SMARTer bodies

Category: weightloss

The Fighting Foodie- my journey towards healthy body image

For those of you who don’t follow me on Instagram (FOR SHAME! By the way, it’s @kimlienkendall), I’ve been deeply immersed in the world of competitive Brazilian jiu jitsu which I have to admit, makes very little sense for a 35 year-old, self-employed single mom. Trying to murder people in pajamas, aside from being literally the most fun thing I can think of, plays a pivotal role in my mental health and more importantly, my idea of self worth. Like most women, unfortunately, my “value” has always been measured in inches and pounds and having to compete in a sport with weight classes hasn’t helped. I’ve finally developed a healthy relationship with my body image and I’m here to share my journey with you in hopes that you find some relatable piece of information.

So without further ado, here is my story of all the fucked up things I’ve done to my body in the name of vanity:

This story begins in the late 90s, when 24 inch waists and thigh gaps were fashionable. I tried just about every crash diet there was- master cleanse, atkins, I was even RAW VEGAN (basically I ate rabbit food) for 2 whole years. All I wanted was a skinny body, but all I got was a ton of problems. Not only did my weight fluctuate in an unpredictable fashion, but I was experiencing highs and lows in energy, my hair was falling out, I stopped getting my period and I was pretty much constantly bloated. I was so focused on what NOT to put in my body that I ended up developing an eating disorder. Aside from all that, I wasted SO MUCH money on daily $25 yoga classes and organic vegan food that I would end up barfing into a fancy restaurant bathroom anyway (fun times!).

I could have held the handstand longer if I weren't sucking my belly in for the pic
I could have held the handstand longer if I weren’t sucking my belly in for the pic

Then I got knocked up (it happens). All of the focus on my body now shifted from what it looked like to how well it could grow and nourish another human being (which is some crazy ass shit if you really think about it). This was cool for a while until I decided that my body should be more than just an udder. After my maternity leave, I was fortunate to be hired by a facility with a beautiful gym. I worked with some very talented strength coaches (big shout out to Ben Shear aka the angriest thumb I know!) and I started to focus on strength training.

Don't worry, I didn't actually surf while pregnant, no matter how badly I wanted to...
Don’t worry, I didn’t actually surf while pregnant, no matter how badly I wanted to…

Lifting weights provided a welcome break from this vicious cycle of body dysmorphia. I started to focus on feeling strong and PRs (if you don’t know what that is, do you even lift, bruh?) rather than fitting into jean sizes that I wore in high school. I actually ended up putting on a significant amount of muscle mass (thank goodness for awesome genetics!) and I was able to eventually deadlift almost 2 times my own body weight!


While this seems like a much healthier mentality than obsessing about being thin, this new mindset came with its own set of problems. At the time, Ashley Graham was on the cover of Sports Illustrated and #bodypositivity was the new trend for women’s bodies. Although this campaign should have translated to “your body is perfectly fine the way it is”, that message isn’t as profitable as telling young girls they should look like Kim Kardashian. Yes, this created a shift in the fitness industry and it became more common to see women deadlifting and squatting, but it didn’t free us from the socially imposed norms of what our bodies should look like. It just meant that big butts were in style and that’s what was now being sold to us.

Did you buy tickets to the gun show?
Did you buy tickets to the gun show?

So, in the spirit of being fashionable, I became obsessed with appearing thick. This allowed me to eat as much food as I wanted (#winning!). I had just started training jiu jitsu, so between training, lifting weights and riding my bike, I was putting in 15-18 hours a week of moderate to intense exercise. My appetite was voracious and I was eating whatever I wanted (ice cream for breakfast, anyone?). I stopped routinely weighing myself and taking circumference measurements of my waist and instead measured my ass and tits- you know, the trendy parts. I even wrote a blog post about how I had finally overcome the oppressive body image issues that have become the social norm for women (hurrah!). But alas, this was also a ruse.

The next time I stepped on the scale was before my first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournament. I weighed 139 lbs at 5’2”. All of my teammates and other competitors were cutting weight but in my naivety, I thought surely my strength and power would help me overcome my opponent even if she was slightly taller than me. Well… “slightly” ended up being an average of 5 inches for my first few tournaments. It didn’t take me long to realize that all the women in my division were MUCH larger than me, and relying on my strength wasn’t going to cut it if I wanted to continue to compete, which I did.

