Dafna Chazin: How To Set Health Goals And Develop A Mindset For Success #48
Dafna (@pcos.nutritionist.dafna) is a registered dietitian with a specialty in weight management and PCOS. Over the past decade, Dafna has helped hundreds of individuals develop healthy eating habits, manage their weight and heal their relationship with food through nutrition and lifestyle modifications.
She has been in private practice for the past 2 years, working mostly with women with PCOS using her "whole-person" approach, which considers all the factors that make our health needs unique, as opposed to solely focusing on sizes, pounds or inches.
In addition to developing sound nutrition programs for her clients, Dafna has a strong passion for teaching healthy cooking and inspiring women to prepare their own meals. She is also the founder of The PCOS Meal Prep School, a 6-week online program, and the host of The Slim and Satisfied podcast. Dafna is a wife and mom of 2 children. She is a native of Israel, currently residing in New Jersey, USA.
In episode 48 of the podcast, Dafna talks all about how to set goals and how to develop a mindset for success.
We hear a lot about goal setting, but I think many of us fail to achieve our goals not because we can’t achieve them but because we don’t know how to set goals correctly. Dafna provides great simple yet practical and realistic advice on how to set health goals that we can stick to and achieve! I really hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
- Dafna's story/journey [00:05:22]
- Reasons why you should set goals [00:12:26]
- How would someone go about setting goals that stick for PCOS [00:14:05]
- The best way to lose weight with PCOS [00:17:24]
- Behavioral or mindset shifts that make a woman successful in meeting those health goals [00:34:52]
- Practical nutrition based tips you can implement into your daily life to help treat PCOS. [00:51:11]
You can find the transcript of this episode below.
Dafna Chazin: How To Set Health Goals And Develop A Mindset For Success #48
Despina Hello, welcome Dafna to the podcast.
I'm super excited to get into a discussion. think we share a lot of beliefs and values when it comes to with working with clients and a lot of our values when it comes to balancing hormones and treating PCOS.
But before we actually delve into our topic, which is a mindset goal setting and creating strategies that will help you stay motivated and continue on your journey and not giving up on achieving your goal of, you know, ultimately the goal of treating your PCOS and live in symptom free life.
Can you start off by explaining a little bit about what you do to our listeners and also why you got into treating and working with clients who have PCOS specifically and share your story.
Dafna Yeah, for sure. So thank you for having me. I'm really excited, too.
I'm a registered dietitian and I've been in the field of nutrition and wellness for about 10 years. And I started off, like many other dietitians do, working in different settings. I worked in a nursing home, I worked in a hospital, and I as many other health care professionals wanted to help everybody. Right. We want to treat everybody. We want to help everybody.
But over the years, I've found that, you know, it's was better, better fit for my personality to really specialize and become an expert in one field and really dive deep because I like to form relationships with with people. I like to get to know them. And I wanted to be able to help on a deeper level. And that's how I kind of found myself working with women specifically who were struggling with weight issues and things like diabetes and heart disease. And just over the years, the kind of clients that were coming to me and the kind of women that I was able to help the most, I noticed that they all struggle with hormones and PCOS was definitely something that came up a lot.
In addition to my formal training and my experience, I kind of sought out more training related to PCOS specifically and I've been able to really just focus on this one area.
And, you know, looking back at the time before I became a dietitian, I grew up in Israel and I was always fairly healthy. I came from a household where, you know, my parents were very health conscious, we ate kind of a standard Mediterranean diet. And I always found that I felt good and I was athletic.
But then I went into the army when I was 18 years old and everybody in Israel goes to the army. It's a mandatory two year service for women and that life change threw everything off for me.
So when I got into the military, I was, of course, looking back now I know I was in a stressful situation. I didn't think it was stressful back then. But the major life change that I went through really took a toll on my body. So I started not feeling well. I wasn't eating as well because it wasn't my home anymore. I was out of, you know, my environment and I didn't have much control over what I was eating. And things started deteriorating over time.
So I had a lot of digestive problems, a lot of IBS type issues. I had cystic acne and I was constantly stressed. Now I know that I had anxiety, although I couldn't name it at the time, right, I didn't know what I was experiencing, but a lot of the mental stress really got to me. And I started also having some issues with my period and I was put on the pill like many other women, and just over time, realizing that things are not improving on their own. And what I was doing wasn't really conducive to really getting healthy. I was trying to diet, I was trying to over exercise and when I started researching and that's really originally how I got into the field of nutrition, I really started overhauling my diet, working more on kind of cleaning things up, doing a little bit more work on my emotional health. And right along with the nutrition that did make a difference.
So I was always into health and cooking and kind of, you know, working with food in the kitchen. And I really wanted to be a chef. But then after I had this experience with my health, I decided to take it, you know, my love for food and cooking and meal prep and things like that, more toward nutrition. So then I came here when I was 21 and I went to school after everyone already graduated here in the States. I was the oldest person in my class, but I was super into it. And, you know, I never looked back. I love what I do. I'm really obsessed with food and nutrition. But in a good way, in a way that's kind of, you know, very I think down to earth and reasonable. And we're going to get more into talking about diets. But that's really the back story to where how I got to where I am today.
And what I do today is work in private practice. And again, I've said I specialize in PCOS and I've worked with different, you know, both men and women over the years. But right now, I'm focusing on female and hormonal health and really helping women manage their weight and just get on a healthy track with their body and more confidence and really empowering one to just do what's right for that and what works for them.
I think your story is really interesting. And like you said, I feel like everybody who like works of clients and whether they, in your case, a nutritionist or someone who works in the health industry always tend to have had their own kind of struggle with their health and went through the dieting stuff and the over exercising. Or they experience something that led them to dive really deep into what was causing that and trying to figure out how they could address their specific root cause and create a lifestyle that's personalized for them to fix their specific problem.
