Kristin Kaschak is a force to be reckoned with. Kristin wears many hats: she's a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner with the Nutritional Therapy Association, holds certifications with the CHEK Institute (Holistic Lifestyle Coach) and CrossFit, Inc. (Level 1 Trainer Certificate Holder), runs the wildly successful blog "The Girl With the Butter", and co-hosts the podcast "Is This Podcast Paleo?", all on top of her day job at New Jersey's largest craft beer distributor. That, in and of itself, gives you a good sense of who Kristin is. She exists on both ends of the spectrum; exuding tough Jersey charm and simultaneously offering women the support they need to revolutionize their relationship with fitness, nutrition, and self-image. As Kristin puts it on her blog, she can be brash, she can swear a lot, but everything she does is made with love.
Kristin is on a mission to get us back to basics, escape conventional nutritional dogma, and reconnect to the inner strength we all carry within us. When she's not busy changing the world, Kristin loves traveling, finding good coffee, eating delicious food, and enjoying life to its fullest. Without further ado, Kristin in her own words.
Who are you? What is "your story?"
I feel like at 30 I’ve already been roughly 7 different people. In high school alone I went from athlete, to cheerleader, to theater kid. Insecure, though I’d never admit it. Then college came and I was the party girl. I’d drink any guy under the table. Blackouts were not uncommon. I think that back then I was still just trying to find my place, and it was easy to fall into that role. If the me back then, saw the me now…I don’t think that one would recognize the other.
I started my blog as a record of craft-beer drinking (I work for NJ's largest craft beer distributor, as well as coach CrossFit, run my nutrition coaching programs, and blog). Slowly, as my life became more health-focused, the blog did as well. Over time, what was once "It’s Better With Beer" became "The Girl With the Butter." I dove in. What foods should we eat? Why does Paleo work for so many? Why was it working for me? This was the beginning of my nutrition education that would eventually lead me the Nutritional Therapy Practitioner Certification in 2014 from the Nutritional Therapy Association (NTA). I am a certified Nutritional Therapist Practitioner, as well as a CHEK Holistic Lifestyle Certified Coach, a CrossFIT L1 Trainer, Poloquin Institute BioSignature Practitioner, and a Certified BirthFIT Coach.
I focus on showing other women how they can regain control of their health. Showing them that eating a diet rich in nutritious, whole foods in their natural forms is not only doable, but can (and will) drastically improve well being. We need to get back to basics. I have a Weston A. Price, whole foods, Paleo, Nutrient-dense, Caveman, Ancestral, whatever you want to call it, approach. I do not believe that eating well means sacrificing or starving. The key is education. I am not here to tell anyone what to do. I’m here to help folks learn about their choices, and make the ones that will help to reach whatever their goals happen to be.
"I focus on showing other women how they can regain control of their health."
The more I learn, the more what I want to talk about and what my ‘mission’ is, changes. Even now, I can see a shifting in what’s important to me. While is was once all about real food, paleo, and cooking…now I’m finding that I am more passionate about women taking control of their perceptions of themselves, their approach to health and fitness. I also see the importance in finding the fun in it all- that is doesn’t have to be so friggin' serious all the time. Oh, and where to get good coffee and food on the road. It’s called balance.
How has physical fitness and strength impacted your journey?
My personal story with how I ended up here is a bit of a winding road. The cliff notes are that after being diagnosed with a hypo-active thyroid and having a physician prescribe the same meds that never worked over and over, I started investigating what. could do myself. At the same time, I started doing CrossFit (2010-ish), and it opened up a whole new world of fitness and what that means. Up until that point, "fitness" meant "skinny," in my world. Suddenly we were focusing on actually DOING something. Training, not exercising. Having a purpose other than "getting skinny." It changed everything from how much I enjoyed working out, to my body-image and self-confidence. When what I was eating because how I was nourishing my body as opposed to shrinking it, and training became how I was strengthening myself and not a form of repentance, the world flipped upside down.
