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Food Philosophy with Holistic Health Coach Jeff Theis

Husband, father, businessman, and eternal optimist

Jeff, tell us about yourself:


Upon graduation from University of Texas at Austin, where I met my wife Robin, we moved immediately to New York City for five years. We had our son Mason and had an "oh crap, we don't have enough space" moment, moved to Chicago where we spent two years, decided we were SO OVER winters, and moved back to Austin where we've been for three years. 


I'm a Certified Holistic Health Coach from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and Vice President of Sales for Everyday Health. Picnik has played a vital role in my family's health and happiness.  It really has become a second home to us, and it's the nourishment from the people and employees that is the real magic (in addition to the food).


Tell us about your daily practices:


A consistent morning (and night time!) routine is important to me because:

1) It fulfills my basic human need for certainty.

2) It eliminates wasted days.

3) It generates momentum for the rest of the day. 


My morning routine includes meditation (my indulgence of the mind), prayer, reading, gratitude journaling, "gut smashing", playing Legos with my 5 year old son Mason, and of course, drinking a butter coffee. 


These daily, morning rituals I hold sacred because they ensure that when I show up for the people in my life, I'm serving them from my overflow and they're receiving the best version of me.  


What's your go-to recipe? Your favorite splurge food?


Food is so intimate; it's something external and foreign that becomes internal and a part of us.  I love preparing meals for my friends and family; when others trust me with that responsibility, I take great pride in it. 


My favorite recipe is hands down Julie Bauer's (@paleomg) gluten free pizza crust.  Pizza night is a sacred ritual in our home that started when we lived in New York City.  We were so clear on what we were saying "yes" to on Friday nights that we could so easily say "no" to any social events that stood in the way.  


Five years in NYC, two years in Chicago, and now three years in Austin, and I can count on one hand the number of nights we've "missed" a pizza night.  As far as indulgences go, I don't look at foods any more as "treats" or "cheats" because I've shifted from a deprivation mindset with food to an abundance mindset.


When I feed my body high-quality, whole foods then that in and of itself is an indulgence!  That said, Picnik blondies, blondie ice cream sandwiches, and Eating Evolved coconut cups are my favorite indulgences. 


My favorite non-food indulgence is a 60-minute float tank session at Zero Gravity Institute.  


What is your food philosophy. Do you follow a specific diet or have you created something tailored specifically for you? 


We all love to put labels on things, myself included; good/bad, right/wrong, paleo/vegan. I think we do this because we all want to feel connected to something, to be a part of something bigger than our individual selves.  However, labeling also has the power to separate us.  I believe when you compare yourself, you silence your creator. 


That said, what works for me personally is Intermittent Fasting (IF) and a food protocol that is "paleo-ish".  I've followed this combo of IF and "paleo-ish" for three years, and it has transformed me physically and mentally.  Whether it's IF, paleo, vegan, etc. all of those are simply starting points; not the finish line. 


I'd also add to my food philosophy the difference between primary food and secondary food.  We all think of the food on the plate as our primary food, but that's really secondary.  Primary food is our relationships, exercise, spiritual practices, and career; it's the food we need to live meaningful lives.  I know a lot of unhappy people that eat a lot of kale. There's so much more than "abs are made in the kitchen" and so much more than "getting 60 minutes of exercise per day." The other 23 hours hold so much more importance; what are you doing outside of eating and training, how's the quality of your sleep, how are you handling stress, when was the last time you did something new, just for fun? These are the types of questions I'm interested in.


What is your favorite way to move your body? How has exercise evolved for you over the years?


From 2010-2014, I averaged 2-3 marathons per year.  I was CONSTANTLY training which lead to chronic over use and constant injury.  However, I always ran through the pain (foolishly).  When I reflect back on that period of marathon obsession, I realize I wasn't just running towards a goal...I was also running away from something; my fear of getting fat again.  I believed pounding out 60+ mile weeks would not only help me achieve my goal of a 3 hour marathon (which I accomplished) but would also help me never return to my childhood days of being overweight/obese. 


However, when you combine that style of exercise with a processed food heavy, gluten heavy diet - it's a disastrous combination of irritation and inflammation.  Since then, I've transitioned to Cross Fit and it's been a game changer that I consider an indulgence for my body.  When I show up, it's a "get to" attitude rather than "have to" attitude." I used marathon running as a means of punishment for something I ate the day before or as a means of creating a calorie deficit to justify something I planned to eat later in the day.  Now, my mindset has evolved from "diet and exercise" to "eat and train;" the latter ALWAYS has a clear goal and is functional.  


Who do you look up to? Where do you find inspiration when needed?


Shawn Stevenson (@shawnmodel) has been my greatest teacher over the last 3 years along with Tim Ferriss (@timferriss).  My son Mason also teaches me daily that all options are on the table and anything can be imagineered into existence. They've all taught me the importance of learning to live rather than living to achieve.  


If you could have a one-way flight to anywhere in the world, where would it be? Why?


My wife and I are homebodies, and I think that's translated into where me and my family travel because we don't really go abroad.  Some of our favorite places include Scottsdale, Santa Barbara, and Santa Monica.  But if we're dreaming big here and going one way, send me to Tuscany!  I'll take charcuterie and wine all day every day.  


What is your favorite thing to eat or drink at Picnik?


Harvest hash from the restaurant, chicken club collard wrap from the trailer (please bring it back!), and here's something only the old school, original Picnik lovers will remember from the OG trailer - the protein box.  It was 2 balsamic glazed eggs with 2 pieces of bacon.  So simple, so delicious!


If you had one piece of advice for someone just starting their wellness journey, what would it be?


Fall in love with the process, and the results will come.

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