I’m so glad that you stopped by today because I have such an important message and story to share. In fact, it’s something that I haven’t shared before. But, first, you all know that I’ve been working on my nutrition certification, right? Getting up in the early mornings (before my day job) to help develop plans for women to address and support their health concerns is what drives me! I just love it.
One of the reoccurring themes for the past few months that I’ve seen with my clients has been body image and the constant battle that us women (and believe it or not, some men) have when it comes to our bodies. It’s also the struggle with food – we choose the latest fad diet versus the choices that will make us feel good.
It seemed to strike me as a surprise when this topic came up multiple times with women who are trying to lose weight, or balancing their hormones to address their fertility issues, or those women who just want to improve their self-confidence and self-image. Where does that come from? Why does this happen? Why to the majority of women in my life and those that I work with constantly struggle with this? And, then I opened the door to something that I had neglected to be honest about myself:
My own issues with body image and self-confidence. And, where the heck did I adopt this in my life?
In my own 20’s I went through a few years of depriving myself. In a relationship that was doomed from the beginning, I began to stop eating and resorted to cigarettes to suppress my hunger and coffee to keep myself awake. I worked long hours and was on call 24/7 as I was trying to prove my worth in a job that I eventually began to hate and that gave me nothing in return. I was probably about 100 pounds and on a visit home, my family’s jaws dropped when they saw how skinny I was in comparison to the year prior.
I was hungry for complements from my then boyfriend who never gave me the reassurance that I was beautiful enough, skinny enough, or that he loved me enough.
Yes, he didn’t treat me well and about three years later, I ended it.Call it spiritual enlightenment but I finally sorted out my shit, and I started on a quest of personal development that lead me to my now relationship with my husband, this website that inspires others about health and lifestyle and all with a passion to celebrate women and women’s health.
Now, many, many years after that part of my life ended, I did learn that the issues with my then boyfriend was not about how he treated me (although, that doesn’t negate the fact that he did) but more so on my own self-worth. I didn’t value myself as a woman and my then boyfriend likely picked up on that. I learned many years about about the “like attracts like” mentality that wherever you are in life, you attract that to yourself and that’s exactly what happened to me.
I will tell you that the #1 solution that I give to women who are struggling with body image, self-confidence, or even stress is the practice of self-care. It is critical to your health and ultimately, your own well-being. Read all about it HERE.
The timing of this conversation couldn’t be more perfect. I’m privileged to have a guest interview series with Liis Windischmann. She’s the go-to resource on wellness, body love and style. Liis is a top model (a top model!) who travelled the world modelling, and a fashion icon who has graced the stage on The Marilyn Denis Show, Canada AM, and Breakfast Television. Several years ago, forced to radically change her life due to her health, Liis adopted a low-stress, gluten-free, Paleo lifestyle, delved more into alternative healing and exercise modalities and found the keys to creating a healing shift in her life. Liis believes in living a healthy, holistic life encouraging others to stop obsessing about the numbers on a scale and instead be more concerned about learning to love themselves mind, body and soul.
Welcome to my Eat-Life-Balance, Liis. What a privilege it is to have you here! It’s become your personal journey to help women create a healthier body image and to reimagine life’s possibilities. How did that come about?
I’ve been a curvy model and fashion diversity advocate for over 20 years and was the director of a diverse modelling agency that broke all the “rules” so I have always been about helping people love themselves at all shapes, sizes, ages and abilities. My health journey the last few years has made me appreciate my life and my body a thousand times more and the experience made me realize the importance of helping others be proactive about health and happiness with a mind, body and soul connection so they don’t have to “fall apart” like I did in order to start making small, but important changes.
I personally work with women in my nutrition studies that have a lot of guilt around food. What are 1-3 tips that you have for women to help break that unhealthy relationship?
1) Instead of focusing on perceived negative aspects of food (i.e. always counting calories, making up lots of food rules), concentrate on all the positives. For example, the healthy way I eat literally allows me to walk and talk and eliminated the daily pain I was in. One of my life’s mottos now is: Every meal is a gift to heal.
2) Change how you speak. I encourage others to be “in” a healthy lifestyle versus being “on” a diet. Nobody wants to fall “off” something – that sounds painful!
3) Treat food as the beautiful energy it is. I often say a simple blessing before I eat – it could be something as simple as this: I am thankful for this healing energy I am about to eat and appreciate all the effort from everyone and everything that helped bring it to my plate.
You have suffered from Hashimoto’s disease. I’ve also worked with clients in my nutrition studies that have had this disease or thyroid imbalances. Tell us more about it and how you manage it daily?
First and foremost, we need to create calm, stress-free lives as much as possible and implement daily “health homework” to keep on track like maintaining vitamin D, iron and vitamin B12 levels. I eat gluten-free Paleo which greatly helps regulate my blood sugar levels. I’ve done food testing to know what was and wasn’t working and it helped bring painful inflammation levels down. I urge anybody reading this who has a thyroid issue to be tested (and have blood relatives tested) for Hashimoto’s and also Celiac and gluten sensitivities which often go hand in hand. I have (rarely diagnosed) Gluten Ataxia which never would have been picked up by traditional testing and it was found via the Cyrex Gluten Array 3 test.
What are your favorite gluten free foods?
I try to stay away from processed gluten-free foods as much as possible and try to frequent farmers’ markets to get fresh fruits and vegetables & know where my food is coming from. I love cooking with coconut aminos and ginger & I bake often using coconut flour and get very creative with maple syrup. Coconut Bliss & Screamin Brothers products are usually in my freezer!
Any advice for someone who eat paleo and gluten free when dining out?
Make sure you do some research before you eat at a “gluten-free” restaurant. The last couple of restaurants I researched online and then visited had huge gluten-free menus…yet after several questions to the server, nothing on them was safe to eat. Greek restaurants often have great options and look for gluten-free tapas restaurants which will allow you to mix and match foods often allowing for a more Paleo-friendly meal.
In part 2 of my interview with Liis, we’re going to talk about the importance of mantras for body image, her top 3 health and lifestyle tips, and a peek into her fridge where she will cover her essentials for her gluten-free, paleo eating lifestyle.
In the meantime, you can learn more about Liis by going to her website, LiisonLife (pretty catchy if you ask me!)