Kim: [00:00:00] Welcome to the Fitness Simplified podcast. I'm your host, Kim Schlag. On today's episode, I'm joined by my new friend, Karen. Now, last week on my Instagram stories, I put up a question box and Karen wrote in and her words struck me. I actually laughed out loud thinking, "who hasn't bought that before?" And this is what she said:
"I want to lose weight, but I don't actually want to change what I eat."
Does that hit home?
And that's what we talk about today. What do you do when you feel that way? How can you move forward? Let's go.
Karen: [00:00:40] Hey!
Kim: [00:00:42] How are you doing?
Karen: [00:00:43] Good. Can you hear me all right?
Kim: [00:00:45] I sure can. Where are you calling me from today?
Whereabouts do you live?
Karen: [00:00:49] I live near Toronto, in Canada.
Kim: [00:00:52] Okay. You guys just had your Thanksgiving?
Karen: [00:00:55] We did, yeah. I'm actually American, I'm from California. So it doesn't really feel like my Thanksgiving, but yes, we did just have Thanksgiving.
Kim: [00:01:02] So do you celebrate both?
Karen: [00:01:05] We usually never celebrate Canadian, but my kids have been bugging us to, so we did this year and we'll celebrate-- we usually go to the States for American Thanksgiving, but we won't this year, obviously. So yeah, we'll celebrate it at home, though.
Kim: [00:01:18] Got it. So what brought you from California to Toronto?
Karen: [00:01:24] Well, I grew up there, but then I met my husband in Illinois and he's a pastor, so we moved here eight years ago for a job as a pastor here.
Kim: [00:01:32] Okay, got it. Got it.
Well, I so appreciate you being willing to hop on this call with me. You wrote in when I had a question box up on Sunday and had a question that just -- I hear versions of this all the time -- but I liked how you put it. It was just so succinct and straightforward.
So, I'm going to read the question you messaged me, and then I'm just going to ask you to tell me more about it. So here's what you said: "I want to lose weight, but don't actually feel like I want to change what I eat. Help."
I think a lot of people are nodding their head and they're being like, "yeah, me too!"
Karen: [00:02:07] Yep.
Kim: [00:02:08] Tell me about that.
Karen: [00:02:10] I mean, I think when I wrote it, I was just feeling the tension between, I actually know I need to lose like 20 or 30 pounds for health and my pants are tight, but then I also don't want to change how I eat forever and have it be something where like, I'm always on a diet or now I can't ever eat things.
So that's what I was feeling. I know that I can actually just eat what I want, but eat a lot less of it, and make sure I add good things, but I actually can never do that. I never have the self-control to actually do that part. So I was kind of feeling that tension when I wrote that.
Kim: [00:02:49] Got it. So you were feeling like, "okay, I want to do this. I know it's a good decision for my health, but actually doing it just sounds terrible, because in this moment in my mind, it means not eating all the things I want and all of that kind of stuff."
Karen: [00:03:02] Exactly. Exactly.
Kim: [00:03:03] Okay. Well, let's talk this through so that we can help you get to a point where you can actually do what you just said.
What you just described is fantastic. Like, "okay, I know I can eat the things I want, I just have to moderate how much of them I eat." But in practice, you have yet to be successful with that. If I'm understanding correctly,
Karen: [00:03:22] Correct. I've had seasons of being successful, but I feel like it's always hijacked by holidays or, like, the pandemic.
I always let things take over and so then those seasons become unsuccessful and then I give up and then I'm like, "Oh, whatever."
Kim: [00:03:36] Got it. And so you'll have spurts of success and then roadblock and then "what happened?" So the most recent time, was it the pandemic? That you were doing pretty well and then the pandemic?
Karen: [00:03:48] Yeah. So my husband and I decided in January that we were gonna take three months -- because he's on sabbatical January through March -- and so we're like, "we're just going to take three months and eat well, enjoy food, but eat well, try to lose weight." He wanted to lose 10 pounds, I just wanted to get started. So I'm like, "this is just a start for me and I'm going to keep going," and exercise and just enjoy it.
And it was great. I lost 8 pounds, it was good. And then we went on vacation to California at the end of his sabbatical, right in the middle of March, and I knew on vacation, "I'm going to enjoy my food because I miss all this food and it's okay. And then I'll just jump right back on." So I ate a lot, gained a few pounds, I wasn't worried. And then the pandemic hit and I came home and I had five kids at home to homeschool and my husband was going back to work. His first day was like right when the pandemic hit.
So it was just a lot of stress. So I just was like, "I can't even think about anything." So, that's why I kind of just stopped and couldn't feel like I had control over anything and had self-control over what I ate or anything. And I do a lot of stress eating, too. I know.
Kim: [00:05:01] Okay. Okay. So you lost 8 pounds in 3 months, which is actually a really good progress.
