Five Ways the Pelvic Floor and Gut Impact One Another

1. Gut dysbiosis and elimination


Gut dysbiosis is when there is an imbalance in the presence of beneficial and pathogenic microbes in your gut. Gut dysbiosis can cause a number of negative symptoms, but one of the most common is diarrhea

The frequent elimination and inflammation that occurs when one is experiencing frequent bouts of diarrhea irritates not just the rectum, but the entire pelvic floor. 
The increased incidence of elimination leads involves straining that puts consistent and persistent downward pressure on the muscles of the pelvic floor and like any muscle, they can fatigue and become weak from CONSTANT pressure. 

For those of you that don't know, weak pelvic floor muscles are not as effective at supporting the pelvic organs (rectum, bladder and uterus (if you have one)).

Weak pelvic floors can also cause urine and fecal leakage. 

2. Poor nutrient absorption and depletion of spleen Qi. 


The microbes that reside (or are supposed to reside) in your gut have the amazingly important responsibility of harvesting energy from the food that you eat.
I know you've been walking around giving yourself and your body credit for this incredible job, but sorry. Your body has LONG been outsourcing it. 
There's even research to suggest that the efficiency of nutrient absorption AND how the fuel is used  (is it being used as energy or stored as fat) is determined by specific strains of microbes. Citation

Poor nutrient absorption disregulates the metabolism which frequently results in cravings, consuming more calories than necessary and high BMI in patients, ALL of which can play a role in elimination struggles and pelvic floor dysfunction. 

Additional, a lack of nutrient absorption in the gut ALSO contributes to reduced elasticity, tension and recovery of muscles. 
Weak muscles and lack of tension/elasticity contributes to the incidence of pelvic floor dysfunction and pelvic organ prolapse. (Citation)

But what's even more amazing (to me) is that the first step in the nutrient absorption process is DIGESTION. Digestion begins in the mouth with teeth and saliva. It continues in the stomach thanks to enzymes and acid. And then continues in the small intestine.

 In Chinese medicine, pelvic organ prolapse is associated with a depletion of spleen energy. The health and balance of the spleen (yang) is directly related to the health of its yin, the stomach. 


When the stomach (part of the gut!) is dysbiotic (remember that means that good microbes are absent and bad ones are present)  it produces less acid and inefficiently digests food. 
Inefficient digestion and low acid conditions allow pathogens that should otherwise be killed and starved in the stomach to thrive and survive on the undigested foods. 

Inefficient digestion negatively impacts nutrients absorption while the impaired health of the stomach ALSo negatively impacts the spleen...

"One of the most common patterns found in western people is something we call Spleen Qi Deficiency. This can arise from any number of reasons but a poor diet mixed with irregular eating patterns and stress is a common way to develop this pattern. Spleen qi deficiency involves symptoms such as poor appetite, bloating (particularly after eating), weakness of the arms and legs, fatigue and/or loose stools.

As spleen qi deficiency continues to progress a subsequent pattern may develop called Spleen Qi Sinking. This pattern is essentially the same as spleen qi deficiency but with prolapses of the stomach, uterus, anus and/or vagina along with frequency or urgency of urination. This pattern shows a more internal weakness where the body can no longer hold the organs in place."  (Reference) 

Come on! Now tell me THAT isn't interesting and a perfect illustration of how the health and wellness of the pelvic floor and gut are intricately intertwined!



3. Gut microbiome determined muscle wasting and insulin resistance


The pelvic floor is this amazing system of muscle, ligaments and fascia at the base of your trunk that stabilize and support your body!
In order to effectively do it's job, these muscles and ligaments need to have some bulk, elasticity and resilience. 

Sarcopenia, the progressive loss of muscle mass and strength is associated with aging, cancer and other diseases but it's also highly correlated with inflammation, chronic infection and malnutrition caused by imbalanced gut micro biomes deficient in legacy keystone strains of microbes.

"One recent animal study suggests a relationship between muscle wasting and alterations in the gut microbiome. Muscle wasting induced by a model of acute leukemia in mice was reduced by orally supplementing the mice with specific Lactobacillus species.(44) The Authors suggest that gut micro- biota may influence muscle physiology through altering amino acid bioavailability; influencing metabolites such as bile acids; and modulating production of pro-inflammatory cytokines.(42)"

In 2015 Maranhao, evaluated the relationship between insulin resistance  and pelvic floor strength. 

They found that in their small sample group that as insulin resistance increased, strength of pelvic floor contractions and ability to recruit all the muscles of the pelvic floor decreased.

We know that the gut microbiome plays a significant role in the development of insulin resistance therefore this is yet another way in which the condition of the gut microbiome could impact the health of the pelvic floor.  (Citation)


4. Anxiety and mood

The research is in, the oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin, endorphins are all neurotransmitters that control stress, anxiety, mood and behavior whose production by the body is MEDIATED by the bugs in your gut.
Stress, mood and anxiety are responsible for increased pelvic floor dysfunction and pelvic organ prolapse symptoms.

The peer-reviewed literature is ALSO showing that the psychological state of an individual contributes to flare-ups of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). 

IBS is highly associated with pelvic floor dysfunction because of the strain and pressure that bouts of diarrhea and constipation place on the pelvic floor. 



