Today’s #FanGirlFriday is Chelsea Gross of “Nutrition With Chelsea” and we “met” by bonding over our love of real food via Instagram. Don’t you just love how the internet can bring people together? Of course I had to subscribe to her site, and then we stared messaging back and forth, and we have already decided that when my family moves to Cali (where Chelsea lives) that we are going to meet up and pretty much be best friends! Yay for social media! What drew me to Chelsea in the first place was her real-ness. She doesn’t hold back anything- if she’s having a bad day, she posts about it. She doesn’t pretend to be perfect and I love that! The world needs more people like her. What also drew me to her was her story. Chelsea, like me, has battled with distorted eating, digestive issues, body image issues, depression, and anxiety. Similar to me, Chelsea wanted to get to the root of her issues- not just cover them up with medicine. She then turned her passion into her career (again, we’re like twins!) and is now working 1:1 with women all over to heal them get to the root of their issues! Chelsea is a major babe, a Certified Nutritional Transformation Coach, and lives in L.A. with her boyfriend. Read her amazing interview below!
Tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, and what provoked you to get into the health and wellness biz.
Hi! I’m Chelsea, a Certified Transformational Nutrition Coach and I’m originally from outside of Philadelphia, but now live in Los Angeles with my boyfriend Scott. I love country music, comedy, dogs, the food network and podcasts. I moved out to LA when I was 21 to pursue an acting career (but was pretty unsuccessful and unhappy working retail jobs on the side).
At the end of 2013 I injured my back in hot yoga, and then got in a bad car accident 3 days later which resulted in chronic lower back pain. After months and months of seeing doctor after doctor, without answers or improvement I not only had to quit my job but I realized I was no longer passionate about acting either.
I knew deep down that health, nutrition and helping others was my true passion, but I wasn’t sure how to get started. I had chronic pain and had also suffered with disordered eating and an eating disorder through most of my 20’s so I wasn’t even sure I was qualified to do this type of work.
But in 2014 I found the Institute of Transformational Nutrition, a program that incorporates science, psychology and spirituality and decided to take the big leap! Quickly my life was changed for the better. It was the perfect program for me because not only did it help me heal my own issues with food and my body, but I learned how to guide other women to food freedom as well. It also made me feel less alone because everyone else in my program had past or present health challenges themselves.
I came to the realization that chronic back pain was the catalyst to bring me into the career and passion that truly makes me happy. I knew that everything I had been through made me more relatable and compassionate which I think is a pretty amazing gift. Out of my mess came my message- I’m so thankful for that.
What type of demographic do you work with most?
I work with women who are stuck in the diet mentality, constantly restricting- break the cycle and instead discover the foods, mindset and way of living that works for THEM so they can feel healthy, happy and energized.
A lot of people have never read nutrition labels before, are stuck in the “lowfat” diet craze, and are under-eating. How do you handle clients who are just now starting to take a deeper look into their health and food choices? Baby steps or big leaps?
I think for everyone, it’s different and that’s a big part of my approach- treating each one of my clients as an individual and not coming from a place of “one-size-fits” all. Because that’s what I used to try and what a lot of women are doing and it doesn’t work. I think for some people they want to dive right in head first and feel totally confident in that, and other women need to take baby steps because this is a new way of doing things which can be really scary and unnerving. It’s all about what works for YOU.
I come from a place of education and empowerment. We have been told the messages that “fat makes us fat” and it’s all about calories in/calories out our whole lives, so instead of just telling someone to start eating fat and forget about calories, I explain the WHY. The reason we were taught this false information in the first place and why it isn’t true.
I also explain the benefits of eating fat and why real food is more important than calories. Then, we keep and eye on how they’re feeling both physically and mentally with this huge shift and hang our hat on that for feeling motivated to move forward and farther away from the dietary dogma and food myths.
I also work a lot with mindset- especially around the idea that we need to under-eat to lose weight or that eating less and moving more is the answer. I help women to unpack their thoughts around those things and create new thought patterns and beliefs which support them to break free from those old mentalities that no longer serve them.
I know you deal with chronic pain and digestive issues—which I’m all too familiar with. How do you handle really bad days and stay hopeful and motivated?
It’s sounds cliche and super simple but all I can do sometimes is remind myself to keep going. On the toughest of days I just hang in there and take it one moment at a time. I remind myself that everything I’m going through is happening to teach me something and ultimately makes me a better coach and stronger, more compassionate person. I tell myself if I can get through this, I can get through anything and I really believe that.