Karen: [00:05:07] Yeah. Yeah, I was excited about it and it wasn't that hard.
Kim: [00:05:11] What did you do? Tell us what you did.
Karen: [00:05:14] Well, I actually have learned a ton from you. I feel like your Instagram has helped me really understand a lot of things.
So I monitored calories. I keep track of it on my phone. So that was the biggest thing I did and I set it low because I know I always go over. So I said slightly too low, giving myself like 300 extra calories. And that helped my mental space a little bit.
So that was the biggest thing that helped. And then we just didn't eat out a ton or when we ate out I would not eat lunch or eat a really small lunch and, you know, things like that.
Kim: [00:05:58] Got it. Okay. That's a good swap. It's amazing how different it can be when you go from eating out a lot to eating out less or eating out differently. That's a big change. And for sure, counting your calories.
So a couple of things stick out to me, 1) the idea that -- now look, taking the pandemic out of it, what a surreal experience this has been -- but the normal things that get in people's way, like vacation, "I'm doing really well... and then it's vacation." "I'm doing really well... and then it's the holidays." "I'm doing really well... and things got busy at work," or whatever those kinds of things are.
Wouldn't it be interesting to set your eating up in a way to know that when those things come up, how you ate wouldn't have to be that different?
The idea being that if you're super restrictive -- you mentioned that you set your calories really pretty low to kind of create this buffer to help you mentally -- I'm interested if it actually didn't help you mentally in the long-term because in your mind, right now you want to lose weight again, in your mind you're thinking, "I have to go back to these really low calories," but you actually weren't eating those low calories.
You were eating 300 calories more. So it probably feels way more restrictive than it actually is.
Karen: [00:07:13] Yeah. That's a good point. And yeah, I think that's accurate.
Kim: [00:07:17] And so what were the calories you set that were super low?
Karen: [00:07:24] I set it at 1400 calories. So I was eating around 1600-1700.
Kim: [00:07:29] Got it. Got it. And how much do you weigh and how tall are you?
Karen: [00:07:32] I'm 5'6" and I weigh 191.
Kim: [00:07:35] Okay. And what's a day like for you as far as movement?
Karen: [00:07:41] So right now -- because I have a fitness watch -- I usually get like 6,000 to 7,000 steps just by doing my normal day because I have a lot to do around the house. I am a homemaker, so I just am around the house. So I try to get out to do an extra walk every other day or so, but I'm not doing any other exercises right now. Which, I actually really enjoy exercising, I just am not doing it at all right now.
Kim: [00:08:16] Got it. Got it.
Well, we'll talk about exercise in a minute, let's just stick with the calories. I just wanted to see about how busy you are as far as general movement. So, you're getting a pretty moderate amount of movement there. 6,000-7,000 steps, that's fantastic.
So yeah, for somebody who's 190 pounds, 1400 calories is a little bit of food. And that would make me feel very restricted and like, "I don't want to do that." I don't want to do that. That sounds terrible.
Karen: [00:08:43] Yeah. Yep.
Okay, so here's my problem, though, is I've tried-- I feel like I set it before at like 1600-1700 and I just felt like I wasn't getting anywhere.
And I think part of it is I just would not 100% hit that goal. So then I felt like, "do I need to eat less?" Like, I don't know.
Kim: [00:09:06] Well, the reality of the situation is this last time you said you weren't actually eating 1400. On paper you were, but you knew you were eating closer to 1600 anyway, right? Because you were giving yourself this buffer.
So why not just not give yourself the buffer, but then be very good about actually hitting the target you've set for yourself, right? So set for yourself -- and I'd have to do a little bit of math here, but you know, 1700 calories, 1600-1700 calories and actually eat that.
Not just on paper.
Karen: [00:09:38] Well, that sounds really smart.
I think part of it is... like, because I'm cooking for a family of seven. Like, I feel like I always do great, and then an afternoon snack and then dinner time is tricky because I want to make the meals I've always made for my family because that's what they're used to. And so it was really cumbersome to have to enter in all of the recipes and so I feel like I would estimate a lot for dinners especially,
And so that's why I liked the wiggle room,. So whenever I think about counting calories really closely it's feels a little stressful.
Like, I don't know how to-- I don't want to just eat like a chicken breast and a thing of veggies because it's simpler. Like, I want to actually eat the recipes.
Kim: [00:10:26] Yeah, I hear you. And you've just actually talked us through a really good strategy for people who do want to be very precise and make it easy to be precise.
What you just said is one of the things I suggest, which is keep your meals really simple. Eat one ingredient foods, eat chicken and broccoli. And it doesn't have to be boring, it can be flavored how you like, but that makes tracking easier.
