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Gina Cousineau

By Gina Cousineau

Every year about this time, we make that wish list, encouraged by love ones who want to get us that perfect something.

In typical Mama G fashion, I will continue to highlight the importance of self-respect and the need to put your health at the top of that list. But, alas, no one can bestow this gift upon you, as it doesn’t come through osmosis, because you must actually work for it.

Lifestyle shifts are one of the most painful considerations for people. The rumination of changing your diet and adding movement to your daily life is overwhelming, to say the least. So many people tell me that they wanted to reach out to me sooner—for years, in fact—but they couldn’t for fear of change and the almighty fear of failure.

Once people start working with me, they are often disappointed that they didn’t start the process earlier, but I remind them that timing is everything.

Too often, it is desperation that drives people to make change, which usually involves a diagnosis, or stern warning from their medical provider. Unfortunately, these shifts are usually short-lived due to highly restrictive and punitive diet approaches (eliminating major food groups), attempting to out-train that bad diet, or worse, both calorie restriction and over-exercising.

I need to remind readers that medical providers are neither dietitians nor fitness experts. If you needed brain surgery, you would not see a pediatrician, nor should you expect your internist to direct your lifestyle shift.

Same things hold true for your personal trainers handing out nutrition advice. This is where I often talk about shared decision-making and having a village to help encourage your health promotion.

As an integrative nutritionist, trained chef, and fitness professional, I can speak to shifting your food choices, to not only drive your health, but to feed your soul, as well as include movement in your everyday life to help make you a healthy human.

I work with my clients’ medical providers to get appropriate tests, labs, and preventative screening when needed, taking into consideration genetics and lifestyle behaviors, both past and present.

The majority of my client base, which ranges from 16- to 72-year-olds, are menopausal women and beyond. This is due to weight gain around the middle and increasing health issues during this time of life.

In working with women and their partners, usually dragged along unwillingly, I have uncovered a plethora of health concerns that medical providers did not highlight for their patients, such as heart disease, diabetes, and weakening bones, just to name a few.

While I teach my clients basic nutrition, giving them a template for success with their food and exercise that allows them to hit their weight goals and love every morsel they put in their mouths, so much more is about teaching behavioral changes.

I try to inject my clients with the tools and strategies for a successful lifestyle shift, while realizing all of the obstacles that get in their way each and every day.

To offer one bit of advice to take to heart this holiday season, put you at the top of your list. If the only thing you want for the people you love is to be healthy and happy, then how can you expect them to achieve those goals if you aren’t willing to do so yourself?

Role modeling healthy behaviors, being more mindful of what you put on your plate, and moving that body a bit each day, is step one.

Gina Cousineau sees clients virtually and in person out of her San Clemente office. Her extensive education—a BS in dietetics and MS in integrative and functional nutrition—chef training, and 30-plus years as a fitness professional allow her to help clients lose weight and improve their health. You can reach her at mamag@mamagslifestyle.com, 949.842.9975, and on Instagram and Facebook @mamagslifestyle. Register for her complimentary weekly newsletter at mamagslifestyle.com.

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