Ep.73: Rule Breakers Weight Loss with Cassie Bjork
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Today, I invite my friend, Cassie Bjork to the show to tell us how to break the rules! She is a globally recognized industry leader in weight loss, a highly sought-after speaker, and the #1 International Best Selling Author of Why Am I Still Fat? The Hidden Keys to Unlocking That Stubborn Weight Loss. She is also the founder of the VeroVive™ vitamin line at RFvitamins.com.
Cassie is the creator of the Rule Breakers Weight Loss Coaching Program that uses her proprietary methodology to help members lose weight and keep it off — FOR GOOD. For more than a decade, she has helped tens of thousands of people achieve the bodies they want—not by starving or skimping, but by feeding themselves foods that fuel effective and sustainable weight loss. When Cassie isn’t busy connecting with her audiences, she loves doing Crossfit workouts, yoga, paddleboarding the lakes of Minneapolis in the summer, and beach runs in San Diego during the winter.
The Minnesota Board of Nutrition and Dietetics targeted her for breaking the rules with her approach to nutrition and health, causing her to fight for 5 1/2 years to keep her license. I want you to hear her story and learn about the rules that are meant to be broken, and why Cassie ended up relinquishing her license after a nearly 6 year battle.
LINKS AND RESOURCES:
Get FREE access to Eat More to Lose More: The New Rules of Dieting Online Training: HERE
Grab your free guide 10 Rules to Break to Lose Weight
Robyn: Hello everyone, and welcome back to Vibe. I’m your host, Robyn Openshaw, and today I have a very interesting guest that I think you’re going to enjoy. It’s my friend, Cassie Bjork.
She is a globally recognized industry leader in weight loss. She’s a speaker; she’s the number one international bestselling author of Why Am I Still Fat?: The Hidden Keys to Unlocking That Stubborn Weight Loss. And, really, the reason I wanted to have Cassie on the show is that I tripped on her personal Facebook page (I think because we’re friends), and I read this astonishing story that she wrote up about how she let go of her dietician license.
She was targeted by the licensing organizing board, and I want to hear that story. I wanted to learn more about it, and the reason is that I feel like the American Dietetics Association is corrupt; and I really want to help you know what is behind some of these industries that are the ones who are putting all this information out there about nutrition that might be flawed; it might be problematic.
Before I welcome Cassie to the show, I want you to know she’s the creator of the Rule Breakers weight loss coaching program. And I love that, because I like to break rules that are meant to be broken – the rules that have been around for like 170 years, like the whole idea that we should count calories.
She has a proprietary methodology to lose weight, and keep it off for good. For over 10 years, she’s helped tens of thousands of people achieve the bodies they want; not by starving or skipping, but by feeding themselves foods that fuel effective and sustainable weight loss.
She was a registered dietician, but the not the stereotypical type. So, I want to hear her story. Welcome to the show, Cassie Bjork.
Cassie: Thanks, Robyn.
I’m really excited to be here, and dive into a lot of the shadiness; and I’m really glad to hear that you’re a fellow rule breaker as well. I know that and love that about you, so I think we’re just going to really, really connect and just share a lot of eye-opening stuff here today.
Robyn: We’re going to talk openly. Now, you don’t have a license to lose. You gave it up; you gave it up voluntarily, which I think was brave and courageous, and I’m glad that you’re not being quiet about it, and you’re speaking out about it, because it’s not just the dieticians who are influenced; it’s all the people who are following their counsel. And it’s not that dieticians are bad people, it’s just that you’re receiving a really specific type of education.
So, tell us the story. Don’t you have to get an advanced degree to be a dietician? Tell us the story, of how you went from investing so much of your life in this specific education – to ditching it.
Cassie: I’m glad you pointed that out, too, because I remember in school, only half of my graduating class that went to school for nutrition dietetics even got an internship, which you need to go through in order to take the exam. And then even then, a smaller percentage of people passed the exam to become a dietician, so it was a lot of work.
I just want to clarify, I was so proud to get my license and to become a dietician. I worked so hard for it; I strived for it, and the day I got it, I was so proud of myself. And, because I really valued those credentials, I worked really hard to get them, and I worked really hard to keep them as well.
So, while I feel really good about how things are right now – and I’m going to dive into this whole thing and how this came about – it’s really been a heartbreaking process for me in a lot of ways.