It's not the only way to do it though. You know, putting in some time on the front end for, let's say you look through your family recipes, are you somebody who cooks something new every week? Or do you have a staple bunch of recipes?
Karen: [00:10:59] I have a staple bunch of recipes. We do have a couple nights a week where my husband cooks or we just throw things together, like pasta with tons of stuff in it. So mostly it's staple recipes.
Kim: [00:11:12] Got it. And about how many do you rotate through on a monthly basis?
Karen: [00:11:17] That's a good question. I don't know. I mean, I probably rotate through maybe 15 or so different recipes.
Kim: [00:11:29] Okay. Got it. So how would you feel about the idea of spending some time on the front end?
And it doesn't have to be like one day, but you could take a little bit of time, maybe two different times, and actually inputting those recipes into myfitnesspal. Have you ever done that before?
Karen: [00:11:43] Yeah, I have. I have. So it's not that hard.
Kim: [00:11:47] It just take some time. And I wouldn't wait until you're busy running around trying to get the kids what they need and actually making the dinner to do that, right? That sounds terrible. Nobody wants to do that. I barely want to make dinner when it's time to make dinner.
Karen: [00:12:00] And that's what I was doing. Yeah.
Kim: [00:12:02] Right. And so taking some time and saying, "all right, for the next hour, I'm going to do however many recipes I can do. I'm going to put them in here. I'm going to figure out the portions," and get it so that it is set up so that when you actually make that recipe, it is easy for you to go into myfitnesspal and select that recipe.
Karen: [00:12:17] Yeah, that's a really good idea, actually, that I feel like I would actually do.
Kim: [00:12:21] Yeah, because your point of like, "I don't want to eat how I have to eat to be on a diet," is well taken. If we can get you eating these foods you like anyway in the proper portions and being really confident that you're actually hitting the calories you need to hit to be in a deficit, it will feel very different than feeling like, "Ugh, I either can't eat those meals I feed my family or I can, and I don't even know if I'm in a deficit or I'm just not going to have them. And I just can't eat them."
Karen: [00:12:46] Yeah. Yeah. That's exactly right.
Kim: [00:12:49] Okay. So I think that's one really good place to start for you. I had another thought come just a moment ago and of course it has now left my brain.
Give me a second while I try and think through what that was.
Oh, I think it was about the number of calories themselves. I actually think you do have some good wiggle room there. I think up around 1700 is a really good spot for you to land. So I would not be hesitant at all about eating around 1700 calories.
Not at all.
Karen: [00:13:19] That's encouraging.
Kim: [00:13:21] Yeah. I would even say 1700-1900. You don't need to go there right now, but I would say like realistically hitting 1700-1800 calories would be a very good spot for you. With great consistency, like, not doing the thing where you hit it four days a week and three days you don't and then you don't see progress and now you're convinced you're eating too many calories. Do you see what I'm saying?
Karen: [00:13:44] Yeah, exactly. Yeah.
Kim: [00:13:46] When in actuality, if you had done all seven days at 1700-1800 calories, you would have seen really good progress.
So one other suggestion I have for you, then, is to chart your consistency.
A very simple way to do it is just to get a sheet of paper or a calendar sheet that shows you all the days and check off the days where you hit your calories so that, you know, "okay, I did it." If you're a really techie person, you can make a spreadsheet. I've been doing shared Google Docs with my clients the past month, and I really liked the spreadsheet because I can just looked at it and they just look at it and we can see at a glance like, "Oh, there are five days recently you have not hit your calories. That's going to be a problem."
So, you know, making some kind of spreadsheet or just using a calendar that says, "X, I hit my calories or 0, I didn't hit my calories," can be very powerful. Having that visual to help us. Because it feels really hard to *almost* hit your calories, right? It feels really hard to go 100 or 150 over. And if you do that enough times, you're eating up your deficit and you still have this feeling of like, "I am trying so hard, but it's not working."
Karen: [00:14:57] I think that's exactly it. I think that's exactly it. And you had a post recently about a client who hit it like 70% of the time or 80%. That was really helpful for me to think like, "Oh, if I want progress, I really have to think about it in a different mindset than I have been."
Kim: [00:15:19] Yeah. A lot of people can hit 75%, 78% consistency in a month and that feels really hard. And they either see very slow progress or they don't see progress. And then who wants to stick with it? Because the most motivating thing is seeing progress. And so when we can up that adherence to 80%, 85%, 90%, and you're seeing good results, you're going to want to stick with it more.
And so getting some visual representation, either a spreadsheet or a calendar, so that you can be very clear, "I did it" or "I didn't do it."
Karen: [00:15:51] Yeah. That's really helpful. I like the calendar idea.
Kim: [00:15:55] Okay. So, the other factors we need to really put in place to help you to want to stick with this, one of the things you said is that you stress eat a lot. So talk to me about that.
