Kim: [00:00:00] Welcome back to the Fitness Simplified podcast. I'm your host, Kim Schlag. On today's episode, I am joined by a woman named Sharon. Sharon is a very insightful young lady from Jerusalem. Sharon reached out to me on Instagram, had some questions for me. Specifically wanted to talk about how to adjust your calories and macros as you are losing weight.
At what point do you change your calories? When do you lower them? How low is too low? So, we hopped on a call to chat and we spent a good chunk of the conversation with Sharon explaining to me her fitness journey. She suffered some trauma early in life, has really struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety disorder, and she shares with me how fitness really helped her through those struggles and in what ways it has blessed her, and how she has used fitness to her advantage.
So, this might really resonate with you if you are somebody who has struggled with trauma and anxiety either in the past or currently. So, listen in as we talk all about it.
Sharon: [00:01:19] Hi, thanks.
Kim: [00:01:22] So glad you could join me here. You're going to help me with your name pronunciation as we go if I'm not saying it correctly.
Sharon: [00:01:28] Yeah. Okay. No problem. You can really call me Sharon, it's fine. I go by both, really.
Kim: [00:01:34] Okay. If I'm ruining it, I'll just say Sharon.
Sharon: [00:01:37] Okay.
Kim: [00:01:39] Okay, so tell us a little bit about you before we talk about your fitness question. Tell us where you're from and what you do and about you.
Sharon: [00:01:49] Yeah. Thanks. So, I live in Jerusalem, Israel now. I come originally from New York. I moved here 5-6 years ago.
Kim: [00:01:56] Okay, but you were born and raised in New York?
Sharon: [00:02:01] Yeah. Brooklyn.
Kim: [00:02:03] Okay, great.
Did you move to Jerusalem for family? For work?
Sharon: [00:02:10] Yeah, so I was right out of high school and most of my family lives here in Jerusalem. And more of my family was moving there and I figured it was a good opportunity because I wasn't yet sure what I was going to do, just with my life, my job, you know, and I just figured it would kind of be cool and fun to go to somewhere different. And so yeah, it ended up being an amazing opportunity for me and I love it here and yeah, I'm really happy to be here.
Kim: [00:02:44] That's fantastic. And did you already speak fluent Hebrew when you moved there?
Sharon: [00:02:49] I actually really don't speak Hebrew well. I've never been good with language, but most people here speak English and when I have to, I break my teeth, so.
Kim: [00:03:00] Okay. So, you're from New York, you live in Jerusalem, you don't speak Hebrew very well. What else can we get to know about you? What do you do for work?
Sharon: [00:03:10] So, I'm a personal trainer. My whole life, I was always overweight and pretty unhealthy and not knowledgeable really about anything about health, fitness, nutrition. And I decided at some point, pretty much a few months after I moved to Jerusalem actually, that I wanted to try something.
I wanted to try to change that. I had always tried things for my entire life before that. Throughout high school, I was trying one diet or another and trying one workout or another, but I was not knowledgeable. And I think I also felt a lot of this pressure, but I didn't really know how to go about things. So, it just ended up being very emotionally painful experiences as opposed to being what it should be, which is feeling empowered and strong. And taking good care of yourself.
So, I decided I'm going to get myself a trainer to help teach me what to do, which always seemed like a pretty crazy thing to do to me, honestly. 'Cause it's a lot of money and it seemed like something I should know somehow.
Kim: [00:04:26] Yeah, a lot of people feel that way. Why do you think it is? Why did you feel like you should know how to do that?
Sharon: [00:04:34] It's a good question. I don't know. I think that, you know, we shouldn't assume that we do know anything really unless we're taught it. And we never had, like the school I grew up in, we never had gym. I never learned anything about working out. And I learned very little about nutrition. One of the most amazing things I've learned recently in my newer eating journey is that there's no moral judgment on food.
Like, there's no "bad food" or "good food," I think that you talk about this, I've seen that you say things about this. It's just more or less nutritious, more or less calories, but what's with all the, good or bad, point of it?
So, I guess I think that we kind of have this feeling sometimes that we're supposed to know certain things, but meanwhile, we haven't really learned about it before.
Kim: [00:05:27] Yeah, absolutely. Well, it's good that you realized that you needed help, so you hired a trainer.
Sharon: [00:05:32] Yes. So, from the exercise point of view, I started-- years ago I hired a trainer and she actually told me pretty quickly, which I was so shocked about, because I was really not in good shape and I had never felt like I could move so well. I never felt really light or graceful or I don't know, I never felt so easy in my body, I guess I would say.
And she told me almost immediately, you should be a trainer. You have such a good, like right when I tell you to do something, you have such good mind, body awareness and such good internal understanding. And I was shocked by that. Like that did not hit me. That didn't make any sense to me.
Kim: [00:06:12] Isn't that interesting that you didn't see yourself in that way? You actually thought the opposite, that you didn't move very well and she saw that you did.
Sharon: [00:06:20] I think that part of it is that to this day, I don't have a good aim. I'm not going to be able to, you know, do well on a basketball game. And growing up, that was what kind of meant that you were in shape is if you could play a ball game or, you know, and I could never dance. Like, I'm not somebody who can keep a sequence in my head, but I guess one of the things that I've learned is that you have to find something that works for you when it comes to these kinds of things.
Kim: [00:06:47] Yeah, absolutely. I have to tell you, Sharon, I'm terrible. Like, I can't get balls in baskets or balls in targets either. So, it's interesting that, yeah, there can be a very like one track mind. Either we feel like we're athletic or we're not, and if we weren't good with team sports or ball sports, sometimes here in the States we figure like, "okay, I'm not athletic."
Sharon: [00:07:08] That's a really nice, concise way of putting it. Like, athletic doesn't necessarily mean-- like knowing how to work out and being athletic are two different things. I think that anyone can strength train, really.
Kim: [00:07:20] Absolutely. Absolutely.
Sharon: [00:07:23] And I think that so much of sticking to something and finding a lifestyle is finding something that you enjoy and that speaks to you and that works for you and for what your goals are.
So, when I started with her, I just found this new kind of world open up for me that I had never realize was there before. But in terms of like a little bit more of a balanced attitude, having to do with food, nutrition, and also just general movement, besides for exercise, I didn't really start anything with that until this year.
Like, I was working out, I'm saying was in very good physical shape. I was able to do a lot of moves in the gym that many people may be unable to do, but meanwhile, I was still pretty heavy. I started out at something like 230 pounds. I'm 5'3" and I did lose weight over those years with exercise, but I really didn't understand anything about food. I always had this mindset of like either you're eating healthy or you're not. There's not really any place in between. And you just get overwhelmed sometimes by all the information out there, like organic and now you should start, you know, mixing these powdered greens into your drink. And if you're not eating kale, then you're not healthy. And like, it just gets overwhelming. You don't really know what healthy is and what it isn't. And I don't think that anybody could really succeed in that kind of environment.
Kim: [00:09:00] And so what really helped it kind of start clicking for you?
Sharon: [00:09:03] So I found Jordan Syatt on Instagram maybe 6-7 months ago, and I just was blown away by the mental health component that he puts in, and I found you through him.
And I just had started following a couple people. I hadn't even been on Instagram before; I only just got an Instagram because my sister opened up a cake business. She makes cakes here in Jerusalem, Kosher Cakes by Claire. She's amazing by the way. She makes the most beautiful-- anyways, I'm very proud of her.
So, I opened an Instagram to follow her and I wanted to support her. And then I had never been on Instagram before and I found fairly quickly, I found this whole fitness community that I hadn't even known about. And before that I was kind of avoiding hearing people talk about fitness and health, nutrition, all these things, because I always felt so overwhelmed.
And this was the first time that it seemed like this just human middle ground. Everybody is so grounded and normal within it, like, you have to do what works for you and the most important thing is that you should find your emotional, mental stability within it. And nothing too extreme and sustainability and lifestyle over fads.
And I just was so taken by it. I thought that that sounded so right to me.
Kim: [00:10:32] Yeah. And what changes did you begin to make then in your nutrition?
Sharon: [00:10:38] So the first thing I did was-- first of all, I want to say, and this is something I've said to a few people. I found out about this; I didn't start till like four months later. I had to kind of let it sink in. I continued listening the entire time and following. But I was going through actually a pretty difficult time emotionally this year. And I wanted to make, on a personal level, but then I also felt like on a physical level, I wanted to make some changes.
Because of the emotional stuff going on I gained back something like 30 pounds I had lost. And I wanted to make some changes, but I also wanted it to come from a strong place.
I suffer from some PTSD trauma because of some stuff that happened in my childhood, I nearly passed. And I think that one of the biggest things that I've learned is that it's so important to try to find empowerment within whatever you do.
It's so easy to become victim to yourself and your choices. If you feel like you have to eat healthy and you come down on yourself, like from a place of trying to motivate yourself through fear, you won't be able to keep at it for so long, but besides that, you hurt yourself and you kind of retraumatize yourself.
So, I've learned to give myself a lot of space to be able to make decisions from a place of being able to make a choice instead of being victimized by yourself or by others.
Kim: [00:12:11] Oh wow. I love that. I love that.
Really like, the choices we're making, I mean with anything, but you know, here we're talking specifically about nutrition.
If we're coming from a place of empowerment and I'm choosing to do this versus like "I have to," or "this is the only way," it's very different.
Sharon: [00:12:31] Right. And I think that sometimes we get confused between discipline and kind of abusing ourselves.
There are some things that are very hard to do and they're good choices. Like, if you're going to be choosing to eat a salad, you know, it's not necessarily always easy -- I happen to love salad, so maybe it's not a great example -- but there are some things that are not necessarily easy choices to make, but they're good choices, big picture, to make.
But if you're going to make that choice out of this sense of, "I have to, there's no other choice and I'm not going to be okay if I don't," so then you end up kind of being just really negative toward yourself and mean toward yourself and you're not listening to the part of you that feels scared or not so okay within it.
So, if it's possible to, I always say, I don't care if I'm going to eat an Oreo or if I'm gonna eat a salad. What I want to do is I want to be able to make that choice from a place of peace and strength and empowerment. And most of the time, whichever choice I make, whichever one I choose, if I'm able to make it from that place of, instead of feeling victimized by the Oreo or forced into the salad, and I'm able to instead find that place of power. So then most of the time, big picture that ends up meaning that I make more good choices than not. Because I'm giving myself room to just listen to myself. And once you do that, you're able to hopefully come to a place of wanting to do the best thing for yourself, big picture, instead of in this moment.
Kim: [00:14:06] Wow, that's fantastic. How did you get to that place, Sharon? How did you come to be able to approach your eating from that point of view? That's a pretty high-level thinking around food. Most people aren't there.
Sharon: [00:14:21] So, lots of therapy. I'm so lucky, to be honest.
Like, when you go through difficulties, one of the things that I've gained so much from is just learning how to ask for help and then learning how to find people who can really support you into getting to where you want to go is so important. So that's huge for me.
I think the reason why I was able to actually choose originally to go to a personal trainer, which was the first step on this journey, was because I had gone to therapy and started seeing how I got so much help on how I was suddenly able to do so many more things I had always wanted to do and how I was managing so much better in so many aspects of my life.
And that made me realize, why do I think I should be taking this on by myself? So that's a big one. And actually, by the way, also in school for psychology. I would like to one day possibly become a therapist, but also, I'm kind of developing a method of like personal training and coaching around this idea.
People who have trauma-- I sometimes will get clients who have trauma and it's like they kind of want to be pushed, but at the same time they're so scared because when they're physically doing something that's hard and kind of stressful on the body, they could experience that as trauma. Trauma lives in the body, physically speaking.
And so, they can experience, let's say you're doing a plank and then all of a sudden, they're like, "no, no, I can't." And so, there's a difference between an "I can't," that's like, "uh, I'm tired and I don't want to do it right now." And a can't that's like this heavy sense of, "I feel like I have to, but I don't want to."
And there's this kind of internal fight that's going on and there's trauma there. It's really complicated. I wouldn't go into the whole, entire thing, but I started to be able to kind of help people to find their own empowerment within that, because I was able to do that for myself.
Kim: [00:16:24] Wow. That's fantastic. I love how you're, you know, going to blend the psychology with the training.
Sharon: [00:16:31] Yeah, I think there's something called like somatic therapy and then there's regular training. And I think that a lot of people who get emotionally triggered during training don't realize that's what it is.
They think that they're lazy, but a lot of times it's really a question of, can we look internally and figure out what's happening for you right now? Maybe you're really anxious. Maybe there's really a little bit of a panic happening. I used to get panic attacks. when I would do cardio, because when you have a trauma and you start getting out of breath, your body thinks, "I think I'm about to die," because when you're traumatized, that's the feeling that happens, you feel like you're in mortal danger. And then you get out of breath and it triggers the reminder of where you used to be.
Kim: [00:17:15] And what do you find helps in that moment?
Sharon: [00:17:21] Stopping. If you can, to try to stop for a second and check in. Because right now there's something inside of you that's terrified. It's hard to recognize because there's another part of you that thinks, "Oh, you're just trying to get out of this." And it's not that you're anxious, it's that you're lazy or that you're bad in some way.
But meanwhile, if you're able to instead validate that, "no, no, no, there's something that's going on here. This is hard for me. I'm scared. I'm anxious right now," if you could take a second and pause and take a breath and acknowledge that it's there so many times, you're able to do it after that.
Giving yourself space to be where you are is huge. Just let yourself be wherever you are, because most of the time we're not there forever and you can get through it, but if you deny it, then it stays.
Kim: [00:18:12] And have you found that as you've done that, that these incidences have come further apart?
Sharon: [00:18:19] Yes. Yeah, 100%.
I see for myself and clients that like it definitely starts happening less and less. And then what starts happening eventually is that sometimes you don't even have to stop because you're able to give yourself what you need in the moment.
I had a workout a couple weeks ago where I started feeling a little bit of anxiety during the workout and I was like, "I'm going to slow down a little bit right now. Like, I'm not stopping. I'm just going to slow down a little bit and I'm gonna give myself that care and I'm going to tell myself as I'm doing it, I'm giving this to you. I'm taking care of you right now. I'm slowing down a little bit." And you know what? I was able to speed up a few minutes later.
Usually for me, it's cardio and planks are the worst for me. Everyone has different things where it comes out, but it happens to be that those are the two things that when I do, I can get triggered. But yeah, it definitely happens a lot less. And you also learn how to handle it so that instead of retraumatizing yourself, you're able to find that strong place to continue from where you're taking good care of yourself.
Kim: [00:19:22] Wow, that's fantastic. And how great that you're going to be looking for ways to help other people with that. That's fantastic.
Sharon: [00:19:27] Yeah. Thanks.
Kim: [00:19:30] Okay, so continue on then. You had some questions that you were building up to here.
Sharon: [00:19:36] So the first thing I did when I was ready-- that's where we went a little bit off track here is you asked what did I start doing?
And the first thing I did was I gave myself space. So that was my first answer, was that when I first found out about this new way of doing things, I recognize that if I did it right away, it would be coming from a place of feeling like I have to.
I really wanted to lose the weight that I had just put back on. I had put on 30 pounds again. And I felt this sense of, "have to," and "forcing," and I felt, "I don't want to come from that place. I want to give myself room to make a choice and room to be able to do it from a place that feels strong." So, I gave myself time until I felt ready.
It was about four months from when I found this new way of doing things until when I decided to do it. And then when I did it, I just, I did like a calorie calculator to calculate where I wanted to get to and I gave myself, I think it's recommended to like go down, you know, instead of going down the full amount of weight, 'cause I had a bit to lose. I still do, but I had quite a bit.
So, I basically wanted to give myself a lot of space to do it slowly and sustainably. So, I calculated the calories based on what you say, and Jordan says, and then I just started and it was incredible how, like right away I had this insane moment where-- I remember the first day, literally, I filled my calories from cookies.
I was like, "it can't be that this is true," and then all of a sudden I was like, "wow, you know what? I don't feel bad," because I know that, yes, I'd like to be eating healthy and yes, that nutrition is important, but for me a big thing was the weight loss and all of a sudden I was like, "okay, you are in your calories, which means that you're going to be able to get to where you need to go. You're allowed to eat cookies," and then I didn't have to eat cookies the whole day.
It was like the first time that I all of a sudden didn't have that shame and guilt that came with that judgment of the food and now I am probably eating healthier than I've ever eaten in my entire life, and that's also including my cookies and donuts and pizza, whatever it is, whenever it is, but I'm eating so much protein and salad and vegetables and I feel amazing.
I've always had digestive issues. I don't have them anymore. Physically speaking, it was this amazing realization that there is no such thing as good or bad food. There's just more or less nutritious, more or less calories, and then there are the choices that you make.
And when that shame and fear was gone, it just opened up so much freedom for me.
Kim: [00:22:08] I can hear it in your voice. I can hear the excitement in your voice about finding a way to eat that felt good to you, and that didn't feel like it was coming from this place of shame and trying to lose weight and only eat clean.
I mean, that's a really big thing, right? That everybody-- not everybody, but there's such a culture of, "to lose weight, you have to eat clean," and everybody has different definitions of what that means. But often what it comes down to is us feeling guilty a lot.
Sharon: [00:22:38] Yes, yes, exactly. I'm like nodding my head as you're speaking. I just caught myself nodding a lot.
Kim: [00:22:46] We can hear the nodding.
Sharon: [00:22:49] Yeah. I am excited about it because I think that for me, a big thing also was that I didn't understand the science.
That's what somebody asked me, like, they're like, "wow, you, you know, you look great," and everyone wants to know, "how are you doing it?"
And I'm like, "it's a combination of science and self-love!"
Kim: [00:23:05] That's a strong combination.
Sharon: [00:23:08] But like, that's really what it is. I didn't understand what a calorie was, I didn't understand how this works. And the moment that I found out that there's an actual scientific basis for gaining and losing weight, all of a sudden, it's like everything fell away and I feel so much freer and so much less stressed.
I don't think that I've ever, before this time, not been afraid of food. No matter what weight I was at, no matter how I was eating, I was always scared. And now I'm not scared anymore because I know what it is. I had to learn the actual science of how food and calories and bodies and nutrition, how it works, and then once I knew what it was, it just fell away.
This is great weight just fell away.
Kim: [00:23:48] Wow. That's amazing. That's amazing. And what have your results been?
Sharon: [00:23:52] So, I started doing the calories and then something like 50 days in or something, I started focusing on protein. And then the first message I sent you was about the NEAT, the steps, the 10,000 steps.
So, you introduced me to that and I never understood it, and then you explained how whatever workouts or eating or health you're doing, you're meant to be moving. Moving is so important and your whole "get up" thing, I love it. Every single time I get up to do my steps, I hear your voice in my head, "get up."
That's why I had sent you that message in the first place. I sent you a message that I was having a really hard day and I had an appointment to go to and usually I would just take a bus or a cab, whatever. But I needed to get my steps in, so I walked and I felt so much better from it. And all of a sudden, I realized like, "wow, I'm not triggered anymore. I'm feeling calm and feeling peaceful." And I realized like, wow, since I've been doing this, I've been doing so much better mentally and emotionally.
And I think the message I sent to you was like, "I'm at 14,000 steps and I'm still going." 'Cause like, I was outside. It was beautiful and I just felt so good and that's something that you gave to me very much, which I really appreciate. Thank you. Thank you. Really.
Kim: [00:25:14] I can't even tell you how much I love hearing that.
Sharon: [00:25:16] So yeah. So, I started doing that around day 70. I'm at like 126 days, I think. I'm on MyFitnessPal, so every single day I see my number of days and like, yeah, it's nice to keep track that way.
So, I'm, I think, 126 days and I'm down something like 23 plus pounds, plus I've definitely gotten stronger. I mean, I don't know how to tell gaining muscle, it's hard to have an exact calculation of how much muscle you're gaining, but I believe I'm gaining muscle.
I've been eating around the 140-150 grams of protein a day. And I'm doing consistent strength training. I'm stronger than I've ever been. I'm really, really strong, like, I feel very good about it. I'm really proud of it.
Kim: [00:26:07] That's fantastic. What's your favorite lift?
Sharon: [00:26:11] I like chest presses. really, really like chest pressers. I find I'm really strong in those. I also love pushups. I like chest moves, I think.
Kim: [00:26:24] I have to tell you, that's really exciting to hear it. Not a lot of women go for upper body moves as their favorite.
I personally love to bench press.
Sharon: [00:26:32] Yeah. So, I think I'm kind of built, like I've always gained muscle easily, I think I'm kind of like built muscularly. Like, running and cardio, I'm not so built for those, those are more of a struggle for me.
But, yeah. Like. I am built so that makes me really happy, also. Like, I used to be a little bit afraid of muscle and now I'm not. I used to think that I was going to become-- you know, that's another, that was debunked for me a long time ago, right when I started working out, I was like, "but I don't want to look like a bodybuilder," and it's like, ok, it is really hard.
And now I'm like, "no, no. I think I do want to look like a bodybuilder."
Kim: [00:27:11] Like, wait, no, I want that!
