy:

1. A Goal-Oriented Focus

Coaching is particularly effective when you have specific goals you want to achieve, such as career advancement, improving leadership skills, setting up a business, or achieving personal milestones. Coaches work with you to create action plans and provide support to help you reach these objectives.

2. Performance Improvement

If you want to enhance your performance in a particular area of life, such as sports, business, or personal relationships, coaching can provide valuable guidance and strategies for improvement.

3. Clarity and Decision-Making

Coaches can help you gain clarity about your values, priorities, and aspirations. They assist you in making informed decisions by providing a structured process for exploring your options and weighing pros and cons.

4. Accountability and Motivation

Coaches hold you accountable for taking action towards your goals. Regular coaching sessions provide motivation and encouragement, helping you stay on track and overcome obstacles.

5. Skill Development

Coaching is often used for skill development and enhancement. Whether it’s communication skills, leadership abilities, time management, or any other skill, a coach can help you identify areas for improvement and provide guidance on how to develop those skills.

6. Life Transitions

Coaching can be beneficial during significant life transitions, such as career changes, retirement, or personal life shifts. Coaches help you navigate these transitions, adapt to new circumstances, and make the most of opportunities.

7. Self-Improvement and Personal Growth

If you’re interested in personal growth, self-discovery, improving your health and wellbeing, becoming the best version of yourself, coaching can provide support and guidance on your journey of self-improvement.

8. Non-Clinical Approach

Coaching is a non-clinical, non-medical approach, making it suitable for individuals who do not have diagnosed mental health conditions but still want to work on personal development and well-being.

It’s important to note that coaching is not a replacement for therapy when dealing with severe mental health issues, emotional trauma, or clinical disorders. Therapy is designed to address these specific concerns and provides a more structured and clinically focused approach to treatment.

Ultimately, the decision to choose coaching over therapy should be based on your unique circumstances, needs, and goals. If you’re uncertain about which approach is more appropriate for you, consider consulting with a qualified therapist or coach who can assess your situation and provide guidance on the best course of action. Additionally, some individuals may benefit from a combination of coaching and therapy, depending on their overall well-being and objectives.

Interested in learning more about coaching? Let’s set up a time to see if coaching is a good fit for you. Tanya

Tanya Mark, NBC-HWC, is a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach with over 20+ years in key areas of your wellness including nutrition, physical activity, sleep, stress management and personal growth. The National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching (NBHWC) has collaborated with the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) since 2016 to provide a robust board certification examination. The esteemed NBC-HWC credential represents training, education, and assessment standards, allowing for the profession to advance in all aspects of healthcare and wellness.

Transform Your Health With This Superfood

Every year you’re introduced to some superfood promising to transform your health.

Foods with fancy names like acai, agave, goji berries, wheatgrass and Yuzu (which is a Japanese grapefruit).

But you already know about a simple superfood that has powerful health-boosting effects.

That superfood is fiber.

Yet only 5% of Americans eat the recommended amount. The American Heart Association recommends that women and men eat 25 grams and 38 grams of fiber a day from food, respectively. But on average, Americans eat only 10-15 grams of fiber a day.

Are you getting enough fiber in your diet and why should you care?

Because eating the recommended amount of fiber from food can transform your health in many ways.

The Benefits of Fiber

Soluble and insoluble fiber are two types of dietary fiber found in various foods, and they have different characteristics and health benefits.

Soluble fiber

Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance in the digestive tract. It’s found in foods such as oats, chia seeds, barley, beans, lentils, fruits and some vegetables (i.e. carrots).

Fiber-filled chia pudding

The health benefits of soluble fiber include:

  • Lowering your cholesterol levels: Soluble fiber can help reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels by binding to cholesterol particles and removing them from the body.
  • Regulating your blood sugar levels: Soluble fiber slows down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, which can help stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of diabetes.
  • Promoting satiety: Foods high in soluble fiber tend to be more filling.

Insoluble Fiber

Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and passes through the digestive system largely intact. It’s found in foods like whole grains, wheat bran, nuts, seeds, and the skins of some fruits and vegetables.

The health benefits of insoluble fiber include:

  • Promoting regular bowel movements: Insoluble fiber adds bulk to stool and helps prevent constipation by speeding up the passage of waste through the digestive tract.
  • Preventing diverticulosis: Adequate intake of insoluble fiber may reduce the risk of developing diverticulosis, a condition characterized by small pouches forming in the colon wall.
  • Supporting gut health: Insoluble fiber can serve as a prebiotic, providing nourishment for beneficial gut bacteria.