Karen: [00:16:11] I mean, I think the last six months or seven months -- pandemic, but also there's just a lot going on in our lives with our children and my husband's work -- I was just in the kitchen a lot, all the time with my children and stuff and then I think there's something comforting about like, "I'm going to eat this cookie, but it actually feels better to eat five." Now I feel great and then 10 minutes later, you don't feel great anymore. So, I do feel like I have always done that. And I think I realized in the last year how much I actually do that.
And some of it's procrastination. Like, I have all these hard things to handle, it's easier to actually just be in the kitchen and have another cookie. I don't know if that makes sense. It sounds stupid.
Kim: [00:17:06] It doesn't sound stupid at all. My friend Georgie Fear, who I've had on the podcast before, she calls that procrastin-eating instead of procrastinating.
And I am, by nature, a procrastinator. That's a big thing for me that I've had to work to overcome because it feels like a really good thing, like, I'm not procrastinating. Like, I'm hungry, I need food. It's a valid reason for me to stay in the kitchen rather than go back to my computer and do those five tasks that feel hard to get started on, right? And so that doesn't sound weird at all.
And the idea that you're, looking for comfort and 5 feels better than 1 until 10 minutes later when it doesn't. So, let me ask you this, is this getting in the way of you achieving your goals?
Karen: [00:17:48] Oh, totally.
Kim: [00:17:50] Okay, so is it something that you're interested and open to changing, then?
Karen: [00:17:56] Yeah, of course. Yes. I feel like I have ideas and desires to do it and then right in that exact moment -- like I've tried to pinpoint "what is wrong that I can't do it?" -- and right in the moment, I just think "this is okay. Just this once" or, "oh, well I've already blown it" or, "actually, I didn't really want to lose weight." You know, like the moment right in time is the hardest part for me.
Kim: [00:18:25] Absolutely. I totally agree with you.
Well, let's talk about that for a second and then we can kind of come back in a minute and talk about strategies to generally manage stress in ways other than food. But in that moment, I totally hear what you're saying. Let's come up with a plan to help you in that moment.
And what I find is one of the best things a person can do is give themselves time and space to make a choice that is actually going to help them reach their goals. And so what you can do in that moment, let's say you're stressed and you want to go in the kitchen and you want to eat cookies: tell yourself, "I'm going to wait 20 minutes to do that. If in 20 minutes, I still want to eat cookies, I am going to go and I'm going to eat cookies."
And then what I want you to do is walk away from the cookies. Like, don't hold the cookies while you're waiting for the 20 minutes, right? They should not be in your hand when the 20 minutes is over. Put them away in a sealed container in your cupboard and leave the room and do something else.
Now, the something else we can talk about in just a minute -- what the something else is, but we want you to create an actual time distance between you and the cookies or whatever it is, and a space distance between you and the cookies. Does that make sense?
Karen: [00:19:33] Yeah, that makes a lot of sense, actually.
Kim: [00:19:35] Does that feel doable?
Karen: [00:19:38] It does. It does. I was just thinking through, like, part of the issue, too, is sometimes I'm partaking with other people. Like, with my kids or we just baked cookies together or even at dinner time. I've been trying to think through, "what do I want to eat?" "Okay. Now I'm going to take away like a quarter of it and we'll start with that." But then at the end of that, I'm like, "well, I'm still good and I'll just eat more." And then it's not till afterwards that I'm like, "I actually like twice as much as I was planning on."
So that's kind of the issue, too. So yes, walking away, I feel like I could possibly do it if I'm able to just put it out of my mind. Even if I'm in the kitchen, put out my mind, drink some water, do something else, and then come back to it.
I feel like that might be possible, but I feel like there's also hundreds of other situations where I can't do that.
Kim: [00:20:37] Absolutely. Let's talk about that now. And that kind of comes into the part where I said, we'll talk about what you should do in that space. We'll kind of talk about that and will address both pieces of that.
I totally get what you're saying. Not every situation is you, you know, trying to clean the house or do a project you don't want to do and you're in the kitchen alone, right? It's not all like that. But in the times where you can give yourself time and space to make a decision that is different, do that. For these other times, let's talk about managing the need for comfort and trying to manage stress in other non-food ways. And this also speaks to what to do during those 20 minutes.
So if you're at dinner or baking with your kids and you just feel this need of like, "this feels comfortable and this feels cozy," it's not actually cookies that you're necessarily seeking. You're seeking this feeling of comfort and cozy.
And so the idea being, how can we help you create that in non-food ways so that you're not constantly seeking for it?
Karen: [00:21:40] Yeah. Okay. Okay. So how do you do that?
Kim: [00:21:43] That is a really good question. Let's brainstorm some ways.
