Kim: Welcome to episode 85 of the Fitness Simplified podcast. I'm your host, Kim Schlag. On this episode, I give you my number one strategy to get the most out of calorie tracking. So if you are calorie tracking and thinking, "I am not losing weight," this episode is for you. Let's go.
[00:00:26] Now that we're heading into the end of the third week of January, a lot of people who started working on weight loss on January 1st are starting to feel frustrated because they're not seeing results yet. If that's you, I want to one, share a bit of perspective and two, give you my number one strategy to get the most out of calorie tracking.
[00:00:48] First, the perspective. Let me share a little story with you. Yesterday I was speaking with a one-on-one online client. I left her a message after she had left me a message. Now this client has been with me a year and a half. She looks like an entirely different person. She has absolutely crushed weight loss. She still has a little bit more she would like to lose.
[00:01:10] Over the last few weeks, like a lot of people, she's been trying to dial things back in after the holidays. She left me a message telling me how frustrated she was with what the scale was saying. And I'm going to quote this next part, she said, "it's hard to be motivated to stay with a calorie deficit when it appears to not be working. I've been pretty consistent, not 100%, but a lot of days I've even been under."
[00:01:34] Okay, that's the end of the quote. Now, it was time for a monthly progress review and when I ran the numbers, it turns out she had been over her top-end calories 50% of the last four weeks. 50% of the days, over half the days, she was over her top-end of her calories.
[00:01:53] Now, lovely listener, I know Christmas feels like it was far away, right? That feels like a lifetime ago. We have been through all a lot recently. That feels like a really long time ago. It was only four weeks ago. Not even, it was not even four weeks ago. New Year's Eve, that was only 21 days ago. 21 days. The scale right now is still reflecting what you did then. It is.
[00:02:17] This is not a reason to feel guilty or regretful. Hopefully you enjoyed every second of your holiday season. But this is a wake-up call that you do not have a legitimate cause for feeling frustrated yet. The time has just not passed. You are still in the thick of this work. Do not get demotivated when you're just having a little amnesia here about what you did three weeks ago, right? 21 days ago.
[00:02:45] I know you're working hard now. Staying in a deficit for even a few days can be challenging. A few weeks feels like a really long time. Give yourself more time with your consistency. Give yourself the time you need to make the changes you want. You're not necessarily doing anything wrong just because the scale isn't moving yet, or it's not moving fast enough.
[00:03:07] Stay the course and you will see results.
[00:03:12] Okay, on to my number one strategy for calorie tracking success. If you're sleeping on this tip, you are leaving results on the table. Are you ready?
[00:03:24] Pre-log your food in your calorie tracker the night before.
[00:03:28] Get it out, open myfitnesspal or Lose It or whatever you use and pre-log it.
[00:03:35] This is so dang effective. Winging it can never be as effective consistently as pre-logging your food is.
[00:03:46] So, have you ever built Ikea furniture? Imagine looking at the picture of the end result, okay? You know you have all the pieces, you look around and you're like, "yep, I checked out my pieces. I have all the pieces," You glance at the step-by-step directions once. So you're like, "Oh, here's some steps." And then you don't refer to them again. So, you have no direct plan to get to your finished product.
[00:04:16] So you know what the finished product is going to be. Just like with your nutrition, you know that the product, at the end of the day, is "I have hit my calories. I've hit my protein. I have stayed in my calorie deficit," right? That's the finished product. And you have all the pieces there.
[00:04:31] Now, you might think in your mind, "I'm building this Ikea furniture. I have built so many Billy bookcases and Ektorp sofas. I can figure this out. I got this." How smoothly is that going to go? Even though you look at the picture and you're like, "Oh, I've never built this particular piece," or, maybe you even have maybe like, you know what, this is your second Billy bookcase or your third Billy bookcase and you're like, "I've built this before. I know how to do this. This is what it's supposed to look like. Here's all the pieces. I'm just going to start putting stuff together."
[00:05:01] How smoothly is that going to go? It's the same thing with your calorie tracking. You have that end result, you want to hit your calorie target, you want to hit your protein target, you have all the pieces. You grocery shopped, maybe you even did a little meal prep of protein and chopped some veggies, but then you just wing it, right? You wake up and you start putting things into your log and you kind of see where it takes you.
[00:05:23] That's like taking your nuts and bolts and sofa parts and that little Allen wrench and putting all the pieces where you think they're going to go. And maybe in the end, you're left with some extra pieces or you don't have enough screws.
[00:05:35] Maybe you'll hit your calories, but you'll be under your protein. Maybe you'll be over in your calories. Maybe by dinner you realize you only have 200 calories left for the day, and now you have to decide, "stay in my target and be hungry the rest of the night or go over?"
[00:05:48] And all of that is preventable. That is all preventable.
[00:05:52] So I'm going to give you the template that I give my one-on-one clients to log their food. I want you to write this down, okay?
[00:05:59] Open up your notes on your phone or get out, if your pen and paper kind of gal, get your pen and paper out. Write this down. You don't have to write down all the commentary I give, but I want you to write these steps down. I think there's five steps.
[00:06:10] All right, first, you're going to log your protein. That is the first thing you're going to do.
[00:06:15] And remember, this is the night before. At the very latest, you could do it right when you wake up in the morning before you eat anything. You can do that. That would feel too rushed for me. I got a lot going on when I get out of bed. I prefer the night before, minimum, before you eat anything the morning of, okay?
[00:06:32] So let's say it's the night before, the first thing you're going to do is log your protein. You're going to divide your total protein target. Let me take just a minute here -- if you are not 100% clear on how many calories and how much protein you should be eating to lose weight, I walk you through all of that in my free five day fat loss crash course. It's totally free, you sign up for it on my website.
[00:06:55] So go to kimschlagfitness.com. If you don't know how to spell Schlag, it's S-C-H-L-A-G. Kimschlagfitness.com. Look for "free five day fat loss crash course," pop your name and email in there, you'll start getting a series of emails from me, and over the course of five days, I will walk you through your calories and your protein and how exactly to set your nutrition up.
[00:07:13] Once you have that information, you're going to sit down the night before, you're going to know what total protein should be each day. You're going to take that total number of grams of protein and you're going to divide it by the number of meals and/or snacks you prefer to eat.
[00:07:30] So, let's say your target is 120 grams of protein and you're going to eat three meals and one snack. Okay, that's 120. You're going to divide it by 4. That's 30 grams. That's how much protein you would need at each of those four meals or snacks.
[00:07:44] Now, remember, I'm just giving you an example here. The numbers I'm giving here are not for you. This is just for us to kind of talk through it.
[00:07:50] All right, so what you're going to do with that number, so now you know it's 30 grams at each meal or snack, you decide, "what am I going to eat to get 30 grams of protein at each meal?" And you log it in.
[00:08:02] So here, I'm going to do this along with you.
[00:08:04] So, let's say I need to get 30 grams of protein. I have my log open, at breakfast I'm gonna have half a cup of egg whites and I'm going to have three eggs. That gets me the 30 grams protein.
[00:08:14] Okay, at lunch I'm going to have 4.5 ounces of chicken breast and I'm going to have some feta cheese. Now I've got my 30 grams of protein in my lunch.
[00:08:25] Dinner, I got this amazing pork loin, I'm going to make my pork loin. Okay, how much pork loin do I need to get 30 grams of protein? I can look here in myfitnesspal, pork loin, I need 5.5 ounces to get the 30 grams. Boom.
[00:08:38] So, my snack, I'm going to do one of my pre-made protein shakes. It's 30 grams of protein. There. Boom.
[00:08:45] You now know you will hit your protein target. There's no ambiguity. You're not going to get to the end of the day and be like, "Oh wait, I was 20 grams short." No, because you've already exactly figured it out. Not just like, "Oh, I'm going to have pork at dinner," "How much pork do I need to have to hit my 30 grams?"
[00:08:59] Not just chicken with my lunch, "how many ounces of chicken do I need to hit 30 grams? I'm gonna need 4.5 ounces if I pair it with a little bit, maybe 20 grams, of feta cheese."
[00:09:08] Now I've got it. You do all that here. You don't have to figure that out while you're rushing at your lunchtime, trying to put your salad together so you can eat and get back to work.
[00:09:17] So that's step one: log your protein. Do it exactly like I just showed you.
[00:09:21] All right, step two: log some vegetables. At least at two meals.
[00:09:26] You don't have to eat vegetables at breakfast, but you could. Get some veggies in there somewhere. Now, if you don't like vegetables -- believe me, I get it. I don't either.
[00:09:37] At age 44, I decided, "you know what? I'm a frigging grownup and I know this is good for me. And I'm just going to learn to like them. I'm going to do it. I'm going to learn to like them." And I did.
[00:09:47] I really should do a whole episode on that sometime, about exactly how I taught myself to eat vegetables, what process I went through. It was not easy. It's not like I just woke up. I'm like, "now I like 'em!" I had to really work to learn to like vegetables. And now I do like them.
[00:09:59] Okay, look, I have a handful of vegetables I won't eat. I do not eat peas, I do not eat green beans, I do not eat Lima beans. I don't like that stuff. I won't eat it, but that's okay because there's so many other vegetables that I have learned to like, and so I give myself permission to not have to eat any particular vegetable, but I have to eat some vegetables. You can do that too.
[00:10:20] And, like I said, I'll record another episode exactly how I did that.
[00:10:23] For now, just remind yourself, "I'm a grownup, so I eat the dang vegetables." Log them. Log some vegetables. Figure out which vegetables you like the most and put them in, at least at two meals, okay?
[00:10:33] So, on my imaginary log here, I'm going to put in, I'm going to have a salad at lunch. So, I'm going to put in some spring mix and I'm going to put it in some radish and then I can put in some cucumber. And at dinner with my pork loin, I'm going to have some brussel sprouts. Boom. Done. I have some vegetables in here.
[00:10:51] Next, step three -- you're writing this down, right? Step three: you're going to pre-log some fruit.
[00:10:56] At one or two meals or snacks, just get some fruit in there. Whatever you prefer. I dig oranges. I can't eat oranges anymore because with all of my health issues, I now have some special things and I can't eat it. But back in the day, you know, a week ago when I was allowed to eat citrus, oranges with dinner were my favorite. Orange slices at dinner, putting that in there, and I'm going to have an apple with my salad at lunch. Okay, we got some fruit in there.
[00:11:19] So you're going to put some fruit in there, whatever kind you like. One or two meals or snacks, get some fruit in there. It's good for you, it helps you stay full for very few calories, helps you get some fiber. So get some fruit in there.
[00:11:31] Step four. This is the final step. I think I thought it was five steps at the beginning... sorry, it's only four steps.
[00:11:37] Okay, step four is the final step: you can look over your pre-logged day now, right? You can see that it's high in protein. You can see it's high in minimally processed, nutrient dense food. You have your fruit, you have your veg, so with whatever calories you have left over, you can use them however you want.
[00:11:56] You're going to use nutritional compromises to decide how you want to use those calories. And it will likely be different day to day. Maybe today there's something in your mind you want and next week you're like, "I'm not so into that thing."
[00:12:08] So on my sample log, I'm going to look at my day and think, "okay, what do I want to add in? I have this chunk of calories leftover. You know what, I really like to have rice with this recipe, with the pork loin, it tastes really good, so I'm going to put in a half a cup of rice."
[00:12:20] Maybe I also told my kids I'd get them donuts tomorrow. And you know what? I want a donut. I can fit a donut in, so I'm gonna fit it in now. I'm going to know I'm going to have my donut.
[00:12:28] Okay, now I still have some calories left over, so I'm looking, I'm thinking, "you know what? I'm going to add some avocado to my salad. A little fat always helps me stay full longer and I just like avocado."
[00:12:39] "All right. A little bit more calories left over, so you know what? I think I want some toast with my eggs in the morning." Okay. Boom.
[00:12:46] I now have a complete meal plan ready to go.
[00:12:50] I know it will keep me in my calorie deficit, I know I will get in the protein I need to preserve my muscle and keep me satiated, I can see that I have plenty of micronutrients, I've used nutritional compromises to put in stuff I'm in the mood for, right? I'm thinking like, "what do I want?"
[00:13:05] And now when I wake up tomorrow, I don't have to think about food at all. I just work my plan. No stress, no end of the day, macro-Tetris, and I have the flexibility to work within the framework I set to make any changes as needed. So if I realize like, "Oh wait, the avocado is not ripe," I can swap it out and say like, "Oh, you know what? I'm going to add some chia seeds," and I know exactly how many calories I have left over that I'm going to swap out from the avocado. "Okay, so I've got like, 80 calories here from the avocado. I'm going to put in some chia seeds." Now I know how much I can afford in this calorie budget.
[00:13:39] Or maybe the kids want ice cream instead of donuts. I can make that swap knowing exactly how many calories I have to work with.
[00:13:47] Your consistency with your deficit will skyrocket by doing this. It will skyrocket. And consistency is what brings you results.
[00:13:58] I hope this has been helpful. Hit me up with questions anytime. You can DM me over on IG or you can email me, firstname.lastname@example.org. I am happy to help.
[00:14:08] Now, if you have a question you want answered, if you're struggling with your nutrition or training and you want to get some free coaching by me, I do that here on the podcast. Actually, these are some of the episodes I get the most feedback on, people are like, "I love that, can you do more?" "I learned so much listening to you talk to that person."
[00:14:25] Look, we all have the same types of struggles, your struggles with losing weight, with getting leaner, with getting started, they're not unique. Your particular set of circumstances are, but the general struggle? It's everybody's struggle. Somebody out there wants to know the exact answer that you want to know.
[00:14:41] And so the way it works is we get together on a call, I record the call -- it's just a Zoom call -- I record the call as I coach you, and then I publish it here as a podcast episode. And that way you get the solutions you need and everyone listening gets to learn, as well.
[00:14:57] So, if you're interested, send me an email: email@example.com, put "free coaching" in the subject line, and then let me know what your question is and we can make it happen.
[00:15:10] 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.
[00:15:21] 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.
[00:15:36] Thanks so much.
Kim: [00:00:00] Welcome to episode 84 of the Fitness Simplified podcast. I'm your host, Kim Schlag. In this episode, I tackle a question I get a lot: how can I do what you do for a living, Kim?
I speak with a woman named Yvette who's looking to make a move into the fitness industry and we chat through how I did it -- how did I move into the health and fitness space? And we talk through best next steps for her -- and maybe you -- if that's where your mind and heart want to go. Let's do it!
Hi, how are you?
Yvette: [00:00:53] I am good. It's 6:00 AM over here, I'm ready to roll, sister.
Kim: [00:00:58] It's most impressive that you're so wide awake and chipper at 6:00 AM.
Yvette: [00:01:03] Oh, I've already done a little breathing exercise. I've done my Wim Hoff and finished with a cold shower, so I'm ready to roll.
Kim: [00:01:11] Seriously. I'm seriously impressed. You live in California, correct?
Yvette: [00:01:17] Yes. Wild Southern California.
Kim: [00:01:21] Well, tell us a little bit more about you and then we're going to jump into the question that you emailed me.
Yvette: [00:01:30] Okay. So I am 55 and I have been probably just obsessed with health and fitness, probably in my early twenties, I started. My best friend and I used to, she got me into bodybuilding competitions, where we would just go and be attendees there. But it was just so intriguing. And I started following bodybuilders and getting into some weight training.
As I mentioned before, I've always had a full-time job. I started in food service over 30 years ago and I've done very well in my career, so I've kind of stayed there and then responsibilities come. I have two amazing boys and so I always stayed there, but I always just had this passion of fitness in the back of my mind.
So, I would weight train. At one of my companies, we had a full gym and at lunchtime I would actually teach people -- like, at lunchtime we would do a weight training class. So anywhere I could fit it in, I would do it.
And I found I needed some cardio. And I found a coupon for a kickboxing class and I started kickboxing. The first day I told the sensei, I was at a dojo, I'm like, "I want to teach this." And from then on, I started my whole side career in cardio kickboxing. And that went on for probably 10 plus years. And that was amazing.
Still huge in my heart. I love kickboxing and have a huge passion for weight training, health and fitness, always looking for healthy ways, natural ways, you know, to incorporate in my life.
Kim: [00:03:37] Got it. But you never considered actually competing in bodybuilding?
Yvette: [00:03:42] No. I was real intrigued and my girlfriend and I, we would go to the gym and and she would train amazingly and we would both really get into it. And I, actually, at one time in my life, I started training pretty heavy and it was so awesome. Just like the muscle, the definition, everything you get and like you see a lot on-- I've listened to all of your podcasts. I love everyone you've had on, and it's the confidence that comes with it. Just looking at what you've created. It's truly amazing.
And I'm just amazed with what our bodies can do overall .When you have that mind-body connection, you're like, "pshhh" you can make anything happen. So, yeah, it's cool, I just don't know if I could really cut down all my calories and really be that disciplined.
Kim: [00:04:44] Yes. From a nutrition standpoint, it's incredibly restrictive.
So tell everyone the question that you asked me over email. Kind of give us the gist of that and we'll just kind of take the conversation from there.
Yvette: [00:04:57] Okay. So, like I said, my passion has always run wild. And there's something inside of me that is not complete.
And I know I love helping people, I love when people come to me and say, "Oh my gosh, Yvette, I worked out today. I feel good." Or, you know, "I ate this," they'll send me pictures of food that they've prepared or things that they've done or, "I started this training and I'm just so excited." And I'm like, "yes!" Like, "do it!" You know? "You need me to support you, I'm here."
So I know there's something in me that just thrives on that part. And I've just always wanted to maybe start like a side business or maybe own my own gym or, you know, I'm not really sure. And I have my NASM book, I have my ACE group fitness training book, and I start to study and then I get distracted.
I'm like a squirrel. I don't know what direction I want right now. And with COVID hitting, I am such a one-on-one, like, in my group classes, I loved that whole energy and environment and it's really like, I stopped social media when COVID started because I just couldn't handle everything that was going on and I kind of needed a break and it was my time just to kind of study, meditate, get myself, my mind right.
So I'll start to study and then I get distracted and I don't complete it. So, now I'm just like, do I want to go back into group? What's going to happen in our future? Do I want to start virtual? Do I want to maybe do one-on-one and get more into nutrition? You know, my passions run wild and I can't narrow them down.
That's my biggest problem.
Kim: [00:07:08] Got it. Got it. And the reason I said like, "Hey, let's hop on a podcast and talk about this" is because I get emails and DMs about this all the time. People saying like, "Hey, I want to do something like what you do." Like, "I want to help people with nutrition and fitness..." and then they'll ask whatever their questions are, like, basically saying like, "what are my next steps? What should I do?"
And so I was thinking, when you asked me this question, I was like, "you know what? I'm just going to take this one and we're going to talk about this on the podcast so I can lead people to this every time we have a DM question about this."
It sounds like for you, the biggest piece though, is figuring out what you actually want. You know, you like the idea of helping people, you like the idea of helping people with their fitness, with their nutrition, but it sounds like you're not clear on what way you want to actually do that.
Yvette: [00:07:52] Right. Exactly.
Kim: [00:07:55] There is this interesting piece that you just brought up of right now with COVID, you know, group fitness doesn't seem like, necessarily, a very timely option, right? I mean, what's happening in California right now with group fitness? Nothing. And not that it's not going to come back -- I would assume that at some point it is -- it might not be the way to go right now. How far along are you in finishing your certification for that? Like, are you close to finishing?
Yvette: [00:08:26] Well, so what I did is, in the ACE group fitness, like, it's not grasping my attention enough. And what I do love, and I have the NASM -- I can't remember which edition it is. It's back from a couple of years ago -- and ever since you and I started emailing each other, I was like, "man, I'm going to dive into my NASM book" because it's so comprehensive. It's probably one of the best certified books -- I have a few of them -- that I have really come across where it just really keeps my attention and it breaks down everything so easily.
And so, I started that and I'm just reviewing my chapters right now. I'm very knowledgeable in a lot of it, but, I'll tell you one thing, Kim, that's why I love your podcast, your YouTube, everything -- how you break things down it makes so much sense. I hate taking those tests. I have taken the group fitness test before a few years back and I missed it by a couple points only because I get confused on the way they ask the questions and the multiple choices. They're so close and it's like, you know what, anybody can get a certification. Anybody can pass a test. But it's really the common sense and really finding out what that client wants, what their needs are and really understanding the body and the mindset that makes you a great certified instructor and that something that I just truly believe in my heart.
Kim: [00:10:10] Yeah, you're getting at a good point there, which is certifications are not the be all and end all. I am a huge believer in education for any kind of coach. If you're going to do nutrition coaching, if you're going to do fitness coaching, you need to be educated. Whether that comes from a certification or not is not necessarily important. There's lots of ways to go about getting your education.
Certifications are kind of like the baseline. So I got my certification through NASM a good handful of years ago, so I don't know what the course is like now. I will say if I was going to enter the fitness industry now -- like, you've already paid for it, so I would just do it. You've got it. It costs a lot of money, so just do it.
It's not the one I would necessarily pick, mostly because, what I realized is, I used very little, almost immediately, of the things that I had learned as a coach. A lot of the NASM curriculum, at least how it used to be when I was certified a handful of years ago, was very centered on their model called the OPT model.
That is not a structure I've ever used as a coach. I don't know anybody who uses that as a coach, frankly. And so I had to spend a whole lot of time studying something that-- and a big part of their exam is on that model. It's not a model I've literally used. I used it, I don't know, a few weeks maybe and then I realized like, "this doesn't make sense. This isn't how the people that I admire in industry, this is not how I see their programs structured." And so I didn't use it anymore.
What I did learn from NASM, and you can learn in most certifications, I would assume, you know, there was a big emphasis on all of the muscles, what they are, where they are, what they do. That stuff's important. Like, you gotta know that.
When I was studying for the NASM CPT, I got a coloring book that was an anatomy coloring book, and I would color each of the muscles and then write what each one did, what the functions were. And that stuff, that's super important because you have to know what the body is made up of so that you can figure out how to train it. And so that piece is really important. So the anatomy piece is really important.
Of course I learned basic training principles -- the principle of specificity, the principle of progressive overload, these kinds of things. They're very important. But so much of that NASM curriculum is about their particular model. And that's what most certifications are like. You know, it's a money-making opportunity, those certifying bodies are making their money. But I do think getting some education is important. I don't think people should just go willy nilly and say like -- 'cause you can, you could literally, right today, you could get on Instagram and say like, "I'm a nutrition coach." like, there's nothing legally you have to do to do that.
I do think education is super duper important.
In your specific situation, you have already paid for that curriculum. I would say, you know, study it, pass the test, and then use what you have learned -- and like I said, really focusing on that anatomy piece is going to help you whether you're group fitness training or whether you're one-on-one, in person or one-on-one online, it's going to help you.
For the rest of you listening, if you haven't chosen the certification yet, I would choose whatever certification that is least expensive, which often is ACE. And know that this is literally the teeniest part of your education as a coach. Like, that was just the start of me getting educated as a coach. I did go on to get certified in nutrition and we can talk about that in a minute, but I study all the time.
Literally to this day, I sign up for courses and I take them. You know, things about I've done courses in coaching psychology. I've done courses with various trainers about hips and shoulders. I've done all kinds of courses about topics that I want to know more about. I read research articles.
The certification is not the end of your education, it is literally the start. And so approaching it from that framework is an important way to go.
It's a good way to learn a little bit and if you want to get hired by a gym, you're going to need it.
Okay, so next question for you: how do you feel about just finishing up your NASM certification?
Yvette: [00:14:30] Yeah, and that's fine. And honestly, Kim, I would purchase the, the ACE book as well. My NASM book is like centuries-- like, I don't even know how old it is, it's probably like four or five years old. And you hit something because that's what I do. I just go through the anatomy part and stuff like that because the OPT, the breakdown, it was funny cause I was reviewing it last night and I'm like, "Okay, but this isn't really making sense how they're starting some of these like students, 'cause I would never start them that way." And I kind of do it myself. Like, I run myself like I'm a student and then I'm like, "okay, what do I do here? How do I do this? And how does that make me feel?"
