Kim: [00:00:04] Welcome to episode 63 of the Fitness Simplified podcast. I'm your host Kim Schlag. On today's episode, I'm joined by Michelle, who is a brand-new member of the 5-0 club. She just turned 50. She has been struggling with weight loss as she ages and she's wondering, "can I still lose weight at age 50? Is menopause stopping me? What's the deal?"
Let's talk about it.
Hello, hello, hello! So, Michelle, where are you calling from?
Michelle: [00:00:39] I live in Southern California, Ventura County.
Kim: [00:00:44] Okay. Got it. Born and raised there?
Michelle: [00:00:49] Yes, born and raised Californian, daughter of two native Californians, which is a little bit rare.
Kim: [00:00:56] Oh, okay! So, before we jump into your question, tell us a little bit about you.
Michelle: [00:01:04] I am a brand new 50-year-old. I turned 50 a week ago.
Kim: [00:01:10] Oh my gosh, happy birthday!
Michelle: [00:01:12] Thank you!
Kim: [00:01:13] How did you celebrate?
Michelle: [00:01:16] Well, not the way I had hoped or expected under the current circumstances. Even though things are starting to open up a bit in California, we're sticking very close to home. So, the nicest thing actually was I'm a second-grade teacher and the room-mom from my class gathered together cards and presents and brought me flowers and treats and all of these goodies, delivered them to my house on my birthday.
Kim: [00:01:51] Oh, that's so nice.
Michelle: [00:01:53] It was very special to be remembered and celebrated that way, even apart from my class. And then, you know, my family -- I'm married and I have twin 12-year-old daughters, and so we've just been doing simple celebrations at home, a couple special meals and presents and things like that.
Kim: [00:02:13] Nice. Well, how do you feel about being 50?
Michelle: [00:02:17] I feel mostly, really, really good. We can talk more about my health journey, but I've worked really hard over the last two years to get control of my health and my weight.
So, I'm really optimistic going into this new decade in a really healthy place. But the reason for this call is because I'm also a little bit frustrated with what I've been experiencing in just the past three months. Being this age and really starting to struggle with more symptoms of menopause and I'm struggling with some unexpected weight gain.
Kim: [00:03:03] Okay. Got it.
So why don't you tell us about your health journey first, kind of catch us up to where you've been until the last few months, and then we can kind of talk about what's been going on there.
Michelle: [00:03:15] So I've been working pretty consistently with a trainer for three years. The first year that I worked with her, I definitely made progress in terms of physical abilities and fitness, but I wasn't seeing any weight loss. And I had resisted calorie counting for a very, very long time.
I have a background, as you do, in Weight Watchers. That was my first successful weight loss experience before I got married 27 years ago. And after that, I just really resisted any kind of system that required me to count anything. And I thought, "I can just eat healthy and I know what I'm eating and I'm making good choices." But she kept nudging me that that was really what was going to make the difference is counting those calories, making sure I was in a calorie deficit, tracking my food, being very accountable.
And so, when I finally stopped resisting that guidance and began tracking my calories, that's when I was finally successful with weight loss. So, in the last five months of 2018, I lost 30 pounds.
Kim: [00:04:35] Okay, great.
Michelle: [00:04:36] And then over the course of the first nine months of 2019, I shaved off about eight more pounds.
So, I started last school year at the lowest weight I've been since having my daughters 12 years ago. And, in my head, I really had a number I was hoping to reach by the time I turned 50. So, you know, I've continued to count my calories, make really healthy choices, I've continued training with her and exercising on my own at home. But as I look back at the last nine months, I've actually gained 10 pounds since the beginning of my school year in 2019. And most of that weight gain has been in just the last three months.
So the first six months of my school year, I fluctuated within just a five pound range and was really successful at staying within that range, but I definitely feel like the past three months, despite my efforts, the scale is creeping up, and it feels like it's out of my control.
Kim: [00:05:59] Got it. Got it.
