I’ll start this off by sharing that my journey of overcoming disordered eating is not yet over. It started when I was around 10 years old, and was heavily influenced by my mother, who was obsessed with dieting, and constantly enrolled her five children into whatever diet she tried. Low-fat, low calorie, plant-based, the organic movement, colon cleanses, mineral and vitamin regiments, aloe juice fasts… Many people grow up eating a variety of foods, but no matter the diet she would constantly ask the me the same question, “Do you think I’m getting fat?!” This would be followed by crying and pleading with me to let her know immediately if she was.
My eating disorder kicked off officially at age 14 with counting calories. I decided 1000 a day was all I was “allowed” to eat. In my mind going over translated into being weak non-committal. What was I committed to though? I wasn’t certain. I don’t remember a defining moment or goal with my starvation methods, I just felt strongly that I had to do it and failing at it was a choice. I would be stronger than any craving, no matter what. I would not let “fat” happen to me.
Through the years I found a variety of ways to keep myself “motivated” and “on track” with my disordered eating. I was raised in a religious household and “fasting” was an acceptable form of starvation, so I used that frequently, going 40 days without food once during an internship at a church. I was praised for my discipline and profound spirituality.
Another place where disordered eating is easily disguised and curated is within the fitness industry. Calorie and macronutrient counting is used almost exclusively. I should know, I am a Sports Nutritionist. Meal plans are designed around weight loss and caloric restriction, not on density of nutrients in the food you consume. The fitness industry has made billions of dollars off ineffective weight loss programs, supplements, skinny teas and keeping the bar for instructors incredibly low.
In 2013 all of that started to change. I found CrossFit. I was 25 and yearning for something to motivate me and help me achieve a better body. I had gone through a myriad of fitness and diet plans, searching for the “thing” that would finally give me the body I had always wanted. After spending 15 years of my young life killing myself for that ideal body, had I finally found the way?
It was instantaneous. After one workout, I was in love with CrossFit. The workout was unlike anything I had ever done and was also the hardest thing I had ever done (and I was a 5 days a week Bikram yogi who ran marathons for fun; I thought I was super fit going into it!) I knew immediately I wanted to be good (having no idea at the time what that meant) at CrossFit. I wanted move heavy weight that girls aren’t “supposed” to lift. I wanted to do a pull up on my own. I watched women fly gracefully through air during muscle ups and was completely amazed at the possibility that women could be so strong and do things that even Olympic level female gymnasts don’t compete at. I wanted to be strong. I wanted to have the bulging muscles I saw on women and realized they didn’t look like men, they looked like warriors.
I used to seek out fitness programs based around how many calories I could drain from my body and now I wanted to build myself up. I was introduced to a world where quick fixes didn’t exist. This was not a fad or a pill or something to dabble in. In order to become good at CrossFit, I was going to have to feed my body to get the results I wanted, not starve myself for it.
Another variable that helped me is the unique community that CrossFit creates. Undeniably one of the biggest reasons the methodology is successful. Suffering together builds incredibly strong bonds between people and nowhere is that truer than in your local CrossFit gym. Having That community there to support you and cheer you on is something you’ll never experience at Planet Fitness. It’s an environment that promotes and supports growth by physiological and psychological adaptation.
There are many things unique to CrossFit, outside of its extensive variability (Jillian Michaels knows about as much about CrossFit as Jon Snow knows about anything) but buy its own published hierarchy of priority, nutrition is the foundation of the methodology. “Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, a little starch and no sugar.” – Greg Glassman the Founder of CrossFit; a quote from his “Fitness in 100 words” article. Not only does it make nutrition the foundation of the methodology, but then also gives you the prescription for what to eat. Nowhere does it say count calories, stay under 2000 a day, divide your macros up like this, time your meals to fit this window… Just eat real food!
