Hey there, I’m Chiara!
That’s Key-ah-ruh (like tiara with a “k”—fun fact it’s Italian and means “light” or “clear”).
I’m a climber, registered dietitian, plant lady (might be a little obsessed), and wife to my partner in crime, Zach.
While a puppy would be amazing, we’ve currently got our hands full with 5 rambunctious chickens (Hen-Solo, Dolly Part-hen, Meg-hen, Henneth Paltrow, and Hei Hei).
And as a registered dietitian, I help climbers like you crush their hardest and be their happiest by teaching them how to fuel with intention and make peace with food.
Why Strategic Nutrition + Making Peace with Food?
Okay you won’t have to hang around long to figure out that I’m pretty insanely pumped about the power of nutrition and healing your relationship with food! These two things have the HUGEST impact on how hard you climb and how fully you live your life.
Believe me, I know. I struggled with an eating disorder for a long, miserable decade and making peace with myself and food so that I could nourish and care for my body not only changed my life, but absolutely transformed my climbing.
Care to hear my story?
It’s personal and raw and messy but it’s the heart of why I’m doing this!
This story starts with little me. I was an energetic, determined, little curly headed high achiever and food/fitness were always a big deal in my family growing up. My dad is Italian (so no surprise there) and my British mom was a personal trainer (so hardcore she taught kickboxing and aerobics while pregnant) so there was an emphasis on being fit and eating healthy. From the beginning, food and fitness fascinated me! I’m sort of attracted to extremes so I loved the intensity and satisfaction of working out and feeling strong. Plus I just loved food.
But everything started changing around when I turned twelve. I stopped growing, my body started changing, and I was suddenly painfully aware that I could no longer eat what I wanted without consequences—or at least that’s what I was told.
I was terrified of being fat and again driven and high-achieving so I did what most people would in my situation: I started dieting. My doctor expressed concern when I told her that I was exercising extra and trying to eat healthy but she was the only one who saw the signs. Because my weight never dropped to a dangerous low, most everyone had absolutely no idea. I actually got a lot of compliments for how “fit” and “healthy” and “disciplined” I was.
Little by little I started to cut out more foods and eat less and less (I remember aiming for 500 calories a day at one point) and I was completely consumed by trying to get the body I thought I needed. I’d track my food, count my calories, and measure my waist, hips, and thighs weekly since we didn’t have a scale at home. But you want to know the ironic thing? The harder I tried, the more I spun out of control with my eating. And the more I binged, the more I felt like I had to make up for it with restriction and exercise. Which eventually swung back to bingeing. Which caused my weight to yo-yo back and forth. And so the cycle continued.
(I had no idea then, but my experience with the binge cycle is actually a completely normal physiological and psychological response to restriction. I thought something was wrong with me, that I was weak or addicted, but my body was just trying to protect me and keep me nourished)
Because binging was always followed by over restriction, I never reached an “unhealthy” weight. But that didn’t matter to me; I still hated the skin I was living in. I felt trapped by my thighs that rubbed together when I walked, the fat I felt under my chin when I smiled or laughed or looked down, the inches I could pinch on my stomach and hips. And I COULD NOT make it better. I had a freaking 4.0 GPA in a demanding program and was working multiple jobs to graduate debt free and able to excel at anything I put my mind to if I worked hard enough. But this was the one thing I couldn’t do.
And then I finally figured it out. In my senior year of college (ironically after having sat through numerous lectures about eating disorders) I finally realized that I fit the criteria. One snowy Saturday, as I sat on my bed, I googled eating disorders and found the National Eating Disorders Associations diagnostic criteria for bulimia nervosa and checked all the boxes.
Fast forward 4ish years. My road to recovery has been long and hard—making peace with food and my body has been one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. And the achiever in me would like to think I’ve done some darn hard things! I wish we could sit down over a cup of coffee (or tea for me) and I could lay out the whole story for you.
But let me just say this: as much as this process sucked, I honestly would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Because now that I’m on the other side, I have never been more sure of these four things.
1. What we believe is everything
I’d been taught to view food and my body through the lens of diet culture and fat-phobia which shaped all of my beliefs. These false beliefs created negative thoughts about food, exercise and my body which created destructive actions that fueled the restrict-binge cycle. When I finally recognized these lies and replaced them with truth over and over again to reframe my default way of thinking, I broke free!
2. There is SO much more for us
I was half alive for most of my life, but I have hands-down found the best way to do life! Almost by accident, I stumbled into the food freedom journey and little by little started to find and believe what’s actually true about me and food. And now having had worked as a dietitian with with hundreds of clients with varying degrees of negative food/body mindsets, I have realized that my discovery of peace and freedom was not an accident. It actually shares many components with intuitive eating—a practice I didn’t know existed at the time but learned on my own. I could rant about this ALL day but let me tell you, there is NOTHING more amazing than being able to truly eat what you want when you want it without fear or guilt and while achieving your health or fitness goals. Again, I’m sure it sounds way too good to be true. But it isn’t! I should know.
3. I’m not the only climber battling diet culture and fat-phobia
It’s normal to have a broken relationship with food and yourself, and more climbers are trapped by diet culture than are living out their freedom. As I began shifting my own thinking, I started noticing subtle phrases at the crag or in the gym like “calories don’t count today,” “I trained today so I can eat this,” or “I’m going to the gym to burn off that [fill in the blank].” Or someone would tell me what foods they entirely avoid because they have no self control around them. Or would ask me how could I be eating pizza because isn’t that a “bad” food.
I honestly get it. It’s SO much easier to be black or white. Dessert or no dessert? Carbs or no carbs? But I’ve learned the hard way that being healthy means making peace with food, trusting your body, and enjoying deliciousness. Because health is SO much more than just physical. Can we just acknowledge that? We may be athletes but we certainly aren’t machines.
4. I can help climbers find the freedom I have
I struggled for 10 freakin years before I started my recovery journey. My obsession with food and exercise and my fear of gaining weight consumed absolutely everything. And as soon as I started trying to get better, things got much worse.
Today I get to be the person who I wished had had my back for all those years. I get to be the person to let climbers know that they can stop beating themselves up. That their struggles are normal. That they’ve been conditioned to think and operate a certain way. AND that they can unlearn, relearn, heal, grow and get their lives back. Oh and climb super hard! That’s also pretty cool.
Can I be that person for you?
Whatever your story, struggles, or goals, I want to help you become the strongest and happiest version of your awesome self! Whether that’s through us working one on one, me answering your questions in my DMs, or by keeping you supplied with helpful content via my email list, blog, and insta—however I can serve you best!