Kim: [00:00:04] To episode 64 of the Fitness Simplified Podcast. I'm your host, Kim Schlag. On today's episode, I am joined by my special guest Georgie Fear. Georgie is a registered dietitian, a science-based nutrition counselor, and a behavioral health expert. You might recognize her name because I reference her a lot, specifically her book, "Lean Habits."
Now, Georgie has a new book out: "Give Yourself More: A Science-Backed Six Part Plan for Women to Hit Their Weight Loss Goals by Defying Diet Culture." On today's episode, Georgie and I go deep on a few of the key concepts of the book, including some practical advice for overcoming emotional eating.
It is an amazing episode.
Georgie: [00:01:10] Hi! I had the volume way up and you said my name really loud. I was like "ahhh!"
Kim: [00:01:23] I said your name really loudly because I'm super excited to have you on the podcast.
Georgie: [00:01:29] Thank you. I'm excited to be here too.
Kim: [00:01:31] I'm really glad that you could come on. Are you in a closet?
Georgie: [00:01:35] I am. I'm in the closet, Kim.
I record all of my podcasts in my walk-in closet because it has pretty good acoustics and it dampens the sound really well. And of course, I have my nice microphone here, which I should move slightly closer to my face.
Kim: [00:01:53] Nice.
Georgie: [00:01:54] But yeah, so I do, I record in the closet.
Kim: [00:01:57] Lots of people do closets. I've had people on who record under a blanket.
Georgie: [00:02:02] Oh, nice.
Kim: [00:02:03] So all kinds of fancy equipment we've got going on.
So, Georgie, tell us what adventures in the Canadian wilderness have you had this week?
Georgie: [00:02:12] Well, there's always some adventures in the Canadian wilderness for me.
Kim: [00:02:14] I know. I like watching them whenever you post about them.
Georgie: [00:02:18] So Friday afternoon, kind of Alpine therapy, is my friend Drea and my standing Friday afternoon appointment. She tries to get out work early and I block off my afternoons on Friday and we go do something. She's a retired professional skier, full time Nordic skier, so she whoops my butt. Even though she's now retired, she is an amazing athlete.
So sometimes we'll do uphill running intervals, other times we'll climb a peak or just go for a hike. So last week we went to one of the peaks next to Lake Louise, and it's beautiful and you can see the Lake and it's like beautiful blue/green water.
Kim: [00:03:06] How close are you to Lake Louise?
Georgie: [00:03:08] It's about an hour.
Kim: [00:03:10] Oh, wow. That is like top of my bucket list. I want to go there so badly.
Georgie: [00:03:15] Well, you have to let me know when you come. I go there quite often in the winter for cross country skiing because they have some really nice, long, you could just like ski for 10K in one direction and turn around and come back.
So, because I'm a distance, marathon skier, I'm always looking for the longest trails I can find.
Kim: [00:03:33] Well, your life outdoors looks absolutely blissful. You do so many exciting things. I have to tell you, I just got back from a week of vacation. You know, there's not many places we can go nowadays, right? You can't really go anywhere.
Georgie: [00:03:44] Yeah. It's pretty limited.
Kim: [00:03:45] We actually had booked a house at the Jersey shore, which we literally never do, because we like to actually go away and that's like, an hour and a half from my house. But we've looked at it and so it worked out because we were able to keep our trip. And so, am I remembering this right? Are you from Jersey?
Georgie: [00:03:57] I am from Jersey.
Kim: [00:03:59] You are. Where are you from in Jersey?
Georgie: [00:04:02] Homedale in high school. I went to school in Homedale, which is in Monmouth County, near Sandy Hook. And then I lived in New Brunswick when I went to Rutgers undergrad. So, I spent four years at Rutgers undergrad and then came back for another five in the PhD that never happened.
So, I lived in New Brunswick and Somerset, kind of central Jersey for a long time.
Kim: [00:04:27] Well, look -- Jersey isn't like the prettiest beaches ever, but I have to tell you it's still nature. And I just spent a week swimming in the ocean and laying on the sand, reading your book a lot at the time, by the way, you know, and just taking long walks.
And I realized that that is the thing that I need more of in my life. That's what I'm going to give myself more of. Like, I need more nature,
Georgie: [00:04:45] More nature.
It is so healing. I mean, it's so interesting when you look at the research about how exercising in a green space actually gives you more physical and mental benefits than exercising in a neighborhood.
Like, if you can possibly get out, get out,
Kim: [00:05:01] It's amazing. You know, because most of my athletic pursuits are done in my basement gym, right? Like I'm inside lifting heavy stuff and I love it, but I don't often pursue outside stuff and I need to. That's what I'm giving myself more of.
Which brings me to the title of your new book.
Georgie: [00:05:17] Yes.
Kim: [00:05:17] "Give Yourself More, a science-backed six-part plan for women to hit their weight loss goals by defying diet culture."
Georgie: [00:05:25] You got it.
Kim: [00:05:26] I wrote it down so I had all the words in there.
Georgie: [00:05:29] So you've been reading, "Give Yourself More," and you're intending to give yourself more.
Kim: [00:05:33] Absolutely. I'm on it.
I'll tell you later about the other thing I've already started this week as a result of reading your book and my vacation experience that happened together. So, it was a good thing for me.
So, let's start here: why did you write this book?
Georgie: [00:05:46] I wrote this book, along with Alicia Fetters, we are coauthors on the book, and I think we wrote it in part because sometimes you just have something that you want to say to the world and you say it to one person at a time, if you're a health practitioner, and you're not satisfied with saying it to one person at a time.
And you're like, I want to say this to as many people as possible, because I think we both feel really passionately that we want women to benefit from some of the realizations that we've had and that we've been able to share with our clients and just watch person after person really flourish and have amazing transformations, not just physically, but just living so much of a better life when they changed some of the stories that they told themselves about what they wanted.
And so, the story of "Give Yourself More" starts with all of our old stories about trying to be less. And I think most of us have spent some period, if not the majority of our life, thinking about,, "how can I finally shrink these thighs" or, "how can I hide these forehead wrinkles I have," or "how can I not be so loud," or "how can I be less emotional?"
