Kim: [00:00:04] Welcome to episode 68 of the Fitness Simplified podcast. I'm your host, Kim Schlag. Joining me today on the podcast is author Katarina Wilk. Katarina wrote the book "Perimenopower," and it is about perimenopause -- which, if you've been following me for any length of time, you know, has been a great struggle in my personal life.
[00:00:26] I have been deep in the throes of perimenopause going on seven years now. I am passionate about connecting women with experts who know about perimenopause and menopause and Katarina has written an incredible book. We talk about the mental side of perimenopause, the physical side of perimenopause, our attitudes during perimenopause ,so much great conversation around the subject.
[00:00:51] Let's go.
[00:00:59] There we go! Katarina, we are now recording!
[00:01:04] Good morning! I'm so glad you could be here with us all the way from Sweden -- where apparently, you're having a tropical blast -- to join us, to talk about your book: "Perimenopower." Welcome!
[00:01:18] Katarina: [00:01:18] Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for inviting me.
[00:01:21] Kim: [00:01:21] Absolutely. I was thrilled to make your acquaintance through our mutual friend, Amanda Thebe, great connector in all things menopause.
[00:01:31] So, Katarina, I was just starting to ask you about your career path. So, you have been a health and wellness writer, tell us some about the kinds of topics you have covered.
[00:01:42] Katarina: [00:01:42] Yes, that's right. I've been a health and lifestyle writer. You can mostly say that I've been doing medical research and journalism, but I've also been doing a bit of lifestyle.
[00:01:56] I've been editor for a consumer magazine within sports in Sweden. So, I've been writing everything from physical exercise to medical stuff.
[00:02:08] Kim: [00:02:08] Got it. Got it. Well, you've also written the book "Perimenopower: The Essential Guide to the Change Before the Change."
[00:02:16] Now, this book, in particular, is born of personal experience of yours. Can you tell us about that?
[00:02:23] Katarina: [00:02:23] Yes, it actually is. I was 42 years old when it started for me. And I had some severe insomnia and some kind of panic attacks. I'd never been a panicky person before, so I couldn't really understand what was going on. So, I went to my GP and she was like, "yeah, are you having a hard time at work or are you having a hard time with your husband?" And I was like, "no, I don't. I cannot sleep. That's my problem. There's something going on in my body." And after a while she said, "yeah, I think you're having a burnt-out syndrome. And I think you are becoming depressed."
[00:03:02] And I said, "yeah, of course I'm becoming depressed because I don't sleep. But the thing is that I don't sleep. And that is the factual problem. So please help me."
[00:03:13] So she, of course, put me on sleeping pills. I had the worst experience, I will never, ever in my life take sleeping pills anymore. And then when I just realized that I won't get any help here from the medical side...
[00:03:29] Kim: [00:03:29] What happened with the sleeping pills?
[00:03:33] Katarina: [00:03:33] I tried normal sleeping pills, but they didn't work for me. So, she had to put me on like really strong sleeping pills and when she did that, I had nightmares, I was hallucinating, and she was like, "when you take these pills, you have to be near your bed."
[00:03:58] And I was like, "okay, so will I fall asleep in a second? What do you mean?" She was like, "no, but you should stay close to your bed." So, I was like, "okay." And actually, I had to be close to my bed because in two seconds I just fell asleep, like very deep in a coma-sleep. So, no good. No good. No good. I do not recommend this.
[00:04:23] So finally I was like, "okay, they won't help me. I have to do this by myself." So, as I am a medical writer, I know a lot about the body and especially about my body. So, I started to research and I started to think about these symptoms that I had going on for quite a while, like panic attacks, I didn't seem like myself.
[00:04:50] And then someone said to me, my gynecologist, she said to me, "how about you period?" And I said, "well, it's on and off." And she said, "well, maybe you are coming into the transition, but you're not in menopause, of course, because when you are in menopause, you don't have your period for 12 months."
[00:05:11] So she helped me in a way, but I did the research by myself and then I thought, well, okay, if I, as a medical person, don't understand what's happening, how can normal women understand? So, it became like a mission. I really want to help women. I really want to help women understand that the menopausal transition can start really early.
[00:05:36] So, that's the background to my book.
[00:05:38] Kim: [00:05:38] And so that was the goal with the book, because you, as a person who is steeped in medical terminology, and were more deep in studying things in the medical world, we're blindsided by this. And so, you wanted to help regular people, those of us who aren't necessarily in the medical industry.
[00:05:55] Katarina: [00:05:55] Yes, you're right. Yeah.
[00:05:56] Kim: [00:05:56] Fantastic. And I do think that a lot of people are not clear even just on the basic terminology, perimenopause versus menopause.
[00:06:04] Let's have you give everybody a working definition of both of those.
[00:06:09] Katarina: [00:06:09] Okay. So, the transition is perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause.
[00:06:14] And the perimenopause is the rocky part of the sensation. And that is what women don't understand. It can start like 10 years before you are in actual menopause. Menopause is when you haven't had your period for 12 months -- which means actually one day -- and then you have the post-menopause, which is the time after you haven't had your period for 12 months.
[00:06:41] And the post menopause can be very, very long. Some women have symptoms when they are 70. So, this is a thing that can happen from 40 up to 65-70. So, it's quite a while, isn't it?
[00:07:01] Kim: [00:07:01] Yeah. I think that, Katarina, we haven't spoken personally about my own experience. The reason that I'm a fitness professional -- I help women get strong. I help women lose weight -- specifically, I have a passion for helping perimenopausal and menopausal women because that's where I find myself and my transition into perimenopause has been an extremely rocky one.
[00:07:26] I was completely blindsided and had zero education on what was happening. And there were times that I thought I was going crazy, I thought I was having a stroke, I thought I had some kind of autoimmune disease. I could not figure out what was wrong with me, but I knew something was wrong with me. And no one could tell me what was wrong with me.
[00:07:51] Katarina: [00:07:51] I think that is the situation for so many women.
[00:07:55] Kim: [00:07:55] Yes, absolutely. A big part of that solution is education.
[00:08:02] Katarina: [00:08:02] Yes. Knowledge is power. You have to understand that you maybe are not that interested, but then when it starts with your body, something is happening. You have to get all the information you can.
[00:08:16] And I think people like you and people like me we can really help. That's what I think. And people like Amanda, of course, she's the best.
[00:08:25] Kim: [00:08:25] Absolutely.
[00:08:26] So I was 43 when I first started having my very first menopause symptoms. And in my mind, I didn't even think about menopause until many years later because that was too early in my mind. But it's not.
[00:08:41] Katarina: [00:08:41] Yeah. I think that is one of the problems, because I think I can see now that the menopause discussion is starting up all around the world. My book has been translated to a lot of languages and I can feel that I get messages from women all over. But the thing is that we talk about menopause like something that is happening when you are around your 50s.
[00:09:04] But the problem is that we don't talk about the perimenopause. And if we don't, everyone will be prescribed antidepressants from their doctors. That's the biggest problem.
[00:09:17] Kim: [00:09:17] Yeah. And when people hear the word menopause, they know, "Oh yeah, that's something difficult." They don't understand that a lot of the upheaval that the really difficult symptoms actually come before in perimenopause.
[00:09:33] Katarina: [00:09:33] Yes, that's the thing. That's the thing. So, it's time to start up this discussion, too, about the perimenopause.
[00:09:41] Kim: [00:09:41] And do you find women are eager to talk to you about the subject or are they still kind of hesitant?
[00:09:49] Katarina: [00:09:49] I have to admit that even my friends were hesitant to talk about it until I wrote the book. They were like, "yeah, well I don't have any symptoms." And then I said, "well, I'm going to write a book about this." "Oh, are you? Well, okay. I maybe had some insomnia and I maybe have some mood disturbances." So even my friends won't admit that it's happening. And I mean, what is the point of not talking about it? It's like feeling that you are going crazy all by yourself.
[00:10:28] Kim: [00:10:28] Yes, absolutely.
[00:10:31] And I really do feel we're at kind of a turning point here that women are more open to talking about it. And I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that there are just more of us talking about it. I don't stop talking about menopause, both in my static posts and on my Instagram stories. Here on my podcast I'm always sharing my own very personal -- probably too much information for some people -- information about my experiences.
[00:10:58] And what I have found is that the more I do that, the more women who come to me and start talking to me about the fact that they can't sleep, that they tried to talk to their doctor and their doctor just thinks that they need antidepressants and they're like, "I'm not depressed."
[00:11:12] Katarina: [00:11:12] Yes. I know.
[00:11:15] I think that is a really sad thing that the medical society so quickly gives the antidepressants to woman, I think it's such an over-prescription of antidepressants all over. I mean, in Sweden, I think we have 1 million out of 10 taking antidepressants. I would so much want to know how many of these 1 million are women 40 plus.
[00:11:44] But that is a figure I can't even research. I haven't found it. They don't want to talk about it. And one of the topics that I'm now diving into, maybe for my next manuscript, is that we seldom want to admit that women's and men's brains are different because we are struggling for a gender equality.
[00:12:13] If we would admit that, "I'm sorry, your brain is not the same as mine," it would be like a backlash. But I think that if we would admit that we are different, it would be a step forward. So, I think the brain thing is really important here because everything starts in our brains.
[00:12:36] Kim: [00:12:36] I am currently reading "The XX Brain" by Dr. Lisa Mosconi.
[00:12:40] Katarina: [00:12:40] I love it. She is the best. I mean, it's such an important book.
[00:12:50] Kim: [00:12:50] I just discovered her very recently and I'm only on chapter four of the book, but it's quite impressive. And that was exactly the point so far, is that, the female brain and the male brain are different and it doesn't mean that we're inherently not capable of the same things or that somehow it sets us back, but understanding these differences is incredibly important to our health.
[00:13:12] Katarina: [00:13:12] Yes. Yes. That's the thing.
[00:13:14] Kim: [00:13:14] Yeah. I'm hoping to get her on the podcast when I'm through the book.
[00:13:17] Katarina: [00:13:17] Oh, that would be great. I would listen to that.
[00:13:21] Kim: [00:13:21] Yeah. I would really, really love to have her on for a chat.
[00:13:23] So what do you think, Katarina, that women, as they're entering their forties, what do you think they can do to be proactive about their wellness?
[00:13:33] Katarina: [00:13:33] I think that one of the most important things is to realize that you can't go on like you did before. You cannot eat like crap if you did that before, you cannot exercise as you did before, you have to take care of yourself, of your body and your mind in an extra, extra way. You have to be really careful what you do. Because what you do during perimenopause, that will affect your coming years.
[00:14:12] So I think lifestyle changes during this period is something really important. I write about that in my book, what to do. I'm not that into diet and physical exercise. I mean, I'm not that strict into it, but I think there are some small changes you can do during the perimenopause, which are really important.
[00:14:36] And eventually, if you don't cope with it anymore, then maybe you should try HRT. That's what I think.
[00:14:45] Kim: [00:14:45] What were some of the big lifestyle changes that you made personally?
[00:14:50] Katarina: [00:14:50] Well, one thing is that when I had been doing physical exercise, I did a lot of cardio training. I was running, I went to the cycling classes and I was like, always running. I was a bit of a stressed person. So, I added some mental training, like more calm, physical exercise like Pilates, like restorative yoga -- which is this forum where you stand in the positions for a couple of minutes -- that was the best medication for me because I got energy and I was calmed by the yoga form.
[00:15:34] So I think that if you just add something to your normal physical exercise, but in a calmer way, then I think you will cope. And one thing I did also was that, usually when I went out running, I did that in the evenings. So, I did like 8-9 o'clock and then I went home and I tried to calm down and get to sleep at 11.
[00:15:59] That didn't work anymore because if I did my running at 8 in the evening, I could not fall asleep. So, I could see that my body didn't know, "is this a positive stress or is it a negative stress?" It's some kind of stress in my body. So, I just decided that, if I'm going to do my running, I'm going to do it in the mornings and in the evenings, I do my yoga.
[00:16:25] And that worked. That was a really, really big change for me. So, that was about the physical exercise. And then about the diet, well, I mean, I can be unhealthy too. I drink Coke sometimes and I eat a burger sometimes, but during this period, I was like, "okay, what can I do? If there are any studies showing you can do something with your diet, I'll have to try that."
[00:16:53] So I stopped eating meat. And when I say that, I mean red meat. And then eventually when I got the hot flashes, I could see that when I stopped eating red meat, my hot flashes decreased. So, I think through diet, not totally vegan, just minimizing meat and minimizing sugar, minimizing alcohol and coffee, those were my big changes.
[00:17:25] Kim: [00:17:25] And those things helped you, in specific, with your hot flashes?
[00:17:28] Katarina: [00:17:28] Yes, yes.
[00:17:29] Kim: [00:17:29] Interesting.
[00:17:32] You brought up HRT. Did you, in the end, decide that that was the right choice for you?
[00:17:37] Katarina: [00:17:37] As I said, this started when I was 42 and I started with HRT when I was 48. And I did that because it was not that I couldn't cope, but I felt that it was getting harder and harder to keep up with these lifestyle changes only. So, I decided to try HRT when I was 48. And for me it's been a good choice.
[00:18:08] And, of course, it is up to everyone to choose, but I'm an unbiased medical writer, I don't work for any medical companies, and through the studies and through the research I've done, I can see that the HRT might be good and not bad as most of the women think it is.
[00:18:29] It actually decreases our risk for cardiac diseases and we think that it only increases our risk for breast cancer. But the number one killer for women is not breast cancer, it is heart diseases. So, there are some good things, positive things with taking HRT too, but ultimately, it's your choice.
[00:18:49] If you can cope with lifestyle changes, I won't say anything about that, but I know that the discussion here in Sweden is that maybe in the future, they will give women HRT even without symptoms. Because it's like when you're diabetic, you get an insulin, when you have an estrogen decrease, maybe you have to have your estrogen.
[00:19:14] It's a very complex, it's a very controversial discussion, but I am quite satisfied with my choice. And actually, it felt so much better for me. It was like, finally, I was me again.
[00:19:33] Kim: [00:19:33] Oh, I absolutely understand
[00:19:38] Katarina: [00:19:38] Are you taking it?
[00:19:40] Kim: [00:19:40] I am. I have very similar ages to you. I started having symptoms at 43 that got increasingly worse and then I started HRT when I was 48.
[00:19:50] Katarina: [00:19:50] Okay. Okay. So, we are the same.
[00:19:53] Kim: [00:19:53] And I'm 49 now, I'm almost 50, so I've been using HRT for a little over a year at this point. It was absolutely life changing for me. I had zero knowledge of it in the many years leading up to beginning to take it and the little knowledge I had about it was all negative.
[00:20:12] And as I actually began to research -- and I had no idea about the things that you just mentioned until really close to when I started taking it -- about the idea that they're discovering that it actually has cardioprotective benefits and that it might be something that they're going to be recommending, in the future, for all women, not just those of us who are symptomatic.
[00:20:31] Katarina: [00:20:31] Yeah, it's been changing for me too. I have to admit that. And in the beginning, I was quite shocked that it had that effect on me, because as I said, it was like, "okay, this is who I am." I could, in a way, feel that those years between 42 and 48 -- I mean, I had a good laugh, it's not, it's not that I was depressed or anything -- but I could feel it was a struggle. And suddenly when I took the HRT, it wasn't the struggle anymore. It was like, all the world just opened up again. I mean, it is hard to hard to admit because some women that are still afraid of it might think you're crazy.
[00:21:19] Kim: [00:21:19] You know, when I started, I had been sleepless for many months at the time that I started HRT. I was feeling quite desperate when I started. And I did not expect it to work as quickly as it did and it was absolutely life changing to actually be able to get a good night's rest again after many months not sleeping. That started a new chapter in my life.
[00:21:46] Katarina: [00:21:46] You and I are maybe role models for how good HRT can work.
[00:21:52] Kim: [00:21:52] Yeah. And I know it's not the answer for everyone. And there are certainly lifestyle changes that people can make. One of the things I really liked about the title of your book, "Perimenopower," is that it sounds positive.
[00:22:06] And in the book I saw a sentence where you said, "we're not victims, we can actually be the heroin in our story."
[00:22:15] Katarina: [00:22:15] We can. We have to understand that we have a power just being women. We can bear babies in our bodies. That is a miracle. So we have this power just being women, but during this quite hard period in your life it's like these powers within you are hidden and I think if we speak about this period in a positive way, if we can regain the power we have within us and just understand that it is a perimenopower, you have the perimenopower within you, you just have to find it again.
[00:23:03] That's the thing.
[00:23:05] Kim: [00:23:05] And I will admit, I have to do better at not speaking so negatively, constantly about menopause. But so much of what is happening with the symptoms is very negative.
[00:23:15] Katarina: [00:23:15] Yeah. Yeah.
[00:23:16] Kim: [00:23:16] But we say that menopausal women, perimenopausal women are some of the strongest people. I know.
[00:23:22] Katarina: [00:23:22] Yes. You are right. You are so right. Because in a way we struggle, but we get up every day and we continue the struggle. And for that, we should have a medal. No, but I understand what you're saying, because I think also you can see that in the menopause community, also on Instagram, there are so many strong women trying to help other women, and that is the best thing. If we can help other women, we can make other women strong.
[00:24:01] Kim: [00:24:01] Yeah, I think about trying to help myself figure out how to thrive during this period and to speak to other women about how to thrive during this period. And being very realistic about the difficulties, because there are a lot of them, but I suppose the idea would be speaking about them in the way of how we can overcome them and help you to still have this be an amazing time in your life.
[00:24:24] It's not all downhill.
[00:24:27] Katarina: [00:24:27] No, because what is the alternative? The alternative is that we die and we don't want that. So, we have to make the best of every situation. And now this is the situation we are in in this period, so just let's make the best of it.
[00:24:48] Kim: [00:24:48] Absolutely.
[00:24:48] Thank you so much for coming and speaking to us. Tell everybody where they can find you and where they can find your book.
[00:24:55] Katarina: [00:24:55] Yes. So, you can find me on Instagram under my name, @katarinawilk. And then my book is available, of course, on Amazon, and in the UK, you can also find it in bookstores.
[00:25:12] I don't know if you can do that in the US yet, but you can find it on Amazon.
[00:25:18] Kim: [00:25:18] Okay, great. Yeah, I don't even know if you can find it in bookstores because with Corona, I can't remember the last time I've been to an actual bookstore.
[00:25:28] Katarina: [00:25:28] How was the situation? Where are you in the States?
[00:25:31] Kim: [00:25:31] So, I'm in Pennsylvania, which is just a little bit south of New York. And we were on complete lockdown here in my county for three months. In June, we came off of total lockdown, but things are still pretty tight. My kids are going back to school next week and they're not allowed in the building. They will be schooling from home.
[00:25:51] Katarina: [00:25:51] They will be schooling from home. Okay, so in Sweden, we didn't even have a lockdown.
[00:25:57] Kim: [00:25:57] You didn't?
[00:25:58] Katarina: [00:25:58] No.
[00:25:58] Kim: [00:25:58] Wow, it passed you right by, you are blessed.
[00:26:02] Katarina: [00:26:02] Yeah, we are. But I mean, we still had, compared to how many people live here, we have had a lot of people die.
[00:26:12] Kim: [00:26:12] Oh, you have?
[00:26:13] Katarina: [00:26:13] Yeah, but we have flattened the curve, so our health system has never been overwhelmed. They could cope with it in the ICU. So, I think the situation in Sweden has been quite good compared to other places. But still, we still have the virus here.
[00:26:32] Kim: [00:26:32] So you're saying that you just weren't on lockdown. Got it, got it.
[00:26:40] Katarina: [00:26:40] We didn't because our health minister-- in Sweden, it's like, if they recommend a thing, Swedish people follow that. They recommended, they didn't force us, it's not a law, but they recommended to give your kids the measles vaccine. So, 97% of the kids are vaccinated.
[00:27:09] So if the state says that, "okay guys, stay at home, do social distancing, wash your hands, blah, blah, blah," the Swedish people listen. They don't have to lock us down.
[00:27:23] Kim: [00:27:23] Got it. Not all Americans are like that.
[00:27:30] Katarina: [00:27:30] I know. I'm so sad hearing about what's happening in America right now, but I hope things will get better.
[00:27:36] Kim: [00:27:36] Here's hoping. You and me both. I would love for things to get better, for us to be able to return to a somewhat more normal life and be able to travel and have our kids in school and everything.
[00:27:46] Katarina: [00:27:46] Yeah, for sure.
[00:27:48] Kim: [00:27:48] Thank you again for coming on. Your book, "Perimenopower," fantastic book. I highly recommend it to all of those of you listening and, Katarina, let's for sure stay in touch and continue this conversation.
[00:28:02] Katarina: [00:28:02] Yes, of course. Thank you so much.
[00:28:05] Kim: [00:28:05] Thank you.
[00:28:11] 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.
[00:28:22] 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.
[00:28:36] Thanks so much.
Kim: [00:00:00] Welcome to episode 67 of the Fitness Simplified podcast. I'm your host, Kim Schlag. On today's solo episode I am tackling the subject of "skinny fat." What is it, and how can you handle this situation?
[00:00:18] If you are somebody who feels that they are skinny fat, it is possible you are approaching this in a way that is actually counterproductive. So, I'm going to walk you through four steps you can take to get rid of skinny fat. Let's go.
[00:00:38] I'm feeling the energy today, my friend. I am well caffeinated, which doesn't happen often. I just discovered that my intolerance to caffeine that appeared last year appears to be going away. I'm only 48 hours into it, so we'll see.
[00:00:55] One of the things that can happen with perimenopause is that you can develop an intolerance to caffeine, which makes you have bathroom-type sickness. And so that was now working in my life, so I cut caffeine out, which meant that my favorite daily pre-workout -- and even not pre workout -- just once a day caffeinated hot chocolate had to be a thing of the past. I decided to try it out yesterday, just little mini dose, just a little bit. It's all good.
[00:01:22] Tried it again this morning, still feeling good. Hopefully I'll make it through this recording without anything happening because I just finished drinking it.
[00:01:32] Today's topic also has me jazzed up. We are talking about "skinny fat," what it is and what to do about it. I know not everyone will approve of the name, skinny fat, but it's a pretty apt descriptor.
[00:01:47] I am working with several clients right now who fit this bill. They are fairly lean already, they look good in their clothes, but without them they appear soft and lacking in shape and definition. If this sounds like you, then you fit this description of skinny fat. These are not derogatory terms. These are literally descriptors.
[00:02:09] And today we're going to talk about how one gets from skinny fat to a lean, mean, toned machine and what probably caused you to be skinny fat in the first place.
[00:02:22] Skinny fat is a result of having not much muscle and more than desired body fat. So even though you could be a relatively small person, if you don't have much muscle and you have more body fat, you will have this resulting look of "I'm soft. I'm not defined."
[00:02:42] Often people who fit this description laser focus on losing the body fat, right? They're like, "Ooh, I don't like the way I look. I think that the answer lies in weight loss." Most women think that the answer to whatever is going on with their body shape is always fat loss and they chase after their fat loss goal with a combination of 1) calorie restriction, with the calories being quite low in this case because people who are skinny fat are not large people in the first place, and 2) cardio and usually a lot of it.
[00:03:18] And interestingly, this plan can exacerbate the issue as the excessively low calories and high amount of cardio in combination with a lack of appropriate emphasis on protein and strength training means that the person loses muscle, which is the exact opposite of what they need.
[00:03:39] So what's the solution then?
[00:03:41] Flipping the script to focus instead of on fat loss to a focus on body recomposition, which is when you both gain muscle and reduce body fat. Here are the four steps to accomplish that. I'm going to list them all briefly first, and then we'll take a deep dive into each of them.
[00:04:02] So, #1 is training, with a main focus on progressive strength training using largely compound moves. I'm going to explain what all of that means in normal words in just a second after I lay out the other steps.
[00:04:17] So step #2: a nutrition plan that has you eating around maintenance calories. So, this is not going to be a deficit plan.
[00:04:26] Part #3: nutrition plan that includes sufficient protein.
[00:04:31] And part #4 is less emphasis on cardio.
[00:04:35] Note that I didn't say "totally avoid cardio" -- though you could -- we're just going to say less emphasis on cardio.
[00:04:42] So let's look at each of these four parts. We're going to start with the training part. This is going to be the bulk of our discussion today. This is where your main focus. This is going to be.
[00:04:54] You're going to work on a progressive strength training program using the largely compound moves. You've got to lift some weight and not in a willy-nilly, tried that body pump class here and then that Beachbody program there, followed by a few swipe workouts kind of way.
[00:05:14] To build muscle, which is what you're lacking if you're skinny fat, you will need more than what I just described. And let's be clear that the toned look you're after is largely dependent on you nailing the muscle building part of the equation. You've been hammering away at the fat loss piece, or you're just naturally fairly lean, let's turn your focus to building muscle with the assurance you will not turn into The Rock.
[00:05:40] Muscle building is a slow, deliberate process. There is absolutely, without a doubt, a genetic component with some people, including some women, being able to put on muscle more easily than others. But even in those cases, muscle is a deliberate, consistent work and it does not suddenly appear.
[00:06:02] At any point that you feel you have built the maximum amount of muscle that you would like, you can adjust your training and nutrition to maintain it instead of building more. For most of us too much muscle will literally never be the problem. So how should you train? I'm going to hit on three important variables here.
[00:06:24] The first being the focus on compound moves. These are multi-joint exercises that use a lot of muscle. I'm talking about variations of squats, deadlifts, lunges, upper body pushes -- both horizontal and vertical -- so things like bench press, chest press military press, pushups; and then upper body pulling movements. Again, both horizontal and vertical. These include all of your row variations, pull-ups, and pull downs.
[00:06:56] The bulk of your workouts should be made up of those exercises I just mentioned and their many, many, many, variations. A much smaller percentage of your workout can be isolation exercises. Things such as triceps extensions, and biceps curls, and leg lifts.
[00:07:12] Many women have that equation totally flipped with the majority of their training being isolation exercises, while including relatively few compound exercises.
[00:07:24] The second important factor with regard to training is about how you perform these exercises. They need to be performed with intensity and progression. What this means, I'm going to give you a little illustration here, so if you always do 10 reps of reverse lunges, for example, with 5-pound dumbbells, you will not cause your body to have a reason to adapt. But if you progress that lunge by doing the same 10 reps, but now using 10 pounds instead of 5 pounds, and then another time doing 10 reps with 12 pounds, and then maybe you drop the reps to only 8 reps, but now you use 20-pound dumbbells. And then you work your way up to doing 10 reps at 20-pound dumbbells and then 10 reps at 25-pound dumbbells. That is what progression is and that is what will cause your body to adapt. You're telling it, "Hey, I'm lifting more heavy stuff here. I need more muscle."
[00:08:25] So keep your focus in the gym squarely on getting stronger. Really pay attention to the reps given in your training plan.
[00:08:35] For example, if it calls for 10 reps, that doesn't mean do 10 and then stop because you hit the number written on the paper. It means do 10 with reps 9 and 10 being incredibly challenging. You can get through rep 10 with great form, but you definitely couldn't do more than 1, maybe 2 more. And you want to bring that intensity to every rep of every set.
[00:09:04] So, it's not just about doing the number on the paper, it's about how you feel doing them. How hard is it to do those reps?
[00:09:12] Now the third factor when it comes to training for overcoming skinny fat -- and honestly just good training, generally -- don't chase variety. I hear from a lot of women that they like to "switch things up" so they don't get bored.
[00:09:26] And it is important to enjoy your training. That will keep you consistent and consistency is everything. But here's the thing I want to remind you; I want you to remind yourself of this if you start getting bored: you know what's not boring? Results. Results are freaking exciting.
[00:09:44] If you have been trying workouts in this kind of "switch things up, do something different all the time," kind of way, and not seeing results, you wait until you do this with progression and you stay with the same training plan for four to six weeks at a time so you can progress as I described, you will see results and there is nothing more exciting than that. Remind yourself of that.
[00:10:06] Now, if you still want more variety, a great place to add a bit in is with finishers.
[00:10:12] These are short circuits at the end of a few training sessions per week. These can be strength, cardio, or mobility based. You can do them for time, as in set the clock for six minutes and do as many rounds as possible, or you can do a set number of rounds, like do five rounds of these three exercises as fast as possible.
[00:10:33] I send these kinds of finishes out in my emails regularly, so make sure you get on my email list. You can find it at kimschlagfitness.com on the page marked "email," and you just sign up there and you'll get my emails. And like I said, I send out finishers regularly and I'll put that in the show notes.
[00:10:51] So, finishers are a great way to keep a little more variety in your training program while you focus on progressing across weeks with your regular training plan.
[00:11:01] Now, all that we've discussed so far is just part one -- and it's before the longest part, the rest don’t require quite so much dialogue.
[00:11:10] Part two, of your "Conquer Skinny Fat" program is a nutrition plan that has you eating around maintenance calories.
[00:11:18] If you've been tracking calories in your deficit, you're going to start with where you're at with those calories and you can move to maintenance by reversing over a period of weeks. Try adding in a hundred calories three days per week, and do that again every few weeks, watching the scale over time. When it evens out around the same number, instead of continuing to decline over time, you will know you're at maintenance.
[00:11:46] Remember the scale will always fluctuate just like you were in a deficit -- the scale was down some days and spiking others. That will continue to happen in maintenance. Our bodies are largely water and for many reasons how much water we have in us at one time changes and the scale fluctuations reflect that change.
[00:12:05] Expect it. Weigh daily and watch the trend month to month.
[00:12:11] Now, if you haven't been tracking consistently, you can use a formula to estimate your maintenance calories. Multiply your body weight times 14 -- your body weight in pounds times 14 -- that is your starting daily maintenance calorie amount.
[00:12:29] Be consistent with those calories for four weeks, weighing daily and watching the trend. Adjust calories up as needed if you're continuing to see the trend in the scale going down, because that would indicate that you're still in a deficit. So, you can adjust up a little bit at a time, as I discussed previously.
[00:12:48] Now, the next piece of the nutrition puzzle is protein. This is a super straightforward calculation: multiply your body weight in pounds by 0.8 and multiply your body weight in pounds by 1.0.
[00:13:01] That's your protein target.
[00:13:03] So if, for example, you're 125 pounds and you multiply that by 0.8, that's 100 grams of protein daily. Then multiply your weight of 125 pounds by 1.0, that's 125 grams of protein daily. So, your goal is to eat between 100 and 125 grams of protein daily, in this example.
[00:13:25] Protein is the building block of muscle. Eat your protein, ladies.
[00:13:30] If you haven't been eating nearly this amount, which many, many of you probably have not, stick to the bottom end of your range at the start. In this example, that was 100. Divide that number, your total daily protein, by the number of meals and snacks you eat. So, if, for example, this person who's supposed to get 100 grams of protein, eats three meals and a snack every day, that's 4. Divide 100 by 4 to get 25 grams of protein at each meal. Approaching it this way makes it much more manageable. That's like three eggs and some egg whites in your breakfast omelet, a scoop of protein powder with your snack, a little bit over a cup of Greek yogurt with your lunch and a little bit more than 4 ounces of rotisserie chicken at dinner.
[00:14:17] So base each meal around protein, and you will be able to hit that target. And do this in advance, don't do it as you go. Plan this out either the night before or the morning of and then just follow your plan.
[00:14:30] Moving on to the last element of your "Conquering Skinny Fat" plan: cardio.
[00:14:36] It is honestly not a huge part of the plan.
[00:14:40] You can still do some. If you enjoy running or taking a spin class, by all means, do a few short runs or one spin class per week. It's likely going to take some mental work to switch from a massive focus on cardio to one on strength training. Push through that.
[00:15:01] Now this doesn't mean you can't do any cardio. Keep moving, okay? Just because we're focusing on strength during doesn't mean you shouldn't be moving. Keep moving. It's healthy for you. 7,500 steps daily has been shown to reduce all-cause mortality and your health is number one. Don't let anyone convince you that any cardio you do will take away all your gains.
[00:15:23] It's a matter of degrees. You should not be hammering away at cardio an hour a day -- or more -- that is going to impede your progress and keep your focus away from where it needs to be, which is on muscle-building. But a few times per week is fine. Keep strength training your focus and sprinkle in cardio if you want to, keeping your daily movement up around 7,500 steps for overall health.
[00:15:48] Now, the final topic that I want to drive home: you likely have measured fitness progress by watching that number on the scale go down. That won't work now. Progress is a huge motivator, so measuring your progress appropriately is key to your ultimate success.
[00:16:05] The three pillars of progress monitoring -- other than the scale -- are progress pictures, front, back, and both sides, head to toe. Get your whole body in that shot. Same lighting, same clothes, same pose, wearing his little clothing as possible. Preferably either a two-piece bathing suit or a sports bra and shorts or sports bra and underwear.
[00:16:33] Make side-by-sides. I use the app "Pic Stitch" to create the side-by-sides for my clients each month. It is incredible.
[00:16:41] If you just look at a picture of yourself, you might look at it and be like, "I don't see any difference." If you put it side by side with your original picture from month one and then look at that picture from each side, you will be able to see the differences that are there.
[00:16:54] Number two is the fit of your clothes -- real clothes. With a waistband. That means get out of your standard COVID wardrobe and put on a pair of jeans or a skirt and then do that at least monthly, put that same item of clothing back on every two weeks, every month, notice changes in the fit of your clothes.
[00:17:15] And then the last pillar is measurements.
[00:17:17] One time per month: chest, smallest part of your waist, at your belly button, around the largest part of your butt, around the widest part of your right thigh, and around the widest part of your right bicep when it is unflexed. Do that monthly.
[00:17:38] All of that together is going to be able to give you a total picture of what your results are in combination with this question:
[00:17:46] "Am I getting stronger in the gym?"
[00:17:49] Keep your focus on that as well.
[00:17:51] I know it can be hard to consider doing things differently, but let me ask you this: how long have you been doing the, "slash your calories, up your cardio" plan and not getting the results you want? Do you really think the answer lies in yet lower calories and more hours of cardio?
[00:18:10] How low will you take your calories? How far will you run?
[00:18:15] Give this plan I outlined here your all-out effort for three months. You can always go back to a deficit and more cardio, right? They're not going anywhere. You can always go back. Three months, give this plan a really consistent try.
[00:18:29] Don't do it haphazardly, don't do it for a week or two and then go back to your cardio and then come back to this. It won't work. Stick with this for three months. Tag me in your Instagram stories to keep me up to date on how it's going. You're going to get some amazing, amazing results.
[00:18:57] Thanks so much for being here and listening in to Fitness Simplified podcast today. I hope you found it educational, motivational, inspirational, all the kinds of -ational.
[00:19:08] 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.
[00:19:22] Thanks so much.
Kim: Welcome to episode 66 of the Fitness Simplified podcast. I'm your host, Kim Schlag. Today's episode is a solo podcast covering a hot topic. So many people are confused about the idea of clean eating and weight loss. "If I eat healthy food, I should be losing weight, right? Why am I not losing weight? "
That's what we're talking about today.
Hello, hello. Solo episode here today. I haven't done one of these in a hot minute. I have a topic for you today that I see so many people getting really confused about and so much misinformation is out there about this topic, that my goal today is to just break this down for you and help demystify it.
And here is the topic:
"I eat healthy, why can't I lose weight?"
This is the frustrating situation that many people find themselves in. Whether you use the word "healthy" or "clean," or even something highly specific, like Whole 30, the underlying problem if you're eating in this way and not losing weight is always the same.
And that is this:
Eating for good health and eating for weight loss are not the same thing.