I’ll just kind of back up a little bit. I became a dietician because I had passion for nutrition, and fitness, and helping people, and I knew that food was one of the answers to living life to our fullest potential. So that was my focus, that was the bullseye. I wanted to learn the rules of food, and how it worked, so that I could help other people follow them, too.
But almost, right away (and I was in my early 20s, Robyn, so maybe I didn’t know how to listen to my intuition as much as I do now) [I gained weight]; I did everything they told me to do in school, and everything that I was learning in the textbooks. I was eating low fat, low calorie; I ate those 100-calorie snack pack like they were going out of style. I was working out like a fiend; I was counting out miles on the treadmill, doing cardio three times a day.
During this time, I gained 20 pounds, and it wasn’t muscle. That was really confusing for me. I doubled down on all these dieting rules; working out harder, eating less, and it didn’t work. I got hungrier and moodier; my waistline kept expanding.
Maybe that should have been my first sign, when I was in school to be a dietician, but I’m stubborn and I just put the shame and the blame on myself, feeling like something was wrong with me, not the process that I was following, and it really wasn’t until …
I remember the day I got a call from my mother, that my father had to be rushed into immediate, major heart surgery, after collapsing while running a race in my hometown.
He was the picture of health; he was physically active, he ate low fat – all the things you should imagine you should do to stay healthy. He was following these same “rules,” or dieting protocols, that I was, and his heart failed him. It was like my last year in dietician school, and I was in his room at the hospital, and the hospital dietician came in and she told him to keep doing the things he’d been doing; avoid fat, eat low calorie, stay active. And I was like, “But he’s already doing those things.” And she’s like, “Good. Keep doing them.” I was like, “Okay. That’s what landed him on your operating table.”
I think for me, Robyn, this was the moment, the huge wake up call, the beginning of my journey: having to figure things out on my own, because what I was taught in school wasn’t working for me, wasn’t working for my dad. It was really that moment, in the hospital, looking at my dad on this operating table. That was when I saw the life and the death possibility of following all of these outdated protocols that they’re teaching in dietician school, still to this day.
Robyn: Let’s break it down a little bit. What is the problem with valuating our food based on, for instance, let’s start with calories?
Cassie: That’s a really good place to start. I think the problem with calories is this; they’re still teaching to this day in school that you need to figure out the exact equation for home many calories you’re taking in and burning, and to just eat less and burn more off.
The thing is, your metabolism and your body… there’s so much more to it than just calories. You have to take into account your hormones, your thyroid function, your stress, your sleep, your activity. There’s all these other factors, so it doesn’t really make sense to just boil it down to a single unit of energy.
And when you’re on a quest to boost metabolism, and lose weight, and keep it off forever (which I’ve helped thousands of women do over the past 10 years, so I’ve got a lot of experience with this), realize that counting calories is actually the last thing you want to be doing, because they’re energy; and we need to fuel our metabolism.
It’s kind of like, if you had a fire and you wanted to keep it burning, you’d throw wood on it. If you took away the wood, the fire would eventually stop burning. Your metabolism works in that same way. You need to fuel it, to keep it burning strong.
That’s why when people follow these calorie-counting diets (we’ve all done it; we feel tired and irritable and hungry, and we have outrageous cravings, and headaches, and low energy levels), you can lose weight; but then what usually happens is the weight comes back on anyway, once you start eating again, because your body doesn’t trust you and it doesn’t know when you’re going to starve it again.
So it’s like those lose-lose situation. If you eat fewer calories, your body burns fewer calories. So, we want to eat more of the right types of calories so that your metabolism can burn.
Robyn: So, are there some high-calorie foods that are good for us, and are there some low-calorie foods that are bad for us?
Cassie: Yes. I mean, I’m a big fan of butter. I’m kind of known as the dietician who promotes butter and coconut oil and avocados; all of those healthy fats.
I remember, when I was in school to be a dietician, there was a test question; it asked, “What was the best food to eat to lose weight?” Avocado was on there, but so was a 100-calorie pack of Ritz crackers. And I knew in my heart of hearts that an avocado, a real food, is going to be better for you than this processed little package of crackers. But that was actually the answer on the test, the crackers, because it was lower in calories.
Robyn: Wow. That’s a bad education right there. And what’s the game?
Let’s back up, and we’re a food manufacturer; what’s the game that they’re playing here with the 100-calorie Ritz cracker snack packs?