What else helps me is connecting with other women who are going through similar things, because that helps me to not feel alone. Whether that’s in person, connecting through social media, or listening to a podcast.
I’m also a big fan of just cutting myself a break- and letting myself feel whatever I want to feel. Sometimes it’s just too tough to be positive and hopeful, so I let myself feel the opposite if I want and cry too. I used to hold that stuff in and beat up on myself for be sad or down and now I just let myself feel it. This way I can move forward and keep going because I let myself be real, raw and honest instead of hiding or pushing the emotions down.
For a while I could only walk due to my back injury and I would take really really long walks everyday. I listened to SO many podcasts. But lately I’ve been loving short at-home workouts. I usually do my own HIIT workout in my living room- 30 seconds on, 15 second breaks- of arms, legs, core and a cardio move with a 1 minute rest in between and I repeat that three times. I’m always so surprised at how much I get my heart rate up in such a short period of time! Then I usually stretch and foam roll. It works for me since I can literally roll out of bed and get it done. Then I usually walk later in the day since it really helps my back.
Fave book and why?
I absolutely love the book, “The Anatomy of the Spirit” by Caroline Myss. I read this book when I was really struggling with wrapping my mind around my chronic pain. It really helped me to uncover the beliefs I had about myself and my pain that were holding me back from healing and moving forward. I felt like this book propelled me in the direction of breaking the cycle of these beliefs I had about myself all my life- which is so powerful. I was able to experience a deeper level of self-growth and consciousness and I lean on a lot of the philosophies I learned in this book in my coaching practice all the time.
Can you share your favorite recipe with us—either one of yours or another food blogger?
Oh my gosh, how do I pick!? Last year I made so many recipes from “The Healing Kitchen” so it has to be something from there. I adore the raisin & spice meatballs from that cookbook! I meal prepped for a client of mine 4 months in a row and she requested those each time because they’re simply so good. I’m pretty much obsessed with a sweet and savory combo and these are just that. And they’re really easy to make! They’re ground chicken with raisins, and a bunch of spices including garlic, cinnamon and nutmeg- so good!
So many people, women in particular, are so hard on themselves when it comes to their food choices and body image—how do you deal with that when it comes to yourself and your clients?
I remind myself and my clients all the time that they’re not alone. It’s so challenging nowadays with the images we see on social media and on TV/in magazines of these perfect bodies and effortless weight loss. We’re up against a lot!! It’s a constant uphill battle to keep your eyes on your own journey. But we have to remember what we see is not always the real story. You never know what extremes it takes, or how unhappy someone is, or what they’re struggling with inside.
I tell my clients all the time to treat themselves with grace- with their bodies and their food choices. We cannot be perfect all the time. It’s so much more important to be kind to yourself. If you go to a dinner and you’re incredibly stressed out about what to eat and if you’re going to gain weight from that meal, etc. that’s going to end up causing your body more harm than if you went to dinner and had fun and just made the best choice you could given the circumstances.
I have been that girl that is SO hard on herself, and so mean to herself and it did not get me anywhere but truly unhappy and in a very unhealthy cycle. It’s a process everyday to work on being kinder and more accepting of where you’re at and to love yourself through it- the good and the bad. Sometimes you just need someone to be on your side and say, “I get it and you’re not alone.”
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see myself with a really booming coaching business! I absolutely love what I’m doing now and hope to just continue working with amazing women. I try to be that person for people that I always wished for when I was really going through my tough times, so I hope to just continue to reach more women and help them.
Also, I think writing a book would be pretty cool 🙂
Best piece of advice you have ever received?
Ah that’s tough! I guess that, “things don’t happen to us, they happen for us.” More like a quote than advice, but that is something I think about almost daily. Without my back pain I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now, I know that for sure so it really helps me on my toughest days to get through it. I think in every situation their comes an opportunity for growth- it’s just about getting to that place where you can notice that and can take it in.
Goals for 2017?
So many things!! I’ve made it a goal of mine to get out more in person and teach and educate. Owning a virtual business sometimes there are days that go by where I don’t leave the house because everything I do is behind my computer. I want to get out more and connect with people in person! I also love to cook, so I’m planning some cooking demos too.
I’m also looking for a new hobby, haha. Something totally different and outside of my comfort zone! I haven’t figured that out yet, but it’s a goal for 2017!
I hope you guys enjoy the interview with Chelsea! You can find her all over:
Seriously, go follow this awesome woman- her food pics alone will make you swoon! Thanks for being a boss babe Chelsea!