So it depends on what the feeling a person is looking for. So if it's comfort and cozy, specifically, you can set your environment up in ways that help you have a cozy moment.
Whether that's things like certain lighting. Like, my dad, when I was little, it's really funny to me to think about this now because I feel like life is so busy. He was very big on dinner having ambiance. And so he would turn the lights down a little bit and light a candle every night at dinner. Every night.
Isn't that funny that a man would do that? But he would put these big candles on the table and his favorite word was, "ambiance," and so he would light these three-wick candles and turn the lights down a little bit. So, you know, doing things like that that kind of set this routine of like, "I'm enjoying this experience. It's about this experience I'm having with these people I love."
If it's connecting with your kids, can you find a non-food way to do that? So maybe it's not always baking. Not that it can never be baking, because that's a fun thing that you should have as part of your life, but looking for other ways that you and the kids could connect, whether that's a board game or going outside.
And so actively, ahead of time, brainstorming, "when I want to do something to have connection and the sense of coziness and fun with my kids, what will I suggest that does not involve food?"
Karen: [00:23:00] Okay.
Kim: [00:23:01] What other ideas do you have?
Karen: [00:23:04] I mean, I think part of my problem is I like to do multiple things at once.
So I am thinking through actual situations where I want to be eating while I'm reading a book, I want to be eating while I'm talking on the phone with someone, I want to be eating while I'm hanging out with my kids, or while we're baking, I want to take lots of cookie dough because I love it. So, I'm trying to think through, "would I actually do those situations without eating, too?"
And I think I would, I'm just trying to think through, "would I actually make that decision in the moment?" And I don't know. I think that's the hard part I'm trying to wrap my head around.
Kim: [00:23:51] Yeah. I can see it can be tricky because these are habits you've built. These are routines.
"I get my book and I sit in my cozy spot and I get..." what is it you typically eat while you're reading the book?
Karen: [00:24:01] I usually grab a cup of coffee and a cookie or some popcorn. So it's not bad always, it's just like, I always feel like I need to be eating something.
Kim: [00:24:12] Got it. And so you have built this routine that has this cue.
Like, "I get my book, I sit in the chair," and then you have the cookie or the popcorn and the coffee to go with it. And it would feel really off to not do that. And it would be just like little bit of discord.
One of the things you can do is, for now, try and do something different. So, when you want to read a book, maybe go sit out back on your deck or go upstairs and sit in your bedroom. So, make a change in the routine.
Or if, when you read is at a particular time, you know, the kids are home and it's three o'clock -- I'm making stuff up here for you, right? -- But don't read then. Go for a walk then. Do something different to switch up the routine so that you don't have this desire for that, "must have cookie and popcorn right now."
Karen: [00:24:58] Yeah. Yeah. I think that's doable. That makes sense.
Kim: [00:25:02] And one of the things to keep in mind is: one of the best things you can do to lower the total number of calories you're going to take in during a day is to be very intentional with food and to not use it as a multitasking opportunity.
But when you're eating -- like, when you're going to eat a cookie -- to sit and enjoy eating the cookie. Put it on a plate, sit at the table, talk to your kids, and eat the cookie. Don't be on the phone with your friend because how many cookies can you eat and not even remember the experience of actually tasting a cookie because you were talking to someone, right?
How many times you've done that?
Karen: [00:25:34] Oh, totally. Totally.
Kim: [00:25:35] And so, giving yourself a bright line of, "when I eat food, I pay attention to my food, when I talk to my friend, I pay attention to talking to my friend," can be a really powerful way to just reduce that total number of calories and actually help you to enjoy the food that you want to eat anyway.
Karen: [00:25:53] Yeah, I think that's actually, that'll take a little extra time, but I feel like that would be good to do.
Kim: [00:26:01] 100%. Here's the thing: this is all going to take practice. We're not gonna get off the phone and you're going to be like, "I now do all of these things."
You're going to have to practice at finding other ways to connect with the kids. You're going to have to practice at having it feel natural to read a book without having the cookie. You're going to have to practice those things and remind yourself as you're doing it:
"this is supposed to take time. This is a long-held habit. I have I'm switching things up, I am practicing being a person who pays attention when she eats food. I'm practicing being a person who eats food, seated at the table, with it on a plate. I'm practicing that. I'm I totally did not do it today, but I'm going to keep practicing at it."
Karen: [00:26:44] That's really helpful.
Something that I was just thinking of is sometimes I just eat because it tastes so good. Like, I just love that taste. I want more of it because it was so good. And there's so many people in my family it's going to be gone if I don't eat more of it now. So I think there's a little bit of that. What do I do about that?
Kim: [00:27:04] So it sounds like a bit of scarcity mindset. Like, "if I don't put that on my plate now somebody else is going to eat it and it's not going to be here for me later."
