Dear TM: Should I Drink Protein Shakes?

Last week, I wrote a post answering the question I hear on the regular….

Does drinking protein shakes make you lose weight?

I got a LOT of response from that post, thanking me for clarification on a few things, and breaking down how one actually DOES lose weight if they desire (and it does NOT mean drinking protein shakes).

I also got some more questions.  Which I thought warranted another post.

Here is basically what I’ve been asked via email, in person, or PM over the past week:

“Should I drink protein shakes?”

Here’s my honest answer…..only if you want to.  It doesn’t have to get more complicated than that, really.

But in all seriousness, I coach this stuff.  I live and breathe some of this stuff because it is so friggin’ interesting to me.  And so I’m going to give you some things to think about so maybe YOU can find your own answer.  These happen to be the same things I think about personally, and the same things I give my clients to think about.

I think it’s helpful to put it into some sort of a list of rambling thoughts to think about.  Bear with me.  I can, at times, be cynical.  Which makes for sassy and interesting reading 🙂  I’m going to highlight the big ticket question to ask yourself in each point.

First and foremost, do you LIKE drinking protein shakes?  If you do, then by all means, drink them.  Seriously.  I’ve tried many a protein drink in my day.  I’ve come across maybe three that actually don’t taste like chalk.  And I wouldn’t call them AMAZING, but I would look at them like one thing that may or may not fit into my life well, depending on my needs at the time.  If you like drinking protein shakes, friggin’ drink them.  If you don’t, don’t friggin’ drink them.  Case closed.

Do you NEED more protein in your daily intake?  Remember, in weight management, total calories (or HOW MUCH food you eat) matter FIRST, macros (or how many protein, carb, and fat grams you balance out each day) matter SECOND.  So, if you are nailing the HOW MUCH piece, you might need to move on to macros.  For my clients and myself, we try to get somewhere in the ballpark of .7-.8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.  Or a certain number of palm size servings of protein each day.  However, we don’t necessarily meticulously log or even weigh or measure our food.  I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you this part though.  My true goal as a nutrition coach is to help someone find THEIR balance, or where THEY feel good at.  I find I get my female clients the best results if I can get them to at least 100 grams of protein per day.  They see and feel change there.  There isn’t as noticeable of a different for me (or them) to jump from 100 to 125 or 150, although we do work on that at times.  It seems for most, the biggest bang hits when someone who is typically eating an intake of 50-60 grams of protein per day to at least hit the 100 gram milestone.  Doesn’t mean they don’t need more and we don’t work to bump them up at times, but that’s where the big changes are noticed in appetite and satiety, at least in my experience.  I don’t notice any benefit at all at eating 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight, because FAT and CARBS need attention as well.

Do you feel like the convenience of drinking a protein shake is an easy solution?  Some people honestly struggle with eating enough food each day, or skipping meals and then later find themselves chewing their arm off out of hunger.  Honestly, in these cases, protein shakes might just be the ticket.  You can drink them solo mixed with milk or water (which won’t fill you up or keep you full for long), or you can blend them into a huge azz meal with fruit, and avocado, and maybe even some sneaky spinach, and oats.  These become portable meals that really only take a minute or two to prepare.  Personally, I often sandwich my own strength training workouts in between personal training clients and group classes.  That means that sometimes I lift and then train 2-3 clients after, and then can’t really eat a normal meal for hours.  In these instances, I often do chug a protein shake, and eat an apple, and possibly a few crackers or pretzels and mixed nuts simply out of convenience, and then I don’t become a jerk to my clients post workout, because I’m not a hangry beast.

Do you follow a rigorous training regimen that leaves you needing a jump on recovery?  Listen, if you train Strongman (woman), powerlifting, bodybuilding, Games, or other competitive sports, or even just follow a very rigorous lifting routine, you possibly might need to get a jump on recovery.  Bodies recover in a variety of ways, and nutrition is one of those ways.  These folks might need an intra workout shake (drinking a protein or protein + carb supplement during their workout) or a post workout shake (drinking a protein or protein + carb supplement after their workout).  Again, let’s not forget that total calories or HOW MUCH we eat matters most.  But for people pushing the envelope on performance, we gotta look at the macro piece, and recovery as well.  So, if you’re taking a Yoga Sculpt class, no….you do not need an intra or post workout shake for recovery.  Ever.  No matter what your “health coach” tells you.  If you’re doing a basic circuit class, nope, probably not.  If you’re doing 15-30+ working sets of exercises, it’s probably time to consider it, you know?  If your training sessions are pushing 1.5 hours and up, and it’s not because you are busy texting your friends during them, it might be time to consider them.  If you are waking up day after day sore AF, feeling like you got hit by a bus, it might be time to consider them….but more than likely it means you need more food overall, and not protein shakes specifically.

