The following blog post is a Q&A with the newest Simple Habit Expert Jess Cording. You can listen to Jess on Simple Habit here.
Tell us about yourself, Jess
I grew up in New Jersey. I loved playing outside but also had a creative side. I was that kid who was either outside climbing trees or riding my bike or inside writing in my journal or making up plays with my friends. I wanted to be a veterinarian and a playwright when I grew up, but that obviously evolved over time! I also really loved tennis and even worked as an instructor in high school.
I was interested in studying nutrition as a career path, but I ended up studying writing in college. When I moved to NYC after graduation, I worked for about a year before changing gears and taking a job working as an office manager for an acupuncturist. Through ghostwriting her blog and learning about Chinese medicine, I got the bug to go back to school and revisit that interest in becoming a dietitian. Going back to school and adapting to a new style of learning in a different field was tough, but so rewarding—one of the best decisions I ever made!
What inspired you to become a coach?
I grew up around a lot of illness—so much cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and mental illness in my family. On one side of my family, there was also a lot of fixation on weight and body image. I remember a lot of fear and mixed messages around food. It was also the 90’s, so it was all about fat-phobia. I went through a phase where I was terrified to eat because I was so overwhelmed. Fortunately, my parents noticed something was up, and I was able to work with a dietitian who taught me that food didn’t have to be stressful and that it was, in fact, possible to feel comfortable in your own skin. That saved me so much drama going into my teen years and on!
When I was a new dietitian, I had received extensive training in medical nutrition therapy, but as time went on, I found that people struggled a lot with putting the recommended changes into practice. After a few years, I got my health coaching certification so I could provide better support with helping people make lasting behavior changes. Being able to bring my science and coaching training to my work helped me assist my clients more effectively.
How did you learn about mental health?
The hard way. I’ve always thrived on routine, so being consistent with healthy eating habits and exercise hasn’t been nearly as much of a struggle as some of the other habits that can support a stable mood like adequate sleep and building in time for rest. I definitely have gone through times where I felt so burned out and disconnected because I was working too much. What helped me was setting boundaries with my time and making meditation part of my daily routine. Even five minutes can have a huge impact.
What kind of content are you excited to create on Simple Habit?
I want to create content that helps people tune in to what their body is telling them and to build trust in themselves when it comes to making choices around their health. I also want to explore some of the issues that come up in times of transition like weight loss, pregnancy, postpartum, and eating disorder recovery.
This is happening for me, not to me. I always go back to that when I’m struggling.
Tell us about mindfulness and your daily life?
It’s helped me become much more aware of where my experience of stress is coming from, which makes it easier to navigate those sensations and situations and take clear, calm action steps. I’ve also found that it’s helped me feel more grounded in my personal and professional life. When I feel anxiety start to well up, I get out my notebook and journal it out to get to the heart of what’s getting to me and then come up with at least one simple step I can take to help me feel better.
What is your favorite series on Simple Habit?
I love the short breaks. Sometime a 1, 3, or 5-minute break can make a huge difference in my day!
What is your favorite words to live by?
I’m a big believer that our mindset can make a huge difference in how we approach a challenge, setback, or upsetting situation. There is always something to learn if we’re willing to reframe and be open to the idea that things really do work out. One of the most helpful quotes someone ever shared with me was, “This is happening for me, not to me.” I always go back to that when I’m struggling.
Looking to follow Jessica? Listen to Jessica’s first session, Understand Your Food Cravings, on Simple Habit.
Jessica Cording, MS, RD, CDN, INHC is a registered dietitian, health coach, and writer with a passion for helping people streamline their wellness routine and establish a balanced relationship with food and exercise. Through her writing, consulting, public speaking, and counseling, she works with individuals, corporations, and the media to help make drama-free healthy living approachable and enjoyable. Learn more at http://www.jessicacordingnutrition.com.
She is a part of the mindbodygreen Collective and author of the upcoming The Little Book of Game-Changers: 50 Healthy Habits For Managing Stress & Anxiety (Viva Editions). Jessica is a regular contributor to various media outlets, including Forbes, Michelin Guide, SHAPE, and mindbodygreen, among others. She has written for a variety of food and health publications, including the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Food & Nutrition Magazine and Kids Eat Right. Her recipes and blog posts have appeared on numerous websites and blogs and she is frequently interviewed about nutrition for publications such as Glamour, SELF, Women’s Health, and the New York Times.