Balanced Bites Podcast | Diane Sanfilippo & Liz Wolfe

Podcast Episode #293: Mindset & Inner Strength with JJ Virgin

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Balanced Bites Podcast | Diane Sanfilippo & Liz WolfeTopics

  1. News and updates from Diane & Liz [1:47]
  2. Introducing our guest, JJ Virgin [3:23]
  3. Something new that I'm into: Kite Hill almond ricotta cheese [5:08]
  4. JJ's backstory with her son [6:53]
  5. Having the right mindset for challenges [13:40]
  6. Finding time for self-care [22:51]
  7. Diane's takeaways [33:00]

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Balanced Bites Podcast | Diane Sanfilippo & Liz Wolfe Balanced Bites Podcast | Diane Sanfilippo & Liz Wolfe Balanced Bites Podcast | Diane Sanfilippo & Liz Wolfe Balanced Bites Podcast | Diane Sanfilippo & Liz Wolfe

You’re listening to the Balanced Bites podcast episode 293.

Diane Sanfilippo: Welcome to the Balanced Bites podcast. I’m Diane; a certified nutrition consultant, and the New York Times bestselling author of Practical Paleo and The 21-Day Sugar Detox. I live in San Francisco with my husband and fur kids. I’m the co-creator of the Balanced Bites Master Class, alongside my partner in crime, Liz Wolfe. And together, we’ve been bringing you this award-winning podcast for 5 years and counting. We’re here to share our take on modern paleo living, answer your questions, and chat with leading health and wellness experts. Enjoy this week’s episode, and submit your questions at Or over on our Instagram at Balanced Bites podcast. Remember our disclaimer: The materials and content within this podcast are intended as general information only, and are not to be considered a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Before we get started, let’s hear from one of our sponsors.

Liz Wolfe: The Balanced Bites podcast is sponsored in part by the Nutritional Therapy Association. The NTA trains and certifies nutritional therapy practitioners and consultants (including me; I’m an NTP), emphasizing bio-individuality and the range of dietary strategies that support wellness. The NTA emphasizes local, whole, properly prepared nutrient dense foods as the key to restoring balance and enhancing the body’s ability to heal. Nutritional therapy practitioners and consultants learn a wide range of tools and techniques to assess and correct nutritional imbalances. To learn lots more about the nutritional therapy program, go to There are workshop venues in the US, Canada, and Australia, so chances are you’ll be able to find a venue that works for you.

1. News and updates from Diane [1:47]

Diane Sanfilippo: Hey everyone! It’s me, Diane, here with a very special guest today, who I’ll introduce in just a few moments. Before I do that, I want to give you a couple of quick updates. If you have not already seen my brand new vlog over on YouTube; it’s just You can check out the Diane direct videos that we’re posting every single week. Some week’s they’ll be a short little clip; maybe about a minute long of a quick question and answer that I’m covering over there. Sometimes they’ll be a bit longer. I’ve got how I mix my cold brew coffee on there now, and also the first part of why I’m eating a keto diet. Which you guys have been super excited about. So you can check those out. There may even be a second part to that one up by now.

If you’ve been kind of listening along, and curious about the 21-Day Sugar Detox Coaches program if you’re a practitioner; whether you're a personal trainer, nutrition coach, etc., and you want to run groups through the 21-Day Sugar Detox. Which is an amazing program that can help people bust sugar and carb cravings, get them set off on the right foot eating real food. We are opening that program the middle to end of May. So stay tuned, and you’ll hear more about that.

Liz Wolfe: Today’s podcast is sponsored by Vital Choice seafood and organics; purveyor of premium sustainably sourced seafood and a certified B corporation. Vital choice offers a wide range of fish, shellfish, humanely raised meat, protein rich bone broths, and paleo friendly snacks like organic dark chocolate, super antioxidant trail mix, and bison jerky. From weeknight dinners to weekend brunches, is your source for real food.

2. Introducing our guest, JJ Virgin [3:23]

Diane Sanfilippo: If you’re not already familiar with my guest for today’s episode, JJ Virgin, let me give you some quick background. Celebrity nutrition and fitness expert, JJ Virgin, teaches clients how to lose weight and master their mindset so they can lead bigger, better lives. She’s the author of 4 New York Times’ bestsellers; The Virgin Diet, The Virgin Diet Cookbook, JJ Virgin’s Sugar Impact Diet, and JJ Virgin’s Sugar Impact Diet Cookbook. Her memoir, Miracle Mindset: A Mother, Her Son, and Life’s Hardest Lessons explores the powerful lessons in strength and positivity she learned after her son, Grant, was the victim of a brutal hit and run accident. JJ hosts the popular JJ Virgin Lifestyle Show podcast, and regularly writes for Huffington Post, Rodale Wellness, and other major blogs and magazines.