Though they can, and I'd even go so far to say should be the same thing, if you struggle to wrap your brain around how they're not the same thing, let's break this down starting here:
Calories and nutrients are not the same thing.
They're not the same thing. Calories are the energy found in a food. That's it. That's what a calorie is. It is a unit of measure like an inch or an ounce or a mile. Now nutrients, we're not talking about energy, we're talking about the molecules in foods that help us to grow and develop and perform all of our many bodily functions.
To be healthy we need to have both macro and micronutrients in varying amounts. So, macros being fat carbs and protein and micros being things such as vitamins and minerals, and we need to have these things. Total calories are also important to health, which will make complete sense to you if you think about the idea of how a person who has too few calories Can be unhealthy as well as a person who has too many calories. Those can both lead to poor health outcomes.
So, to lose weight we have to follow the principle of energy balance. That's the difference. To be healthy -- when we're talking strictly in nutrition. There's a lot of things we have to do to be healthy, right? One of the things we have to do when we're talking about nutrition is to have appropriate amounts of macro and micronutrients and have an appropriate amount of calories. Not too few and not too many.
To lose weight we have to follow the principle of energy balance. Now, to talk about what that means I want you to picture a seesaw. Do you remember that magical moment in elementary school when you and your best friend would be out on the playground, and you would get the seesaw to balance perfectly so that you were straight across from each other, hovering over the ground, right? So, neither of you are at the bottom and neither of you are at the top. You're both right there looking at each other. I loved that. That, in this example, is weight maintenance.
So, if one side of the seesaw is calories in and one side of the seesaw is calories out, imagine that moment when we're magically at the same spot, that is weight maintenance. Calories in isn't greater than calories out, calories out isn't greater than calories in.
Now take that same seesaw, if the calories in portion -- which is the food you take in -- is greater than the calories out portion, what would happen to the seesaw? Calories in goes down, right? That is weight gain.
Let's go the other direction. Let's put more calories in the calories outside of the seesaw, that comes down, calories in goes up. That is weight loss. That is weight loss. Calories out is greater than calories in.
Now this next sentence can be really confusing, so before you start to argue with me in your head -- don't start muttering yet -- I want you to listen to me explain it, okay? Promise? Here we go:
A hundred calories of apple is the same as a hundred calories of donut.
100 calories of apple and 100 calories of donut are the same. Now the nutrients are different, bit calorie-wise, they are the same because a calorie is always a calorie. Whether it's a calorie of celery or a calorie of chicken or a calorie of chocolate or a calorie of chips, remember a calorie is strictly a unit of measure.
Now my coach, Jordan, Syatt shared an excellent comparison to help visualize how a calorie is always a calorie, though the nutrient composition might change.
Okay, we're going to put your little imagination cap back on. We're off the seesaw and now we're running, okay? I want you to imagine you're running a mile.
Now, if you ran that mile on pavement -- picture that first. Picture of yourself running a mile on pavement. You're out in your neighborhood or on a paved trail and you run a mile. Got that picture? Now I want you to picture yourself running a mile on the sand. You're at the beach and the waves are crashing and you run a mile on the sand.
Now, is the mile you ran on pavement the same distance as the mile you ran on the sand? Yes or no, is the mile and the sand the same distance as the mile and the pavement?
Of course it is, right? A mile is always a mile. Every dang time.
It might take you longer to run the mile on the sand. It might be harder to run the mile on the sand, but the distance is always the same. It's a mile. And a mile is always a mile.
It's the same with calories. A calorie is always a calorie.
Now, this is not to encourage you to eat a diet of cinnamon buns and kettle corn. A diet that is mostly nutrient dense, minimally processed foods has benefits that apply to directly to weight loss. And we'll talk about that, but it is important that you understand these principles so that you don't halt your progress by falling into the trap of eating too much healthy food, because it's healthy, right? Or by thinking that if you eat any of the "junk" foods, that you won't be able to lose weight.
So, understanding this principle of energy balance is really important. Now there was a nutrition professor from Kansas State University who for 10 weeks ate mostly Twinkies. He ate some other junk, like convenience store stuff too, but it was mostly Twinkies.
He did this three times a day instead of eating regular meals and he lost 27 pounds. Let that sink in. Junk food diet, mostly Twinkies, lost 27 pounds in 10 weeks.
The important principle to understand is that to lose weight, total calories in must be less than total calories out. And that's how that professor lost weight. His total calories in was at a level that he was in a calorie deficit.
So how does this explain what happens when people who eat what I would call a standard American diet -- think about highly processed, convenience, food, and fast food -- and then they switched to a healthier diet and they lose weight, even though he or she didn't count calories. How does that work?
Well, that switch involved or reduction of calories. That's always why weight loss occurs. Count the calories, don't count the calories, the calories still count.
So, based on everything I've spoken with you here about so far, can you now on your own answer the question I posed at the beginning? I'm going to read it again and I want you to think and see if you can answer it before I tell you:
If I'm eating healthy. Why am I still not losing weight?
Do you have the answer? It's too many calories.
If you're eating healthy, but not losing weight, you are eating too many calories, even if they're healthy calories. So, the key is to eat all foods -- whether you're talking about super highly processed foods or whether you're talking about really nutritious foods -- all of those foods, to eat them in portions that keep your total calories in check.
So, let's talk about how healthy food can help you lose weight, because it absolutely can. A diet that is mostly those minimally processed, nutrient dense, whole foods have a few things in common: high fiber and high volume -- volume being a lot of food for relatively few calories. And if you play your cards right, a diet like this can also be high in protein.
Those three things: fiber, volume, and protein help you to feel satiated and to stay that way longer than highly processed foods.
Now, when you struggle less with hunger and you feel satisfied, your adherence to your diet will likely increase leading to -- drum roll, please -- better results.
I know this can all feel a little bit mind blowing considering how loud the voices are for the idea that weight loss hinges on eating certain types of food and banning other types of food.
As with all diet strategies, the best way to know if this works is to try it for yourself. And that's what I encourage you to do. If you've had a laundry list of banned foods, I want you to give 8 to 12 weeks of eating in a calorie deficit. Figure out your calorie deficit. If you don't know how to do that, go to my website, kimschlagfitness.com. There on that website, you can click on a link to join my free course. It's my course that helps you set your calories, okay? Look for my free five-day fat loss crash course, I will walk you step by step through how to set your calories. Being in a calorie deficit will be the key to making this work.
While you're in that calorie deficit I want you to include some of those foods that you have previously banned, that you thought, "I cannot lose weight eating these foods," right? Include some of those foods and see what happens.
You take my challenge? Let me know. Message me and let me know.
Now, before we wrap up, I want to end with a quick list of healthy foods that are high in calories.
This is not to say you need to avoid these foods. This is to say: pay attention to the portion sizes of these foods, because the total calories could be way more than you would anticipate.
This list of nine foods I'm going to give you, these are not the items to eyeball. Weigh these suckers, okay?
#1: smoothie bowls.
I know, I know. They are beautiful and tasty. Many of them are also a 1,000 plus calories. That's like three quarters of a day's calories for many women.
I don't care if its store bought or if it's homemade, this stuff packs a calorie punch. It is much better as a topping than a main course.
It is super easy to overeat and is definitely something I'd suggest having a bright line that says "I weigh this out, I seal the package, I put the package away, and only then do I eat my serving." Otherwise you could eat a hundred or more calories easy as you're picking out of the bag getting your serving ready.
#3 trail mix.
And I can repeat word for word what I just said about granola. Do not eat trail mix out of the package.
#4: chia seeds.
Actually, any kind of seeds, chia seeds are just super popular. Seeds are very calorie dense, so a little of them goes a long way. Definitely something that I would suggest you weigh out.
The calories vary by type -- actually, kind of wildly, depending on what type of nuts you eat -- but for all of them, a handful here and a handful there throughout the day could be the things standing between you and weight loss success.
If you are a person who eat super healthy, but you're eating handfuls of nuts and you're struggling to lose weight, that would be the first place I would look. Keeping a bowl of nuts out is not a great strategy. Eat nuts. They're delicious, they have health benefits, but really manage your portion sizes and be clear that you are counting all of those calories.
Gosh, olive oil makes food tasty. And we want that for you, right? We want our food to taste good. Being liberal with your pour could have a big impact, though. Weigh that stuff out.
It is so tasty and so easy to overeat. Decide on a serving size and weigh it out. I'm going to give you a scale hack to try it works well for hummus, it works well for peanut butter, works well for all kinds of things -- put the whole container on the scale. So, if we're talking hummus, put the whole container of hummus on your scale, zero it out, and then as you take the hummus out, you'll see a negative number start appearing.
So, if you wanted 2 ounces, when it says -2, you'd be at 2 ounces. Totally saves dishes. I love that hack.
#8: peanut butter.
It makes me so sad, SO sad. A serving of peanut butter is just not much.
I want a serving a peanut butter to be way much more than it is. And interestingly, if I showed you a piece of toast with one serving of peanut butter, and then I showed you a piece of toast with one and a half servings of peanut butter, you would likely not be able to tell the difference, but it would be almost a hundred calories more.
It's another food you don't want to be licking the spoon or the knife or putting your finger in and not counting those calories because they will add up fast.
Wow. So easy to eat. I could easily eat an entire avocado on my salad by myself, which would also be, oh my gosh, over 300 calories before I've even put anything else on my salad.
Definitely a food to eat in moderation, okay?
I have this whole list on my latest Instagram post. You can go there to save it and refer back to this list. Actually, this whole discussion we've had today is on there in swipe post form. Save that. And whenever you start trying to "clean eat" your way to weight loss, give it a refresher read.
Here are your take home points:
Bottom line for weight loss, you gotta be in a calorie deficit.
Healthy foods can help with that, but eating healthy doesn't, on its own, always lead to weight loss. And that's the thing that just blows people's mind.
Ideally, you'll have a diet that is mostly nutrient dense, minimally processed food, but they don't have to be all this kind of nutrient dense food. You can include some of the more processed foods in your diet and still lose weight.
And the last point is:
Portion size is key.
With whatever kind of food you're eating, portion size is key.
I so hope that this has helped to demystify this myth of clean eating for you. Let me know, send me a comment wherever you're listening and let me know if this helps you.
All right, I'm going to be back here next week. I've got some good interviews coming your way. Talk soon.
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.
Kim: [00:00:04] Welcome to episode 65 of the Fitness Simplified Podcast. I'm your host, Kim Schlag. On today's episode, we're talking how to work out. If you have been to the gym, maybe met with a trainer, maybe not, maybe done some classes and you're of confused like, "okay, I'm at home now, I've got some equipment, what do I do with it?" This is the episode for you.
I speak with a woman named Stephanie, who is in situation. She is at home, in her home gym with her dumbbells and she just isn't quite sure what to do. She knows that strength training is going to get her the results she wants. She wants to look lean, she wants to look toned, she wants to be strong, she wants to age well.
If that sounds like you, and you are like Stephanie, and you just don't know what to do with your equipment this is the episode for you. Let's go.
Stephanie: [00:01:02] Hi! How are you?
Kim: [00:01:04] So glad we could make this meeting work.
Stephanie: [00:01:08] Absolutely. Thank you.
Kim: [00:01:10] I was attempting to dial into Zoom and it kept telling me to wait for the meeting host and I was like, "that's me!"
Stephanie: [00:01:17] "I am the host!"
Kim: [00:01:20] And so I had to come back off and start a new meeting.
I don't know who else they were waiting for.
Stephanie: [00:01:24] That's technology for you these days.
Kim: [00:01:27] I know. So, look, we don't know each other at all, so tell me some about you.
Stephanie: [00:01:33] Sure, absolutely.
Gosh, how does one define oneself? I'm a mom. I suppose that would be the place to start. My husband and I have three kids, we have two boys and a girl. And I work in hospital public relations. So, I do the writing, the social media, the graphic design, that kind of good stuff.
Kim: [00:01:54] Okay. And how old are your kids?
Stephanie: [00:01:56] Our boys are 14 and 11 and our daughter is 7.
Kim: [00:01:59] Okay. Good ages. I love 7. 7 is a good age.
Stephanie: [00:02:03] Yeah. She's got a lot of attitude. She and our middle guy, they are the extroverts to beat the band.
Kim: [00:02:10] Ok, that doesn't bode well for you if she's 7 and has attitude. That usually kicks in around 13.
Stephanie: [00:02:17] Yeah. We're lucky, our 14-year-old is a super chill teenager. So, he's a really good entry point for us.
Kim: [00:02:23] Okay, good. That's good. It sounds like you have some more heading up the pike that might not be so chill.
Stephanie: [00:02:28] But they're very entertaining. So, we like that.
Kim: [00:02:31] Well, hey, there's that.
Now, working in a business associated with the hospital right now, how are things going for you as far as COVID? Is a lot of your work, like, talking about that kind of stuff in social media or not so much?
Stephanie: [00:02:43] A whole lot of signage, a whole lot of social media. Things related to masks and hand washing and social distancing.
That kind of put a lot of our normal things on hold. A lot of our normal, non-essential procedures and things went on pause for a while. And then my husband's a physician, as well, and so same thing, there's just been a lot of masking and a lot of wearing of scrubs and that kind of thing.
Kim: [00:03:06] Got it. Got it. And where are you located?
Stephanie: [00:03:10] Iowa.
Kim: [00:03:11] Okay, right there in the middle. And how are you guys doing as far as COVID in Iowa?
Stephanie: [00:03:19] So we're in one of the more populated counties, we're not too far from Des Moines. And so, we're not as bad as say Des Moines or the quad cities or the Omaha area, but when they were able to open maybe about 75 of the counties back up, we were one of the not reopened ones.
So, kind of in the middle. It's certainly not nearly as bad as some areas of the country, but not completely untouched. We have some factories, we have wind turbine factories locally, and of course, factories have been hit hard. The other places we've seen hotspots have been retirement facilities, nursing homes.
Kim: [00:04:00] Got it. Got it.
So, Stephanie, talk to me, this is your call, we can talk about whatever you want. So, lay it on me. What is on your mind?
Stephanie: [00:04:12] So I've kind of ended up using quarantine to try to get healthier. I don't know why, I guess I'm bored.
I am not a sporty person by nature at all. I was a music theater kid. I was a read all the books kid. So, anything really related to athletics has been very new to me. And the other thing, a lot of things related to nutrition has been fairly new to me because, for the vast majority of my life, I've been pretty blessed to have a pretty fast metabolism. And so being 41 now I want to make sure I'm staying ahead of that and instill good habits now that I'll be happy about when I'm 51 and 61 and 71, if that makes sense.
Kim: [00:05:00] Absolutely, it does. Absolutely, it does.
So, we have a lot in common, by the way -- I was a theater kid, musical theater was my jam as a kid and when I wasn't doing that, I was reading. I would have never called myself an athlete. Though, I did lots of things because friends wanted me to. You know, played hockey and lacrosse and all that stuff.
I was never any good at it, I never defined myself as an athlete until I was in my forties. So, it is never too late to start.
So, it sounds like top of mind you are thinking, "what can I do now that I'm in my forties to be healthy as I move through the rest of my life, forties, fifties, sixties on."
Stephanie: [00:05:41] Yes. And part of it is -- and it's probably a silly thing -- but there's the certain things that we do define ourselves by and I was always "the little one." I'm fairly short, I'm only about 5'2" and, you know, you start reading how you define yourself as of, "I'm a brunette and I'm talkative," and there's just certain things.
And my mom was that way for a long time, too, and then once menopause hit her things sort of changed and I don't think she likes the way she feels. And so again, I thought, "maybe take a little bit of a life lesson." Because she's only 62, but she has arthritis fairly bad in her feet and in her hands, she's an incredibly hard worker. She spent 30-some odd years as a registered nurse.
And so, she's at the point, she's like, "yeah, I feel bad." She doesn't like the way she feels, she doesn't like the way she looks. So again, I'm trying to take some notes of not wanting to feel in 20 years the way she feels now. Does that make sense?
Kim: [00:06:44] Got it. So, it sounds like this is coming from a proactive place.
Are you at a spot right now where you feel unhealthy, you don't move well, you don't like the way you look? Or is this really looking forward so that you prevent that?
Stephanie: [00:06:56] I would say my answer to that is different now than it would been about three months ago, because I have been tracking calories since the end of January and I've been very consistently exercising since we went to quarantine, so about mid to later March.
I'm doing cardio four days a week, I'm doing strength training two days a week, and then I'm taking one break day. I don't run, I'm not a runner, so what I've usually been doing is I do the treadmill. I put it at its maximum incline and then I walk like three miles an hour because then I find that it feels like it's making my legs stronger, but it doesn't make me lose my breath like crazy, which running would always do. I mean, I could run for like two minutes and I'm like, "I'm done and I'm going to barf now."
And so, it feels sustainable to me, but it still feels challenging. So, you know, I definitely feel like my clothes fit better than they did in January, post-Christmas, post all that stuff. I'm able to pull some stuff out of the closet that I hadn't been wearing for a while.
Again, it's one of those things -- you get to a point where you have little kids and your job's busy and five o'clock hits and it's "Ooh, wine sounds good." So, again, trying to make some of those "oftentimes" habits into "sometimes" habits and the "seldom" habits like exercise into a "more often" habit.
Kim: [00:08:23] Yes. Got it. Got it. And so, has your main goal since the beginning of the year, since you started, was it weight loss? Was that specifically what you were working on with your health and fitness?
Stephanie: [00:08:38] I think that was my starting point. Partially that, partially weight loss. Partially, again, realizing that -- and it's things I've seen you talk about a lot where, because I would be tired, because I would be stressed, because I would be bored, it's "Ooh, cookies." "Ooh, wine." And then you find yourself chasing your tail because it's such a quick little fix that it doesn't last for very long.
And so, trying to think of what are the things where, the oatmeal might not be as exciting as the cookies, but two hours later I'm not feeling squirrely again, I'm going to bed feeling satiated, I wake up feeling like I still feel good. I just put some Nutella in the oatmeal and all of a sudden, I'm real happy.
Kim: [00:09:27] I've never put Nutella in my oatmeal. Maybe I'll try that. That sounds delicious.
Stephanie: [00:09:31] It's kind of like eating a no-bake cookie.
Kim: [00:09:33] Oh, yum. That sounds delicious. Okay. I'll try that. We don't have any more Nutella in the house, I went through a big Nutella phase and then when we finished it, I did not buy more. It was too much work to keep fitting those calories in my calories. I was way over doing it.
Stephanie: [00:09:48] And that's what I found -- I didn't touch it for months and then once I got to the point where -- some of it I think is recalibrating what's worth it. Even little things I've found where, and again, I really credit following you on Instagram and Susan, and so if I really want a Snickers bar, I could have a Snickers ice cream bar and it's 70 fewer calories and it actually takes longer to eat cause it's cold, so I get more bang for my buck, as it were, without feeling deprived.
Kim: [00:10:29] I love that. I call those nutritional compromises, looking for the things that really matter to us, figuring out how we can fit them into our day so that we can enjoy how we eat. So, it's important that you're latching onto that. That's fantastic.
Stephanie: [00:10:41] Yes, because I definitely find there's some things that would never be worth it. On my best day I'm not going to enjoy a Twinkie very much and it is just not worth the calories.
Kim: [00:10:48] Yeah. I'm with you. Twinkies don't do it for me.
Stephanie: [00:10:53] But, you know, I found even if putting in just 12 grams of Nutella into the whole bowl of oatmeal and I've already put in some artificial sweetener to up to the general sweetness of it and then I put in egg whites and almond milk and the different things to really boost up the protein, then it tastes really good.
Kim: [00:11:13] That's fantastic. Yep. I use artificial sweetener in there. Look, it's certainly not going to make you gain weight and from what we know now, there's a lot we don't know, but from what we know now, the amount of artificial sweetener you would have to eat would be more than you could possibly stomach to have it have any health implications. Like, it would have to be massive amounts based on what we know now.
Again, we might know other things in the future, but based on what we know now.
Okay, well you sound like you're in a pretty good spot. What can I help you with today?
Stephanie: [00:11:42] So I think what I had originally reached out to you on is, you know, an area that as much as I'm not a cardio person, I'm even less of a strength training person. My husband and I have set up a little weight room in the basement, kind of lucked out getting a cable weight machine.
The physical therapy department here at the hospital ended up deciding they didn't want it anymore, so they were willing to part with it for a song.
Kim: [00:12:08] Nice. That's fantastic.
Stephanie: [00:12:10] It was heck getting it into the house. Those things are heavy.
Kim: [00:12:14] I bet. I bet that was hard.
Stephanie: [00:12:17] So we have that, I have some lighter dumbbells for myself ranging from 2's up to 12's, because again, wimpy, weak. We got a bench and so I'm just trying to feel my way along, trying to create a little routine. Right now I'm aiming for sustainability. If I can get it done two times a week, I'm calling it a victory.
Kim: [00:12:45] Got it. Got it. Okay. So, let's talk about what we can get you moving on for really getting a good, sustainable strength training program that is going to benefit you now. It's going to benefit how you look, it's going to benefit you as you age, as far as your bone health. If we want to be women who can reach up and grab things out of a cupboard and stoop down to pull a weed as we get old, we have to have strong bones. We have to be able to move and strength training is what can get us that.
Stephanie: [00:13:14] And that's actually, that's perfect too, because yeah, as a more small Caucasian lady, I know that can be a risk factor.
Kim: [00:13:21] Absolutely. And so, it's going to help you age better. It's going to help you look better. The lean, tight look that people want, it's not just fat loss -- a lot of that is building muscle.
And we do that through two things: strength training and nutrition, as in, we eat plenty of protein.
So, let's talk about this strength training piece. I love that you have equipment because a lot of people don't right now and I'm working with a lot of people trying to use sandbags and laundry detergents, and the fact that you have equipment is fantastic. And that you've already started dedicating two days a week to it, I think that's fantastic.
Ideally, as you move on, I would love to see you add one more day and do it three times a week. It's not a must. I do have some clients who are super busy and we have them do two days a week. To get the amount of volume of working out in in those two days sometimes makes for really long workouts and so it's often better to split them up into three days. How would you feel about adding in a third day?
Stephanie: [00:14:17] I think definitely good. Again, knowing that I have this tendency to, in the past, where it's like I try for a little bit -- part of it is I find it really dull. I find it really boring because at least in front on the treadmill, you throw on a Doctor Who, or a Gray's Anatomy and you just go.
Kim: [00:14:33] Yeah.
Stephanie: [00:14:34] Now one thing that I found, and hopefully I'm not just tricking myself, but I feel like the backs of my legs have gotten a lot stronger from the treadmill incline. I'm not sure how much it's done for the front of my legs, but I feel like my hamstrings and my calves have.
Kim: [00:14:52] Is that something you're interested in? Having stronger, more toned legs?
Stephanie: [00:14:56] Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And I have not done any strength other than the treadmill. I've not done any lower body strength training, really. Everything I've done so far has been upper body, just because I thought it's a place to start.
Kim: [00:15:08] Absolutely. It's a place to start.
Okay, well good news is you've got a lot of gains on the table here, then. I'm super excited for you to get going with some lower body moves. So, walking, even on an incline, absolutely, it can build some strength in your legs. It's not going to give you the muscle definition of strength training, so if you want to have legs that look like a fit person, strength training is going to get you that, and you can absolutely do that at home, three days per week. For sure.
So, let me talk you through a couple of important principles and we'll kind go from there. So, strength training three days a week will work wonders for you. We're going to have you do one lower body day, one upper body day, and one full body day.
So that's how we're gonna do it. Which means that you will hit each of your muscle groups twice per week, which is a pretty good spot to be. There are people who, very successfully, bodybuilders who do like a bro-split, where they only hit each muscle once per week, but again, they're hitting a ton of sets in that one workout. I don't have any of my clients doing that kind of stuff. They all hit their muscle groups twice per week, over the course of either three or four days.
So, we're going to have you do three days per week. One of the things that we want you to really think about is what is going to get you the most bang for your buck? And what is going to get you the most bang for your buck is doing big compound moves for most of your workout.
I bet some of the things you've been doing recently, like biceps and triceps, feel really familiar to you, like biceps curls and things, and we can still have you do those things. What we'll do with those is put them towards the end of your workout and we'll prioritize our multi-joint moves -- things like, for upper body, it would be a dumbbell chest press, it would be a pushup, it would be a dumbbell row or a cable row, frankly, any kind of rough. So, it'd be rowing, pull downs, if your machine has that. So big, multi-joint movements. Pull downs, pull ups, pushups, rows, chest presses, that's upper body.
Lower body -- squats, deadlift variations -- which, I hope that doesn't sound scary. A lot of people are like, "that sounds terrible." it doesn't have to be with barbell, it can be like Romanian holding dumbbells, it can be lots of different things. Deadlift variations, lunge variations, and bridge variations -- which are glute bridges and hip thrusts.
The meat of your workout should be those things.
That's step one and then other smaller things like, like triceps overhead presses and bicep curls and those things, but it's not the meat of the workout. Where most of the benefit is going to come are those big workouts?
Does that part make sense?
Stephanie: [00:17:50] Yes. And some of that, like I said, I have not really been doing lower body stuff. Upper body, some of those I have and doing. So, we have a bench, so I've been doing seated overhead press, I've been lying flat and doing chest presses -- again, 12 pounds per hand, because super weak, but I made my way up from 10, so.
Kim: [00:18:14] Perfect. Okay. That's a good point.
Stephanie: [00:18:16] And I was very lucky that my mom had something because I topped out at 10 and you can't buy hand weights right now, but again, during some past time when she was thinking maybe she'd try something, she had purchased something and then she was like, "I don't use them. Here."
Kim: [00:18:28] Yeah. I'm glad she gave you this. So that point you just made is a big one. The fact that you were like, "Oh, but it's not much yet, but I made my way up from 10," that is how gains are made. If you want to look fit, you want to get stronger, that is what we do. We have you constantly work to move up in weight and/or reps in a given rep range.
First thing, we get your form really down, right? So, let's say you're doing a chest press and it's your first time, you have no idea what you're doing. Your one and only goal is to make that movement feel more natural, to do it correctly. Once you've done that you want to up weight and up the weight and up the weight.
When you do that, it tells your body, "Hey, I need this muscle. Build me more of this stuff," In combination with protein. It's so key. If you from right now, if you never again upped your weight and you just kept doing 12-pound chest presses, you wouldn't make any progress.
And a lot of people do that. They do it year after year, they do the same weight and sometimes they'll do it at a speed where they feel their heart racing and they feel sweaty. So, they feel like, "I'm doing something here, but I don't see any progress," and the thing they're missing is progression.
Stephanie: [00:19:42] Sure.
Kim: [00:19:43] Does that make sense?
Stephanie: [00:19:44] Absolutely. And what I find is, so I'll do something with my 12 pounds, for example, with my chest press. My first set, I can get to 15, but then I can definitely tell a big drop where the second one maybe 12 and above my third one, I can eek out to 8 and that's it. So, then I assume that means I'm probably still at the right weight, as opposed to if I can just bang out 15, 15, and 15 and still feel like I have gas in the tank.
Kim: [00:20:10] You're heading down the right path, for sure, with that thought. Absolutely.
I'd love to see us bring your rep range down a little bit more. You can build muscle in those higher rep ranges, like 15 plus. Absolutely, you can. It can take a long time to do those kinds of reps.
Stephanie: [00:20:26] Well, like I said, I do find it boring. And so, for me, being able to decrease that time probably would be beneficial.
Kim: [00:20:33] And what this is going to hinge on is you getting some heavier dumbbells, which I will tell you in recent weeks, they are more available now. I do have clients finding dumbbells in places like Amazon, third party sellers, Craigslist, I even had two clients tell me that Dick's has available. So, they're out there now, whereas a month ago, it wasn't happening. They were just gone. So, they are starting to appear now. So really start looking for some more.
You're going to need to heavier things -- 15s, 20s, 25s. And I know you're probably looking at me like "really? I'm going to need 25s and 30s?" You will. For the lower body stuff, very quickly. But that being said, I'm glad you had this cable machine and actually, I would love for you later when we're off of this, send me some pictures of what you have and can talk you through what we can have you do there. We're not going to sit here on the podcast and do that. But that's great that you have that available, because it's going to have some more substantial weight with it.
So, yes, the idea is that we want you to make progress, go up in weight, and some people, what that means is they just keep trying to use the 12 pounds and they do 15 reps and then the next time they do 18 reps and it gets really long and it's more effective to say," Hey, let's bring those rep ranges down."
Ideally at the beginning of your workout, I would have you working in like the 8-rep range or even lower, if you had barbells even lower. So, we're doing chest presses for 8 reps. And what that means is when you get to rep 8, it is hard. It's not, you just stop at 8. It's not like, "I use my 12 pounds and I stop at 8," it's "when I get to 8, I could maybe do 9 with good form, but I couldn't do 10 with good form." And so that's what we want to see at the beginning of the workout, is working in those lower numbers. 8s, 7s, 6s, 5s, for moves like the squat and the deadlifts and the lunges and the overhead presses and the chest presses, those kinds of things. Then as you move throughout the workout, you can bring those numbers up and maybe you'll do things in the rep range of 10s and 12s.
And so, we get you working in all rep ranges and in every single one of those cases, we want you working to close to failure so that when you finish your set, each individual set, it should be like, "wow, that is hard. And I can do one more, but I'm not doing two more."
Stephanie: [00:22:48] Yeah, and mean, sometimes I surprise myself because sometimes I do go to failure. It's like, the previous set I made it to 12 and all of a sudden on 9 I'm like, "Nope. Stuck. It ain't going anywhere."
Kim: [00:23:00] And it's good that you're pushing yourself that hard. It's really good. Now look, I don't want to tell somebody like, "hey, you should put a bar on your back and start going to failure on your squats" your first couple of times. Like, you shouldn't be shooting to fail all the time. There are certain things it's not going to hurt you to fail a dumbbell chest press now and again, it's not going to hurt you to fail at biceps curls, right? If you fail, you literally just don't lift up.
But we really want you working close to failure. It's key. And the thing is, that is going to change -- and this is one of the things I want to tell you, because I know you're like, "this is of boring to me." One of the things that can make this interesting is you make this be like a contest between them and you. So, write down the weights you lift every week. "I'm doing X moves and for my chest presses, I use 12 pounds and I did 15 reps, the one set, and I did 10, and then I did 8." So, you know what that is. And the next week, when that workout comes around again, your goal is to beat it. And that's how your body changes and it also keeps it way more interesting.
Stephanie: [00:24:03] Yeah. And I did find-- because one of my problems was, again, comparing it to a treadmill where you can just set it and forget it. Like, "okay, I'm doing 30 minutes," and then you go until it stops and kicks you off. My problem before with strength training was always like, "okay, what do I do next? I don't really want to do anything next. I'm walking away now." So, since March, what I've at least been doing, we have a mirror in the exercise room, it's on wheels, so I can move it around to try to watch that form. And I use a dry erase marker and so then I mark out, "these are the eight things I'm going to do, and those are what I do for the next four weeks."
And so, then I just check them off as I go, to at least give myself some structure. So, I know, "okay, I'm halfway there. I have one more to go," as opposed to quitting because, again, bored.
Kim: [00:24:45] Yeah, that's a really important point -- to have structure. It is really demotivating to get down in your gym and be ready to work out, especially if you're not really feeling it that day, if you're tired or whatever, you don't even really love it, and to just of make it up as you go. So yeah, I'm glad you have some structure and that is definitely something I would recommend to you and to everybody listening: have a plan that you are following and work that plan.
And your plan should, as you said, that you were doing it for the month. And I wouldn't have you do the same workout every day of that month, but like I said, a lower body day, an upper body day, a full body day, every lower body day for four to six weeks, have it be the same and you work to get stronger every single time. You nail your form and you work to get stronger.
Okay? Same thing with your upper body day. Do that same workout for four to six weeks in a row on upper body day, work to get stronger. And then again, the same for your full body day. It keeps it really interesting because you can really have the sense of competition with yourself and getting better.
And here's the most interesting thing: results. Results are frigging interesting. Like, when you start seeing like, "Oh my gosh, look at the backs of my legs. Look at the front of my legs. Look, I see a bicep!" Like, that is motivating and interesting. And you will see that if you train in this way.
Stephanie: [00:25:58] And kind the stretch goal I have for myself -- like, it would be almost like wizardry, if I could ever do a pull up. And since we have the cable machine that would, and now the cable machine has a neutral grip, which is actually, I think, what had very first prompted me to send you a message because I can barely dead hang for more than 20 seconds before it hurts my hands enough that I have to let go.
Kim: [00:26:36] Okay, 20 seconds for a dead hang is great. That's fantastic. That's a good start.
All right. So, this is exciting and I love that you have this kind of goal because a performance goal can also be really motivating, right? Because you want to get down there and be like, "Oh my gosh, this is what he's last week. Can I do that?" So, we can absolutely talk about how to get you a pull up. For sure.
I have a whole YouTube video on this that I'll make sure I send you so you have this permanently. So, what you just said, dead hangs, that's a really good place to start. Another good place to start, outside of actually training for pull-ups, is to just work on general strength of your back. So, doing all kinds of variations of rows is going to help you strengthen your back. So, we'll do those things along with dedicated pull up training.
So, the way I start people with pull-up training, dead hangs is a good one. Another really good thing is to buy -- and these are available right now -- is chin up assistance bands.
They're long, they're not like the little glute ones that you put over your knees, they're very long.
Stephanie: [00:27:30] And I think I saw it when you did your home gym tour.
Kim: [00:27:33] Yes, they're in there. And so, they come very thick and then they go down and you will likely find that, out of the gate, you will need the really thick one. You'll tie it up and over the handle, it will dangle down into a loop, you'll put your feet into it and it is lifting your body, which means you're not lifting as much weight -- just if you picked up a 2 pound dumbbell versus a 10 pound dumbbell, you're lifting less -- when this band is on your body, you're lifting less of your body weight up.
And so, what we would have you do is practice doing 5-8 reps with the thickest band, which is a green one from the company I use. It's a big thick band. I'll have you practice 5-8 reps, take a two-minute rest. Do that three times. Do that a couple of times a week -- I'd say twice a week on your upper body day your full body day -- first thing out of the gate.
So, if somebody has a performance goal like that in mind, I put it first in their workout, when you're really fresh. So put that first and then you move on with the rest of your workout. Work on that.
After a month with doing that, we can have you add some other things in. Another good one to add in is what's called a slow eccentric. So, what it would be is you'd get a stool, something that you could climb on to get up into the top position of the pull up, and then you would just lower your body down as slowly as possible under control. And so that's the whole move. You don't pull yourself up, you just lower down.
Stephanie: [00:28:58] And that's what I've been trying to do to also work on a pushup. Because I can't do a proper pushup either.
Kim: [00:29:03] And you've been doing the lowering part.
Stephanie: [00:29:05] Yes. And even now when I'm doing it on my bench -- I'm doing it at an inclined, because again, weak, but I can do--
Kim: [00:29:13] I'm gonna call that right here. You stop calling yourself weak right now.
That's like the fourth time you did it and I'm not going to let it slide anymore.
Stephanie: [00:29:19] I have room for gains.
Kim: [00:29:21] You have room for gains. And here's the thing: you're not weak, you have some strength in you now and you're going to get stronger, right? You're lifting 12-pound dumbbells and so you're 12 pounds strong. In a few weeks you're going to be 15 pounds strong, 20 pounds strong. Right now, you're dead hang 20 seconds strong, a few months down the road you're going to be, "I got my first pull up" strong.