Sharon: [00:27:14] Yeah, now I have a little bit of a different perspective. It's just, it feels so good to be strong. It feels so good to have that freedom of knowing that you can do something and that freedom of moving around and feeling so good in your own body and feeling strong and one with yourself.
I definitely have days where I don't feel that way, but overall, I used to feel so heavy emotionally, physically, you know, and I guess I just feel so much lighter.
Kim: [00:27:41] Oh wow. I love that. I love that.
Sharon: [00:27:46] Me too.
Kim: [00:27:47] It's fantastic to hear. The power of getting stronger is life changing.
Sharon: [00:27:54] Yeah. I think that so many people don't realize the emotional and mental health implications of it. Like, I'm saying I struggled for so long with so much emotional pain, and I still do, it's definitely not a linear process, but it's given me so much in so many ways.
There's this a psychologist on Instagram that I follow and she talks about keeping promises to yourself and how healing that is to learn that you're a reliable person for yourself.
And for me, I think that that's part of what working out has been is like, I told myself when I started working out-- I found out what's the minimum and the minimum they say is like twice a week, so as not to be losing muscle. If you want to gain, you have to do more than that. But I found that out and I was like, "I'm making a promise right now that we're going to work out as much as much as I possibly can because, you know, you do get sick and life sometimes gets in the way and whatever, but we're going to do minimum twice a week."
And I think that I've not kept that maybe a handful of times because I was sick or something else happened. And it's given me so much and I really think that so many people are missing this in their life, and it's such a small thing, but it gives you so much.
Kim: [00:29:17] That's incredible that you made that promise to yourself and have been consistent with it. That's fantastic.
Have you noticed that the working out has helped with your mental and emotional state?
Sharon: [00:29:33] 100%. Like 100,000%.
I used to not sleep. Like, I used to have a lot of anxiety and I wouldn't get much sleep. And when I started working out, it was within a month or two, I started sleeping better and it was amazing 'cause I hadn't slept well since I was probably, I don't know, 14-13 years old, that I can remember starting to not be able to sleep.
And all of a sudden, I started to sleep and my quality of sleep was better and then just like overall there's something very grounding and calming, but I also want to make that disclaimer of, I would say just to making sure that it feels good emotionally. 'Cause sometimes you could try to force yourself or push yourself when you're not so in tune with yourself and what you need.
So, I just try to come from a good place. And part of that is also recognizing, like, I tell myself, like, "if you need to do yoga now, that's fine." I also tell myself, "if you need to not do anything, that's also okay," but just learning how to give yourself space to make decisions as opposed to feeling like you have to and as opposed to feeling like you're forced.
That's given me a tremendous amount, working out, on an emotional, mental place for sure. I feel so much more centered and grounded and yeah, I highly, highly recommend it.
Kim: [00:30:52] That's fantastic. So, it sounds like in the past, you know, however many months, and then before that, even years you got into the strength training and the working out a while ago.
Then in the past months you've really got a handle on your nutrition. Sounds like your sleep has improved. So, tell me what your question is.
Sharon: [00:31:12] Okay. So, I have a couple of questions. You should know, by the way, I really would love to, I think my next goal is going to be to take some courses to become more of a health coach because I find it so amazing and it's done so much for me and I want to help other people too.
But okay, so my questions are a few things. So first of all, I want to know, so I started out at something like 220 pounds or something. I didn't go on the scale right away 'cause I was a little bit afraid. And now I'm something like-- so I don't know exactly what I started out from, but then I checked my weight a few weeks later and it was, 207 pounds.
And then now I'm at 184-183, something like that. I have to check. But I do weigh myself every day, but I happen to be away from my scale, so I'm not weighing myself right now, 'cause I know that scales are different.
So, my question is, from the beginning, I decided to go with 1,850 calories, I knew that was like, it could be that that was slightly low, but I kind of just started there and it felt good to me. And throughout this entire time, I haven't felt too hungry or too restricted. I do sometimes do calorie cycling, which I love. I love that concept. I think that that's brilliant. And also, occasionally, you know, I'll allow myself to just go off and enjoy something if need be.
But my question is: as long as that feels good to me, and as long as there's weight loss, is that fine? Are there any indicators I should be looking out for that, either it's too steep of a deficit or not enough of a deficit?
Like, how do you make that decision?
Kim: [00:33:08] That is a great question. So as far as knowing if it's still going to help you lose weight, you're going to look based on your results.
So as long as you're continuing to lose weight at a rate that you're happy with. So, a good range of progress is 0.5-2 pounds per week. If you're falling in there, and that's on average, obviously you don't have to lose that amount each week, but if you average it out, as long as you're continuing to lose at that rate and your adherence is high, you can keep those calories.
When I set my calories for my clients, I don't change them a lot. There's not like, "Oh, you've lost 10 pounds. It's time to reduce your calories," or "you've lost 20 pounds, it's time to reduce your calories." I only reduce calories if we get to a point where they're not losing weight anymore and their adherence level is very high.
So, we're talking like 90% adherence to your plan. So, you keep track of like, "okay, in the past 30 days, how many days did I hit that calorie target?" If it's 90% or above and you're still not losing weight or, and it's not just weight, if you're not losing weight on the scale or seeing progress in pictures, or seeing the fit of your clothes change, or losing inches, if you're seeing no progress in any of those, and your adherence has been over 90%, that's when I would consider reducing calories.
Sharon: [00:34:28] Okay, fine. So then that's fits. I just wanted to make sure.
Kim: [00:34:32] And I would assume so you're, you said, at 1850 and you're around 184 pounds. I think that sounds like, if you were starting out, that would be a great amount of calories. Like, I would give you that as a good solid, that's still going to be a pretty fast clip of weight loss, is what I would assume.
Sharon: [00:34:50] Yeah, so far it's been pretty consistent. It leads me to my next question, actually, but so far it has been pretty consistent. I think it comes out to around 1.3 pounds a week.
Kim: [00:35:00] That's fantastic. That's fantastic.
Sharon: [00:35:03] I went back and checked how much I'm losing per week on average and that's, I think around what it is.
Kim: [00:35:08] Yeah. That's a really good average. And then from the other, and you'd said, you know, "how do I know if the calories are too are too low?" I would look there to: are you losing weight incredibly fast? How hungry are you feeling and how sustainable does it feel?
Because look, we could say, "Oh, Sharon, you're now going to eat 900 calories." Would you lose weight? Sure, you would lose weight. Are you going to be able to stick with that? Is that going to feel good? No. And so you want to go as far as, "is this number too low for me?" Again, look at your weight, your rate of weight loss, see if it falls in that average. And how are you feeling with regards to hunger, satiety and sustainability?
Sharon: [00:35:44] Okay, fine. That's that fits in. I think that overall, I've been probably around 90% consistent, basically throughout, and I feel very good on it. I haven't felt too hungry.
Happens to be also, I'll just say in case there are any listeners who have the same problem, I also do something specific, which is that in Judaism, so like we, we have Shabbat or Shabbos, whatever. So, it means that once a week we basically are having two Thanksgiving dinners.
Which is really complicated, but, I basically, I do two things. First of all, when I'm making it myself, I'll really make it with my calories in mind and when I'm going to someone else, I really try to assign myself extra-- that's where the calorie cycling really helps me. I give myself extra calories if I want them.
And the amazing thing is also, again, I find the same thing that sometimes I don't end up wanting them, and instead I just make choices that work for me within the calories that I'd rather use. Because once you have that space, it's like, "well, do I want to have an extra piece of bread or not?" Like, "do I feel like it?"
It reminds me also of your bites left behind, which is another thing, by the way, that you've given me a tremendous amount of inspiration from is like the whole, "you are not a garbage can," is huge. It's huge for me. It's so crazy 'cause you have these conflicting things of like not wanting to eat 'cause you want to lose weight, but then feeling like you can't waste this.
Like, "I can't waste it. I have to finish it." And it was just such a great insight for me. Like, I am not a garbage can eat if you're hungry. And then when you know that you're not going to be restricted, you're able to actually listen to your body about whether you're hungry or not.
So, I actually found that even though I was giving myself extra calories for those meals, I didn't need them a lot of the time. Because when I gave myself that room, I actually just was listening to what my body wanted, and many times I didn't need to calorie cycle.
Kim: [00:37:40] That permission sounds huge, then.
Sharon: [00:37:43] Yeah. So, I think overall I really got a good answer. Thank you. I appreciate that.
And I would say the other question I had was more about like, when you add in calories for like a diet break or reverse diet, I don't know. They call it different things.
So, I did do it. I think I was on it for three months and then the entire third month I was feeling very emotionally up and down, and the scale was also going up and down a lot, even though it was definitely heading in a downward trend, there was a lot of spikes. And then emotionally I had been handling the spikes better the first two months than the third month.
And I so didn't want to do a diet break 'cause I was so excited about losing and being on this path and everything. And then eventually I was just like, "Hey, what are you doing? You're supposed to be giving yourself breaks. You're supposed to be giving yourself room, and there's nothing wrong with taking a break. This is all about sustainability and a way of life."
So, I finally heard all the messages that you say and that everybody says, which is like, it's a good thing to do. And I added 300 calories in for two weeks. I think I probably could have done more, but I felt like, for me, it was such a scary thing for me to do because I was so happy with the fact that I was losing weight. It was hard for me to do.
So, I kind of gave myself room to do it only a little bit to start out with. But I guess my question is: how do you make a decision of whether or not to add in calories and then how much, and for how long. I don't know if this is too involved of a topic to ask right now.
Kim: [00:39:33] No, it's absolutely fine.
So, how to decide to take a diet break is going to be a very personal thing. You don't ever have to take one. There's no time that you have to in order to keep losing weight unless it comes to the point where you're not adhering to your plan. That's kind of the cue for me that it's time for one of my clients and I to chat about, "Hey, let's take a break here," because they've been at it for a good couple of months and they're not adhering very well anymore, when they were before.
And the thing that they might really need is just a breather from those lower calories. Let's bring your calories up so you can have more of the, the fun foods that you want, have a little bit more ability to go out and enjoy things. For some people they want just a break from tracking and some more calories. And so, we go to a different method of, like a three plate, two snack method.
So, the key that you might need a break is you're not adhering as well as you once were or you're just feeling kind of burnt out from it. That's really the time to say like, "let's consider taking a break."
A lot of people think it's like, "physically, I can't lose weight anymore and my body needs a break."
It's not that. It's that mentally you're just not on it as much as you were at one time. And the thing that can really help you get back on it with your consistency, with weighing and measuring and, you know, not eating an extra piece of bread when you're not hungry and all of those things is just taking a break from all of that and you give yourself the space to take that break by increasing your calories.
Does that make sense?
Sharon: [00:41:19] Yeah. That actually, that fits. Like, the burned-out piece is what I'm relating to. It was starting to feel a little restricted, I guess. And then when I added that 300 calories in like, oh my gosh, it felt like so much. All of a sudden, I felt there was so much more space and so much more room.
And when I decided after two weeks to go back down, I didn't feel that restriction anymore. I felt good, like I was good to go. I just needed that small amount of time with a little bit more room so that I could be ready to give myself a little less space, but without it feeling restrictive.
Kim: [00:41:57] Yeah, absolutely. And that's the other part of your question is, so how long should the break be for? And that really, again, depends on the person and what they need and how much weight they still want to lose.
Sometimes I'll have clients and they'll come up and they'll take a full maintenance break and I have them commit like, "Hey, I'm going to do this for eight weeks," because people, sometimes they say they want a break, but as soon as they see the scale stop moving, and that's the whole point, you know you get to maintenance when the scale has stopped moving and is remaining steady, they get kind of freaked out and they immediately want to reduce their calories. And so, we broach that from the beginning of: we're going to stick with this for eight weeks before we adjust back down.
Other times what people really need is just a couple of weeks off. Like, they just need a few weeks and they're not really looking to find their maintenance calories or anything yet. They just want two or three weeks of a little bit more calories, you know?
And that can be taken care of with what's called a jab deficit. I'm not sure if you've heard me or Jordan talk about that.
Sharon: [00:42:56] Yeah, I've heard you talk about it on a previous podcast.
Kim: [00:42:58] Yeah, and that just means that you come to maintenance every so often, so you can do a deficit for a week or two and then maintenance for a week or two and then a deficit for a week or two, and you set yourself up on a schedule so you know what you're doing. And that can be enough of a mental break, as well, to help you really keep adherent to your plan.
And that's the key is we're looking for adherence to your plan. There is nothing more demotivating for weight loss than to really try hard, but not actually hit your deficit, but it's still such a high level of effort to not lose weight. Do you know what I'm talking about?
Sharon: [00:43:33] Yes, I do.
Kim: [00:43:34] If you're just shy of hitting your calorie target many days in a row, you're not going to lose weight. Yet you've put in all of this effort, so mentally you feel like you should get the results until you look on paper and you're like, "wait, I didn't actually do it," but it was still hard.
Sharon: [00:43:49] Right. It's so interesting because I relate to it from a point of view of having done so many diets without the counting calories and worked so hard to eat, like the "clean" that we were talking about, the clean eating, and then you don't lose.
And it's so frustrating and painful to put in that much work and that much effort and then not see any results. When I started doing this calorie deficit, I didn't actually find it that hard to stay within the calories like 90% of the time because of the fact that it just, for me, my personal experience, everyone's different, I just felt like, "wow, this is so clear. Like, I understand exactly what I need to be doing to get to where you need to go. And if I don't do what is being said, then it's not going to work."
And so, for me, I didn't have such a hard time sticking with it from that perspective. But before that, when I was doing the other diets that I found, like, you put so much work in and so much time, but then you're not getting the results you want.
Kim: [00:44:54] And that's so frustrating.
All right. So, did you have another question or were those the biggies?
Sharon: [00:45:03] Hold on one second, I do think I had one more, but this is so nerve wracking, by the way. I didn't even tell you when we were starting how nervous I am about being on.
Kim: [00:45:14] There's no reason to be nervous! There's no reason to be nervous.
By the way, the things you've shared here are going to help a lot of people. Like, your entire story and the process you went through as you struggled with trauma and how you've approached fitness and nutrition. I mean, I think a lot of people are going to resonate with that.
Sharon: [00:45:34] Thanks! If anybody is in Jerusalem and wants to, you know, look up a personal trainer, I'm definitely also available if that's something that people would be interested in.
Kim: [00:45:46] Or if you need cake.
Sharon: [00:45:48] That's true. Both of them. I'm a very big advocate of both.
I've been eating her cakes this entire time and I still lost 23 pounds, so.
Kim: [00:46:02] It's true. You can eat cake and still lose weight.
Sharon: [00:46:05] So I'm glad to hear that because you know, that's really so much of-- I think there's nobody in this world who hasn't gone through pain of some sort.
And I think that one of the things for me that gives my previous experience and my pain, meaning is being able to help other people. So that's very meaningful. Thank you. I appreciate that. I hope that it does speak to people.
I think that sometimes life is really hard and we have so many struggles, but knowing that other people have gone through similar things, and having the support and hearing, you know, that people have gotten through it can make it so much easier and can help at least a little bit.
Kim: [00:46:59] Without a doubt. Without of doubt.
You know, it helps people to not feel alone and to feel hope and to see how other people have, managed through it.
Sharon: [00:47:10] Yeah. I think that this time period is such a difficult time period for so many people. And I think that that's something I've been thinking about a lot is how like things can be hard and things can be painful, but at the same time, you can also be grateful and there can also be good.
It doesn't have to be one or the other. You know, there's always a mix happening.
Kim: [00:47:33] Absolutely. Absolutely. Now, Sharon, do you have a fitness Instagram account for people to follow?
Sharon: [00:47:42] I do. It's very new, but yeah.
Kim: [00:47:46] Give us that. Let's have you shout that out.
Sharon: [00:47:48] Okay, so it's @tonewithbatcheva
Kim: [00:47:50] Okay, so that is the same one. Okay!
Sharon: [00:47:53] Yeah.
Kim: [00:47:53] Fantastic! And now spell Batcheva for people.
Sharon: [00:47:58] Okay. B-A-T-S-H-E-V-A.
Kim: [00:48:01] Fabulous.
All right, well, thank you so much for coming on and talking to me. This has been really fantastic to get to know you and to hear where you've come from and your story is so inspiring.
Sharon: [00:48:14] Thank you, really. I just want to say again, just how much I appreciate you and everything you're putting out there. I think also, even with all the different accounts that I have found, I just appreciate the fact that you, you have such a gentleness and compassion in the way that you share information and that you speak to people and that you share your own life and experience so that other people can gain.
And for me, I'm somebody who needs that gentleness and I really appreciate just how nice you are and how, how giving you are with the information. So, I want to say thank you.
Kim: [00:48:53] Thank you. I appreciate you saying that. Let's keep in touch, don't be a stranger. We'll keep DMing!
Sharon: [00:49:01] Okay!
Kim: [00:49:02] All right. Thanks so much.
Sharon: [00:49:06] Bye!
Kim: [00:49:12] Thanks so much for being here and listening in to the Fitness Simplified podcast today. I hope you found it educational, motivational, inspirational, all the kinds of -ational.
If you enjoyed it, if you found value in it, it would mean so much to me if you would go ahead and leave a rating and review on whatever platform you are listening to this on. It really does help to get this podcast to other people. Thanks so much.
This article has been transcribed from episode 52 of The Fitness Simplified Podcast HERE
Kim: [00:00:04] Welcome to the Fitness Simplified podcast, I'm your host, Kim Schlag. On episode 52 I am joined by my good friend and Decades of Strength cohost Sarah Duff.
Sarah comes on to share with us something that she has great expertise in. We talk about all of the many thoughts we have going through our mind every day, thousands and thousands of them, and how we can manage them so that we are not just making decisions on autopilot.
Okay. And we are recording.
Sarah Duff, hello.
Sarah: [00:00:44] Hello, Kim Schlag. How are you?
Kim: [00:00:46] I'm good!
Sarah and I have actually been talking and I finally said, "why are we not recording this? We should be recording this. People need to hear this information."
Sarah: [00:00:57] Do they?
Kim: [00:00:59] They do. People need to know that it's okay to care about your physical self-care as well during this quarantine.
So, Sarah and I were just talking about all of the beauty things that might go awry in the coming weeks as we get deeper and deeper into self-quarantine. I am going to be, hopefully, not ripping out, but delicately removing all of my hair extensions. I'm thinking I'm going to do it live on Instagram, because they are falling out. One came out as I blew dry my hair this morning.
Sarah has taken to dying her eyebrows. Sarah, tell us what else do you think is going to be needing to happen here.
Sarah: [00:01:36] Okay. So, the eyebrows and the eyelashes, we've already tried that and that worked out all right. I can't get my 'stache threaded, so that needs to be waxed now and I just need to be on like hyper control, full facial hair awareness.
Ladies, I am 42 so things have changed in my world on that. And obviously gray hair is the other thing. I obviously go and get my roots done every few weeks, so that's going to be kind of interesting, but we were just saying we are not dying our own hair because that has the potential to go very, very wrong.
Kim: [00:02:15] Yeah. I think just don't do that, everyone. Don't dye your own hair unless you have, like, hair beauty school credentials. Just don't do it.
Sarah: [00:02:25] I have done that in the past and it never worked out well for me and I've had to have my hair stripped and everything. So, people, it's just not worth it. But we were just saying, it does bring up an interesting point that just because we are all in self-solation and quarantine, it doesn't mean our personal care, beauty routines really need to fall off.
And if anything, for me, I actually think it's more important for me to make sure that I'm keeping myself in check with everything. So just for example, shaving my legs and under my arms and bikini line and all that kind of stuff, I don't do that for anyone else but me.
So just because I'm in self-isolation, it doesn't mean that I'm just going to let it all go awry because there's loads of memes going around of, like, women stepping outside after, you know, three months in quarantine and they've got bushes between their legs and all that. I'm like, "why would that happen just because we're in isolation?"
Kim: [00:03:30] That's so funny. So, don't do that. Yeah, I am still shaving, not going to dye my hair. I dyed my hair with the box stuff for years, like, all my twenties into my thirties and every time, no matter what color, literally no matter what box I picked, whatever they showed, my hair was red. It was red. I was like, "why is my hair always red?" And I don't look good with red hair.
So, I just will not be touching my roots. I'm just going to keep putting dry shampoo. I have colored dry shampoo and I'm just going to use that.
So, okay, ladies, whatever your beauty routines are, keep some semblance of normalcy here.
Now, obviously these are not the biggest problems people are having. Sarah and I were also discussing that. You know, there's, there's true trauma going on in the world, our hair extensions falling out don't really make the cut, but we can still care about ourselves.
Sarah: [00:04:29] Yeah. And I think actually from a mental health point of view, it's quite important to make sure that you feel good on a day to day basis.
So, if keeping yourself in check with all of your beauty routines, putting some makeup on and not spending all day, every day in your pajamas, it's good for your mental health and that's what you should be doing. And that's why I get up every morning, shower, get dressed, put makeup on, all the things, because it sets me in a different mindset than if I've just rolled out of bed and stayed in my pajamas all day.
So yeah, it's good for mind health as well.