Fiber Benefits Blood Sugar Levels

Eating fiber can help prevent or mitigate insulin resistance primarily by stabilizing blood sugar levels and improving overall insulin sensitivity. Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body’s cells become less responsive to the effects of insulin, leading to elevated blood sugar levels.

Checkout the effects on your blood sugar levels when eating pizza alone versus pairing it with a fiber-filled salad.

Fiber and your blood sugar levels


Dietary Fiber Takeaways

  • Both soluble and insoluble fiber contribute to general digestive health by preventing various gastrointestinal issues.
  • Fiber-rich diets have been associated with a lower risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
  • Fiber helps promote satiety.
  • It aids in the management of blood sugar levels, making it beneficial for all individuals but particularly those with pre-diabetes and diabetes.
  • Fiber can assist in lowering blood pressure and improving overall cardiovascular health.
  • It supports a healthy gut microbiome by promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria.
  • Fiber-rich foods are typically nutrient-dense and provide essential vitamins and minerals.

So how can you incorporate fiber into your diet to reap all those benefits?

Five Sources of Fiber

  1. Eat more whole grains:
    • Oats: A bowl of oatmeal can provide around 4 grams of fiber.
    • Brown rice: 1 cup of cooked brown rice contains approximately 3.5 grams of fiber.
    • Quinoa: 1 cup of cooked quinoa has about 5 grams of fiber.
    • Whole wheat pasta or bread: Look for products that list “whole wheat” as the first ingredient for a higher fiber content.
  2. Enjoy whole fruits:
    • Apples: A medium-sized apple with the skin can have around 4 grams of fiber.
    • Berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries): One cup of these fruits provides roughly 4-8 grams of fiber.
    • Pears: One medium pear contains about 6 grams of fiber.
    • Bananas: A medium banana has about 3 grams of fiber.
  3. Eat your favorite veggies:
    • Broccoli: 1 cup of cooked broccoli offers approximately 5 grams of fiber.
    • Brussels sprouts: 1 cup of cooked Brussels sprouts contains around 4 grams of fiber.
    • Carrots: One cup of chopped carrots has about 3.5 grams of fiber.
    • Spinach: 1 cup of cooked spinach provides approximately 4 grams of fiber.
  4. Swap out meats for fiber-filled plant proteins like beans and legumes: 
    • Lentils: 1 cup of cooked lentils can give you up to 15 grams of fiber.
    • Chickpeas: 1 cup of cooked chickpeas contains about 12 grams of fiber.
    • Black beans: 1 cup of cooked black beans provides approximately 15 grams of fiber.
  5. Add raw nuts and seeds to your oats and salads:
    • Chia seeds: 1 ounce (about 2 tablespoons) of chia seeds has around 10 grams of fiber.
    • Almonds: 1 ounce of almonds contains about 3.5 grams of fiber.
  6. Try these fiber-filled snack options:
    • Popcorn: Air-popped popcorn has around 4 grams of fiber per 3 cups.
    • Raw vegetables: Snacking on raw carrots, cucumber, or bell peppers with hummus can add to your daily fiber intake.

As you increase your fiber intake, be sure to do it gradually to avoid digestive discomfort and drink plenty of water. And as always, check with your primary care physician to see what’s best for you depending on your medical history.

So instead of searching for the next superfood to transform your health, focus on the simply adding in more fiber-filled foods.

P.S. Join my FREE newsletter, Reclaiming Wellness and have tips sent directly to your inbox!

Cue a Wider Lens to Determine Wellness

What does it mean to be truly “well?”

Not long ago, confused about what it meant to be “well,” I devoted myself to “wellness.” I drank the detox skinny teas and exercised with the purpose of earning and burning food. Being “well” was synonymous with physical wellness and doing it “right” meant achieving one look.

But wellness isn’t a destination that you arrive at after drinking celery juice, achieving six-pack abs, seeing a certain number on the scale or even just eating your veggies. Yet as the year ends, you’ll be barraged once again with more “wellness” ideas.

Wellness is the ever-changing state of thriving in all areas of your life. It’s multi-faceted with “deep health” dimensions that are interconnected and include (but aren’t limited to) physical, mental, social and existential wellness. If those aspects of deep health seem a bit esoteric to you, let me describe each in more detail and how they impact your overall well-being.

Reclaim physical wellness

Maybe like me, the physical dimension defined how you “do” wellness. And while it’s an important factor, you might also be confused about what it actually means (thanks, diet culture).