Karen: [00:27:12] Yes, or, "I might as well get rid of it now so it's not a temptation for me later."
Kim: [00:27:18] Yeah, absolutely. That's a tricky thing to deal with.
So part of it comes back to just mental strategies of reminding yourself this: "I can have this food--" Give me an example, give me a food that you might do that with.
Karen: [00:27:33] I mean, I keep saying this, but cookies. I have a cookie issue.
Kim: [00:27:40] You have a cookie issue.
Okay, remind me to come back. I want to talk about cookies, generally, in just a minute, since you brought it up so many times. But for this example, you can say to yourself, "Karen, I know how to make cookies. I can literally make cookies any time I want. There is nothing special about this batch of cookies. If I don't get to eat all of these cookies right now, if somebody else eats them before I can, I know how to make them and I can, and I will make them again another day."
Do you see how that feels different than this scarcity of, "they're going to be all gone. I have to eat them."
Like, what's the rush? You can literally make cookies again any time.
Karen: [00:28:16] Yeah. Yeah, that's, that is definitely a different mindset. And I think that could be helpful for
Kim: [00:28:21] me.
And getting the block out of your mind of, "well, I'm going to start eating lower-calorie again tomorrow, so I might as well eat all these cookies now," just reminding yourself, like you don't have to be all in or all out.
Every decision you make every day counts. And so if today the decision is, "I'm going to make cookies tomorrow," it's totally fine. It's totally fine. You don't have to say like, "well, tomorrow the diet starts." There is no start date, there is no end date. So that's what I would say with that piece.
Now cookies in general, since you brought them up so much and they seem to be a stumbling block for you, I am a big fan of getting out of our immediate environment, the stuff that trips us up the most. For a time. Not permanently, but for you, it might be a good idea to just not bake cookies for a while. Like, "we're just not doing cookies. I'm not bringing cookies into the house."
It doesn't mean you can't have cookies. You could decide, "once a week, I'm going out to my favorite bakery and I'm going to buy a single one of my favorite cookie" or whatever number fits in your calories, whether it's two small ones or whatever it is, "and I'm going to bring those home and I'm going to eat those." You can't have more because you didn't buy more. You can't have the dough because you don't have the dough. You don't have two dozen cookies sitting in your kitchen haunting you.
When there are these things that we struggle to be moderate with, it doesn't make us a weak person to get them out of our environment. It makes us a smart person.
Karen: [00:29:47] Yeah, that's really helpful. I'm trying to think through, "is that practical? Will my family hate me?" But I definitely think there's things I could bake that they like more than I do, that would bless them, but just still not be as much of a draw to me.
Kim: [00:30:01] Yeah. I do that kind of stuff all the time. All the time.
Look, I really love chocolate chip cookies. I'm not super interested in sugar cookies. So if I were going to bake cookies and I didn't want to eat them, I would just bake a kind I didn't like. If you like every kind of cookie, bake them a pie. Whatever it is that isn't going to be the thing that in your mind is like, "the cookies are still there. The cookies are still there."
You know, brainstorm, "what can I bake that's not going to be a difficult thing for me to be moderate with?"
Karen: [00:30:29] Yeah. Yeah. That's helpful. That's helpful.
Kim: [00:30:32] And the eventual goal would be that you can have cookies in the house and be moderate around them, but that could take months that could take years.
Karen: [00:30:39] Yeah, that's the part that I can't even fathom and imagine it actually ever getting to that. So that's why it feels a little bit scary of like, "is this going to be forever?" Because I can't imagine being around a plate full of cookies or going to an event at church and not taking more than I actually should. I just can't fathom that being possible.
Kim: [00:30:59] I know, because you haven't yet experienced it.
Practicing being moderate around it is going to build confidence in you that you can be more moderate with them. I do think practicing this mental piece of reminding yourself, "I can have cookies anytime I want." "If I want to go out and buy cookies, I can go out and buy cookies." "This is not going to be the only church event with cookies. Next Tuesday, Susie is going to bring cookies again. There's always going to be more cookies."
Really reminding yourself of that and not putting cookies totally out of bounds. It's not that you can't eat cookies, we're just not going to have you baking cookies in your home.
If you put them like totally out of bounds, like, "you can't have cookies," you're probably going to struggle even more because it'll feel like when you actually get around cookies, it's going to feel like, "now's my chance. I better eat all these cookies because I'm not supposed to be eating cookies."
Karen: [00:31:51] [laughing] Yep.
Kim: [00:31:52] And I will tell you, I know it feels like, "how could I possibly be a person who has cookies in her house and doesn't overindulge, because I haven't been that person?" You can change.
Look, I was this person. I was this person who could not keep Nutella in my house. I couldn't keep sugar cereals in my house. I couldn't keep bags of pretzels in my house. All of these things I really struggled with. And over the years, I've been able to reintroduce those things.