Kim: [00:05:03] I'm trying to make a better effort at that, Sarah. I have makeup on this morning. I've been doing it a couple of times a week here. I'm thinking, like, I'm literally going nowhere, but I've been trying to do a better effort at putting more makeup on, putting some real clothes on, not just staying in pajamas, or at least change them and have my daytime pajamas and my nighttime pajamas. Something a little fancier.
Sarah: [00:05:27] Yeah, it's just your days kind of blend in. There's kind of no cutoff between wake-up, work, and anything else. I think it's very difficult because a lot of people, myself included, there's a tendency that we're going to end up working all of the time because we're kind of at home and there's no kind of end to it.
So, I think just having cut off points and indications to your mind that, like, "okay, I've changed out of my daytime clothes and put my evening clothes on, so now it's time to shift into a different gear," is just really important.
Kim: [00:05:59] "When you put your evening clothes on," I'm picturing a gown.
Sarah: [00:06:03] It's a ball gown and a tiara.
You have literally no idea what could be happening to me as I slowly start to lose the plot even more and more.
Kim: [00:06:18] Because Sarah lives alone. So, Sarah is on her own in isolation and she's making good friends with Alexa.
Sarah: [00:06:25] Yes. Me and Alexa, but I feel I need some kind of human contact. There's some considerations for what might get ordered for that. So just, if you follow me on Instagram, just keep your eyes out on my story. That's all I'm gonna say.
Kim: [00:06:40] If you don't follow Sarah, now is the time to jump on board. It's going to get interesting in Sarah Duff's stories @thrivewithduff. Make sure you're following.
Sarah, I realized we just really kind of jumped in. So, tell everybody who you are, what you do, some background on you.
Sarah: [00:06:53] For sure. And so, I am, obviously, it's Sarah Duff. I make up one of the four of the Decades of Strengths. I also have my own podcast, Real You. I am an online mindset and life design coach.
I work mainly we women, helping them to get to the bottom of their destructive habits and why they self-sabotage and help them to develop the skills and practices to be able to not do that anymore and to be able to identify what is going on and why, so that they can then move forward.
Kim: [00:07:33] Wow. That's good stuff. And She left out one thing, she is a journal junkie.
Sarah: [00:07:38] Yeah, well, I just had to laugh, 'cause I'm sat in my kitchen and I must have a thing for notebooks because around me right now I have one, two, three, four, five different notebooks.
Kim: [00:07:52] That's just within eye-shot in your kitchen.
Sarah: [00:07:54] Just within eye-shot.
But yes, I am a journal junkie and it is, as you will find out, as the episode goes on, it's been one of my biggest self-transformation tools, and for the majority of my clients, I say majority because I have had clients that it just doesn't click with, but for majority of people, it has been the thing that they have been most surprised that has been the most effective for them being able to understand themselves better and actually move forward from the destructive stuff they're doing.
Anything from binge-eating, binge-drinking, you know, just all of the things that have been holding them back from getting results for years. And it's such a simple tool, but people are quite resistant to it.
'Cause it's like, "I don't want to write, I'm not a 6-year-old child." And it's like, no, this is the stuff that we need to be doing more of because we have between 10,000 to 60,000 thoughts a day. And so, if you are not in some shape or form managing those thoughts, that is an awful lot of thoughts flying around in your head that are basically controlling your actions, controlling how you feel, controlling your actions, and creating your reality.
Kim: [00:09:24] And you have no idea if you're not managing them.
Sarah: [00:09:27] We are all basically on autopilot most of the time. So, when it comes to destructive habits, it is these thoughts that you are not aware of that are driving the destructive habits. So, in order to be able to move past and change, you have to get a hold on the thoughts in some shape or form.
Kim: [00:09:49] And how did you get started with journaling?
Sarah: [00:09:53] So I used to journal and write a lot as a kid and into my teenage years. And then obviously, as we all do, when it becomes suddenly uncool and you feel like-- I never felt like I fit in any way, so I always tried to get rid of anything that I was doing that may not be seen as cool.
So, I played a musical instrument and I stopped doing that because the girls that I really wanted to fit in with didn't think that it was cool. So, I kind of stopped the writing and then I, honestly, didn't really start with the journaling until about a year and a half ago.
So, it's not something that I've been doing consistently for 42 years of my life. But I will say, over the course of my life, I have had a lot of struggles -- binge drinking, taking drugs, feeling very unhappy, really not liking myself very much, and trying to stuff down emotions by distracting myself or numbing myself using anything that I possibly could.
And I can honestly put my hand to my heart, and I'm not just saying this because I'm here to talk about journaling, if I had had the tool of journaling and was using it in the way that I use it now, back then in my 20s-30s, I would have gotten through the stuff that I got through and-- I don't like to use the word healed particularly, but would have moved forward and been able to cope with things a lot differently and understood myself a lot quicker than I have. 'Cause it's taken me until, really I hit 40, to really understand why I was doing the things I was doing and really see how I was sabotaging myself for so many years.
Kim: [00:12:02] And do you think that the difference that the journaling would have made is that it would have helped you to not be on autopilot?
Kind of like, back to what you're saying, that seems to be the real power in it, is what you're saying.
Sarah: [00:12:12] Yeah. So basically, the way that you can use journaling is: it's a kind of questioning-everything-that-you-do situation. Because I was never questioned about anything that I was doing by either myself or anyone that was in my life, I never really thought about it. I was on autopilot for everything. So when I felt a certain feeling coming up in my body, so, you know, I was feeling unhappy or unsettled or dissatisfied or talking negatively to myself, my auto-response was to get rid of that feeling as quickly as I possibly could with the only real means that I had at the time, that I knew, which was to drink, take drugs.
Then when I got away from all of that, it was then into overtraining and getting obsessed with food and obsessed with dieting. And it was all a form of escapism because I didn't know what else to do, I didn't understand what was going on in my mind.
Kim: [00:13:23] And people hearing this right now might kind of have a little bit of a reaction of like, "do I really want to know what's going on in my mind?"
Because I think the word you used, escapism, is really a good word because we're kind of running from these things that maybe we don't want to face. Even if there's not like big scary stuff in her past that we think of, it feels a little daunting to me to try and figure out like, "wait, why do I do the things that are not good for me," right?
Sarah: [00:13:52] Yeah. 100%.
But if you don't do that, you're basically keeping secrets from yourself. You are not being honest about what is actually going on and when you are not being honest about what is actually going on, how can you possibly think that you're going to get a long-term solution? You're not. You will basically always go through your life lying to yourself.
Not to call people out on this, but if you are in denial about what is going on, you can't ever expect to be able to deal with it properly.
Kim: [00:14:27] Yeah. And I imagine that there's some resistance people have to journaling. One I think is the big one I just said, which is like, "uh, do we really want to find out?" Right? That seems like a big one.
The other ones seem to be what would come to my mind. Because look, this is not something I've been able to consistently do. I've tried it and I just don't stick with it. And so, I wonder like, why? Why is that? And I bet there is some resistance. So, what are some of the common resistances you see that people say like, "this is why I don't want to do it."
Sarah: [00:14:56] So we get the, "it takes too long," or "I don't know what to write," because what I think comes up a lot when I'm speaking to people about this is they feel that there's a right or a wrong way to do it, and there's not.
It's a very personal thing and what I find works best with people in the beginning is to simply get someone to start word-vomiting, as I like to call it, because that doesn't seem quite so daunting. So, you basically just grab a piece of paper and you sit down and you maybe ask yourself a question -- so, "what is on my mind today?" And then basically anything that comes to mind, you write it down.
It does not have to make sense. It does not have to be grammatically correct. It does not have to be perfect. It is basically you getting the opportunity to free up your mind of some of the thoughts that are basically clogging up what is going on.
I always like to think of the mind as kind of a really busy roadway junction. So you've all these cars and things passing, and on a day to day basis, if we have between 10,000 and 60,000 thoughts going on in our mind during the day, and these are all trying to cross, you can see why people are so stressed all of the time; 'cause they can't get any free time to make sense of anything.
I would say those would be the two main resistances.
Kim: [00:16:54] Those are exactly the two that came to my mind, Sarah. Those are exactly it. "I don't know what to write," and "I don't have time for this. That takes so long." That's exactly what I was thinking.
So, what are your responses to that?
Sarah: [00:17:09] So I always say to people that we are not looking for you to sit down and write a novel and you need to understand that the way that you have been going about things at the minute has not worked for you up until this point. So, I just would like you to sit down and write for one minute in the morning. And what generally happens, I find with people, is that they'll sit down with a question that I've given them first thing in the morning, they will start writing for a minute, and before they know it, it's been 5 or 10 minutes and they've not been able to stop writing.
Because, with my clients, obviously I know what their main struggles are and what they specifically need to get to the bottom of, so I can always write individual journal cues to help them start to open up the pathways of thoughts, to help them understand exactly what is going on.
But for anyone listening, I would, first of all, just look at the journaling as a way of you being able to connect with yourself first thing in the morning and be able to set yourself up for success that day. That would be the way I would frame it in the beginning, rather than going into it thinking this is going to be like this huge self-discovery, uncovering all of this, and I'm going to solve all of my years of issues.
Don't put that kind of pressure on yourself. Just view it as, okay, I'm gonna sit down. I'm going to ask myself, "how do I feel today?" I'm going to write down maybe three or four words that spring to mind. It could be on the more positive end of the scale or could be something-- you know, maybe you feel angry or on edge or whatever is.
And then just write down, "I feel, *insert whatever the feeling is that's come up for you* because," and then just complete the sentence. That just helps you to really connect with where your head is at that morning. Like how are you actually feeling? And then you can just be more aware of how you have woken up that morning.
Then, just write a sentence that's basically, "who do I want to be today?" That is, you setting the intention for yourself that day. So, I would write that and I would write, "okay, I am going to be the woman who does not procrastinate, goes out into the world, eat three meals," of all the things.
You're just getting really clear with yourself on how you want to show up that day for yourself.
And then the other really simple thing that you can do throughout the day is-- because it is so easy to slip almost automatically straight away back into autopilot because you do the journaling and then you go out and the kids are wanting breakfast and all of the things that are going on.
So, touch points are something that I use with my clients and it is basically just a, for example, every time you take a swig of water, you just do a little bit of, "okay, am I aware of my thoughts right now?" And just check in with yourself that you haven't gone back into autopilot so that when you go forward and you are making decisions about things, whether it be work things, food things, whatever it is, you are not just completely on autopilot and just doing what you've always done. And that's so important when you're dealing with trying to move past destructive habits and trying to change the way that you are showing up for yourself on a day to day basis.
Kim: [00:21:28] So the touch point, is it a question of, "do I remember what I wrote this morning?" What exactly is it?
Sarah: [00:21:35] No, so it's just a reconnection with your mind.
So, if you've been sat at your desk for seven hours, work, work, work, work, work, you may get up and just walk into the kitchen and your automatic response may have always been to go to the fridge and get something out to eat.
If that was one of the things that you do when you walk into the kitchen, every time you touch the fridge handle you check in with yourself and say, "okay, am I aware of the thoughts in my head right now?"
It's not about trying to remember what you wrote in your journal this morning, it's asking yourself the question, "do I know what my head is saying to me right now or am I just doing this out of total and utter automatic response?"
Then you can answer the question.
It gives you some time to move in to the present moment and actually think, "okay, what do I want to happen next?"
Does that make sense?
Kim: [00:22:35] Yeah, that definitely makes sense. And so good times throughout the day to do touch points -- if somebody is typically an overeater or a big snacker, it sounds like the refrigerator one would be a good one. Are there other ways to set up your touch points?
Sarah: [00:22:51] Yeah. So, you could do: every time you touch a door handle, you check in with yourself and say, "okay, am I in the present moment right now or is my head somewhere completely somewhere else?"
Or every time you have a glass of water or every time you go up a flight of stairs, it can be anything that you're doing at regular points during the day. That's an ideal opportunity to just kind of check in with yourself.
Kim: [00:23:17] Every time I go to hit the icon to start Instagram.
Sarah: [00:23:22] Absolutely. Yes.
Kim: [00:23:25] Or whatever your thing is.
Sarah: [00:23:27] Well, that's actually really important because you need to be conscious when you're going on social media because when you get into a scrolling session on Instagram, if you're doing it mindlessly, you are consuming so much stuff that if it is not the correct kind of content and it is not making you feel good, you are just going to scramble your mind up even more.
And you probably end up coming off that little scrolling session not feeling great about yourself. So that's a genius touch point, actually,
Kim: [00:24:05] I like that a lot. So best practices for journaling. It sounds like you're saying that first thing in the morning is pretty key.
Sarah: [00:24:12] Yeah. So, first thing in the morning would be absolutely key. Just in with a morning routine and just really framing it as, "okay, this is my opportunity to spend a couple of minutes getting myself sorted for the day before I start diving into consuming emails and text messages and all of the things."
Because if you don't have those few minutes, you basically wake up from a nice, restful sleep and go straight into consuming things for the day. And the chances of you actually getting back and being able to be really focused and intentional about what you're doing for yourself that day is very, very unlikely.
So, yeah, first thing in the morning. And then once you have gotten that nailed down, you can in the evenings, maybe just, have a few minutes just reflecting on, "okay, what works well for me today? What didn't work well? What did I learn?" And just kind of pick up on the good things that you did that day and if there's anything that you want to improve on for the next day.
Kim: [00:25:23] Okay. Great. And it sounds like you're also saying keep it very short when we're first starting?
Sarah: [00:25:29] Yeah. 100%.
And actually, recently I've been kind of looking at it less like "journaling," because I almost feel like for some people, journaling just doesn't connect with them. They don't feel that it makes sense or that there's any point to it.
So, my journal itself is a mind file of facts, basically. So, I have it all sectioned off for all of the tools that I've kind of used over the past year and a half to really help me move through stuff. But I frame it to a lot of my clients now that "it's mind management." And that seems to connect with people a lot more than "journaling" because everyone's a bit like, "ehhh."
And the other thing to do is also-- I actually just recorded a podcast on this myself, which is: when you find yourself slipping into negative mindset, just hit up your journal and do the appreciation game, which is basically saying something that you appreciate about your life and something that you appreciate about yourself.
Just to kind of help you shift from the negative thoughts into-- I'm not even going to say positive, because when you're in a negative mindset, shifting to positive is not always going to be an option, but it will just change your energy and help you to move out of the negativity faster than if you hadn't.
There's so much stuff that you can do with journaling and there is no right and wrong. It's about finding what works for you.
I would love, Kim, maybe we can discuss this off air, but I have kind of, I'm doing a journal cue pack, so it'll be all different kind of journals.
So, you know, I'm more than happy to share that with any of your listeners or anything.
Kim: [00:27:45] Is that something you've already created?
Sarah: [00:27:46] I've nearly finished it now.
It's going to be journal cues for different situations. So, journal cues for when you feel like bingeing or journal cues for helping you to identify how and when you self-sabotage.
So, it's basically just to help really raise people's awareness and to help you understand that journaling is so much more than just sitting down and writing your thoughts or dreams and stuff. There's a lot more layers to it and if it's used in the right kind of way, it's actually so, so powerful.
Kim: [00:28:36] Well, that sounds like an amazing tool, Sarah.
So, definitely when you have that ready, let me know and I can put that up, on my page so people know. Because frankly I would find that very-- that sounds extremely useful.
I've definitely been a person-- and we've talked about this over the time we've known each other. I feel very resistant to it and I'll start trying it, and I don't know, I have stupid reasons like, "I don't like to write, I like to talk," but that's not really so useful because I'm not going to tape record myself and then listen to myself talk, right? So that the writing part needs to be there.
So, I have lots of stupid reasons for feeling resistant to it.
Sarah: [00:29:12] We need to get you to journal into why you're so resistant. And actually, just on that point, the other thing to remember is that nobody is going to read your journal.
That's the other thing that people get scared about. Honest to God, if anyone read my journal. I think I would be arrested and possibly committed into kind of asylum on Sundays. But it's just really important to remember that you're not writing this to put it out on Instagram, you're writing it to help you just make sense of what is going on in your head. And the power of writing, when it comes to helping to access your subconscious mind and rewire your brain -- there is evidence that writing is the best way to do that because the connection between your eye and as you write enters into the subconscious mind.
So, there is also science behind it to say it is something that more people would really benefit from doing.
Kim: [00:30:21] Wow. And that's actually incredible. That feels very intuitively right, that there would be science about that. Because you think like, I know for me in college and things like that, when I studied, one of the best study tools for me was writing things down, like, copying important facts over because it cemented it in my brain, right? Not just like talking it out, but actually writing it down.
So, it makes sense, like if we're journaling about things, that those things are going to stick with us.
Sarah: [00:30:46] Do you think maybe you've got resistance to journaling because of college and the fact that you had to do so much writing and now you're adult and you don't feel like you should have to do this kind of thing?
Kim: [00:31:00] You know, I don't know that that's it.
I will tell you, just as we've been having this conversation, one of the things that has come to my mind like four or five times, and I'm like, "I bet this is a piece of it," when I was younger, I used to write in journals like, as a girl, as a kid, right?
And I have them still, and when I open them up, I'm horrified to read them. I'm like, "wow, I was so silly." So, I think I judge myself a lot on those things that I wrote and so maybe I'm just worried about what are write now, like, how judgmental will I or somebody else-- I don't even know if I'm worried about other people.
Maybe I am, but I'll open these and it's one of those things, like, I open it up and I start to read, I'm like, "Oh my gosh," slam it shut.
Like, "wow, I was silly when I was 12 or 14 or whatever."
Sarah: [00:31:42] I mean, 100%, you may be carrying some kind of embarrassment and shame around in your subconscious mind, which is just building up this ridiculous barrier to you actually using it right now.
Oh my God, yeah. We need to get to the bottom of this.
Kim: [00:32:05] We'll have to work on that. We will work on that.
The other thing that's on my mind right now, Sarah, thinking about all of this, is it seems like some of the things you're talking about could be particularly useful at this time in our period of history where we're all in this crazy isolation period and there's a lot of anxiety and fear going on.
Do you think that journaling for people could be particularly useful now?
Sarah: [00:32:26] Oh my God, yes.
So actually, I have some specific cues I wrote exactly for coronavirus-- not for coronavirus, but for the people dealing with.
For uncertain times, the journal cues are-- so I can give you those to put in the show notes if you want.
Kim: [00:32:46] Yeah!
Why don't you tell us a couple here and then, for sure, let's put them in the show notes.
Sarah: [00:32:50] Let me just set them up on here so I can read them.
Kim: [00:32:55] While Sarah is looking for that, I can tell you about my journal I found when I was a little kid. No, I'm not telling you what's in there.
The funny thing is, I can't even remember what it was that I read, but it wasn't that long ago. I remember unpacking them from some box and I was just horrified. But it was a pretty little journal. It was navy blue with flowers all over it.
I also I feel like maybe part of me feels like journal, like diary, feels like silly thoughts I used to do when I was little. Right? But journaling is different than keeping a diary, right?
Sarah: [00:33:28] Yeah, yeah. The two are not to be confused. Because with a diary you're writing almost to the diary, if that makes sense. It's like a, "dear diary..."
Kim: [00:33:41] Yeah, and that's what I used to do.
Sarah: [00:33:42] Yeah, so that's more writing about events that happen, whereas mind management, mind-follow-facts, journaling, or however you want to frame it, is more about your feelings and your emotions and asking yourself, "how do I feel and why? Why do I feel this? Why is this coming up for me?"
And honestly, you will be surprised how once you start, once you've started to complete one sentence, you will be really surprised how the mind suddenly goes, "oh, hello." Which is why I prefer really getting people to do more free writing around it. So, giving people sentences to finish or questions to answer rather than just getting somebody to write a one-word answer, 'cause that doesn't open up anything and we really need to get the mind flowing to see where it goes and what else comes up.
Okay. So, the journal cues.
The first thing that you could write would be to get clear for yourself on what you can control for today. So, "today I can control..." Then write down all of the things that you can control.
Then you move to, "today I will be the woman who..." and that is you setting the intention and using the things that you have identified that you can control as the things that you are going to set up for yourself to do that day.
And then very simply, "I am grateful for..." and then write a few things that you are grateful for.
But there is a caveat to that: you can write whatever it is that you are grateful for, but I really, really, really encourage you to not just write the same things every day.
So, you can write one or two of the same things, but you really need to dig into your life and your mind and identify more things that you're grateful for. Because gratitude almost becomes--, not pointless, I don't want to say, but people just tend to write the same things over and over and over and I'm sorry, that is not all that you have got to be grateful for.
We have all got so much to be grateful for that we all need to be looking a little bit deeper into our lives and just going, "okay, this is, yeah, I can see all of this." So that's the caveat.
Kim: [00:36:24] I like that a lot because I will say, I do do gratitude journaling.
Sarah: [00:36:29] Amazing!
Kim: [00:36:29] I did it the past seven days and I'm going to keep it up, of writing three things that I was grateful for. And I do give myself that same little caveat, that little rule, like, you can't write the same thing every day. 'Cause what am I gonna write every day? "I am grateful for my family. I am grateful for my clients. I have a job I love."
Yeah, I can write that every day.
