Mary Brooks - Sustainable Nutrition

089: How to Solve Your Personal Energy Crisis – Mary Brooks

Mary Brooks, M.Ed. is the owner and creator of Sustainable Nutrition and the FuelBetter Formula, a system for helping people get the right fuel mentally and physically to lead their best lives. Her focus is helping people get to the root cause of low energy, fatigue, and burnout. She has a Master’s in Health Education from the University of Virginia and is a certified Integrated Nutrition Coach with over 28 years’ experience in the health coaching field. Mary has helped hundreds of people achieve remission as well as reach their performance and wellness goals. She is a thyroid cancer survivor who used her experience of being underserved by conventional medicine to help facilitate better healing for others.

In This Episode, You Will Learn:

  • The three pillars of energy to build on.
  • How your thinking impacts your energy level
  • Why eating locally and in season is so important.
  • How creativity is restorative to your mind, body, and soul.

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Connect with Mary:

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    Interview Transcript

Mary, thank you so much for taking some time to hang with me today. I really appreciate it.

Thank you.

Yeah. I know in your coaching of women, one of the issues that you primarily focus on is this concept of energy, and the issue that a lot of women struggle with of having low energy. Why is that? Why do you sense that that is such an issue for, my guess is men too, but in your case as you’re working with people, women primarily? Why is that?

It’s a multifaceted answer, right? I think, and I think this will continue to change, but I think the number one thing is that most of us have constant chronic low-level unabated stress. I think that’s number one. I really think that’s number one. I think the second for women, is that we often have kind of a convoluted relationship with food. We just have had mixed messages about what we should eat, what we shouldn’t eat, we under eat, we overeat.

Our guts are not the best and we struggle with food. Then, I think, there’s toxins. We are living in probably the most dramatic — we’ve just had this exponential increase in chemicals and toxins and exposures, in women, I would say more so than with men, with the whole products, and beauty, care and all the things. Then the last is just maybe not so much, we’re not playful enough. We don’t rest as much. We don’t play as much. There’s probably more, but I would those are probably the key ones.

Man, I’m stressed just hearing about all these challenges.

Let’s go take a nap.

Seriously. So stress, that we all experience, and jeez, there’s so many ways that we all experience that. Whether it’s from jobs, families, even just social media, I think, probably increases stress. I don’t think it decreases much stress. We use it in a way to try to decrease stress. So there’s all this stress that we have in our environment. And then you said, the challenges that women have with food, right.


And then toxins. I think one of the things that many of the people that I interview point to, is that women do the majority of cleaning in a home. That even has access to toxins.

Right. Right.

And then obviously makeup and those chemicals. And then you said a lack of playfulness.



Yeah, and you would relate to this; playfulness or purpose. Sometimes not being in our purpose, not being in alignment with what we really want to do. So if you really think through those things, there’s the mind, there’s the body, and there’s the spirit in there. It is all.

Yeah. Yeah. Okay, so in your work, you have come up with three pillars of energy. If you want to maybe even tell us how you came up with that concept, and what it is.

Yeah, so as I just said, with the mind, body, spirit, we all know that, right? But I think as I saw people walk through my door, and then I also was on a parallel journey with them in some ways, your clients are your classroom. You learn from them what they need, but then you have to come up with a system of how do you address that? Because we can sit here and think, “Oh my gosh, I want better energy, but I have to change so many things. That’s overwhelming, so even that makes me tired. I can’t do that.”

Don’t you just have a pill I can take?

Right. Right. Yeah, and that’s a challenge for me as a practitioner because we do want the easy way. We do want the quick fix. We hear the term biohacking, like hacking our way into things. And yet, we all know on some level, when you quick do things, it doesn’t work. I have to have a system of allowing people to make changes in a sustainable, relatively easy way. So I always start with the brain because the mind is dictating so much of how our physiology is reacting and how we’re reacting. So the mind and the brain, and it’s really the perception of stress that is bigger than the stress itself.

So you’re starting, when it comes with energy, with the mind first? As opposed to the body?


Interesting, okay. Keep going. Yeah.

Yeah, but I think part of the reason it works for me, is because by the time someone has come to me, they’ve done everything else. They’ve tried other things, and somehow they know on a deep level that it is agitation in the mind that is causing them the drain. The “I’m exhausted at the end of the day. I’m burned out. I’m overwhelmed. I’m exhausted. I’m stuck.” Those are the things that people really can relate to, so learning how to harness the mind is, I think, number one. And I think what that really boils down to is being present.

