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How To Know If You Need A Diet Break

This article is transcribed from The Fitness Simplified Podcast Episode 48. Click HERE to listen.
Kim: [00:00:04] Welcome back to the Fitness Simplified Podcast. I’m your host, Kim Schlag. My guest Daisy and I cover a lot of ground in this episode: how to get better at chin-ups, how to lose weight and get stronger at the same time, and all about diet breaks. How to know if you need one, options to structure the break, how long it should last, and what to do after the diet break.
Let’s go.
Daisy, hello!
Daisy: [00:00:32] Hi.
Kim: [00:00:33] Thank you so much for joining the call.
Daisy: [00:00:37] Thanks for having me.
Kim: [00:00:38] Sure thing! So, look, we’ve only chatted very, very briefly in DMs on Instagram, so why don’t you tell me and everyone some about you? Where are you from? What do you like to do? All those things.
Daisy: [00:00:51] Sure. I’m 43 and I’m a stay at home mom. I have six and seven-year-old boys that are in kindergarten and first grade. And before that I was a high school teacher and I live in the West Coast; I live in the Seattle area. So, it’s cold and wet here a lot.
Kim: [00:01:11] Cold and wet, yeah. And right now you guys are in a state of emergency for the coronavirus, correct?
Daisy: [00:01:17] Uh, it might be, but I’m not panicking.
Kim: [00:01:20] You’re not. Well, that’s good. Panicking isn’t good.
I have a friend in Seattle and their schools are closed today. They’re disinfecting the schools and the teachers are all having in-service to learn how to teach remotely from their homes.
Daisy: [00:01:36] Oh my gosh. Is that in Kirkland?
Kim: [00:01:38] I don’t even know the name of the town. She lives just outside of Seattle.
Daisy: [00:01:42] Yeah. Wow. That’s wild because we’ve– our district has sent us information about, you know, not being too concerned yet.
Kim: [00:01:52] Yeah. Well, panicking is never good, and from what I hear, like, wash your hands, wash your hands. That’s what everyone’s saying.
So, you have little ones. Did you say six and seven?
Daisy: [00:02:03] Yes.
Kim: [00:02:05] Super tiny guys. That’s a fun age. And you’re a stay at home mom. Are you from Seattle originally?
Daisy: [00:02:12] No, we’re transplants. We’ve moved a lot around the Southeast and then I’m from Pittsburgh originally.
Kim: [00:02:20] Oh, okay. The other end of my state, I’m from Philly.
Daisy: [00:02:23] Right. I saw that when you’re– I was like Valley Forge on your stories the other day and I thought, “oh, I didn’t realize,” for some reason I thought you were in New York.
Kim: [00:02:33] Oh, no, no, no. Well, I mean, I’m only like a two-hour drive from New York City.
Daisy: [00:02:37] Right.
Kim: [00:02:37] And I go there quite a bit. So, what did you use to teach?
Daisy: [00:02:43] Science. I taught biology and anatomy, physiology, and physical science, too.
Kim: [00:02:48] Okay, cool. And what are you doing when you’re not busy taking care of your home and your kiddos? What do you like to do?
Daisy: [00:02:55] Well I like to work out, I like to read and go to the library, and I’m painting my house.
Kim: [00:03:05] Oh, wow. Do you enjoy that?
Daisy: [00:03:08] Yes and no. We have wainscoting, so sometimes no.
Kim: [00:03:12] Okay, got it. Yeah, that can be tricky.
So, you like to work out. What do you like to do? Like, what’s your favorite way of working out?
Daisy: [00:03:20] Well, my husband and I lift weights together and that’s pretty much my favorite way to work out.
Kim: [00:03:26] Nice. Favorite lift or favorite body part to train?
Daisy: [00:03:32] Oh, that’s a tough one. I’d say back is probably my favorite. Like, it’s easiest, but legs are probably where I can, you know, use to gain strength the most.
Kim: [00:03:46] Got it. Got it. And, okay, so tell everybody what your question was that you presented to me on DMs.
Daisy: [00:03:56] So as I said, I lift weights and, I’m trying not to kill myself with cardio, but I’m also trying to lose fat.
So, I’m curious about whether I’m in a good deficit and whether I should do things like the refeeds and people talk about periodizing your nutrition; that you go up to maintenance and go back down into a cut. I’m not sure what to think of all of that stuff. Sometimes they feel like it’s a bit of extra information.
Kim: [00:04:28] And if I remember correctly, one of your big concerns is not only are you looking to get leaner, but you’re looking to get stronger.
Daisy: [00:04:35] Right.
Kim: [00:04:36] And you’re concerned like, “hey, are these opposing goals? I want to be strong and I want to be lean.”
Daisy: [00:04:41] Yes, exactly.
Kim: [00:04:43] Got it. And so, tell us about your nutrition right now. What’s that like?
Daisy: [00:04:48] Well, I track using MyFitnessPal and I try to stay– I was staying at about 130 protein and about 1500 calories, and then I let the carbs and fats come in where they lie to stay in the calorie numbers.
Kim: [00:05:08] Can you refresh my memory on your weight and height?
Daisy: [00:05:12] Oh, sure.