And, you know, trying to hide our flaws and be smaller and not inconvenience anyone is very tightly entrenched in just kind of like the feminine ideal of gender roles, don't you think?
Kim: [00:07:15] Absolutely. I'm shaking my head vigorously to everything that Georgie says. I'm with you. Every last bit of that.
I'm a person who did that for literally, as long as I can remember. I remember being a teenager and thinking like, "I need to be smaller" and I have to tell you, I was not overweight as a teenager, but in my mind, I needed to be smaller.
I would look in the magazines and I'm like, "I don't look like that." Like, clearly, I have work to do. And that didn't stop. Like, I'm 49. That went on for decades.
Georgie: [00:07:44] Yeah. I bought it hook, line and sinker, too. And I remember having had an eating disorder and had a dietitian and a psychologist all trying to help me out.
You know, they ask you questions like, "well, what does it mean to be thinner?" and "why do you want to be thinner?" You know, not being overweight, it's a safe question. Why do you want to be thinner? And I remember thinking, because if you're thin, it's like you don't have needs and you don't have to depend on other people and not needing anybody else's help or input is such a strength, right? Like, isn't that amazing if you can just be needless?
Kim: [00:08:20] That's interesting, Georgie. And so that was kind of your goal for getting thinner.
Georgie: [00:08:24] Part of it. I'm sure there's a whole lot of mental gook tied up in knots inside all of our brains, but I've talked with thousands of women over the years -- and some men too -- this is definitely far from exclusively a women's problem.
And so many of us feel like our weight goals or our fitness goals are just appropriate manifestations of ways that we're trying to be perfect. And that tends to be less in some way.
Kim: [00:08:53] And your approach to it is not going to be less, it's going to be more. Before we get into some of the meat of that I want to talk a little bit more about one of the terms in the title, because I think people hear the word "diet culture" a lot and not everybody really has a handle on what that means.
So why don't you kind of give everybody a working definition? What is diet culture?
Georgie: [00:09:14] Sure. Now, like many things it's going to depend who you ask. And a lot of people would say helping anybody reach a weight loss goal is diet culture, which I disagree with.
Kim: [00:09:28] I do, as well.
Georgie: [00:09:29] If you've worked in a medical office, for example, and you're helping someone control their diabetes and you talk about making healthier food choices and that person loses weight and controls their blood pressure and blood sugars better, are you now part of the diet industry?
I don't think so. I don't think that's "diet culture" to help people take care of their bodies better. You know, I also oil my bicycle chain so that it lasts a long time and has a nice, smooth ride. Is that part of "diet culture" because I'm trying to take care of something?
I don't think so. I think that's just basic bike maintenance. So, not helpful probably for me to say what "diet culture" isn't...
Kim: [00:10:07] Hey, you know, it's a start for people to hear what it isn't.
Georgie: [00:10:10] Right. So, I don't think it's synonymous with changing body weight. I think diet culture is the idea that we need an external program or rules or restrictions to help us be less.
And so, I think of "diet culture" as being exemplified by things like The Atkins diet, the keto diet, you know, various things that come with strict rules. It's a program, similar to a workout program, that gives you instructions for what to do, and following those things for the purposes of losing weight.
And often I feel like "diet culture" is also characterized by weight being the only important thing.
Kim: [00:10:56] The most important thing.
Georgie: [00:10:58] Right. And no consideration given to your social life, your mental health, your anxiety, the amount of Tupperware that you want to wash on a daily basis. Just not treating you like a whole person.
I think the diet industry or "diet culture," defying diet culture, as we say on the book cover -- defying diet culture means treating yourself like a whole person and not just a weight.
Kim: [00:11:20] Yes. Yeah. I like that. I like that a lot.
So, it's not the idea. Nothing about this book is going to help a person to only think about their weight, but doing all of these things can in fact help them with something that they've probably been struggling with for a long time.
If they're like most women, they wanted to lose weight. It's not been a short thing. For most of us it's been something we've been working at for a long time. Much of that work doing things that are very much a part of diet culture.
You mention in the book that the most effective exercise and diet interventions are founded in positive emotional experiences.
Tell us more about that.
Georgie: [00:12:00] Sure. So positive emotional experiences are basically things that we find we're having fun at, things that we're enjoying. So if you go to college, you meet your roommate, and she says, "hey, come to the running club with me," and you've never been a runner, but you think, "yeah, I really like this new friend I'm making, I'm gonna go to the running club."
You go to the running club, everybody's super nice, you chat, you jog in the sunshine, and you think, "God, that was so fun. And nobody was barking at me with a stopwatch like gym class. Maybe I do like running, even though I thought I hated it."
And three years later you might still be running because you've had a good time with it. You've had social support, maybe you've gotten together with those people and had breakfast after the run someday, you're discovering that you feel less stressed on the days that you get up and run, and when you have these positive experiences, they draw us forward with a really reliable source of motivation.
And it's different from using a negative motivation to try and motivate ourselves to change. So, if you picture a bomb going off and people just running, they just scatter. That's what we do when we're afraid. There's very little conscious, goal-oriented behavior. We're frantic, you know, negative emotions make us run and make us run in haphazard and zig-zag directions.
But if you have a goal, if you see something positive, like the top of the mountain or the Lake that you want to reach for that beautiful sparkling water view -- you see it, you know what it takes to get there and you can start in that direction and it draws you the whole way there. But if you're running away from something that you're afraid of, like, "oh, I don't want to have to buy a bigger size of pants," "I don't want to have a heart attack," they tend to only be motivating until we've gotten far enough away from them that we're not so scared anymore. And then we go back to complacency.
And so, in, in the context of health behavior change, clearly if we're motivated to get to something and we keep working at it, that's what we need to maintain our good health. But if we're just trying to get away from something, then we may feel like, you know, we lose three pounds, we're far enough away from the doom and gloom that we were afraid of, and so we stopped trying.
