Creating Health-Promoting Habits & Behaviors with Jenna Waite

Welcome back to The Balanced Dietitian Podcast! Today we are going to be talking all about health. We will be discussing health-promoting behaviors, healthy habits, and so much more.  I am so excited to be joined by Jenna Waite. Jenna is a Registered Dietitian, Nutritionist, Christian Health Coach, and Intuitive Eating Coach. 

In this episode, we discuss: 

[01:10] Jenna’s story  

Jenna’s story begins, like so many back in childhood. She was in a bigger body as a child, and of course got so many messages about why that was wrong, and why she should be ashamed of that.  The birth of her baby sister was my catalyst. She didn’t want her sister to grow up being ashamed of her big sister and so she really needed to lose weight. That sent her down this path of nutrition. Jenna got into the dietetics program at Brigham Young University and started studying nutrition. She healed her relationship with food pretty early on, but her relationship with my body still stayed strained for 20 years. 

One day in her bathroom Jenna had a pivotal aha moment that just changed everything for her. She remembered how incredible her body was and that she was able to birth five children. At that moment, she just decided this isn’t serving her to focus on her weight and body size. Instead, she was just going to focus on how she felt and focus on loving her body so that is what sent her on the path of her intuitive eating health journey.

[12:17] Life changes when not focusing on the body 

The main change when Jenna stopped focusing on her body is that she just doesn’t think about it nearly as much. Her mental energy was focused on what she was putting into her body and every few months she would just get really depressed. Jenna hated her body and gave so much energy, time, and mental space to focusing on and worrying about her body. It’s been a process. It’s not like she just snapped her fingers and all of a sudden all her thoughts had changed. It really felt like that day in the bathroom.

Jenna is way healthier now on the other side of the body piece than she was before because of that love and respect. When you love something, you want to treat it well and when you respect something, then you want to do things that show that respect. 

[16:39] What is true health?  

Health is such an individualized thing. Jenna always encourages her clients to come up with their own definitions of health. When we’re focused on our physical health, that’s great and it can certainly influence other areas of our health but when we’re so focused on it at the expense of any of those other areas, that’s not healthy. When people think of health, they generally think of physical health. A lot of times they then do things for their physical health that are unhealthy for other aspects of their life. 

For Jenna personally, health means being at peace with her body, no matter its size. It means having plenty of energy to just do the things she wants and needs throughout the day is helpful, not obsessing about everything she is putting into her mouth and not spending a bunch of time and energy thinking about it. Challenging her mind often, enjoying an occasional treat without shame or guilt, and not feeling controlled by food. Being healthy feels like spending quality time with her loved ones and family and being in a career she loves. All of those different aspects of our health have to play into our definition. Health is probably going to look different for somebody else. It all comes down to your core values.

[28:43] Health-promoting behaviors  

For Jenna, it is what is gonna help her feel great and give her energy. Moving your body regularly is important. Getting your heart rate up, moving your muscles, and strength training is great for your body but also just moving around throughout the day. Other things that contribute to our health are hydration, getting enough sleep, and having lots of produce and whole grains. Daily affirmations, meditation, and things like that help with mental health and also contribute to physical health. Eating regularly and feeding yourself throughout the day, so that you’re not having those intense cravings is a health-promoting behavior. We all know that these are health-promoting behaviors, but the actual doing of them can be really challenging. Jenna learned how to actually get herself to do these things and what it looks like to incorporate healthy habits in a sustainable way and so that really kind of all shifted it for her.

[34:28] Healthy Habits

Jenna always recommends starting where you want and what seems exciting to you. The goal is to help yourself do what you already want to do. Is there something that you’ve been wanting to incorporate into your life? Then start with that thing and there are lots of different ways. There is habit stacking and habit starting. It is much easier to grow and multiply a habit than to start one. Starting a habit is hard so if you can just get a really easy quick win then you can build a habit loop with a response and a reward. For a lot of people, these tiny habits are not worth celebrating. No matter how small, it is huge and something to be celebrated. Having that reward makes it so that your brain wants to come back to it. Start small with healthy habits and be compassionate with yourself all along the way.

[41:15] Jenna’s answers to the fun questions

Jenna served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in South Korea for 18 months and fell in love with Korean food. Korean bibimbap is her favorite Korean food. That’s what she would opt for if I’m in a savory mood. She makes a version of it for her kids that is not totally authentic, but they love it. It’s hard for her to find a meal that all seven people like, but they all love this meal. If she is in a sweet mood, she loves chocolate cherry ice cream. She has always wanted to fly but she also thinks she would love to be able to make time stand still. Finding some time to be alone is how she implements self-care and refuels. Balance is just when she feels like every area of her life is getting the amount of energy and time it needs to thrive.

Ready to heal your relationship with food FOR GOOD? Join the waitlist for The Balanced Program. Next cohort starts in January!

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