Scales are stupid, and other musings

Eight months ago I began leading groups of women on their journeys toward better health, and for the past 20ish years — until very recently when that venture began — I’ve worried that I was fat.

I’ve been so unkind to my body for so many years, all as a slave to the almighty scale. And I’m kind of done.

I remember in first grade, looking at a girl next to me in class as we sat reading, feeling self-conscious that my legs were bigger than hers. I was six.

I remember in 8th grade, we had to get our height and weight measured twice a year, and I would FREAK OUT inside my head as the day approached. What if someone in line behind me overheard our gym teacher as she told me mine? If I knew what day it was coming I would fake sick to miss it. I was 13.

In high school, as I saw what made certain girls popular, I considered if I should try to starve myself. I was 16.

In college, when friends in my dorm made late-night pizza orders, I vowed that I would only ever eat the crust, so I could avoid the fat and oil in the cheese. I was 18.

These are actual thoughts — nothing I’m fabricating — that a straight-A student with engaged parents and a strong support system had. I think to some extent many of us share similar memories: we’ve all felt the excessive pressure to look a certain way, and so much of that is centered around our weight.

I’ve always loved exercising and paid attention to what I put in my body, but I admit now that for many years it was for the wrong reasons. It wasn’t to help my body run efficiently or to feel strong, it was always to lose weight. As if losing 5 pounds would magically change my entire world. I had no problem spending an entire Saturday at the gym in a desperate attempt to ‘burn off’ what I had eaten the previous day. Makes me cringe to think about this now.

So, what changed? 3 things:

  1. Pregnancy. Creating a life takes your body out of your control in a forcefully magical way, and the experience teaches you how amazing your body is and all it is capable of. After having Lila, sure part of me wanted to lose the ‘baby weight’ and feel good about my appearance, but I hated the pressure to completely and immediately revert to my ‘old body.’ It somehow dishonored the amazing shit my body had just done for a year by having to eradicate every trace of it.
  2. Raising a daughter. I’ve become so much more aware of the words I choose to speak about myself and my activities with a tiny little gal in our world. While she’s only just starting to form words, I know how much Lila can perceive through my words, actions and energy. I want to be a role model for her and not just another source of pressure. I do not have to work out, I get to workout. I do not work out to be skinny, I workout to be healthy and strong. This is as much an exercise for myself as it’s an example for her.
  3. Being introduced to Beachbody programs and Shakeology. These are things that are still funny for me to admit because I always scoffed at them, but using the 21 Day Fix and Shakeology changed my life. I finally realized, in my 30s, that being strong and healthy is what matters – not a number on a scale. I can look and feel my best without being chained to my weight. The way these products have influenced my life is truly profound, and as a coach, connecting other women to them is a privilege. You see, it’s not me selling a quick fix or promoting a certain physical ideal — it’s simply helping others find the tools and accountability to feel better.

But back to why I hate scales.

Since March, I’ve led more than 100 women through the 21 Day Fix, and it never fails that every week or two I’ll get this feedback in a text or an email when I check in with people: “Hi! I feel great and my clothes fit better, but the scale isn’t moving so I’m really frustrated.”

Think about that sentence for a second. You’re essentially saying that you feel better and your body has made positive changes, but because a simple measurement hasn’t shifted, it’s all in vain?

Scales are a single measurement tool, and one that is fairly one-dimensional. Is our performance at work defined by just one metric? “Well Jessica, you’re always on time, have a great attitude and meet your deadlines, but your PowerPoint presentations are pretty disorganized, so no raise for you this year!” Do we love our friends any less if they are always good listeners, generous hosts and babysit our kids on a moment’s notice, but forget a birthday card one year? No! That would be ridiculous, and that’s how I feel about people only focusing on the scale as an indicator of success. I’m not saying we need to disregard the scale completely and go all Office Space-copy-machine on it, but just take your weight with a grain of salt. Incorporate what you weigh no more than once a week, in conjunction with how you feel and how your clothes fit, and instead track how your overall measurements are changing.

Scales don’t factor in body composition changes, like muscle gains (which can make you weigh more while taking up less space). Scales don’t consider things like sodium and hormones and drinking 8 glasses of water a day that can falsely make you weigh more. Scales don’t know how your skinny jeans fit or if your face is thinning out or if you can lift heavier weights than you could last week.

So, my friends. My point here is to be gentle with yourselves. Work hard toward your goals, but know what’s driving them and if your heart is in the right place. The scale will move when it needs to, but what I really hope for you is that your mind feels lighter as you feel healthier.

If you’re ever interested in joining one of my private health accountability groups on Facebook, comment here or send me an email: jesstaylorfitness@gmail.com. Everyone is welcome and no purchase is required, ever. And if you want to know what the 21 Day Fix and Shakeology are all about while they’re on sale this month, here’s a link to the products on my site.

xoxo

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Shakeology: a perpetual over-sharer makes no exception.