I’m about 5’5.5″ or 5’5″ depending on what day it is. I weigh about 132 pounds.
Kim: [00:05:21] Gotcha, gotcha. And you said around 130 grams of protein. How about calories?
Daisy: [00:05:28] 1500. But I recently did a little bit of a diet break where I did a diet break that I actually tracked every food and I think that I was not as compliant as I had hoped previously.
Kim: [00:05:43] Interesting. So, you mean during the diet break you were still tracking and you realize maybe you weren’t as compliant with your 1500 before as you had thought you were?
Daisy: [00:05:52] Yes.
Kim: [00:05:53] Okay. What were you seeing?
Daisy: [00:05:57] Just that little things add up.
I listened to the podcast you did with the other person. I can’t remember her name, I’m sorry. She was 43, which I’m also 43.
Kim: [00:06:07] Oh, okay, gotcha.
Daisy: [00:06:08] It was just last week, I think. And something about it just made me think, “oh, you know, maybe I should just be a little bit more, like, keen about that.” And I had already started a little bit of a diet break.
And I just noticed that like, oh, you know, an M&M here or there, or a bite of this, or, I’m sure that happens to a lot of people, but I just noticed that those calories might’ve been more. So, I’ve been trying to be really strict about just logging everything.
Kim: [00:06:38] Okay, and how long is– did you say that it’s been about a week?
Daisy: [00:06:42] I took the diet break for probably two weeks and then it’s been, you know– and I was like, “I’m going to really track everything,” for the last week and half or so.
Kim: [00:06:53] Got it. And how was it coming back into a deficit after being at maintenance for a bit?
Daisy: [00:07:00] Better. Better because I felt mentally a little bit more, I don’t know, like, “oh, this is okay.” You know? Sometimes I would get hungry or I’d really want treats a lot. I’m a big cookie fan.
Kim: [00:07:17] Oh, me too. What’s yo
ur favorite cookie?
Daisy: [00:07:20] Probably chocolate chip, but I like to bake them also. So,  I like an assortment of varieties. Like, part of it is I really enjoy trying new recipes.
Kim: [00:07:31] Got it. So how long had you previous– so, before the diet break, you were at a deficit. How long had you been at a deficit or working on a deficit? Even if you weren’t being as consistent as you thought you were, as stringent, how long?
Daisy: [00:07:47] Well, I started in October and I went from October ‘til the first week of December. And then in December I took an uncharted, shall we say, I didn’t track really at all for the end of December and Christmas time area. And then I kind of got back on in the first week of January– or into a deficit, which is when the January time is when I think I was really like, not really that much in a deficit. But anyway.
Kim: [00:08:16] Got it. So, coming off of Christmas, now, had you planned to take a break for Christmas?
Daisy: [00:08:20] I did, yeah. ‘Cause I did eight weeks. When I started in October, I thought, “well, I’ll just take it week by week.” And then I thought, you know, after the first week, I was like, “well, I’ll try this for six weeks.”
And then I was like, “okay, I think I can do two more.” And then after that I was like, “I’m done.”
Kim: [00:08:43] That’s good. You know? I really do like– excuse me, I’m getting ready to yawn. I don’t even know. I’m not even tired.
I really do like having kind of a chunk of time where you’re like, “all right, I’m going to do this for X number of weeks and then I’m going to take a break,” because it can really help a person stay mentally in the game and be like, “all right, this isn’t what I’m going to do for the next six months or a year. You know, this is literally eight weeks.”
So that was very smart of you to do that. So, okay. So, what you found is perhaps– now, what were your results over that eight-week period before Christmas?
Daisy: [00:09:17] They were good. I lost– actually, I don’t know that I lost all that much weight, like three pounds, maybe? But I definitely got leaner. And it was– I think I got newbie gains at the gym with my husband and I working out together, too.
Kim: [00:09:35] Now, did you just start working out in October?
Daisy: [00:09:38] Yeah, ’cause my kids are both in school and so we work out during the day together and lift weights. So, I was really doing much more progressive overload than I’ve been doing before.
Kim: [00:09:48] Okay. Got it. So, you started weight training, we’re hitting your calorie deficit hard, lost about three pounds. Were you– did you take measurements as well?
Daisy: [00:09:57] Not real official ones. I wish I could go back and have taken more.
I’m sure everyone says that, right?
Kim: [00:10:04] I know. Everybody out there, listen up. You’re going to want the measurements later. Same thing with pictures. Did you take pictures?
Daisy: [00:10:09] No.
Kim: [00:10:10] Yeah. You know, when we’re starting, we kind of don’t want to, right? We’re not really necessarily super excited where we’re at, but later on it’s really cool to see that stuff. ‘Cause my bet is, you know, losing three pounds, and you said you could feel yourself getting stronger in the gym and those things. My bet is that you would have seen some cool improvements in your measurements and in your progress pictures as well.
And when you take those progress pictures– and you can do this now, as well, Daisy ’cause, you’re still gonna make more progress. You should take those pictures wearing as little clothing as possible. I know that’s hard. Nobody wants to do it, but you don’t have to show them to anybody. Take them front, take them from the side, both sides, and from the back. Try and get your whole body in the shot, try and use the same lighting, and wear the same outfit as often as possible.