Does your body tolerate drinking a protein shake?  Listen, some bodies don’t tolerate protein supplements.  They just don’t.  People report feeling gassy or yucky after certain ones, and that’s because their body just ain’t having it.  Others have no issues at all.  This is kind of an individual thing, so it’s important to pay attention.  Protein supplements are typically from whey or casein protein, although there are soy protein, pea protein, brown rice protein, egg white protein, and other choices as well.  I hope it goes without saying that if you don’t tolerate dairy, it’s probably not wise to supplement with a dairy protein.  But if it doesn’t go without saying, I guess I just said it.

Do you keep trying to tell yourself that drinking a protein shake is going to make you lose weight?  This is a serious question, and I’m not trying to be a jerk here.  But sometimes we like to say “I’m going to drink protein shakes” or “go organic” or “do a Whole30” because we are using the supplement (or organic falala or Whole30) as another means of “fixing” ourselves.  So, what I’m trying to say here is, your MINDSET friggin’ matters when it comes to this stuff.  If you truly need or want to supplement, do it.  If you are using it as a ruse to lose weight or “fix your fatally flawed self”….it ain’t a good idea, you know?

Lots of points to consider with this protein shake topic, yes?  And there are more points to possibly consider as well, but I’m running out of steam on this post.  Remember, calories (whether you meticulously count them or not) matter MOST.  This is the HOW MUCH piece.  Macros (or your ratio of protein, carb, and fat grams) matter SECOND.  Then a few other things matter after that, but not nearly as much as slaying the calorie and macro beasts.

Remember, you get protein from meat, eggs, fish, dairy, beans, soy, and other stuff.  There is no reason you need to supplement protein, really, with all those delicious choices that you can chew.  Of course, there may be reasons for you to supplement.  You are your own individual with your own needs.

Also remember, drinking a protein shake doesn’t automatically make you healthy.  Nor does it make you She-Hulk Jacked Mama Jama (if there WAS that supplement, and it wasn’t roids, I might consider taking it, lol) 😉  Remember, neither food nor supplements have a moral value.

I’m happy to discuss these things with you via comment on this post, or discussion on my Facebook page.  I also have an awesome Nutrition Power Tools course beginning September 25th, and we discuss some of this (and a lot more stuff) in the course.  Feel free to email me at tmwellnessrevolution@gmail.com to indicate interest in the course, or just to give me your private two cents on this blog post.  Oh, and if you want a list of the protein supplements I use that don’t taste like chalk, let me know as well, and I’m happy to provide you them (none are associated with MLM companies, and all are economical).  Also drop me a line if you have an interesting question or topic that might make a good blog post as I’m kind of on a kick where I’m trying to answer common questions.

Do Protein Shakes Make You Lose Weight?

I don’t know about you, but I see a lot of info in my feeds/face about how drinking protein (or meal replacement for that matter) shakes helps one lose weight.

For a while, Slim Fast used to be a thing.  Drink two Slim Fast shakes a day, and eat a sensible dinner.  Boom.  Weight loss was inevitable.  So was chewing off your arm out of hunger, but that’s a topic for another day.

Supplement stores such as GNC sell some sort of Lean Shake mix, which is advertised quite frequently on TV, and if you happen to walk past one of their stores, I’m sure you will see it displayed prominently in the window.  Kind of the same concept.

Of course, we also have the current MLM craze, where everyone and their brother is selling shakes and supplements to help slim you down.  This is the same concept as the first two, but on steroids, because it’s in your face, coming from “health coaches” who really don’t have training in health or nutrition, but ARE really great at hashtagging their social media feeds and making sure that you know the product they are trained to SELL is super healthy for you, and will completely change your life (you’ll get the job, AND the hot husband, AND 2.5 kids who will go on to both nab a Nobel Peace Prize, AND the car,  AND suddenly start telling everyone how #blessed  you are since you found “unlimited earning potential”).