5. A hypertonic (too tight) pelvic floor


Over-recruiting the pelvic floor muscles via exercise or every day life makes for too tight pelvic floor muscles and results in pelvic floor dysfunction.
You can imagine that since your pelvic floor stretches from your bladder to your rectum if it was too tight it could make you feel urge to urinate frequently AND could make elimination difficult. 
Health routine bowel movements and urination rely upon the pelvic floors ability to relax. 
When the pelvic floor is overly and consistently tight, then elimination habits are disrupted and trouble starts. 

The colon is where water is resorbed or absorbed by the stool, depending on what is necessary to create healthy, easy to eliminate stools.
When overly-tight pelvic floor muscles make it difficult for waste to be excreted,  one becomes constipated. 
Besides being uncomfortable and causing straining to the pelvic floor, constipation ALSO negatively impacts the gut. 
When stools remain in the colon for too the toxins that are supposed to be excreted begin to accumulate. The accumulation of these toxins leads to intestinal permeability (leaky gut syndrome) in which the mucosal lining of the intestines breaks down and begins to allow various substances to leak out of the gut into the blood stream. 

Constipation can also mean that metabolized hormones in the stool are hanging around (causing hormonal imbalance and inflammation) preventing the body from making fresh new hormones!

Citation Citation


So there you have it!
If you didn't consider the pelvic floor and gut to be two parts of the body that were impacted one another AND your whole body strength BEFORE you read this article, then hopefully you are beginning to see their connection now!

The body never ceases to amaze and fascinate me.


Sarah Smith is a trainer, lifestyle coach and postnatal fitness specialist that specializes in helping women feel strong, confident and capable in their bodies!
Her specialties include kettlebells, gut health and optimization for fitness goals, pelvic floor health and function and making fitness fun! Check her out on social media here or email her!

Fitness trends that negatively impact fat-loss goals by disrupting the gut and metabolism

Most of these actions can be really helpful at getting us results BUT many popular versions of these changes, negatively impact the metabolism by changing the landscape of the gut microbiome which results in digestive distress, increased appetite and weight gain. 

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Why pre and postnatal mamas want to be vigilant about digestion and elimination challenges

One FREQUENT complaint in pregnancy and early postpartum is digestion
Physical changes to the shape of our bodies, babies encroaching on our abdominal contents, hormones, cravings, irregular sleep schedules and voracious appetites have us in many ways eating and living in a TOTALLY new and different way!

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Microbiology, diarrhea, constipation, the pelvic floor and whole body strength: Things you have to know about getting stronger!


Greetings from snowy Raleigh, North Carolina!

We woke up to a wintery wonderland this morning and while this former New Englander isn't a huge fan of wintery weather, I secretly think the snow today is rather beautiful. 

This winter I've been taking more time to write. 
In fact, I'm going back to my microbiology roots and talking about the gut microbiome and its influence on metabolism and whole body strength. 
My new project is called "Strong butts and guts: increasing whole body strength with microbiology and natural daily movement"...or something like that..

For those of you that don't know, before I was a trainer, I worked in microbiology, first on the health front at the National Institutes of Health, then as environmental microbiologist at the University of Arizona and finally finished with a masters in soil and agricultural science at North Carolina State University. 

My husband has been a pest management professional  and self-proclaimed "bug geek" for close to 15 years now and the other day I realized,
"Oh my goodness, I'm totally a bug geek too!" 
Just a different kind of bug....the microscopic kind!

The amazing thing is that I never ever ever would have thought that my love for microbiology would be SO RELATED to my job as a trainer and lifestyle coach. 

But we are learning more every day about the far-reaching influence of the trillions of microbes that live in our gastrointestinal system (the gut). 

Nutrient absorption, to metabolic regulation, cravings, energy, sleep, muscle synthesis, hormonal regulation (very important for both metabolism and building lean muscle) the gut is an INTEGRAL part of all of these functions of the body. 

One of the biggest issues that we are facing in modern life is that lack of movement, little time outdoors and the Standard American Diet are all killing the ancestral strains of microbes that have been evolving with us since the beginning. 
These strains are designed to keep us alive and well and fully functioning, because we are engaged in a symbiotic relationship that is mutually beneficial!

They keep our bodies running like a top, we provide them with a safe place to live, aka, food and shelter. 

BUT these strains of bacteria (many of which derived from the soil, we inoculated ourselves by being outside and eating foods that were grown in the dirt) are not happy. 
In fact, they are dead (or close to it) in many a gut!


Herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics, oral contraceptives, many prescription medications, loads of processed sugar, food additives (like guar and xanthan gums), and artificial sweeteners (Splenda!) are killing off the good guys (dubbed "Gut Guardians" by Dr. Grace Liu) in our gut microbiome,  and leaving room for nasty ones that historically were kept in check by the guardians. 

Consequently we are seeing more and more food sensitivities,  autoimmune diseases, inflammatory bowel syndromes and diseases (which by the way are symptoms, not medical conditions), chronic fatigue, inefficient metabolisms, mental emotional health conditions....and the list goes on.

My interest was peaked when I realized that the pelvic floor is strongly impacted by the gut, makes perfect sense since they are neighbors!

