Couple Goals: Interview With Megan Jo and Adam

This couple goals interview features nutrition expert, Megan Jo Olson (Registered Dietician and Licensed Body Positive Facilitator), and her hiking buddy and husband, Adam PurcellIncredibly attuned to their health, diet, and its impact on their environment, Jo and Adam are unapologetically authentic and abundantly accepting. 

We met them while traveling in Cusco, Peru, and were inspired by their love for hiking and extreme backpacking treks across the high Andes. 

Jo and Adam now live in Boise, Idaho, where Jo runs a body positivity workshop helping women create loving relationships with food and their bodies. Read on to learn how she and Adam balance their health-centered approach to self-care, together.

couple goals: a dietitician and her husband’s journey to body positivity

1. Can you give me a quick overview of how you two met?

Jo: We met on Tinder, actually.

I had just moved to Boise, and I was doing my dietetic rotations and was very busy, so it took a while to meet up finally. We decided to meet at a diner in our pajamas, and we both showed up wearing onesies.

We sat for hours discussing spirituality and philosophy and became best friends. Adam was always interested in more than a friendship, but it took him a few months to pursue me until I felt the same way. 

2. Were there any imbalances in your goals as a couple regarding nutrition? Did either of you have bad habits that needed to change to get on the same page?

Jo: I think I needed room in my diet for foods that I feared because of my history with dieting and my eating disorder.

Adam became more conscious of the foods he was choosing and started adding a lot more vegetables to his diet. 

3. What’s your take on the mainstream diet culture that we see today?

Jo: I think that taking care of our bodies, is very important. Often, the way diet culture aims to do this is by convincing us that we are flawed and that if we buy into some diet, we will be happier and more worthy in our society.

The body-positive model teaches us to employ self-compassion while expanding on our beauty ideals, so we can start from a place of worthiness and feel empowered us to trust our intuition about what is right for us.

With diets, I always felt like I had to attain some goal by starving myself or that I was weak-willed if I failed in my attempts. Now, I don’t fall into shame-cycles and can do my best to care for myself in any moment.

4. How has each of your diets and nutrition transformed as a couple once Jo became an RD?

Jo: I think this is another area where we have found balance. I had a very severe eating disorder, so I needed to develop a better relationship with food and my body.

I had to learn that eating pizza, burgers, and ice cream wasn’t going to kill me and that these foods can all be a part of a balanced diet and fit into our nutrition goals as a couple.

Adam: Since meeting Jo, I am more conscious about choosing nutrient-dense foods, and I eat a more balanced diet.

5. Can you describe a typical day of meals for the two of you?

Jo: We both start our day with yogurt or kefir and fruit. We eat lunch separately, which is usually just leftovers or a packed lunch. For dinner, we make a couple of different meals that can last most of the week.

We do a date night weekly to try out some new ethnic restaurants. We also love this smoothie place close to our house and grab something from there frequently.

I take a daily multivitamin and a supplement of 5-HTP and magnesium (for mood and sleep).

6. What does body positivity mean to each of you and why is it important?

Jo: Being body positive has changed my life so much!

The body-positive model is a health-focused, weight-neutral approach to food and exercise. It has shown me that my emotional, mental, and spiritual health are all just as important to my well-being as my physical health. Any picture of health that excludes these aspects is extremely limiting.

Because of my background in dietetics, I know a lot about food, exercise, and nutrition; but that knowledge alone kept me sick. I would label foods as “good” or “bad” and apply those labels to myself depending on how well I adhered to my diet.

I had to learn to employ intuitive eating and exercise so that I could be the authority of my own body, because most prescribed diets are not sustainable, and they never taught me how to honor my hunger.

Because I no longer have to think about every little thing I can or cannot eat, my mind is no longer consumed by food, and I am more capable of enjoying all of the moments in my life.

I eat when I am hungry and usually stop before I am full. I make space in my diet for candy, chips, pizza, doughnuts, etc.; and because I allow myself to have those things, I find that I don’t want them as often as I did when I told myself I couldn’t have them.

I don’t tell myself I can’t or shouldn’t have something if I want to eat it. I eat what I want when I want, and I don’t have to be so rigid anymore.

With exercise, I move my body in the ways that feel good to me. I don’t have to hike 20 miles to deserve a reasonable meal anymore. I have nothing pushing me to exercise other than the love I have for moving my body in ways that feel good to me (mostly hiking and ecstatic dance).

To get to this place, I had to find love and respect for my body. I abused my body for so long because I thought it had to look a certain way to be accepted. The “health and wellness” culture can be very exclusive and toxic.

My goal moving forward is to share the gifts I have been given through this work and help others find body sovereignty as well.

Adam: For me, being body positive means that I don’t have to justify my physical existence to anyone else; that the body I have is good enough for me, and I don’t need to apologize for it.

7. When did you realize that you loved hiking together? How has hiking transformed your health?

Jo: I have always loved hiking, but Adam had never done much before meeting me. He started hiking to spend time with me and has slowly learned to enjoy it.

Hiking always takes me back to myself. It’s like I see my reflection in nature, and I am shown again and again that I am a small part of something so infinite and perfect. This mindset benefits my health on all levels.

Adam and I find a lot of confidence and gratitude for our bodies from the difficult trails we have completed.

8. Do you exercise together consistently or train together to go on your hikes? What compromises do you make to exercise together?

Jo: We both try to stay in good backpacking condition by going out for hikes regularly. I always start with some good training hikes in the spring, so I am back in great shape by the time the snow melts.

To be honest, Adam doesn’t love hiking the way I love hiking (I have yet to meet anyone that is as extreme as I am). This makes it difficult because I want to go farther, faster, harder, etc; so we often have to find a balance.

I reach out to other adventurous friends to join me when he doesn’t want to go, and he finds others that want to go to concerts and parties when I do not want to be social. We have had to figure out how to show up for ourselves and what we want, so we have the ability to show up for one another.

It would have been a dream to find someone that matched up to all my desires more perfectly, but that wouldn’t have taught me the lessons I needed to learn in this life.

9. What advice do you have for couples with the goal to improve their health/nutrition together?

Jo and Adam:

1. Be honest about what your expectations and desires are
2. Let both parties express what they are interested in
3. Recognize that you ultimately need to respect the other person’s decision
4. “Attraction rather than promotion.” As an individual, you should do what is best for you. If you see great results, your partner will notice them and may (or may not) reconsider joining you.

About Megan Jo Olson & Adam Purcell

Megan Jo Olson is a Registered Dietitian and Licensed Body Positive Facilitator, working to end diet culture. She runs an 8-week women’s body positivity group and workshop near her home in Boise, Idaho. 

Jo is a hiking enthusiast, cat mom, and lover of podcasts. Follow her on Instagram for nutrition and body positivity inspiration.

Adam Purcell attends graduate school, studying to be a future counselor. He is a self-proclaimed great dancer and cat poppa. You can follow Adam’s hiking, cat, and music adventures on Instagram.

Hey we're Ryan and Alex

The creators of Ryan and Alex Duo Life. We are a husband-wife duo and “happiness engineers.” After eight years working as corporates engineers internationally, we left our high-powered jobs to tackle our true passion — leading couples to engineer their best lives. The synergy of our engineering minds and ten years of health coaching experience produced Ryan and Alex Duo Life. Our mission is to help you transform your bodies, minds, and relationship, as a couple.

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