Jennifer Trepeck - I Came to This After Accumulating a Lifetime of Experience in the Psychology of Eating and Weight Loss (Health & Nutrition Coach)


Jennifer Trepeck

Jennifer Trepeck is described as a “force of nature" in wellness. She is an Optimal Health Coach, Podcaster, and Business Consultant.  After over a decade of coaching clients, Jenn started Salad with a Side of Fries Podcast to help pay it forward and reach a larger audience to teach the nutrition education we are all supposed to know but no one ever taught us. 

1. Tell us more about yourself and your profession. 

I was recently described as a “force of nature” in the wellness space. I came to all this wellness “stuff” through my own weight management saga. Growing up a dancer and the skinny one in a family of dieters, which was awesome (!) until it went away. 

Genetics took over, my lifestyle changed dramatically when I went to college and stopped dancing and at times I felt like I would breathe and gain weight. But I did what I knew to do; I tried every diet under the sun, jumping on the roller coaster of yo-yo dieting. 

Until I found the program that I now teach. Even at first, I thought I knew all I needed to know. I had my plan. But I saw people who were following this program and I noticed that they were keeping the weight off and one woman, in particular, is embedded in my memory. 

She was telling her story of losing 150lbs and after she said that I heard no words, I was just staring at her and having a conversation with myself, in my head. I couldn’t see where 10lbs could have been on her body, let alone the equivalent of another person attached to her. 

I had a moment with myself to say, they know something you don’t know. Get over yourself. So I worked with a coach and followed the program myself. It completely changed my life. It is the only thing that’s allowed me to say I “kicked my food issues.” 

I really believe it’s the nutrition education we’re all supposed to know but no one ever taught us. From then on, I set out on a mission to pay it forward and help people help themselves. 

This happened at the same time that I was looking for something to do outside of my day job because I didn’t know what I was going to do, I just knew I couldn’t work for someone else for the rest of my life. These 2 missions collided and I knew this wellness and nutrition thing would be my thing. 

I started working with clients in late 2007, on the side of my full-time job. After over a decade, I left my full-time job and started Salad with a Side of Fries podcast in the Summer of 2019. 

Based on science, yet lighthearted, I talk about living life while still making ourselves and our health a priority. It’s wellness and weight loss for “real life,” how to eat and how to cheat and with a mission to clear up the misinformation, bad-science, and marketing wreaking havoc in wellness. 

I suppose the rest, as they say, is history. I’m on a mission and invite those in alignment to lock arms and do this with me. 

2. What are some of the biggest myths related to nutrition? 

There are so many. I think the biggest ones come out of the fad diets over the last few decades: Before addressing them, I just want to say, there is a way that IS sustainable and does foster health and wellbeing, unlike all of these. Some of the most common ones are 

  1. I just need to be in a calorie deficit

    This just isn’t how the body works. A calorie is not a calorie. We could eat 1200 calories per day of m&ms or 1200 calories per day of chicken and veggies.

    If you’re “burning” more than 1200 calories per day you have created a calorie deficit in both scenarios but your outcomes and your health outlook will be dramatically different. Instead consider this: quality in, quality out, get up, and move more. 

  2. What works for my friend will also work for me

    We often see what other people are doing, whether it’s our friends or someone on social media and we think maybe that’s the magic bullet, maybe that’s what I should do. And we get a couple soundbites of information and start to “follow” that.

    The truth is, we must also consider our own goals, our own body, and do so with more information than a couple bullet points. As much as the human body is the same, and much of biology doesn’t change person-to-person, lifestyle and wellness are not one-size-fits-all. We have to find what works for ourselves and our bodies.

    Not what our friend does, or our parents try, but what is truly good for our own health—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. 

  3. The cheat day/meal is how we create balance

    This is a big one. Many have the “cheat” meal or the “cheat day” but often this causes people to feel like they have to be perfect at all other times. This adds fuel to the fire of a mentality that is anything but balanced.

    It’s a mindset of on/off the plan, good/bad meals or foods, black and white thinking. Instead, consider balance as living in the grey area. We make the best choices we can most of the time, all the time. It’s a little bit of indulgence as part of the plan.

    Learning to live in the grey area, between black and white, avoiding the extremes is how we create balance. 

  4. If I cut out carbs I will lose weight

    AHHHH. This is huge. And sometimes it’s not carbs, sometimes, it’s another food group, but carbs are a big one. First, our body needs carbs. Carbohydrates are the preferred form of fuel for the body. However, we must consider what kind of carbs.