Because the brain, the human brain is the only brain, us and the primates, we travel forward and backward in time. Instead of being here, there’s probably a part of your brain that’s thinking, “What was I just doing beforehand? And I was kind of overwhelmed and I spilled my coffee. Oh my gosh, what was that?” And then, “What am I doing this afternoon? And how is that going to go?” And so our brain is very rarely able to just rest and be, so that is a practice that the modern woman, and modern anybody, doesn’t really know how to do. We have to cultivate that, being present.

So that’s number one. That’s pillar one, that whole brain, mind, being present. And then really understanding when our ego is telling us stories or dragging us, there’s a lot of that. That’s a lifetime practice, I think. But just getting people to be present, a simple example is just be in nature a little bit instead of being on your phone. Ten minutes in nature is really calming to the brain.


It’s where we were meant to be. We were meant to be out on the tundra. We weren’t meant to be in front of pings and dings, and all that kind of thing. So that’s number one.

Right, okay. So if I slow my brain down, what you’re telling me, if my brain rests, if I’m present, I will actually ultimately end up having more energy.

Yes, and from a science standpoint, we have two parts of our nervous system. We have our sympathetic, that’s fight, flight, or freeze. We’re spending too much time there. The parasympathetic nervous system is our rest and digest, tend and defend, where we calm down. We just need to put ourselves in that space more often because we’re spending way too much time in that accelerated, agitated, non-creative space. You don’t create in that space, you’re just like, “What do I need to do?” It’s exhausting us. We’re burning out mentally and physically. It accelerates the aging process too.

Did you have personal experience in that area, where this resonates with you? Or just generally you see this?

Oh, yeah. I don’t think you can do what I do without having, I believe, it’s empathy. It’s not just knowledge, it’s empathy. Like you walked that same path, and I want to walk it with other people. For myself, I think I had a fair amount of stress as a child. I didn’t really identify that until later, because you’re a child.

Right, it is what it is.

It is what it is. Then I had three children. I have three children, but they were born very close together. One, and then twins came eighteen months apart.

Oh my, twins. You’re there, wow.

Right, and then a pretty high-performing job. Always had been in sales and a high-performer, a high achiever. That sort of type-A personality. I was also very motivated to do a lot of physical activity. I didn’t believe at the time I was under stress, because I was just like, “That’s just what you do.” My immune system was crying for help. I didn’t recognize it then, I just thought, “Shoot me up, get me back in the game. I don’t have time for this.” But looking back, I don’t know how many years afterwards, but at some point I got thyroid cancer. I had to look back and I really do think there were several factors, but I think that unrelenting stress had to have played a role in the decline of my immune system.

You know, even that concept that you’re sharing there, that somehow stress depleted or declined your immune system, which then led to cancer. That’s what you’re insinuating there. That is not a common way of thinking in our culture.


I know among probably your industry in terms of nutrition, that’s more and more common. But usually it’s like, “Oh, this is genetic,” or people don’t say this, but it’s like luck of the draw, bad karma kind of thing. Not really bad karma, but you know what I mean? Just this freak thing.


But you’re connecting it to actual stress.

I think we’re in an era, I guess everything comes full circle. Probably Chinese Medicine always thought of that, that we always thought of the body as whole. It was only maybe in the last few decades that we just thought, “Oh, we were just treating infections,” and all these random things. We didn’t look if there was any emotional connection, or spiritual connection. It takes several factors. We say in functional medicine, genetics loads the gun but lifestyle pulls the trigger.

We’re in a space, and I think most people now are wanting to have some concept of why did they get there, and then some ownership over, how can I get better? The lightbulb moment for me was, I had cancer, I had my entire thyroid removed, I had radiation, and then I went on medication. But honestly, that’s where I felt more of the crisis. That’s when I didn’t feel good. That’s when I felt exhausted. That’s when I felt helpless. That’s when I felt like, “Wow, I don’t feel good at all.”

At that point, you go on this, “What the heck happened?” What I think where the lightbulb went off for me was, “Okay, if somehow my body created this situation, the only thing that changed was the surgery. I’m still in the same body doing the same things, what’s the likelihood that it could happen to me again? I’m still the same.” That’s when I said, “Oh, okay. Then maybe I need to do something different. Maybe I need to look at how I got here and how can I mitigate things so that –,” not so much that it doesn’t happen again, I don’t think I really had that fear. But how can I do better with what I have?