Sarah: [00:36:48] Yeah. And then that's not in your mind anywhere new.
And then the other thing that I've got on here is something called "release writing."
So, this is for in times, maybe over the day, when you find yourself really getting up in your own head. So, procrastinating really badly about things, or you know, you can feel a thought starting to gain momentum in your head and you're just so stressed and anxious.
Just grab a piece of paper and just write down all of the feedings. A bit like I was mentioning earlier in the morning, you know, "I feel stressed because," "I feel anxious because," and just word vomit out everything that's coming to mind. And just keep doing that until you feel a shift in energy.
And what I mean by that is: you will go into it feeling like, "ahhh!!" Like you want to explode. And the more that you write, you should start to notice that things just start to calm down because you're getting the stuff out of your head and it's not just sitting in there.
So, you will feel lighter and you should feel clearer in your mind when you finish doing it.
Kim: [00:38:03] Yeah, I can totally see that. And that's something I have clients do, that specifically, when they're struggling with the same problems over and over, like, "I always eat when I'm mad at my kids," like, all of these things. And one of the things I have them do is write down, you know, in that moment because, like, we keep doing the same dumb stuff over and over and they're like, "okay. I know it does not help when I start eating Doritos when I'm mad at my kid. 'Cause then I'm still mad at my kid and now I'm mad I ate 400 calories in Doritos and I wasn't even hungry and I don't even really like Doritos."
Sarah: [00:38:39] That's the real kicker. "I don't even like Doritos!"
Kim: [00:38:43] That's really helpful, Sarah.
Well, thank you so much for coming on today and sharing this with us. I have to tell you, I am really a fan of the idea of calling this all "mind management practices." That feels really good to me.
That feels like, "Ooh, I want to do that."
Sarah: [00:38:58] Yeah. I think for me, I think it takes a sidestep from the diary thing, which I think is one of the things that a lot of people struggle with.
So, I think if people can just reframe it into, "okay, this is my opportunity to actually get to know myself better and understand my thoughts and to stop keeping secrets from myself."
Because it's important to know that we are not our thoughts. So, whatever you have going on in your mind that is not who you are.
I think people get very scared that if they write down something that they see as negative, that actually they're judging their self for, that that suddenly is who they are and actually it's not.
Kim: [00:39:44] Wow. Yeah. I like that.
Sarah: [00:39:46] We could go on a whole different tangent with that.
Kim: [00:39:51] Absolutely.
Okay. So, I'll get those prompts from you and I'll put those in the show notes.
Couple more questions: tell everybody where they can find you. Where's the best place if they're looking for you?
Sarah: [00:40:03] So you can find me over on Instagram @thrivewithduff or visit me on my website at thrivewithduff.com. Those are my two main platforms.
Kim: [00:40:18] And what's your new podcast called?
Sarah: [00:40:20] Real You with Sarah.
Kim: [00:40:23] And that's on all the typical--
Sarah: [00:40:25] And that's on all the typical platforms.
Are we singing?
Kim: [00:40:31] That's my last question! My last question is will you sing for us?
You can sing it anything you want.
I will join in. What are we singing?
Sarah: [00:40:44] Oh my God. Ummm.
Kim: [00:40:46] I'm gonna make all my guest starts singing with me.
No one's going to agree to come on anymore.
Sarah: [00:40:53] Okay, let's go,
I wanna dance with somebody. I wanna feel the heat with somebody. Yeah, I want to dance with somebody. With somebody who loves me.
Which, at the moment, is either going to be a plum or a blow-up doll.
Kim: [00:41:11] Or you're just going to pick Alexa up and start dancing with her.
Sarah: [00:41:17] Yes.
Kim: [00:41:17] Have you asked Alexa if she wants to dance with you yet?
Sarah: [00:41:20] No, but this morning I asked her would she marry me, and she was like, "no, we are just in different places right now. You are on Earth and I am on the cloud."
Kim: [00:41:33] Well that was a nice let down. Easy on you there.
Sarah: [00:41:40] So I kind of thought so, I was like, "okay, you know, rejection is one of my childhood issues..."
Kim: [00:41:44] And now, gosh, I get rejected by Alexa. That is not nice.
Well thanks so much for being here, Sarah. This was really informative and it was fun and I think people who are journal resistant, like I had been, are going to see it in a different light here.
Sarah: [00:42:04] Yeah, I hope so.
And if anyone has any other questions or wants anymore pointers or advice on how to start, just reach out to me on Instagram and I will more than happily help.
Kim: [00:42:16] Yeah, and when you have that product you were talking about with the prompts and stuff ready to go, let me know and I'll post it, for sure, over on my page. It sounds like good stuff.
All right, my dear. We'll talk soon.
Sarah: [00:42:29] Thank you. Bye.
Kim: [00:42:36] Thanks so much for being here and listening in to the Fitness Simplified podcast today. I hope you found it educational, motivational, inspirational, all the kinds of -ational.
If you enjoyed it, if you found value in it, it would mean so much to me if you would go ahead and leave a rating and review on whatever platform you are listening to this on. It really does help to get this podcast to other people.
Thanks so much.
This article was transcribed from episode 51 of The Fitness Simplified Podcast. Click HERE to listen.
Kim: Welcome back to the Fitness Simplified podcast. I'm your host, Kim Schlag.
[00:00:08] As I record episode 51 of the podcast, the world is several weeks into the Coronavirus lockdown. We've completely lost track of times and days. No one knows what day it is. A worry I'm hearing coming up over and over from many of you, is that you're concerned that you're going to regain much or all of the weight that you worked so hard to lose.
[00:00:30] Let's talk about it.
[00:00:36] Heading into day 13 of lockdown here in my town. My family is all working at home, the kids are homeschooling, I am a homeschooling mom for the second time in my life -- not by choice this time. The kiddos are all working hard at school, my husband is working from home, I am working from home, haven't really gone anywhere except to walk in my neighborhood, and walk at a local park. I think it's been 10 days since I've gone anywhere.
[00:01:10] Other than that, different world we're living in here now. I know a lot of you are struggling. We're all struggling to some degree with this just massive lifestyle shift. I created a poll on Instagram asking what your biggest fitness concern is right now.
[00:01:26] Number one was snacking/mindless eating/stress eating, and I talked about that quite in-depth last week on the podcast.
[00:01:35] Number two was regaining the weight you've lost while we're on Corona lockdown. I think that's a valid concern and I understand completely why you would be worried about that.
[00:01:47] We are in a prime setup for overeating. We have more downtime, high levels of stress and anxiety, boredom, it's harder to access less processed food for many people, and we've stacked up on highly palatable food, right? Our cupboards are filled with all of those things that can be trigger foods for us.
[00:02:07] I saw a meme yesterday saying that it feels like we're living an extended version of that week between Christmas and New Year's, and I was like, "yes!" It's that loss of flow, the flow of time, the rhythm of our daily lives, our healthy habits, kind of all giving way to be just one long blur with the added twist of: there's literally nowhere to go and now we're all homeschooling our children. So, it's this really strange spot to be in.
[00:02:34] Here’s how I feel about worry, though. It's not useful. No one ever worried a situation into proper resolution, and believe me, I've tried. I was a world-class worrier for most of my life. But action, not worry, is the answer. Always. Worry is crippling. Action is empowering.
[00:03:00] So what action is appropriate to this worry we're discussing here? The specifics are going to vary person to person. Generally speaking, though, the first step is going to be getting the worries out of your head. That way you can face them square on. Write them down. What specifically are you worried about and why?
[00:03:22] So here's an example:
[00:03:24] "I'm worried I will gain back the 20 pounds I lost because I'm eating nonstop and lying in my pajamas, binge watching the Golden Girls 24/7."
[00:03:33] Okay, then ask yourself some questions about what you've written. Are your worries warranted? Do they seem logical? What behaviors specifically are contributing to this worry of possible weight gain? Are you willing to change the behaviors you see leading to the weight gain? If so, which behaviors, specifically, are you willing to change? Which behaviors, specifically, are you not willing to change? And those are where we're all going to have different answers. And it's important to remember that what's required for weight loss and maintenance aren't the same thing.
[00:04:15] You don't have to be losing weight right now. If you're feeling ambivalent about what you really want and what you're willing to change versus not, here's something to consider: how will you feel when this quarantine is over about the decisions you're making right now? Project into the future, some period of weeks or months, when you're back to your usual day to day life -- where do you want to be with your nutrition and fitness habits? Then act accordingly.
[00:04:45] It will likely take multiple reminders of that, daily, to stay on the course that leads you to the end spot you've chosen.
[00:04:54] Okay, some practical advice on where to place your efforts if you're thinking, "okay, enough, I'm ready to think forward towards what I want when we resume normal life, I'm ready to do something."
[00:05:07] So maintenance comes down to three things:
[00:05:10] 1) Managing your overall calorie intake.
[00:05:14] Now, maybe this isn't the right time for you to be counting calories. Maybe it is. You can decide that. Remember, in any case, the calories that you're counting, if you're shooting for maintenance, are going to be higher than your deficit calories, but you could still count calories.
[00:05:28] If you don't want to count calories here are some other options to manage your overall calorie intake so that you are not in a surplus, which is what would cause you to gain weight.
[00:05:39] So a couple of options for you:
[00:05:41] 1) I only eat seated at a table with my food on a plate or in a bowl. Okay? I don't eat out of packages, boxes, and bags, I don't eat in front of the TV, I don't eat in my bed. I only eat seated at a table with my food plated.
[00:05:58] Another option: I eat only when I'm physically hungry. So, think about actual physical hunger -- that is felt in your stomach. It's an empty, hollow sensation in your stomach. It comes on gradually and it doesn't subside with time, but it continues to grow.
[00:06:17] If you're not feeling that, you're not physically hungry, you're emotionally hungry, you're bored, you're missing something else. So, you could commit to eat only when you're physically hungry and stop when you are satisfied. So, you eat slowly and you notice the sensation in your stomach. When you get to the point of satisfaction, you stop eating. Okay, so that's another option.
[00:06:42] Third option, I eat three meals and two snacks per day. That's it. And you could dial that one in further in a couple of ways. You could add that all of those meals fit on one standard sized plate. Okay, so three meals, two snacks, they fit on a standard sized plate for the meals, and each snack fits in the palm of your hand.
[00:07:04] You could do it like that. You can dial that one in even further and say, okay, all of my meals are going to include half a plate of vegetables, or half a plate of vegetables and a quarter plate of protein. You could say, one of my snacks every day is going to be a fruit or a fruit or a vegetable. So, lots of ways you can dial that in. So, creating these bright lines around your nutrition to control total calories-in.
[00:07:29] A couple of more for you to consider: I eat protein and veggies at every meal. Okay? So, we're not just downing carbs and fat. I eat protein and veggies at every meal.
[00:07:42] Another one, around alcohol -- here are two for you around alcohol. I've heard from a lot of people that they are drinking a lot more than usual right now, so you could say, "I drink no more than one alcoholic drink per day," or "I drink no more than one time per week or two times per week or three times per week."
[00:07:58] Whichever of these feels like a good fit for you. The idea being that you're going to reduce the amount of alcohol you're currently drinking.
[00:08:07] Okay, so I just gave you about eight different ways that you can control your overall calorie intake and get it to a maintenance level without counting calories.
[00:08:18] The other option is you straight up count calories. So that's number one with getting control of maintaining your weight during this quarantine time: manage your overall calorie intake.
[00:08:29] The second thing we're going to talk about, then, is the other side of the energy balance equation. So, we're going to talk about calories-out.
[00:08:38] So we're going to move. And I'm not talking workouts here. That's actually a relatively small portion of your total calories-out, even when you're in your regular workout routine. Okay? I'm talking about literally just getting up and moving.
[00:08:53] Lots of ideas here: go outside and take a walk, stay inside and take a walk, challenge your kids to a dance off, play charades as a family. We did this last night, we actually FaceTimed some family friends and we played charades-- we hooked our phones up to our televisions and then we played charades through the television with some family friends. That was really fun.
[00:09:16] The night before that, we FaceTimed my little sister and she gave us line-dancing lessons. We did country line-dancing lessons. So, we're going to do it weekly now for the rest of the quarantine. You could mop your floors, you could organize your closets, you could play a fun movement game while you're binge watching your TV shows.
[00:09:33] Okay, so in my family, we are binge watching The Office. We're going to try and get through all nine seasons. We're currently on season three. Here's a game I thought of that you could do with The Office -- and you can change this to match the show your doing. So, if you watch The Office, every time Michael says something inappropriate, do 10 squats, every time Jim looks at the camera and smirks, do 5 pushups, every time Pam picks up the phone, do 6 lunges per leg.
[00:09:58] So make this game work for your family's TV show that you are watching. So, it's not about this being your workout routine. We'll talk about workout routines later. This is just a way to get some more movement in.
[00:10:11] Pick a podcast or two you love and set a bright line that you can only listen to that show if you're walking. Do a step competition with friends. See who can get the most steps each week and decide on a prize for the winner, for when this is all over, whoever gets the highest step count per week, that person gets a prize.
[00:10:33] So the bottom line is: enough with all of the sitting. Let's get up and move.
[00:10:41] All right, number three: workouts.
[00:10:43] Oh boy, I know you might not be particularly motivated by your home workouts. Do them anyway. Do them anyway. They will have a positive impact. Commit to three times per week, focus on getting stronger at a few key moves. Making that progress is important to your results, not to mention your enthusiasm about working out.
[00:11:06] Focus on getting better and doing more reps of pushups and pullups and Bulgarian split squats, pike pushups, walking lunges -- I started today to work towards performing my very first pistol squat. That is a challenge that I find really exciting.
[00:11:21] So pick something physical and work towards getting better at that.
[00:11:27] All of these things, these workout pieces are going to help you mentally stay in the game, help you keep up the habit of "I am a person who works out." They're also key to preserving the muscle that you have built, that really gives you that toned and defined look.
[00:11:43] So remember, you don't have to be focused on weight loss right now. I mean, you literally never have-- there's never a time in your life you have to focus on weight loss, certainly not now. But in this moment, good nutrition still matters, moving your body still matters, and your goals still matter.
[00:12:05] We're all in this together and it looks like we're going to be here for some time still, so let's keep each other going here.
[00:12:12] We can create new routines. We can hold ourselves to standards.
[00:12:16] You in? Let's go.
[00:12:29] Thanks so much for being here and listening in to the Fitness Simplified podcast today. I hope you found it educational, motivational, inspirational, all the kinds of -ational.
[00:12:40] If you enjoyed it, if you found value in it, it would mean so much to me if you would go ahead and leave a rating and review on whatever platform you are listening to this on. It really does help to get this podcast to other people.
[00:12:55] Thanks so much.
This article is transcribed from Episode 50 of The Fitness Simplified Podcast. Click HERE to listen.
[00:00:04] Kim: Welcome back to the Fitness Simplified podcast. I'm your host, Kim Schlag. Today is episode 50 and this is not the subject I would have guessed I would be tackling.
[00:00:13] Today, it is March 20th, 2020 and we here in the United States and around the world are facing a crisis we have never seen the likes of before. The Coronavirus is spreading and we are going on lockdown and quarantine and shelter in place, and we are all living in a bit of an altered reality.
[00:00:34] Today I tackle some of the top concerns I have been hearing from you about your health and fitness during this unprecedented time. Specifically, we're going to talk about these three things:
[00:00:45] "There's no gym anymore. How am I going to work out?"
[00:00:49] "I am eating nonstop. Help me stop eating."
[00:00:54] And the third one, "I am going to lose all of my progress. Am I gonna lose all my progress?"
[00:01:00] That's what we're talking about today. Let's go.
[00:01:12] Greetings from lockdown. As I'm recording this, it is Friday, March 20th, 2020. In recent weeks, we have seen this situation with Coronavirus escalate to the point that many of us are living in a world we never imagined possible: purposely socially isolating ourselves, working from home, schooling from home, not eating out, not going to shows, not going to church.
[00:01:40] More and more of us are on lockdown, as I am here in Southeast Pennsylvania or even in quarantine. All of the expert information from the CDC and the World Health Organization shows that this is the right thing to do, right? However, it doesn't equal easy, as we're all finding out here a day at a time.
[00:02:02] Today I'm going to tackle some of the top concerns, issues, worries, bumps in the road, whatever you want to call them, facing you as far as the nutrition and fitness piece of managing life during this crazy time in our history.
[00:02:19] And I want to start with your mindset. Now, don't brush this aside, I know it sounds kind of woo woo, but how we think has a massive impact on what we do. Now, more than ever, this is going to be key to your success. And this begs the question, "how are you defining success right now?" And we need to give this some thought.
[00:02:46] What was your main fitness and nutrition goal before the situation with Corona? Maybe it was fat loss, maybe it was muscle gain, getting your first pull up or, you know, a heavier dead lift, whatever that goal was, I want you to think, "does that goal feel in line with your current circumstances emotionally, physically, timewise," and maybe it does and maybe it doesn't. I'm noticing two distinct groups in my clientele right now. So, I have one on one clients, and some people don't know where they're at quite yet. They're still trying to figure it out. And I will say, depending on where you are in the world, things are still a little bit different place to place.
[00:03:35] I have some clients who just today their gym shut down and they went to working at home. I have other people who've been doing that for some time. I have several people in California, clients who are already doing shelter in place, like, they really aren't supposed to leave at all. Where I'm at, we're on lockdown. Everything is closed, we can still go outside, but we're supposed to stay home as much as possible.
[00:03:58] And so what I'm noticing among my clients right now are the two biggest groups. There's one group and they feel thrown for a loop. They feel overwhelmed. They feel like, wow, I'm in my house with all this amazing food, and I'm apparently a homeschooling mom right now, and I'm working from home at the same time. And there are all these people in my space and my house is a mess. And there's this stress of all the things I'm used to doing, they're gone. And I have the stress of like, "are we going to get sick and what's going to happen with the economy?" And so, I have that group of people and then I have this other group of people who are dealing with those same things, but for them it's kind of opened up this different spot where they feel more in control of their schedule than they ever have before.
[00:04:43] You know, maybe they're busy executives who are always, you know, long commutes and lots of travel in eating out and social obligations, and now they're not having any of that, and so they feel more in control of their time and their ability to meal prep and their ability to eat when they want and what they want and how they want. And so, they're saying like, I think I could really lean in right now. Like, this is a time for me to really dial in my nutrition and go for it.
[00:05:11] And so you might find that you're in one of those two camps and neither is right and neither is wrong. I just want you to be aware of where are you right now? How does that compare to where you were before, what your goal was before, and remind yourself that your goal doesn't have to stay the same, but it should be clear. Right? And so, if you've been trying to lose weight and now you're feeling really overwhelmed and your time feels very stretched and you've got kids at home and you're working at home, and, and this feels like a lot for you. If you just, in your mind, are sort of eating in a deficit, you're trying to eat in a deficit, but you're actually not eating a deficit, that can be insanely frustrating because there's still a high level of effort that you're putting forth mentally, but you're not going to see the payoff in terms of results. Because if you're not in a deficit, you're not in a deficit. Right?
[00:06:06] And so deciding that maybe for this period of time, you're going to bring calories up to maintenance is one good option for you. And I'll talk more specifically about what that looks like a little bit later on this podcast. So, for this piece, I want you to really think, "what was my goal? Does that goal seem appropriate right now?" And know that you can change. Like, a week from now, you might feel like, "wow, I've got a handle on this working at home and having my kids around and social isolation bit and I think I am ready to lean into my goal." Great. Go for it. Whatever stage you're at, just be very clear with yourself what you're trying to accomplish and what steps you're going to take to do that.
[00:06:45] So that's the first piece of this mindset approach is getting clear on what your goal is. The other piece of the mindset topic that I think is critical is optimism. Now, being optimistic, it does not mean you're not worried. It does not mean things have easy answers. It does not mean you have to be happy and sunshiny every second.
[00:07:09] It means you are looking for things to be grateful for. It means you are choosing to approach things from the perspective that things will all work out eventually. And I can't stress enough that optimism is a choice. This is a choice. It's not like, "well, that's an optimistic person and I'm not an optimistic person," you can choose at any moment in time to be an optimistic person. You can choose optimism and it's a power move, my friend. Choosing optimism means choosing you focus on the things you can control instead of wallowing in what you can't control. And that makes all the difference in both your mental health and the bottom line of your success. So, choose optimism.
[00:07:59] Okay, so those are the two mindset pieces that I really want you to focus in on first: have a clear goal, knowing you can change it at any time, and come from a place of choosing optimism.
[00:08:10] All right. Now let's tackle three of the most common concerns that I'm hearing.
[00:08:14] I'm going to tell you what they are and we're going to go through them one by one:
[00:08:17] "I have no gym now. How will I work out?"
[00:08:22] "I'm eating nonstop. Help me."
[00:08:25] "Am I going to lose all of my progress? I'm really worried."
[00:08:30] Okay, so let's talk about those one at a time.
[00:08:32] "No gym, how will I work out?"
[00:08:36] Okay, know this: you have options. It will all be okay.