She’s also a frequent guest on TV and radio, and speaks at major events. In addition to her work with nutrition and fitness, JJ is also a business coach, and founded the premier health entrepreneur event and community, The Mindshare Summit. You can find articles, recipes, and helpful online programs and more at JJ’s been on the show twice before, so if you haven’t listened to those episodes, I highly recommend it; episode 76 and 127. You can check those out or get links to them right from our show notes, which is available through iTunes as well as

Alright, so welcome back to the show, JJ. I’m excited to chat with you today. I think this is our third episode that we’re doing together. But not our third time ever speaking, of course.

JJ Virgin: That’s true. I just wish we were cooking together.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

JJ Virgin: There’s nothing better than cooking with you, or standing next to you while you’re cooking.

Diane Sanfilippo: That was fun. Especially if it’s bacon, right?

JJ Virgin: Oh my gosh. Yes.

Diane Sanfilippo: Bacon is the best.

JJ Virgin: I still remember those chicken thighs.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

JJ Virgin: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: That was probably 3 years ago now, in my New Jersey home. Crazy.

JJ Virgin: Uh-huh.

3. Something new that I’m into: Kite Hill almond ricotta cheese [5:08]

Diane Sanfilippo: So, we love to do this thing called what we’re digging lately; or something we’re into right now. We want to share with our listeners something that you’re into right now. So why don’t you tell us something?

JJ Virgin: Ok, I’m obsessed with something. So much so that I was out of it today and I felt like my best friend had dumped me. Have you heard of Kite Hill almond ricotta cheese?

Diane Sanfilippo: I have heard of it, and I know a lot of people love it. But I can’t eat almonds.

JJ Virgin: Oh, that’s so sad!

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah! {laughs}

JJ Virgin: So I had to cut myself off because I was getting these Beanitos bean chips, and obsessively eating this Kite Hill almond cheese like a little piggy. So anyway. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: It’s something you’re into.

JJ Virgin: I had to cut myself off. Yes.

Diane Sanfilippo: You know, I think what I guess it tastes like is something I used to eat back in the day called rondele. Do you know what that stuff is? It’s like a cream cheesy, goat cheesy, herb cheese.

JJ Virgin: Yeah, it’s not like. Well, I don’t get; I don’t like herbs in my cheese. And I can’t have dairy.

Diane Sanfilippo: Oh so this one is plain?

JJ Virgin: Yeah, it’s totally plain. I can’t have dairy. Dairy kills me; it’s so upsetting. It’s like ricotta cheese.

Diane Sanfilippo: Ok. I don’t think you’ve had rondele in your life. But I’m pretty sure it looks similar. If anybody listening is like, “Yes, I used to eat that when I was younger.” Maybe it’s an East Coast thing, too, that we used to have that.

JJ Virgin: We had it around. I just hate herbs; herbs in cheese is a gross thing to me.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

JJ Virgin: I’m one of those super tasters.

Diane Sanfilippo: Oh.

JJ Virgin: I’m super picky about things. So they make, that Kite Hill makes all sorts of things with herbs in them. I just can’t have the herbs.

Diane Sanfilippo: Got to be straight up.

JJ Virgin: It’s got to be straight, yep.

4. JJ’s backstory with her son [6:53]

Diane Sanfilippo: Alright. So we’ve done a few episodes where we’ve talked about nutrition, and we’ve also talked about mindset before. We talked about money fears, and all kinds of different topics. Today we’re going to be talking more about mindset. And specifically, JJ’s got a new book out called Miracle Mindset. In it, she talks about 7 powerful lessons she learned after her 16-year-old son, Grant, was in a brutal hit and run accident. Fighting for her son’s life inspired a new focus on mindset and the power of courage, strength, and the resilience to help you not just survive, but thrive during life’s hardest moments.

JJ, this topic really; I think our listeners. We posted a call for questions, and I have a feeling that people didn’t quite know what to ask. But this topic resonates with them. Because whenever we talk about mindset on this show, whether it’s diet mindset, whether it’s just empowerment in general, living the life that you need and want to live, people respond to it. I think they just weren’t quite sure what to ask. And I think it’s ok, because you have plenty to say without direct questions.