Cassie: You know, I’ve kind of found that, anytime there’s something that you’re questioning, anytime there’s something that just seems shady – especially when it has to do with business, and especially when it has to do with bureaucracy – the answer usually lies with, “Follow the money.”
I remember the first time I went to this dietician conference: it was the Food and Nutrition conference and expo, the annual conference for all these health care professionals.
I was shocked to see an entire tent set up by Pepsi; they were sponsoring a calorie counting campaign. I couldn’t make sense as to why Pepsi was sponsoring this event… and then I saw Splenda, and then I saw McDonald’s giving out little fruit and yogurt parfaits, and Splenda had the little packets for the coffees, and I was like, “What? This doesn’t make sense.” But you know what? Their presence played more of a role than I even realized.
This was a huge “a-ha” moment for me, because this relationship between big food and certifying boards is really frightening.
Robyn: I agree; and I’ve seen an article by a dietician who went to the ADA conference. She kind of logged all of the sponsors there, and these people are actually paying for the conference.
So, what does that do to a dietician who wants to speak up? What is your governing board in these agencies?
Are they going to feel hamstrung by the fact they can’t speak up against these industries, who are counter to public health interests? Right?
Cassie: Exactly. And even to this day, Robyn, The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is sponsored by a lot of these big food companies, and they’re taking money from them. No wonder our continuing education credits and such are just skewed, and it’s flawed information. Even to this day, Splenda, The Dairy Council, these sugar producers, milk company – all these places are sponsoring where dieticians get their education.
For me, I’ve never been one to just bash the dietician industry, I’ve just been open about, this is what happened in my education, and this was really confusing for me, and this is why, in our programs, we don’t focus on low fat or low calories because we know that there’s so much more that goes into it.
I started to really dive into the research, back when I was gaining all that weight and my dad had to have that emergency heart surgery. I started to really question all of these rules that I was taught, and I set out to read all the nutrition research I could get my hands on. I was kind of a nerd; a research nerd.
I couldn’t believe what I discovered. It was like everything I learned in school was backwards. The research showed that cholesterol wasn’t the villain we were told it was, it was actually an essential nutrient – and that high fat diets weren’t unhealthy at all. In fact, they actually appear to be more beneficial than the high carb diet, because of how they regulate blood sugar and insulin.
That’s when I learned there was so much more that goes into metabolism and weight loss than just calories. We’ve got to look at hormones, and thyroid function, and stress, and sleep.
All of these things brought up some really big questions for me, like, “Why is the foundation of the government dietary recommendation, the food pyramid, why is it carbs? Why was I seeing, on that dietician license exam, that the 100 calorie pack is preferable to half of an avocado? Why is our nation consistently getting more overweight, and disease-ridden, if these approaches were supposed to work?”
So, even though I earned my dietician license, and I was proud of it, I had to teach what I knew to be true and right. And that’s what I was finding; fat is important for metabolism, and so are calories, as long as they’re from the right foods. And those long-winded hamster wheel workouts? They can actually backfire and cause weight gain. Every new piece of information I was learning really bucked the rules that I was taught in dietician school.
What happened is, I started to apply each new piece of information to my own life, and that’s when I began to change. My energy levels went up, my cravings disappeared, the pounds came off, and I knew I was onto something.
This research really became the foundation for what you mentioned earlier, our Rule Breakers weight loss coaching program. So then what happened was, over the next eight, nine years, we helped thousands of women and men lose weight and keep it off. Not by calorie counting and eating low fat, but by actually getting to the root of what’s really going on, and looking at all of these factors outside of just food.
And our approach worked. Our clients were shedding weight, and gaining energy, and healing chronic ailments, and tapping into new levels physically, mentally, spiritually. And it only worked because I was rejecting these outdated rules of traditional dietician training; these rules, the very rules that I was obligated to uphold as a licensed dietician.
Robyn: I think that there are more dieticians who are starting to self-teach, and go outside of the narrow lanes of what they were taught in the actual program in the four-year university setting. And there are a lot of them who are discovering these same truths that you are.
But there are even more who are feeding their clients in a hospital setting, or a school setting, by putting variables into a computer program and having it spit out a bunch of hamburger and white flour processed garbage dairy products, sugar menus. These people are just following the rules, and feeding people a really terrible diet, in school settings and hospital settings in particular. I think it’s disturbing what we’re feeding kids in school, and what we’re feeding patients in hospitals. How about you?