So does drinking shakes REALLY help you lose weight?  Let’s look at this with a critical eye for a second, shall we?

This is also my WTF face.
This is also my WTF face.

First off, we need to know our calorie balance “stuff.”  If one is maintaining their weight, they are in calorie (or energy)  balance…..or, what they put into their body via food/calories is pretty much the same as what they expended each day through living activities, exercise, etc.  If one is losing weight, they are in negative calorie balance, or taking in less food/calories than what they expend each day.  If one is gaining weight, they are in positive caloric balance, or taking in more calories/food than they expend each day.  Don’t believe me?  Check it out with the CDC.

So….we already have our answer, really.  Negative calorie balance is what makes one lose weight.  But….this would be a really boring post if we stopped here, so let’s continue down this path further.

I picked up this super handy graphic from my friends at Renaissance Periodization.  They are like the #sciencebitches of nutrition world.  For the record, my friends at Precision Nutrition share this stuff as well in their nutrition training.  So do many other science based organizations.  A quick Google search should net you many quality examples such as this one.

Photo Cred: Renaissance Periodization
Photo Cred: Renaissance Periodization

Take a peek at this thing, will you?  It tells us a lot.  Of all things important related to nutrition, calorie balance carries the most weight (Ha!  Pun intended!).  How MUCH we eat affects our weight the most, just like we learned above.  From that graphic, it is roughly 50% of the equation (at least to my eye).  Next in line are macronutrients, which are basically the balance of your food intake being made up of carbs, fats, and proteins, and it’s important to note that this carries a bit of weight too (look at me with my witty puns!).  Then we start getting down to fine tuning….nutrient timing, otherwise known as WHEN you eat your carbs, fats, and proteins.  Then food composition….or WHAT your food choices are made of (whole foods vs. lots of boxed food choices could be an example).  Finally, the last, last, VERY LAST item on the list….supplements, or what we know as things like protein shakes and supplements, pre-workout drinks, intra workout drinks, post workout drinks, recovery formulas, aloe drinks, fat burners, energy bars, and all that other “stuff” sold by stores like GNC, or quite possibly 50% of your social media newsfeed (because again, everyone and their brother is peddling SOMETHING to slim you down).

Here’s the thing.  Pretty much everything you are eating and drinking has calories.  It “costs” something to enjoy those things.  The foods you eat day in and day out MATTER with regard to your weight because they are that 50% figure on the graphic…the HOW MUCH.  If one desires to lose weight, they will need to get familiar with the HOW MUCH piece.

For the record – HOW MUCH, or calorie balance, means the most.  You can be in negative calorie balance by making your breakfast a protein shake, if that protein shake is less calories than your normal breakfast, and therefore takes your total calorie intake to a level that is slightly less than what you burn each day on the regular.  For the record, you can ALSO eat eggs and veggies and toast for breakfast and STILL lose weight, if your total calories IN are less than what you put OUT that day.  And, I feel like throwing a wrench in it all too, so I will.  If you eat nothing but Snickers bars during the day, and you STILL end up eating less calories than you expend each day, you will lose weight.  I would argue that might not be best for your HEALTH, but HEALTH and WEIGHT LOSS don’t necessarily mean the same thing, now do they?

So, want to lose weight?  Then figure out about how much you eat each day on the regular.  You can do this by counting calories, or by taking pictures of your food each day, and sort of keeping a mental inventory.  You can also do it by eyeballing.  The knowing HOW MUCH piece is generally the biggest piece of the puzzle for folks to get a handle on, because activity is activity.  If you are an active person, that doesn’t generally change to non-active next week, sorta active the following week, and super-duper-awesome active the week after that.  It generally stays the same over the course of a week.  The same is true for moderately active or inactive people.  Or, if you want to keep your food intake the same, get MORE active, or BURN more energy.  This will also give you a negative calorie balance, provided you move enough.

Finding your desired calorie balance is the first step of the puzzle.  If you want to lose weight, somehow finagle a few less (like 200-500) less calories in your mouth than you expend each day.  OVER TIME, you will lose weight, if you are consistent.  Keep working this until you’ve reached your desired weight.  Once this gets easy for you, start working on macronutrients, or getting a decent amount of protein in each day, and fats, and carbohydrates.  For the record, those things all have calories, but it is more like playing around with the RATIO of proteins, fats, and carbs to find YOUR ideal level.  Please, please, pretty please avoid the trap of just arbitrarily assigning yourself an allowance of 1200 calories a day.  This is generally very severe for most individuals, and makes it nearly impossible to stick to, thus creating a cycle of dieting, binging, icky confidence and self-esteem, and other yuck.