Kim: [00:14:11] Yeah. So, moving towards something positive versus running away from something negative.
Georgie: [00:14:17] Yeah.
Kim: [00:14:18] That's a really good approach.
I know one of the things you had mentioned in the book is the idea of adding in habits or replacing unwanted ones rather than taking things away. So, you know, like, "hey, let's go for a walk," versus "stop sitting on the couch."
Georgie: [00:14:32] Yeah. Yeah. I think when we focus on what we're adding in, we can look for new benefits. We can look for new things that we really enjoy.
You know, having more skills, more tools, more options is always a good thing. None of us like to be banned from something or barred from something. But if you think about it, like "maybe I'm going to trade up for this other behavior that comes with completely different outcomes, then there might be some benefits that'll keep me hooked on that."
Kim: [00:15:00] It's such a different feeling. So, if you think like, "you know what, I'm going to really focus on eating until I'm satisfied," versus "I'm going to really focus on cutting back on sugar," right? Those are such opposite things that could absolutely reach the same goal, but one has a completely different feeling.
Georgie: [00:15:16] I know. And the amazing thing is how hard I have to work to get people to try the kind of more centered goals and more centered thinking, because we've practiced and it's so familiar to think about like, "cut this out, cut that out, avoid that," that often it's hard for people to think about like, "what would I gain from doing this?"
Kim: [00:15:38] Yeah. It's such an important reframe and you're right, I get really quizzical looks back from clients when we were talking about this and they're like, "I've never even thought about thinking about it like that." And such good light bulb moments come from those reframes about those positive "what can we add in here? What can we think about positively here?" versus "what we're going to get rid of and not allow ourselves," and all of that.
Georgie: [00:16:00] Totally. And there's so much that we can add to our lives in terms of more, even if we don't change weight at all, or even if we don't want to change weight at all. Like, I have had so many wonderful things add into my life with absolutely zero gravitational pull change whatsoever.
And I think that's, you know, one thing that I really like to point out is: you don't have to have a weight loss goal, or even be female, to read this book and to gain a lot from it.
Kim: [00:16:27] Oh, I wholeheartedly agree with both of those, having just read it. Absolutely.
Georgie: [00:16:31] And for people who do feel like, "yes. Part of my goal is to have a lower number on the scale," how do you make a lower number into a "more" goal? That's one of the questions that I get.
So, the way I help people shift that sort of less into more is think about the benefit of what you want to get. So, if somebody is thinking like, "you know, I would really like to be a lower body weight," I'll say like, "okay, so what would you get from that lower body weight?"
And they would say, "improved blood sugar control, healthier arteries, able to run up the stairs without losing my breath, be able to wear those pants that are too tight right now to be comfortable," all of those are positive. So, don't think about the weight loss middleman, think about those things and like "when I make this healthy choice or I go for the walk, when I choose the walk, I'm closer to wearing the pants. I'm closer to the good feeling of pride, closer to feeling sexy," you know, thinking about good things that we want to get rather than the taking away or minimizing things or the things that we want to avoid or are fearful of.
Kim: [00:17:38] Yeah, absolutely. So, I want to read two facts you cite in the book. I'm going to read both of them first, and then I want us to kind of jam on both of them together.
So, two statistics you shared: more than one fourth of the women trying to lose weight at any one time are already at a healthy weight or underweight.
And then fact two here -- and I had not read this study before, but it did not surprise me at all to find this out: what the average woman pinpoints as the ideal or most attractive female body is medically underweight.
Georgie: [00:18:12] Yeah. Isn't that something?
Kim: [00:18:13] It's crazy. That does not surprise me, but I did not know that that was actually true.
How do you think that this has become the standard that women strive for and how can we change that?
Georgie: [00:18:24] Wow. Those are tough questions. "And while you're on it, let's have world peace..."
How it happened, of course I can only surmise on, but it's often, you know, we are social creatures. We can't not notice what other people are doing and going after. And it imbues a sense of value when we're looking at a menu and somebody else orders something, it gets a couple of points in our brains because somebody ordered it. That's why we all like social proof, like you're shopping on Amazon and you're like, "well, that book doesn't have any reviews. Nobody bought it. Well that because 87 reviews, let me see that one because it's been popular."
So part of it, and this doesn't explain the origin, but it explains the continuance, is that we see other women talking about weight loss so pervasively and magazines posting about weight loss and forums talking about weight loss and it all feeds into the idea that we're supposed to be chasing this thing.
Like, money is only valuable because we agree on it having a value. And I think weight loss has some of the same attributes that like, "if everybody's agreeing that this is a valuable thing, then maybe it's worth something and I should be in the charge trying to pursue it."
I also think that it can be a socially accepted stand-in. So instead of having some things that you really want in your life, it might be easier to chase weight loss sometimes, especially if it's presented that there's a particular program that you can follow that will give you weight loss. Like, "oh, so there's an app here and I can simply enter in all the things that I eat and if I stay below this number of calories, I have weight loss."
There's very little mystery in that equation and so it's appealing. Whereas the alternate discussion that somebody might have with themselves might be, "I'm feeling unfulfilled in my life. What sort of things would make me fulfilled and how can I go about getting them?"
You know, there's a lot of fuzzy, nebulous entities. It's way easier to be like "weight loss! I'm gonna tackle that one as my life project." And then there's subtle messaging that, you know, we all know how pervasive weight stigma is. And that, you know, if you look at characters that are villains in movies or cartoons, they're more often overweight than the prime character, the protagonist or the hero or heroine is usually very slim.
And there are a million subtle ways that we're told that being overweight is not acceptable or that it's not okay. And so, part of the social desirability is we want to be liked by other people. And so, I know definitely a message I got as a kid was that you're well liked if you're thin and pretty.
And if you're heavy, nobody will want to be friends with you. People will point at you and say things when you cross the street in front of their car and warn their children not to become like you. And it's, you know, a proxy for social desirability and we all want to be liked. More so, we all want to be loved.
We want to find somebody that values us and appreciates us. And so sometimes our physical form can be a way of saying, "please like me, please think I'm good enough."