Cassie: Totally. There’s a lot of dieticians that are still doing that. And I do want to say, I’m not saying that all dieticians are bad or wrong. Certainly, I think a lot of them are teaching us outdated information that’s really making people fatter and sicker, and that’s really frustrating to me.
I think what’s really interesting and confusing is the fact that things are actually different state to state, and they’re not uniform across the board. Once I came out with my story, I had dieticians around the nation sharing their experiences. Some had given up their license, just like me, some had not pursued it because they were aware of all the shadiness so they just kind of [quit]. They were in dietician school, and they stopped. They didn’t get it.
Several actually said that their experience wasn’t like mine, or that they’re teaching the same holistic methods that I’m teaching without being handcuffed. Of course, a lot of other dieticians were messaging me in fear, too, that they might face legal action from their governing boards if they continue to teach what they know is true, and what works.
I really came to realize, when I came out with all of this, that there’s a huge disparity across our nation in regards to what is taught in the classrooms, as well as how the bureaucracy works from state to state. I think it shows a huge gap in how this industry is regulated, and how it’s so different, and how there’s not “one size fits all.” I think that’s really scary.
Robyn: You’re smart that you’re doing business online now, and I think you’ll have a bigger impact that way than a lot of the dieticians who are working in a hospital or a school or whatever. But you’re able to let go of your license because of that, because you are forging your own voice.
You’ve been on a lot of media, you’ve been on CBS, ABC, CNN, Time, Cosmopolitan, Huffington Post, so you’re doing great work out there. Letting go of your dietician’s license, and then speaking freely is [admirable], I think you have a really bright career in front of you.
Tell us a little bit about how you sort of got persecuted, and how you, rather than fight anymore, you finally just gave up your dietician’s license. What was that like for you? What were they picking on you about?
Cassie: Well, they were picking on me because I was talking about a lot of things that didn’t have to do with food. The sad thing is, they really wanted me to just talk about food.
What’s also confusing me is, when I would go to get my continuing education credits, I was looking at a lot of things other than food. I was learning about thyroid, I was learning about supplements, I was learning about hormones. Just to back up…
It was only a few years into my career; that that’s when it happened. The Minnesota Board of Nutrition and Dietetics served me with papers to cease and desist my approach to weight loss. Almost six years later, I
finally decided to surrender that license.
What they were really coming after me for was, they just didn’t like what I was doing. They didn’t think I should be talking about thyroid, or hormones, or supplements, or really anything other than low fat, no fat, low calorie food. They wanted me to stick to the “rules.” The reason why our approach was working so well, and the reason why my business was growing so much, is because everything I was teaching was about looking at the big picture. Looking at the huge holistic picture; not just looking at food and not just telling people to restrict calories and eat low fat.
So, really, I had a choice; I could change how and what I teach, or I could relinquish my license. And like I said, I didn’t seek to give up my license that I worked so hard for, and it also wasn’t an overnight decision. In a lot of ways, it wasn’t even my decision. It was really forced upon me because, ultimately, they left me with a fork in the road. One side was to limit my capabilities, limit my knowledge, teach what is not aligned and what I don’t believe is right, or, do everything I know is right, actually be able to help more people, and not have a license while I’m doing it.
I could have continued this fight; maybe I would have won, but since this very license isn’t even aligned with what I stand for, I decided to give it up.
You made a really good point, too, Robyn. The timing of this was really interesting, because, after this five and a half year fight, it was almost kismet in a lot of ways.
Our business had grown to the point where we were really starting to scale even more than we had in the past, and I believed so much in everything that I was teaching that I wrapped all these components together that go against what the board was saying I had to teach. I put them all into this massive weight loss program called Rule Breakers, where we have this community, and we have the expert advice, and it’s like this sustainable way to lose weight and keep it off.
So, we were growing and growing and growing and growing, like gangbusters, and that’s when I had to make this decision. And it was kind of just peculiar timing because it just made sense. Was I concerned that I’d take a big hit in the business? I mean, of course. I was anticipating every potential outcome, but I believe so much in what we teach, and how it works, that I couldn’t start underserving our clients by changing everything that we teach.