I’m a nutrition coach, and my clients pretty much slay the calorie balance piece first (through a variety of ways like possibly keeping count of calories or other non-counting methods).  We do begin to incorporate macronutrient info pretty quickly, because my nutrition clients are generally also strength and conditioning clients, and getting a handle on macros tends to improve their performance and recovery as well.  These two pieces – calorie balance and macronutrients – those are generally where we stop because they are enough for MOST individuals.  Should you want to be a Crossfit games competitor, or bodybuilder, or compete in figure, or be super-freaking-ripped-lean, we need to start paying attention to things like nutrient timing, food composition, and supplementation.  For most of America, though, we really don’t.

So back to the original question – does drinking protein shakes help you lose weight?  Answer – yes, IF you are in a negative calorie balance.  But let’s not forget, there are many ways to be in a negative calorie balance, including NOT drinking protein shakes.

My two cents – spend your money on foods that make you feel good and that you like to eat.  If you want to lose weight, eat a bit less of them each day, and don’t waste your energy (or money) on supplementing because it is like 5% of the total picture.

I hope I answered the question  – does drinking protein shakes make one lose weight?  All in all, every qualified nutrition coach will get down and dirty in the details with their client.  Protein shakes CAN play a role in one’s, but they don’t need to.  And they certainly don’t need to be touted as the Holy Grail, they are in fact, just protein grams and calories.  Same as an egg.  Same as cottage cheese.  Same as chicken, salmon, beef, etc.  Protein shakes just tend to digest faster, because you know, no chewing required.  But that’s another post completely.

If you need help sorting through this in your own personal life, please give me a shout.  I like to make this stuff uncomplicated for people.  I love helping people realize they can have a healthy relationship with food, trust their choices, and NOT LIVE in fear every time they sit down to eat.  You can reach me at tmwellnessrevolution at gmail dot com.  I answer everyone :).  I also have a really handy nutrition course coming up through my lovely little gym.  It begins September 25th, and will help you figure out this stuff in a non-complicated way.  If you choose to join us, sign up soon, as space is limited, by clicking HERE.

 

Four Nutrition Tips That Will Change How You View Food

You guys, I know.  Nutrition, or….how one eats….seems crazy overwhelming.  Like, CRAZY overwhelming.  If Dr. Oz says that carbs are bad but now Oprah is eating them, like who do we even listen to?  (Hint: probably neither of those two public figures).  

I like to think about nutrition in a way that isn’t scary.  Nor full of rules or lots of counting.  And best of all, I think viewing nutrition this way promotes a healthy relationship with food and eating.  I thought I would share that with you today.  Mostly because I know how it feels to have a shady relationship with food.  It’s no fun to feel like you are on a cycle of “on” or “off” your nutrition game.  Life is too short, and there are better places to put our energy than in crazy feelings towards food.

So here goes.  A few tips that might help you out.  

Tip #1 – Eat 3 or 4 meals a day, with no snacks in between.  

Whaaaaatttt?  I thought I was supposed to eat 5-6 mini meals a day?  Well, to be honest, you can still do that.  But listen to my reasoning for 3-4 meals each day.  First off, if you only eat 3-4 times each day, your meals become more substantial….a little larger.  I don’t know about you, but larger meals help me feel satisfied for longer.  Physically AND mentally.  I’m a person who lives to eat.  Eating a larger meal is FUN for me.  And satisfying.  And then it lets me feel a little full or satisfied for a few hours so I can go on my merry way and NOT stress about when my next meal is coming in.  I literally have more energy to direct towards the rest of my life because I’m thinking about food less.  All from eating larger meals less frequently throughout the day.  What matters in the weight management world is that we eat enough energy from food each day to support the energy that we expend.  If we eat that energy in almonds, or broccoli, or Twinkies, or over 5-6 meals, or 3-4 meals doesn’t really matter for weight management (although some of these do directly impact our health).  It matters that we eat the energy we expend each day OVER THE LONG HAUL….day in and day out.  However, for many, eating 3-4 larger meals tends to be a great strategy because they feel satisfied and don’t have to invest energy in two short hours about where their next mini meal is coming from….because they can last about four hours until their next meal.  It’s sort of a time saver, and a mental energy saver.

