Q&A: F*** Skinny Blogger Laura Ingalls
Boston area health coach Laura Ingalls has an infectiously passionate personality that shines through her blog, F*** Skinny. With no holds barred, Ingalls tells the truth about dieting and healthy living; it’s not about looking skinny, it’s about keeping your body healthy. Ingalls strips the glamour and false advertising from diet changes and tells it like it is. We talked to Ingalls about her inspiration and why we should F*** focusing on being skinny.
What inspired you to start F*** Skinny?
For a long time when I was in my early twenties, I was like any other typical young girl. I had been on a gazillion diets: Weight Watchers, Herbalife, Atkins, and even SlimFast. When I was 23 I met a wellness coach at a party—a pig roast—and she noticed that I wasn’t eating so she asked why. After talking to her for a while, I eventually exploded and told her I was trying to get skinny but it was so fuckin’ hard and I was frustrated. And that’s when I started on my way to becoming a health coach. As I started exploring this idea of being healthy versus being skinny, people started noticing what I was doing and asking questions about it, and I started noticing that I was a pretty good teacher and a good coach.
How did you come up with the name F*** Skinny?
I was trying out all these different names for my philosophy but none of them really fit. Then I went to this incredible seminar with this guy who self-published a book about healthy lifestyles. I asked him afterward why he self-published and he said that the publishers wanted him to rewrite the book so it was all about weight loss and put a hot skinny girl on the front. And I got so mad about it, I slammed my hand down on the table and said, “You know what? Fuck skinny!” And I realized that’s what my philosophy is all about. Fuck skinny and focus on the healthy!
What is your approach to dieting/healthy living?
We all make the craziest nutrition decisions when we focus on skinny as the end goal. I think that if you can turn that around and look at food to nourish your body we make better decisions. Basically, we make better decisions when we’re not counting calories. And we’ll be less likely to give up on our healthy habits if we’re watching for results on the scale. If we’re not looking for the numbers to drop on the scale, we’ll stick to it better.
How does a one-on-one session with you work?
It’s all client-focused so most of the time I just get to sit back and just listen to people talk. I try to let the clients set their own goals. I find out what they want to focus on. I usually ask, “Where are you today?” or “What do you want to work on this week?” I ask questions like, “What are your ultimate goals?” and “How can we break that down into immediate goals to focus on this week, this month, this quarter, or this year?” In between those sessions is where I offer nutrition education. But the sessions are all about goal setting.
What is the number one piece of advice you give your clients?
When making your food choices, ask yourself, “Why am I eating this?” If the answer is anything but, “because its something I need to nourish my body,” or “it’s something I need to make this meal complete,” stop and either pick something else or identify what it is in that moment that you actually need. If you come to that answer when you ask yourself that question, then you’ve got a green light to eat whatever it is you’re thinking about. But if you get a different answer, then you have red or a yellow light and you need to stop and make a change.
What is the number one mistake people make when trying to eat healthy?
What do you do in your spare time?
I coach runners for Team In Training and I also train and run marathons myself. I’m a regular participant in the November Project in Boston. My health coaching practice at this moment is through Advancing Wellness where I spend most of my workday doing one-on-one coaching for corporations. But I also am taking on new clients.
How did you get started running marathons?
I always thought I was a horrible runner. I thought running was terrible and I was horrible at it. That was me until the age of 27. I was working as an actress at Disney World—I was a professional actress for 10 years—and a bunch of my fellow actors were runners and they would come into work with these really awesome marathon T-shirts. And I wanted one. So I asked where they got them and one of my friends said that I had to run a marathon to get one. I said no, I’m a horrible runner. But she told me everyone can run. She told me to just go run two miles and run until you can’t anymore and then walk until you can run again. I was so confused. I always thought that if you’re going to run a mile, you have to run the whole time. But you don’t. So I did what she said and that was it for the part of me that said I was a horrible runner. Three years later, my roommate dragged me to a Team In Training session and I signed up for my first Team In Training because the coaches there talked me in it. And I never looked back.
What marathons have you completed?
I’ve run the San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon, the Walt Disney Marathon twice, the Miami Marathon, and just last week I completed the Philadelphia Marathon which was the first marathon I did completely on whole foods with no nutrition supplements and it was my best ever.