Finding Your Gray Area


I see quite a few clients, and I’ve identified a common theme I hear when meeting them for the first time: they tell me about all the past diets, detoxes, and cleanses they’ve tried. They share that they walk everywhere, eat at Sweetgreen, and take fitness classes regularly – but they aren’t where they want to be health-wise. 

Sound familiar? 

It did for me fifteen years ago, when I kept focusing on what I was doing wrong rather than what I was doing right. 

Further, I believed in absolutes: 

I ought to have will power! 

I must never eat bread again! 

I should work out six days a week! 

When we live by should, ought, and must, we set ourselves up for failure – it’s an all or none system of black and white. 

Welcome to your Gray Area.


What’s a Gray Area, you ask? It’s when we allow for shades of gray, find moderation in moderation, and celebrate the success of doing something right rather than beating ourselves up for what we did wrong. By adjusting the way we think, we can create a lifestyle of health and balance. 

My BIG 3 for committing to attainable success with your health and fitness goals? 

Plan, Measure, and Log.

Plan: If you’re waking at 5:45am for a 6:30am class and have to be at work by 8:00am what’s for breakfast? Lunch? Snacks? Dinner that night? If you fly by the seat of your pants, you’ll be forced to make decisions based on limited options – and often choose what’s convenient. If you plan your meals ahead of time, you are in control and can choose your balanced meals. 

Where to start? I suggest my clients use a meal planner such as this free downloadable one to help guide their ideas. 

Choose a week’s worth of healthy meal recipes from your favorite blogs, Pinterest or the Saldare 7+7 Reboot (aim for recipes with protein, vegetables and a good source of unsaturated fat). From there, list all the ingredients you will need on the grocery shopping list. Now that you have created your meal plan for the week, there should be no guesswork and no surprises (unless you choose them). 

Measure: When you pour oatmeal for your morning breakfast or make a grilled chicken salad for dinner, do you know how much food you’re eating? Half a cup? One cup? Four ounces? Six ounces? If you’re not sure and you are actively trying to lose weight, do yourself a favor and purchase a food scale. Best purchase you’ll make! Take a week or two to measure everything.

I know it’s a pain and a time suck, but after those two weeks you’ll be able to eyeball how much you’re taking in and make informed decisions about what you’re putting in your mouth. 

Another important thing to measure? Your stress. I tell clients all the time that you can be eating all the broccoli, turkey and chia in the world, but if you are living a life with high stress, you will not reach your fitness and nutrition goals. Your body won’t let you. 

I won’t bore you with the long details, but here’s the nitty gritty: when you’re stressing out, hormones take over: adrenaline taps stored energy so you can fight or flee the situation, cortisol tells your body to replenish that energy and store fat for energy reserves, testosterone slows down so you burn less calories, and ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates appetite, increases. End game? Stress makes us eat more.  

Log:  If you know what you are eating and drinking, your water intake, and how long you are sleeping, you can assess if it’s optimal. Winging it won’t hold you accountable.

Whether you use MyFitnessPal, a basic Excel spreadsheet or a spiral notebook, log your meals, your water intake, and the number of hours you sleep.  It will make you honest, aware, and able to choose your gray area rather than having it choose you due to lack of other options. 

Can you do this on your own? 

Heck yes!

Is it easier with a nutrition and lifestyle coach? 

You betcha. 

Work with a coach and you’ll have the accountability and support to reach your goals and sustain them.

Jenn Menzer is a holistic wellness, fitness and nutrition coach who specializes in helping clients find and achieve balance to live and be their healthiest happiest selves. She meets with clients at her wellness studio, Saldare Body Therapy in the South End or via Skype. She offers a complimentary session for all prospective clients. Visit jennmenzer.comfor more information or to schedule a session.