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Start Where You Are – How Joanne Lost 130 lbs

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 conn
ected 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.