Stick with me on this one.

Juuuust give it a read.

If it still sounds nutso at the end, then ok.

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So I talk about Shakeology a lot. Pretty much all the time. I’m a perpetual over-sharer and this is no exception.

YOU ROLLED YOUR EYES, DIDN’T YOU?!

It’s ok.

But since I tend to get a ton of questions from people trying to figure out what all the fuss is about, I wanted to try to answer a lot of those questions together in one place. I know it’s hard (and unnatural) to trust a product you’ve never used or heard much about. There are tons of places to get info and the best place to start is here, but for simplicity’s sake, I’ve combined information from lots of resources to create the FAQ below:

What’s your deal; why are you so obsessed with it?
When I first heard about Shakeology, I thought it was an overpriced scam. I already ate healthy and didn’t want to add anything that came in a shiny bag from a company called Beachbody to my regimen. But after reading testimonial after testimonial, and with an urge to boost my immune system and energy as a brand new mom, I decided to try it. After one week though – of one shake a day – I had lost weight and had a huge increase in energy. I felt like a fog had lifted; like I finally got the right prescription for my vision, only it was for my body and brain.

After three weeks of one shake a day, I felt happier than I had in a long, long time. I had gained muscle, had lower anxiety and was sleeping better. I had fewer sugar cravings and was less bloated. The benefits only continued as time went by. I noticed how the shakes boosted my workouts and that my nails and hair and skin were healthier. I stopped taking my other vitamins and the iron supplements my doctor had prescribed, as well as other medications, and when I had a full blood panel a month later, all my results were better OFF my meds and on Shakeology.

Will it help me lose weight and feel better?
It absolutely can, as part of a healthy lifestyle. When used in combination with a healthy diet and exercise program, it works wonders and can dramatically improve how you look and feel. BUT…it works as part of an overall commitment to health. Meaning, if you drink a shake every morning, but then have pizza or a cheeseburger for lunch, beers every night and find excuses not to work out, you’ll certainly still get the nutritional goodness packed into the shake, but I don’t imagine you’ll see dramatic changes to your energy or appearance.

Does it taste good?
It’s delicious; not grainy or artificially sweetened. My favorite flavor is vegan chocolate. I blend mine with water, ice and unsweeteend almond milk. Sometimes I add greens, or berries, or peanut butter, or peppermint extract…

Why is it so expensive? Because it’s part of a giant corporation?
It’s expensive because – as in most areas of life – you get what you pay for in terms of quality and results. Shakeology doesn’t claim to be the cheapest, it claims to be the best. And for everything you get in one shake (nutritionally) for about $4, you’d pay $41 in groceries, vitamins and supplements. And that ‘giant corporation’ sources fair-trade ingredients, creates jobs in underprivileged nations and prioritizes philanthropy in incredible ways.

From the Shakeology blog: Sure, Shakeology is a bit more expensive than other protein shakes on the market. But there’s one very important thing you’ve got to remember, and that is Shakeology is far beyond a protein shake. It’s a nutrition shake. Designed for people who know they need more than just protein. The truth is, protein alone isn’t enough to make you, and keep you, healthy. Your body desperately needs other stuff like fiber, minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, phytonutrients, superfoods, adaptogen herbs, prebiotics, and digestive enzymes (just to name a few) to run at optimum capacity. You could spend more than $700 on supplements, just to re-create all the healthy ingredients in one bag of Shakeology.

I already eat super healthy and make green smoothies, why would I want to use this?
One big reason is soil depletion. Because of soil depletion, crops grown decades ago were much richer in vitamins and minerals than the varieties most of us get today. So while you may be making solid efforts to consume a nutrient-rich, balanced diet, your food alone can’t give you everything you need. This article gives a scary but interesting summary. Other perks:

  • Shakeology has been tested and certified by an independent lab to have a Low Glycemic Index (GI) of between 14 and 29 (depending on the flavor). This is lower than most fruits (an apple has a GI of 39, and a ripe banana has a GI of 62).
  • Shakeology’s ingredients are derived from whole-food sources. All too often, the “magical ingredients” in other shakes have been isolated from their enzymes and phytonutrients. And when that isolation occurs, those magical ingredients are no longer effective when consumed.
  • Shakeology is specially formulated so all of its ingredients work together like a symphony. While each and every ingredient has a strength of its own, when partnered with the right supporting ingredient, they form a bond that’s undeniably stronger than when they stand on their own. This is why some brands of vitamins are way more effective than others, it’s their ‘delivery system.’
  • Whey Protein Isolate (WPI)—the protein source used in Shakeology—is a very pure form of protein that contains 87% to 95% protein and almost no fat or lactose. On the other hand, Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC – found in many protein powders) is only 34% to 80% protein. So even though a WPC label can legally say “100% Whey Protein Concentrate,” technically that means there might be only 34% protein content in that shake.

