BORN THIS WAY: KERI GLASSMAN ON LIVING YOUR MOST NUTRITIOUS, DELICIOUS LIFE
"I always say I was born to do this."
Those were the very first words uttered during our interview with the famed Keri Glassman. A pioneer in the nutrition world, Keri is a Registered Dietician who has been paving the way in holistic nutrition for decades. She doesn't count calories, carbs, or points (sound familiar?), she understands the whole body and the whole person as one very complex, interconnected, and, yes, sexy, entity that needs to find it's own very unique space of balance in order to thrive.
She is, needless to say, a woman after our own hearts. And after sitting down with her and digging into the world of food, nutrition, and all things Keri Glassman, we'd have to agree - she was absolutely born to do this.
ON CHANGE + THE BIRTH OF A NUTRITIOUS LIFE
"I truly, truly believe that health and wellness were just in my blood, from the very beginning. A good friend of mine says that in seventh grade science class, I said to her, 'Can I have some almonds? I’m craving them, I think my body needs vitamin E.' I don’t remember this, but she swears by it.
As a child, I was super athletic, an average weight and height. I always had an innate interest in fueling the body for health, and to stay active because I was a gymnast, and used to practice four or five days a week until about seventh grade. At home, my mom always cooked us a wholesome breakfast, lunch, and dinner - I had a grapefruit at first course, a salad, vegetables, some protein and a starch… every single night. But I also remember her having this junk food drawer, where we could sneak treats out of... Oh gosh. For about a year and a half of my life, I remember never ever going in there, because I had this mentality of 'I am a gymnast, I need to be healthy.' It wasn’t even a weight thing. It was really just about “these foods are good for me and these ones are not.”
"I always had different little interests, but until I studied nutrition, I had never found that one Massive Passion."
"Fast forward to college [at Tufts] - I gained 25 pounds my freshman year. For me, it was definitely not an ideal weight and I ended up dieting for the first time. Terrible idea.
Going to college really took me out of that element of having access to perfectly clean meals every day and put me in a state of yo-yo dieting and on an emotional roller coaster of eating. It was very much like, “I can be healthy by eating fries and ice cream, but then the next day I’ll just restrict or start all over.” It was this very emotional up and down - and there’s no one in college who remembers me as being an obese person, but in my own body, I was too overweight.
At the same time, I was playing college sports, and I distinctly remember noticing a difference in how I felt when on days and weeks when I ate better. I’d not only do better on the athletic field, but I'd sleep better, and I was way more motivated to do my work. And it wasn’t just school work I was motivated to do - it was this whole lifestyle motivation. I realized, 'Wow, I actually did play better, I actually do feel better.' So, that’s now where I say all the pillars of a Nutritious Life began.
When I first decided to go into sports, I really wanted to get into sports broadcasting. And it’s funny now looking back, because I do so much broadcasting on the media, just about nutrition, not sports. So in some way I feel like a lot of my early interests have come full circle together.
So I took Nutrition 1 at NYU, and said to myself, 'I’m not totally going to quit my career, I’ll just take this class and we’ll see what happens.' Of course when I took it, I fell madly in love. I was just so obsessed with nutrition. My ex-husband jokes that it was always my one true love."
"I was the type of person that always worked hard, and I was passionate about being an athlete. I worked hard at sports, I worked hard in school and I always had different little interests, but until I studied nutrition, I had never found that one Massive Passion. Like I said, it was always in me, but I didn't know that it was this huge passion that I could turn into a career. Going from a career where I felt like I was just going through the motions, to working hard on something I was super passionate about was exciting. Everyone I was in class with will now say, 'Oh I remember you, with all your pens and color coated notes!' And I’m just like, 'Yeah… because that’s when I had an awakening and all this passion and work ethic came together.' Of course I was excited! So I quit my job, and went into nutrition full time."
"What's unhealthy is negative talk about hating the way you look. That negative chatter is getting you no where good."
ON EMOTION + MANIFESTATION
"I, personally, am in a much better emotional place about these things, but of course I still say things like, 'I want to work on really getting my dream abs right now' and that's okay! Because I don’t think that’s me saying 'I hate my body' or anything like that. I want to be the best version of myself, and still feel really good while doing it. You can still be really healthy while working on your abs or whatever. What's unhealthy is negative talk about hating the way you look. That is what creates stress in the body, which increases cortisol levels. Cortisol makes you gain weight, and you’re going to hold it all in your midsection. I’m not saying that one stressful day will suddenly make your belly bigger, but I am saying that a stressful build up of cortisol over time will not get you the abs you want. That’s the psychological part.