You’ve learned a lot of lessons as a result of tragedy. And you’ve been through a lot, even before that. Just kind of different struggles in life. So first of all, give folks just a little bit of the backstory of what did happen with Grant. I think we talked about it on a previous episode. But just to kind of remind them, because that was quite a while ago.

JJ Virgin: It was. It was right when The Virgin Diet was coming out; a couple of weeks before. My son was crossing the street. We’d actually gotten into a little fight. And he left the house, kind of stormed out of the house. He was going to a friend’s house. Crossed the street, it was dusk. And a woman hit him. And all we know is, because no one saw it except her, and she drove off, and my son, and he had a traumatic brain injury. But basically, he was left for dead in the street. A neighbor saw him, called 911. He was air lifted to the local hospital. And when we got there, the doctor said that we had to let him go. Because he had a torn aorta that kills 90% of people on the scene, and his was hanging on by an onion skin. And sometime in the next 24 hours it was going to rupture, if it wasn’t repaired. But we couldn’t repair it there, because he had these multiple brain bleeds, and if they did it there, his brain would bleed out. Because he needed a super-special surgery.

So the doctor was like, he’ll never survive another airlift. And even if he were to survive another airlift, he’s not going to survive that surgery. And even if he did, he’d be so brain damaged, it wouldn’t be worth it. I mean, literally says this. And my 15-year-old was sitting there, and listened to this doctor. And this; ok, 15 years old. This is what I still kind of look and go, amazing kid. He said, “So, maybe a 0.25% chance he’d make it?” And the doctor says, “Yeah, that sounds about right, son.” He goes, “We’ll take those odds.” And Bryce said to me, “Well, 0.25 is not zero.” {laughs} You know. So we airlifted him to the next hospital, drove there in the middle of the night, not knowing what we were going to see. We get there, and it’s a totally different attitude. Game on, at this hospital. They’re like, “We’ve got this!” you know. Because this is number 2 trauma center in the country, and what they’re trained to do.

So Grant made it through that surgery, but then the doctor came up and goes, “Ok, I fixed his aorta. But I don’t know if he’ll ever wake up. I’m not the neurosurgeon, I’m just the plumber.” So the neurosurgeons are like, we don’t know if he’ll ever wake up. All through this healing it was, “We don’t know if he’ll wake up. We don’t’ know if he’ll walk. We don’t know if he’ll talk.” On and on and on. I made the decision that first day; he got hit at dusk, and it was the next mid-morning. I was holding 3 fingers, because everything else was bandaged or had gravel in it. He was covered in road rash, it was unbelievable. And I’m holding these 3 fingers. He had 13 fractures. Everything is casted. And I just said, Grant. And he always could feel me. So I was like, I didn’t want to show any fear. Of course I was freaking out. But I’m like, “Grant, we’ve got this! You’re going to be great. Don’t worry!”

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} As moms do. “You're fine! Everything’s fine!”

JJ Virgin: “You're fine! Just a little blood.” I still remember when he was little, and he hit himself. I’m like, “It’s just a little blood.” So I’m looking at this. He has a tube out of his head, he’s in a coma. He’s got casts, 13 fractures, road rash. He’s on a ventilator, he’s on a central line. I’m like, “We’ve got it honey. I’m going to call in all my friends. We will get help. You’re going to be 110%. You’ll see. You’ll be better than before. You just have to fight.”

So that’s just kind of the theme I kept going with. Because I needed it to keep me from losing it, was, “Ok, how do I get my son to 110%.” And I think so much, Diane, in life is, it’s the questions you ask. Because a very different outcome if I had said, “How do I help my son to survive?” I might have a son right now who is barely there. Which I have a son who is super-thriving now. So a lot of building resilience. Which, when you look at all the successful people out there, the big common factor they have is not that life was easy for them. {laughs} You know? Right.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.

JJ Virgin: I mean it’s like, you look at successful people, and the common factor they have is that they have been through tough stuff, and they got better because of it, and they went out and did bigger things in life. They built that resilience. And one of the key ways you can do that is by the questions you ask.

Diane Sanfilippo: I think that’s so; not only, what I was thinking of. You said the questions that you ask; but when you were told 0.25%, and the first doctors were kind of saying there’s not a chance. You’re not saying, “Is there a chance?” it’s more of, “How.” Not will we, because I know that I will fight for something. And I think that’s part of the mindset you had before this, that then obviously allowed you to open up to what you call the Miracle Mindset, as the name of the book. Is the, “I will make this happen.” And of course we don’t always know what’s going to come from something. But it’s sort of the, “Don’t take no for an answer,” attitude, which is partially what I think is in the fabric of an entrepreneur.