I hope it is the desire of every person for healing and for comprehension, whatever, Kumbaya, with their body. What’s going on here and how can I help you? How can I make you better? How can I take care of you better? That’s kind of how I felt about it.

I don’t think people think that way. Maybe until there’s a crisis, and maybe even if there’s not a crisis. I don’t know. I just think people are focused on getting things done. You’re pursuing career, you’re having kids. Maybe in some areas. I live in Southern California, so maybe there’s a higher percentage of people that want something more health oriented, but I oftentimes think that’s more because of physical looks rather than actual health.

Yeah. Yeah, there is that. I think there is a changing ethos about people wanting to take more ownership. I have a lot of people who, without saying they distrust the medical system, they’re not really buying it anymore. They’re not really satisfied. Many, many people say to me, “I don’t want to take a medication. I don’t want to take a medication. What else is there?” Because we kind of know, once we get on them, we’re not getting off, and often we’re not getting better.

I think different people have different — I call it the cosmic kick in the ass, “I’ve been doing this and it’s not working.” So yeah, maybe not everybody feels that way, but I do feel like there are a lot of people that are seeking something and looking for what else is contributing. I will tell you this, the typical person who used to come to me only because they want to lose weight, now they’re saying, “I just want to feel better. I don’t feel good. I feel rundown. I feel tired. I feel depleted. I can’t get a good night sleep.”

They will talk about the mental health aspect of it. They will say, “I have anxiety. I have depression. I don’t feel good.” I think that’s kind of cool because we didn’t use to talk about that much. People who had a diagnosis and were really, really struggling, would even admit to having anything like that. But I would say ninety percent of the people I talk to have some of it.

Sure. Okay, so the first pillar that we’ve talked about is the brain or the mind.


What’s another pillar?

So the next one, which is kind of what I think people want to get from me or expect to get from me, is the whole digestion, absorption, nutrition. How is food really working for me? This is really, I think, exciting. Because what did we all hear about food? You are what you eat. Calories in, calories out. This very mechanical process of, we’re all the same, we should all eat the same diet. As long as we eat the right food, we should feel a certain way. But how much has that worked?

Food Pyramid.

How well has that worked?

I can still hear the film strip or something going through, as a kid.

Right. Right.

Okay, so people are going, “Okay, this is not working for me. I need help with absorption,” and “How is this working for me?” Is it one size fits all? Have you found that there’s a particular way that everybody should eat? Or is it different for everybody? How does that work?

Different for everybody. Some common principals that are often off, for again, most of my clients are women. I’ve worked with a fair number of male clients, and they do really, really well. But I feel like I wanted to focus in on female energy. I don’t think people come to me thinking that they have a digestive issue. They’ll say, “I have headaches. I have brain fog. I don’t feel good. I have joint pain. I can’t get a good night’s sleep.”

Those are all the symptoms, but when you explain to them how digestion really works, how gut health works, how we are not all the same. We are like special snowflakes when it comes to food, and nobody’s asked them that question. That’s sort of the empathy part, where no one’s really said, “How does a food make you feel? Have you ever thought about that?” Instead they’ve always been told, “Oh, you need to eat potatoes, you don’t need to eat potatoes.” Or, “Eggs are bad, eggs are good.” They’ve always just heard these rules and they’ve never come to say, “Oh, gosh. If I eat almonds, I actually get a headache and I’ve never thought about it like that.”

I feel like it’s the first time people are being treated like they’re an intelligent being with differences. When you say that, it makes sense. Just as you’re like, “Oh, right.” Here’s the thing, you and I can sit down in front of the same plate of food, but it’s going to be completely different in our bodies. Because why? Well, we’re male, female. We have different ancestry. Different decent, so you may have grown up with that food in your culture, I may not have. Different blood types. Different gut microbiome. Different food intolerances.

I think that really excites people to say, “Oh my gosh, that makes so much sense, and I get to learn my own body and eat in accordance with that.” They may have days where they’re like, “I don’t want to eat like that.” But at least they have that knowledge that they’ve never had before. That whole gut, digestion, food intolerance, blood sugar is huge in terms of why people can be so tired.

I think all of my relatives were very passionate about fried chicken.


I mean, I love fried chicken, but I have this feeling that it adds to my midsection. But my brain says that that is the food of choice, Mary.

