We’re so excited to have health coach Sara McGlothin joining us for our Winter Rituals workshop on December 6! She will be sharing her favorite tips on how to keep your body and mind nourished throughout the cold weather months. To help you get to know her a little better, we asked her a few questions about health coaching, food, and wellness. Check out her answers below, and be sure to register for the workshop.
A little about me
My path to becoming a holistic health coach has not been a straight one, but I firmly believe each prior position was a stepping stone that led me to this work! After graduating from the University of Virginia with a B.A. in Economics, I received my Masters in Education from Mary Baldwin College. However, I never ended up using that degree, and immediately went to work for two years in finance. Working in the corporate world was very unfulfilling for me, and it was here when I started a healthy living blog as an outlet, through which I shared my interests in nutrition, fitness, and wellness. This quickly evolved into a passion! I was able to leave my corporate job after getting hired by Health Warrior, a natural foods company founded in Richmond, which specializes in chia seeds and chia seed products. It was in this position where I was interacting with customers daily, and I quickly realized there was still a lot of confusion about nutrition and health, especially as it pertains to what works for someone as an individual. Simultaneously, I had a very positive, personal experience working with a health coach, and felt very inspired to pursue my certification. I enrolled in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in 2013, and have been working with clients one-on-one ever since. I am also currently undergoing my yoga teacher training and writing my first cookbook!
What inspired me to get into nutrition and health coaching?
Aside from what I stated above, nutrition as I value it today was not how I always viewed food. I am a former strict calorie counter with a history of disordered eating. I believe a part of this can be attributed to my upbringing. Like many, I was a kid of the 80s and 90s amidst the low-fat, high-carb craze. The archaic equation of calories in, calories out defined nutrition. Therefore, I grew up in a household where “diet” was just another four-letter word, meals were portioned according to “points,” and often food was reduced to the number of calories it contained.
Towards the end of high school and into college, I was consumed with counting calories and exercising every day. Quite frankly, it was not only about staying thin, but also about staying in control. Food was something to be feared for the chance it was going to make me fat, and it was my biggest enemy and largest source of anxiety.
Thankfully, in my mid- to late 20s, as I immersed myself in the study of nutrition, I started to make the connection between what I ate and how I felt. I had never thought of eating in this way, and it completely revamped my relationship with food. I decided to release all the food rules, after which I quickly realized had been making me miserable. Taking on a more intuitive approach, while viewing food (and myself) from a more positive place has changed the way I eat. I want to inspire others to make this shift as well. To see food as something to nourish, benefit, and heal when needed.
My personal food philosophy
To over-simplify my food philosophy, it would be to eat real food; eat those whole foods provided by nature. I have a nutritional mantra that sums this up perfectly: count colors (not calories)! Whenever you build a meal, try to incorporate as much color as you can onto your plate. This concept also encompasses not only the shifts I want people to make in terms of what they are eating, but also in how they are eating. In other words, be more mindful and present when you eat. Have that sensory experience in which you notice the colors, smells, tastes, and textures. Food is a beautiful thing!
Self-care and my daily routine
The concept of “self-care” has completely evolved for me over the years. I used to think it was all about eating right and exercise. While those aspects are important, self-care is now more about self-love and creating space mentally. This is evident in how I speak to myself. I used to be someone who would beat myself up. Releasing that pressure has been so freeing. Having a more kind and compassionate inner-dialogue is a major part of my self-care.
In terms of specific routines, my mornings are my “me time.” I wake up early, fix myself a cup of coffee, and sit in stillness while I write in my journal. I also meditate most mornings as well. Over the past few years, I have fallen in love with yoga and it’s the time I feel most connected to my body. Taking class a few times a week is a non-negotiable, and teacher training has only deepened this love for me. When things get particularly stressful, or life gets busy, I try and take moments of pause throughout my day to refocus on my breath. That small but mighty practice always brings me back to the present. I also put a lot of emphasis on sleep and know that to be well rested is the ultimate way I take care of myself. One of my “works in progress,” is shutting off electronics at a reasonable hour, so I can be more present in my evenings as well.
What’s in my refrigerator?
I am currently writing my first cookbook on gluten-free vegan baking, so my fridge right now is filled with the results of my recipe testing! Normally, however, I love to keep my fridge stocked with fresh produce, high-quality sources of protein, and kitchen staples with which I can throw together a quick meal. I typically meal plan for a few days (no more – I find breaking it up into two or three days is much more manageable, reduces food waste, and leads to less overwhelm). The majority of dinners during the week follow what I call my “main meal trifecta:” a roasted green vegetable (like Brussels sprouts, asparagus or broccoli for example) or a leafy green side salad with avocado, chicken or fish, and a starchy vegetable (like sweet potato or butternut squash). The simpler the better! I try to eat what is in season, so this time of year, I have more root and cruciferous vegetables on hand, some leafy greens, and less fruit.
I love this recipe for my ultimate “nighttime tonic” this time of year. My spiced Manuka honey golden milk is perfect if you have trouble sleeping, attempting to boost your immune system, or simply want to wind down after a long day.