Shout out to Dan Behr (@Behr_Dan) for these dope pics!
Shout out to Dan Behr (@Behr_Dan) for these dope pics!

I knew that adding in MORE activity wasn’t physically possible, so that meant I would have to *sigh* go on a diet. Now, if you’ve ever tried dieting and you like food, you’ve probably noticed that shit doesn’t work. Or if it does, it works for a very limited amount of time. Most of this is because of the evolution of our limbic system; our brains are hardwired to consume as much as possible and preserve as much energy as possible, which is how our species survived. Even the word DIET reminds me of misery and failure. So, what did I do? I procrastinated my weight cut of course! I kept telling myself I would do it the next tournament and I kept losing matches to giants (to be clear- a lot of it was failure in executing proper technique and timing BUT it doesn’t help when you come up to your opponent’s collarbone!)

the enemy...
the enemy…

This went on for a while until, praise the fitness lords, intermittent fasting became a thing. Which meant I didn’t have to change WHAT I ate, just WHEN I ate! I lost 17 lbs in 6 weeks and I entered Masters Worlds 2017 as a featherweight! Don’t rejoice yet, I still lost my first match BUT it was pretty close and the women were definitely my size. This was my new competition weight and I didn’t want to stray too far from it considering how long it took for me to lose the weight and how annoying it was to plan all my “feeding” times.

photo cred @behr_dan
photo cred @behr_dan

I wasn’t used to being this size and it felt oddly vulnerable. Although I was much faster at this weight and I hadn’t lost much strength, I had to come to terms with the fact that I am, in fact, a small person. I was also a fitness professional who promoted body positivity and eating what makes you happy… but now I had to keep track of my weight and go on a diet! I felt like a fraud and a hypocrite! It didn’t help that I was going through a lot of major life changes. I guess you could call it an existential crisis of sorts that forced me to really investigate who I am and what my core values are, which ended up being a blessing in disguise.

During this process I realized that there is a fine line between self-care and self-sabotage. I realized that a lot of my attachments to food were emotional and even though I deserved to eat things that I wanted, I didn’t deserve stepping on the scale the next day and hating myself. A lot of the foods I desired weren’t foods that my body needed, but foods that my mind craved. I was rebelling against the idea that in order to be healthy, I had to deprive myself. But what I was missing was balance. There had to be a way to eat enjoyable food, nourish my body with what it needs and still make weight.

11% body fat and ripped as fuck right before Masters Worlds and before Cesar's Buffet
11% body fat and ripped as fuck right before Masters Worlds and before Cesar’s Buffet

So, I did a lot of research (and watched a LOT of Food Network), experimented with recipes and products. With the help of some awesome and smart friends, I found a new love in cooking! I realized that food is nourishment and that what you eat determines how well your body functions (so basically super obvious shit that took me a decade to figure out). Cooking food for yourself is a form of self love. I learned to trust myself more and trust that my body is asking for what it needs. More importantly I learned how to listen to cues my body was giving me. I started picking ingredients that appealed to my senses and taking time to perfect the taste of what I was making. It not only made my food more enjoyable, but more satiating! I was able to taste and smell certain nuances of flavors and over time I didn’t need as much guidance in the process. I didn’t have to eat as much and I was more inclined to make better choices.

Screenshot_2018-12-13-17-24-01-1 Screenshot_2018-12-13-17-23-40-1

I started to feel better a few weeks into this new journey and those effects have lasted. I’m not as achy, I have more energy, I’m not as bloated and my hair, skin and nails are healthier. It has also had a pretty significant impact on my performance and my recovery. I find myself getting sick less and I’m not concerned about when I can have my next “cheat” meal because I don’t feel like I need one. This doesn’t feel like deprivation.