Well, humans aren’t always acting in our own best interests.

All right. I hear you say, “All right, how does food make you feel?” It makes me feel really good. I might be a little sluggish, but I’m good. That’s one thing that you’re asking people is, how does food make you feel? But also what are some of the other ways that I would determine what foods I’m intolerant to or that are better for me in terms of my gut microbiome and all of the above?

Right. Well, the first really basic thing, this kind of goes back if you have these pillars. One of the things that we can do with our food is stress our body out, and make our anxiety and our brain feel more agitated when we’re eating foods that don’t make us feel very good. Or very simply, if our blood sugar is just a train wreck. So most of us inadvertently are kind of eating in a way that puts us on this food rollercoaster. We talk about in my industry, we call it the SAD Diet. Which is the Standard American Diet. So you think about it, some people are doing much better, but the average person used to get up, eat a bowl of cereal, maybe have a bagel, then have a hamburger and chips or whatever, and then their dinner would be a basket of bread. They’re doing a lot of this high carb, high sugary diet, which puts them on this big rollercoaster.

Number one, it’s just evening out that blood sugar. Which now, you kind of hear a lot of this Keto, Paleo, which is a higher fat diet. That is a way that people can feel less tired, because what happens when you are doing that, is your body compensates to save you, but then that’s where people get, “I can’t concentrate because my blood sugar is so poorly regulated.” And it’s playing out. I don’t know what the numbers are, but we are moving towards diabetes in an exponential way, and kids in particular. So blood sugar regulation is key.

Then eating in a way that helps your gut microbiome. If your audience doesn’t know what that is, I’ll give you a really quick crash course. We all have good and bad bacteria that is in our gut, which is where our immune system lives, in our gut. This is where the brain comes back in to play because a lot of your neurotransmitters, your feeling good, your feeling happy, lives in your gut.

We have lived in a very unfriendly gut period of time because we take antibiotics, we consume antibiotics because they’re given to our livestock. Who hasn’t had processed food? We take over the counter medications. We’ve done all of these things that sort of deplete some of that good bacteria. Make sense? When our gut is not happy, we will be more tired. We will be more depressed. We will be more anxious. We will be more agitated. All of that. It’s in all of our best interest to have better gut health.

How do I get better gut health?

Taking probiotics is a step. Putting in lots and lots of gut friendly food. The easiest thing I tell people, there’s more to everything.

We’re just covering the surface here obviously.

Right, surface. Eat seasonally and locally, because when you do, if you had some lettuce growing out in a little pot right now, it would have some of the local soil on it and you would be continuing to grow that microbiome. So seasonal foods because they’re going to be freshest. And locally because they’re going to have local soil and they’re not going to have been transported from far, far away. So adding probiotics, eating locally and seasonally, and lots and lots of fruits and vegetables because they have all those good microbes, and they feed the microbiome as well. In a very simple way, that’s the best way to boost your gut health.

Okay. Probiotics, locally and seasonally.

In season.

Vegetables. Locally and in season fried chicken.


Just kidding. Locally and in season vegetables. Okay. How do I even know what’s local or in season? I mean, that’s a crazy question.

Go to a farmer’s market.

Okay, so whatever’s there.

Yeah. Think about it, it’s winter right now. The root vegetables, the winter squashes, that’s what’s in season.


Just so you know, I get it when it sounds too precious and too fancy for the average person. You can get frozen organic vegetables. You can just do a quick online search, “What’s in season right now?” We all kind of know that apples are in fall and pumpkins are in fall, and asparagus is in the spring. If we think about that. But if you can, walk into a farmers market and say, “What are you growing? What’s in season?” Because those are the best things to feed the microbiome. But any deep, dark, brightly colored fruit or vegetable, because the fiber from those and then all the pigmentation from those foods, it’s just really what’s best for our guts.

How do I know what kind of probiotic to take? There’s obviously a bazillion on the market. Do you have a particular favorite? Is there something I should be looking for?

Yeah. I think I’ve got a handout on my website, but you either want a spore based. There’s one that’s made by Microbiome Labs, because the spore is thought to survive the gut better. Or you want something that has multiple strains of different probiotics, and then a high, what we call, CFU. Then the key is to rotate them. Think about the diversity of our diet years ago. We would eat everything. If we would get a carrot, we’d probably eat the carrot tops and the whole thing. The average person now, probably if you ask a person how many vegetables they eat, they don’t eat a big volume. And then they eat, what, three? So it’s diversity that’s key. So a probiotic, the same thing. People think, “Well, if I’m just eating yogurt, I’m getting enough probiotics.” But by the time you put the sugar and the dairy in there, you’re not getting enough.