So I have launched a whole research project into better understanding how our lifestyle, and nutrition habits are impacting our guts and how our guts are impacting our abilities to build strong bodies!

AND logically, I'm writing an ebook on the topic. 

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I'm not totally out of depth here, I am a published author in a bunch of other super obscure topics (look to the right!)
But never have I ever written something about which I feel so much passion. 

So, e-book is coming. 
As part of my Inner Circle you will be learning about how your gut is impacting your body and ways to get it on board with you and your personal goals. 

Today I am sharing a link to a recent blogpost that I wrote on the interactions between the gut and the pelvic floor. 



It's written to coaches and trainers, and I know that some of you are that!
BUT it's about all of us, so don't skip it if you don't work in fitness. 
YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS STUFF in order to protect yourself and possibly even get to the bottom of some chronic health issues that you've been ignoring!

The post is mostly about diarrhea, constipation, bloating and how irregular digestion is negatively impacting our pelvic floor, potentially causing pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence of ALL kinds. 

I'd love for you to check it out here and leave comments!

This effects us all!

When talking about taboo topics can make us better trainers

But we aren’t all given the tools (or courage) required to engage in conversations that help us determine when a client’s body, particularly their pelvic floor, is not responding well to training. 

How often is a coach saying to their client:
 “We’re working on clean and jerks today, but you need to be honest with me and with yourself if at any point you begin leaking anything (fecal or urine), experiences low back pain, tailbone pain, pelvic pressure or the frequent urge to urinate during or after our workouts,” ???

Read More

The ingredients for loosing excess fat and building lean muscle mass are.....

I've been taking a break from all social media this week and while I miss seeing my online community daily, I'm amazed at how much time I have to CREATE content and brainstorm about ideas that have long been percolating in the back of my brain. 
I've also been chilling with my boys quite a bit which is both amazing and a tad bit exhausting. 
Those boys can GO!





This blog post will be automatically uploaded to my Facebook page, since I'm still off social media, but if you wish to contact me about it, please email me directly at


Ok, so let's talk about physique changes. 


When it comes to burning fat and building lean muscle we know that one needs the following:

1. Appropriate calorie deficit **fat loss

2. Sufficient nutrition and nutrient absorption **lean muscle synthesis

3. Diverse gut microbiome **fat loss, energy, lean muscle synthesis

4. Effective stress management strategies (this includes sleep!) **fat loss

5. Physical activity (daily natural movement + training) **fat loss and lean muscle synthesis

In a nutshell, if you want to lose fat and build lean muscle to improve the strength of your body and overall efficiency of your metabolism, you need to eat well, live well and move well!

Sort of simple, right?

Some folks find that investing lots of energy in one or 2 of these areas can initially be most impactful for them. 

While others might find that they prefer to gradually change their habits in all 5 of these areas over time. 

If a person wants fast results, then one would devote a lot of time and energy of cultivating lifestyle practices that meet these requirements for fat loss right away. 

OR, if an individual was content to slowly get results from a gradual integration of new habits over time, then the work would be somewhat diluted and the individual would have time to slowly change their lifestyle. 

As a coach in the online fitness  business, I talk with women all of the time about their physique goals and current lifestyle. 
And you know what, for the most part they have an inkling of what it is that they need to do to change their bodies. 
They might not necessarily know the most time-efficient or impactful ways to go about it, but I find that most the folks I talk to say things like,

"I know I don't get enough sleep..."
"I could eat better..."
"I sit at a desk all day and don't get much movement in...."
"I have a very high-stress job..."

And with unlimited time, energy and motivation, they could probably make the necessary changes in the above 5 ares of their lives to get the results that they want. 

But in this day of information accessibility via the internet, people are not lacking for rules, programs, diets, information, tips, or advice on how to be healthier. 

They are lacking support. 

They need someone to help them make change feasible for them. 

They need someone to show them how to break the pursuit of their goals down into simple, manageable actions.

They need someone to be there, to care when they show up for their goals!

They need someone to help them troubleshoot challenge, slumps, major obstacles, lack of motivation. 

They need to feel like they are not alone in the pursuit of their goals. 

I know this personally in not just from my fitness experience, but from my graduate school experience, from my experience with building a business, from my time as a mom. 

When it comes to honoring commitments and or even responsibilities:

We get tired
We lose motivation 
We often get bogged down in the details of the moment and can't see the forest through the trees.
We let feelings of failure and inadequacy stop us in our tracks. 
We struggle to find the way to keep going when we've been stopped in our tracks. 

Sometimes we have the answers, solutions or even willpower deep down inside, but we need someone to pull them out, someone to encourage us, someone to say, "I see you and you're doing great." 

In October of 2016 I ran my first online fitness challenge. 
It was called the "Persistence Over Perfection" or "POP Challenge".

I came up with the idea out of the blue one day after thinking about my own experience in pursuing goals. 

I realized that what was the ultimate game changer in life for me was learning to break my goals down into small manageable steps that I chipped away at gradually, EVEN when my process was UBER imperfect. 

You see you don't need the perfect program and you don't need to be perfect in your nutrition and movement practices. 
What you need is to consistently do your best at making improvements, no matter how small or gradual. 
And the key to consistency is SUPPORT, ACCOUNTABILITY, and ENCOURAGEMENT. 