So, you lost a substantial amount of weight. It sounds like you gained a lot of knowledge as well, both about physical training and about nutrition and portion control and calories and all of that, so that's fantastic.
What was the lowest weight you got to last September? And how tall are you?
Michelle: [00:06:17] I'm 5'6 and I got down to 157lbs. And I really had in my head that I wanted to be 150lbs by 50.
Kim: [00:06:28] Got it, got it. You liked the sound of that?
Michelle: [00:06:30] I did. I did.
Kim: [00:06:34] So, you mentioned that the past three months has specifically been a struggle. This coincides with you being in quarantine?
Michelle: [00:06:43] Yes.
Kim: [00:06:44] So talk to me about how your life was different before versus during the last three months.
Michelle: [00:06:50] Right. So, I definitely had reflected on this a lot and I think there are three factors that I could identify that really changed for me.
So, the first one is really overall activity level.
I'm a primary teacher. I'm almost never in a chair. Teaching second grade is a very physical job and so, in the classroom I spend most of my time on my feet moving around. I teach on a large campus, so even just walking to the office or taking my class to PE, there's a lot of movement throughout the day.
And so, I could easily track, 8,000 to 10,000 steps, just in a normal workday in addition to anything I might add in a daily walk, and that definitely dropped significantly being at home.
Kim: [00:07:49] Yeah. Did you continue teaching online from home?
Michelle: [00:07:53] I did. I did.
Kim: [00:07:55] And what does that look like for you? Were you just sitting at a desk?
Michelle: [00:07:58] Sitting a lot. Sitting just like this in front of the computer. Sitting, planning lessons. So, yes, very much a change from overall an active job lifestyle to a rather sedentary lifestyle.
Kim: [00:08:17] Got it.
Michelle: [00:08:18] So that's the first change. The second thing is that my menopause symptoms really did seem to ramp up in March.
It was really the beginning of me sensing hot flashes. My sleep has been wrecked for the last three months -- I haven't slept through the night in easily, three months. And then my stress level has been through the roof and most of that is from my job and having to completely rehaul and learn an entirely new way to deliver instruction with very little preparation. We basically had one week to shift everything to a digital format and learn all of the platforms and programs and digital content that we needed in order to launch that at the end of March.
Kim: [00:09:25] That's an incredible change, like a long-term career teaching one way and feeling very confident just going into work, doing your job, and knowing what you're doing to, "okay, you have one week to totally learn a completely different way to do all of that," while under a lot of stress in general, we were all under a lot of stress within the unknown. And the little people you're teaching are under a lot of stress, right? Because they're now trying to learn how to do this new way of learning.
So that's a lot to handle.
Michelle: [00:09:52] Right. And then, you know, I have my own daughters at home who are adjusting to a new way of doing things, my husband working at home, and so there's just all these factors that converged all at the same time. And so, I don't know exactly how to tease out what is the primary factor, if it's just a combination of everything together that has resulted in this gradual creep of weight.
Kim: [00:10:26] Okay. So, we talked about your activity level is way down, your menopause symptoms really ramped up, specifically with the hot flashes and lack of sleep. What was the third factor? You said there was a third factor that you had?
Michelle: [00:10:39] Stress.
Kim: [00:10:40] The stress was the third factor. Gotcha. Gotcha. Okay. That's definitely a lot to talk about.
Let's talk about two more things. What was your training like during quarantine versus before? And then let's talk nutrition. What stayed the same? What was different? All of that stuff.
Michelle: [00:10:59] Okay. So, the main change during quarantine is that I no longer trained in person with my trainer once a week, but she launched an online fitness program, eight-week fitness program, that I was involved in.
So, the overall activity level in terms of steps and movement around decreased, but my training maintained during the full time with a program of at least three workouts, 30 to 40-minute workouts, that incorporate strength training, basically HIIT-style workouts.
Kim: [00:11:41] Gotcha. Do you have equipment at home? Like dumbbells and those kinds of things to work with?