Okay. All right, so you’re filling me with all kinds of knowledge.

I know, it’s a lot.

No, this is good. This is good. Okay, so brain, then body. The way that I’m thinking, I’m de-stressing. I’m taking probiotics. Probiotics, do they come in a pill form oftentimes?


Okay, and then I’m eating seasonally and locally, lots of vegetables. Fried chicken is out.

Maybe we can find a healthy version of fried chicken.

That’s no fun.

Not healthy, but you know what I’m saying. There’s usually a compromise in there.

Then the third pillar, take me there.

That’s the one that’s a little more loose, if you will. I include in there, sleep is huge. If you’re not getting a good night’s sleep. If you’re having difficulty falling asleep. If you wake up multiple times, you’re not going to have good energy. But again, the two things that we talked about, if those are working, you’re going to sleep a lot better. Cortisol is completely jacked up, you’re gut isn’t happy, you’re not going to sleep well. So sleep is key. Movement is key. And movement doesn’t have to be CrossFit or signing up for a bootcamp. It literally can just be movement outdoors.

We need that time to get out of our heads, to stop thinking, to let ourselves rest and digest. So movement. Personal care, I think that looks different. There’s a lot of talk about self-care today, but finding times to be still or quiet, or do things that make us happy. I’m a big believer in creativity for this whole energy thing. When we are doing something with our hands, or writing, or cooking, or painting, or playing the guitar. Anything that we consider creative, we are letting our body calm down, but it’s a way of being happy, being at peace.

What do you like to do in that area of creativity personally?

Lots of things. Cooking for me is creativity. Even just thinking about it. The idea of going to a farmer’s market or picking something out, we say digestion begins in the brain. So for me, that whole creative process is fun. I do a journal practice every single day that includes a gratitude practice. So even though I wouldn’t say that’s creative-creative, it does kind of get the juices flowing if you will. Just doing things in my home, in my environment, that is form of creativity.

I garden, so a lot of that is just the planning of it, the seeing of it, and the connecting to nature. So those are all my little creative things that I do. I think it’s important to plan those in. We push them out, but I try to micro habit them in. Maybe I can’t do the big thing that I want to in creativity, but I can always do a tiny bitesize piece of it every single day. I think that’s the key. Is just to do something small, whether it’s sit with a book of poetry. I probably do at least one, probably two, and maybe three little things like that every single day.

The gardening and even the going and picking things out and cooking them, both of those are very intentional. You have to plan ahead on that. That is not going to happen last minute generally.

Yes and no. The gardening, now it’s winter, but I have indoor plants. Part of my morning routine is to check on the plants to see how they’re doing. You can do a little bit of that every single day. I’m glad you asked this question. You can find mini rituals and routines to feed yourself, and make them small but intentional. In the summer, maybe I’ll go to a gardening store once a week, but I’ll go water my plants every single day. I stand outside and it gives me that little sense of, “Oh, okay. I’m taking a break from the rest of the world and I’m calming myself down.” Does that make sense?


It’s a form of cultivating presence.

Yeah, that’s funny you say that. We have a large yard where we live, and we rent the property but the yard was a disaster, so he didn’t really care what we did with it. So I got a bunch of succulents from Craigslist for basically free. Just tons of them. Maybe I spent fifty bucks, but I got tons of clippings because people are always cleaning out their yard or whatever. I planted two — let’s think how big are they, maybe six by ten, five by ten areas. I didn’t do it right. I put them in rows, but I don’t care. I’m a row thinking person.

So I have these rows of succulents, every other type, and the only bad thing about succulents is you don’t need to water them that often. That’s a good thing and a bad thing. So once a week, I stand out there, I water them. But I’ll even stand in the kitchen window and just look out at them, and it’s so fascinating. I find my body just goes, “Ahh.” Just by looking at the plants, Mary. What is up with that?

I don’t know. I mean, in times of stress and sometimes in my worst stress, I think a lot of us do this, we turn to nature. I think we know. We know that it is calming and soothing to us. If you want to go kind of deep on this one, you look at a plant, look at what it goes through. It goes through darkness. It goes through renewal. It goes through growth. It goes through all of that. I think there’s so much divine in nature that I think it reminds us, I think it brings us to some reminder about our own divine creation.

