Interview w/ Real Food With Dana – Episode 77: PaleOMG Uncensored Podcast

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Today on the podcast, I’m chatting with Dana from Real Food with Dana. This woman does it all while inspiring women to take control of their lives and their health. She lifts, she eats, she coaches, she podcasts, and she cooked! She’s the best!


Big thank you to this week’s sponsor!

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Episode 75 Transcription!

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Go to today to learn more, and get $35 off your first order. Now, let’s talk a little bit with Dana.

This is Juli Bauer from PaleOMG and you are listening to PaleOMG Uncensored.

Juli Bauer: Ok. Well thank you so much for coming on today.

Dana: Yeah, thanks for having me.

Juli Bauer: I was thinking about; how did we even first really, and I guess we haven’t officially met. But how did we first online meet each other? I think it has to be when you guest posted, right?

Dana: Yeah. I think so. That was a while ago. God, when was that?

Juli Bauer: It was so long ago. Actually I even looked up the recipe today to see when it was. Let’s see when it was. I have it here on my computer. That was April 2016!

Dana: Oh dang! Ok. {laughs} Almost two years ago.

Juli Bauer: Yeah. It feels like it’s been longer than that. So you did a guest post for dark chocolate sorbet with olive oil and sea salt. I don’t know if you remember that.

Dana: Yeah. That was really good. {laughs}

Juli Bauer: It looks so good! So, let’s kind of just talk about you a little bit, and go into background for anybody who hasn’t seen your blog. It’s Real Food with Dana. So you’re a clinical nutritionist. You’re a Whole30 certified coach. You have your own podcast. Obviously, your own blog. You talk about skincare on your blog, Olympic lifting. You kind of have it all.

Can you first touch on your background about clinical nutritionist, and what that was like? I feel like there are so many people now who talk about different certifications and degrees they have with nutrition. There are so many different ones that you can go through. So what is your background with being a clinical nutritionist?

Dana: Definitely. To be a clinical nutritionist, you have to have a Master’s degree in nutrition. And then you have to do 1000 clinical hours of supervised experience of working with people and working in the field of nutrition. And you also have to take a national board exam.

Juli Bauer: Geeze! That’s crazy.

Dana: Yeah, it’s a f*cking lot of sh*t to do, to be honest.

Juli Bauer: How old are you?

Dana: I’m 27. I’ll be 28 this year.

Juli Bauer: Ok.

Dana: Yeah. So it’s been a while. I actually just finished my master’s degree in August of 2017. So I did my undergrad in poli-sci and French. So totally unrelated to what I’m doing now. And then I actually got a certificate from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition while I was working in politics. So that was my first venture into the health and nutrition field, I guess. But after I did that, it wasn’t really enough for me. I wanted to do more on the nutrition side, rather than just coaching.

The other thing is; to legally be covered. It’s different state by state. But where I live in Maryland, you have to be either a registered dietician, or a licensed clinical nutritionist in order to practice any kind of nutrition. So kind of to cover my ass, I went back to grad school. Because I didn’t know if I was going to stay in Maryland or move somewhere else where you could just be a health coach and practice nutrition.

I really, really liked my program. It went into a lot more of the science than I thought it was going to be. And I hated science in all of high school and college and stuff and I avoided it like the plague. But I found that it’s really important to have a solid understanding of nutrition science in terms of how the body works and what foods you need to beating. Not only just to maintain health, but to maintain performance if you’re an athlete. If you’re healing from certain health conditions, or stuff like that. So that was kind of the first big part of becoming a nutritionist.

This past year, I also became a Whole30 certified coach. Which just means you go through the Whole30 certification program. You’ve had to do the Whole30 a couple of times. You create some resources for them. And then you have the ability to coach people through the Whole30 program, which is also pretty cool.

And just this past weekend, in terms of the most recent certification that I have, I just got my CrossFit L1. So that’s been cool, too.

Juli Bauer: Fun. So with your clinical nutritionist background, when you’re going through school like that. Having your understanding of paleo and gluten free and what foods we really should be eating, what is that like going through school? Because I’m guessing they don’t press that. Just based on school that I went through years and years ago.

Do they teach kind of USDA guideline information, and you take your own background and understanding of human nutrition by yourself? What is that really like?

Dana: That was really interesting, because that was definitely a big factor into the program that I chose. I went to Maryland University of Integrative Health; which is a much more holistic and real food focused way of teaching people how to eat and how to heal and thrive with real food. Which now is what I say that I do.

So it was great, because it went over a bunch of different dietary modalities. Yes, we went over vegetarian and vegan. And then we talk about how Standard American Diet, and even the government recommendations are what is making our country sick. So we’re teaching people to go away from that, rather than just being like, “Yeah, low fat everything is the way to go. It’s ok to use refined sugar and eat 8-11 servings of grains every single day to be healthy.” Because clearly, if you’re listening to this podcast, you know that’s not healthy.

Juli Bauer: I hope so! {laughs}

Dana: Exactly. We would hope so. We focus more on the real food aspect, and then we touched on paleo. They even talked about keto for certain health conditions. And all different kinds of healing diets. Whether it’s autoimmune protocol, or it’s the GAPS diet. Specific things that you would need to heal certain health conditions. And why on a biological level, it’s so important to incorporate certain kinds of foods. Or why some people need to remove grains, or remove dairy. Elimination diets, and all of that.

So I think it was really lucky in that I didn’t have to kind of weed through the bullsh*t. Which is what I feel like a lot of dieticians have to do when they’re going through their training. Because as far as I know; and I’ve heard this from a lot of my friends that are dieticians. Maybe they’re changing the curriculum, I’m not really sure.

But when you go through your dietetics program, it is mostly the government dietary recommendations. And so as long as you have a background in paleo or whole food or whatever it is, you can view that with a grain of salt and know that that’s not the optimal way of teaching people how to eat. But I was really grateful that I didn’t have to, basically weed through the bullsh*t and feel like I was wasting my money on classes that were teaching me, “Low fat and lots of grains is the way to go.”

Juli Bauer: Yeah. Because how long have you been eating paleo? Or gluten-free. However. Whatever your diet looks like at this moment.