Tip #2 – Let hunger be your signal that it’s time to eat again.  

It’s okay to feel hungry.  We won’t die from feeling hunger.  Actually, feeling hunger is a really great way to enjoy your next meal.  Think about it…if you go through your day eating 5-6 mini meals and never feeling hunger….how do those meals taste?  Awesome?  Do you even notice?  I like to feel hunger for about 30-60 minutes before eating (and to be honest, I coach many of my clients this way too).  Feeling hunger, not RAVENOUS hunger, but just that hunger feeling is a sign that your body is needing to take in some energy.  It’s okay to feel that for a bit before eating.  The thing I notice the most when practicing this habit is that my meals TASTE AMAZING when I come in a little hungry.  Like, they are SO GOOD.  And then I convince myself that I am a master chef because they are so amazing.  This feeds directly into Tip #1, because I’m ready to enjoy a nice, substantial meal, and my brain is ready to enjoy it too.  If you try this one out, expect to have to trial and error your way through for awhile.  If you’ve been ignoring hunger signals for awhile and trying to distract yourself by chewing gum instead, or been on a diet for most of your life, hunger might be disguised for you.  Be patient with this one.  Hunger comes back around eventually.  Better yet, come pick up a weight and squat and lift with me…..you will find hunger QUICK that way. Ha!

Tip #3 – Eat protein and produce often.

Try to include a lean protein such as chicken, eggs, lean beef, pork, Greek yogurt, fish, or beans at most (hopefully all) meals.  Not a few lame strips of chicken found in those supermarket pre-packaged salads.  Like, it’s CHICKEN for the love of all that’s holy, eat it, and don’t skimp!  Protein is your big time building block for staying satisfied AND helps you keep that lean body because it feeds your musclez, yo!  And while you’re at it, include produce at your meals.  I’d love to say eat veggies at every meal here, but most people freak out and take that as an ultimatum.  So shoot for veggies at MOST meals, and the ones you miss, either double up next time, or at the very least include some fresh fruit at your meal.  We want that produce for all those little cool vitamins and minerals that not only help us FEEL better, they help us digest better, too.  Eat produce!  I don’t think anyone can come up with a reason why they shouldn’t.  Disclaimer:  don’t eat things that you are allergic to or make you feel yucky, because there is always another choice that will agree with you that you CAN eat.  

Tip #4 – Ditch the “good” and “bad” foods list.

Ditch the judgement about food choices.  Because life is too short to judge yourself based on the fact that you ate 7 (or 77) Cheetos last week.  Let’s put it into context.  Did you eat Cheetos?  Yes.  Did you rob a bank?  No.  You aren’t a bad person because you ate Cheetos.  You aren’t a good person if you kept to your perfectly planned meal plan.  There just isn’t room in life (or maybe in my life) for stressing over “good” and “bad” foods.  Because I find that stressing over “good” and “bad” foods makes me more apt to make food choices that I don’t feel good about making.  When I settle down and let go of “good” and “bad,” I have room to trust myself to build my plates based on food that makes me feel good and also a treat here and there.  And then that’s it. There’s not the icky stress or guilt factor after.  Again, this one takes some time and compassion.  Be patient with yourself on this one.

So there you have it, four tips that will get you some mileage on changing the way you view food.  Please, please, pretty please….if you try any or all of these, let me know!  I love to hear how people incorporate things!  And a tip, don’t try ALL OF THEM at one time.  Try just one of them, for like two weeks, and see how it goes.  Then you are free to try another.  Capisce?

I want to chat with you about something.  I spend a lot of time geeking out over nutrition.  Like LOTS.  It’s interesting to me.  Which is why I’m a Precision Nutrition Level 1 Nutrition Coach.  I value what eating well does for our bodies.  But mostly, I value the fact that having a good relationship, based on trust and NOT fear, with food is crucial to one’s wellness.  