My coaches told me that in order to maximize my fitness, this was the way to eat. SO I did. The shift went from how little I could eat and “survive” to how much I needed to in order to be healthy and properly fuel my body, a novel concept! I never had a “ta da” moment in realizing I had shifted in my disordered eating mindset, and like I said at the start of this story, I am not beyond the psychosis of restrictive eating and labeling myself as bad when I eat things I “shouldn’t.” But, I would not be where I am today if I wasn’t introduced to true health and fitness and I wouldn’t have the support required to overcome an eating disorder. My community stands behind me, cheers me on, pushes me to do what I think I cannot. We are truly in this together.
Fast forward a few years and you get a better picture of what CrossFit and health have done for me. In 2014 my husband I opened our own CrossFit Affiliate, CrossFit 513 United. It has become my mission, my calling, to facilitate and provide a space in which such life changing experiences can happen to and for others. Last year, I tool that even a step further by starting my own personal training studio and nutrition business to help others navigate their way to their own food freedom and develop a meaningful lifestyle focused on health and wellness.
My credentials are:
CrossFit Level 1 Certified (Level 2 happens in June 2019)
Yoga Teacher Training 500 hours
Certified Personal Trainer NASM
Master of Nutrition, Sports Nutritionist
You can follow me on the Gram @thesarahjenkins or ompersonaltraining.com
Recipe of the Week: Delicata Squash!
•You can eat the skin
•This is my favorite way to eat them:
Two medium Delicata Squash, sliced 1/8 of an inch thick:
-2 TBLS avocado oil
-squeeze of lime
-Fresh cilantro for garnish
-1 TBLS paprika
-1 1/2 tsp chipotle powder
-1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
-1 tsp cumin
-1 tsp sea salt
-1/4 cup mayonnaise
-1 tsp spice blend
-1 tsp lime juice
-400 degrees in the oven
-mix all ingredients in a bowl
-add spice mix
-toss until evenly coated
-bake for 20 minutes
-eat warm. Dip in aioli. Be happy.
People are always asking me what to do in order to fix their diets.
For trusting me.
For opening up to me about your biggest diet cheats, shameful behaviors, goals, successes, struggles, victories, steps forward, steps backwards… you get the point.
I love hearing all of it.
People rarely ask about my diet. When they do, they ask “what do you do?” in regards to my healthy habits, but never about my dark side. Maybe because they incorrectly assume I don’t have one.
Well. I. Do.
Here are the ways I have “failed” “back slid” and “eaten like a fucking asshole” in the last month.
1. Sugar Bust. I went to get dry needled. Well not immediately. How my day went: I woke up and had plenty of time to make and eat breakfast. I didn’t. Instead I dove right into work. All the way up until racing to the gym to train clients. (Side note: This is one of the reasons I do love being Ketogenic because my blood sugar stays level and in times when I can’t eat frequently this works well.) However; clients, then I worked out, then I went to get needles stuck into my muscles for 90 minutes. At the end (it was now 3:00pm) I was about to pass out. Literally. And I am a fainter. My PT gave me a granola bar and I ate it without hesitation so I could gather my wits and get the fuck out of her office. Then I looked at the nutrition label… because I read every nutrition label.
IT HAD FUCKING SUGAR IN IT! AHHHAGGGGGHHH!! This sucks because my goal for 2018 was ZERO sugar. I had made it so long, and due to lack of preparation and making myself a priority I put myself in a desperate situation. And that’s what happens when you’re desperate. You settle for options that usually aren’t “to code.” I do it to! You don’t beat yourself up about it, but you CAN avoid this with preparation!
2. Emotional Eating. My Family is fucked, at least that’s how if feel and let’s end it that. Being around them takes a lot of me. All of me. I spent almost a full day with them and when I was finally in the safety of my home, I went STRAIGHT to the kitchen, ripped open a bar of Lily’s Chocolate (no sugar, just stevia BOOM!) and a QUART container peanut butter. I started with a reasonable amount, and then said “fuck it, if you want to eat the whole bar you can, you just had a really stressful day.” Oh hell no. 0.5 seconds after I said that, I thought of you.
How can you possibly do that or think that’s ok? This is the EXACT thing you help people navigate and overcome. This is unacceptable. STOP. NOW. Do not go any further and put the food away. So I did. What started as a shit storm, ended up with victory. You can stop mid fuck up. You don’t have to finish it.
