Allison and I go way back. I’m talking my Burlington, Vermont days when I was just a little bitty elementary school kiddo.
My sister, Emily, and Allison danced together in VT and reconnected when they were both ended up in Boston years ago. I met Allison through my sister and quickly realized we had a ton in common.
From our passion for fitness to writing a healthy living blog (Allison’s is Frisky Lemon) and living in the same city, Allison and I have made it a point to grab coffee and catch up or carpool to fun fitness events.
So without further ado, meet my girl Allison …
Caroline Earle: Frisky Lemon! Where did that incredible name come from?
Allison Nichols: It kind of just came to me randomly when I was starting my blog almost six years ago. BUT it does actually mean something. My passion as a nutrition counselor is supporting women who are looking to heal their body and their relationship with food. When working to stop dieting and heal, there are a LOT ups and downs. Those “downs” are the most important part of the healing process– they are what give us insight into imbalances you your diet and you life.
I always tell my clients that there really are no mistakes, only learning experiences. So Frisky Lemon really comes from “when life hands you lemons, get frisky!” I want my clients to turn those lemons around and have fun with them — to use them to find balance in their diets so that they can heal and reach their health goals.
CE: As a former dancer, what led you to pursue CrossFit?
AN: Well, along with being a dancer, I was also a shot putter. Track and field was my real gateway into Crossfit (we did a lot of weight lifting to train for track), but I wouldn’t have been so into shot-put if I didn’t have the body awareness I gained from ballet. They seem like very opposite forms of movement, but they’re both really all about technique — and so is olympic lifting.
One of the things I love most about ballet was connecting how my dance looked to how it felt. You really learn how what things feel like when they look good technique-wise (if that makes any sense). That’s one of the things I love about Crossfit and weightlifting. A complex movement like the snatch takes a certain amount of strength, but it almost takes a lot of technique. Part of excelling at the sport is knowing what something feels like and being able to make adjustments — just like in ballet.
The other thing that keeps me Crossfitting is how empowered it made me feel and how it changed how I viewed my body. I never quite fit in with other ballerinas body-wise and weight-wise, and that really bothered me for a long time. When I started Crossfit it was like I found what my body was meant to do and that was an incredible experience that allowed me to embrace my body and see myself as strong and capable.
AN: I first started following a Paleo diet around 2009 — a little bit before it hit the mainstream. Honestly, I started following a paleo diet to lose weight. At the time I was stuck in some really disordered eating patterns (restricting and binging), and all of my dietary changes with made with weight loss in mind.
In addition to wanting to lose weight, I was also going through some really bad digestion stuff at that time. When I started following a paleo diet, I gradually noticed that my digestion started to heal, that I was feeling better and that weight loss became less important to me. Following a paleo diet not only helped me heal my body, it helped me heal my relationship with food. It made eating less stressful and more enjoyable. Paleo helped me find balance in my food routine so that I can eat the foods that I know make me feel good and a balance of foods that may not be the healthiest, but that I love.
Now, as a Nutrition Counselor, I’ve taken the process I went through to heal my body and my relationship with food and streamlined it for my clients. Finding a diet that truly works for you take time and experimentation, but I like to provide some guidance and support to help you start off in the right direction.
CE: When you splurge — off Paleo, of course — what do you typically reach for?
AN: Oh man. Pizza and donuts. Yep. Those are the two main “non-paleo” foods that I enjoy from time to time. I know they’re not considered the healthiest foods, but I’ve done enough experimentation to know how they make me feel physically and emotionally, so I can make the conscious decision to indulge from time to time.
I always practice listening to my body and my inner body cues — my hunger, satisfaction and cravings — and eating what I want to eat when I want to eat it. Most of the time I actually want to eat Paleo foods, but sometimes I’m in the mood for pizza and donuts.
My favorite pizza is Italian style pizza with sausage, peppers, onions and ricotta cheese … and my favorite donuts are apple cider donuts!
CE: How do you keep yourself accountable when it comes to staying fit and healthy?
AN: By listening to my body and being flexible. I try really hard to listen to my body and to give it what it wants in terms of both food and exercise. Like I mentioned before, most of the time, I want to eat healthy paleo foods, but when I do truly want something that I wouldn’t usually eat, I allow myself to eat it as a part of my balanced diet (in the past I would have never allowed myself to eat pizza and donuts and if I did eat them, I would have felt guilty for days).
I take the same approach with exercise. I follow a training plan, but on the days when I’m not inspired, or I don’t feel like doing it, I let myself take a day off. I LOVE exercising, and I don’t want to force myself to do it, because then I know I’ll start to resent it. I call it intuitive exercising — I workout how I want to, when I want to. Allowing this kind of flexibility with my diet and exercise helps me stay accountable — because when I don’t force myself to do certain things, I am authentically motivated to eat healthy and stay fit.
CE: What is your healthy living mantra?
AN: “When life hands you lemons, get frisky!” There are no such things as mistakes when it comes to eating well and making lifestyle changes. The “mistakes” and hard times are the times that teach you about yourself and allow you to continue to move forward. I’ve learned how to take the hard times and turn them into positive experiences and I love supporting others to do the same!