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Fit At Any Age with Susan Niebergall

Episode #88: Fit At Any Age with Susan Niebergall

0:00:03.3 Kim Schlag: Welcome to Episode 88 of the Fitness Simplified podcast. I’m your host, Kim Schlag. On today’s episode, I’m joined by my friend and colleague, Susan Niebergall. Now, Susan is 60 years old and is in the best shape of her life. She got into that incredible shape starting in her 50s. She just wrote a book all about her journey, Fit At Any Age: It Is Never Too Late. And today, we’re gonna talk about that book, we’re gonna talk about Susan’s journey, we’re gonna talk about how you can do it too, and you’re even gonna have a chance to win a free copy of her book. Let’s go.

0:00:43.3 Kim Schlag: Hello, Susan.

0:00:44.6 Susan Niebergall: Hello.

0:00:45.9 Kim Schlag: Thanks so much for joining me.

0:00:47.7 Susan Niebergall: Of course, of course, of course.

0:00:50.0 Kim Schlag: So before we get started, anybody who’s listened to my podcast for a bit, or follows me on social media has probably had some introduction to you, but why don’t you give us a brief introduction for those who are new to you.

0:01:00.3 Susan Niebergall: Sure, sure. I’m Susan Niebergall of Susan Niebergall Fitness, and co-coach in Syatt Fitness Inner Circle, and I am a 60-year-old strength coach who basically yo-yo dieted for three decades or more. [chuckle] Guess it sounds like a lot of time, but when you think about it, it was a lot of time. I was never that obese person, but I was always that person that had to lose some weight. I was always heavy. And I think back then, that’s what people said, you were heavy. [chuckle] Not fat, you were heavy, right? Yeah, and I literally just wrote a book about all of the issues that I went through, all the struggles that I had, and how I turned it all around in my mid 50s just to kinda lead the way with the message that you have as well that it’s never too late to change, right? Because you’ve…

0:01:55.6 Kim Schlag: I’m holding that book right here in my hand right now, everybody. Here it is.

0:01:58.4 Susan Niebergall: There you go.


0:02:00.2 Kim Schlag: Susan showing her guns on the cover of this book, Fit At Any Age: It’s Never Too Late. That is no small accomplishment, Susan, to write a book.

0:02:07.7 Susan Niebergall: No, it was not a small accomplishment, and I almost quit many times along the way. [chuckle] Yeah.

0:02:13.1 Kim Schlag: Why did you decide to write the book? What was the driving force? What was your point?

0:02:17.6 Susan Niebergall: The point was to show people, man, you’re not alone. Like, I made all those mistakes. Every single one of them, and there’s a bunch of them in there. And some of them are bigger than others, you know what I mean? But just little things that we thought growing up were true and that you followed along certain paths and they ended up not being good, not accurate, but just the whole point of, yeah, I screwed up too, I made all these mistakes too, and I still changed it around, you know? Like, it doesn’t matter, I guess the point is. The point is it doesn’t matter how many times you make a mistake, how long this takes, whatever, you keep after it, you surround yourself with the right people, you get the right information, and you start applying it consistently, you can change anything at any age. That was just kind of the bottom line. And just to make people feel like you’re not alone. Like, guys, people in our generation, we all did weird stuff, [chuckle] I mean, we all did.

0:03:16.8 Kim Schlag: Our attempts at weight loss are many and varied and whacky.

0:03:21.1 Susan Niebergall: So it’s interesting, because the feedback that I’ve gotten from the book has been phenomenal, and the most common thing I hear is, “I was nodding my head the whole way through,” like, “Oh my God, yes. Oh my God, I remember that. I did that too.” It was a lot of that, and then hope at the end, which was the entire point of why I did it.

0:03:38.6 Kim Schlag: And people might be surprised by how much they nod along if they don’t know you, if they just look at you and maybe see you briefly, right? I bet people are making a whole lot of assumptions based on how you appear. What assumptions do people make about you, Susan?

0:03:53.2 Susan Niebergall: The biggest one is that I must work out for hours and hours and hours, right?

0:03:57.2 Kim Schlag: Yeah.

0:03:58.9 Susan Niebergall: Like, I must. And that my nutrition must be so dialed in to the minute littlest detail that life can’t be fun. I’ve had… I posted about this a while ago… I’m gonna repost it again, a nutritionist who literally made those kind of assumptions about me in a post on Instagram, and somebody brought it to my attention, and it was kinda like, wow, just from my picture, she assumed all of these things. I must be eating basically nothing, and I was having to dial it in, and my workouts must be hours and hours on end, and I must spend every day in the gym. And it’s like, it’s nothing like that, as you know. I mean, it’s nothing like that. And then, the steroid thing gets thrown around every now and again.

0:04:39.5 Kim Schlag: Yeah, I’ve heard that…

0:04:39.8 Susan Niebergall: I haven’t heard that in a while, but I’m sure that’ll pop up eventually again.

0:04:43.7 Kim Schlag: You know, I bet people look at you and think, “There’s a woman who’s always been fit.”

0:04:46.9 Susan Niebergall: Oh, right.

0:04:47.4 Kim Schlag: “There’s a woman who’s never struggled with her weight. She’s genetically gifted.”