Instead of focusing on eliminating certain foods from my diet, I started focusing on specific nutrients like good fats, B vitamins, calcium rich foods, probiotic foods and quality proteins. By the way, if you believe it’s easier for you to supplement your nutrition, Naked Nutrition has really great products that don’t have any crap in them- just grass fed proteins! It took a lot of experimentation to find a product I actually like- so you’re welcome! I’ve been using their whey protein for shakes and collagen protein for soups and overnight oats. (


Now comes the shameless self promotion part of this blog…

Along this journey I began to document what I ate during weight cuts. I got a lot of inquiries about what I was eating/cooking and what kinds of products and supplements I use. So I decided to write a(nother) book! I am combining forces with a nutritionist ( and an MMA fighter (follow RoccoGmma on Instagram) to write a guide/ cookbook for athletes who care about how their food tastes but still have to make weight.

The goal is to educate readers about what their bodies need for optimal function and show them how they can find these nutrients in familiar, tasty dishes while honoring their time constraints. Hopefully this will help shift us away from the “diet” era of depriving our bodies and into a mindset where we see food as nourishment.

In conclusion, our time here on earth is limited and we can get so much more out of our bodies than making them look a certain way, but we have to treat our bodies well!

If you found this blog helpful, feel free to share! Or sign up for our newsletter. You can always email me ( if you have any questions or ideas that I haven’t shared here.

Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

We recently shared a post about the possible benefits one can receive when drinking apple cider vinegar. Helen Sanders from also a post about ACV and it is much more extensive. We think Helen’s post is valuable, because it sites much of the research behind this practice (which some do daily!) and some of these valuable studies are about the positive effects of vinegars in general.

Exciting as this content can be we ask that our readers put on their critical-thinking-helmets and remember that no article can tell you what to do for your health or prescribe the correct amount of any traditional substance in the name of wellbeing. While some use ACV several times a day others ingest it only a couple of times a week. You’ll have to be the judge of what feels best for you! Remember, when it comes to the whole ph conversation you don’t know how this or any other rememdy will effect your body unless you’re testing your ph levels on a daily basis. So read up and take advantage of this well-gathered information and think about how it can be tailored for your needs.

Thanks to Helen for letting us share, Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar:


Vinegar is thought to have a ten thousand year history, having been used for hundreds of different purposes. It was a key ingredient in many remedies and used to flavor and preserve foods in ancient civilizations.

Records show the use of vinegar by the Babylonians in 5000 BC. Traces of vinegar have been found in ancient Egyptian urns dated to 300 BC. It is mentioned in texts of ancient Greece and China, and was even used by Hannibal to crumble rocks to aid his passage through the Alps!

Even today, people use apple cider vinegar not only for the obvious purpose in a variety of different culinary dishes, but also for all kinds of cleaning, removing stains on clothes, carpets and teeth, restoring leather products and even as a weed killer (source).

Recently, apple cider vinegar has become very popular, and has been the subject of much speculation. It is thought to have many important health benefits, including lowering blood sugar levels and decreasing the symptoms of diabetes.

It has also been suggested that apple cider vinegar can help with weight loss, and some some scientific studies have been carried out to investigate this. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at apple cider vinegar – what it is, what’s special about it, and what the research says.

What Is Apple Cider Vinegar?

Vinegar is made by a similar fermentation process to alcohol. In fact, alcohol will turn into vinegar if exposed to the bacteria naturally present in the air.

To make apple cider vinegar, apples are pulverized to release the juice. The juice is mixed with yeast and bacteria, which convert the sugars in the liquid to alcohol.

The mixture then goes through a second fermentation process which

converts the alcohol into many different acids, including acetic acid. And voilà – we have apple cider vinegar (source).

Apple cider vinegar contains potassium, magnesium, antioxidants and amino acids – the building block for protein. High quality, unfiltered apple cider vinegar contains good bacteria, enzymes and proteins which are thought to impart extra health benefits.

Apple Cider Vinegar Kills Bacteria

Scientific research has now proven what moms and grandmas all over the world have known for decades: vinegar kills bacteria.

In one study, vinegar proved just as effective as many commercial products at eliminating bacteria such as E. Coli and staphylococcus aureus.

These bacteria busting properties are the reason why vinegar is used to preserve food and can decrease the risk of food poisoning (source).

One study showed that vinegar wiped out an impressive 95 per cent of viruses present in food, proving that vinegar is an effective natural way to preserve food and decrease health risks (source).

Apple Cider Vinegar Lowers Blood Sugar And Helps Diabetes

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that nearly 30 million people in the US currently have diabetes.