Dana: Yeah, it’s a mix of a lot of things. So I have celiac, so I always have to be gluten free. And I found that out; well, I didn’t find out I had celiac. But I found out I had to be gluten free, because it just made me feel like sh*t, in 2010 I want to say. And then I discovered paleo through some of my friends my senior year in college and started experimenting with it after I read Robb Wolf’s book in 2012. So it’s been a while. {laughs}

Juli Bauer: So what kind of health issues were you dealing with before you really figured that out?

Dana: So I was a pretty standard case, I guess you could say, of somebody that was having all these weird symptoms of nausea and digestive symptoms. My energy was sh*t, and I also was an athlete in college, so that wasn’t great. I was having so much nausea that I could barely eat anything. So my training was then suffering because I was losing a lot of weight and muscle mass, and I didn’t know what was happening.

So I went to a bunch of doctors and nobody could figure out what was wrong. They even did an endoscopy to see if I had celiac, and the thing was. They told me at the time that I didn’t have it. But I didn’t find out until later when I was in nutrition school that you actually need to have 60% damage to your villi in your small intestines before they’ll diagnose you with celiac.

Which later I got a genetic test, and they were like, “Surprise! You have celiac!” I’m like, great. Thanks. So years ago when I got this done and you told me I didn’t. At that point, I was lucky because I knew if I ate gluten, I felt like sh*t. So I was like; there’s no point in me eating this anymore.

But it was a lot of that. So I started playing around with a lot of different diets. I figured out that soy made me feel like sh*t. Dairy made me feel like sh*t. So all of that stuff. And then I was also in college dealing with a pretty severe eating disorder. I just wasn’t eating enough food and getting all of the nutrients that I needed in general. All of that, down the line, led to having a lot of thyroid problems. Adrenal problems. And I know you’ve talked about that before. Just the general over-exercising, having a lot of inflammation and undereating so you’re not healing kind of led me to wanting to learn more about nutrition when I figured that I could heal myself with food for all of that stuff.

Juli Bauer: Now are you working with clients on a regular basis, as well?

Dana: Yeah. I work with clients on a one-on-one basis, and I also do group coaching. I work with a lot of athletes, because I also work as a swim coach. So a lot of my clients come from either the kids that I’m working with, or their parents, or people that I get referred from. Or they come from my CrossFit gym.

A lot of people that I work with come through the Whole30. Either they want to be coached through the Whole30, or they’ve done it before and they’re still seeing a lot of health issues that haven’t really been cleared up. So it’s kind of like damage control, there.

But really what I work with people on is learning how to heal with real food. So whether it’s digestive disorders that they’ve been having, or autoimmune stuff where people just got diagnosed with something and they have no idea what to do because their doctor was basically like, “here’s a diagnosis. And here’s some pills. Ok, bye!” And it’s just like, it’s not that easy. So whether it’s some kind of diagnosis.

A lot of people I work with have a history of some kind of relationship with food, relationship with their body that isn’t necessarily the best. So they have a history of that and it’s trying to overcome that so we can work towards optimal health, not only physically but also mentally and emotionally.

If you hear some barking, that would be my dog. {laughs}

Juli Bauer: {laughs} I can hear him. If you hear some snoring, or farting, that’s my dog right beside me. So I’m right there with you.

So when did you start your blog?

Dana: I started in the fall of 2014. Oh my god, it will be 4 years this year. I can’t even imagine what it’s like; because you’ve had your blog since, what? 2010 or something. That’s so long.

Juli Bauer: Yeah, 2011. I know. It goes by so fast. So you obviously started your blog while you were going through school, correct?

Dana: Yeah.

Juli Bauer: So what made you start it in the first place?

Dana: When I was learning to basically fix all of the sh*t I had going on with food, a lot of people noticed that I was getting better. And this was actually even before I had started school. And they were like; “All of your recipes look so good! You should share this with people!” And I was like, “Pft. Nobody wants to hear what I’m doing.”

After a couple more months, and even a year of people saying that to me. And then when I was in school, I was like; maybe I do need to just share what I’m doing and how I’m healing with food. Because this is so cool, and no one had ever talked to me about it before.

It was also; I selfishly wanted to have a place to put all of my recipes that I was coming up with. Because before I started paleo, I had no idea how to cook. Zero idea. I ate mostly processed food in high school. And in college, I didn’t have to cook anything for myself because we just had a dining hall that I would just go to all the time. And since I went to; Middlebury is a small liberal arts school in Vermont. So we had pretty good food up there. So I didn’t really need to know how to cook for myself.

But then when I started doing paleo, I was like; “Ok, I don’t want to just eat plain broccoli and chicken and almonds all the time. I’m going to have to learn to use a slow cooker, and use cast iron skillets. And actually cook meat and all this stuff.”

So I started following a bunch of different blogs. And I was like, “Wait, that’s cool! I could start my own one of these things. Maybe I’ll just do it!” So I had no idea what I was doing. I kind of just jumped into it. And then was like; oh, ok. Got to figure things out as I go. And now it’s turned into a whole business, which is awesome.

Juli Bauer: Can you talk about; because I get these types of questions all the time, and I’m sure you do with your podcast as well. How did you know where to start when you created your blog? Did you just go to Did you pick out a template? How did you know where to go, and how much money to really put into it when you first started?

Dana: I honestly had zero idea. I did a lot of Googling, and a lot of YouTube videos when I started. {laughs} I remember I started my blog sometime in September 2014. I had been putting it off for probably a couple of months, because I was like; I just don’t know how to do this. So one Saturday, I just sat down and was like; you know what? I’m just going to do this.

And I remember sitting on my computer probably from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. that day. Between Googling things, and YouTube videos, and figuring out whether I wanted to do the paid version of WordPress, and the not paid version of WordPress. And then you have to do hosting for your blog, and all this other stuff.

I kind of expected that it would be free at first, right? Because you’re just like, whatever. I’m just putting recipes on the internet. And no one is going to look at it besides my mom and my next door neighbor anyway.

But then once I started research, you have to decide whether you want your blog eventually to have the possibility to be some kind of business where you can be bringing in money. Because if that’s the case, you have sign up for the specific version of WordPress. And you have to have backup capabilities in case your site crashes, which happens every once in a while and you feel like your world is going to end.