So, we had this Rule Breakers program, and the fact that we even called it Rule Breakers at the time was maybe a happy accident. We called it that because we’re breaking all these dieting rules, which is why they came after me. So, it’s interesting how everything that happened really aligns with what I’ve been teaching, and just what’s been working.
And it’s scary. I also want to mention that I’m not here to be a fearmonger by any means, but I’m an educator, and I found the school experience to be super educational. And that’s why I really want your listeners to be educated on all of this, too.
Robyn: I do too, and I’d love to run past you a couple things I’ve heard out there over the years, and just get your reaction them, because they stick in my mind. They just go to show not only the level of ignorance of the general population about nutrition, because there are some industries that are behind the information that most of us get, but also the level of ignorance of registered dieticians who are just following the protocols.
Because I really feel like the food manufacturing industry … And that’s actually a bunch of subset industries, and you called it Big Food and sometimes it gets called Big Ag. But food manufacturing can really exploit the whole concept of the calorie. They love it; they can make you little 100 calorie packages of Ritz crackers, they can keep you diverted from the things that matter if they can just slice and dice based on calories.
And I actually think I might take it even a step further than you do; you can comment on this. But I actually feel like getting us to be completely obsessed with macronutrients is also a red herring, because people have been eating 75 percent carbohydrates since the dawn of time. But not Ritz crackers, not bagels.
I don’t think the story is told in getting people to obsess about grams of proteins, fats, and carbs either. I think it’s about the quality, and the type, versus the actual [calorie]. Like how many grams, and what the facts are on the back of the packaged foods.
So why don’t you talk a little bit about macronutrients, because I think that’s another one that the food industry really loves to grab ahold of and keep us super, super focused on, when the story might be told elsewhere, like micronutrients.
Cassie: Totally. We have to think about, why does this calorie counting myth still persist?
If we treat all calories as they’re created equal, then it really doesn’t matter what we eat, right? That’s how they can accept sponsorship dollars, and teach that you can eat anything you want as long as it fits, as long as it comes under this certain caloric limit. If that’s the case, you can drink Diet Pepsi all day long, right?
We were told soda was fine. It’s just empty calories. Then in reality, there’s a lot more to it. It increases risk of serious health conditions, heart disease, type two diabetes, not to mention tooth decay and all this other stuff.
I think that’s the thing; if these certifying boards recognized that the type of calorie, not just the sheer number mattered, then they couldn’t possibly say that these 100-calorie snack packs of Ritz crackers, or diet soda, or regular soda, fit into a healthy diet, because they’d lose that stream of income. So I think they’re calorie blind for a reason, because it keeps them in business.
And I think that is the thing with anything; high carb, high fat. I think, when we become obsessed with any of these macronutrients [weight loss doesn’t happen].
First of all, we know that weight loss isn’t just about food. You can obsess about your food all day long, and get it in the perfect amounts, whatever that means, of protein, fat and carbs. Food definitely matters, I totally believe that food matters and we look at that in our weight loss program, but we have to be looking at all sorts of other factors because, even if you get the food down, if you’re not looking at all the other pieces of the puzzle, your body puzzle, then you can lose weight, but it’s not going to stay off.
A lot of us health care professionals are really familiar with the iconic epic tragic story of how the sugar industry influenced our nation’s eating habits, and the food pyramid, which we’ve used as a basis for “healthy” eating for years. And what happened, if anyone’s not familiar with this, in the 1960s, there was a single study.
It was anonymously funded by the sugar research foundation, and it “proved” that fat causes heart disease and that sugar has little to no effect. And this was absolutely bogus and it was contrary to all other research and all the other studies. But the government used this study as a basis for policy, even though the officials were fully aware that the study was flawed. I can only wonder what the incentive would be here. Just to spell it out, I would think there’s some sort of financial gain, right?
So, in 1980, they published the first dietary guidelines that promoted the low fat, low cholesterol diet, with recommended increase for eating more carbs. So that’s why that whole base of that food pyramid was all carbs. And what happened was, millions of people suffered from this diet, which just made them sick, because the sugar industry used its money and power to manipulate food science and food policy.
And it’s just crazy, and it’s tragic – and scenarios like these are not just from decades ago, either. Even as recently as 2015, the New York Times broke the story that Coca-Cola was paying researchers to conduct studies that would downplay the effects of sugary sodas on obesity. It’s super sketchy, and I think this was the stuff that consumers and the public are not hearing a lot about. Because when this happens, they try to really brush by it, and cover it up, and they don’t want us to know that this is what’s happening in big food or in that whole food industry with the government, how everything is just so shadily intertwined. It’s the fact of the matter; it’s scary.