Stephanie: [00:29:42] Yeah, it's funny. My brother -- he's about nine years younger than I am. And he's about twice as big as I am. He's six feet tall. He's probably usually around 190 pounds and he weight lifts and stuff. And so, he almost can't wrap his brain around what it's like to be me because he's like, "but there's nothing to lift, you can just do it, right?" And I'm like, "no!"
Kim: [00:30:02] But I will tell you --, can you tell me how much you weigh?
Stephanie: [00:30:05] About a hundred.
Kim: [00:30:06] Okay. Yeah. So, you're a hundred pounds. You said 5'2"?
Stephanie: [00:30:10] Yep.
Kim: [00:30:10] I will tell you, he's not right as in "Hey, why can't you do it?" But he is right in that if you're lighter, it is easier. I work with people and when they first start with me, if their goal is weight loss, they're struggling to do pull ups, even as they're beginning to practice, as they get stronger, it helps, but what also helps is losing weight. There's less of them to lift.
So, you're fairly light, so that is going to work in your favor. That is fantastic that you're light. The other thing is we just have to train those muscles. As you train, you will, without a doubt, you will, without a doubt, be able to do this.
So that's what we're going to have you do. We'll have you do those assistant pull-ups, after a month with that we'll have you add in the slow eccentric pushups. So, do those coming down and would do about 5 of those. So, slow down, as slow as you can go for the first rep, come back up, do it again, do that five times. Take a two-minute break, do it again, do that three total times. So, three sets of five of those.
Another really good thing that we could add in is what's called cluster sets. And you'll use your assist and you'll see over time, your assist is going to get less and less.
At first you might need the big, thick band and another band. Eventually you'll be able to start taking bands off and then you won't need the thick one anymore and you'll use the medium one. And you'll notice that happening. And then what we're going to have you do is do cluster sets. So maybe the first time we would have you do 2x2x2, and here's what that would look like:
You'll do 2 reps with your band on, you'll wait 10 seconds -- so, literally, you'll time it or count it out -- 10 seconds, you'll do another 2 reps, you'll wait 10 seconds, you'll do another 2 reps.
So, what you'll find is, in a very short period of time, you just did six where you couldn't do six before.
Does that make sense?
Stephanie: [00:31:50] Absolutely.
Kim: [00:31:50] So, you do your clusters so that they end up being more volume than what you can usually get with the same assistance. And so those are really fantastic. Those are my really go-to “how to get your first pull up." And I have this whole program on my YouTube video about how to get your first pull up. I want you to watch that.
The idea is that we're going to do this systematically. We're going to prioritize it in your program and you're going to keep at it and you're going to see progress and that's going to be motivating and it's going to be fricking exciting when you get your first pullup.
Stephanie: [00:32:21] Do you find, like I said, for me, it's like right there on my hands where it would go white so quickly, even with, I have weightlifting gloves that I use.
Does that just get better with time? It felt like that discomfort gave way before my forearms did.
Kim: [00:32:38] Yeah. And your grip will get stronger and we can talk in a second about some exercises to help your grip. I will tell you, you will likely have better luck without the gloves. The gloves tend to bunch up and it actually is harder to hold on.
If you're super concerned about never having any callouses on your hand, then yeah, wear the gloves. If it doesn't bother you to get some calluses on your hand, don't wear them because you'll likely find that you're better able to grip without them.
That's what I would say about that. And then for grip strength, it's a big part of pull-ups. Working on deadlifts as part of your training program is going to help with that because you'll be holding heavy weight and just letting it hang from your hand. Pretty much any exercise where you're holding a heavier weight and letting it hang, that's going to help you with your grip. Farmer carries, which is literally picking up a heavy dumbbell and walking around.
So, just holding onto one and walking for 30 to 60 seconds, holding onto that, actually works your core. At the same time, you're working your grip. So, I really like those for grip strength, as well.
You will train your grip. So, I know it feels really hard right now -- everything about pull-ups feels hard -- you'll get better. And pull ups will help your grip, like practicing those assisted ones.
Stephanie: [00:33:57] So a question that I have for you -- I was talking a little bit earlier about my mom and how she has issues with arthritis, particularly in her hands and her feet. And so that always kind of niggles in the back of my head when I want to start doing strength things or lunges, or whatever, it's "well, you better not wear those joints out." You see what I'm saying?
Kim: [00:34:18] Yeah. I have to tell you; I have not read anything -- and I could be totally wrong and I will look into this -- I'm going to tell you to start off with: I have never researched a connection between arthritis and strength training. I have not. I will tell you our joints get stronger as we put heavier loads on them.
So, I would assume that it would actually have a positive benefit, not a negative one. When we're strength training, we're not just strength training our muscles, we're training our bones and our ligaments and our tendons and our joints. They all get stronger over time.
Stephanie: [00:34:52] Oh, fantastic. Yeah, because that's of my big thing, too, is without always knowing what I'm doing, I don't want to give myself an injury, because I'm like, my husband tries really hard to exercise as well, but he has a tendency to hurt himself.
He was getting ready a couple years ago for a hiking trip he was going to go on -- and he has a little bit of a low bone density himself. So, he'd been doing some jumping and he'd been doing lunges, and he gave himself a good case at jumper's knee. And he's been dealing with that tendon pain now for two years.
So now he feels like he can't do the elliptical and he can't do incline and he can't do squats. And he feels like he's just blocked off a whole bunch of things that now he feels he can't do to be strong or healthy.
Kim: [00:35:35] It is super frustrating to get injured. I've been there, lots of people have been there. When I have gotten injured, I will tell you my main rule is I don't stop. I work around it. I don't ever work through pain, I do not have my clients work through pain, but I have every single one of them work around pain. And the main goal is we try not to get them injured.
I will tell you more people that I know than not usually injure themselves not lifting. I personally have not injured myself a whole ton lifting, I have injured myself trying to shove a heavy bench, like, in my gym. I herniated a disc many years ago because I just didn't even think, I just shoved it in a very awkward way and it was way too heavy to be shoved. And so, I hurt myself doing that.
I've hurt myself doing all kinds of things, but strength training will help you, in the long run, to not be injured way more than it's going to endanger you to get injured if you train intelligently.
And what that means is: we have rest days, we don't train every day. We have you master form first, right? And I will show you, I'll send you some links, I have full training videos for a full six-week workout.
So, you can follow that, it has videos that says "here's how your form should look." So, you nail your form and then you work the weight up as soon as know your form is good, but we always prioritize form first. We get our rest days in and those things really help to make you not get injured.
Stephanie: [00:37:12] Fantastic.
Kim: [00:37:13] Not that I'm promising you in injury free life because sometimes things happen.
Stephanie: [00:37:17] Sure. Oh, absolutely. No, I just can't say enough, what a resource your Instagram and everything has been. All the bite sized tidbits, but then I've been able to incorporate, incorporate, incorporate. I mean, things like what you just said, work around injury, not through an injury, it's like, "Oh, that makes a lot of sense," but I'd never thought of it that way before. And so, it's just such a great resource.
Kim: [00:37:38] Oh, I'm so glad to hear that. So, look, this is what we're going to do to make sure that you're set up. So, I think you're getting a really good grasp on what makes a good training from our conversation here today, right?
So, we know we're going to train multiple times a week, we're going to train the same muscle groups over those weeks, we're going to work on getting stronger at basic moves over time, really progressing is important. That's the basics of what you need to know to start working out.
So, what we're going to do is I'm going to make sure I send you the links to my pull up video on YouTube so that you know for sure how to do that. And I'm going to send you the link to the training program that I have on there. It shows you the exercises and at the end, there's a place you can screenshot the workout, so you can have the workout itself in hand so you know exactly what to do and you do it for six weeks, just like we just described.
Stephanie: [00:38:24] Perfect.
Kim: [00:38:26] Anything else we can chat about before we go?
Stephanie: [00:38:29] Gosh, I mean, you the other thing I would say, I definitely have benefited from the different nutrition videos that you've done. I had never tried canned chicken before your "what I eat in the day." I've eaten canned tuna forever, but I was like, "this is quite reasonable," and so just some of those ways to get protein, because I've been tracking calories and I've been tracking protein, which again, I think one of your videos had recommended -- not necessarily getting too bogged down with some of the other things.
Kim: [00:38:58] Absolutely. Tracking carbs and fats is just extra math. If you keep your calories in line and you keep your protein in line, they can be wherever and so why track them?
Stephanie: [00:39:08] I would say probably the naughtiest I am, I'm still not super good at the 80/20 split. Even if I'm staying within my calories, I'm still probably spending a little too much of it on the sweets. I liked them ever so. And like I said, I've been able to spend most of my life just being able to eat, but my mom said the same thing. She said "I could eat an entire cake at once if I want and it did not matter." And she said, "and then later it mattered."
Kim: [00:39:32] And then eventually it mattered.
And we always know in the back of our mind that it's probably not super healthy to have more of our calories be from cake than vegetables, right? We know that intuitively, but when we can get away with it and it doesn't affect how we look, sometimes we let that stuff slide.
So, it's good. That's definitely going to help your health that you work on that. And here's the thing. If you're not at 80/20 right now, that's okay. Let's say you're at 60/40, start trying to edge that dial, you know? And so, you're at 60/40, and then you're at like 65/35, and you just keep working it until you work your way up to comfortably being at 80/20.
It doesn't have to happen today. It doesn't have to happen this month. It can happen over the next year or so that you just really make a dedicated effort to eat more fruits, more vegetables, more lean protein, still having cake, but less incidences of cake. And I have to tell you, you're talking to a person who I didn't eat vegetables until I was 43.
You can do this. Like I, not even out of a sense of, I need to eat vegetables. Like, I had Belgian endive as part of my breakfast this morning because now I love it. Like, I ate Belgian endive with my cottage cheese because it's delicious. And that took me until I was like 48 to do.
Stephanie: [00:40:50] And I would say that's probably one of the bigger mindset shifts I've had since I've been tracking calories since mid-January. And I think back then, I was just like, "my pants are of tight. I'm probably drinking wine more often than I should. I just need to go crazy for a month and get back to normal and that I can do whatever I want again." And it's a little more of the, "no, this just of needs to be a new, deciding when I'm at maintenance and then what maintenance looks like for life."
Kim: [00:41:23] Absolutely. And building the habits to make maintenance be maintainable. And that means, sure, have wine, but have wine in an amount that allows for maintenance and not weight gain. And so that's a habit change, like, "all right, what am I going to do if I want wine, if I'm bored, if whatever." Some people use it because they want to unwind and some people use it because it's a fun thing to do. So, looking for other strategies, "okay, if I want to unwind, what am I going to do instead of wine?" "If I'm feeling like I'm bored and 'oh, I'm just going to sit and enjoy my bottle of wine,' what could I do that doesn't involve wine." So, looking for those kinds of strategies to make maintenance maintainable.
Stephanie: [00:42:03] And I would say again, that's what I've been so appreciative of the resources you've offered. Because I feel like there's the fitness part of it, there's the nutrition part of it, then there's the lifestyle part of it.
Because it is true. I think I was just listening to one of your podcasts where somebody was just eating out of boredom and it's like, yeah, because sometimes you just want to feel different. I'm cold, I'm tired, I'm irritated. This feels different.
Kim: [00:42:24] Yeah. You're totally spot on there. We want to make ourselves feel different, feel better, and the easiest, lowest hanging fruit is usually "what can I eat?" And it's harder to be like, "oh, why do I feel so blah today? What can I do to not feel so blah today?" Or whatever the things are, right? You're spot on. And doing that emotional work is way harder than being like, "hmmm. Cupcake."
Stephanie: [00:42:48] And I'm very fortunate, you know, I have an amazing husband, my kids are awesome, my folks actually just live next door, they're a great resource for us, but still life just throws its stresses at you.
Kim: [00:42:59] Absolutely! You can have the most perfect life ever, but you know what? Kids are still kids. I love my kids, I think they're great kids, they friggin' annoying me sometimes. Jobs are like, I love my job. This is like the ideal job for me. It is my dream job. It friggin' stresses me out sometimes. That's how life is. Even if everything is great, it's still life.
Stephanie: [00:43:20] Right. And that's the other thing, too, is I feel like, again, my goal at the beginning was just, "I want the number on the scale to be smaller."
But while that's still a goal, I'm trying to come up with some of those other gains as well. You know, sleeping better. So, again, you can eat a bunch of cookies at 8 and then go to bed at 10:30 and you're hungry again and then that wasn't that satisfying, so just, I don't know.
Oh, things like cardiovascular, that kind of thing. Just knowing that, again, when I'm 60, when I'm 70, I want to be around for my adult kids. I want to be around for their kids. And so, what are the things I can do? I think one of the videos I just saw posted was about being skinny, fat. And so, I think I've probably been pretty guilty of that over the years.
Kim: [00:44:19] Yeah, a lot of people are. And so, working on your strength training is going to help you to not be skinny fat. It's going to change your body composition. You will have more muscle, less fat, and it will be very, not only appealing visually, but it will be healthy.
So, one thing I want to follow up on -- did you say you were around a hundred? So how do you feel about -- because one of the things you said you still would kinda like to see that number go down -- in your mind, what would be the number you'd want to see?
Stephanie: [00:44:48] It's one of the things I want to be realistic and healthy and not of get too stuck in my head. I think I probably spent high school and college being, you know, 97, 98 pounds. And again, that's that kind of who I identified as. And some things change and they're never going back. I had big babies. My smallest baby was 8lbs 11oz, my biggest baby was 9lbs 7oz.
Kim: [00:45:23] Oh, that's a big baby.
Stephanie: [00:45:25] So mean, I could wear bikini. I would have a bikini body if I chose to wear a bikini, but my stomach looks like I fell asleep on an afghan. It looks like a shattered windshield.
Kim: [00:45:39] That's a funny way to put it.
Stephanie: [00:45:42] But it's like, "eh, nothing I can do about that." But I could look really cool in a tank top, to my eyeballs.
And I think also part of it is just wiggle room. Feeling like, okay, if I got to whatever that magical number is -- and I don't even exactly know what that magical is -- but then it's like, okay, well then if I had a week where I'm carrying around extra water weight or we went on vacation or something, but then I don't come back and be like, "well I just ruined three months of everything."
Kim: [00:46:12] What if I told you that you could have those arms and that tank top that you really liked, and you could be busting out pull ups and you could be fitting in your clothes better than ever, still enjoying your wine and all that, but you would never go under a hundred pounds?
Stephanie: [00:46:28] I think I just knew that I wouldn't go down a slippery slope of, like -- and again, I feel like I'm vilifying my mom, which I'm not, my mother is amazing -- I just feel like she doesn't feel good and so I kind of have her a little bit as my cautionary tale, as it were. Because she is an incredibly hard worker, she takes care of her elderly father, she takes care of my three kids, she takes care of my two nephews, she's a neat freak so she can't stop cleaning house, she mows all of our property, I mean, she goes, goes, goes. She says she has two speeds: go and stop. So, she goes all day until she's exhausted and then she's down. So, she says at nighttime, she wants to have her beer. And she's going to have her beer and she's gonna have her beer every single night, her two. But she has those two every night forever. And you're not going to talk her out of it.
And she bakes, she's an amazing baker, but she has never met buttercream or sugar she did not like. She's actually probably the worst sabotage that I have because I'll come home from work and then there's this huge thing of homemade brownies. So maybe that's part of it too, is feeling like I can get to a number where then I've come home and she's left out a whole bunch of brownies and it's "you know what? I can indulge. Today I can indulge. My mom made homemade brownies and that's going to be okay. And then tomorrow I can get back to normal again."
Kim: [00:47:53] Yeah. So, it sounds to me like you're looking for, to get low enough so that you can eat what you want with having this buffer range so that you're not constantly ramping up how much you weigh, how much you weigh.
Stephanie: [00:48:02] Yes. And like I said, I don't intend to just be like, "oh cool. All I'm going to eat is potato chips and candy bars." No, I think the last few months have taught me that having that basis of spinach and chicken and cottage cheese, and Greek yogurt, that's a really good place to be. And that's sustainable, but just still being able to have that fun zone.
Kim: [00:48:23] I will say this: I think you could still be in that place and never have that scale go under a hundred. Realistically speaking, as you start to strength train and build muscle and your body composition changes, you will likely find that you like the way your body looks even though it is not at 97 pounds.
So, as you switch your body composition it would be something I want you to start having this idea about surrounding your head, that getting under a hundred pounds isn't necessarily the goal that's going to get you the outcome you want. If you want to have those toned arms in a tank top, get your pull up and be able to eat some brownies as they show up even though most of your food is going to be those other things, you can get and all of that, and be 102, 103, like you do not need to be at 97 and I'm going to venture to guess you won't be if you do the things I'm telling you. And I want you to start having that bounce around in your head and saying like, "how will I feel about that? Can I get out of my head that I define myself as the 20-some year old who's 97 pounds?"
Stephanie: [00:49:25] And I find that interesting, because I wonder how many, particularly women, I don't know how guys think about things, but how many of us-- it's like, I had a friend of mine once post on Facebook, who, she said, "I wish I was as fat now, as I thought I was in high school."
Or how many, it's like the, "if I was only what I weighed in high school," or "if I was only what I weighed the day I got married," or "if I was only what I weighed before I had kids." And it's just an interesting mindset.
Kim: [00:50:02] Loads of people are there. I was there for a really long on time.
We're so there because we're so used to defining success at weight loss by that one number on the scale. That's what is success for us. That number being smaller equals we're heading in the right direction. And it's true, like, when I was in high school, I was perpetually a person who was trying to lose weight as a teenager.
I was 119 pounds; I didn't need to lose weight. What would have done me a world of good is building some muscle. I wish I could go back and be like "here, lift this weight up, Kim, you will like what you look like better." And then in my twenties, I just wanted to be under 125. That was my goal. When I went to get married, my husband was very small. His goal was to reach 125 going up. And my goal was reached 125 coming down.
And then I eventually struggled with obesity, but my goal was always to get back to under 125, under 120. I will tell you now -- I don't even know I weigh -- the last time I weighed myself, it was sometime during quarantine, and I was 137. I look better now than I ever have. I've gotten to the point where, I've been doing this for years, so part of my weight is literally bone. Like, I have more bone. I've been lifting hundreds of pounds as a powerlifter for years now.
I look better now at the weight I am, probably 137-ish, than I ever looked at 125. Like, world's better.
Stephanie: [00:51:20] And there was a time I remember you did a post that was really cool. And it was like three pictures side to side, and it was of like, "this is where I was at this age. And then here's where I was." And, I don't remember, you were in a really cute shirt and you were like, "I really, I liked how I looked. I hated how I felt." You said, I think, calories were really low. And so how you find that livable area.
Kim: [00:51:39] Yeah. And so that was where I got to the leanest I'd ever been as an adult. And I was 119. I got down to 117 once for a weigh-in, for a powerlifting meet, but that was just for a day or two, but I was 119. I was miserable when it came to my lifestyle. Like, I couldn't eat the things I enjoyed, when I did it was very much a "cheat day" mentality and it would come and I would think about it, I couldn't wait for it to come, I couldn't wait for that day, and I would eat all the things, I would usually still feel guilty, even though it was my plan, and then I'd have to get right back to eating extremely low calories. We're talking zero calorie dressing, plain chicken, lettuce, like, how appealing does that sound? That sounds terrible. That sounds terrible.
And like potatoes that were literally just made out of broccoli and avocado mash, it was literally just avocado. My food was so limited and going out to eat meant that I didn't eat those things. I couldn't eat anything my family ate. I literally, in my mind, couldn't do that.
It was no way to live. It was no way to live.
Stephanie: [00:52:45] What were the circumstances at the time that led you down that path?
Kim: [00:52:55] So, I had been obese, got fit through tracking my calories and lifting weights fell in love, with weightlifting.
The way I entered the fitness industry was by following bodybuilders. This is what I thought fit people were. In my mind, a fit person was a bodybuilder. A lot of bodybuilders are super unhealthy. A lot of bodybuilders have eating disorders. A lot of bodybuilders have a terrible relationship with food.
What they can achieve physically is incredible. I thought I wanted to be a bodybuilder. My goal was, at that time, to enter a bodybuilding competition. Like, I was going to do a bikini show. My very next step was going to be to hire a coach to help me get there. It's the kind of thing, like, I got lean enough on my own, I hire the coach, we pick a show 12 weeks out and I get even leaner. The goal would have been to get even leaner. And in that moment, I just had a moment of realizing, "I have worked so hard to get healthy."
This was a lot of work. I was really overweight. I had revamped my entire life and it just occurred to me, like, what I'm about to do is going to take me the opposite direction. This is not healthy. Like, I am going the opposite direction from health. What I've been looking for was to get healthy and now I'm really making a U-turn and heading back to unhealthy in a different way. And right around the same time is when I read an article about powerlifting and I had never heard of powerlifting.
I'm like, "what is powerlifting?" Because I loved the gym, but I only knew bodybuilders. And so, I started watching these women and I'm like, "they're lifting heavy weight. I want to lift heavy weight. I like that." And when I stopped focusing on getting smaller, getting smaller, getting smaller, and started focusing on getting stronger, that's what caused me to come out of that.
Stephanie: [00:54:33] Gotcha. Gotcha. And like I said, that's why having measurable goals-- I think that's also probably why we get stuck on a scale. It's so easy to measure.
Kim: [00:54:42] Yes, absolutely. And so, here's the thing I would say, what I would want you to do if you're going to really be looking for physique progress, what I would suggest you do is take measurements with a tape measure.
Measure your chest, measure your waist at the smallest part, measure your waist at your belly button, measure your hips by going across your butt at the biggest part, measure one thigh -- I just do the right side, just because it's easy to remember -- at the widest part, and measure your right biceps with your biceps loose, not flexed.
Do that once a month and keep an eye on those measurements. Also take progress pictures. Full body, in a bikini or bathing suit bottom and top. So, bikini or underwear and a sports bra. You want to see as much as possible, same lighting every month, front, back, both sides. Keep an eye on that.
Put some clothes on, pick a pair of pants or something, notice how it fits. Every month, put those back on. Using that conglomerate of information -- and you can use the scale if you want. There's a lot of people that I expect the scale to move, too, I don't expect the scale to move a lot with you -- use all of that data together to see how you're progressing.
Stephanie: [00:55:56] Sure. Absolutely.
Kim: [00:55:58] And that's going to give you a better picture. That, in conjunction with you specifically, like, how is your strength improving? You're going to see really big gains in the gym. And all of that together hopefully will be motivating enough for you to be like, "I am making amazing progress."
Stephanie: [00:56:12] And that's why, like I said, as arbitrary as the pull up thing is, again, it seems very measurable because it's yes or no.
Kim: [00:56:22] I either did it or I did not do it.
Stephanie: [00:56:24] Right. As opposed to, again, like I said, I don't have a goal of being a runner. It doesn't sound very interesting to me and so I'm not going to be somebody who is like, "oh man, now I got an eight-minute mile. Now maybe next time I can get a 7:52." That's not going to be it.
And I measure my calories on the treadmill, but even that's just a general idea of how much was able to stick to it today. And I do find it, it's interesting, it's like on a day that maybe it was a day, the night before, it's like we did go out to a restaurant and I did, I was like, "you know what? Special occasion I'm going to track the calories, but they're big calories. I'm going to mark them down and I'm gonna enjoy it." Man, that next day I have a lot more oomph on the treadmill than I did the day before when it was egg, whites and spinach.
Kim: [00:57:08] It's amazing what fueling our bodies can do to make us perform better. And for women who have lived permanently on super low calories, once you get some calories in your body, it's just shocking. Like, "wow, I have energy in the gym. I'm not so lethargic in life, generally. I sleep better," because we're just so used to really restrictive calories.
Stephanie: [00:57:30] And that's the other thing, too, that you've said recently that I'm really trying to take to heart is not how low do you need to go lose any weight? It's what's the most you can eat and still see that. And then those charts have been very helpful, too.
I mean, right now, if I'm shaving off maybe a quarter of a pound a week, I'm like, that's fine. That's fine. Even if I steady out, because I'm happy with that. Because, you know, like the first month, five pounds went away because water weight and just random whatever. And knowing that I am adding in strength things to hopefully means that where I'm losing is fat and then where it's balancing out is muscle.
Kim: [00:58:11] Yeah. Yeah. That's an exciting process to see, right? That's body recomposition, as you lose fat and you build muscle. That's what we're going to look for here for you.
So, let's kind come up with exactly the next action steps for you. How do you feel about in the next couple of days doing pictures and measurements and trying on some clothing?
Stephanie: [00:58:31] That's very doable.
Kim: [00:58:32] Ok. Do that and set that up somewhere so you can see it. And then I'm going to send you the pull up video, the pushup video, and the training plan video all from YouTube.
Guys listening, I will put those in the show notes. I don't know that there'll be clickable, but you can see them and look at them. And you can look there and we'll have you get going on that strength training plan.
Stephanie: [00:59:01] Awesome. Thank you again, not only for your time today, but just all the work that you do to put all those materials out. Because those have just been, like I said, they've just been very absorbable and very practical and in a way that's not just "drink a magic tea and three weeks later..."
Kim: [00:59:14] Yeah. That stuff is nonsense. So many people are out there saying that stuff and we want to believe it. And I used to believe that stuff because, first of all, wow, they can make the marketing sound so believable. Like, surely these people aren't all making this up. Yeah, they are.
And then the last thing is, send me a video of your equipment at home. Like you can take some stills at all different angles or just like literally walk around and take a video and send it to me via email so I can see what you've got there.
Stephanie: [00:59:42] Absolutely. Absolutely. Like I said, I was kind of fan-girling. I was like, it's like a celebrity. It's crazy.
Kim: [00:59:50] Whenever people say that, I'm just like, "really?!?"
But I get it because I'm the same way. I'm the exact same way with people who I've gotten to be friendly with on Instagram, who were people who I look up to in the fitness industry. And then eventually I get them on here for a conversation. I'm like, "I can't believe I'm talking to you." And they're like, "I'm not a celebrity. I'm literally a trainer."
Stephanie: [01:00:09] No, but it was just so cool because it's like I was trying to mess with some settings on the cable machine and the other day, and while I was working on it, I was like, "I need some entertainment, oooo she has a new video!" So, I was listening to your meal prep video while I'm like trying to get the settings right. Because, like I said, I need to be entertained when I'm in the weight room.
Kim: [01:00:28] I just filmed one this morning. My next YouTube video is going to be all about how to squat, literally from, "I have no idea what I'm doing," all the way through lots of variations, all the way to a barbell, and there's going to be a squat in there for everybody and it tells you exactly what to do.
So hopefully that'll come out next week.
Stephanie: [01:00:42] Awesome! Well just thank you for all you do. It's really appreciated and it makes a difference.
Kim: [01:00:47] You're very welcome! Thank you so much for coming on.
Stephanie: [01:00:49] Thank you!
Kim: [01:00:51] Alright, bye!
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.
Kim: [00:00:04] To episode 64 of the Fitness Simplified Podcast. I'm your host, Kim Schlag. On today's episode, I am joined by my special guest Georgie Fear. Georgie is a registered dietitian, a science-based nutrition counselor, and a behavioral health expert. You might recognize her name because I reference her a lot, specifically her book, "Lean Habits."
Now, Georgie has a new book out: "Give Yourself More: A Science-Backed Six Part Plan for Women to Hit Their Weight Loss Goals by Defying Diet Culture." On today's episode, Georgie and I go deep on a few of the key concepts of the book, including some practical advice for overcoming emotional eating.
It is an amazing episode.
Georgie: [00:01:10] Hi! I had the volume way up and you said my name really loud. I was like "ahhh!"
Kim: [00:01:23] I said your name really loudly because I'm super excited to have you on the podcast.
Georgie: [00:01:29] Thank you. I'm excited to be here too.
Kim: [00:01:31] I'm really glad that you could come on. Are you in a closet?
Georgie: [00:01:35] I am. I'm in the closet, Kim.
I record all of my podcasts in my walk-in closet because it has pretty good acoustics and it dampens the sound really well. And of course, I have my nice microphone here, which I should move slightly closer to my face.
Kim: [00:01:53] Nice.
Georgie: [00:01:54] But yeah, so I do, I record in the closet.
Kim: [00:01:57] Lots of people do closets. I've had people on who record under a blanket.
Georgie: [00:02:02] Oh, nice.
Kim: [00:02:03] So all kinds of fancy equipment we've got going on.
So, Georgie, tell us what adventures in the Canadian wilderness have you had this week?
Georgie: [00:02:12] Well, there's always some adventures in the Canadian wilderness for me.
Kim: [00:02:14] I know. I like watching them whenever you post about them.
Georgie: [00:02:18] So Friday afternoon, kind of Alpine therapy, is my friend Drea and my standing Friday afternoon appointment. She tries to get out work early and I block off my afternoons on Friday and we go do something. She's a retired professional skier, full time Nordic skier, so she whoops my butt. Even though she's now retired, she is an amazing athlete.
So sometimes we'll do uphill running intervals, other times we'll climb a peak or just go for a hike. So last week we went to one of the peaks next to Lake Louise, and it's beautiful and you can see the Lake and it's like beautiful blue/green water.
Kim: [00:03:06] How close are you to Lake Louise?
Georgie: [00:03:08] It's about an hour.
Kim: [00:03:10] Oh, wow. That is like top of my bucket list. I want to go there so badly.
Georgie: [00:03:15] Well, you have to let me know when you come. I go there quite often in the winter for cross country skiing because they have some really nice, long, you could just like ski for 10K in one direction and turn around and come back.
So, because I'm a distance, marathon skier, I'm always looking for the longest trails I can find.
Kim: [00:03:33] Well, your life outdoors looks absolutely blissful. You do so many exciting things. I have to tell you, I just got back from a week of vacation. You know, there's not many places we can go nowadays, right? You can't really go anywhere.
Georgie: [00:03:44] Yeah. It's pretty limited.
Kim: [00:03:45] We actually had booked a house at the Jersey shore, which we literally never do, because we like to actually go away and that's like, an hour and a half from my house. But we've looked at it and so it worked out because we were able to keep our trip. And so, am I remembering this right? Are you from Jersey?
Georgie: [00:03:57] I am from Jersey.
Kim: [00:03:59] You are. Where are you from in Jersey?
Georgie: [00:04:02] Homedale in high school. I went to school in Homedale, which is in Monmouth County, near Sandy Hook. And then I lived in New Brunswick when I went to Rutgers undergrad. So, I spent four years at Rutgers undergrad and then came back for another five in the PhD that never happened.
So, I lived in New Brunswick and Somerset, kind of central Jersey for a long time.
Kim: [00:04:27] Well, look -- Jersey isn't like the prettiest beaches ever, but I have to tell you it's still nature. And I just spent a week swimming in the ocean and laying on the sand, reading your book a lot at the time, by the way, you know, and just taking long walks.
And I realized that that is the thing that I need more of in my life. That's what I'm going to give myself more of. Like, I need more nature,
Georgie: [00:04:45] More nature.
It is so healing. I mean, it's so interesting when you look at the research about how exercising in a green space actually gives you more physical and mental benefits than exercising in a neighborhood.
Like, if you can possibly get out, get out,
Kim: [00:05:01] It's amazing. You know, because most of my athletic pursuits are done in my basement gym, right? Like I'm inside lifting heavy stuff and I love it, but I don't often pursue outside stuff and I need to. That's what I'm giving myself more of.
Which brings me to the title of your new book.
Georgie: [00:05:17] Yes.
Kim: [00:05:17] "Give Yourself More, a science-backed six-part plan for women to hit their weight loss goals by defying diet culture."
Georgie: [00:05:25] You got it.
Kim: [00:05:26] I wrote it down so I had all the words in there.
Georgie: [00:05:29] So you've been reading, "Give Yourself More," and you're intending to give yourself more.
Kim: [00:05:33] Absolutely. I'm on it.
I'll tell you later about the other thing I've already started this week as a result of reading your book and my vacation experience that happened together. So, it was a good thing for me.
So, let's start here: why did you write this book?
Georgie: [00:05:46] I wrote this book, along with Alicia Fetters, we are coauthors on the book, and I think we wrote it in part because sometimes you just have something that you want to say to the world and you say it to one person at a time, if you're a health practitioner, and you're not satisfied with saying it to one person at a time.
And you're like, I want to say this to as many people as possible, because I think we both feel really passionately that we want women to benefit from some of the realizations that we've had and that we've been able to share with our clients and just watch person after person really flourish and have amazing transformations, not just physically, but just living so much of a better life when they changed some of the stories that they told themselves about what they wanted.
And so, the story of "Give Yourself More" starts with all of our old stories about trying to be less. And I think most of us have spent some period, if not the majority of our life, thinking about,, "how can I finally shrink these thighs" or, "how can I hide these forehead wrinkles I have," or "how can I not be so loud," or "how can I be less emotional?"
And, you know, trying to hide our flaws and be smaller and not inconvenience anyone is very tightly entrenched in just kind of like the feminine ideal of gender roles, don't you think?
Kim: [00:07:15] Absolutely. I'm shaking my head vigorously to everything that Georgie says. I'm with you. Every last bit of that.
I'm a person who did that for literally, as long as I can remember. I remember being a teenager and thinking like, "I need to be smaller" and I have to tell you, I was not overweight as a teenager, but in my mind, I needed to be smaller.
I would look in the magazines and I'm like, "I don't look like that." Like, clearly, I have work to do. And that didn't stop. Like, I'm 49. That went on for decades.
Georgie: [00:07:44] Yeah. I bought it hook, line and sinker, too. And I remember having had an eating disorder and had a dietitian and a psychologist all trying to help me out.
You know, they ask you questions like, "well, what does it mean to be thinner?" and "why do you want to be thinner?" You know, not being overweight, it's a safe question. Why do you want to be thinner? And I remember thinking, because if you're thin, it's like you don't have needs and you don't have to depend on other people and not needing anybody else's help or input is such a strength, right? Like, isn't that amazing if you can just be needless?
Kim: [00:08:20] That's interesting, Georgie. And so that was kind of your goal for getting thinner.
Georgie: [00:08:24] Part of it. I'm sure there's a whole lot of mental gook tied up in knots inside all of our brains, but I've talked with thousands of women over the years -- and some men too -- this is definitely far from exclusively a women's problem.
And so many of us feel like our weight goals or our fitness goals are just appropriate manifestations of ways that we're trying to be perfect. And that tends to be less in some way.
Kim: [00:08:53] And your approach to it is not going to be less, it's going to be more. Before we get into some of the meat of that I want to talk a little bit more about one of the terms in the title, because I think people hear the word "diet culture" a lot and not everybody really has a handle on what that means.
So why don't you kind of give everybody a working definition? What is diet culture?
Georgie: [00:09:14] Sure. Now, like many things it's going to depend who you ask. And a lot of people would say helping anybody reach a weight loss goal is diet culture, which I disagree with.
Kim: [00:09:28] I do, as well.
Georgie: [00:09:29] If you've worked in a medical office, for example, and you're helping someone control their diabetes and you talk about making healthier food choices and that person loses weight and controls their blood pressure and blood sugars better, are you now part of the diet industry?
I don't think so. I don't think that's "diet culture" to help people take care of their bodies better. You know, I also oil my bicycle chain so that it lasts a long time and has a nice, smooth ride. Is that part of "diet culture" because I'm trying to take care of something?
I don't think so. I think that's just basic bike maintenance. So, not helpful probably for me to say what "diet culture" isn't...
Kim: [00:10:07] Hey, you know, it's a start for people to hear what it isn't.