Is Shakeology Organic?​​​​​​​​​​
Beachbody has put every effort into making sure that the ingredients in Shakeology do not contain pesticides, are not destroyed in processing, are produced using the best of the fair trade practices and have many of the benefits of what is considered “organic.” You might ask why it is not “certified organic?” The experience of the Beachbody development team has shown that sometimes certified organic does not necessarily translate to higher quality. Certifying something can simply drive up the price, especially with ingredients of this quality and quantity. Beachbody decided to focus on making sure the quality and integrity of the product lives up to the promise, without asking you to pay the premium.

Is Shakeology safe for pregnant and nursing mothers?
I get this question a lot, and am not super comfortable giving medical advice since I went to med school online at google.com. From the website: Shakeology should only be taken by pregnant women and nursing mothers under the direction of their physicians. From dozens of people I’ve spoken to and know personally: I had a shake everyday pregnant and nursing and felt amazing. Bottom line: do what’s best for you and your family, and talk to your doc first.

What if I can’t have gluten/dairy/soy?
The Tropical Strawberry and Chocolate Vegan Shakeology are dairy free, lactose free and soy free. Shakeology is not certified gluten free but is made with gluten-free ingredients.

What is the Beachbody “Bottom of the Bag” money-back guarantee?
Shakeology is sold with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Customers can return Shakeology packages that have been opened and used, even if the bag is completely empty.

Is Shakeology FDA approved?
The FDA does not approve any dietary supplements. Chew on that for a second, will you? Because that is straight TERRIFYING.

A multi-billion-dollar industry of things we consume, for health, isn’t regulated by the FDA. However, the FDA does set regulations and guidelines for the manufacturing of supplements, which the creator’s of Shakeology follow. Shakeology is manufactured in a facility that is registered with the FDA, adheres to current Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and is GMP-Certified by the NSF (National Science Foundation) and the NPA (Natural Products Association).

Are there any chemicals or artificial sweeteners added to Shakeology?
No, there are no chemicals or artificial ingredients in Shakeology.

Should I try it? How do I get my paws on this magic?
A thousand times yesssss. You can comment on this post, email me {jesstaylor55@gmail.com} or visit my site to order.

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An unorthodox prescription for happiness

My husband and I were out to dinner a few weeks ago — a treasured luxury as new parents — and through the course of conversation and shoveling food THAT WE DIDN’T MICROWAVE into our mouths, I paused to ask a question.

“Hey, have you noticed I don’t cry anymore?”

Now, before your brain dashes through a million scenarios pegging me as one of those girls who cries at the drop of a hat, or whenever she sees a kitten, or if a Coldplay song comes on at the wrong time, pleaseeeee check yourself.

I’m not emotionless. But I’m more practical than dramatic. My default setting is to talk or write through feelings, and it takes a great deal for me to cry in front of anyone. Meaning, if you see tears, shit has gotten real and you’re in for the long haul. However, if you are lucky enough to be married to me, besides essentially winning the life lottery, you see the good, the bad and the ugly–which in this case, is me crying. A lot. Spouses get all the unedited bonus scenes. The tears, sick days, meltdowns, bad moods, violent flip outs over laundry…amiright?

Wanna know my sweet husband’s response to this?

“Huh. Yeah, you don’t. Are you on a new medication or something?”

(It’s ok to laugh.)

But here’s the thing. I’ve made some big changes in my life over the past few months, and the combination, although largely unorthodox, has had a significant impact.

The first change was leaving Corporate America after seven years spent in three giant public companies. I relish the experiences I had, the crazy opportunities these roles presented and the amazing friends who entered my life. I’m grateful for the ways I was pushed and challenged to grow professionally and personally. But I was burned out and disenchanted. I made a transition into a smaller, non-profit setting and am so much happier. Is my new job perfect? Well, no job is perfect. I still have long, hard days and moments where I want to pull a Jerry McGuire exit. But I am so much more at peace. I’m more relaxed and connected to my work than I have in a long time.

The second change was prayer. Now if you know me, you’re possibly shocked to read these words. You may be composing a text to me that reads as follows: “Dude, are you ok? Are the Sunshine Carpet Cleaners there?” And truthfully, I’m still surprised to write this. I considered not sharing it with the blogosphere. But I don’t like censoring life and we’ve already gotten this far. Incorporating prayer into daily life brings me the kind of calm that I’ve always loved getting from meditation and yoga. It’s just more personal, and frankly, way more necessary as a mom. Prayer isn’t necessarily about religion to me, although it’s definitely connected to faith. It’s more just a way to focus, regain perspective, practice gratitude and soothe my wackadoo anxious tendencies. At the risk of sounding crass, it’s like a cozy, emotional security blanket.