0:04:52.7 Susan Niebergall: Oh, yeah.

0:04:53.8 Kim Schlag: “Fitness comes easy to you. You’ve never been intimidated by the gym,” right? Don’t you think people look at you and think all of those things?

0:05:00.4 Susan Niebergall: Every single one of them, and what’s the irony here is I have obesity on one side of my family, heart disease in my family. So genetically, I don’t have those gifts. [chuckle] I was not a sports girl, so I didn’t play sports growing up. I was a musician…

0:05:16.8 Kim Schlag: You love sports, but you don’t play sports.

0:05:17.9 Susan Niebergall: I love sports, and people assumed I played sports because of that. Because I could talk to guys about football and plays, and I was knowledgeable, so people assumed. I mean, I did play flag football, I take that back. In my 20s, I was on a co-ed flag football team, and I crushed on that, just because my knowledge of football was pretty great, but that wasn’t like a sport. I didn’t do any sports. I was a musician and that was what I did, so yeah, people assume that I’ve just been lucky enough to have the ability to do this. And I’m a klutz. [chuckle] I mean… So yeah, I don’t have any of that. I am just an average person who was averagely overweight a lot of her life. I was called tank as a kid, chubby. I was heavy. What was the other word? Husky. Was that a word when we were younger?

0:06:06.3 Kim Schlag: Yeah. Yeah.

0:06:06.7 Susan Niebergall: That was close, right?

0:06:08.0 Kim Schlag: That was a word that was literally on clothing.

0:06:10.4 Susan Niebergall: Right. [chuckle] Yeah.

0:06:12.8 Kim Schlag: Yeah.

0:06:13.3 Susan Niebergall: All that, that was all me. Yeah. So I was never the, I needed to lose 150 pounds. That was never me.

0:06:19.6 Kim Schlag: Okay, so tell… and this is in the book, guys, so you’re gonna get a full run down in the book, but kinda hit on some of the highlights, Susan. How did you get from there, not obese, but kind of overweight, not particularly athletic, more a musician to somebody who’s now a trainer, super in shape, very strong, very fit, how did you go from there to here? Give us the Cliff notes version for it.

0:06:42.0 Susan Niebergall: Yeah, the Cliff Notes. I joined a gym and started doing classes. That’s where all of it started, and actually even rewinding before that, I did a stint of jazzercise, which I wrote about in the book, which I couldn’t write a lot about ’cause I don’t remember a lot about it, for probably a good reason. [chuckle] I wasn’t…

0:06:58.2 Kim Schlag: You blocked that out.

0:07:00.0 Susan Niebergall: It wasn’t my cup of tea, but really, the love started with these classes I went to at this gym. They were aerobics-based classes, step-ish kinda things with some little weight stuff at the end. The community piece is what kept me going back. It’s like how CrossFit does it, Orangetheory does it, they all do that really well. So did this gym and these classes, as it does for a lot of people, actually, and that’s what gets people in the door, and that’s what got me in the door, kept coming back. And where the classes were, I could see the free weights section, and I just started paying attention over there, and started getting very curious and tried to go over there myself a couple of times, made a bunch of stupid mistakes there, and almost didn’t go back because of an incident that happened in there.

0:07:43.4 Susan Niebergall: And it’s kind of everyone’s worst nightmare of gym intimidation. You find the one asshole that will actually come up and say something to you, when most of the people in there are like, “You go, girl.” Overcame that and got a trainer, and that’s where the working out piece propelled. I started working with a trainer there, and after that for years, I would work with different trainers all along the way. And the interesting part about that was that none of them put the whole package with nutrition together, none of them. And so, while I was gaining strength and I was loving being in the gym and learning how to lift and things like that, I never really could see progress from any of that, just because the nutrition piece wasn’t there, and it’s a classic case of you can’t out-train any kind of diet, whether you wanna say bad, good, whatever, it doesn’t matter. That has to be priority for you.

0:08:34.9 Susan Niebergall: And it wasn’t for me, so I didn’t know, right? I thought eating clean was cool, I thought that was it. [chuckle] You know? The whole eating clean thing, and I did that for a long time. But it all kinda just did this, I would lose a little bit, gain some more back. I just bounced back and forth and never had it down for so long until probably six years ago when I started working with Jordan, and I didn’t go to him for nutrition, ’cause you know, he does that and I was not interested at the time, ’cause I thought…

0:09:04.3 Kim Schlag: What age is this, 54?

0:09:06.1 Susan Niebergall: Yeah, I think it was. He and I talk about that. I’m not… We think so, [chuckle] we think so. I think right before that, I had gone to my doctor, thinking, “Oh, it’s my metabolism.” I went through that
whole route, and I talk about that a lot in the book, about how I blamed that, and my doctor set me straight, very nicely, she set me straight, but she did, and that was a big life-changing moment for me. I had to sit with that, I had to accept it, that I wasn’t doing things right. And when I started doing that, I did implement small changes, just more awareness…

0:09:38.5 Kim Schlag: What kind of things did you start doing?