The behavioral part is telling yourself 'I look like crap anyways', so on a subconscious level, you are more likely going to reach for the morning bagel and cream cheese instead of making yourself a green smoothie. The behavioral and the emotional go hand in hand. And a lot of clients ask me, 'Well how do I get to that positive place?' I tell them to just start in knowing that the negative chatter is getting them no where good. I have them say 'This is where it all ends' and then write exactly down what they feel."
"I’ll have people write down just four things - it doesn’t have to be about their body - just four things they love about themselves. It could be something as simple as 'I’m super great at crossword puzzles.' I do this, because we have to literally force ourselves into these steps in order to make positive change, and get some positive energy flowing through the body. This will bring the cortisol down, then the task of making a green smoothie just seems simpler and less tedious. Try writing… it works. Keep those positive thoughts flowing.
I’ll also suggest books. I rarely read many books front to back, but I always have a few on hand to flip through and become inspired by. I have so many feel-good, spiritual books. They can really help alter a bad mood. Or, it could be a poem, or a song. Whatever switches your vibe and getting you feeling stronger. Sometimes, we just have to push ourselves to do these things.
And then this is where my 'living consciously' pillar comes into the Nutritious Life. Your refrigerator and your closets need to be organized, but not just because it saves time - though that is fantastic - but because it reduces your stress! A disorganized space is just another thing to have to deal with. If you go and try to get dressed in the morning and find anything because there's stuff everywhere… it’s just unnecessary and silly stress. It’s not worth it, we have to save stress for the bigger, more important things."
"Whatever you’re eating style is, just know that you don’t have to be perfect all the time. Give yourself some slack."
ON Not Being Perfect
"Believe me, I’m the first one to say that I don’t always meet all the eight pillars of a Nutritious Life. I’m not perfect, none of us are. But I eat, exercise, hydrate, live consciously, and keep spaces neat. All of those are easiest for me, but what’s not so easy is sleeping and stress. Those can be really hard. My sleep isn’t always that great because I just have a tough time getting the amount of hours. And then, there’s stress, which I’ve had to learn to manage more and more than anything. I’m naturally quite frenetic and have a high energy. I can be naturally intense, so my instinct is like, “oh my gosh I am so late this is so bad,” which is again, just silly stress. So I’ve had to learn to just let that energy go. If I’m late, I’ll accept it for what it is. I’ll listen to a podcast or some great music, and do a sort of meditation to let it go. If there’s nothing you can do about traffic - which there isn’t - then it’s not necessary to put your body under that kind of stress. You’re not going to get there any faster by worrying, right? And you don’t want to show up with bad energy. So, then I say, use the time effectively, so when you get there, you feel that you were a bit productive. Listen to a podcast, your favorite song on repeat, read a book."
I don't ever pretend to be perfect. I don't pretend to always manage my stress right, or drink this and that green juice every single day, or never emotionally eat. Because I sometimes do! Now, food doesn’t take any emotional energy from me at all. I put energy towards educating people about food, but the food itself doesn’t take energy, it gives it. I say that because it use to take so much of my energy. 'What did I eat?! How much am I eating?!' Now, I say, 'Keri, you’re having a really bad day, and you want that chocolate chip cookie, so go get that chocolate chip cookie!' I joke with the girls in the office - I’ll come in and be like “Exhibit A: (while holding up a Rice Krispy Treat) Emotional eating is happening now, and I’m going to have my salmon and asparagus for dinner, I’m still going to do my workout, and it’s all good. I just don’t think it’s that healthy to always be so hard on yourself. Whatever you’re eating style is, just know that you don’t have to be perfect all the time. Give yourself some slack.
I hate the word 'guilt' and I hate the word 'willpower'. It’s all negative energy. The whole, 'I’m never going to eat that thing' is such negative energy. It should be more like, 'I want to be really good to my body and I am so excited to eat this or that or whatever I love.' We should be excited to put food into our body! Tell yourself how good it is for your skin, mind, health, everything. Do it in a conscious way. I see so many people that let food control them, and I’m like, 'Come on, it’s food on a plate, and you are a human being… you control it, it cannot control you.'
My passion is people… I really want to work with people. That was the goal when I started my own practice, and it still is. That will never change."