Kim: [00:21:56] Absolutely. Now all of that said, I know that you are not anti-weight loss. You're not anti-weight loss. What do you think of the body acceptance movement?
Georgie: [00:22:07] I think the body acceptance movement has done some fantastic things for so many people. I think it's really broadened the spectrum of bodies that we can look at and say, "that's a body" and not anything more about it, you know? I think it used to be, if you opened a magazine and you saw anything that looked realistic, it was like, "oh, that's plus size."
And I see magazines now, I see ads on the internet and my social media that have a women of all different body shapes and they show their swimwear in sizes from like a double, extra small to double, extra-large, they make a very inclusive visual display, which I think is fantastic.
Nobody wants to shop for clothes that they can't see on somebody that looks like themselves. So, I do really applaud the diversity that we're seeing. You know, ages, sizes, all sorts of things. I'm pro-diversity.
Where I find I disagree with some individuals and some individual concepts that may fall under the body acceptance movement is that it doesn't mean that you can't change yourself in the sense of, you know, many people who would say they are fans of body acceptance, if I said, "well, what do you think if I highlight my hair?" They'd say, "go girl! You do it! Whatever makes you happy." But if I said, "what if I want to lift weights to have stronger shoulders?" They'd be like, "rock on! You build those strong shoulders."
"What if I want to lose weight so that I have healthier blood pressure and less pain in my knees?"
"Oh no, you can't do that."
So, I think it's slightly less inclusive when it comes to people having body autonomy to gain or lose weight. They would say gaining weight is fine, dying your hair green is a-ok, fake boobs, rock 'em if they make you feel confident, but don't you dare lose weight.
So, I think I disagree with that sort of special treatment of people that have weight loss goals as being invalid.
Kim: [00:24:13] I'm with you a hundred percent. Every single word you have just said that's where I kind of depart from them too.
That any intentional weight loss is always wrong. I don't understand that. I mean, there are medical reasons, there are all kinds of reasons. And frankly, like you just said, if I want to dye my hair green, I should feel free to dye my hair green. And if I want to lose 20 pounds and I feel like that's going to make me feel better, move better, whatever it is, I should be able to do that and not be told that I'm wrong or that I hate myself, that I hate my body,
Georgie: [00:24:47] So true.
Kim: [00:24:48] Right? And so how is it possible that a person can love their body and want to change it?
Georgie: [00:24:55] Well, a lot of people will use the analogy of plants or children, which are excellent here, which is when you love them, you take care of them. We abuse things that we dislike and that we want to cause harm to.
But you don't have to be focused on negative attributes or negative feelings about yourself to want to change something. Sometimes you think it's great as-is, and you're excited to see how much stronger it can become and how much more it can thrive.
As we said, there's positive motivations. You don't always have to be running from something that you dislike or trying to move away from something. You can just be positively motivated. Like, I really want to be able to bike 100K in one day, at least once this summer. And it's not because there was anything wrong with the 70 or 80K bike rides I did. I just like seeing how hard I can push. I like seeing how high I can reach. I want to learn things. I want to read books. Not because I think I'm stupid, but because I know there's more out there to be learned and why not help ourselves?
Kim: [00:26:01] Absolutely. And I think a person's approach to weight loss can have a lot to do with whether they feel loving towards their body while they're losing weight or not, right?
There are certainly ways that it would be really hard to feel loving towards your body while doing this particular program or whatever it is. And so I really liked the approach that you have here in this book, because I think that there's nothing involved here that would then say like, "oh gosh, I really must hate myself if I'm doing this," right? Like we're not beating ourselves into submission doing any of these things.
Georgie: [00:26:32] Yeah. I mean, I'm pro-joy, I'm pro-happiness, I'm pro-fulfillment. I want everybody out there to have healthy and meaningful lives. And I don't think we have to sacrifice; I don't think we have to treat ourselves like garbage to live well and to have healthier bodies.
And I think treating ourselves like garbage too often is what gets in the way of people finding those lasting results. Because as I said, like when your motivation is negative, once you move far enough away from the thing you're avoiding, you let your guard down and you stop trying and your motivation fizzles.
Kim: [00:27:08] Yeah. And it comes back to that chasing something positive.
Georgie: [00:27:11] Yeah. Love is an inexhaustible resource. Think about the things we do for the people we love. When you're head over heels for somebody, their whim, you would like get up at two in the morning to get it for them to make them smile, you know? Like, the amount of work that it takes to raise a child, if you did not love that person, you would not be doing all of those things.
And it's an amazing resource, you know, when we can harness our love for ourselves or for other people. So yeah, give yourself more is a method of making your life and your body healthier and stronger and more abundant without taking anything away from anybody else.
Kim: [00:27:54] Yes. Yes. And so, in the book you cover six different areas where we can give ourselves more.
I really liked the workbook style of the book, by the way, I thought that was really a good piece to it. You know, like, "oh, and here's this little page we can write stuff down." I really like that. That was fantastic.
And we could do multiple podcast episodes on each of those six areas, right? We could take one of those areas and we could meet like five or six times and still not cover it all. But why don't we hit the highlights of a couple of those sections here?
Let's talk about emotions first. This is one that I just really dig talking about.
Georgie: [00:28:28] I think that's my favorite section.
Kim: [00:28:31] Emotional eating is such a huge stumbling block for so many people. So, talk to us a little bit, generally, about how we can give ourselves more when it comes to our emotions.
Georgie: [00:28:43] The reason I think that was my favorite section to get into is because it's one that I've learned the most about in the last five years. So, believe it or not, "Lean Habits for Lifelong Weight Loss," my previous book, is five years old already. And in the time since then it was like, "oh man, this is such a huge topic that I'm talking about with clients, almost every client."
And we'll have some conversations, some talks about emotions. I think it's such a paramount topic of importance when it comes to people's weight loss challenges. You know, if emotions weren't part of the game, everybody would just use an app, follow a diet and that would be it. Eat less move on. But we're not. We're very colorful, interesting human beings.