Michelle: [00:11:46] I do. I have a set of dumbbells in four different weights that I'm able to use. That's my primary equipment. And so, I was just watching her videos and doing her workouts with my weights here at home. And then we were walking quite a bit as a family, pretty much daily, so that's what my activity looked like.
I've continued, nutritionally, to count my calories, to stay on a particular calorie budget. And, you know, I always have like a weight loss goal that I'm working toward, and I basically eat what would be considered a paleo style diet. So, lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, high quality protein, fat. I'm gluten free and dairy free, so I don't eat any of those kinds of products, so I definitely have a very healthy, dialed in diet.
Kim: [00:12:53] And with the gluten and dairy is, do you have a gluten and dairy allergy?
Michelle: [00:12:58] I'm gluten intolerant and dairy gives me problems. So, I've just learned over time that it's better for me to avoid those things.
Kim: [00:13:09] You just feel better without them in your diet?
Michelle: [00:13:12] Absolutely. Yes. Yes.
I will confess, though, that even with my calorie counting, I've not been perfect. I've been very far from perfect. And there's been a lot of uncounted calories -- you know, slipping into having a bowl of cereal after dinner while I'm sitting on the couch watching TV or, you know, having a serving of ice cream during the week when I would never do that, partaking in the banana bread baking trend...
Kim: [00:13:57] Who didn’t, right?
Michelle: [00:14:00] Exactly. So, there are some nutritional factors that I probably haven't been entirely honest about.
Kim: [00:14:12] Got it.
Michelle: [00:14:12] And then celebrating my birthday the last week was just the worst.
Kim: [00:14:18] Hey, you're 50. I think a whole week of celebrating sounds awesome. I'm turning 50 in the fall. I was supposed to be on a cruise in Alaska and that has been canceled, so I'm whipping up some kind of big celebration and it might include a week of eating cake. I haven't decided yet.
Michelle: [00:14:34] Yeah, mine basically did. I've had half a dozen cupcakes in the last week and of the scale definitely showed it yesterday. I hit the highest point that I've hit in the last good while. So, that was definitely sobering and a wakeup call. And I'm at that point that I think everyone is, and I've heard you talk about this in the last three months, you know, "am I going to lose all my progress?"
"Am I gonna keep inching up back toward where I was." "Am I going to be able to get this thing controlled?" "Am I going to be able to shave these pounds back off again?"
It's all of those fears and questions and uncertainties.
Kim: [00:15:20] Michelle, how long have you been following me?
Michelle: [00:15:24] Probably about six months.
I stumbled on an article about "the top 50 trainers to follow" at some point around the new year, and I was attracted to you because you're the same age as me. You know, I'm not really interested in following a 20-30 something who's at a different stage of life. So, everything I've seen you put out is so consistent with what I've learned from my trainer and my whole fitness, wellness journey. And so, it's been six months.
Kim: [00:16:01] Gotcha.
I knew you'd been around for a while because you comment and like, and then we chat and stuff. So, got it.
Okay, so based on the things you've seen me post, what do you think I'm going to say is the answer to the struggle you're currently having with gaining weight the past three months?
Michelle: [00:16:17] So, I think the first thing that you're going to say is be honest about my tracking and track everything. Every little, you have an acronym for it I don't remember, but--
Kim: [00:16:30] LBTs. Licks, bites, and tastes.
Michelle: [00:16:33] Exactly. So, I think the first thing you'll say is actually track everything you put in your mouth and honest about it and be consistent and don't lie to yourself or don't miss those extra calories that could be adding up and resulting in not losing weight or gaining weight that you've kind of been lying about.
So, I think that's the first thing you're gonna say.
Kim: [00:17:10] You're right. That was good. You nailed it, Michelle. You nailed it.
Michelle: [00:17:16] And then I would suspect the second thing you would say is to really focus on getting up. Like, get that overall activity up again, get my steps in, just get up and moving because those 30 minute, three to four time a week workouts, while important for muscle building and strength maintenance, don't actually make much of a dent in my overall activity level.
