Eat the rainbow: Focus on eating a variety of fruits and vegetables. By getting a variety of color in your diet, you’re giving your body an array of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals to benefit your health. For example, eating red tomatoes and watermelon can help lower the risk of heart disease and certain cancers, may help reduce sun-related skin damage.
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 interviewing Jeanne Agius.
Jeanne Agius is a former Corporate Escapee of 15+ years turned founder of Self-Care Journey Holistic Wellness. She is known for being every woman’s Self-Care Coach and is currently an Executive Contributor for a digital global magazine as a Holistic Lifestyle and Self-Care Coach. Since becoming a mom of two and being the co-creator of her dream life with her husband, she has been a frequent speaker on guiding women, especially moms, to prioritize themselves with holistic self-care practices without feeling guilt, despite the many hats they wear.
She has also been featured in a number of publications such as Yahoo Finance, Authority, Medium and Brainz Magazine. Jeanne is a 2021 honoree of the CREA Global Awards for top entrepreneurs, influential leads, and innovators who have been recognized for their accomplishments in the areas of mental health.
She has built thriving programs teaching busy women how to prioritize what keeps them strong, happy, and healthy so they can truly step into their own power and reclaim their time, energy and confidence.
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 Toronto, Ontario, in the city before moving to the suburbs at 6. I am the eldest of 3 daughters, but I remember growing up, I always wanted to be the youngest. I am a little bit of a black sheep in my family. I grew up in a household of introverts, and I was the one extrovert who wanted to try new and different things and always loved being surrounded by many people.
Despite how different I grew up to be from my family members, I was always close with them, and they always supported and kept me grounded. They always had high expectations and showed a bit of tough love, but that motivated me to work hard.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
My mother was the one who inspired me to become every woman’s self-care coach. Growing up, I witnessed her raise my sisters and me with all her heart and soul. She was the most selfless, patient, and hard-working woman I have ever known. At the same time, I see how her day-to-day activities wore her down, and I vowed that when I become a mother, I would always prioritize the things that kept me strong, healthy, and happy. Throughout the years, I witnessed many crossroads women have to face and internal identity struggles. As a result, I became a frequent speaker guiding women to prioritize their self-care practices that have nothing to do with going to a spa.
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?
I’ve been so fortunate to be surrounded by the most loving, supportive, and positive people. I’ve had so many people help me along the way. I always found myself gravitating towards inspiring women who have become my mentors and coaches. I love learning from everyone, and I am so grateful for everyone that played a role in my growth.
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?
An interesting mistake that occurred to me is learning that not everyone is a morning person. When I first started hosting live workouts at 6:30 am, I expected everyone to jump on board, but I soon realized that not everyone is a morning person like me. I didn’t learn until later that genetics play a factor in underlying human sleep patterns. So while creating my program, I made sure to teach others what I know about sleep so they don’t feel discouraged when they tried to wake up early but find it hard to.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
I have so many, but the one that resonates with me the most right now is “If you can dream it, you can achieve it,” quoted from Zig Ziglar. I love it so much I have the quote framed above my bed. During my childhood years, others told me to fit in a box and that massive dreams or goals are hard to achieve, so to protect me from disappointment, I dreamed smaller so that I could reach them. I learned to unlearn that through the years, and now my entire philosophy has changed. I now ask myself when it comes to dreams, to think big, dream bigger!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
I’m working with women 1:1, in a group, to empower them to take care of themselves first, no matter how busy or chaotic life gets. We focus on four main pillars from my self-care system: mindset, meals, movement, and mental wellness.
In addition, I plan to start a podcast early next year to support the book I am currently writing. I am passionate about women filling their cups first and securing their oxygen masks while on a mission to be their best selves. Women have superpowers and extraordinary abilities if they harness their self-care and prioritize taking care of themselves. We all know that there is nothing women can’t do and, and the everyday women today wear multiple upon multiple hats. However, with all the responsibilities, commitments, and duties we have, we innately want to give all of ourselves to others versus doing the basic needs to make us feel healthier, stronger, and happier. I want to normalize women taking care of themselves and securing their oxygen masks first, not just for vanity purposes but overall mental wellness. I intend on calling my upcoming book The Selfish Mom because taking care of yourself is everything but selfish.