0:09:40.2 Susan Niebergall: Just awareness, not eating as much, just portions were smaller. I mean, it wasn’t anything drastic. I didn’t track, I didn’t do anything yet, and I started seeing some change. It’s crazy what you can do when you become aware of what’s happening. It’s textbook right? And then that’s when I signed on with Jordan, and that’s why I didn’t sign on with nutrition, ’cause I thought, “Oh, I know what I’m doing now,” [chuckle] and I really didn’t. But as you do too, I was reading everything he wrote, and I watched everything he recorded, and I started applying stuff from him, and then he and I would start talking about it, and then it got to be more like, he was coaching me through everything, and that’s kinda where it changed. When you finally get information that you can grasp that you can actually apply, and apply it. You have to actually apply it, and you have to actually be consistent about it, and I know that’s your message too. That’s my message. That’s his message. We all message that consistency with anything. If you’re not consistent with something, you’re not gonna have success, and we all think we’re being way more consistent than we’re being.

0:10:46.7 Kim Schlag: Yeah.

0:10:48.3 Susan Niebergall: So it was a little… It’s honesty, right?

0:10:51.4 Kim Schlag: Absolutely. So Susan, you mentioned clean eating. You and I have a heck of a lot in common, down to the fact that our sons share a birthday…

0:10:57.6 Susan Niebergall: Oh my God. Oh my God, yeah. That’s great, right? Yeah.

0:11:00.3 Kim Schlag: Which has been so crazy, Susan. We constantly realize weird things we have in common. One way that we differ is that you come solidly from this clean eating kinda club, and I was from the “My diet is just craptastic,” all the way through my [chuckle] 20s and 30s, right? So for all the women listening who are die hard clean eaters, talk about how you left the Clean Eater Club, and what effect that that has had on you physically and emotionally?

0:11:21.7 Susan Niebergall: Yeah, clean eating. We thought, “Well, what’s wrong with that?” And there’s nothing wrong with it. I mean, obviously clean, whatever that means to people, is great. Nutrient-dense foods, obviously a really, really good thing to eat most of, but the problem was I was paying zero attention to portion sizes. So, I talk about this one particular place that our family would dine, a local little restaurant where I would order this thing that sounded really healthy. It was grilled chicken pasta with some pesto, whatever. I’m thinking, “Cool, there’s no like Alfredo sauce, there’s none of that stuff. I’m getting this really healthy meal.” I would eat the whole thing. It was huge, you know? And I wasn’t thinking that, “Oh my gosh, this is… I shouldn’t be eating all of this. I don’t need all of this.” I didn’t know. I didn’t know how much protein I was eating. I wasn’t even thinking in that way, right? I just knew it was healthy, and so because of that, it had to be good.

0:12:17.2 Susan Niebergall: And that, and almonds were a big thing for me back, especially when I worked in the school. Almonds, you walk by here, grab a handful, whatever, and then later on you’re walking by, you’re gonna grab another handful because you’re hungry, ’cause I was not… I had no concept of balancing out my meals. I was doing… I did a phase of Slim Fast for a while, and I was hungry, of course, I would be hungry if I’m doing that. So, clean eating was one of those things that… It’s not a bad thing, but when you do it in lieu of paying attention to other things, I think that it’s gonna end up making you spin your wheels just like it did me. Clean food has calories, and those count just as much as calories from a doughnut counts, right? I mean, as we all know. And so, I think…

0:13:03.8 Susan Niebergall: When I started getting my act together, when I started working with Jordan, all that started making sense to me now. Oh, I can have that cupcake that I turned down for so many years at these birthday gatherings at school, and it’s not gonna kill my progress. Those calories, I can keep track of those the same way I keep track of that big meal that I had that was clean, full of nutrients, whatever at that restaurant. That was probably 1,200 calories in that meal and that was dinner. So think of what I’d eaten all up to that point. So, you just learn that you don’t have to, first of all, be in this bubble, because that’s what it was for me. I was in a food bubble. It was prison. I really thought clean eating…

0:13:43.5 Kim Schlag: You had your list of foods you could eat and the ones you couldn’t eat.

0:13:46.8 Susan Niebergall: Yeah and that stemmed from… And I truly believe this is true for a lot of us. Growing up, I really feel like our generation, we were brought up with a couple of things that were black and white. One was good food and bad food. There was food that was good for us, and food that wasn’t good for us. And you could say good for not only from a nutrient perspective, but even from, “Ooh, you shouldn’t eat that, ’cause that’s gonna make you a little fat.” I think our generation was brought up that way. The same thing with the scale, I feel like we were brought up with, “If the scale goes up, that’s bad, if it goes down, it’s good.” There was no talk about what’s actually happening and why it actually fluctuates three pounds to five pounds in a day. It was just either it’s up, “Oh my God, it’s bad,” or it goes down…

0:14:30.8 Kim Schlag: Those are strongly rooted beliefs in the women I coach. We both coach a lot of middle aged women, and those beliefs are really just deeply entrenched in their brains. So the scale goes up a little bit, and it takes quite a while for some of them to understand, no matter what they do, no matter how perfect they’re being with their diet, the scale is still going to have these spikes. It’s really hard for them to comprehend that. Just like it’s really, really tricky for them to get a hold of the fact that they can have the cupcake
and still lose weight. It takes a lot of practice and actually watching, okay, what happens when I eat the cupcake? I’m gonna stay at my calories, and wow I’m still losing weight. It takes a bunch of times of that before they start to really believe it.