So I think yeah, I also like the fact that with your coaching and how you take a holistic approach, but you focus on the emotional health of creating positive behaviors and habits, it's not just, you know, here's for example, here's like a meal plan to follow just to lose weight. Feel like it's good that you really look at someone's emotional health, that their mindset because I feel like we're going to discuss mindset is a huge part of making you stay motivated and want to do what you're doing, because if your mindset is not right, you're going to struggle. It's going to be difficult to achieve your goals.
Mindset does play a huge thing that will be discussing. But yeah I like the fact that you focus on that aspect too.
So let's like move into our topic. So we hear a lot about goal setting. I think many of us fail to achieve our goals not because we can't achieve them, but because we don't know how to set goals correctly.
So that now before we get into how to go about goals, set at setting goals that you can stick to for PCOS. Let's briefly touch on some of the reasons why setting goals is so important and such a valuable tool when trying to achieve your ultimate goal. Or in this case, reverse PCOS symptoms and just feel your best.
Reasons Why You Should Set Goals
Dafna Yes, I really believe that goals are crucial when you're trying to make behavior changes, especially around food and health, because a good goal and we're going to talk about what that is, but a good goal can really help set you up for success. It can help motivate you. It can help really organize your thoughts.
Sometimes we want to make change, but we're not sure where to start. And if we go on social media, we get more overwhelmed, more confused and pulled in a million different directions. And that can really overwhelm someone. So having a good goal set can really guide your actions.
And when you're working off of a goal, off of some sort of a step by step process, you're much more likely to succeed because you're following a path that's already been laid out. You know what comes next and you're staying focused. And the beautiful thing about goals is also when you set the right goals, you're going to accomplish them and that's going to build motivation to keep going. Because sometimes we set goals that are unrealistic, too ambitious or maybe just too grand for where we are right now.
And, you know, I always tell my clients a goal shouldn't be feeling defeating. It shouldn't defeat you. It shouldn't feel like it's unattainable. It should actually motivate you. And if it has to be really small, that's OK. But your goals should be very realistic, very accomplishable. I don't know if that's a word, but you should be able to accomplish your goals and you should also be able to get motivated and empowered when you think about your goal.
It shouldn't be a drag for you to kind of follow through with your goals.
How would someone go about setting goals that stick for PCOS
Dafna So goals are super important and they're going to differ from one person to the next.
So the way that someone would go about figuring out what is a good goal for them is first and foremost, I want you to really get informed about your condition, your numbers and your health because this is really important.
You have to be an educated patient or an educated you know woman in general when it comes to your health. You want to know your numbers. You want to understand what symptoms you're experiencing.
And like I said before, when I was going through my health struggles, you could ask me what I'm feeling, I couldn't even verbalize it. I knew it wasn't good. I knew I wasn't well. But I couldn't understand what is wrong with me. Right. And that is usually a sign of just not being connected with your body.
So before you go out and set goals and try to accomplish things with your health, it's really important to understand. Are you lacking energy? Are you someone who's really experiencing digestive issues? What is the biggest, most pressing issues with your health right now? Because that's going to point to where you should focus your efforts.
These are places where you want to pay attention and a good goal should help you see improvement in those areas. So, know your numbers, know everything, your cholesterol, your insulin, your blood sugar levels. I don't want anyone going to the doctor leaving without knowing, what were you diagnosed with today? What was the summary of the visit? How were you being treated for whatever it is that you're experiencing?
It's really, really important task many questions. There are no bad questions when it comes to your health. You want to know everything. And if you get labs done, I want you to look at those numbers, even if you don't fully understand them. You should find a physician or a health care practitioner that cares enough to explain them to you. So that's step one.
And then, as I said, you want to look at the things that you're experiencing that are most frequent or maybe that are causing the most issues. So, for example, one always I always give this example to my clients because they ask me, I have a wedding coming up and I'm really worried about my eating or I have you know, I'm going out this weekend, how can I do it and not derail myself or whatever it may be. And here's the thing. If you're doing things in a healthy way, if you're eating a fairly healthy diet, most of the time, don't focus there. I don't want you to focus on the things that are happening randomly or infrequently.
But if you're someone who gets poor sleep or is experiencing stress on a daily basis, that's a good place to focus your attention. And you can set goals in that area that will help improve what you're experiencing.
So don't focus on the things that happen every now and then. Focus on what's happening every day. Or the things that are causing the most issue for you.
So that is a good direction to go with your goals. And then, as I've said before, a goal should be really specific.
So sometimes women would come to me and say my goal is to lose weight. Well, that's not a good goal, because first of all, it doesn't tell me what I need to be doing and in general, the focus on weight loss as a goal is not usually conducive to healthy behaviors because it's really focusing on the end result. Right. It's focusing on the outcome.
So if someone says I want to be X pounds by Y date or if someone says I want to lose 20 pounds by this summer. Well, that's not telling me what I need to do.
First of all, of course, you want to evaluate if that's even a good realistic goal for that person and if that's something they should be pursuing. But at the same time, it's really only focusing on a certain number or a certain outcome, whereas it's much better to set process goals, goals that will tell you what you need to be doing.
So to take this example, if someone came to me and they said they want to lose 20 pounds. Well, why don't we look at increasing your vegetable intake? Why don't we look at increasing hydration? Why don't we look at eliminating some sugary foods from your diet?
Now, that's a process goal that I can get behind. And we can work on making those tweaks that overall will likely produce a weight loss. Again, if that's the right goal for that person, and that's a much more motivating, actionable and specific goal. Does that make sense?
Despina I really love those points and I agree.
It's important to be your own health advocate and make sure you visit your doctor, find out all the numbers, find out what's causing everything. Because essentially, if you can't make a plan, you're basically going in blind. You don't know what you're doing. You're just guessing. So you could be doing this thing, but this is not going to help your problem. So you're just going in blind guessing what you're doing. This could cause a whole host of problems.
Dafna But yeah, I think it's really also important to understand that when you're talking about PCOS, right, so PCOS is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
When we're talking about a syndrome, the word syndrome means there are many different things going on. There are many manifestations. There are many issues and every woman is going to experience PCOS differently.