You know, how I increase my weight training, how I do my reps, my sets. I also had mentioned that I am certified in foundation training. And you talk about the anatomy and further education, that is all about the body. It's all about decompression breathing. It's all about anchoring. It's all about how we hinge from our hips. And that has really helped me in my weight training because, you know, we are all kind of falling into we're very tense right now. We have our heads tilted forward, our shoulders are forward. A lot of us are living in fear because we don't know what our future holds and it's showing in our bodies and our bodies are really stressed out right now. And foundation is a very empowering. I've learned so much from that. I am certified level one in that and I want to get into level two.
Kim: [00:16:19] Can you tell me what that is? I don't know. What is this "Foundations?" Is that a personal training certification? What is that?
Yvette: [00:16:27] It was created by Dr. Eric Goodman and he is a chiropractor and he had his own issues with his back as a chiropractor that were not getting better and his only option that he was given was to have surgery and that was not going to happen. And he started to believe in doing certain yoga and then created this whole movement, which is all bodyweight exercises.
It's not really yoga. It's more centered on breathing correctly and decompression breathing, anchoring, hinging from the hips, using our bodies in correct movement. And he has really helped people with back pain. When I went to my certification, there were so many people with some really bad injuries that had jumped on YouTube or grabbed the-- they offer like the whole baseline workout, I think it's like $15 a month, and you can go on there and they kind of set out all the body weight exercises to help you. And these people had just great results from it.
It's something you do on a daily basis that really just helps your body function properly, the way it is supposed to function. I would use it as a warmup and a cool-down for any training that I would give any students. There's a lot of YouTube info if you want to go check it out and it's great stuff.
But speaking, like how you talk about the other education, that is huge because it's all how our body functions. Anatomy Trains is another book that I love. And then I am very into the mindset connection of the body. So, I love Joe Dispenza. I have his book on the brain because it just goes together, man. You gotta right mindsight and you train your body to do what you need, you can become such a powerful being.
So, like you say, there's so many things that incorporate into just training a person or nutrition.
Kim: [00:18:58] So it sounds like you've done a lot of studying, lots of education on various pieces of health and wellness. And the question is how are you going to put all these parts together and what is your next steps to actually make a career out of this?
Yvette: [00:19:13] Yes, because I feel like I'm so passionate about the whole thing. Like, every morning I wake up, I'm excited, I'm like, "okay, I'm going to do my Wim Hof breathing, I'm going to do this, and what do I feel like reading today?"
So I do love to read. I love to learn. I love so many podcasts on health and wellness. And then it's just the point of getting my squirrel brain to just focus and complete one task. That's probably my biggest issue.
Kim: [00:19:44] Well, let me ask you this, are you sure want to make a career out of this? Is this something you're just like, "Hey, I just enjoy this. I enjoy reading about this." Is it like, "Hey, this is what I want to do," or you're not sure about that yet.
Yvette: [00:19:57] I know I want to help people because I get excited when I learn things. And when you learn things, you always want to share those things. It just makes you more excited about it.
I do love what I do with food service, and so I'm kind of thinking right now, like just doing maybe a part-time, like having just a couple students to start with. Because I wouldn't want to-- I mean, I still need my full-time job and I would need to move into this, but I don't want to lose my passion for fitness by all of a sudden it being my full-time job. I don't know how that would make me feel.
So, I mean, it looks like you're pretty happy with everything that you are doing and what you've accomplished, which is beyond amazing, oh my gosh.
Kim: [00:20:58] You know, I think it comes down to, it's going to be an individual by individual basis. If you get into wanting to coach other people just because it's something you enjoy, you might find that like, "Hey, you know what? I don't want to spend all day talking to people about this. I just want to do it for myself." Right? I mean, that could be somebody's reality. I personally love it. I love that I spend all day talking to people about how to get stronger, how to build muscle, how to lose weight, and I go in the gym and do it for myself. Like, I am cool with that. I like it.
Not everybody ends up being thrilled with that. So that's something you're going to need to pick apart. I think the only way you're going to know is if you get started and it sounds like you do a lot of approaching getting started, like a lot of studying and thinking, but you don't actually take any actions towards doing it.
So my best advice for you would be to complete some kind of certification that, if you want to enter the training field, complete a certification and then actually start training people and see where it takes you. That's the piece that's going to give you the information about like, "do I like this and where do I want to take it?"
Yvette: [00:22:03] Now, let me ask you a question about that because the whole Zoom training and all that, like I had mentioned, you know, I'm certified in the Foundation training and I've actually just FaceTimed a couple of my friends that are runners or we're having some issue with neck pain and stuff. And I would just do free training for them. And I really loved it. But like the whole, "okay, Venmo me money," setting up like this whole, like, "okay, let's do the Zoom thing and stuff," I think that's like my missing piece.
Like, during COVID I was like, "Oh my God, I can totally do that. I can reach out to people. I can post all this stuff on Instagram," which, I've put some stuff on Instagram, but I guess it's all the social media that I get stuck on as well, too.
Kim: [00:22:59] So once you're actually qualified to do it, you're like, "what do I do then?" Like, "how do I actually get people to pay me? And how do I promote myself on social media?"
Is that the question?
Yvette: [00:23:09] Yeah, I think I get stuck in that.
Kim: [00:23:15] So, two things I would say: I am not a person who does online coaching as in Zoom sessions. So, I do not get live on camera with people and run them through workouts. I have never done that. People do that. I don't do that.
I will say for anybody listening, and it's such a different time period right now -- in the world outside of COVID, before you would ever consider doing such a thing, you should, for sure, be coaching people in person. No questions asked. Like, you need to coach people in person.
Right now it's really hard to do that. It's very hard to be able to coach people in person. So, you know, this might be the only time that I would say-- still, like you really should be trying, even if it's your family, your friends, somebody that you could get, you need to be able to be in-person with them and learn, "how do I coach somebody through a squat? How do I help them move better?" It's really hard to do that online if you have not done that in person.
So if we were in the regular, not COVID world, I would say without a doubt coach in person for quite some time before you even consider going online as a coach. Not be online, helping people -- and I'll talk about that in a second -- I coached in person for quite some time before I took my first online client.
So, that doesn't mean you can't help people online. The entire time you're studying for your certification, you could still be helping people online for free, via social media. And the way you do that is you share what you're learning. So you can go on Instagram, honestly, right now, the platform to be on, no matter how old you are is TikTok. I know some older people are like, "that's like young people dancing around," it is not. I mean, it is, there's plenty of that on there, but there are plenty of people of all ages on there and if you want to build a business right now, it is the number one platform I would say to get on. And it is very easy to use. When I learned to use it this past spring, I literally went on YouTube and searched, "how do I use TikTok?" I had no idea how to do it. And it talked me through it step-by-step, it's very simple -- and I am a terrible, terrible person when it comes to technology -- and once this person on YouTube explained to me how to use the technology on TikTok, I realized it was super user-friendly and you can easily make TikTok videos.
You could go on and, as you're getting certified, and you're learning about whatever, if you're learning about how to squat or how to program your workouts, whatever it is, you could go on and you just literally video yourself, little 15 to 60 second clips of you explaining what you're learning to people, and then people will start to learn from you, one. That's one of your main goals is to help people. And two, you will build a community of people who trust you, right? You show up every day teaching them so that when you are ready to actually charge for your services, you will have a following of people who are used to listening to you and getting good information from you. And it makes it a no brainer for them, then if they find out like, "Oh, wait, Yvette does coaching? Let me hire her." Does that make sense?
Yvette: [00:26:20] Yes, totally. Actually, my younger son, he always like wants me to get on TikTok and I just haven't done it yet. But yeah, I love it.
Kim: [00:26:32] And you can do the exact same thing on Instagram. It's hard to build a business on Instagram. I still think you should be there, I'm not saying don't be there. It's hard to build a big audience on Instagram right now. I mean, I was building a big audience on Instagram when it was still pretty possible to do so organically. And I'm not saying it's totally impossible right now, it's just a lot harder. It's way easier on TikTok. There's just more people watching than there are creators creating and so it's easier to get a bigger audience faster.
Yvette: [00:26:59] I like it. Yeah. I'll definitely look into that. Okay, that's awesome. That is great info right there and totally doable.
Kim: [00:27:07] Yeah, and you don't have to and look at yourself like -- I think why people get nervous is they feel like, "why am I the expert here?" Well, you're the expert because you're the one who's doing it. You're the expert because you're the one who just read about the best squat form and so now you're going to share what you just learned.
You don't have to know everything there is to know about everything in order to help other people. You just need to be a few steps ahead of them.
Yvette: [00:27:31] Right. And that was like one of the things when I was looking on Instagram and stuff like that, everyone, COVID started -- well, this happened prior but, everyone thinks they're an instructor right now.
And I really feel that people really need to be aware of who they're following and what they are being marketed towards, because it's always like this quick way to get like, "Oh, okay, you want to look like her, then just do this." And that's another thing that I wanted to mention to you is I love that you are working with younger, like teenage girls and stuff, because social media can be so like, "that's what I want to look like. If only I looked like that my whole world would be perfect and amazing." And it's just about taking care of this wonderful body that we've been given. And we all come in all different shapes and sizes and no two are alike. And it's just for people just to really have that awareness that I think is amazing.
And I would love to get on something like this and for people to really see it comes from my heart. Like, "I want you to succeed. I want you to understand how this works." I'm not on here to go, "Hey, look at me!" Because by no means is my body perfect. Especially at 55, man. It all changes. Thank you, menopause.
Kim: [00:29:09] And you can make content and share around all of those things. Like, the content I've made for teenage girls, both on Instagram and on TikTok. That was literally all it was, was me sharing like, "Hey girls, I want to tell you what I wish somebody had told me when I was a teenager,." Because I really struggled with body image as a teenager.
I always thought I needed to lose weight and looking back, it was crazy. I was not overweight. I really would have benefited from lifting some heavy weights, but I didn't know that. And that's one of the things I tell the girls. I was just like, "you should start lifting weights as soon as possible."
So I literally just go on and I talk about, "here are things I wish that somebody had told me," "here are things to watch out for," and so things like that, that you are passionate about, and you have something to say about, you can say them and people will resonate with them or they won't.
And, you know, there's a lot of things that you, as a 55 year old woman, have experienced that other people are going to be able to learn from.
And, like I said, there's a lot of time and effort. I have spent countless hours putting out free content on Instagram, on YouTube, on TikTok, and I mean, it's a lot of time I've spent over the past three years that I've been online.
And it's partially to help people. That's a big part of it. It's also, that's literally how I've built my business. I didn't create ads to say like, "Hey, look, I'm a coach." I literally just put out free content and then would talk about like, "Hey, I'm a coach. I take clients online." And then people would reach out to me. And that's how I've built my business and now I train people all over the world.
Yvette: [00:30:54] That's awesome. Now, so I know you are more doing like the one-on-one, so you do take some online right now? Like, are you using Venmo or PayPal?
Kim: [00:31:11] I strictly do one-on-one online. I don't have any in-person clients. Zero.
I haven't had any in-person clients in two years now. It was two years ago that I really started phasing out in-person clients. So for a while I just did in-person and then I started taking clients online. And I'll tell you what that looks like for me, because I think maybe you're confused about what do I do with these online clients since I said I don't do live sessions, I'll tell you in a second, what I do with them.
So I started taking online clients and eventually I got to the point where I had tons of online, tons of in-person, and I had to pick, because there was only so much of me to go around and I picked online and I don't do in-person anymore. At all. Zero.
And so what I do, when I say that I coach one-on-one online, I write my clients training plans. So I will write out, "here's your month's worth of workouts," and I send them that, and then I do nutrition coaching with them. It is all done online. So my clients and I communicate via a shared Google Doc via email and via a video texting app.
We are never live in-person talking to each other. At all. I never talked to my clients, like, I don't get on the phone with them, I don't video chat with them, I don't watch them do their workouts. They send me form videos all the time and I give them form feedback.
They check in with me every single day via our shared Google Doc about their nutrition. And so I can see, like, how many calories did they eat and how many steps did they take and how much protein did they eat? And they have their workouts on this shared Google sheet and I check in on that and see how are workouts looking. They send me form videos, I give them feedback. And then once a month I do a progress review for them. They send me pictures, I make side by sides. They send me measurements, I look at their scale weight, and that's how we assess their progress. Well, how I assess their progress.
So when I say that I coach online, that's how I do it. It's not like me and them running through a workout.
Yvette: [00:33:04] Okay. Got it.
Kim: [00:33:06] And, for payment, I use PayPal and the way I have it set up is I have automatic payments. So I'm never chasing people around, trying to collect money. When people join on to be my client, they set up automatic payments and then it's withdrawn from their account once a month and I don't have to think about it at all.
And there's a lot of you figure out business-wise when you're getting started and you need to trust -- and, not just you, but everybody listening here -- that you're going to figure that all out. If somebody had told me when I was 40, that I was going to have an online business and somehow figure out all the backend stuff like that, I would have been totally intimidated because I had zero idea how to do any of that.
But, you know, I learned how to do that bit by bit as I needed to do it. I literally, when it was time for me to set up recurring payments on PayPal, I sat with another coach in a Panera, my friend, Susan Niebergall, I don't know if you follow Susan, and she showed me like how to set up the automatic payments, how to make the link, she's the one who talked me through, "here's how you do that."
Yvette: [00:34:14] Cool. Okay.
Kim: [00:34:15] So, yeah. Trust that you're going to figure it out and you just start taking steps. You can sit and stew for ever about the perfect way to do things and not get anywhere. When you start taking action, you'll figure it out. You'll figure it out as you go. Like, there's been so many times where I've had to revamp my systems because, you know, I got to X number of clients and what I used to do, that didn't work anymore and it was too overwhelming, and so then I had to change things.
And I always just figure it out and evolve and things get better. And now I'm a much better coach and I'm a much better business person because I've been at it for awhile. But you'll figure it out as you go. The main thing is to get some education, know what you're doing, and start doing it.
My other key piece of advice, if I could give you one more piece of advice, is to find a mentor or somebody that you can intern with to learn from. That has been huge for me. Huge.
So, my mentor is Jordan Syatt. He was my coach and he has mentored me in becoming a coach and becoming a successful business person and that has been key. Like, he's my go-to person. I ask him all the questions. And having somebody who can help you through all that is really key.
And it's not as hard as you might think to find somebody to mentor you. I personally, right now, I have an intern. She reached out to me a handful of months back now. Sometime in the fall she emailed me and she said, "I've been following you for a while and I am a mom of four kids. I've had a career in audiology, I have gotten certified in nutrition coaching through Precision Nutrition, and I would like to do what you do. How would you feel about taking me on as an intern and I can help you with whatever you need?"
And that's the key. Like, you have to offer them something. And so we got on a call and we talked about what she wanted from me as her mentor and then what she thought she could offer me as assistance and it has been an amazing setup. She handles all my backend stuff for me now. She keeps me organized, she completes all kinds of projects that I come up with in my mind that I've wanted to do, but I just didn't have the time to do, and I mentor her. She's taking on clients now. She asked me questions about best practices and how to set things up and when she's confused about things,and it's a great situation for both of us.
So, I cannot recommend that highly enough.
Yvette: [00:36:50] Wow. That's awesome. I was going to ask you if you did mentoring, actually.
Kim: [00:36:58] This is the first time I've done it and I will continue to do it because it has been such a good situation for the both of us. I'm not taking on any more mentees at this moment, but I'm assuming at some point.
So, my intern, her name is Emily Hansen. You should all follow her on Instagram and TikTok. Emily is E-M-I-L-I-E Hansen. @emilyhansenfitness, I believe is her handle.
And so she's out there, she's creating content, she's taking one-on-one clients online, she has a good handful of clients that's building all the time. So eventually she's going to phase out from being my intern because she's just gonna have too much of her own business. So yeah, eventually I'll take on more.
Yvette: [00:37:47] Great. Oh my God. That's good. Man, she stepped in right at the right time. Good for Emily!
Kim: [00:37:53] She did! And that's the thing, putting yourself out there, like, finding somebody who like, "Hey, this person, I really resonate with how they coach. What could I do to help them?" Like, "how could I help them" and just saying like, "hey, can I help you with X and learn some things from you?"
And, you know, not everybody's going to say "yes," actually fun story, my coach, who is my mentor now, Jordan, he was my powerlifting coach online and I wanted to hire him as my business coach to be my mentor. I'd already chosen this man as my mentor. I'm like, I want to coach just like Jordan.
And when I approached him the first time about taking me on he's like, "I'm sorry, I just can't. I can't take on any more business clients." And I asked him multiple times and he's like, "I just can't. I can't." And then about after six months I sent him this really long email and I was like, "Hey look. When you first started trying to coach--" I'd read the story that he had talked about, how he said, you know, "I'll mop the floors, I'll do whatever you want. I just want to be here in the gym and learn from you." I'm like, "that is what I'm telling you. I will do whatever you want. What do you need me to do? I'll go through your emails for you, whatever you need me to do, just take me on."
And he called me and he's like, "okay, fine." He's like, "how can I say 'no' to that?"
So like, you know, you have to be persistent with this stuff and you have to show somebody that you care about what they're saying and that you want to add value to them. And that's how Jordan ended up taking me on as a business coaching client.
Yvette: [00:39:19] That's great. Yeah. You've talked about Jordan a lot and that's really cool because it sounds like you have definitely learned so much from him and he has been an amazing mentor. I think some of the other trainers talk about him, too. Like, when you do your group with, I think there's like three other trainers and I believe Susan, is it Susan?
Kim: [00:39:43] Are you talking about my other podcast?
Yvette: [00:39:47] It's on the Fitness Simplified, and sometimes there's three thers that jump on and they're all different ages. And I love it because I think one of the gals is in her twenties and, oh man, you guys bring just some great material.
Kim: [00:40:04] Oh, thanks.! Yes, it's Sam Altieri, Sarah Duff, and Marci Nevin. That's the current iteration. We started this podcast a couple of years back and on the very first episode, maybe two episodes, Susan was on there with us and she had too much going on at the time and couldn't stay on and we had another coach, her name was Nicole, who was on with us for a time and then she left and we brought on the other two.
And so we've been doing that podcast for a bit.
Yvette: [00:40:30] Oh yeah. Great interaction right there. It's all great stuff.
So, the nutrition part and like that whole mentor thing. I totally have been looking for a mentor, Kim, and I'm not finding the person that I need to find.
And I think maybe because I am not in the whole "fitness" deal as much as I need to be, the fitness community, let's say. So that's where I need to figure that piece out, for sure. Like, you know, I'm like a Tony Robbins kind of girl. I did the UPW, the first virtual UPW. And that was pretty awesome, but I'm not going to ask Tony Robbins to mentor me.
I think he's probably a little busy right now, but I don't know, maybe if I bug him and say I'll mop his floors...
Kim: [00:41:44] And I think that worked with Jordan because we had a relationship together. You know, he had been coaching me for some time and I think that's the key: relationship building from a genuine place. Not looking for like, "what can I get from this person?" But you know, whoever it is, you follow on social media, if you're back on there, it sounds like maybe you are, you know, looking for, "how can I support this person's work? What can I learn from them just from the content they put out?"
You know, maybe there are people that you'd want to hire to coach you. That's a good way to learn. That's actually a really good way, before I'd ever even hired Jordan to help me to be a coach, he was my coach and I had learned so much about coaching from being coached by him.
So, you know, hire a coach you admire and learn from that person as they're coaching you. You know, that's another way to approach finding a mentor.
Okay, so the nutrition piece, you specifically wanted to know about nutrition certifications? Was that the question you had?
Yvette: [00:42:40] Yes.
Kim: [00:42:42] So, two good options: one is Precision Nutrition. That's who I am certified through. They open up their coaching a couple of times a year. I learned a ton from Precision Nutrition. Again, it's just like with PT certifications: it's not like you're going to learn everything you need to know about nutrition. Specifically, if you're interested in helping people learn to get lean or whatever things, it's not like you're gonna learn everything you need to know from that certification, but it's a good place to go to get started.
I don't agree with every single thing PN ever talks about, but I certainly learned a lot from them.
That's one good option. Another option, which I would totally jump on if I had the time to do another nutrition certification is Mac-nutrition. They're out of London. I can never remember Martin's last name, the guy who heads it, his name is Martin. He has a fabulous podcast now, too. Why can I never think of that man's last name?
Anyway, Mac-nutrition University. I think that's the cream of the crop these days for nutrition certifications. I do believe I heard that they now require some baseline knowledge. It's not like you can just sign up without any nutrition. Like, I think if you take PN, then you can take Mac University, or you might be able to get in through some other way.
If you already have -- I don't know if you have to have a bachelor's degree in something, but there is some kind of baseline to get into that one. That's an incredible, like, I love the content they put out, I've read about their certification, they're very big on educating you about how to read the science so that it's not just learning about nutrition, but learning about how to continue learning about it so that you can continue to read research and understand the research.
I would highly recommend looking into that one, as well.
Yvette: [00:44:32] Perfect. Awesome. I'm going to look for Martin on the podcast.
Kim: [00:44:40] Type in "Mac Nutrition University," and you'll find his name and all the stuff that goes along with him.
The other thing I would say about learning about nutrition, it's not a certification, but it is a way to really keep current about what's happening, is to subscribe to Alan Aragon's Research Review. It's like $10 a month and when you sign up for it, you have all the back issues there. And he covers like the most recent nutrition research and talks you through it.
Yvette: [00:45:15] Oh, wow. Okay. Perfect.
Well, I think that's all I had. This has been so amazing, Kim. Thank you so much. And thank you for having me on your podcast. I hope that we've answered and helped a lot of people that are kind of in the same boat as me. I'm excited. I'm going to start TikToking tomorrow, sister. I'm ready to go.
Kim: [00:45:48] All right, I love it!
Yvette: [00:45:50] I'm going to take action and I hope everybody else does, as well.
Kim: [00:45:53] So, when you get on TikTok, message me there so I can know what your handle is and I'll follow you.
Yvette: [00:45:58] Oh, perfect.
Kim: [00:45:59] And then I can help you with anything you need.
Alright, thanks so much for coming on!
Yvette: [00:46:05] Hey, thank you. Have a great day!
Kim: [00:46:12] 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.
Kim: [00:00:00] Welcome to episode 83 of the Fitness Simplified Podcast. I'm your host, Kim Schlag. On today's episode, I share with you the story of how I have been battling illness for the last three months and have been unable to train at all or keep up with my usual nutrition habits. I share what effect this has had on my fitness and what I intend to do about it.
I share with you why I am not panicking, even though I have not been in the gym in three months and help you to see why you don't need to panic if you find yourself in a situation where you're out of the gym, whether that's for vacation or holidays.
Ready? Let's go.
I have been extremely ill now for three months. Almost three months. In five days it will be three months since I first got sick. Yes, I know the exact day. It was Tuesday, October 27th. And I know this because of COVID.
So, I was put in charge of our church's, socially-distant Halloween party. I had a committee and we planned to this amazing event that was going to be like -- and it was, it was fantastic -- it was like, you know, at Christmas time you can go to these light shows where you stay in your car and then you drive through and you see all these cool things? We did that, but for Halloween. We had really cool, like, spooky displays, lights, and it was really, it was amazing.
I put myself in charge of running the traffic since I was in charge of the whole event. I was the person greeting every car as they came and then letting them go at specified times. Well, these were all people I knew, and so they would roll their windows down and we would talk while they were waiting for their turn to actually go into the event.
And, you know, socially distanced, six feet, wearing a mask; but as the night wore on, I noticed I started coughing. Okay, you know what it's like to cough these days -- you cough too much, it's really like, "Oh gosh..." like you feel very self-conscious.