You can absolutely go it alone. 
There have been plenty of times in my fitness journey when I have worked alone to pursue my goals, but inevitably I have hit a wall and turned to someone more experienced and knowledagele in my area of pursuit to help me. 

They gave me direction. 
They gave me pointers. 
They helped me focus on what was going to be MOST impactful for me at that moment in time. 
and most importability they recognized all the work I was doing gave me the encouragement that I needed to keep going!

So if this feels like an advertisement for working with me, it is sort of, except that I am in NO WAY wanting you to exclusively hire me as your coach. 

I love that you are here in my Sarah Smith Strength community and that tells me that there's something about my messaging that resonates with you. 
So thank you for your support and thank you for allowing me to share my experience advice and resources with you. 

If you're look at 2018 with goals of changing your lifestyle, I can NOT STRESS enough the benefit of working with someone. 

That might mean me, or another coach. 
It might mean going a class, seeing a dietitian, functional medicine practitioner, counselor or therapist. 
It could mean joining yoga studio, a CrossFit gym or a running club. 

Only you can determine what form of encouragement and support is best designed to meet you where you are today. 

I would just encourage you to work with someone on some level so that you're not solely relying upon yourself to be consistent. 

If you are interested in learning more about working with me you can head over to:

Right now my online coaching club, Cultivate For Life Coaching Club is open for enrollment. 
Enrollment closes on January 1st at midnight EST. 

I keep the numbers of this group small so that everyone experiences the benefit of a close-knit community of women that encourage and support one another in addition to my coaching. 

Learn about it here today! 

Check out C4L here now!

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Struggle to navigate holiday eating without feelings of GUILT, STRESS, or FOMO?

You're packing for your vacation but this time you're flying and have to bring a bag that's half the size of what you are used to toting. 

You look at all of the clothes spread all over the bed (and maybe the floor) and suddenly have to decide, which things you want MOST with you on this trip. 

You select your favorite items, the new ones you bought for the trip and also your favorite staple clothing items and then worry that you forgot something or that you won't have enough clothes.


On the trip, you realize that you didn't really need all that other stuff. 

Those additional items were less about necessity and more about comfort and easing your anxiety.

Packing everything that you owned meant that you didn't have to make decisions before the trip and that's what you were used to. 

Perhaps you travel SO RARELY that you have very little experience packing your bag efficiently. 
So when you are about to embark on a trip you feel like you have to bring everything. 

Choosing what to eat (and what not to eat) on a special occasion can be a lot like packing your bag for vacation, especially if you've recently begun to think about how much food your body actually needs vs. how much it can manage.

I'm sending daily emails this week to my Inner Circle. 

In each email you can expect to find support, strategies and encouragement for navigating the stress around a food-centric holiday like Thanksgiving.  

Click the button below to join now and get answers and action steps delivered RIGHT to your Inbox! 

If you're not in the practice of making choices and or trusting yourself to make satisfying decisions, then you might find yourself over-packing your body with food. 

So many of us are in the habit of showing up to a holiday occasion or celebration and we are like the person that rarely goes on vacation.
We are starved for a good time around food. 
We are inexperienced. 
And we have a tendency to overpack. 

There is LITERALLY a limit to how much food we physically can eat, but there's also a mental and emotional limit to how much food we can happily eat today and still feel good about tomorrow. 


People who travel all of the time learn which clothing items are tried and true, which things they are always happy to have with them. 
They learn to be economic in their packing because in truth, it's less stressful and more comfortable to feel confident in your travel staples and have to tote less stuff with you. 
Less to carry. 
Less to keep track of. 
Less to wash on the other end. 

But it takes practice, mindfulness and trusting yourself to get to a place like that. 


It's the same thing with eating. 


We are better at making choices the more we practice making choices. 
We are going to be much happier with our eating experience if rather than eating everything (and feeling sick or bad about it the next day) we choose the items that are MOST important to us, savor and enjoy them. 

It's not wisdom to waste room in your bag on that beach sarong you got on sale that you've never worn and can't actually see yourself wearing. 
And it's not wise to waste room on your plate or in your body on that dessert item that you didn't even really want or enjoy. 

Give yourself the space and freedom to PRACTICE navigating these occasions. 
Make this the year that you're not obsessive or restrictive, but rather intentional about what you choose to eat. 

If you have a tendency to diet right up until the holiday, let yourself have a nice treat the day before and see how that effects your decision making. 

If you tend to over-eat out of inexperience, anxiety (FOMO) then remind yourself that more isn't better. Better is better. 
Choose the best foods. 
Enjoy them. 

Let this be a learning experience.



Is this Thanksgiving your one chance to enjoy #allthefoods because on Friday you go back on plan?

This week I'll be talking about our mindsets around food to help you navigate the holiday season in a guilt-free manner!


Today I'd like to talk about the abundance mindset vs. the scarcity mindset, particularly as they relate to food.


You see a scarcity mindset tells us, "You better hurry up and get yours NOW because otherwise you're going to miss out. There's not enough to go around. "

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How many of you have been at a party or holiday event and either seen (or brought) a food item that YOU REALLY wanted to eat and then were sort of plagued by anxiety about getting your share of that food?