And I have found that understanding our emotions is very equipping, not only so that we can take better care of our health without emotions getting in the way, but so that we can really rise to the occasion of meeting our emotional needs. And having satisfied emotional needs is like filling a hunger that people didn't know they had in so many cases.
It's like, "I had no idea that there was this dry spot in my life that just needed a rain shower on it." And it feels so good to start to become aware of all the different things that we feel and then all the options we have in terms of how we want to manage those feelings.
How do we fully enjoy the positive things we have? How do we use emotions to enable more meaning and closeness with other people? And how do we get through the uncomfortable emotions? How do we cope with them in ways that make us stronger and make us more resilient and help us not feel traumatized by them as opposed to using maladaptive coping behaviors?
Kim: [00:30:53] Right. Now you used a term, Alexithymia, and this, if I understand correctly, is a term used to describe difficulty or inability to identify and describe emotions.
Georgie: [00:31:17] Yes.
Kim: [00:31:19] And you said that it's very common in women with high levels of emotional eating, overweight, obesity, eating disorders -- this seems really important. Like, our inability to identify and describe our emotions is showing up with people with these problems.
Georgie: [00:31:37] Absolutely. Yeah.
So, alexithymia is the sort of word that's used in research circles and practitioner circles, not the coffee shop.
Kim: [00:31:45] Yeah, I've literally never heard that word in my life,
Georgie: [00:31:47] Right. But typically, if you think back to childhood, that's where we often learned the language or not of emotions. Some parents will teach their children a greater vocabulary when it comes to emotions -- are you feeling happy or sad? Are you feeling lonely? Are you feeling disappointed? You know, they'll use more words when they talk to their kids and kids generally who grow up learning a greater pallet of emotions can describe what they're feeling better.
Whereas many parents don't necessarily talk about feelings. They may have gotten messages from their own parents that this is just not a topic that they talk about much. Some people don't talk about money, some people don't talk about politics, it's just a thing. Some people don't talk about feelings.
And so, if you grow up in that sort of environment, you may grow up thinking I feel good, or I feel bad, or I feel neutral, but that's about it. And you read emotional poetry and you don't understand what these people are going through because it's like, "who are these people that are having these huge emotional waves? I'm cool as a cucumber."
I often find people, who have a lot of skill in not feeling their emotions because they're suppressing them or denying them or using maladaptive coping behaviors are described by other people as "cool as a cucumber," or just totally levelheaded and even-keeled.
Kim: [00:33:20] Interesting.
Georgie: [00:33:21] And that's not to say that everybody who's even-keeled is suppressing their emotions, but it can come across that way, because nobody can correct you, nobody can be like, "Kim, I know you've got anger in there and you're not letting it out." Because no one can see it if you're suppressing it. It's like the sort of thing that only we can really figure out.
So, it is really interesting to notice that there's a whole spectrum of human emotion in all of us. And some of us feel things more freely and can describe them better with words, and some of us have less of that ability. But it's totally a hundred percent learnable because I was like the most remedial person ever.
Kim: [00:33:59] And I would love for you to talk about the exercise you suggest. I liked how you compared it to identifying trees -- that we start out and you might be able to say like, "the trees with needles and trees without needles," but then you can learn to be like, "oh, this is an Oak tree."
I thought that was such a great explanation of like, "Oh wait, I know, I know. This is good. And this is bad. Those are my only two feelings." And then you can kind of start to pick them apart. So, tell us about that exercise you describe in the book.
Georgie: [00:34:23] So when you're trying to learn your own emotions and maybe get better at describing them -- and that is not just the sort of thing you do for kicks -- it' very purposeful because it paves the way to being able to do more things with your emotions. You know, first you have to be able to tell what sort of animal you're dealing with before you know how to take care of it.
So, often people can tune in, you listening can probably tune in right at this very moment, and if zero is completely neutral, not feeling positive or negative, you can try and feel if you're slightly above neutral or if you're slightly below neutral. That's kind of like the first level: am I slightly good or slightly bad?
Now the easiest times that we can pick up on emotion are when they're very intense. Like, tears are streaming down your face, there's probably an intense emotion going on,
Kim: [00:35:14] And you've got a word for that.
Georgie: [00:35:16] Yeah. And your cheeks hurt because you've been laughing so long and so carefree, probably feeling a strong emotion.
So those strong emotions are the easiest. We can usually think about times that we've been very, very sad or very, very happy, the best and worst times in life. And then as you get more familiar with these different feelings, you start to be able to identify more of them, like a wider array. You know, identifying when we have felt angry, you can think about somebody that's treated you really poorly, maybe somebody that insulted you or hurt somebody that you care about. And you can think about that and think about how you felt and kind of match them and go, "oh, anger. That was probably anger. That feeling I had, that urge to do something, to not be able to let it go. That's an angry feeling."
And many times, women and men have been patterned to accept and reject different emotions. So, for women it's often more acceptable to feel sad than it is for men. So, for little boys, if a little boy is crying, he's more likely to be told to stop crying earlier. And some male figures in his life may say, "don't be a girl, be a man, man up."
We have all sorts of phrases there, "don't be a sissy." And it's seen that being sad is almost a feminine-associated trait. And so, there's subtle messages and not so subtle messages for boys not to show sadness.
However, it flips when we talk about anger, because it's supposed to not be shown by women.
So many women feel a hesitance to show anger. So if somebody does something to us, we may feel more likely to try and transmit that into sadness or self-blame or something else not to be angry, but boys are all encouraged in some ways to be more aggressive, to let their anger feelings out.
So, you can see how different emotional contexts in various cultures, as well as different families, may have enabled us to have a preference for certain emotions, or try not to show other emotions.
Kim: [00:37:42] Yeah. And so, this exercise you're suggesting -- so, notice where you're at with regards to neutral, and then what?
Georgie: [00:37:50] So if you search for a "feelings wheel" on Google you'll get this, list of emotion words. And Alicia and I put lists of various words in the book, because sometimes you can look at a menu and pick something off of it, even if you couldn't pull the word out of your own mind.
