Jackie Lede has been working in the health, fitness and wellness industry for over 12 years. She relates to the struggles of weight loss, and has developed an innovative program for those looking for something different from mainstream diet culture. Read on for her personal story, methodology, and tips on getting started.
By Lina Konovalov
Lina: Hi Jackie! Tell me, in a nutshell, what do you do and how did you get here?
Jackie: At the beginning [I was struggling with] my weight. That got me into exercise and nutrition and expanded my view of what health meant. Over time, I realized how important mental, emotional, and spiritual health were. I became a life coach, and I’m now studying to become a counsellor. I did personal development courses and retreats for spiritual health at the Sentinel. I take a very multidimensional approach when it comes to health. I base all of my work off of taking the whole picture of someone: every element of their life is going to have an impact on their overall wellbeing.
Lina: I saw that you studied kinesiology. I also have a background in the sciences and then started working in a pharmacy. I saw how unhealthy people were and dependent they were on pharmaceuticals. That was my turning point. I’m wondering, what was your turning point towards adopting a holistic medicine approach?
Jackie: Going to UBC it was very by the book. It was when I went into holistic nutrition that I started to get a wider perspective. I found that nutrition had a huge impact on my health, and a lot of my symptoms cleared up. Overtime, they started to come back, and that got me into the more mental-emotional-spiritual realms of health, because my usual ways of eating healthy and exercising weren’t working anymore. It really led me into a different direction of health that I wasn’t expecting.
Lina: I agree that we need to start giving more importance to mental health. What problems do you find that clients most often come to you with, and why do you think they are turning towards holistic medicine?
Jackie: My entry point towards working with people usually has to do with something physical. They’ve tried the mainstream approaches like pharmaceuticals and diets. Overtime, people get tired of that cycle; it’s usually temporary or unable to sustain. That leads to us breaking it or failing in our eyes, and makes us feel bad about ourselves. We’re left in the same place, sometimes even in a worse position. So I’m trying to break that cycle. It really affects how we feel about ourselves as people and our abilities to reach our goals. We have these deep rooted beliefs about ourselves and health – there’s not a lot we can do unless we start to actually target those things. Step by step we start to delayer all the levels of what getting healthy really means.
Lina: You’re clearly very conscious of your own health. Others are totally the opposite. They rarely, if at all, make choices in consideration of their own health. Yet, oftentimes it seems like they’re doing just fine. Do you think that the wellness attitude is for everyone?
Jackie: I definitely think that sometimes the further you get into wellness the more unhealthy you can be. Especially mentally and emotionally, because there is a lot of pressure. It can lead to putting so much emphasis on having to do things perfect, which really isn’t healthy. The healthier I tried to be, the more stressed out I got, and the worse my digestive system became. What I’m starting to really work on with people and myself is self-love. Dieting can really give you that sense that you’re restricting or punishing yourself. It’s important to know who you follow, what kinds of retreats you go to, and make sure that is in line with your values.
Lina I’m glad you acknowledge the shadow of the wellness industry. You mentioned the concept of goal setting earlier. In my experience, I’ve found that by setting concrete goals with incremental benchmarks I notice more progress. Can you tell me a bit more about your goal setting strategies for clients, and perhaps your overall methodology more generally?
Jackie: It’s important to set goals and break them down. I have some people come to me and say “I want to lose 40 pounds!” – it’s good to have those kinds of goals, but I work backwards with people. If you want to lose 40 pounds, what needs to happen six months from now for you to know that you’re on track? What has to happen three months from now for you to know you’re on track to meet your six month goal? Also, what is underneath that goal? In most experiences that I have with people, it’s not the initial goal that is important to them, it’s the values behind that or what it’s going to give them. We’re starting to change the mindset, slowly, when we reach our smaller goals and start to believe in ourselves. The more we break them down, the more you become someone who is able to reach those goals.
Lina: You really have to start unpacking these desires and find the fundamental problem. I’ve seen a lot of topics on weight loss and dieting come up, and it doesn’t surprise me that it’s a big focal point in your work. So, have you cracked the code to losing weight and keeping it off?
Jackie It’s so much more complex than people think. Most people have a really hard time losing weight and keeping it off because it’s so layered. [For example], if our hormones are out of whack, there is not a lot we can do. That is when weight becomes stubborn. Often when people are struggling with weight there is this self-esteem or self-love block for them. If we have these deep beliefs that we’re not good enough, our behaviours and actions are going to reflect that. Also, a lot of people don’t know how to create a lifestyle that allows for good health, such as learning how to meal plan and grocery shop. I can help people identify what the factors getting in the way of losing and maintaining that weight are, but I can’t guarantee results. That’s something I’ve had to come to terms with even in my own body: I could be doing everything right, but my body could just be stuck. Human beings are complex – to say that in order to lose weight you just need to eat better and exercise is a myth. So I don’t think I’ve cracked the code, but I think I know what it takes in order for someone to start on that journey to become healthy.
Lina: I guess the answer is that everyone has a different code, and it’s about finding what works for you. Also understanding that genetically you might have a certain body type. That doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you, or that you need to lose weight. We need to re-orient our mindset to what normal is.
Jackie: I ask people when they are setting their weight loss goals if they have ever been that weight. Are you willing to do what it takes to be that weight? For instance, I could probably be smaller if I really wanted to, but am I willing to have that lifestyle that matches that weight? No. I want to eat carbs and enjoy food, and live a quality lifestyle versus being really restrictive and what comes with that type of body. Your size does not show if you’re healthy.
Lina: Lastly, what is one simple health tip or trick our readers start to incorporate into their lives today?
Jackie: Be wary of what you listen to. The biggest thing is to trust that voice within us that lets us know what is right and what is not in our bodies. To trust that versus what we are seeing trending on social media. Also, before you start a new health trend or diet regime, ask yourself: “Is this going to be good for me in the long run? Is this something I’m going to want to do a year from now? Two years from now?” If not, is it worth it? Because it can actually do more damage. Not only physically, but mentally and emotionally.
Lina: Great answer! You know your stuff. So great talking with you, Jackie.