I started coughing and then I started coughing a lot. And by the end of the night, I was really coughing and I kept telling people, I'm like, "Oh, I'm not sick. I'm not sick," because I hadn't had a single sign of being sick before that moment. Well, two days after that I was just flat on my back. I was down for the count.
Now, I've had pneumonia twice before, but it always comes on slower. It starts like, you know, I get a cold, it feels like I have a little bit of a runny nose, a little bit stuffiness. Eventually, like I get sicker and sicker, and over the course of weeks, I ended up feeling very sick.
This was over the course of days. I felt terrible. I immediately got a COVID test, it was negative. Based on my symptoms and my previous health history, my doc diagnosed me with pneumonia and I started just a bucketload of medication.
Now, for the first bit, I really tried against all reason to continue running my business as per usual. You know, when you work for yourself, what are you going to do? Like, there's no one else to pick up the slack. You can actually catch two podcast episodes, both recorded on the same day about four days after I really became sick. I was still in the, like, "gotta go on with the show" kind of mode.
One of them is an episode of Decades of Strength, that's my other podcast I do with three other coaches, and in the middle of recording that, I fell asleep. I fell dead asleep. And we started talking about it later on in the episode, I was like, "I was sleeping guys." And right after that, I recorded an episode with Jordan Lips. Incredible episode, if I do say so myself.
We talked a lot about emotional eating and we talked about women in strength training. And you can hear that I don't sound great. I was so tired. It was really-- it was dumb that I did these.
Anyway, you should check them out for the content, but also, if you want to hear what it sounds like when a person is sick and is pretending not to be sick you can listen in to that.
A few weeks into November, I finally cried uncle. I realized I was being completely ridiculous. I was not getting better. In fact, I was getting worse and I needed to cut back on my work. This was really hard for me. I have poured my heart and soul into this business over the past, gosh, good bunch of years at this point.
I've been online three years now. Coaching longer than that, but my business online has been over three years. And it was hard for me to do, but I had to cancel all of the calls I had upcoming and put people on a list basically saying, "sometime when I'm better, we can talk about coaching."
I continued to get worse. I mostly spent time in bed in those months or on my sofa in those months. And I will tell you, I am still not better.
Let me put it this way: I'm better, but I'm not well. And you can hear that in my voice. I'm not well.
I have to severely limit my activity or I end up exhausted. My symptoms kind of go and come back. You can hear now I sound like I have a head cold, this is new in the past 24 hours. I have to limit my speech.By that. I mean I have to limit how much I talk in a day or I lose the ability to speak and breathe at the same time. It ends up just sounding like breathy whispers.
I think you may have heard it just a bit ago: if I laugh, I start just sounding breathy. If I cough, I sound breathy. So no laughing, no coughing, and limited amounts of speech. The reason I sound as good as I do now is I have stayed silent for the past several hours with the knowledge that I was going to record this podcast. So I have to manage the amount I speak and then I can sound almost normal.
I do have upcoming appointments with a pulmonologist and an ear, nose, and throat doctor that will hopefully figure out what is wrong with me and get me treated so I can return to full health.
Now, I'm going to tell you, I have lost muscle the past three months. I have lost strength. My general level of fitness has declined and I am not happy about any of that.
I haven't worked out in three months. I've only returned to walking 5 to 10 minutes a day in the last week. Three months ago, I was only 20 pounds away from my goal of dead lifting 300 pounds. I had been consistently training one-arm push-ups for two months. That is a serious investment of time and energy.
Same thing with running. Although it was a shorter timeframe, I was on week 3 of a 12 week running program. I was seeing incredible improvement in my endurance and I was psyched about that. And all of this has been a setback. It's all been set back from this enforced break that I've had to take.
I've also gained fat. I was not at my leanest right before I fell ill. In fact, I did a photo shoot about a month before and I considered holding off on that shoot until after a planned cut I was going to do, but I decided against that mainly because, one, I needed photos for my step challenge and to update the podcast cover art, but also because I don't -- I don't want this to sound conceited here when I say this -- but even with a few extra pounds, I still looked amazing. You know, I look strong, I look healthy, I look like a regular person who really cares about her fitness. And that is something, frankly, I want to put out there because the sea of super lean, uber ripped women on social media isn't necessarily representative of what many women are aiming for. And I want to be a representation of, "Hey, you don't have to get that ripped. You don't have to get that lean to still look really healthy."
I'm way off on a tangent here. My point is I was planning a fat loss phase because I was at the top end of my comfort zone as far as my body composition. I wanted to be a bit leaner.
I actually had not weighed in forever, so I had no idea how much I weighed three months ago. And I still haven't weighed because, frankly, I've had bigger fish to fry more recently than how much do I weigh. From the fit of my clothes -- as in, they do not fit very well -- I have gained quite a bit of weight. Also, from the way I look. I can see it. I can see it in my face, I can see it just looking in a mirror. I can see it. I'm going to guess that I've gained around 12 pounds, maybe more. Somewhere between 10 and 15 pounds in the last three months. And I'm not happy about that.
But it is what it is and one important thing I want to highlight about this weight gain; this is a really important take home point: I became completely sedentary. Completely. All of November, I was in bed or on the sofa almost exclusively. I began adding time at my desk back in in December, though the bed and the sofa were still a large part of my life.
I wish I had actually worn my step tracker so I could have seen how few steps I was getting in in a day. I'm going to guess it was under a thousand and it was actually only that high because my kitchen was under construction, which means to get from my bed to the basement family room. I had to go down two floors and then back up two floors and sometimes during the middle of the day I had to come up a floor to talk to the people working in my kitchen.
So to explain to you how sedentary I was, I would wait for someone to come into the room to fetch something for me that was out of my reach. I'm being dead serious about that. If I could see my thermos of tea across a room, I still did not get up to go get it. It was taking all of my energy to be able to breathe. I felt so terrible.
Even now I have to conserve my energy to make it through the day, so I do not walk willy-nilly around my house. I'm certainly not trying to get added steps in. I really try to stay put as much as possible because I am so low on energy.
Now, my point in explaining this is I had a daily minimum -- previous to being sick -- of 7,500 steps. It was usually over 10K, but my daily minimum was 7,500. Especially on the days I ran, I was well over 10K. I also lifted for 60 to 90 minutes, four days a week.
And that's a huge factor in the weight gain that I have experienced was reduction in my movement. It surely played a massive role. So if you are not taking your daily movement seriously, you are hindering both your health -- you know, research points to 7,500 steps daily -- that number seriously reduces all-cause mortality. You know, yay for not dying.
Also, you are really effecting your fat loss results. NEAT -- non-exercise activity thermogenesis -- all that movement outside of structured activity is the most variable piece of your metabolism. Specifically, your TDEE or total daily energy expenditure. Take advantage of that and move. You don't have to track steps, but tracking steps is the best way I have found to get a hold on how much someone is moving and systematically work to increase that movement.
Right now for me, I'm working inside of this energy envelope. I have a certain amount of energy and, you know, I'm a person who is sustaining an incredible illness, right? And so I have very little energy. It is a top priority for me to move as much as possible while not negatively impacting my ability to breathe or totally tanking my energy.
If I do too much, I end up having to rest for 24 to 48 hours. And I have pushed that too hard twice now and been out of commission for a few days each time. For you, if you're healthy, you can push way harder than I can.
What you want to consider is how hard to push -- when you're thinking like, "okay, how hard should I push?" Here's the question I want you to consider: "what can I sustainably do over time?"
Not, "what can I do once and burnout." So look, if I sent you to Disney World today, I'm like, "here, go to Disney, here's a free pass." You could walk easily over 20K steps today. But just because you can do that in a very specific setting doesn't mean you should try to do that in your daily life -- go from, "I'm not moving at all" to, like, "I do Disney steps."
You want to build in the habit of moving. You don't want to overextend, burnout, stop, then at some future point, you know, repeat that cycle. It is way more effective to steadily increase steps as you carve time in your schedule and you really think like, "where can I put in some extra movement? How can I do that? Can I get up from my desk every hour? Can I use the furthest bathroom in the office? Can I walk around Target two times every time I go? Do I need to put in a walk in the morning and in the evening? Do I need to walk after every meal?"
And all of these strategies, likely some combination of these strategies, is going to work for you and you want to spend time tinkering with that. So take a week, monitor your daily step count without changing your routine, average those out, and take that number as your baseline. Then add on 500 to 1000 steps as your first goal. So if your daily average from your test week was 3,500, use 4,000 to 4,500 as your first step goal. Keep that goal until it feels pretty easy to do.
Okay, so you figured out times and systems to make that happen. Then what you do is you increase by 500 to 1000 again. So you go for a couple of weeks and then when it feels easy and you figured out how to get steps in, you adjust, and you want to keep doing that until you hit at least 7,500 -- remember, that's a really good baseline for overall health -- and then at that point, you can either maintain that number or you can keep increasing until you reach 10,000 steps.
I will say: don't do more steps at the expense of paying attention to your nutrition. Always pay attention to your nutrition first and then if you're really doing well with, you know, planning your food and logging your food, keep adding steps until you get up to 10K.
Okay, moving back from NEAT to how I'm feeling about the impact of this illness on my fitness and my physique. I'm not thrilled, but I am not panicking.
Why am I not panicking?
I know how to build muscle. I know how to improve my endurance. I know how to lose fat. I know how to increase my strength. I know how to build my skill in the skill-specific goals that I have set.
And with this air of mystery and confusion gone, there's just no need for panic. It's going to be a ton of work. It's going to be a crap-ton of work, but I'm not worried that I can't do it, and I'm not doing what I had to do for years, decades, even where I was searching desperately for answers. You know, following celebrity diets and buying into hype about foods to eliminate and workouts I had to do to blast fat, and I always just felt so, so confused.
So now I'm at a point where I know exactly what I need to do to get back to the level of fitness and the physique that I had, and even surpass both of those. I just have to put in the work.
So, if you have been out of the gym for an illness or on a vacation, just relax.
If that comes up here soon, if you're like, "okay, I'm going on this trip and I'm not going to be able to work out" or "work's extra busy and have to seriously reduce how much time I'm working out," relax. Remember, you just go back to what was working. You haven't ruined anything. You just go back and you put in the work.
If you're completely out of your routine because you got back into old habits, that is also not a reason to panic. You start from where you are and you build those habits back, one step and then the next.
Now, if you're not clear on what works to lose weight, that's big difference, right? If you're like, "I don't have any idea." So maybe you're new here to my podcast. If you are hello, welcome. And if you're like, "I don't even know what it takes to lose weight. I haven't been successful yet," here's a good place to start: head to my website, kimschlagfitness.com. Okay? Schlag, S-C-H-L-A-G. kimschlagfitness.com, click on the tab labeled "Fat Loss Crash Course," sign up for that free course and I will walk you through, step-by-step, how to set up your nutrition and your training.
No panicking. We're going to get you situated.
So this is a short episode. Thank you so much for listening to me today. I'll be sharing a lot more about my comeback in the months to come. I'm not even well yet, so getting healthy is my top priority. I'll be sharing more of what I'm doing with my nutrition for general health and then once I'm good to go, I will be busting my butt in the gym, and with my nutrition.
Now, I will tell you, I am not doing this alone. I am here huge believer in coaches. Even coaches need coaches and I have two of the best in the business. My buddies, Jordan Syatt and Mike Vacanti will be coaching me.
Jordan has been my coach for going on five years now. He helped me to get literally in the best shape of my life, the leanest, the strongest I've ever been. He also helped me to build my online business from the ground up. He's going to be handling my training for this comeback. And Mike has been a mentor of mine in the past two years. I was a student in the inaugural year of the Online Fitness Business Mentorship that Mike and Jordan run together and then last year they brought me on as an assistant coach in that Mentorship.
And Mike is going to be handling my nutrition. He's going to be writing my macros and holding me accountable. I'm planning for this comeback to be epic. I would be lying if I said like, "Oh, I'm so thrilled that I've had this massive setback in my health and fitness," I have cried a ton. I have been very discouraged. I have been very frustrated. I have felt like, frankly, my life has been ripped out from under me many days, but I have learned to rest, I have been forced to learn to do that. That's not a bad thing. It's not a bad thing. And I am choosing to look at this as an opportunity -- a forced opportunity -- but you know, I could look at this as just a bad thing and woe is me, but I'm choosing to look at this as an opportunity to show you that no matter where you start, you can achieve whatever fitness goals you set.
I literally started with walking five minutes a day last week. And I plan to get in the best shape of my life at 50. So do not tell me that you're too old or too out of shape. You got this.
Remember, head to my website -- Free 5-Day Fat Loss Crash Course, see ya inside. Catch ya next episode!
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.
Kim: [00:00:00] Welcome to episode 82 of the Fitness Simplified podcast. I'm your host, Kim Schlag. On today's episode, a Fitness Simplified first, I'm hosting one of my very own one-on-one clients. Joanne has been training with me for about 15 months now. In that time, she has lost almost 40 pounds, almost 30 inches, gotten her first push-up, and can do many beautiful push-ups now.
Joanne is a woman in her fifties. She has made incredible progress all while going through menopause. Ladies, I know a lot of you out there worry and struggle with, "how can that be possible?" Joanne, in fact, has lost 130 pounds in her forties and fifties. How did she do it? How did she overcome emotional eating and get stronger than she's ever been?
Listen in. Let's go!
Hi, Joanne, can you hear me?
Joanne: [00:01:02] I can hear you. How are you?
Kim: [00:01:04] All right! There you are. How are you doing?
Joanne: [00:01:07] I'm doing good. How are you feeling today?
Kim: [00:01:10] Well, that's always a dicey question for me these days. I'm still alive and I'm good enough to talk, so there we go.
Joanne: [00:01:18] Good, good!
Kim: [00:01:18] And are you guys gearing up for this big storm that we're about to get?
Joanne: [00:01:25] I think it's going to be more north of us. So, I'm not seeing anything on our local news about anything drastic. Maybe a little bit of freezing rain, but nothing too bad.
Kim: [00:01:36] Okay. Got it. They're saying we might get 10 to 20 inches up our way.
Joanne: [00:01:40] Wow!
Kim: [00:01:41] I know, right? First snow of the season and it's going to be a biggie.
Joanne: [00:01:45] Wow. Yeah, no, I don't think there's anything like that coming here.
Kim: [00:01:50] Well, it's probably just as well. We all have enough excitement going on with 2020, right? Who needs a blizzard?
Joanne: [00:01:58] Right.
Kim: [00:01:59] So what have you been up to so far this morning?
Joanne: [00:02:02] Well, I got my lower body workout in pretty early this morning and got outside and did some walking and then I made some coffee.
Kim: [00:02:15] Wow. Well, look at you getting all the important things in right away.
Joanne: [00:02:19] Especially the coffee, right?
Kim: [00:02:21] Right away. You got it all in. Boom, boom, boom.
So now I think this is a first for me, Joanne, if I'm correct, you are my very first one-on-one client to actually come on and be a guest on my podcast.
Joanne: [00:02:33] Well, that's interesting. I'm surprised you haven't had it.
Kim: [00:02:37] Yeah. It's just never happened before. It's never happened before. So this is a first.
So Joanne, tell everyone a little bit about you. I know a ton about you.
Joanne: [00:02:48] Well, I am 52 years old, let's get that in there real quick. My husband and I have been married since I was 19. Got married when I was quite young. We have two children and four grandchildren. I've always been a stay at home mom, I homeschooled my kids. And,, you know, I just do the regular mom stuff, regular grandma stuff, and happen to lift weights too.
Kim: [00:03:24] And happen to lift weights too and getting really, really strong. So now Joanne and I have been working together for over a year now. I think it was September or October of 2019 that we first started working together and frankly you have just straight up crushed the past year.
You've lost close to 40 pounds, almost 30 inches, you've gone down multiple clothing sizes, from zero pushups to nailing literally perfect pushups. Her pushups are beautiful. They're, like, technically perfect pushup. Does many of them. You're working on your first chin up. Your posture has just improved, like, you look like a different person, just seeing how you stand, and you've come so incredibly far with your relationship with food, and you're already doing what most people are like, "will I ever get there?" Which is learning how to live in maintenance.
Joanne: [00:04:16] Yeah, this is the next new challenge.
Kim: [00:04:20] Now have I missed anything? What else did I miss that you've done with me in the last year? That's a lot. Did I miss anything?
Joanne: [00:04:27] I think you hit the important parts, anyway. Yeah, I've worked pretty hard. I have managed to do some things that I didn't think I was going to be able to do and I've come a very long way in my relationship with food.
Kim: [00:04:48] Yeah. Now when you say, "some things you thought you wouldn't be able to do," what specifically did you really think, like, "I don't know if I can do that?"
Joanne: [00:04:56] Well, first of all, pushups.
Kim: [00:04:59] That's a big one.
Joanne: [00:05:00] I worked on those things off and on for years and I was like, "this is just never going to happen for me. It's just never going to happen. I'm just not strong enough." so that's one thing.
Probably being able to manage a lot of my emotional eating. That's something that you've helped me really address for the last year-- probably 15 months, I guess we've been working together. And those are two really big things.
Kim: [00:05:43] All right. I'm making a note of those. I'm going to put them here because I want to come back and talk about like, how did you actually finally, you know, make progress with both of those. But before we do that, let's go backwards a bit in time. Kinda tell us about where you started. Have you always struggled with your weight? HoW did that happen? And then what had you already achieved by the time you came to work with me last fall?
Joanne: [00:06:07] Well, I was always kind of on the bigger side when I was a child and a teenager, but I was never overweight to the point where it really had much impact on my health.
So then, when I got married and entered into adulthood, I started to put on quite a bit of weight, for a variety of different reasons, but I did put on a significant amount of weight. And, you know, I would make half-hearted attempts here and there to work on it, but I really didn't have that much information. You know, we're talking about pre-internet and all I knew was "eat less and do lots and lots of cardio." That's all I knew.
And so that wasn't my answer. That didn't last very long. So I guess it was about, probably my early forties, around 2010 that I started to get serious about my weight. And since that time, working with different methods and then coming on board with you a year ago, I've lost a total of 130lbs.
Kim: [00:07:59] Oh, my gosh. That is so much weight.
130lbs. That's incredible
Okay, so we started together last year. Emotional eating was a big struggle for you. Tell me, what have you done that has helped you to get to a point now where you are not struggling near-- look, emotional eating is one of those things, guys, that it never totally goes away, right? But it is now so managed for Joanne. She has really managed it.
How have you come to be able to do that?
Joanne: [00:08:36] Well, one of the things that you keep having to address with me is to talk out loud to what I'm thinking. And so I've kind of put that into play with the emotional eating, and so what I've done, the main thing that I have done, is when I have whatever stimulus it is that drives me to want to eat out of my emotions, I always tell myself, "you can have whatever you want to eat, but you have to wait until after you've dealt with the emotion.
The strategy is that I now have to learn healthy ways of working through those emotions. And then I can eat whatever I want. And honestly, I can only think of maybe twice, in all of the time that we've been working together, that when I did that, I still ate the thing, whatever that thing happened to be.
And let me tell you, there have been many, many, many, many times that I've had to talk back to myself in that way.
Kim: [00:09:54] So Joanne, what are some of your best healthy coping techniques, then? When that moment comes and you tell yourself like, "all right, you can have the thing, but first you have to manage this emotion." What are the other things you go to to deal with that emotion?
Joanne: [00:10:09] Well, sometimes, you know, if I can remove myself from the situation, I will do that and go for a walk, which, you know, I always need more excuses to get up and get moving. And sometimes that'll clear my head and take me out of the immediate tension or whatever the situation is.
Maybe some times I need to work on a little project that I've been procrastinating with and just trying to get that out of the way and just refocus on something else. I'm also a Christian, so I also have a fear of tool side of that that I now am more apt to tap into during trying times. Whether it's prayer or meditation or scripture reading or something like that. So those would be my main things.
Kim: [00:11:14] I love that. You have a whole little menu there of things you can pull from and sometimes one is a better fit than the other. I think that's fantastic.
You brought up taking a walk. You know what I remember? Now look, I have a terrible memory, but I have a very distinct memory of us being on the phone last fall and one of the things you told me is, "look, I don't really move that much. What I do is I sit. Like, I sit in my chair and do this and then I sit over at the table and do that. Like, I just sit. I think it's going to be really hard for me to move."
Fast forward, and now it is a rare day if you don't hit at least 9,000 steps, more consistently, 10 or 11. How have you made that switch? What strategies did you use?
Joanne: [00:11:54] Well, you, when we first started working together, you said, "let's just start where you are and do that consistently every day and then when that feels normal to you add 500 or a 1000 steps to your day and work up a little bit by little bit. And within a matter of a couple of months, I was regularly getting at least 7,500.
We live way out in the country so I knew that I wasn't going to drive 20 or 30 minutes to go to the park to walk every day, so I had to learn how to, you know, I would walk around my yard and then I started incorporating the vacant lot that's next to us. And then I added in the gravel road that runs between the cornfields next to us. And so I started walking up and down there and just several times a day taking a walk, starting a routine of once in the morning, once before lunch, once before dinner, once after dinner, you know, just stuff like that.
Kim: [00:13:11] Yeah. I've really been impressed with how you've always just come to look and see like, "all right, how can I get it done? I need to get these steps in." And sometimes you were walking in your house, which you don't love because you said you don't have a big house, but sometimes that's what you have to do. And then you went out and that lane between the cornfields. I remember you told me you measured it a few times to see, "okay, how many steps can I get in there?" And then it was always a go-to of like, "okay, I can walk this lane."
I also remember one time you messaged me -- this is pretty early on, and you told me you guys had gone into town and you'd gone to a store and then you needed to go to the gas station. And you told your husband that you were going to walk and he followed in the car.
So he took the car and you walked and I was so impressed, right? Because you needed some more steps and you're like, "All right. The gas station's not ridiculously far, I'll just walk there."
Joanne: [00:13:59] Right. It was pitch dark out, so he was right behind me with the headlights so I could see where I was going. And I got in my last, you know, 500 steps, I guess it was for that day that I was aiming for.
Kim: [00:14:15] And it comes back to you are not a person who looks for excuses. You're a person who looks for solutions and you find them.
And when people can make that switch with their health and nutrition, from looking for excuses, to looking for solutions, it's when they win.
Joanne: [00:14:31] Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.
Kim: [00:14:35] Okay, now talk to us about pushups. You couldn't do any pushups, though you'd tried throughout the years and now you're just doing such beautiful pushups. And that was a hard thing for you mentally, right? That mental hurdle of like, "I can do this."
Tell us about that.
Joanne: [00:14:51] Well, I think you have a video where you talk about the different steps to get yourself down to the floor on push-ups, and, you know, I had to kind of swallow a little bit of pride at first and my first push up, you know, hand-elevated and a lot higher than what I thought I should be at, and you know, that's okay. I have learned that a lot of things, if you wanna make progress in this area, sometimes you gotta take a step back. You have to set your ego aside on that a little bit and start further in the hole.
So I just worked on what you told me to do. Every month I just consistently worked on push-ups and I would try, each time I would try to lower the bar a little bit and if I could only get two or three at that lower bar, but then have to raise it back up a little higher, I would just do that. And then over the month, I'd be able to get a few more, a little bit lower, and a few more, a little bit lower, and then I was so afraid, though, I was so afraid to test it out on the floor because I just didn't want to fail.
I do have a perfectionist tendency and so I did want them to be perfect. I didn't want them to be sloppy push-ups. I just had that mental thing in my head where I was like, "I want to be perfect."
Kim: [00:16:45] Yeah, and that's hard. But you know what I love? The fact that you were so willing to back it up and, you know, however high up that bar had to be for you to get full range of motion, that's what you did.
And look, strength fluctuates. And some days you would go there and be like, "wait a minute. Now I'm not as strong," and, and that can be a hard thing, but you quickly grasped the idea that it wasn't a permanent thing, that you were gonna be able to move the bar lower again, and you always just kept at it, kept at it, kept at it.