Georgie: [00:10:10] Right. So, I don't think it's synonymous with changing body weight. I think diet culture is the idea that we need an external program or rules or restrictions to help us be less.
And so, I think of "diet culture" as being exemplified by things like The Atkins diet, the keto diet, you know, various things that come with strict rules. It's a program, similar to a workout program, that gives you instructions for what to do, and following those things for the purposes of losing weight.
And often I feel like "diet culture" is also characterized by weight being the only important thing.
Kim: [00:10:56] The most important thing.
Georgie: [00:10:58] Right. And no consideration given to your social life, your mental health, your anxiety, the amount of Tupperware that you want to wash on a daily basis. Just not treating you like a whole person.
I think the diet industry or "diet culture," defying diet culture, as we say on the book cover -- defying diet culture means treating yourself like a whole person and not just a weight.
Kim: [00:11:20] Yes. Yeah. I like that. I like that a lot.
So, it's not the idea. Nothing about this book is going to help a person to only think about their weight, but doing all of these things can in fact help them with something that they've probably been struggling with for a long time.
If they're like most women, they wanted to lose weight. It's not been a short thing. For most of us it's been something we've been working at for a long time. Much of that work doing things that are very much a part of diet culture.
You mention in the book that the most effective exercise and diet interventions are founded in positive emotional experiences.
Tell us more about that.
Georgie: [00:12:00] Sure. So positive emotional experiences are basically things that we find we're having fun at, things that we're enjoying. So if you go to college, you meet your roommate, and she says, "hey, come to the running club with me," and you've never been a runner, but you think, "yeah, I really like this new friend I'm making, I'm gonna go to the running club."
You go to the running club, everybody's super nice, you chat, you jog in the sunshine, and you think, "God, that was so fun. And nobody was barking at me with a stopwatch like gym class. Maybe I do like running, even though I thought I hated it."
And three years later you might still be running because you've had a good time with it. You've had social support, maybe you've gotten together with those people and had breakfast after the run someday, you're discovering that you feel less stressed on the days that you get up and run, and when you have these positive experiences, they draw us forward with a really reliable source of motivation.
And it's different from using a negative motivation to try and motivate ourselves to change. So, if you picture a bomb going off and people just running, they just scatter. That's what we do when we're afraid. There's very little conscious, goal-oriented behavior. We're frantic, you know, negative emotions make us run and make us run in haphazard and zig-zag directions.
But if you have a goal, if you see something positive, like the top of the mountain or the Lake that you want to reach for that beautiful sparkling water view -- you see it, you know what it takes to get there and you can start in that direction and it draws you the whole way there. But if you're running away from something that you're afraid of, like, "oh, I don't want to have to buy a bigger size of pants," "I don't want to have a heart attack," they tend to only be motivating until we've gotten far enough away from them that we're not so scared anymore. And then we go back to complacency.
And so, in, in the context of health behavior change, clearly if we're motivated to get to something and we keep working at it, that's what we need to maintain our good health. But if we're just trying to get away from something, then we may feel like, you know, we lose three pounds, we're far enough away from the doom and gloom that we were afraid of, and so we stopped trying.
Kim: [00:14:11] Yeah. So, moving towards something positive versus running away from something negative.
Georgie: [00:14:17] Yeah.
Kim: [00:14:18] That's a really good approach.
I know one of the things you had mentioned in the book is the idea of adding in habits or replacing unwanted ones rather than taking things away. So, you know, like, "hey, let's go for a walk," versus "stop sitting on the couch."
Georgie: [00:14:32] Yeah. Yeah. I think when we focus on what we're adding in, we can look for new benefits. We can look for new things that we really enjoy.
You know, having more skills, more tools, more options is always a good thing. None of us like to be banned from something or barred from something. But if you think about it, like "maybe I'm going to trade up for this other behavior that comes with completely different outcomes, then there might be some benefits that'll keep me hooked on that."
Kim: [00:15:00] It's such a different feeling. So, if you think like, "you know what, I'm going to really focus on eating until I'm satisfied," versus "I'm going to really focus on cutting back on sugar," right? Those are such opposite things that could absolutely reach the same goal, but one has a completely different feeling.
Georgie: [00:15:16] I know. And the amazing thing is how hard I have to work to get people to try the kind of more centered goals and more centered thinking, because we've practiced and it's so familiar to think about like, "cut this out, cut that out, avoid that," that often it's hard for people to think about like, "what would I gain from doing this?"
Kim: [00:15:38] Yeah. It's such an important reframe and you're right, I get really quizzical looks back from clients when we were talking about this and they're like, "I've never even thought about thinking about it like that." And such good light bulb moments come from those reframes about those positive "what can we add in here? What can we think about positively here?" versus "what we're going to get rid of and not allow ourselves," and all of that.
Georgie: [00:16:00] Totally. And there's so much that we can add to our lives in terms of more, even if we don't change weight at all, or even if we don't want to change weight at all. Like, I have had so many wonderful things add into my life with absolutely zero gravitational pull change whatsoever.
And I think that's, you know, one thing that I really like to point out is: you don't have to have a weight loss goal, or even be female, to read this book and to gain a lot from it.
Kim: [00:16:27] Oh, I wholeheartedly agree with both of those, having just read it. Absolutely.
Georgie: [00:16:31] And for people who do feel like, "yes. Part of my goal is to have a lower number on the scale," how do you make a lower number into a "more" goal? That's one of the questions that I get.
So, the way I help people shift that sort of less into more is think about the benefit of what you want to get. So, if somebody is thinking like, "you know, I would really like to be a lower body weight," I'll say like, "okay, so what would you get from that lower body weight?"
And they would say, "improved blood sugar control, healthier arteries, able to run up the stairs without losing my breath, be able to wear those pants that are too tight right now to be comfortable," all of those are positive. So, don't think about the weight loss middleman, think about those things and like "when I make this healthy choice or I go for the walk, when I choose the walk, I'm closer to wearing the pants. I'm closer to the good feeling of pride, closer to feeling sexy," you know, thinking about good things that we want to get rather than the taking away or minimizing things or the things that we want to avoid or are fearful of.
Kim: [00:17:38] Yeah, absolutely. So, I want to read two facts you cite in the book. I'm going to read both of them first, and then I want us to kind of jam on both of them together.
So, two statistics you shared: more than one fourth of the women trying to lose weight at any one time are already at a healthy weight or underweight.
And then fact two here -- and I had not read this study before, but it did not surprise me at all to find this out: what the average woman pinpoints as the ideal or most attractive female body is medically underweight.
Georgie: [00:18:12] Yeah. Isn't that something?
Kim: [00:18:13] It's crazy. That does not surprise me, but I did not know that that was actually true.
How do you think that this has become the standard that women strive for and how can we change that?
Georgie: [00:18:24] Wow. Those are tough questions. "And while you're on it, let's have world peace..."
How it happened, of course I can only surmise on, but it's often, you know, we are social creatures. We can't not notice what other people are doing and going after. And it imbues a sense of value when we're looking at a menu and somebody else orders something, it gets a couple of points in our brains because somebody ordered it. That's why we all like social proof, like you're shopping on Amazon and you're like, "well, that book doesn't have any reviews. Nobody bought it. Well that because 87 reviews, let me see that one because it's been popular."
So part of it, and this doesn't explain the origin, but it explains the continuance, is that we see other women talking about weight loss so pervasively and magazines posting about weight loss and forums talking about weight loss and it all feeds into the idea that we're supposed to be chasing this thing.
Like, money is only valuable because we agree on it having a value. And I think weight loss has some of the same attributes that like, "if everybody's agreeing that this is a valuable thing, then maybe it's worth something and I should be in the charge trying to pursue it."
I also think that it can be a socially accepted stand-in. So instead of having some things that you really want in your life, it might be easier to chase weight loss sometimes, especially if it's presented that there's a particular program that you can follow that will give you weight loss. Like, "oh, so there's an app here and I can simply enter in all the things that I eat and if I stay below this number of calories, I have weight loss."
There's very little mystery in that equation and so it's appealing. Whereas the alternate discussion that somebody might have with themselves might be, "I'm feeling unfulfilled in my life. What sort of things would make me fulfilled and how can I go about getting them?"
You know, there's a lot of fuzzy, nebulous entities. It's way easier to be like "weight loss! I'm gonna tackle that one as my life project." And then there's subtle messaging that, you know, we all know how pervasive weight stigma is. And that, you know, if you look at characters that are villains in movies or cartoons, they're more often overweight than the prime character, the protagonist or the hero or heroine is usually very slim.
And there are a million subtle ways that we're told that being overweight is not acceptable or that it's not okay. And so, part of the social desirability is we want to be liked by other people. And so, I know definitely a message I got as a kid was that you're well liked if you're thin and pretty.
And if you're heavy, nobody will want to be friends with you. People will point at you and say things when you cross the street in front of their car and warn their children not to become like you. And it's, you know, a proxy for social desirability and we all want to be liked. More so, we all want to be loved.
We want to find somebody that values us and appreciates us. And so sometimes our physical form can be a way of saying, "please like me, please think I'm good enough."
Kim: [00:21:56] Absolutely. Now all of that said, I know that you are not anti-weight loss. You're not anti-weight loss. What do you think of the body acceptance movement?
Georgie: [00:22:07] I think the body acceptance movement has done some fantastic things for so many people. I think it's really broadened the spectrum of bodies that we can look at and say, "that's a body" and not anything more about it, you know? I think it used to be, if you opened a magazine and you saw anything that looked realistic, it was like, "oh, that's plus size."
And I see magazines now, I see ads on the internet and my social media that have a women of all different body shapes and they show their swimwear in sizes from like a double, extra small to double, extra-large, they make a very inclusive visual display, which I think is fantastic.
Nobody wants to shop for clothes that they can't see on somebody that looks like themselves. So, I do really applaud the diversity that we're seeing. You know, ages, sizes, all sorts of things. I'm pro-diversity.
Where I find I disagree with some individuals and some individual concepts that may fall under the body acceptance movement is that it doesn't mean that you can't change yourself in the sense of, you know, many people who would say they are fans of body acceptance, if I said, "well, what do you think if I highlight my hair?" They'd say, "go girl! You do it! Whatever makes you happy." But if I said, "what if I want to lift weights to have stronger shoulders?" They'd be like, "rock on! You build those strong shoulders."
"What if I want to lose weight so that I have healthier blood pressure and less pain in my knees?"
"Oh no, you can't do that."
So, I think it's slightly less inclusive when it comes to people having body autonomy to gain or lose weight. They would say gaining weight is fine, dying your hair green is a-ok, fake boobs, rock 'em if they make you feel confident, but don't you dare lose weight.
So, I think I disagree with that sort of special treatment of people that have weight loss goals as being invalid.
Kim: [00:24:13] I'm with you a hundred percent. Every single word you have just said that's where I kind of depart from them too.
That any intentional weight loss is always wrong. I don't understand that. I mean, there are medical reasons, there are all kinds of reasons. And frankly, like you just said, if I want to dye my hair green, I should feel free to dye my hair green. And if I want to lose 20 pounds and I feel like that's going to make me feel better, move better, whatever it is, I should be able to do that and not be told that I'm wrong or that I hate myself, that I hate my body,
Georgie: [00:24:47] So true.
Kim: [00:24:48] Right? And so how is it possible that a person can love their body and want to change it?
Georgie: [00:24:55] Well, a lot of people will use the analogy of plants or children, which are excellent here, which is when you love them, you take care of them. We abuse things that we dislike and that we want to cause harm to.
But you don't have to be focused on negative attributes or negative feelings about yourself to want to change something. Sometimes you think it's great as-is, and you're excited to see how much stronger it can become and how much more it can thrive.
As we said, there's positive motivations. You don't always have to be running from something that you dislike or trying to move away from something. You can just be positively motivated. Like, I really want to be able to bike 100K in one day, at least once this summer. And it's not because there was anything wrong with the 70 or 80K bike rides I did. I just like seeing how hard I can push. I like seeing how high I can reach. I want to learn things. I want to read books. Not because I think I'm stupid, but because I know there's more out there to be learned and why not help ourselves?
Kim: [00:26:01] Absolutely. And I think a person's approach to weight loss can have a lot to do with whether they feel loving towards their body while they're losing weight or not, right?
There are certainly ways that it would be really hard to feel loving towards your body while doing this particular program or whatever it is. And so I really liked the approach that you have here in this book, because I think that there's nothing involved here that would then say like, "oh gosh, I really must hate myself if I'm doing this," right? Like we're not beating ourselves into submission doing any of these things.
Georgie: [00:26:32] Yeah. I mean, I'm pro-joy, I'm pro-happiness, I'm pro-fulfillment. I want everybody out there to have healthy and meaningful lives. And I don't think we have to sacrifice; I don't think we have to treat ourselves like garbage to live well and to have healthier bodies.
And I think treating ourselves like garbage too often is what gets in the way of people finding those lasting results. Because as I said, like when your motivation is negative, once you move far enough away from the thing you're avoiding, you let your guard down and you stop trying and your motivation fizzles.
Kim: [00:27:08] Yeah. And it comes back to that chasing something positive.
Georgie: [00:27:11] Yeah. Love is an inexhaustible resource. Think about the things we do for the people we love. When you're head over heels for somebody, their whim, you would like get up at two in the morning to get it for them to make them smile, you know? Like, the amount of work that it takes to raise a child, if you did not love that person, you would not be doing all of those things.
And it's an amazing resource, you know, when we can harness our love for ourselves or for other people. So yeah, give yourself more is a method of making your life and your body healthier and stronger and more abundant without taking anything away from anybody else.
Kim: [00:27:54] Yes. Yes. And so, in the book you cover six different areas where we can give ourselves more.
I really liked the workbook style of the book, by the way, I thought that was really a good piece to it. You know, like, "oh, and here's this little page we can write stuff down." I really like that. That was fantastic.
And we could do multiple podcast episodes on each of those six areas, right? We could take one of those areas and we could meet like five or six times and still not cover it all. But why don't we hit the highlights of a couple of those sections here?
Let's talk about emotions first. This is one that I just really dig talking about.
Georgie: [00:28:28] I think that's my favorite section.
Kim: [00:28:31] Emotional eating is such a huge stumbling block for so many people. So, talk to us a little bit, generally, about how we can give ourselves more when it comes to our emotions.
Georgie: [00:28:43] The reason I think that was my favorite section to get into is because it's one that I've learned the most about in the last five years. So, believe it or not, "Lean Habits for Lifelong Weight Loss," my previous book, is five years old already. And in the time since then it was like, "oh man, this is such a huge topic that I'm talking about with clients, almost every client."
And we'll have some conversations, some talks about emotions. I think it's such a paramount topic of importance when it comes to people's weight loss challenges. You know, if emotions weren't part of the game, everybody would just use an app, follow a diet and that would be it. Eat less move on. But we're not. We're very colorful, interesting human beings.
And I have found that understanding our emotions is very equipping, not only so that we can take better care of our health without emotions getting in the way, but so that we can really rise to the occasion of meeting our emotional needs. And having satisfied emotional needs is like filling a hunger that people didn't know they had in so many cases.
It's like, "I had no idea that there was this dry spot in my life that just needed a rain shower on it." And it feels so good to start to become aware of all the different things that we feel and then all the options we have in terms of how we want to manage those feelings.
How do we fully enjoy the positive things we have? How do we use emotions to enable more meaning and closeness with other people? And how do we get through the uncomfortable emotions? How do we cope with them in ways that make us stronger and make us more resilient and help us not feel traumatized by them as opposed to using maladaptive coping behaviors?
Kim: [00:30:53] Right. Now you used a term, Alexithymia, and this, if I understand correctly, is a term used to describe difficulty or inability to identify and describe emotions.
Georgie: [00:31:17] Yes.
Kim: [00:31:19] And you said that it's very common in women with high levels of emotional eating, overweight, obesity, eating disorders -- this seems really important. Like, our inability to identify and describe our emotions is showing up with people with these problems.
Georgie: [00:31:37] Absolutely. Yeah.
So, alexithymia is the sort of word that's used in research circles and practitioner circles, not the coffee shop.
Kim: [00:31:45] Yeah, I've literally never heard that word in my life,
Georgie: [00:31:47] Right. But typically, if you think back to childhood, that's where we often learned the language or not of emotions. Some parents will teach their children a greater vocabulary when it comes to emotions -- are you feeling happy or sad? Are you feeling lonely? Are you feeling disappointed? You know, they'll use more words when they talk to their kids and kids generally who grow up learning a greater pallet of emotions can describe what they're feeling better.
Whereas many parents don't necessarily talk about feelings. They may have gotten messages from their own parents that this is just not a topic that they talk about much. Some people don't talk about money, some people don't talk about politics, it's just a thing. Some people don't talk about feelings.
And so, if you grow up in that sort of environment, you may grow up thinking I feel good, or I feel bad, or I feel neutral, but that's about it. And you read emotional poetry and you don't understand what these people are going through because it's like, "who are these people that are having these huge emotional waves? I'm cool as a cucumber."
I often find people, who have a lot of skill in not feeling their emotions because they're suppressing them or denying them or using maladaptive coping behaviors are described by other people as "cool as a cucumber," or just totally levelheaded and even-keeled.
Kim: [00:33:20] Interesting.
Georgie: [00:33:21] And that's not to say that everybody who's even-keeled is suppressing their emotions, but it can come across that way, because nobody can correct you, nobody can be like, "Kim, I know you've got anger in there and you're not letting it out." Because no one can see it if you're suppressing it. It's like the sort of thing that only we can really figure out.
So, it is really interesting to notice that there's a whole spectrum of human emotion in all of us. And some of us feel things more freely and can describe them better with words, and some of us have less of that ability. But it's totally a hundred percent learnable because I was like the most remedial person ever.
Kim: [00:33:59] And I would love for you to talk about the exercise you suggest. I liked how you compared it to identifying trees -- that we start out and you might be able to say like, "the trees with needles and trees without needles," but then you can learn to be like, "oh, this is an Oak tree."
I thought that was such a great explanation of like, "Oh wait, I know, I know. This is good. And this is bad. Those are my only two feelings." And then you can kind of start to pick them apart. So, tell us about that exercise you describe in the book.
Georgie: [00:34:23] So when you're trying to learn your own emotions and maybe get better at describing them -- and that is not just the sort of thing you do for kicks -- it' very purposeful because it paves the way to being able to do more things with your emotions. You know, first you have to be able to tell what sort of animal you're dealing with before you know how to take care of it.
So, often people can tune in, you listening can probably tune in right at this very moment, and if zero is completely neutral, not feeling positive or negative, you can try and feel if you're slightly above neutral or if you're slightly below neutral. That's kind of like the first level: am I slightly good or slightly bad?
Now the easiest times that we can pick up on emotion are when they're very intense. Like, tears are streaming down your face, there's probably an intense emotion going on,
Kim: [00:35:14] And you've got a word for that.
Georgie: [00:35:16] Yeah. And your cheeks hurt because you've been laughing so long and so carefree, probably feeling a strong emotion.
So those strong emotions are the easiest. We can usually think about times that we've been very, very sad or very, very happy, the best and worst times in life. And then as you get more familiar with these different feelings, you start to be able to identify more of them, like a wider array. You know, identifying when we have felt angry, you can think about somebody that's treated you really poorly, maybe somebody that insulted you or hurt somebody that you care about. And you can think about that and think about how you felt and kind of match them and go, "oh, anger. That was probably anger. That feeling I had, that urge to do something, to not be able to let it go. That's an angry feeling."
And many times, women and men have been patterned to accept and reject different emotions. So, for women it's often more acceptable to feel sad than it is for men. So, for little boys, if a little boy is crying, he's more likely to be told to stop crying earlier. And some male figures in his life may say, "don't be a girl, be a man, man up."
We have all sorts of phrases there, "don't be a sissy." And it's seen that being sad is almost a feminine-associated trait. And so, there's subtle messages and not so subtle messages for boys not to show sadness.
However, it flips when we talk about anger, because it's supposed to not be shown by women.
So many women feel a hesitance to show anger. So if somebody does something to us, we may feel more likely to try and transmit that into sadness or self-blame or something else not to be angry, but boys are all encouraged in some ways to be more aggressive, to let their anger feelings out.
So, you can see how different emotional contexts in various cultures, as well as different families, may have enabled us to have a preference for certain emotions, or try not to show other emotions.
Kim: [00:37:42] Yeah. And so, this exercise you're suggesting -- so, notice where you're at with regards to neutral, and then what?
Georgie: [00:37:50] So if you search for a "feelings wheel" on Google you'll get this, list of emotion words. And Alicia and I put lists of various words in the book, because sometimes you can look at a menu and pick something off of it, even if you couldn't pull the word out of your own mind.
So if you look at the menu of emotions that's in the emotions chapter, you might be able to scan it and say, “yeah, I am feeling a little dejected and I never would have come up with that word."
So, it's like other vocabulary, it's really just practicing. Practicing tuning in, thinking about not only what you're feeling, but also the circumstances and what's happened to you recently, because it makes sense that when we feel love and admiration and good fortune, we feel positive. We feel happy. We feel eager if we're anticipating, you know? So, we can kind of predict, "what are logical things that we might be feeling?"
And when it comes to the negative emotions, it's normal to feel disappointed if we are surprised by something that was not as favorable as we thought it was going to happen. It's normal to feel hurt and sad if we've been insulted or gone through a loss.
And so many people do find working with the therapist is helpful in terms of getting in touch with their emotions and talking about it, but if that's not something that someone's interested in, you can also just try and practice describing your own state on a regular basis.
So, one of the exercises in the book is to try writing down words for how you feel. And there's a couple of words that you're supposed to avoid.
Do you remember, Kim, which words I recommend avoiding?
Kim: [00:39:33] Yes! I think it was "good," "bad," "stressed," the very general words. There were like two more weren't there?
Georgie: [00:39:39] And "fine." "Good," "bad," "stressed," and "fine." Because "fine" doesn't mean a whole lot. It's so, like "fill in the blank."
"Stressed" is helpful, but it's so general that I want people to look one layer past that to try and be just a bit more specific as to the type of stress.
And then "good" and "bad" are, as stressed is a step in the right direction in terms of you've figured out if you're above or below the line of neutral, but let's try and get a little more. Like, what is this good feeling? What is this bad feeling?
Kim: [00:40:15] Yeah. Because it's very different. Like, if you're bad and the word you used, dejected, that's a very different feeling if you're feeling dejected versus if you're feeling, mistreated or whatever, you know? So, like, those are really different feelings that are both bad.
Georgie: [00:40:29] Yeah. they're Both unpleasant. So, the benefit of getting in touch with all of these different words and your different states is, 1) you might realize if you have certain ones that you're afraid to feel. Like, I recognized at one point in my life that I was very, very hesitant to feel angry with people I cared about because I felt like somehow I wasn't allowed to be. Like, it meant I didn't love them if I also felt angry at them. And I've learned that's not true. You can love somebody to bits and be really ticked at them. They coexist. Emotions coexist.
Kim: [00:41:00] Every mother ever is like, "that's true."
Georgie: [00:41:01] Yes. They're like, "you're late to the party, Georgie."
So once you've gotten these words, you can learn more about yourself and you also can start to pair it with your food behaviors, your exercise behaviors, your healthcare behaviors, to see if some of the emotions are standing in your way.
You know, if particular emotions are linked to you performing behaviors that you don't want to perform, or if they're linked to you doing things that you feel really good about, that gives you some really helpful cause and effect information.
And also, it's not so downstream. So, in the past, perhaps every time you felt guilty, you go for Chips Ahoy. So, this may be a path that is just carved in your mind -- guilt, Chips Ahoy. But it doesn't have to be that way. You can look at the things that are causing you guilt and see if maybe you don't need to feel guilty over them. You can also look at the times that you do feel that emotion, what other options you have.
So eating is certainly an option, and then there's other options as well. And you can look at what are the alternatives that you can take for each of those. And there's just so many emotional management skills in the book that I feel like we could talk forever about them.
One of my pet peeves about emotional eating as a topic is the advice out there can typically be summarized as: "don't."
It's just not helpful. Somebody's like "here's advice on how to stop biting your nails: don't."
That's not helpful. That's not helpful at all.
Kim: [00:42:36] It's not. It's not at all.
And so, it's so important, you know, and that's the reason I want to talk about this specific subject. Because there's nothing you can do to manage emotional eating until you absolutely understand what the emotions are that you're feeling.
And so, it's like step one is having to be willing to like, back it up and really start paying attention to like, "what are these emotions I'm feeling?" And then looking for patterns like, "oh gosh, I emotionally eat every time I'm pissed off at my kid. That's what I do." And like, "well, okay, do I want to do that? Is there something else I could do?"
But you can't do any of that unless you figure out that that's what you're actually feeling.
Georgie: [00:43:12] Totally. And then you have so many options.
Some of the stuff we talk about in the book is strategies that are somewhat upstream from the emotion to help us experience more of the positive emotions and be less distressed by the negative ones. Because there are mental tactics and ways that we can view the world and our situations in it that make us not feel quite so 10 out of 10.
And then because we can't eliminate all the negative emotions or uncomfortable emotions from life, there's a lot of tips in there for how you handle those if you don't want to use maladaptive coping skills. So, you know, accepting some degree of discomfort in life, reframing them as ways that we get the things we want, practicing distress tolerance, using social supports.
There's a lot of techniques in there to help people have skills so that they can handle these feelings of different types really skillfully.
Kim: [00:44:13] Yeah. And the thing that's so important is, for people listening to this to know, if this all feels like, "wow, I don't even know what you're talking about," these are all things you will practice. You can practice your way to understanding. And Georgie has great exercises in the book.
If you're like, "I don't even know where to start with that." You know, read this and know that you can become a person who understands your own emotion and then can handle them in a way that is not maladaptive.
If you're like, yeah, "I don't see myself doing it." It's a skill you practice.
Georgie: [00:44:43] Yeah. Like anything. Like, if somebody tried to teach us Olympic-level gymnastics on a single session, we'd be like, "oh my God..." but if they're like, "here's how you do somersault..." we're like, "somersault. Got it. Give me a week to practice the somersault."
And that's how we build any complex skillset. The nice thing about a book format is that you have to put one page in front of another. So, just like you can't read the whole book in one shot, you can just take the practices one page at a time. They're already laid out in an order.
Kim: [00:45:15] Yeah, absolutely.
I could talk about emotions all day, but let's move on. I want to talk about at least one more subject of the book. I really identified with this part about rest and by giving yourself more when it comes to rest. You know, the idea that you talked in there about, "if I take a break, there's no way I'll get to everything I need to do."
I was like, "that's exactly right." That's me. I'm an achiever. I'm building this business. I've all the stuff that has to get done. And so, I loved this chapter.
So, talk to us, how can we give ourselves more when it comes to rest?
Georgie: [00:45:53] When it comes to priorities, a lot of women will raise their hand and say, "yeah, rest is important. Of course." But then we kind of put it on the back burner when it comes to other stuff. We tend to not want to devote our time to it when there's something else we could give our time to, we tend to not want to devote any dollars to it if we can put those dollars towards something else. And if it's inconvenient, we're unlikely to persevere to get rest.
But if we put rest on an equal playing field with food and water and pleasure and time with our families. Well, pleasure is a whole ‘nother one that we can get put on the back burner, but if we put it on the top tier, then we make time for it with the same fervor that we make time for the other things that we need to do.
So I'm the last person who's going to say, "well, just take some of the things off your to-do list so you can rest," but I'm saying give it equal effort as the other things, because it has immense payoffs to do so.
And women shortchange themselves selves in rest in many different ways. You know, the most obvious would be sleep -- that people don't sleep enough -- but there's also just the downtime, like allowing yourself to not be doing three things at once every minute that you're awake and giving yourself a few minutes.
Many women say -- and here's where I'm tempted to choose my words very carefully for fear of offending someone -- it's so easy for us to think we can't. So easy. "I don't have time. I don't have time." That used to be my mantra. "Don't have time. Don't have time." And I was a stress ball. "I don't have time. I don't have time." But maybe we do. Maybe we do have time, especially if we're doing other stuff to handle the stress, like stress eating.
So, when I was telling myself, I didn't have time, I was still snacking. So somehow, I was making time to snack. Many times we also are not as efficient as we could be in doing our tasks because we're fried.
When you're not giving yourself any rest and you're pushing yourself to the wire, you're just not as productive as you could be for a lot of those minutes. Where you may find yourself your mind's wandering, you're distracted, it's human. Like, you're not a robot. So taking rest at an earlier time point can be more effective in the sense of perking you up and getting you going again at your optimal operating capacity and spare you the running on a dead battery for the last 10% of your work.
Kim: [00:48:38] You shared a study that took place in Japan that I thought was super interesting.
Georgie: [00:48:43] Yeah. So, they actually experimented with a four-day work week and found that productivity increases with people. And I'm not all that surprised. I mean when you first hear that, you're like, "what?? How would that happen? Why won't my boss just give us a four-day work week?"
And when I think about myself and my clients, we often find that there's a sweet spot where there's some days when you have so much done that you want to tear your hair out and that's too far. But there are some days when you have enough of a full calendar, if your mindsets in the right spot, you maximize your productivity. You think, "I'm going to line them up and knock them down today."
And you get excited about your own productivity and you don't waste time and you're efficient and you move from thing to thing to thing to thing, you give yourself kudos, and then you have a three day weekend.
So, I think that can be the mode that people get into. If they're determined to get their work done in four days so that they can have a good rest, it pans out. But I think if you tried to get all your work into four days so that you could repaint the house, tear up the carpet, redo the garden, empty the trash, you know, like if you just filled up your weekend with more work, I somehow think it wouldn't work. I think we would just go back to wasting time and being not as productive during the week.
You have to have enriching rest to be able to work hard.
Kim: [00:50:05] That's a really great point. So, a change I've made in my life based on this -- so it happened because it was the same time as my vacation -- this is the first time I've taken a real vacation away from work.
Like, I put the thing on my email telling everybody, like, "not getting back to you till after the 13th," talked to all of my clients and said like, "on a vacation, here's what you need to know," like, all the things. And so, I really didn't work and I don't usually do that. But to get ready for my vacation, to be able to do that, I pulled all these crazy, almost all-nighters trying to get everything settled. It was pretty crazy situation.
So, by the time I got on vacation, I was flat out exhausted. Because first of all, I'm on a beach vacation, which any mom knows, if you have a bunch of kids you're bringing to the beach, it's a lot of work.
Georgie: [00:50:52] It's a lot of logistics.
Kim: [00:50:54] Yes. Just to get us to the beach with the food and the stuff. And then I'd done all these 18-hour days to get my work settled. So, I was just flat out exhausted.
And so, I slept a lot the first few days. And then I was just really resting and I just, I actually slept like real eight hours a night. And by the end of the week I had come to two decisions.
Georgie: [00:51:16] Okay. I'm excited to hear this.
Kim: [00:51:17] I've only been home since the weekend, so I've only been doing this a few days, but I can already tell that I feel so much better. I will get eight hours of sleep a night now, that's now my non-negotiable. So whatever time I go to bed, I'm not setting my alarm till eight hours later.
Like, whatever time that is. If I have a morning thing, I have to set it correctly and I've done it every night this week, even though last night, I was trying to hang out with my daughter and she wanted to stay up later, I'm like, I'm now waking up at 7:30 in the morning. I'm a 6:00 AM or 5:00 AM-er or so.
But I did it. I set my alarm for 7:30, so I'm getting more sleep. And then the other thing is I'm not working at night. Because I usually work all the time. Like, if one of my kids or my husband is not like physically standing here, like, "we're doing something," I just work because I like my work and there's always work to do.
And it's finally dawning on me: I will never come to a point where I have nothing else left to do. I won't. Like, there's always going to be more I could do. And so, if I don't just give myself a hard stop, I will never stop. I'm just going to keep going. And so that's my other thing. I have to take off work at a reasonable stopping hour and actually relax in the evenings.
Georgie: [00:52:20] So what are you doing with that time that you're giving yourself in the evening?
Kim: [00:52:24] It's hard! And that's one of the next question they have for you -- and I'll tell you what I've been doing -- but how do people learn to rest and relax when that's not typically their go-to mode? For me, I've shifted to doing things like being outside, actually reading a book for pleasure. Look, I love to read and so, even if it's a nonfiction book, it's still relaxing for me to sit and read. So, I go outside and I read. And we're getting ready to redo our kitchen. And I never just sit around like looking at pretty kitchens online. And that's what I've been doing. I'm like, just making myself it's little book of like, the things I think are pretty.
So that's how I've been spending my evenings, which is not how I usually spend my evenings.
Georgie: [00:52:59] Wow. So, there's a degree of discomfort because it's so weird and different.
Kim: [00:53:03] Yes. And I can think of about eight other things that I could productively be doing.
Not that these aren't productive, but you know, this is what I'm saying: how can people practice resting and relaxing if their natural tendency is not rest and relax?
Georgie: [00:53:18] Well, I think one great example that you've already given is that it feels a little weird. So, expect it to feel a little weird at first. Like, to cut your nails a little too short for a few days, they're going to feel a little touchy.
It's going to feel a little weird if you go from never letting yourself rest to letting yourself rest but look for the benefits. So, have you noticed some benefits? What did you notice about getting more rest on vacation that made you want to do it once you got home?
Kim: [00:53:40] I'm like breathing easily. Like, I feel like this weight is off of me.
Because before I always felt like I was just in this mode of like, "go, go, go, go," and I feel just a little more sense of ease. You know, not constantly running against an unbeatable clock.
Georgie: [00:53:57] That's pretty priceless.
So, I think looking for that is really helpful in determining if this is something we want to continue.
Because your brain's going to be, "you know, you could be more productive if you were doing this," "there's mail on the counter that you should get rid of, work on that pile." There's going to always be other things to do.
But if you're saying like, "no, this ease of breathing, the sense of peace that I have in myself is important. That's worth working for." That'll help you stick to it for long enough to make it a new habit.
I always encourage people to work in baby steps. I am a fan of slow, comfortable change. So, for some people it may just be slowing down some of the activities that you normally rush through.
Other than not resting -- you can go even further than not letting yourself rest and try and hurry through everything. Simply taking some of the time pressure off by allowing yourself a realistic frame of time to do things can be a huge step in the right direction.
And then you can also practice taking micro rests. Like, you can take a small pause to refresh yourself between client appointments if you have to see a lot of people. Few deep breaths, resetting your intention, deliberately closing your mind on the things that are behind you and opening to the things that are in front of you can be really rejuvenating rather than trying to keep them all juggling in your mind at the same time. So that is a form of rest, even if you're not laying down.
Giving you and yourself permission to lay down is a huge move for a lot of women. Like, they would rather go to the kitchen and take handfuls of granola out of the bag and eat them standing in the pantry, but going to lay down is scary shit.
Kim: [00:55:48] Yeah. You take five minutes to do that, but you're not going to take 5 or 10 minutes to go lay on the sofa.
Georgie: [00:55:53] Go lie down. And no one in your family is going to think you're lazy. It's in your head. It's pretty much in your head that, "people might think this, or I might think this, or I might not be a good mom or a good housewife or a good anything because I'm laying down."
And take that fight on, push back against that voice that's bullying you and saying, "you don't get to rest." Like, "not today, mean girl. Today I am taking a few minutes because I'm important. And if I take good care of myself, I do well. And nobody else is winning, nobody else is benefiting from me pushing myself to the brink of destruction."