Eventually you might have to change the outfit because it just gets too big, it just doesn’t fit well. But try and standardize it and then you can really see the changes. So, I would encourage you to even do that now, even though you’re a couple months in because you’ll still make big changes.
Okay. So, tell me more about the idea that you want to get strong, you want to get lean, and you’re worried that those don’t go together.
Daisy: [00:11:21] So, when you’re in a deficit and like, I want to, you know, it’s an aesthetic goal, to look a little bit leaner so that I actually look like I lift as much weight as I do.
I worry that in that deficit it will make it hard to actually lift the weights because I’ll be tired or, you know, I just won’t have as much energy to get it done.
Kim: [00:11:46] Gotcha. Yeah, and that is a real thing. You can still build strength and lose weight at the same time. In fact, I would say if you are not progressing in the gym when you’re in a deficit, that’s not a great thing.
So, pushing yourself in the gym, it might mean that you’re going to time your food a little bit better. So, you could have some carbs and protein a couple of hours before you go to the gym so that you do have energy for that. You might find that that helps.
Pushing your hardest in the gym is going to be what helps you get stronger. The deficit is going to be what causes the weight loss. So, you can lose weight and gain strength at the same time. A lot of people think that those really are opposing goals.
Now, losing weight and building muscle at the same time. Those are really hard to do. You can do them as a newbie, like you were saying, you can do them when you’re obese at the same time. Otherwise, it’s much better to separate the two and have a dedicated phase of several months at a deficit to lose fat, bring yourself up to maintenance for a time, and then go into a surplus to gain muscle. And that’s kind of what you were talking about, like, “oh, do I need to cycle these things through?”
You could. You absolutely could. You don’t have to. If building muscle is a big goal of yours, eventually going into a slight surplus would be really useful. If you’re still not quite as lean as you would like to be, I would say let’s get you leaner first with your deficit. When you’re happy with how lean you are, or pretty close to it, then you can come up to maintenance and then go further into a surplus; as far as muscle building.
Strength, you should be able to build still in your deficit. Recovery is going to be important, so getting plenty of sleep, having rest days. What is your training split like? How often are you training? What is your week look like?
Daisy: [00:13:40] So, because of my husband’s schedule, we do a four-day body-split and a one-day swimming. And that’s just for cardio health.
Kim: [00:13:50] Okay. Got it.
So, you’re in the gym lifting four days. And what does that, is that two upper, two lower?
Daisy: [00:13:56] We do, body-part. So, we do legs, back and triceps, chest and biceps, and then shoulders.
Kim: [00:14:06] Got it. Are you hitting legs just once a week, then?
Daisy: [00:14:11] Kind of. We do hex bar deadlifts on the leg day, and we do traditional deadlifts on back day.
Kim: [00:14:23] Okay. So, you are getting legs in there twice a week.
Daisy: [00:14:25] Yeah. Not as much as I’d like to, but it’s hard because of his schedule.
Kim: [00:14:31] Got it. Well, you know, you could work so that you’re still going together and if he doesn’t want– I will tell you: so, when I first started training, I was training with a guy and he was not a fan of leg days. Most men aren’t. And several months into it, he’s like, “why didn’t you just tell me you wanted to do legs more often?” I’m like, “well, because I didn’t
know what I was doing. And you did.”
You know, they’re not necessarily as interested in training legs, though they should be. So, you could keep up with his same split and just have two leg days while you’re there, or at least add some more legs in. I would say–
Daisy: [00:15:03] I mean, he’s a big fan, probably a bigger fan of doing legs than I am. But because of recovery with his travel schedule and everything, it’s hard to fit it in.
So, I don’t know if you have a suggestion about another exercise we could squeeze in. I mean, how do you do that exactly if you’re not going to do like a full dedicated– does that make sense? Like, if you’re not going to do a whole ‘nother leg day, but you just want to add a couple, sprinkle in a few more leg exercises.
Kim: [00:15:33] So you could start each of your two– so if you had two days where you were going to do some heavier leg stuff, even if the second part of your workout, for whatever reason, if you really don’t want to have a full second leg day, you could start each of your leg days, have your main move, be leg move.
You could do a squat on one day and a deadlift on one day. That would be one way to go. Is there a particular reason you don’t want to have or he doesn’t want to have two leg days?
Daisy: [00:15:59] Well, ’cause then where do you put the other body parts? You know, if you do two leg days and you only have four days at the gym?
Kim: [00:16:05] Then you do two lower, two upper.
Daisy: [00:16:09] Oh, okay. Yeah.
Kim: [00:16:10] Does that make sense?
Daisy: [00:16:12] Yes.
Kim: [00:16:12] Another good split is push/pull/legs. So, you do all the movements that are upper body push, all the ones that are upper body pull, legs and you cycle through.
Daisy: [00:16:22] Oh, so, like, one week, even though it’s four days, you just keep going. It’ll rotate some weeks. Yeah, I see what you’re saying.
Kim: [00:16:31] So that’s another option. But really hitting each muscle group twice is going to get you the volume you need to see really good results. But you could, if for whatever reason he wants to stick the way he’s doing, you could start each of the two sort of leg days with a heavier.