Kim: [00:17:50] Bang on, Michelle. That was great. That was fantastic. You need to come write a guest post on my feed.
That's exactly it. And I get the questioning of yourself because when menopause symptoms do ramp up, and we've read so much about, "Oh gosh, gaining weight as you age," right? We kind of start having this little thought in our mind, like, "wait, can I not do this? Oh my gosh. Have I messed it all up now? Because now I'm 50 and I have more weight to lose than I had wanted to lose, and so maybe that's the problem here. And I know I'm super stressed..." and all of these additional factors that they can have an impact. Where they have the impact is either in calories in calories out, though.
They have this indirect impact. And so, you still have control over that and you just named the ways that you'll have control over that. So, when a person is lacking sleep, we do have more cravings, we do have our hunger ramped up. And so, these things impact how many calories we eat, right? So that's the calories in part.
Also, when we're lacking sleep, the calories out part often suffers as well, because we're just not moving around as much, right? Because you're tired, you didn't sleep. I was there myself. I see you shaking your head, you're like, "yeah, right?"
And then we have, on top of that, this additional factor of your activity level went from, "I am all over this big campus. I've got little second graders and I'm kneeling down and standing up and walking all around my classroom," to, "I am tied to my desk talking to these second graders and I'm planning my lessons."
And you're overtired because you're not sleeping now, right? So, your activity level is down and then here comes banana bread and all of the other things, right? And you weren't alone.
And this is the struggle everyone's having. They're like, "wow, how did this happen so fast?" But those two big factors changed so drastically in such a quick period of time, right? Before, you weren't sitting around baking multiple times a week, right? Like, who had time? That just, wasn't a part of your life structure.
And I know you're like, "absolutely right." No one can see you shaking your head, but it's true, right? And so those factors have been what has led to this.
Does that make you feel annoyed, happy, frustrated? How does it make you feel to know like, "okay. It really is about my activity and my calories."
Michelle: [00:20:17] I am frustrated with myself. You know, it's hard to make such good, positive progress and then see yourself backslide. But I also feel like I know what to do. I've done it before, I can do it again, and it's not too late.
That was the biggest lesson that I learned two years ago when I finally got everything dialed in.
It's not too late and I know I can do it again.
But there is still that nagging fear in the back of my head that maybe things are happening that are out of my control. So I am also in the process -- unfortunately, my doctor retired this year before giving me a recommendation of where to go -- so I'm in the process of locating a doctor and I definitely believe I need to check in with someone and pursue some possible treatments for the whole menopause component.
And hearing your story has been very encouraging and motivational to me about taking that step. But, like you said, the truth is I can see what's happened. It took three months of it adding up over time to bring it to my awareness in a really clear way.
Kim: [00:21:56] Yeah. Well, I'm super excited that you're going to find yourself a good doctor to work with for your menopause symptoms. I think it is critical.
I would suggest you check into see if they are NAMS affiliated -- North American Menopause Society -- affiliated. And then my friend, Dr. Heather Hirsch, who I've had on my podcast before, she's @hormonehealthdoc over on Instagram. She has a great ebook out about how to talk to your menopause specialist. Like, when you go to the doctor, it's a book you take, and then you can write it all about what you're experiencing and be prepared to go to your doctor.
And there's even a letter from her in the back of the book talking to your doctor. I had a terrible experience with my doctor and there's this letter from Heather, who's e a super menopause specialist, basically saying, "here's appropriate treatment. Here are things to consider," to your doctor.
Check that out because wow.
Michelle: [00:22:49] Oh, I did. I actually downloaded it last night.
Kim: [00:22:51] Oh, you did? You have it? Did you see that letter in the back? When I saw that, I was like, "wow, I needed that."
Michelle: [00:22:59] Oh, I didn't notice that. I noticed all of the places to track your own information and symptoms and things.
Kim: [00:23:05] Amazing. Yeah, it's so helpful.