Sometimes this can happen with multiples foods OR if we've been dieting and restricting ourselves to foods that we don't enjoy, our scarcity mindset can manifest in an even different way.

It can look more like, "This is my one chance to enjoy all the foods that I want because tomorrow I go back 'on plan'."


However you might experience it, that feeling of "I have to capitalize on this opportunity to eat" is routed in a scarcity mindset.


Now maybe it's just old habits that haven't died since you've given up "dieting" or maybe you are still struggling to be satisfied with your daily nutrition practice.


Whatever your feelings about food and dieting and your routine nutrition plan, adopting an abundance mindset can help!


Because an abundance mindset prevents us from feeling frozen or anxious or impulsive around food.

It reminds us that there's PLENTY of food and opportunities to eat food.


You don't have to limit your eating enjoyment to today.

Thanksgiving is an amazing holiday, yes, but it's also just a Thursday.

The biscuits, the stuffing, the desserts, the can eat it tomorrow too, and the next day, if you want to.


"But you don't understand, my aunt only makes this dish once a year!"


Ok, but COULD you get the recipe and give yourself the freedom to eat that dish any other day of the year?



Don't feel like you have to cram all of your eating into one day and then make up for it tomorrow.


Food is food. Eating it is not a moral choice.


You MIGHT indulge quite a bit on Thursday, you might not.

It's not the food that you eat this week that will affect your goals so much as it is your mindset around the food.


If you allow Thursday to be the start of or to perpetuate a vicious cycle of indulging and then restricting, that's going to be WAY more harmful than if you eat 5 biscuits.


Choose to remember that you're an adult.

You have a car, you have resources, you can buy or make any treats that you want.


There's no diet.

There's no right and wrong.

There's just food.


Some foods make us feel good in the moment AND after the fact, some don't.


You get decide which ones have a place on your plate this Thursday and EVERY DAY!


Dealing with guilt, anxiety or stress about your diet and figure this week? 
Get support and strategies to ENJOY this holiday .

I'm sending out an email DAILY this week to my Inner Circle to help you navigate choices in food, loving your body, and not giving a hoot what other people think!



Fat loss and full life livin'

Is your weight loss goal helping you to live a FULL life?

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Many women have a weight loss goal in the forefront of their mind or lurking back there in their subconscious. 

And it’s no surprise when you watch social media, television and magazines. 

We are CONSTANTLY bombarded with images of perfect bodies. 

Clothing is often designed to fit slight long and lean women. 

Food is frequently presented as “good” if it makes us thin and “bad” if it could have the opposite effect. 


There are plenty of subtle and overt messages out there that present and inverse relationship between size and femininity. 



But let’s for a moment, mute all those messages. 

You can’t really trust the opinions of folks that are CONSTANTLY trying to sell and image or a product to you, companies that benefit when you feel inferior and “unhealthy”.


So if the pressure to be smaller and lose weight isn’t necessarily a healthy thing, where does that leave all the women that have weight loss goals? 


There’s absolutely NO SHAME in having physique-based goals for your body. 

I help women every day work WITH their bodies to accomplish their physique and fat-loss goals.

If you know your body and life choices and have decided that you would be happier and feel more confident if you lost some fat, fit into a different clothing size or saw a smaller number on the scale, that is 100% your business. 


  A happy full life is reading a book while you force your dog to cuddle with you.

A happy full life is reading a book while you force your dog to cuddle with you.

But just in case you are someone that has long been carrying around this burden of “I need to lose weight, I need to be smaller" ...
nd just in case you have been waging a war on all presence of fat or cellulite or have difficulty accepting  that your body is no longer the size that it used to be, today I’m going to provide you with a checklist that you can use to determine whether the goals that you have for your body will lead you on a journey towards are more full life vs. perpetuating a cycle of feeling like you will never be enough, never be small enough, never be happy with your body.


Question 1: 

Are the changes that you would to make to your nutrition practices in order to reach your goal intrinsically beneficial? 


For example, will you chose to eat more nutritious foods, learn to recognize hunger and satiety signals? 

Are you trying to eat LESS or meet your bodies daily energy requirements?

Are you looking for assistance and support in managing emotional eating tendencies? 

  Chatting with clients about their nutrition practices and choices makes me super duper happy because they are learning to eat and to enjoy eating without restriction or reckless abandon.

Chatting with clients about their nutrition practices and choices makes me super duper happy because they are learning to eat and to enjoy eating without restriction or reckless abandon.

Examples of what I would describe as nutrition practices that are not consistent with living a full life:

-chronically underrating

-cutting out entire food groups (eg. protein, fat, carbs)

-obsessing over your food choices all day long

-observing a diet full of foods that you hate



Question 2:

Do you believe that you were prettier, more lovable, had more value and or can only be happier at a smaller size?


This is a lie that I can personally relate to. 

I had a specific physique and clothing size at which I thought I was most healthy and most attractive. 

I thought my clothes looked better when I was this thin. 

I thought people would consider me healthier or more fit when I was that small. 

I even thought that my husband would 



Often times I consult with a new client that has a very specific number they want to see on the scale, clothing size that they absolutely have to get back to because they associate those numbers with “health and fitness”.

In their mind, if they are more than that, they are too big, or unhealthy. 