But that’s neither here nor there as far as you actually being able to get stronger. ‘Cause if I remember the main thing you said– we kind of got off in the weeds, we were talking about lower body, but I think you told me that one of your main goals is actually chin-ups.
Daisy: [00:17:05] Yes.
Kim: [00:17:06] That’s one of the things you really want to get strong at. I mean, I think you’re interested in getting strong generally, but chin-ups is like a big focus for you.
Daisy: [00:17:12] Yes. It’s a goal. You know, it’s something to work for.
Kim: [00:17:17] So, talk to me. What can you do now as far as chin-ups? And what are you doing to try and get better at them?
Daisy: [00:17:23] Well, I just did– I’ve been doing two main exercises. Well, I mean, I do a bunch of back, exercises, but the ones for that was, I was doing jumping and then slow, slow, go down. I don’t never remember what that’s called.
Kim: [00:17:39] Slow eccentrics.
Daisy: [00:17:40] There you go. And then I was– and I was doing where you kind of hang from a bar, but your feet are on the floor and you sort of do them, assisted. On your own assisted, and I did assisted from the machine.
But I just did my first one the other day, but I think I jumped a tiny bit off the, you know, the things on the that you step up on.
Kim: [00:18:06] Okay, but you got up over the bar?
Daisy: [00:18:09] Yes.
Kim: [00:18:10] Great! Well that’s huge. Congratulations.
Daisy: [00:18:13] Thank you.
Kim: [00:18:13] Did you film it.
Daisy: [00:18:15] No, I’ve never filmed myself in the gym.
Kim: [00:18:17] Oh, okay. You should totally film yourself. You should film it again, try not to jump this time, and see if you get up there.
Daisy: [00:18:25] Yeah, that bottom part is really tough. I’ve also done those, I guess they’re scapular things, where you– I don’t know what it’s called.
Kim: [00:18:35] Where you’re hanging and you depress your shoulder blades and then raise them again. And so, you’re just working your scapula there.
Daisy: [00:18:43] Right.
Kim: [00:18:43] Yes. So, okay. If pushups– pushups, hello. If pullups, chin ups are your number one goal, you should be prioritizing them in your workouts. So, putting them first in the workouts on the days that you’re doing them, working them at least twice a week, I would prefer even three.
I actually have women whose main goal is to get chin-ups. I even have them, on their lower body day, start with chin ups before they even hit their other moves. So that they’re getting enough volume in and that they’re fresh when they do them. Does that make sense?
Daisy: [00:19:14] Yes. Yeah. And do you have them do– like what kind? Do you have them do, like the jumping eccentric thing, or do you have ’em do different things each time?
Kim: [00:19:24] I worked through a couple of things. So, definitely the eccentrics is a big one. Jumping up or climbing up over the bar, making sure you’re really in a controlled position before you go down, and going down slowly for a count of three, five, somewhere in there. Doing those is one.
Another one that I have them do is band-assisted. So, getting the long bands that have quite a lot of– they have  different tensions. So, you can get a really thin band, you can get a medium one, can get a really thick one; starting with whichever band you can use for a set of six, and using that, getting a really full range of motion. So, extending your arms fully at the bottom, coming up until your sternum touches the bar, not just your chin is over the bar, until your sternum touches the bar, coming down under control. So that’s another exercise I have them do with bands.
Another really good one is programming them as cluster sets. And so, after like a month or so of doing band-assisted, like I just told you, breaking them up so that you’re doing maybe 2, rest 10 seconds, 2, rest 10 seconds, 2, rest 10 seconds, take a break, like a full 2-minute break, and go again.
And so, with only doing 2 and then taking a 10 second break, you’ll be able to use a lighter band. Does that make more sense?
Daisy: [00:20:50] Yeah.
Kim: [00:20:50] And then you can work your way till you’re going to a much lighter band with sets of 2. You can change up the rep scheme so you’re doing 3, 10 seconds, 2, 10 seconds, 1.
And so, working in small groups like that is really powerful to get more work in. Like, if you couldn’t have done 6 in a row with a certain band.
Daisy: [00:21:11] Increasing your volume, kind of thing?
Kim: [00:21:11] Yeah. Increasing your volume with less assistance. And then, eventually, so let’s say you get one good pull up next week. Let’s say you go into the gym, you do it, it’s clean, you’re not jumping, and you get up there for one, you can start your, your chin up session with one rep, see if you can take a ten second rest and see if you can get another one.
So that can be one cluster set. Then adding the lightest band you need so you can get up again with good form. So, you’re continuing to work without assistance and then adding the assistance in as needed. Does that make sense?
Daisy: [00:21:46] Gotcha. Do you hang 10 seconds or do you get down?
Kim: [00:21:50] No, you come totally down and let your arms rest. So, you’re not hanging on the bar,
you’re giving yourself a full rest.
Daisy: [00:21:57] Yeah, my hands tend to be– you know, the grip is a big part of it.
Kim: [00:22:02] Absolutely. Absolutely. And you can work on training your grip. A couple of things that can help with that: farmer carries, like really heavy farmer carries, deadlifts, that trains your grip for sure. So, using heavy deadlifts to help train your grip. Those are a couple of things that you can do to work on your grip strength.