So, I just could not be more impressed with how much you kept at that even with that mental struggle of, "am I ever going to be able to do this? I want to be able to do this."
And now you're getting to redo that whole thing with a new move. Now, your big thing is chin-ups.
Joanne: [00:17:28] Chin-ups... oh goodness. Oh my goodness.
I think that doing the slow eccentric chin-up is probably my favorite exercise of the week now. There's just something about that slow, controlled lowering that I find to be very, I don't know, it feels very strong. Like, I'm not pulling up yet unassisted. I'm definitely using my assistance bands to pull up. But the lowering part, I've got all of them with no band assist. And I don't know... that feeling of being able to control my body in that way just makes me feel really strong.
Kim: [00:18:27] I love that. I love hearing that. And in the not too distant future, you're going to be amazing everyone with your chin ups. You're going to be pulling up. It's going to be amazing.
Now, Joanne, you're 52. All of your weight loss has occurred in your forties and fifties.
A lot of people just really believe like, "it can't happen. It can happen for me. I'm too old. I'm in menopause." You're living proof that it can happen. What has your menopause experience been?
Joanne: [00:19:01] Well, I had had a partial hysterectomy when I was 40. And so I just had one ovary left, so I didn't have any cycle that I could really tell when things kind of started changing in that regard, about menstruation and all of that.
I think it finally occurred to me after many months of insomnia that this had to be menopause. I was probably 48-49 when I kind of made that connection that the insomnia, this must be a part of menopause. And so I really have no idea when it actually started because I don't have that menstrual cycle place to measure.
Kim: [00:20:11] Well, I think a lot of people are in the same position of not knowing when perimenopause starts, because I have to tell you, I was years into perimenopause before I could put the pieces together and realized like, "Oh wait..." Like, when my vertigo started, that was actually perimenopause. And then the cycling piece can be so different for so many people.
I've been convinced multiple times that it's about to happen, I'm going to get 12 months period free, and I'm going to be in menopause and I'm not there yet. You know, it just keeps coming back. So I think it is a tricky thing for women to realize where they're at in perimenopause or menopause.
What did you do for the insomnia, Joanne?
Joanne: [00:20:51] Basically power through.
Until I connected with you, I had always thought that hormone replacement therapy was dangerous. I didn't want any part of it. So I kind of had to try everything naturally that I could to address it and unfortunately most things that address insomnia, even prescription medication, they are designed to help you fall asleep. My problem was not falling asleep, my problem is staying asleep.
And so, many of even the natural methods don't really address the staying asleep part of it, so I pretty much just had to power through it and take naps and, you know, try to just do the best I can.
Now, because I have been doing some further reading because of some of the people that you're connected with, I do have a call into a gynecologist to go and talk to her. She's affiliated with the NAMS. I can't remember what that stands for.
Kim: [00:22:23] North American Menopause Society.
Joanne: [00:22:26] Yeah. She's not too far from us. She's affiliated with them and I'm waiting to see if I can get an appointment with her to check in to see if there's anything that I can do about the insomnia.
Kim: [00:22:43] That's fantastic. I'm really glad to hear that you've made that connection. One, that you've gotten past the idea that HRT is dangerous. That's such misinformation that is out there and it really is something I'm passionate about, connecting people with the-- look, I'm not a medical professional, right?
But I know a lot of people who are and who have that information to share with women that it is not dangerous and that that is misinformation. And I love that you've connected with a practitioner through the North American Menopause Society. That's fantastic.
What's your best advice if a woman out there is listening to you and is in your situation, as in, "I'm a woman in my forties or in my early fifties and I'm struggling with weight loss."
What would you give her to be your best advice?
Joanne: [00:23:31] Oh, goodness. Probably just start with where you are.
I know that sometimes it's really easy to compare where you are with somebody else who's maybe 5-10 years down the road. They've developed a lot of strategies and they've been practicing these habits for a long time.
It's really easy to think, "I can never do that. I don't think I can do that. My life just wont allow me to do that." When I started 10 years ago. I didn't have any equipment, I didn't have any real working knowledge. I just kept going. I kept moving forward. I kept learning something else. Whatever strategy I used, I always tried to take something that I learned from it.
Even if it was not a good fit for me, there's still something I learned about myself. There was one thing I tried that I tried that I thought was a complete waste of time and money.
Kim: [00:24:47] Can you tell us?
Joanne: [00:24:50] Weight Watchers. Hated it.
Kim: [00:24:54] I have a whole episode on why I don't like it.
Joanne: [00:24:59] Yeah. And you know, so when I came to you, I had a lot of different pieces that I had learned about myself over the years. And you have helped me ke gather them all together, helped me make the best of my strengths and work around my weaknesses and things like that. But don't expect it to happen overnight because it doesn't happen for anyone overnight.
I mean, I'm 10 years down the road. It wasn't overnight.
Kim: [00:25:40] Absolutely. I love that. I love that advice, "start where you are, don't expect it to happen overnight."
And, you know, people can see your before and after pictures and then want it right away. And then hearing like, "Hey, that's 10 years between those," people need to digest that little bit of information, right?
Okay, Joanne, you ready for the speed round?
Joanne: [00:26:01] Oh my goodness. I don't know. I didn't sleep very good last night, so I might not be as quick.
Kim: [00:26:07] But you've had your coffee.
Joanne: [00:26:08] Hit me with your best shot.
Kim: [00:26:11] All right, here we go: go-to high protein foods. What are your top couple?
Joanne: [00:26:18] Definitely Greek yogurt is up there at the top. Egg whites would be another one. And, of course chicken breast. That's probably the king of most everyone's lean protein. And tilapia. I really like tilapia.
Kim: [00:26:45] Yeah. I like tilapia. I have to tell you, I got into an internet battle with a person one time who thought I was just the most horrible person ever, because I said I ate tilapia and he thinks it's like the dirtiest fish and how dare I tell people I eat that. So, you know what? I just feel like it's fish and I'm going to eat it.
Okay. Best tip for managing weight loss around the holidays.
Joanne: [00:27:11] Wow. That one's hard. That one's really hard because it's so in your face. I would say eat the things that are emotionally satisfying to you.
Kim: [00:27:32] Oh, I love that. I love that. Like, "prioritizing this stuff" and "don't eat all this stuff." "Don't eat the stupid store-bought cookies."
Joanne: [00:27:39] I'm going to bake and eat my grandma sugar cookies. That's going to be both satisfying to my sweet tooth and satisfying to my emotional connection, to my past, and those kinds of things.
I'm not going to not have them. So eat them and enjoy every single bite. Don't feel guilty about it.
Kim: [00:28:09] I love that. Absolutely. Okay, least favorite exercise.
Joanne: [00:28:16] Bulgarian split squats..
Kim: [00:28:18] I knew it. I already knew
Joanne: [00:28:20] it.
Every time those are in my program, I think, "Kim is trying to kill me."
Kim: [00:28:27] They're so hard. There are people out there who like those. I'm not one of them, but they are good. I do them myself. I do program them. I'm sorry. I apologize to you in my mind every time I put them in your plan.
Joanne: [00:28:40] I don't think that it's necessarily the exercise that I don't like, I do have some issues with balance and they're very, very hard with the balancing. So it's not the exercise itself, I don't think. I think that as my balance is getting better and my strength is getting better, I hate them less.
Kim: [00:29:08] Yeah. And the thing I do with Joanne, everyone who's listening, if you struggle with balance as well, holding on doing these exercises does not make you weaker. It makes you smart.
And so whenever she's doing any kind of single-leg thing that balance is really just inhibiting her, we have her -- and you don't have to hold on for dear life -- you just brace by touching something. Touch the wall, touch the piece of equipment next to you, and then you can focus more on the strength portion than on just staying upright,
Joanne: [00:29:36] Yeah. Yeah.
Kim: [00:29:38] Okay, favorite exercise. You kind of already covered this.
Joanne: [00:29:41] Yeah, I'm really, right now, enjoying the slow eccentric chin-up, the lowering portion of the chin-up. I don't know, it feels good. Like, relieves anxiety. I don't know.
Kim: [00:29:57] I don't think I've met a single person who told me their favorite exercise is the slow eccentric chin-up and I got to tell you that tickles me pink. I'm really excited that that's your favorite exercise.
All right, last question: what is your number one fitness goal going into 2021?
Joanne: [00:30:18] Well, you and I have discussed this before, I have a vitamin deficiency which, I have neuropathy from. And so I think that my fitness goals have kind of had to take a little bit of a different path.
And I don't want to put any kind of time limit on it. I don't want to say, "well, by the end of 2021, I want to be able to do X."
Until I can settle on what's going on with the neuropathy, my mindset is, "just do my best today." And that's really going to have to be it until I can get a second opinion on what's going on with my neuropathy in my hands and feet.
But, you know, I kinda think that that's going to be my healthiest thing to do, just do my best today.
Kim: [00:31:30] I love that. And so in case anybody's out there listening and thinking like, "wow, Joanne just has it all together and she's not struggling," she's been dealing with this neuropathy for a long time now and has really struggled not being able to do exercises the way she wants, because she knows she can't get the grip right and, you know, her fingers aren't closing around the weight like they should, and she has really mentally had to struggle to keep pushing, even though she's like, "wait, I should be able to do heavier than that."
So, whatever your struggle is out there, know that you can still make progress. Like, just her saying this is going to be her goal, is to mentally just show up and do what she can that day, that's massive and comes back to what you had said a little bit ago, Joanne, which is "start where you are." And, you know, whether that's the middle of your journey and now you've hit some kind of hiccup, you gotta show up how you are that day.
Joanne: [00:32:20] I mean, I had one day, I guess it was probably six or eight weeks ago when I just was so frustrated because I could not keep my grip on the bar and I had to put it down, walk away, cry for like five minutes, and go, "you know what? I was able to do 30 pounds last week, I can only do 20 today and that's going to have to be okay. Just do it." Because quitting is not going to make it better at all. And continuing isn't making it work. So, that's just my philosophy.
Kim: [00:33:01] Yeah, that's exactly right. What is quitting going to get you, right? I love that.
I so appreciate you coming on here to talk to me today. I could not be more proud to be your coach. You just have worked so hard and deserve every bit of success that has come your way. And I so appreciate you being willing to come on here and share that so other people can learn from your experience.
Joanne: [00:33:25] Well, I am certainly grateful to have the opportunity to work with you. You've helped me a lot and I'm just so appreciative of how well you have worked with my stubborn nature at times and my perfectionism and, you know, allowed me to make mistakes and then very adequate teacher through those mistakes.
Kim: [00:33:57] Oh, I so appreciate that.
All right, well, we'll be talking soon. Thanks so much for being here.
Joanne: [00:34:03] Oh, thank you.
Kim: [00:34:05] All right, bye bye.
Joanne: [00:34:06] Bye.
Kim: [00:34:11] 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.
Kim: [00:00:00] Welcome to episode 81 of the Fitness Simplified podcast. I'm your host, Kim Schlag. On today's episode, I'm joined by one of my Instagram followers. Her name is Megan. Megan and I have been chatting via email about a personal situation that is just so relatable.
We cover two important topics today:
How do you get the support you need from your partner for your fitness goals, and how do you help your partner with their fitness goals if they're not interested in fitness goals? How do you help somebody want to change?
Megan: [00:00:51] Hello, Kim. How are you?
Kim: [00:00:53] I'm so glad to be able to talk to you. We have been trying to set this up for a while now.
Megan: [00:01:01] I know.
Kim: [00:01:03] How is everybody in your house feeling?
Megan: [00:01:06] Everybody is well here. How are you?
Kim: [00:01:09] Good. Well, you know what? I am hanging in there. I am apparently going to be permanently sick. I'm just going to live with it.
Megan: [00:01:16] Oh, no.
Kim: [00:01:18] At this point it just feels like I'm just a person who is sick.
Now, your husband had COVID, right?
Megan: [00:01:26] He did. Yeah.
Kim: [00:01:27] And is he 100% better now?
Megan: [00:01:30] Yeah. Thankfully he had a pretty mild case and has recovered fully.
Kim: [00:01:37] And no one else in the house is sick, right? No one else got it?
Megan: [00:01:41] No. My kids and I both stayed healthy.
We did a really good job having him isolated in the house and thankfully we all made out okay.
Kim: [00:01:53] I'm so glad to hear it. Where are you located, by the way? I forget.
Megan: [00:01:58] I'm in Virginia.
Kim: [00:01:59] Okay. Got it. Got it. And are your kids in school virtually or in-person?
Megan: [00:02:06] They are in-person. We had the option of doing in-person with the possibility that they could go virtual if the schools needed to close. So we chose to do that and thankfully, fingers crossed, they have stayed in school.
Kim: [00:02:25] Oh wow. That's incredible. Our kids started 100% virtually. They were easing into a hybrid kind of model in the month of October leading into November and right as they got everyone situated -- like, everyone who wanted to be hybrid was, they had to yank everybody back out and we're full virtual again because our case numbers are up.
So that didn't last long.
Megan: [00:02:50] Yeah.
Kim: [00:02:52] Not long at all.
Megan: [00:02:52] There are other, you know, in surrounding counties that have had to go back virtual. But for now, we're still in-person.
Kim: [00:03:03] Now, how many kids do you have?
Megan: [00:03:06] Two. And they are 9 and 6. Third grade and kindergarten.
Kim: [00:03:11] Oh, those are fun ages. Really, really fun ages. I like those ages because they're not like jaded yet, as far as "everything is boring" and that kind of stuff, but they're past the stage where you constantly have to worry they're going to hurt themselves, right?
Like that preschool age, like what are they gonna get into?
Megan: [00:03:28] Right. Exactly.
Kim: [00:03:30] Amazing. And what do you do for work?
Megan: [00:03:35] I am a nurse practitioner.
Kim: [00:03:37] Okay, great. And are you doing that in-person now or is that virtual for you?
Megan: [00:03:42] Yeah, so I work in an outpatient office, so I've still been working this whole time. We do a lot more telemedicine now than we ever did before, but we definitely still have patients come into the office.
Kim: [00:03:59] Do you think that telemedicine is going to be here to stay even after COVID passes?
Megan: [00:04:04] Yes.
Kim: [00:04:06] That's my thought as well.
Megan: [00:04:08] Yeah. I think there were some barriers preventing widespread telemedicine before and now all of those have kind of been broken down. So, I think that it's a good thing.
Kim: [00:04:19] Me too. I think it's going to be one of the permanent changes our society sees that will actually be positive.
Megan: [00:04:24] Yeah. Yep.
Kim: [00:04:26] So go ahead and tell us all what your question was when you and I have been messaging back and forth through email.
Now just so everyone knows, Megan and I actually don't know each other well. Megan and I started emailing and Instagram DMing and here's where we are.
Megan: [00:04:43] Yeah. So my question was, "how to stay on track when your significant other is not on the same plan as you?" Not necessarily not supportive, but just not following the same weight loss and fitness program.
Kim: [00:05:04] It's such a good question, because so many people find themselves in that situation right where you are. Now, tell us about what your fitness goals are and kind of where you're at with them right now.
Megan: [00:05:19] Yeah. So when I initially emailed you a couple of months ago, it was primarily just weight loss. The COVID-19 pandemic weight gain is real.
But now here we are in the midst of holiday season, so I've kind of given myself a little leeway there, but ultimately weight loss is the primary goal.
Kim: [00:05:55] Got it. Got it. And your husband, is he somebody who's just always been pretty healthy? He's just not interested in fitness? Like, what's his situation?
Megan: [00:06:07] So I think he's just not interested like I am. Not that he's not active, but he doesn't formally exercise. He's never initiated starting a program or going on a diet or anything like that. It's usually me going, "do this with me," and, you know, he'll do it for like a week or two or whatever, and then kind of goes back to his own thing.
So, I think ultimately he just doesn't have the same passion, like I do.
Kim: [00:06:43] Got it. And when you've asked him to do this with you in the past, what was your motivation in doing that? Why did you ask him to do the fitness things with you?
Megan: [00:06:54] One, to just have a partner to do it with. I work out at home mostly, just for convenience, so we do have dumbbells and other fitness equipment. So just having somebody to exercise with and hang out with. And then, I guess another part of it is that, you know, just encouraging him to get healthy, lose some weight himself, you know, as a roundabout way of motivating him to get on board.
Kim: [00:07:34] Okay. Well, let's talk about each of those things kind of separately. So, the first part is kind of, what do you need? Like, what would you get out of having him do this with you? And I think you make a really good point, like having a partner, having somebody to do this with you, that's a really powerful thing when it comes to any goal and I specifically think when it comes to health and fitness goals.
The question is: is he the right partner for you? Because frankly, if he doesn't want to do it, he doesn't want to do it, right? So the need is still there. Somebody to maybe hold you accountable could be what you need or somebody to just talk things over with or to commiserate with. What kind of support from a partner do you feel like you need the most?
Megan: [00:08:20] Accountability, for sure. And probably the other piece of it is like with planning meals and that sort of thing. Of course, if I'm the only one doing it, it all falls on me, so just having somebody that can just help with the whole process.
Kim: [00:08:50] Got it, got it.
So I guess there's two things that I see here. One, the value in you finding somebody outside of your husband to be your accountability partner is big here. Finding somebody in your real life is one possibility, like, looking around and thinking like, "What friends do I have who are kind of embarking on this same thing? Maybe we can actually be accountability partners" as in, we're not in the same space and we work out, but we're going to hold each other accountable. I'm going to say, "Hey, I'm working out at 5:30 today, let's touch base after I do," and then you'll do the same for her. That's one possibility.
If that is not a real realistic thing in your life. If you're like, "I don't really have fitnessy-type friends," finding an online partner is another really good option.
There are so many people. You could, frankly, find them in the comment section of one of my Instagram posts. You could put in there and be like, "hey, I'm looking for an accountability partner, who wants in?" And I bet you would find somebody.
Literally, I could put that up on my Instagram stories for you and be like, "I have somebody looking for an accountability partner." I would get so many messages, I'm sure.
Another possibility is joining an online fitness kind of group.
Now, I don't have one of these yet. Eventually, I might have some kind of group like this. I don't do it now. My friends, Jordan and Susan do with their Inner Circle. It's very inexpensive month to month and one of the great benefits of this group is that they hold each other accountable on these Facebook groups.
And so they're in there talking every day about, "here's my goal. Here's what I'm doing." And people give each other that support. Whether it's the supportive, "Hey, I'm doing this tomorrow at 7. I'm going to come back and tell you that I did it," or it's like, "this is really hard and I don't want to do it." All the kinds of things.
So I think a key for you is to figure out which of these types of things work to get you that support you need without making it be your husband.
How do you feel about that?
Megan: [00:10:43] So, I've done groups before and yeah, they definitely work. And I have friends that I'll talk to and message with that aren't necessarily following the same exact program that I am, but that have weight loss goals. I think the other piece of it -- because for me, I'm fine exercising by myself. Like, yes, it would be great to have somebody doing it alongside me, but that's not the biggest struggle. For me, it's more the nutrition aspect.
Again, it's not like he's discouraging me from counting my calories and weighing my food and doing that kind of thing, it's just, it feels like so much more work because I'm the one that plans the meals for the family and does the grocery shopping, and then he'll come in and suggest, "well, let's get takeout tonight" or, "let's try this new recipe," and I just feel like I'm always going "well, no, that doesn't fit in my plan." "I can't have rice tonight because I'm out of carbs" or whatever.
Kim: [00:12:06] Got it.
And here's an important question, then: have you tried discussing with your husband what your goal is specifically and letting him know that you have no expectations that your goals are his goals, and then asking for very specific support? And here's an example I can give you and you can kind of be like, "yep, I've tried that" or "no, I've never done that."
So, you go-- what's your husband's name?
Megan: [00:12:38] William.
Kim: [00:12:39] So you go, "William, I really need to talk to you about something" and you do it at a time when tensions aren't high and it's not at dinner and he hasn't just asked you to do take out, right? So at a very neutral kind of time, and you explain to him very clearly, "here are my goals. I want to lose some weight. Here's why it's important to me. And I have no interest in making you do this with me, William. It is totally fine with me if you're not interested in losing weight. I don't want to pressure you into losing weight. And I want you to know I am not secretly trying to make you lose weight for me."
This is important, "and here are some specific things that would be meaningful to me if you would do. If you could meet with me once a week and decide which days of the week we're going to do take out. If you could, when I tell you here's what we're having for dinner, not try and pressure me to do something else."
"I'm not going to tell you what you can and can't eat at all. It would really help me if you don't make comments on what I'm eating."
And very specifically lay out for him, "here's what I need and I don't want you to feel any pressure to eat a certain way or not eat a certain way."
So my question for you is one, have you tried a conversation like that with him?
Megan: [00:13:49] Not that detailed. I mean, when I'm strictly weighing my food and counting calories, he's aware that I am. He of course says, you know, "well, I don't think you need to lose weight. I don't think you need to be doing all that," but I've never approached it from the sense of saying like, "this is what I'm doing and I don't expect you to do it, but here's what I need from you."
Kim: [00:14:18] How do you think he would respond if you did that?
Megan: [00:14:23] I think he would totally be okay with it.
Kim: [00:14:27] Fantastic. That's great. Will you do that?
Will you do that with him sometime in the next week?
Megan: [00:14:36] I will. Although, like I said, right now, this current moment in my life, I'm not as strict about it -- just again, because of holidays and stuff -- but when the time comes that I am back actively trying to lose weight, I definitely will have that conversation.
Kim: [00:14:56] Amazing. And I really do think it's important to frame it in like, you know, "I love you, you're so supportive, I know it would be important for you to understand what I'm doing, to be able to give me the support that I need, because, realistically, I'm here to give you the support you need."
And you know, a lot of times we want people to read our minds, right? We want people to know like, "here's the support I need," and they don't know. They don't know. And if you can very specifically say things like, "Hey, it really helps me when people don't make comments about the fact that I'm weighing my food right now. I don't plan on weighing my food forever, but for right now, I am, it will be really helpful for me if you just didn't make comments about that. Or if we can plan ahead of time when we're going to order takeout, because it really helps me to stay on track with my goals," and be very specific with what you need and very non-judgmental of his goals.
Megan: [00:15:44] Right.
Kim: [00:15:45] And then that brings us to the other part, which is, you did say you would love to see him wanting to lose weight. And that begs the question: what is the best way to inspire someone else to want to lose weight or take their health and fitness seriously? I bet you could list some ways that don't work.
Megan: [00:16:03] [laughing] Right.
Kim: [00:16:05] Give me a couple. What hasn't worked?
Megan: [00:16:07] [laughing] Saying, " you need to lose weight."
Kim: [00:16:11] It works so terribly, right? It just doesn't work. It doesn't work. Nobody is going to be forced into wanting to lose weight because we tell them, "Hey, I think you need to lose weight." It just doesn't work. And it feels terrible.
Honestly, the very best thing you can do is inspire people with your own actions. If he sees you, in a healthy way, losing weight -- in a way that still allows you to have some rice or have some takeout, and he sees you being successful with it, that is more likely to inspire him to be like, "Hey, I don't need to just eat lettuce to lose weight. I could do what my wife is doing and do it."
That is way more likely to help him want to do this than anything you could say. And I know that can feel hard because we want to be able to say the thing that's going to help people make the change, but usually there's nothing you can say, it's really what you do.
Megan: [00:17:05] Yeah. And I think just doing what I do, obviously, I'm involved with health and fitness day to day. So for me, I see more than just the immediate benefit of weight loss, but just the long-term health benefit. And of course, he's separated from that because he's not in healthcare, so he doesn't necessarily have the same outlook that I do.
And like, if I made all of his food, he has said before, "yeah, I'll all go on whatever diet, as long as you make my food and pack my food every day." Because he's just not going to take the initiative to do it himself.
And I'm like, "yeah, well, I would like that, too..."
