Gina Ramirez: “Stress less”

Stress less. Our fast-paced lifestyle creates an atmosphere for weight gain. The more stress we have the more our system is in the flight or fight mode. This is a space where we are unable to properly digest food. Our hunger hormone gets off balance and may cause us to feel hungry. Are you a […]

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Stress less. Our fast-paced lifestyle creates an atmosphere for weight gain. The more stress we have the more our system is in the flight or fight mode. This is a space where we are unable to properly digest food. Our hunger hormone gets off balance and may cause us to feel hungry. Are you a stress eater? Many people feel the stress coming on and reach for sugar, salt, or comfort food. Taking a few deep breaths from your diaphragm pushes us into the rest and digest system instead of flight or fight. Give yourself a moment to relax and get curious about how you’re feeling. Hungry? Thirsty? Need a moment to yourself? Honor what you’re feeling and allow yourself the space and time to experience it.


So many of us have tried dieting. All too often though, many of us lose 10–20 pounds, but we end up gaining it back. Not only is yo-yo dieting unhealthy, it is also demoralizing and makes us feel like giving up. What exactly do we have to do to achieve a healthy body weight and to stick with it forever?

In this interview series called “5 Things You Need To Do To Achieve A Healthy Body Weight And Keep It Permanently” we are interviewing health and wellness professionals who can share lessons from their research and experience about how to do this.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewingGina Ramirez.

Gina Ramirez is a Certified Health Coach, Certified Worksite Wellness Specialist and Licensed Professional Counselor. With over a decade of health and wellness experience she has a virtual coaching practice where she specializes in working with professional women who struggle with their physical health due to work-life imbalance. Learn more on her website: www.WellnessWithGina.com


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I grew up in Portland, TX. That’s a little town near Corpus Christi, TX. In my earliest years, it was a household that valued physical fitness. My parents enrolled me in every kind of sport-from softball, tennis, basketball, swim team to golf. I have two siblings so there was never down time! My poor parents were running from event to event; always cheering us on. The idea was the more you learned to play, the more well-rounded you’d become. Once I got to high school, I quickly dropped all sports, except tennis team.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

My father inspired my love for exercise. He taught me that movement was a stress reliever, a form of meditation, a way to express myself and a way to connect with others. In high school we’d take the evening to connected through walking/running. It brings back such fond memories for me.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

Not a person per say but a culture. In 2009 the Air Force moved our family to Aviano, Italy. Up until that time, I’d dabbled in a more natural way of life — being more conscious of the types of products I purchased. When we moved to Italy, my eyes were opened to a whole new way of healthy living. From having a vegetable garden to cleaning with natural products and line drying my clothes. Things took time there. I’ll never forget the Italian saying, “you just have to learn how to grow tomatoes.” The meaning: don’t rush it! Our fast paced, fast food American culture wasn’t so pervasive In Italy. Frustrating at first, it soon became a lovely way of life. In the three years that we were stationed in Italy, I became a plant-based eater and started making changes to our standard American way of life.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

Not a funny mistake but I think one that most women face. My biggest mistake was trying to do it all. When the Air Force sent us back state-side, I started working full time with two very busy elementary school boys. That fast-paced lifestyle was thrust right back at me. I was trying to do all the things and be the perfect mom, wife, and employee. It caught up to me and I fell asleep at the wheel going 70 miles an hour on the highway. At the time I was getting up at 4:00am to exercise (because that was a stress reliever — or so I thought), working a full eight hours, picking the boys up from school, playing mom taxi to their activities, then coming home and trying to get a home cooked meal on the table. To say I had absolutely nothing left at the end of the day is an understatement! My hair started falling out, I was vitamin and mineral deficient, my hormones were imbalanced, and I was a wreck. I needed an intervention! A doctor’s visit and a chat with a friend started me on my path to recovery. I never want other women to experience that kind of fatigue, defeat, and burnout. That’s why I’m so passionate about what I do.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

“We are made to do hard things and we’re constantly evolving.” It resonates because life is hard! There is adversity at every turn and it’s so easy to give up, make excuses, and quit. Yet, I remember that it is in the “hard” that we grow. Embracing and running toward instead of away has served me well.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

I’ve been refining the Wellness With Gina Membership. It’s been a project I’ve had on my mind for months and now the unveiling is nearly here. I’m so excited to be able to help professional women reach powerful transformation in their lives and avoid burnout. The membership is a group format that provides step-by-step accountability. Members are receive a Road Map to Success Workbook that gives clear direction on where to start and how to maintain progress. I’ll be their guide to reaching those healthy living goals. This membership will be chance for high achieving professional women to put their health journey at the fore front. We tend to take a backseat to everyone else in the family. Being and doing it all, leaves us literally depleted. This membership honors that busy schedule and provides a safe place for community and accountability. As professional women,we need to learn the art of integration. Putting all the pieces of our life together to form a beautiful tapestry where we’re nourished by our relationships and our work without either one taking over our lives.

