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PTSD, Anxiety, and Weight Loss

Kim: [00:00:00] Welcome back to the Fitness Simplified podcast. I’m your host, Kim Schlag. On today’s episode, I am joined by a woman named Sharon. Sharon is a very insightful young lady from Jerusalem. Sharon reached out to me on Instagram, had some questions for me. Specifically wanted to talk about how to adjust your calories and macros as you are losing weight.
At what point do you change your calories? When do you lower them? How low is too low? So, we hopped on a call to chat and we spent a good chunk of the conversation with Sharon explaining to me her fitness journey. She suffered some trauma early in life, has really struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety disorder, and she shares with me how fitness really helped her through those struggles and in what ways it has blessed her, and how she has used fitness to her advantage.
So, this might really resonate with you if you are somebody who has struggled with trauma and anxiety either in the past or currently. So, listen in as we talk all about it.
Hello, welcome!
Sharon: [00:01:19] Hi, thanks.
Kim: [00:01:22] So glad you could join me here. You’re going to help me with your name pronunciation as we go if I’m not saying it correctly.
Sharon: [00:01:28] Yeah. Okay. No problem. You can really call me Sharon, it’s fine. I go by both, really.
Kim: [00:01:34] Okay. If I’m ruining it, I’ll just say Sharon.
Sharon: [00:01:37] Okay.
Kim: [00:01:39] Okay, so tell us a little bit about you before we talk about your fitness question. Tell us where you’re from and what you do and about you.
Sharon: [00:01:49] Yeah. Thanks. So, I live in Jerusalem, Israel now. I come originally from New York. I moved here 5-6 years ago.
Kim: [00:01:56] Okay, but you were born and raised in New York?
Sharon: [00:02:01] Yeah. Brooklyn.
Kim: [00:02:03] Okay, great.
Did you move to Jerusalem for family? For work?
Sharon: [00:02:10] Yeah, so I was right out of high school and most of my family lives here in Jerusalem. And more of my family was moving there and I figured it was a good opportunity because I wasn’t yet sure what I was going to do, just with my life, my job, you know, and I just figured it would kind of be cool and fun to go to somewhere different. And so yeah, it ended up being an amazing opportunity for me and I love it here and yeah, I’m really happy to be here.
Kim: [00:02:44] That’s fantastic. And did you already speak fluent Hebrew when you moved there?
Sharon: [00:02:49] I actually really don’t speak Hebrew well. I’ve never been good with language, but most people here speak English and when I have to, I break my teeth, so.
Kim: [00:03:00] Okay. So, you’re from New York, you live in Jerusalem, you don’t speak Hebrew very well. What else can we get to know about you? What do you do for work?
Sharon: [00:03:10] So, I’m a personal trainer. My whole life, I was always overweight and pretty unhealthy and not knowledgeable really about anything about health, fitness, nutrition. And I decided at some point, pretty much a few months after I moved to Jerusalem actually, that I wanted to try something.
I wanted to try to change that. I had always tried things for my entire life before that. Throughout high school, I was trying one diet or another and trying one workout or another, but I was not knowledgeable. And I think I also felt a lot of this pressure, but I didn’t really know how to go about things. So, it just ended up being very emotionally painful experiences as opposed to being what it should be, which is feeling empowered and strong. And taking good care of yourself.
So, I decided I’m going to get myself a trainer to help teach me what to do, which always seemed like a pretty crazy thing to do to me, honestly. ‘Cause it’s a lot of money and it seemed like something I should know somehow. 
Kim: [00:04:26] Yeah, a lot of people feel that way. Why do you think it is? Why did you feel like you should know how to do that?
Sharon: [00:04:34] It’s a good question. I don’t know. I think that, you know, we shouldn’t assume that we do know anything really unless we’re taught it. And we never had, like the school I grew up in, we never had gym. I never learned anything about working out. And I learned very little about nutrition. One of the most amazing things I’ve learned recently in my newer eating journey is that there’s no moral judgment on food.
Like, there’s no “bad food” or “good food,” I think that you talk about this, I’ve seen that you say things about this. It’s just more or less nutritious, more or less calories, but what’s with all the, good or bad, point of it?
So, I guess I think that we kind of have this feeling sometimes that we’re supposed to know certain things, but meanwhile, we haven’t really learned about it before.
Kim: [00:05:27] Yeah, absolutely. Well, it’s good that you realized that you needed help, so you hired a trainer.
Sharon: [00:05:32] Yes. So, from the exercise point of view, I started– years ago I hired a trainer and she actually told me pretty quickly, which I was so shocked about, because I was really not in good shape and I had never felt like I could move so well. I never felt really light or graceful or I don’t know, I never felt so easy in my body, I guess I would say.
And she told me almost immediately, you should be a trainer. You have such a good, like right when I tell you to do something, you have such good mind, body awareness and such good internal understanding. And  I was shocked by that. Like that did not hit me. That didn’t make any sense to me.
Kim: [00:06:12] Isn’t that interesting that you didn’t see yourself in that way? You actually thought the opposite, that you didn’t move very well and she saw that you did.