So that's why you want to understand your own numbers and your own challenges with your health, because there could be a lot of different things between, you know, two women with PCOS could even be the same weight and the same age and everything would be the same. But they will not be manifesting the PCOS symptoms in the same way.
So you want to really understand that, you know, it's important to figure out what's going on in your body. And again, you don't have to understand every single thing that's on your lab work, but you want to ask questions, you want to research and you want to really becoming more informed.
It's important to figure out what's going on in your body. You don't have to understand every single thing that's on your lab work, but you want to ask questions, you want to research and you want to really becoming informed.
Despina Exactly and like you say, two people can have be the same weight and have other aspects that are the same, but there'll be two different root causes and so you can't essentially copy someone else's goals or approach because we're all unique.
So we can have similarities, but at the end of the day, things will always be different. So you can never replicate someone's approach or someone's goals or the way they go about achieving that goal.
That's why everything always has to be personalized with treatment approaches and even goals.
Goals always have to be unique and personalized to your current situation to get you towards your future destination. We could say so, yeah.
And it's always important not to be focusing, I like what you said about not focusing on the things that happen infrequently or going out for a wedding or something and being worried about eating cake or something. Because the way to achieve your end result is always being consistent. So you're eating your vegetables every day. Do you exercise it regularly? Sleeping?
I feel like focusing on that one thing that happens once every I don't know how many times people go to weddings, for me, not very frequently, so I don't worry about that.
But I feel like. Yeah. Focusing on the stuff that you're doing consistently and not stressing over those one time things that in the grand scheme of things won't impact, they don't derail you off your course.
So definitely that. And what you should focus more on, for example, if you're not sleeping properly, focus on improving that because sleep has a huge impact on our overall health and hormones. But yeah, I really like your points there.
Anything else? Anything else you wanted to touch on? About goals and goal setting?
The Best Way To Lose Weight With PCOS
Dafna Yeah, I think so.
Going back to talking about weight loss as a goal, because I think that is something that we see a lot and one of the things that I want to say to anybody listening right now who does feel like they do want to lose weight, but maybe they're not feeling so great about that and I think part of the reason is there's a lot of talk on about weight loss in a negative way. And I just want to address this, because while I do believe that weight loss is not a good goal, it's not something that anyone should be striving for and kind of ignoring their health. It is important to note that losing weight and the vast majority of women with PCOS do experience excess weight gain. Losing weight can and will in most cases improve someone's health.
So we can't ignore the fact that losing weight is part of the equation when it comes to PCOS, because again, we see things like insulin resistance and we see a lot of other hormonal imbalances that make women with PCOS more prone to weight gain and I am fully aware that there are women out there at a higher weight who are very healthy and very fit. And those women may not need to lose weight or want to lose weight and I think that's great.
But the vast majority of women with PCOS who are overweight or obese are not healthy. Right. And the weight does have an impact on their health.
So I think it's important to understand that it's OK to want to lose weight. What we're confusing sometimes, in my opinion, is using weight loss and fad diets or crash diets as the same thing. Treating it as the same thing.
Not every person and not every woman who is losing weight is doing it through a crash diet. There are healthy ways to manage weight. There are healthy ways to improve your diet so that weight loss becomes more natural and is occurring more gradually. And there is nothing wrong with that.
So I really want to put that out there, because this is one of my issues I see and again, I believe in health at every size and I do again believe that some women are healthier at a higher weight, but most are not.
Most of the time, this is not what we see. And again, dieting and using all kinds of short cuts and gimmicks and things like that, are certainly not the way to do it, especially because we see a higher rate of this disordered eating with women with PCOS.
Dieting and using all kinds of short cuts and gimmicks and things like that, are certainly not the way to do it, especially because we see a higher rate of this disordered eating with women with PCOS.
So those things feed directly into a pattern of disordered eating that I don't think anyone should be feeling guilty or shamed into not wanting to lose weight just because, well, you know, someone on social media decided that everyone who is losing weight is doing it through a fad. That is not true.
And if you're working with someone or maybe you're even doing it on your own and you're doing it in a healthy, sustainable way, that's not eliminating too many food groups, that's, you know, using mostly whole foods and good healthy habits around food and eating, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that and I encourage you to continue until you feel healthy. I wouldn't focus on a number. I wouldn't focus on a size. I would focus on how you feel and how your health is. And that's when you know that you've managed your weight appropriately.
But in general, I don't think anybody should be ashamed to do anything right.
So I really think it's very individualized and everyone should do what works for them. But I know many women who've worked with me, who've lost upwards of 60 and 70 pounds and have not dieted. Right. They have not dieted. If you ask them what they're doing, they're not going to say they're on a diet. They're doing it in a really healthy and sustainable way. And they've gotten their life back, you know. So most of these women have more energy, less pain, they're taking less medications, their acne improved, their depression and anxiety improved.
So we came to associate weight loss with with things that are bad and negative and with, you know, dieting. And I can understand the association, but this is not always the case.
Despina I like what you said.
Yeah. People shouldn't be made to feel guilty about wanting to lose weight, we all have this freedom to do whatever we want. And we shouldn't see everyone who wants to lose weight as you know, you're focusing on, you know, the aesthetics or, you know, you want to look a certain way like a supermodel, when in reality it's other goals you just wanted to lose weight. It's about being healthy, wanting to feel like your you have more energy being more active. There's a lot of reasons why people may want to lose weight. It's not just about the aesthetics.
Dafna And in most cases, it's really important to remember in most cases, being overweight or obese is is not healthy in most cases there are going to be health benefits associated with moderate reductions in weight. Even if someone loses five to seven percent of their weight, they're going to see huge improvements in their health. And I can't see anything that's wrong with that.
Again, if they're doing it in a healthy, sustainable way and they're not crash dieting for two months and then falling back into old habits that are not serving them.
