Psst! Spoiler alert: she didn’t have to give up her favorite childhood cultural foods to get the body and skin she deserves.
After chatting with Holistic Nutrition Coach, Behavior Change Specialist, and Personal Trainer Tiyanna Bernard, it looks like our guts can have a stronghold on our health and complexions.
After years of her silent personal battle with irritable bowel syndrome, emotional eating/drinking, and weight fluctuations, Tiyanna, professionally known as Coach Ty, decided to create The Gut Method. The online nutrition and fitness program empowers high stressed working women like herself to heal from within, reduce inflammation, build a better relationship with food, and finally see results without giving up the foods they love.
Keep scrolling to learn how she achieved her lit-from-within glow by making overall wellness realistic and stress-free.
When and why did you personally become serious about your gut health?
I became serious about my gut health journey in 2014. After my first colonoscopy at 21, I thought I was too young for this, and I knew something needed to change. During this time, I worked two jobs to make ends meet while putting myself through college. At the time, I was dealing with bloating, constipation, and eating whatever the heck was convenient. My weight constantly fluctuated due to digestion issues and Friday wing night with my hubby. I would overindulge in foods on the weekends, then eat salads and do cardio on the weekdays.
Every month would be a new diet consisting of no carbs, sugar, or alcohol. I would be struggling with uncomfortable restroom visits and anxiety attacks at work. I didn’t start feeling a change until I got serious about eating for my gut and started working inside out with my health.
What was the first step you took to improve your digestion issues?
The first step I took to improve my digestion issue was, right after my colonoscopy, I became vegan. It was all new during that time, so there weren’t as many options on the market as there are now. However, I couldn’t sustain it for long. I’m from Jersey, and I love shrimp fried rice. Plus, I always felt this immense pressure to be perfect all the time, and even though I felt good, it wasn’t realistic for me long term.
Fast forward to the midst of COVID is when I had the biggest gut flare-up. My skin had taken a toll. I picked up the habit of drinking a bottle of wine a day. I had just hit that two-year mark in my business and was stressed.
So at the end of 2020, I did the Daniel fast to work through some of my emotional stress and get back on track with my eating. However, I did not know that those raw vegetables, beans, and fiber were too much for my body. I ended up worse after my Daniel fast than before. Not from the fast itself but the fiber overload, not knowing what to do, and then going back into my old habits right after. It was a challenging time. There would be days I would lay in bed with stomach pains from anything I ate. I was going to get colonics and everything, but nothing was working.
So I invested in a holistic doctor who helped me get down to the nitty-gritty of what causes inflammation in my gut. Found out that I had IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth). From there, I started making the necessary lifestyle changes so I wouldn’t have to be in pain anymore.
And the best part was after the dreaded 6-8 weeks of limiting myself to the things I loved (i.e., beer, cake, and wine). I was able to start incorporating those foods back into my lifestyle later on.
How long did it take for you to see a difference in your skin?
It took about a month to see a difference in my skin. First, I was told that my skin looked so bad because of the candida overload (aka yeast). So once I stopped drinking so much and started limiting my processed foods and substituting for natural sugars, my skin started to clear up. Initially, I thought my skincare products were the problem, but the problem was rooted much deeper.
Are there any skincare products that helped you too along your journey?
There has absolutely been a plethora of skin care products that have helped me along my gut health journey. I work out four times a week, and even if I did eat well and take care of myself from the inside, I would have blackheads if I didn’t cleanse correctly. I use a multitude of different things depending on the time of the week and if I worked out that day.
For daily cleansing, I use La Roche-Posay foaming cleanser. 1-2 days out of the week, I will use PanOxyl Benzoyl Peroxide to clear any acne I see forming. I also use the brands The Ordinary Salicylic Acid and Paula’s Choice Exfoliant Peel, only when necessary. I use an adapalene retinoid from Differin almost every night. When using my retinoid, I am not using any other actives for that week; it will dry out my skin too much. I use Cerave for my night and day cream. I never skip sunscreen and follow up with grapeseed oil with vitamin e.
For anyone thinking that sticking to a nutrition plan is too hard, what are three simple nutrition habits they can start today?