Good. I'm glad you'll go in really prepared. It's important. That no sleeping stuff can really feel like it has altered your life in such a drastic way, so I'm really glad for you that you're going to get some help and get that under control.
Now there's a great possibility, when you talk to this person, that they won't know much about weight loss and menopause. It's pretty typical. Doctors across the board -- and menopause doctors are no different, those who specialize in it -- they don't know that much about weight loss. So I want you to know when you go in there that you will still, no matter what they say, no matter what treatments you do, HRT does not cause weight gain, those kinds of things.
Knowing that this chunk of it, like how to lose weight, get really fit in menopause isn't going to change no matter what the doctor says. So, getting a handle on the health side of it is only going to help you with this piece of it. Does that make sense?
Michelle: [00:24:00] Yes. Yes.
Kim: [00:24:01] Awesome. So yeah, I think you taking your advice that you gave yourself here about getting your activity level up -- and we can talk in a second about specifically how you're going to do that -- and then getting a handle on what you are currently eating.
Do you feel like, right now, there's any one particular habit or two particular habits with your eating that you're struggling with more than others that might be detrimental to keeping your calories in check?
Michelle: [00:24:32] Well, I will say that in following you, I've really learned so much about the importance of protein and I still struggle to get my protein high enough. There are a few days when I hit about a hundred grams per day, but it's really hard for me. I'm not sure why, but I usually land around 75 to 80 grams of protein.
So, I'm thinking that maybe that lack of satiation could be one factor in why, maybe, I am more prone to nibble or feel like I want something late at night. I think really the nighttime is, if I was to identify the one place I'm struggling the most, it's definitely in the evening after dinner.
There's almost that conditioning of like, "I want something sweet." And my daughters are having sweets and my husband's having sweets and most of the time, the fact that they're having gluten-full treats just naturally takes that off the table for me, because it's not even a possibility.
I cannot eat their cookies, their cupcakes, those things that they have in the house. But that temptation to have a bowl of cereal that I can eat, it's kind of sweet and comforting, is definitely something I have felt a struggle with in the evening.
Kim: [00:26:16] Okay. Got it. Okay. Those are two big ones we can tackle here. Let's talk about nighttime eating and then we can talk about how you can increase your protein.
So, what have you tried so far to curb your nighttime eating?
Michelle: [00:26:27] Water.
Kim: [00:26:28] Water. Okay. That definitely can help. Something in addition to that that can help is actually figuring out a plan for what you're going to do with yourself instead of eat, right? Eating is totally fine. So, two options for nighttime eating that I found really work well with my clients: 1) they plan ahead of time and they know what the nighttime snack will be, and they have already pre logged it into their calories and it's gonna fit, right? And so, they know that and they can have it.
Saying that, it needs to be something that you can control the portion of. So, if you're going to be like, "you know what? I do want a nightly bowl of cereal." Okay. Make it fit in your calories. You'll have to measure out and pour your bowl of cereal, put the box away, put the milk away. Because look, I'm a cereal girl and so I know how fast it can go from, "I'm having one or two servings of cereal," to "I just had three bowls." Which is like eight servings, guys. Cereal is ridiculous. And that is a huge amount of calories, right? And so, selecting the item with an eye towards, "how will I control my portion size?"
Sometimes it helps to have a single portion thing, but you could go cereal, it's just, literally, "I pour my portion, I put it away, and I don't have more."
If it kind of feels like that's too hard of a choice to monitor the portion size of cereal, pick something that you can. Get single serve -- I know you said you do ice cream -- get a single serve non-dairy ice cream. Whatever the kind of treat it is you could have and have it be, "this is what I'm having and that is my food."
2) Which works equally as well for other people, it's just kind of which people prefer, is they give themselves a bright line that, "after dinner I do not eat."
When you're home. Like, obviously if you're going out somewhere that's different.