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 in the health and fitness space for about 20 years now. One of my first jobs was at a gym, and my passion for it helped me achieve numerous accolades because I genuinely believe movement and community were pivotal. I went on to weave various certifications in the health and wellness space on the side along with my full-time career. Staying active, eating well, and incorporating self-care became my identity. Even during the most tumultuous times in my life, I turned to my non-negotiables to help me stay physically and emotionally resilient. I remembered being 38 weeks pregnant, and I would be doing leg presses at the gym, and people would like at me like, “wow, you’re about to pop.” I learned from a young age how foundational staying healthy and prioritizing your wellbeing was to your life. I became incredibly passionate in my work that I left the corporate world and now can train and coach women from around the world to feel and look their best from the inside out full-time. I have been able to help women lose weight, not be reliant on medications, and find balance and sustainable habits that work with their life, not against it.
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”?
Healthy body weight will vary from person to person, but I believe a healthy weight is what you can maintain without feeling like you’re restrictive, dieting, or depriving yourself of the foods you want to eat. Typically I wouldn’t say I like to focus too much on the number on the scale. Many wins can be seen off the scale, too, such as your energy levels, mood, stamina, less joint pain, muscle definition, digestion, sleeping more, and much more.
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”?
Bodyweight encompasses a spectrum of components that aren’t factored in: muscle mass, body fat, bones, organs, and water. Since those things are hard to calculate, body mass index is a tool to calculate based on height, weight, and the category you should be in based on those two things. Several websites will calculate BMI for an individual if they enter their heigh and current body weight. Unfortunately, as mentioned, it doesn’t take into account your total body’s fat. Generally, a BMI between 18.5–24.9 is considered to be ‘healthy body weight.’ A BMI <18.5 is considered ‘underweight,’ where a BMI of >25 is considered ‘overweight.’
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?
Being overweight can have a severe impact on a person’s health and wellbeing. Carrying extra weight around not only is bad for your joints, but has many health implications such as cardiovascular disease, heart disease, stroke, type 2, and cancer. The more overweight someone is, the likelihood of problems increasing.
On the other end of the spectrum, being underweight has its health concerns as well. If a person doesn’t get the nutrients it needs, it will affect their skin, hair loss, dry skin, or poor dental health. Being underweight also increases the risk of osteoporosis, getting sick frequently, feeling tired all the time, irregular periods, and heart diseases.
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?
I see it in my clients all the time. When they set a goal out and achieve it, they feel happier, more accomplished, confident, and get an instant self-esteem boost. Not to mention, their energy levels are higher, they’re in a better mood, and they are vastly more productive when they feel better about their health.
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.
1. Find your why: This is the driving force behind why someone wants to commit to their health. Your why should be deeply rooted and pulled to the forefront of your mind when you want to give up or not feeling as motivated to stay healthy. The core of my why is my family and the role model I want to be for my children and partner for my husband. I want to slow down aging to always be active even well into my 70’s. We are a busy family, and I would love to continue that lifestyle with them for as long as possible.
2. Treat being healthy like a lifestyle, not a destination: Choose activities or healthy activities you can incorporate into your life consistently versus incorporating something that you can’t maintain long-term. Mastering one healthy habit and adding another one and another one will ensure you will keep the habit. For example, I started leaving a tall glass of lemon water by my nightstand to drink it first thing when I wake up. After I have been able to do that, I started incorporating exercise in the morning.
3. Cooking at home: Nowadays, with food deliveries, eating out has become the norm. However, many ingredients go into takeout that you’re not aware of, such as added sugars that may cause your glucose and insulin levels to spike. Cooking at home will not only allow you to save money, but you’re in control of what ingredients you’re putting into your food. Home-cooked meals can be quick and easy too. You have to plan what you’re going to eat, stick to your grocery list, and learn to batch cook once a week to save you time. With Google these days, there are endless recipes at your fingertips.
4. Eat the rainbow: Focus on eating a variety of fruits and vegetables. By getting a variety of color in your diet, you’re giving your body an array of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals to benefit your health. For example, eating red tomatoes and watermelon can help lower the risk of heart disease and certain cancers, may help reduce sun-related skin damage.
5. Increase exercise, movement, and stretching: I cannot stress enough how vital prioritizing movement into your day is. It not only benefits you physically by lowering the risk of developing some diseases, but it also can benefit the mind, help you sleep better, and help slow down the aging process. If you can’t find time to exercise, I recommend that you schedule it in your calendar like you would a necessary appointment. Even if it is just going out for a walk at lunch, it will benefit you if you follow a more sedentary lifestyle.