That'd be really nice. Yeah.
Kim: [00:18:14] Two things I would say about that: one, I totally agree with you. If everybody had somebody packing their food and saying, "here's exactly what to eat," that would make things really helpful.
It still wouldn't be enough, though. I'm telling you, somebody could pack someone else's food, but if another person wasn't ready to make a change, they could just as easily, on top of that food, go grab a Snickers bar, right?
Megan: [00:18:35] Yeah, that's true.
Kim: [00:18:37] You cannot make somebody else want to make a change. As much as we want to.
The other thing I would say is: though he's not in healthcare, it sounds like, do you really think he doesn't get that improving his fitness is going to help with things? What kind of things are you thinking about? Like, diabetes and heart health and those kinds of things?
Megan: [00:18:59] Yeah, like chronic disease. But no, you're right. I'm sure that he -- who doesn't know?
Kim: [00:19:05] He knows. He knows. We all know. We all know the impact that our nutrition and weight loss can have on things like all the different chronic diseases. He knows.
Right now, knowing doesn't lead to action for him and at some point it may, and it's way more likely to if he's not feeling pushed by you or by anybody else. No one out there doesn't get the fact that eating healthier, losing a little bit of weight is going to help with their heart health and their chances of lowering all kinds of chronic diseases. We know it.
Megan: [00:19:36] Yeah.
Kim: [00:19:38] All right. I know that's hard to hear because you want him to make a different choice and likely at some point in his life, he will. It might take seeing a friend get some kind of disease, it might take some kind of health scare on his own, but he's gonna come to that place on his own.
Megan: [00:19:57] Yeah. No, you're right.
Kim: [00:20:00] Is there anything else I can help you with today?
Megan: [00:20:05] I don't think so. This was actually really helpful. To talk to somebody who's impartial and just get an outsiders perspective, this was definitely helpful.
Kim: [00:20:23] Well, I am so, so, so happy to be here to have this chat with you and to be able to help you with this.
So, when you're ready, after the holidays, if you do decide you want an accountability partner, message me, I'll put it up on my stories. I'm telling you we'll get some people. Because there are other people out there who also want to have somebody to connect with about fitness and be like, "Hey, I'm doing the things. I'm meal planning this week and yes, I'm doing my workout.," and have somebody else to do that with them is important. So let me know and we can make that happen.
Megan: [00:20:54] Yeah, I definitely will.
Kim: [00:20:56] All right, my dear. Have a wonderful holiday season and keep in touch.
Megan: [00:21:02] I will. Same to you.
Kim: [00:21:04] Thanks so much. Bye. Bye.
Megan: [00:21:06] All right, bye.
Kim: [00:21:11] 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.
Kim: [00:00:00] Welcome to episode 80 of the Fitness Simplified podcast. I'm your host, Kim Schlag. On today's episode, I'm joined by Joyce Shulman. Joyce is an author, recovering lawyer, and founder and CEO of 99 Walks. She has the unique goal of getting 1 million women walking. Now, you know how I feel about getting up.
[00:00:23] Today, Joyce and I talk about intentional walking. What is it, and why should you be doing it?
[00:00:29] Let's go.
[00:00:36] Today on the Fitness Simplified podcast, I have with me, Joyce Shulman. Joyce is an author, recovering lawyer, and founder and CEO of 99 Walks, which is a unique organization with the goal of getting 1 million women walking. Joyce, welcome to the podcast.
[00:00:54] Joyce: [00:00:54] Thank you so much. I'm excited to be here.
[00:00:56] Kim: [00:00:56] Now, where are you calling me from this morning? Where are you dialing in from?
[00:01:00] Joyce: [00:01:00] I am based on the east end of Long Island, kind of in the heart of the Hamptons.
[00:01:05] Kim: [00:01:05] Nice. And what's the state of the world in your neck of the woods? Lockdowns happening? What's going on?
[00:01:11]Joyce: [00:01:11] You know, remarkably, New York -- knock on wood -- is still holding its own. The numbers are obviously going up, as they are everywhere, but we are not yet going back into lockdown. Though, certainly it could be coming, but Thanksgiving is canceled and the holidays are looking pretty sketchy, I got to say.
[00:01:33] Kim: [00:01:33] Yeah. I'm not too far from you, down here in Philadelphia, and we have a lot of things closing down -- not full lockdown like we were before, but schools are shutting down.
[00:01:42] Like, my kids' school just went fully virtual. Restaurants are shutting down, laws about coming into the state. You have to get a COVID test now. So, yeah. Lots happening on that front down here.
[00:01:55] Now Joyce, I had never heard of 99 Walks until just very recently. And I'm so intrigued by the whole concept.
[00:02:01] Can you give us a broad overview of 99 Walks? What is it and who is it for?
[00:02:06] Joyce: [00:02:06] Absolutely. So 99 Walks really grew out of something that I had been seeing -- or several things I've been seeing -- over the decade-plus that I've been working really closely with women. And those two things, which I believe on some level are related, are women in this country are suffering from a health and wellness crisis, which seems crazy to me in a sense, because we've never known as much as we do right now about health and wellness, and nutrition and we're getting less well, we're getting heavier, we're getting bigger, our incidence of preventable diseases keeps going up and yet we've never had more information about what it takes.
[00:02:50] So, when you sort of stop and think about that, it's kind of puzzling. So obviously information and knowledge, that's not where it starts and ends.
[00:03:00] And the other thing that I saw over the decade-plus is that women are suffering from a loneliness epidemic. And that was even before our current circumstance, where we're living in ways that are even more isolating than we were a year ago.
[00:03:16] So, those two pieces and then add to that that walking has always been a tremendous part of my personal practice and walking with my friends, walking while I hop on the phone with a friend at a distance, all of those things have been the ways that I have really managed my own wellness, connected with the people who are important to me, managed my stress, all of that. And about a year and a half ago, my husband, who's been my business partner now for 20 years in various ventures, and I were talking about whether or not we could bring all of the benefits of walking to a million women. And that's what started the conversation that ended up with what is now 99 Walks.
[00:04:05] Kim: [00:04:05] Interesting. Now, talk to me more about this connection between loneliness and walking and what you see with how walking helps with loneliness.
[00:04:18] Joyce: [00:04:18] So walking helps, let's start with what walking does for your mind and your mood. So there's a tremendous amount of research out there about the benefits of walking for your mind, your mood, and your body.
[00:04:30] And I'm happy to speak to any one of those ideas. But as far as connection, it does a couple of things. So walking has been shown to have a really valuable impact on boosting your mood. It's a great tool to combat depression, it's a great mood lifter, all of those things. And what tends to happen when you are feeling isolated and when you are feeling lonely, is it impacts your mood and it causes you to withdraw even more.
[00:05:02] Something I say all the time is, "when you need it, most you'll feel like doing it the least." So the simple act of the mood boost you get from walking, even on your own, can really help to drive some of that positive energy that you need to start connecting with other people.
[00:05:18] So that's piece number one, and then piece number two is the value of walking with people. And right now, as we were talking about a little bit just when we started, being together in person is not great right now, though, for many of us where our numbers aren't terrible we still can get out and take a socially-distanced walk with people we care about.
[00:05:42] And then the other option is to schedule a time, schedule a walk, and pop in your earbuds and get on the phone with somebody. And what I tell people about that is, nope, it's not as good as walking in the woods with your best friend in person. There's nothing that beats being together. That's how we're wired as people, right? But walking and talking on the phone is way better than you think it's going to be.
[00:06:11] Kim: [00:06:11] It is. Absolutely. I do it a lot. I do it a lot with friends all around the country.
[00:06:16] Joyce: [00:06:16] Have you always done that?
[00:06:17] Kim: [00:06:17] I haven't always done the walk and talk. That's a more recent thing since I started working from home online, because what I realized is I didn't have as much connection in my life in-person.
[00:06:29] So, I'm a coach and I used to coach out of my home. Women would come to me and I would meet with them one-on-one and train them. And so I had a lot of human interaction. And what I realized when I went fully online is it was me -- before my family came home because of COVID -- it was me in my house by myself all day. And, you know, I would be connecting with people via email or voice memo, but there just wasn't a whole lot of me and another person talking.
[00:06:53] And so that's when I started using my walk time to schedule time with friends, so that we can talk and walk at the same time.
[00:06:59] Joyce: [00:06:59] And it gives you that accountability, because if you have committed that you're going to walk with your friend, Beth at three o'clock, you're going to show up. Otherwise you have to cancel and nobody wants to do that.
[00:07:09] So there's that accountability, which is great. And do you find that the conversations that you have while you're walking are -- they're good, right?
[00:07:18] Kim: [00:07:18] Absolutely. You and I were talking about this before. I think it was when I was on your podcast. The idea there's this more natural cadence, right?
[00:07:25] It's not like you're sitting with somebody and you're just looking at each other, and you need to fill every second. If you're walking, it's very natural to have these normal pauses and everybody's fine. And you're with your thoughts and they're with their thoughts and you're looking around at the scenery and the conversation just can kind of flow more naturally.
[00:07:42] Joyce: [00:07:42] Absolutely. I did a Ted Talk all about why walking together is so powerful and there's some physiological elements of that, too. I'll share one, because I just think it's fascinating. And that is: when you walk with other people, your body releases oxytocin, which is the same hormone that causes women to bond with their babies, right? Everybody thinks of it as the nursing hormone, but it does drive our collaboration and our connection and our sense of being together. And interestingly it has -- at least very preliminary research suggests that it has -- a different impact on men. Where it tends to make women more collaborative, it tends to make men more competitive. Which is super interesting if you think about it in the new baby space.
[00:08:32] Kim: [00:08:32] Yeah.
[00:08:33] Joyce: [00:08:33] But what happens when you walk with your girlfriends is you are releasing oxytocin and that's driving your connection.
[00:08:43] Kim: [00:08:43] That is so interesting.
[00:08:46] You know, my mom is really passionate about walking. She has done daily five-mile walks, at least since I was a teenager, this has just been a massive part of her life. And I have so many fond memories of going on walks with her and her girlfriends, because sometimes she would have a group of five people, six people, and they would meet, and sometimes it was just my mom and my dad, but she was there usually five to six days a week, five-mile walks. And I would listen in to her and her girlfriends as they would talk and they would just solve all the world's problems. And it was just such a great space to get things done whether it's your own personal problems or just what you think should happen in the world, it's a really great way to collaborate.
[00:09:29] Joyce: [00:09:29] 100%. It pulls us away from the draw of social media and our computers and our tech and our insatiable need to multitask, though in a sense, and this is part of what started me walking with my girlfriends, is it did give me the opportunity to multitask because I got to be outside in nature, which we always need as much of that as we can get, I had the chance to connect with my friends, and I got some exercise all at the same time.
[00:09:59] So in a sense, instead of meeting a friend for a cup of coffee, let's meet for a walk, was driven out of my desire to multitask.
[00:10:08] Kim: [00:10:08] I love that. I think that's fantastic. I think that's fantastic. And that's something I encourage my clients to do, because so much of our culture is built around, "we will meet and eat," right? So much of that. And for people who are trying to lose weight, it's not so useful to do that multiple times in a week, to constantly have their activities revolve around food.
[00:10:27] And so we talk about things like, how would it feel for you to call your girlfriend and say like, "Hey, instead of meeting for lunch, how about we meet and go for a hike?" Or, "how about we meet and go for a walk?"
[00:10:36] It can feel really awkward at first if that's not the norm, but so many of my clients have really come to enjoy that aspect of their friendships now.
[00:10:45] Joyce: [00:10:45] Yeah. Most of my friends know I am not the girl to call and say, "do you want to meet for a glass of wine at nine o'clock?"
[00:10:53] I am not your girl. If you want to meet at 6:30 in the morning for a walk, sign me up.
[00:11:00] And I have kind of a personal policy that if somebody invites me for a walk or to do something active, especially outdoors, if I can -- meaning I don't have a firm commitment that precludes me from doing that -- my personal policy is I say "yes," whether I feel like it, whether it's too cold, it's too hot, whatever it is. If you ask me and I can, I will show up.
[00:11:26] Kim: [00:11:26] I love that. I love that. And it's so interesting about the too cold, too hot, I get asked this a lot because I encourage people to walk and they're like, "well, what do you do if it's cold?"
[00:11:35] And I was like, "I live in an area where it gets quite cold, so I own nice warm boots. And I own a really great coat, and I put those on." And the same thing with rain. Unless it's a bad storm with lightning, I walk in the rain. I have a raincoat and I have rain boots and I have an umbrella and I actually really like walking in the rain and I don't mind walking in the cold.
[00:11:55] Now I'm smart about it. If it's a cold winter day, I don't go out at 6:30 in the morning. I go out at 1, right? I do it at lunch. And if it's summer and it's going to be boiling hot, I do go out at 6:30 in the morning.
[00:12:06] We can come up with so many excuses about why it's not a good time to take a walk if we're looking for them.
[00:12:12] Joyce: [00:12:12] Absolutely. You know the expression, "there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing."
[00:12:16] Kim: [00:12:16] Yes, exactly. That is exactly right. It blows people's minds. When I tell them, they're like, "what should I do?" And I'm like, "uh, better clothing."
[00:12:24] It's totally true, Joyce.
[00:12:25] Joyce: [00:12:25] And the other thing about walking, especially in the cold, and I was thinking about this yesterday because I went out for about a four-mile walk yesterday and it was windy, which I hate, I don't mind the cold, but I hate the wind.
[00:12:38] But I was in an area that was fairly protected and the first 10 minutes -- and I think we just have to be really honest with everyone about this -- the first 10 minutes walking in the cold is going to suck. It's uncomfortable, your body doesn't feel good, the cold is bothering you, your nose is cold, your fingertips are cold. All of that. The first 10 minutes are not going to be great. But then the endorphins start flowing, the oxytocin starts flowing, your body warms up and there's something so invigorating and refreshing about that.
[00:13:17] Kim: [00:13:17] Yeah, 100% agree. I never regret it when I go out for a walk. I always feel so good. I feel more focused when I come back and I just have a wonderful moment.
[00:13:28] You know, I have so many, I guess I would call them little perfect moments while walking. Just little bursts of time where everything seems so in harmony. The weather, the lighting, my mood, just the energy around me.
[00:13:39] This time last year, my daughter and I, we went for a walk around our neighborhood on a Sunday afternoon and it was fall in Pennsylvania and the light, the way it was changing, and I remember we just walked and walked and walked, admiring the houses and looking at the fall decorations and, you know, talking about nothing important, but it's just seared in my memory of just this perfect, beautiful moment.
[00:14:01] And I have so many little moments like this throughout my life. Do you have a moment that you can share where you were out walking and it just felt like all was right with the world?
[00:14:10] Joyce: [00:14:10] Oh, gosh, that's such a funny question because the answer is, yeah, I have many of those moments and I could start with the moment when Eric, my husband, and I were walking in Hawaii actually, and kind of really cooked up the idea for 99 Walks. Of course, that's a special moment.
[00:14:30] But the moment that comes to mind when you kind of describe it in that way was a moment this past April, late April, when the world had shut down and we didn't know what was going on and it was very scary and everybody had kind of retreated in large part into their homes. But there's one area near where I live that's a very large parking lot that runs for a mile beside a bay beach. And it's the place where people walk all the time. And I went out for a walk and everybody I passed smiled. And this was before anybody was wearing masks, we probably should have been, but we weren't because nobody knew in April.
[00:15:12] And every single person I passed smiled and acknowledged one another. And I had this feeling of, "it's all good." And the sun was shining and the sun was glistening off the Bay and it was beautiful. And I had this moment of, "human beings are great and it's all going to be okay."
[00:15:33] Kim: [00:15:33] Oh, that's beautiful.
[00:15:34] That's beautiful. See, there's so many moments like that when I'm out walking and I just want that for people. Like, I want people to have these amazing moments and I know you do too.
[00:15:43] What is your best advice for someone who is just starting out with walking? They're hearing this and they're like, "all right, this all sounds really good, but I don't ever do that."
[00:15:51] And, you know, I've had people on the phone, when they want to become a client of mine, they're like, "look, I gotta tell you, I don't really move. I sit at my desk to work and I sit on the sofa at night and that's pretty much what I do."
[00:16:04] What is your best advice for somebody just starting out with walking or who wants to get started?
[00:16:09] Joyce: [00:16:09] There's a lot to that. One piece of advice I have is to find a supportive community and I would love for anybody who wants to start a practice to check out 99 Walks and we can talk a little bit about kind of what our community is all about and what our app offers and all of that.
[00:16:30] Because we have a lot of people in our community who started from that place. We've had people whose exact words are, "I am completely sedentary."
[00:16:41] So, the first is recognizing that and wanting to make a change. Because if you don't want to make a change, then you're not going to. So you have to want to, not necessarily because you feel like it, but because there's something that you want more. You want better health, you want to lose weight, you want to be more active, you literally want to live longer.
[00:17:06] So first you need to want to. And then the second piece of it is you just have to do it and not overthink it. The beauty of starting a walking practice is you don't have to join a gym, you don't have to commit, you don't have to tell anyone, you don't have to go anyplace special, you literally just have to lace up your shoes and walk out the door and walk to the end of your driveway and back and you took your first walk.
[00:17:35] And the third thing I would say is: avoid the compare and despair. We have a word at 99 Walks that we have banned as much as we possibly can and that's just -- J-U-S-T.
[00:17:50] So anytime anybody posts in our app or in our Facebook group, "I just walked a mile today." That's not a, "just," that's an accomplishment.
[00:18:04] Kim: [00:18:04] Yeah. It's very different to just take that word "just" out. "I walked a mile today."
[00:18:07] Joyce: [00:18:07] Yep. Exactly.
[00:18:10] Kim: [00:18:10] That's fantastic. Great advice.
[00:18:13] So tell us a little bit about your community.
[00:18:15] Joyce: [00:18:15] So 99 Walks is, at its heart, monthly walking challenges for women where we invite our members to set their own monthly walking goal. We don't dictate how far, how much, everybody sets what's right for them.
[00:18:29] And we have some guidelines. We talk about Goldilocks goals, which is a fun thing to talk about -- you and I could, I'm sure, spend 20 minutes talking about Goldilocks goals for sure. And then you use our app to track what we call "intentional walks." So we're not about step counting. I think there is some value in that for some people and, to your point, more movement is good, right? For people who have been sedentary, any additional steps and movement you can get into your day is great.
[00:19:01] But because we're so focused on the mental and emotional and physical benefits of walking, we focus on intentional walks, which is taking some measure of time and going for a walk. Because that's where you get the mental and emotional benefits, as well.
[00:19:20] And we offer tons of support and content, daily walking classes in various different styles, walking, meditations, podcasts, they're available within the app. And at the end of the month, for our members who reach their monthly walking goal -- and the vast majority of them do -- we send them what we call "wearable inspiration," which is a skinny cuff bracelet engraved with the theme of the month. So every month we are all talking about and thinking about and walking and working towards a common theme.
[00:19:56] Kim: [00:19:56] That's really such a unique set up. I don't know anything else like that. I've never heard of anything else like that.
[00:20:04] Joyce: [00:20:04] No, we're pretty unique. And it's funny because it is very unique and the kind of 360 approach that we have taken to all of this is really unique, but the truth is: our focus is so very, very simple. It's "lace up your sneakers and walk out the door because it will help you do more, be happier, and live longer."
[00:20:29] Kim: [00:20:29] Absolutely. Absolutely. Totally agree with all of that.
[00:20:33] Now, Joyce, this next question is going to seem like it's way out of left field. We're going to switch the topic here.
[00:20:37] I'm deeply involved in opening up the conversation around menopause. So many women are in the dark about what is happening with their bodies. I was, and I am on a mission to get women talking about it. Would you be willing to share with us your experience with perimenopause and menopause?
[00:20:55] Joyce: [00:20:55] Yes, I would be happy to. And I'm laughing because I can share the perimenopause and the menopause symptom that about pushed me over the edge that I did not see coming.
[00:21:09] Would you like to hear that one?
[00:21:10]Kim: [00:21:10] I absolutely would. Yes, ma'am.
[00:21:14]Joyce: [00:21:14] Sleep.
[00:21:16] So sleep is everything to me. I go to bed early, I wake up early, and I sleep great. Except for three years of my life when I didn't sleep well. I mean, it was terrible.
[00:21:33] Kim: [00:21:33] And what was going on with it?
[00:21:35] Joyce: [00:21:35] Well, that's the thing, right? Like, to an extent, I mean, I was having hot flashes and night sweats and that kind of thing.
[00:21:43] And obviously that was disruptive to my sleep, but it was just like that was the symptom in and of itself. My sleep was so disrupted. Straight up insomnia, disrupted sleep. And that was devastating for me personally.
[00:22:01] Kim: [00:22:01] And it was three years. That's a long time.
[00:22:03] Joyce: [00:22:03] Well, it was kind of off and on. So there's a little bit more to the story.
[00:22:06] So I had been on the pill all for like 20 years, right? And one day in my late forties, I looked at that pill I took every day and I thought, "you know, this can't be good for me. I've been doing this for 20 years," and I just stopped taking it.
[00:22:26] And my husband was like, "you've been doing this for 20 years. I'm on it. Now it's on me." And that's when this sleep disruption just hit me like a ton of bricks. So then a couple of months later, my best friend, who's a OB-GYN, came out to spend the weekend with us and I told him what was going on and he was like, "just go back on the pill."
[00:22:47] And I was like, "but Michael, you know I've been on it so long. I'm 47." And he's like, "just go back on the pill." He said, "you don't smoke, you're in great shape, you've got no other underlying medical conditions, just stay on until you're 50." So I went back on the pill and like, I don't know, three weeks later I was completely back to my old self and that worked great until I was 50.
[00:23:10] And then my doctor was like, "okay, now it's enough. Now it's time to stop."
[00:23:18] Kim: [00:23:18] And then that's when the sleep disruption started back?
[00:23:21] Joyce: [00:23:21] Yeah, again. Not quite as bad as the first go-round and it was off and on for a couple of years. And now I'm back to myself.
[00:23:29] Kim: [00:23:29] And did you just kind of wait it out? Did you have some kind of treatment?
[00:23:33] Joyce: [00:23:33] No, I waited it out.
[00:23:35] Kim: [00:23:35] Got it. Three years is a long time to wait it out.
[00:23:39] Joyce: [00:23:39] Well, at that point it wasn't every night. The first go-round was every night and the second go-round, it was less. And not to sound all up in my walking soap box, but the reality was that if I got a good walk, especially outside during the course of the day, I felt better and I slept better. My mood was better, more stable. All of those things.
[00:24:02] Kim: [00:24:02] I see that with myself, as well. I absolutely do. When I have days where I don't get outside to exercise, to literally move outside, I don't sleep as well.
[00:24:13] Joyce: [00:24:13] There's research that supports that. That's a real thing.
[00:24:17] Kim: [00:24:17] So I always like women that I have on to share what their fitness routine is and what their fitness goals are.
[00:24:23] Can you tell us some about what is your current fitness routine and do you have it any goals?
[00:24:27] Joyce: [00:24:27] Ah, well, yes. My goals have changed in the last couple of months. So, I walk an average of four or five times a week. Usually about three miles. Sometimes it's only two, sometimes it's more like four.
[00:24:45] But those are intentional walks where I'm putting on music, putting on a podcast, or listening to nothing and just really clearing my head. And I try to do that as often as possible, certainly four or five times a week. I'm also a CrossFitter and my husband's a competitive CrossFit athlete. So I spend a fair bit of time in the gym picking up and putting down heavy things.
[00:25:09] And I was chasing -- you talk about goals -- I was chasing a 200-pound deadlift until I really hurt my back. Not catastrophically, but it's a recurring injury that now I have decided just a week ago that I'm going to take seriously.
[00:25:27] So now my fitness goal is to repair my back and start really getting stronger from a muscle and power standpoint.