It’s a little deep, but I think how many people, when they’re struggling are like, “Well, I’ll watch the birds,” or “I’ll take a walk in nature.” Or, “I’ll hike,” or “I’ll swim,” or “I’ll bike.” I think we are drawn to that. I am with you. I feel like they just remind us of our spirit or our connection to everything, their energy. So yeah, I think if you were to walk around and say, “What makes you at peace?” Yeah, you said it. And probably no one gave you a book and said, “Hey, you should do that to sooth your soul.” But it works.

Yeah, and I will say as a type-A, driven person, it feels frivolous. As I get older and less driven, I’m able to just take a moment and just sit there and go, “Oh, this feels really good.” Enjoy the beauty of it and go, “Oh, wow, look at how that’s growing.” “Wow, look at how I planted one thing and now it’s got four things sprouting out the bottom of it. That’s amazing. How did that happen?” It is creative. I don’t think I’m necessarily being creative, but I’m marveling in the creativity of the plant.

Absolutely, yeah. When I think about it when I do it, I’m just the grunt. I’m just the person shoveling or shuffling around. I didn’t make any of this. I’m just the person doing the little bit of work. But I think most people will tell you that they have something that they do that they innately love. A lot of people when they’re tired, have given that up, have forgotten it. I think Rob Bell talks about this, I don’t know if you know who he is. But he’s like, “If you want to know what you really love, think about something that you can do where the passage of time, you don’t notice that. You’re not aware of the time. Or you’re tired, but you’re not exhausted.”

Most of us have something like that. It could be playing the piano or painting. I talked to a client last week and she’d gone through a lot of real trauma, real struggle. She’s like, “But I’m taking this painting class.” She said to me, “It’s really hard to be creative when you’re that stressed or when you’ve gone through trauma. But often, creativity is our road back to that.” I think it’s our road back to ourselves.

But most of us have something that we’re innately drawn to and remembering that, I think is really key to our healing. When we are tired, a lot of times we don’t want to do something like that, right? “Ugh, I don’t even feel like trying.” But often, that’s a way. Because I think when you’re working with your hands and you’re making things, humans are makers. We’re the only species that makes things. I think it’s a really undervalued or thought of part of the healing process.

Beautiful. Beautiful. Well, I know obviously you have a program where people can work on this with you. We have just skimmed the surface of these today.

We haven’t scared everyone away, right?

No, this is great. What’s funny is, “Duh, this is common sense.” Mind, body, spirit. But until we have somebody come alongside us and bring things to our awareness, and give us a system or way of thinking about it, we oftentimes are just in a rut of doing whatever we did through our home of origin or whatever we rebelled against in our home of origin.

Right. “Don’t make me eat my vegetables!”

Right, right, right. We all have different ruts or patterns that we get into and it’s helpful when somebody comes along and says, “Oh, perhaps the pattern that you’re in is causing you to feel the way you feel.” You have a program called the Fuel Better Formula. I see what you did there, I like it.

So clever.

Fuel Better Formula, I like it. Tell us about the program. Sell us on it. If somebody’s feeling like man, they are feeling down, they need some help, what is your program and how would they benefit?

Yeah, I guess the first is to ask is, who is it for? It’s for someone who doesn’t feel great. Feels maybe rundown, exhausted. There’s a spectrum. Sometimes people just feel a little bit off and some people really are in a crisis. They don’t feel good at all. Some people have a diagnosis like Hashimoto’s, or Crohn’s, or colitis, or IBS. Some people just are like, “I’ve put on weight. I don’t feel good and I’m not getting satisfaction in conventional diet, conventional medicine.” I would say that’s my ideal client.

What it looks like, is working through those pillars and understanding. Because I think it’s really necessary for us to understand how the body works, how it all does go together. For all the things we learn in school, you don’t really learn that. You learn the Food Pyramid. The part when we really learn about how our brain works, and tells stories, and how we get caught in stressful patterns, how to cultivate presence, we don’t learn that. I always say, this is everything I had to learn the hard way. Spent money, and time, and energy, and frustration to go, “Wait a minute, this is how it works.”