Physical wellness involves feeling vibrant, energized and thriving. It’s nourishing your body regularly with balanced meals, physical activity and a good night’s sleep. It’s reducing behaviors that challenge your health such as smoking, drug use and excessive alcohol consumption. And here’s the critical distinction: Physical wellness focuses on the functioning of your body, not how you see yourself in a mirror.

As a “Be Body Positive” facilitator, I’ll remind you of the four universal body truths: your body is supposed to look different, your body will change and your wellness isn’t your weight. And most importantly, you are far more than a body.

Be kind to your mind

Did you know that over half of the people in Teton County Wyoming reported being lonely? This statistic is significantly higher than the national average before the pandemic (24%), according to the 2021 Teton County Behavioral Health Report.

The World Health Organization defines mental health as “the state of mental well-being that enables people to cope with the stress of life, realize their abilities, learn well and work well, and contribute to community.”

So how might you strengthen your mental health?

Try engaging in regular physical activity, prioritizing sleep, learning coping tools for life challenges, taking mindfulness breaks throughout your day or connecting with a trusted friend or family member.

Additionally, The Mental Wellness Collaborative hosts free monthly community discussion groups such as “Thriving Through Midlife,” “Redefining Wellness” and a parent connections group.

Social connection is key

Another factor of what it means to be truly well focuses on the human need of belonging.

Deidre Ashley, LCSW and executive director of Mental Health and Recovery Services shared in her recent column “Sound Mind” that social connections are as vital as physical activity, while feeling isolated is as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Ashley shared a quote from Brene Brown that warrants repeating:

Ruth Rathblott, author of “Singlehandedly” and keynote speaker at the 2023 Womentum Leadership Summit shared this message about connection: “Unhiding is the key to connection.”

Born with a limb difference, Rathblott hid her hand for 25 years. “Everyone is hiding something,” she said, “but embracing that secret part of yourself can change everything. When we do this, we create a beautiful safe space where everyone can feel seen and loved for who they are and know that they belong.”

When asked to anonymously write down what they were hiding, attendees of Rathblott’s workshops have shared their mental health issues, financial problems, age, weight, political views, addiction, neurodiversity and more.

So why do we all do it?

“It’s that primal shame for being different and the fear of being rejected for our differences,” Rathblott said. “It’s such a universal experience, yet we all feel like we can’t talk about it and it’s time to change that.”

Sharing your authentic self with just one person can have a powerful impact on your social wellness.

What it means to be truly well Connection

A meaningful life matters

Existential wellness is seeking meaning and purpose as well as identifying your values and priorities.

Consider, what makes life meaningful to you? What do you want?

Bonnie Wan, tackles in her upcoming book, “The Life Brief, A Playbook for No Regrets Living.” Wan shared her pathway to help us dig deep to determine what we want from our lives and how to get there with clarity, creativity and courage.

“When you have the clarity of your essence — who you are, what you stand for, what you believe in and your ambition distilled in a way that sticks, in a way that you remember it, you can call it in and call upon it whenever you need,” she said.

To strengthen your existential wellness, explore coaching or mentoring or simply journal to get clear on what makes life meaningful to you.

So what is wellness?

Wellness is far more than physical health, and it’s certainly not flat abs. Taking a wide lens approach to wellness not only helps you understand the state of your “deep health,” it helps you clarify where you can make the biggest impact toward wellness and flourishing.

Consider mental, social and existential health as key domains of what it truly means to be well this holiday season and into the new year.

(Originally published in the November 22, 2023 edition of the Jackson Hole News and Guide).

P.S. Would you like to have inspiration sent directly to your inbox? Join my free Reclaiming Wellness newsletter!

Think you are addicted to sugar?

It’s that time of year where Halloween candy is everywhere and you might think you are addicted to sugar.

And that used to be a big problem for me. I felt like I had no control around those little bite sized candies.

I used to think I was addicted to sugar.

And maybe you feel this way too.

But over the decade that I’ve worked with nutrition clients, I’ve learned that cravings for sugar are caused by a multitude of factors.

Six reasons you think you are addicted to sugar

  • You consistently eat unbalanced meals which creates unbalanced blood sugar levels (so your body is “smart” and boosts cravings for carbohydrates and sugars as the quickest way to boost your blood sugar.)
  • You don’t eat regular meals throughout the day. You skip meals on purpose or because you’re busy. You’re trying to save calories so you eat very little at breakfast and lunch so when you get home you feel ravenous and sugar sounds extra palatable.
  • You’re dieting, restricting calories and carbs which means you may not be getting the proper energy. Plus, you will often crave the foods that aren’t on your plan.
  • You’re white-knuckling it to completely avoid sugar because diet culture labels it as “bad.” So when it is available, you feel out of control around it.  It’s “forbidden fruit.” You’re human and you want what you can’t have. Did you know that research shows a key difference between a dieter’s mind versus a non-dieters mind? A non-dieter will eat a cookie (or two) and move on. A dieter will obsess (physical and mental struggle) over whether to have the cookie or not and how many is too many. Ugh.
  • You don’t allow yourself to have anything sweet without guilt or shame. Don’t forget that humans are born with a sweet taste bud.
  • You lack sweetness in your life, so you crave sweet foods which only temporarily fulfills this need.