I will say, chin up training, it can take a long time to get where you want to go. And people think something’s wrong, and really it just does take that long.
It will take months of dedicated training for some of the women I work with to get their first chin up or to increase from being able to do one, to being able to do four or five.
Daisy: [00:22:41] I believe it.
Kim: [00:22:42] Yeah. And there’s nothing wrong with that, you just have to keep up with it. And it’s that consistency of doing it two or three times a week and doing it with really good form, not letting your ego get in the way and just kind of continually fighting through crappy form with no assistance; it’s way better to get some assistance from the bands and practice with really good form using the muscles you’re supposed to use versus momentum and just muscling up with other body parts, you know, swinging your legs to get up.
That’s actually going to get you stronger at doing chin ups. Does that make sense?
Daisy: [00:23:17] Well, I’m going to work on it. Yeah, absolutely.
Kim: [00:23:19] Yeah. And so, like I said, putting those first in your program on your upper body days, and you could even put him in on a third day; just putting a set of those in and just keep going with them.
Other assistance exercises that can help with them as well are inverted rows. Do you ever do inverted rows?
Daisy: [00:23:43] I’m not sure. Which is an inverted row?
Kim: [00:23:47] So an inverted row is if you have a barbell in a rack, or you use the Smith machine and you lay under it, almost like you’re in an upside down plank, and your body’s on an angle and then you pull yourself up to the bar.
Daisy: [00:24:00] Oh, no, I’ve never. I don’t do those.
Kim: [00:24:02] Okay. Yeah, so inverted rows are amazing. I have, on YouTube, I have a full chin up tutorial and I have inverted rows in there; exactly how to do them. So those are really good.
TRX rows, same thing. Those are really good. Most versions of rows are going to help you get stronger at doing chin-ups. Lat pulldowns also can help. So, all of those back exercises can really help.
Daisy: [00:24:37] Okay! I will definitely look that up.
Kim: [00:24:40] Yeah, and just don’t give up on it. Just keep plugging away at it. And I know, I know it’s hard, videotape yourself so you can watch and see like, “okay, how am I doing? Am I extending fully at the bottom? Am I getting all the way up so my sternum is touching the bar and not just my chin? How does my form look?” And really analyze that.
Daisy: [00:25:02] That will take some time getting used to, but I’ll do it.
Kim: [00:25:06] And you don’t even need your husband to stand there and film you, you can literally just prop your camera up on a water bottle and go.
What bothers you more, having other people see you filming yourself or looking at yourself on camera?
Daisy: [00:25:18] I don’t know. Both.
Kim: [00:25:21] All of it. It all freaks you out.
Daisy: [00:25:23] Right. A little bit.
Kim: [00:25:26] Would it be worth it if it was a thing that made a big difference in you being able to accomplish this goal?
Daisy: [00:25:31] Yes, and that’s why I know I just have to get out of my comfort zone a little bit.
Kim: [00:25:35] Yeah. For sure. And you know what? Everybody feels weird doing it for the first time, and nobody likes to look at themselves on camera. Nobody really likes that. But you get used to it and when you start realizing like, “oh wait, this actually helps me. I can see what I’m doing right, I can see what I’m doing wrong. I can now make it better.” So, I would encourage you to do that, take that little challenge and give it a go.
Daisy: [00:25:57] I will.
Kim: [00:25:59] So, that’s the strength part for you is really working on those chin-ups.
How are you doing? As far as– so it sounds like you get plenty of rest days in there. You’re working four days a week, you’re swimming on the other day, so you’re getting plenty of rest days. That’s fantastic. Are you getting sleep?
Daisy: [00:26:18] Yeah, I’m pretty good about it. My kids, you know, I have to put them on a schedule, so it puts me on a schedule and I’ve gotta be up in the morning.
Kim: [00:26:29] Good. ’cause those are the important factors of recovery. Obviously, and this is where you’re like, “wait, can I get stronger if I’m in a deficit?” You know, food is important, so making sure that you’re eating nourishing food, not living on 1500 calories of, pop tarts and pizza, but getting healthy, nourishing food, and when you go to the gym, you know, getting a meal in before can really help. Do you train in the morning?
Daisy: [00:26:52] I do, yeah. And just this week I was trying to separate my breakfast and I found that– I moved my oatmeal to a half hour before we leave for the gym and it’s made a huge difference in how I feel at the gym.
Kim: [00:27:09] Okay, good. Good.
Daisy: [00:27:11] And I don’t know if that’s just because it’s a bunch of carbs, you know?
Kim: [00:27:14] Well, yeah, carbs can absolutely help with your energy, for sure. Okay, so good. And then as far as your weight loss piece, it seems like you’ve already found the missing piece, which is you just weren’t being as consistent as you thought. It sounds largely because of the lick, bite, taste, M&M here, M&M there kind of thing.
Daisy: [00:27:34] I think so. And I think taking a break where it’s not actually uncharted, that I really like sit down and write it down. You know, how much I’m eating. Even then, which sounds like, “oh, you shouldn’t have to do that,” but maybe for now I do.