Sharon: [00:06:20] I think that part of it is that to this day, I don’t have a good aim. I’m not going to be able to, you know, do well on a basketball game. And growing up, that was what kind of meant that you were in shape is if you could play a ball game or, you know, and I could never dance. Like, I’m not somebody who can keep a sequence in my head, but I guess one of the things that I’ve learned is that you have to find something that works for you when it comes to these kinds of things.
Kim: [00:06:47] Yeah, absolutely. I have to tell you, Sharon, I’m terrible. Like, I can’t get balls in baskets or balls in targets either. So, it’s interesting that, yeah, there can be a very like one track mind. Either we feel like we’re athletic or we’re not, and if we weren’t good with team sports or ball sports, sometimes here in the States we figure like, “okay, I’m not athletic.”
Sharon: [00:07:08] That’s a really nice, concise way of putting it. Like, athletic doesn’t necessarily mean– like knowing how to work out and being athletic are two different things. I think that anyone can strength train, really.
Kim: [00:07:20] Absolutely. Absolutely.
Sharon: [00:07:23] And I think that so much of sticking to something and finding a lifestyle is finding something that you enjoy and that speaks to you and that works for you and for what your goals are.
So, when I started with her, I just found this new kind of world open up for me that I had never realize was there before. But in terms of like a little bit more of a balanced attitude, having to do with food, nutrition, and also just general movement, besides for exercise, I didn’t really start anything with that until this year.
Like, I was working out, I’m saying  was in very good physical shape. I was able to do a lot of moves in the gym that many people may be unable to do, but meanwhile, I was still pretty heavy. I
started out at something like 230 pounds. I’m 5’3″ and I did lose weight over those years with exercise, but I really didn’t understand anything about food. I always had this mindset of like either you’re eating healthy or you’re not. There’s not really any place in between. And you just get overwhelmed sometimes by all the information out there, like organic and now you should start, you know, mixing these powdered greens into your drink. And if you’re not eating kale, then you’re not healthy. And like, it just gets overwhelming. You don’t really know what healthy is and what it isn’t. And I don’t think that anybody could really succeed in that kind of environment.
Kim: [00:09:00] And so what really helped it kind of start clicking for you?
Sharon: [00:09:03] So I found Jordan Syatt on Instagram maybe 6-7 months ago, and I just was blown away by the mental health component that he puts in, and I found you through him.
And I just had started following a couple people. I hadn’t even been on Instagram before; I only just got an Instagram because my sister opened up a cake business. She makes cakes here in Jerusalem, Kosher Cakes by Claire. She’s amazing by the way. She makes the most beautiful– anyways, I’m very proud of her.
So, I opened an Instagram to follow her and I wanted to support her. And then I had never been on Instagram before and I found fairly quickly, I found this whole fitness community that I hadn’t even known about. And before that I was kind of avoiding hearing people talk about fitness and health, nutrition, all these things, because I always felt so overwhelmed.
And this was the first time that it seemed like this just human middle ground. Everybody is so grounded and normal within it, like, you have to do what works for you and the most important thing is that you should find your emotional, mental stability within it. And nothing too extreme and sustainability and lifestyle over fads.
And I just was so taken by it. I thought that that sounded so right to me.
Kim: [00:10:32] Yeah. And what changes did you begin to make then in your nutrition?
Sharon: [00:10:38] So the first thing I did was– first of all, I want to say, and this is something I’ve said to a few people. I found out about this; I didn’t start till like four months later. I had to kind of let it sink in. I continued listening the entire time and following. But I was going through actually a pretty difficult time emotionally this year. And I wanted to make, on a personal level, but then I also felt like on a physical level, I wanted to make some changes.
Because of the emotional stuff going on I gained back something like 30 pounds I had lost. And I wanted to make some changes, but I also wanted it to come from a strong place.
I suffer from some PTSD trauma because of some stuff that happened in my childhood, I nearly passed. And I think that one of the biggest things that I’ve learned is that it’s so important to try to find empowerment within whatever you do.
It’s so easy to become victim to yourself and your choices. If you feel like you have to eat healthy and you come down on yourself, like from a place of trying to motivate yourself through fear, you won’t be able to keep at it for so long, but besides that, you hurt yourself and you kind of retraumatize yourself.
So, I’ve learned to give myself a lot of space to be able to make decisions from a place of being able to make a choice instead of being victimized by yourself or by others.
Kim: [00:12:11] Oh wow. I love that. I love that.
Really like, the choices we’re making, I mean with anything, but you know, here we’re talking specifically about nutrition.
If we’re coming from a place of empowerment and I’m choosing to do this versus like “I have to,” or “this is the only way,” it’s very different.
Sharon: [00:12:31] Right. And I think that sometimes we get confused between discipline and kind of abusing ourselves.
There are some things that are very hard to do and they’re good choices. Like, if you’re going to be choosing to eat a salad, you know, it’s not necessarily always easy — I happen to love salad, so maybe it’s not a great example — but there are some things that are not necessarily easy choices to make, but they’re good choices, big picture, to make.