Kim: [00:56:31] Yeah. That's a really good way of putting it. I like that you talked about you first, before you mentioned the other people. Because, you know, a lot of women have the idea in their mind, like, "I need to perform well for everybody else. And that's why I need to do X, Y, and Z." And it's true. Like, it's a hundred percent true. You will perform better for everybody else if you're well rested and all the things, but that's not the only reason it matters. It matters because you're a person and you deserve to feel well rested and all the other good things.
Georgie: [00:56:56] Yeah. Yeah. Just like I mentioned, bringing rest up on-par with all the other important things that you want to make time for, like bringing yourself up to on-par with everybody else.
Like, "yeah, I want to make food that everybody else enjoys, so I end up cooking a bunch of different things." Great. Make something you enjoy, too.
I think that's the difference between healthful serving of other people and allowing them to serve us and having a balanced dynamic versus the dynamic where we're just serving other people all the time and no one is refilling us and we're not asking anyone to refill us and we're not refilling us.
Kim: [00:57:36] Yes. That's huge. It's a big mindset shift for a lot of women. It’s an important one.
Georgie: [00:57:41] Thank God there's a book on it!
Kim: [00:57:45] Georgie, thank you so much for coming on. Where can everyone find you if they're looking for you?
Georgie: [00:57:51] Well, right now I'm in my closet, but...
Kim: [00:57:54] Go to Lake Louise and start looking at people's closets.
Georgie: [00:57:59] Just look up on the hilltops, I'm probably up there somewhere.
Find me on Facebook. My name is Georgia Fear. There's not too many of us out there.
My company is called Nutrition Loft, so you can find us at nutritionloft.com. We have some excellent free materials. You can take some of our free courses because we love giving information away for free.
If you want to get the book, "Give Yourself More," it's available direct from the publisher, which is On Target Publications.
So, if you go to otp.com, you'll see "Give Yourself More" is shown prominently there and so you can pick it up. You could also put, "Give Yourself More book" into Google and I bet you'd find it. It is sold on Amazon, so if you want to support Amazon, you can go there. It is available for Kindle, it's available in all the electronic formats and Audible.
So, you can hear Alicia and I read the book to you as you fall asleep, if you buy the Audible version. It's really fun to record the audio book. So exhausting.
Kim: [00:58:59] Thanks so much, Georgie.
Okay everybody, that's a lot of ways you can find Georgie. So, there you go. Thank you so much for being here and coming on and talking to us about these really important subjects.
Georgie: [00:59:08] Thank you! It was a blast. Thanks for reading my book and I'm excited to see how it pans out in your life.
Kim: [00:59:14] Amazing. We'll talk soon.
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.
Kim: [00:00:04] Welcome to episode 63 of the Fitness Simplified podcast. I'm your host Kim Schlag. On today's episode, I'm joined by Michelle, who is a brand-new member of the 5-0 club. She just turned 50. She has been struggling with weight loss as she ages and she's wondering, "can I still lose weight at age 50? Is menopause stopping me? What's the deal?"
Let's talk about it.
Hello, hello, hello! So, Michelle, where are you calling from?
Michelle: [00:00:39] I live in Southern California, Ventura County.
Kim: [00:00:44] Okay. Got it. Born and raised there?
Michelle: [00:00:49] Yes, born and raised Californian, daughter of two native Californians, which is a little bit rare.
Kim: [00:00:56] Oh, okay! So, before we jump into your question, tell us a little bit about you.
Michelle: [00:01:04] I am a brand new 50-year-old. I turned 50 a week ago.
Kim: [00:01:10] Oh my gosh, happy birthday!
Michelle: [00:01:12] Thank you!
Kim: [00:01:13] How did you celebrate?
Michelle: [00:01:16] Well, not the way I had hoped or expected under the current circumstances. Even though things are starting to open up a bit in California, we're sticking very close to home. So, the nicest thing actually was I'm a second-grade teacher and the room-mom from my class gathered together cards and presents and brought me flowers and treats and all of these goodies, delivered them to my house on my birthday.
Kim: [00:01:51] Oh, that's so nice.
Michelle: [00:01:53] It was very special to be remembered and celebrated that way, even apart from my class. And then, you know, my family -- I'm married and I have twin 12-year-old daughters, and so we've just been doing simple celebrations at home, a couple special meals and presents and things like that.
Kim: [00:02:13] Nice. Well, how do you feel about being 50?
Michelle: [00:02:17] I feel mostly, really, really good. We can talk more about my health journey, but I've worked really hard over the last two years to get control of my health and my weight.
So, I'm really optimistic going into this new decade in a really healthy place. But the reason for this call is because I'm also a little bit frustrated with what I've been experiencing in just the past three months. Being this age and really starting to struggle with more symptoms of menopause and I'm struggling with some unexpected weight gain.
Kim: [00:03:03] Okay. Got it.
So why don't you tell us about your health journey first, kind of catch us up to where you've been until the last few months, and then we can kind of talk about what's been going on there.
Michelle: [00:03:15] So I've been working pretty consistently with a trainer for three years. The first year that I worked with her, I definitely made progress in terms of physical abilities and fitness, but I wasn't seeing any weight loss. And I had resisted calorie counting for a very, very long time.
I have a background, as you do, in Weight Watchers. That was my first successful weight loss experience before I got married 27 years ago. And after that, I just really resisted any kind of system that required me to count anything. And I thought, "I can just eat healthy and I know what I'm eating and I'm making good choices." But she kept nudging me that that was really what was going to make the difference is counting those calories, making sure I was in a calorie deficit, tracking my food, being very accountable.
And so, when I finally stopped resisting that guidance and began tracking my calories, that's when I was finally successful with weight loss. So, in the last five months of 2018, I lost 30 pounds.
Kim: [00:04:35] Okay, great.
Michelle: [00:04:36] And then over the course of the first nine months of 2019, I shaved off about eight more pounds.
So, I started last school year at the lowest weight I've been since having my daughters 12 years ago. And, in my head, I really had a number I was hoping to reach by the time I turned 50. So, you know, I've continued to count my calories, make really healthy choices, I've continued training with her and exercising on my own at home. But as I look back at the last nine months, I've actually gained 10 pounds since the beginning of my school year in 2019. And most of that weight gain has been in just the last three months.
So the first six months of my school year, I fluctuated within just a five pound range and was really successful at staying within that range, but I definitely feel like the past three months, despite my efforts, the scale is creeping up, and it feels like it's out of my control.
Kim: [00:05:59] Got it. Got it.
So, you lost a substantial amount of weight. It sounds like you gained a lot of knowledge as well, both about physical training and about nutrition and portion control and calories and all of that, so that's fantastic.
What was the lowest weight you got to last September? And how tall are you?
Michelle: [00:06:17] I'm 5'6 and I got down to 157lbs. And I really had in my head that I wanted to be 150lbs by 50.
Kim: [00:06:28] Got it, got it. You liked the sound of that?
Michelle: [00:06:30] I did. I did.
Kim: [00:06:34] So, you mentioned that the past three months has specifically been a struggle. This coincides with you being in quarantine?
Michelle: [00:06:43] Yes.
Kim: [00:06:44] So talk to me about how your life was different before versus during the last three months.
Michelle: [00:06:50] Right. So, I definitely had reflected on this a lot and I think there are three factors that I could identify that really changed for me.
So, the first one is really overall activity level.
I'm a primary teacher. I'm almost never in a chair. Teaching second grade is a very physical job and so, in the classroom I spend most of my time on my feet moving around. I teach on a large campus, so even just walking to the office or taking my class to PE, there's a lot of movement throughout the day.
And so, I could easily track, 8,000 to 10,000 steps, just in a normal workday in addition to anything I might add in a daily walk, and that definitely dropped significantly being at home.
Kim: [00:07:49] Yeah. Did you continue teaching online from home?
Michelle: [00:07:53] I did. I did.
Kim: [00:07:55] And what does that look like for you? Were you just sitting at a desk?
Michelle: [00:07:58] Sitting a lot. Sitting just like this in front of the computer. Sitting, planning lessons. So, yes, very much a change from overall an active job lifestyle to a rather sedentary lifestyle.
Kim: [00:08:17] Got it.
Michelle: [00:08:18] So that's the first change. The second thing is that my menopause symptoms really did seem to ramp up in March.
It was really the beginning of me sensing hot flashes. My sleep has been wrecked for the last three months -- I haven't slept through the night in easily, three months. And then my stress level has been through the roof and most of that is from my job and having to completely rehaul and learn an entirely new way to deliver instruction with very little preparation. We basically had one week to shift everything to a digital format and learn all of the platforms and programs and digital content that we needed in order to launch that at the end of March.
Kim: [00:09:25] That's an incredible change, like a long-term career teaching one way and feeling very confident just going into work, doing your job, and knowing what you're doing to, "okay, you have one week to totally learn a completely different way to do all of that," while under a lot of stress in general, we were all under a lot of stress within the unknown. And the little people you're teaching are under a lot of stress, right? Because they're now trying to learn how to do this new way of learning.
So that's a lot to handle.
Michelle: [00:09:52] Right. And then, you know, I have my own daughters at home who are adjusting to a new way of doing things, my husband working at home, and so there's just all these factors that converged all at the same time. And so, I don't know exactly how to tease out what is the primary factor, if it's just a combination of everything together that has resulted in this gradual creep of weight.
Kim: [00:10:26] Okay. So, we talked about your activity level is way down, your menopause symptoms really ramped up, specifically with the hot flashes and lack of sleep. What was the third factor? You said there was a third factor that you had?
Michelle: [00:10:39] Stress.
Kim: [00:10:40] The stress was the third factor. Gotcha. Gotcha. Okay. That's definitely a lot to talk about.
Let's talk about two more things. What was your training like during quarantine versus before? And then let's talk nutrition. What stayed the same? What was different? All of that stuff.
Michelle: [00:10:59] Okay. So, the main change during quarantine is that I no longer trained in person with my trainer once a week, but she launched an online fitness program, eight-week fitness program, that I was involved in.
So, the overall activity level in terms of steps and movement around decreased, but my training maintained during the full time with a program of at least three workouts, 30 to 40-minute workouts, that incorporate strength training, basically HIIT-style workouts.
Kim: [00:11:41] Gotcha. Do you have equipment at home? Like dumbbells and those kinds of things to work with?
Michelle: [00:11:46] I do. I have a set of dumbbells in four different weights that I'm able to use. That's my primary equipment. And so, I was just watching her videos and doing her workouts with my weights here at home. And then we were walking quite a bit as a family, pretty much daily, so that's what my activity looked like.
I've continued, nutritionally, to count my calories, to stay on a particular calorie budget. And, you know, I always have like a weight loss goal that I'm working toward, and I basically eat what would be considered a paleo style diet. So, lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, high quality protein, fat. I'm gluten free and dairy free, so I don't eat any of those kinds of products, so I definitely have a very healthy, dialed in diet.
Kim: [00:12:53] And with the gluten and dairy is, do you have a gluten and dairy allergy?
Michelle: [00:12:58] I'm gluten intolerant and dairy gives me problems. So, I've just learned over time that it's better for me to avoid those things.
Kim: [00:13:09] You just feel better without them in your diet?
Michelle: [00:13:12] Absolutely. Yes. Yes.
I will confess, though, that even with my calorie counting, I've not been perfect. I've been very far from perfect. And there's been a lot of uncounted calories -- you know, slipping into having a bowl of cereal after dinner while I'm sitting on the couch watching TV or, you know, having a serving of ice cream during the week when I would never do that, partaking in the banana bread baking trend...
Kim: [00:13:57] Who didn’t, right?
Michelle: [00:14:00] Exactly. So, there are some nutritional factors that I probably haven't been entirely honest about.
Kim: [00:14:12] Got it.
Michelle: [00:14:12] And then celebrating my birthday the last week was just the worst.
Kim: [00:14:18] Hey, you're 50. I think a whole week of celebrating sounds awesome. I'm turning 50 in the fall. I was supposed to be on a cruise in Alaska and that has been canceled, so I'm whipping up some kind of big celebration and it might include a week of eating cake. I haven't decided yet.
Michelle: [00:14:34] Yeah, mine basically did. I've had half a dozen cupcakes in the last week and of the scale definitely showed it yesterday. I hit the highest point that I've hit in the last good while. So, that was definitely sobering and a wakeup call. And I'm at that point that I think everyone is, and I've heard you talk about this in the last three months, you know, "am I going to lose all my progress?"
"Am I gonna keep inching up back toward where I was." "Am I going to be able to get this thing controlled?" "Am I going to be able to shave these pounds back off again?"
It's all of those fears and questions and uncertainties.
Kim: [00:15:20] Michelle, how long have you been following me?
Michelle: [00:15:24] Probably about six months.
I stumbled on an article about "the top 50 trainers to follow" at some point around the new year, and I was attracted to you because you're the same age as me. You know, I'm not really interested in following a 20-30 something who's at a different stage of life. So, everything I've seen you put out is so consistent with what I've learned from my trainer and my whole fitness, wellness journey. And so, it's been six months.
Kim: [00:16:01] Gotcha.
I knew you'd been around for a while because you comment and like, and then we chat and stuff. So, got it.
Okay, so based on the things you've seen me post, what do you think I'm going to say is the answer to the struggle you're currently having with gaining weight the past three months?
Michelle: [00:16:17] So, I think the first thing that you're going to say is be honest about my tracking and track everything. Every little, you have an acronym for it I don't remember, but--
Kim: [00:16:30] LBTs. Licks, bites, and tastes.
Michelle: [00:16:33] Exactly. So, I think the first thing you'll say is actually track everything you put in your mouth and honest about it and be consistent and don't lie to yourself or don't miss those extra calories that could be adding up and resulting in not losing weight or gaining weight that you've kind of been lying about.
So, I think that's the first thing you're gonna say.
Kim: [00:17:10] You're right. That was good. You nailed it, Michelle. You nailed it.
Michelle: [00:17:16] And then I would suspect the second thing you would say is to really focus on getting up. Like, get that overall activity up again, get my steps in, just get up and moving because those 30 minute, three to four time a week workouts, while important for muscle building and strength maintenance, don't actually make much of a dent in my overall activity level.
Kim: [00:17:50] Bang on, Michelle. That was great. That was fantastic. You need to come write a guest post on my feed.
That's exactly it. And I get the questioning of yourself because when menopause symptoms do ramp up, and we've read so much about, "Oh gosh, gaining weight as you age," right? We kind of start having this little thought in our mind, like, "wait, can I not do this? Oh my gosh. Have I messed it all up now? Because now I'm 50 and I have more weight to lose than I had wanted to lose, and so maybe that's the problem here. And I know I'm super stressed..." and all of these additional factors that they can have an impact. Where they have the impact is either in calories in calories out, though.
They have this indirect impact. And so, you still have control over that and you just named the ways that you'll have control over that. So, when a person is lacking sleep, we do have more cravings, we do have our hunger ramped up. And so, these things impact how many calories we eat, right? So that's the calories in part.
Also, when we're lacking sleep, the calories out part often suffers as well, because we're just not moving around as much, right? Because you're tired, you didn't sleep. I was there myself. I see you shaking your head, you're like, "yeah, right?"
And then we have, on top of that, this additional factor of your activity level went from, "I am all over this big campus. I've got little second graders and I'm kneeling down and standing up and walking all around my classroom," to, "I am tied to my desk talking to these second graders and I'm planning my lessons."
And you're overtired because you're not sleeping now, right? So, your activity level is down and then here comes banana bread and all of the other things, right? And you weren't alone.
And this is the struggle everyone's having. They're like, "wow, how did this happen so fast?" But those two big factors changed so drastically in such a quick period of time, right? Before, you weren't sitting around baking multiple times a week, right? Like, who had time? That just, wasn't a part of your life structure.
And I know you're like, "absolutely right." No one can see you shaking your head, but it's true, right? And so those factors have been what has led to this.
Does that make you feel annoyed, happy, frustrated? How does it make you feel to know like, "okay. It really is about my activity and my calories."
Michelle: [00:20:17] I am frustrated with myself. You know, it's hard to make such good, positive progress and then see yourself backslide. But I also feel like I know what to do. I've done it before, I can do it again, and it's not too late.
That was the biggest lesson that I learned two years ago when I finally got everything dialed in.
It's not too late and I know I can do it again.
But there is still that nagging fear in the back of my head that maybe things are happening that are out of my control. So I am also in the process -- unfortunately, my doctor retired this year before giving me a recommendation of where to go -- so I'm in the process of locating a doctor and I definitely believe I need to check in with someone and pursue some possible treatments for the whole menopause component.
And hearing your story has been very encouraging and motivational to me about taking that step. But, like you said, the truth is I can see what's happened. It took three months of it adding up over time to bring it to my awareness in a really clear way.
Kim: [00:21:56] Yeah. Well, I'm super excited that you're going to find yourself a good doctor to work with for your menopause symptoms. I think it is critical.
I would suggest you check into see if they are NAMS affiliated -- North American Menopause Society -- affiliated. And then my friend, Dr. Heather Hirsch, who I've had on my podcast before, she's @hormonehealthdoc over on Instagram. She has a great ebook out about how to talk to your menopause specialist. Like, when you go to the doctor, it's a book you take, and then you can write it all about what you're experiencing and be prepared to go to your doctor.
And there's even a letter from her in the back of the book talking to your doctor. I had a terrible experience with my doctor and there's this letter from Heather, who's e a super menopause specialist, basically saying, "here's appropriate treatment. Here are things to consider," to your doctor.
Check that out because wow.
Michelle: [00:22:49] Oh, I did. I actually downloaded it last night.
Kim: [00:22:51] Oh, you did? You have it? Did you see that letter in the back? When I saw that, I was like, "wow, I needed that."
Michelle: [00:22:59] Oh, I didn't notice that. I noticed all of the places to track your own information and symptoms and things.
Kim: [00:23:05] Amazing. Yeah, it's so helpful.
Good. I'm glad you'll go in really prepared. It's important. That no sleeping stuff can really feel like it has altered your life in such a drastic way, so I'm really glad for you that you're going to get some help and get that under control.
Now there's a great possibility, when you talk to this person, that they won't know much about weight loss and menopause. It's pretty typical. Doctors across the board -- and menopause doctors are no different, those who specialize in it -- they don't know that much about weight loss. So I want you to know when you go in there that you will still, no matter what they say, no matter what treatments you do, HRT does not cause weight gain, those kinds of things.
Knowing that this chunk of it, like how to lose weight, get really fit in menopause isn't going to change no matter what the doctor says. So, getting a handle on the health side of it is only going to help you with this piece of it. Does that make sense?
Michelle: [00:24:00] Yes. Yes.
Kim: [00:24:01] Awesome. So yeah, I think you taking your advice that you gave yourself here about getting your activity level up -- and we can talk in a second about specifically how you're going to do that -- and then getting a handle on what you are currently eating.
Do you feel like, right now, there's any one particular habit or two particular habits with your eating that you're struggling with more than others that might be detrimental to keeping your calories in check?
Michelle: [00:24:32] Well, I will say that in following you, I've really learned so much about the importance of protein and I still struggle to get my protein high enough. There are a few days when I hit about a hundred grams per day, but it's really hard for me. I'm not sure why, but I usually land around 75 to 80 grams of protein.
So, I'm thinking that maybe that lack of satiation could be one factor in why, maybe, I am more prone to nibble or feel like I want something late at night. I think really the nighttime is, if I was to identify the one place I'm struggling the most, it's definitely in the evening after dinner.
There's almost that conditioning of like, "I want something sweet." And my daughters are having sweets and my husband's having sweets and most of the time, the fact that they're having gluten-full treats just naturally takes that off the table for me, because it's not even a possibility.
I cannot eat their cookies, their cupcakes, those things that they have in the house. But that temptation to have a bowl of cereal that I can eat, it's kind of sweet and comforting, is definitely something I have felt a struggle with in the evening.
Kim: [00:26:16] Okay. Got it. Okay. Those are two big ones we can tackle here. Let's talk about nighttime eating and then we can talk about how you can increase your protein.
So, what have you tried so far to curb your nighttime eating?
Michelle: [00:26:27] Water.
Kim: [00:26:28] Water. Okay. That definitely can help. Something in addition to that that can help is actually figuring out a plan for what you're going to do with yourself instead of eat, right? Eating is totally fine. So, two options for nighttime eating that I found really work well with my clients: 1) they plan ahead of time and they know what the nighttime snack will be, and they have already pre logged it into their calories and it's gonna fit, right? And so, they know that and they can have it.
Saying that, it needs to be something that you can control the portion of. So, if you're going to be like, "you know what? I do want a nightly bowl of cereal." Okay. Make it fit in your calories. You'll have to measure out and pour your bowl of cereal, put the box away, put the milk away. Because look, I'm a cereal girl and so I know how fast it can go from, "I'm having one or two servings of cereal," to "I just had three bowls." Which is like eight servings, guys. Cereal is ridiculous. And that is a huge amount of calories, right? And so, selecting the item with an eye towards, "how will I control my portion size?"
Sometimes it helps to have a single portion thing, but you could go cereal, it's just, literally, "I pour my portion, I put it away, and I don't have more."
If it kind of feels like that's too hard of a choice to monitor the portion size of cereal, pick something that you can. Get single serve -- I know you said you do ice cream -- get a single serve non-dairy ice cream. Whatever the kind of treat it is you could have and have it be, "this is what I'm having and that is my food."
2) Which works equally as well for other people, it's just kind of which people prefer, is they give themselves a bright line that, "after dinner I do not eat."
When you're home. Like, obviously if you're going out somewhere that's different.
But on a day by day basis, "I do not eat. The kitchen is closed for me." And that works really well for people. Doing that, often it helps to literally stay out of the kitchen. So, going upstairs, going downstairs, going outside, not hanging out in the kitchen.
Does one of those versus the other seem like it might be a better fit for you?
Michelle: [00:28:32] Yes. I need a bright line. I've learned about myself that I'm not good at moderating. Abstinence is typically a better strategy for me, just to say, "dinner is the end, I'm done." Because when I start dipping into the sugar, it really just ramps up my cravings for it.
I have historically been more successful by just saying, "I'm not going to do it."
Kim: [00:29:05] Yeah. Okay, great. Well, that's a good decision to make then.
So, in setting up that bright line, I think it's important the vocabulary you use. And so instead of saying, "I can't eat anymore, I can't eat at night," it feels very like, you want to rebel against it. Like, "you watch me eat at night!" Right?
And so instead, saying to yourself, "I'm choosing not to eat at night for right now. This is going to help me reach my goal, so for now I'm choosing that after I'm done with dinner, I'm not going to eat."
Does that make sense?
Michelle: [00:29:34] Yes, absolutely.
Kim: [00:29:35] Okay.
The other thing that's important with that is making sure that your dinner is satisfying and that when you leave the dinner table, you feel like, "okay, I have enjoyed my meal." You don't want to be depriving yourself heading into this long night of, "oh my gosh, now I'm not eating." So that's important.
The other thing that I would say is important is if you have typical evening activities that are tied with the eating, like if you and your family typically watch a TV show and snack or whatever it is you do together and snack, one of the things that can make it easier to break the habit of the nighttime snacking is to change up your routine.
So, you have a different cue to start the evening. And so maybe this is a good time to take a family walk or play games in the backyard or whatever it might be, but kind of shake up whatever the routine was that was attached to food.
What do you guys typically do in the evening?
Michelle: [00:30:32] We have been walking after dinner. I've discovered that the hour right up to sunset is just my absolute favorite time to walk because it cools off here and it's beautiful, it's quiet, it's serene.
So, we have been making a pretty good habit of that within 30 to 45 minutes after dinner, taking about a 30 to 45-minute walk.
And then we will typically come home and watch something on TV, although I have other areas of my life that I'd also like to shift towards some more reading. And so that might be a good time to make a change where instead of plopping down on the couch -- which is actually right adjacent to our kitchen -- that I actually go into the bedroom and get out my book and have a different pre-bed routine, which would probably also be better for my sleep.
Kim: [00:31:30] Absolutely. All right, killing a lot of birds with one stone there. I love it. I think that's a great plan.
So, you know, enjoyable dinner, nice nighttime walk at a time you enjoy, and then reading in your room instead of TV right next to the kitchen.
I think that sounds like a great plan. Do you feel good about that?
Michelle: [00:31:46] I do.
Kim: [00:31:47] Amazing.
All right, let's talk about protein for a minute, then. What are your go-to protein sources? What do you like?
Michelle: [00:31:55] I like eggs for breakfast. That's pretty typical for me. Or I do have a protein shake powder that I will use to make a breakfast smoothie.
I'm really good about protein at dinner. Dinner usually centers around some kind of lean protein like pork or chicken or ground beef. We have a pretty standard menu of meals that I'll rotate through. So, I don't feel like I struggle very much with breakfast or dinner.
Lunch is kind of tricky for me. I'll often make a big salad, so grilled chicken will go on that salad or I have been enjoying dairy free cottage cheese quite a bit. So, I'll often have that either on the side of my salad or that will kind of be my primary lunch with some fruit on top of it. So those are probably my go-tos.
I have a history of irritable bowel syndrome and beans, while considered an excellent source of protein, can be really problematic for me. So, I've avoided those quite a bit in, especially, the last two years. So, I really steer clear of legumes, lentils, those kinds of plant-based sources of protein.
Kim: [00:33:32] Gotcha.
Michelle: [00:33:33] I don't do a lot of dairy, of course. So, a yogurt is not an option I'll usually have. I do use almond milk for my smoothies. I'm not sure if there's much protein in almond milk, I don't think there is.
Kim: [00:33:49] There's not, no. It's annoying, but there's not.
Michelle: [00:33:53] I know, right?
Kim: [00:33:56] Okay. So it sounds like you have a lot that you like, so that's fantastic and there's no reason -- beans and those things are great to supplement with, or for a person who is vegetarian, but they're not my go-to protein sources.
Some of the other ones you mentioned there are really fantastic -- the eggs and the chicken and the pork, that's all fantastic.
So, my number one suggestion for you -- well, I have two big ones.
1) take the total amount of protein you should be eating during the day and divide it by the number of meals you eat. So, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, that's three. If you don't want to use a snack to be protein-filled -- which some people do and some people don't, they like a protein bar or some cottage cheese or whatever, but if you just want to stick with the main meals -- so your protein goal is going to be somewhere around 130-150 grams per day. Maybe 120.
Since you're so low right now, I would say minimum first goal, let's get you to 100 and then from there try and ramp it up. And so even to get to 100, we're talking 33-34 grams per meal.
So, let's start with 34 grams per meal. So, divide that in your mind. Know that, "at breakfast, at lunch, and at dinner, I need 34 grams of protein." Dinner sounds super easy -- just to have a bigger serving. Like, if it's your Turkey, if it's your fish, if it's your chicken, just have more. Those calories will obviously come from carbs and fats.
With your breakfast, are you doing straight-up eggs? Are you doing any egg whites with it?
Michelle: [00:35:36] I usually just do straight eggs.
Kim: [00:35:38] Okay. About how many are you eating?
Michelle: [00:35:40] Two.
Kim: [00:35:41] Two. Okay.
So that's 12 grams of protein. Which is a nice start, but obviously, you know, we're talking getting 30, so you're going to need to do one of two things:
Either supplement it with another protein source. So, you could have eggs and some kind of breakfast meat, you could have eggs and some cottage cheese on the side with some fruit or something. The other option is to mix egg whites in with your eggs, which is something I've done a lot because you can have, gosh, if you had a cup of egg whites, it's 26 grams of protein. If you have half a cup, that's like 13 grams of protein. That could really help.
How do you cook your eggs? Do you scramble them, or do you fry them?
Michelle: [00:36:25] I scramble them.
Kim: [00:36:26] Okay. So, mixing the egg whites in could really pump up the volume of food. You get so much more food. So that's a possibility. And then lunch. Tell me again, why is lunch tricky for you? You said you struggled with lunch.
Michelle: [00:36:45] Yes. Just because getting, like, if I'm having a salad, I guess maybe I don't put enough the protein in that salad to really make a significant amount.
Also, while I've been at home, I've been eating breakfast rather late. So, I will often not have breakfast until like 11 o'clock and then we typically have dinner around six. So, a lot of times I have a very small lunch between those two and breakfast and dinner tend to be my biggest meals. So, I'm just not as hungry in the middle of the day and so I don't eat as much.
Kim: [00:37:33] Got it. Yeah.
So, what can you see that you could do about getting enough protein in then, taking into consideration that you might eat one smaller meal?
Michelle: [00:37:44] I'm not sure. That's why I'm struggling with it.
Kim: [00:37:46] Okay. The thing that immediately comes to my mind is: prioritize protein at that meal. So, whatever meal it is, you do have, put a good chunk of protein in it. The other option is: take some of the grams of protein you need from that meal and export them to the other two meals. So, have even more protein at breakfast and more protein at dinner.
Those are kind of the options, right? You're either going to spread it out evenly over the three, or you're going to bump it up.
One of the things that really helps me get in a ton of protein is canned chicken. There's like 50 grams of protein in two small cans -- it looks like a can of tuna, but they're cans of chicken -- and if I eat two of them, I want to say it's 160 calories and it's 50 grams of protein.
Michelle: [00:38:35] Oh my goodness.
Kim: [00:38:35] I know, right? Look, I'll show you and no one else can see, but I have my big salad bowl here. That's what I had in there, was my canned chicken and my arugula and some tomatoes and things. And so, it's a really easy, fast way to pump up protein. And it's delicious.
I've had some people, like, "I don't know why you like that. It tastes like cat food." So, you might not like it...
But looking for protein sources you do like -- you know, you could add a protein shake. That could be a good time to do that. I think definitely for somebody like you who's struggling, having that protein shake every day right now would be big. Either having it with breakfast, having it after your lunch, those kinds of things.
How do you feel about having one at least daily?
Michelle: [00:39:20] I think I could definitely make that work.
Kim: [00:39:24] Okay. So, what I would suggest with the protein then is really brainstorming each day. And I would do this not as you're going, but before, like the night before, "what am I eating tomorrow?"
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner -- number one is, "how will I get the protein in?" And then you fill in the rest of the stuff from there.
Michelle: [00:39:42] Yes.
Kim: [00:39:42] How do you feel about that?
Michelle: [00:39:44] That is definitely something I can do. When I'm really dialed in, that is how I approach my meal planning.
Kim: [00:39:54] Okay, great. Fantastic.
And I think you hit on a really important point that a lot of the snacking and picking you do, we can help eliminate that by helping you feel more satisfied with your meals and protein is a great way to do that.
So, it sounds like we've got some really good action steps for you here. You're going to get that protein under control, going pre-log it, gonna spread it out over those meals, starting with getting 100 grams and then inching your way to 120-130, somewhere around there. Bright line for nighttime eating, replacing the TV watching with some reading your book in your bed that'll hopefully help with your sleep.
All right. Is there anything else you want to talk about? Anything else I can help you with?
Michelle: [00:40:40] I'm sure there is and I'm sure I'll think about it five minutes after we sign off here.
Kim: [00:40:49] Well, that's definitely a lot of action steps take anyway, Michelle. So, we don't want to overwhelm you with things to do.
You know, once a person has a lot of knowledge -- and you clearly know what works, right? You're not often left field there somewhere thinking that some crazy thing that doesn't work is going to work. You know what works. What the trick is, is putting in place, the small action steps and just working on them day after day after day. So, we don't want to overwhelm you with too many action steps, right? Because we want you to really nail these couple here.
Michelle: [00:41:19] I think that's good. I think those are definitely achievable for me. They're definitely manageable goals that I can put into place and I think they will start moving me in the right direction.
Kim: [00:41:36] Amazing. I know they will. 100% they will.
Okay, so do me a favor: keep in touch and let me know what happens with all of this. Reach out to me in DMs and we can chat. I want to know how you're doing.
Michelle: [00:41:47] I will definitely do that, Kim. Thanks so much. I really appreciate the presence that you are, and I love following you, I listen to your podcast. I've gained so much just from these six months, so thank you.
Kim: [00:42:02] I appreciate that, thank you. Makes me super-duper happy. It really does. It makes me thrilled that it's helped.
Michelle: [00:42:09] I wish you a really, really special, happy 50th birthday in the fall.
Kim: [00:42:14] Oh, thank you so much! Thank you so much. If you have any great ideas of how I should celebrate, let me know.
Michelle: [00:42:20] I don't...but my slogan for the year and the decade is, "50 is nifty."
Kim: [00:42:28] 50 is nifty. Here we go.
Michelle: [00:42:30] "There's no food here. Come and join us at the party."
Kim: [00:42:34] Thank you so much. We'll talk soon.
Michelle: [00:42:36] Okay.
Kim: [00:42:37] Okay. Bye
Thanks so much for being here and listening in to 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.
Kim: [00:00:04] Welcome to episode 62 of the Fitness Simplified Podcast. On today's episode, I'm joined by my friend, Amanda Thebe. Now Amanda has been on the program before -- when we are together, the topic of conversation is usually menopause. And I will be having Amanda back on in a couple of months to discuss her new book called "Menopocalypse," that will be coming out in October. But today's topic is actually COVID-19.
Amanda fell ill with COVID back in April and she's part of a growing group of people we are finding out more about called long-haulers. They are people whose symptoms do not go away in the expected timeframe.
Here we are. 12 weeks later and Amanda is still quite ill. And so, we're going to talk about that today.
Hi, welcome. I'm so glad you're here.
Amanda: [00:01:02] First of all, I need to apologize. I have this terrible cough. Obviously, we'll go into that and it's just your bad today and I just want to cough all the time.
Kim: [00:01:15] That's okay. No apology needed.
Amanda: [00:01:17] It looks like looks at you had a wash and a shower, too.
Kim: [00:01:21] I did! I got up, I got ready. I haven't gone for a walk yet today. I messed around too much to have time for a walk, but I'm going to have a walk after this.
Amanda: [00:01:30] What a slacker. Okay.
Kim: [00:01:31] I know. I've been trying to do my walk early because it gets really hot here now. Like, wet. It's really humid here and so if you go out for a walk mid-day -- watch me later on my story, see how my hair looks now? It's going to be about 12 times the size when I go outside.
Amanda: [00:01:46] Well I live in Texas, so what are you gonna do? It's the same here. 100% humidity right now.
Kim: [00:01:51] That's right, I was surprised Texas is humid.
I went last summer and I couldn't believe. I could not believe. All of a sudden big Texas hair made sense to me.
Amanda: [00:02:00] Yeah, totally. I have good hair here because I really thin hair and here, I have big hair and I have good skin because the humidity really helps, right? But Houston, Austin, and the hill country is green and lush and Houston is a really green and lush place, it's tropical almost. But then you go further out Western it's dry and arid like you would see in the movies, you know?
Kim: [00:02:28] And you all listening might not know this, but Amanda is not a native Texan. I know that's shocking to hear from her voice.
Amanda, how does Texas compare to England? Do you like both of them or do you prefer England?
Amanda: [00:02:41] So the best way to cope with it is not to compare it. It's not comparable at all. Not at all. I left the UK 20 years ago and so I was there 30 years and I've been in North America for 20 years. So, I'm sort of soon going to be here an equal amount of time. But I mean, I do feel British still and I grew up there and I still am very British in my mannerisms and my thought process and attitude to things, for sure.
Then we lived in Boston for a while, but then we lived in Canada for 15 years and Canada is a really nice transition for a Brit to come into North America because, Toronto, where we lived, was very liberal and multicultural, very diverse on social, economic, and gender diversity, racial, all of those things. So, it was a really good place to bring my kids up.