[00:08:41] The first thing you can do is take stock of what equipment you have, if any. Get a good idea, like, what do you have to work with? Do you have a couple of sets of dumbbells? Do you have some slider disks? Do you have some bands? Figure out what you have. And if you have no equipment, it's still okay -- we're going to have you use your body weight.
[00:08:58] I'm going to leave some links to a few resources that I've created in the show notes here. I designed 10 at-home workout programs last weekend, before this event, for the fact that we are just seeing epic numbers of people who can't get to the gym now. So, 10 at-home programs. They're free, there's body weight-only programs, there's minimal equipment programs, like if you just have a couple of light dumbbells, so there's some workouts for that, and there are some workouts I created, if you have a pretty good array of dumbbells at home and you're just not sure, "like, what do I do? This is not look at all like what I used to do at the gym." I'm going to share that link in the show notes.
[00:09:37] I'm also going to share the link to a live workout I led on my YouTube last night. It's a full body, no equipment workout. It's workable for all fitness levels -- I give regressions and progressions as I go, and I'm going to be doing another one next week, another live YouTube workout. This one I'm going to do with bands. So, if you have some resistance bands at home, that'll be a good one for you.
[00:09:58] There's a lot of resources out there right now for at-home workouts, so check those things that I just mentioned. Also check back on my Instagram, I'm constantly giving ideas for at-home workouts right now.
[00:10:11] Another thing you can do is create your own. Here are some guiding principles for right now, when you don't have any equipment or very light equipment. One thing you can do is focused on single leg exercises. So, things like single leg box squats, Romanian deadlifts that are single leg, single-leg hip thrust, single-leg Bulgarian split squats, because you can tax that body part more with less weight if you're doing it with just one limb versus with two. Then, on top of that, you can use one or more of the techniques I'm about to share with you to make those exercises harder without adding weight.
[00:10:53] You can add a half-rep. So, you could do a one and a half single leg RDL, you could do a one and a half pushup, you could do a one and a half Bulgarian split squat. So, add a half rep.
[00:11:12] You can add a pause. Okay? So, you can pause at the bottom of a squat. You can pause twice. You can do lunges where you pause halfway down, you pause at the bottom, and come back up. Those are really, really hard. You can add a slow eccentric. Now, "eccentric" is the lengthening portion of any movement. In a push up, a squat, or lunge, it's the down portion. And you can make that really slow.
[00:11:39] Think about doing a pushup with a five second lowering phase. That's hard. That's really, really hard. Think about doing a squat or a lunge with a three or a five second lowering phase. That's a way to make it way harder without much weight or any weight at all. Okay? So those are some of the techniques you can use to make exercises harder without much weight.
[00:12:04] Now, I know a lot of people are saying, "I just don't feel motivated to workout at home. I don't like this body weight stuff. I like heavy weight, or I like using the machines. I just don't feel motivated." So, a couple of things to help you feel motivated: one thing in particular that I want you to think of doing is to give yourself a challenge. A challenge for something that you're going to do, something you're going to work towards doing while we're all in our crazy quarantine, lockdown phase here.
[00:12:27] My one on one client, Corrine just messaged me today that she's going to work towards doing her first handstand before this is all said and done, and I just love, love, love that. And she posted a little video of her trying, day one, trying to do a handstand. Couldn't do it. And that's okay, and she's going to keep watching herself day by day, getting better at doing handstands. How cool is that?
[00:12:50] Okay, so what are some ideas? How about a pushup? Can you do a pushup? Can you do a really good pushup? How about setting a goal to get your first pushup? Or if you can do a couple of pushups, but they're not really good, what about setting a goal to be able to do 10 really good pushups by the time this is all said and done.
[00:13:06] Or if you can do pushups and you want something even harder, how about weighted pushups? You could put a backpack on your back with some heavy books in it and learn to do weighted pushups and practice until you get a certain number -- 10 or 20 -- weighted pushups.
[00:13:19] All right, how about chin ups? Can you do a chin up? This can be a really good goal. You could work on this every day. You could order a chin up bar and some bands. I have a full tutorial on my YouTube about how exactly to get your first chin up. You could work towards getting that, and that's something to look forward to. All of these things are something you can look forward to each day as you are going to train, like something you can get better at, something you can practice.
[00:13:42] Another really good one is getting 10,000 steps a day. If you've been listening to me for any length of time, you know how much I love that goal of getting more movement in. You can set yourself a goal that you are going to walk 10,000 steps every single day. And strive for that. It's something to look forward to.
[00:13:59] So set yourself a goal. I'm considering doing that. I'm not going to say what it is yet. I have something in mind. I'm hopping on the phone with my coach tomorrow and I'm going to talk through an idea I have. I have a full gym, so I'm not doing anything different in that way, but I do want to show you and model for you like, hey, here's something you can try and do over the next 30-- who knows how many days. Are we talking 14, 30, 60, 90, who knows? But let's come up with some cool things that we're going to be able to do at the end.
[00:14:24] All right. The next concern I'm hearing a lot of: "I'm eating nonstop. Help me. I can't stop eating."
[00:14:33] So you know, as everyone was going to the grocery store and stocking up, I was looking at these carts, my own included, and a lot of them look like we gave our nine year olds our credit card and said, "Hey, go prep for a two week road trip."
[00:14:44] Right? Are you all of a sudden finding you bought stuff that you don't usually bring into your house and it seemed like a good idea, or maybe in a moment of panic you're like, "I need all the Oreos," and so now you're sitting there in your house and you're there all day long and it is fully stocked with the stuff that you don't usually keep there.
[00:15:00] So the first order of business is let's set your environment up for success. What does this mean? Take the food that you typically overeat, put it in an opaque container, in a hard to reach spot, up really, really high in a room you don't typically go in. Do not leave it in the cupboard that you typically open to get your salt and pepper. Don't leave it on your kitchen island. Put that staff in an opaque container in a hard to reach spot.
[00:15:30] All right. Don't overly restrict what and how much you're eating, even in a deficit. So, if you decide you are going to keep working for weight loss right now, cool. Still plan in treats. Don't overly restrict. It's a pretty self-explanatory one, something I talk about all the time, generally, even we're not dealing with, you know, coronavirus quarantines.
[00:15:54] All right, when you are eating or are about to eat, ask yourself, "why?" "Why am I going to eat?" "Am I hungry?" That's a really important question. If the answer is no versus the answer is yes, we have different approaches.
[00:16:15] Now, remember, what does true hunger feel like? Hunger is a sensation that's in your belly. It's not in your mind, it doesn't come from something you smell, it doesn't come from watching a television commercial -- whether you see ooey, gooey chocolate chip cookies being pulled apart -- it is an empty, hollow sensation in your stomach. Sometimes it gets kind of growly. It's this empty, hollow sensation in your stomach.
[00:16:39] If you do not feel that, it is not true hunger. If you do feel true hunger, eat something. If you do not, ask yourself, "okay, why am I eating?" And actually, even before that, let's step back one step.
[00:16:55] Give yourself time to make a choice that's in line with your goals. So, if you're about to eat something or even if you already are eating something and you know you're not hungry, put the food away, step out of the room, and give yourself 20 minutes. Give yourself 20 minutes to make a choice that's going to be more in line with your goals. Whether the goal is maintenance or fat loss. Give yourself some time.
[00:17:18] Okay, what are you going to do during that time? Here's what I want you to do. I want you to think, "how am I actually feeling?" We want you to identify. What are you feeling? If it's not hunger, but you want to eat, what are you feeling? And I want to remind you here real fast, emotional eating is really common, especially at a time like right now, you are not alone if you are turning to food to soothe yourself.
[00:17:42] If you're turning to food because you're stressed, if you're turning to food because you're bored, there's nothing wrong with you. A lot of people do that. It is a coping mechanism that we have come to rely on. It doesn't serve us, almost across the board it doesn't serve us whether your goal is fat loss or not, because it doesn't actually help us manage the emotion we're feeling, and that's what we want to do.
[00:18:04] Okay, so you've walked away from the food, you're giving yourself 20 minutes, let's manage those emotions. So first you have to identify the emotion. What are you feeling? Are you sad? Are you scared? Are you bored? Are you lonely? So, figure out what you're feeling and then brainstorm how to deal with that emotion in a way other than food.
[00:18:27] Now I find that this is actually better done at another time. We often emotionally overeat for the same reasons, so I want you to start looking for patterns. If you notice that you typically overeat when you're bored, that's a pattern. If you notice you typically emotionally eat when you're annoyed with your kids, that's a pattern.
[00:18:46] So as you identify these patterns, brainstorm non-food forms of self-care to help you with those emotions and write them in the notes section of your phone. Like, literally write, "when I am sad and want to eat food, here are other things I will do." "When I'm angry and want to eat, even though I'm not hungry, here are some things I could do."
[00:19:06] I'm going to give you some suggestions. There are loads of suggestions -- and some of these ones I'm going to give you now for specific emotions, there's a lot of overlap. They could work one versus another. So, if you're sad, give yourself permission to cry. Like, sit down and have a good cry. Listen to music. Write. Write about what you're feeling. Get outside. Wow. That helps it almost all of these. Getting outside helps with almost all of these.
[00:19:31] If you're angry, workout. You know how many good workouts have come out of a bout of, "wow, I'm really friggin' angry." Take deep, calming breaths. Talk out loud yourself about what you're angry about. That's actually a really good one for almost all of these, talking out loud to yourself. If you're lonely or bored, connect virtually. That's pretty much all we got right now. Usually I'd say even better might be in-person, but connecting virtually. Call someone, FaceTime them, set up a Zoom call with friends. I've seen a lot of people doing that. Lots of groups of friends doing these Zoom calls. It's fantastic.
[00:20:03] Get a hobby. There are so many cool things out there. I've seen things like, people are taking magic lessons online, they're taking piano lessons online. I know people who are suddenly, you know, going back to doing craft projects they used to want to do, you know, all kinds of things you can try to do.
[00:20:21] So get a hobby, figure something out that's actually interesting to you, and sit and think like, "what does interest me?" Sometimes we don't even have any idea what might be interesting to us.
[00:20:30] Help someone. This is a big one. Now I realize a lot of the ways we would typically help someone aren't available to us right in this moment because we're confined to our houses, but there are still ways to help.
[00:20:42] You could write letters to service people. You could-- we have the cutest thing going on in our neighborhood right now, it just started last night. We're going to do ours today. Somebody came with this idea to do a scavenger hunt for the kids in the neighborhood. I live in a very big neighborhood with lots of kids and lots of parents who have bored children and they're going on all these walks. And to give the kids something to look for where they're walking, we're going to pick a different object each week and we're going to put it somewhere on the outside of our house or in our car. And then the goal is for these kids, as they're walking around the neighborhood, to look for this object. So, this week we're doing hearts. And so, people are going to put a heart in your window or on your door or on your car or on a tree. And so, as the kids walk by, they're supposed to be looking for the object. Like I said, this week, it's going to be heart, next week it'll be something else. So, you could organize something like that in your neighborhood.
[00:21:27] You could call old people that you know, who you know are really sad and lonely and talk to them. So, getting outside of our self by helping somebody else can really help if we're feeling lonely or bored.
[00:21:40] Okay, what if you're feeling overwhelmed? A lot of people feeling overwhelmed right now. Take a nap. Go for a walk. Just get outside, even just sitting outside. Take a break. Take a break from your work, take a break from attempting to homeschool your children, take a break from social media and the news, take a break.
[00:22:01] Okay, so those are some general ideas. And like I said, you can kind of mix and match the different strategies with the different emotions to find what might work for you. And as I said, try and do this at a time outside of when you actually notice your emotional eating. Try it then, but then notice patterns and really get a good list going and make sure that they're things you can actually do right now that work into your life.
[00:22:23] All right, now when you become aware you're about to emotionally eat, or in the middle of it, you're going to-- this is a quick reminder, what I just said, give yourself 20 minutes, put the food away, walk away and use that 20 minutes to do one or more of the things that you brainstormed. Instead of eating your emotions, you're going to deal with them, which is hard. That's hard work.
[00:22:45] All right, let's talk about this last one:
[00:22:47] "I am going to lose all of my progress."
[00:22:51] Wow. Everybody's really, really worried about that right now.
[00:22:55] And you know, I can understand why. You've gotten into this good rhythm and you go to the gym and you have your routine and now you're, "wow, our routines are just out the window." Here's the question I want you to ask yourself, "did I make all of my progress in a day?" "Did I make all my progress in a day?" "Did I make all my progress in a week?" "Did I even make all my progress in a month?"
[00:23:20] No, right? It takes many, many months. It takes years, even. You will not lose all your progress. You won't.
[00:23:29] Now, let's talk a little bit specifically. If you're worried about losing your muscle, I want you to remember: it takes way less to maintain your muscle than it did to build it.
[00:23:38] Keep that in mind. Do your home workouts, be consistent with them, eat plenty of protein, and know that it just takes way less work to maintain your muscle than it did to build.
[00:23:50] Fat loss, if you're worried you're going to regain all the weight, remember there's a space between eating in a deficit and eating in a surplus, and that space is maintenance.
[00:24:00] You have that buffer so you can raise your calories some from a deficit and maintain your current progress. Doesn't mean the scale is going to stay the same. Remember, scale weight always fluctuates. Don't let the scale freak you out. This might not even be a great time for you to be weighing. That really depends on the individual.
[00:24:17] Try adding 250 to 500 calories to your deficit calories, daily, if that's your goal, if maintenance is your goal. Now, that's not typically how I bring a client to maintenance. If I have a client who's hit their goal and they're ready to come up to maintenance, or even if they haven't hit their goal and they just want a maintenance break, we typically do that by adding in a little bit of calories, a little bit at a time, over several weeks, while we watch what the scale does.
[00:24:42] But this is a completely different situation entirely. So, go ahead, if you want to come up to maintenance and you're like, "what does that look like for me?" Add 250 to 500 calories to your daily deficit and stay there. And those can be your maintenance calories for now. You can pay attention to the scale, see how that's looking, and go from there. Remember, anytime we adjust calories, everything's always a little bit of plug and play.
[00:25:08] Also, keep up your good habits. Eat your vegetables with most meals, eat protein at every meal, eat fruit every day, eat 80/20. Remember how we've talked before about what 80/20 eating is like? I mean, 80% of your food should be healthy, nourishing, you know what these foods are: fruits and vegetables and meat and whole grain. Most of your food should be that, the less processed stuff.
[00:25:33] And by the way, frozen vegetables and canned vegetables count. Canned tuna counts. It doesn't have to be picked up from the farmer's market in your town. It doesn't have to be organic. It doesn't have to be fresh vegetables. It's not the only thing that counts for vegetables.
[00:25:52] You know, you can eat right now, anytime, actually, but right now, if what you have access to is canned vegetables, if it's frozen vegetables, great. That all counts. 80% of your food should be healthy, nourishing, minimally processed, nutrient dense food -- fruit, vegetables, protein, whole grains. The other 10% to 20% can be all the other stuff. All the stuff that makes it look like we're nine-year olds going on a road trip. Cookies and cake and frozen pizza or whatever it is you would like.
[00:26:26] Now the other thing is get up and move every single day. Get up. This was a great time to get your steps up. We have more control over our time and a lot of us just have plain ol' more time. Nobody's commuting anymore. Get outside, if you're in an area where you're still allowed to go outside, and walk. If you're not allowed to go outside, walk in your house. Up and down the steps, pace in your living room, march in place, step up and down on a step stool, get up.
[00:26:53] And then lastly, with this whole idea of, "am I going to lose all my progress?" Remember, it is not what you do some of the time that gets most of your results, it's what you do most of the time. And this right here is a "some of the time" event. We're not always going to be right where we are right now, in lockdown, in quarantine.
[00:27:11] Okay, I hope this has helped to ease some of the stress on your mind and get you thinking realistically and optimistically about what you can do. We have control over so many things. There's a lot we have no control over right now, right? But we have control over a lot of things, including how our attitude is, what we choose to be our goal, how we move our body, how often we move our body, what we eat, how often we eat, how much we eat. We have a lot of control. And it feels much more empowering, comforting, even, to remind ourselves, "Hey, we do have control over some things."
[00:27:51] I want you to know that I'm here for you anytime. Not just now, but always. Reach out to me any time, anything I can do for you. Check out the resources I told you I was going to put in the show notes about those workouts that you can get.
[00:28:03] Thanks so much for being here. I wish you health. I wish you safety. We're going to get through this. We're going to get through this.
[00:28:16] Thanks so much for being here and listening in to the Fitness Simplified podcast today. I hope you found it educational, motivational, inspirational, all the kinds of -ational.
[00:28:27] If you enjoyed it, if you found value in it, it would mean so much to me if you would go ahead and leave a rating and review on whatever platform you are listening to this on. It really does help to get this podcast to other people.
[00:28:42] Thanks so much.
This article is transcribed from episode 49 of The Fitness Simplified Podcast. Click HERE to listen.
Kim: [00:00:04] Welcome back to the Fitness Simplified Podcast. I'm your host, Kim Schlag.
On today's episode, I'm joined by a member of my @kimschlagfitness Instagram community who messaged me with a question.
Fiona has spent the last year crushing her weight loss goal and as she is just reached her goal, she's now thinking ahead and wondering, "uh, what now?"
Want to find out? Let's listen.
Fiona: [00:00:33] Hi Kim, how are you?
Kim: [00:00:35] Good. Thanks so much for joining me here.
Fiona: [00:00:37] Great. No problem. Thanks for the invite.
Kim: [00:00:40] Oh, I'm so thrilled that we could make it happen.
Fiona: [00:00:43] I know. It's great.
Kim: [00:00:44] Isn't it amazing how we can be connecting all the way across the world?
Fiona: [00:00:47] I know. Yeah. It's a small world nowadays.
Kim: [00:00:50] It's crazy.
So, look, we don't know each other at all, so why don't you introduce yourself a bit; where you're from, what you like to do, a little about your life.
Fiona: [00:01:00] Sure.
So, I'm Fiona. I will be 49 in July. I'm from Ireland. My mother is from Belize in Central America, but I was brought up in Ireland. I love to work out and my newest fitness journey probably started in January, 2018, whereby I realized I should be tracking calories and macros and should be basically doing weight programs with kettlebells and dumbbells. And it's changed my whole attitude towards food and towards working out.
I was doing it completely wrong for years and that's when I discovered you and the likes of Jordan Syatt and Susan. So I've been following you for a while now and I think you're great and thanks very much for all the information that you put up, 'cause it really does help and it makes a difference certainly to me, and I'm sure a lot of people, when you put stuff off, you know.
Kim: [00:01:59] Well, thank you so much. I appreciate that.
So, have you been to visit-- do you still have family in Belize?
Fiona: [00:02:07] I do. I have lots of family there. I was there in 2017. I hadn't been back in 10 years. So yeah, I've lots of family and believes and lots of family in the States as well that would have originated in Belize, yeah.
Kim: [00:02:22] Okay. Well, Belize and Ireland are two very different places.
Fiona: [00:02:25] I know! But similar in lots of ways, too, I guess, you know.
Kim: [00:02:32] What way are believes in Ireland similar?
Fiona: [00:02:34] Well, of course my family are Catholic and obviously my dad being Irish, by default we're Catholic, as well. So, we have that in common. Our love for food and drink is very common.
So, it was fascinating journey that my parents took to meet one another. So, we ended up basically being brought up in Ireland. And my mom's actually living here in Ireland now, and she's been back here now for the last, I want to say 15-16 years now.
So, fascinating. Yeah.
Kim: [00:03:17] So it sounds like you've had a very interesting fitness journey, done some things differently over the course of the last year. What were you doing before this year as far as nutrition and exercise?
Fiona: [00:03:29] So I started my newest fitness journey, I guess, in January, 2018. So, up to that point, I guess you could say I was always active, even as a child growing up. In my generation, we were always out playing.
I grew up playing tennis. I did some horse riding when I was younger as well and so I always kind of went to the gym always. I always did a bit of rollerblading, so I was very active. And I guess when I hit 30, I realized that my body was starting to change and that I couldn't eat as much as I used to.
I used to eat and never think about it because I'd never gained weight. But as soon as I hit 30 things, literally started going south and I became more aware of my body and how it was starting to change, but I was always active so I never really worried about it.
But then, I guess about five years ago, I basically went into perimenopausal stage in my life and I didn't really realize I was going through it because I was still getting my period, but I was getting other signs, like being wide awake at three o'clock in the morning for no reason.
And literally wide awake, so much so I could get up and do a day's work. And I didn't realize until I started missing my period that something was wrong. And then of course I went to my GP and she confirmed, "okay, you're menopausal." Then the weight gain really started sticking.
And I'm quite small, I'm only like 4'11" so a couple of pounds to me is a lot. And all of a sudden, I went from kind of a size 10 up to a size 12 and I guess two years ago I decided I wasn't comfortable being uncomfortable anymore and I started following the body coach. I have to say, he got me going initially in terms of exercising and doing HIITs and maybe becoming a bit more aware of food, but it wasn't till I discovered actually a guy, his name is Matt Chow and he actually, I saw a couple of things on Instagram where he said, just download MyFitnessPal and start tracking your calories. It's all about your calories.