So I ask them straight out, “Are you open to the idea of feeling confident in your life and your body if you NEVER actually get “back” to those numbers? Why do you think that these are the benchmarks of success for you?”


And when we unpack their feelings and or discuss the life habits that they had back when they were that size, the client often discovers that while they felt “good” at that size, they weren’t necessary living a full and happy life. 

They don’t ACTUALLY want to do the thing that they were doing in order to be that size again. 

And I can TOTALLY relate to that as well. 


When I was 5’8, 117 pounds, I was super lean, BUT I was also recovering from illness, subsisting on a super (prescribed) restrictive diet. 

I liked how I looked, but that was about all the I liked. 


What kind of life is that? 


Appearance that isn’t the result of a balanced, full, happy life of growth and love isn’t actually going to make us feel that much better. 

In fact, it can often make us feel trapped. 

Like we HAVE to choose between being “pretty” and being “happy.”


And that’s SO NOT the case. 


The people in our lives that love us and are worthy of remaining in our lives, their love and respect doesn’t dissipate when our physique changes. 

AND if you feel like your loved ones do love you more when you are smaller,  lower body fat percentage, thinner, then it’s time to have an open and honest conversation with them. 

Trust them and the relationship enough to tell them how their comments and attitude makes you feel. 



Question 3:

Do you have to adopt an obsessive and life-absorbing exercise routine in order to change your physique?



When it comes to fitness and for fat-loss, there’s many ways to “skin that cat”.

Lifting heavy things, leisure walking, gently moving your body routinely and in many different ways and finding physical activities that you actually enjoy are ALL great ways to build muscle and increase the efficiency of your metabolism. 


Obsessively exercising, spending hours upon hours on the cardio machines at the gym, feeling guilty on days when you don’t exercise, feeling pressure to engage in exercise that you hate, these are ALL NOT necessary for fat loss and will ALSO not help you to live the full life that you want. 


And Lastly

Question 4:

Are your fat-loss goals all consuming? Do you eat, sleep, breath weight loss? Are you constantly checking the scale for progress? 



Your life is NOT supposed to be about you losing weight. 

Remember, just because you are FREQUENTLY bombarded with messages that you SHOULD be thinner, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true. 

You an absolutely choose to accept those thoughts or denounce them.


Life is about so much more than just your appearance, so rather than focusing PURELY on making yourself “look better” as you currently define “better”, invest energy into cultivating a lifestyle that nourishes you, mind, body and soul.


If cultivating new movement habits and good nutrition practices helps you to lose fat, that’s awesome!

If managing stress, spending time caring for yourself and prioritizing your physical and mental health are helping you to lean out a bit, how great is that??!


But if your quality of life decreases and your stress and obsessive behaviors increase when you are on a mission to lose fat, I’m going to be real honest with you, your program needs some tweaking. Your results won’t last and even if you get the results that you want, they are not going to make you feel good longterm. 

In fact, they MIGHT even do damage to your physical or mental health. 

Plenty of women over-do it with dieting and exercise to the point that they harm themselves. 

Question 5:


Do you feel like a failure, beat yourself up when you "slip-up"?

Think you have to eat the perfect diet?

Think that you can never skip exercise and "never miss a Monday" in order to reach your goals and feel confident?

Here's the thing, NOTHING is going to make you feel better in your body than cultivating a lifestyle that makes you feel good. 

Feeling like a slave to exercise does not feel good. 

Stressing and processing guilt because you didn't make it to spin class or get in a run is not the way to spend your days. 

A full life that makes us feel good in our bodies and about our bodies ABSOLUTELY involves doing some hard things. 
Achieving goals will ALWAYS require work, discipline and patience. 

BUT, that doesn't mean that we have to carve out a journey that doesn't make us happy!
Believe it or not, there are ways to learn to eat a nourishing and nutritious diet that makes you feel good WITHOUT  feeling restricted and miserable. 

It is possible to enjoy daily movement practices and train your body in a way that changes your physique WITHOUT making you feel like your constantly being punished. 

If the path you are taking to get these results makes you feel crappy, makes you miserable, and or is pushing you towards a life that doesn't give you joy or make you FEEL confident in yourself, then those results will be fleeting and they won't help you to accomplish what you are going for.


And what are you going for? You want to feel good, right?
Looking good makes you feel good. 
But looking good only makes you feel good when the path that you take to the physical changes actually improves your life and makes you better as a person. 
It only works when it makes your life MORE full and more fulfilling. 




Come follow me on Instagram today and learn more about what I do to cultivate a full (and imperfect) life that makes me feel content, confident and capable!

Why, because maybe what I do daily and imperfectly inspire you to carve out your own full and imperfect life too!


When your appearance doesn't accurately represent how you feel inside.

In high school I had TERRIBLE skin. 
Bad. So bad that my face was often swollen either from the acne or the meds I was using to clear the acne. 
My life revolved around my skin. 
I didn't want to sweat too much, because I thought it would cause a breakout.
I didn't want to go places unless I was having a good skin day....never happened.
Acne ruled my life.
It was the first thing I thought about every morning and the last thing I thought about before I went to bed.

                  I HATED this ad so much. Desperately wanted her skin.

                 I HATED this ad so much. Desperately wanted her skin.