JJ Virgin: Right.

Diane Sanfilippo: You can’t really be an entrepreneur if you’re willing to take no for an answer. It’s not yes or no, it’s how. And I think that’s kind of what you were talking about here. It’s not, “Will I fight.” It’s, “How will I fight to get my son back to where he needs to be.”


Diane Sanfilippo: So, for people who are listening to this. It’s almost funny the way your tone is talking about it. It’s so matter of fact now, because you’ve told the story so many times. And I remember, even when it was fresh. You were almost standing outside of yourself, telling the story as if it didn’t really happen to you. Because it’s almost so unbelievable. But that strength doesn’t really come from nowhere. As you said, it comes from overcoming adversity time and time again, and just facing these things head on. But you know, if somebody listening to this is like; “Holy cow. Here she is telling this story, and I’m here complaining about this job that I hate, or this relationship that I don’t know how to get out of,” or some other thing that they’re facing. How do we apply that mindset to all kinds of other challenges that we might face?

JJ Virgin: Yeah, and one of the biggest things people have said, Diane, is, “Oh my gosh, I could never do this!” And I’m like, if you took me back 5 years from now and said I was going face this, and I do that, I would say there is no way. Right? And it was during the initial part, and a lot of it I was on autopilot. It was like I was watching a movie. Because it’s like, I think your brain is doing everything to protect you from what is really happening. Because it’s so frightening.

The thing that saved me, and the reason I wrote this book is I got asked by so many people, “How did you do that?” I don’t really know how I did it because I was just on autopilot. At the time, I wasn’t thinking what I had to do, I just was absolutely in the moment doing it. But in retrospect, and what I realized is the way I’d gotten through this, it was like I had been in training for it, right? And when I was in my late 20s, early 30s, I had this client. I was a personal trainer. And I had this client, and she was a self-made multimillionaire. Amazing business woman. And I was in grad school. I was in my third grad school. And she goes, “Why are you in school?” and I go, “Because I want to be more successful. And I want to help more people.” And she goes, “What are you going to do after this?” I go, “Then I’m going to go to this other school.” Right?

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughing}

JJ Virgin: {laughs} She’s trying to get my life plans, and my life plans were just more school, more school, more school. She goes, “That isn’t going to be necessarily the thing that will make you successful.” And I said, “It’s not?” She goes, “No.” Then she goes, “I will teach you, if you want some help. I’ll teach you what I’ve done.” And I’m like, awesome. And I thought she was going to teach me how to be successful in business. And the first 6 months of this, I literally moved into her house with her. And she trained me.

So here’s the first week. The first week is, pull out a journal every morning and write down 3 things you’re grateful for.

Diane Sanfilippo: This is like The Karate Kid.

JJ Virgin: Yeah, it is!

Diane Sanfilippo: But for business. {laughs} Your Mr. Miyagi.

JJ Virgin: Yeah! I’m like, when am I going to learn how to sell? Right? So she’s like, you have to do this first.

Diane Sanfilippo: She’s showing you wax on, wax off. {laughing}

JJ Virgin: It’s hilarious. Because I forgot about this, Diane. And so the next thing I had to do was I had to wear this rubber band around my wrist. And every time I said something negative, snap! Right? And I’m thinking, my wrist is bright red. But you don’t realize. No more newspapers; of course we didn’t have the internet or anything back then. But I had to buy tapes and put them into a Walkman.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

JJ Virgin: And I was listening to Nightingale-Conant tapes; Brian Tracy, and Zig Ziglar, and all these people. And everything was about; it was all the think and grow rich stuff. What you can imagine you can have, and what you believe you can achieve. And I still have all those. I just watched a Brian Tracy documentary. I’m like, oh my gosh! That stuff is all in me.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} Love it.

JJ Virgin: It’s amazing. You don’t realize. At first I was like, “This is the most ridiculous stuff ever. Really? I’m going to write down 3 things I’m grateful for every morning. And really? I’m going to think about my big vision.” But honestly, at the end of 6 months, this is who I was. So, so much of what I used to get through all this is all of that stuff. Every morning at the hospital, I wake up at this crappy hotel room down the street. I’d pull out a journal, and I’d write down 3 things I was grateful for. I’d wake up absolutely freaked out. Because you know, you come to and you’re like, “Oh my gosh, where am I?” And then you remember.