But on a day by day basis, "I do not eat. The kitchen is closed for me." And that works really well for people. Doing that, often it helps to literally stay out of the kitchen. So, going upstairs, going downstairs, going outside, not hanging out in the kitchen.
Does one of those versus the other seem like it might be a better fit for you?
Michelle: [00:28:32] Yes. I need a bright line. I've learned about myself that I'm not good at moderating. Abstinence is typically a better strategy for me, just to say, "dinner is the end, I'm done." Because when I start dipping into the sugar, it really just ramps up my cravings for it.
I have historically been more successful by just saying, "I'm not going to do it."
Kim: [00:29:05] Yeah. Okay, great. Well, that's a good decision to make then.
So, in setting up that bright line, I think it's important the vocabulary you use. And so instead of saying, "I can't eat anymore, I can't eat at night," it feels very like, you want to rebel against it. Like, "you watch me eat at night!" Right?
And so instead, saying to yourself, "I'm choosing not to eat at night for right now. This is going to help me reach my goal, so for now I'm choosing that after I'm done with dinner, I'm not going to eat."
Does that make sense?
Michelle: [00:29:34] Yes, absolutely.
Kim: [00:29:35] Okay.
The other thing that's important with that is making sure that your dinner is satisfying and that when you leave the dinner table, you feel like, "okay, I have enjoyed my meal." You don't want to be depriving yourself heading into this long night of, "oh my gosh, now I'm not eating." So that's important.
The other thing that I would say is important is if you have typical evening activities that are tied with the eating, like if you and your family typically watch a TV show and snack or whatever it is you do together and snack, one of the things that can make it easier to break the habit of the nighttime snacking is to change up your routine.
So, you have a different cue to start the evening. And so maybe this is a good time to take a family walk or play games in the backyard or whatever it might be, but kind of shake up whatever the routine was that was attached to food.
What do you guys typically do in the evening?
Michelle: [00:30:32] We have been walking after dinner. I've discovered that the hour right up to sunset is just my absolute favorite time to walk because it cools off here and it's beautiful, it's quiet, it's serene.
So, we have been making a pretty good habit of that within 30 to 45 minutes after dinner, taking about a 30 to 45-minute walk.
And then we will typically come home and watch something on TV, although I have other areas of my life that I'd also like to shift towards some more reading. And so that might be a good time to make a change where instead of plopping down on the couch -- which is actually right adjacent to our kitchen -- that I actually go into the bedroom and get out my book and have a different pre-bed routine, which would probably also be better for my sleep.
Kim: [00:31:30] Absolutely. All right, killing a lot of birds with one stone there. I love it. I think that's a great plan.
So, you know, enjoyable dinner, nice nighttime walk at a time you enjoy, and then reading in your room instead of TV right next to the kitchen.
I think that sounds like a great plan. Do you feel good about that?
Michelle: [00:31:46] I do.
Kim: [00:31:47] Amazing.
All right, let's talk about protein for a minute, then. What are your go-to protein sources? What do you like?
Michelle: [00:31:55] I like eggs for breakfast. That's pretty typical for me. Or I do have a protein shake powder that I will use to make a breakfast smoothie.
I'm really good about protein at dinner. Dinner usually centers around some kind of lean protein like pork or chicken or ground beef. We have a pretty standard menu of meals that I'll rotate through. So, I don't feel like I struggle very much with breakfast or dinner.
Lunch is kind of tricky for me. I'll often make a big salad, so grilled chicken will go on that salad or I have been enjoying dairy free cottage cheese quite a bit. So, I'll often have that either on the side of my salad or that will kind of be my primary lunch with some fruit on top of it. So those are probably my go-tos.
I have a history of irritable bowel syndrome and beans, while considered an excellent source of protein, can be really problematic for me. So, I've avoided those quite a bit in, especially, the last two years. So, I really steer clear of legumes, lentils, those kinds of plant-based sources of protein.
Kim: [00:33:32] Gotcha.