And initially I was a bit kind of like, "Oh God, I've heard this so many times before," and I just thought, "you know what? Let's just give it a go." So, I downloaded it and my whole life changed. My whole attitude towards food changed. I didn't have food guilt anymore about the things that I enjoyed.
Kim: [00:06:30] And why is that? Tell people why that change happened.
Fiona: [00:06:34] I think because for years I believed the hype about, you know, you can't eat carbs, you can't have bread, but you can eat as much healthy food as you want. All of that is untrue. And then when I would have something that I would enjoy, I would beat myself up about it and think I've instantly gained weight there because I had a bag of chips or I had an ice cream or whatever.
But as soon as I started counting my calories, I realized, "well, okay, so what? I've had a bar chocolate. I'm just going to adjust what I have for dinner so that I remain within my calorie limit for the day." So, I instantly stopped worrying about food and I stopped also mentally trying to track what I'd eaten in the day because all I had to do was look at my phone.
So, it took a massive burden off me.
Kim: [00:07:29] That's amazing.
Fiona: [00:07:30] Yeah. And I have to say it also changed the way I think about food in terms of what I eat. So, in terms of, I would probably always make the healthy choice. I was always a bit aware of that, but now we make a better choice in terms of eating foods that would keep me feeling fuller for longer.
So lots more vegetables and making sure now, especially in the last six months, I've realized how important protein is. So, I always make sure that I hit my protein targets. Because I don't feel as hungry.
Now, I still feel hungry, I have to be honest. I still feel hungry, but I'm not starving. But I feel when I feel hunger, I actually turn it into a positive, and I think "well, if I'm hungry, I'm burning fat."
Kim: [00:08:27] Got it. Got it. Well, yeah, and you're very wise to know that though you can do a lot to mitigate hunger and to make it so you're not ravenously hungry, that in a deficit, some hunger is natural.
And I like the fact that you're looking for a way to kind of accept that and think about it without being so negative or alarmist. So that's fantastic.
So, this brings us closer to what your question for me is. I think people are probably listening, thinking, "well, it sounds like she knows what she's doing. What could her question be?" So why don't you tell everybody what your question for me is?
Fiona: [00:09:01] Sure. So just to give a little bit of a background, I kind of had given myself stages in terms of losing weight. So, two years ago when I started out, I was 145 pounds, and I kind of gave myself-- my first target weight loss would have been 135 pounds.
And long story short, I got to 133 pounds last month. Now, I got injured last year-- actually this time last year with my back. So that kind of put me back a little bit and went on vacation and you know, the weight kind of went back on so, this latest journey kind of started for me in May.
So, it's taken me from May, say to the end of January, to get to 133 pounds. And it's amazing and I never thought I'd get there, but I did. So, my next stage would be-- my absolute ultimate target weight would be 125 pounds. But when I first reached my goal of 133 pounds, I was like, "well, how do I maintain that and not be in a calorie deficit?"
So, in other words, how many calories do I eat now to maintain that weight?
Kim: [00:10:16] Yeah, and that's a question that a lot of people don't think of when they're first starting out, like, "wait a minute, once I reach my goal, what do I do next? How do I maintain my weight?"
And so many people, myself included multiple times, then end up doing the perpetual yo-yo dieting.
We lose weight, we get to where we want to be, we stop doing what we did so specifically, you know, to lose weight, and then we regain some weight, and then we lose it, and then we gain it, right? And so, we end up in this cycle and the big piece we're missing is calorie maintenance and what does that look like.
So, I'm glad you're asking the question and it's a really good one.
So, there's a couple of things to talk about. One, when a person is going to go to calorie maintenance, one of the things that can really help is to slowly increase your calories to find out what exactly your true maintenances is.
Just like for a calorie deficit, you could use a formula to get maintenance. There is a general formula. But since you have been tracking your calories so closely, the best plan is always to go with what is known. We know how many calories puts you in a deficit, and then we work our way up from there. So, it makes no sense to pick a formula that's going to be an estimate when we already know where you're at.
So, can you tell me how many calories do you eat for your deficit?
Fiona: [00:11:41] So at the moment, my next target weight would be 130 pounds. So, at the moment I'm eating 1,430 calories a day.
Kim: [00:11:52] Okay. So, 1,430. And you do that deficit every day? So, it's 1,430 7 days a week.
Fiona: [00:12:00] Yes. And now, I have to say there might be a day or two where I go mental all together and I might have one or two-- I have to be honest, the days I work out, like say for example, Saturday and Sunday, I would do my bigger workout, I call them, so I work out on Saturday and Sunday for about an hour on Saturday and Sunday. During the week, I would only maybe manage 30-35 minutes. But I do find that the weekends I'm more hungry. And I don't know, is it because I'm working harder in my workouts at the weekends, or if it's a bit of boredom because you know you're not at work.
Kim: [00:12:40] Yeah. It could absolutely be a combination of the two.
Fiona: [00:12:43] Yeah. So, I tend, sometimes I try not to, but sometimes I do give myself maybe 100 or 200 calories more at weekends, but nine to five Monday to Friday I'm spot on 1430.
Kim: [00:12:58] And what rate have you been losing weight at? Do you know about how much you're averaging per week?
Fiona: [00:13:04] You see, I don't know. I can't answer that honestly, because I literally only weighed myself once this year. And I would say that I was at probably 142 pounds in May, and I weighed myself in January and I was 133 pounds.
Now very slowly, and I know that it's good thing, so I'm okay with that. But I have to say that I tend to stay away from the scales in case I get disappointed. I know that sounds a bit sad, but I felt it. I feel it mostly in my clothes and I know that's how I know whether or not I'm losing weight or if I'm stalling or if I'm gaining again.
Kim: [00:13:52] Got it. Got it.
Fiona: [00:13:54] Yeah.
Kim: [00:13:54] This next little bit, as far as trying to find your maintenance calories, how would you feel about weighing yourself daily for a time so that you can watch what your weight is doing?
Fiona: [00:14:06] Yeah, I actually kind of thought about that as well, and I probably need to start doing that to have a bit more control and maybe turn it into a positive rather than negative in terms of the scale.
And it's something I need to know, I think, in order to get to my ultimate goal of 125 pounds. I need to know the weeks I'm losing as opposed to the weeks I'm gaining and then, you know, maybe change things up or understand it a bit more.
Kim: [00:14:44] Yeah.
And I definitely want you to understand that you don't want to look week to week, you really want to look at a bigger picture. You want to look month to month, what is happening with your weight in the big picture? Within a week and even week to week, your weight will fluctuate, so when you first start weighing, you might be very surprised to see you could have several pounds different from day to day, depending on a whole myriad of factors: how much more carbs you had than usual, if you had something particularly salty, if your weight is fluctuating due to your cycle. I don't know how far into perimenopause you are, I am peri-menopausal and I still have a lot of the regular PMS stuff going on, including weight fluctuations.
So, for lots of reasons, your weight will fluctuate and sometimes when you have a hard workout, the scale can be up. So, a lot of times you can't even pinpoint why, so it's good to be expecting it will go up and down. The thing that we're going to be looking for: when you're working on weight loss, you want the trend to be a downward trend. It's going to be a downward slant. Even though you will have big spikes up and big spikes down, you want the trendline to be a general trend down.
When you're looking for maintenance, how you'll know when you get to maintenance is when your trendline is straight across.
Right? So, there'll be spikes up and spikes down, and even when a person is maintaining their weight, you don't get to a certain weight and then just stay every day at 133, right? It's not like if you decided to maintain at 133 you will always be at 133, but you want it to average there. And so, the reason I say it's helpful for you to be weighing at this time is because the way to find your maintenance calories is to slowly increase the number of calories you're eating until such time as we see the trend line stop going down, right?
And so, to do that, we would need to be watching the scale.
So, we'll talk about the scale again in just a minute. I do want to talk to you a little bit more about your feelings about the scale, but let me talk you through a little bit of what it would look like to bring your calories up to maintenance.
So, you could start very slowly. You could add in about a hundred calories three times per week. Do that for a couple of weeks, watch what the scale does. Again, looking at the big trend over several weeks. Then go again, add in some more calories. And you're going to keep doing that until such time as you don't see yourself losing weight on the scale anymore. You see that trend line go flat.
Does that make sense?
Fiona: [00:17:09] Sure, yeah.
Kim: [00:17:11] Okay. And then when you get there, you will know that you have found your maintenance calories.
So, talk to me about your relationship with the scale in the past.
Fiona: [00:17:21] I suppose I never really had to worry about it, to be honest, like I said, until I kind of his peri-menopausal five years ago now. And because I never had to worry about my weight before, and all of a sudden it was an issue for me, I sorta would get on the scale and think, "oh Jesus, I'm putting on another pound or two," and then I suppose it was negative because I was gaining weight, so I equated the scale with negativity, like I'm putting weight on here and I didn't really know what to do or how to get rid of the weight.
So, I just stopped weighing myself. And even when I started on my positive journey two years ago, like I said, I might've only weighed myself twice and the last time was only last month.
Kim: [00:18:18] Gotcha.
Yeah, it can be a very emotional thing, especially like, as you said, because you were weighing yourself at a time where the scale was not moving the way you wanted to. You weren't happy with your weight, and so you associated it greatly with negativity.
The way I like to help my clients develop a better relationship with the scale is to really emphasize the fact that it is a single method of gathering data and it's not the be all and end all. It is not the only thing.
So, if you're working on losing weight, you should be looking at your pictures, you should be looking at measurements, you should be looking at the fit of your clothes, all of those things in combination with the scale. It is a piece of data, and just like if you were trying to figure out about where to go on a vacation, the only thing you would look at would not be the temperature, right?
It might be a thing you would take into consideration is like, "Oh, what is the temperature there?" But it's not the only thing. And so, looking at it as some useful data and trying to approach it very scientifically, and each day the goal being, "I'm going to weigh myself, I'm going to write that weight down, and I'm going to move on and know that that weight is not defining who I am."
It's not saying anything other than my relationship with the scale at that moment. My relationship with gravity, like this is my pull on the earth right now, and it will fluctuate again tomorrow just like it fluctuated yesterday, and it's only useful as data.
And it's something you might have to say to yourself when you get on, like before you get on, like, "this is, I'm just collecting some data." Weigh yourself, write it down or put it in your phone or wherever you're collecting the data, deep breath, "that's just my data for today."
And then make a conscious choice that you're not going to let it dictate your mood or what you do the rest of the day as far as your decision making. Because what the scale says can make a person-- well, it can't make, but a person can then make choices like, "ugh, that is not the number I wanted to see. It's not working and now I'm gonna eat all the things."
They can also, see the scale and it's really interesting-- this one's interesting to me and they can be like, "Oh my gosh, it's amazing. That's exactly what I was hoping to see. It's going so well," and then they still might go and eat all the things cause they kind of start coasting. Do you see what I'm saying?
Not taking into account the fact that like, "Hey, the reason that the scale is going the way I want it to, it's because I'm being very consistent."
And so, the idea is you start using it simply as data.
Fiona: [00:20:51] Yeah. Okay.
Kim: [00:20:51] How would that feel?
Fiona: [00:20:53] Yeah, I mean, I hear you and I kind of thought about that myself when I did weigh myself, and it was a very positive way for me because I didn't expect the weighing scales to say 133 pounds. So, I felt great that day and I was like, "you know, that's great. It's working."
And so yeah, I think absolutely I need to start doing that and just be more positive. And just like you say, before I step on the scale, just even say the words, "I accept whatever this tells me. And move on."
Kim: [00:21:28] Yeah. And I would say it not even necessarily looking for it to be positive, but just looking at it as neutral. Like, this is just data. Trying to be less emotional about the number.
Fiona: [00:21:38] Yeah, sure.
Kim: [00:21:40] And remembering you don't have to do this permanently. For this stage when you're trying to find maintenance, it can be really useful for you. And then you could go back to what you were doing before, which was not weighing, and it was clearly working very well for you.
This is just going to be a tool for you to help you find your maintenance calories. Now, once you get to your maintenance calories, hanging out there in maintenance for a while and practicing eating in maintenance can be really useful.
So, you have gotten to this weight that you've wanted to get to by doing things that are going to translate really well into a maintenance phase.
A lot of people don't, right? A lot of people do all kinds of crazy crash dieting, and they haven't developed the habits and skills and lifestyle of, "how can I maintain this weight?" You, on the other hand, have, because you've done things like worked out and upped to your protein and eaten more vegetables, and those things are habits you're going to want to keep.
There's a temptation that people fall into of like, "Oh, I'm not trying to lose weight now," and they just don't think about any of those things when in reality, those are things you have to do the rest of your life.
Fiona: [00:22:53] Yeah, I hear you. Like, I actually agree completely. Like I said before, it's changed my whole entire attitude towards food.
And eating the things that make me feel fuller for longer, which means a lot of vegetables and eating a lot of things like yogurt that I probably would never have eaten before.
I definitely didn't eat as much vegetables even though I would always make a healthy choice, but now I'm eating vegetables every day of the week.
Kim: [00:23:25] That's amazing. That's amazing. And that's exactly the kind of habit that is going to help you to be able to stay at that healthy weight.
Are there any things that make you nervous about the idea of moving to maintenance?
Fiona: [00:23:41] I suppose I've worked so hard to be where I am today and I'm very disciplined as well, which I know is a really good thing in terms of doing stuff like this. But I suppose I'm afraid of gaining back the weight because it took so long for me to lose it.
Like, six months-- well, actually you could say nearly two years all in, you know, to get where I am today. That's a long time.
Kim: [00:24:15] Yeah.
Fiona: [00:24:16] And I've been disciplined for 90% of the time. And I know because of perimenopausal and all of that, that it is more difficult and it does take longer. So, in a way, I actually don't mind being-- I don't mind working hard for it because I feel great.
And I'm not really suffering too badly with perimenopausal issues. Like, I don't wake as much at night now. I started taking some CBD oil and that's really, really helped me. My moods are totally fine. So, I'm not, I just don't really get my period anymore. But I don't suffer from the mood swings, night sweats, yes, that does keep me awake, but not for too long during the night.
So, I could say that I'm, kind of going through an easy patch right now. But in terms of weight loss, I know it's really slow.
Kim: [00:25:17] Well, let me ask you this, you're worried about gaining the weight all back?
Fiona: [00:25:21] Yes.
Kim: [00:25:22] What evidence do you have that that's going to happen?
Fiona: [00:25:25] So when I got injured this time last year, I would say at a guess, I was probably at 135 pounds. And then I got injured, so my workouts weren't as intense. And then I went on vacation for three weeks to Australia, and even though I worked out pretty much every day I was there, I still over ate, which is, you know, it's hard to not overeat when you're on holiday. So, I realized when I came back from my clothes not fitting me the way they did before I left, that I'd gained back the weight.
And so, from the end of May last year up to, you could say December-January, it had taken me that long to lose 10 pounds, basically.
And I didn't feel necessarily really good about being uncomfortable in my clothes again, because I remembered what it felt like when I'd lost the weight initially, how great I felt and how great I feel now, getting into clothes that didn't fit me, and now they're actually too big for me.
So, it's a real fear. I don't know if fear maybe is a strong word, but--
Kim: [00:26:44] Worry?
Fiona: [00:26:45] Yeah, worry. And I suppose I probably feel a little bit of disappointment in myself too, if that happened again. But then, maybe I just need to, I don't know, look forward instead of back.
Kim: [00:27:01] Well, I do think that's fantastic advice to give yourselves to look forward instead of back.
And also, something you said was interesting, you gained weight-- so you had an injury and then you went on an extended vacation. How often would you say that you go on extended vacations.?
Fiona: [00:27:17] I would say we probably go on a big vacation once a year.
Kim: [00:27:23] Okay. So that's definitely a sometimes event. And I'm assuming you're not injured all that often either.
Fiona: [00:27:29] No, I haven't been injured since, thank God. Yeah.
Kim: [00:27:31] Okay, good. Well then, I would say that that right there is something to focus on, is the idea that progress, even maintenance, it depends on what you do most of the time, not what you do some of the time. And so, if for most of the year you are in your normal routine implementing habits that you have really built up over time here, it is likely that you will be able to maintain your weight.
If most of your life was spent doing, you know, vacationing, you'd have to then tackle like, "alright, I need to eat differently on vacation." But if we're talking once a year, that's a sometimes thing and what you really need to focus on is the everyday things. So, your progress, your ability to, to maintain your weight, is gonna be dependent on what you do most of the time.
Fiona: [00:28:20] Yeah. I hear you.
Kim: [00:28:23] And so-- you hear me, but I don't know if you believe me yet. You sound highly skeptical.
Fiona: [00:28:31] That's the Irish in me, you know. We're suspicious of everybody.
Kim: [00:28:37] On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being "absolutely no problem," and 1 being "I can't do it," where are you on believing that you will be able to maintain your new weight?
Fiona: [00:28:53] I think probably an 8.
Kim: [00:28:55] Okay.
Fiona: [00:28:55] Yeah. I think when I weighed myself recently and realized that I was at 133 pounds and not even expecting it, I thought, "Oh." That was a bit of a game changer for me, and was thinking, "Oh, okay, I've done it."
I had done it and didn't even realize I had done it, even though, you know, like I said, I can feel the difference in my clothes, but the scales kind of showed me, "Hey, you've actually done it, and you can do it again." I can go down if I want to, I can keep going until I get to my 125 pounds.
Kim: [00:29:29] Yes. You sound very confident in that. And so, it sounds like you have the confidence that like, "Hey, I know how to do this." And you actually, at the beginning of this podcast, you explained to us in great detail why you were able to lose the weight. Remember? And I said like, "I'm sure people are listening and thinking like, this woman has it all together." Right? Like, what's her question?
But you know very clearly how to lose weight in a sustainable manner.
Fiona: [00:29:52] Yeah. I guess, I suppose for anyone listening who is in perimenopausal stage, it is tough and it will take longer than, you know, if you were 20 years of age trying to lose weight.
And I think when people realize that, it kind of takes a little bit of burden off them because, you know, it's not just you, it's anybody in this stage who's trying to lose weight. It's going to take a little bit longer.
Kim: [00:30:23] Well, we have additional hurdles.
Fiona: [00:30:25] Yeah.
Kim: [00:30:26] We do.
Well, I'm excited to hear the confidence in your voice there and I want you to rely on that.
I think it would be actually a really useful thing for you to put in writing somewhere; whether you just put it in the notes on your phone or whether you make an Instagram post about it, what you have learned about losing weight. Like, how did you lose this weight so that you can feel confident in your skills and habits.
Maybe a nice list of like, "what habits have I built that have helped me lose this weight," would be a good one. Is that a challenge you're willing to take on?
Fiona: [00:30:59] Sure. Yeah.
Kim: [00:31:00] Amazing. I really do think you need to rely on that so that you can feel confident, 'cause it's not a great way to live, to be in constant worry that you're going to regain your weight all back.
Fiona: [00:31:10] Yeah. Okay.
Kim: [00:31:11] Right? That just doesn't feel good and you know how to lose the weight. So even if he did gain a couple pounds back, you know how to lose the weight. But the likelihood that that's going to happen isn't great based on the fact that you have developed so many amazing habits that are going to lend themselves to maintenance.
I'm trying to think if there was any, something else you had said I wanted to talk about. Well, now I can't think of what it was. See, there you go. There's the menopause.
Fiona: [00:31:40] There it is.
Kim: [00:31:42] All right. Are there any other questions, things you want to talk about here today while we're together?
Fiona: [00:31:49] I just want to say thanks very much for including me and I find your stuff really, really helpful. I follow a lot of people on Instagram and I've kind of turned my Instagram page into a positive thing where I'm basically following people that give what I feel is really good advice for anyone like me or-- not just me, you know, as in perimenopausal women, but anybody trying to lose weight.
And I think that for too many years, people have kind of-- and I fell for it too, you know, the old advice of, you know, "sugar is the enemy, carbs are the enemy, eat as much healthy food as you want," kind of attitude.
And you know, even when I talk to people nowadays, you know, when they say, "I actually eat whatever I want to eat. I just don't overeat," I still find a bit of resistance to that. Some people are just like, "Oh no, I just stay away from sugar or stay away from bread." And I'm like, "Why? Why are you staying away from stuff like that?"
You know, eat the food that you enjoy and, you know, some people have said to me, "but you're still restricting your diet." You know, I might be restricting calories and other people might be restricting what they eat. My answer to that is, "well, what's going to last longer? What diet is going to help you in the long term, not just in the short term? It's the foods you can eat, the foods you want to eat, just don't overeat."
It's like the old saying, you know "everything in small portions."
Kim: [00:33:22] Yeah. Yeah, and it's amazing, and it can be different things for different people, but what you're hitting on is so important is that you have to find a way to eat that will last the longest, like you just said.
And for a lot of people, doing some of those other things that you just said, like cutting out all the bread, cutting out all the sugar, they think it's the answer when in reality they can't stick with that because most of us want to eat some sugar, and most of us want to eat some carbs.
Some people don't and people are okay living without those things, but most people, most people do.