- Be realistic. Set a goal with mini action steps. If your goal is to lose weight, don’t just try and cut everything out so you can lose weight quickly or reverse it. If you’re trying to gain, some curves, start eating everything to get thick. No. None of that stuff works. Instead, I suggest writing out that goal, then starting a three-day written food log to see where you are now. For some that may be eating more protein and for others making some conscious snack swaps, this will help you find out where you can begin creating intentions for change.
- If you’re a busy woman, prepare ahead of time. Don’t set yourself up. If cooking is not your ministry, get pre-order meals from vendors like Freshly, Purple Carrot, or Daily Harvest. If you’re not a fan of online shopping, go to your local store and pick up the pop-in-the-oven meals. I see so many grab-and-go meals at Publix and sprouts that look amazing. I always suggest them to my non-cooking clients. If you like to cook, plan to cook on Sundays & Wednesdays. Sunday’s meals will be for the next two days and so forth. The task becomes daunting and overwhelming when you try to make a week’s worth of meals. Plus, it’s unrealistic to think that making seven meals a week will work for the rest of their life. Sometimes you want to switch things up.
- Set food & water alarms –this is for busy women who skip meals because they work so much or are always on the go. This is not something you will have to do forever, but more so to create the habit of “oh have I stopped working and eaten today?” My clients love this habit change tip because the same way we set an alarm to wake up in the morning if we do it for so long, it automatically becomes second nature. So basically, you’re subconsciously training to eat when you normally should be eating – instead of ignoring your hunger cues to finish work. The time frames and types of foods will look different for everyone.
When you struggle, how do you get back on track?
Right after a vacation, I usually struggle to get back on track the most. The main thing I do is give myself 1- 2 weeks to fully get back. Then, I take it one day at a time. Back in the day, I used to try and undo all the “bad” I have been doing (i.e., drinking alcohol or over-indulging in pizza and sweets). But now, I simply just live and fall back into a routine as if nothing has changed. I immediately return to my 2-3 Liters of water a day, eating cooked veggies and working out.
What do you do when you’re traveling?
When I am traveling, I honestly just live life. I don’t go crazy with food or even try to stick to my normal routine. However, I do make sure I have lots of water and fruit on hand to stay hydrated.
What does a typical day of eating look like for you?
A typical day of eating for me will vary depending on the day. If I am expected to be up at the gym at 6 am, I usually start with a green juice, fruit, or maybe even a kind bar. That’s normally enough to fuel my workouts after training my clients. I sometimes get a coffee too, or avocado toast from Dunkin if it’s a leg day. Then I would go home and have my post-workout meal. Even if it’s noon, I still have to have some type of breakfast. For me, mentally, it sets the tone that I had breakfast, so my next meal will be lunch, dinner, and dessert. I try to get three meals in a day with a snack or dessert. So for lunch, I’ll have a carb, protein, and veggie. I’ll have another protein choice for dinner with double greens, wine, and vegan cookies.
6 am: Green Juice, Banana
10 am: Kind bar
12 pm: Turkey Bacon, Avocado toast,
3 pm: Shrimp, Broccoli, White Rice
7-8 pm: Salmon, Asparagus, Spinach
9 pm: Wine or Cookies
How are you supporting other busy women who need motivation and guidance to transform their gut health?
Quarterly, I host free online wellness workshops to help working busy women like myself stay motivated and guide them to help transform their guts. They are nutrition and mindset-focused. I just had my first one of this year on July 19th. It was called the Bloat Goat Workshop. It was my 3 step process to eating guilt-free, building body confidence, and creating your best health routine. I know there is so much misleading information, so I host these to help empower women to claim control over their health.
What do the words PRETTY GIRLS SWEAT mean to you?
To me, PRETTY GIRLS SWEAT means that you can be strong but still soft. Growing up, I played all the sports: basketball, volleyball, and track, and during that time, the agenda with women’s sports, I noticed, was always to be tough and strong. For me, someone who grew up with anger management issues and a lot of insecurities around my height, I associated it all with being masculine. It’s a prevalent narrative that I think a lot of women still believe exercise is rough and masculine when it is not. So I love the mission of PRETTY GIRLS SWEAT, because not only are we using exercise to keep us healthy but also to showcase our femininity.