Even if you don’t have diabetes, there are significant health risks if you have high blood sugar. There are two main factors that need to be controlled to maintain normal blood sugar levels – what we consume and how much insulin we produce.

Controlling blood sugar to keep it within normal range has health benefits for everyone. It is well known that a healthy diet with a limited amount of sugar and few unhealthy carbohydrates is the key to controlling blood sugar.

When we take in refined sugars and carbs, it causes a rapid spike in the level of sugar in the blood. This increases the amount of insulin we produce as the body attempts to get blood sugar level back down to within normal range as quickly as possible.

This can result in a roller coaster effect on your blood sugar, and carries many health risks.

Studies have proven that apple cider vinegar reduces fasting blood sugar by 4 per cent. When we consume vinegar with refined carbs it can reduce blood sugar levels by over 31 per cent (source).

Research also shows that apple cider vinegar can help to increase sensitivity to insulin. Increased insulin sensitivity reduces the amount of insulin the body needs to effectively manage blood sugar.

Insulin resistance, or decreased sensitivity to insulin, is a major risk factor for developing type II diabetes. Results of some studies have proven that apple cider vinegar can increase insulin sensitivity by between 19 and 34 per cent (source).

Apple Cider Vinegar For Weight Loss

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, two out of three people in the US are overweight or obese. Obesity carries a considerable amount of health risks, including increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease, stroke, some types of cancer and osteoarthritis (source)

Many studies have researched the effect of vinegar on satiety – the feeling of being full after eating. They found that it can reduce our appetite and reduce calorie intake by up to 275 calories (source).

In terms of carrying extra pounds, one of the most significant risks to health is excess abdominal fat. One study found that vinegar significantly reduces body mass, waist circumference and abdominal fat (source).

Apple Cider Vinegar Reduces Cholesterol and Risk Of Heart Disease

The importance of a healthy heart is well known. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease accounts for one in every three deaths in the US.

One of the biggest dangers to heart health is a high level of certain types of cholesterol in the body. Scientific research using non-human subjects observed a significant decrease in total cholesterol level and triglycerides – another type of fat in the blood – with use of apple cider vinegar (source).

Lowers Blood Pressure

There is scientific evidence that the acetic acid in vinegar reduces blood pressure.

In one study using non-human subjects, acetic acid significantly reduced blood pressure when subjects received the same diet without acetic acid (source).

Apple Cider Vinegar Is An Antioxidant

Antioxidants are substances which help to prevent cell damage by absorbing harmful chemicals – also known as free radicals.

Experts believe that antioxidants prevent or limit damage to blood vessels, and can decrease the risk of or may even help to prevent a variety of different medical conditions. These include atherosclerosis, some cancers, muscle degeneration, some types of arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease.

Apple cider vinegar has been shown to contain chlorogenic acid, a phytochemical also found in coffee.

Chlorogenic acid has been proven to act as an antioxidant by binding to

cholesterol molecules and preventing oxidation. This is an extremely important factor in reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke (source).

Apple Cider Vinegar Has Anti-Fungal Properties

Fungi and yeasts are present naturally in our bodies and on our skin. When they are given favorable conditions, they can multiply uncontrollably and cause health problems.

Apple cider vinegar has been shown to be effective against various types of yeast, such as Candida Albicans, the type of yeast responsible for the uncomfortable symptoms of thrush (source).

Vinegar and Cancer

Many claims have been made on various websites that apple cider vinegar can positively affect some types of cancer.

Certainly, many studies have shown that some types of vinegar can reduce the size of tumors and kill cancer cells. However, the majority of the research has been conducted in test tubes. In addition, most of the research used Japanese rice vinegar, cane sugar vinegar and red wine vinegar.

While it may be true that the components of apple cider vinegar can affect cancer cells, at present it’s not possible to back this up scientifically. More research into this subject is needed (source).

Reported Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

In recent years, apple cider vinegar has attracted a lot of attention in health and fitness communities. As a result there is a considerable amount of speculation and anecdotal evidence regarding its potential health benefits.