0:15:12.1 Susan Niebergall: It does, it does. And I will put myself into that group too. And I’ve been talking a lot recently about how, because those beliefs are so ingrained in us, I don’t know if they’ll ever go away, but I think it’s how… I think what happens now, like when I see… I’ve had the scale spike that’s recently, that went up and I’m like, I don’t like it either. I don’t like it. I still get that familiar kick in the gut, but the difference… And it’s okay to feel that, and I think we need to put that out there. It’s okay to not like that. I mean, I don’t know many people that do like it, but it’s not okay when you let the emotions then drive that car. And that’s where people get into trouble. It’s now I can feel it. I’m like, “Yeah, okay, it went up. I don’t like this, whatever. I know it’s gonna sort itself out at some point.” It just took longer this time, you know?

0:16:02.0 Susan Niebergall: It took maybe four days to sort itself out instead of the usual two or whatever, but the point is, it did sort itself out. I didn’t do anything to drastically change because, oh my God, the scale spiked. I just rode it out. And when you do that and you see what happens, okay, you saw it, great. You saw that whole pattern. Do it again. You’ll still get the kick in the gut maybe, and it’s gonna get easier, right? I don’t think it’s ever gonna go away though. I just truly think for that many decades with stuff implanted in you, it’s kinda hard to…

0:16:35.4 Kim Schlag: You can get to the point where you’re not emotional about it and more like, you’re talking about Susan, you can be logical about it. And you can be like, “Oh, I wasn’t expecting that, but there it is. I am now going to do what I was gonna do anyway. I’m still gonna eat the foods I had planned for today. I’m not gonna do extra cardio. I’m not gonna cancel my dinner plans because the scale is up.” Or the other extreme, which people go to, which is, “Screw it, this isn’t working. I’m just gonna eat all the things,” right? Instead of…

0:17:00.5 Susan Niebergall: Oh yeah, for sure. Yeah, I was the punisher, I was the…

0:17:02.7 Kim Schlag: Right? That was kind of the piece of… And so you can get to the point where stepping on the scale doesn’t lead to that.

0:17:07.2 Susan Niebergall: Yeah. I was that… I wasn’t the… I’m not a stress eater. I’m not one of those. When I get stressed, my stomach gets into a knot and I don’t eat. But when I do overeat, I would have been that person that would be the punisher. I would be going downstairs doing 100 crunches thinking,” Oh yeah, that’s gonna do something.” [chuckle] I mean, logically, if you think about it, it’s like, what… But I would be that person. I would do that if I felt full, which I was when I overate, I would try to work it off, and I would do more cardio, I would do the crunches, whatever it was.

0:17:42.5 Kim Schlag: And I think a lot of people are gonna hear that and be like, “Yeah, me too.” I’m sure there’s plenty of people listening who are like, “That’s me. That’s what I do.” Susan, what does a workout week look like for you these days?

0:17:54.6 Susan Niebergall: Four days a week. And it’s so funny you ask that today, because today is the first day that day one has landed on a Monday for me in I can’t even tell you how long, just because of traveling and scheduling and stuff. And I like that. I’m a creature of habit. So, usually this week, it’ll be Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday or Sunday. I’m not sure which one it will be. It’s one of the two. That’s the one variable. But yeah, now that we have a bike here, I ride every day, and when I ride, I don’t necessarily go hard and do a spin class or anything, I’ll just get on and pedal for a while just to move. But once or twice a week, I will do a spin class, and I really actually enjoyed that. I’ve enjoyed…

0:18:37.0 Kim Schlag: That’s new for you.

0:18:37.7 Susan Niebergall: It’s real new for me. I did them in the gym years ago, but I like having the app and pulling up. There’s classes that are 15 minutes long to over an hour. You can choose. You can choose what kind of class it is. And it’s been really interesting because between that and bike sprints that have been on my program recently, my cardiovascular endurance has improved unbelievably in a short amount of time, which is fascinating to see, ’cause I’m not a cardio girl. I don’t love it. I like the class thing. That makes it more bearable. The sprints, I don’t know if I’ll ever love them. I weirdly like them now, but I don’t know if I’ll ever love them. But it’s really interesting to see that, that your heart, how dramatically you can change that quickly, very quickly, that turns around.

0:19:29.8 Kim Schlag: Absolutely. Last fall, right before I got sick, I started a running program…

0:19:33.1 Susan Niebergall: I remember.

0:19:33.3 Kim Schlag: And it was shocking to me, and I’m gonna tackle that again, once I’m feeling well enough to do that. I’m gonna do that later this year. And I was really pleasantly surprised with how quickly my cardio endurance improved. And now, having sat on my butt for three months and did nothing, I was stunned with how in the tank my cardio… How my abilities were, but even just a month, I’ve been back, this is week four of my training plan, I’ve been walking 30 minutes a day, and training three times a week. Today’s workout was just worlds better than week one.

0:20:07.3 Susan Niebergall: I love it.