So if you look at the menu of emotions that's in the emotions chapter, you might be able to scan it and say, “yeah, I am feeling a little dejected and I never would have come up with that word."
So, it's like other vocabulary, it's really just practicing. Practicing tuning in, thinking about not only what you're feeling, but also the circumstances and what's happened to you recently, because it makes sense that when we feel love and admiration and good fortune, we feel positive. We feel happy. We feel eager if we're anticipating, you know? So, we can kind of predict, "what are logical things that we might be feeling?"
And when it comes to the negative emotions, it's normal to feel disappointed if we are surprised by something that was not as favorable as we thought it was going to happen. It's normal to feel hurt and sad if we've been insulted or gone through a loss.
And so many people do find working with the therapist is helpful in terms of getting in touch with their emotions and talking about it, but if that's not something that someone's interested in, you can also just try and practice describing your own state on a regular basis.
So, one of the exercises in the book is to try writing down words for how you feel. And there's a couple of words that you're supposed to avoid.
Do you remember, Kim, which words I recommend avoiding?
Kim: [00:39:33] Yes! I think it was "good," "bad," "stressed," the very general words. There were like two more weren't there?
Georgie: [00:39:39] And "fine." "Good," "bad," "stressed," and "fine." Because "fine" doesn't mean a whole lot. It's so, like "fill in the blank."
"Stressed" is helpful, but it's so general that I want people to look one layer past that to try and be just a bit more specific as to the type of stress.
And then "good" and "bad" are, as stressed is a step in the right direction in terms of you've figured out if you're above or below the line of neutral, but let's try and get a little more. Like, what is this good feeling? What is this bad feeling?
Kim: [00:40:15] Yeah. Because it's very different. Like, if you're bad and the word you used, dejected, that's a very different feeling if you're feeling dejected versus if you're feeling, mistreated or whatever, you know? So, like, those are really different feelings that are both bad.
Georgie: [00:40:29] Yeah. they're Both unpleasant. So, the benefit of getting in touch with all of these different words and your different states is, 1) you might realize if you have certain ones that you're afraid to feel. Like, I recognized at one point in my life that I was very, very hesitant to feel angry with people I cared about because I felt like somehow I wasn't allowed to be. Like, it meant I didn't love them if I also felt angry at them. And I've learned that's not true. You can love somebody to bits and be really ticked at them. They coexist. Emotions coexist.
Kim: [00:41:00] Every mother ever is like, "that's true."
Georgie: [00:41:01] Yes. They're like, "you're late to the party, Georgie."
So once you've gotten these words, you can learn more about yourself and you also can start to pair it with your food behaviors, your exercise behaviors, your healthcare behaviors, to see if some of the emotions are standing in your way.
You know, if particular emotions are linked to you performing behaviors that you don't want to perform, or if they're linked to you doing things that you feel really good about, that gives you some really helpful cause and effect information.
And also, it's not so downstream. So, in the past, perhaps every time you felt guilty, you go for Chips Ahoy. So, this may be a path that is just carved in your mind -- guilt, Chips Ahoy. But it doesn't have to be that way. You can look at the things that are causing you guilt and see if maybe you don't need to feel guilty over them. You can also look at the times that you do feel that emotion, what other options you have.
So eating is certainly an option, and then there's other options as well. And you can look at what are the alternatives that you can take for each of those. And there's just so many emotional management skills in the book that I feel like we could talk forever about them.
One of my pet peeves about emotional eating as a topic is the advice out there can typically be summarized as: "don't."
It's just not helpful. Somebody's like "here's advice on how to stop biting your nails: don't."
That's not helpful. That's not helpful at all.
Kim: [00:42:36] It's not. It's not at all.
And so, it's so important, you know, and that's the reason I want to talk about this specific subject. Because there's nothing you can do to manage emotional eating until you absolutely understand what the emotions are that you're feeling.
And so, it's like step one is having to be willing to like, back it up and really start paying attention to like, "what are these emotions I'm feeling?" And then looking for patterns like, "oh gosh, I emotionally eat every time I'm pissed off at my kid. That's what I do." And like, "well, okay, do I want to do that? Is there something else I could do?"
But you can't do any of that unless you figure out that that's what you're actually feeling.
Georgie: [00:43:12] Totally. And then you have so many options.
Some of the stuff we talk about in the book is strategies that are somewhat upstream from the emotion to help us experience more of the positive emotions and be less distressed by the negative ones. Because there are mental tactics and ways that we can view the world and our situations in it that make us not feel quite so 10 out of 10.
And then because we can't eliminate all the negative emotions or uncomfortable emotions from life, there's a lot of tips in there for how you handle those if you don't want to use maladaptive coping skills. So, you know, accepting some degree of discomfort in life, reframing them as ways that we get the things we want, practicing distress tolerance, using social supports.
There's a lot of techniques in there to help people have skills so that they can handle these feelings of different types really skillfully.
Kim: [00:44:13] Yeah. And the thing that's so important is, for people listening to this to know, if this all feels like, "wow, I don't even know what you're talking about," these are all things you will practice. You can practice your way to understanding. And Georgie has great exercises in the book.
If you're like, "I don't even know where to start with that." You know, read this and know that you can become a person who understands your own emotion and then can handle them in a way that is not maladaptive.
If you're like, yeah, "I don't see myself doing it." It's a skill you practice.
Georgie: [00:44:43] Yeah. Like anything. Like, if somebody tried to teach us Olympic-level gymnastics on a single session, we'd be like, "oh my God..." but if they're like, "here's how you do somersault..." we're like, "somersault. Got it. Give me a week to practice the somersault."
And that's how we build any complex skillset. The nice thing about a book format is that you have to put one page in front of another. So, just like you can't read the whole book in one shot, you can just take the practices one page at a time. They're already laid out in an order.
Kim: [00:45:15] Yeah, absolutely.
I could talk about emotions all day, but let's move on. I want to talk about at least one more subject of the book. I really identified with this part about rest and by giving yourself more when it comes to rest. You know, the idea that you talked in there about, "if I take a break, there's no way I'll get to everything I need to do."