Chocolate Pop-Tarts was another one. I know that sounds weird. Like, who likes those? I like those. Recently, we had them in our house, like two months ago, and I was totally fine. I had one, I didn't think every day, like, "should I have another one? Should I have another one?" But that took time. That took time.
And I will tell you, still to this day, I prefer not to have bags of pretzels in my house. They're too easy for me to overeat and I've overeaten them so much in the past. I buy them occasionally and I'll buy them for events. But when I go to the grocery store every week, I don't buy a bag of pretzels and bring it home and put it in my cupboard.
I don't. And so I've gotten better with some things and other things, you know, there's still room for progress. You can make progress on this. I promise you.
Karen: [00:33:01] Yeah, that's encouraging. And actually, I read your bio online and that was really helpful for me, too. Just to hear your whole progress of everything.
Kim: [00:33:09] Yeah. I've been where you are right now. I have been where you are, where it feels like, "I can't even imagine being a person who does that." I've been there. And now I am a person who does that. And I can tell you the clients I work with, same thing.
I have one client, her name is Tracy. We've been working together well over a year now. And she messaged me a couple of weeks ago and she's like, "I can't believe I'm this person. I was upset today. I was really stressed and I wanted to go out for a walk and that's what I wanted to do. And that's what I did." She's like, "when did I become a person who walks when she's stressed and doesn't pile food on a plate?" She was like, "I don't know when I became that person." Well, it happened with a year of practice.
Karen: [00:33:46] That's encouraging to hear.
Kim: [00:33:47] Yeah. So remind yourself, you are practicing being a person who eats cookies moderately.
Is there anything else we can chat about today that would be helpful for you?
Karen: [00:33:58] I'd love to just hear-- I think, a little bit of a fear.
So in my family, there's just a lot of heart disease and being overweight with my brothers and my parents. And so, I think part of what I don't like about dieting is I've just seen so many people I know, and my family, yo-yo back and forth, back and forth. And then, I also just feel like I don't want to be the person who's always on a diet for the rest of my life, and everyone knows about it.
Like, I'm actually very private about it and I don't even like to tell people I'm on a diet or that I'm trying to lose weight. It just feels very awkward for me. So, I just feel like I want to be a person who's 20 or 30 pounds slimmer, because I know it's better for my health, but I don't want to be a person who's consumed with it for the rest of my life.
Kim: [00:34:50] Anything come to mind that you can think of when you hear yourself say that that would differentiate one of those types of people from the other? Like, what differentiates a person who is a serial dieter from somebody who just eats food and maintains a normal body weight?
Karen: [00:35:08] Definitely there's the gimmick stuff. Or people who try fad diets, which I've never been a fad diet person. But I think more of people who say, as they eat a huge burger and fries, "oh, I'm going to eat well tomorrow." It's just the people who are always saying they're going to do it but never do.
Like, I can immediately think of a couple of people in my life who has, I think, literally been on a diet for 40 years. Ever since I knew her when I was young. So it's that kind of thing that just is so off-putting to me that I don't want to be. And so then I just think like, "well, I'll just not do it."
Kim: [00:35:49] I hear what you're saying because it feels exhausting. And look, I was that person, so I can tell you it is exhausting to be on a diet or at least mentally think you're on a diet for that many years, right? If she was successfully on a diet for that many years, she would not exist anymore she'd be so skinny.
But to be in that dieting mindset for so long, and look, I was that person. You hit on some really important things there: staying away from fad diets. A-okay. Yeah. Stay away from those things. Don't eat in a way that you are either on a diet or off a diet. So I think that's a big one and you're not going to do that. So, big one.
Then the other idea is putting it off till tomorrow, right? This idea of, "I'm going to sit here and I'm going to eat this burger today and then tomorrow I'm going to start eating well." And that's something you have control over, right? You have control over your mindset around this and you can remind yourself like, "look, I don't have to be all in or all out. I can have a burger and I can eat that burger with a salad and I can stay in my calories today. I am a person who can eat burgers and still lose weight. And eventually when I'm not trying to lose weight, because that's going to happen, I'm going to lose the weight I want, eventually I'm going to bring my calories up and I'm not going to be eating any different. I'm just going to be a person who now has some more calories. So, hey, now I'm going to be able to have the burgers and the fries, and I'm still going to have the salad, because I'm a person who eats salad."
Karen: [00:37:05] Yeah, that's helpful. I just see so few people who actually do that, or I know so few people. Like, I have friends on Weight Watchers and I feel like they're just always counting points the rest of their life. And that sounds so miserable to me.