0:20:08.4 Kim Schlag: My heart is not pounding out of my chest doing a plank now. Isn’t that crazy? Literally four weeks ago, I was worried, I was like, “Should I call the doctor? What’s wrong with me?” And when I did talk to the doctor, he’s like, “You’re just really out of shape now.” And I haven’t been really out of shape since I started getting in shape, seven years ago, so that… It surprised me. But that can improve really quickly.

0:20:27.1 Susan Niebergall: That must have felt weird for you.

0:20:29.0 Kim Schlag: It was scary. I was like, “Is something wrong? I’ve done four exercises,” I literally did one set, this was the fourth thing I had done that day, and it was a 20-second plank, and seriously, I thought it was gonna pound out of my head, my heart was racing, I couldn’t breathe, and now today, the plank is still a little hard for me at 20 seconds, but the heart rate is normal elevated, like, “Okay, I’ve just finished,” and now I’m doing three sets of everything, so it’s three sets of four exercises, and when I got to the end of that third set of planks, I felt normal. So that was encouraging.

0:21:04.4 Susan Niebergall: That’s really encouraging.

0:21:05.7 Kim Schlag: Yeah, now, Susan, on your four workout days, you got your bike days, then you got your lifting days, four lifting days. What are they set up like?

0:21:14.9 Susan Niebergall: So lower body, upper body, lower body, upper body. Interestingly, my program, we’ve made a lot of adjustments of late, and so I don’t have many exercises. I think, today, I had four, four leg exercises on leg day and one core exercise, and then the bike sprints, that’s a typical length workout. They don’t take me nearly as long as they used to. My volume is… Interestingly, my volume is about the same, just because of sets and reps, but not a lot of riding. I think people think you gotta have eight to 10 things to do or more is better, that whole thing, and it’s just not. I think, boring basic stuff, as you know and as we like to program for our people, it’s just that works and it’s just bringing intensity to that and getting better with those and that’s kind of what I was doing. And I actually posted today, today was leg day, so I… Dead-lifts haven’t felt good with me for… Gosh, I don’t even know how long, it’s been so long.

0:22:23.3 Susan Niebergall: So I made a big conscious decision months ago, “I’m just gonna rebuild, I’m gonna pretend almost like I don’t know what I’m doing, and I’m starting almost from the ground floor.” I didn’t go back to the ground floor, but pretty close, and I have had so much more fun doing them. I feel like I’m getting stronger now, because I’ve done that, because I’m so focused on my technique now, I feel like I’ve made incredible strides and everything’s feeling easier, where I am now. So that’s been fun. So I guess, as your training plans… Before you got sick, were probably very similar to mine, from the perspective of how they’re laid out, because Jordan writes both of ours. But it’s a major lift at the beginning and then some supersets and then boom, you’re done. That’s it. And I think that’s super effective, it’s not the three hours in the gym. Sometimes, it’ll take me longer… I’m the worst person in the world to ask, “How long does it take?” because I talk to the people and I was thinking about this…

0:23:26.2 Kim Schlag: And you film.

0:23:26.6 Susan Niebergall: And I film, and people, especially right now, people say stuff to me about how long are my workouts. So I’m like, “You know what? They take way longer than they should.” Because the gym is the only place right now, where I see people. I was thinking about that when I left, and it’s been like this for a long time. Our gym’s, luckily, has been open since probably end of May, beginning of June, and I don’t really see a lot of people outside of there, so when I’m there in my midday time with the people that I usually know, my gym friends, whatever, I like to chat with them, we have our little distance and we do our little thing, whatever we’re supposed to do with all the rules, but I like seeing human beings. So yeah, I take a little longer than I should. Long-winded way of saying that. It’s still…

0:24:15.0 Kim Schlag: Don’t you think it’s interesting, people are very interested in how long does your workout take, ’cause they wanna know how long should their workout take, and people are very invested in how long should it be, but not nearly as much paying attention to the two things they should be, which is, “What’s my total volume?” and even more importantly, “How intensely am I working?”

0:24:30.3 Susan Niebergall: Yeah. When I hear somebody, whether it’s in the inner circle or one of my clients say, “That workout only took me whatever minutes,” and I’m like, “Well, if that workout only took you that many minutes, you’re not working hard enough.”

0:24:45.1 Kim Schlag: You’re not working hard enough.

0:24:46.6 Susan Niebergall: Yeah, 100%. And the other thing is, you can half ass any workout, any workout you can half ass, and you can also make any workout super challenging, it’s up to you. It’s about the person and what you bring to the workout, not necessarily what’s written on that piece of paper, or app or whatever. Still a piece of paper. [chuckle]

0:25:13.9 Kim Schlag: Absolutely, it’s really true. I was making a comment about that on my stories the other day, when I was showing people my workout, which again, it’s four exercises, and I was at one point, doing one set and I was like, “Whoever you are, you can do this workout with me and make it work for you, no matter how advanced you are, because you will just use heavier weights, you can do some more sets, ’cause once set’s probably not gonna be enough for you. But you guys can add some more sets on and make the weight appropriate and it can be just as hard for somebody who was in better shape than I was at that moment.” So that’s the thing about a good workout. A good workout is gonna be a good workout, if you bring to that workout, the intensity that you need to.