Juli Bauer: Yeah {laughs}.

Dana: But I just kind of rolled with the punches because I didn’t really know what was happening. I just kind of had a blind faith that things were going to work out. So I was like; you know what? Either way… at the beginning it kind of felt like an expensive hobby, when you do all the startup costs between buying a domain name and getting the hosting and all of that kind of stuff. But then as you start to realize; oh, people actually care what I’m talking about. And I’m realizing that I can help all of these people. It becomes more of a business investment. And eventually you start making it back.

Juli Bauer: How do you think you got your blog to grow? And your social media to grow? Because that’s one of the main questions I get. People ask how do you get the word out there. And I never really have a good answer for them, because I suck. So what do you think helped grow your blog, and really made you stand out?

Dana: In terms of just growth, being consistent is key. I noticed that at the beginning when I started my blog, I was like; if I can post once a week, it will be so much better if I can post four times a week! But it was so overwhelming at first to do that. Because I was like; wait a minute. Three weeks ago, I wasn’t posting anything out on the internet and now I’m trying to post four blog posts a week, and Instagram and all this stuff. It’s really unsustainable to think like that.

Eventually, you can probably work up to that. But being consistent in what you’re putting out. Really staying true to yourself. Especially now that the internet is so satiated between social media and blogs and stuff. If you are fake in any way because you’re trying to be someone else that’s not yourself; people are going to see through that sh*t immediately. So I think just being my weird, quirky, very sarcastic self and trying to teach people things in a fun and really accessible way has been really key to how I’m growing.

You have to kind of figure out a way that distinguishes you from other people. Because if you’re just the same as everyone else; if you’re just trying to copy the next person, then why would someone follow you versus the person that you’re trying to copy? That kind of goes back to staying true to who you are.

Once you’re authentic, and people really connect with you, then they stay with you. That was part of the reason why I started doing more nutrition stuff and opening up about my own health journey rather than just talking about recipes all the time. Which is fine. But I just wanted more of a connection with people. And people don’t really start to develop a connection with you until they understand who you are, and where you’re coming from. And really why they should care about you.

And then in terms of growth; you have to be not only authentic to yourself, but also show that you care about other people. So one thing you can do to do that is, whether you’re engaging with people on Instagram or you’re commenting on other people’s blog posts. Which is a lost art if you ask me. Because sometimes it feels like, as a blogger, you’re putting out all this content. And then you think you put up a great post that you put so much work into, and 5 people comment on it. You’re like, what the hell?

Juli Bauer: {laughs} Yeah.

Dana: I spent so much work on this, why does no one see that I did that? You just have to keep going, and see what people respond to.

One thing I did with you, guest posting on other people’s blogs is really fun. Because you get to create relationships with new people and experience readers and listeners; whether it’s podcasts or different blog posts. And just trying to expand your reach as much as possible, but staying in an authentic way. Because, again, if you’re being fake, people are going to see through the sh*t. And they’re like; I don’t need to follow that girl. There are plenty of other people like her I can follow.

Juli Bauer: Is blogging your fulltime gig at this point? Or is it working with clients? What is your fulltime job at this point?

Dana: That’s a really good question. I’m currently wearing a lot of hats. {laughs} Where I make most of my income is definitely through my clients. Whether it’s through group coaching or through individual coaching. And, it’s gotten to the point where my blog, as a business of recipe development and all of that kind of stuff, is complementary to my nutrition business. So they’ve just become one. Because now, whenever I create recipes, it’s not only for my readers. And whenever I create podcasts, it’s not just for whoever wants to listen. It’s also a resource that I can send to my clients. And vice versa.

So that’s my main thing. And like I said before, I also swim coach. Which does take up a considerable amount of my time. So that’s a nice part time job. And I took that while I was in school. Because I actually swam through college. And then afterwards, I was like; I don’t want to swim anymore. But I do love coaching and working with kids. So that’s been a really cool thing that’s been consistent for the past couple of years, too.

Juli Bauer: Damn, that’s a crap ton. What did you find first? Did you find kind of the nutrition part of your life? Or did you find the fitness part of your life? Because you said you’ve been a swimmer. I’m just thinking more CrossFit, because you’ve talked about CrossFit. I don’t know if you’re just doing CrossFit, or you’re doing mainly Olympic lifting at this point. But what did you find first? How did you get into CrossFit and Olympic lifting? Can you kind of share that background?

Dana: Yeah. So I definitely was into fitness first. I played sports my whole life. And then in college, some of my friends got certified in CrossFit. So we started doing CrossFit as our lifting portion to complement our swimming training. And it was crazy. I don’t think at that point a lot of athletes had been using; this is back in 2010, 2011. Not too many athletes had heard of CrossFit as a way of cross training for their sport in order to get stronger.

But everyone on our team basically; well, the ones that did CrossFit, got jacked. Got so much faster. And I was like; this is so cool! I’d been swimming my whole life, and this was something totally different that I’d never tried before. And I’m kind of a masochist in that I love learning new things all the time. Which is why I spent so long in school, right?

So I found CrossFit at the end of college. And then I continued in it from then. I had a couple of jobs, and then I moved back to the D.C. area. And I found a CrossFit gym in Silver Spring, Maryland. And that’s where I’ve been ever since. I freaking love lifting.

I did only CrossFit at that gym for I think three years before I started doing Olympic lifting. Our CrossFit gym is pretty unique because we don’t really focus on a lot of the typical CrossFit movements. We don’t do too much with cleans and snatches and stuff. So two years ago, I was like; I want to get better at clean and jerk and snatch technique. We have a barbell club at our gym. So I started doing that every other day. So Tuesday and Thursday. So now I do a balance of some days of CrossFit, and some days of just Olympic lifting. And it’s been really cool. I just did my first Olympic lifting meet in January. And I already signed up for my second one in April. So it’s been really fun.

Juli Bauer: That’s awesome. Coming from a background where you mentioned that you dealt with eating disorders; what has that transition been like? Has CrossFit helped with that? Do you still have issues with that? Because I’ve gone through all those types of issues in my life, and I still feel those thoughts at times, even though I’m so much happier as a stronger person. But I still feel like I go back to those dark spots once in a while.

