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Interview with LivBar Founder Jan Johansen: New Years Resolutions, Wellness, and How to Define 'Health'

As we close out the 2010’s and enter into a brand new decade, we’re taking time to reflect on the last ten years and set our goals for 2020. We caught up with LivBar founder Jan Johansen to chat about the pros and cons of New Years Resolutions, how to make realistic and lasting changes for your health, and what “health” really looks like. Jan is both the founder of LivBar and a professional health and wellness coach at Liv Wellness in Oregon. 

What are your thoughts on New Year’s resolutions?

From a mental aspect, I think the new year can be a good time to ‘reset’ and to start fresh. It’s a time that you’re setting in stone and committing to starting a change, which is great. But it can also be bad because people will sabotage themselves by overindulging before they start a new way of eating or beginning a fitness change in the New Year. They have this idea that they’re going to be restricting themselves come January 1st, so they overcompensate beforehand and then create unrealistic goals for themselves afterwards, which oftentimes leads them to become discouraged and give up.

How can people create lasting habits?

Set realistic goals that are small and achievable. Also, identify the purpose of what you’re trying to do: do you want more energy? Are you trying to make more nutritious food choices? Make sure you know what your goal is and that it’s realistic so that you don’t get discouraged when there’s not an immediate change. There is no quick fix, and real change takes time. If you set goals that are too big, then you’ll burnout faster and potentially get overwhelmed. Set smaller goals that will add up to create bigger change.

What does “health” look like?

Overall balance, feeling like you have energy, and like you’re thriving rather than just surviving. My business is a healing business, and weight loss is often a byproduct. The real goal is to heal people through fitness and nutrition, put them in balance, and help them to be the healthiest versions of themselves, whatever that might look like for them.  As long as we address health as a whole, then everything will go into balance. You will be the best version of yourself.

What, in your experience, makes people give up on their wellness journey?

Setting unrealistic goals, lack of motivation, and not reaching goals as quickly as they’d like. Life circumstances often get in the way and keep people from making the changes that they want. I teach people how to navigate these life challenges and how to prioritize their health within their lifestyle. Lack of support and feeling abandoned can also cause people to give up. Support is huge. So is patience. It helps to surround yourself with people who will encourage you, whether that’s friends, family, a health coach, or some other sort of community.

What are some of the worst pieces of advice you see around this time of year?

Advertisements of new fad diets, for sure!

Are diets in general a good idea?

No! I always say that the first three letters of diet are “die”. When discussing food, I generally say ‘a way of eating’ or ‘eating habits’ instead of ‘diet’. Diets have a beginning and an end. They’re not realistic and can’t work in the long term, because they focus too much on restriction.

In my opinion, there should be no restriction. You should eat the foods you love,  feel good about those choices, and enjoy your food. I try to help people replace instead of restrict. If you love twinkles, let me give you a recipe for a healthier “Twinkie.” You can make small changes that add up without having to eat foods that you hate. Because that’s not sustainable change.

Are there any other reasons that diets don’t generally work?

Diets - especially unrealistic ones - can cause stress, which leads to inflammation. People expect to feel better when they start a new diet, so if they find themselves feeling tired, bloated, or stressed they might give up or feel dissatisfied with their progress.

Is there any “one size fits all” approach to healthy eating?

It’s important to note that each individual’s biochemistry is different. A way of eating that works for one person might not work for another. For example: someone might try to start eating a ton of raw kale, but that might not agree with their stomach. They might not feel well, and decide not to eat kale. But maybe if they’d tried to juice the kale or cook it, or if they’d eaten different types of vegetables as well, then they’d find that they feel much better. It’s all about finding what works for you, but I do find that it’s always best to start with eating food in its most natural state and to vary what you eat. Start with organic, whole foods in their natural state, and go from there. Make sure you get plenty of fiber, plenty of hydration, and avoid inflammatory foods. 


What is one of the biggest barriers to people making positive changes in their fitness and eating habits?

Lack of awareness. Especially in the Baby Boomer generation, there has been a lot of misinformation in the media and misconception about what is good for you. People are out of balance with their health, and that has become the norm. For that reason people can be super resistant to change, and super reluctant to believe that they have the power to improve their health. I always start with the basic “five finger approach” when working with new clients: hydrate, eat right, be active, sleep well, and manage your stress. All of these factors play into health and wellness; not just diet and exercise. 

If you could make sure that everyone in the world knew one thing about nutrition/fitness, what would that be?

Your health is your wealth! There is nothing more important than your good health, and it is within your power to make healthy changes that will improve your life.

If you’re in Oregon and interested in chatting with Jan further, you can contact her and learn more at

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