[00:25:38] But that's a journey. It's going to be a journey.
[00:25:41] Kim: [00:25:41] Absolutely. That's fantastic. Wow, that's going to have a great payoff. You know, strengthening your back and getting that situated, that's a great thing to do for yourself. Fantastic.
[00:25:52] Well, Joyce, it has been a pleasure to have you on here today. Can you tell everyone where they can find you?
[00:25:57] Joyce: [00:25:57] Absolutely. They can find me on social media, Instagram at joyce.r.shulman. They can find my book on Amazon, it's called "Walk Your Way to Better." And they can find all things 99 Walks pretty much everywhere. 99walks.fit is the website, 99 Walks is the app, and 99 Walks are all of the social channels.
[00:26:21] So we are in all of those places and anybody who wants to just sort of start dabbling and thinking about a walking practice or you need a little bit of inspiration or support, we have a really wonderful and supportive Facebook group that's open to everybody, not just our app members. So that's a group at 99 Walks on Facebook.
[00:26:43] Kim: [00:26:43] Fantastic. Well, thank you so much for being here today.
[00:26:47] Joyce: [00:26:47] Oh, it was really my pleasure.
[00:26:49] Kim: [00:26:49] Wonderful. All right, take care.
[00:26:51] Joyce: [00:26:51] Thanks!
[00:26:58] Kim: [00:26:58] 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.
[00:27:09] 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.
Kim: Welcome to episode 79 of the Fitness Simplified podcast. I'm your host, Kim Schlag. On today's episode, I'm going to be fielding questions from my Instagram stories. I asked people to let me know what kind of support they needed during this holiday season.
[00:00:23] Not only is it the holiday season, but it's a really strange holiday season, what with lockdowns and closures and things due to COVID. So that's what I'm going to be doing today. I'm going to be tackling holiday support questions.
[00:00:35] Now I hope I can make it through at least a couple of questions. I'm several weeks into recovering from pneumonia. I've set things up as best I can to be able to speak well. The trickiest part for me right now is speaking is hard. It gets me out of breath really fast and my voice changes from normal to not even able to be understood rather quickly. So that's why I picked questions because it might be one question, it might be five questions, we're just gonna kind of go with it and see how far I can get and give you a little bit of help as we navigate this kind of different holiday season. Let's go.
[00:01:10] So our first question today comes from Paula. Paula's question: "how do you say no to treats when they make them just for you?"
[00:01:19] Okay, for starters, you always say, thank you. "Thank you so much for thinking of me." Then say something nice about whatever it is they made for you. Make sure it is sincere. People can tell if you're not being sincere. You know, "This smells amazing" or "Wow! Look at the detail!" Doesn't mean you have to eat it if you do not want to.
[00:01:40] Now, if it is literally something that they personally made for you to take home, you can just take it. They don't need to know that you don't plan on eating it. If it's not a food that is going to be worth it, you know, I put that in quotes there -- air quotes -- if it's not going to be worth it to you, because gosh, we gotta work with nutritional compromises. You can eat anything when you're trying to lose weight, you just can't have it all and you have to work in compromises. What's important to you? What's a "worth it" food and what's not.
[00:02:04] If what they've made you is not a word that food they don't need to know you're not gonna eat it later and you're going to share it with someone else. "Thank you so much. This is wonderful. I'm sure it's going to be amazing." End of story.
[00:02:16] Now, if -- and this next piece might not even happen to this holiday season because there's just not going to be as many social gatherings -- but let's say you are with somebody and they're pushing you to eat something at a get-together that you're either really not hungry at that moment or it's just something that's not a "worth it" food for you. And they say, "Oh, but you love this. I made it for you." Again, "thank you." Sincere compliment. "So pretty." "Wow. This must've taken so much effort. Thank you so much." And then, "I'm not hungry right now." Period. End of story.
[00:02:53] There's no way somebody can tell you, "but yes you are." "Oh, eat it anyway? Oh yeah, I don't eat things when I'm not hungry. I just don't feel good when I do that." People can't argue with you about that.
[00:03:05] Alternatively, you could say, "you know what? I'm not hungry right now. Thank you so much for thinking about me, may I take a little bit of this home for me for later?"
[00:03:14] That is another way to handle it. Again, you don't need to add that you're not actually going to eat it, that you're going to give it to someone else.
[00:03:20] Here is what not to do: explain your goals or defend your choice. You don't need to tell somebody like, "Hey, I've been really working hard at eating nutritious whole foods and keeping my protein up and this just isn't 'worth it' food for me." You don't need to do that and you should not do that. It usually doesn't end well. It ends in a back and forth, you trying to defend your choices and you don't owe that to anyone. "I'm not hungry, thank you so much for thinking of me."
[00:03:48] All right. Our next question, question 2 comes from Stacy. Stacy wants to know, "how do I stay mostly on track while staying with in-laws for a week?"
[00:03:58] Great question. Here's where I want to start. I want to start with a little perspective. This is really important: what you do most of the time is what matters most to your results, not what you do some of the time.
[00:04:13] This is a "some of the time" event. You don't go most weeks of a month to hang out at your in-laws for a week. Right? This is a "some of the time" event. So keep that in mind and then remind yourself, really ask yourself this question: the last time you had a pinpoint perfect week. Or as close to pinpoint perfect as you can remember. Like, you were really on it with your nutrition, you were really on it with your workouts, you were really on it with your steps. The last time you had all of that perfectly in order, did you get to the end of any seven day period, look in the mirror, and just were like, "GOAL! I did it! That was it. I'm done. I got my results."
[00:04:57] It doesn't work that way, right? A week is a week is a week. Is it important? Yes. All of our decisions add up. But is any one week the be-all, end-all? It is not. And if it's not the be-all, end-all to make your results, it's not going to be the be-all, end-all to break your results.
[00:05:17] It's just not going to be that important. So take a deep breath and remember perspective. It's just a week.
[00:05:26] Then, let's talk about what you can do. What opportunities do you have to make some headway towards your goals, even on this week where you're hanging out with your in-laws -- which you might not see as like a vacation week, which we might approach differently -- but you still see it as like, "ah, this is not going to be a regular week."
[00:05:46] The number one thing I would suggest is to be active. Go on walks, go on hikes, play some basketball out in the yard with the kids. Maybe do this as a group sometimes. And honestly, a 30 to 60-minute mental health break to take a little walk could be really impactful to how much you enjoy your week. Depends on your personality and the situation that you're in with your relationship with your relatives. I personally always need some alone time away for my sanity and taking a 30 to 60-minute walk every day is a perfect reason for that.
[00:06:18] "Hey guys, I'm going on my walk, gonna be back." Off you go. You can listen to the birds chirp or you can listen to a podcast. It kills two birds with one stone, right? You get some mental sanity having some alone time and you keep your activity up. And then sometimes do things active as a group. You can take two walks a day, one by yourself and a littler one with the kids or with the whole family.
[00:06:39] Number two: are there meals you won't be eating as a group? Things that are more like a "fend for yourself" kind of thing. Often that's breakfast or lunch or maybe some of each. If there are, take advantage of these to just pop in some of your standards. What do you usually eat for breakfast? If you usually make an egg white omelet, make that. If you usually have some yogurt and berries, make that. When you get into town with your in-laws, run to the store and grab two or three things that you need that are kind of your staples and have them available. Use these meals that are on your own time to eat higher protein, get some vegetables, get some fruit.
[00:07:18] Now, number three: no matter what is served -- even if every single meal is going to be eaten together as a group, and you have nothing to do with the selection of the food -- you always control how much you eat, even if you don't control what you eat. This is a great time to practice the skill of eating until satisfied, not stuffed.
[00:07:40] Eat slowly. Really practice eating slowly. Putting your fork down between bites and enjoying conversation with the people at the table. And then with this time you create, because you're eating slowly, you'll start to be able to pick up on the sensation of feeling satisfied before you get full. And start practicing stopping when you're satisfied. This is an important skill.
[00:08:03] Eventually we want you to not be tracking calories and not necessarily be going by like, a certain amount of food on the plate. You know, it's a great strategy to have half a plate of vegetables and a quarter of a plate of protein and a quarter of a plate of anything else. Eventually, what we want you to do is to be able to go more by, "Hey, I'm feeling satisfied. It's time for me to stop eating."
[00:08:22] This is a great time to practice that. Look at this as an opportunity, not as a roadblock.
[00:08:29] Question number three comes from Susie. "What is the best substitute for Christmas cookies?"
[00:08:36] My first question to you, anyone who was like, "Oh yeah, that's my question too," and to you, Susie, I know you're listening: why do you want a substitute? What's the purpose of the substitute and what kind of substitute are you talking about? Are you talking about a substitute as in like, "Oh, I'm going to have a protein cookie" or "I'm going to have an avocado cookie." I went to a cookie exchange a few years ago and somebody brought cookies made out of avocados.
[00:09:01] And I was thinking like, "I love avocados. I don't want avocado cookies, though." I don't. I don't want my cookie to be made out of avocado. And frankly, I don't even want my cookie to be made out of protein. I haven't met a protein cookie yet that I'm like, "Ooh, that tastes just like my Toll House chocolate chips. I haven't. I love protein, protein is important. I will get my protein from my chicken breast, from my yogurt, from my cottage cheese, from my ground turkey, and then eat a cookie that doesn't have any protein.
[00:09:30] Or maybe you're talking about those kinds of lists that show you like, "Oh, if you're craving chocolate cookies, you should have X instead." I remember I saw a chart not too long ago, and it said "if you're craving chocolate, you should eat rabbit instead." I laughed hysterically. First of all, where am I getting a rabbit? Where am I getting a rabbit? How do I cook the rabbit? And frankly, do I want to eat rabbit? If I want chocolate -- what -- why would I want rabbit? I'm not going to do that. I think those charts are silly.
[00:09:57] If you want a cookie, the key is to fit in the cookie, keeping in mind total calories -- if weight loss is the goal, total calories have to be in check -- optimal protein has to be present, and 80/20 eating. As in, 80% of your food is not cookies. 80% of your food is wholesome, nourishing, one-ingredient foods, okay? 20% of your food can be things like cookies. Could be all cookies if you want it to be.
[00:10:29] The key is to figure out how to eat Christmas cookies in that framework. So let's talk about how do you do that?
[00:10:37] The number one thing I would suggest is figuring out what is worth it to you.
[00:10:42] What is worth it to you? For me, I pass on almost all sugar cookies. There are some sugar cookies I like, but mostly that just don't do it for me. And so I pass on them. That's not a "worth it to me" cookie.
[00:10:52] I pass on almost all store-bought cookies. I will say the one weird example is Target sugar cookies are actually pretty good. But most sugar cookies, it's a hard pass for me.
[00:11:02] Chocolate chip, peanut butter... different story.
[00:11:06] What is it for you? What are your "worth it" cookies and what do you just eat because it's there and it's fine? So that's the number one thing I would say.
[00:11:13] And the next thing I would say is: be strategic.
[00:11:18] Don't do your holiday baking December 1st, December 6th, wait until closer to the holiday. Save your baking for closer to the holiday so there's just less exposure time to the cookies. And then, also being strategic, do not bake so many that there is just an abundance of cookies for you to manage for a long time. Bake enough to be enjoyable for you and the people who live with you, but not so much that they last interminably.
[00:11:49] This is going to be an especially important consideration this year. If you usually bake for a crowd, but because of COVID there's not a crowd and you still bake for the crowd, you're going to be swimming and cookies. And that might make this more difficult to moderate because it's just going to be over an extended period of time. So adjust your plans. Bake closer to the holiday, bake in smaller batches.
[00:12:12] And then the third thing is: storage is important.
[00:12:16] If you leave the cookies on the counter, if you leave them on a pretty plate covered with saran wrap in the middle of your island, you're way more likely to eat them. Research shows us this.
[00:12:28] If you want to be less likely to eat something, you need to put it in an opaque container in an out of the way spot. So it is just not on your brain as much. So bake the cookies close to the holiday, smaller batches, put them in a container that you cannot see through in a spot that you do not see a lot.
[00:12:46] So don't put them at eye-level right when you open your main pantry, either. Put them up high so that they're not just in your face.
[00:12:53] Remember, you can fit cookies into your weight loss plan over the holidays. You can fit them into your plan at any time of the year. It's a matter of how you do it.
[00:13:04] I think I'm going to end there.
[00:13:06] It has been great being able to talk to you again. Coming back next week is the plan. Have a good one.
[00:13:18] 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.
[00:13:32] 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.
[00:13:46] Thanks so much.
Kim: Welcome to episode 78 of the Fitness Simplified podcast. I'm your host, Kim Schlag. On today's episode, I'm going to be fielding a question from a member of my Instagram fam. Kathy wrote in very frustrated with her workouts. Is she lifting heavy enough? Is she lifting long enough? When she starts to lift heavier and longer, she feels frustrated, doesn't like it, so she cuts back, and then she's worried it's not effective and maybe she should just give it all up and just walk already.
[00:00:31] So we're going to be talking the specifics of what makes an effective workout. We're also going to be talking about the mindset piece of working out and how to make your workouts work for you.
[00:00:42] Let's go.
[00:00:46] Okay. So starting out this episode, I want to have a little disclaimer: I have quite the cough going on. I'm actually going to get a COVID test. I don't think I have COVID. I think what I have is I was out in the rain too long this weekend and I'm just not feeling well. But, I'm going to get a COVID test just to be on the safe side. Point being, I might cough uncontrollably during this episode. Doing it anyway, doing it anyway. Messy action is what I'm all about.
[00:01:12] All right. So with that disclaimer, let's jump into this question that Kathy's submitted. I'm going to read her question exactly as she wrote it and then take it piece by piece.
[00:01:21] Here's what Kathy says: "A question. I go from building my weights and time up to an hour -- so heavier weights, heavier and heavier, longer and longer workouts -- to being turned off. Too much pressure on myself and not wanting to lift weights anymore."
[00:01:39] Okay, so I'm not totally clear which piece is pressuring her or if both is feeling like a lot of pressure. As in, "Wow. This workout is long and I have other things to do, "or, "Wow. This is really heavy weight and I really don't like lifting heavy heavy weights."
[00:01:54] "So, then I go back to super short, 20 to 30 minutes and not too heavy."
[00:01:59] Okay. So she ends up reducing it. She doesn't want to lift weights anymore.
[00:02:04] "I don't want to lift weights anymore. I go back to super short, 20-30 minutes, not too heavy. And my question is, 'am I receiving any benefits or should I just quit and do walking, no weights?"
[00:02:16] Okay. So, starts off, lifts heavier and heavier, longer and longer, feels pressure -- either time pressure or just the pressure of," I don't actually like lifting really big weights," decides "I don't really want to lift at all anymore," cuts really far back -- 20-minute workouts, 30-minute workouts, not heavy workouts -- and now she's questioning, "is this effective at all? And should I just quit and forget about lifting weights and walk?"
[00:02:42] So, let's unpack this.
[00:02:45] The first piece we're going to talk about is this mental piece. She kind of gives this false dichotomy: either what I'm doing is effective -- like, it's totally effective -- or it's not effective at all and I should just quit. There's a whole lot of middle ground in there and that's what I want to find today.
[00:03:03] Workouts can be customized to you. You don't have to fit you to the workout. So the first question for Kathy to ask herself, and for you to ask you, is "what is my goal?"
[00:03:17] What results, what benefits do you want?
[00:03:20] So Kathy said, "am I receiving any benefits?" The question I would have her ask herself is, "what benefits are you looking for?"
[00:03:27] ]Is your goal maximum strength? Is your goal hypertrophy -- muscle-building? Is your goal just general strength and longevity? What is your goal? And that's how you're going to judge whether what you're doing is effective or not.
[00:03:42] Then the question is, "what type of workout -- how long of a workout, how much volume -- what do I need to reach that goal? Now, for most of those goals, there's a whole range of possibilities for length of workout and how you're going to structure your workout.
[00:03:59] If the goal was maximum strength, like, "I want to lift as heavy as possible. I want to be as strong as possible," there will be the need for lifting super heavy weights. Right? You're going to need to lift a heavy barbell, one-rep max, two-rep max, three-rep max, low rep range, higher weight. If max strength is the goal, that is the best way to achieve that.
[00:04:24] So that answers her point of, "do I have to lift that heavy?" If max strength is your goal, yes, you do.
[00:04:31] Now going along with that: if max strength is your goal, you're also going to need more time because lifting in that way, training in the one to five rep range, necessitates longer rest periods. So when I do a heavy barbell back squat, when I do a heavy bench press, when I do a heavy deadlift, when I am working on my chin-ups or my pull-ups, when I do those things, I use a two to three minute rest period between each set. That takes time.
[00:05:01] So if you're doing three sets and you have two minutes between each, that's six minutes of rest just there, not even including the actual time setting up and the time performing the lifts. So yes, that does take some more time.
[00:05:15] If max strength is not your goal, you do not have to lift that heavy.
[00:05:20] You do not. You're going to have to lift heavy -- and we're going to talk about what heavy to you feels like -- but you do not need to be setting up barbells, you do not need to be lifting in that one to five rep range if max strength isn't your goal.
[00:05:32] Now, I do think that lifting heavy is beneficial. Actually, that's totally misstated. It's not that lifting heavy is my opinion, it is how you change the shape of your body. But heavy is going to be relative to you. And it doesn't have to require lifting in the one to five rep range at all.
[00:05:54] So what is required to get the goal of looking shapelier, feeling healthier, building muscle?
[00:06:04] What research shows us is that you can build muscle across all rep ranges. You can do it in that lower rep range I was just talking about, that one to five, you can do it in the more moderate rep range, more like the eight to twelve, and you can do it in higher rep ranges, more like above twelve.
[00:06:20] When we're talking about what is most practical, what is actually going to fit in your life? A really good sweet spot for you to put most of your lifts is in that eight to twelve rep range, because if you're going to be working in that higher rep range, if you're going to be trying to work with reps of 15, you're going to have to lift heavy enough -- and we'll talk about what that feels like in a minute -- to get to 15 reps and it's going to take longer. If you're doing 15 reps of everything, 20 reps of everything, it's going to take longer.
[00:06:50] Now there is an endpoint60-second for how light you can lift and still see results. So you want to be at least at 20% of your one-rep max. If you're lifting 30 reps of something, 40-50 reps of something, it's likely too light for. And think about how impractical that is for your time.
[00:07:11] So we're going to have you structure your workout so that most of your lifting is going to be in that eight to twelve rep range. Some of it can be in that higher rep range -- I absolutely program for my clients a few things in the above 12 rep range, 15 reps, 20 reps. I use it sparingly. I use it towards the end of a workout for these more accessory-type lifts, and it is very sparing. That is not the bulk of their workout.
[00:07:38] I also do use that heavy rep range, that one to five rep range, for some of my clients. That is always their first move to the day -- one or two, for some people, moves. So those would be things like a heavy back squat, a heavy barbell deadlift, it could be a chin-up variation, it could be a bench press variation. So there would be one to two of those exercises at the beginning of their workout.
[00:08:06] They would have longer rest periods. Like I said, two to three minutes. Moving on through the workout, or just starting if they're not going to do that piece, they would start with exercises in the eight to twelve rep range.
[00:08:20] And these would be multi-joint exercises, compound exercises. We're talking things that would be variations of rows, variations of chest presses, pushups, shoulder presses, overhead presses, military presses, deadlift variations, squat variations, lunge variations. Those kinds of things would make up the bulk of their workout in the eight to twelve rep range.
[00:08:54] And then at the end, we would put a little sprinkling of those things in the above 12 rep range.
[00:09:00] Now the time of rest with these exercises can be lower. 60 seconds is totally fine doing that. I would suggest you time your rest, 1) to make sure you're getting enough.
[00:09:11] When you take rest for a long enough period of time, and you don't make everything into a giant circuit and your heart rates up and all of that, when you're not chasing that you actually have the ability to push harder during your sets. And being able to push harder, that intensity is what is going to help you lift heavy enough for you. And that is going to be what changes your body and builds muscle.
[00:09:38] So what does it feel like to lift heavy enough for you?
[00:09:41] Let's give an example: let's say your training plan calls for eight reps of a single-arm dumbbell row. Can you picture what that move looks like in your mind?
[00:09:53] You're going to select a weight. Now, right out of the gate you might have no idea what is an appropriate weight for that exercise for you at this time period. Just pick something. You can start very light. Pick something, do it for eight reps. You might immediately realize, "okay. I way undershot. This is too light."
[00:10:11] Grab another weight. You might immediately realize, "this is way too heavy. I can't use good form" or "I can use good form, but I really can't get this weight up for more than a few reps. I'm not anywhere near eight reps."
[00:10:23] Okay, put that down and grab another weight. You plug and play until you find the weight that is going to get you to hit eight reps -- remember, that was the given rep range. You want to shoot for eight reps -- and by the time you get to rep eight, you could do one, possibly two more reps with good form, but you couldn't do three.
[00:10:46] That's what you're looking for: good form, getting to true eight reps, one more good rep left in the tank, possibly two.
[00:10:54] If you feel like you could just keep going and going, that weight is not heavy enough for you, so you need to get a heavier weight. You can do that the next set, pick up that heavier weight. What you're going to want to focus on is every set should feel like that. You don't want to be pacing yourself.
[00:11:13] I do talk to a lot of clients and they're like, "Oh, well I picked a lighter weight because I want to be able to do that the next set." Uh uh, worry about the next set on the next set. Each set you should be trying to get to the end of that rep range using as heavyweight as possible with good form.
[00:11:32] You also need to be aware that over time you're going to be able to lift heavier weights. So just because 15 pounds was the perfect weight for you this workout does not mean that next workout it will be. And you need to be very present and conscious with each and every set to focus on how your form looks and how that weight is feeling. If it is not taxing you enough by the end of the set you need to up the weight.
[00:12:00] So that is a really important piece of the, "how do I change my body" puzzle?
[00:12:06] All right. So, you can spend a lot of your workout in that rep range, eight to twelve rep range. So bringing it back to her question of, " can I do this in 20 to 30 minutes?" Yes, you can. If you're going to be doing that heavy rep range, that one to five rep range, it might be hard. You're not going to be able to do it in 20 minutes and have enough volume lifting heavy and then adding some more of these eight to twelve rep range. That would be crazy to try and get that in.
[00:12:34] Could you possibly get one super heavy lift in in the one to five rep range and then a couple of accessory lifts in 30 minutes? You could. It would be way more realistic to do that in 45-50 minutes, for sure.
[00:12:47] Now, if you don't want to do the one to five rep range at all, you're going to keep your rest periods in that 60 second range, you could get 20 minutes in. 20 minutes is really the low end, I would say. Doing 30 minutes? Absolutely. You could do that. You absolutely could. You're going to want to really focus on using as many of those compound, multi-joint lifts as possible and not focusing on things like working biceps and triceps and delts and doing band work for your glutes, and those kinds of things. Kind of drop that stuff off and really focus on the meat of the workout -- rows and pushes and pulls and those kinds of things. Pulldowns, pull-ups, deadlifts, squats, those kinds of things. Focus on that.
[00:13:38] It's not about the time you spend, it is about how you spend your time. Whatever amount of minutes you have, use that time wisely. Pick your heavy lifts, work them hard, take appropriate rest times -- don't just blast through it -- and you will be able to see results.
[00:13:58] You're going to need an, a volume over the course of the week. And so if you're going to do a 30-minute workout, maybe see if you can get 30-minute workouts four times in a week. All of my clients work out either two, three, or four times in a week. Very few workout two. The people who work out two are really people who it's, "either I can get two in or I'm getting none in. I can't do more than two," and I would rather have them do something than nothing. So they do two workouts in a week.
[00:14:26] Most of my clients fall in the three or four lifts per week category. Three lifts per week, it looks like this: lower body, upper body, full body. You could also do three full-body days. What I find tends to happen is you are just really sore. If you have a full-body day on Monday and then it's time to lift again on Wednesday, you might still be really sore from your squats and your lunges and those kinds of things -- and your chin-ups -- from Monday, and so Wednesdays lift might not go as well. You're just really sore.
