Setbacks, we all got'em.


“Breakdowns can create breakthroughs. Things fall apart so things can fall together.” ~Unknown

Everytime I read about a success story in health and nutrition, it always seems like the person claims instant victory.  One day they woke up, signed up for a program and it's been nothing but sweet success.  One day they were overweight and the next week they were on a cover of a magazine.  I think the idea that you will make it to your goal in a linear fashion creates a lot of unnecessary angst and frustration.  Everytime I sign up a client it seems that the next day they are attending a party with lavish petit-fours made by elves, irresistible chocolate macaroons and gallons of their favorite hazelnut gelato fresh in from Italy. Or, a giant snow storm comes their way knocking out power leaving them with only a 2 pound bag of M &M's and 7 Hershey Bars since someone wiped out all the healthy bread and milk.  Or worse, they heard that didn't have to change their diet, break a sweat but thanks to a magical fruit on the tiny island, they can now melt fat. Thanks Dr. Oz.

Your body is more complex than that.  Also in behavioral change,  you have to pass through a couple of stages before something becomes a habit.  There are several distinct phases for how that happens and it's something I teach my clients. So, in my book, set-backs are normal and to be expected.  The key is how you look at the setback.  If you are going to engage in a bunch of damaging self-talk about how stupid you were, your setback grows exponentially as you beat yourself down.   As a friend and client said "If one of your tires was slashed, would you go slash the other three?" The reality is that was yesterday and there isn't a whole lot you can do about it. It does help to think about what happened.  Did you get caught in a meeting without eating which launched giant sugar crash?  Did you turn to food when you really needed to talk to a friend or take a break from a project?  What really happened is more important than what you didn't do right.

What's most helpful is to listen to your body.  If after a planned or unplanned setback, you know that eating certain foods didn't really serve you, then you have made progress.  I have a couple of tactics for getting back my own body back on track.  FYI they don't include ice chips and sweet and low.  (I had a friend who would eat tubs of fat free cool whip to satisfy her sweet cravings... Trust me, I have seen it all.)  First, you need to get super hydrated.  A lot of cravings and imbalances come from not enough water.  Don't skip meals in an attempt to make up for yesterdays sins.  My best recovery plan starts with a  big green juice with cucumber, celery, flat parsley, half an apple and some ginger.  My body wants the nutrients, enzymes and minerals. Get good, clean protein, some produce and some fat at every meal.  Move.  Even 20 minutes is better than nothing.  Stuck inside?  There are about a million total body workouts that require no equipment.  I can come up with a great work out with a jump rope, a weighted ball and a 15lb dumbbell. Do something to actively de-stress: meditate, do some deep breathing, dry-brush your body, journal.  Set your intentions for TODAY without nursing any regrets over yesterday.  Reframe your setback into a learning experience.  I promise the next time, if you retain even one of the tools I just mentioned you will come through the next set-back (and there will be one) a little stronger and a little more resilient.

Mary is a health coach with a specialization in auto-immune issues, thyroid/hormonal balance, long term weight loss.

Posted on February 25, 2015 .

What's really missing from your diet? Mary Brooks, Sustainable Nutrition

I want to talk about a topic that doesn't get discussed much in the diet industry.  I bet you read the headlines or see a post on Facebook every day about the latest thing you need to do with your diet... More protein, more supplements, different ingredients, cut carbs, go gluten free.  

Right now it's Winter and everyone is about to lose their mind as it becomes Spring... the horror of the holidays, Super Bowl and hibernation season is all about to slam down on us. The diet madness is about to go full bloom.  Since I do nutrition for a living, I read this stuff all day long.  I am particularly bothered by the number of system-based, product based programs that are proliferating.  Even more disturbing to me is the fact that now many of those systems or products are promoted by people with no training in nutrition, dietary theory or anything slightly science based.  I recently saw a Facebook thread where a woman asked for help losing weight.  There were no less than 30 endorsements for products... Isagenix, Isotonics, Plexus, Nexus, Lexus.  I don't even know what any of that means. But I think it feeds upon weakness and fear.

  It's so tempting to think that all you have to do is open a box, or a package or slug down some stuff you pour into your water and you will feel better.  I admit, I want to. Even if you want to argue with me that the ingredients are clean and wholesome, we all know deep down that it's not going to work.

But here's what I want to say to you that the diet industry won't say... You are smarter than all of that.  You really and truly are.  You aren't a foreign car that you can't possibly understand so you need to go to a special, expensive mechanic who administers diagnostics in a language you can't possibly understand.  This is your body... you have been living in it forever.  You know it better than anyone. Don't put your trust in a product that will come shipped to your door forever and ever amen.  Your body isn't broken.  You aren't stupid.  And here's the other thing... your eating is incredibly related to everything else going on in your life. So that powder isn't going to help you at all when you are having a hard time at work, get blown off by someone you thought was a friend, or have a crisis of faith.

Chances are that your body is imbalanced.  We live in an acidic, toxic environment.  That means foods, things in our environment, chemicals, stress all accumulates in our body and throws us off balance.  Foods can change the expression of all kinds of things... acne, allergies, immunity, ear infections, ADD, ADHD,  Auto-immune disease, the function of your hormones, the ability of your thyroid to function, feelings of depression, infertility and recovery from an illness or surgery.  And weight gain never is the first thing that went wrong... something started that.  If you don't fix it, nothing else really matters. That's an owner's manual, I would want to read cover to cover. Over and over.  Again and again.  It's the difference between helpless, hopeless and empowered and educated.  Don't ever believe you can't learn your own body. That's fear based marketing.

I spent a lot of time and money studying nutrition. I can spout epidemiology, disease process and do a Kreb's cycle forwards and backwards... But here's the real truth, you can't do any of this without love and self-care.  Oh, you'll come out blazing for a few days determined to kick your own ass but you will stumble and the only thing to help you get up is a can of stuff.  When I talk to clients, I always find a trigger place where things came apart. The story of how you got where you are, what lead you to believe you weren't magnificent, and how do we change that FOREVER is where it's really at.  So, real science, real food, real love....

Mary has a Master's in Health Education and a Certification as an Integrated Nutrition Coach. For an appointment call or email: 865-696-9611,

Posted on February 23, 2015 .