0:25:50.9 Susan Niebergall: Yeah, and to clarify also, ’cause I get asked this too, I don’t mean you have to do jump squats or jumping jacks in between sets or anything, it’s not that kind of intensity ’cause so many people think of HIIT or something like that. It’s, how focused are you on what you’re doing, how much weight are you actually moving in a proper range of motion, with proper technique, it’s that kind of focus and intensity that you bring to it, and I think that is gonna be the game changer. You doing your 10 reps and by number 10, you’re like, “Okay, good, I did it.” Or is it number eight, nine and 10 a struggle to finish? There’s a big difference.

0:26:27.2 Kim S
That’s what we mean by intensity, guys. We’re not talking about, “My heart rate is up and I’m sweating, and I feel like the floor was wiped with me,” we’re talking, “I’m having to really focus to get this weight up, the number of reps I’m supposed to, and keep good form and move it through a full range of motion.” That’s what we’re talking about, about intensity. It is so key, way more important than how long was your workout.

0:26:47.4 Susan Niebergall: Oh, way, way, way, way more. And I think people get hung up with that a lot, they… They think, “Well, I didn’t sweat that much. This must not have been a hard enough workout.” I don’t sweat when I strength train. I’m not a sweater. I’ve started sweating now when I do these bike things, I’ll sweat at the bike sprints, I will, and I’ll sweat at sprint class, but if I’m training in the gym, I don’t sweat like that, so for me to judge my workout based on that would not be a good way to judge it because that doesn’t matter. You don’t chase whether you are sweating or whether your tongue is on the ground when you’re trying to leave the gym… In fact, it probably shouldn’t be, if you’re strength training. If you’re doing HIIT workouts or CrossFit, it probably is gonna be. They’re just different.

0:27:35.2 Kim Schlag: Susan, what have been your biggest hurdles? You’re in the best shape of your life at 60. What have been your biggest hurdles in getting to that level of fitness?

0:27:46.3 Susan Niebergall: I think… What we touched on earlier is the whole mindset piece of 40, 50 years of thinking a certain way and trying to reshape how you view things. The scale’s been a big hurdle. I didn’t even own a scale a few years ago. That was significant for me. Two years ago, that’s not that long ago. I never owned…

0:28:05.5 Kim Schlag: I remember when you bought that scale, I remember that.

0:28:07.8 Susan Niebergall: Yeah, so it’s a constant learning experience. We’re all still learning. I think the mindset stuff has been the hardest for me, and to learn to back off and decompress more, just even from a workout perspective and from a business perspective, because I understand working out… I was that person that loved to work out every day, and that’s what I did for years and years and years. I did like it. I was also afraid that if I didn’t do it, I was gonna get fat, lose progress, all of that stuff. That was really the main reason, but I did kind of like it. I worked out this morning, and my legs are tired, but part of me is like, “Yeah, I could hop on the bike and do a class… ” No, no, I’m not gonna do that. First of all, it sounds good sitting here with my legs not moving, but as soon as I get on that bike and my legs have to pedal… That’s been… The more is better thing has been something that I have had to really come to terms with. When Jordan scaled me back from six days a week to four, I thought I was gonna lose my mind, and that still… I have to be careful with that.

0:29:20.6 Kim Schlag: Yeah, and you cover the details of that story in the book, about how hard that was for you, being a person who was working out every day or multiple times a day, to being told, “Here are your four workouts.” And like, “What am I supposed to do the rest of the time?”

0:29:33.6 Susan Niebergall: Yeah, yeah, I just feel like the whole mindset shift has been the toughest, for everything. From the scale, from working out so much, all those kinds of things, just… And looking back and accepting the fact, and all those things that I did and I thought were the right things to do, and I guess that’s the thing to hammer home here. I genuinely thought this is what I was supposed to be doing, and gosh, so many people have written to me and said, “I did too. I really… I’m doing this right now.” So many of them are saying that. So yeah, it’s this, the mind. It’s shifting…

0:30:15.1 Kim Schlag: It’s the mindset.

0:30:16.2 Susan Niebergall: Yeah, just shifting from former beliefs to now, what’s happening, and what works, and then how I can help other people with that.

0:30:25.5 Kim Schlag: I love that. So to the women out there listening to you and they’re like, “This 60-year-old woman got in the best shape of her life in her 50s, maybe I can do that.” Like she’s starting to believe, maybe it’s not too late for her, but she’s like, “I have so far to go.” Either maybe she has a lot of weight to lose, or maybe she’s like you were where she was just really over-exercising or being a super clean eater. Somebody with one of those situations and they’re like, “I kind of believe I could do this.” What would be your two action steps, two to three action steps? “I kind of believe I can do this now, and I wanna do it. I believe it’s not too late.”

0:30:57.7 Susan Niebergall: Yeah, I think the first action step regarding nutrition is literally… And I say a piece of paper, and I definitely mean a piece of paper on this one… To write down everything you put in your mouth in the course of a day, whether it’s a sip, a taste, a bite, whatever. You don’t have to weigh it, measure it, don’t do any of that. Just write it down, and have that pad of paper in your kitchen with the pen right there so you can write it as you have whatever it is in your hand, every sip of water, everything that you put in your mouth during the course of a day, because so many people just aren’t aware of what they’re consuming and until you get slapped in the face with that, it’s hard to reconcile that you’re overeating. It’s like people that tell me, “My calorie deficit number comes out to 2000. That sounds like a lot.” And I’m like, “You know, if you’re not losing weight right now you’re eating more than that”. It’s not a lot. It’s not as a lot as you think it is. It’s their perspective that’s all wrong. They think that 2000 calories is a lot, but when you sit down and you plan that sucker out, it’s not as in a lot, as you think, and you’re going through this cut right now, so you know as well as anybody, you can use up calories really quickly.