Fiona: [00:33:55] Yeah. Most people crave, you know, potatoes and pasta. Like, I hadn't eaten pasta in years because I thought it was my enemy. It was like, "Oh no, it's awful for you." And it is not unless you're allergic.
Now, you know, some people have allergies, I get that, people can't tolerate gluten and stuff like that, but generally for me, I just fell for that, "oh, you shouldn't be eating pasta. You'll instantly gain weight overnight if you have a bowl of pasta." I mean, seriously. But I fell for it.
Kim: [00:34:36] I was right there you. And interesting, I'm making pasta tonight. And I'm in a weight loss phase.
The idea is nutritional compromises. I'm making that pasta fit today by not having something else. I took calories out elsewhere because I want this pasta this evening, right? So, I planned my meals, I planned how much protein, where am I getting my vegetables and then put my pasta in.
Fiona: [00:34:59] Yeah. And that's really important too, I think, isn't it? Planning. Like, I plan the night before, sometimes two days before.
I know exactly what I'm going to eat and if I, in work, you know, have a sweet or two, that could be 30-40 calories that I'll eat, but I'll have to just then adjust my dinners so I don't have to worry about it or feel guilty or think that I've gained a couple pounds 'cause I've had two sweets.
Kim: [00:35:28] Yes. That's huge. I love the idea that you're planning ahead. It's again, it's one of those habits you have built that gives me great confidence that you're going to crush it at maintenance. You know, planning ahead is so key. It is so key.
So, it sounds like then your plan is going to be to slowly bring your calories up. Like I said, a hundred calories, like three times a week, keep doing that. Watch the scale, after a couple of weeks add some more calories back in. Do that until you see the trend stop going down and it evens out, and then you'll know your maintenance.
You can hang at maintenance for however long you want, and then when you're ready, if you decide you do want to keep losing weight and go a few more pounds like you had thought, you can go right back to your deficit.
Fiona: [00:36:08] Yeah.
Kim: [00:36:10] All right, so that's going to be the plan, and then you're going to write that nice list of what you have learned, the habits you have built, the behaviors that you have changed to lose this weight so that you have it very clear in front of you. So, you don't have to have this constant fear of like, "what if I gain all the weight back?"
Fiona: [00:36:25] Yeah. Sure.
Kim: [00:36:27] All right! Thanks so much for being here today, Fiona. I so appreciate it. It was wonderful talking with you.
Fiona: [00:36:32] And you. Thanks very much.
Kim: [00:36:34] All right, my dear. Talk soon.
Fiona: [00:36:36] Take care. Bye.
Kim: [00:36:45] Thanks so much for being here and listening in to the Fitness Simplified Podcast today. I hope you found it educational, motivational, inspirational, all the kinds of -ational.
If you enjoyed it, if you found value in it, it would mean so much to me if you would go ahead and leave a rating and review on whatever platform you are listening to this on. It really does help to get this podcast to other people.
Thanks so much.
This article is transcribed from The Fitness Simplified Podcast Episode 48. Click HERE to listen.
Kim: [00:00:04] Welcome back to the Fitness Simplified Podcast. I'm your host, Kim Schlag. My guest Daisy and I cover a lot of ground in this episode: how to get better at chin-ups, how to lose weight and get stronger at the same time, and all about diet breaks. How to know if you need one, options to structure the break, how long it should last, and what to do after the diet break.
Daisy: [00:00:32] Hi.
Kim: [00:00:33] Thank you so much for joining the call.
Daisy: [00:00:37] Thanks for having me.
Kim: [00:00:38] Sure thing! So, look, we've only chatted very, very briefly in DMs on Instagram, so why don't you tell me and everyone some about you? Where are you from? What do you like to do? All those things.
Daisy: [00:00:51] Sure. I'm 43 and I'm a stay at home mom. I have six and seven-year-old boys that are in kindergarten and first grade. And before that I was a high school teacher and I live in the West Coast; I live in the Seattle area. So, it's cold and wet here a lot.
Kim: [00:01:11] Cold and wet, yeah. And right now you guys are in a state of emergency for the coronavirus, correct?
Daisy: [00:01:17] Uh, it might be, but I'm not panicking.
Kim: [00:01:20] You're not. Well, that's good. Panicking isn't good.
I have a friend in Seattle and their schools are closed today. They're disinfecting the schools and the teachers are all having in-service to learn how to teach remotely from their homes.
Daisy: [00:01:36] Oh my gosh. Is that in Kirkland?
Kim: [00:01:38] I don't even know the name of the town. She lives just outside of Seattle.
Daisy: [00:01:42] Yeah. Wow. That's wild because we've-- our district has sent us information about, you know, not being too concerned yet.
Kim: [00:01:52] Yeah. Well, panicking is never good, and from what I hear, like, wash your hands, wash your hands. That's what everyone's saying.
So, you have little ones. Did you say six and seven?
Daisy: [00:02:03] Yes.
Kim: [00:02:05] Super tiny guys. That's a fun age. And you're a stay at home mom. Are you from Seattle originally?
Daisy: [00:02:12] No, we're transplants. We've moved a lot around the Southeast and then I'm from Pittsburgh originally.
Kim: [00:02:20] Oh, okay. The other end of my state, I'm from Philly.
Daisy: [00:02:23] Right. I saw that when you're-- I was like Valley Forge on your stories the other day and I thought, "oh, I didn't realize," for some reason I thought you were in New York.
Kim: [00:02:33] Oh, no, no, no. Well, I mean, I'm only like a two-hour drive from New York City.
Daisy: [00:02:37] Right.
Kim: [00:02:37] And I go there quite a bit. So, what did you use to teach?
Daisy: [00:02:43] Science. I taught biology and anatomy, physiology, and physical science, too.
Kim: [00:02:48] Okay, cool. And what are you doing when you're not busy taking care of your home and your kiddos? What do you like to do?
Daisy: [00:02:55] Well I like to work out, I like to read and go to the library, and I'm painting my house.
Kim: [00:03:05] Oh, wow. Do you enjoy that?
Daisy: [00:03:08] Yes and no. We have wainscoting, so sometimes no.
Kim: [00:03:12] Okay, got it. Yeah, that can be tricky.
So, you like to work out. What do you like to do? Like, what's your favorite way of working out?
Daisy: [00:03:20] Well, my husband and I lift weights together and that's pretty much my favorite way to work out.
Kim: [00:03:26] Nice. Favorite lift or favorite body part to train?
Daisy: [00:03:32] Oh, that's a tough one. I'd say back is probably my favorite. Like, it's easiest, but legs are probably where I can, you know, use to gain strength the most.
Kim: [00:03:46] Got it. Got it. And, okay, so tell everybody what your question was that you presented to me on DMs.
Daisy: [00:03:56] So as I said, I lift weights and, I'm trying not to kill myself with cardio, but I'm also trying to lose fat.
So, I'm curious about whether I'm in a good deficit and whether I should do things like the refeeds and people talk about periodizing your nutrition; that you go up to maintenance and go back down into a cut. I'm not sure what to think of all of that stuff. Sometimes they feel like it's a bit of extra information.
Kim: [00:04:28] And if I remember correctly, one of your big concerns is not only are you looking to get leaner, but you're looking to get stronger.
Daisy: [00:04:35] Right.
Kim: [00:04:36] And you're concerned like, "hey, are these opposing goals? I want to be strong and I want to be lean."
Daisy: [00:04:41] Yes, exactly.
Kim: [00:04:43] Got it. And so, tell us about your nutrition right now. What's that like?
Daisy: [00:04:48] Well, I track using MyFitnessPal and I try to stay-- I was staying at about 130 protein and about 1500 calories, and then I let the carbs and fats come in where they lie to stay in the calorie numbers.
Kim: [00:05:08] Can you refresh my memory on your weight and height?
Daisy: [00:05:12] Oh, sure.
I'm about 5'5.5" or 5'5" depending on what day it is. I weigh about 132 pounds.
Kim: [00:05:21] Gotcha, gotcha. And you said around 130 grams of protein. How about calories?
Daisy: [00:05:28] 1500. But I recently did a little bit of a diet break where I did a diet break that I actually tracked every food and I think that I was not as compliant as I had hoped previously.
Kim: [00:05:43] Interesting. So, you mean during the diet break you were still tracking and you realize maybe you weren't as compliant with your 1500 before as you had thought you were?
Daisy: [00:05:52] Yes.
Kim: [00:05:53] Okay. What were you seeing?
Daisy: [00:05:57] Just that little things add up.
I listened to the podcast you did with the other person. I can't remember her name, I'm sorry. She was 43, which I'm also 43.
Kim: [00:06:07] Oh, okay, gotcha.
Daisy: [00:06:08] It was just last week, I think. And something about it just made me think, "oh, you know, maybe I should just be a little bit more, like, keen about that." And I had already started a little bit of a diet break.
And I just noticed that like, oh, you know, an M&M here or there, or a bite of this, or, I'm sure that happens to a lot of people, but I just noticed that those calories might've been more. So, I've been trying to be really strict about just logging everything.
Kim: [00:06:38] Okay, and how long is-- did you say that it's been about a week?
Daisy: [00:06:42] I took the diet break for probably two weeks and then it's been, you know-- and I was like, "I'm going to really track everything," for the last week and half or so.
Kim: [00:06:53] Got it. And how was it coming back into a deficit after being at maintenance for a bit?
Daisy: [00:07:00] Better. Better because I felt mentally a little bit more, I don't know, like, "oh, this is okay." You know? Sometimes I would get hungry or I'd really want treats a lot. I'm a big cookie fan.
Kim: [00:07:17] Oh, me too. What's your favorite cookie?
Daisy: [00:07:20] Probably chocolate chip, but I like to bake them also. So, I like an assortment of varieties. Like, part of it is I really enjoy trying new recipes.
Kim: [00:07:31] Got it. So how long had you previous-- so, before the diet break, you were at a deficit. How long had you been at a deficit or working on a deficit? Even if you weren't being as consistent as you thought you were, as stringent, how long?
Daisy: [00:07:47] Well, I started in October and I went from October ‘til the first week of December. And then in December I took an uncharted, shall we say, I didn't track really at all for the end of December and Christmas time area. And then I kind of got back on in the first week of January-- or into a deficit, which is when the January time is when I think I was really like, not really that much in a deficit. But anyway.
Kim: [00:08:16] Got it. So, coming off of Christmas, now, had you planned to take a break for Christmas?
Daisy: [00:08:20] I did, yeah. 'Cause I did eight weeks. When I started in October, I thought, "well, I'll just take it week by week." And then I thought, you know, after the first week, I was like, "well, I'll try this for six weeks."
And then I was like, "okay, I think I can do two more." And then after that I was like, "I'm done."
Kim: [00:08:43] That's good. You know? I really do like-- excuse me, I'm getting ready to yawn. I don't even know. I'm not even tired.
I really do like having kind of a chunk of time where you're like, "all right, I'm going to do this for X number of weeks and then I'm going to take a break," because it can really help a person stay mentally in the game and be like, "all right, this isn't what I'm going to do for the next six months or a year. You know, this is literally eight weeks."
So that was very smart of you to do that. So, okay. So, what you found is perhaps-- now, what were your results over that eight-week period before Christmas?
Daisy: [00:09:17] They were good. I lost-- actually, I don't know that I lost all that much weight, like three pounds, maybe? But I definitely got leaner. And it was-- I think I got newbie gains at the gym with my husband and I working out together, too.
Kim: [00:09:35] Now, did you just start working out in October?
Daisy: [00:09:38] Yeah, 'cause my kids are both in school and so we work out during the day together and lift weights. So, I was really doing much more progressive overload than I've been doing before.
Kim: [00:09:48] Okay. Got it. So, you started weight training, we're hitting your calorie deficit hard, lost about three pounds. Were you-- did you take measurements as well?
Daisy: [00:09:57] Not real official ones. I wish I could go back and have taken more.
I'm sure everyone says that, right?
Kim: [00:10:04] I know. Everybody out there, listen up. You're going to want the measurements later. Same thing with pictures. Did you take pictures?
Daisy: [00:10:09] No.
Kim: [00:10:10] Yeah. You know, when we're starting, we kind of don't want to, right? We're not really necessarily super excited where we're at, but later on it's really cool to see that stuff. 'Cause my bet is, you know, losing three pounds, and you said you could feel yourself getting stronger in the gym and those things. My bet is that you would have seen some cool improvements in your measurements and in your progress pictures as well.
And when you take those progress pictures-- and you can do this now, as well, Daisy 'cause, you're still gonna make more progress. You should take those pictures wearing as little clothing as possible. I know that's hard. Nobody wants to do it, but you don't have to show them to anybody. Take them front, take them from the side, both sides, and from the back. Try and get your whole body in the shot, try and use the same lighting, and wear the same outfit as often as possible.
Eventually you might have to change the outfit because it just gets too big, it just doesn't fit well. But try and standardize it and then you can really see the changes. So, I would encourage you to even do that now, even though you're a couple months in because you'll still make big changes.
Okay. So, tell me more about the idea that you want to get strong, you want to get lean, and you're worried that those don't go together.
Daisy: [00:11:21] So, when you're in a deficit and like, I want to, you know, it's an aesthetic goal, to look a little bit leaner so that I actually look like I lift as much weight as I do.
I worry that in that deficit it will make it hard to actually lift the weights because I'll be tired or, you know, I just won't have as much energy to get it done.
Kim: [00:11:46] Gotcha. Yeah, and that is a real thing. You can still build strength and lose weight at the same time. In fact, I would say if you are not progressing in the gym when you're in a deficit, that's not a great thing.
So, pushing yourself in the gym, it might mean that you're going to time your food a little bit better. So, you could have some carbs and protein a couple of hours before you go to the gym so that you do have energy for that. You might find that that helps.
Pushing your hardest in the gym is going to be what helps you get stronger. The deficit is going to be what causes the weight loss. So, you can lose weight and gain strength at the same time. A lot of people think that those really are opposing goals.
Now, losing weight and building muscle at the same time. Those are really hard to do. You can do them as a newbie, like you were saying, you can do them when you're obese at the same time. Otherwise, it's much better to separate the two and have a dedicated phase of several months at a deficit to lose fat, bring yourself up to maintenance for a time, and then go into a surplus to gain muscle. And that's kind of what you were talking about, like, "oh, do I need to cycle these things through?"
You could. You absolutely could. You don't have to. If building muscle is a big goal of yours, eventually going into a slight surplus would be really useful. If you're still not quite as lean as you would like to be, I would say let's get you leaner first with your deficit. When you're happy with how lean you are, or pretty close to it, then you can come up to maintenance and then go further into a surplus; as far as muscle building.
Strength, you should be able to build still in your deficit. Recovery is going to be important, so getting plenty of sleep, having rest days. What is your training split like? How often are you training? What is your week look like?
Daisy: [00:13:40] So, because of my husband's schedule, we do a four-day body-split and a one-day swimming. And that's just for cardio health.
Kim: [00:13:50] Okay. Got it.
So, you're in the gym lifting four days. And what does that, is that two upper, two lower?
Daisy: [00:13:56] We do, body-part. So, we do legs, back and triceps, chest and biceps, and then shoulders.
Kim: [00:14:06] Got it. Are you hitting legs just once a week, then?
Daisy: [00:14:11] Kind of. We do hex bar deadlifts on the leg day, and we do traditional deadlifts on back day.
Kim: [00:14:23] Okay. So, you are getting legs in there twice a week.
Daisy: [00:14:25] Yeah. Not as much as I'd like to, but it's hard because of his schedule.
Kim: [00:14:31] Got it. Well, you know, you could work so that you're still going together and if he doesn't want-- I will tell you: so, when I first started training, I was training with a guy and he was not a fan of leg days. Most men aren't. And several months into it, he's like, "why didn't you just tell me you wanted to do legs more often?" I'm like, "well, because I didn't know what I was doing. And you did."
You know, they're not necessarily as interested in training legs, though they should be. So, you could keep up with his same split and just have two leg days while you're there, or at least add some more legs in. I would say--
Daisy: [00:15:03] I mean, he's a big fan, probably a bigger fan of doing legs than I am. But because of recovery with his travel schedule and everything, it's hard to fit it in.
So, I don't know if you have a suggestion about another exercise we could squeeze in. I mean, how do you do that exactly if you're not going to do like a full dedicated-- does that make sense? Like, if you're not going to do a whole ‘nother leg day, but you just want to add a couple, sprinkle in a few more leg exercises.
Kim: [00:15:33] So you could start each of your two-- so if you had two days where you were going to do some heavier leg stuff, even if the second part of your workout, for whatever reason, if you really don't want to have a full second leg day, you could start each of your leg days, have your main move, be leg move.
You could do a squat on one day and a deadlift on one day. That would be one way to go. Is there a particular reason you don't want to have or he doesn't want to have two leg days?
Daisy: [00:15:59] Well, 'cause then where do you put the other body parts? You know, if you do two leg days and you only have four days at the gym?
Kim: [00:16:05] Then you do two lower, two upper.
Daisy: [00:16:09] Oh, okay. Yeah.
Kim: [00:16:10] Does that make sense?
Daisy: [00:16:12] Yes.
Kim: [00:16:12] Another good split is push/pull/legs. So, you do all the movements that are upper body push, all the ones that are upper body pull, legs and you cycle through.
Daisy: [00:16:22] Oh, so, like, one week, even though it's four days, you just keep going. It'll rotate some weeks. Yeah, I see what you're saying.
Kim: [00:16:31] So that's another option. But really hitting each muscle group twice is going to get you the volume you need to see really good results. But you could, if for whatever reason he wants to stick the way he's doing, you could start each of the two sort of leg days with a heavier.
But that's neither here nor there as far as you actually being able to get stronger. 'Cause if I remember the main thing you said-- we kind of got off in the weeds, we were talking about lower body, but I think you told me that one of your main goals is actually chin-ups.
Daisy: [00:17:05] Yes.
Kim: [00:17:06] That's one of the things you really want to get strong at. I mean, I think you're interested in getting strong generally, but chin-ups is like a big focus for you.
Daisy: [00:17:12] Yes. It's a goal. You know, it's something to work for.
Kim: [00:17:17] So, talk to me. What can you do now as far as chin-ups? And what are you doing to try and get better at them?
Daisy: [00:17:23] Well, I just did-- I've been doing two main exercises. Well, I mean, I do a bunch of back, exercises, but the ones for that was, I was doing jumping and then slow, slow, go down. I don't never remember what that's called.
Kim: [00:17:39] Slow eccentrics.
Daisy: [00:17:40] There you go. And then I was-- and I was doing where you kind of hang from a bar, but your feet are on the floor and you sort of do them, assisted. On your own assisted, and I did assisted from the machine.
But I just did my first one the other day, but I think I jumped a tiny bit off the, you know, the things on the that you step up on.
Kim: [00:18:06] Okay, but you got up over the bar?
Daisy: [00:18:09] Yes.
Kim: [00:18:10] Great! Well that's huge. Congratulations.
Daisy: [00:18:13] Thank you.
Kim: [00:18:13] Did you film it.
Daisy: [00:18:15] No, I've never filmed myself in the gym.
Kim: [00:18:17] Oh, okay. You should totally film yourself. You should film it again, try not to jump this time, and see if you get up there.
Daisy: [00:18:25] Yeah, that bottom part is really tough. I've also done those, I guess they're scapular things, where you-- I don’t know what it's called.
Kim: [00:18:35] Where you're hanging and you depress your shoulder blades and then raise them again. And so, you're just working your scapula there.
Daisy: [00:18:43] Right.
Kim: [00:18:43] Yes. So, okay. If pushups-- pushups, hello. If pullups, chin ups are your number one goal, you should be prioritizing them in your workouts. So, putting them first in the workouts on the days that you're doing them, working them at least twice a week, I would prefer even three.
I actually have women whose main goal is to get chin-ups. I even have them, on their lower body day, start with chin ups before they even hit their other moves. So that they're getting enough volume in and that they're fresh when they do them. Does that make sense?
Daisy: [00:19:14] Yes. Yeah. And do you have them do-- like what kind? Do you have them do, like the jumping eccentric thing, or do you have 'em do different things each time?
Kim: [00:19:24] I worked through a couple of things. So, definitely the eccentrics is a big one. Jumping up or climbing up over the bar, making sure you're really in a controlled position before you go down, and going down slowly for a count of three, five, somewhere in there. Doing those is one.
Another one that I have them do is band-assisted. So, getting the long bands that have quite a lot of-- they have different tensions. So, you can get a really thin band, you can get a medium one, can get a really thick one; starting with whichever band you can use for a set of six, and using that, getting a really full range of motion. So, extending your arms fully at the bottom, coming up until your sternum touches the bar, not just your chin is over the bar, until your sternum touches the bar, coming down under control. So that's another exercise I have them do with bands.
Another really good one is programming them as cluster sets. And so, after like a month or so of doing band-assisted, like I just told you, breaking them up so that you're doing maybe 2, rest 10 seconds, 2, rest 10 seconds, 2, rest 10 seconds, take a break, like a full 2-minute break, and go again.
And so, with only doing 2 and then taking a 10 second break, you'll be able to use a lighter band. Does that make more sense?