What has it been like dealing with those issues from the past, and do they ever hinder your present life?

Dana: Yeah, that’s a really good question. Luckily, I don’t deal with any of that anymore. Ok, let’s be honestly. Every once in a while, everyone looks in the mirror and like; oh, I don’t really love the way I look today. But it’s not like a constant 24/7 thought, “I hate my body, I need to control my food.” Like it used to be.

So CrossFit and then both nutrition school and the Whole30 were the two biggest things that helped me out of that really dark place. I have to admit, when I started doing paleo, and when I started doing CrossFit, it was because I wanted to get leaner. I wanted to eat less, and I wanted to work out more. So it started from a really vain, really unhealthy place. But then over the years, as I learned. I did my first Whole30 or paleo challenge, and I was eating all whole, real foods, and I actually gained some weight after eating whatever super “clean” the whole time. And at first, I was really pissed. And I was thinking, “What the hell. How did I gain weight if I was eating so clean?”

And then I was like; wait a minute. If I’m doing all these things right, if I’m not overtraining, if I’m sleeping well, if I’m feeling really good, my skin is clear, my digestion is great, and I’m eating really well. Really nutrient dense foods, and I gained some weight; maybe it’s time to reevaluate my relationship with the scale, my relationship with food, my relationship with exercise.

So that was kind of the catalyst that set it all off. And then eventually, when I was training in CrossFit, and I started to care much and much less about my weight on the scale rather than; I cared more about the weight on the barbell going up. I cared more about getting stronger, and I cared less about controlling every single bite of food that was going into my body.

So now I’ve gotten to the point in the past couple of years where I feel completely at peace with all of this stuff. And now I actually help a lot of other people get out of that place. So it’s been a really nice, full circle journey to go through.

Juli Bauer: That’s awesome. Do you own a scale at this point?

Dana: I only own a scale; I bought one I guess in January because I had to make sure that I made weight for my Olympic weight lifting competition. {laughs} But luckily, I sit right on my weight class, so I didn’t really have to cut or anything. Which was super lucky, because I thought for a really long time that the reason that I didn’t want to compete was because I didn’t want to start weighing myself again.

Because that’s a really easy way to bring those triggers back into your life. To start worrying so much about, what’s my body fat percentage? Counting your calories every single day. Weighing yourself every single day. What is it? And those were really big triggers for me before. So I just didn’t. As long as I felt leaner. As long as my clothes were fitting well. I didn’t really care what my weight was. And then I guess I just got really lucky that I sit right on my weight class, so I don’t have to cut or anything.

So I do have one. But I don’t ever really use it. I used it the other day just to see where I was, because I think I’m 5 weeks out from this next competition. But I’m like; whatever, who f*cking cares. {laughs} I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. But yeah.

Juli Bauer: That would be really hard. I do not own a scale for that reason, because it’s a major trigger for me. And we have a scale at our gym. And I’ll see it sometimes, and I’ll be like; I can just see where I’m at. I just want to know. And I’ll have to stop myself and walk away because I know it will be on my mind the entire rest of the day. No matter what it says. No matter if it’s less than what I thought, or more than what I thought, or right at what I thought. I’ll think about it all day long, and I’ll have to remind myself of that.

And we have a bunch of people at our gym who go through all kinds of different things. Like figure competitions, and Olympic meets, and that sort of thing. And when they’re cutting weight, I’m like; how? Luckily you don’t have to deal with that. But do you ever have clients where they get down to a certain weight. Maybe they’ve been like this in the past; did figure competitions.

They get down to a certain weight. Of course, after their figure competition is over, or whatever is over, they gain weight and go back to more so of a normal weight? Or even over that, because their body is almost compensating and they’re just living their life again. How do you deal with that sort of mental fatigue that those type of competitions can lead a person into? And really mess with your mind, and how you feel about your normal day to day body. I know obviously you don’t have to deal with that yourself in what you’ve done. But do you have clients that have gone through that? And really coming back from that competition mode? How do you deal with that?

Dana: Oh, definitely. And to be clear, I don’t have to deal with that now. But I definitely dealt with that for years in the past. That is honestly the hardest thing that anyone will work with. Whether they’re a personal trainer, a nutritionist, a dietician, a health coach. Even a therapist. The hardest thing to tell someone who is in that place of whether they’re over-exercising and undereating, or they just came off of a competition. Which most people think is the pinnacle of health. “You did a body building competition? You were in such good health!”

But it’s like; no. If you looked at that person from every other aspect; they’re mentally messed up. Emotionally messed up, because they’ve been depriving themselves for so long. If it’s a woman, she probably doesn’t have her period anymore. They have no libido. All of these health markers are just gone. So really, it’s not healthy at all.

So the first thing that you really have to work on with these kinds of people; these kinds of people. I’m talking to myself. Anyone that’s been in this situation. Whether you’re coming from a competition. You’re coming from a state of metabolic damage or adrenal fatigue or whatever it is. You have to shift the mindset. Because if you’re just trying to continually lose weight, you’re just going to get yourself to a place of not being healthy. At all. You’re just going to continually be sick, and never going to get better.

You have to kind of reshape what your goals are. You can no longer chase weight loss, or being whatever percentage body fat. Whatever it is. You have to say you’re doing this for your health. So you can be healthy long-term. Because the reverse side of this; if you continue to over exercise and under eat, or whatever it is. Eventually your body is going to rebound on you and you’re going to gain a bunch of weight back in the long-term. Which no one wants to do.

So it’s really an extremely hard mindset shift to make. And depending on where that person is in their life. If someone is in their 30s or whatever, and they want to have kids. It’s easier to explain to them; “You need to get healthy, otherwise you’re not going to be able to have a baby.” Right? That’s a really easy thing to explain.

But for like you and me, or for people who don’t necessarily want to have kids any time soon. How can you get through to them? Because their entire life, their goal has been, “I just want to be leaner.” Or maybe I want to be stronger. Or I just want to have abs. You know. I just want to have something and I think I’ll be happy.