What I find most with my nutrition clients is actually that most people know WHAT to do.  They just really struggle with implementing  a few changes, or helping them overcome barriers that currently prevent them from doing those things.  That’s it!  They KNOW what to do, they just struggle sometimes with DOING what they know.  If this is YOU, my lovely little gym has a Nutrition Power Tools course kicking off September 25th.  This is a 12 week group coaching program that helps you navigate your way through some of the very tips we just talked about and THEN some.  I’m limiting the attendance to 30 lovely people, because I want to be sure that you get the attention you need and deserve during this course.  It’s super cool too, because the course runs via iOS app (iPhone, iPAD, iPod), and is built around the concept of teamwork.  If this is something that sounds interesting to you, hit reply and let me know!  If you KNOW this is something you want to do, register HERE.  Please don’t sign up if you are looking for a meal plan, a cleanse, a diet, or to be told what to do, because those things are 100% not in this course.  What IS in the course, is “trying on” nutrition habits for size, learning how to customize them, learning how to trust yourself, and learning how to have a healthy relationship to food.  
Got questions?  Drop me a comment and ask ’em….I always get back to people!

What I Should Have Said

My family and I took an AWESOME little road trip up north this weekend, through Duluth and up along the North Shore.  It was AWESOME.  Awesome scenery, awesome to be together….just the three of us, and honestly just awesome to do stuff that wasn’t related to real life and work and busy schedules and all that jazz.

One day, we were feeling brave, and ventured to Palisade Head near Beaver Bay to check out the view from the top.  

Palisade Head
Palisade Head

You are SO HIGH UP, and it is SO STRAIGHT DOWN, and it is just awesome.  It gave me anxiety to be able to look straight down to the rocks and water, but it was still awesome.

Anyway, where we were and what we were doing isn’t the point of this post.

Another couple was up there while we were, and asked us to take their picture.   I would guesstimate that they were a few years younger than we were.  So, they set up shop for a great picture, and I snapped a few to make sure there was at least one with no blinks in it.

I hand the camera back to the woman, and start walking away with my family, and I hear her voice sorta panic.

“Oh my gosh, I’m HUGE.”

“I thought I posed and sucked it in, I can’t believe I’m so huge.”

I thought this woman looked great.  Not huge.  Great.  And happy.

Any then my heart sank a little bit because I know that panicked feeling when you see a photo of yourself.  I used to HATE getting pictures taken.  Or worse, when someone would tag you in a photo on Facebook, and you instantly had anxiety about what you looked like and how you looked to others.  I KNOW what she was feeling.

I don’t know those feelings too often anymore, although sometimes I need to remind myself to stop being my own worst critic and stop looking for faults and flaws in pictures.  And I wanted to stop, and turn around and say to this woman, “Please don’t say these things about yourself.  It isn’t worth it.  It isn’t worth wrecking the awesome experience you just had on the top of this massive cliff to freak out about how bad you think you look.”

I didn’t say anything.   I just gave her a little mental compassion, and went on my way.

I hear things like these a lot.  Mostly because I think I’m hyper-sensitive to hearing them because I’ve FELT all these things about myself.  And hearing them almost hurts my ears, because after knowing what it feels like to not loathe myself, I want that feeling for EVERYONE (even the ones who drive me a little nuts sometimes) who deals in self-loathing.  I can’t unknow all this cool stuff that I now know and feel.  I can’t unknow how it feels to be proud of me, my body, things I do, and how I act BECAUSE I know I deserve to have all those cool things.  I can’t say icky stuff about me anymore because it feels icky to say icky things to someone you love.

This experience was a lesson for me.  First, it made me appreciate how far I have come by putting effort into myself.  But more importantly, it made me realize that it is even MORE important to approach people with a healthy dose of compassion in this area.  How people feel about themselves impacts EVERYTHING – how they act towards you, how they talk and interject and communicate, how they participate socially, and how they feel about taking pictures.  Even on top of a beautiful rock formation, these things still happen.  Icky body image knows no limits.  It can make a great day or great experience drop into the tank with just a second of self-loathing.

If you deal a little, or a lot, in self-loathing….I urge you to show yourself a healthy dose (everyday) of self-compassion.  Be easy on yourself.  Being harder or stricter is never the answer in this arena, as those things only breed more self-loathing. If you want to do MORE of something, try on a little extra compassion for size.

Awesome Interview: Meet Kate!

I am excited to share another farm girl interview with you all!  I know her from high school, and was on the same volleyball team as her.  And to be honest, when she hit the ball, you basically got the eff out of the way!  She had a mean serve too!  

A few months ago she reached out to me about how she was doing some yoga at home and was getting stronger and more flexible.  Then I saw a few of her farming posts on Facebook and thought….dang, wouldn’t it be cool to have an interview with a farmer-mom-living room yoga-chick?  

