the inside scoop on @theonlybody


The Venable has been on a bit of a food kick recently. We heard from Alex Brena on her soup cleanse 2 weeks ago, and you heard about my Trader Joe’s habits last week.

To close out the food kick, I’m pretty excited to share an interview with a Vandy friend, Chrissy Stephens, who has seemed to pretty much figure it all out.

She’s done a lot of reading and a lot of body experimenting.

She also happens to be hilarious (a former improv star) and most importantly, real.

It’s rare that I hang up the phone feeling completely inspired, but Chrissy’s approach is refreshing.

Best of all, she knows it works for her and doesn’t really seem to care what other people think (but she’s hoping @theonlybody can help a few others along the way!).

To be clear, she looked fab before she started eating this way. The above before & after provide a window into just how much of a transformation she’s been through though!

Sarah: What inspired you to start eating clean?

For me, it started off for vanity reasons. 100%. I wanted to get to be a certain size for modeling because I thought I would book more jobs.
[side note, when Chrissy stopped doing improv, she started acting & ended up booking for modeling jobs. Yes, she just kind of fell into modeling! #girlcrush]
It didn’t really start from wanting to be healthy as I could be. I started tracking my food and tried to keep to 1,500 calories a day while working out every single day. After doing that for months, I was dropping off on weekends, and then I would get back to it. I was working so hard, exercise wise, and I wasn’t seeing results. I thought there must be something inhibiting this because there was no way my body shouldn’t have been changing.

Sarah: So, what did you do next?

I started to educate myself from a bigger picture – What’s out there? What’s everyone else doing? I’ve always loved fitness magazines and wellness newsletters. I scoured the internet and was reading so many books. I got a library card because I was ordering too many books online and was concerned abou tthe cost! I started checking them out from the Chicago Public Library. I also watched documentaries (check out Plant Pure Nation on Netflix, That Sugar Film). A theme kept emerging.


Sarah: What was the theme!?

Chrissy: It’s an elimination of gluten/wheat, refined sugars, & dairy. Whenever I read interviews of people super into their health, they always mention some variation of avoiding these 3 things. For me, even if it was considered “healthy,” it was 50-75% of what I was eating. Greek yogurt, sprouted bread, or an open-faced sandwich with turkey.
One of the main reasons I started @theonlybody is because I felt this awakening. It’s not just that I “avoid” wheat, sugar, & dairy. I don’t eat them ever. These foods are highly addictive, and once I eliminated them, everything changed for me. I don’t want these foods anymore, my tastebuds have changed. There is a scientific explanation involving the microbiome that I won’t get into right now…but basically, if you start eating mostly plant-based foods, you will start to crave those foods, and no longer crave the other ones. I eat much more food now than I did before, and I feel so much less confused. My body now regulates itself and I don’t have to worry about calories in / calories out.

[side note: I think it’s important to clarify that even though alcohol has sugar, Chrissy still drinks :). She usually sticks to tequila or red wine. But she’s not opposed to a gluten-free beer (or 2) after a day on the ski slopes.]


Sarah: Do your kids and husband also eat this way now?

Chrissy: We do eat plant-based meals at home, with eggs and fish thrown in. For example, in the morning, we have vegetables with eggs or green smoothies instead of milk and cereal. Olivia just turned 15 and asks a lot of questions. I think it’s important for me to be able to give her answers. She’s a healthy eater by nature, but now I feel more prepared to speak knowledgeably. Nigel is younger. He recently started ‘plain egg Friday’ – on Fridays we eat our eggs with no veggies. It makes me seem kind of crazy, I get that. Nigel’s friends are probably stopping at Dunkin’ Donuts on Fridays, and he’s getting excited about plain eggs. It has made all of us feel better and all of us have more energy. Everyone in our house is talking about it in a positive way, so I don’t really care if it seems crazy.



Sarah: We’re all crazy. I love that you’ve embraced yours. I’ll close out with some quicker, easy questions!

If you could get clothes for free from one brand, which one would you pick?

Chrissy: Oh man, this is a good question. Right now, I’m really into Everlane.

Sarah: Early bird or night owl?

Chrissy: EARLY BIRD!

Sarah: You get to pick 2 people to be on your Board of Directors for your life, who would you want?

The first person is a Dr. Michael Greger from He knows everything. Then I would say I need a strong woman. Let’s go with Amy Poehler.

Sarah: I saved my favorite for last! How do you unplug?
[side note – we have a few games in stock!]

I put my phone completely away, in a different room and off. Then I make sure that I’m looking at the kids and my husband when they’re talking. I find that extra step to be so helpful. If I’m cooking, or multi-tasking, I’m not always 100% engaged, so I find I listen best when I’m really focusing on the person who is talking.

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