But if you’re going to make that choice out of this sense of, “I have to, there’s no other choice and I’m not going to be okay if I don’t,” so then you end up kind of being just really negative toward yourself and mean toward yourself and you’re not listening to the part of you that feels scared or not so okay within it.
So, if it’s possible to, I always say, I don’t care if I’m going to eat an Oreo or if I’m gonna eat a salad. What I want to do is I want to be able to make that choice from a place of peace and strength and empowerment. And most of the time, whichever choice I make, whichever one I choose, if I’m able to make it from that place of, instead of feeling victimized by the Oreo or forced into the salad, and I’m able to instead find that place of power. So then most of the time, big picture that ends up meaning that I make more good choices than not. Because I’m giving myself room to just listen to myself. And once you do that, you’re able to hopefully come to a place of wanting to do the best thing for yourself, big picture, instead of in this moment.
Kim: [00:14:06] Wow, that’s fantastic. How did you get to that place, Sharon? How did you come to be able to approach your eating from that point of view? That’s a pretty high-level thinking around food. Most people aren’t there.
Sharon: [00:14:21] So, lots of therapy. I’m so lucky, to be honest.
Like, when you go through difficulties, one of the things that I’ve gained so much from is just learning how to ask for help and then learning how to find people who can really support you into getting to where you want to go is so important. So that’s huge for me.
I think the reason why I was able to actually choose originally to go to a personal trainer, which was the first step on this journey, was because I had gone to therapy and started seeing how I got so much help on how I was suddenly able to do so many more things I had always wanted to do and how I was managing so much better in so many aspects of my life.
And that made me realize, why do I think I should be taking this on by myself? So that’s a big one. And actually, by the way, also in school for psychology. I would like to one day possibly become a therapist, but also, I’m kind of developing a method of like personal training and coaching around this idea.
People who have trauma– I sometimes will get clients who have trauma and it’s like they kind of want to be pushed, but at the same time they’re so scared because when they’re physically doing something that’s hard and kind of stressful on the body, they could experience that as trauma. Trauma lives in the body, physically speaking.
And so, they can experience, let’s say you’re doing a plank and then all of a sudden, they’re like, “no, no, I can’t.” And so, there’s a difference between an “I can’t,” that’s like, “uh, I’m tired and I don’t want to do it right now.” And a can’t that’s like this heavy sense of, “I feel like I have to, but I don’t want to.”
And there’s this kind of internal fight that’s going on and there’s trauma there. It’s really complicated. I wouldn’t go into the whole, entire thing, but I started to be able to kind of help people to find their own empowerment within that, because I was able to do that for myself.
Kim: [00:16:24] Wow. That’s fantastic. I love how you’re, you know, going to blend the psychology with the training.
Sharon: [00:16:31] Yeah, I think there’s something called like somatic therapy and then there’s regular training. And I think that a lot of people who get emotionally triggered during training don’t realize that’s what it is.
They think that they’re lazy, but a lot of times i
t’s really a question of, can we look internally and figure out what’s happening for you right now? Maybe you’re really anxious. Maybe there’s really a little bit of a panic happening. I used to get panic attacks. when I would do cardio, because when you have a trauma and you start getting out of breath, your body thinks, “I think I’m about to die,” because when you’re traumatized, that’s the feeling that happens, you feel like you’re in mortal danger. And then you get out of breath and it triggers the reminder of where you used to be.
Kim: [00:17:15] And what do you find helps in that moment?
Sharon: [00:17:21] Stopping. If you can, to try to stop for a second and check in. Because right now there’s something inside of you that’s terrified. It’s hard to recognize because there’s another part of you that thinks, “Oh, you’re just trying to get out of this.” And it’s not that you’re anxious, it’s that you’re lazy or that you’re bad in some way.
But meanwhile, if you’re able to instead validate that, “no, no, no, there’s something that’s going on here. This is hard for me. I’m scared. I’m anxious right now,” if you could take a second and pause and take a breath and acknowledge that it’s there so many times, you’re able to do it after that.
Giving yourself space to be where you are is huge. Just let yourself be wherever you are, because most of the time we’re not there forever and you can get through it, but if you deny it, then it stays.
Kim: [00:18:12] And have you found that as you’ve done that, that these incidences have come further apart?
Sharon: [00:18:19] Yes. Yeah, 100%.
I see for myself and clients that like it definitely starts happening less and less. And then what starts happening eventually is that sometimes you don’t even have to stop because you’re able to give yourself what you need in the moment.
I had a workout a couple weeks ago where I started feeling a little bit of anxiety during the workout and I was like, “I’m going to slow down a little bit right now. Like, I’m not stopping. I’m just going to slow down a little bit and I’m gonna give myself that care and I’m going to tell myself as I’m doing it, I’m giving this to you. I’m taking care of you right now. I’m slowing down a little bit.” And you know what? I was able to speed up a few minutes later.