Kim: [00:27:51] Yeah, absolutely. You know, and people, when they come up and, in your mind, you’re in maintenance, if you’re not logging at all, you might be above maintenance and that’s not going to help. So yeah, and at least tracking for a time during that period can really help with being consistent with that.
As far as the schedule for how often are you going to be in a deficit and how often are you going to be at maintenance? A couple of really good options, you could say like, “hey, I’m going to go into a deficit. I’m going to stay here for eight weeks,” like you did last time. “Then I’m going to come to maintenance for X number of weeks and then see if I want to head back.”
Another option is something called a “jab deficit.” Have you ever heard that term before?
Daisy: [00:28:31] I haven’t. And this is actually exactly what I was just going to ask you about, like what my options were for how you decide, how long to do these things.
Kim: [00:28:39] Okay, great. So, a jab deficit is something that’s worked really well for me.
When you’re a fairly lean person, which you are, looking to get a little bit leaner, the calorie numbers can be low and that can get tiring and it’s hard to fit in the fun treats you want. So the idea of a job deficit is you pick a number of weeks that you’re going to hit your deficit and then you put in a one week, or it could be any kind of weeks, usually it’s one or two week maintenance break before you go back into
a deficit again.
So, for me, this time last year I was doing a jab deficit. I was doing two weeks at a deficit, one week at maintenance, repeat, two weeks at a deficit, one week at maintenance, repeat. And so, I would know, even though my calories were quite low, that it was only two weeks. And then I would go back.
You could do that in a different way: you could do one week in a deficit, one week at maintenance, one week in a deficit, one week at maintenance. Obviously changing it up like that means your progress will be a little bit slower. If you feel mentally– and the biggest benefit, it’s not like your body needs that to reset or something, it really is about the mental ability to stay on track. To really hit your deficits.
So, another, like I said, the other option is just choosing a chunk of time. And it can be six weeks, it can be eight weeks, I don’t think you’d probably want to go longer than 12 before coming up for a maintenance break.
Daisy: [00:29:57] Nope. I’m sure. I don’t.
Kim: [00:30:00] And it really depends on the person and how much they have to lose and how long they’ve been doing it. It sounds like for you, eight weeks was a pretty good fit before, so eight or six. If you’re feeling a little burned out and deciding ahead of time, at that point, “I will come up and have a maintenance break,” and you can decide, “do I want to do it for two weeks, do I want to do it for four weeks?”
What sounds like it might be the best plan for you?
Daisy: [00:30:25] I’m not sure. I think maybe trying six weeks, but the jab idea is really– like that sounds very palatable. You know, doable. But I don’t know. Like, was it pretty effective that you felt like–
Kim: [00:30:42] Oh, yeah.
Daisy: [00:30:43] The only thing I want to avoid is like at Christmas time when I took the unchartered break, it was like I gained two or three pounds and then it took two or three weeks, more than that, probably, to get rid of it. Even though it was not, you know, I was not eating like crazy. I mean, I did eat a lot of cookies, but yeah.
Kim: [00:31:02] I totally hear you. So, the key is during that maintenance week, you can still log so that you are still at maintenance. So, bring your calories up, 250 to 500 calories and have those be your maintenance numbers and you could still track.
And so, it’s not like a free for all. It’s not a week of like, “I’m just going to eat whatever I want.” You know, swimming around in pasta and whatnot. It’s literally a controlled, giving yourself a bit more calories.
Daisy: [00:31:27] Do you think that when people say they do refeeds where it’s like one day in a week they up their calories that 30% or something, do you think that’s effective or do you think it’s more effective to take a full week and just go to maintenance?
Kim: [00:31:43] So it can be. It absolutely can be. A couple of things: 1) it can really help with that mental piece of like, “whoa, I can fit some yummy things in here,” 2) it can help– one of the things that can mask weight loss is stress, you know, spikes in cortisol and low calories can absolutely have that effect. And it’s not that you’re not losing fat, it’s just you having water weight. And so, having a refeed day, you can release that stress and then you can see this whoosh on the scale. So that can be a real thing.
Where it can go off the rails is, I bet you can imagine what I’m going to say, is where you take it too far, right? So, you’re not just a little bit higher that day, you’re quite a bit higher. And then you’re going to eat up the deficit that you spent all week creating.
Daisy: [00:32:32] Right.
Kim: [00:32:33] So, it’s important if you decide to go that route, to go into it having a mentality of, “This is a little bit extra calories. It’s not a ton.”
You know, speaking of your calories, you’re hitting a straight deficit across the week, you said right around 1500, right?
Daisy: [00:32:48] Yeah.
Kim: [00:32:48] So, another really good option is to have days that are lower and days that are higher. It’s called calorie cycling, works really well, so that you have some days that it’s easier to get in, you know, a slice of pizza or two cookies or something.
So, I typically give my clients three higher days and four lower days. So obviously your lower day calories are lower than what the standard is and the higher are just a little bit higher so that you have more of a buffer then.
So, you said you’re 132 pounds?
Daisy: [00:33:26] Yes, right. And that was the other thing is different calculators will give pretty different values on those numbers.