And the third change? Brace yourselves. It’s been drinking Shakeology. At this point in the post I anticipate that I definitely have some concerned people poised to text me. But wait! Here’s what I mean. I first tried Shakeology to help support my immune system. Not to get bikini ready. Not to be a hot mom. Please. Barf. I have a baby in daycare and she is a germ sponge. Anyway, after trying these shakes and learning more about all the things they do for my body and health, I was sold. I’ve never felt better. It’s premium fuel you can consume. I was so taken by the product that I almost immediately became a coach so that I could learn more and share them with others. Coaching is incredible. I’m connected to an amazing network of women and am humbled everyday to see the ways we are able to help others work toward improved health and fitness. This isn’t about all the things you might think. It’s not about money or weight loss or marketing ploys. It’s about inspiring others to feel and look their best. I wrote more about my journey here.

So in summary, all you have to do to achieve true happiness is quit your job, pray and drink a superfood shake.

I kid. Sort of.

I genuinely don’t know that any of this makes much sense, but I’m going to hit post now and try to avoid oversharer’s remorse.

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The milkshake heard ’round the world (…and the joy of being proven wrong)

It doesn’t always sound like a good time, but sometimes I really like being proven wrong, simply because it’s funny (and good for the ego). I’ve decided to share one such recent experience in hopes of publicly humbling myself and maybe helping others out there.

Let’s go back a few months. In November, Lila started full-time daycare and I went back to work. And, as we’d been warned, she was sick almost immediately. And then again. And again. Ear infections, RSV, stomach bugs, all kinds of boogery nose things and who knows what else. Everything she caught she graciously shared with the household, and I was feeling sick about half of the time. Add that to the unique level of new-working-mom exhaustion and a wakeful infant and I was pretty beat up. I compared the feeling to permanent jet lag. I could pull it together when I needed to, but felt like I was floating and permanently wanted to nap. I worked out, ate well, slept when I could and still felt like tired, sick and unfocused. I realized that I hadn’t really felt like myself since pre-pregnancy, and wondered if this haze would ever go away.

I shared this story with a friend who suggested I try the type of protein/superfood shake she was using. I quite literally scoffed in her face, and wrote the idea off as something lame I would never try.

Fortunately for me, this friend is kind and persistent, and asked again if I wanted to try the shakes. Here are some of the reasons why I declined:

– They’re expensive.
– It’s a pyramid scheme.
– I eat healthy and organic foods and don’t need it.
– Protein shakes taste gross.

I had every excuse in the book NOT to try them, but when my immune system took another beating in January, I was desperate. I ordered the shakes, confident I would be returning them for a refund in a few weeks.

And then, the glorious realization that I was dead wrong. For whatever reason, I now refer to them as my magic shakes. I’ve had one a day for about two months and am not kidding when I say I’ve never felt better. I am FINALLY back to myself, and have more energy and focus than ever. I realize that when I talk about them, I sound like a paid infomercial, but here’s the thing. I only get like this, all soapbox-y, when I am really passionate about something.

Those excuses I listed above? Every one of them was disproven. The price point is where it is because of the ingredients. Ingredients that I took into two stores in an attempt to replicate, and was laughed out the door because of the prices of each individual one. It’s not a scheme, it’s a simple structure that makes me wish I invented it, because I’d be a millionaire. I do try to eat healthy, and organic, but these have rare ingredients and superfoods I’d never get on a regular basis. They are delicious, and come with dozens of recipes for making all sorts of combinations and flavors.

Aside from better energy and overall health (I haven’t gotten sick once, minus food poisoning last week — take that, daycare germs!), my hair is longer and shinier, my skin has improved and I’m sleeping better. I feel happier and more centered. While I’ve always worked out a lot, no denying that, my body is shedding fat at a crazy rate right now. In less than three weeks on these I had better abs than pre-pregnancy. It kind of makes me laugh because it seems as improbable as it sounds, but for now I just consider myself lucky to be on this track.

I recently became as a coach with the company because I love this stuff and can’t stop talking about it to everyone. Basically that means I’m authorized to sell these shakes and a lot of other fitness products. I have never sold anything in my life–not even girl scout cookies–so this should be entertaining if nothing else. I’m a tad bashful to post before and after pics on here (and it would freak my older brother out) but I am happy to email them to you to show what I’m talking about. Feel free to check out my coach site (teambeachbody.com/jesstaylor55) where you can order the shakes if you’re still reading and my crazy narrative has you convinced (just click on ‘shop’ on the top right and then ‘shakeology’).  I would be happy to give you lots more information and answer any questions or talk at you ad nauseam about this experience for no extra charge.

I debated sharing this on here for all kinds of reasons, but truth telling always wins. So there you have it, the joy of being proven completely wrong and loving it.

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