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?
A common mistake I see is people adopting the ‘all or nothing mentality. They go from 0 to 100 without building in small, consistent habits or a system to create desirable healthy habits. Instead, focus one or two things you can do to decrease your chances of falling back into old habits.
Another error I see is starting with a strict diet or a very specific food regimen. Diets are not made for everyday healthy eating. Having too many food limitations may cause you to binge or become obsess over food. It may even increase your cravings for what you’re limiting because you see it as a, ‘forbidden good.’
Lastly, I actually see some of my clients not eat enough. Eating too little affect your body’s metabolism so much that your body adjusts to surviving on very small amounts of fuel. Your body will slow down and not burn calories efficiently and your body will break down valuable muscle tissue for energy. I always suggest to eat 3–4 meals a day of a balanced meal (protein, fat, and fiber).
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?
Some common mistakes I have seen people do is adopt the ‘all or nothing’ mentality. They go from 0 to 100 without building in small consistent habits or a system in place to make healthy habits desirable. This increases their chances of them falling back to their familiar ways because humans naturally gravitate towards what is comfortable and familiar. Setting small goals, achieving them consistently and then adding on to it will help create a solid system and increase the likelihood of them sticking to their healthy routines.
Some errors include not setting their environment up for success. If you’re trying to consume less alcohol, then you shouldn’t be stocked with bottles of wine everywhere but perhaps not have it in the house so you’re not triggered or tempted by it when you’re first starting to create a habit.
On the other hand, if you do want to avoid these mistakes, do an audit of your environment and add in desirable cues to help you want to succeed with that habit. If you’re trying to consume more whole grains in your diet, then your refrigerator should be filled within eye level with lots of whole foods that are within reach.
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?
Often times, I find people get in their own way, and view being healthy as something that is very regimented, boring, and restrictive. I think it’s important to start with small, achievable goals. Once you do achieve them, I would celebrate it and make a mental note how great you feel after accomplishing that goal. The more success you have with it, the increase in likelihood you will want to incorporate it in your lifestyle for good.
Also, I feel like everyone can benefit from a wellness environment audit. Often times if you are trying to eat healthier, but your environment is not set up for it, you’re likely going to be triggered and tempted to reach for a less than healthier option. If you want to eat healthier, I would fill your environment with lots of colorful whole foods, and put them at eye level so you’ll be reminded to eat them daily. I can’t tell you how often certain fruits or vegetables go bad because I just don’t remember I have them.
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?
If you want something to happen, you have to schedule it in like an important appointment and plan ahead. We schedule our work, social events and doctors appointments into our calendar, why would we not schedule our day-to-day healthy lifestyle habits too. I recommend calendar blocking to block off chunks of time for your morning routine, your exercise and meal prepping.
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.
I would love more attention on moms and offering complimentary access to mental wellness workshops available to them. As a mom and one who works with many moms, I understand the pressure and struggle to do it all, even when it doesn’t make sense. Societal expectation adds fuel to this, along with false social media perceptions. It forces moms to compromise their well-being to strive to be the Montessori mom, corporate boss babe, or adding in all the hats they already wear.
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 breakfast or lunch with Jay Shetty. I listen to his podcast daily and it has become my go-to podcast to run to as my walking meditation. There is something very motivating, and inspirational when he speaks. He offers a lot of practical, actionable lifestyle tips, and explains it in a way that sticks. I also loved his book ‘Think Like A Monk” and agree with his all his teachings so much. He’s one of the reasons why I delve deeper in my personal development as a career because of what his vision of making wisdom viral.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
I have a complimentary Facebook community for women striving to be their best selves through offering live training on holistic health, lifestyle, and self-care tips: www.facebook.com/groups/strongconfidenthealthyliving/ If you want a behind the scenes of how I juggle the high and low tides of being a mom, wife, entrepreneur, all while maintaining a healthy lifestyle I love, you can find me on Instagram www.instragram.com/jeanne.selfcarecoach and my YouTube channel www.youtube.com/c/jeanneagius. However, if you’re curious about services and offerings, all the information can be found here: www.selfcarejourney.ca.
Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film…
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.