Wendy Jaroslawski, certified health & wellness coach and Founder of WendysWellnessLV.com helps people struggling with weight challenges through a lasting lifestyle and wellness approach.
In the following interview, Wendy shares her journey to health and wellness after she finds herself 30 pounds overweight and diagnosed pre-diabetic. Read this interview to discover a new approach to weight loss and living a better life…
Host: So glad you were able to fit us into your schedule. As a health and wellness coach I know you can give us some insight into people who are struggling with obesity. Before we get started, I just want to know, what is the journey that led you to what you’re doing today?
Wendy Jaroslawski: Part of it is my own personal journey. Several years ago I weighed thirty pounds more than I do now. I was pre-diabetic, so it was my doctor’s advice at that time to shed some of the weight, and I was able to do that. I’ve basically felt a lot healthier since then. I also became certified as a health coach as part of the journey.
Host: Why would you say someone might want to be open to your health and wellness practices?
Wendy Jaroslawski: I don’t deal with supplements to lose your weight. There’s so many of these programs; you can eat all foods and still lose all this weight. It’s not teaching you how to eat so when you start shopping for your own foods you don’t know what you’re doing. I find that happens so frequently.
In fact, I tried one of those and it didn’t work for me, I ended up putting everything back on. What I’ve discovered is best for all of us is that we learn how to shop for the foods that are appropriate and go from there – that’s when we learn the habits of, “This is the way I should be eating, this is the way I can handle it,” and finding out this is what works for me and it will work for other people too.
Host: What do you mean, “foods that are appropriate?” Do you go by a particular plan?
Wendy Jaroslawski: What I do is find out what you like to eat. What kind of foods are you eating now? What do you want to do? Say you’re a vegetarian, then I can work with that, or you like a certain type of food, you like a lot of meat. I work with that to help you find a meal plan that works with how you like to eat, yet still maintains a healthy diet and get some weight loss going on.
Host: It’s a process that’s customized to the individual.
Wendy Jaroslawski: Yes.
Host: Is this an integrated approach or is your focus solely on the foods that are consumed?
Wendy Jaroslawski: Some of it is that. A lot of times I know that eating is an emotional thing, so I make myself available so my clients can call me, text me, say, “Can I have this? Can I have that?” It’s so often that the response to eating is, “I really feel like I want this but I know I shouldn’t have it. What can I substitute for it?” I give you ideas of other things that will work to satisfy that feeling you have, yet not put more weight on.
Host: When you’re having this meal plan discussion are you of the mindset that a calorie is a calorie, or do you make distinctions based on the type of food?
Wendy Jaroslawski: Distinctions on the type of food because there’s what they call empty calories and then there’s healthy calories. Eating a cookie is empty calories, but eating a piece of fruit is healthy calories. Basically what I do is a teach you how to make changes to how you approach what you put in your mouth.
Host: Can you give me a real world example of someone you’ve actually worked with? Someone who really wanted to give it a try with you because, perhaps there was a referral, perhaps they saw something on your website that triggered something in them, but they were really frustrated and down and out. Can you give me a real world example of what that person would experience when they first come in after they’ve been working your process a few months?
Wendy Jaroslawski: I have a current client right now that is coming to me because he weighs over four hundred pounds. He’s come to the realization that if he doesn’t do something now he may not see many more years, and he wants a family. To him it became a realization that, “I’ve got to do something now.” We’re working constantly on changing how he eats, and then also working on developing a support system because he lives with several other guys and also has a job where they’re constantly on the go.
Host: That does seem like it would be a big obstacle. If someone comes from, let’s just say traditionally a big family, they have a sedentary job, there’s always donuts on the counter. They’re pretty much in an environment that isn’t real health conscious twenty-four seven. Do they need to isolate or minimize their time in those types of situations; and, you mentioned a support system. What does that look like so they can have a balance outside of what is their norm?
Wendy Jaroslawski: What I do is make myself available through text messaging. They reach out to me, “I’m struggling. I really want to do this,” so I know I’ve got to get a hold of them now and say, “Try this,” so they’ve got someone to talk to while they’re struggling. One night I got a call, “I really want some chocolate.” “If you really, really have to have it, here’s what I recommend…” They were able to get through it. They had to go to a store and buy it, so they were able to get through that urge and deal with it.
Host: It sounds like you’ve extended your coaching practice into a real advocacy, where you’re really connected to your clients. Is that a significant difference between someone who perhaps goes in, has a chat, and then gets some instructions and comes in weekly; versus, with you, where they have an ongoing connection and they can pick up the phone if they need to?
Wendy Jaroslawski: A lot of times eating becomes emotional or stress related. I want to be there because I know it’s difficult to do it all on your own. Yes, I’ve got this food plan, I get to talk to them in a week, but say their appointment’s not until Friday and it’s Tuesday and they’re struggling today. That’s going to bring a lot of discouragement and they’re going to say, “To heck with it, I’ll cheat today. I can go back on tomorrow.” You come to tomorrow and, “I’ll cheat today.” By being available, they know there’s more accountability to themselves by being able to reach out to me.
Host: That’s great! Is this a structured program, is it flexible, or is it customized to what the client wants?
Wendy Jaroslawski: It’s not so much what the client wants because what the client wants may be pastries. What I’m trying to do is say, “This is what you want, here’s a good alternative.” It is customized to the individual as to a food plan, and if you’ve got a job where you’re a sales person and you’re making calls all day long, this is the type of lunch you can stop to eat, or if you can’t stop to eat, here’s what you can throw in a little cooler and have with you.