Usually for me, it’s cardio and planks are the worst for me. Everyone has different things where it comes out, but it happens to be that those are the two things that when I do, I can get triggered. But yeah, it definitely happens a lot less. And you also learn how to handle it so that instead of retraumatizing yourself, you’re able to find that strong place to continue from where you’re taking good care of yourself.
Kim: [00:19:22] Wow, that’s fantastic. And how great that you’re going to be looking for ways to help other people with that. That’s fantastic.
Sharon: [00:19:27] Yeah. Thanks.
Kim: [00:19:30] Okay, so continue on then. You had some questions that you were building up to here.
Sharon: [00:19:36] So the first thing I did when I was ready– that’s where we went a little bit off track here is you asked what did I start doing?
And the first thing I did was I gave myself space. So that was my first answer, was that when I first found out about this new way of doing things, I recognize that if I did it right away, it would be coming from a place of feeling like I have to.
I really wanted to lose the weight that I had just put back on. I had put on 30 pounds again. And I felt this sense of, “have to,” and “forcing,” and I felt, “I don’t want to come from that place. I want to give myself room to make a choice and room to be able to do it from a place that feels strong.” So, I gave myself time until I felt ready.
It was about four months from when I found this new way of doing things until when I decided to do it. And then when I did it, I just, I did like a calorie calculator to calculate where I wanted to get to and I gave myself, I think it’s recommended to like go down, you know, instead of going down the full amount of weight, ’cause I had a bit to lose. I still do, but I had quite a bit.
So, I basically wanted to give myself a lot of space to do it slowly and sustainably. So, I calculated the calories based on what you say, and Jordan says, and then I just started and it was incredible how, like right away I had this insane moment where– I remember the first day, literally, I filled my calories from cookies.
I was like, “it can’t be that this is true,” and then all of a sudden I was like, “wow, you know what? I don’t feel bad,” because I know that, yes, I’d like to be eating healthy and yes, that nutrition is important, but for me a big thing was the weight loss and all of a sudden I was like, “okay, you are in your calories, which means that you’re going to be able to get to where you need to go. You’re allowed to eat cookies,” and then I didn’t have to eat cookies the whole day.
It was like the first time that I all of a sudden didn’t have that shame and guilt that came with that judgment of the food and now I am probably eating healthier than I’ve ever eaten in my entire life, and that’s also including my cookies and donuts and pizza, whatever it is, whenever it is, but I’m eating so much protein and salad and vegetables and I feel amazing.
I’ve always had digestive issues. I don’t have them anymore. Physically speaking, it was this amazing realization that there is no such thing as good or bad food. There’s just more or less nutritious, more or less calories, and then there are the choices that you make.
And when that shame and fear was gone, it just opened up so much freedom for me.
Kim: [00:22:08] I can hear it in your voice. I can hear the excitement in your voice about finding a way to eat that felt good to you, and that didn’t feel like it was coming from this place of shame and trying to lose weight and only eat clean.
I mean, that’s a really big thing, right? That everybody– not everybody, but there’s such a culture of, “to lose weight, you have to eat clean,” and everybody has different definitions of what that means. But often what it comes down to is us feeling guilty a lot.
Sharon: [00:22:38] Yes, yes, exactly. I’m like nodding my head as you’re speaking. I just caught myself nodding a lot.
Kim: [00:22:46] We can hear the nodding.
Sharon: [00:22:49] Yeah. I am excited about it because I think that for me, a big thing also was that I didn’t understand the science.
That’s what somebody asked me, like, they’re like, “wow, you, you know, you look great,” and everyone wants to know, “how are you doing it?”
And I’m like, “it’s a combination of science and self-love!”
Kim: [00:23:05] That’s a strong combination.
Sharon: [00:23:08] But like, that’s really what it is. I didn’t understand what a calorie was, I didn’t understand how this works. And the moment that I found out that there’s an actual scientific basis for gaining and losing weight, all of a sudden, it’s like everything fell away and I feel so much freer and so much less stressed.
I don’t think that I’ve ever, before this time, not been afraid of food. No matter what weight I was at, no matter how I was eating, I was always scared. And now I’m not scared anymore because I know what it is. I had to learn the actual science of how food and calories and bodies and nutrition, how it works, and then once I knew what it was, it just fell away.
This is great weight just fell away.
Kim: [00:23:48] Wow. That’s amazing. That’s amazing. And what have your results been?
Sharon: [00:23:52] So, I started doing the calories and then something like 50 days in or something, I started focusing on protein. And then the first message I sent you was about the NEAT, the steps, the 10,000 steps.
So, you introduced me to that and I never understo
od it, and then you explained how whatever workouts or eating or health you’re doing, you’re meant to be moving. Moving is so important and your whole “get up” thing, I love it. Every single time I get up to do my steps, I hear your voice in my head, “get up.”
That’s why I had sent you that message in the first place. I sent you a message that I was having a really hard day and I had an appointment to go to and usually I would just take a bus or a cab, whatever. But I needed to get my steps in, so I walked and I felt so much better from it. And all of a sudden, I realized like, “wow, I’m not triggered anymore. I’m feeling calm and feeling peaceful.” And I realized like, wow, since I’ve been doing this, I’ve been doing so much better mentally and emotionally.