Robyn: I’m a lot older than you, but I was there. I was a young adult when the whole low fat decade was going on, and we thought that eating low fat dairy products was like a super food.
SnackWell’s was [huge]. A lot of women my age will recall that brand, and it was all about replacing all the fat with extra sugar. And we thought that was better for us, and we ate those 100 calorie things by the dozens and thought that we were being so smart doing it.
And, you know, the Weight Watchers whole thing is exactly what you were talking about before. The calories are the only things that matter. So they just assign points to it to make it super reductionistic and super easy, but they said “There’s no bad foods. Just eat whatever you want. Just stay within these certain number of points.” It was really just a calorie thing.
I don’t know how it’s changed in recent years; I’m not in the weight loss industry like you are, but hopefully they’ve started to really encourage people to eat more fiber-rich, whole foods that have all these synergistic effects and that are nutrient dense. And I know that that’s what you teach, too.
Let me ping you with a couple of things that people have said to me over the years that just completely, for me, highlight what’s wrong with the dietetics industry.
I sat in a talk, when my kids were little, by a dietician who said, “Really, the key to health is to just get as many dairy products in your kids as possible.” And somebody raised their hand and said, “My baby doesn’t like drinking bottles of milk.” And she said, “Well, just add Nestle Quik to it.”
Cassie: Yeah, that’s like adding pure sugar to it. And the dairy myth is a huge one, because we don’t need dairy products. We think about drinking a lot of milk. Milk is for babies to grow; that’s what it’s for. And I know a lot of people get really heated when we talk about taking away their milks. We’re not taking away anybody’s milk here, but we’ve just found that there are a lot of people that are sensitive to it. It can cause you to be more insulinogenic, which just means you store fat easier than when you’re not drinking it.
There’s a lot of issues with, especially, dairy; the quality is different all across the board. So if you’re not having really high quality dairy products, you could be getting a lot of different hormones and things in there that can interfere with your own hormonal balance. It’s one of those really big myths, I think, that we’ve been taught for a long time, like have X amount of glasses of milk per day. And we actually really don’t need it.
Robyn: Yeah, and then I remember years ago, a guy talking to me about, “Hey, what do you do for a living?” And I told him that I’m the owner of GreenSmoothieGirl, and he said, “Oh yeah, we eat really healthy at my house. We put low fat milk on our cereal and stuff like that.”
How do you think the whole dietician and nutritionist industry needs to change from here, going forward? If you were queen of the world for a day, how would you change things so that what happened to you doesn’t happen to others?
Cassie: That’s such a great question. I think it’s really scary when these governing agencies across the country are trying to control who can talk about nutrition and what they can say. I think it’s scary, because those agency recommendations and regulations are so deeply influenced by the food industry. And then those who are speaking out against this unfair control run the risk of legal action, like I did. And the truth tellers, or the people who are really looking the research, end up getting punished, and then ordinary people end up sicker and fatter than ever before. So, I think that there needs to be a big separation there.
I think it’s confusing, too, for people just trying to be healthy. They’re the ones that suffer the most, because they’re trying to make sense of all this conflicting information, and you’ve got dieticians, all sorts of dieticians, that teach all different things. Some people are teaching low fat, some are teaching low calorie, some are teaching low carb; it’s just confusing, and we’re getting these conflicting facts from the government, from the governing bureaucracies, from practitioners.
I think until there’s more accuracy and consistency across the board, it’s really tricky. And that’s why I think it’s important for everyone to kind of be on the defense. And I don’t think it should be like that.
I don’t know about licensure; it’s so hard to say because when I got my dietician license, I was one of those people that was like, “Yeah, you want to only listen to dieticians because we’re registered and licensed and we have the education.” But now, being on this side of it, it’s like, the licensure exists to protect the public, but when it’s so highly regulated by the government, and the government is influenced by the big food funding, and there’s all this shadiness intertwined, I don’t think I can really say that I’m someone who’s a strong promoter of licensure.
So, those are kind of my thoughts as I’m thinking about the answer to your question, Robyn. I think I would change all of those things for starters.