Because it’s unacceptable for me to soothe myself with a bad habit.
It’s unacceptable for me to give myself permission to act in a way that I do not encourage my clients to act. My stress is not greater than anyone else’s. Stop eating like a fucking asshole Sarah!
But it goes to show that even your nutrition coach has emotions, made a poor choice, and self corrected. You can too!
3. Satisfaction lulling you into complacency. Yup this happens to the best of us. You hit a goal, get a compliment, have months of data proving how hard you’ve worked, and for some reason you get careless and slip. Ugh, why?! (One more side note: You’re allowed to be happy, proud, do a celebratory dance. But you’re not allowed to STOP doing what has been WORKING. Good habits are easily broken, you MUST practice them.)
I fell off the horse. Woke up Wednesday with morning abs, had 3 months of hitting my food goals, tracking, recording, making GREAT choices. I was happy, disciplined, making progress (you can ALWAYS be better) workouts were great, energy high. So I took a three day break. Not from eating right, just from recording it. “I’m doing the right things, I don’t need to record for a few days!” On day three, I was taking small bites of Patrick’s carbs, drinking 11 coffees, and had no idea why I was strung out because I had zero data. Pie charts make me happy. It’s apart of who I am. It works for me. Why would I choose to fly blind when I didn’t have to? Because I chose to be complacent.
No one is perfect. No diet is perfect.
Perfection is not what we are striving for with our diets. We are striving for health, wellness, performance, disease prevention and all of that takes TONS of practice. Practice doesn’t make perfect but it does make permanent.
We ALL fuck up. It’s part of the process.
How fast can we recover? Course correct? Identify the fault and recommit to ourselves? With practice we can do it quickly.
These are the practices that I work on with my nutrition clients and as you can see, I also practice on myself. Slip ups happen to the most professional of us. Recommit yourself and let’s make this week a great one!
Yes, I believe this to be true.
I think the bigger picture of our Opioid Crisis lies in the fact that humans are currently unwilling to enforce self-discipline on almost any level that pertains to even slight discomfort.
This journal may seem a little harsh but until we acknowledge the weight of the epidemic that will end up destroying our nation, harsh is the tone that needs to be set. Everyone is responsible for what is happening to our fellow Americans.
We live in a society that expects and demands comfort, and thinks preventable, chronic illness is normal. 70% of adults are overweight and obese. 1.4 Million adults develop Type 2 Diabetes every year joining the 29 Million that currently have it, as 84 million stand in the line as Pre-Diabetic. (Stats are here).
This one is very personal. Some of you may not experience anxiety or if you do, may still be working towards the breakthrough. In a world of chaos (maybe in a world that feels like it’s full of chaos) right now I thought I would share some hope. Maybe your breakthrough isn’t with anxiety, and you’ll find comfort knowing there is another side to whatever it is you’re battling.
The struggle is real when it comes to the daily battle of “to Rx or not to Rx” when it comes to our CrossFit workouts. I’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum as a Coach and as an Athlete. Although the message coaches and athletes will hopefully learn today, the two are not opposing.
As a Coach, it’s a constant battle to convince athletes they really need to be scaling. And if every Coach (who is also an athlete) will be honest, they’ve struggled with it too. Perhaps they still do and think their title of Coach is a get-out-of-scaling-ever free card.
I’ve been known to reflect on conversations. One’s that stand out to me anyhow. A conversation that “stands out” to me probably challenged my thought process, made me pause and dig deeper, brought a fresh perspective, or a solution to a challenge I’d been mulling over. It keeps me questioning, expanding my “world views” and all that goodness. I reflect on conversations that happen around me too. Being a wallflower at times will pay off because if you listen, people will tell you what they really think.
Mind you now, words have meaning and intention to me, so when I say reflect, I mean reflect and not judge.
I had a killer training day today. I beat my training partner for the first time in a year. That’s not how I know I had a great training day, that is just the cherry on top.
I know I had a great training day because I was breathing fire. I was able to push myself to a very dark place. A place I hadn’t been able to get to in awhile and after today I know it’s because I’ve been over training.