Despina Yeah, I agree with that.
I feel like women with PCOS who are trying to lose weight and they follow the short term diets that for me personally when I was diagnosed, the standard advice of cut carbs and lose weight obviously led me down that path of short term dieting and I'm just following really, really, really low calorie diets which looking back, how did I survive, I don't even know.
But this kind of approach and looking on social media, how people lose weight and just being bombarded about, you know, these cookie cutter diets really leads you down an eating disorder. And that's why developed and suffered for like five years.
So, it's really important if you do want to lose weight and you are doing it on your own, you're not hiring someone to help you on that journey, you will need to avoid these short term diets, these restrictive diets, and focus more on nourishing your body. And when you kind of cut back on those bad food and processed foods and stuff and you focus more on eating whole foods and, you know, focusing on the key components like sleep and stress management, the mindset all this stuff, it will lead to weight loss and it will be more sustainable, more enjoyable in the long term rather than, you know, like you said, following a short term diet for two months and then gaining that weight back because you're actually feeding yourself and you end up gaining all that weight.
But it's so much better to just take it slow and just feed and nourish your body, take care of it, and it will eventually do what you're trying to do, you know, achieve your goal, lose weight.
Dafna Yeah, I don't think it's normal to want to see quick results. And having been in this field for about a decade, I can tell you that everyone's looking for the edge, right?
Everyone wants to know the thing that's going to make them lose weight more easily, more quickly. And unfortunately, it's not very sexy. But there is no such a thing. Right. So there are really no shortcuts or gimmicks.
Everyone wants to know the thing that's going to make them lose weight more easily, more quickly. And unfortunately, it's not very sexy. There is no such a thing. There are really no shortcuts or gimmicks.
And I think that's when people get tempted to follow fads where something is new or something seems exciting or there's a lot of buzz around it.
And yeah, we see pictures of people who've done well, but then we never see the pictures of them regaining the weight and we never see the picture of what's going on behind the scenes. And, you know, I always remind my clients what you're seeing on social media is the highlight reel of that person's life. We never know what's going on. So don't assume that just because someone lost a tremendous amount of weight on a certain diet, first of all, it may not the best fit for you. It's likely not going to work for you just because it works for someone else. And then it's much harder to maintain the weight loss than to actually lose the weight.
So let's see some of these people, two and three and five and 10 years in, if they're still keeping the weight off, they've got my attention. Yeah, I want to know what they're doing.
But other than that, I would just move on. And I always tell my clients one way to know if your plan, if your diet or whatever it is that you're following to get healthier and lose the weight can be followed 10 years from now. So if you can see yourself eating in this same exact way in five or 10 years from now, that's likely an OK plan.
So you always want to evaluate it with that lens. Do you see yourself? You know, in when you're 50 or 60 or 70, like do you see yourself as a grandma eating Keto balls on the or whatever those are called? I don't even know what those are on your rocking chair on the front porch. Then fine.
But if you don't want to be doing this thing for 15 years, you need to find a more sustainable plan because PCOS is a lifelong condition, so not short term. You can't apply a short term fix to a long term problem. You have to really find something that's going to be with you for the rest of your life.
I like what you said about when you'll be when you're older. Because I always think of that when I was going through my restrictive and eating disorder. I just thought, when I'm 80 years old do I want to sit here weighing out my broccoli? Like not really!
Dafna Right, right.
Yeah. It's a really good reality check. And I highly encourage your listeners to think about that and ask them those really kind of hard questions. Questions that are not pleasant to think about sometimes, but they're going to help you.
Despina Because, like you said, is a long, lifelong condition. It doesn't just disappear like that. If you have it, you can reverse the symptoms and, you know, but PCOS never completely goes.
If you go back to your old ways of, you know, what kind of triggered it to come about. Then it is going to just come back. So you really need to just find something that you could see yourself doing long term, not just from today till I can follow it to other know end of March, from when we are recording this.
Dafna Right. Right.
Despina So, yeah, I definitely agree with that.
It's definitely important to have like a reality kind of check. Just always look to the future. And not just I don't know. You know, people say never look to the future, always be in the present moment, it's important to like think about the future, about where you want to go and what what you're going to be doing for the rest of your life. Thinking about the present moment and being, you know, power of now, I feel like the future is important as well, but just not getting too caught up in the future, basically.
Despina So what are some of the behavioral or and the mindset shifts that can help a woman successfully achieve her health goals?
Behavioral or and mindset shifts that can help a woman successfully achieve her health goals
Dafna So mindset is really important.
I always say that health is at least 70 percent mindset and then 30 percent everything else, because if you get yourself to think in the right way. If you're someone who keeps their head in their game, you're going to have an easier time because making changes is hard.
And it's it's something that takes consistency. And a lot of times we want to fall back into what's familiar and those habits are not always as conducive to our health goals.
So I'm going to say that thinking about your mindset is important. And the first thing that I'm going to say about that is perfection is really your enemy, because whenever someone is trying to wait for the right time or find the perfect plan or wait until life slows down, and then they'll have more time to do all the things related to their health, they're setting themselves up for being stuck, for being in action, because nothing is ever perfect. Right.
Our life is never going to slow down for us to be able to have the right time and the right kind of circumstances for getting healthier. And I just think that wherever you are today, just start. Start with one thing. Start small. But I want you to think about being very consistent and showing up daily to continue the work.
So you want to just make sure that every time you're working on your health, whether it's improving your hydration or sleeping better or eating better, preparing your meals, upping your vegetable intake, reducing the amount of food that you purchase outside the house, if those are processed foods, all of those things and there are a million other things that someone can be working on are better than doing nothing.
And nothing is too small. There are no insignificant habits to to practice. Right. So never think that if you're not doing hashtag all the things that you should not do anything at all. Right. That is not the case. And it's just so much better to get your wheels in motion and get action going, because again, even if those small steps that you're taking are imperfect, you're you're showing up, you're doing something. And that's going to over time, accumulate and give you some really great results.
