Food + Exercise Aren’t The Enemy… Living Neutral Without Restriction Feat. Steph Gaudreau

core connections mindfulness movement nutrition Aug 13, 2019

Steph Gaudreau joins us to have an honest conversation about how in some small way, we’re all connected by the same story. A story that presents food as the enemy, makes you cringe when you hear the word exercise and puts weight loss on a pedestal.

But it’s more than the food you eat and it’s more than the exercise that you do. Join us to learn how to listen to your body while presenting nutrition, health + fitness in a new way because you deserve to take care of yourself no matter what body you’re in.


Steph Gaudreau is a Nutritional Therapy Consultant, strength coach, podcaster, and the author of The Core 4: Embrace Your Body, Own Your Power and Performance Paleo Cookbook. Her recipes and expert advice have been featured in SELF, Outside Magazine, Elle, and Greatist. Steph loves barbells, cats and anything Lord of the Rings. She lives in San Diego, CA.


A lot of what Steph has experienced has influenced what she’s doing today. When she thinks about what makes her uniquely positioned to do this work it comes from the fact that her story is extremely common with a lot of other women. This allows her to relate to what so many women are struggling with when it comes to their weight, dieting and trying to find their way to be healthier while navigating a confusing space.

Throughout Steph’s childhood, family members would make comments about her weight, she was the first girl in her 5th-grade class to go through puberty and she would constantly compare herself to her taller + thinner sister. This lead Steph to develop a sense very early on that there was something wrong with her body. 

Senior year of high school, Steph stopped playing sports and took on a job at a grocery store instead. Needless to say, her body got bigger after the decline of physical activity. That’s when she began addressing her weight through diet + exercise but it became a dysfunctional relationship. It was done in a way of self-punishment rather than self-care.

As this relationship continued based off the foundation of animosity, Steph began to race mountain bikes and do off-road triathlons. Training started to take up more and more of her time until food became the enemy and she developed a distorted view of her body. 

After one of her races, her husband at the time took a picture of her and when she saw that photo her first reaction was, “You look disgusting.” The person that she saw in that photo was never going to be thin enough + never going to be good enough.

In 2010, Steph became burnt out on racing, over-exercising and not eating enough. That led her to change her nutrition, fitness routine and how she viewed herself in those spaces. She began this journey of healing her own relationship with food and movement which has continued to evolve into coaching other women who have had similar experiences.


Most of the time, people correlate healthier eating, dieting and even lifestyle change with cutting out every single food that they enjoy because it’s all about reduction. These diets last as long as your will power lasts and that usually is a week or two until it all falls apart. The strict regulations that get put on what one eats within a diet doesn’t allow them to live + enjoy life.

Steph wants you to take an additive approach when it comes to what you eat. Instead of coming in and slashing every food that’s familiar and enjoyable, start by adding something new to your plate.

This way of presenting nutrition to people has a couple of functions: 

1. You’re not sending your brain into panic mode by taking every food away that you’re familiar with.

2. It helps you build small wins that eventually over time will create a new palate of nutritious foods that you enjoy.


There are two things that come into play when we start to talk about listening to your body. One is the intuitive, inner knowing, gut feeling piece. The part of the brain that deals with this feeling is the limbic brain and it doesn’t have the capacity for language. So, when people are talking about intuition, it’s really hard to describe what they mean.

The other piece is interoceptive awareness. Steph thinks that this is something that people can learn to connect to better because it’s more science-based. Interoceptive awareness is the recognition of inner body sensations such as your bladder being full, tiredness, hunger, knowing when your stomach’s full + even emotions. The more you start to connect + bring awareness to your body, the more powerful it is.


The last piece that Steph wanted to leave us with is this concept of being in a neutral place with our body. Ten years ago, this concept of self-love wasn’t buzzing around society like it is today. While Steph appreciates the concept of loving yourself, she believes that if you are in a negative spot with how you see yourself + your body the idea of flipping to self-love is unrealistic.

This is where neutrality comes into play. Neutrality is when you enter a much more neutral space with how you view your body + how you care for yourself. A lot of women think that they have to earn this scale weight in order to deserve taking care of themselves. It’s this idea that once you get to that point, you can stop restricting your food and punishing yourself through exercise and start loving yourself. This is an unhealthy way of beating yourself up because of the number that you haven’t seen on the scale yet. 

Neutrality can allow you to not spend most of your time negatively viewing your body while also not spending most of your time loving every part of yourself. There can be self-care from a place of self-respect of where you are at and where you want to be. You can still have things about yourself that you don’t love while still having compassion for yourself.

You deserve to take care of yourself today. No matter what body you’re in.




Get your hands on Steph's NEW book: The Core 4


The material contained within is provided for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult your physician before beginning a new regiment or purchasing any product(s).

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