I was a bit concerned about coming to Houston because I really need those things in my life, but I find that Houston is very different to what I expected, and it does have those aspects. You've just got to actively search them out. It's very, very diverse in a more segregated way, I would say. People might not like that if they're from Texas, but, you know, there's like areas where the Hispanics are, areas where the black communities are, and I don't like that so much.
But as far as the workforce is concerned, there's a massive medical center here, there's all the oil and gas, so it brings people from all over the world here. The restaurants are fantastic when you can go to them, obviously, in a normal circumstance. The artwork is fantastic. There's lots of really cool things to do down here. So, to me, it's just another adventure.
Kim: [00:04:37] That's a good approach. That's a good attitude for something like that. I'm lucky enough right now to live where I grew up. I have not always -- I have not stayed here in Pennsylvania, but I got to come back, and I've been back here a good long time. And I like it.
I liked that I'm home and I'm where I grew up. But I like your attitude of looking at it as an adventure to be somewhere else.
Amanda: [00:05:00] And it's funny because when I grew up, I always knew I wanted to go and travel. I always had that wanderlust. So, it was never a surprise that I left home at 16, you know?
And then I lived in London for a while and then I traveled around, and I do a lot of traveling and I don't think I'll ever go back to the UK. It's not on my to-do list. I visit often, most years or every other year. Maybe we'd go back to Scotland. My husband's Scottish. And I really like the landscape there and we're big hikers and stuff. It's not great weather, but it's so beautiful that it sort of overrides that.
Kim: [00:05:40] You know, usually if we're together talking about something it's menopause, right? That's the subject. But today that's not going to be the topic.
Amanda: [00:05:46] Every damn day in or inbox. We're always DMing each other. If I'm not taking the piss out of you for something, it's talking about menopause.
God forbid I say anything nice about you, you know? If I could take the piss out of you first, I will.
Kim: [00:06:05] So before we talk about today's big subject, I do want to talk about menopause, very briefly about your book, because I was super excited to see you announce the other day.
So, Amanda has written a book it's coming out October, correct?
Amanda: [00:06:17] October 20th.
Kim: [00:06:18] And it's called “Menopocalypse." It's now on Amazon and it hit number one for the category of menopause, correct? Am I getting that right?
Amanda: [00:06:29] Which I think sounds exciting. My kids are like, "Oh wow. Hardly. It was number 10 in women's health."
So, I think it's because I'm always talking about and am very clear about what I'm doing. I'm not overly salesy though. I don't love blowing my own trumpet, but I'm excited about this because I think it's going to be such a useful, helpful book. And the only reason I wrote it is because I had this body of work and you are the same with the stuff you put out -- it's really useful stuff that women need to know.
And so, it's up for pre-ordering. So, I sort of tugged at people, like, "you said you were going to buy my book. Well you can buy it now!" And I think people did. So, it did well on its preorders, but the launch isn't until October.
And the premise of the book is about my experience through menopause, which goes from perimenopause through to menopause. I'm menopausal now. And all the struggles I faced, the challenges with finding valid information, which you know all about, because these are the conversations we have. It's a little bit easier these days, I think, but 8 years ago when I started going through this -- like 42, 43 -- it was just like nothing.
Kim: [00:07:55] Well it's easier because people like you are talking about it, right? That's why. It's getting easier for people because we're talking about it now and still, I feel like we're talking about it this much and we should be talking about it way more. But we're making dents.
Amanda: [00:08:10] Yeah, we're making small dense. And it should be a conversation that we could have easily without going like, *whispers* "menopause..." or not mentioning it to your friends.
And now people do talk about it. So, I love that. There's some great advocates that there -- you've had Katrina Wilcon. I became really close with her from Sweden. She's done a great job with her book "Perimenopower." There's lots of people out there, Dr. Heather Hirsch, et cetera, et cetera.
And so, the book is in two parts and the first part is really about my experience, what we know about menopause, what the medical professionals and medical organizations are saying about first-line treatment options. I answer the most popularly asked things like, "why am I getting so fat?"
I also have one about dry vaginas. A whole chapter about dry vaginas and everything that goes with it.
Kim: [00:08:59] There's something to look forward to.
Amanda: [00:09:01] Indeed. Give it to your husband to read. I actually think this is a good coffee table book that you could put down. Buy it for your husband for Christmas, I'm telling you.
And then the second half of the book is the, is the work, the solution-based stuff that you and I talk about. You more so, because I don't have clients and you are actively helping people a little bit more on a personal level. But it's all of the stuff that you can control that's not going to just support you.
I'm not telling you anything that's going to fix anything or amend anything because it's obviously not something that's broken, but it's so challenging that if there's certain things that you can take control of through this period, through to menopause, and then the rest of your life, it's sort of like bulletproofing you for longevity, right?
And so, I have an exercise, strength program that's just a 12-week basic strength program for those who have never tried it before, or maybe who have and just want to change things up. A nutritional aspect, one all about stress management and sleep. I put those both together because I do feel like they sort of go hand in hand.
And then the last chapter I wrote with a psychologist friend of mine, and it's all about resiliency mindset. And this is my Brene Brown moment. And my dream of writing that chapter is Brene Brown lives about two blocks away and I don't know why we're not best friends. Why we're not having coffee.
Kim: [00:10:27] I can see you being best friends. I could see that.
Amanda: [00:10:30] You know that movie -- there was a terrible movie out called "Wine Country," and it was awful. It was about these people, like women like her, and they all got together, they were all like, "we're sick of our lives. We're going to go to wine country, get drunk, and have a girls' weekend."
And it had like Amy Schumer in it and Tina Fey and all of those, and it was a Netflix movie. I thought, "this is going to be great! I'm going to watch this!" And it was awful. I hated it. But there's one scene where they go to a restaurant and Bree Brown is there and they're all at the table going, "Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. There's Brene Brown!" And they're all like, "let's not say anything. Let's be cool. Let's be cool. Let's not even stare over."
That would totally be me. Then they get drunker and drunker and drunker, and then they go over and talk to her and Brene Brown sits and goes, "can we talk about boundaries?" I have a feeling that I would knock on the door and say, "Brene, I want to be your friend."
And she'd be like, "boundaries?"
Kim: [00:11:28] Maybe you'll just run into her sometime.
Amanda: [00:11:31] Yeah, I'll make it happen.
Kim: [00:11:33] could start taking your walks in her neighborhood.
Amanda: [00:11:36] Well, I say two blocks away, but it probably is more like three miles away, but, you know, she's in Houston.
Kim: [00:11:41] A long walk away.
So, okay. Let's transition here to our subject for today.
Amanda and I are both really passionate about getting good information out there. Usually the subject is menopause. Today it is not. Today the subject is COVID-19, but the idea is still that we want to get some good information out there to you. I want Amanda to share her story.
Amanda has had COVID, is still dealing with COVID, and that's really the big part of what we want to talk about here. But why don't you kind of tell people -- before we talk about you actually getting COVID, talk about where you were at with your health and fitness right before. Like, generally what's your lifestyle like?
Amanda: [00:12:19] You know, perimenopause had been a struggle for me and one of the things that you and I talk about all the time is that when you're faced with physical and emotional and mental challenges from that huge chemical shift that happens, when your hormones start changing, that you can't always be on your health and fitness a hundred percent of the time. It's very, very difficult to have that consistency when life throws you a curve ball, right?
And I'd faced these challenges for the previous five to eight years and I had ups and downs and I've spoken about my struggles with chronic migraines -- three months of migraines -- and stuff like that and depression and blah, blah, blah, lots of different symptoms.
And so, I'd actually learned to sort of deal with those. And that's a really important topic of conversation -- when I couldn't do the workout I wanted to do or my eating went off kilter because I wasn't completely focused, how I dealt with the mindset that helped me get back on the train without guilt, without pressure, without judgment, all of those things.
So, I think as you go through midlife menopause, these are really important things to learn and to deal with. And I think because I had that attitude when I started to feel good, around about Christmas I just had this big click, and everything just fell into place.
I'm actually menopausal now and I have been probably for a good year to year and a half. And even when you go into menopause, there's still shifts with the hormones and I actually think mine calmed right down now. So, January to March, I just was rocking out, I just felt really strong.
The photo shoot for my book was taken then and it really encompasses what I was feeling. I was sort of back to feeling invincible again. I was feeling strong. I was fit. I don't know, it just felt good. I just felt like myself again and it was a long time since it's been like that.
So, literally to the day before I got my first symptom of COVID, I just thought, "I've got this."
Kim: [00:14:28] And then when did you have your first symptoms of Corona?
Amanda: [00:14:41] So, it's very interesting -- you know, when someone says, "it's very interesting," then it better be interesting...
Kim: [00:14:48] Make this interesting. You said it.
Amanda: [00:14:53] The day before I'd got up at a reasonable time, it was March break, we'd started the stay at home protocol. So, then we didn't go away on March break, we changed our mind, we decided we would stay at home. The kids' school had just closed and we were like, "let's just have the week off. We know they're not going to go back."
I was the one that did everything, the kids and my husband stayed at home. He was working and I was doing all the food shopping and doing the errands and stuff. And at the time, if you remember March break, nobody was wearing masks. I was sanitizing my hands, but probably wasn't as uber cautious as I am now, or any of us are now.
And so, I just was like, "I'm a little bit bored here. I don't have a lot to do." So I got up and had done a big training session in the morning and then my son and I had started that "Couch to 5K" program and so we went out for a 5K run together and I carried on and did a little bit more.
And then when I got home at the end of the run I was like, "ah, it's allergy season," and, you know, with menopause, it can change your histamine intolerance slightly. And so, I started getting allergies and I'd never had them before. My eyes were already itchy, and I was like, "I could just scratch my eyes out, they're driving me crazy!"
And so, for three or four days my eyes started to just be all swollen and stuff. And then I started burning up, but I checked my thermometer -- which I think he might have been broken -- but I checked my thermometer and I didn't see anything, but I would just get drenched in sweat and then get freezing cold. And I was like, "Oh God, I'm getting hot flashes that have just come out of nowhere." I've never had them.
Kim: [00:16:36] Yeah, I remember you DMed me and you're like, "tell me about your hot flashes again." Because that was not a part of your perimenopause experience.
Amanda: [00:16:42] No, and it is for many, many women. In fact, that's usually the worst symptom and I'd never had it and I attributed that to the strength training because we 've spoken about the association of more lean muscle mass to less symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats.
And so that was it. For the first few days I had itchy eyes and the sweats, and I just assumed they were menopause and allergies. But antihistamines did nothing. Nothing.
And so, by the weekend I was like, "I don't think this is allergies," and I just didn't feel well. You know, I just had a malaise that wouldn't shift, and I was like, "gosh, it's just a bug." I just thought it was just a bug. I couldn't work out what it was in the slightest.
So that's how it started. So, the day before I'd done this epic workout day because I had so much time on my hands.
Kim: [00:17:36] And when you first went to get diagnosed, when you first went to take the test, it was not smooth sailing, right?
Amanda: [00:17:45] I feel like I've now become like the "fit" person who got COVID and is struggling with it, right? So that's what this is about. And I think it's raising awareness that the message that's out there that initial, "obese, have healthcare issues, underlying comorbidities, blah, blah, blah. You're going to be fine. You're going to be asymptomatic." And as we go further on, I want to talk about like the different pockets I see people falling into.
For me by Monday the following week, I started to say to my husband, "I don't think I'm getting very well." And he said, "well, what else have you gotten?" And you can hear my voice is raspy now and it's basically been like that since the get go. And it feels tight here.
And so, I did the online assessment and it said, "go for a test." It gave me a COVID test. And at the time in Houston, you couldn't get them very easily. And I thought, "oh, maybe the things I'm experiencing fall into those categories."
So I went to the drive thru, waited two hours, and got right to the front and it was all outside and there were all these tents and there was people in PPE and it was like something out of the movie "Contagion." It was crazy. And a storm came and started blowing the tent, so the police came and sent us all home. And I was like two from the front. I was like, "you gotta be jesting me."
So, I go home and I go back the next day and I get there super early and I'm an hour before it even opens, so I'm the first in line. I get to the front of the line in the car -- they don't give you the test, it was a self-administered swab that you put up the front of your nose.
Kim: [00:19:42] Oh, it was self-administered?
Amanda: [00:19:44] It was.
Kim: [00:19:45] Because I heard to get a good diagnosis, you have to be practically touching your brain with that thing, right?
Amanda: [00:19:50] You've got to pick a bit of the gray matter out. That's what I understood. And I was really confused by it.
Kim: [00:19:55] I'm not doing that to myself.
Amanda: [00:19:58] Exactly, right? It has to be done and so it came back negative and I was like, "fine. I don't have it. It's something else." And that felt good to me, right? And then -- I don't know exactly the timeline, but say a week later -- I simply wasn't getting better.
And I know you got sick at the same time and I was like, "Oh my God. Oh, my God, go get tested, Kim. I hope you don't have it."
Kim: [00:20:18] I was so sick for the longest. I've never been sick for that long.
Amanda: [00:20:22] I think you maybe had it.
Kim: [00:20:24] And I think I may have had it too. And you know, when I finally talked to my doctor about it, she's like, "all right, call me back tomorrow if nothing has changed." Because I don't remember what was going on and I couldn't get in that day. She's like, "I'll send you for a test." And then I was better enough the next day. And then I got worse again. I think I had it.
Amanda: [00:20:39] And, you know, they were giving you, "these are the symptoms you have," and it's obviously all the time now. I mean, we're six months since it's all happened, really. If we're to go back to the January symptoms that people are talking about, I mean, these big Facebook groups with a hundred thousand people -- the symptoms are nothing like what they're talking about that. It's so big and we're learning and learning and learning.
We have to be open minded about it, as does the medical profession, as well. I need to talk to you about getting gaslighted by my nurse practitioner during this.
So, I get a negative test, I don't get much better, so I try to see my own doctor who is only doing video consults and he's jammed. So, the nurse practitioner -- a different one, a great guy -- did a video consult with me and he went, "I think that you have coronavirus." And I was like, "well, no, I had a negative test" and then he went, "those tests are so terrible and we just don't trust them and your symptoms are so classic, but we need to rule out pneumonia, flu, mono, you need a chest X-ray. Go to the nearest urgent care."
So, I got to my nearest urgent care and you have to phone ahead. They refused to let me in, they made me sit in the car. They were like, "yep, you've got COVID, we can't have you in here." And I went, "I have a negative test in my hand." And he went, "I'm afraid it doesn't really mean very much to us. We don't put too much trust in the tests. It's symptom-based."
Eventually I persuaded him, I was like, "listen, you have to. I need to know. If I've got a chest infection, I need antibiotics." So, we go in eventually, they literally huddle me into a backroom. All my tests are completely clear. I do have a temperature, my oxygen is a little bit low, but I'm talking like in the low nineties, not anything crazy.
He says, "no mono, no flu, nothing. Your chest x-ray is fine. I'm going to give you a diagnosis of COVID. I really want you to go home and self-isolate." And I said, "well, I am anyway." And I went, "but I don't think I've got COVID," and he went, "you do. There's nothing else that you have, and we don't have the COVID tests here. And even if we did, I wouldn't give you the test because they're not reliable."
And if you think about it, this was in March, right? When they were just bringing out the test. Three weeks later -- so I'm probably at week three-four, I'm now in bed with a fever and I'm coughing and it hurts and I joke now because of what Trump said, but it felt like I'd been eating glass and washing it down with Clorox. Everything hurt. It was awful.
So the only way to get a real assessment was to go to the ER and I've always been reluctant to do that and I don't like that about the medical system here -- that if you really want to see someone, you've gotta go to that. I didn't want to overwhelm the system, but it was 11 o'clock at night and my family who work in hospitals in Canada just said, "well, if you're going to do it anytime, do it at night and then you know you're not overwhelming it. It should be quiet." So, I go and they've got a special tent set up and I was the only one there.
So, the ER team there were really efficient and I was the only one there. They gave me the full spectrum of tests and they said to me, "so, your oxygen is slightly low and your temperature is a little bit high, but we don't need to hospitalize you and that's the main thing you need to know." And I was really worried about that. My kids were like crying and going, "don't go to the hospital!" Because at the time everyone was really nervous about going to a hospital.
I mean, now in Houston, 96% of the people going through the COVID wards coming home. They're really making progress, which is amazing. But I didn't need that and so the doctor came, and he went, "okay, so we've given you a diagnosis of presumptive COVID." And I went, "Oh, don't you test?" And he went, "well, we can test you if you want to and the tests take about five hours to turn around, you can't leave, you have to stay here." Bear in mind this is midnight now and I'm on Formica chairs in the waiting room. And he says, "and I have to be completely honest -- there's no point."
And he says, "and there's no point because, by doing these tests with people with 70% oxygen, who've got COVID in their lungs, we can see it on the x-ray, and it's coming back negative. It just doesn't matter. Go home and rest." They gave me the Z pack and the inhalers and all of this stuff.
So, I went home, was sick for another week. I was under no doubt that I had COVID, and then I started to turn a corner. And then this is where we are now, right? So now we're at the stage where I was sick for a good solid four weeks, four and a bit weeks, and I'm now at week 12 and I'm still recovering. And I thought I was going crazy, Kim, and think that the conversation has changed now. And I'm seeing this, and I post all the time on Facebook and stuff and Instagram that they're now talking about us as "long haulers."
Kim: [00:26:28] Yeah, I had never heard that word until you said it last week. I had not heard that. That's not something people are talking a lot about,
Amanda: [00:26:35] But I think now it's like everything -- once you start talking about it, they are. There's like tens of thousands of these people going past 28 -- I think they're saying over a month, they're considered long haulers.
I'm in a Facebook group -- there's two -- one is for over 80 days, which is what I am, and one's called "The Survivor Corps," and there's like 65,000 people all exactly like me. And they're all saying, "I don't get this, I've got positive tests, I've gotten negative antibodies and I've had negative COVID tests, but I've got positive antibodies. I'm so sick. I'm not getting better." Any combination of those things are in there, right?
I think I personally am of the opinion that the tests are worthless. Unless they've really improved, I don't have any trust in them at all. And I think the CDC basically said that they're under-counting because of that.
But I mean, that's just maybe my conspiracy theory and just my experience, right? But so, people are in that group saying, "why am I not getting better? Why are other people getting better? And why are some people just hanging on to this?" And so, that's the bulk of the conversation that I think we should talk about today.
Because I see the people that are asymptomatic all the way to people who, unfortunately, don’t survive this, right? And then you have those that are going down, that are hospitalized, and those that are on oxygen. And so, there's this chunk of people in the middle that are just not recovering or not recovering quickly. And the journey to recovery almost like undulates. It vacillates. So, you feel good, almost normal. Like today, I feel good, almost normal, but I've still got really tight chest, I'm still fatigued, but I feel almost normal. I'm puttering around, I'm not exercising, I'm going for little walks. That's all I can do. But I'm sort of feeling like I'm on my road to recovery, only to do just the tiny bit extra -- just like extra load of laundry or something, and then I'm back in bed for days and it's awful.
The fatigue and the pain are really real, and I just thought it was me going crazy. And so, my doctor was awesome about it. He was like, "it's probably just post viral syndrome. It's very common. Even with people who've had the flu, they can have like symptoms that last for six to eight weeks afterwards, like say a cough that doesn't go. And so, don't be too surprised by it."
But then what happened is there is a clinic in New York called Mount Sinai. They've got a post COVID unit and they said they're seeing 30% to 40% of the COVID patients of New York fitting into this "long haul" category. That's huge. I've also read 10%, like 1 in 10.
So even if it's between 10% and 30% of people that get COVID to some degree, I would think not those hospitalized, but those on the other end of the scale that have mild to moderate. They're not recovering. Like, if I was working full time, I couldn't be going to work right now. I don't feel well enough to go to work and none of the people do.
And they're in situations where they're not going to work and they're not getting paid employment. I don't know what you call it here. Like, you don't have social insurance, but you do get paid if you're off sick, right?
But because the symptoms are so vague and there's no real diagnosis for it, there's people who are struggling to get paid. And so, they're going into work really sick. So, the doctor, I watched this live webinar, and he said, "we're literally just trying to work out what on Earth is going on." What we think the viruses doing is waking up old, dominant viruses in the body or it's going into different systems in the body, like the GI tract or the neurological.
So, for me, one of the things I struggle with is sleeping. Never, never have in my life, but I'm awake four or five times a night, drenched in sweat and freezing cold. And that seems to be very common. I've had that since the beginning and I don't think it's just anxiety driven and a lot of people are going to the doctors and they're given antianxiety meds, but it feels like a physical symptom, not a neurological symptom to me.
But the next thing about it is I recently had some blood work done, like four days ago, and I got the results back yesterday. And this is, I think, the most fascinating thing about this is my blood results came back with a positive for me having recently contracted Epstein BARR virus, which is sometimes known as mono. The kissing virus.
And it's a member of the herpes family. My kids were like, "eeewwwww!" But apparently Epstein BARR virus -- and if I'm talking shite, then people can write in and tell you -- it's my understanding that the Epstein BARR virus sits in about 9 out of 10 people. Most of the population have it. Because it's so very easy to contract from exchanging drink and each other's cups. It's saliva transmitted and most people in their lives are asymptomatic.
I mean, you hear of teenagers getting mono and get knocked out for three months and stuff, but mostly, the majority of people are asymptomatic. I don't, in my life, I think I've ever had it. The only time I feel like I've ever been unwell was through perimenopause and then here. I'm not a generally sickly person.
I happened to speak to a virologist yesterday who did his PhD on the Epstein BARR virus, which is just coincidental, and he emailed me back and he went, "this makes so much sense because the Epstein BARR virus, like other viruses in that family, herpes, their job is to sit dormant in the body, waiting for an opportunity to come out again." And he said just the crushing sense that the COVID-19 destroys the immune system, like, it depletes it completely, wakes up those viruses and they're now seeing this.
It was published in the Lancet Medical Journal this week that -- it's not peer reviewed, but it's definitely going through the system -- that they did a study in China of 67 people and 57% of them, I think it was, or 53%, had the Epstein BARR virus. And I'm wondering if this is what my long tail symptoms are because it makes so much sense. Because I have this crushing fatigue and soreness and everything, which is very typical of mono. And if that's the case, then it's time, rest, and it should be fine.
Kim: [00:34:33] But we're talking a lot of time. This isn't a little bit of time.
Amanda: [00:34:35] Three months here so far. But just the nature of that being a possibility to me is fascinating, right? Because if people are then struggling with things, the doctors should be so open minded and be looking for other things and not just looking for COVID. Because my antibody tests were negative.
I haven't had a positive test. I've had three positive diagnoses, but no positive. But I have had COVID. Without a doubt in my mind about it.
Kim: [00:35:17] Interesting. And so, are the people in these groups that you are in, are they having similar experiences to you? Are the symptoms similar as far as what's happening to them over a long period of time?
Amanda: [00:35:30] They're almost identical. I mean, there's variations of them. Some people are having skin issues and black toe and things a lot. It's crazy, the COVID toe is a thing.
Kim: [00:35:41] I've never heard of COVID toe.
Amanda: [00:35:43] Yeah, you're not in the COVID rabbit hole that I'm in.
The main things are the shortness of breath as well as the crushing fatigue and the pain in the chest -- the weight, the pressure, that type of thing, and the coughing and stuff.
So, I mean, I might have some residual COVID stuff happening, but then maybe because I've now got the mono, it's just something else. It's a pretty harsh virus. And I think that one of the things -- the reason I've been really vocal about it is one, because I'm so curious and I want to know answers, right?
I'm always looking for answers, right? They were talking about blood type. They were talking about immunizations against rubella, that estrogen was protective, and all of these different things they're looking at. So, it's really, really curious to me because I want to know why all the time. Why, when I was so fit and healthy and I was going to say young, but I don't think we fall into the young as far as COVID's concerned.
Kim: [00:36:59] Speak for yourself!
Amanda: [00:37:02] Whatever! I'm like a month older than you!
Kim: [00:37:04] I know, you're so much older than me!
Amanda: [00:37:08] But, I mean, I even had blood work done too -- just my annual checkup -- just before I got COVID. And my immune response was good, my health markers were good, my weight was good. All of those things were good.
I wasn't a candidate to get sick considering what everyone's talking about in the media. But now they're saying younger people are getting sick and they're really worried that they're going to have these long-haul symptoms because they just simply don't know where this virus is going. And so, I mean, I wouldn't wish this on anyone.
It's been a real, real slog and it's been horrible. And it drives me crazy when I see the ambivalence of people. I mean, I'm in Texas for Christ's sake. I just don't understand why there's so much mistrust from public health officials and mistrust about the science. These people we never have ever seen in our lifetime on TV, they don't come on TV and talk about things because their place is in a lab doing their work. They've worked on this all their lives and we're in such a serious situation now that they need to come on and talk to us and we don't believe them. I just, I literally don't understand that.
Kim: [00:38:26] And so what do you want people to know? What's your message to people?
Amanda: [00:38:32] I don't want to be the prophet of doom and gloom, but I also just don't want to assume that because you're fit and healthy that you won't get sick. And so, I was on a Facebook post the other day with a mutual friend, you know, Josh Hillis? I love him. He's such a great guy. And he was just posting about something and some "FitPro" went on there with arrogance that drove me crazy. And he was like, "we know that 99% of those that die are obese, have diabetes, have comorbidities that they could take control of, diet and fitness and taking control of your health is number one right now in fighting this disease."
He didn't say it with any compassion. It was literally like, "you're fat and overweight and unhealthy and you're going to die." It was just gross. Everything about it was gross. So, I was like, well, what about somebody like me? I was never going to go to hospital because I have a healthy immune response.
Like, despite being still sick, my immune response is what's kept me out of the hospital, right? And I said, but what about somebody like me that's got sick enough that three months later, I'm still not well? And all my health markers got the tick in the box, right? And even the shaming -- I don't want to get away from the fact that you should never shame somebody about being overweight or have an underlying health condition at all ever -- but what about those that have underlying health conditions that are genetic? That are something that they're predisposed to anyway? Auto immune diseases, diabetes one, anything like that. It's such a terrible, terrible attitude to have.
And what I would just say to people is just don't make the assumption that you're just going to be fine and so therefore just go about your life without thinking about others and taking precautions and doing the right thing.
So, for me, I have had COVID, in my mind. I don't know that the antibodies stay around. They now are saying that they don't think they've got a long shelf life. Who knows?
I wear a mask wherever I go, I sanitize all the time. One, I don't want to get it again. I could, right? I also want other people around me to feel secure and safe and know that I respect them, right? It's really, really important that we do that as a whole.
So, that's the first thing: just really be precautious. Like, the countries that have nailed this, you know, they've put this virus to bed and they've done what it takes to make this happen, and this country is just heading in the wrong direction and it scares me. And so, I think that if we can just all do our part and just get back to some sense of normality, whatever that might be, you know?
And then the other thing is: just really steer clear of harmful people like that guy that makes you feel bad about yourself, that you may be a candidate because you are overweight or whatever. Like, if you want to do something proactive, then yeah, you can take control of your health and highly encouraged that and so do you -- that's what we do, right. We do it without shame and judgment every time.
And then stay away from the shills and the charlatans that are selling you bullshit immune boosting diets and gimmicks that are not proven. There's so much that they don't know about this virus and there's people selling you absolute measures to be able to protect yourself and there's no protection against this apart from the social distancing, sanitization, wearing a mask, and staying at home if you're sick.
Kim: [00:42:33] You know, the shame thing is so interesting when people try and take that tactic. But I was thinking: it doesn't even work. Like, people still smoke when they know that they can get cancer, right? Like, that doesn't work. It's not like, "Oh, thank you for telling me. I didn't know." It's not an effective tactic, so I don't know why people do it. And then the last part you said there about the people trying to shill stuff -- it was fast that people started.
People came out on Instagram, all the people who were "gut health experts" were now all of a sudden "immune system experts," right? And they had all the solutions for what you needed to buy from them. And it was fascinating how fast that moved. Did you see that?
Amanda: [00:43:17] Oh, yeah. And that's a big red flag for me.
If somebody is telling you something and that comes with a product, that's all they care about. And you know, immunologists and gut experts are not telling you this. Doctors who do this for a living and who are experts on this don't go on Instagram and tell you. That should be also a red flag.
Kim: [00:43:42] They don't go on Instagram or anywhere else and tell you to buy something. There's nothing like that. They're saying the same things Amanda is: wash your hands, wear a mask, social distance.
Amanda: [00:43:52] And the idea that you can boost an immune system that is innate in your body -- so we've both studied nutrition. We know nutrition well enough to be able to advise people the best things they can do to support their body, to eat well, to lose weight if they want to, to build lean muscle mass, we can do all of that. The immune system is such a complex system that it takes people 13-14 years of their medical lifetime to get a grasp on it. And they still don't know a lot about it. But they do know that you don't "boost" immune systems by drinking a green smoothie.
You can support your immune system and that's completely different. You can support your immune system by eating a good, healthy diet that's full of nutrients, right? Clearly, that's going to be better for your immune system than eating hamburgers every day and sweets and crisps and stuff like that. Obviously, right?
But it doesn't "boost" it. So, when someone's selling you turmeric and green shots and stuff to tell you to take that in order to beat a disease, then just unfollow the fuckers. It drives them crazy.
Kim: [00:45:12] It's a huge red flag. As soon as I see somebody like that, I'm just like, "okay, not credible. Not a credible person to listen to on any subject."
Amanda: [00:45:20] There's a great person to follow on Instagram and she's called @vitaminphd.
Kim: [00:45:25] Oh, yeah. Gabrielle Fundaro. She's been on my podcast before.
Amanda: [00:45:30] Right. Right. So, look, there is someone who will just tell it like it is straight. And she's a myth buster as well. And I think that if you're going to follow people like that, she's invested her educational career in understanding gut health and how it impacts the immune system and everything.
So, follow people that are reliable.
Kim: [00:45:59] Absolutely. That's really good advice. Well, Amanda, I hope that you continue to recover, maybe even at a faster pace than you have already. Gosh, it will be interesting to see how long it takes you to fully recover from this. And what your comeback is like.
Amanda: [00:46:14] I mean, it's fair to say I haven't been so positive all the time. Like there've been days where I've had a pity party and I've been full of tears thinking, "am I ever gonna feel well?" Because nobody knows. Like, nobody actually knows what's going on. Am I going to be riddled with chronic fatigue syndrome for the rest of my life? That would just be dire for me.
And nobody knows these things. I understand how being positive can help you through these things, but, for me, the hardest part, and especially when I was really sick with the COVID, is how isolating it is. My family basically closed the bedroom door on me, and I just felt abandoned, alone, and scared because of all of the symptoms I was having. And lots of people do that and I'm not blaming my family -- although they were a bit turdy and at one point I said, "you are allowed to bring me a cup of tea, you know? I'm not a leper."
Kim: [00:47:14] Well, yeah, it's hard because people are scared and, you know, trying to socially distance, especially when somebody has it, but that does leave a person feeling very isolated and alone, you know? And you think about all the people who died in hospitals alone with just, you know, their nurse there.
Amanda: [00:47:31] Exactly.
And so, when I'm having a pity party, that's where I go -- straight to where, "this could have been so much worse. This could've been so much worse." And I feel like I look at the numbers today, 127,000 people have died in a four-month period, since we started counting in the U S.
And that's terrible. And if we can do something to stop that trend, then we have to. And I don't know when numbers like that became acceptable, but it almost feels like they are to some people. I still don't understand it, but there we go.
So that's it. My whole thing is: really advocate for yourself. Like I said, I'm not going to go into the story, but I'll just sort of say the second nurse practitioner I saw basically said, "you look okay and all your tests are negative. So, I don't know what I can do to help you."
Kim: [00:48:25] And that's when you were feeling really bad. Like you were extremely ill.
Amanda: [00:48:29] Yeah, and so I just was like, "no. This isn't okay."
And that's happening a lot to people. The doctors don't know and so they're either dismissing or giving antianxiety meds and stuff. So, push, push, push for someone to listen to you. Find these community groups that are talking about their symptoms. They're really just trying to share stories and it's really quite fascinating.
And then just, the quicker that we pull this all together, the quicker it will be over, hopefully. I just want to start traveling again, don't you? I want my holiday.
Kim: [00:49:07] Yes. All my trips were canceled, except for going to the Jersey shore this coming week, which is, you know, two hours from my house. But I had big trips planned this year and I'm not going anywhere.
Amanda: [00:49:17] Don't talk to people. When you go to the Jersey shore, don't talk to anyone. Avoid humans. I hate humans right now, anyway.
Kim: [00:49:26] You know, something you said just a minute ago -- before the "hate humans" part -- it reminded me back to menopause. When you were talking about advocating for yourself in this area and how a nurse practitioner was dismissive of you, I'm thinking like, this reminds me of my own personal story with menopause and of so many others. You know, we're sure there's something wrong, we're sure I don't need antidepressants, we're sure that's not the issue, right? And medical professionals dismiss us.
Amanda: [00:49:54] But what did it do to you? How did it make you feel when she did that?
Kim: [00:49:57] Oh, horrible. And that's the point, right? Like, that I had to actively go out and seek knowledge, figure out what good next steps would be to go in. And it's terrible that I had to do it, but I had to really stand my ground and argue with the doctor about this. And had I not gone out and done the research to advocate for myself, I would have not gotten well, because that doctor just totally dismissed how I was feeling and what I needed. And I think part of the issue was she was not educated well enough to actually help me -- which is sad because she's an OB GYN.
Amanda: [00:50:33] We know that that's a big thing here of course, right?
Kim: [00:50:37] Yeah. And I think that's the same thing we're seeing with COVID. A lot of doctors, you know, nobody knows which way is up.
Amanda: [00:50:43] It's so hard, isn't it? And I actually sympathize a little bit because how can they when they don't know? They're learning on the job. Literally. But it doesn't mean that you should be dismissive of your patients. You should still try and help them.
Kim: [00:50:58] Yeah. So, advocate for yourselves, people. And wear a friggin' mask.
Amanda: [00:51:03] Yeah, don't be a dick, wear a mask. Everyone should.
I know it was a different type of conversation today, but yeah, I just think that I thought I was the unusual one, and there was a lot of blame and judgment on myself for that.
When I found there's hundreds of thousands of people like this, I'm realizing that this is something that people need to be aware of. And thankfully, you know, there's newspaper articles out there, some news coverage about it. So, you know, just be safe.
Kim: [00:51:39] Absolutely. Thanks so much, Amanda.
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.
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 my friend, Amy Rudolf. Amy is a PMPT -- that's post-menopausal physical therapist. Now you may have seen last winter I participated in a mobility -- I don't know who I said participated, I was the only one who did it -- I held a mobility challenge for myself for 30 days. I did a few exercises each day, it took me less than two minutes each day, and I was doing it because I was having lots of upper back tension. I came from sitting over my desk, working on my computer, working on my phone for hours and hours a day, and I had reached out to Amy to get her advice. And so, she was the impetus behind that mobility challenge.
As you saw, it really helped a lot. And so I've brought Amy on today to talk about what we can do if you are a person who sits at your computer a lot, works kind of hunched over your phone a lot, what can you do to feel your best?
Amy also talks to us a lot about two other things that she is very passionate about: her gratitude practice and a good morning routine.
Hi, Amy. How are you doing?
Amy: [00:01:21] I'm doing great. I'm doing great. How are you?
Kim: [00:01:23] Good. Thanks so much for joining me here today.
Amy: [00:01:26] I am excited to be here. Thank you for asking.
Kim: [00:01:30] So Amy, tell everybody a little bit about you -- who you are, what you do.
