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Healing Nutrition with Nati Valderrama

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In this week’s episode we talk with Nati Valderrama, a bilingual Health and Wellness Coach who helps people live healthier and more integrated, balanced lives. She has built a community of over 50k Instagram followers. She coaches around the world, including teaching workshops, both in English and Spanish in Santiago, Chile, where she is based. 

In our conversation, we look at what body positivity really means, how health and nutrition affect our relationships, the effect of social media on personal image, and what it means to lead a “balanced” life. 

Body Image

Nati’s journey did not follow a straight path. She boomeranged from hating her body to becoming a “before-and-after” influencer on Instagram, back to relaxing her diet and self-loathing, before she found what really makes her happy. Nati was able to center herself and her vision after studying at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, where she learned that eating right and exercising is not all there is to being healthy and balanced. Exercise shouldn’t be motivated by losing weight, but instead because you love your body and want to treat it well. 

“It has been quite the journey to get to this career choice. I have had quite the love-hate relationship with my body, during most of my life.”

The Right Kind of Goal

Fitting into the dress, or looking good in the bikini pics, only gets you so far. Then what? Nati stresses that the goal should not be shedding some weight, it should be shedding beauty standards that hold power against us. It shouldn’t be “I want to lose 10 pounds,” instead, “I want to feel strong. I want to feel confident.” 

Dialoguing with Family 

While Nati’s social media experience certainly impacted her desire to get thinner, she also frequently received comments about needing to lose weight from her mom. She says the first step to talking with family is being okay with yourself and feeling comfortable in your body, otherwise it may be hard to talk back. It is important to set clear boundaries about hurtful comments, but you don’t want to just attack back. Instead, state your feelings and explain why you don’t want to hear things like that anymore. 

“At first I would just take my mom’s comments and internalize them….I think it is important to set that boundary and say, no, this is not okay.”

Social Media: A Double-Edged Sword

Nati pulled back on her social media use once she realized it was affecting her mental health. She says it is important to be cognizant of who you are following, what effect that has on you, and the effect your posts may have on others. It is important to limit your time and make sure you are actually getting something out of it. For Nati, putting her phone on airplane mode every night and only turning it back off in the morning once she needs to has helped her get time away from screens. If you find yourself just scrolling and scrolling, she suggests deleting Instagram for a week and seeing what you learn about yourself. 

“Kids these days do not even know a life before social media. And I think that is very dangerous. Not being able to step back from it and find happiness outside of it.”

The Two Food Groups

An important step towards a healthy self is understanding primary foods and secondary foods. Primary foods are what feed the soul, such as your career, relationships, physical activity and spirituality. Only once those are fulfilled can we focus on “secondary food,” which are the things we actually eat and drink. Nati recalls a client who struggled with binge eating. However, during one of their sessions, they realized that her social live was lacking. Once she began spending more time with friends, it was easier to help curb her problems with “secondary foods.” 

“I want to hear men being vulnerable and speaking about how [body shaming] has affected them. Because this is affecting them, too.” 

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