"I also see the importance in finding the fun in it all- that is doesn’t have to be so friggin' serious all the time."
Tell me the lowest or darkest point in your life. Tell me the happiest point in your life. Now tell me the connection between the two: how did "rock bottom" become a foundation for success?
Not pulling any punches here, huh? This is a hard one to answer, because I think that in retrospect, in the grand scheme of things, I have not really had a "rock bottom." Looking back to my time in high school and through college, was probably my darkest time in terms of how I saw and felt about myself. That’s when I was constantly crying in dressing rooms every time I tried on a bikini, when I would take weight loss pills all the dang time, when I thought I was fat and needed to be skinny in order to be worth anything. Legitimately thinking that I was a terrible person for a handful of reasons. The truth, I see now, is that I didn’t value anything. My priorities were all over the place. I had no idea who I was, or what I wanted out of life. I suppose, even thought I was having a hell of a lot of fun, I was quite lost.
In 2009, when I was 20, my mother suddenly passed away after complications from undiagnosed dilated cardiomyopathy. It’s probably the biggest shock to my life that I’ve ever experienced. I never really got angry, or depressed. I simply felt like I had to move on, because what else could I do? Nothing was going to change by me sitting in a dark room for the rest of my life. While I can’t put my finger on what this event means for me long term, I do know a few things to be true. First, that life changes drastically in the blink of an eye and bad things will happen. You have a choice: to let them overtake you, or to come out of the other side stronger than you were before. I think that I matured more quickly than I would have. I think that my view of the world became less that of a ‘victim’ who things just happen to and more one of accountability and control. We can’t control everything that happens in our lives, but we CAN control how we respond to them, and what we do with what we’re given.
"You have a choice: to let them overtake you, or to come out of the other side stronger than you were before."
What does it mean to you to be “strong?"
Being ‘strong’ means a whole lot of different things. In the literal sense, I think that it’s important (especially for women) to be physically strong. Not necessarily deadlifting 500lbs, but physically capable of being self-sufficient. Physical strength is empowering, not because of what you can do in the gym, but because I know that I can hold my own in the world. I am not helpless. In a more metaphorical sense, I think that mental strength is something that needs to be trained just like the body does. How we allow things to get to us. Who we allow to impact how we think or feel. How much fortitude we have to push through when situations get complicated or tough. The truth is that things typically work out in the end, really, if you use persevere a little bit.
Being strong means having the guts to say what you think. The unpopular thing. To speak your truth. With that, I also think that strength in character means being OK with being told that you’re wrong. In learning from those with beliefs and perspectives that differ from yours. The weak-minded do not want to be confronted with challenges. The strong welcome it as a chance to grow.
Lastly, something that I’m starting to learn that being strong, actually in part means being okay with being vulnerable. Asking for help. Strong enough to lay your pride down. This is something that I struggle with. Not wanting to show weakness, or ignorance. I’m discovering though, that it’s in those weaknesses, the ignorance, and the need for help, where our greatest opportunity to learn lies. We become stronger through healing after being broken. It’s true with our bodies, and it’s true with our characters.
"The weak-minded do not want to be confronted with challenges. The strong welcome it as a chance to grow."
Describe the fearlessly authentic you.
If I’m being honest, I don’t quite know yet…and I think that’s okay! I’m (almost) 31, and I feel like now I’m starting to figure out who I really am at my core. I’m starting to finally just lean in to my true self. That being said, I’m still learning and growing and trying to be better, find more depth every day. Right now, just being fearless in being me is something that I actively work on. I think we all talk about not caring what others think, but I don’t know how true that is. I think it’s okay to care what other people think. We want people to think we’re kind, because we want to be kind. We want people to think we’re smart, because we want to be knowledgable. It’s not the caring that stops us from being ourselves, I don’t think. It’s when we allow what others think to dictate our actions, or stop us from doing what we want to do or believe to be right out of fear of what others might think. Maybe when I’m 90, and look back at my life in its entirety, then I’ll truly know my most authentic self.