For the benefit of our readers, can you briefly let us know why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field?

I’ve been working in the wellness field for over a decade. Facilitating emotion management groups, meditation classes, cooking demos and more; I bring in the entire mind-body perspective to wellness. It’s important to consider wellness as a lifestyle — to include nutrition, exercise, attitude, and relationships.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about achieving a healthy body weight. Let’s begin with a basic definition of terms so that all of us are on the same page. How do you define a “Healthy Body Weight”?

I prefer to consider waist to hip ratio and waist measurement over body weight. Every body type is different so stepping on a scale can be deceiving! Your waist to hip ratio should not be over 1. For men — ideally no more than .09 and for women .07. The reason I like this form of measurement is that anyone can do it. You don’t need to get to a trainer or gym, just head to your bathroom with a measuring tape.

Waist measurement for men should be within the 40-inch range. Waist measurement for women should not exceed 35 inches.

How can an individual learn what is a healthy body weight for them? How can we discern what is “too overweight” or what is “too underweight”?

See previous answer. Of course, you can get technical with Body Mass Index but I prefer to focus on healthy habits and watch as the body comes to a natural balance by changing lifestyle habits over time. As we work to get lifestyle into balance, I focus on: hunger, energy, and cravings.

This might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to expressly articulate this. Can you please share a few reasons why being over your healthy body weight, or under your healthy body weight, can be harmful to your health?

Unfortunately, most people don’t know what healthy feels like. The average American is taking five prescriptions daily. There’s a pill for every ill! Being over or under a healthy body weight changes your physiology — specifically your hormones. For women, having excess belly fat can contribute to estrogen dominance, increased cortisol, and more weight gain. Hormones control many different body systems from hunger cues to sleeping. When we are imbalanced, our entire life is affected. I’m not just talking our physiology. Our moods can also become dysregulated which can affect our relationships. Excess body weight can lead to type 2 diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, cancer and more.

Being underweight can lead to vitamin deficiency. Our food works in synergy. We must eat the rainbow of colors to benefit from the absorption of vitamins and minerals. When we’re deficient it can lead to osteoporosis, hormone imbalance, chronic sickness/disease, and a potential for eating disorders.

In contrast, can you help articulate a few examples of how a person who achieves and maintains a healthy body weight will feel better and perform better in many areas of life?

Achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight is so much easier than trying to lose weight — especially as we age. When we finally achieve wellness and live in that space, we want to sustain it simply to maintain the healthy feeling. Taste buds begin to change, cravings begin to change, and food choices change as we train our bodies to live into a healthy space. A healthy body has clarity of mind which means better lifestyle choice (food, mood, exercise, sleep, relationships). We have more energy which will encourage more movement; which leads to better sleep, removal of toxins, better cell repair and production, better digestion and the list goes on.

Ok, fantastic. Here is the main question of our discussion. Can you please share your “5 Things You Need To Do To Achieve a Healthy Body Weight And Keep It Permanently?”. If you can, please share a story or an example for each.