Each of those pieces that we talked about in general, are kind of a step in the Fuel Better Formula. The way I implement it is through these little micro habits. Every concept, whether it’s anticipatory stress, or blood sugar, or digestion, or the microbiome, or getting a better night sleep, has an awareness about it. Like, “Oh, this is what’s happening and this is how it affects everything else.” And then it has an implementation because people are busy. People are already overwhelmed, so I have to give them, us, me, you, little things that they can implement. Once those become fluid and they’re easy to pick up, they can go on and enter the next thing.

It’s also too about feedback loops. A lot of us, especially women when it comes to eating, have only been told, “Oh, my neighbor does this diet,” or “I read about this,” or “I heard about that.” But they don’t really have this sense of trust in themselves of, “Oh, when I do this, this is actually what makes me feel good.” When you do that, then you have that feedback loop of, “Oh, I ate like this and I realize I didn’t get shaky.” Or a number of people who tell me, “Oh, everyone in my family has this digestive problem.” No, there’s not a genetic for bloating. Suddenly they’re like, “You’re kidding me, right? I don’t have this anymore?” That gives them the courage.

Because I think the one thing that I would say where I feel like I’ve differentiated myself is, there’s a lot of product reliance now in nutrition. What does that teach us? Don’t trust yourself. You can’t be trusted to count something, or weigh something, or measure something, or buy something. Whereas really, the body is pretty ingenious, so it’s teaching you, how do I master this so that I feel good? Like I said, I have walked this trail but I’m different. I’m not the same as everyone else, so it wouldn’t be fair of me to say, “Oh, only eat parsley because parsley makes me feel fabulous.” That doesn’t work.

I do think we are there. I think people realize that they’ve been slung around and tried so many things. Especially with women, I think they get into a cycle of feeling really discouraged because they’ve been told, “Try this,” or their doctor just hands them a piece of paper and says, “Good luck to you.” But of handholding to say, how do I implement this? I’m not going to live in a bubble. I’m going to eat in a way sometimes where I do most of this, but sometimes I can’t. How do I navigate that in way that I don’t fall off the rails but I can also enjoy my life?

Okay, and how many weeks is your program?


Eight-week program, and you only work with about twenty people at a time. Is that correct?

Right now that’s the model. It’s kind of a blend of one-on-one time with me, because I feel like the whole listening and getting to know someone and taking the time to hear their story, is often really missed. We didn’t talk about this too much, but a lot of times in some of my clients, there can be some trauma. There can be some things in their relationship with food. Something that just didn’t go right, and they don’t feel like anybody’s ever really listened to them. I feel like that’s super necessary.

But then I also want to give them the benefit of some other people. Because you know this probably, people don’t heal alone. This is not a good formula for healing. I think that was the dismay for me with my situation. I was in my forties, had cancer, had three smallish children. I didn’t get any support from the whole medical, nutrition community. So doing that in a small group, I think, has a benefit. Some people are shy, they don’t want to share everting. But eventually something will happen where someone else shares something that will speed their healing along.

Again, Rob Bell says, “Don’t go up the mountain with someone who hasn’t gone before you.” So when someone’s sort of walked that path and won’t say, “You’ve got to do it just like this.” But will say, “Hey, I’ll walk alongside you,” or “I can relate to that.” So many times people say that. “Oh, thanks for sharing that. I didn’t connect that before,” so that it helps them move along. So community is part of it, but some personal, so that they know where to angle in and what’s most important for them. What’s going to be most effective for their own healing.

All right, so people can check it out at www.fuelbetterformula.com. We’ll put that link of course in the show notes, and links to all of your social media so that people can get in contact with you. Mary, thanks for taking time to scratch the surface of this with us.

Thank you.

I’m sure it’s piqued people’s interest.

I really appreciate it. It’s not complicated, it’s very simple really when you come right down to it. There’s common sense in there. Someone said the other day, sometimes it isn’t new information that people need to know, it’s something that they already really know, but they just need to be reminded of that. I appreciate you allowing me to talk about it, because I think it is a deeply unserved or misunderstood need. I think there is a real desire or need for someone to pull it all together and put it in one place so the person isn’t zigging and zagging all over the place to figure it out like I did.

And the things that you as a professional assume are common knowledge, not to say that you assume, but oftentimes once we become an expert in something we’re like, “Well, yeah, doesn’t everybody know that?” So many people just don’t have even basic understanding of a variety of these things that you’re talking about, so it’s helpful to touch base on them all, so thank you.

Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Thank you.






thank you!