And I think the message I sent to you was like, “I’m at 14,000 steps and I’m still going.” ‘Cause like, I was outside. It was beautiful and I just felt so good and that’s something that you gave to me very much, which I really appreciate. Thank you. Thank you. Really.
Kim: [00:25:14] I can’t even tell you how much I love hearing that.
Sharon: [00:25:16] So yeah. So, I started doing that around day 70. I’m at like 126 days, I think. I’m on MyFitnessPal, so every single day I see my number of days and like, yeah, it’s nice to keep track that way.
So, I’m, I think, 126 days and I’m down something like 23 plus pounds, plus I’ve definitely gotten stronger. I mean, I don’t know how to tell gaining muscle, it’s hard to have an exact calculation of how much muscle you’re gaining, but I believe I’m gaining muscle.
I’ve been eating around the 140-150 grams of protein a day. And I’m doing consistent strength training. I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. I’m really, really strong, like, I feel very good about it. I’m really proud of it.
Kim: [00:26:07] That’s fantastic. What’s your favorite lift?
Sharon: [00:26:11] I like chest presses.  really, really like chest pressers. I find I’m really strong in those. I also love pushups. I like chest moves, I think.
Kim: [00:26:24] I have to tell you, that’s really exciting to hear it. Not a lot of women go for upper body moves as their favorite.
I personally love to bench press.
Sharon: [00:26:32] Yeah. So, I think I’m kind of built, like I’ve always gained muscle easily, I think I’m kind of like built muscularly. Like, running and cardio, I’m not so built for those, those are more of a struggle for me.
But, yeah. Like. I am built so that makes me really happy, also. Like, I used to be a little bit afraid of muscle and now I’m not. I used to think that I was going to become– you know, that’s another, that was debunked for me a long time ago, right when I started working out, I was like, “but I don’t want to look like a bodybuilder,” and it’s like, ok, it is really hard.
And now I’m like, “no, no. I think I do want to look like a bodybuilder.”
Kim: [00:27:11] Like, wait, no, I want that!
Sharon: [00:27:14] Yeah, now I have a little bit of a different perspective. It’s just, it feels so good to be strong. It feels so good to have that freedom of knowing that you can do something and that freedom of moving around and feeling so good in your own body and feeling strong and one with yourself.
I definitely have days where I don’t feel that way, but overall, I used to feel so heavy emotionally, physically, you know, and I guess I just feel so much lighter.
Kim: [00:27:41] Oh wow. I love that. I love that.
Sharon: [00:27:46] Me too.
Kim: [00:27:47] It’s fantastic to hear. The power of getting stronger is life changing.
Sharon: [00:27:54] Yeah. I think that so many people don’t realize the emotional and mental health implications of it. Like, I’m saying I struggled for so long with so much emotional pain, and I still do, it’s definitely not a linear process, but it’s given me so much in so many ways.
There’s this a psychologist on Instagram that I follow and she talks about keeping promises to yourself and how healing that is to learn that you’re a reliable person for yourself.
And for me, I think that that’s part of what working out has been is like, I told myself when I started working out– I found out what’s the minimum and the minimum they say is like twice a week, so as not to be losing muscle. If you want to gain, you have to do more than that. But I found that out and I was like, “I’m making a promise right now that we’re going to work out as much as much as I possibly can because, you know, you do get sick and life sometimes gets in the way and whatever, but we’re going to do minimum twice a week.”
And I think that I’ve not kept that maybe a handful of times because I was sick or something else happened. And it’s given me so much and I really think that so many people are missing this in their life, and it’s such a small thing, but it gives you so much.
Kim: [00:29:17] That’s incredible that you made that promise to yourself and have been consistent with it. That’s fantastic.
Have you noticed that the working out has helped with your mental and emotional state?
Sharon: [00:29:33] 100%. Like 100,000%.
I used to not sleep. Like, I used to have a lot of anxiety and I wouldn’t get much sleep. And when I started working out, it was within a month or two, I started sleeping better and it was amazing ’cause I hadn’t slept well since I was probably, I don’t know, 14-13 years old, that I can remember starting to not be able to sleep.
And all of a sudden, I started to sleep and my quality of sleep was better and then just like overall there’s something very grounding and calming, but I also want to make that disclaimer of, I would say just to making sure that it feels good emotionally. ‘Cause sometimes you could try to force yourself or push yourself when you’re not so in tune with yourself and what you need.
So, I just try to come from a good place. And part of that is also recognizing, like, I tell myself, like, “if you need to do yoga now, that’s fine.” I also tell myself, “if you need to not do anything, that’s also okay,” but just learning how to give yourself space to make decisions as opposed to feeling like you have to and as opposed to feeling like you’re forced.
That’s given me a tremendous amount, working out, on an emotional, mental place for sure. I feel so much more centered and grounded and yeah, I highly, highly recommend it.