So what does the research say about sugar addiction?

Research from the European Journal of Nutrition states:

“We find little evidence to support sugar addiction in humans, and findings from the animal literature suggest that addiction-like behaviors, such as bingeing, occur only in the context of intermittent access to sugar. These behaviors likely arise from intermittent access to sweet tasting or highly palatable foods, not the neurochemical effects of sugar.”
– “Sugar addiction: the state of the science.”

Think you are addicted to sugar? Think again.
Think you are addicted to sugar? Think again. Photo credit: Jennifer Rollin, Eating Disorder Therapist

If you think you are addicted to sugar, consider these key nutrition skills:

Seven Tips to Beat Sugar “Addiction”

  1. Learn to build balanced meals and snacks with quality protein, fat and carbohydrates. When you’re eating mostly carbs or sugary foods or drinks and you’re not eating enough quality protein or fats, you will experience blood sugar highs and lows (crashes). And when you crash, your body will crave carbs (sugars) to boost your blood sugar back into the normal range.
  2. Eat these balanced meals regularly, spaced throughout the day to avoid getting overly hungry (hangry).
  3. Ditch the diet culture BS and learn to listen and honor your individual hunger needs. They change every day depending on your activity level. Yes, you need to eat enough calories and quality carbohydrates. If you don’t, your biology will kick in, in the form of cravings, to get you to eat more.
  4. Learn to distinguish between physical and emotional hunger. And if your hunger isn’t physical, pause and consider what you are really needing right now? Read more: 3 Reasons why you can’t stop stress and emotional eating (and the solution)
  5. When you choose to eat something sweet, eat real sugar, not artificial sugars. If a package says it’s sugar-free, be wary as this often means they’ve replaced sugar with a fake sugar.
  6. When you choose to eat the cookie, ice cream or other sweet, slow down and savor it. When you feel guilty, you may tend to eat these foods quickly, “to get rid of the evidence.”
  7. Feed your sweet taste bud. Yes, really. Are there sweet foods that you enjoy that are higher quality? I love fresh raspberries, apples and dark chocolate. Create a list of these foods and have them readily available.

If you’ve always thought you are addicted to sugar, but now see that your cravings may be caused by a lack of critical nutrition skills, practice these seven tips. Need help, reach out! Tanya

P.S. Like what you’re reading? Join my free newsletter Reclaiming Wellness and have wellness tips sent directly to your inbox!

Five steps to reduce stress

One of the biggest threats to your health and well-being is unmanaged stress. The great news is that you can learn five steps to reduce your stress load and become more resilient to whatever life throws your way.

Building a stress resilience practice provides you with a secure grounded foundation making you more likely to succeed in changing OTHER THREATS TO YOUR HEALTH AND WELL-BEING.

“Stress is the most common factor that drives people to breathe, drink, and eat in unhealthy ways. We prefer to think of this factor as distress. Times of anxiety, depression, anger, and boredom stress our abilities to cope. These times are like fevers: They signal that something is wrong with our emotional, mental and physical well-being.”
– Janice and James Prochaska, Changing To Thrive

When you don’t have stress resilience skills, you may cope with life stressors in ways that make you feel better in the short term but don’t support your long-term health. You may find yourself spending too much time on the couch, reaching for food for comfort and wine to unwind, sleeping poorly and then waking up exhausted and doing it all over again.

If you identify with any of those behaviors, I’m going to pause for a moment to make sure you’re not berating yourself.

All human behaviors are trying to solve a problem – to feel better. But when those behaviors are your main or only coping strategies, it’s critical that you learn and practice supportive ones.

Even if your stress levels are low right now, I recommend you proactively develop a practice to provide you with a solid base FOR WHEN LIFE INEVITABLY BECOMES CHALLENGING. 

Five steps to reduce stress

So how much time is supportive in reducing your daily stress load?

Reduce stress as a daily practice

The criteria for healthy stress management is intentionally spending 20 MINUTES DAILY to let stress leave your body and mind.