There are no insignificant habits to to practice. Never think that if you're not doing hashtag all the things that you should not do anything at all.
So don't really think that, you know, your efforts are not worth it. They are worth it. And if you're waiting for the perfect timing or for the perfect plan, you're likely going to be waiting for a long time. So I always say get started, even if it's not pretty. Whatever you can do, do it.
The other thing that is important then it kind of relates to this is thinking about something called the emotional bank. So we we tend to be really hard on ourselves and I have a good friend, her name is Jeanine Miles and she's a therapist. And Jeanine always talks about making deposits into your emotional bank.
I actually did a podcast episode myself on this with Janine where we talked about this concept. This is not something that she coined, not a term that she invented. It was actually first talked about by a psychologist called Steven Covey, and he's the author of The Habits of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families. And he talks about how to kind of foster good relationships within the family. But I think this is really important for our relationship with ourselves. So any to anyone who's trying to get healthy should really think about filling up their emotional bank, becoming really rich when it comes to their emotional bank and making deposits into that account every single day.
So let me ask you this. If you were in a relationship where there is always an it could be a spouse, a partner, a mother, a sister or friend. It doesn't really matter. Doesn't have to be a romantic relationship. But if you are in a relationship where there was a lot of distrust, there was a lot of dishonesty, lots of judgment, criticism and all the negative things that, you know, sometimes come up in relationships.
Would that relationship last? Probably not, right? Probably not.
I don't think you or me or anyone listening would want to be in this kind of early relationship. That relationship will dissolve really quickly.
But here's the thing. These are all things that we on a daily basis do to ourselves. We judge. We criticize. We don't trust ourselves. Right. We talk negatively. There is a lot of negative self-talk, a lot of reprimanding of oneself.
And here's the thing. Our relationship with ourselves is really important because we want to feel like we are positive and motivated and empowered because you can not make positive change and progress with your health from a place of distrusting yourself. Right. That's just not going to work. That's a relationship that's built and built on a very rocky foundation. So we cannot dissolve our relationship with ourselves. Right. We have to nurture it. We have to make those deposits into the emotional bank. And those can be things like doing what we said we're going to do.
So if you everyday set a goal of going to the gym for two hours and you never do it. You wake up. You hit snooze. You just sleep right through it and you never show up. First of all, that's not a good goal for you. You're setting yourself up for failure. And secondly, you didn't do what you said you were going to do. So now you're building this trust in yourself and you're losing the belief that you're capable of making change because you keep not showing up for that thing that you said you were going to do.
So this is a very basic concept where I always work with clients on this on. If you said you were going to do something, you need to be doing it. You need to make every effort you can to do it just in order for you to build trust in yourself. That's a deposit into your emotional bank.
You're going to gain confidence and you're going to gain trust in yourself. And that's going to help you meet your goals. So it can be something very small.
And then the other thing is to limit self judgment, to limit self-criticism as much as possible, and give yourself props, to give yourself compliments. There are things in your day that you're doing well. There are things in your life, other areas in your life where you're doing things in a good way and in a productive way and you can recognize that and give yourself cut yourself some slack there so that you start seeing yourself in a more positive light. And that's going to help make deposits into your emotional bank.
Now, there's one more thing regarding mindset that's really important, and that's not a pleasant one necessarily, but it's all about being willing to fail and being willing to be uncomfortable. A lot of times we think that, you know, making change or getting healthier or losing weight should feel really great. You should feel really fun all the time. And the reality is, it's not right. So don't assume don't go into change, assuming it's going to be easy. You are going to face obstacles and that's where most people check out and they're done. Oh, I hit an obstacle, this must not be for me. I'm not cut out for this. That's not true. Right.
So I want everyone listening to think about instead of running away from the obstacles and fearing the issues, how can you anticipate them before they happen? Right. So you will think about them ahead of time and you will rehearse or think about an action plan on how you're going to navigate that so that you don't have to check out so that you can keep going and actually overcome it. Because, again, that's going to build your motivation and it's going to help you gain trust in yourself and feel more capable. So that's really important as well.
Instead of running away from the obstacles and fearing the issues, think about how can you anticipate them before they happen?
Despina Yeah. Awesome. Definitely.
I always talk about the importance of mindset when I'm helping my clients. I feel like it's such a powerful thing and I feel I feel like it's something that can make or break you. You don't have that mindset. You say it can make or break you. I totally understand how like having a positive mindset can be might be difficult, especially when you've just been diagnosed with PCOS. Everything seem to be going wrong and there's no way out.
There's not much support from your doctor, because when I was diagnosed for quite a few years after my diagnosis, well, honestly, my mindset was like bad, really bad. And I was like, you know, I speak to myself really bad. I wasn't motivated to do anything. I just thought, you know, this is my diagnosis. I'm gonna have to live with this forever. It's like, what's the point of even trying? And, you know, so I feel like mindset and the way you yourself might not seem like an important thing.
I feel like everyone is so focused on, oh, I got to eat my chicken breast and broccoli and sweet potato and exercise.
But our thoughts really become our reality. So if you are thinking negative, it kind of clouds our ability to find solutions. So we always just constantly in the same place never moving, always in that negative position. We're never gonna improve our symptoms because we're always thinking bad and never able to find the solutions and create a plan of action.
And I was watching this Facebook video a while ago and like this kind of phrase stayed with me. It was like 'would you talk to self like you would to someone you love'.
And I feel like if people just remember that and actually it's so powerful because like, would you talk to your mom the way you talk to like you talked yourself or like your friend? So if we just remember that phrase and just when we go to say something about it or so fat or so lazy or I'm just, you know, I'm not smart. And what would you say? Would you like speak to that? Speak like that to someone you you would you love or something like. The answer is, you wouldn't.