I was like, "that's exactly right." That's me. I'm an achiever. I'm building this business. I've all the stuff that has to get done. And so, I loved this chapter.
So, talk to us, how can we give ourselves more when it comes to rest?
Georgie: [00:45:53] When it comes to priorities, a lot of women will raise their hand and say, "yeah, rest is important. Of course." But then we kind of put it on the back burner when it comes to other stuff. We tend to not want to devote our time to it when there's something else we could give our time to, we tend to not want to devote any dollars to it if we can put those dollars towards something else. And if it's inconvenient, we're unlikely to persevere to get rest.
But if we put rest on an equal playing field with food and water and pleasure and time with our families. Well, pleasure is a whole ‘nother one that we can get put on the back burner, but if we put it on the top tier, then we make time for it with the same fervor that we make time for the other things that we need to do.
So I'm the last person who's going to say, "well, just take some of the things off your to-do list so you can rest," but I'm saying give it equal effort as the other things, because it has immense payoffs to do so.
And women shortchange themselves selves in rest in many different ways. You know, the most obvious would be sleep -- that people don't sleep enough -- but there's also just the downtime, like allowing yourself to not be doing three things at once every minute that you're awake and giving yourself a few minutes.
Many women say -- and here's where I'm tempted to choose my words very carefully for fear of offending someone -- it's so easy for us to think we can't. So easy. "I don't have time. I don't have time." That used to be my mantra. "Don't have time. Don't have time." And I was a stress ball. "I don't have time. I don't have time." But maybe we do. Maybe we do have time, especially if we're doing other stuff to handle the stress, like stress eating.
So, when I was telling myself, I didn't have time, I was still snacking. So somehow, I was making time to snack. Many times we also are not as efficient as we could be in doing our tasks because we're fried.
When you're not giving yourself any rest and you're pushing yourself to the wire, you're just not as productive as you could be for a lot of those minutes. Where you may find yourself your mind's wandering, you're distracted, it's human. Like, you're not a robot. So taking rest at an earlier time point can be more effective in the sense of perking you up and getting you going again at your optimal operating capacity and spare you the running on a dead battery for the last 10% of your work.
Kim: [00:48:38] You shared a study that took place in Japan that I thought was super interesting.
Georgie: [00:48:43] Yeah. So, they actually experimented with a four-day work week and found that productivity increases with people. And I'm not all that surprised. I mean when you first hear that, you're like, "what?? How would that happen? Why won't my boss just give us a four-day work week?"
And when I think about myself and my clients, we often find that there's a sweet spot where there's some days when you have so much done that you want to tear your hair out and that's too far. But there are some days when you have enough of a full calendar, if your mindsets in the right spot, you maximize your productivity. You think, "I'm going to line them up and knock them down today."
And you get excited about your own productivity and you don't waste time and you're efficient and you move from thing to thing to thing to thing, you give yourself kudos, and then you have a three day weekend.
So, I think that can be the mode that people get into. If they're determined to get their work done in four days so that they can have a good rest, it pans out. But I think if you tried to get all your work into four days so that you could repaint the house, tear up the carpet, redo the garden, empty the trash, you know, like if you just filled up your weekend with more work, I somehow think it wouldn't work. I think we would just go back to wasting time and being not as productive during the week.
You have to have enriching rest to be able to work hard.
Kim: [00:50:05] That's a really great point. So, a change I've made in my life based on this -- so it happened because it was the same time as my vacation -- this is the first time I've taken a real vacation away from work.
Like, I put the thing on my email telling everybody, like, "not getting back to you till after the 13th," talked to all of my clients and said like, "on a vacation, here's what you need to know," like, all the things. And so, I really didn't work and I don't usually do that. But to get ready for my vacation, to be able to do that, I pulled all these crazy, almost all-nighters trying to get everything settled. It was pretty crazy situation.
So, by the time I got on vacation, I was flat out exhausted. Because first of all, I'm on a beach vacation, which any mom knows, if you have a bunch of kids you're bringing to the beach, it's a lot of work.
Georgie: [00:50:52] It's a lot of logistics.
Kim: [00:50:54] Yes. Just to get us to the beach with the food and the stuff. And then I'd done all these 18-hour days to get my work settled. So, I was just flat out exhausted.
And so, I slept a lot the first few days. And then I was just really resting and I just, I actually slept like real eight hours a night. And by the end of the week I had come to two decisions.
Georgie: [00:51:16] Okay. I'm excited to hear this.
Kim: [00:51:17] I've only been home since the weekend, so I've only been doing this a few days, but I can already tell that I feel so much better. I will get eight hours of sleep a night now, that's now my non-negotiable. So whatever time I go to bed, I'm not setting my alarm till eight hours later.
Like, whatever time that is. If I have a morning thing, I have to set it correctly and I've done it every night this week, even though last night, I was trying to hang out with my daughter and she wanted to stay up later, I'm like, I'm now waking up at 7:30 in the morning. I'm a 6:00 AM or 5:00 AM-er or so.
But I did it. I set my alarm for 7:30, so I'm getting more sleep. And then the other thing is I'm not working at night. Because I usually work all the time. Like, if one of my kids or my husband is not like physically standing here, like, "we're doing something," I just work because I like my work and there's always work to do.
And it's finally dawning on me: I will never come to a point where I have nothing else left to do. I won't. Like, there's always going to be more I could do. And so, if I don't just give myself a hard stop, I will never stop. I'm just going to keep going. And so that's my other thing. I have to take off work at a reasonable stopping hour and actually relax in the evenings.
Georgie: [00:52:20] So what are you doing with that time that you're giving yourself in the evening?
Kim: [00:52:24] It's hard! And that's one of the next question they have for you -- and I'll tell you what I've been doing -- but how do people learn to rest and relax when that's not typically their go-to mode? For me, I've shifted to doing things like being outside, actually reading a book for pleasure. Look, I love to read and so, even if it's a nonfiction book, it's still relaxing for me to sit and read. So, I go outside and I read. And we're getting ready to redo our kitchen. And I never just sit around like looking at pretty kitchens online. And that's what I've been doing. I'm like, just making myself it's little book of like, the things I think are pretty.
