by Yolande Michelle
Elizabeth Denton is an integrative nutrition health coach, personal trainer, and metabolism expert. She sat down to chat with us recently about health, fitness, nutrition and how her faith has guided her to become healthier – inside and out.
Yolande: Tell us about your personal journey with health and fitness.
Elizabeth: "My journey with health and fitness started in 2010 when I was traveling to South America. I was into eating healthy but I wasn’t doing much else. I was also eating a raw vegan diet which wasn’t really good for my body but at the time I thought this was the healthiest thing that I could be eating. So I went to South America for three months and I stayed vegan but I couldn’t eat raw there – I was eating things like rice and beans and I gained thirty pounds in three months because my body wasn’t used to metabolizing carbohydrates."
Yolande: What did you do at this point?
Elizabeth: "I didn’t know what was happening then because I had never put on so much weight before. When I got back to the U.S., I got a personal trainer and he helped me with my diet. He told me I could remain a vegan but not a raw vegan because he couldn't ensure that I would get enough protein. He helped me establish a healthy diet and I just fell in love with working out. So I continued working out and I stayed on my vegan diet for a while. I also moved back to New York, from Las Vegas, and I couldn’t afford a trainer here and so I decided to start bodybuilding. At the same time, I was writing a health blog just for fun. The bodybuilding paired with my blog made me feel like I needed to be doing something that I was passionate about, so I quit my job in fashion and started training and went back to school for nutrition. I made money by working as a trainer."
Yolande: What was it like to work full-time doing your passion?
Elizabeth: "Being a trainer is like an illusion career because you think that because you’re in the gym all day that you have all this free time. It’s so draining because you’re working from 5:00AM to 5:00PM sometimes and you may only five clients, and you don’t make any money, especially in the beginning when you’re trying to build up your business. I remember telling my parents that I was going to leave my salaried job to be a trainer and then go back to school to be an integrative nutrition health coach. They said, 'why would you do that? You have a good job and a salary and it’s safe.' I told them that I was happy and I wanted to do something that I was passionate about. I saw how much changing my diet helped to change my life, I want others to feel the same way. Also the freedom, especially for women to know that we have control over what we put in our bodies and that comes out in the way that we act, feel, and look. I want women to feel well. I think they are used to not feeling well and just “kind of ok” and we accept it. There are so many things that we can do to feel better, more energetic and more in control of our bodies."
Yolande: What advice would you give to people who think they can’t ever be healthy or fit?
Elizabeth: "I would say start with small achievable goals. I think that people get overwhelmed because they think that they have to completely overhaul their diet and start going to the gym everyday and they don’t have to do that. You can make really small changes to see big rewards. I usually start by telling my clients to drink more water. It seems so insignificant but the health benefits of it are just insane. And most women are severely dehydrated so when you start drinking more water you start losing weight. Our bodies need water to function and our organs need water to function. If you’re not drinking enough water your body is going to hold on to as much water as it can to make sure your organs keep functioning so you can stay alive. But when you start giving your body enough water everyday, it knows and expects that it’s going to get that much water everyday and so it starts flushing out that excess because it doesn’t have to hold onto it anymore."
Yolande: Any other recommendations?
Elizabeth: "Instead of saying ‘I’m not going to eat pizza anymore – because it stresses people out and that’s all they think about – say 'I’m going to eat more fruits and vegetables.' Actively including more healthy foods in your diet because then you’ll start to crave those and naturally cut out the bad stuff without thinking about it. Plus, I find when you put things off-limits, it becomes an obsession and then it becomes, “I’m going to eat as much of it as I can before I start my diet.” So you create this unhealthy relationship with food. Start adding in more healthy foods instead of cutting out foods that you think are bad."
Yolande: What are some of your go-to foods or products that help you stay healthy?
Elizabeth: "I just gave up coffee which is really difficult for me since I have been drinking it my whole life. I love matcha and I’ll drink a matcha latte everyday. I like avocados because they are really filling, a lot of healthy fat and you can eat them with almost anything. I eat a lot of salmon because I’ve found that my body prefers fats over carbs so I try to incorporate a lot of healthy fats into my diet. I do a lot of eggs and I really like salad greens with good dressing. I think that’s something that you don’t have to give up. If it’s going to get you to eat more vegetables, keep your salad dressing."
Yolande: So none of that was vegan. Would you say that it’s difficult to stay away from carbs and still be a vegan and be healthy?
Elizabeth: "Well I was a vegan for six years and when I was a vegan I wasn’t as concerned with weight loss or what I looked like because I hadn’t ever had a weight problem at that point. I find that most vegans actually eat a lot of carbs because they aren’t eating that much protein. So I think that if you want to be a vegan for like health or other reasons, it’s fine, you just need to be aware of how you’re balancing your meals throughout the day. I feel better eating animal protein now but I don’t eat very much. I’ll eat eggs in the morning and I’ll have fish or chicken at night, and occasionally beef. I don’t usually eat meat in the middle of the day. So you can be a healthy vegan and not overdo it on the carbs but you really have to plan out your meals, which you should be doing anyway as a vegan to make sure you are getting enough nutrients.
I also think that some of these diets work differently for men than they do for women. Our bodies are so intricate and our hormones come into play. Our hormones are so sensitive to our diet and men are different. Men metabolize caffeine and alcohol easily and women can’t. It goes through our system very slowly. Things like soy should always be in moderation for men and women. For a raw vegan diet, a lot of men can tolerate it but my digestive system was way too slow for that. So you would think that it would have been really cleansing for me but it did the opposite. I was severely constipated. We have different needs as women to help balance out our hormones and keep our blood sugar steady. Sometimes with a vegan diet, you’re trying to watch your carbohydrates so you’re not keeping your blood sugar steady.
Yolande: Tell us about your Masterclass and how we can be a part of it.
Elizabeth: "It’s a six-week web-based program that’s mostly self-study. Each week there is a new module with a video with some handouts and worksheets, including my nutrition guide. You’ll also have the opportunity to ask me questions live. It’s a self-study program for women who want some guidance on changing their diet and lifestyle. The course is aimed at teaching you how to create your own personal prescription for health. My blog is called The Glow Remedy and my thought process behind is that when someone is healthy, they get compliments like, 'your skin is glowing.' The same thing with pregnant women, brides, etc – so being healthy is just another way that you can glow. Also, what I eat may not be what you need to eat to get that glow. So at the end of the course, you’ll get to write out a diet that works for you. I just wanted to give people the power to create something for themselves."
Yolande: What advice would you give to your younger self?
Elizabeth: "It’s funny because I’ve had so many health struggles along this fitness journey but all of it has prepared me to help more people, so I am thankful for them. However, if I could go back, I would tell myself that everything is going to be okay and my body is perfect just the way it is … at any stage. My weight has fluctuated so much. I have been in this healthy range for two years now but I have been 30 pounds less than this and I have been 20 pounds more in the past five years. So my body has really been through a lot and it’s easy to look at your body and say mean things about it. But the truth is, we are created in God’s image so when we hate our bodies or hate something about our bodies, we are hating something about God. So yes, we might be able to take better care of our bodies, and we should because I think that is good stewardship. But we don’t need to hate where we are right now. We are still created in God’s image, no matter what the scale says or how our clothes fit. We can choose to honor God by making better choices to honor our bodies."
If you want to learn more about Elizabeth and sign up for her Master Class, click here: http://www.elizabethdentonhealth.com/
Yolande is a writer and designer living in Brooklyn. She is also the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Wit + Grace Magazine. Follow @witandgracemag on social media to connect and join the #renewalchallenge.