Amy: [00:01:35] Okay. Sure. Well, my name is Amy Rudolph. I am a physical therapist, I'm a post-menopausal physical therapist.
Kim: [00:01:48] A PMPP.
Amy: [00:01:48] That's it. I need a T-shirt.
So, I've been to physical therapists for a number of years. I'm the mother of two, I guess you could call them adult, children. I have a 19-year-old daughter and a 20-year-old son. I have two dogs, so I have, I guess, four kids total. And I am, like I said, I'm a PT, but I've also kind of expanded my horizons a little bit over the last couple of years.
I've been very interested in working exclusively with oncology rehab, cancer patients, and those with chronic illnesses. That's been really kind of a passion of mine and I kind of developed it into my own little business.
So, I take care of people in their homes, one on one personal training and wellness type stuff, and it's just been great. So I've just been kind of my own boss for the last couple of years, and still being able to stay in kind of the health/wellness arena and use my skills to help people achieve whatever goals they set their mind to.
Kim: [00:03:05] That's fantastic. And I know you've been posting more on Instagram, are you going to be doing online training in doing PT within oncology? Will you be doing that online?
Amy: [00:03:17] Yep. And I'm really kind of keeping my options open. With COVID-19 hitting, I had a small group of clients that I was working -- like, I go to their homes and we would work out in their homes -- obviously, that had to change.
So, we made the switch to doing kind of an online, you know, FaceTime/Zoom sessions and it actually worked out really great. It was pretty seamless. So, I'm excited to continue that and not just only offer my local people sessions. I mean, eventually I guess we'll get back to that, but right now we're just kind of holding tight on the virtual sessions until everybody's comfort level and just things get a little bit, I don't know -- I think it's going to be a little while before we get back to the face to face stuff.
But I've enjoyed doing it virtually, so I'm happy to expand out beyond just my hometown and be able to help people across the country.
So that's my goal.
Kim: [00:04:22] That's fantastic. And besides your own business, you're also on team Carter Good, right? So you help, generally, over there as well?
Amy: [00:04:30] Yes! Actually, I was his one-on-one client about two years ago or so, we'd stayed in touch, I've always appreciated his message -- this whole group that I'm associated with, you included. Everything just makes sense and I've appreciated the sensible approach to weight loss and fitness.
And so, we've just kept in touch and he invited me to come on board as kind of his "associate coach" in his membership group, and I've just been helping him.
He's really kind of expanding his business over the last few months and he's asked me to come on board and help them be a part of that too. So, I am just thrilled to keep my hands in all of this good stuff.
Kim: [00:05:14] Fantastic!
So a few months ago, Amy, I had reached out to you because you're a PT -- I have a PT, but I was like, "I'm not going to the doctor for this," but I was walking a lot, you know I always walk a lot, and randomly my back started hurting during walks.
And I was like, "what is this?" And it was bothering me. And you know, this, I'm just telling everybody else's story -- it was bothering me enough that in the middle of my walks I felt like I needed to stop and stretch and the stretch I really wanted to do, it would be gross to do this, you know, I want it to like lay down on the ground and get into child's pose and like grab the bottom of a stop sign and really stretch my back, but I'm like "dogs pee here. I know they do!"
But sometimes I would find a fence pole or something and lean over, because my back was just so tight. And I was like, "what is this? Is this what happens with age? You walk in your back hurts?!"
And it wasn't my lower back, it was up in my mid-back, and I'm like, "what is this?" And so, I DMed you one night and I'm like, "Amy, do I need to go see somebody? Like, what is this?" And you had such great advice.
And so, I want to talk about this because I really do think it was a function of a couple of things.
One of the things Amy said to me, she's like, "do you have any problems either above or below," right? Because you're like, "what's going on with your shoulders? What's going on with your hips?" Why did you ask me that question?
Amy: [00:06:33] Well, because really any -- long story short -- I'll just say that my little mantra is: "everything is connected" and it's so true. And I'll work my way back from that statement.
So, I always kind of visualize from the top of your head, from your neck, basically down to your ankles, everything is connected. It's like a chain. So if any link in that chain, whether it's your neck, your shoulders, your mid back, low back, hips, knees, all the way down, if anything is out of alignment, there's a restriction, there's something off, there's a weakness, typically it's going to affect whatever is above or below the chain because our bodies are so efficient about jumping in and helping us.
So, like you mentioned in your case, if you have a shoulder issue, the body's going to jump in and try to help through your day, be efficient, not slow you down. So eventually you're going to feel it someplace else. Typically, not always, but it usually happens. Eventually, there's a tipping point, you start to feel something in the nearby regions, whether it's above or below.
So that's why I asked you that I was like, well, it's your mid back, so anything with the shoulder that you dealt with and it was kind of like "DING!"
Kim: [00:07:54] Because yeah, I was like, "well, I always have problems with my shoulder," and my shoulder had been acting up right around then. I was like, "yeah, the front of my shoulder, the side," just my shoulder in general was bugging me.
And so, then our conversation was around like, alright, "is my back bugging me because my shoulder, or is my shoulder bugging me from my back?"
And look, I didn't have any big injury. It was just, you know, there was just all this tightness, and nothing felt good. And so, your suggestion was that I started doing some shoulder mobility and I start doing some T-spine mobility.
Amy: [00:08:21] Yup.
Kim: [00:08:22] Which is what launched my 30-day mobility challenge. If any of you were watching that, that was courtesy of Amy -- why you got to see me rolling a chair around for 30 days -- was because of Amy.
So, and I really do think, you know, shoulder, back, whatever it was. I think a lot of it is caused by what I do.
And people might be surprised to hear this, that as an online personal trainer what I do mostly is sit at my desk or with my phone and no one else is gonna see me, but Amy will see me, like, I sit like this, like I'm always on my phone like this.
So, what I just did was, I'm hunched over my phone or I'm hunched over my keyboard. And I think that's probably is a big part. And that's what you had told me of like, why I'm not feeling so great.
So, Amy, what is your advice for people who -- and there's a lot of us, right? And there's probably even more of us right now than usual because think about all the teachers. I literally just got off another podcast with a teacher, second grade teacher, whose typical norm is, "I walk around the classroom all day and I walk my kids to PE and I'm kneeling down at their desk and I do all the stuff," and she's like, "now my norm is I sit in front of a computer the entire school day." Right? Because she taught from home this entire spring into the summer here and she might be doing it again in the fall.
And there's a lot of people in that situation, no matter what their old job used to be, they're all sitting at home in front of their computer right now, right?
So, what are some of the key things that people can be doing to make sure they still are feeling good in that condition?
Amy: [00:09:50] Yep, definitely.
So, I think the first thing, especially like you mentioned for people that maybe aren't used to sitting as much, like the teachers and stuff like that. I know a lot of people are desk workers, so maybe it's not as big of a transition, but still for everybody, I think just creating an awareness is important.
How are you sitting at your desk? What is your posture like? Because I'm guilty of it, too. Like, if I get involved with a project, I'm sitting on my laptop or I'm on my phone, it's like, "Oh my gosh, I am like the hunchback of Notre Dame," my neck's all turned this way or that way, and so just creating the awareness is number one.
And then just really thinking about how the positions that we're in for long periods of time, like what our bodies are doing. Typically, like you mentioned, our shoulders are rounded forward, and our hips are flexed because we're sitting. So just thinking about those static positions, we're just kind of stuck there for long periods of time, and we need to kind of do something about that.
So, it doesn't have to be complicated, it really just depends on what feels good to you. But really basic stuff, get up, get out of your chair. I recommend every 30 minutes, to be honest. I mean, sometimes I know that time can fly by, but if you have to, set a timer on your watch or your phone or something and just take two to three minutes, get up, walk around, see what feels maybe a little bit tight or tense, you know, some of the things that I do: shoulder rolls, scapular squeezes to kind of draw your shoulders back and open up your chest because your shoulders are rounded forward, your chest muscles are getting short. So, it's kind of like just counterbalancing everything that's kind of stuck when you're sitting down.
Just that awareness and doing that on a regular basis, it's amazing how different you can feel. It doesn't take a long, complicated routine. Just that consistency, as you know, just make a world of difference.
Kim: [00:11:57] It really did surprise me, Amy, how fast I started feeling better. I don't remember anymore how many days it was, but do you remember I posted on my story -- because I was posting every day -- and it was just days in all of a sudden I'm like, "wow, I'm actually starting to notice a difference in how my back feel."
Amy: [00:12:10] Oh yeah. Less than a week, for sure. Three to four days, maybe, you were feeling the difference. And I'm the same way. I started doing a morning and evening little 5 to 10-minute stretching routine, and I kind of fell out of it for a little bit. I think we had gone out of town or something happened. I don't know, just I fell out of it. And I went back to it and it's just like, "Oh wow." You can feel how your muscles kind of start to tighten back up again, just from the day to day, but I'll tell you within two or three days, boom, it felt good again, it was relaxing.
So just think if you're consistent with that, how good that can feel and how maybe injuries can be avoided, pain can be avoided, and just really take that time. So, mobility is important, yes.
Kim: [00:12:57] Yeah, and I only started with one exercise and then I added a second and then I added a third. And so, we're not talking a long time.
It was like, less than two minutes that I did this. It might've even been less than a minute. I think it was maybe a minute and 30 seconds. A day. I wasn't doing this multiple times a day.
And so I think people might overestimate it and be like, "gosh, if I'm going to start some kind of stretching program..." it feels like that could be big, like a time commitment, like, "I don't have time for that." But who doesn't have a minute and 30 seconds, right?
Amy: [00:13:26] Right, right.
It's not like you have to plop down and crank out this 30-minute session of something. It's not hard to do. Like I said, I do it before I get out of bed, you know?
Kim: [00:13:37] Oh, you do it IN bed?
Amy: [00:13:39] I do. I do mine in bed, actually.
Kim: [00:13:42] You gotta tell us about that. I like that because, you know, I will tell you, I'm like a lot of people, they reach their goal and they like move on and they don't do that thing and so I have not been stretching as much and I'll just do it randomly. And I was thinking the other day, I'm like, "I think I need to start doing that again." Because what's going to happen is, I'm going to lose the effects, right? And so, I need to start doing it again.
Okay, I like this idea. So that's part of your morning routine, right? That's the first thing you do?
Amy: [00:14:06] Yep. So, I do three things. Super easy. Well, maybe four, if you count breath work.
So, let's talk a little bit about breath work. Diaphragmatic breathing, I feel is super important just for relaxation, for calm. I mean, there's a ton of studies out there that show that it's good for mental focus, anxiety, mood and all that stuff.
So, I always start with like three to four good deep breaths. And I used to teach it a certain way. As a physical therapist, I taught it all the time and I'll tell you, I feel like I've kind of upped my game a little bit just doing some research. There's some changes there. And some people, just to talk about breathing a little bit, a lot of people don't realize how shallow they breathe.
You know, they're kind of like chest-breathers -- you know, our chest expands, but that's about as far as it goes, So we really need to push that down a little bit further and go into, you know, really expanding the lungs, let the belly kind of expand, they call it belly-breathing, make sure your belly's rising when you're laying in bed, so you're getting that air flow really deep. And that's where you're really going to get those receptors in your nervous system to respond and chill out.
I will say -- I'm gonna shout out somebody else on Instagram that I really think is of benefit, she's a fellow physical therapist and I've been following her for a while and she's really kind of helped me up my game a little bit too, because she's much younger than me, so she's got a lot more newer information out there --@docjenfit. I don't know if you've heard of her.
Kim: [00:15:49] Oh, yeah. Absolutely.
Amy: [00:15:52] So she has a breathing routine that really makes sense to me, that kind of branches off that diaphragmatic breathing. And it's more, not so much your belly kind of expanding and pooching out, but your rib cage.
So she advises -- which I've been trying this, and I really think it helps -- is putting your hands on your lower rib cage instead of in the front, on your stomach, kind of on either side of your rib cage, kind of down low, where it kind of ends, and breathing so that your rib cage is expanding out into your hands.
So, you're thinking about your body as a cylinder. And I know weightlifting and bracing exercise kind of goes along with that. You want to fill that up front, sides, back. Fill that up with air. So, when you put your hands on your ribs, I think you can tune into it better and just take that breath in and feel the rib cage kind of flair a little bit.
Then you know you're really getting that full expansion. So, I like that idea. So, I kind of changed that up.
So, I do that, I do three to four deep breaths. You know, don't get lightheaded. If you're new to it, sometimes you can get a little lightheaded if you're really breathing deeply.
So just find what works for you and just like with anything, when you practice it, it gets easier and you can do more. I do that, then I do a real simple hamstring stretch while I'm laying in bed, you know, just grab the back of my knee, behind my knee, and just do some nice stretches of the hamstrings.
Nothing fancy, don't have to hold it really long, I just kind of mobilize my knee a little bit, maybe a few seconds of hold at the top when you're feeling that stretch, but you don't have to sit there for 30 seconds, 60 seconds, anything crazy like that. You're just trying to get the blood flowing.
So, I'll do maybe five on each side, then I do one of my favorites -- and I actually did an IGTV about this. It's on my Instagram because I was talking about it in one of my posts, and I'm like, "I'm going to show how to do this. Just so everybody gets to benefit." But it's a torso twist.
So, you lay on your side and then you do five on each side. So, like you lay on your right side, you kind of reach across your body with the top hand and then rotate and reach kind of behind you. So, you're just kind of rotating your torso, kind of like what you did, but only just laying down in the bed.
And that just feels so good. And you just kind of coordinate your breathing with that. So, like you breathe in as you reach across your body and then you breathe out as you twist back, five of those on each side feels amazing.
And then that's pretty much it, that's kinda my routine. Sometimes I will throw in the cat-cow stretch.
Kim: [00:18:38] I love that one. That's one of the ones I was doing.
Amy: [00:18:42] So I'll do that one, just hands and knees, arching your back and then letting it kind of fall down a little bit. So, you're just really getting your spine to move. But that's it. And it just feels amazing even just after I do that and get out of bed and you know, the mornings I've done it and then the mornings I've forgotten to do it, it's just different. You just feel good, your blood's pumping, you just feel loosened up. I don't know. It feels great.
Kim: [00:19:10] That's fantastic.
I'll make sure at the end we give out your Instagram handle so people can go check that stretch out. They might not be able to picture it as well, but for sure they can go and check it out.
Alright. I love this idea. Actually, you're inspiring me, Amy. I'm going to start stretching every morning. I won't be able to do it in bed. I get up too early. My husband's still in bed. I'm sure he'd be like, "what the heck are you doing? It's 5:30 in the morning. Why are you stretching? Stop moving."
So, I would actually get out of bed, but I think I might start doing it there on the floor just as soon as I come down to my office. There's carpet down here in my office, and maybe do it first thing.
I've always said I'm going to create a morning routine and I go in fits and starts and I've never actually done it. Maybe this could be my anchor thing. Like, I'll start this and move from there.
Do you have other parts of your morning routine that you do after your stretching? Or is that your biggie?
Amy: [00:20:03] Well, that's the first thing and then honestly, I guess -- again, I'm kind of like talking pre and post COVID here, because I feel like I've changed up my routine.
My pre COVID "routine," I wasn't doing morning stretching, I'll guarantee you that because I was getting up earlier than I have been. I was getting up early, I was throwing on my workout clothes, and I was either going to the gym and meeting some friends at the gym at 5:30 in the morning or going for a run.
So that was kind of my morning routine. It was kind of up and out to the gym or going for a run, just alternating that. So that looks completely different now because of everything that's changed. The gym closed, we weren't getting together, I'm like, "okay, I'm going to take the opportunity to try something different."
So, I really slowed everything down. I got more sleep, which was great. I was struggling with that, because I'm not really a night owl, but I would still kind of struggle, like, "I'm going to bed by 10. I'm going to bed by 10," and it just never happened. So, the alarm was going off at like 4:45 and it was like, "geez." I didn't succeed in that eight hours of sleep, you know, maybe I could get seven, but still, so I thought, "well, I'm going to try to get more sleep."
So, I was just getting up later and the whole morning routine kicked in. So I was doing the morning stretches in bed and then after that, grabbing a cup of coffee and doing kind of a journaling quiet time, you know, just to kind of gather my thoughts, journal a little bit, set some goals for the day, set some intentions for the day.
And then I've been doing a gratitude practice for years, so I definitely kept up with that, but it's actually putting it pen to paper in the morning and just kind of doing that. So that's, I would say, has been my consistent morning routine is probably like the past three, four months now, just slower mornings and then the workouts would come after that. But it's just nice to be able to sit in the quiet and not be up and outgoing. It's been a nice change. I've enjoyed it.
Kim: [00:22:18] That's fantastic. I think a lot of people are experiencing that same thing with Corona, that they're getting more sleep because maybe their morning commute is knocked off or, just like you, they used to get up early and exercise, but you're not going anywhere. And so, you know, maybe they can squeeze their workout in later. So yeah, I think more sleep is something a lot of us are experiencing with Corona.
You know, you mentioned something that I definitely want to hit on here, so Amy is known for her gratitude practice. Amy and I actually know each other from the Syatt Fitness Inner Circle. And Amy, I don't know, it's been a while. How long have you been posting this gratitude?
Amy: [00:22:53] I don't know it's been awhile.
Kim: [00:22:56] Maybe a year? I don't know. It's been a long time.
Amy's posted daily gratitude post in the Syatt Fitness Inner Circle Facebook group every day. She posts something with three things she's grateful for it and then lots of other people add on to things that they're grateful for.
And so, it sounds like this has naturally sprung from what you do in your own life, that you have had a gratitude practice.
Tell us how that started and why you do it, how it benefits you, all of those kinds of things.
Amy: [00:23:24] So, the first time I can remember thinking about gratitude practice or keeping a gratitude journal was like the days of the Oprah Winfrey Show. I'm dating myself for that, but I remember my kids were little and I considered myself a super hero if I could get both my children to take a nap at the same time in the afternoon, because they're just a year apart.
And I would fold laundry and watch Oprah while my kids slept. Like, that was my thing, you know? But I just remember her talking about gratitude and I had a quote here, but it was something along the lines of -- and I truly believe this -- it's like, "if you focus on what you have, you'll always end up having more. But if you focus on what you don't have, you'll never have enough."
And I just think it's true and so I just kind of, I dabbled in it a little bit years ago, but then I just kind of circled back around to it probably about two or three years ago. I just was kind of going through some bumpy things personally and I'm like, "you know, I just need to get back to this."
Because there is so much to be thankful for. Even if you're having a crappy day, there's still a ton to be thankful for. So I just started a journal, I just started writing things down and it's pretty fantastic how, when you actually, not just thinking in your head, you know, because that's one thing, but if you actually write it down, I think it just makes that connection.
So, writing it down day in and day out, it would just create an awareness. And then when I would be going out and about my day, I would just notice things more. You know, like maybe things that you would totally breeze by and not pay any attention to in the past, but then, because you're kind of into that gratitude mode, things stick out to you more and you can just really feel more appreciative of things.
And it just, it's a game changer. It's a mood changer. I don't know, it just made my life a lot better and I just felt like my attitude was better and then the people that were around me, their attitudes were better and I just found myself just in a much better place just by that simple practice.
Kim: [00:25:52] I totally agree.
When we're actively looking for those things, we find them, right? It's just how it works. If you wake up every day and you are specifically looking for "what can I be grateful for today?" You know? And I've done it in the past and like, given myself like a game, like you can't name the same thing for a certain period of time. Because if you're like, "Oh, what are the top three things you're grateful for?" Obviously, it's gonna be like, "my family," you know? "My home."
But if you're like, "okay, you have to think of something different, you have the think of something different," then you start looking for all these, what might feel like minor things, but are actually the things that just really -- and because the things you post and things that people share in the group, they're very minor things, you know, like, I could write down like, "I'm super grateful for these beautiful sunflowers today" and tomorrow it could be whatever -- you know, just all these little things.
But they're the kinds of things that they end up impacting our lives in a big way over time, all these little tiny things.
Amy: [00:26:46] Yep. And I think that's the challenge because it's very easy to say, "I'm grateful for my kids, I'm grateful for my family, I'm grateful for my health," which, obviously yes, we are. But it's like, some of the things that, you know, like I've just not too long ago, I was like, "I'm grateful that it stopped raining so I could get into the grocery store and it wasn't downpouring," you know? Or "I'm thankful that my daughter picked up the coffee creamer when we were out, and she brought it home."
It's just those little things that you're just like, "Oh, that was so nice." "Oh, that just made me feel happy." Just that little burst of happiness, you know? And it's just those little things that you really start to pay attention to.
Kim: [00:27:27] Absolutely. So Amy, whenever I have a woman on, I always like to hear about what she does for fitness, because I want the women who listen to be inspired by other women who are pursuing fitness and see what is possible and what are other people's goals.
So, tell us what you have going on right now in your life for fitness. What do you do and what are your main fitness goals?
Amy: [00:27:48] So right now I've kind of just been dabbling. Really, I've been taking a lot of walks. That's just been kind of like my comfort zone, just walking is huge. And I always appreciate you hollering at us to get up and get our steps in, but I think it's important.
I think it's important to have that awareness, again, just like everything else, of getting up and moving because it's easy to, you know, I do work out, I lift weights. I enjoy doing that usually about three times a week, sometimes four, if I'm really getting after it. But outside of that too, it's important to get your activity level up just in general.
So, I definitely get my steps in, working on that. I love to lift weights. I think it's amazing, it feels great. Our gym actually did open last week. I haven't been back yet, but I'm hoping to maybe kind of peek in there and see if there's, you know, again, I was in an early bird group and it was usually pretty crowded, so I'm kind of curious to see what might work out best as far as time goes.
Kim: [00:28:49] Did you say it WAS crowded? The early bird time was crowded? I
Amy: [00:28:52] It was crowded, yeah.
Kim: [00:28:53] When you were at that gym at five in the morning, it was crowded? Wow.
Amy: [00:28:56] Yeah, it was busy.
Kim: [00:28:57] I was always so impressed; you'd post your nighttime picture outside Planet Fitness every day. I'm like, "she's crazy."
Amy: [00:29:03] Yep. "I'm here in the dark, everyone."
No, but it was actually pretty darn busy. I mean, there was just kind of a pretty solid group of people that you would see every day. I felt like it was kind of like my gym family, because it was like kind of the same group that were just there and so many of them would be walking out in their work clothes, showered and off to work, you know?
So, we'll see. I have some flexibility in my schedule now, so I might be able to get in there a little bit later in the morning. Maybe it won't be as crowded. We'll see. I'm still just a little bit hesitant, but I'm actually anxious to go check it out and see how they're handling everything. And it sounds like they really put a lot of good practices in place to keep everybody safe. I'm sure they have.
But while I've been at home, I have some adjustable dumbbells. I've just been kind of making the most of that. I've got some bands. Carter has been working on some programs through the summer, kind of some challenges. So, I've been kind of following along with those, just to kind of stay in the group and answer questions as kind of the assistant coaching role.
I thought, "well, I'm just going to follow along with everybody else and do this." So I've just been working on that, you know, just full body workouts, lifting as much as I can with what I have and just trying to maintain the strength and then hopefully get back into the gym and start lifting heavier again when I have more access.
Kim: [00:30:26] That'll be fun. That'll be a good day.
Well, thanks so much for joining me here today and talking about these things. So many important topics we've covered here in such a short period of time. Tell everybody where they can find you.
Amy: [00:30:38] Okay. I’m basically just on Instagram. It's @amyrudolph832fitness and that's where I pretty much post on the regular and that's it.
Kim: [00:30:59] All right. Well, thanks so much! It was good talking with you and catching up and talking about these important things. You really did help me so much with my back. It was incredible. That was a life changer for me right then.
It's hard to think about other things when you're in pain, you know? And it wasn't like shooting pain, like, I knew I hadn't injured myself, so I'm like, "what the heck is this?" And I'd be trying to walk and either relax or do some work while I was walking. And all I could think about the fact that my back hurt. So, kudos to you for helping me get that under control.
Amy: [00:31:27] You're very welcome.
Kim: [00:31:28] All right, my dear, we'll talk soon.
Amy: [00:31:30] Okay. Take care, Kim. Thank you!
Kim: [00:31:32] Okay, bye.
Thanks so much for being here and listening in to 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.
Kim: Welcome back to the Fitness Simplified Podcast. I'm your host, Kim Schlag. On today's episode I'm going to go through four reasons why you feel like you don't eat much, but you still can't lose weight.
[00:00:17] That's what we're hitting today. I also want to talk about why there's this idea that you feel you shouldn't be eating much in the first place.
[00:00:26] Let's go.
[00:00:27] "I don't eat much, but I still can't lose weight."
[00:00:37] I hear that a lot, particularly from women. And the first thing I want to address here today is: why do you feel you shouldn't be eating a lot?
[00:00:49] There is a definite idea out there that you should be eating as little as possible, especially if your goal is to lose weight.
[00:00:57] This framework isn't so useful, though. In fact, it's often counterproductive. My goal with my clients is to have them eat as much as they can while still losing weight at a rate that makes sense. And we'll talk more as we go here about how to make that happen. But I just wanted to put a little bug in your ear that the goal isn't to eat as little as possible.
[00:01:21] Okay, today's topic: Four Reasons Why -- and this is in air quotes -- You Don't Eat Much, But You Can't Lose Weight.
[00:01:31] Reason #1: you're eating mostly highly processed foods.
[00:01:36] So, fast food, "junk food." And so, while you have a little amount of food, it doesn't satisfy you or keep you full. It is still a lot of calories. Does that make sense?
[00:01:49] Let me help you picture what that might look like:
[00:01:52] A McDonald's cheeseburger and medium fries, which by the way, I freaking love the taste of a McDonald's cheeseburger and fries, so delicious, and that doesn't feel like a lot of food. If you can picture the size of a McDonald's cheeseburger and a medium fry, it doesn't feel like a lot of food. I could eat that so fast, still want more, and not be full -- it's also 660 calories.
[00:02:15] Okay, now I want you to picture this meal instead. This is also right around 660 calories: 5 ounces of grilled chicken -- so that's a pretty big piece of chicken, it's going to be bigger than the palm of your hand -- 3/4 of a cup of rice, a huge side salad with lettuce, tomato, onion, cucumber, radish, avocado, with a couple of tablespoons of tasty dressing, and then a banana.
[00:02:40] All of that is about the same number of calories as the McDonald's meal, but it has considerably more volume. So you could eat this meal and have the sensation of "I'm satisfied" and register that you had eaten quite a bit of food when actually you had the exact same number of calories as if you had had the McDonald's cheeseburger and medium fries. Volume eating is a fantastic strategy to manage hunger.
[00:03:09] Remember, it's total calories that matter for weight loss, not total volume of food. So, you can eat lower calorie, but still higher volume. This happens when the majority of your diet is vegetables, fruit, lean proteins, and whole grains.
[00:03:27] Notice that all of that is nutrient dense, minimally processed food. So, if 80%-90% of your diet is made up of those, then you will be able to have a lot of volume to your diet.
[00:03:41] So take home points here: your volume might be low while your calories are high. That's that McDonald's meal. Volume's low, it doesn't feel like a lot of food, but your calories are up there. This gives you the perception that you don't eat much, when in fact you are eating at maintenance or in a surplus.
[00:03:58] Now how would we know that you're eating at least at maintenance? Because you're not losing weight. You're not making any progress. So even though you're like, "it doesn't feel like a lot of food," you're still, at least at maintenance if you're not losing weight.
[00:04:09] So focus instead on total calories, not quantity of food.
[00:04:16] So take home point #2 for this one is: minimally processed, nutrient dense foods are your friend when it comes to maximizing the calorie-volume ratio.
[00:04:29] All right, moving on to reason #2 why you feel like you don't eat much, but you can't lose weight: liquid calories.
[00:04:37] Liquid calories.
[00:04:39] Your food might be spot on when it comes to calories. What you eat for breakfast, what you eat for lunch, what you eat for dinner, what you eat for snacks, but you could be racking up the calories with your drinks. The main culprits here, soda -- not diet soda. It literally has zero calories. Do not believe anyone who tells you diet soda is bad for fat loss. That's nonsense. It has zero calories.
[00:05:03] So, coffee that's actually a dessert is another big culprit here, not just regular, straight up coffee, but those big dessert kinds of coffees, the ones that easily top 400 plus calories.
[00:05:14] Alcohol. It has calories and they count.
[00:05:18] Now it's easy to gloss over these liquid calories in your mind. They don't fill you up at all, but they still have a calorie impact.
[00:05:26] Take home message here: track your calories, even if they're from liquid.
[00:05:31] So track those liquid calories.
[00:05:33] Take home message #two: swap out some drinks with calories for zero calorie drinks.
[00:05:40] You don't have to get rid of all of your drinks that have calories, but swap some out if you're struggling to maintain your deficit otherwise.
[00:05:47] Take home point #3 for this one: make a bright line for how many alcoholic beverages you're going to have on a night when you're drinking and then stick with it.
[00:05:57] Now, if you don't know what the term "bright line" means, I use this term a lot. It simply is a rule that you give yourself, a boundary that you give yourself that you follow. Like, "this is what I will do. This is what I won't do." It's a term I learned from my friend and mentor Jordan Syatt and they work really well when you decide these things ahead of time and you draw this line in the sand of, "this is what I do, and this is what I don't do."
[00:06:22] And so when you do this for alcoholic beverages, you know, like, "okay, this is the number of drinks I have. I don't go past that." It can really help to manage the total calories.
[00:06:34] All right, reason #3 why you feel you don't eat much, but you still can't lose weight: you actually do eat very little...during the week, but you make up that deficit and then some by how you eat on the weekend.
[00:06:50] Yes, it is possible and actually even common to be in a deficit Monday through Friday afternoon, and then eat enough on the weekend to put you at maintenance.
[00:07:02] This keeps you spinning your wheels, which is super frustrating because it's a lot of work to maintain a deficit Monday through Friday, right? So, a few take home action points here:
[00:07:11] Get a hold on your weekend eating.
[00:07:14] Part of this is mental. You might think of weekends differently. Things like, "this is my time to relax. I don't want to track my food when I'm relaxing." "I can't have fun without lots of food and drinks." I want you to rewrite those stories, push back on those thoughts. Is it really true that you can't relax and have fun without everything revolving around food and/or drinking?
[00:07:40] Question #2 to think about with this: if that's how you've set up your life and it's not supporting your goal, what can you do to change that?
[00:07:49] You don't have to just accept that that's true -- and maybe that is true in your life. I think for a lot of people it's not true, they've just kind of built it up like that. But for those of you that it is true, like, "no, really this is what we do. We just eat and drink all weekend long." If that is how you have set up your life and it is not supporting your goal, what can you do to change that? Give that some serious thought.
[00:08:10] One thing I like to have my clients remind themselves is, "I eat the same on Saturday as I do on Tuesday."
[00:08:17] This, of course, means that you could have a slice of pizza on a Tuesday night, just like you can eat broccoli on a Saturday. If weight loss is the goal, you can make any food work, just not all in the same day. So, use nutritional compromises. Think: what do you want most? How will you fit that into your day's calories while still keeping protein high and getting plenty of micronutrients?
[00:08:46] All right. Finally, reason #4, why you feel like you don't eat that much, but you aren't losing weight: amnesia, food amnesia.
[00:08:56] You don't notice all of the picking -- the little licks and nibbles you take throughout the day. And so, you log your expected, let's say 1600 calories -- which is just an example -- you sub in your mind whatever your calories are.
[00:09:10] You log your expected 1600 calories when in actuality you've eaten 1850 calories, but 250 of those are invisible to you. And that is so easy to do -- a handful of nuts here, a leftover dino nugget as you cleared the table, a sip of your husband's iced tea, a few tastes of dinner as you're prepping, licking the spoon after you dip your kiddos ice cream and boom, 1850 calories when you only register, both mentally and in your tracking app, 1600 calories.
[00:09:46] So, take home steps here, two bright lines for you:
[00:09:50] Bright line #1: I don't eat other people's food. Period. I don't eat it. If it's not my food, I don't eat it.
[00:09:58] Bright line #2: I eat all food off of a plate or out of a bowl.
[00:10:03] If you want some ice cream, scoop yourself some out into a bowl, enjoy every last bite and then account for it. Don't take little nibbles as you're dipping your kids ice cream. If you want to chicken nugget, put some chicken nuggets on your plate, eat them, enjoy them, and count for them. Don't just take little nibbles as you're clearing the table.
[00:10:23] Okay there, you have it: four reasons why you feel like you don't eat much, but you still can't lose weight. And most importantly, how to address them.
[00:10:33] I hope this helps and I really want you to remember that the goal isn't to eat as little as possible. Yes, you have to keep your total calories in check if fat loss is the goal, but you can and should strive to eat plenty of food while you do that, okay? And really to make that happen, focus on those minimally processed foods.
[00:11:08] 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.
[00:11:19] 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.
[00:11:34] Thanks so much.
Kim: [00:00:04] Welcome back to the Fitness Simplified Podcast. I'm your host Kim Schlag. On today's podcast I'm joined by my friend, Alessandra Scutnik. She is an incredible strength and nutrition coach. She, alongside her husband Josh, runs SD Evolution Coaching, and she also produces a mega-ton of top-notch content around strength training and nutrition for both the general population, but more specifically for those who are pregnant and in the postpartum period of their life.
And so that's what we talk about today. I really wanted to have somebody on to talk about this period of life. Although I will tell you, if you're a menopausal woman, if you're a little bit older, you're out of that pregnancy period, postpartum period, there is still something for you in this episode because we also talk quite a bit about self-love and about body image, so stay tuned in.
Hi there! So glad you could join me on the podcast. How are you?
Alessandra: [00:01:18] Me too. I'm so excited. I'm good. Finally getting some good weather here in Connecticut and I'm so grateful for it.
Kim: [00:01:24] That's good. So, is Kai sleeping right now or is he gonna make a surprise appearance, perhaps?
Alessandra: [00:01:31] He is sleeping. My husband is taking him if he does wake up. So, we're good to go.
Kim: [00:01:38] That is great. So, I'm so glad you're here, Alessandra. I know you're very busy. I appreciate you taking your time to come on here.
I spend a lot of time talking to women about fitness and nutrition in middle age and on, but I have a lot of people who follow me who are at a different stage, an earlier stage, and I really want to be able to address that specifically and get into the nitty gritty of that.
And I was like, I need somebody to talk through that with me because I have to tell you when I was in that stage, fitness and nutrition were not really a part of my life sadly.
I have three kids, but I wasn't thinking in terms of what would be good for me fitness-wise and those kinds of things.
So, I was like, "who can I get?" And you were my first pick.
Alessandra: [00:02:20] Oh, well thank you. I appreciate that so much. And it's funny because I forget who shared one of your posts awhile back when I started following you, but I sent it to my mom immediately because my mom's also a personal trainer and she has her own fitness studio.
So, everything you post, she has been aligning with so much and she's been sharing that with her clients. And I just thought it was really cool because I obviously cater to mostly people my age, so I think we are mutually exclusive there going back and forth and mutually beneficial, helping each other out, so I love that.
Kim: [00:02:58] Absolutely. Well, I'm glad to hear that. You'll have to tell me your mom's name later and I'll say hi to her.
Alessandra: [00:03:04] For sure!
Kim: [00:03:05] So you've been in the fitness industry a long time, like a decade, right?
Alessandra: [00:03:10] Yeah, a little over.
Kim: [00:03:12] And you've competed in powerlifting and bodybuilding and run marathons, so you've had this breadth of experience. And I read somewhere on something you had posted that one of the most challenging things for you was pregnancy, so tell us a little bit about that.