But when you focus on the gratitude, it just shoves out the fear. And then every night when I was leaving the hospital. It’s like; dark in the morning, dark at night, I’m leaving again. I’ve been there all day. And my son has been lying in a coma all day long. And people have been bustling around. And you’re hearing everything, like, “He’ll never wake up.” I made those people leave the room, because I was used to controlling my positive environment. But, I would look at what was good today. What were the little things that I could celebrate. Like the fact he’s still alive. He sighed. He squeezed my finger. And those were all the things I used. And when people kept asking me. I’m like, gosh. All these things; asking the right questions, and really living from a place of abundance and possibility rather than limitations. Being courageous rather than trying to lean away from it. All these things are things that; yeah, I used in the worst possible scenario. But they work if you're in a fight with your boss, or your spouse, or you're having to deal with a kid who doesn’t want to do anything.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yep.

JJ Virgin: They work in every situation. This was just the most extreme. So if it works in the most extreme; it’s not like any of us are getting a hall pass to not have to go through stuff. I don’t know one person who has been successful; I can’t name a time in my life when things were going super awesome well, and I grew. Right?

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s so true. It’s so true.

JJ Virgin: Never one time.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. And I think when you really reached in to figure out, “Where did I get this from?” and you realized it was from this time that you were just in a learning phase, and you realized that you had that to go back to. I think a lot of our listeners don’t realize that they are stronger than they think, and they have been through hard things before. But somehow, we each dismissed the hard things we’d been through as not that big of a deal. Or we see other people going through what we consider harder things, and we think our struggle hasn’t been that big.

I’ve definitely had that issue in my own mind. I definitely don’t feel like I can’t do things. I’m pretty self-empowered. And when I look back, though, at the things that I’ve been through. I’m like, “Well, that’s nothing compared to what most people have been through.” But I want our listeners to understand that you all have been through something hard, and you’ve done something positive from it. And that’s where you really do get the strength, when you look back and you realize that you’re capable of those things.

This has been a topic lately, JJ, that I’ve been talking about on the show. Like, being empowered and realizing that people are capable and not having all these “shoulds”. I’m sure people were coming at you with, “You should do this, and you should do that,” for your son. And you're just shutting it down. Like, I am not going to deal with your expectations, I know what I need to do. This is for us to handle, and just going ahead and moving on with that. I really want people to feel that. You know. That you were faced with this, but that’s not the first time that you’ve been able to identify that you could go through something hard. But then it does almost, you shake it down to the basics. It’s now, how does someone deal with a traumatic incidence like this. It’s like, how does anyone deal with any hard time.

JJ Virgin: Right. How do you show up? Because doesn’t it come down to it, Diane. When you really look at what life is about, it’s how you show up. And I loved that line from Wayne Dyer, that says, “What do you get when you squeeze an orange?” Because I’ve heard people say, “I kind of lost it but I was under so much stress.” I’m like, but that’s who you are. If it’s in there, and you then became a mean nasty person; there was a mean, nasty person in there to do it, right?

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} Yeah.

JJ Virgin: So it really comes down to how you show up. And I think one of the biggest things that we need to look at in life, and I love that little line, “Do one thing a day that scares you.” Because to me the ultimate test of, are you growing? Are you pushing out that comfort zone? Are you becoming more resilient? Is, are you doing those things that are a little uncomfortable, scary, difficult.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.

JJ Virgin: Because it’s really easy to get to a certain point and go; “You know, I think I just kind of want to hang here.” {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.

JJ Virgin: You know. This is easy.

Diane Sanfilippo: That happens I think with people’s jobs a lot. I see it with even some closer friends who are struggling to just let the job go and trust themselves in that moment. When I’m like; “Why do I believe in you more than you believe in you?” But they’re comfortable for so long. And the weird thing is, what I see happening is you kind of hit the brick wall without getting to choose when, if you don’t make those decisions for yourself. That’s kind of another topic for another day. {laughs}

JJ Virgin: {laughs}

6. Finding time for self-care [22:51]

Diane Sanfilippo: What I want to talk about now is; and I think you hit the nail on the head with this. When you're going through something tough, you’re dealing with something either traumatic or just a stressful time. Because this is something that I know I had heard you talk about this, and the way that you were handling this years ago. Like, when it was still pretty fresh. And your self-care was something that you took a lot of responsibility around. And look; JJ, this is what people know you for, right? Diet and lifestyle and just taking care of yourself. But can you talk a little bit about, especially as a mother, how important that was for you? Because we have a ton of moms who are listening, and they all want to be a martyr and put the kid first. But not understanding where they come in order of that. Where their own self-care; do you know what I mean? Where does that fit?