I struggled with it for a long time, because as a high school girl I thought appearance was the most important thing (still have to remind myself that it's not) and I hated what I saw when I looked in the mirror.
I can't find any pictures, because I literally either snuck them into the trash or burned them. 
No lie.

But you know what really made the acne so difficult to deal with?
The things I had to do to cover up and care for my skin were not in line with what I as all about.

I didn't like avoiding and dreading sweat-inducing activities. 
I didn't like having a "skin regimen" because I liked simple.
Simple hair, simple skin, simple (if any) makeup. I wanted to just take a natural approach to my appearance, and here acne was forcing me to do all these things that I felt were out of character for me. 
I now know that half of the things I was doing were because TV commercials and dermatologists were telling me to do them, but they were actually making things worse...

Finally one day I just decided that I was going to put the actual acne out of my head and just start living the life that I wanted to live. 
I stopped wearing makeup over it. 
I stopped treating it. 
I made myself smile-hoping that smiling would help people to see the real me under all the zits, puffiness, scars, and discomfort. 

And you know what, I felt better and the acne improved.  
Eventually it improved altogether, thanks for some dietary changes and the fact that I was no longer using externals chemicals to treat it, and I learned something from that experience that has stuck with me forever.

 Like I said, I burned most of the pics, but this is a pic of my when my skin was"good" still super swollen and and broken out, but notice my smile with two of my best buds in college. Yes, I'm wearing a beaded choker that I made.

Like I said, I burned most of the pics, but this is a pic of my when my skin was"good" still super swollen and and broken out, but notice my smile with two of my best buds in college. Yes, I'm wearing a beaded choker that I made.

I guess what I'm trying to explain with my story is that, those things you don't like about how your look right now, they either come from one of two places.

1. Internal source
2. External source

If they are external in origin, meaning you feel them because others are making you feel that way, then a mission statement will help you sort that out. 

If they are coming from inside you, again, a mission statement is going to help you understand why you feel the way that you do, and what to do next.

A concrete (albeit evolving) mission statement helps us to know what we want in our lives.
And what we don't.

Then we become aware of what we need to do to make our lives look more like who we feel we are on the inside.
You see it becomes more of a wholistic approach rather than just the pressure to change an aesthetic attribute about ourselves. 
This also facilitates the creation of behavior-based goals instead of results-based goals.

So no longer do we only focus on thoughts like, 
"I should lose weight".

Instead our mission statements includes some core values like:
Feeling proud, comfortable, and capable in my body.
Nourishing my and strengthening my body with food and I feel good.

Then when we have to make decisions about what to eat, how and when to move, and when to rest you can use this core value to determine what your next move is. 

"Does eating this quart of ice cream align with my core values? Will it help me to feel proud, comfortable, and capable in my body?"

We have an answer!

-"Yes, because I'm proud of the fact that I can feel comfortable indulging in ice cream sometimes because I also eat nutritious food and care for my body with movement."


-"No, eating ice cream right now will not make me feel proud and comfortable tomorrow, I'm going make a protein shake and take a walk instead."

The beauty of knowing what you are about and what you aren't about is that it begins to make it easier for you to mute those nagging negative thoughts. 

I use the core values of my personal mission statement to make decisions all the time about what I do with my body, how I spend my time, how I raise my kids, how I love my husband.

So when I'm deciding about something that isn't necessarily "good" or "bad" all I need to ask is,
"Does this align with who you want to be?"

And then for the most part, I know what to do.

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Sarah Smith is a Raleigh-based personal trainer, strength and lifestyle coach.

She specializes in helping real women cultivate lifestyles that make them feel confident, capable and content in their bodies and lives!

Check out her FREE email newsletter below!


What are you NOT PREPARED to do to get fit?

And I want to start with question #2 because I think that part of the process is most informative and impactful because when we really want something, the question is often NOT about what do we need to do to make it happen, but rather about what we are NOT going to do. 

Where are our limits and how are those limits going to impact the process and timeline of this journey?

Read More

When you're terrible at things

Like EVERYONE else, I want to practice the things that I’m good at. 

I want to stick to what I know and where i’m comfortable. 

But what I’ve learned is that there’s NOTHING quite like the feeling of being terrible at something, continuing to practice at it AND SEEING improvement. 


The sense of pride and accomplishment is worth ALL the moments of failure and frustration.
Feeling unstoppable, like there’s nothing you couldn’t learn to do given the time and practice, gives way to freedom and empowerment. 

There’s lots of mental, emotional and physical things that I am NOT good at and pistols are just one example, but I’ll tell you what. 

The first time I tried a pistol it was LAUGHABLE and I fell on my ass. 
IN FACT, I fell LOADS of times before I even came close to doing something that remotely resembled a pistol. 

But I knew from experience that if I just kept practicing, I would get better and eventually I will own these. Actually, I will own WEIGHTED versions of these. Because there’s nothing that can stop me, but me!
**PS-I have no physical contraindications for pistols. 

And you will own whatever it is that you want to achieve, but you’ll have to fail on the way there. You’ll have to practice. You’ll have to keep it up and even when you see no change or improvement and then one day, YOU’LL GET IT!

Cultivate for life is my tagline for my business, because once we learn that life is about cultivating skills indefinitely and always learning and never being a finished product, then we understand that failure and frustration and discomfort is all part of it. But it’s good because it means we’re growing!