So I feel like if we are able to just remember stuff like that and speak to ourselves more positively and with love and kindness. We are more likely to go on to achieve our goals and be more consistent with achieving them. But that's just something I thought. I just remembered. I thought I'd just like throw our there for our listeners. I think it's so powerful to just remember that one phrase.
Dafna Yes. Absolutely.
And I think what you said is very true. When you're negatively speaking to yourself or when you're constantly criticizing or, you know, labeling yourself or calling yourself names or all the things that we all do, to some degree, it does cloud your judgment because it's all consuming, right?
So you can never find solutions from a place of despair and hopelessness and self-loathing. So you really have to try to reduce that step by step every single day. And journaling really helps with that reflection and journaling and just thinking about affirmations and really try to gather evidence to what it is that you're doing well, right.
Look around in your life what it is that you are good at, what it is that you are doing well. Who are the people that really rely on you and love you and want to support you? You have all of that in your life.
So I think it's just a matter of seeing it in a different perspective and really trying to get unstuck from that place of negativity and finding solutions. I think it's very true what you said. It does cloud your judgment and your ability to find solutions, and that's a shame.
But definitely about the whole thing, about striving for this whole perfection, which doesn't really exist. And it kind of prevents us from just taking action, which I feel like everyone's so focused on, you know, doing the research and going with knowledge. And like obviously, knowledge is power but without taking that without taking that first step and just taking action towards achieving the goal of, you know, helping your PCOS all this knowledge is awesome. But it doesn't doesn't do anything. It doesn't mean anything.
And I feel like people need to understand that when you're on your journey to helping your PCOS and your symptoms, progress is going to be slow. You are not going to wake up one day and be like, oh, I'll get my hair back or my acne is cleared up or I've lost 50 pounds. Just like PCOS doesn't come overnight, doesn't just happen. You don't wake up and you've got PCOS like something that happens over time. And you know, your circumstances, your situation, whether it be super stressed or your diet being really poor or whatever it is, it triggers those symptoms.
So I feel like we need to accept that progress in anything worthwhile is going to be slow and we should always just appreciate all the small stuff we do. Like you mentioned, whether it's, you know, swap some processed foods that you've gotten for lunch at work and you just prep your bring your own salad and try anything else, some chicken, or whatever people like to eat, just bring it with you, just all these small stuff add up to that long term result.
I feel like understanding that, too is really, really important just to stop striving for perfection. No one on this journey is doing anything perfect. Everyone's making mistakes. Everyone's failed by everyone's always continued. No one's like when, you know, like we said, like when you fail, you know, don't lose hope. I feel like when we fail, that's when we learn stuff. That's when we learn from our mistakes. And as they say, you haven't really failed. If you've kind of got back up and carried on.
So yeah, I feel like there's so much negativity and like a bad feeling about failing. But that's how people learn. No one learns from success. People learn from making that mistake failing. And I fulling flat on your face and getting, you know, that's how we learn. So people shouldn't be so upset when they fail with something. It's not that bad.
Obviously, like when it happens. Oh my god, this is like the worst thing ever, no one likes to fail and make mistakes, obviously, but that's just reality. We've all made mistakes. We have all failed. It just about getting back on and carrying on.
Yeah. I like your what you've said and your mindset shifts. Is anything else you want to touch on?
Dafna Regarding mindset, I think Yeah, I think again, everyone has to find their sweet spot.
So if you're struggling, if you're not sure how to get your mindset in the right direction, I do believe journaling helps. I do believe thinking about, you know, just relaxation, breathing, taking time off, making sure that you're able to connect with yourself and with your true inner goals is important and just never let any external cues or triggers dictate how you feel.
You have to be grounded with where you are and to really understand that you are the only person who will be able to make a change in your own life. I think a lot of times we put blame outside of ourselves and you know, with PCOS there is a lot that's going on physically that's difficult and emotionally as well. So I'm not saying it's easy to do. But I'm saying really try to find your own path. And if even if it's not what you think it looks like, but it's working, just just stick with it. Just do it. Just show up every single day and try to make it better.
That's the only thing I can that's the most, I would say, realistic or simple advice that I can give someone if they're just getting started.
Despina No I think that piece of advice is good.
I think just just just get on and just keep doing what you're doing. No, matter if it's not what you expected it to be. It's not perfect. Doesn't seem like it's perfect but it's working for you, just keep keep doing it.
I like how all your advice and all the content you share so you know, realistic that you can apply to daily life. It's not like the theory of like this is how you should do it. More like being realistic with life. Like things get in the works then or stuff get in the way and finding a way to not let those external things impact you and just, you know, going in with the daily difficulties of life, the struggles of life, because everyone has some kind of struggles just, you know, keep keep them doing.
So, let's move on to some practical nutrition based tips that our listeners can implement in their daily lives to help them treat their PCOS.
Practical nutrition based tips you can implement into your daily life to help treat PCOS.
So I think one of the things to prioritize is looking at how you can manage your hormones first and foremost. And specifically, many women, most women with PCOS deal with insulin resistance even if they are not overweight.
So many women who are at, you know, healthy, normal weight, who are lean can still have insulin resistance. So this is definitely a big priority. And when we talk about insulin, we're not necessarily just talking about carbs.
So carbs are important here. But I think they're kind of stealing everyone's thunder, like they're getting all the attention, but they're really not all that important in the grand scheme of things. So reducing your carb intake is not necessarily going to help you reduce insulin. You have to be very strategic with what you do as far as carbohydrates. And I would say that you can certainly include them in your diet in a moderate way. And what's important here is to pair them properly with other foods like proteins and healthy fats.
So, for example, sometimes I would have clients who would come in and they'll eat cereal for breakfast with milk, even if it's a high fiber cereal, and then they'll add a banana and maybe a cup of juice or something like that. And while that meal is not terrible, right. It's also not great because there's too many carbohydrates in that meal and all of those carbs are being consumed in one sitting.
So an example of how we can make this meal better is we can replace the fruits maybe with a hard boiled egg to add some protein. I would eliminate the juice, for example, and maybe add something like walnuts or almonds as a healthy fat to round out that meal.