Michelle: [00:33:33] I don't do a lot of dairy, of course. So, a yogurt is not an option I'll usually have. I do use almond milk for my smoothies. I'm not sure if there's much protein in almond milk, I don't think there is.
Kim: [00:33:49] There's not, no. It's annoying, but there's not.
Michelle: [00:33:53] I know, right?
Kim: [00:33:56] Okay. So it sounds like you have a lot that you like, so that's fantastic and there's no reason -- beans and those things are great to supplement with, or for a person who is vegetarian, but they're not my go-to protein sources.
Some of the other ones you mentioned there are really fantastic -- the eggs and the chicken and the pork, that's all fantastic.
So, my number one suggestion for you -- well, I have two big ones.
1) take the total amount of protein you should be eating during the day and divide it by the number of meals you eat. So, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, that's three. If you don't want to use a snack to be protein-filled -- which some people do and some people don't, they like a protein bar or some cottage cheese or whatever, but if you just want to stick with the main meals -- so your protein goal is going to be somewhere around 130-150 grams per day. Maybe 120.
Since you're so low right now, I would say minimum first goal, let's get you to 100 and then from there try and ramp it up. And so even to get to 100, we're talking 33-34 grams per meal.
So, let's start with 34 grams per meal. So, divide that in your mind. Know that, "at breakfast, at lunch, and at dinner, I need 34 grams of protein." Dinner sounds super easy -- just to have a bigger serving. Like, if it's your Turkey, if it's your fish, if it's your chicken, just have more. Those calories will obviously come from carbs and fats.
With your breakfast, are you doing straight-up eggs? Are you doing any egg whites with it?
Michelle: [00:35:36] I usually just do straight eggs.
Kim: [00:35:38] Okay. About how many are you eating?
Michelle: [00:35:40] Two.
Kim: [00:35:41] Two. Okay.
So that's 12 grams of protein. Which is a nice start, but obviously, you know, we're talking getting 30, so you're going to need to do one of two things:
Either supplement it with another protein source. So, you could have eggs and some kind of breakfast meat, you could have eggs and some cottage cheese on the side with some fruit or something. The other option is to mix egg whites in with your eggs, which is something I've done a lot because you can have, gosh, if you had a cup of egg whites, it's 26 grams of protein. If you have half a cup, that's like 13 grams of protein. That could really help.
How do you cook your eggs? Do you scramble them, or do you fry them?
Michelle: [00:36:25] I scramble them.
Kim: [00:36:26] Okay. So, mixing the egg whites in could really pump up the volume of food. You get so much more food. So that's a possibility. And then lunch. Tell me again, why is lunch tricky for you? You said you struggled with lunch.
Michelle: [00:36:45] Yes. Just because getting, like, if I'm having a salad, I guess maybe I don't put enough the protein in that salad to really make a significant amount.
Also, while I've been at home, I've been eating breakfast rather late. So, I will often not have breakfast until like 11 o'clock and then we typically have dinner around six. So, a lot of times I have a very small lunch between those two and breakfast and dinner tend to be my biggest meals. So, I'm just not as hungry in the middle of the day and so I don't eat as much.
Kim: [00:37:33] Got it. Yeah.
So, what can you see that you could do about getting enough protein in then, taking into consideration that you might eat one smaller meal?
Michelle: [00:37:44] I'm not sure. That's why I'm struggling with it.
Kim: [00:37:46] Okay. The thing that immediately comes to my mind is: prioritize protein at that meal. So, whatever meal it is, you do have, put a good chunk of protein in it. The other option is: take some of the grams of protein you need from that meal and export them to the other two meals. So, have even more protein at breakfast and more protein at dinner.
Those are kind of the options, right? You're either going to spread it out evenly over the three, or you're going to bump it up.
One of the things that really helps me get in a ton of protein is canned chicken. There's like 50 grams of protein in two small cans -- it looks like a can of tuna, but they're cans of chicken -- and if I eat two of them, I want to say it's 160 calories and it's 50 grams of protein.