0:32:14.9 Susan Niebergall: So I think becoming aware of what you eat is super important because you’re gonna start making changes based on that. That’s exactly what I did, way back, and that’s exactly how Mike lost his weight is just becoming aware of what…

0:32:26.9 Kim Schlag: Mike’s Susan’s son.

28.1 Susan Niebergall:
Yeah, he’s my son. He’s lost, I don’t know, probably 70 pounds, something like that, and really never weighed it, never did the whole calorie tracking. He might have loosely tracked a little bit, but it was pretty much just becoming aware of what he was consuming, so that would be one thing. I think the second thing from a training perspective is if you’re new to it, just start walking. I think that’s where everyone needs to start, and I think people wanna fast forward through that and not go through that, but I think if you can make walking a non-negotiable every single day, schedule it in your day, whether it’s five minutes, 10 minutes, 15, 20, increase your time as you go, whatever it is, do it, because you’re developing that habit of that something, that active something, and that’s where that’s gotta begin too. And then after that, you could certainly… If you don’t have access to a gym right now, you could certainly do squats and push-ups in your house. By the end of the day, you wanna do 50 squats, you wanna do 50 push-ups from the wall, the counter, whatever, you can start adding that way, but I think it’s gotta start for most people with building a habit of, “This is what I’m doing,” and that could be walking.

0:33:42.5 Kim Schlag: That’s great advice.

0:33:44.4 Susan Niebergall: Just go out there with a podcast or something and put on the headphones and go.

0:33:49.8 Kim Schlag: Yeah, if you’re listening to this podcast while you’re sitting down, get up.


0:33:54.1 Susan Niebergall: She’s not gonna like that. I’m not gonna like that either, but that’s her message. So get up.

0:33:58.1 Kim Schlag: Get up.

0:33:58.6 Susan Niebergall: And start listening to this podcast than sitting down.

0:34:02.0 Kim Schlag: I have had the craziest experience in the past month, Susan, as I was starting to introduce walking back into my life. I walk in the really cold weather, I do. When it’s cold, I just put on warmer clothes and walk, but having developed this asthma with my lung condition, I was having asthma attacks outside and my doctor’s like, “No more walking outside till it gets warmer,” and he’s like, “You can walk in… ” And so I’m thinking I can’t go every day to Target and walk around. First of all, I was spending too much money. [chuckle]

0:34:28.3 Susan Niebergall: Yeah, there’s that.

0:34:30.1 Kim Schlag: And also with Coronavirus, do I really wanna be in public that long every day? And so I have had to start walking in my home, and it is the craziest thing to spend 30 minutes at a time wandering around your own house, like it’s…

0:34:44.3 Susan Niebergall: Wow! My hat’s off to you for that.

0:34:46.1 Kim Schlag: It’s not fun. I really enjoy my walks outside, I love them, I look forward to them. I do not look forward to this, and I break it up into little bits for part of my day. I’ll schedule into my time, “Okay, now I get up for five minutes and walk around the house and talk to clients.” But I do have one chunk every day. I walk for 30 minutes and I’m like, “Oh gosh, shoot me now.” But it’s working. It’s the same effect as if I was walking outside. I’ve had to find a television show to watch, so I get on Netflix and watch my show to make it more palatable, but no matter where you are, how cold it is, how dark it is, you can make it happen.

0:35:18.0 Susan Niebergall: Oh, absolutely. You just gotta be creative, I’m not a walk outside girl at all. That’s one reason I got the bike because I knew I wouldn’t be that person, and then I was gonna get a treadmill, but then no one else in the house would use it, but the bike, all three of us are getting use out of it, and so that’s been… Yeah, it’s been a much better choice for us anyway.

0:35:40.0 Kim Schlag: Writing this book, did you find parallels between writing a book, taking on that kind of project, and getting into shape?

0:35:48.6 Susan Niebergall: Yeah, ’cause I never… I’m not a writer. The book is written very simply, so I’m not a wordsmith kind of person. Yeah, I did, because I wanted to quit more times than I could count. I’d feel like, “This is going nowhere.” Blah, blah, blah, blah. That’s complete parallel to people losing weight, you feel like it’s not working for you. You’re doing all the work, and yet you just don’t feel good about it, and you don’t see the results and blah, blah, blah. And writing this book was kind of a very similar path, just there are chunks of time where I just put it off to the one side and I said, “I don’t even wanna do this,” and so I kind of left it. My maintenance period perhaps, where I got tired of it, and I just left it and focused on other things, then would go back to it. That would parallel taking a diet break and going into maintenance, and then going back. So yeah, I think that’s a great question and it’s a great point. It parallels weight loss in every way, shape or form. I wanted to quit, but I didn’t. And there are times like right now, there are just so many technological things that go on with this writing a book that I had no idea, and I’m still putting out some fires. I don’t know what I’m doing.