Kim: [00:30:52] That’s fantastic. So, it sounds like in the past, you know, however many months, and then before that, even years you got into the strength training and the working out a while ago.
Then in the past months you’ve really got a handle on your nutrition. Sounds like your sleep has improved. So, tell me what your question is.
Sharon: [00:31:12] Okay. So, I have a couple of questions. You should know, by the way, I really would love to, I think my next goal is going to be to take some courses to become more of a health coach because I find it so amazing and it’s done so much for me and I want to help other people too.
But okay, so my questions are a few things. So first of all, I want to know, so I started out at something like 220 pounds or something. I didn’t go on the scale right away ’cause I was a little bit afraid. And now I’m something like– so I don’t know exactly what I started out from, but then I checked my weight a few weeks later and it was, 207 pounds.
And then now I’m at 184-183, something like that. I have to check. But I do weigh myself every day, but I happen to be away from my scale, so I’m not weighing myself right now, ’cause I know that scales are different.
So, my question is, from the beginning, I decided to go with 1,850 calories, I knew that was like, it could be that that was slightly low, but I kind of just started there and it felt good to me. And throughout this entire time, I haven’t felt too hungry or too res
tricted. I do sometimes do calorie cycling, which I love. I love that concept. I think that that’s brilliant. And also, occasionally, you know, I’ll allow myself to just go off and enjoy something if need be.
But my question is: as long as that feels good to me, and as long as there’s weight loss, is that fine? Are there any indicators I should be looking out for that, either it’s too steep of a deficit or not enough of a deficit?
Like, how do you make that decision?
Kim: [00:33:08] That is a great question. So as far as knowing if it’s still going to help you lose weight, you’re going to look based on your results.
So as long as you’re continuing to lose weight at a rate that you’re happy with. So, a good range of progress is 0.5-2 pounds per week. If you’re falling in there, and that’s on average, obviously you don’t have to lose that amount each week, but if you average it out, as long as you’re continuing to lose at that rate and your adherence is high, you can keep those calories.
When I set my calories for my clients, I don’t change them a lot. There’s not like, “Oh, you’ve lost 10 pounds. It’s time to reduce your calories,” or “you’ve lost 20 pounds, it’s time to reduce your calories.” I only reduce calories if we get to a point where they’re not losing weight anymore and their adherence level is very high.
So, we’re talking like 90% adherence to your plan. So, you keep track of like, “okay, in the past 30 days, how many days did I hit that calorie target?” If it’s 90% or above and you’re still not losing weight or, and it’s not just weight, if you’re not losing weight on the scale or seeing progress in pictures, or seeing the fit of your clothes change, or losing inches, if you’re seeing no progress in any of those, and your adherence has been over 90%, that’s when I would consider reducing calories.
Sharon: [00:34:28] Okay, fine. So then that’s fits. I just wanted to make sure.
Kim: [00:34:32] And I would assume so you’re, you said, at 1850 and you’re around 184 pounds. I think that sounds like, if you were starting out, that would be a great amount of calories. Like, I would give you that as a good solid, that’s still going to be a pretty fast clip of weight loss, is what I would assume.
Sharon: [00:34:50] Yeah, so far it’s been pretty consistent. It leads me to my next question, actually, but so far it has been pretty consistent. I think it comes out to around 1.3 pounds a week.
Kim: [00:35:00] That’s fantastic. That’s fantastic.
Sharon: [00:35:03] I went back and checked how much I’m losing per week on average and that’s, I think around what it is.
Kim: [00:35:08] Yeah. That’s a really good average. And then from the other, and you’d said, you know, “how do I know if the calories are too are too low?” I would look there to: are you losing weight incredibly fast? How hungry are you feeling and how sustainable does it feel?
Because look, we could say, “Oh, Sharon, you’re now going to eat 900 calories.” Would you lose weight? Sure, you would lose weight. Are you going to be able to stick with that? Is that going to feel good? No. And so you want to go as far as, “is this number too low for me?” Again, look at your weight, your rate of weight loss, see if it falls in that average. And how are you feeling with regards to hunger, satiety and sustainability?
Sharon: [00:35:44] Okay, fine. That’s that fits in. I think that overall, I’ve been probably around 90% consistent, basically throughout, and I feel very good on it. I haven’t felt too hungry.
Happens to be also, I’ll just say in case there are any listeners who have the same problem, I also do something specific, which is that in Judaism, so like we, we have Shabbat or Shabbos, whatever. So, it means that once a week we basically are having two Thanksgiving dinners.
Which is really complicated, but, I basically, I do two things. First of all, when I’m making it myself, I’ll really make it with my calories in mind and when I’m going to someone else, I really try to assign myself extra– that’s where the calorie cycling really helps me. I give myself extra calories if I want them.
And the amazing thing is also, again, I find the same thing that sometimes I don’t end up wanting them, and instead I just make choices that work for me within the calories that I’d rather use. Because once you have that space, it’s like, “well, do I want to have an extra piece of bread or not?” Like, “do I feel like it?”