So I don't believe that any food is forbidden or, you know, can't be a part of the plan. Cereal is not my favorite breakfast choice for women with PCOS, but you can certainly incorporate it. And again, you have to be realistic about it.
I can give you a meal plan that's got all these super foods in the world. If you're not going to consume it, we're not doing any each other favorites. Right. So that's not going to serve you.
So this is one way that you can start lowering your insulin resistance just by pairing carbohydrates more properly, certainly focusing on ones that contain a lot of fiber and then also looking at everything else that's in your diet. You never want to overconsume protein, more protein is not necessarily better.
So you have to kind of balance that out and make sure that you're eating moderate amounts of protein and certainly upping your vegetable intake and making sure that produce is a big part of your diet is going to help as well. So these are just like, you know, high level things that someone who's looking to manage or insulin can start working on.
With PCOS we definitely want to look at the gut and liver as well, because that's going to help with everything. Right. So when we heal our gut and when the gut is working properly, everything else is getting better, including cravings and mood swings in how we sleep and everything else that's related to our health, is stemming from the gut. So we have to make sure that we're eating lots of foods that help the gut bacteria, the good guys, the probiotics thrive.
So that's going to be, again, your plan sources, high fiber foods as well as fermented foods and those are usually products that contain probiotic cultures. So things like Greek yogurt or fermented soy products like miso and Tempeh, as well as things like kimchi and sauerkraut and Kombucha, those are all things that are not necessarily a must-have on a daily basis, but if you can incorporate them regularly into your diet several times a week, I think you should do fairly well.
And then, of course, hydration and just looking at how processed foods that are coming into your diet are, ideally they should be as minimally processed as possible.
So things that don't have multiple ingredients and certainly you want to be reading labels and becoming educated about what goes into the food, looking at ingredient lists, looking at grams of sugar and you know, what kind of fat is in your your food? And all of those things are really important.
Now, we used to be really fat phobic in the nutrition world, and we're not anymore, thankfully, fat is so healthy. We now know that it doesn't really matter how much fat someone eats. It's more about the type of fat that they're eating. So healthier fats that are coming from plants are typically preferred.
Saturated fats can be incorporated into the diet. But I would say the main focus should be on things like nuts, seeds and avocados and other healthy sources of fats as well as of course, fatty fish because that contains omega three that are going to lower inflammation.
Despina Yeah, definitely.
I agree with how with how insulin resistance that the whole focus was on like cutting carbs and carbs are bad. If you want to treat insulin resistance, you know, go Keto, or do this. But I always say, like, if you're going to when you cut carbs and then you reintroduce carbs when you're insulin levels go back to normal, you know, that insulin resistance hasn't actually gone because you haven't got that root cause.
So when your reintroduce, carbs, again, you've got problems. So cutting the carbs isn't going to fix the problem.
And definitely, like, gut health is a lot more important than we than we think. And we're starting to realize how important the gut is in our physical health and mental health. So you're addressing the gut is important in taking care of it, feeding it the right nutrients to nourish it, to take care of the gut bacteria that lives inside.
Yeah is there anything else? You mentioned liver as well. What kind of focus would you do with the liver? Like the whole supporting detoxification?
So the liver helps get estrogen out of the body.
So it's really an important organ in hormonal health. And just in general, we want to keep our liver as healthy as possible. Those are typically going to be your fruits and vegetables that contain a lot of antioxidants. Right. So things like berries and a lot of potassium rich foods as well as foods that are cruciferous. Right. So cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower and Brussel sprouts are specifically helpful for the liver function. And then just making sure that alcohol and sugar intake are in check because those things can really affect the liver. We can affect the health of the liver. And we want to make sure that it's functioning as best as I could.
Despina Exactly. Liver is so important.
I feel like people need to know that detox teas and, you know, anything other that said to detox and help you remove those toxins. But the liver and other organs in our body, spleen and kidneys, help with the detoxing.
So don't waste your money on these detox teas. Just gonna sit on the toilet all day.
Despina But also, I think another good supplement I've been taken for, liver health is NAC, so I've been taking that recently. I think that's pretty good antioxidant to help with liver health.
So how would someone who's like super busy with PCOS, is a mom and is working, how can she, you know, start to, you know, not feel so overwhelmed when she's trying to create healthier meals or she's just trying to find that balance? What are some tips you would recommend that she could do to stop feeling less stressed when it comes to cooking and nutrition?
So I think it's really important to be strategic when you're shopping for food. So if you're someone who's really busy, you definitely want to take 10 or 20 minutes on the weekends to kind of plan out your week and make sure that you have the right stuff on hand.
Now, it doesn't mean that you're gonna be preparing everything on a Sunday and dedicating your entire weekend day for meal prep. But at the same time, you know, right out your meal ideas. And what I usually tell people to do in order to simplify things is to just in the beginning stick with two or three meals that they know that they like.
So maybe two or three breakfasts, two or three lunches, two or three dinners and just alternate those in the beginning until you become more confident and comfortable with cooking and prepping, because if you try to reinvent the wheel every time you cook, it's going to take a lot more time and stress you out.
So it's OK to have limited variety in the beginning. It's not gonna get boring. You still have a couple options that you're rotating through and that way you put it on autopilot almost. So if you can prep a couple different proteins and roast some vegetables ahead of time, you're gonna be already having a leg up when your week starts.
And then when you're shopping, definitely, don't forget about healthy snacks, because if you're someone who needs to manage your appetite between meals, looking at things like nuts and seeds or of course, fruit or a Greek yogurt or something like that, you know, those are things that you want to have on hand so that you can grab them as you leave the house in the morning and have them for the day.