BUT the only way out is through! SO keep practicing, keep persisting, keep cultivating and watch how your life, body and mind grows.


Join My Inner Circle today so that you don't miss out on FREE workouts, recipes, fitness and fat-loss tips!

Society almost always gets it wrong

Ok so here's your take home message. 

1. Don't follow social media, read magazines, or watch TV that makes you feel terrible about yourself or promotes unrealistic fantasies.

2. Find your tribe that will love you as you are, but also help you to improve in the areas you wish to grow.

3. Figure out what you actually want and what's most important to you because arbitrarily trying to imitate others that might be doing something great, but are not necessarily doing something that's great for you!

Read More

When it comes to your fitness, are you "bored at a job" or "investing in your career"?

Fitness and fat-loss works the same way. 
If you treat it like a job and do the bare minimum to get by, you probably won't get great results or stick with it. 
You'll jump around trying this diet, that form of exercise, this new gadget...
But if you invest in the process and take the time to cultivate an approach that enhances your life, you're WAY more likely to stick with it long term, see results and continue to build your approach. 

Read More

You don't need a diet to lose fat...and literally how to get a stubborn pig to budge.

When the body is chronically stressed, it pushes back against this by doing a number of things and one of those things is storing fat. 

Fat is fuel. It's a good thing. In fact we NEED fat!
It’s a resource. I know we don’t always love the look of it, but it does have a purpose and if your body is storing larger and larger volutes of it, that’s because your body thinks that it needs it. 

When you are mentally, emotionally, or physically stressed the body is like, “Wait, what’s happening? I need to stockpile emergency rations! Something is wrong.”

Your body is designed to keep you ALIVE, not to bend to whatever aesthetic goals that you have for it. 

If your body is uncomfortable and senses that are you are in distress, the only thing that it can do to help you is to save energy in the form of fat.
This energy can then be used by your muscles, your brain cells, whatever cells in your body that are going to be potentially doing some extra work, the energy will be there for it.

And here’s the thing, serial dieting, lack of sleep, gut distress, histories of under-eating or eating chemically-laden processed food, these are all stressors.
The body responds to these activities, these signals with cravings and the hormonal environment necessary to store fat AND to keep telling your body that it's hungry.

So if you want to lose fat, you definitely need to move your body and you definitely need to start choosing good nutrition (most of the time), but your progress is going to be slow-going if you don’t ALSO deal with your stress. 
You have to tell you
body that everything is ok.

How do we do this?
We change our lifestyles and when we can NOT change things, we change our response to them. 

I know, a lot easier said than done, but we really have no choice. 
This process can be imperfect.
It will take some time, but it's a direction work moving in. 

We also have to understand that IF the body has been stressed for a while, then it’s going to take some time for it to finally believe you that the stress is gone and release those fat-stores that it’s been holding on to. 
So you have to be little patient with it, which is why you REALLY want to cultivate a lifestyle that not only moves you closer to your physique goals,but ALSO one that makes you feel better. 
One that makes you content and happy. 

So what do we do?
Move daily.
Exercise just enough, but not too much.
Eat loads of protein and vegetables and not a lot of processed foods.

Sleep, meditate, pray, relax.
Change what you can in your life to alleviate stress **there’s almost always some action that you CAN take.
Get proactive.
Take risks, move out of that comfort zone, your health depends on it! 

Think of leisure time with friends and family or alone as just as important for your fat-loss goals as is your exercise. 
Your metabolism is basically a stubborn mule, actually pig, I have more experience with stubborn pigs


You will not get a pig to budge by using lots of force or threats. 
Trust me, I know. This novice pig farmer has tried to move one many a times. 
You have to make it feel safe and gently coax it into doing what you want it to do and when it feels safe, not stressed, then it will acquiesce. 

Realize that your body needs a consistent supply of nutrition to feel comfortable letting go of it's fat stores. 
Not only does this mean eating nutritionally dense foods like pastured eggs, leafy greens, grass-fed meats and organ meats and good quality fats, it also means supporting the gut and the brain with prebiotics.

Screentime is fine in moderation, but lots of time on the phone or watching the TV/Netflix will negatively impact sleep and can cause cravings.

PLUS, if you're watching a screen, then that usually means that you’re not moving, which is what the body really really needs. 
Walking 10-15K steps a day will DRAMATICALLY reduce your risk of metabolic syndrome. 

We know that spending time in nature positively impacts our sleep habits, stress levels, gut health, posture and mental health!

If you want to learn more about healing your metabolism and gently letting it know that it's time to start reducing fat stores, then sign up here to receive my Five Day Metabolism School : Metabolism and Movement Memos

Starting August 7th, for five days, each day you will receive an email memo on one aspect of healing the metabolism to support fat-loss, complete with some manageable action steps for you to begin to work on!

It's free, easy-to-understand and a great way to get started on working towards healing your body and cultivating a new metabolism-healing lifestyle!


Hey All,
I'm Sarah. I'm a personal trainer and lifestyle coach. I help clients build strength, confidence, capability  in their bodies and their lives.
I'm also a mom of 3 raucous boys, a small scale farmer and soil scientist living in Raleigh, North Carolina.