Kim: [00:33:35] Yeah. So, I mean, you could do 1400 to 1500 calories four days a week and– hang on, let me double check my math here.
Yeah, you could do like 1350 to 1450 and then 1550 to 1650 the other days of the week on the high days. So, you take your low days a little bit lower, and then you give yourself, you know, a little bit more a couple of days a week so that you can have a bit of a buffer to have, like I said, to fit more treats in there.
Daisy: [00:34:21] Right. And so, some of the things where they talk about like, all these people on Instagram, they talk about, oh, that you know, that people have adrenal fatigue and you know, if you’re not sleeping, then you should increase your calories. Is that, I mean, is that accurate or is it just pretty rare cases.
Kim: [00:34:42] Adrenal fatigue is a made-up thing.
Daisy: [00:34:44] Well, I guess, I mean like when a person’s– if they go low calories for an extended period, some people say that they end up not sleeping well and their sex drive goes down and–
Kim: [00:34:59] Yeah, that’s all a real thing, for sure. So, if you’re super low calorie for a very long time all of those things can happen.
Daisy: [00:35:07] But that’s like REALLY low calorie, right?
Kim: [00:35:10] Yes.
Daisy: [00:35:10] Okay. That was my assumption, but they never give it numbers on things.
Kim: [00:35:16] Yeah. So, having been, like you said, around 1500 calories, probably a little bit more since you said you weren’t being super adherent with them, but even let’s say you were at 1500, that’s not so low that that should be happening to you from October to now.
Daisy: [00:35:29] Right. No, and it hasn’t been, but I was like, “uh, but am I going to get there?”
Kim: [00:35:35] Well, remember, the goal here is not to keep you dieting for that long. And based on what I’ve heard and from the size you are, you don’t have a ton of weight to lose. So eventually making the decision like, “I am not going to continue in a deficit,” would be an important thing rather than letting this linger for years and having the mindset of like, “I am a woman, I always have to be dieting,” which so many women do. Like, we fall into this, “I should be trying to lose weight,” like a perpetual thing. And so, looking for other things to do, like get a chin up or get a heavier deadlift or work on building muscle. There’s lots of other fitness goals we can have, but we really do get stuck in this. Like, “I want to be thinner.”
Daisy: [00:36:19] Yeah, I agree.
Kim: [00:36:21] Yeah. And so, you know, making a decision, like, “I’m just not going to do that. I’m not going to just constantly diet.” And it sounds like you’re there already, like the idea that you have taken and that you are considering taking maintenance breaks is a great thing.
There was something else you said– oh, I remember what it was I wanted to bring up. I don’t remember if you told me this in your DM or if you said it somewhere on this call that you do work out at the gym, you go for a swim that one day, but otherwise you’re not
super active.
Daisy: [00:36:52] Well, I don’t do a lot of the walking. I know you’re like, “get up and do stuff.” Like, with the kids, I’m pretty active with them. I get probably 4,000 to 8,000 steps, but I put my phone down a lot, so I don’t know how many more than that I get in my house ’cause I set it down and I paint and, you know, do laundry and stuff. So, yeah, I’m not so great about that.
Kim: [00:37:21] So it is one area to definitely consider putting an emphasis on, and here is why I specifically am going to suggest it for you. Like I said, you are a lean person looking to get leaner, and that means your calories can get quite low. But one thing you can do to prevent that is by increasing your calories out.
Now, I don’t want you to look at your steps and think, “how many calories am I burning?” They’re way off, but just getting the movement in is going to increase your calories out. And so, paying attention, you know, even buying just a super cheap, one that you can wear on your wrist so that you can get a handle on, “wait, how much am I actually moving?” Bumping that up over time — you don’t have to do it right away, but over time to 10,000 to 12,000 can really help so that when you are losing weight, that you’re seeing good progress and you’re not down at those super low calories for very long. ‘Cause you know, 1350 is pretty low. But think 1450 or 1400, what did I say? Now I can’t even remember.
Daisy: [00:38:21] Yeah, 1350-1450.
Kim: [00:38:25] That’s pretty low calories. You’re not gonna want to stay there long. And one of the things you can do to not be there that long is to be very effective while you’re there. So, increase your calories out and lose these couple of pounds and be done with it.
Daisy: [00:38:40] And do you keep the steps basically forever? ‘Cause I mean, I will say that 10,000 steps is a significant portion of the day. You know, like when you think about it, like what the other things that you do in life. And I know it’s doable and I know people are busy, so I don’t, I don’t mean to make it like that, but do you keep them forever or…
Kim: [00:38:58] It depends. So, for just general good health, like 6,000-8,000 is fantastic. You don’t have to go all the way up to 10,000.
Let me ask you this, what do you think, when you say it’s a pretty busy part of–, like it’s a pretty big part of the day, what do you think it takes to get 10,000 steps?
Daisy: [00:39:17] I would guess like an additional 30 to 50-minute walk.
Kim: [00:39:23] Okay. That is one way to go about it. I will say that is a way to go about it. I do it sometimes. It’s not necessarily the only way to go about it. So really looking for a short burst of time is a real winning strategy. So, if your kids are at– do your kids play sports? Are they in activities?