0:37:02.6 Susan Niebergall: I mean, if you all know Kim, this is not our strong suit, and it’s certainly not my strong suit. Dealing with Amazon technology and those people at 10:00, at 11:00 o’clock at night, and I still have a problem that I don’t know how to fix, but… [chuckle] But it’s great…

0:37:16.9 Kim Schlag: Susan, I’m coming off of four days of tech struggles here. It’s gonna be the death of me yet. What do you think it is? You’re a woman who in her 50s, and now in your 60s, you’ve written a book, and now you’re struggling to manage the tech piece of doing it. In your 50s, you got into the best shape of your life, you started a business, you took that business online and grew it. That is really inspiring, and it’s a bright light. So many women fe
el like once they hit a certain age, once they hit middle age, the best is behind them. How did you steer clear of that tired belief? What gave you the gumption to do these big, big things?

0:37:56.0 Susan Niebergall: I was a little naïve, I think, too.


0:38:02.7 Susan Niebergall: On the book piece, I was a little naïve with that, “Yeah, I’m gonna write a book.” Oh my God! Okay.

0:38:10.4 Kim Schlag: I write articles, I write Instagram posts. I can write a book.

0:38:16.2 Susan Niebergall: Let me just write a book. That was eye-opening. The whole… With the physical part of it, I was kind of like, “Yeah, I love challenges. Bring it on.” Especially in the gym. I don’t know where I got the 45-pound way to chin up goal that I wanted to do, but as soon as I… And I think it was, I saw this guy in my gym do it, and he was this big, tall, lean dude, strapped on 45 pounds and was going up down like, “Jesus, I wanna do that.” And then it was like laser. That’s exactly what was on my mind, and it took a couple of years for me to get it, and I finally got it, and it’s so funny, once you get something like that, now the goal is, I wanna get… I haven’t done it since… I wanna get back there, and then I wanna try to get two or three reps of that. So it’s kind of I get laser-focused with stuff like that in the gym. And nutrition too. If I wanna go back into a muscle-building phase, I will, and I will be laser-focused with that. With this book, yeah, that was…

0:39:20.7 Susan Niebergall: I thought, I really have a story to tell. I looked back on things, and when I started outlining the book, I started writing, just brain-dumping things that people would be able to relate to I bet and how that might be able to help them as I progress through all the changes and how I turn things around, and that was just the driving force. The whole driving force behind this book is, if this book can help somebody, great, that’s the whole premise.

0:39:49.6 Kim Schlag: Well, we’re gonna give everybody listening now a chance to win a copy of this book, we’re gonna do a giveaway here, so here’s what you’re gonna have to do, you’re gonna go to iTunes and you’re gonna leave a review for the podcast. Look, obviously, I want a good review, but if you hate it, go ahead. [chuckle] Say what you wanna say [chuckle]

0:40:07.3 Susan Niebergall: Say what you wanna say.

0:40:09.1 Kim Schlag: But I don’t know that I’ll pick you, but… No I’m kidding. No, I’m gonna do it randomly. Seriously, whatever you put… Leave me a review, take a screenshot of it, DM it to me on Instagram. I’ll enter everyone there, it will go into one of those number counters that you know you can do online, and I will draw one, it’ll be random, and you can win a copy of Fit At Any Age.

0:40:31.4 Susan Niebergall: I love it, that sounds amazing.

0:40:32.4 Kim Schlag: I’ve held it up as though all of you can see it. Just Susan can see it [chuckle] So that’s what we’re gonna do. So if you’re interested in hearing more specifics about Susan’s story… And in the book, Susan, you actually have nutrition guidelines, there’s some really good workouts in there as well, so it’s an interesting story, it’s a memoir of Susan’s life, but it’s also very practical guidance for you as you are trying to get in shape as well.

0:40:56.0 Susan Niebergall: Thanks. I appreciate that. I put the How to section at the end for a little bit of, Okay, here’s what you can do to apply some things, and just… I think there’s like five workouts in there, five short workouts in there to take for a test drive. So hopefully it gives you hope and lets you know that you can do it too.

0:41:17.7 Kim Schlag: I love it. Thanks so much for being here today, Susan. Okay, everyone listening, leave a review on iTunes, screenshot it, DM me, you’ll be entered into the giveaway to win a copy of Susan’s amazing book Fit At Any Age, it is never too late. Thanks so much for being here, Susan.

0:41:33.1 Susan Niebergall: Absolutely. Thanks so much for having me Kim.

0:41:34.0 Kim Schlag: Oh and tell everybody where they can find you, Susan.

0:41:37.6 Susan Niebergall: Mostly Instagram. Susan Niebergall Fitness. It’s Susan Niebergall Fitness…

0:41:40.5 Kim Schlag: Spell your name.

0:41:41.9 Susan Niebergall: Yeah, yeah, I definitely have to do that. N-I-E-B-E-R-G-A-L-L Fitness and that’s pretty much everywhere.

0:41:51.3 Kim Schlag: Yeah. All right, thanks again.

0:41:53.1 Susan Niebergall: All right, thanks for having me Kim.


0:42:00.1 Kim Schlag: 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.