[00:15:05] Whereas if we do lower body Monday and you're not doing lower body again until Friday, you're less likely to be so sore. So that's why I do lower body, upper body, full body. But three full-body, just as appropriate.
[00:15:17] If you're going to do four lifts per week: lower body, upper body, lower body, upper body, spread throughout the week like that.
[00:15:30] Now, her very last part of the question, "is it even worth it or should I just give up and go walking?" Really falls into that "all or nothing" mindset, right? And so how do we combat that? We let good enough be good enough. And we do this naturally in other areas of our life, right? So if you are late to work one day, you don't just quit your job, right? If you yell at your kids one time, you don't just think, "I'm a terrible--" well, you might think "I'm a terrible mother," hopefully you get over that. You're not going to give your kids up for adoption because you have a temper problem, you're going to work on your temper problem, right? And so this feels really natural in other aspects of our life, so talk to yourself in the same way about your workouts.
[00:16:20] If what you can give right now is 20 minutes, then what you give is 20 minutes and you give your best for those 20 minutes. And you don't worry about, "well, what if I could go for 60 minutes?" And "I should only go for 60 minutes."
[00:16:35] Stop should-ing on yourself. Do what you can do with what you've got. It is still worth it.
[00:16:41] Stop the overdramatic thinking that leads you to, "it's either the best, most effective possible, or it's nothing." Most effective is what you can make fit into your life.
[00:16:56] All right, I think I've hit the whole question there. Plan your workouts. Now look, I will say it is really difficult to program for yourself if you have not done this before. For me, I've studied programming for years. I can quickly put a program together. I know what makes up an effective workout program. And it's something that we can continue to talk about here. I would suggest either getting a program made for you specifically or using a program that is pre-made.
[00:17:24] I have six-week lifting programs on my YouTube library. I have at least two. I will link them in the show notes here so that you can see them. Using a plan and sticking with it is key to getting results. If you're always jumping around, if you're doing a little bit of this and a little bit of that, "I do this thing from fitness blender one day, and I pick this swipe workout another day," you're not going to see the results you want.
[00:17:53] Progressive overload, which means doing more work over time, requires consistency with the lifts you do. And so when I write my client's programming, they get a new program every four weeks. Realistically, I could wait and give them a new program every six weeks or every seven or eight weeks. People tend to want more variety than that, so I go with every four weeks. But I will tell you, their programs don't look wildly different from month one to month two to month three.
[00:18:20] Every week they're going to be doing some form of a row. Month one, maybe they're doing a standard single-arm row month two, they might be doing that row with a pause on their chest, or they could be doing it with a different grip. Same thing with their squats, maybe month one they're doing a goblet squat, and month two they're doing a dumbbell front squat, or they're doing a goblet squat with a pause. I don't shift things wildly.
[00:18:48] And during each month their goal is to get better and better with each exercise over the course of that month. So they take that goblet squat from week one, they nail their form, and they start upping the weight. They start nailing their pause if there's a pause and they work every week to get better and better and better at it through week four. Then we switch things up.
[00:19:08] And again, it's not like we start from scratch. It's still the same types of moves. And they do the same thing, they spend week one getting familiar with the exercises, and then over the course of the month, they spend time and energy upping the weight, nailing their form, boom, boom, boom, all across a month.
[00:19:25] And that is what you need to see progress, to see results.
[00:19:31] I hope this has helped. Hit me up with any questions. If you have a question you would like to have me answer on the podcast, you can email me firstname.lastname@example.org or you can DM me on Instagram. Thanks so much for being here today.
[00:19:51] 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.
[00:20:02] 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.
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.
Kim: [00:00:00] Welcome to episode 76 of the Fitness Simplified podcast. I'm your host, Kim Schlag. On today's episode, I'm joined by fitness and women's health expert, Amanda Thebe. Amanda has a new book coming out this Sunday -- which just so happens to be World Menopause Day -- Amanda's book is titled Menopocalypse: How I Learned to Thrive During Menopause and How You Can Too.
Amanda and I spend some time chatting about some little-discussed topics: what is actually happening with your body during menopause? Why is everyone so afraid of HRT? What even is HRT? And how can we build the resilience we need to get through these difficult years? Let's go.
Amanda: [00:00:49] Hello! How are you doing?
Kim: [00:01:19] How am I doing? I'm doing good.
Had a busy podcasting day. This is podcast three for me today.
Amanda: [00:01:24] Ah, it's my third one too! But on the receiving end, not on the doing end, right?
Kim: [00:01:30] Yeah, I was on one this morning and then I recorded one and now this one.
Amanda: [00:01:35] I did one yesterday with a woman called Ann Marie, and she's got an Instagram page called @hotflashinc and she's been on Hello Peri. She sometimes does little videos for Hello Peri. It was one of my favorite interviews I've done in ages. She's a journalist from Canada who, about 13 years ago, decided to move to the United Arab Emirates, lives there as a journalist freelancing now, and it started a very small, but engaging menopause audience.
Kim: [00:02:09] What's her name again? I forgot already.
Amanda: [00:02:11] Ann Marie.
Kim: [00:02:12] And what's her site or her Instagram?
Amanda: [00:02:14] @hotflashinc.
She just was really good, her questions were really good. They were just, it was like a really intelligent debate. It wasn't, "what's perimenopause and what's --".
It was an engaging conversation and I just really enjoyed it. So if you're looking for people, I just think she's a good one. And then the other one I did was with Jason Lee Hart. It's the second time I've been on his. Have you done anything with him?
Kim: [00:02:46] I haven't. I've listened to this podcast a time or two.
Amanda: [00:02:51] Yeah. I like him too.
Kim: [00:02:54] All right, my dear. I'm going to hit go here and we'll go. My son is helping me with my podcast now and so I can start recording and he trims things for me now. So he handles all of my publishing for me.
Amanda: [00:03:13] He does all the editing? Oh, that's great.
Kim: [00:03:15] Yeah. My son just does it for me because he's very interested in doing this after college and so he's practicing on me. What I told him is that I'm paying him by giving him experience. He's never done anything like this and what I told him was like, as he gets this experience, I would eventually pay him when he knows what he's doing. And then I can introduce him to lots of other coaches who will eventually need to get help with their podcast.
Amanda: [00:03:40] I used to do that. I used somebody on Upwork and used to send the files off. I wasn't going to do it myself.
Kim: [00:03:47] I've done it myself. I've always done it myself. I have hired somebody to transcribe my podcast for me, so I can put them on my website and he could do full-blown everything for me, but I didn't want to put the money there quite yet, but he's transcribing and then my kiddo is handling everything else now.
So I'm glad that's off my plate. Like, I don't have to do anything.
Amanda: [00:04:04] My youngest has discovered photography and I'm quite a good photographer. And I've got this big piece going out in the Telegraph in the UK -- a big broadsheet paper -- and they asked me to wear a yellow dress, which you've seen on Instagram that I got from Amazon for $25 that my friend told me to get.
'Cause she said, "Oh, it's really nice. And they'll do for when you're swimming, you can throw it off the top."
It's something I wouldn't normally wear
Kim: [00:04:36] Why do they want you to wear a specific thing?
Amanda: [00:04:39] Well, it's a colored publication and it's in their Sunday magazine. And so they want to style it. Their own stylist contacted me, but they need full-res photos and so Elon and I went out, so he's there with my SLR against this really nice background. And I'm like, it's so funny that in this really great newspaper, it's going to be at $25 Amazon dress, shot by my 13-year-old.
Kim: [00:05:10] That's fantastic.
Amanda: [00:05:11] Very real. Okay. I'm good to go.
Kim: [00:05:14] Alright, here we go.
Today, my very first Fitness Simplified three-timer, Amanda Thebe.
Amanda is a fitness and women's health expert and today I have her on a conjunction with the release of her new book, "Menopocalypse: How I Learned to Thrive During Menopause and How You Can Too."
Amanda: [00:05:36] It's not the threesome I wanted, but it's a threesome I'll take. We'll run with it.
So it's an honor. Three times. It's because we've got so much in common. And what people don't know is outside of us talking on this, there's probably almost a daily chat that we have about everything.
And we have an app on our phone called Marco Polo -- which if you haven't used before, it's really good fun -- and we send little videos to each other.
Kim: [00:06:14] It's a lot of fun. We talk all the time today. We're going to get into this book of yours, which I love. I love it because it is both educational, right? So like, what is going on with our bodies and why, and what do we need to know about it?
But it's also solutions-based, like, this is no picnic.,I'm going through menopause. It is no picnic. But there's so much we can do to manage our symptoms and you really dive into that. And I think that's so important, right?
It's education. And now what do I do? What do I actually do?
We have an entire episode, it is episode 21 of my podcast, which is so fun because I'm on episode 75 and you are on episode 21, your whole story of your experience in menopause, but I do want to touch on it here. So kind of give us the highlights of your experience in menopause.
Amanda: [00:06:59] Well, simply put, the reason I wrote this book was because I wasn't getting answers to any of my questions. Like you, I had a really terrible time. I'm 49, almost 50, this month. Almost 50, and from my early 40s, had just the most horrendous symptoms with no answers from any of the medical professionals that I saw.
And eventually, two years into the journey, when I did get answers, I really struggled to find definitive reasons why I was feeling the way I was feeling. Because it never stays the same, it's not static. I mean, I went to my gynecologist about a particular symptom of perimenopause once I understood what it was, and then I had something else six months later. It's so difficult to stay on top of because things ebb and flow.
And so I just really found it difficult to find really useful, practical information. There's more now, I might say, because this is eight years ago and I think we're talking about it more and more, but that was the other part of wanting to write about it.
And also in my community groups and on my Facebook and Instagram page, I make it an okay topic to talk about, like you do, because it's been tabooed for so long and it's one of those eye-rolling topics that people-- you say menopause and everyone, like, slowly walks out of the room backwards.
And my family do, actually.
Kim: [00:08:34] So, like everything in the health and fitness space, menopause discussions can get over-complicated. Just this morning I saw you liked a comment I had made it in a group -- there's so many menopause groups and Amanda and I are both in one specific one -- and a woman had wrote in talking about how she wanted to balance her hormones with her diet.
And I had asked a couple of questions. I said, "well, what are you actually looking to do? What is the result you want?" Because people were telling her all kinds of things. And I said, "you know, you're not trying to balance your hormones. Like, you should go see a doctor." It's not like she had digestive issues.
Somebody came in after me and started telling her about how she needs to like focus on eating phytoestrogens, really complicated stuff. And I was like, "what you just said could be summed up with 'eat a well-rounded, balanced, nutritious diet. And if you're having digestive issues, that's a separate problem.'"
But so many things are made into confusing issues.
Amanda: [00:09:26] Yeah. And I think that's why we align so well, because we're always like, "why are people making this so complicated when more often than not, the answers are quite simple?" Not always easy, but usually quite simple.
That posts, I'm glad you brought it up because the person who commented was telling her how she could basically manage everything through diet and health and nutrition and I disagree with that. I disagree completely with that. I think they play a huge, important role, but they're not always the answer and neither are taken herbs and neither are doing alternatives.
Sometimes it's just not enough and you need to go and see a menopause specialist. And as far as the phytoestrogen argument and all of that type of thing, it comes from the fact that some foods have phytoestrogen properties, but a phytoestrogen property can be an estrogen disrupter. It can actually be an anti-estrogen food as well as an estrogen food, and who knows how it's going to act in the body?
The studies that I found -- and I did really try and dig deep into this, right? I did try and look into if this was an actual thing, because we know that Asian women have less symptomatic time in perimenopause, but genes play a massive part. So you've got the genetic factor, and then as far as the phytoestrogens in soy, tofu, et cetera, and the quantities you would have to absorb to make any type of significant impact are going to be unobtainable.
These foods are good for us and they're healthy for us, so there's no reason not to include them. It's just, they're not the magic pill. And it's just another way to confuse and bamboozle women who are already confused and bamboozled.
Kim: [00:11:18] Absolutely. At a time when there's just so much going on emotionally with us and physically with us. And so it is really a dicey space.
So let's talk a little bit and clear up some myths. So let's talk specifically for a minute about HRT.
Now, before I do this, I want everywhere out there listening to know that neither Amanda, nor I are doctors. This is just educational information for you to keep in mind because this topic has become so muddled.
Amanda. HRT, what is it and why is everyone so suspicious of it?
Amanda: [00:11:53] HRT is hormone replacement therapy and for a woman with a uterus, a womb -- I don't know what you call it here, I always flip flop between the two -- for a woman with a uterus that's estrogen supplemented with progesterone to protect your womb.
If you don't have a uterus anymore, if that's been removed, you can go on estrogen therapy only. In 2002, the Women's Health Institute released a report. It was rushed out to publication without being peer-reviewed, and it came out and said that estrogen therapy alone, without the progesterone, estrogen therapy alone could cause serious diseases in women, including cardiovascular problems and breast cancer.
And so immediately -- and at the time they were only testing Premarin, which was a synthetic estrogen. That was the only one on the market. It's actually the most well-researched hormone out there. So, it's actually one that's pretty robust in its research. And it was pulled off the shelves and doctors refuse to prescribe it.
And so it left women who'd been taking it in his place where they were struggling with menopausal symptoms and they weren't being treated by their doctors. Since then, the report has largely been revoked and some of the people who were part of the study have spoken out and said it was rushed and it's not accurate.
And so the bottom line is now we know that hormone replacement therapy does not cause breast cancer, estrogen is not a carcinogenic. It will not cause cancer. There'll be some women that maybe can't take it because they have estrogen-positive breast cancer, but there's some women that can as well.
And so, like you said, we're not doctors and it's not our place to say who can and can't. I would suggest reading Estrogen Matters by Dr. Avrum Bluming. It talks about all of this and then go and see your doctor and speak to a specialist. But the North American Menopause Society and most global menopause societies suggest that hormone replacement therapy is the first-line treatment for menopause symptoms.
So when you go to your doctor and you present him with symptoms, that should be what is offered to you. And what usually happens is you are denied or given an antidepressant because usually doctors aren't -- probably through no fault of their own -- but they're not educated in menopause management.
We know this to be fact. It's not included in any of the training, and OB GYNs, who are the people that we think should be our go-to, only 20% of those in their fellowship do any type of menopause management. So it's a bit of a gray area and a lot of women get dismissed, unfortunately. But there are some resources.
And I know you talk about them, where women can go and find a menopause specialist.
Kim: [00:15:01] Yeah, I've absolutely talked on here, before about the NAMS website go to the North American Menopause Society website, they have a provider finder. It's not extensive, I will say. I've looked for myself and there are five in my area. Three are not too far away, so I will be heading that way.
So it's not like there are tons of these people around, but there are enough that you're going to be able to find somebody in a reasonable distance and it's going to be worth it because you don't want to have the experience that I've shared here, where my doctor said, no, she would not give me hormone replacement therapy because I had still had my period and it had not been a year yet.
And it didn't matter that I wasn't sleeping and had the whole list of symptoms. And luckily, I knew enough to push back, but I think a lot of us would not. A lot of people wouldn't know because they just show up to the doctor and they're not well and they think the doctor's gonna give them the right treatment, right?
Why would we think otherwise?
Amanda: [00:15:50] And you know, in my book I talk about the different tests and stuff that need to be done depending on your age. If you're under the age of 40 and you think you may be in perimenopause, you need to have blood work done to ascertain where you are and they most likely can put you on a low dose birth control pill or hormone replacement therapy then.
But if you're over the age of 45 and you're presenting with one or more symptoms, you can be diagnosed based on your symptoms, because it's a fact that you're going to be in -- and this is what the governing bodies are suggesting, but still, women are being dismissed. And I know you want to talk about this, but in that lapse of time between the 2002 WHI study going out where women were left stranded, this was the perfect storm for alternative practitioners and private health clinics to jump out and say, "Oh, we can fill the gap with you with these custom made, bio-identical hormones that are better than Premarin anyway," because you know, that's a synthetic, and we can help you."
And to me, that sounds super appealing. Women are desperate, they need help, but it's not the true story. And what we know about compounded pharmacies producing hormones is this: they use drugs that are the same as the ones that you would get from your doctor, but they change the environment. So they mix them with sawdust and baby talc, or something along those lines. Changing the variables immediately, making them lose any sort of safety and efficacy that's been adhered to by the FDA protocols, putting yourself at risk that you literally don't know can happen.
For example, there is a huge concern by the medical community that if you take estrogen therapy and progesterone in the form of a cream that the pedestrian cannot absorb and give you adequate protection against uterine cancer. It's just not sufficient.
And we're seeing cases of this happening. And the latest thing is to get pellets. Women are going to the doctor and the doctors are prescribing these and they're not FDA approved. It's a complete sellout by the medical community. These are uber high doses of hormones and they have been linked to some cancers.
And the bottom line for all of this is that 1) you're taking something and putting something in your body that we know hasn't been tested, but 2) the cost of these things is crazy. Like, these things can cost you hundreds and hundreds of dollars a month, where you can usually get FDA-approved hormones, that can be bio-identical if you want, for a few dollars a month.
I just don't get way women do it.
Kim: [00:18:47] So, help with the terminology there around that, Amanda. It gets a little bit confusing. I know in your motherland, the terminology is a little bit more separate, right? So the prescription you get from your doctor they're calling body-identical, correct?
Amanda: [00:19:01] Right.
Kim: [00:19:01] And then other things that you'd get outside of that from a compounding pharmacist, that's what they would call bio-identical, right?
Amanda: [00:19:09] Correct.
Kim: [00:19:10] But here in the States, that's not like that.
Explain to people what they should be looking for and what should they watch out for?
Because it gets really tricky.
Amanda: [00:19:20] Oh, my gosh. I went down the rabbit hole of this with you and with our friend Katarina Wilk. We tried to find out if there was standardized language that we could use so that we made this clearer and there isn't any. And the reason is because the term bio-identical, it was a marketing term adopted by these compounded pharmacies to appeal to the natural side of hormones that they were producing.
And so what happened is drug companies started to produce bioidentical hormones, but then went through the FDA approval process and testing process so that they were effective and safe for us. So now we've got bio-identical from a compounding pharmacy and bio-identical from your doctor. And I think that's where the confusion comes from.
So it's easier to think about drugs being unregulated and regulated. And so, things like pellets and compounded pharmacy drugs are all unregulated, and then if you go to a doctor and get a prescription, they will be regulated drugs. That's what you should be asking for: regulated hormones.
And within the spectrum of regulated hormones, you can have bio-identical and you can have synthetic. But they're all made in a lab anyway. It's not like you're injecting pure yams into your body.
Kim: [00:20:45] We had this conversation literally last week in my mother's kitchen. So my sister has Down syndrome, she is 46, she is having menopause symptoms, and my mom was talking about how she bought her this special cooling pillow and all of these things. And I was talking to her about my HRT and my mom said, "Oh, I'm not going to do that for her. That's dangerous."
And she said, "I am looking into some other medicine that I've found from a naturopath." And I said, "Mom, that's, that's not the route you want to go. That's actually the dangerous path". And she wouldn't even listen to me. I said, "you know, I think you should make an appointment with the doctor and talk--" wouldn't even listen.
People are very convinced that it's somehow more natural, the things that they could get outside of their doctor's office and natural equals better, safer. And in reality, it is not safer. It is the exact opposite.
Amanda: [00:21:35] In this situation, it most definitely is. And the FDA have actually tried to withdraw these products from the market because of the dangers and because of the increase in cancers that they're seeing.
Kim: [00:21:46] I wonder what it will take to actually make that happen.
Amanda: [00:21:49] Oh, I don't know. I don't know.
I think talking about it, having more relevant conversations is happening. There are things in the process at the moment and there are medical doctors going to the FDA and speaking out on behalf of regulated hormones for women and trying to get them to be a mainstream treatment.
I mean, that's the key. I feel sorry for doctors, honestly. I mean, I don't feel like they're trying to cheat us out of treatment. I think there's an old stigma against HRT and misinformation, and they then literally have to try and keep on top of every single new study that comes out.
I had an incident with my own doctor where he refused me HRT. I wouldn't go until he gave me it. Then he offered me Premarin, I asked for a bio-identical estrogen instead. I knew what I wanted. He then prescribed that to me, reluctantly, without a progesterone. And so then I had to say, "you need to give me a progesterone" and he wouldn't give me one.
And so I left the office and just said, "you know what? Do me a referral to a menopause specialist, I don't feel like you fully understand how to treat my symptoms." And I wasn't rude, but he emailed me later that night and said, "Oh my God, I had no idea. And yes, you were right, and thank you." And he gave me a prescription.
He just didn't know. And he's a young doctor and he really wants to help people.
Kim: [00:23:20] Yeah, and it comes back to, we need to be able to advocate for ourselves. And so we need to arm ourselves with information so that we can have these conversations and make sure that we know what we're talking about when we get there.
Amanda: [00:23:32] Exactly.
I actually do, in the book, I talk about the treatment options that are available. And when it comes to coming to a doctor, I sort of suggest that women do a type of menopause tracker so that you don't just go to the doctor with, " I'm depressed" or "I've got incontinence" or "my joints ache." You actually go in with a full picture of what's been happening so that they can treat you as a whole and not just individual symptoms, so hopefully you'll get the right treatment. But then also how to advocate for yourself when you speak to the doctor.
Kim: [00:24:01] Super, super important stuff.
Okay, turning from HRT. Let's talk about, you know, there are so many uncomfortable symptoms that come along with menopause and some are easier to talk about and some are less.
And I liked how in the book, you're like, "there are no boundaries in my work." And so we're going to kind of push those boundaries of what people might be comfortable hearing about on a podcast today.
Let's talk about what happens to women's vaginas during menopause. What are some of the main struggles Amanda?
Amanda: [00:24:30] So, it's interesting because when I wrote the book, like, I've been basically putting my vagina on the line for years now about this, because I realized that I needed to separate my personal feelings about it, to the actual symptoms that lots of women experience. And I remember writing the book and saying to my husband, "I'm going to talk about my vagina a lot in here" and he's like, "okay, I just needed to know," because it's data, it's information and data, and I wanted to be able to write about it in a non-emotional way. And actually, that's a really great way to approach it.
It's just like another part of your body. Which is a terrible thing to have to reframe in your mind. I mean, if you look at something like Twitter, you can't say the word vagina on there. When Jen Gunter wrote her book, the Vagina Bible last year, she couldn't promote it because of the word vagina.
Kim: [00:25:26] You really can't use that word on Twitter?
Amanda: [00:25:28] It may have changed now, but this time last year, you couldn't.
So when it comes to peri-menopause, the decline of estrogen in our bodies impacts the integrity of our whole vagina. The term is "vaginal atrophy," sometimes referred to as "GSM" because the whole area is impacted. So your incontinence, even your bowels, everything, that whole area can be impacted by the lack of estrogen.
So what essentially can happen is the integrity can sort of degrade a little bit. It's awful talking the way we're going to talk, but it sort of can break down slightly and so women can find multiple things happen. They may have incontinence issues and that's because of the structure and the muscular surroundings of the smooth bladder are impacted.
Women will often have like bad dryness or some tearing. Unfortunately, there's some bacterial infections that can happen. Some women continually have UTIs or yeast infections or bacterial infections because the pH level in the vagina changes, which is why all of those vaginal washes need to stop being used because they're usually quite high acid-based and all of the perfumes and stuff that's in there are going to just irritate you even more.
You're not supposed to smell like a rose garden down there. I know it's called the "lady garden," but it's not. And so, all of these things can happen purely down to the lack of estrogen in that area.
And so the problem is that most women will have this. It's not like just one or two women, they estimate that nearly all women who are older, like through menopause and post-menopause, will have some type of problem that's either a UTI, incontinence, painful sex, tearing, and some receding tissue, too.