    We want to focus on carbs like fiber and primarily from veggies and fruit. Most people don’t think of these when they say “carbs,” but yes, these are carbs and they are important for our nutrition. We want to be careful when our approach is to eliminate an entire food group. It’s not the best for removing fat and it’s not the best for long-term health. 

  5. I can just workout and eat whatever I want

    This goes back to the first one and that idea of calories in, calories out. Unfortunately, when we workout, we can’t tell our bodies to burn the potato chips. Plus, our nutrition is how we feel that performance in the gym or on your run. But taking a step back, on a perfect week, how often do you exercise? Maybe 7 times.

    And how many times do you eat? Probably 21 if you’re eating 3 meals per day (which we all should be, at a minimum). This just doesn’t balance out when you think of it by the numbers. We could get deep into the science of it but to put it simply: when the objective is health, you can’t outrun your fork. 
3. Where did you study nutrition science and why did you choose it as a career? 

Funny, I feel like it chose me. In my own weight management saga (the word journey doesn’t do it justice) I tried everything. There isn’t a diet out there that I haven’t done, my family hasn’t done or we don’t know someone who’s done it. 

Much of the science I learned from a variety of books. One, on which the program I teach is based, is called “Dare to Lose” by Dr. Shari Lieberman. I also learned a ton from another book “Ultraprevention” from Mark Hyman and Mark Liponis.

But I received certification through the program I teach and continued my education through countless other workshops and seminars over the years. Also, I came to this after accumulating a lifetime of experience in the psychology of eating and weight loss.

I became interested in science because that was way for all of these “guidelines.” Now, if it had it to do again, I’d consider medical school. One of the biggest shifts for me, as a result of learning this information, is that food decisions became intellectual instead of emotional.

The more I learned, the more empowered I was, the more in control I was. It’s this transformation that I help others create. I chose it as a career because of the impact it had on my own life and the freedom and liberation I knew it could help others create, as well. 

4. How can one go about building their immunity? 

When it comes to boosting our immune health, we want to take a multi-faceted approach and employ the pieces that will work for each of us. I have three main tips for keeping our immune system its happiest and healthiest. 

  1. The first being is focusing on gut health. Eating proper nutrition such as fruits and vegetables, rather than overdoing the grains, our gut will be much happier. Fiber is like scrubbing bubbles of our intestines.

    Our intestines are where we absorb nutrients from our food which is key for proper metabolic function and proper function of every cell in our bodies. In addition, some experts will say upwards of 80% but I like to say upwards of 70% of our immune system is in our gut.

    Gut health is key to overall health and a robust immune system. Some great nutritious foods to pick from are citrus fruits, almonds, broccoli, turmeric, kiwis, garlic, ginger, mushrooms, and sunflower seeds, among others! 

  2. The second key step is to consider taking some immune-boosting nutritional supplements. My personal favorites are Vitamin D3 (with k2) in the therapeutic dosage of 5000 IU’s per day, Aloe, and beta-glucans.

    Both aloe and beta-glucans are anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-inflammatory - what’s not to love? With all supplement choices, make sure you are conducting your own research or enlisting a trusted advisor to help make the best decision for you and your body. I’m happy to send links to my favorites if that would be helpful. 

  3. Lastly, and this one many don’t realize managing stress. When our body is in that fight or flight mode, the body shuts down any process that is not critical to survival at that moment.

    That includes our metabolism, our reproductive system, and our immune system (this is just the tip of the iceberg). This stress response is about survival and critical for life when we were cavemen and hunters/gatherers. But our world has evolved much faster than our biology.

    Our stressors now are the alarm going off in the morning, the sound of a text coming in, looking at our inboxes, thinking about a conversation that has yet to happen, or rehashing one that already happened.

    These stressors happen almost every minute, triggering that biological response that once saved us when being chased by a Saber-Toothed Tiger. That biological response that once saved our lives may now be one cause of our demise. This is a bit dramatic but it’s true. Manage stress to support your immune system. 
5. What are some of the mistakes people make while trying to lose weight? 

Ooof! I think many are the myths we discussed before. But, I just have to say, I’ve been there. Trying every diet we can find, until we realize that no diet is ever going to be sustainable or successful enough to help us accomplish our wellness goals. Some of the biggest culprits of this mayhem are fad diets, calorie restriction, and crash dieting. 

So many diets brand themselves as being “the one.” They just end up being “another one” that doesn’t work for the long-term! By participating in fad diets, we are confusing our body’s natural system. Tactics usually associated with these plans are restricting calories and/or eliminating whole food groups. 