Host: Can you give us one thing that a person can do that would make an impact on them? It can be as far as their diet, as far as their exercise, as far as their mindset. Holistically, what is one thing that someone can do where it’s not a huge change, but it’s a change significant enough to create a result?
Wendy Jaroslawski: One thing is, most people are pretty sedentary so what I like to start off with is, “let’s do a walking program.” Being that I live in Las Vegas right now, with the temperatures we’re having, that’s sometimes very difficult. Let’s find a time of day that’s safer for you to be walking, or go to a mall and walk circles. If you live in a two story house, do your steps more. Because I do also teach yoga, so often they say, “I can’t get up from the floor.” I’ve geared my place so that I have tools to help them with that. From there, then I would move them into a weight lifting program so that the exercise fits their level where they’re at, but they can see results happening.
Host: That’s interesting you said that because when you said yoga, that’s not a thought that would come to mind when I’m thinking of someone who’s fifty pounds or more overweight, and you said to build strength and flexibility, which makes perfect sense. Is this something that people are seeking out, that type of yoga, or are you introducing the fact that yoga is possible for you, even if you aren’t a size six, or eight, or whatever?
Wendy Jaroslawski: That’s what I’m advocating because when you see these programs like The Biggest Loser and that, they have these people lifting weights, and the coach has to be right there. It’s a very difficult thing to do for the average person, where yoga is much more gentle on your body, and if you’ve got specific issues, like you’ve got low back issues or you’ve got bad knees, I work around that. People don’t think of yoga as a way to lose weight, but you actually can. You’re doing simple, easy movements but you don’t realize until an hour in, “I’ve really put my body through a workout.”
Host: That’s really good to know. Expanding into yoga, that just seems like an incredible option for someone who’s perhaps tried everything else.
Wendy Jaroslawski: A pitfall is eating just before you go to bed, that type of thing. You have to be cognizant of when you eat, how you feel when you’re eating it, and then how do you feel an hour or two afterwards? That deals with the emotional side of eating, which so many people have a problem with.
Host: Would you say that your process has changed a great deal from, a few years ago when you lost over thirty pounds? And, were the shifts you had to make in mindset extreme for you, or was it a gradual process?
Wendy Jaroslawski: A lot of it, to me, was gradual. It’s still a continual process that I still look at those sticky buns and I go, “Ooh, that looks really good. This would be a better alternative. I like the flavor of this, too.” One of my things right now is I eat frozen blueberries, and that I use as my ice cream. They’re sweet, they’re cold, and I eat one or two with a spoon so it takes me a while to eat them. I get that ice cream satisfaction out of it.
Host: That’s very creative. I think that’s one of the other issues I found during my research, people are stuck in their ways. When they go to the grocery store they know exactly what they’re going to get, it’s the same thing over and over again. They really don’t know what the alternatives are, or if they really do want to eat healthy and they go get a lettuce, they think iceberg lettuce. They don’t think to the extent of the different ways salads can be done. This lack of creativity, is because alternatives are just not promoted that much?
Wendy Jaroslawski: That’s why one of the components of my program is, I take them grocery shopping and show them: here are some good choices for food, so that they learn there are alternative foods. With myself, now I’m learning I love to have spinach salad. You learn that there’s good alternatives, there’s more variety out there than you realized. We grow up and that’s what we’re used to, those are the foods we’re used to using, so those are the foods we buy.
Host: You’re giving people the experience of actually going out, knowing what to look for, and saying, “You might have only thought of using it this way, but you can use spinach this way too.”
Now, regarding the components of your program. Do you have a structured program, or are you referring to the customization that you do for each of your clients?
Wendy Jaroslawski: There’s customization with each client, but there is a structure. Someone that goes for a year program, they will have a quarter consultation of two to three hours, talking about what’s working, what’s not working. Let’s set our goals for the next three months. Each week they get a twenty-five-minute consultation, and that can be by phone or meeting. One thing I also offer is, I’ll go to a restaurant with them and help them learn how to order off a menu so they eat healthier.
Host: You said that someone might want to start walking just to get moving out of the sedentary lifestyle, or if they’re not sedentary, perhaps just forming a new routine. You had a mental mind shift, and I’m sure there were many, but what was one thing that someone who’s struggling with obesity needs to consider that they might want to think about in a different way?
Wendy Jaroslawski: Relationship to sugar. I used to pour a bowl of cereal and I’d put three or four teaspoons of sugar on it. As I started to re-discover taste, I’ve found that now I don’t even like sweets. It’s a journey, it’s a lifelong journey. What you’re doing is, you’re learning to eat in a totally different way so that you’re getting a better quality to your life.
Host: Would you say that the mind shift would be that this isn’t something you do once or twice to lose X amount of pounds, that this is a lifestyle journey?
Wendy Jaroslawski: It’s a lifestyle journey. You’re learning to make these shifts in your life to make it lasting.
Host: You still set goals but you’re not looking for the quick fix. You’re going on this lifestyle journey and changes will be integrated into your life, so the shifts that are made create lasting change, create better health long term. It’s really a choice of wellness over where they’re currently at.
Wendy Jaroslawski: Right. It’s a choice of wellness versus weight loss. Once you get to the point where you’re realizing what you’re eating, then you start measuring quantities so that you learn about portion control. Part of their journey is cutting down on the number of calories.
Host: It sounds like you have a well-rounded program and you’ve really focused on the importance of having a support system. If someone wants to get help or if someone wants more information about what it is you do and how you can help them, how would they contact you?
Wendy Jaroslawski: WendysWellnessLV.com and my phone number is on the website.
BUSINESS: Wendy’s Wellness
EMAIL: [email protected]