Daisy: [00:20:50] Yeah.
Kim: [00:20:50] And then you can work your way till you're going to a much lighter band with sets of 2. You can change up the rep scheme so you're doing 3, 10 seconds, 2, 10 seconds, 1.
And so, working in small groups like that is really powerful to get more work in. Like, if you couldn't have done 6 in a row with a certain band.
Daisy: [00:21:11] Increasing your volume, kind of thing?
Kim: [00:21:11] Yeah. Increasing your volume with less assistance. And then, eventually, so let's say you get one good pull up next week. Let's say you go into the gym, you do it, it's clean, you're not jumping, and you get up there for one, you can start your, your chin up session with one rep, see if you can take a ten second rest and see if you can get another one.
So that can be one cluster set. Then adding the lightest band you need so you can get up again with good form. So, you're continuing to work without assistance and then adding the assistance in as needed. Does that make sense?
Daisy: [00:21:46] Gotcha. Do you hang 10 seconds or do you get down?
Kim: [00:21:50] No, you come totally down and let your arms rest. So, you're not hanging on the bar, you're giving yourself a full rest.
Daisy: [00:21:57] Yeah, my hands tend to be-- you know, the grip is a big part of it.
Kim: [00:22:02] Absolutely. Absolutely. And you can work on training your grip. A couple of things that can help with that: farmer carries, like really heavy farmer carries, deadlifts, that trains your grip for sure. So, using heavy deadlifts to help train your grip. Those are a couple of things that you can do to work on your grip strength.
I will say, chin up training, it can take a long time to get where you want to go. And people think something's wrong, and really it just does take that long.
It will take months of dedicated training for some of the women I work with to get their first chin up or to increase from being able to do one, to being able to do four or five.
Daisy: [00:22:41] I believe it.
Kim: [00:22:42] Yeah. And there's nothing wrong with that, you just have to keep up with it. And it's that consistency of doing it two or three times a week and doing it with really good form, not letting your ego get in the way and just kind of continually fighting through crappy form with no assistance; it's way better to get some assistance from the bands and practice with really good form using the muscles you're supposed to use versus momentum and just muscling up with other body parts, you know, swinging your legs to get up.
That's actually going to get you stronger at doing chin ups. Does that make sense?
Daisy: [00:23:17] Well, I'm going to work on it. Yeah, absolutely.
Kim: [00:23:19] Yeah. And so, like I said, putting those first in your program on your upper body days, and you could even put him in on a third day; just putting a set of those in and just keep going with them.
Other assistance exercises that can help with them as well are inverted rows. Do you ever do inverted rows?
Daisy: [00:23:43] I'm not sure. Which is an inverted row?
Kim: [00:23:47] So an inverted row is if you have a barbell in a rack, or you use the Smith machine and you lay under it, almost like you're in an upside down plank, and your body's on an angle and then you pull yourself up to the bar.
Daisy: [00:24:00] Oh, no, I've never. I don't do those.
Kim: [00:24:02] Okay. Yeah, so inverted rows are amazing. I have, on YouTube, I have a full chin up tutorial and I have inverted rows in there; exactly how to do them. So those are really good.
TRX rows, same thing. Those are really good. Most versions of rows are going to help you get stronger at doing chin-ups. Lat pulldowns also can help. So, all of those back exercises can really help.
Daisy: [00:24:37] Okay! I will definitely look that up.
Kim: [00:24:40] Yeah, and just don't give up on it. Just keep plugging away at it. And I know, I know it's hard, videotape yourself so you can watch and see like, "okay, how am I doing? Am I extending fully at the bottom? Am I getting all the way up so my sternum is touching the bar and not just my chin? How does my form look?" And really analyze that.
Daisy: [00:25:02] That will take some time getting used to, but I'll do it.
Kim: [00:25:06] And you don't even need your husband to stand there and film you, you can literally just prop your camera up on a water bottle and go.
What bothers you more, having other people see you filming yourself or looking at yourself on camera?
Daisy: [00:25:18] I don't know. Both.
Kim: [00:25:21] All of it. It all freaks you out.
Daisy: [00:25:23] Right. A little bit.
Kim: [00:25:26] Would it be worth it if it was a thing that made a big difference in you being able to accomplish this goal?
Daisy: [00:25:31] Yes, and that's why I know I just have to get out of my comfort zone a little bit.
Kim: [00:25:35] Yeah. For sure. And you know what? Everybody feels weird doing it for the first time, and nobody likes to look at themselves on camera. Nobody really likes that. But you get used to it and when you start realizing like, "oh wait, this actually helps me. I can see what I'm doing right, I can see what I'm doing wrong. I can now make it better." So, I would encourage you to do that, take that little challenge and give it a go.
Daisy: [00:25:57] I will.
Kim: [00:25:59] So, that's the strength part for you is really working on those chin-ups.
How are you doing? As far as-- so it sounds like you get plenty of rest days in there. You're working four days a week, you're swimming on the other day, so you're getting plenty of rest days. That's fantastic. Are you getting sleep?
Daisy: [00:26:18] Yeah, I'm pretty good about it. My kids, you know, I have to put them on a schedule, so it puts me on a schedule and I've gotta be up in the morning.
Kim: [00:26:29] Good. 'cause those are the important factors of recovery. Obviously, and this is where you're like, "wait, can I get stronger if I'm in a deficit?" You know, food is important, so making sure that you're eating nourishing food, not living on 1500 calories of, pop tarts and pizza, but getting healthy, nourishing food, and when you go to the gym, you know, getting a meal in before can really help. Do you train in the morning?
Daisy: [00:26:52] I do, yeah. And just this week I was trying to separate my breakfast and I found that-- I moved my oatmeal to a half hour before we leave for the gym and it's made a huge difference in how I feel at the gym.
Kim: [00:27:09] Okay, good. Good.
Daisy: [00:27:11] And I don't know if that's just because it's a bunch of carbs, you know?
Kim: [00:27:14] Well, yeah, carbs can absolutely help with your energy, for sure. Okay, so good. And then as far as your weight loss piece, it seems like you've already found the missing piece, which is you just weren't being as consistent as you thought. It sounds largely because of the lick, bite, taste, M&M here, M&M there kind of thing.
Daisy: [00:27:34] I think so. And I think taking a break where it's not actually uncharted, that I really like sit down and write it down. You know, how much I'm eating. Even then, which sounds like, "oh, you shouldn't have to do that," but maybe for now I do.
Kim: [00:27:51] Yeah, absolutely. You know, and people, when they come up and, in your mind, you're in maintenance, if you're not logging at all, you might be above maintenance and that's not going to help. So yeah, and at least tracking for a time during that period can really help with being consistent with that.
As far as the schedule for how often are you going to be in a deficit and how often are you going to be at maintenance? A couple of really good options, you could say like, "hey, I'm going to go into a deficit. I'm going to stay here for eight weeks," like you did last time. "Then I'm going to come to maintenance for X number of weeks and then see if I want to head back."
Another option is something called a "jab deficit." Have you ever heard that term before?
Daisy: [00:28:31] I haven't. And this is actually exactly what I was just going to ask you about, like what my options were for how you decide, how long to do these things.
Kim: [00:28:39] Okay, great. So, a jab deficit is something that's worked really well for me.
When you're a fairly lean person, which you are, looking to get a little bit leaner, the calorie numbers can be low and that can get tiring and it's hard to fit in the fun treats you want. So the idea of a job deficit is you pick a number of weeks that you're going to hit your deficit and then you put in a one week, or it could be any kind of weeks, usually it's one or two week maintenance break before you go back into a deficit again.
So, for me, this time last year I was doing a jab deficit. I was doing two weeks at a deficit, one week at maintenance, repeat, two weeks at a deficit, one week at maintenance, repeat. And so, I would know, even though my calories were quite low, that it was only two weeks. And then I would go back.
You could do that in a different way: you could do one week in a deficit, one week at maintenance, one week in a deficit, one week at maintenance. Obviously changing it up like that means your progress will be a little bit slower. If you feel mentally-- and the biggest benefit, it's not like your body needs that to reset or something, it really is about the mental ability to stay on track. To really hit your deficits.
So, another, like I said, the other option is just choosing a chunk of time. And it can be six weeks, it can be eight weeks, I don't think you'd probably want to go longer than 12 before coming up for a maintenance break.
Daisy: [00:29:57] Nope. I'm sure. I don't.
Kim: [00:30:00] And it really depends on the person and how much they have to lose and how long they've been doing it. It sounds like for you, eight weeks was a pretty good fit before, so eight or six. If you're feeling a little burned out and deciding ahead of time, at that point, "I will come up and have a maintenance break," and you can decide, "do I want to do it for two weeks, do I want to do it for four weeks?"
What sounds like it might be the best plan for you?
Daisy: [00:30:25] I'm not sure. I think maybe trying six weeks, but the jab idea is really-- like that sounds very palatable. You know, doable. But I don't know. Like, was it pretty effective that you felt like--
Kim: [00:30:42] Oh, yeah.
Daisy: [00:30:43] The only thing I want to avoid is like at Christmas time when I took the unchartered break, it was like I gained two or three pounds and then it took two or three weeks, more than that, probably, to get rid of it. Even though it was not, you know, I was not eating like crazy. I mean, I did eat a lot of cookies, but yeah.
Kim: [00:31:02] I totally hear you. So, the key is during that maintenance week, you can still log so that you are still at maintenance. So, bring your calories up, 250 to 500 calories and have those be your maintenance numbers and you could still track.
And so, it's not like a free for all. It's not a week of like, "I'm just going to eat whatever I want." You know, swimming around in pasta and whatnot. It's literally a controlled, giving yourself a bit more calories.
Daisy: [00:31:27] Do you think that when people say they do refeeds where it's like one day in a week they up their calories that 30% or something, do you think that's effective or do you think it's more effective to take a full week and just go to maintenance?
Kim: [00:31:43] So it can be. It absolutely can be. A couple of things: 1) it can really help with that mental piece of like, "whoa, I can fit some yummy things in here," 2) it can help-- one of the things that can mask weight loss is stress, you know, spikes in cortisol and low calories can absolutely have that effect. And it's not that you're not losing fat, it's just you having water weight. And so, having a refeed day, you can release that stress and then you can see this whoosh on the scale. So that can be a real thing.
Where it can go off the rails is, I bet you can imagine what I'm going to say, is where you take it too far, right? So, you're not just a little bit higher that day, you're quite a bit higher. And then you're going to eat up the deficit that you spent all week creating.
Daisy: [00:32:32] Right.
Kim: [00:32:33] So, it's important if you decide to go that route, to go into it having a mentality of, "This is a little bit extra calories. It's not a ton."
You know, speaking of your calories, you're hitting a straight deficit across the week, you said right around 1500, right?
Daisy: [00:32:48] Yeah.
Kim: [00:32:48] So, another really good option is to have days that are lower and days that are higher. It's called calorie cycling, works really well, so that you have some days that it's easier to get in, you know, a slice of pizza or two cookies or something.
So, I typically give my clients three higher days and four lower days. So obviously your lower day calories are lower than what the standard is and the higher are just a little bit higher so that you have more of a buffer then.
So, you said you're 132 pounds?
Daisy: [00:33:26] Yes, right. And that was the other thing is different calculators will give pretty different values on those numbers.
Kim: [00:33:35] Yeah. So, I mean, you could do 1400 to 1500 calories four days a week and-- hang on, let me double check my math here.
Yeah, you could do like 1350 to 1450 and then 1550 to 1650 the other days of the week on the high days. So, you take your low days a little bit lower, and then you give yourself, you know, a little bit more a couple of days a week so that you can have a bit of a buffer to have, like I said, to fit more treats in there.
Daisy: [00:34:21] Right. And so, some of the things where they talk about like, all these people on Instagram, they talk about, oh, that you know, that people have adrenal fatigue and you know, if you're not sleeping, then you should increase your calories. Is that, I mean, is that accurate or is it just pretty rare cases.
Kim: [00:34:42] Adrenal fatigue is a made-up thing.
Daisy: [00:34:44] Well, I guess, I mean like when a person's-- if they go low calories for an extended period, some people say that they end up not sleeping well and their sex drive goes down and--
Kim: [00:34:59] Yeah, that's all a real thing, for sure. So, if you're super low calorie for a very long time all of those things can happen.
Daisy: [00:35:07] But that's like REALLY low calorie, right?
Kim: [00:35:10] Yes.
Daisy: [00:35:10] Okay. That was my assumption, but they never give it numbers on things.
Kim: [00:35:16] Yeah. So, having been, like you said, around 1500 calories, probably a little bit more since you said you weren't being super adherent with them, but even let's say you were at 1500, that's not so low that that should be happening to you from October to now.
Daisy: [00:35:29] Right. No, and it hasn't been, but I was like, "uh, but am I going to get there?"
Kim: [00:35:35] Well, remember, the goal here is not to keep you dieting for that long. And based on what I've heard and from the size you are, you don't have a ton of weight to lose. So eventually making the decision like, "I am not going to continue in a deficit," would be an important thing rather than letting this linger for years and having the mindset of like, "I am a woman, I always have to be dieting," which so many women do. Like, we fall into this, "I should be trying to lose weight," like a perpetual thing. And so, looking for other things to do, like get a chin up or get a heavier deadlift or work on building muscle. There's lots of other fitness goals we can have, but we really do get stuck in this. Like, "I want to be thinner."
Daisy: [00:36:19] Yeah, I agree.
Kim: [00:36:21] Yeah. And so, you know, making a decision, like, "I'm just not going to do that. I'm not going to just constantly diet." And it sounds like you're there already, like the idea that you have taken and that you are considering taking maintenance breaks is a great thing.
There was something else you said-- oh, I remember what it was I wanted to bring up. I don't remember if you told me this in your DM or if you said it somewhere on this call that you do work out at the gym, you go for a swim that one day, but otherwise you're not super active.
Daisy: [00:36:52] Well, I don't do a lot of the walking. I know you're like, "get up and do stuff." Like, with the kids, I'm pretty active with them. I get probably 4,000 to 8,000 steps, but I put my phone down a lot, so I don't know how many more than that I get in my house 'cause I set it down and I paint and, you know, do laundry and stuff. So, yeah, I'm not so great about that.
Kim: [00:37:21] So it is one area to definitely consider putting an emphasis on, and here is why I specifically am going to suggest it for you. Like I said, you are a lean person looking to get leaner, and that means your calories can get quite low. But one thing you can do to prevent that is by increasing your calories out.
Now, I don't want you to look at your steps and think, "how many calories am I burning?" They're way off, but just getting the movement in is going to increase your calories out. And so, paying attention, you know, even buying just a super cheap, one that you can wear on your wrist so that you can get a handle on, "wait, how much am I actually moving?" Bumping that up over time -- you don't have to do it right away, but over time to 10,000 to 12,000 can really help so that when you are losing weight, that you're seeing good progress and you're not down at those super low calories for very long. 'Cause you know, 1350 is pretty low. But think 1450 or 1400, what did I say? Now I can't even remember.
Daisy: [00:38:21] Yeah, 1350-1450.
Kim: [00:38:25] That's pretty low calories. You're not gonna want to stay there long. And one of the things you can do to not be there that long is to be very effective while you're there. So, increase your calories out and lose these couple of pounds and be done with it.
Daisy: [00:38:40] And do you keep the steps basically forever? 'Cause I mean, I will say that 10,000 steps is a significant portion of the day. You know, like when you think about it, like what the other things that you do in life. And I know it's doable and I know people are busy, so I don't, I don't mean to make it like that, but do you keep them forever or...
Kim: [00:38:58] It depends. So, for just general good health, like 6,000-8,000 is fantastic. You don't have to go all the way up to 10,000.
Let me ask you this, what do you think, when you say it's a pretty busy part of--, like it's a pretty big part of the day, what do you think it takes to get 10,000 steps?
Daisy: [00:39:17] I would guess like an additional 30 to 50-minute walk.
Kim: [00:39:23] Okay. That is one way to go about it. I will say that is a way to go about it. I do it sometimes. It's not necessarily the only way to go about it. So really looking for a short burst of time is a real winning strategy. So, if your kids are at-- do your kids play sports? Are they in activities?
Daisy: [00:39:44] They are, but it's one where you kind of have to sit and watch them. They do jujitsu.
Kim: [00:39:48] They do jujitsu. And so, where are you at? Are you in bleachers or where are you at?
Daisy: [00:39:53] No, it's a small room in there are seats from the outside edges for parents.
Kim: [00:39:59] Got it. Is there any place that you're there that you could stand in pace back and forth?
Daisy: [00:40:04] I mean, if I stood outside, like outside the windows, you know, it's kind of like in a strip mall, so that would be--
Kim: [00:40:12] Okay. So, you could stand outside and watch them through the windows?
Daisy: [00:40:16] Conceivably, yes.
Kim: [00:40:18] So that's one place that you could pick up a ton of steps. I have a lot of parents who they're like-- one of my clients was telling me-- I can't believe she has all grown children now except for one. She's like, "I cannot believe that I just sat there on the sidelines all those years." She was like, "I literally, all I had to do was stand up and pace back and forth, and watch them in that gym." She's like, "I can't believe I just sat there."
It sounds like maybe that makes you feel awkward though?
Daisy: [00:40:45] Well, the hard part is that I don't do jujitsu and I need to hear what the instructor says, 'cause then we go home and they want to talk about it or do it or practice it and I kind of have to have an idea.
Kim: [00:40:59] So you want to sit and watch them.
Daisy: [00:41:01] Yes. Well, I actually want to watch the instructors.
Kim: [00:41:04] Got it. Okay, well then maybe that's not the spot for you, but it's something to keep in mind is they branch out into other things, you know, if you're watching them play soccer, if you're watching them play basketball.
Daisy: [00:41:13] Yes, I agree. And I think there are times when they play outside that, in the past I've chosen to sit down and have a cup of tea while I watch them, and I just-- that's a good time that I would be able to walk around easily. And probably they would enjoy it too.
Kim: [00:41:28] For sure. Like, getting up and actually being active with them. And look, I did it a million times when my kids were younger. Sometimes I'm like, "I just want to sit here. You guys play, I am sitting here," because we're busy.
So, you know, there's lots of ways you can get small amounts of steps in. So, you know, what I would suggest is that you track fully, like, either keep your phone on you or buy a super cheap step tracker. See what you get without changing anything, see where you're at, and then make really small increments, like had 500 steps onto the average, right? When you figured out how can I add 500 steps per day on, and you make that a pretty easy day. Like, you're like, "okay, I can hit that number," add in 500 more.
There's no reason-- you don't have to like go to 10,000 tomorrow. We want to make this a part of what you do naturally. And sometimes that might mean like, "hey, I'm going to go out for a 15 minute walk or I'm going to take the kids out," I mean, my kids were always happy when they were younger, I'd be like, "hey, let's take your bikes out and you can ride and I'll run around with you."
You know, looking for ways you can get more movement in that doesn't and involve you spending an extra 50 minutes out by yourself.
Daisy: [00:42:36] Right. And I think sometimes having someone else look at it and say, "but really there are times you could add steps." It's like, "oh yeah, you're right. I guess there are."
Kim: [00:42:46] You know what? We just don't think about it until somebody else points it out to us. I'm glad you're open to thinking about it.
Daisy: [00:42:53] Yeah, I think it'll be something I can do over time. For sure. I kind of equate it to, like, for a while I wasn't drinking enough water and I saw something somewhere where it said, you know, "you get up in, the first thing you do is drink a big glass of water." And it's so obvious and now I'm, like, addicted to that first glass of water, so I'll just have to try this.
Kim: [00:43:13] just been a habit. A habit you've just created and you just do it now.
Daisy: [00:43:17] Yep. And at first it was like, "oh, I want to have my coffee though," so, I think this will be something similar where if I just do it slowly, I could incorporate it.
Kim: [00:43:28] Absolutely.
Okay. Any other questions you have, concerns, things we didn't cover here for you?
Daisy: [00:43:34] No, I think that's everything. And I think that's really helpful. Thank you so much.
Kim: [00:43:40] You are more than welcome. Definitely reach back out and let me know how it's going, let me know how the weight loss is coming. Definitely send me a video of that chin up and as you get more, let's see it.
Daisy: [00:43:56] Okay. I'll do it.
Kim: [00:43:56] You gotta be proud of that, Daisy.
Daisy: [00:43:58] Okay. I'm on it this week.
Kim: [00:44:00] All right. All right, my dear. Thanks so much for coming on, I sure do appreciate it.
Daisy: [00:44:05] Okay. Thank you so much for having me.
Kim: [00:44:07] Absolutely. Talk soon.
Daisy: [00:44:09] Okay. Bye.
Kim: [00:44:15] Thanks so much for being here and listening in to the Fitness Simplified Podcast today. I hope you found it educational, motivational, inspirational, all the kinds of -ational. If you enjoyed it, if you found value in it, it would mean so much to me if you would go ahead and leave a rating and review on whatever platform you are listening to this on. It really does help to get this podcast to other people.
Thanks so much.
I'm a NASM certified personal trainer who is passionate about helping women transform their bodies through strength training and sustainable nutritional habit changes.