In the short term, the number on the scale goes down. But we actually lose that weight as muscle and water. Then because that eating style isn’t sustainable, we go back to old eating habits but we now have less, metabolically-active muscle on our bodies to be burning that fuel and we gain the weight back as fat. 

So if we go back to the same number on the scale as we were before, we think we’re back to square one. But when we look at body composition, we’re actually fatter at the same number. We lose it as water and muscle, gain it back as fat; lose it as water and muscle, gain it back as fat. That’s the yo-yo. 

The other big challenge here is that often when we can’t “stick” with the eating plan of drastic calorie restriction or never eating a granule of sugar ever again, we think we failed. We think we just don’t have the willpower. That’s not true at all. You haven’t failed. The “diet” failed you because it wasn’t designed to be able to be followed forever. 

Weight loss isn’t magic, it’s science. It’s just not the science of calories in, calories out the way we’ve been told. 

Similarly, people trying to crash diet the week before an event. This sends the body into what we call the starvation response. We stop eating (sufficiently) and how the body, in its caveman wisdom, thinks it’s a time of famine. It doesn’t realize there’s a refrigerator full of food we’re simply choosing not to eat.

It thinks it’s a time of famine. So it says OK, I’m going to survive. The way I do that twofold: slow down the metabolism/not burn as much and hold onto the next thing I get, store it as the fuel that I can use later when I need it. That’s fat! Fat is fuel stored to be used later.

The same thing happens when we don’t eat for extended periods, like not eating most of the day and then having dinner. Even if what we eat for dinner is the plainest of the plain steamed fish and vegetables, your body will store the steamed fish and vegetables as fat. 

The big thing to remember here is, we have to pay attention to more than just the number on the scale. We want to look at body fat %, body composition to determine our health and our progress. 

6. What comprises a sustainable diet that is good for maintaining a healthy weight and BMI? 

So first, I’m not a fan of BMI. BMI is based on height and weight, sometimes also including age. Someone could be 5’7” and 160lbs of muscle, another person could be 5’7” and 160lbs of fat. Their BMI would be the same but their health outlook, dramatically different. 

Having said that, I have a saying I tell all my clients and podcast listeners: “Protein and fiber at every meal make removing fat no big deal.” Protein is clean, lean protein (you decide to plant or animal source); fiber is vegetables and sometimes fruit.

A meal is really any time we eat. The only difference between a meal and a snack is how much we have. Also, we want to eat quality fat a couple times per day. Finally, we must fuel regularly. Our body needs to know it can burn what it gets and it will get more. 

By giving our body nutrition and the proper fuel it needs, we allow the furnace to burn...consistently. 

Another key component is muscle. Muscle is metabolically active, which for my non-fitness experts, basically means that the more muscle you have the more fuel you burn all the time, even when sitting on your couch- woohoo! So we must build muscle. 

The key to a sustainable diet that supports your health, a healthy weight, and healthy body composition is this (another mantra for you): Quality in, quality out, get up, and move more. 

7. Which is your favorite book & why?" 

Oh wow. This is a tough one for me. I’m a BIG reader. For fiction books, I love all of Jodi Picoult’s books. A non-fiction favorite is one many of you probably haven’t heard of is called “Six Months to Six Figures” by Peter Voogd.

A favorite quote: Those who live at a world-class level, learn from others to shorten their learning curve. 

Instagram ID - @jenntrepeck

Jennifer Trepeck

Jennifer Trepeck is described as a “force of nature" in wellness. She is an Optimal Health Coach, Podcaster, and Business Consultant. After graduating from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, Jenn founded Better Life Now LLC while working full time in hedge funds. 

After over a decade of coaching clients, Jenn started Salad with a Side of Fries Podcast to help pay it forward and reach a larger audience to teach the nutrition education we are all supposed to know but no one ever taught us. 

Jenn implements revenue-generating wellness programs in doctors' offices, salons, and spas to further expand the impact and help change the state of healthcare as a Certified Transitions Lifestyle Coach and Consultant with nutraMetrix Custom Health Solutions. 

When not hunkered down at home during a pandemic, Jenn is typically working out at Physique57, discovering hidden gem restaurants in NYC, or traveling to spend time with friends and family. 

Instagram and Twitter handles are both @JennTrepeck. People can also sign up for Jenn newsletter at www.saladwithasideoffriespodcast.com and learn more about her and all she does at www.betterlifenowllc.com.

Jennifer Trepeck

Optimal Health Coach, Podcaster, and Business Consultant

Interviewed By - Aditi Ashok

Post a comment

0 Comments