JJ Virgin: Yeah. I love this topic. I’m so glad you brought it up.

Diane Sanfilippo: Because it makes people seem selfish; of course, my tone is indicating that it does not.

JJ Virgin: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: But, I just want to hear you talk about it. Because obviously I’m not a mom, and I haven’t been through this.

JJ Virgin: So, it’s very interesting when you become a mom. Because your guilt radar goes way up. {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s interesting.

JJ Virgin: The minute you’re not doing something for your kids, you feel guilty.

Diane Sanfilippo: I could see that, with my mom.

JJ Virgin: It’s like, right? It’s just in us. And I remember, if I was working I’d feel guilty I was not with the kids. But then I’m with the kids and I feel guilty I’m not working. And it’s just ridiculous. And I remember one of my girlfriends had a kid. She goes, ‘I’m feeling guilty!” I’m like, “you're a mom.” You know?

But we’ve got to let that go. And what I see what we do is we put the kids first, we put our self-care last. Thinking that we’re doing something good for our kids. But yet, every parent I know, when you say, “Do you want your kids to be healthy?” They go, “Yeah, of course.” I go, “Alright, well let’s look at your habits. Because they’re absolutely watching everything you’re doing. If you think they aren’t, you're wrong. And they’re going to model them. So you’re giving them permission.”

I had a client ages ago that smoked, and I go, “Do you want your kids to smoke?” “Oh, no way!” I’m like, it’s going to go one or two ways. They’ll either hate cigarettes so much, like I did with my dad, or they’re going to be smoking.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yep.

JJ Virgin: Either one of them, they’re going to be one of those. I actually threw an ashtray at my dad once, because he lied about smoking.

Diane Sanfilippo: Oh, I’ve got stories about that too. Yep, yep.

JJ Virgin: But in the hospital, when I’m looking at my son. The third leading cause of death is death by doctor. It’s death in the hospital. And brain injury is the leading cause of death in kids. And I’m like, standing there going, “I’m not leaving. I’m going to be here.” And, I have invested every dime I have into this book and borrowed, and I’m the primary financial support of my family. I’ve got a problem, right? I’m not leaving, but I’ve got to pull this off.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, we didn’t even really remind people about that. If anyone has heard me talk in that last 5 years about what it’s like to be on a book deadline, or on the brink of it release; for my life, aside from just personal stuff I’ve been through in my life and my family or whatever; that is a very stressful time for any author. You’ve spent months, if not years, working on something. And now is that final moment; this is already all the stress.

JJ Virgin: And I’m in a hospital in the ICU. And my publishers are freaking out. I’m like, “I got it! I got it.” The hospital got me a little interview room. And I’m looking at this, going, “I am not leaving my son. I’m calling in everyone I can who can help me here. And I’ve got to be here; I cannot get sick.” I mean, first of all, my son is in the ICU. He’s got a tube coming out of his brain. High infection risk. I cannot get sick. So I’m thinking the only way I’m going to be able to pull this one off is if I put my self-care on top of all of it, so that I can make the right decisions. Under this amount of stress; think about what stress does. It destroys your immune system. So I’m going, “I can’t get sick!” And I’m in a hospital, where there are sick people. {laughs} And I didn’t get sick. I absolutely made sure I had friends bringing in food. I was doing burst training on the stairs. I got 8 hours of sleep every night. I was doing all sorts of stuff for stress management. I was like, I got it. I am going to absolutely keep this level of self-care.

And I think the big message there is that it was a totally self-less thing to do. It is not selfish to put your self-care up there. Because at the very least, if you’re just looking as a mom to have a healthy family, that’s what they’re going to model. I mean, my son, at 15 years old, standing in that hospital telling the doctor, “We’ll take those odds.” He’d heard that type of thing from me. So he knew it was ok to do that, you know?

Diane Sanfilippo: Right.

JJ Virgin: So you look at what kids do. They model your behaviors. They model your actions. And they’re not going to listen to you; they’re going to do what you do.

Diane Sanfilippo: And like you said. What would it be like; I don’t think that you, or someone like myself, I don’t think we would ever have a time where we don’t somehow get the right food to us. Because that’s just what we eat at this point in life.

JJ Virgin: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: You wouldn’t be at the hospital eating McDonald’s if it were there; you would somehow order food to have it brought in, or have a friend bring food. I mean, I feel like that’s a non-negotiable. But I think the exercise continuing.

JJ Virgin: And the sleep.