Some people use it to improve the condition of hair and skin, to soothe sunburn, repel insects, relieve allergies, as a cure for colds and acid reflux, to reduce the size of warts and heal injuries from poison ivy.

Apple cider vinegar may well be effective for some people for many of these conditions. There isn’t enough evidence to state categorically that apple cider vinegar is useful in these instances – but it may be worth a try.

If you want confirmation to say whether or not apple cider vinegar is effective for these conditions is likely to be a long wait, as natural products are not often the subject of extensive research unless it’s for a specific reason.

Apple cider vinegar is certainly an option for people who like to enjoy a natural, organic, chemical-free lifestyle.

How To Use Apple Cider Vinegar

The research regarding apple cider vinegar suggests it is a worthy addition to most daily routines. There are no side effects and it’s easy to add it to sauces, soups and salad dressings. Some people prefer to take it straight up, but most dilute it with water.

Selecting a high quality, organic, filtered apple cider vinegar is likely to have the best results, since these include those added extras – the good bacteria, enzymes and proteins which are thought to be particularly beneficial for health.

Most of the research on apple cider vinegar used a daily dose of between 15 and 30ml. Because of the acid content, doses above this level are not recommended and may have a negative effect on some conditions.

Apple Vinegar Supplements

There are a wide range of apple cider vinegar tablets and capsules currently available on the market.

However, some research studies have evaluated various different apple cider vinegar tablets for their content, and found that there was considerable variation between different brands.

The research even questioned whether or not apple cider vinegar was an ingredient in the products (source).

Will Apple Cider Vinegar Cure Me?

Apple cider vinegar has some important health benefits as an antioxidant, an antibacterial and antifungal treatment. It can help to lower blood sugar and reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. It’s a naturally chemical-free product.

Apple cider can help as part of a weight loss program. It may also have numerous other health benefits and uses that have yet to be scientifically proven. What it is not is a one size, fits all, miracle cure for everything.

Is apple cider vinegar going to get you down to your target weight if it’s the only change to your routine? Will it completely cut your risk factors for diabetes, heart disease and stroke if you continue to eat unhealthy foods, smoke and take no exercise? Will it reduce the risk of diabetes if you drink a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar before drinking a liter of regular soda?

The answer, unfortunately, is no. Whether you are trying to lose weight in general, decrease the amount of abdominal fat or you are trying to reduce blood pressure and cut the risk of heart disease and stroke, what is always needed is a combined approach of several changes to lifestyle.

A sensible, healthy eating plan and regular exercise are probably going to more effective in reducing your health risks than just adding apple cider vinegar to your current lifestyle. However, with its reported health benefits, apple cider vinegar seem like an added bonus which will help you to achieve the results you want.

Here’s an interesting infographic I found at

Quick Fix for Weight Loss

THERE IS NO QUICK FIX to losing weight or looking slimmer. However, I seem to keep wanting to challenge that fact.

apple cider vinegar

The day after Easter when I pigged out, I decided to try something I was suggested to do. I drank a shot of apple cider vinegar. I nearly gagged and almost threw up. I was willing to experiment because a friend, whom I respect, said I should drink a little apple cider vinegar to get rid of this pesky belly fat I can’t seem to eliminate. Now that I tried, I decided to do a little research. This article from WebMd can shed a little light on the realities of shooting apple cider vinegar when you wake up. Apple cider vinegar article from WebMd.

As you can see, there is no PROVEN science behind losing weight by drinking apple cider vinegar in the morning. However, it seems that there has been scientific evidence that the vinegar helps with joint issues. OK, but I am still stuck with this middle age belly!

Here are a few things I have decided to do recently, that have helped.

  1. Keep a food journal. You can do it the old fashioned way, or use a app. I have been using this one
  2. Drink more water, with or without lemon. Lemon, like the vinegar will not make you lose weight, but it will help you eliminate more efficiently. More on lemons
  3. Prepare some meals for your week so that you have healthy foods, that you LIKE ready at home.
  4. Make sure you are getting 6-8 hours of sleep a night. Increased cortisol makes weight loss difficult
  5. Don’t deny yourself, invite yourself to enjoy food, as you add in healthy and delicious choices, you will see your cravings for crap lift.

There are many other things that can help. These previous suggestions are a start. Stay tuned for more!!!