Alessandra: [00:03:28] Yeah, for sure.
So, yeah, like you said, I got started with actually running and kind of went the whole running route, and then that transferred over to bodybuilding and then powerlifting became my love, and I still do that now. But I got pregnant back in 2018, end of 2018.
And at this point I had grown my social media; I was doing online coaching and I was posting a lot about my personal experiences. That's what my social media was geared towards. So, when I got pregnant, I was like, "well, what the heck am I going to post about now?" Like, people follow me because they like to see my transformations and they like to see my powerlifting.
And I kind of felt like, "holy crap, what's gonna happen?" But along with that, pregnancy was just one of the hardest things I've ever had to deal with. And that's not even-- like, I had a great pregnancy. I didn't have any real issues or conditions or anything to complain about, I guess.
But at the same time, being someone who knows how good that they can feel in their body, then becoming pregnant and sharing your body with another human, it's hard and it's hard to embrace your body changing and embrace not being able to lift heavy and embrace all of these new things that I just didn't really have to deal with before.
So, it was a new experience like all of the others, but in a way, it kind of was the most fulfilling by the end of it. As hard as it was.
Kim: [00:04:58] And what helped you navigate those changes and that difficulty? Because you're right, all of a sudden, your body's not necessarily your own, and especially in your situation where this is a business issue as well, right?
You're like, "wait, this is what I do and this is my business, and that's obviously going to change a little bit now just based on what's happening to me."
How did you navigate that?
Alessandra: [00:05:22] Yeah, that's a good question.
So, my husband and I are both online coaches and with our business, we focus on making our clients training and nutrition fit their individual lifestyles. Whatever's going on for them at that phase of life, we'd make it work.
So, this was something where I was like, okay, I have to take what I'm preaching to everyone else and figure out what is my training nutrition going to look like during this phase of my life? Obviously, it's not going to be extreme bodybuilding or powerlifting or any of that, but I can still do something to make myself feel great every single day and be a little bit better than yesterday and show up in the best way for myself, my family, and my clients.
So, I just kind of kept that mindset throughout my entire pregnancy and just embraced each day as it came. Embracing the rest days, especially in that first trimester, and just kind of rolling with it. And I think the other big thing, too, was not comparing what I was going through and what my pregnancy was with anyone else that I was seeing on social media.
And I think anybody can relate to that. That's something that you can take away whether you're pregnant or not listening. When you start to compare yourself and compare your journey to someone else's, it's like, well, you're kind of taking away the happiness of what you could be having.
So, I took in a lot of information and I love following others who are pregnant and had this healthy lifestyle at the same time, but I always came back to the idea that this was my pregnancy and that it's okay if that looks different than what I was doing before, and it's okay if that looks different than someone else's.
Kim: [00:07:03] I love that, and you're right, that is so relatable no matter what somebody's life situation is because wow, it is so easy to compare ourselves in all kinds of ways.
Whether it's like, "well, you know, I really shouldn't complain because my pregnancy is not that hard compared to this person on bed rest." Well, that doesn't matter if your life is topsy turvy, it's still hard for you.
And we do that so easily. Whether it's, "I'm not as good as..." or "I shouldn't complain as much..." like, "I'm starting to get emotional, I'm going to start crying. I don't know why that makes me so emotional." I feel like we do it so much, right?
Alessandra: [00:07:36] Right. And especially now during the pandemic because you know, I had a client reach out today who was like, "you know, I feel terrible complaining about this minor issue." It was something about like her diet, and she's like, "when people are dying and going through all of this hardship," and I'm like, "well, you know what? You can complain about it. It's okay. It's something that's impacting your life. And yes, there's other things happening, but that doesn't take away from what's going on in your life."
Kim: [00:08:04] It's so true. I see that a lot and I've done that to myself during this pandemic, but like, "well, I shouldn't be upset about that." You know? "There's way more serious things..." and I have to stop myself and be like, "you have every right to be upset."
We just canceled my 50th birthday. We were going on a big trip, we were going to cruise to Alaska and we had to cancel it, and I was really in a funk and finally I'm like, "just sit and be upset about it, like it's okay. I was excited," and then I felt better when I was like, "yeah, it's okay to be upset about that." It doesn't take away from the fact that I'm like, yes, I realize you're in the hospital. That's more serious. Clearly that's more serious. But we're allowed to feel our feelings and we have to give ourselves permission.
Alessandra: [00:08:42] Absolutely. I totally agree with you.
Kim: [00:08:45] So talk us through -- let's say there's a woman, let's talk about different stages, like before someone gets pregnant, during pregnancy, and after. And let's talk about a woman in each of those stages. She's somebody who wants to look good, feel good, move good, be her best in all of those areas.
What's your best advice, fitness and nutrition-wise for each of those stages?
So, let's talk before she gets pregnant.
Alessandra: [00:09:07] Yeah, that's a great question. So, pre-pregnancy, obviously at this point you're getting your body ready and you're getting your body, I guess primed is the word, to have a healthy pregnancy.
So first and foremost, you want to ensure that you're tracking your cycle. I will back that up for any woman, regardless if you're wanting to get pregnant or not. I think there's so much power in knowing what your personal cycle looks like and what that is for you. Just because so many other things factor into that. So just getting familiar with how long your cycle is, when you're ovulating, and different things like that.
There's a book that's called "Taking Charge of Your Fertility," that I recommend for that for anyone listening. But I think just having that knowledge and power is, right off the bat, the best thing you can do.
Kim: [00:09:56] Let me ask you a follow up question about the tracking -- how do you track? Do you use an app? Do you use that book itself? How do you track?
Alessandra: [00:10:04] Yeah, so I use an app called "Kindara." It is a paid app. I think there's another one called "Flow," I believe is the other good one.
Just something to kind of loosely track your cycle and you don't want to put too much weight into any of these apps, because obviously if they mess up -- like, you don't want to be using it as a birth control, I'll just say.
Kim: [00:10:23] Right. That would not be good advice.
Alessandra: [00:10:26] So just use it to kind of inform yourself about what your cycle is looking like.
I basically just check when my period comes, when ovulation around is happening, and then I kind of just go from there. But I'll get into that a little bit in the next stage too, because I used that to get pregnant.
But as far as training and nutrition during the pre-pregnancy time, you don't have to change too much of what you're doing training-wise. I know a lot of women tend to be nervous and scared that they have to shift everything or stop exercising in general. And really you don't need to.
Exercise is something that all physicians and doctors encourage throughout a pregnancy for most people. Obviously, that has caveats to it if you have issues and they tell you not to, but for most people, you should be able to train throughout your pregnancy.
So, at that stage, there's really nothing huge as far as the training goes that you have to change. And then on the nutrition front, most women, I'm sure as you know, come to us under eating.
So, this is something I would advise against even while you're trying to get pregnant or thinking about it, unless you have a good amount of body fat to lose and your doctor's advising you to lose weight. So I guess it is a little bit individual, like everything else with training and nutrition, but at the end of the day, for most people, you want to make sure that you're fueling your body with enough protein, healthy fats, healthy carbs to sustain normal hormones, making sure that you're ovulating, just taking the precautions to just be healthy.
This is all stuff that we should all be doing as women anyway, so I think just putting a little bit more emphasis and focus on that, knowing that you're potentially going to get pregnant soon is a big key.
Kim: [00:12:18] Okay, so let's go into pregnancy, then. Same question, but I'm pregnant now.
Not me. I'm 50. That would be a miracle.
Alessandra: [00:12:27] Yeah. So, once you become pregnant, same thing, a lot of people are like, "okay, so should I stop working out? Should I stop lifting? Should I stop doing cardio?" And it really comes down to -- and this is going to look a little bit different for each of the trimesters. So, the first trimester, most people are tired, fatigued, napping more, you don't have to change your training too much at this point.
You don't have a huge belly getting in the way. Obviously, and this goes across the board throughout pregnancy, do the type of training that makes you feel good throughout your day. So, this comes down to enjoyment, what you personally prefer. I am a huge advocate of resistance training, as I know you are, but a healthy balance of both cardio and strength work throughout your pregnancy is going to make you feel great.
And for me, personally, throughout my pregnancy, the days that I didn't do anything, that I would just be a couch potato and just soak up those naps, I was more fatigued, more lethargic, didn't feel as great as the days where I'd go out for a walk or do a light lifting session.
So obviously, it changes from a perspective of intensity and overall volume. As far as intensity goes, you don't want to be lifting so heavy or doing such high intensity cardio that you can't hold a conversation or you have to hold your breath to get through the lift. You want to make sure that you're breathing throughout all of your movements, whatever you're doing, and just ensuring that you feel good, you're not getting dizzy or anything like that through your sessions.
But you know, at the end of the day, you just have to do what makes you feel great. And a lot of people feel guilty when they aren't going as heavy or aren't doing their HIIT cardio for the day, or aren't doing their CrossFit workouts, and you just have to view it from this perspective of, "okay, I'm in a different phase of my life and it's okay if my training looks a little bit different than it did before," but knowing also that you have the power to continue to do some modified version or some version of what you enjoy doing as long as your doctor gives you clearance.
Kim: [00:14:39] Can you speak to the kind of old advice of, "you're eating for two?"
Alessandra: [00:14:46] So, that's a big myth.
Kim: [00:14:48] Dang. I believed it. I gained 50 pounds with all three of my pregnancies. I took that to heart.
Alessandra: [00:14:57] You know what? So, there's the recommendation as far as weight goes for pregnancy and for women and that is kind of based on where your starting weight is when you get pregnant. But at the end of the day, I don't like putting so much emphasis on those numbers. And this goes for macros, too. So, let's say on the nutrition side of things for this pregnancy question, you're gonna want to increase calories each trimester, obviously, but those recommendations are much smaller than you think.
So, for the first trimester, for most people, if you're eating enough when you get pregnant, you really don't have to change too much for that first trimester. Your body is doing its job to grow this tiny human who is like the size of a raisin at this point. And you don't have to double your intake right off the bat.
As your baby grows that calorie recommendation does increase for each trimester, so anywhere from 200 to 300 for the second trimester, and anywhere from 400 to 500 for the third. This is obviously a very general blanket recommendation and it's going to shift a little bit for everybody, but I think we can ditch the idea that we have to double our intake or pretend like we're eating for two people because that's just not realistic and it's going to set you up for more fat gain and just not feeling our best.
Kim: [00:16:22] Absolutely. Absolutely. It's so interesting, that advice really stuck hard. I don't know who started that or where it came from, but it's one of those things, this generally accepted nonsense that's out there.
And when things like that take hold, it just feels wrong to say-- people are like, "wait a minute, what do you mean that's not right? Everybody knows that!"
I'm like, I know everybody knows that it just happens to not be true.
Alessandra: [00:16:48] Yeah. And it's funny because I remember being younger and thinking about like one day getting pregnant and being like, "Oh my God, I can't wait to get pregnant, because I'll just be able to eat whatever I want and just do whatever I want," and it's really no different than any other time.
As long as you have health goals, you can still have those health goals and those fitness goals while you're pregnant, if not even more so than before, because now you're growing a human and you want your body to be able to do that job as best as possible.
And you want to feel as good as possible. So, when you're just throwing all of your nutrition out the window, it's like you're going to feel crappy and who wants to feel crappy?
Kim: [00:17:28] Yeah. So then let's talk about in the postpartum period, which frankly feels like kind of the most important period to address because there's a lot of pressure on women immediately upon having the baby to get her fitness and nutrition to a certain level.
So, talk to us about that. What was your experience like and how do you kind of guide people through that period?
Alessandra: [00:17:50] Yeah. So, there is definitely a lot of pressure on women in this part of the journey, but also there's really not a lot of information out there on what the new mom should be doing.
You read all of this information about your new baby and how to care for them. And it's almost like you forget that you need to take care of yourself, too. So then when you get home from the hospital, it's like, "well, what the heck do I do now? Am I okay to work out? Should I not work out?" It's like all of these questions arise.
So, my postpartum experience, I did end up having a C-section with my son, Kai. Obviously not planned, not emergent either. And that was kind of a shock to me. I don't think anybody's ever really expecting when that happens. So, you know, I'm bringing my new baby home, I have this incision on my stomach and I'm in pain, and it's like all of these things that I wasn't planning on going through. So, it was hard.
And I think at the end of the day, just like throughout pregnancy, you have to give yourself grace and that is my biggest piece of advice for all new moms out there listening.
You're under so much stress. Stress is high, sleep is lacking, all of these emotions are swirling because your hormones are all over the place, and it can be a really, really, really hard time for a lot of people, especially those that don't have the extra help of family around or whatever their scenario may be.
So, I think that you just have to remind yourself that it's okay to not jump back into what your life looked like before this baby arrived and to kind of take it slow, both with your body physically and mentally, because it can be a lot, your whole life just changed. So, you really have to give yourself that grace and take it day by day and just focus on those tiny wins throughout the day.
Let's say you get your baby down for a 10-minute nap and it was one minute longer than yesterday -- that's something to celebrate. And that's really what I focused on, was focusing on, "okay, what was the good that happened today? What went well, what didn't really work out?" And I just tried to stay mindful and take that approach to it. So, I think that helped me, personally, not get too overwhelmed with everything going on.
And for my personal experience, too, obviously being a business owner, I didn't really get a typical maternity leave, so I was talking with my clients five days after giving birth and having a C-section. So, we kind of jumped right back into work on top of everything else. And granted, we do have great family here and a great support system, so that was really helpful, but I'm the type of person that doesn't like to ask for help. I think I can do everything myself, so that was really hard for me to like give up tasks or give up the baby or give up work to Josh or to family members to get that help.
And once I did, I understood the quote where they say "it really takes a village to raise a child." And it made so much more sense to me. So, if you do have the help, ask for it because that was, by itself, a game changer.
And then as far as training and nutrition goes -- the training side of things, I see this all the time. So, you have this baby, you're used to training every day -- you know, most people are love to work out -- and you have this baby and you're not allowed to do anything for six weeks, here in the US, at least.
And that can be really hard because once you hit week 3 or 4, you start to feel a little bit better, you start to feel more like yourself, and you kind of get this urge to do something and your body is just not there yet. So, I like to put it this way -- just because your mind is ready for training doesn't mean your body is ready at all.
I don't think a lot of people understand the impact that labor and delivery can have on your body whether you have, you know, a vaginal birth or C-section, and just because you're itching to get back into the gym or itching to do whatever you do for training, it just doesn't mean that you're there yet.
So, easing back into fitness in the postpartum period is so, so, so, so important because there are things like prolapse or pelvic floor dysfunction and if you have an incision, you can possibly tear that. So, there's all these different complications that can arise in the postpartum period that I think get thrown out the window or most people just aren't informed about.
So, I think that would be my biggest piece of advice for postpartum women is to really take the time to ease back into training and not jump the gun. Even if you feel like you're ready.
Kim: [00:22:42] Yeah. That's so hard to do across the board, whenever, right? Because, like you said, your mind is ready and you have goals and desires and it's hard to honor what our body actually needs sometimes.
Alessandra: [00:22:55] Even right now, a great example -- gyms are opening back up, everybody's itching to get back in there and you can't go zero to a hundred right away because you're going to be like on crutches.
Kim: [00:23:05] Yeah, we both had to posts on that this week. Actually, a lot of the people had that post this week because I could see it coming. I'm like, "Oh no." People are gonna run back in there.
Alessandra: [00:23:16] Yeah, and it's the same thing postpartum. Our minds are really powerful and we like routine, we like what we're used to, but you have to embrace that rest and I'm not saying, sit on the couch all day. The day after I had my C-section, my doctor was like, "if you feel okay, go walk to the mailbox, or go walk to the other side of your house. Just get movement in." So, I'm not saying don't move at all, but just be really intentional about the movement that you do and listen to your body because your body will tell you, "okay, this is way too much, take a step back," or, "okay, this feels good."
If it's adding value to you across the board -- physically, mentally, emotionally, then keep doing it. And maybe if you walk to the mailbox tomorrow, the next day, feel good, walk a little bit further and just focus on the movement in that sense and taking your baby out for a walk or going to sit outside or just doing those basic things.
Kim: [00:24:20] You put that on your stories a lot. You always have you and Kai out doing your walks. Have you done that pretty much since the beginning?
Alessandra: [00:24:26] Yeah. Right from the beginning I would take him out for walks. It was great because he enjoyed it and he was always quiet outside, or he would fall asleep in the stroller and I would get that time to myself that I was missing.
I think as a new mom, you are always surrounded by other people visiting the baby or you're always with the baby, or your husband's always around, so it can be hard to separate that and get your you-time in, so that was kind of like the time that I would take throughout the day to just go and clear my mind, listen to my favorite song or a podcast, or just listen to nothing and just walk.
And that was honestly my favorite part of postpartum that I've carried into my daily life now.
Kim: [00:25:09] That's fantastic.
So, let's talk body image. This is always important for women, across the lifespan, but I think in the postpartum period, maybe even just a little bit more so.
You know, there's this idea, "I want to get my pre-baby body back."
Can you talk about that a little bit? Your thoughts? I think I know your thoughts on that, but kind of expand on your thoughts on that idea and what women should do with that thought.
Alessandra: [00:25:37] So this is obviously a very common thought across the board, and I think it all comes back around to what we're shown postpartum is. And nobody really talks about the nitty gritty or the "yucky," if you will, details of postpartum life and something that was new to me was when I had Kai, I had the C-section, I remember looking in the mirror and I'm like, "okay, I still look like I'm five months pregnant. What's going on?"
Nobody shows you what a true postpartum body looks like right after you give birth. So I think that a lot of women go through that and they see that and they ultimately feel like they failed because they didn't "bounce back," or even a couple of weeks later, you still have a lot of extra body fat from the pregnancy and you're still just healing and your body just grew a human, so you're not going to be in the same place that you were a couple of weeks after giving birth when it took you nine months to grow this human.
So, I like to put it that way for a lot of my postpartum clients. And I think there's just this unrealistic expectation that that should be our top priority after having the baby, when in reality your top priority should be taking care of yourself. Obviously through training and nutrition once you are cleared from your doctor and feeling okay to, but getting your body back -- you never lost your body, this is just your body in a new stage. So, I think there's a lot of power in embracing that stage, understanding that it's not a race, so there's no pressure to lose the weight or change how your body looks right away.
I have clients reach out to me all the time who are in this phase of life a couple of weeks after giving birth and they're like, "okay, I'm ready to go back," and I'm like, "are you really though?" Like, are you really ready for this high stress change on top of everything that's already going on?
And most of the time they're not ready. So, I think that as a whole, we have to give women more time and appreciation when it comes to their bodies postpartum. Because your body just did this amazing thing, so you can't expect it to just bounce back to what you looked like before you had this baby.
Kim: [00:27:59] Yeah, I think there's a very unrealistic timeline that people put on themselves about what to expect.
And also, I love what you said, that it's your body in a new phase. You're not getting your "old body" back because you never lost it. I think that's so important. I hear from older women all the time, they're like, "I want my old body back. You know, my pre-menopause body, I want that body back," I'm just thinking, you didn't ever lose your body. You still have your same body. Some things have changed and you can change now, and at no point is it ever a point where this is all this is as good as it gets. You can make your body when you're physically ready, whether it's after pregnancy or whether it's in your fifties, you can train and eat to look as fabulous as possible and it doesn't have to be compared to some other point in time and what you looked like then.
Alessandra: [00:28:51] Or compared to someone else's postpartum journey. We see it's still such a glorified thing on social media and there are a lot of women opening up about this, myself included, and showing the real postpartum part of life, but it's still not enough. And even from a perspective of your body shifting as far as gaining stretch marks or cellulite or just looking different than it was before, all of these things we're told are just negative things when in reality, 99.9% if not a 100% of women have them. So, it's like, why are we ashamed to have this thing that all women have? So that has been something that has really opened my eyes. Because again, pre-baby, my Instagram was catered to my body and changing my body and gaining muscle and losing body fat.
I showcased a lot of what my body looked like on my personal journey, and I was worried that when I started to experience these changes, at first I was like, "well, why are people gonna continue to follow me?" But when I started being real and really showing up authentically and showing the real postpartum life and showing pregnancy in a real way, so many more people opened up and can relate back to that.
So, I think there is so much power in talking about these things and showing other women that it's okay if you have stretch marks or it's okay if you have cellulite. We all have it and we all shouldn't be ashamed in the sense that we have to hide it.
Kim: [00:30:31] Absolutely.
I love that. I think it's really important because you're right, and so many more people do what you're saying right now, right? We show up and we show what our bodies look like and we talk about these things, but it doesn't feel like enough yet because the other side of perfection and "these things are bad," is just so pervasive.
I wonder what it's going to be like a generation from now with enough of us speaking up and showing like, "Hey, this is what an actual body looks like postpartum." "Hey, this is what an actual body looks like with stretch marks and cellulite and I'm at an okay place with that."
I wonder what it will be like with enough of us doing that over a long period of time.
Alessandra: [00:31:14] I'm excited about it because I think that the message is shifting. And another side of things too is what I'm always encouraging women to do is not have just body goals. You don't need to make your fitness and your health goals all about how you look on the outside.
There's so much power in focusing on increasing strength or doing a pushup for the first time or trying a new movement. Honestly, anything. And I think we get caught up in the idea that it always has to be about how we look on the outside and how we show up to the world. But when you start to shift your perspective and focused on anything else aside from your aesthetics, it really can be eye-opening and adds so much more positivity and value to your life.
But the funny thing is when you do focus on something else aside from that you get what you wanted more oftentimes than not on the aesthetic side anyway. So, I think it's funny how that works, and I've seen it in myself and in a lot of our clients is once we shift their perspective to not only focusing on how they look, they ultimately succeed.
Kim: [00:32:20] It is so true. I've found that 100% with myself and with clients. When people come to me and they have no interest in performance goals, I don't try and convince them otherwise, but, -- well, I don't try and convince them otherwise out loud. I don't tell them that's what I'm going to do, but I always end up doing it because no one doesn't like to feel strong.
No one is like, "yeah, I'm not so interested that I can do a pushup now." No one ever has been not excited about like, "Holy cow, I'm strong. I can do these things." And so over a relatively short period of time I get every single one of my female clients interested and excited about performance goals and they come to me and they're like, "I can't even believe I actually like this stuff now, let alone, am excited to get to the gym and see what I can do.
Alessandra: [00:33:04] Yeah. It's so funny. It's like once they get that little taste of it, it opens this whole new world to them and it's a really cool thing to see happen on the other side of it, because you've got this person who's just so obsessed with every little imperfection on their body, and once they shift that mindset, they're just so much happier across the board and it makes me so happy.
Kim: [00:33:26] I think it's definitely one of the biggest tools we have in our toolbox to help women truly get to the point where they can feel love for themselves.
I will tell you, I don't really love the advice, "you just need to love yourself." It leaves me cold. And when I hear that advice, I think back to my younger self and I immediately think like-- okay, so I struggled with obesity for many years and I felt very much like a failure. Like, "I cannot take care of the most basic human need of keeping myself healthy." I was really upset about that. And the idea of somebody telling me, "well, you just should love yourself how you are."
And I know I didn't, and so it was just one more thing I was failing at. Like, "great, so I can't do that either." it's this real sense of, "I don't love myself."
And so, I don't think it's a useful piece of advice, but I think there are so many things we can do to help people get to a genuine spot of increasing their self-love without just saying "love yourself."
What do you think is good advice for women who look at their bodies and they don't like what they see?
Alessandra: [00:34:34] You know, I think that's fair. You don't have to love what you see in the mirror and you don't have to love where your current body is right now. And that might be against the grain from a lot of the self-love people out there.
But I think you can do whatever the heck you want. It's your body and you don't have to love it, but I think you at least have to like certain things about it and appreciate certain things that it can do to help you get to a place where then you can start to appreciate it more as a whole.
I think that we all have insecurities and we all have parts of us that we don't necessarily love, but you don't have to hate it either. You can just kind of be like, "okay, that's what that is, and it's there," and you could be neutral about it.
Kim: [00:35:18] I love that idea. Like getting to a place of neutrality about our bodies can be a great step from going from, "I don't like myself" or, strongly, people are like, "I hate my body," right?
People genuinely feel that way and to tell them, “you should just love your body," a great place to go in between is becoming neutral. Like being able to look at yourself in the mirror and be like, "these are my legs today." "This is what I look like doing a pushup."
And it takes a lot of repetition of not allowing your brain to go to like, "Ugh, my legs," right? But going to like, "these are my legs today. This is what I look like when I bend over." It takes a lot of repetition, but being able to come to a place of neutrality is a really good stop. And then you kind of add in that whole performance piece where like, "I'm a strong woman," and I think that all together can really get a person so much closer to, "I actually like and love myself."
Alessandra: [00:36:15] Absolutely. I totally agree with you. And like you said, I think it takes a lot of repetition and a lot of mindfulness in that moment when you are so automatic to just saying, "Oh, I hate how this looks," or "I hate how I look," right? "I hate that picture of me."
Stopping ourselves in that moment and learning to practice mindfulness and say, "okay, this is what I automatically say, but what if this is just how I am today?" And you know, our bodies are so fluid too that how your body shows up today is completely different than how it might look later tonight or tomorrow or next week. We eat and we drink and we move, and we're constantly taking in and getting out and our bodies are shifting.
So, I think letting go of the idea that you have to look like you do when you wake up on Tuesday morning all day long and for the rest of the week, that's just not realistic. So, understanding that our bodies are constantly evolving and shifting based on different parts of our life, whether that be higher stress areas, or maybe you slept crappy last week or biofeedback is off somewhere, understanding the bigger picture of how your body works can be so powerful.
Kim: [00:37:25] Absolutely. I love that you even said it might not look the same tonight as it did this morning because that is such a real thing. And people get down on themselves like, "Whoa, what happened?!"
Well, you ate and you drank, and that's what you look like, and tomorrow morning it's probably not going to look the same.
Alessandra: [00:37:42] That food's gotta go somewhere. I feel like people forget that.
I think it all stems back to the idea they see these fitness models and people with ripped abs on Instagram and they think that other people just walk around like that all the time. When even those people, their bodies are changing constantly.
So, I think understanding that idea that we are constantly shifting and evolving based on what we're eating throughout the day can be such a powerful thing.
Kim: [00:38:10] Yeah. And you know, the fitness model thing and us, there's posing. And I'm very clear about that, when I'm posing for things, I'll be on my stories and be like, "just so you know, I know what angles I can use." Or I'll point out on my stories, I'm like, "just so you know, the lighting right now is super sweet, and that's why I look like this. Not that I don't have muscle, but I have muscle and the lighting is freaking amazing right now," because people need to know that stuff so that they don't look at themselves and think like, "what's wrong?"
Alessandra: [00:38:38] Yeah. And that's where you get caught in that comparison trap. And you're like, once you see yourself in the mirror, and then you think back to Jenny's story from earlier where she was looking great. It's like, "why don't I look like that?" Well, one, you're not her, and two, you have no idea what the heck app she's using or what her lighting scenario is, or if she's holding her breath and squeezing her muscles so hard that she can't even breathe.
You have to understand that Instagram and social media in general is such a highlight reel and that it's just not worth your time to compare.
Kim: [00:39:14] So let's switch gears here a little bit. What are you finding as a mom in this stage of life with a young toddler? What is your biggest challenge, or what are some of your biggest challenges when it comes to fitness and nutrition?
You're a mom with this little person. I just remember that age, wow. That's a tiring age. They have so much energy and it's like at any moment they could really seriously injure themselves. They just have no concept of what is safe and what is not.
Alessandra: [00:39:44] Yeah, no concept. Kai will literally crawl like he's gonna go flying off the couch and I like grab his ankle and I'm like, "what are you doing?"
So, I guess he will figure it out at some point.
Kim: [00:39:57] Believe me, they do. They do eventually figure it out. And I remember breathing such a sigh of relief when all of my kids would kind of get to the point where they realized like, "Oh. I shouldn't stick my finger there and jump here," like that sense of, "I know what safe stuff is."
Gosh, that is such a good moment in life when you're like, "I can actually turn around and when I turn back, you're not going to be doing something dumb."
Alessandra: [00:40:20] Yeah. Yep. We are in the middle of that right now. He'll be one in a couple of weeks. Which is just crazy to me. They say, time goes by fast the first year and you don't really understand, but here we are. So, we're kind of in-- well, I guess everybody's kind of in the same scenario as us at this exact moment, being home with the pandemic. But Josh and I, my husband, we both work from home, we both run our health coaching business. And not much has changed since COVID had happened for us as far as work in our schedule and our daily life.
But as Kai has gone through the different phases of his life, we have kind of adapted. So, in the beginning stages, in the newborn stage, it was super easy to just work with him sleeping on me or get stuff done while I'm wearing him. I was a big user of the baby-wearing contraption, and I just would do so much with that.
And then as he got bigger and into this current stage, it's been a lot harder because he wants to obviously be independent and crawling around and exploring and doing things on his own. So, balancing that, playing with him, and watching him with both our business and our own training and nutrition and making sure we're meal prepping, it's a lot.
I guess all parents out there, and especially single parents --so much respect for everything that they do, because I don't know how I would do it without my husband. He's amazing.
So, what we do is we kind of take "shifts" with Kai. So, every other day I'll wake up first with him and I'll kind of take the morning breakfast, routine and we'll play or we'll go for a walk and Josh will have his time to work out. And then the next day Josh wakes up with him and takes that shift and I'll kind of use that as my morning time.
So, we've gotten into a pretty solid routine with that and then we just keep flip-flopping throughout the day as it goes on. So, he still luckily is napping twice a day, which is really nice because that's when we crush work, have meetings, or whatever we have to do. We use that to prioritize work.
And then like I said, we just kind of communicate with each other and figure out, "okay, you have this this day, or you have a meeting, so why don't you wake up with him first? Or I'll take him for this session," and if I need to get a workout in and he's waking up from his nap, I'll just bring him down into the garage with me and make him watch me.
It's something that I hope that he will want to partake in as he gets older, so why not just get him out there now and show him that, “my mom is lifting, my mom is exercising and taking care of her body and doing some cool stuff." And it's funny because when we go out there -- he's not out there all the time -- but when we go out there, it's like this whole new room to him.
So, he's just kind of sitting there watching and exploring that. Which I've been really grateful for. So obviously we're kind of taking it month by month at this point. He is crawling and not walking yet, so I guess that helps a little bit, but he's just getting into that phase where he just wants to go.
So, we'll see what happens, but as of right now, that's kind of how we've been managing that.
Kim: [00:43:38] Wow. My hat's off to you. I remember that stage. I just remember how physically challenging that was, to constantly be on the go with those little ones.
So, it's amazing how much you're able to still accomplish, both with your business and in the gym. And you know, I think the word balance is just such a myth. I don't think there's any such thing as "balance," right? It's more like how do we navigate it? Like, these different aspects. You know, we've got motherhood and your business and you're a wife and you're a mom and navigating that. And so, hearing you talk about how you're doing that, it's a big juggling game, but you certainly seem like you're on top of it.
Alessandra: [00:44:16] Thank you. And I mean, I will say I'm exhausted by the end of the day, don't get me wrong. Some days are better than others and balance is a funny thing. I think for me personally, it's not equally balancing everything, it's kind of figuring out what that day looks like.
So, if one day work has to take the priority over training or training takes the priority over going for a walk or whatever it is -- figuring out what those different ratios are to make up the full day is kind of how I try to view it.
I know that I can't do it all, so I just prioritize, "okay, this needs to get done today," or "I need this workout today," and I'll just run with that. And then whatever doesn't get done, whether it's my dishes or my laundry or a little bit of work, it's okay and I can just do it tomorrow.
I'm not the type of person that gets really stressed out over anything and I am very, go with the flow and I think that's helped me tremendously as far as delegating tasks and figuring out how to just do it all because I don't do it all, but I do what needs to be done.
Kim: [00:45:22] Yeah. You do it all over long stretches of time, right? Not in a single day. I love that. I love that feeling.
Okay, so whenever I have a woman on, I really do like to talk about their own personal training because I like the women who listen to me to hear other strong women tell us what they're into.
So, what's your jam these days? What are your training goals? What's it like?
Alessandra: [00:45:44] It's funny because I would say for the first maybe eight months postpartum, I didn't really have any set goals. I was just kind of working out to feel good and just lifting three to four times a week, doing some hiking or walking and I didn't really specify specific goals until I hit the eight- or nine-month mark. And I was like, "you know what? I want to challenge myself to do a powerlifting meet again."
Previously to having Kai, I did five or six powerlifting meets and the powerlifting community is just really awesome.
They're so welcoming, everybody really cheers everyone on. And, like you said before, it just feels so cool to be strong and see our strength increase. So, I felt like I was at a point postpartum to kind of set some fitness goals for myself.
So, I hired one of my good friends who is a powerlifting coach. I was like, you know what? I am a coach myself, but I don't even want to think about writing my own programming. So, she writes me my powerlifting programming.
I was planning on doing a meet that has now been canceled, obviously, due to COVID, but that was coming up in a couple of weeks. I'm still gonna do a mock meet in our garage and just kind of test my numbers.
But yeah, I've been focusing on powerlifting. And for those listening who don't really know what powerlifting is -- basically, you're just focusing on the three main lifts of the squat, bench, and deadlift. So, seeing how strong you can get in those lifts.
And I think the most challenging thing going back to powerlifting now has been not comparing my numbers now to what they were pre-baby, which, obviously, they're going to be in a different place right now.
But I will say I've surprised myself tremendously and I'm not getting too hyped up about that, but seeing my strength increase every single week has been really awesome and it just feels good to have a goal again. So that has kind of been my main focus right now as far as training goes.
And I also get out for hikes at least once a week. We're out walking all the time and just doing as much as we can outside because we love being outside and so does Kai. So that's kind of how we've been incorporating him into that and what I've been focusing on on my own.
Kim: [00:48:02] Nice. Yeah, such a bummer your meet was canceled. I'm wondering if there's going to be any meets for the rest of the year.
Alessandra: [00:48:08] I know! I mean, I don't think anybody knows at this point what's going to happen. And it's hard because obviously a lot of people go to a meet, it's not like it's just a small group of people usually.
So, we'll see, but I'm excited to still test my maxes, at least in the garage.
Kim: [00:48:25] Yeah! I'm glad to hear you're doing that. I've done that before. I just wasn't ready to sign up for another meet, but I really wanted to, so I did a full peaking program and then just did it here at home and it was a good experience.
I was hoping to compete in a meet again in December, but at this moment, I just don't really see it happening that there's going to be meets because like you said, it's a pretty big chunk of people and it's a lot of people in a small space and I just don't know that that's going to happen.
Alessandra: [00:48:57] Yeah. It is a bummer, but hey, it's okay. I'm still out there doing what I need to do.
Kim: [00:49:02] Yeah! It's great that your son is going to be watching you do all of this. Such a good example.
Well, thank you so much for being here with us today. Before you go, I would love for you to tell everybody where they can find you.
Alessandra: [00:49:17] Absolutely. So, my Instagram handle is at @alessandrascutnik, I will have Kim put it in the show notes because it's kind of a hard, long name to spell.
We also have our website sd-evolution.com and we also have a YouTube channel, Alessandra and Josh.
Kim: [00:49:38] Fantastic. Well, I appreciate you being here with us today.
It was so much fun getting to talk.
Alessandra: [00:49:44] So much fun. I'm so glad we did this, Kim. Thank you for having me.
Kim: [00:49:47] Thanks so much.
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.