So you kind of have to rewind that. It’s like; why do you think you need to have abs? Why do you feel you need to have this much control over your food? It takes a lot of digging to get to the bottom of that, and do this whole mindset shift that needs to happen in order to chase health instead of chase aesthetic goals.

Juli Bauer: Yeah. Do you guys talk about that when you do your Whole30 certification for coaching? Sorry, your Whole30 coach certification. Do you guys talk about that? What is that certification process like? I feel like people on Whole30 can really be going through sh*t like this. Because they’re control freaks. And I say this coming from this background of a control freak who did the Whole30 because it was another way to control my life and get control of my body. So do you guys talk about that sort of thing, or is that even part of certification? I don’t even know what the certification is like.

Dana: No, unfortunately we don’t really talk about that much. Because just like the scope of practice; what you’re legally allowed to do as a Whole30 coach doesn’t really touch on eating disorders or disordered eating. And Melissa Hartwig, the creator of the program, even says. If you have someone that’s coming to you with an eating disorder and they want to do the Whole30, you should turn them away unless you have a specific background as a psychologist or whatever it is. You have some kind of training on how to work with people with eating disorders.

And like you were saying; like we both did. We admit that we used the Whole30 as another way to control our bodies. So for a lot of people that are coming to the Whole30 with some kind of history of disordered eating, eating disorder, body dysmorphia, or whatever it is. That is probably not the best course of action for them right now. Because it’s just another way for them to control their food, their bodies, or something like that.

So unfortunately there isn’t really too much of a component of that in the training program itself. The certification; part of it is you have to have done a couple of Whole30’s and coached a couple of people through a Whole30 on your own. And then you need testimonials from them, and all that kind of stuff. You have to read through extensively all of the Whole30 materials. You have to create some kind of new Whole30 material for them. I have a Whole30 restaurant survival guide, and that kind of stuff. Just practical things that people can use.

And then there are two; I guess three different parts of a test you have to take. There’s a multiple choice test, which was surprisingly really hard. {laughs} For someone who has gone through the program multiple times, and read all of the books, I was really surprised that I was struggling with a lot of the questions on there. So it’s no joke. And then there’s a short answer/essay type thing. And then there’s a kind of interview. Where it’s this really funny process of a video of Melissa, the creator of the program will pop up, and she’ll ask a question. And then it gives you a minute to record you responding to the question. It’s like, “Whoa! Oh my god, what is she going to ask me?” Because there’s no way that you can prepare for it.

So then after you go through all of that, they follow-up in a couple of weeks, and it’s like, “Yay! You’ve passed as a Whole30 coach.” Or like, “you need to take the test again. It’s fine.” {laughs} You know.

Juli Bauer: Damn. That’s intense.

Dana: Yeah, it was a little bit intense. But I’m glad I did it.

Juli Bauer: Yeah. So with your background of doing Whole30’s and going through the certification, do you do Whole30 on a regular basis? Do you say, “Hey, it’s the New Year. I’m going to do a Whole30.” How do you feel about it now going through it multiple times? For me, I go f*cking crazy. And if I say I can’t have something, I want it 10 times more and it makes me a f*cking psychopath. So I stay away from the Whole30. But what is your experience with it, doing it multiple times?

Dana: Yeah. I’m so glad you asked that. The first couple of years that I discovered the program. I guess in 2013, I usually did it every January. And then one year I had actually done it three times in one year, and that’s when I knew; ok, this is too much. I’m slipping back into old patterns. And then sometimes I would do it twice a year. For the past, at least year or two, I haven’t done one at all.

Because I’ve gotten to the same place where it’s like; I’m in a really good mental/emotional place, relationship with myself, with my body, with food, with all of this kind of stuff that if I then take away, or give myself all these restrictions just for the sake of doing a Whole30, my body is like; no. It’s the same thing. I want to eat all of the almond butter stuffed dates, just because I can. I don’t ever eat those on a regular basis.

So it makes me crave things that I don’t normally crave when I’m trying to eat healthier by doing the Whole30. But regularly when I’m eating, most of the food that I’m eating is Whole30 just because it’s mostly paleo, without me trying. Now I still eat rice. I eat corn sometimes. I’ll eat cheese; call the paleo police. That kind of thing. But I eat treats every once in a while. I love having dark chocolate. And I find if I’m not restricting myself, I don’t want those things as often. But as soon as you start restricting things, that’s when your brain goes crazy and it’s like, “Oh, I don’t normally eat this. But I really want it.”

So the last time I did the Whole30, it was so weird. Because I don’t really drink that much at all. I love having a margarita on my birthday. Going out and having a cool cocktail. But I’m not really the kind of person that’s like, I love having a glass of wine every night. Or even every couple of nights. Because it just doesn’t make me feel that great anymore.

And the last time I did the Whole30, no joke, I was craving alcohol. I was like; this is bad! {laughs} And I knew as soon as I had a glass of wine after the Whole30, I was like; I didn’t even want this. But I just wanted it because I was restricted from it.

Juli Bauer: Exactly.

Dana: Now it’s interesting because I run people through group Whole30 coaching programs, and I’ll run them through the program individually. But I don’t actually do it myself. {laughs}

Juli Bauer: That’s what I think can get so sticky about Whole30. I’ll have these people who are on my page, and they see a dessert, and they’re tagging their friend. Like, “On day 31 of our Whole30, we’re totally having this!” And they’re planning everything they want to eat on day 31. And it just becomes the same cycle of a person who is in a figure competition. They’re eating and being so restrictive, and then they have their plan of how they’re pretty much going to sabotage themselves on day 31.

To me, I’m like why can’ you just eat 80% of the time eating whole, clean foods. Have a glass of wine when you want. Have some dark chocolate. And not saying you cannot have anything. Because then when you can, it is just f*cking on.

And I say that coming from that background of going to day 31 and being just f*cking psychotic. It’s like; “Ok, I’m going to get this frozen pizza. And I’m going to get cinnamon rolls. And I’m going to get cookies. And then I’m going to have this. I’m going to have that. I’m going to have this drink.” Of things that I wouldn’t eat on a regular basis. And I wish more people could really find that balance and have that understanding of balance instead of; and I’m sure Melissa has that understanding of balance.