It reminds me also of your bites left behind, which is another thing, by the way, that you’ve given me a tremendous amount of inspiration from is like the whole, “you are not a garbage can,” is huge. It’s huge for me. It’s so crazy ’cause you have these conflicting things of like not wanting to eat ’cause you want to lose weight, but then feeling like you can’t waste this.
Like, “I can’t waste it. I have to finish it.” And it was just such a great insight for me. Like, I am not a garbage can eat if you’re hungry. And then when you know that you’re not going to be restricted, you’re able to actually listen to your body about whether you’re hungry or not.
So, I actually found that even though I was giving myself extra calories for those meals, I didn’t need them a lot of the time. Because when I gave myself that room, I actually just was listening to what my body wanted, and many times I didn’t need to calorie cycle.
Kim: [00:37:40] That permission sounds huge, then.
Sharon: [00:37:43] Yeah. So, I think overall I really got a good answer. Thank you. I appreciate that.
And I would say the other question I had was more about like, when you add in calories for like a diet break or reverse diet, I don’t know. They call it different things.
So, I did do it. I think I was on it for three months and then the entire third month I was feeling very emotionally up and down, and the scale was also going up and down a lot, even though it was definitely heading in a downward trend, there was a lot of spikes. And then emotionally I had been handling the spikes better the first two months than the third month.
And I so didn’t want to do a diet break ’cause I was so excited about losing and being on this path and everything. And then eventually I was just like, “Hey, what are you doing? You’re supposed to be giving yourself breaks. You’re supposed to be giving yourself room, and there’s nothing wrong with taking a break. This is all about sustainability and a way of life.”
So, I finally heard all the messages that you say and that everybody says, which is like, it’s a good thing to do. And I added 300 calories in for two weeks. I think I probably could have done more, but I felt like, for me, it was such a scary thing for me to do because I was so happy with the fact that I was losing weight. It was hard for me to do.
So, I kind of gave myself room to do it only a little bit to start out with. But I guess my question is: how do you make a decision of whether or not to add in calories and then how much, and for how long. I don’t know if this is too involved of a topic to ask right now.
Kim: [00:39:33] No, it’s absolutely fine.
So, how to decide to take a diet break is going to be a very personal thing. You don’t ever have to take one. There’s no time that you have to in order to keep losing weight unless it comes to the point where you’re not adhering to your plan. That’s kind of the cue for me that it’s time for one of my clients and I to chat about, “Hey, let’s take a break here,” because they’ve been at it for a good couple of months and they’re not adhering very well anymore, when they were before.
And the thing that they might really need is just a breather from those lower calories. Let’s bring your calories up so you can have more of the, the fun foods that you want, have a little bit more ability to go out and enjoy things. For some people they want just a break from tracking and some more calories. And so, we go to a diffe
rent method of, like a three plate, two snack method.
So, the key that you might need a break is you’re not adhering as well as you once were or you’re just feeling kind of burnt out from it. That’s really the time to say like, “let’s consider taking a break.”
A lot of people think it’s like, “physically, I can’t lose weight anymore and my body needs a break.”
It’s not that. It’s that mentally you’re just not on it as much as you were at one time. And the thing that can really help you get back on it with your consistency, with weighing and measuring and, you know, not eating an extra piece of bread when you’re not hungry and all of those things is just taking a break from all of that and you give yourself the space to take that break by increasing your calories.
Does that make sense?
Sharon: [00:41:19] Yeah. That actually, that fits. Like, the burned-out piece is what I’m relating to. It was starting to feel a little restricted, I guess. And then when I added that 300 calories in like, oh my gosh, it felt like so much. All of a sudden, I felt there was so much more space and so much more room.
And when I decided after two weeks to go back down, I didn’t feel that restriction anymore. I felt good, like I was good to go. I just needed that small amount of time with a little bit more room so that I could be ready to give myself a little less space, but without it feeling restrictive.
Kim: [00:41:57] Yeah, absolutely. And that’s the other part of your question is, so how long should the break be for? And that really, again, depends on the person and what they need and how much weight they still want to lose.
 Sometimes I’ll have clients and they’ll come up and they’ll take a full maintenance break and I have them commit like, “Hey, I’m going to do this for eight weeks,” because people, sometimes they say they want a break, but as soon as they see the scale stop moving, and that’s the whole point, you know you get to maintenance when the scale has stopped moving and is remaining steady, they get kind of freaked out and they immediately want to reduce their calories. And so, we broach that from the beginning of: we’re going to stick with this for eight weeks before we adjust back down.
Other times what people really need is just a couple of weeks off. Like, they just need a few weeks and they’re not really looking to find their maintenance calories or anything yet. They just want two or three weeks of a little bit more calories, you know?
And that can be taken care of with what’s called a jab deficit. I’m not sure if you’ve heard me or Jordan talk about that.
Sharon: [00:42:56] Yeah, I’ve heard you talk about it on a previous podcast.