Robyn: It’s funny, when I was growing up in the 1970s, we were taught a completely different food pyramid. As I’ve watched what the government is influenced by, and how it changes, and why it changes, and when you can actually get somebody in the FDA or the ADA or the different agencies to actually talk about their experience there … Usually it’s when they’ve left those posts, you find out how industry-influenced it was.
When I was learning the food pyramid back then, which is a different food pyramid than now, we had to watch this curriculum called Mulligan Stew and I had to take a test. And in my test, I had to talk about how four servings of grains had to be at the very bottom of my pyramid. We had more servings of grains than anything else.
I’m actually not opposed to grains; I think if they’re organic, sprouted, the more alkaline grains the better; the ones that are not being sprayed with Roundup twice, like most wheat products are, but I’m more plant-based. I lean more toward the vegan side than the paleo side, and I know that you line up on the paleo side. And we’re all friends because we get people off of processed food together.
But what was on the actual chart, the actual foods they showed us, were Wonder Bread and crackers. And when they showed us the meat products that I had to eat two of a day, and I had to write that down on my test in second grade, it showed me photos of hot dogs.
So, I don’t know that the final authority should be the dieticians, and the people with the degrees from the credentialed universities. I would like to see education at the universities change. I hope that it changes, and I hope that people like Cassie speaking up, now she has nothing to lose. I hope that it makes a difference, and I don’t think it’s just the dieticians.
I think there’s lots and lots and lots of doctors who’ve even invested more years, and tons more money, and come out of school with tons more debt, and they get into practice and they find out they’re really unhappy there. That they’re having to tell lies, like Cassie feels like there’s a lot of lies out there in the dieting world, and they’re having to sell something they don’t want to sell. It’s that much more expensive for them to get out.
So, I think we’ve got to listen to those who are willing to leave their license on the altar to be able to tell the truth. I think it’s courageous. You may say, “Well, it was taken from me” and that may be the case, but I’m sure it was a long, slow grieving process, and letting-go process. But, girl, I think you’re going to do big things in the world because you lost that license. I really do.
Cassie: Thank you. I think so, too. And I even think one big aspect of my story, and one of the reasons they came after me, is because my platform and brand is as big as it is. Even almost six years ago when I first became a target, it’s only grown since then. Even in my state, it’s not an extremely big market, and (I say this as humbly as possible), I was kind of like the whale in the pond. Or the whale in the 10 thousand lakes of Minnesota.
I think the thing is, I feel so good about this; I fought for so long, and what happened was, when I really sat down, just like by myself in meditation and prayer and just thought like, “What really feels right to me?” What felt right was following my heart, and what I know is true, and integrity for me, and what I believe and what I stand for. And for me, that license just doesn’t align with anything I’m doing anyway, and now it’s like this weight has been lifted. It feels so good; it allows me to put 100 percent of my time, my focus, my energy into my practice that has proven results, instead of fighting this system that does not.
I wish I had all the answers, and the perfect magical phrase, just make everything okay with all of this, but I think that like we were saying, the truth is, even in certain states, a licensed dietician might not be teaching science-based strategies because of all this corruption that has created our guidelines back in the day. And I think what happens is, you just have to kind of be on the lookout and advocate for yourself, and fuel yourself with knowledge so that if you do hire a coach or work with a dietician, you have awareness to know that person is teaching science-based practices. And really to question what you’re hearing.
We’ve had a lot of doctors and dieticians go through our weight loss program, which is kind of ironic, that we have a lot of dieticians that go through it themselves to lose weight, because what they’re doing isn’t working. And I had this doctor, and she said, “I believe in everything you’re doing. Obviously it’s working for me to lose weight. But I can’t teach it to my patients because I’d be at risk of losing my license, too.” And that’s like the saddest thing to me, is she knew it was getting results.
And I wasn’t shaming her at all, I get it; it’s a huge deal to be going totally against what your industry and what the board of your industry wants you to teach. I think it’s scary.
I know that my story is unique to just me, but I think my situation also demonstrates a significant problem in this industry, in its credentialing process, in the governing boards. Not every dietician may run into what I ran into, mine might be one of those outlier situations, but it also could be the beginning of more of this. And that’s really what we don’t know.
Robyn: You know, your story is a perfect example – when we leave talking about nutrition, and we just talk about life for a second – it’s a classic example of how sometimes a bad thing becomes a good thing. It reminds me, Cassie, of the way my whole journey started that led to GreenSmoothieGirl online.