So that's how I've been spending my evenings, which is not how I usually spend my evenings.
Georgie: [00:52:59] Wow. So, there's a degree of discomfort because it's so weird and different.
Kim: [00:53:03] Yes. And I can think of about eight other things that I could productively be doing.
Not that these aren't productive, but you know, this is what I'm saying: how can people practice resting and relaxing if their natural tendency is not rest and relax?
Georgie: [00:53:18] Well, I think one great example that you've already given is that it feels a little weird. So, expect it to feel a little weird at first. Like, to cut your nails a little too short for a few days, they're going to feel a little touchy.
It's going to feel a little weird if you go from never letting yourself rest to letting yourself rest but look for the benefits. So, have you noticed some benefits? What did you notice about getting more rest on vacation that made you want to do it once you got home?
Kim: [00:53:40] I'm like breathing easily. Like, I feel like this weight is off of me.
Because before I always felt like I was just in this mode of like, "go, go, go, go," and I feel just a little more sense of ease. You know, not constantly running against an unbeatable clock.
Georgie: [00:53:57] That's pretty priceless.
So, I think looking for that is really helpful in determining if this is something we want to continue.
Because your brain's going to be, "you know, you could be more productive if you were doing this," "there's mail on the counter that you should get rid of, work on that pile." There's going to always be other things to do.
But if you're saying like, "no, this ease of breathing, the sense of peace that I have in myself is important. That's worth working for." That'll help you stick to it for long enough to make it a new habit.
I always encourage people to work in baby steps. I am a fan of slow, comfortable change. So, for some people it may just be slowing down some of the activities that you normally rush through.
Other than not resting -- you can go even further than not letting yourself rest and try and hurry through everything. Simply taking some of the time pressure off by allowing yourself a realistic frame of time to do things can be a huge step in the right direction.
And then you can also practice taking micro rests. Like, you can take a small pause to refresh yourself between client appointments if you have to see a lot of people. Few deep breaths, resetting your intention, deliberately closing your mind on the things that are behind you and opening to the things that are in front of you can be really rejuvenating rather than trying to keep them all juggling in your mind at the same time. So that is a form of rest, even if you're not laying down.
Giving you and yourself permission to lay down is a huge move for a lot of women. Like, they would rather go to the kitchen and take handfuls of granola out of the bag and eat them standing in the pantry, but going to lay down is scary shit.
Kim: [00:55:48] Yeah. You take five minutes to do that, but you're not going to take 5 or 10 minutes to go lay on the sofa.
Georgie: [00:55:53] Go lie down. And no one in your family is going to think you're lazy. It's in your head. It's pretty much in your head that, "people might think this, or I might think this, or I might not be a good mom or a good housewife or a good anything because I'm laying down."
And take that fight on, push back against that voice that's bullying you and saying, "you don't get to rest." Like, "not today, mean girl. Today I am taking a few minutes because I'm important. And if I take good care of myself, I do well. And nobody else is winning, nobody else is benefiting from me pushing myself to the brink of destruction."
Kim: [00:56:31] Yeah. That's a really good way of putting it. I like that you talked about you first, before you mentioned the other people. Because, you know, a lot of women have the idea in their mind, like, "I need to perform well for everybody else. And that's why I need to do X, Y, and Z." And it's true. Like, it's a hundred percent true. You will perform better for everybody else if you're well rested and all the things, but that's not the only reason it matters. It matters because you're a person and you deserve to feel well rested and all the other good things.
Georgie: [00:56:56] Yeah. Yeah. Just like I mentioned, bringing rest up on-par with all the other important things that you want to make time for, like bringing yourself up to on-par with everybody else.
Like, "yeah, I want to make food that everybody else enjoys, so I end up cooking a bunch of different things." Great. Make something you enjoy, too.
I think that's the difference between healthful serving of other people and allowing them to serve us and having a balanced dynamic versus the dynamic where we're just serving other people all the time and no one is refilling us and we're not asking anyone to refill us and we're not refilling us.
Kim: [00:57:36] Yes. That's huge. It's a big mindset shift for a lot of women. It’s an important one.
Georgie: [00:57:41] Thank God there's a book on it!
Kim: [00:57:45] Georgie, thank you so much for coming on. Where can everyone find you if they're looking for you?
Georgie: [00:57:51] Well, right now I'm in my closet, but...
Kim: [00:57:54] Go to Lake Louise and start looking at people's closets.
Georgie: [00:57:59] Just look up on the hilltops, I'm probably up there somewhere.
Find me on Facebook. My name is Georgia Fear. There's not too many of us out there.
My company is called Nutrition Loft, so you can find us at nutritionloft.com. We have some excellent free materials. You can take some of our free courses because we love giving information away for free.
If you want to get the book, "Give Yourself More," it's available direct from the publisher, which is On Target Publications.
So, if you go to otp.com, you'll see "Give Yourself More" is shown prominently there and so you can pick it up. You could also put, "Give Yourself More book" into Google and I bet you'd find it. It is sold on Amazon, so if you want to support Amazon, you can go there. It is available for Kindle, it's available in all the electronic formats and Audible.
So, you can hear Alicia and I read the book to you as you fall asleep, if you buy the Audible version. It's really fun to record the audio book. So exhausting.
Kim: [00:58:59] Thanks so much, Georgie.
Okay everybody, that's a lot of ways you can find Georgie. So, there you go. Thank you so much for being here and coming on and talking to us about these really important subjects.
Georgie: [00:59:08] Thank you! It was a blast. Thanks for reading my book and I'm excited to see how it pans out in your life.
Kim: [00:59:14] Amazing. We'll talk soon.
Thanks so much for being here and listening in to the Fitness Simplified podcast today. I hope you found it educational, motivational, inspirational, all the kinds of -ational.
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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.