And no, you don’t have to sit for 20 minutes to meditate unless that’s your preference. Taking mini breaks throughout your day to breathe, connect, and move your body is effective.

So often we live our lives like it’s an emergency. We don’t stop to pause and think about the importance of having a strong stress reduction routine. Or maybe we’ve never considered how our lack of stress management tools has led to unwanted lifestyle behaviors.

Shift your mindset about stress resilience

I encourage you to think of stress resilience like your bank account.

Are you only making withdrawals from your account?

You feel wired, tired and burnout.

Or maybe you are making some deposits, but they’re inconsistent or merely equal to your withdrawals. Thus you’re just breaking even.

You’re merely surviving.

A healthy bank account requires more deposits than withdrawals. It requires a positive balance.

The same goes for building a healthy stress resilience account.

To THRIVE, you need more deposits than withdrawals.

And by exploring the five steps to reduce stress, you can build a your stress resilience practice and a robust balance!

If you don’t have a net positive stress resilience practice, it’s time to build one.

It’s FOUNDATIONAL to your health and well-being.

Yet it’s often the critical factor missing from your self-care routine. ♡ Tanya

P.S. Like what you’re reading? Join my newsletter, Reclaiming Wellness, where I share bite-sized pieces of wellness wisdom to help you live happier and healthier. You can expect non-diet nutrition, physical activity, sleep, stress and body image tips as well as recipes and other insights to ignite your growth and personal development.

Taming Negative Self-Talk: Neuroscience and Your Wellness

You’ve likely encountered that nagging voice inside your head saying, “I can’t do this” when you’ve tried to improve some aspect of your wellness: eating more veggies, moving more, getting more sleep, or maybe meditating. Or maybe you’re critical of yourself when you look in the mirror. But don’t get disheartened. There’s some exciting neuroscience research that can help you understand and counteract that voice.

Tame Your Brain and Negative Self-Talk

The brain’s adaptability is one of its strongest features. However, with repeated negative thoughts, our brain strengthens specific neural pathways, making such thoughts occur more frequently. Think of this like a hiking trail: the more it’s traveled, the clearer it becomes.

Now, this isn’t just a metaphor. A study published in Nature Neuroscience found that neurons in our brains that fire together (think thoughts or behaviors) wire together, solidifying certain patterns and responses.

Moreover, when we entertain negative thoughts, parts of our brain, especially the amygdala, get into overdrive, releasing stress hormones. Prolonged exposure to these hormones can lead to complications like heightened anxiety levels and mood disorders.

Strategies to Harness Your Brain’s Potential

1. Positive Affirmations: A study from the Journal of Positive Psychology highlighted that individuals who practiced positive self-affirmations were more open to behavioral change. So, try to start your day with a positive statement about your health journey, such as “I am taking action to make today a great day.”

Taming negative self-talk with neuroscience


2. Mindfulness and Meditation: A comprehensive review in JAMA Internal Medicine suggested that meditation can improve anxiety, depression, and pain. By recognizing negative thoughts early, you can prevent them from taking control. There are tons of ways to be mindful. Try pausing to take a few breaths, or focusing on your senses – what you can see, hear, smell, taste, touch, or listening to a guided visualization. Find what works best for YOU!

Mindfulness to retrain your brain


3. Reframe and Challenge: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques, which revolve around challenging negative patterns of thought and reframing them, have been shown to be effective in various conditions, including anxiety and depression. Next time you think, “I always give up,” try reframing it as, “Each attempt brings me closer to my goal.”


4. Neurofeedback:  Also known as EEG (electroencephalogram) biofeedback, neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback therapy focused on the brain. The core idea behind neurofeedback is to provide real-time data about brainwave activity, allowing individuals to learn how to modify their own brain waves. Research from the Journal of Neural Engineering has shown positive results, especially concerning mood regulation.

5. Get Moving: A review in Health Psychology Review indicated that movement can have a positive effect on mood by releasing neurotransmitters like endorphins. The next time you feel stuck in a loop of negative thoughts, consider taking a short walk or doing a quick workout.

Use neuroscience to tame negative self-talk

Along your health journey, remember that evidence-based techniques are at your fingertips to combat negative self-talk – whether you have a perfectionist personality or tend to focus on what you don’t like about your perfectly imperfect body. Start with one and let the momentum build. Embrace the intersection of your own determination and the wonders of neuroscience, and trust that every step forward is progress backed by science.

Want some support to take your mind body health to the next level (no matter where you’re starting at)? Shoot me an email and tell me about yourself and your vision for your Best Self. ✨ Coach Tanya