Kim: [00:37:22] I agree. I agree. Yes, we're definitely in a diet culture. Like, it is our mindset. We want to lose weight. And I think part of it also comes to having a realistic, healthy end goal. Like, what is the end goal? For most people, they are never satisfied. They get to where they think they want it to be and they're like, "wait, I should still be slimmer." "Wait, I should be a smaller size." And see, you get to always decide that and you can decide like, "Hey, I want to lose weight for my health. And I think 20 pounds is a good amount." And when you get to 20 pounds, you can say like, "okay, am I healthy? Yes, I am. Do I fit in the clothes that I wanted to fit into? Yes, I do. Okay. I'm done. I'm not going to keep losing weight in pursuit of an ever-smaller body."
There is this standard of like, "We should have abs and we should be a size four," or whatever the size is these days that somebody thinks we should be. There is this cultural norm and it's so out of bounds for so many people. It's just out of reach. Like, it's out of touch with what most females' body looks like to think that we're going to look like these airbrushed little skinny pictures. And so actively talking to yourself about, "I am not going to be a person who diets for the rest of her life. I am not going to be a person who is constantly in pursuit of being a smaller version of myself."
Karen: [00:38:41] So you would say, like, counting calories, you would say that's not a diet?
Kim: [00:38:46] I think you can count calories and be on a diet and I think you can count calories and not have so much of a dieting mindset.
People count calories for all kinds of reasons. I have clients who count calories to put on muscle and they're in a surplus, right? And so it's not about getting smaller. I don't think that the end goal should be for you to count calories permanently. I think with the education that you receive counting calories that you will be able to eyeball portions so that you know, like, "okay, when I eat dinner, this is about four ounces of chicken and this is about a cup of rice and that's what I'm going to eat."
You won't always have to measure it, but weighing and measuring it and counting now will serve you as an education, as a baseline forever. And so when you're done losing weight, you just bring up your calories -- and I don't mean that you'll be permanently counting them -- but you will just be living at maintenance calories and you will be very clear on, "these are maintenance calories for me."
And look, you might have times where you go back and you're like, "I'm going to spend a period counting again, I kind of feel like I've gotten off a little bit. Let me weigh and measure my food for two weeks and count my calories again and just kind of make sure I'm still at baseline."
Karen: [00:39:56] Yeah, that's helpful. That's helpful for me. That seems less overwhelming.
Kim: [00:40:00] Yeah, because if you decide, "I'm not constantly going to look to get slimmer and I'm not constantly going to be a person who needs to eat less and less and less," you will have more freedom with your food, but still the education of counting calories will serve you well.
And then the other thing I would say is building really strong habits while you are losing weight is the key to not having to constantly lose weight. Because if we help you build really good habits now, you won't be putting on excess weight.
So things like, "I eat vegetables with most meals. I just do. I'm a person who eats vegetables." "I eat protein at every meal. I'm a person who has a higher protein diet." Those things will serve you well. "I am a person who manages stress without food most of the time." Like, being that person, those things will serve you really well. "I am a person who moves 7,500 steps, minimum, every day of my life. I just do. I'm that person." And building in all of these habits is going to help you be a person who remains lean and not a person who needs to constantly lose weight that she has put on.
Karen: [00:41:11] Yeah. Yeah, that's helpful.
Kim: [00:41:14] So really work to build those habits. And that's the difference between doing a crash diet and losing weight while learning.
Karen: [00:41:23] Yeah, that sounds more appealing to me.
Kim: [00:41:25] Right? It feels like, "okay, I can imagine that if I stopped counting calories and my meals still look like--" what I didn't mention here is eating 80% nutrient-dense food and only 20% of the junkier kind of staff. When you eat that way, you're not going to put on weight, right? And so protein at every meal, vegetables at most meals, sitting down at a table when you eat food, putting your food on plates, eating mostly nutrient-dense food, moving every day. All of these things are going to serve to build you a lifestyle that weight loss doesn't need to happen again.
Karen: [00:42:00] Yeah, that's great.
I feel like that's doable.
Kim: [00:42:06] Well, this has been fantastic to get to talk to you, Karen. I want you to make sure you stay in touch so that we can follow up and see how you're doing.
Karen: [00:42:13] Thank you so much. I appreciate you taking the time to answer questions and it felt like it was really helpful.
So, thank you.
Kim: [00:42:18] Absolutely. Thank you for being here and for so openly speaking with us. I know that's not always easy to do.
Thanks so much for being here and listening in to the Fitness Simplified podcast today. I hope you found it educational, motivational, inspirational, all the kinds of -ational.
If you enjoyed it, if you found value in it, it would mean so much to me if you would go ahead and leave a rating and review on whatever platform you are listening to this on. It really does help to get this podcast to other people.
Thanks so much.
I'm a NASM certified personal trainer who is passionate about helping women transform their bodies through strength training and sustainable nutritional habit changes.