But I wish more people could see it as not this crash dieting that it’s almost become into. It’s like; ok, this is how you can eat long-term. It doesn’t have to be this strict. But you can eat like this on a regular basis, and feel good all the time instead of crash 30 day dieting instead.

Dana: Yeah, exactly. And I think a big part of that is because if you actually read the Whole30 guidelines in the books, and everything that Melissa says. It’s not intended to be just a 30-day thing and then you just go back to your regular sh*t eating. Right? It’s supposed to be a tool that you can use to eliminate these foods for 30 days, and then reintroduce them one at a time to see how your body does with them. So you can incorporate back the ones that don’t make you feel like sh*t, right? Or like, you can figure out what are the ones that make me feel like sh*t? Maybe I only eat these once in a while. But knowing that it’s maybe not going to make me feel my best.

Juli Bauer: Yeah.

Dana: So I think most of the problem; well, two things with this. A lot of the people that find the Whole30 are like we used to be. All or nothing people. So it’s like, I’m either all into the Whole30 clean eating, or I’m balls deep in these desserts. It’s one or the other, and they’re always going back and forth. It’s the yoyo dieting that keeps them in that place.

Or, now because the Whole30 program has become so popular. I think it’s a lot of people that are just literally reading the “yes foods” and the “no foods” and they just follow a yes/no foods list. So they’re recreating paleo treats, and desserts, and everything within their Whole30. Which is defeating the purpose of it.

Juli Bauer: Yeah.

Dana: But then also, they’re like, “Oh, so just on day 30 because I’ve been so good and not eating any of these Standard American Diet foods that can cause inflammation and all this kind of stuff for 30 days, now I’m just going to go balls to the wall and eat whatever I want on day 30.” Because they do see it as just a 30-day clean eating challenge. Rather than actually reading the f*cking materials of the Whole30 program, and understanding that it’s supposed to be a tool that you use every once in a while to figure out how your body reacts to certain foods. Not a crash diet.

Juli Bauer: Yeah, for sure. I wish more people would come to understand that. Especially January 1st when everybody goes f*cking balls to the wall on Whole30.

Dana: I know.

Juli Bauer: And that’s like; the only comments I’m getting on my Instagram. “Oh, you’re killing me! I’m on Whole30!” Ok, you’re doing this to yourself.

Dana: I know; like, “Is this Whole30?”

Juli Bauer: Yeah, exactly. Oh my god, seriously. Is this Whole30?

Dana: Is this brownie sundae Whole30?

Juli Bauer: I’m like, I don’t f*cking know. I don’t know the guidelines to Whole30 anymore. I don’t f*cking know. It’s just food I’m eating.

Ok, so I want to go back to your blog. Because I noticed your food photography has continued to improve with time.

Dana: OH, thank you.

Juli Bauer: As I go back on your blog, you didn’t even have that ugly of photos to start with. Which is so great. Because most blogs that you go to, it’s like; “How did this person even get their start?” But you had great photos pretty much from the start.

But how have you improved your food photography? Because it’s definitely improved over time. How have you worked on that yourself?

Dana: Thank you. Because I’ve been working on that really hard recently. When I first started, I was just using my iPhone, and I had no idea what I was doing. It’s funny that you say when I first started my photography wasn’t even that ugly, because I went back on my Instagram. I feel like this was a year ago. And I was looking back at all the old; these wouldn’t even make it on the blog. But they would just be meals I was eating. And I was like, “what the hell was I thinking?!” {laughs} Not only does that look disgusting, but that makes me not ever want to eat that food. And the whole point of food photography is to make people want to eat the food. So I was like; oh my god. I’m just going to take these pictures down.

Juli Bauer: If you want to feel better, go back to the first pages of my blog. It is f*cking scary. Because the food photos I took were at like 4 in the morning, in a Tupperware container or in a crockpot when I was coaching full time. So you are doing much, much better. {laughs} I’m just going back on your blog, and I’m on page 24. So we’re only in 2015, and they all look really pretty.

I just came across; you did the book review of my buffalo chicken casserole. And it’s such an awesome photo. So how have you gotten better with it over time?

Dana: I started using a real camera.

Juli Bauer: {laughs} Yeah. That makes a huge difference.

Dana: Which is funny, because I love travel photography. And I’ve actually had a DSLR camera since I think I was 16. And I would just use it whenever we were traveling. Because my family does a lot of skiing and hiking vacations and stuff. So I would take landscape pictures of all of these great places that we would hike and stuff. But I was just a dummy and never thought to use that camera for food photography.

So I think around the time that you were talking about I started using it. I was like; f*ck, I already have this camera. I might as well use it. You know. So after I started using it, I think I got a book that was like Simple Food Photography or something like that. And so I started playing around with natural light. And then the angles of food. And all that kind of stuff. Honestly, it’s just a lot of trial and error.

And the interesting thing was; in august I moved to a new apartment. And the light was totally different in this new place. So I really had to figure out what times of day were best to take pictures. What angles of the camera were good. More recently, I started using my tripod more, because it’s been so cloudy and dark outside that I just can’t get an in-focus shot if I don’t use my tripod. Which I got for like $15 on Amazon.

But I think a lot of it has been helped by just following people on social media that have really good food photography. And seeing the angles they use. Where the light is coming from. How to use a white board on the opposite of your light source to bounce the light off. And just seeing how they do food styling and all that kind of stuff. But really, it’s just doing stuff, messing up, and then learning. {laughs} And seeing what you like.

Juli Bauer: Yeah. And do you edit your photos?

Dana: Yeah. {laughs} This is embarrassing, but I don’t have Photoshop or Lightroom or anything. I literally just use iPhoto to edit things. {laughs}

Juli Bauer: Dang. That’s awesome. I’ve loved Lightroom, if you ever want to make the investment in it. I have loved it. I’ve never edited in anything other than Lightroom, and it has been awesome.

Dana: Yeah. I’ve been meaning to do it. It’s just not the first thing on my to-do list, so I always forget about it.

Juli Bauer: Yeah. Who are some of your favorite people to follow for inspiration for photo inspiration? Who do you just like to follow on social media blog or just human-wise?

Dana: Human-wise. Ok, let’s see. Food photography. Sarah from Broma Bakery is f*cking amazing.