Diane Sanfilippo: And the sleep, very easily you could have shown up every day sort of zombified. Tired, and not able to have your brain sharp, and make the right decisions, and kind of have your wits about you. And I think that that’s something that not only the modeling; I mean, that’s so important for your other son who is standing there, fully conscious and watching what you’re doing and how you handle the situation. But I just; that experience of, as you said, showing up in a certain way. Being fully present. And so many of our listeners, they are at this place where they’re taking care of themselves with their nutrition and their exercise right now. And what I see more of is a struggle to step out of a comfort zone from a job that they hate. Or doing something where every day, they’re not a happy person. And I think you really hit the nail on the head. Which, how many times did I say that already today?

JJ Virgin: {laughs} Your theme today.

Diane Sanfilippo: But when I think of what my parents did; my dad worked in sales. He loved his job. He never complained about it, or was disgruntled or any of that. My mom was a school teacher; also loved her job. My mom used to take me to like Living Well Lady, and I’d be at daycare while she was working out. So I have memories; those are the habits. My dad was active; he played golf. These are the memories of the modeling that they did. And you're so right about that. And I think that’s in the moment, taking care of yourself so you can show up and be present. And it’s beyond the example that you want to set for your kids in the longer term. So I think those are some really important lessons.

JJ Virgin: There’s a little interesting thing in there, though, that will fit right in with this. I queried my community last year. And I said, “So, if you’re not where you want to be with your health.” And Diane, we can extend this to health, your relationships, your business, your finances. “If you’re not where you want to be, why not?” And I was asking specifically about health. I fully expected to hear something about sugar, right? I was fully expecting it to be sugar, or gluten, or something. No. Number one reason; “I don’t feel good enough. I don’t feel worthy.”

It still kind of takes my breath away. It’s like someone punches me in the stomach every time I see it. Because I just think, ugh. You know? I just don’t want anyone to live like that. Gosh.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.

JJ Virgin: And I think, when I hear someone stuck in a job, allowing things to be, I think there is still going to be some of that, “I don’t feel good enough. I don’t feel worthy,” stuff going on in there. And hopefully, the way you do one thing is the way you do everything. You start to take care of yourself and put yourself first, and realize you’re worthy. It will translate into the rest of your life. Because your mindset will be the ultimate determinate of where you are in your life. Whatever you believe you're worth; that’s as far as you’ll get.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yep. I love it. Thank you so much for spending time with our listeners today. I think they’re going to be super inspired and motivated, and I just appreciate your time, and everything that you’re doing to pave the way for others out there. You guys can check out Miracle Mindset; it’s on sale everywhere books are sold. And I think it will be a great read for anyone who is feeling kind of stuck, and like you’re not sure how to get your brain to a different place.

Liz Wolfe: This episode of the Balanced Bites podcast is sponsored by our friends at Primally Pure Skincare. Primally Pure makes 100% natural and nontoxic skincare products that support radiant skin, a healthy body, and a happy self. They use ingredients like tallow from grass-fed cows; organic and fair trade coconut oil, and organic oils, herbs, and extracts to formulate effective products that also smell amazing and look beautiful sitting on your bathroom counter. At, you’ll find their bestselling natural deodorant that actually works; face mists made from locally sourced and organic rose and orange blossom hydrosols, and their brand new baby line. You’ll also find Diane’s favorite Primally Pure product, dry shampoo, and Liz’s favorite, the Everything Spray with magnesium. As a special bonus for you, Primally Pure is offering a free lip balm with your first purchase of one item or more. Simply add a lip balm to your cart along with any one item, and use the code “balancedbites”, one word no caps, during checkout to receive one of their lip balms for free with your order. Head to and check out their range of safe and effective all natural skincare products.

7. Diane’s takeaways [33:00]

Diane Sanfilippo: Alright you guys; wasn’t that conversation with JJ so inspiring? I really love chatting with her. Every time we talk it’s just motivational, and I know so much about where she’s come from. The way that she speaks about her story, it’s so purely her. That is how she shows up everywhere. I’ve actually been to one of her mastermind events, and she’s extremely passionate about helping other people really get out there and live the lives that they want and create the businesses that they want and help other people.

One of the things she mentioned, which you guys have heard me talk about a lot, is that she was listening to positive mindset audio tapes. If you guys caught that, she mentioned that back in the day, when she was learning from her Mr. Miyagi, I’m going to refer to that. She said she wasn’t supposed to read the newspaper or watch what was on TV. She was listening to audiotapes. Now of course, today we have podcasts, and all kinds of ways of consuming audio. But I thought it was really interesting, because a lot of people like to read books about business. Books about motivation. Books about positive mindset. And I think even if you are somebody who loves to read, I honestly think that they’re something about spoken word and the energy that it has when you translate it in your brain, perhaps while doing something physical.