But you do need to be pretty strategic with this. I actually teach meal prep to my clients and my PCOS meal prep course. And over there, what we do is we kind of work smart, not hard. And we prepare a bunch of meal components on the weekends and then I show the ladies how to put them together in different ways. So you're basically prepping two or three things, but then you're combining them in different ways during the week to make different meals. And that's really great because it's exciting. It keeps it fun, not monotonous and but you're also not reinventing the wheel, you're not working hard and trying to pull a meal together when everyone's already hungry, you're already tired. And, you know, it's very hectic, which does happen.
So you want to just kind of think about it ahead of time. Make sure you have the right stuff on hand and then try to prepare the key ingredients, the key meal components, maybe take an hour or so on the weekend to roast some chicken or grill some fish or whatever it may be. And then you can combine these ingredients together with pantry items during the week.
Despina Great tips.
And I think it's so important to have some meal ideas. So when it comes to when you come back from work, for example, you're just not like running around in the kitchen what do I have to have in my fridge with all having my freezer? What my cooking and everyone is so hungry. And then you're just like ahh I am so hungry.
Dafna I always say you don't want to be deciding when hungry because that's when decisions go haywire.
So you want to make most of your food decisions ahead of time. And sometimes what I have clients do is just in the morning, they take two or three minutes and they map out their day.
So I once had a client who wanted to eat chocolate cake every single day. And I said, that is totally fine. But here's the thing. I want you to write it out your whole day. Put the chocolate cake on the plan and try to stay with the plan. Try to eat whatever is on the plan and nothing else.
And again, that goes back into building trust and making kind of gathering proof so that you can stick with a plan. It really doesn't matter what's on the plan, right, so the act of planning, the act of writing it down and thinking about it ahead of time is step number one.
Then we're going to tweak the plan and make it better and more nutritious. But first of all, if you get in the habit of planning, even if it's just for the next 24 hours, you're going to feel a lot more in control. And that's going to feel like, you know, a step in the right direction.
So don't worry about making the plan perfect. Just make a plan and then follow it. And, you know, you can always tweak it and make it better from there.
Despina Yeah, I think planning is so important.
I feel when you do plan and you're thinking of what you could be cooking, it doesn't it makes you do a bit of research to see what kind of meals you can cook. You kind of get excited about the different ingredients in the meals you're cooking so it doesn't become so boring.
Because I feel like a lot people when they think meal prep, they kind of think I'm gonna be eating the same foods every single day. You go, you know, give that one pork chop when you go to every single day, that same greens. It's not like that.
I think you will think it's like that, but it really isn't. You can literally mix it up and just make whatever you want. Like you said, you want to eat chocolate cake, eat chocolate cake, which is stick to that plan and then make it more, you know, a healthier kind of adding your vegetables. And you know, that Whole Foods.
But yeah, I feel like people need to don't think meal prep is like some boring thing. It is really helpful.
I also want to like mention because you mentioned healthy buying snacks for, you know, between meals. And I feel at one point everybody was like snacking is so bad, snacking, you know, does this does that. And I feel like it really it really isn't bad. It really helps manage your blood sugar throughout the day. So you're not crashing. So obviously, choose healthier snack alternatives, not a chocolate bar or packet crisps.
Despina You know, the macronutrients, you know, your protein, fat and carbs. It should still be like every other single meal, like your breakfast, your lunch or dinner and your snacks. Combine all those macronutrients to ensure healthy blood sugar levels.
So I'm glad you mentioned snacks because everyone's just like what snacks?
Awesome. Is there anything else you'd like to mention on this topic? Or.
Dafna No, I mean, I think if anyone is interested in getting started with kind of setting up their environment for healthy eating and thinking about recipes and things like that, I actually have a great resource and it's totally free. It's called the PCOS Proof Kitchen Guide and people can check it out if they go to my website, dafnachazin.com/pcosplan.
So very beginner level guide that can help them get started with setting up their kitchen, buying the right stuff and there are a couple a few recipes there, actually a four day meal plan in there that can show them what are some of the PCOS proof recipes that are really working well for many of my clients.
So to like round off our episode, which was super valuable, what would be your like final piece of advice? Like this one thing that like big a biggest tip that you would tell someone, our listener. The final piece of advice.
Dafna I would say that find some type of habit that you're currently doing and you would like to modify it and make it healthier and work on that for the next two weeks.
Find one thing that you would like to do better and focus on nothing else but working on this one habit small steps one day at a time and see how much progress you can make when you just pay attention, when you're intentional with what you're working on, as opposed to being pulled in different directions and being distracted by different messages.
Focus on that one thing and see if you can make some progress there and then dial it in even more. Double down on that and try to really show up every single day in a positive way. And you're in no rush. You're running your own race. It doesn't matter how much progress someone else is making. What matters is you and how better you feel, how much better you feel, how healthy, how much healthier you are getting. So you're in no rush. You're not in any race. And every day that you make progress is a day when you're getting closer to your health goals. So never forget that.
Despina I love that. I love that final thing. Awesome.
So how can our listeners connect with you? Where can they find you wish for social media? Everything, let us know.
Dafna Yeah. Thank you.
So your listeners can definitely go to my website, dafnachazin.com. I also have a podcast. It's called 'Down To Earth PCOS Nutrition Podcast' where I talk about weight management specifically for PCOS so they can find that where they're watching, where they're listening to podcasts on all the platforms.
And then I am @pcosnutritionistdafna on social media. All one word and I'd love for them to come on over to Instagram and send me a DM and I'd be happy to connect with anyone who's on their health journey.
Despina Awesome. Thank you so much.
I highly recommend that you follow Dafna on Instagram. Listen to the podcast. So much great, valuable and realistic practical tips that you could apply for now, tomorrow morning. Whatever time you're listening to this episode. But yeah, just great tips. Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to come on the podcast. I really appreciate it and thank you again.
Dafna Thank you it was my pleasure.
Hey there! I am Despina Pavlou, founder of PCOS Oracle and online coach. I want to share with you the diet and lifestyle changes I made to naturally reverse my PCOS and achieve hormonal balance. I believe using my holistic approach you too can take back control from PCOS.
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