Juli Bauer: The best.

Dana: I know you’ve had her on your podcast.

Juli Bauer: Yes! Oh my god. Her photography is f*cking insane.

Dana: Yeah, it’s great. I also love; one of the people that I first ever started following is How Sweet Eats. Love her. She is amazing.

Juli Bauer: Yes. I had her on my podcast too.

Dana: Oh yeah! You did.

Juli Bauer: Yeah.

Dana: I freaking love her food photography. And I guess top three would be Tegan from Half Baked Harvest.

Juli Bauer: Yes!

Dana: Her photos, and her recipes, are just amazing. Also, I don’t know how that woman can come out with six new recipes every week. It’s insane!

Juli Bauer: It’s f*cking crazy. With that type of food photography.

Dana: I know.

Juli Bauer: I met her in Aspen at the Aspen Food and Wine Festival. I had no idea she was a Colorado person until I put that all together. And yeah. She is just the sweetest. She’s exactly how she is on social media. Just this kind of quiet, sweet person.

But for real. How do you come up with that much sh*t?

Dana: I don’t know. It blows my mind. And sometimes both her and Jessica and Sarah; just the flavor combinations that they come up with. I’m like; oh my god! Where did you come up with this?

Juli Bauer: I know.

Dana: Random blood orange and cinnamon and chili and all these kinds of things. Like; what? I want to try that. That’s so cool!

Juli Bauer: I know. They’re so cool. I’m excited for Jessica’s new cookbook coming out.

Dana: Oh my god, I know.

Juli Bauer: Didn’t Teagan come out with a cookbook as well?

Dana: Yeah, I think it came out in December. It’s actually in my Amazon cart right now. I need to buy it.

Juli Bauer: I need to buy it too. I’ll put that in mind. I’m so excited to just look at it.

Dana: Ok, in terms of humans that I like to follow. Well, obviously you because you’re f*cking hilarious. Mostly I find people who I really like what they’re saying. But who are also really funny. So the guys from Mind Pump; I f*cking love them. I know you’ve been on their podcast, too.

Juli Bauer: Yeah.

Dana: I also love Kristina; her Instagram used to be Addicted to Lovely, but now it’s Kristina Rice Wellness. Basically, anyone who is just funny and has really good either food photography or recipes or nutrition advice but is not super preachy about what they’re saying. That’s the thing. I follow people that are vegan, vegetarian, keto, whatever. All of these things. Nothing that I personally follow dietary wise. But as long as they’re not like, “You can only ever be vegan to be healthy. You can only ever be keto to be healthy.” Blah, blah, blah.

As long as they’re not super entrenched and preachy about what they’re saying, I’m like, “Yeah, sure. I’ll listen to you. And I like your recipes too. And you’re funny. Ok, great. You checked all the boxes.” You know? {laughs}

Juli Bauer: Do you cook for many other people’s blogs? Because me, I’m just cooking my own recipes because I have to make my own recipes, so I don’t have time to cook many other people’s on a regular basis. Do you cook mostly your own stuff? Or do you like following anybody else’s specific recipes?

Dana: Mostly I cook my own stuff for the same reasons. I have way too many cookbooks than I would like to admit. But every once in a while, I’ll pull out a cookbook and make a couple of recipes from it. And be like; “Oh yeah! This is why I used to make all of Nom Nom Paleo’s recipes.”

Juli Bauer: Yes! Oh my god, that’s so funny. I was just thinking about Michelle’s cookbook.

Dana: Yeah, it’s great. Or like sometimes I’ll cook from the Whole30 cookbooks, because those are just really good basic meal prep style recipes. So if I know I’m going to be really busy one week because I have a lot of coaching, and a lot of clients, and I like don’t have any time to make any new recipes from my blog that week. I’ll just keep things super simple and either do just plain protein, vegetables, rice, potatoes, whatever it is. And then do different sauces and spice blends on them. Or I’ll make a really basic recipe from the Whole30 cookbook. Or something out of the Instant Pot from Michelle Tam cookbooks. Any of those kinds of things.

Practical Paleo was I think my first paleo cookbook. So I’ve made things in that book so many times that the pages are coming out. {laughs} So I can always fall back on those, too.

Juli Bauer: That’s awesome. So before I let you go, I wanted to talk about your podcast. Because you just recently started your podcast, right?

Dana: Yeah, I did.

Juli Bauer: How many episodes do you have now?

Dana: OH, sh*t. I think 13? Yeah, I’m going to record my 14th one soon.

Juli Bauer: That’s awesome. So talk a little bit about why you started that. How often you podcast. How you come up with content. I think podcasts, so many more people are starting to get into podcasts. It’s always fun for people to have something new to listen to, as well. So how did you get into that?

Dana: Yeah. I love podcasting. It’s so much more fun than I thought it was going to be. And also so much more work than I thought it was going to be.

Juli Bauer: Yeah, no kidding. It’s so much work! {laughs}

Dana: Oh my god. I was like, whatever. I normally post two new recipes or posts a week. And then I was like; yeah, I’ll just throw a podcast on top of it. And then it’s like 8 hours later of trying to do one episode. I was like; oh my god, what did I get myself into? {laughs}

Juli Bauer: Yeah.

Dana: So I started my podcast in December. This is kind of the way that I make a lot of my either business decisions or decisions on what I’m going to do next in my business or blog or whatever it is. I found in the past couple of years, especially with Instagram getting super popular. And then podcasts were getting really popular. People don’t take the time to sit down and read blog posts anymore. So I would write a super long article on adrenal fatigue, or thyroid problems, or GI all of this stuff. Things that people really care about, and want to learn about. But nobody wants to sit down and read a five-page long blog post.

So I figured; I get all these questions about nutrition, and I get a lot of reader questions in my emails that are mostly around the same topics. So I was like; maybe I’ll just come up with a podcast topic for each one of these. And instead of me having to write out the same email to respond to those same questions every time, I can just be like, Hey, I talked for an hour about this topic. And just send them that. So it’s a resource for my clients and people that ask questions.