Kim: [00:42:58] Yeah, and that just means that you come to maintenance every so often, so you can do a deficit for a week or two and then maintenance for a week or two and then a deficit for a week or two, and you set yourself up on a schedule so you know what you’re doing. And that can be enough of a mental break, as well, to help you really keep adherent to your plan.
And that’s the key is we’re looking for adherence to your plan. There is nothing more demotivating for weight loss than to really try hard, but not actually hit your deficit, but it’s still such a high level of effort to not lose weight. Do you know what I’m talking about?
Sharon: [00:43:33] Yes, I do.
Kim: [00:43:34] If you’re just shy of hitting your calorie target many days in a row, you’re not going to lose weight. Yet you’ve put in all of this effort, so mentally you feel like you should get the results until you look on paper and you’re like, “wait, I didn’t actually do it,” but it was still hard.
Sharon: [00:43:49] Right. It’s so interesting because I relate to it from a point of view of having done so many diets without the counting calories and worked so hard to eat, like the “clean” that we were talking about, the clean eating, and then you don’t lose.
And it’s so frustrating and painful to put in that much work and that much effort and then not see any results. When I started doing this calorie deficit, I didn’t actually find it that hard to stay within the calories like 90% of the time because of the fact that it just, for me, my personal experience, everyone’s different, I just felt like, “wow, this is so clear. Like, I understand exactly what I need to be doing to get to where you need to go. And if I don’t do what is being said, then it’s not going to work.”
And so, for me, I didn’t have such a hard time sticking with it from that perspective. But before that, when I was doing the other diets that I found, like, you put so much work in and so much time, but then you’re not getting the results you want.
Kim: [00:44:54] And that’s so frustrating.
All right. So, did you have another question or were those the biggies?
Sharon: [00:45:03] Hold on one second, I do think I had one more, but this is so nerve wracking, by the way. I didn’t even tell you when we were starting how nervous I am about being on.
Kim: [00:45:14] There’s no reason to be nervous! There’s no reason to be nervous.
By the way, the things you’ve shared here are going to help a lot of people. Like, your entire story and the process you went through as you struggled with trauma and how you’ve approached fitness and nutrition. I mean, I think a lot of people are going to resonate with that.
Sharon: [00:45:34] Thanks! If anybody is in Jerusalem and wants to, you know, look up a personal trainer, I’m definitely also available if that’s something that people would be interested in.
Kim: [00:45:46] Or if you need cake.
Sharon: [00:45:48] That’s true. Both of them. I’m a very big advocate of both.
I’ve been eating her cakes this entire time and I still lost 23 pounds, so.
Kim: [00:46:02] It’s true. You can eat cake and still lose weight.
Sharon: [00:46:05] So I’m glad to hear that because you know, that’s really so much of– I think there’s nobody in this world who hasn’t gone through pain of some sort.
And I think that one of the things for me that gives my previous experience and my pain, meaning is being able to help other people. So that’s very meaningful. Thank you. I appreciate that. I hope that it does speak to people.
I think that sometimes life is really hard and we have so many struggles, but knowing that other people have gone through similar things, and having the support and hearing, you know, that people have gotten through it can make it so much easier and can help at least a little bit.
Kim: [00:46:59] Without a doubt. Without of doubt.
You know, it helps people to not feel alone and to feel hope and to see how other people have, managed through it.
Sharon: [00:47:10] Yeah. I think that this time period is such a difficult time period for so many people. And I think that that’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot is how like things can be hard and things can be painful, but at the same time, you can also be grateful and there can also be good.
It doesn’t have to be one or the other. You know, there’s always a mix happening.
Kim: [00:47:33] Absolutely. Absolutely. Now, Sharon, do you have a fitness Instagram account for people to follow?
Sharon: [00:47:42] I do. It’s very new, but yeah.
Kim: [00:47:46] Give us that. Let’s have you shout that out.
Sharon: [00:47:48] Okay, so it’s @tonewithbatcheva
Kim: [00:47:50] Okay, so that is the same one. Okay!
Sharon: [00:47:53] Yeah.
Kim: [00:47:53] Fantastic! And now spell Batcheva for  people.
Sharon: [00:47:58] Okay. B-A-T-S-H-E-V-A.
Kim: [00:48:01] Fabulous.
All right, well, thank you so much for coming on and talking to me. This has been reall
y fantastic to get to know you and to hear where you’ve come from and your story is so inspiring.
Sharon: [00:48:14] Thank you, really. I just want to say again, just how much I appreciate you and everything you’re putting out there. I think also, even with all the different accounts that I have found, I just appreciate the fact that you, you have such a gentleness and compassion in the way that you share information and that you speak to people and that you share your own life and experience so that other people can gain.
And for me, I’m somebody who needs that gentleness and I really appreciate just how nice you are and how, how giving you are with the information. So, I want to say thank you.
Kim: [00:48:53] Thank you. I appreciate you saying that. Let’s keep in touch, don’t be a stranger. We’ll keep DMing!
Sharon: [00:49:01] Okay!
Kim: [00:49:02] All right. Thanks so much.
Sharon: [00:49:06] Bye!
Kim: [00:49:12] 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.