24 years ago, my son was failing. He was failure to thrive; he was below the fifth percentile, he was on antibiotics and steroids, liquid steroids, and fell below the fifth percentile, and was diagnosed failure to thrive. He was dying, and he was in and out of hospitals and emergency rooms. I had to question the orthodoxy, and I had to take a good cold hard look at the treatments he was being prescribed. And then I had to take a good cold hard look at the diet that I was feeding him, which was tons of dairy products and processed food.
When we got off the dairy products and the processed food, overnight, we turned the situation around. Not only have I never had him on an antibiotic steroid or bronchodilator again, but I have never had any of my other three children, to this day, on an antibiotic. I fed him a whole foods diet, and this made all the difference.
A near tragedy, where the little boy almost died many, many, many, many times. Many nights I held him through the night and wondered if we would see morning. Or I held him in an emergency room, or a hospital room. But diet is foundational. It’s not everything, but it’s foundational, and it’s something that we can’t ignore; we have to start there.
Cassie’s doing great things in the world and I have a fun question for you. I wonder if you can give us three actionable tips that most dieticians won’t tell you.
Cassie: Definitely. I would say the first one we’ve covered; stop counting calories. Stop counting calories. I think the second one is, well, stop eating low fat. I think that’s probably the one that frustrates me the most, because that’s what the dietician told my father after his heart surgery, and he needed fat. Fat doesn’t make you fat as long as it’s the right type of fat, like avocados and coconut oil and nuts and seeds and butter and coconut milk and olives.
So, forget everything you’ve heard about the benefits of low fat anything. It’s not a sinful, off limits, bad-for-you food. It can actually help your metabolism, and help you lose weight. And your brain is made up of over 70 percent fat. That’s a huge one, so I wanted to say that.
But I think also, the whole restricting thing, like with not counting calories: Don’t skip meals. I think that’s a big one when people are trying to lose weight. It’s like they try to go as long as they can without eating, and if they’re not starving, they’ll skip meals. But when you’re doing that, your body learns to live in starvation mode, and that can be where your metabolism slows down.
I know there’s a lot of different viewpoints on intermittent fasting, and I’m not sure what you think about that, Robyn. I don’t know a lot about it because that’s just not the approach that we take with our weight loss clients, but what we do is we really try to reset their metabolism by having them eat snacks throughout the day, and eat meals. Eat snacks throughout the day. And that helps to just keep their metabolism boosted.
When metabolism slows down, it hangs onto extra energy, and then turns it into fat because it thinks it’s going to need to use those reserves as fuel at some point, if you’re skipping meals. Not only does it damage your metabolism, but it really is exhausting, and sucks the life out of you.
So, I would recommend eat when you’re hungry. Eat when you’re hungry, don’t deprive yourself, don’t eat low fat. I think that this is really not about dieting or counting calories or restricting or starving or working out until you drop. It’s about breaking the rules that never worked to your advantage, and discovering what does.
It’s really freeing to break rules, and get the results that you’ve been wanting all along, by getting to eat foods that you love. And not having to kill yourself on the treadmill for hours every week or every day.
So, that’s why I think it’s important to kind of come back to the basics, and just look at what makes sense. Does it really make sense that if you take away all your body’s fuel, it’s going to work better? To me, when I looked at that, I was like, “You know what? It actually doesn’t really make sense. Maybe starving ourselves doesn’t work when it comes to feeling awesome and having great energy and losing weight.” So, just bringing it all back to the basics.
Robyn: I love it. Well, tell everyone where they can learn more about you and your work.
Cassie: Yes. Obviously if anyone is interested in working with us in our Rule Breakers weight loss program, these are the types of things that we teach. And I think what would be perfect for your audience today, Robyn, is if you’re interested in more of these rules to break – we covered a few of them today – I put together a full list of 10 rules to break to lose weight. And you can get that PDF for free at 10rulestobreak.com. Like the number 10, rules to break dot com. And in that guide, I teach you more of these rules that we’ve been told about food, and dieting, and how they’re flat out wrong, and you’ll get 10 of them to break in order to lose weight for good.
Robyn: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for being on the show. I’ve learned a lot.
Cassie: Thanks, Robyn. It was an honor to share my story with you.
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