But it’s also, selfishly, it was a way for me to just talk to really cool people and get to pick their brains. Because I know that by having a podcast, you get this super cool opportunity to talk with other people that you wouldn’t normally get to connect with in such an intimate setting. Like, we just get to have a conversation for an hour. Otherwise, if I didn’t have a podcast, if you didn’t have a podcast, and we didn’t meet in person at some paleo conference or something, we probably wouldn’t get to have this opportunity.

So I think it’s just so cool that you can just have a conversation with someone who is either in a similar field to you, and you get to hear their background story about their health history, and how they got here. Or somebody in a totally different field that brings a completely different perspective to what you do. And then you don’t only get to hear that, but you get to share it with so many people. And then you also; I know some of the Mind Pump episodes, and some of your episodes. And I listen to Chris Kresser sometimes. I have to listen to those episodes four times before they sink in with what they’re trying to say.

Juli Bauer: Yeah, they have so much information.

Dana: Yeah. You could even take notes on it. It’s like taking a lecture from a class, right? There are podcasts from everything to nutrition, to history, to freaking Harry Potter podcasts, right?

Juli Bauer: Yeah. {laughs}

Dana: So you can just listen to it for whatever you want. If you want to just chill or you want to learn something. I think it’s just such a cool new way that people are connecting and learning things. And I also; before I started mine, I loved listening to podcasts all the time. And I think with us, you’re home cooking or you’re driving places or working out or doing laundry or whatever it is. Working from home, you can listen to podcasts almost all the time. So I was like; whoa, this is great. I might as well just start my own.

Juli Bauer: It’s the best. I love listening to podcasts. I feel like I don’t even listen to music anymore because I’m just listening to podcasts at this point.

Dana: Same. Although you probably only listen to murder podcasts. So you just think everyone is going to kill you!

Juli Bauer: Yeah. Oh my god, for sure. Literally, I’m looking over my shoulder every moment of every day. Always prepared.

Dana: Yeah, I could not do that.

Juli Bauer: I’m surprised I don’t carry. I shouldn’t say that, because then someone is going to know I don’t carry mace.

Dana: {laughs}

Juli Bauer: I should carry mace. Or bear spray or whatever. Don’t listen to murder podcasts. They definitely make you think different about the world. But they’re the best!

Wait, what was I going to say? I got distracted by murder. Oh, who are some of the guests that you’ve had on your podcast that you’ve liked?

Dana: I’ve only had I think three guests so far. When I started my podcast, I wanted to do a couple of foundational episodes. Where there are a couple of the super common topics that I get questions about. So then when I interviewed people, I could reference those. So I’ve done topics on leaky gut, adrenal fatigue, food sensitivity testing, how much protein do you really need. Those kinds of things.

And then building off of that, I’ve had Taylor Gauge from She Thrives, and we talked about if weight lifting or CrossFit will make women bulky.

Juli Bauer: Nice. I listened to her on Girls Gone WOD.

Dana: Yeah, she’s f*cking awesome. I love her. And she also just started a new podcast, too. Around the same time that I did.

Juli Bauer: Oh cool.

Dana: I’ve also had Melissa from Melissa’s Food Freedom. Which is not Melissa Hartwig. But this girl also talks about Whole30. {laughs} And then my friend Kristina, who is also a nutritionist. And we’ve done a lot of body image and mindset stuff. I’m actually going to record with her tomorrow on low-calorie dieting, and metabolic damage, and all that kind of stuff. So it’s going to be real juicy.

Juli Bauer: That’s awesome. If people want to find you, can they come to you?

Dana: Yeah, so I am taking new clients right now. I work with people both in person and online. So you can email me at RealFoodwithDana@gmail. My podcast is Real Talk with Dana. And I’m literally everywhere at Real Food with Dana. On Instagram, on Facebook. That’s my blog. Don’t bother to follow me on Twitter, because I don’t do sh*t on there. {laughs}

Juli Bauer: Twitter; it’s weird that Twitter is such a real thing, still.

Dana: I know.

Juli Bauer: That it hasn’t died out. Is it just because people are just following Donald Trump to see what he’s going to say next?

Dana: Yeah. {laughs} I think that’s what it is. I think a lot of people get their news from Twitter. Even before he was president. I’m pretty sure that a lot of people who are into politics are super into Twitter and tweeting and stuff. I think for us it’s just different, because it’s not; our primary content is photo based. And that’s not where Twitter lends itself to.

Juli Bauer: Yeah. I’m never ever on Twitter. I feel like that’s where my husband gets his news from. Because whenever something is happening, he’s like, “I’ll check Twitter and see what’s happening.” I’m like, what?! Don’t you have news apps?

Dana: Instead of turning on the news? {laughs}

Juli Bauer: Yeah! So weird. OK, well thank you so much for being on and just sharing a little bit about your background, and how you’re kicking ass and hopefully inspire other women out there to really start their own business and do what inspires them. I have so much fun following you, and seeing as your photos get better and better, it’s so cool to see you just be a badass, girl.

Dana: Thanks so much. And thanks so much for having me.

Juli Bauer: Of course! Stay on the line. I always just end this. I never know where my recording went. When I’m on Twitter. Not on Twitter, Skype. God.

Dana: {laughing}

Juli Bauer: Ok, and we’re done.

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Oh, Hi! I’m Juli.

I’m a food hoarder. And a really bad dancer. If you don’t know me well, you will probably not understand my humor. Therefore, I apologize ahead of time. Thanks for listening to my ramblings of my ever-changing life and trusting my kitchen mishaps. Your trust in me is appreciated.


6 thoughts on “Interview w/ Real Food With Dana – Episode 77: PaleOMG Uncensored Podcast”

  1. I loved this interview with Dana so much! She is so knowledgeable, intelligent and interesting and I hadn’t heard of her before this. I can’t wait to read her blog and listen to her podcast! Your solo podcasts are phenomenal but you are also a GREAT interviewer. You asked so many relevant questions and I appreciated the conversation about the Whole 30.

  2. I save your podcast episodes for my Monday morning outs each week. I have to admit, the ones with guests usually aren’t my fave. Yes, I enjoy your self talk, yawns, and all that jazz. But I REALLY enjoyed hearing you chat with Dana!! Great guest!! Thanks for bringing another badass lady to our attention!

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