Daisy: [00:39:44] They are, but it’s one where you kind of have to sit and watch them. They do jujitsu.
Kim: [00:39:48] They do jujitsu. And so, where are you at? Are you in bleachers or where are you at?
Daisy: [00:39:53] No, it’s a small room in there are seats from the outside edges for parents.
Kim: [00:39:59] Got it. Is there any place that you’re there that you could stand in pace back and forth?
Daisy: [00:40:04] I mean, if I stood outside, like outside the windows, you know, it’s kind of like in a strip mall, so that would be–
Kim: [00:40:12] Okay. So, you could stand outside and watch them through the windows?
Daisy: [00:40:16] Conceivably, yes.
Kim: [00:40:18] So that’s one place that you could pick up a ton of steps. I have a lot of parents who they’re like– one of my clients was telling me– I can’t believe she has all grown children now except for one. She’s like, “I cannot believe that I just sat there on the sidelines all those years.” She was like, “I literally, all I had to do was stand up and pace back and forth, and watch them in that gym.” She’s like, “I can’t believe I just sat there.”
It sounds like maybe that makes you feel awkward though?
Daisy: [00:40:45] Well, the hard part is that I don’t do jujitsu and I need to hear what the instructor says, ’cause then we go home and they want to talk about it or do it or practice it and I kind of have to have an idea.
Kim: [00:40:59] So you want to sit and watch them.
Daisy: [00:41:01] Yes. Well, I actually want to watch the instructors.
Kim: [00:41:04] Got it. Okay, well then maybe that’s not the spot for you, but it’s something to keep in mind is they branch out into other things, you know, if you’re watching them play soccer, if you’re watching them play basketball.
Daisy: [00:41:13] Yes, I agree. And I think there are times when they play outside that, in the past I’ve chosen to sit down and have a cup of tea while I watch them, and I just– that’s a good time that I would be able to walk around easily. And probably they would enjoy it too.
Kim: [00:41:28] For sure. Like, getting up and actually being active with them. And look, I did it a million times when my kids were younger. Sometimes I’m like, “I just want to sit here. You guys play, I am sitting here,” because we’re busy.
So, you know, there’s lots of ways you can get small amounts of steps in. So, you know, what I would suggest is that you track fully, like, either keep your phone on you or buy a super cheap step tracker. See what you get without changing anything, see where you’re at, and then make really small increments, like had 500 steps onto the average, right? When you figured out how can I add 500 steps per day on, and you make that a pretty easy day. Like, you’re like, “okay, I can hit that number,” add in 500 more.
There’s no reason– you don’t have to like go to 10,000 tomorrow. We want to make this a part of what you do naturally. And sometimes that might mean like, “hey, I’m going to go out for a 15 minute walk or I’m going to take the kids out,” I mean, my kids were always happy when they were younger, I’d be like, “hey, let’s take your bikes out and you can ride and I’ll run around with you.”
You know, looking for ways you can get more movement in that doesn’t and involve you spending an extra 50 minutes out by yourself.
Daisy: [00:42:36] Right. And I think sometimes having someone else look at it and say, “but really there are times you could add steps.” It’s like, “oh yeah, you’re right. I guess there are.”
Kim: [00:42:46] You know what? We just don’t think about it until somebody else points it out to us. I’m glad you’re open to thinking about it.
Daisy: [00:42:53] Yeah, I think it’ll be something I can do over time. For sure. I kind of equate it to, like, for a while I wasn’t drinking enough water and I saw something somewhere where it said, you know, “you get up in, the first thing you do is drink a big glass of water.” And it’s so obvious and now I’m, like, addicted to that first glass of water, so I’ll just have to try this.
And it’s
Kim: [00:43:13] just been a habit. A habit you’ve just created and you just do it now.
Daisy: [00:43:17] Yep. And at first it was like, “oh, I want to have my coffee though,” so, I think this will be something similar where if I just do it slowly, I could incorporate it.
Kim: [00:43:28] Absolutely.
Okay. Any other questions you have, concerns, things we didn’t cover here for you?
Daisy: [00:43:34] No, I think that’s everything. And I think that’s really helpful. Thank you so much.
Kim: [00:43:40] You are more than welcome. Definitely reach back out and let me know how it’s going, let me know how the weight loss is coming. Definitely send me a video of that chin up and as you get more, let’s see it.

Daisy: [00:43:56] Okay. I’ll do it.
Kim: [00:43:56] You gotta be proud of that, Daisy.
Daisy: [00:43:58] Okay. I’m on it this week.
Kim: [00:44:00] All right. All right, my dear. Thanks so much for coming on, I sure do appreciate it.
Daisy: [00:44:05] Okay. Thank you so much for having me.
Kim: [00:44:07] Absolutely. Talk soon.
Daisy: [00:44:09] Okay. Bye.
Kim: [00:44:15] Thanks so much for being here and listening in to the Fitness Simplified Podcast today. I hope you found it educational, motivational, inspirational, all the kinds of  -ational. If you enjoyed it, if you found value in it, it would mean so much to me if you would go ahead and leave a rating and review on whatever platform you are listening to this on. It really does help to get this podcast to other people.
Thanks so much.