FMD Mom shot by Stephanie Heymann Photography
OCCUPATION: stay-at-home Mom, certified health coach, Executive Director at Angel Mamas non-profit organization
HOMETOWN: This is a tough one for me to answer! I was born in San Francisco, CA but only lived there for a few years. I lived in a handful of states and then moved with my family to Brussels, Belgium, when I was 12. I loved living overseas and graduated high school there. But the longest place I have ever lived is here in Scottsdale, Arizona, so maybe I could call this my hometown? It certainly feels like home now as I’ve lived here for 18 years.
WHAT IS YOUR CLAIM TO FAME? Former sugar and carb addict turned certified health coach and wellness advocate. As a busy mom, I always wanted to be a healthy role model for my family, but couldn’t quite figure out how to get there. I had suffered from an autoimmune illness, debilitating headaches, anxiety and depression for quite a few years. I tried to manage this with emotional eating (days filled with Diet Coke and “sugar free” and “fat free” foods with little nutritional value). I turned to sugar for energy and for comfort. Needless to say, it didn’t work well over the long run. After numerous visits with a variety of doctors (I was even labeled “skinny fat” because I looked healthy but certainly wasn’t with high cholesterol and glucose levels), I found a terrific health coach who helped guide me on my journey to good health. I learned about the valuable role food plays in one’s overall health. I learned how food can truly heal the body – actually, how the body can heal itself with nutrient rich foods. My anxiety levels went down, I am now able to sleep better, I have more energy and I no longer suffer extreme mood swings. I completely switched my eating habits and am now happy to say that my debilitating headaches are a thing of the past, my autoimmune disorder is gone (my doctor was amazed!) and my cholesterol levels dropped almost 100 points I have become such a believer in the healing power of food – as Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Learning to eat whole foods and using foods to heal my body has truly transformed my life.
HOW MANY CHILDREN? One incredible daughter, age 10.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TREAT/ CHEAT MEAL? HOW OFTEN DO YOU HAVE A CHEAT MEAL? My favorite cheat meal would have to be a Margarita pizza from POMO Pizzeria (reminds me of the ones we would get overseas as a child!). I would also love a good old fashioned hot fudge sundae. I don’t really keep track of when I eat a “cheat meal.” I just make sure to balance out the rest of my eating – on average I indulge probably about once a week. However, I find that I need to be careful with my sugar cravings – if I have one bite I often cannot stop! I then do not feel good mentally or physically the next day and I realize the sugar is just not worth it for me. Too many bad headaches and excessive moodiness!
HOW DO YOU EAT WELL AS A MOM ON THE GO? I try to always have fresh fruits and vegetables in the house (I particularly love making green juices in the morning). I love sugar snap peas for an easy go-to snack. I also like to make up a mixture of goji berries, mulberries, almonds and Japanese rice crackers to nibble on throughout the day. I like to boil a dozen eggs for the week (I’m lucky my neighbor has chickens!) and then have them ready for a quick snack or to make a healthy egg salad. I find if I take the time to plan my meals ahead of time I eat so much healthier and thus feel so much better.
WHAT FOOD CAN’T YOU LIVE WITHOUT? I cannot live without bananas. I have at least one a day. I love them plain, in cereal, with peanut butter, frozen in a smoothie or even made into banana ice cream (see recipe below).
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CLEAN MEAL? My favorite clean meal is a huge fresh salad with all of my favorites: spinach, romaine, artichoke hearts, cucumbers, mushrooms, mulberries, garbanzo beans and hearts of palm. I make a refreshing dressing using extra-virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, lemon, garlic, salt and pepper.
ARE THERE ANY FOODS THAT YOU AVOID AT ALL COSTS? There really are no foods I avoid at all costs except soda (which was very hard for me in the beginning because I was a Diet Coke fiend for much of my life). I think it can be very difficult to always eat clean but I do try to avoid processed and sugary foods as much as possible. I try and eat food that does not come in a box or have an expiration date of ….forever….I try and eat foods in their most natural state.
WHAT’S YOU FAVORITE EXERCISE? I absolutely love ballet barre – particularly power barre!
HOW DO YOU STAY MOTIVATED? It really helps to think about my daughter and how she views me as a role model. Having her is when I really realized that I wanted to change my eating habits. I did not want her to feel the way I had felt in the past with the crazy eating habits and roller-coaster emotions. I am also motivated by keeping my body and mind healthy because of HOW it makes me FEEL.
IF YOU COULD ONLY OFFER ONE TIP TO A MOM TRYING TO GET BACK INTO SHAPE WHAT WOULD IT BE? Take one day, one hour, one minute at a time and do not beat yourself up for not being how you think you should be. I really think the most important place to start is by loving yourself FIRST, AS IS, and then working from there to be the healthiest version of yourself.
WHEN YOU FEEL UNMOTIVATED WHAT DO YOU DO? I may first mope in bed and allow myself to just rest and feel unmotivated. Maybe my body and mind need a break. I then may call a friend or I open up a great self-help book (Brene Brown comes to mind). Then I just think to myself, just get up and go for a walk. Or just get up. Just show up for something. Just start with that. One small step at a time.
HOW HAS TRANFORMING YOURSELF PHYSICALLY MADE A DIFFERENCE IN YOUR LIFE? I’ve learned there is a big difference between being skinny and being healthy. I feel much more confident and capable of doing things I never would have dreamed of trying before (going on Live TV, hiking further than I ever have, trying more challenging exercise classes, being authentic and showing my vulnerabilities!). The strength I have found physically has helped strengthen me mentally. I feel as if I am able to give more to others because I take the time to take care of myself.
TRACY’S VANILLA BANANA “ICE-CREAM”
This is a great treat if you are craving ice cream but don’t want all the sugar and fat! I love making this for an after-dinner treat. Even if you are not a banana fan, you will love this!
- Freeze 2 bananas.
- Place bananas in Vitamix or blender.
- Add 1 cup unsweetened almond or coconut milk.
- Add ½ teaspoon vanilla extract.
- Pulse until just blended (it should have an “ice cream” consistency).
- Taste – if more sweetness is desired, add a touch of honey or stevia as desired.
- Options: add a few teaspoons cacao or 1 tablespoon peanut butter. You can flavor it anyway you like. Top with chopped peanuts or unsweetened coconut flakes for a twist.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE? DO YOU HAVE ANY WORDS OF WISDOM OR ADVICE, POSSIBLY SOMETHING THAT HELPED YOU GET TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW?
I think it all starts with the belief that I am truly okay just as I am (flaws and all!). This began with surrounding myself with positive and supportive people. I let go of the feeling that I felt like I had to be a certain way “to be liked” and stopped comparing myself to others. I also stopped the negative self-talk that would sometimes creep in. I started to believe in myself and my own power to make myself feel better. When one thing made me feel better (such as cutting out sugar), it lead to other things that made me feel better (such as trying a new exercise class, making fresh green juice/smoothies). I started changing small things in my day-to-day routine which eventually turned into good habits. It is important to remember that no matter what point you may be at, it is always possible to change to become the best version of yourself.
All images photo credit Stephanie Heymann Photography