You can view the quick list of my five tips here: https://youtu.be/POMSg8jGGmc

  1. Change your mindset around food. This takes some inner work about the story you’ve been telling yourself around food. Culturally we use food to celebrate, to sooth, to reward, etc. Birthdays are all about the cake and ice cream. Our guitar instructor would reward my kids with candy! I’ve seen more than one teacher use candy as a reward. Food is fuel! You would never put sugar in your car’s gas tank and expect it to run at optimal performance. Why would we do this with ourselves or our kids? Let’s make peace with food and our bodies for lasting change.
  2. Stress less. Our fast-paced lifestyle creates an atmosphere for weight gain. The more stress we have the more our system is in the flight or fight mode. This is a space where we are unable to properly digest food. Our hunger hormone gets off balance and may cause us to feel hungry. Are you a stress eater? Many people feel the stress coming on and reach for sugar, salt, or comfort food. Taking a few deep breaths from your diaphragm pushes us into the rest and digest system instead of flight or fight. Give yourself a moment to relax and get curious about how you’re feeling. Hungry? Thirsty? Need a moment to yourself? Honor what you’re feeling and allow yourself the space and time to experience it.
  3. Sleep more. When we sleep our human growth hormone goes to work in repair mode. Our hunger hormones get a chance to reset so that we can maintain optimal health. When I get asked, “where should I start on my health journey?” I always advise sleep. The average person needs 7–9 hours of restful sleep. When we get adequate sleep our hunger hormones remain in balance. But without it, we get hungry, when our bodies don’t need to eat. Have you ever noticed what you reach for when you’re tired? Sugar and caffeine are the top two. We’re subconsciously trying to keep ourselves awake and alert. It may work in the short run, but eventually we come crashing down.
  4. Drink more water. Most of us are dehydrated. We often mistake thirst for hunger. Make sure you’re drinking half your body weight in ounces of water daily. When we do this on the daily, we are more apt to come to an optimal body weight and we’re ditching the sugary drinks that add unnecessary calories. So many people are reaching for energy drinks, sports drinks etc. All of these have unnecessary calories or additives that aren’t doing your metabolism any favors. Get in the habit of reaching for a glass of water first thing in the morning. That’s when we’re most dehydrated. Only after your water do you reach for that cup of coffee.
  5. Move more. Again, this needs to be a lifestyle shift. Move your body 3–5 times a week to include cardio, weight training and flexibility. This can easily be a walk after dinner. Most people find this relaxing (stress less) and a form of exercise (move more.) Learn to combine healthy habits to get a bigger, better return on all your efforts. As a Health Coach, I often hear, “I’m too tired to workout.” Working from your desk all day, running kids around from your car, then collapsing on the couch to watch the latest sitcom perpetuates that ‘I’m so tired’ feeling. Believe it or not, working out gives you more energy AND better sleep.

The emphasis of this series is how to maintain an ideal weight for the long term, and how to avoid yo-yo dieting. Specifically, how does a person who loses weight maintain that permanently and sustainably?

It’s got to be a mindset and lifestyle shift. Develop a mantra that is: I’m the type of person who takes care of my body with nutritious food and daily movement. There is no pill or special diet that’s going to cause lasting weight loss. It’s the small, seemingly insignificant choices that we make over the course of our day that make the difference. It’s reaching for the glass of water instead of a diet soda. It’s deciding to wake up 15 minutes early to have quiet time in the morning where you can write in your gratitude journal. These simple no-cost habits begin to convince your mind that you are indeed the type of person who takes care of your body.

What are a few of the most common mistakes you have seen people make when they try to lose weight? What errors cause people to just snap back to their old unhealthy selves? What can they do to avoid those mistakes?

One of the biggest mistakes is making the process too complicated. We need to do the smallest simplest steps to get a win. Creating a new habit needs reward. Don’t make it complicated. Choose small steps. For example, set your workout clothes and shoes out the night before so you see them the minute you wake up. Always keep a pitcher of lemon or cucumber water in your fridge. Take the guess work and hassle out of healthy living. It’s when we fail to plan that we often fail.

How do we take all this information and integrate it into our actual lives? The truth is that we all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?

This is the million-dollar question! I can give my clients the information and intellectually they know what they need to do. It’s the implementation that I cannot do for them. Let’s go back to your WHY. Why do you want this healthy lifestyle? Why is that important to you?

One of our main blocks is that we put off our bigger why for an immediate pay-off. That cupcake taste so much better right now. Another excuse I hear, “I’ll just work this pizza off at the gym.” That may work when you’re in your twenties, but the older we get the harder it gets. Prevention is much easier than a cure! We need to continually remind ourselves why this is important.

On the flip side, how can we prevent these ideas from just being trapped in a rarified, theoretical ideal that never gets put into practice? What specific habits can we develop to take these intellectual ideas and integrate them into our normal routine?

Mostly we need community. It’s in community that we find accountability and consistency. These are my top three components of a healthy lifestyle routine — community and accountability, provides consistency. Once you have a good foundation on the “what” of a healthy lifestyle, the “how” to implement is where most people get stuck. With community comes accountability and that provides the consistency. I’ve seen this formula work time and again towards lifelong success.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

If I could inspire a movement that would create the greatest impact around health for the greatest number of people I would advocate for a mostly plant based diet. While I would never tell anyone to stop eating meat completely, I think most people are not eating enough plant nutrients. We are what we eat and the standard diet doesn’t get near enough fiber. Aim for 30 grams every single day!

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

I would love to have a private meal with Rich Roll. He’s one of my health champions and a hero for the plant based cause and for the health of our planet. I’m a regular listener of his podcast. I have the cookbooks, and all around admire the life he has built and the message he puts out.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Readers can follow me at: www.WellnessWithGina.com

Join our Facebook Wellness Community: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1819704138159583

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gina-ramirez-45b999a9/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpOfbo3bRqedA8-PzmDwV-g/playlists

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wellness.with.gina/

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

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