All of those things are likely to happen and they're all manageable. And that's the problem: only 20% of women go and seek help because there's nothing more horrifying than going to a crusty old male doctor and saying, "my vagina's dry, it hurts when I have sex, and I'm pissing my pants every time I sneeze."
It's really uncomfortable.
Kim: [00:28:15] Okay, so women go to the doctor, they say, "this is what's happening." What is done to help treat them?
Amanda: [00:28:22] You know, it's interesting because, for the UTI and the vaginal infections, you'll often get prescribed antibiotics. And in some cases that can be a valid treatment, but usually, the thing that doctors should prescribe -- and again, this is from the North American Menopause Society and other medical bodies -- is a localized estrogen cream. Which is usually something that even women who can't take HRT for various medical reasons can take, because it doesn't get into the body systemically. It stays localized in the vaginal area.
And usually using that, either in a cream version or a suppository version -- there's bunches of different ways -- is enough to be able to stop those symptoms happening. Some women, just by taking hormone replacement therapy that helps their whole body is enough to help that area.
You know, it was for me. Being on a microdose of estrogen was enough. I had incontinence so badly and I couldn't work out why, especially after having two kids and still being able to jump on a trampoline.
Kim: [00:29:30] Interesting. So you didn't have incontinence problems after birth.
Amanda: [00:29:34] I went to a pelvic health physiotherapist, which I think every woman should just get, for free, because they're just a godsend. I really want to talk about this as well, because there's the overarching message that if you have incontinence, you just do Kegels and just keep squeezing, just keep squeezing.
And it's so individual that I just tell women, first of all, learn how to do a Kegel correctly. I do talk about that in the book. It's a very gentle, gentle exercise. Almost like picking a tissue out of a box. It's not this massive, like, "can I hold a dumbbell from a chain?" There's a woman that does that, right?
She's like the vagina lifter or something, but anyway, it's so gross, but my problem was, I was hypertonic. I had so much tension in one of my glutes -- nothing to do with the vagina, but of course, it's all connected. It was stopping my pelvic floor working as a whole.
And what we know about the pelvic floor is that it's a combination of the full muscles and our whole trunk. So our diaphragm, our multifidus, which is in the back, and the TVA, the transversus abdominis, which is the deep abdominal muscles and the pelvic floor, they all work as a system together.
So my holistic approach to this is: estrogen cream or HRT to help with anything that's painful and treatable, see a pelvic health physiotherapist to check for prolapses, for function, see how that's working -- they usually give you exercises that include those four muscles all working together -- and then focus breathing.
There's so many benefits to that anyway, but just actually sitting down and doing big diaphragmatic breaths help train the body to work the whole pelvic floor and those muscles together as a system.
And those things are huge and they can be game changes, but they're boring. Nobody wants to sit and go, "I gotta sit and breathe." Well, I know, but usually the things that do us good are those types of exercises.,
Kim: [00:31:49] It's true. We're always trying to sell the boring stuff here, Amanda,
I interviewed Dr. Chana Ross. She's a pelvic floor physiotherapist. She helped us on our plank article.
So I will link that here, everyone listening, the whole episode is about what is it like to visit a pelvic floor therapist? What happens? What will they do? Because it feels a little bit like, "what's going to happen at this appointment?" And she walks us through it and she talks about why Kegels aren't necessarily the answer for all different kinds of incontinence and how they, like in Amanda's case, they might even be making it worse, that Kegels aren't necessarily what you need to be doing.
So I will link that at the end of this, so you can make sure you go back and kind of delve deeper into the world of pelvic floor physiotherapy. I agree. I think it's a great thing for women to do. And I need to take my own advice and actually go see one.
Amanda: [00:32:40] I mean in France, when you've had a baby in Europe, it's so great. You get all of this postnatal care and it includes a pelvic health physiotherapist.
Kim: [00:32:52] I thought it was interesting, Amanda, in the book you were talking about how your own experience you began to realize that your incontinence was moving with your cycle. And I have the same experience. So when I lift heavy, I sometimes pee when I deadlift. And sometimes it's not that much and I'm just used to it, and other times it's shocking how much I want to pee and I had to work hard not to, and it kind of would come and go. And it took me a while to realize that it was related to my cycle.
Amanda: [00:33:18] Yeah, it definitely is. My cycles were very erratic, but I sort of knew when it was going to happen.
And then so, to get by, I would wear a tampon before I went for a run or before I deadlifted, because it created enough -- I don't know if it was like feedback or something -- and I mentioned this to the pelvic health physiotherapist and she said, "yeah, it's like that tactile feeling, like it knows to sort of hold it in place," but you don't have to suffer in silence.
And the problem is if it's left untreated, it can get so much worse. There's a disease called Lichen sclerosis, and many women get misdiagnosed for having this, but apparently, it's really prevalent in postmenopausal women. And again, it's treatable. But anybody who has vaginal atrophy, it's never going away. It's one of those symptoms that stays with you. So you can't ignore it.
Kim: [00:34:17] Definitely do not ignore it. But everybody wants to, right? Because nobody wants to think about that. No one wants to talk about that, nobody wants to think about that.
All right, ladies, everybody think about your vagina for a minute and how it's doing. Okay?
Amanda: [00:34:30] So that chapter, I was telling Kim yesterday in our Marco Polo session, that when I wrote the book, I wanted to call it, "Let's Not Beat About the Bush." I thought that that was really funny. And my editor, who completely understood me, was emailing me back and forth saying, "but isn't the bush just the front? Aren't you talking about the whole thing, front and back?"
Kim: [00:34:53] It would have still been funny.
Amanda: [00:34:56] Anyway, so let's not beat about the bush -- look after your vagina.
Kim: [00:34:59] Yes, look after it.
All right, so the second half of the book you cover four hacks that people can use to really, as the title of the book says, thrive in menopause.
Let's kind of just hit the highlights of a couple of them. And then we're going to really hit that last one hard.
So, the first one: how to eat.
What do you think people get wrong about nutrition and menopause?
Amanda: [00:35:19] Oh, well, I mean, we know 80% of women are going to put weight on and so they put weight on and then go, "what is the quickest way I can lose weight?"
I mean, you are the expert on this. You see this all the time. "What can I do quickly now to lose weight?" And so they'll look for this magic pill that doesn't exist. And that's what I think is one of the biggest issues out there.
What I do in the first part of the book is talk about some of the barriers that make it more difficult during menopause, and I'm sure you've spoken about those, you know, just the fact that we become more insulin sensitive, we have to look out for our cortisol levels, which are intrinsically connected to estrogen. Although there's no specific data on that, it's not a quantitative thing, it's just you have to manage stress.
We know that fat deposits shift from our hips to our belly, so we may change shape as well. And that can be stressful for women. GI issues and bloating is another thing that lots of women see.
And even our hunger hormones are impacted slightly by perimenopause, our ghrelin and leptin. So, telling us when we're hungry and when we're full, they become a little bit skewed as well. And so to lose weight, it's always going to be the same answer -- I don't need to repeat what you tell everyone all the time -- but the barriers are harder.
Kim: [00:36:53] Absolutely. All those hurdles you just mentioned, we have to figure out how do we work with them?
Amanda: [00:36:58] How do we work with them? There was a report came out only three days ago and I haven't looked into it too much, but it sort of indicated that, the menopause transition, which is peri-menopause, sees more women put weight on then significantly, and that we see a quicker decline in lean body mass through perimenopause. And that was really interesting to me because it sort of felt like that to me, but I couldn't find any concrete data and I don't know how concrete that one is, but essentially if you're a higher risk of putting fat on and a higher risk of losing muscle mass, that's like a lose-lose situation. So you need to do the things to make that a win-win.
So when I talk about nutrition, before I talk about what to do, I always talk about the how to eat, and it's worked for me and I think that changing behaviors and habits is definitely the way for long-term success.
Well, we know it is anyway. It's been proven so many times. So I get people to clue in to real hunger cues. Are you really hungry? And if you are, how much to eat? When do you feel satisfied? When is enough enough? How quickly to eat and all of those things. And I give you tools to help you.
I was on another podcast and I gave a story about my Nana. She's not alive anymore. We used to call a "Funny Nana" because she'd laugh so hard her teeth would fall out. And I used to always watch when she ate, because we'd go out for these family meals and she was this tiny little woman, but she never was worried about her weight, but she would eat really, really slowly. And she never ate very much.
Actually, my brother used to sit next to her so he could eat the leftovers, but like, she never ate very much and she ate really slowly, so we'd all finish and she was still eating. And she would always leave something on the plate and put her knife and fork down and go, " oh, that was sufficient."
And they were always her words. And I just was like, that's actually a really great example of how to eat. She ate slowly, she felt nourished, she stopped when she had enough, and because the ghrelin and leptin signals are a little bit skewed, you sort of have to retrain -- like you've retrained your pelvic floor, you now need to sort of retrain your body regarding all of those things we like.
Kim: [00:39:16] Well put. Well put there, Amanda.
And you started to allude to this with that study you were just talking about. So, the next part: how to move, why is it important to move well in menopause?
And you started talking there about losing muscle, so that's definitely one of the reasons.
Amanda: [00:39:33] Yeah. I mean, sarcopenia happens. It's an age-related phenomenon and actually a movement-related phenomenon. Sedentary people obviously struggle with it more.
And it's sort of rapidly accelerated in menopause, and so we need to do everything we can do to maintain lean body mass. I've experienced the soft, squishiness as well, and I've pulled it back. You know, it's possible. We can help women to show that you can still build muscle as you age.
It might take longer and there's maybe things you need to really focus on, like protein consumption, for one, because our muscle protein synthesis, which is the ability to break down proteins in order to build muscle, is also impeded slightly. So we have to really focus on getting protein into our diet.
And then the other flip side of the building lean muscle is that it's been shown to help with the vasomotor symptoms, which are hot flashes, night sweats, and cold sweats. Anything that impacts your temperature.
And actually, I've never had that. Which is interesting.
Kim: [00:40:46] I remember you saying that. I think this is a fascinating piece of information, and I know it was pretty strong data that suggests that hot flashes and night sweats are lessened with the more lean you are. So the more lean muscle you have, the better chance you have of not having -- I don't know if not having them -- but having fewer vasomotor symptoms. And I often wonder like, wow, if I wasn't doing what I'm doing, would I just be one big hot flash? Because I've had such a massive struggle with them.
Amanda: [00:41:18] Yeah, I know.
But like we say, genetics play a huge part in all of this, of course. One of the studies was on postmenopausal women who'd never lifted weights before, and they were pure cardio bunnies and they split the group into strength training and cardio only and the strength training postmenopausal women -- and hot flashes are the one of the symptoms that can stay with us. They don't necessarily go. Like, women in the 80s still have them -- reduced by 50%.
And as far as I'm concerned, I'm like, "well, what have you got to lose?"
Kim: [00:41:55] Well, because there are so many other benefits we already know anyway, right? And so this is another additional one, why not?
Amanda: [00:42:03] And so in the book I do a 12-week program, it's like an entry-level program, but I also show people how to pimp it up if they want to work a bit harder, as well.
Kim: [00:42:12] Pimp it up.
Okay. Next hack is: how to manage stress.
Such a problem in menopause. Why do you think that is? Why are we dealing with so much stress? I think a lot of people right now are probably like, "well, hello, Kim, I can tell you 12 reasons I'm dealing with stress."
Amanda: [00:42:28] Oh my God, yeah. And I don't think I can probably hit on them all because I mean, we're in a pandemic, for one. I mean, there's that and all of the knock-on effects of that, but I mean, so, first of all, women probably can't cope it stresses as well as they could before perimenopause, because, as I said to you, our cortisol is intrinsically linked with estrogen, and as that fluctuates and declines, you can see our stress hormones just go crazy.
And if you're then stressing your body more by over-dieting and over-exercising, as well, you know, you just added more stress to stress. And so it really becomes important to just change the way you look at how you function as a whole.
I know that was a really big shift for me. So, being someone who exercises most days of the week, like maybe four strength training sessions and three runs, that was always my thing, and I had to pull right back and I had to pull right back in an intelligent way so that I still could actively work out and be efficient and do the best for my body, but also support it with adequate rest and recovery. And that became key.
And you're really good at promoting that because of your "get up! Get up!" We know one of the benefits of getting up and going out and walking is stress management.
Kim: [00:43:52] Yeah. Absolutely. And one of the other things you talk about, which is something I'm truly terrible at, is meditation.
That's been a big part of stress management for you, right?
Amanda: [00:44:01] I don't do it well, but the thing is that meditation can look different for everyone and that's what I've learned. But I talk really more about mindfulness.
Kim: [00:44:14] That's the word I'm looking for.
Amanda: [00:44:16] So mindfulness is a little bit different to meditation because you can use meditation as part of your mindfulness training, but mindfulness training is about bringing everything back to the present and being in the moment as we are right now. And you don't have to meditate to do that. You could do that on one of your walks -- I go outside and sit and have a cup of coffee on my own every day and just be quiet, drink the coffee, enjoy it and every time a thought comes to my head I sort of acknowledge and then let it go.
Some people find meditation actually easy to do. I'm a little bit like, "oooh, what am I making for dinner?" And, you know, I get a bit squirrely. Whereas I find if I'm doing something like drinking coffee, that takes the squirlyness away.
But mindfulness is not just some woo woo alternative, right? We know from MRI scans that you can actually change the structure of your brain by doing mindfulness practice.
Kim: [00:45:20] So tell us about some of the mindfulness practices that you use, or that you've heard of others using. What are some things people can try to do to be more mindful?
Amanda: [00:45:28] Well, we were talking about stress initially, and so stress management, mindfulness is one of the things you can do and it's sort of all integrated to me. And so, diaphragmatic breathing to me is part of a stress management program. We know that when you do big, deep, belly breaths -- which essentially then contracts and releases the diaphragm -- it elicits the parasympathetic nervous system. And so it gets rid of that fight or flight.
If you're in perimenopause, you are literally constantly being chased by that tiger down the street, which is like what I say in the book, you need ways to be able to pull back and get your heart rate back down and so, breathing diaphragmatic breath could work.
And I promote box breathing. There's so many different ways of doing it, but I like the idea of 3 breaths in, hold for 3 breaths, out for 3 breaths, hold that for 3 breaths, and continue in that box shape.
Then the meditation is another method, going out for walks. As we said, walks are just a great way of doing it. Some people can meditate by going swimming or going out on their bike. It can be a moving meditation and it can still be very valid.
But the whole point is that when you get these thoughts -- and especially if you're prone to anxiety, where you're worrying about all of the stuff that potentially can come ahead and you're bringing it back to the president and you're like, "well, what can I control right now? And what can I do to get through this situation that's causing me stress and anxiety?" And reframing those situations. Which isn't easy to do in the moment, but it works.
I have a son who is on the autism spectrum, he has Asperger's and one of the key characteristics of Asperger's is anxiety, because he's an over-thinker. They have these massive brains that just can't stop working.
And so he's always wondering when the next failure is going to happen. It's terrible, really. So, in his years of therapy he's learned -- and cognitive behavioral therapy is another great way to sort of access this through a licensed professional -- he's learned that taking this time out to do deep breaths and bring things back to the present and just reframing the question that was causing him anxiety to, "what can I control?" It works for him. He's like a completely different person. But it takes time and practice and all of those things.
Kim: [00:48:07] Yeah. And I think sometimes it's overwhelming. Whenever I hear like, "okay, you should be more mindful," I think, "I'm too busy!"
Amanda: [00:48:15] Yeah. And we, menopausal women, are kind of like the ultimate road runners. We never, never stop.
Kim: [00:48:22] There's so much going on, but I do think it's something worth prioritizing.
I have, on my horizon, to consider, I interviewed a woman a few days ago. I haven't even put the podcast out yet. She runs an organization called "99 Walks." I'd never heard of her before, but she's on a mission to get a million women walking. And so it's this big walking community of women. Anyway, one of the things she does in this group is walking meditation.
And I was like, "what is that?" She's like, "it's literally what it sounds like. We go on walks and then we have meditations playing while we do it. "And I was like, "Hmm. Maybe that's something I could do," because I'm already walking, right? And I think I could possibly try that because I do feel like being present in the moment is not something that is a great skill of mine. Because, like a lot of people our age range, I've got kids, I've got parents, I've got a job, I've got the home. It's just so much going on.
Amanda: [00:49:11] Yeah. And I mean, I know you use your walks to call your clients and to catch up on videos and stuff, and so you're really good at multitasking. But there's something that happens in perimenopause I think we need to really acknowledge. And I think, especially, it became really clear to me now I'm in menopause and stuff started to calm down, is how we need to prioritize ourselves.
I talk about it in the book, how we move from the "we to me" phenomenon and it's been written about many times where our connections to our families and stuff are all changing all the time. You know, we may become empty-nesters, we're maybe in that squeeze generation, divorced, there's so much going on.
And there's a shift that happens and it's part of the hormonal changes, because oxytocin declines, and it's like a bonding hormone, and we're natural nurturers and carers and a shift happens and we start thinking, "What would happen if I put myself first today?"
It's not selfish. It's almost self-preservation, I think. And I think we need to encourage that more in women and say to them, "what would happen if you said to your kid, 'get your own bloody lunch, you can make a sandwich. I'm gonna sit outside on my own for five minutes.'"
Kim: [00:50:42] I love that, Amanda, I think that's fantastic. I think that's fantastic.
That kind of leads into this next section of yours where you're talking about how to think. And one of the sections you talk in there about is about building resilience and I think that's such an important quality for us to focus on, particularly now. Talk a little bit about that.
Amanda: [00:50:59] Yeah. So the, the final hack, the final part of the book, number four, is all about building a resiliency mindset.
It's not something I've made up. I worked with a psychologist on this. He was a really good friend of mine and we'd have these really deep, long conversations. And I just found that what she was saying just made so much sense to me. And two of the things, as well as talking about a mindfulness practice and how you can sort of incorporate that and how it can actually change how the brain operates and thinks, we talk about looking at your values and your strengths.
And so these are actual psychological tools that are used, they're not just me making two things up. And so, basically, I wanted to do this and I really wanted to do this because I got so tired of hearing women being so down on themselves, like saying, "I can't do this," or, "I'm too old for that," or, "I hate myself," "I hate the way I look," "I can't stand my wrinkles," and all of these really negative messages. And I'm not asking people to be uber positive and be that annoying grinding woman that's always like, "Woo! Woo!. Look at me. I'm so brilliant." I'm just sort of saying, look at yourself and stop being so down on yourself.
You know, there's that thought monster that's always in our head and we have to replace it with some positive outlooks.
And so, there's two things I recommend women do. The first one is a values test. And if you go to valuecenter.com -- I think everyone should do this and values change -- and so I did mine about three years ago and I re-did it them, and the things that came out top for me and my values were people, passion, nurture, health, and excitement.
So it looks for the values. Now, values aren't goals, these are things that you want to achieve, things that make you want to live your life fuller. And it's true, people and my family, and everything I do centers around that and I'm passionate and I love excitement.
So all of these things, it really summed to me as well, and I think that that probably won't change so much.
But what you can do when you understand what your values are, is you can start changing things to suit those values, and that's the whole purpose of it.
And then the next one is your strengths.
And this is something I really liked because most women don't value themselves at this time for a whole number of reasons. But, I encourage them to focus on their strong points, their strengths. And so if you go to viacharacter.org, these are your qualities. These are things that come naturally to you and that's the whole point of this.
And then what it's suggesting is that when you have these strengths, that you use them to your advantage and you use them to forge forward. So, for example, mine came out this order: curiosity first, kindness, social intelligence, humor, and creativity.
I knew I had a high social intelligence score and probably a low intellectual score -- I'm just joking -- but I knew that because I'd done that test before. But I was very surprised that my top strength was curiosity. It really was like, "really? That's my top and not humor or not social intelligence?" But the definition of that is" taking an interest in ongoing experiences that you find fascinating and then exploring and discovering them."
So that basically is me going down my menopause rabbit hole. And I think that that's like you, it's probably going to be similar to you.
Kim: [00:54:56] Well, I did my test last night, Amanda.
My daughter and I, there's a teenage version of that too, and so we did it together. My top one was, "appreciation of beauty and excellence."
Amanda: [00:55:05] Oh, my gosh. And do you feel like that's...
Kim: [00:55:08] Well, we were kind of talking about it. And I said, I guess -- because you know, it says "it's noticing and appreciating beauty, excellence, or skilled performance in various domains of life from nature to art," and I am a person, we were talking, I'm like, "it's true. Like, I do buy flowers for the house every week and I'm always the person to be like, 'stop guys, look at the pretty sunset.'" That is me. That's what I do. And I really do find energy from those kinds of things.
Amanda: [00:55:30] And that's the point. It feeds your soul, right? It feeds your soul. And that's what this thing encourages you to do.
Kim: [00:55:35] I thought it was a really interesting test. I thought that was very interesting.
So, for sure, listeners go and give that a try. It's viacharacter.org. It was really easy to do.
What a great thing for us to be conversing about, because I think at this age, the women that I meet with, the women who contact me, they really are kind of struggling to find themselves and figure out like, "where is my place? What is going on? I'm busy, I'm a mom," and they've kind of gotten to this point where they're not really sure what the next step is or "is this it?"
And so I love the idea figuring out, "what am I good at? What are my strengths? Because I still have a whole lot of life to build here with these strengths."
Amanda: [00:56:23] And it's interesting, as well. So I talk about those four things; the nutrition, the exercise, the stress management -- which comes with sleep -- and then this resiliency mindset because I do believe that when you talk about menopause, you need to look at everything together and how it looks.
But what you just said there is the story I hear all the time and it really makes me quite sad. But it's understandable, as well.
I also talk, in the book, about the U-curve of happiness. And the U-curve of happiness, I think is worthy to end on.
So, if you think of a U, the age around menopause, we're in the bottom of that U-curve. We're in the doldrums and we're hanging out there and it's probably what they consider to be one of our lowest times. But as you enter your mid-50s and going up to 60s, we start climbing up that happiness curve and we see people being the happiest that they've ever been, the most content and satisfied with their life.
And so I'm now out of the worst of menopause and the mental shift has been huge for me because most of my symptoms were neurological and on the mental health side. And coming out of the other side has been a game-changer for me. It's not to say won't have the symptoms, I'm not suggesting that, but I sort of want to give a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, the menopause tunnel.
Kim: [00:58:01] That it just doesn't lead to continued darkness.
Amanda: [00:58:03] Because when you're in that -- and you felt it too -- you're like, "Is this how it's always going to be? Is my character now changed? Is this my new personality?" And it's actually quite hard to even think that it could lift.
Kim: [00:58:18] Yeah, absolutely. Well, Amanda, this has been a fantastic conversation. Everyone listening, know that the things that we have just discussed here, we just barely got the tip of the iceberg, each of these subjects are covered in-depth in Amanda's book, Menopocalypse.
Amanda, when is the book gonna be available?
Amanda: [00:58:34] It comes out on World Menopause day, which is October 18th, and it's available for preorder now if you wanted to get it.
Kim: [00:58:42] All right. So get your copies. And Amanda, where can everyone find you?
Amanda: [00:58:47] So if you were to head to my website fitnchips.com, you can get access to my menopause community there, my Instagram, Facebook, and also there's a link there to my books and it tells you, globally, where you can buy the books.
I definitely recommend, if you can, supporting your local bookshop or buying independently. Amazon's definitely where I'm going to get most of my sales, but if I can push a small business, then I would like to do that.
Kim: [00:59:20] That's a great idea.
Or you guys could just find Amanda. Head to Texas and listen for a British accent.
Amanda: [00:59:25] That's too funny.
Kim: [00:59:29] Thanks so much for being here, Amanda.
Amanda: [00:59:30] Thanks for having me on again. Three-timer! Woo woo!
Kim: [00:59:38] 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.