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“Go Plant Yourself” with Health Coach, Howie Jacobson | Ep 31

Do you attach a moral code to your relationship with food? Have you been wanting to start on your health journey for a while but struggle to dive in? Can you use data instead of judgments? In this podcast episode, I speak with Howie Jacobson about how he empowers people to take control over their own health destinies and implement lifestyle changes that support vibrant health and fitness.


Howie Jacobson has a Ph.D. in Health Education from Temple University and is the host of Plant Yourself Podcast.

He is also the co-author of Sick to Fit and the co-founder and lead instructor at WellStart Coach Academy.

Visit his website, and listen to his podcast. Join the Sick to Fit Facebook community.

Claim your free copy of Sick To Fit ebook.



  • Health and religion
  • Health and biology
  • Getting started on your health
  • Tools and mindsets


People want to become healthy for all sorts of unhealthy reasons … because they think of being unhealthy or engaging in unhealthy behavior as a kind of sin. (Howard Jacobson)

People tend to have, unconsciously, a moralistic view of health, food, and exercise. They might say that they had some “sinful” food or were “weak-willed” about their exercise.

It may seem like a harmless way to deal with navigating health, but it does not motivate a person to truly care for their wellbeing, because the reason to get healthy is based on an unhealthy mindset.

That’s the first thing I’d like to help people free themselves from because when that happens, we are evaluating ourselves in a very permanent kind of way, like “I’m a sinner” or “I’m a bad person” [when I eat a donut]. (Howard Jacobson)

Judging what we feel like eating, whether it be a donut or a celery stick, is a form of self-attack. Due to our biology, when we feel that we are under attack we enter our flight or fight stress response.

Within that flight or fight response, we make decisions that are based on what feels good in the short term, instead of considering the long term. In effect, a perpetuating, negative self-destructive cycle is created.


We have the same set of genetics that our early ancestors did, and those genetics praised them for eating well whenever they found food and made their bodies stressed when they could not find food.

We are all the product of an evolutionary process that says it’s better to have extra than to have not enough … that pathological desire to eat crap is essentially a really useful survival drive that simply is a mismatch to our current environment. (Howard Jacobson)

Times have changed but human bodies and genetics have remained much the same.


Do not wait for the perfect analysis to come your way to start your health journey, because you already do know what is good for you, so start there.

Do not faff about purchasing the best running watch, just put on a pair of pants and go for a walk. Walk to the store, buy some fruit, and snack on it while you walk home. Health is simple and complicating it is just another way to avoid it.

Start small, small enough that you can do it every day.

By setting your goal too high too soon you may judge yourself unfairly for not being able to commit. Bypass that judgment by starting so small that you could not judge yourself, and work on doing that small thing every day.

Give yourself choices:

  • It is okay to choose the cookies sometimes. They are not a hard no.
  • Sometimes having a handful is better than having the whole packet because you were restricting yourself.
  • You can choose to bake your cookies or buy a chocolate protein bar.
  • Or you can have some fruit instead.
  • Go for a walk, come home, and then consider whether you still want the cookies or not.


This is already enacting free will. After some time, your self-love and self-esteem will be expressed and created through living out your values, instead of remaining stuck in an unhelpful cycle.


If you are using the scale, and you can step on it every day without it causing you stress or trauma, consider weighing yourself every day for 21 days to find out what your weight average is, if your goal is to lose weight.

Once you can work with your average weight, you can keep track of how your body is responding to exercise or food changes that you are trying in your health journey.

I hate the idea of “forgive yourself and start tomorrow”. I love the idea of “[exploring] what happened” and [discovering] how you can try something different tomorrow. (Howard Jacobson)

Do not be discouraged by data. All of this information is data, and keep emotions and moral judgments out of it. If you did not lose any weight this month, that is information about your body and your routine.

The muscle that you build in your health journey, as well as in your relationship, is the muscle that can handle moving through places of discomfort without pulling away and pretending it is not there.

You do not have to honor every impulse. You can observe it, and detach from it, and watch it the same way that you watch a butterfly.



About your host:

Susan Orenstein, Ph.D.

Dr. Susan Orenstein is a licensed psychologist and relationship expert  with over twenty years of experience. In 2005, she founded Orenstein Solutions, a private counseling practice in North Carolina that serves children, teens, adults and couples. 

She created the After the First Marriage Podcast to support individuals through the significant life transition of divorce. She whole-heartedly believes that “happily ever after” is an option for everyone, and is dedicated to helping divorcées regain the confidence to pursue a fulfilling future after the first marriage. 

Whether you listen to the podcast, join the Facebook community, or follow along on Twitter,  you’re in the right place!

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