Michelle: [00:38:35] Oh my goodness.
Kim: [00:38:35] I know, right? Look, I'll show you and no one else can see, but I have my big salad bowl here. That's what I had in there, was my canned chicken and my arugula and some tomatoes and things. And so, it's a really easy, fast way to pump up protein. And it's delicious.
I've had some people, like, "I don't know why you like that. It tastes like cat food." So, you might not like it...
But looking for protein sources you do like -- you know, you could add a protein shake. That could be a good time to do that. I think definitely for somebody like you who's struggling, having that protein shake every day right now would be big. Either having it with breakfast, having it after your lunch, those kinds of things.
How do you feel about having one at least daily?
Michelle: [00:39:20] I think I could definitely make that work.
Kim: [00:39:24] Okay. So, what I would suggest with the protein then is really brainstorming each day. And I would do this not as you're going, but before, like the night before, "what am I eating tomorrow?"
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner -- number one is, "how will I get the protein in?" And then you fill in the rest of the stuff from there.
Michelle: [00:39:42] Yes.
Kim: [00:39:42] How do you feel about that?
Michelle: [00:39:44] That is definitely something I can do. When I'm really dialed in, that is how I approach my meal planning.
Kim: [00:39:54] Okay, great. Fantastic.
And I think you hit on a really important point that a lot of the snacking and picking you do, we can help eliminate that by helping you feel more satisfied with your meals and protein is a great way to do that.
So, it sounds like we've got some really good action steps for you here. You're going to get that protein under control, going pre-log it, gonna spread it out over those meals, starting with getting 100 grams and then inching your way to 120-130, somewhere around there. Bright line for nighttime eating, replacing the TV watching with some reading your book in your bed that'll hopefully help with your sleep.
All right. Is there anything else you want to talk about? Anything else I can help you with?
Michelle: [00:40:40] I'm sure there is and I'm sure I'll think about it five minutes after we sign off here.
Kim: [00:40:49] Well, that's definitely a lot of action steps take anyway, Michelle. So, we don't want to overwhelm you with things to do.
You know, once a person has a lot of knowledge -- and you clearly know what works, right? You're not often left field there somewhere thinking that some crazy thing that doesn't work is going to work. You know what works. What the trick is, is putting in place, the small action steps and just working on them day after day after day. So, we don't want to overwhelm you with too many action steps, right? Because we want you to really nail these couple here.
Michelle: [00:41:19] I think that's good. I think those are definitely achievable for me. They're definitely manageable goals that I can put into place and I think they will start moving me in the right direction.
Kim: [00:41:36] Amazing. I know they will. 100% they will.
Okay, so do me a favor: keep in touch and let me know what happens with all of this. Reach out to me in DMs and we can chat. I want to know how you're doing.
Michelle: [00:41:47] I will definitely do that, Kim. Thanks so much. I really appreciate the presence that you are, and I love following you, I listen to your podcast. I've gained so much just from these six months, so thank you.
Kim: [00:42:02] I appreciate that, thank you. Makes me super-duper happy. It really does. It makes me thrilled that it's helped.
Michelle: [00:42:09] I wish you a really, really special, happy 50th birthday in the fall.
Kim: [00:42:14] Oh, thank you so much! Thank you so much. If you have any great ideas of how I should celebrate, let me know.
Michelle: [00:42:20] I don't...but my slogan for the year and the decade is, "50 is nifty."
Kim: [00:42:28] 50 is nifty. Here we go.
Michelle: [00:42:30] "There's no food here. Come and join us at the party."
Kim: [00:42:34] Thank you so much. We'll talk soon.
Michelle: [00:42:36] Okay.
Kim: [00:42:37] Okay. Bye
Thanks so much for being here and listening in to Fitness Simplified podcast today. I hope you found it educational, motivational, inspirational, all the kinds of -ational.
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I'm a NASM certified personal trainer who is passionate about helping women transform their bodies through strength training and sustainable nutritional habit changes.