Hi there! Welcome to our monthly interview series: Easy Living. Here we’re talking to local nutrition and wellness experts who love what they do and inspire others to be better every day.
Today I am talking to Jessica Barker, a registered dietitian nutritionist who works at the LifeTime Fitness in Vernon Hills, Illinois. She was kind to share what she enjoys the most in being a dietitian, her sources of inspiration as well as philosophy on staying healthy and fit.
If you had to define all that you do in a title, what would you say?
I am the nutrition program coordinator at LifeTime Fitness. I am able to help individuals achieve optimal levels of health with behavioral change coaching, lab testing, and supplementation to support a healthy metabolism.
What do you enjoy the most in your profession?
I enjoy helping people work through the stages of change with collaboration and strategies to help reach their end goal.
How would you describe your philosophy on being fit and healthy?
I believe that it is more than calories in, calories out and that being healthy and fit starts with your blood chemistry with optimizing your blood sugar, thyroid, cortisol, and gut health.
How did your healthy lifestyle journey begin?
I played college volleyball and started to understand how foods could impact my athletic career. I studied nutrition and public relations in undergrad at Illinois State University and then did my graduate work at St. Louis University in Nutrition and Physical Performance.
What does your morning routine look like?
I try to start off the day with being active – I feel better all day and crave healthier foods to energize me through my work day!
What is your favorite way to unwind after a long day?
I have been working at making prayer, meditation, and deep breathing a part of my evening routine to assist in stress management and to support a healthy sleep cycle.
What makes you laugh, smile, and be joyful?
I love being with my husband and spending time with family and friends. I am a huge believer that personal connections are a BIG part of a healthy lifestyle.
You are a healthy diet & lifestyle mentor for many people. Who or what gives you the most inspiration?
I believe that other dietitians give me inspiration because of the passion that many of my colleagues have around the preventive nature of food.
What, in your opinion, are the main characteristics of the healthy diet for an average person? And what would be your advice for someone who wants to start making healthier choices in food?
I always coach toward asking yourself 4 questions each time you eat – Where are my vegetables? Where is my high-quality protein? Did I incorporate healthy fat? Are fruits and starchy vegetables a smaller portion of my plate?
What is your advice on how to keep a balance between eating clean, living healthy and not develop orthorexia?
Remember that we are all human and that nutrition is not always an exact science. Holidays, travel and social events can all be challenging at times to stay on track with your nutrition. Practice patience and kindness to yourself on good and challenging days.
What is your opinion on detoxes and cleanses?
I believe that it needs to be supported with the right supplementation plan and whole natural foods. I believe in supporting both phases of liver detoxification, nourishing the body and utilizing the sauna and lymphatic massage during the process.
Being a trained and licensed dietitian what are your thoughts on some social media “wellness gurus” without a license; how do you feel it impacts the well-being of people following?
Many people take different approaches with health and wellness and you want to be sure that you are working with a trained professional that can take into account your medical history and your past history with nutrition and weight loss to determine the right approach and recommendations for you.
What’s your favorite quote or mantra you can’t live without?
“Don’t sweat the small stuff.” Setbacks will happen and it is how you handle it that will help keep you consistent with a lifestyle vs. a diet.
If you have any health and wellness related books, authors, blogs, please share.
Dr. Bryan Walsh has great insight on blood chemistry regarding weight loss and I love the “LifeTime Weight Loss” blog for information and education on metabolism and supplementation.
Name a few of your favorite restaurants, cafes, or coffee shops in the Chicago area?
I love Santa Monica Summer House for a great night out in the city – the “Vitamin D” room always brings a smile to my face!
What is your most popular recipe?
I keep it simple with a very busy schedule – chicken salsa is a staple in our house. Simply cover chicken with salsa and cook in the slow cooker for 3-4 hours and toss with a big salad with fajita vegetables and sliced avocado!
So where can everyone keep up with you to learn more?
Please feel free to reach out to me at JBarker@lt.life or 630-631-6851 to schedule an appointment. My office is located at the LifeTime Fitness in Vernon Hills and would love to set-up a time!
Did you enjoy reading this interview? Did you have any ah-ha moments? Share with me one thing that you are taking away after reading this. Drop a comment below or send me a message on social media.