So this could mean something as simple as going for a walk and listening to a podcast. Whether it’s this one, whether it’s something from Brian Tracy; so not a podcast, perhaps. But maybe an audio series. You guys have heard me mention before; hopefully you’ve picked up on it. His series, which was called The Psychology of Achievement, which is something that I listened to when I was working at LuLuLemon. What I would call about a million years ago now. And I’m pretty sure JJ listened to this one too.

But I want you guys to hear that this; and those of you who are obviously listening, you’re listening to a podcast. You’re somebody who likes to listen to things. You already know this. Listening to positive mindset motivation, inspiration, transformational content, does something different. I really believe that when you hear the words, you can kind of feel them. And it’s different from something that’s static and on paper, especially if they’re sort of voice and energy and emphasis and a real person behind it. It just comes across really differently.

And this isn’t something that I’ve done a lot in my life, but Brian Tracy Psychology of Achievement, there is something intangible about the way that that audio series helped me. And I don’t know if I’ve told this story before, but this is what I used to listen to. I listened to it when I was training for LuLuLemon. Their strategy and style of training their sales associates, or educators, as they called them, is quite unique. And it wasn’t mostly about the black pants. It was mostly about; how do you create a positive mindset. How do you create an achievement oriented individual so that this person will show up every day and help your customers in a meaningful way?

So that was maybe 2 years or so before I really needed it the most. Because fast-forward 2 years, and I would take the bus to work. I was working at a startup designing user interfaces for a web design start up. Something very similar and very competitive to something like Square Space or Weebly. And I was not into the job. I did not want to be there anymore. I was there for a paycheck. I had rent to pay, and I didn’t know how to work myself out of it. And I put on the Brian Tracy audio. In fact, I think it came on accidentally one day. I would have my iPod, {laughs} back in the day, on shuffle on the bus. I wasn’t reading a book because it was a little too bumpy and stop and go and so I would listen to something. Which, listening was really my way, anyway at the time. And podcasts weren’t quite a thing yet. Perhaps NPR had a couple at the time, but I wasn’t quite into them, yet. So it was just about listening to music or books on tape was something that I started getting into. But I remember listening to The Psychology of Achievement randomly, and then not so randomly after that. The one day it came it, and it just hit me where I needed to be hit to kind of wake me up. And then I started listening to it very intentionally on the way to and from work.

And you guys, I’m not kidding when I say, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve listened to that entire series. It’s probably somewhere between 6 and 8 CDs. I’ve listened to it over and over. And the messages and the lessons, and the way that I’ve been able to reprogram my brain to realize that I am capable of so many things. Now, I think I was pretty self-confident going into that. But nobody feels self-confident when you’re at a job that you don’t love, and you don’t know how to get out of it. Or if you’re just in a situation that you know isn’t right for you, but you’re feeling like you're not sure you can trust yourself to make the right decisions. You’re not sure you can trust yourself to quit the job, or leave the relationship. Those are the two biggest things I see holding people back. Because you feel like either you won’t be ok on your own, or you're afraid you won’t figure out how to earn money. And you’re at the job because you earn really good money there.

But I’ll tell you what. The minute you leave something behind that is essentially holding you back. You can’t have one foot in and one foot out if you’re really trying to make something happen. Because what that says is that you don’t fully believe in yourself, and that says that you’re not fully betting on yourself. And it says that you’re not giving 100% of your focus and energy to this thing that you’re saying that you want. Because if you want it, then you need to put your focus on it. Because what we focus on is what will grow and expand.

Alright you guys, I hope you are feeling super inspired, motivated, empowered. If you’re a mom, I hope you got some amazing messages from JJ today, because I can’t speak to you as a mom from another mom, because I’m not a mom. And I know Liz is a fairly new mom, figuring it out, hoping to motivate and inspire you guys. But I think she’s right there with you, and feeling it, and figuring it out, and working through it herself as well. The best way you all know how, I know you're doing that. And I want to encourage you to listen to this episode over and over again, because JJ’s been there. And I think she’s got a lot to really push and motivate you on, and inspire you. And you guys can really get a lot from her words.

That’s it for this week. Don’t forget, you can find me at You can find JJ at Of course, you can find Liz at Don’t forget to join our email lists for free goodies and updates you won’t find anywhere else on our websites or on the podcast. While you’re on the internet, please leave us an iTunes review. We’ll see you next week.

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