The Root of What Matters™
With Nicole Kerneen, RD,CD,CSSD,Certified Personal Trainer / Way of Life Nutrition
Nicole Kerneen is one of the top certified sports dietitians in Southeastern Wisconsin specializing in overall sports nutrition. She believes in taking small steps to get you where you want to go. And, no matter what your destination is we believe as she does that you must enjoy the journey.
ZYN was happy and honored to sit down with Nicole for this latest edition of “Root of What Matters.” Enjoy!
Tell us about yourself, please.
I grew up in a tiny town in central Wisconsin. I was always active as a kid with gymnastics, neighborhood football, cheerleading, riding bikes, dancing. Dancing in particular has always been my passion and it helped me learn the connection between food and health at an early age. I am currently an active Argentine Dancer and partake whenever my schedule allows. Dancing has always centered me and nourishes my soul.
Currently I’ve owned and operated Way of Life Nutrition and Fitness for 19 years now. I’ve been blessed with helping so many individuals, groups, families and athletes improve their health and athletic performance, as well as their relationship with food by helping them switch their own perspectives on what healthy really means.
What do you love most about what you do?
I love witnessing and guiding people through their own process to better health. Whether it’s helping others connect to their bodies through nutrition and movement, or helping improve someone’s marathon or track time to improving one’s gut health, digestion, heart health etc. You name it! I love the variety of the work I do.
What’s the biggest mistake people make day-to-day in their eating and drinking?
I try to help people get away from judging themselves or their choices as good or bad. That’s a big struggle and continues the disconnect with people to their own bodies/life. We make choices on what we know and sometimes what we think feels good at the moment or what we think we have to do based on outside circumstances.
People often neglect their bodies, by being in a personal war with themselves, or by depriving themselves of real nutrition by either choosing low quality foods or skipping meals and snacks. We must respect that the body has needs and needs nutrients in order to fully function at the capacity that we demand it to function on a daily basis. It’s important to take ownership of our choices and behavior around food. When we own what we choose, sometimes it helps us really look at our choices from a place of empowerment versus rebellion or feeling victim to our circumstances. I’m not a fan of all or nothing, as much as finding that personal balance in all of our choices.
And to answer that maybe more simply – eating large meals too soon before bed!!
What are the absolute healthiest foods that you recommend eating daily?
Greens, greens and more greens. Most everything with naturally occurring fiber in it, in addition to beans – one of the most effective and powerful foods on countless levels. As well as moderate amounts of avocado, nuts and olive oils.
Three big meals or several small meals a day? Or does it differ for everyone?
This is a tough question as everyone’s lifestyle, health needs and work schedule can be very different. Depending on what the body may be dealing with on a health or hormone level, eating small meals every 3-4 hours (which is our bodies natural blood sugar level curve) is incredibly beneficial. Eating this way doesn’t tax the digestion system quite as much and doesn’t make us feel tired after eating.
I encourage moving away from the concept of a large meal versus a small meal in general and eating to about 75% full. I often have my clients ask themselves – “Could I go for a run after this meal?” Whether you run or not, we all know that feeling of having to move quickly. This is usually the sweet spot to stop. It allows space for the stomach to digest and allows time to register to our brain if we did eat what we needed at that time. We have to remember that we will never go hungry.
Sometimes we eat large meals because of family or social conditioning or pressure, we are too hungry or have typically gone longer than is comfortable on our body without eating. In turn we can have tendencies then to eat quickly and chew incompletely.
And again, these are things we may not be able to do all the time, and it’s important to note that if we can strive for this concept 75% of the time, we are doing great!
How much water should we drink daily?
About ½ your body weight in water in ounces. We want any non-caffeinated or non-alcoholic fluid to make up our hydration needs.
What are your thoughts on multivitamins?
Depending on the quality of ones diet, they aren’t that necessary. Quality of vitamin is a concern as well since not many of them are properly tested for purity and integrity, nor are there any regulations on them. I’m not a big supplement pusher. There is a time and a place for supplement use of course. Mostly if ones diet is lacking significantly due to food allergies or intolerance or certain diseases block certain nutrients or hinder absorption and digestion. Then we need to look into “supplementing” what the diet is lacking.
Have you tried ZYN? Thoughts?
I think ZYN tastes great. The tones of the pepper and the curcumin are masked by the sweetness. It’s a bit sweet for me, and I know others really like that. I also put water in it when it’s done, shaken it to loosen any remaining curcumin and drank that as well.
Who have been a few of your favorite clients to work with?
I develop relationships with my clients. I’m so honored to be a part of their lives and see them to their goals. Whatever those might be. My favorite kind of client is one who is ready to break away from their comfort zones and challenge their conditioning and thought patterns around food, exercise and life in general. Everything works together and our relationship with our food and bodies affects our relationship with our lives. It’s so rewarding to hear my clients say that food doesn’t have control over them anymore, or that they finally realize that carbs are not evil and that they really can have their cake and eat it too!
What are you reading now?
I prefer non-fiction and have recently decided to reread a few books that I own. It’s good to go back and reread things when you are in different stages of your life. You’ll see things differently and connect with the concepts on a much deeper level.
I just re-read “The New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle. Ironically, I’m also finishing up a fiction book that one of my clients wrote. It’s fun and a nice light read! I’m excited for her to get it published.
Success to me is defined as living my truth. Connecting to my joy and taking responsibility for my gifts and properly sharing those with others. My intentions are always to build strong relationships, living with integrity and running my business and personal life through the lens of love, respect and compassion.