So here we are :).  She agreed to answer a few questions for us, and let us peek into her life a bit.  

So, I will stop rambling, because it is time for you to meet Kate!

Kate!
Kate!

Tell us a little about yourself – your background, your family, what you do, and why.

I am from South of Gaylord, and graduated from Sibley East in 2000. I grew up on a dairy farm with my parents and two older sisters. I went post secondary the last half of my senior year to Southwest State in Marshall. I played volleyball there the following year and loved it. I transferred to South Central Tech and did the one year dental assisting program. Then I moved up to Excelsior and worked at Lake Minnetonka Orthodontics for almost a year, and ended up moving back to Mankato and worked at an orthodontic office for four years. We (my husband and I) moved out to our farm and I stopped working in town to farm full-time.  That was 10 years ago already!  I now custom raise heifers for my parents on our farm which includes the feeding, cleaning and breeding of around 200 heifers and I do most of the breeding at their farm also. My husband, Matt, and I have been married for almost nine and a half  years. We have three absurdly awesome kids – Genesis is 7.5, Matthew is almost 5 and Collin is 2.5.

Kate and her family!
Kate and her family!

What is the coolest thing about what you do for a living that we might not know?

As gross as it sounds, breeding is actually very interesting. Cows are oddly similar to humans reproductive cycles and gestation. Nobody ever guesses my profession and I love that!

Can you give us an example of WHAT you do every day, or what your day looks like?

Most of my days Im home with the kids and I go outside to feed the heifers or scrape manure during nap time. Two days a week the kids go the daycare (when not in school) and those days I go to my dads farm to breed cows or do herd health there. All other work is done either with the kids or after they go to bed at night. Some days its very difficult to balance everything.

What do non-farmer people NOT know about the farming world and how would you educate them?

For the most part I really dont judge people for their choices in regards to the farming industry, but that respect is rarely reciprocated since there is so much superiority around. Im not a fan of organic anything. I dont feel that its superior whatsoever. Im also not a nutritionist, so I do not back anything up with facts or numbers, it is just my opinion. The biggest joke out there is hormone free milk. Cows naturally produce the hormone bst, so there is not milk that is completely free of it. Some cows are given injections to enhance/increase that hormone but I dont think that is very common anymore. My other gripe is that they call almond juice milk or any other nut for that matter. But thats mostly because it makes me laugh. I once had someone tell me that they would love to be one of my cows because I love them so much. I give them hugs, kisses and sing them songs too 🙂  When I’m outside, I have to watch to see if any are in heat to breed.  I also have to pay attention to their overall well-being and appearance to monitor their health. I can tell almost all of them apart and I have special memories of certain ones too. They are my girls! 🙂

Kate and The Girls!
Kate and The Girls!

With a physical job, how do you use exercise to take care of yourself so you know you can perform your best?

To be perfectly honest, after I graduated from college I exercised very seldom! I only started working out 10 months ago consistently. Before that, I just did my work and hoped for the best. Oops.  🙂

What types of physical activity, besides farm work, do you enjoy the most?

The end of last September I did my first workout. I had ordered Jillian Michaels yoga meltdown DVD and of course it sat on the table for three weeks. I still don’t know what made me start, but since then I have worked out every other day minus just a couple times. I did only the power yoga for seven months straight with only two levels on the DVD. I loved it! I’m not a flexible person and this helped that. Even in the end I was dripping sweat every single time! The only reason I stopped is because I wasn’t seeing as many results I thought I should. I did basics of dumbbell work, lunges, and push-ups for a month. Now I’m a little over half done with the Fe Fit 90 day experience, which is a total body series of dvds.  It’s  incredibly difficult but I’m definitely getting stronger and seeing muscle definition which is exciting! Literally haven’t lost a pound on the scale but I feel good about my strength, definition and flexibility that I have gained. I have regained my life as an athlete and it feels great. My kids see me working out and they know my schedule (every other day) and I love that I can be a good example to them. I will only work out for 30 minutes max and I only do it in my living room. I don’t have time to go anywhere so I do my workouts during nap time or after the kids go to bed. On busy days, I will work out at any time. I have done workouts at 11:30pm just to stay on track. Just never in the morning :).  

Just a little living room yoga :)
Just a little living room yoga :)

Talk to us about how you eat….are you a home cooked meal type of girl, or do you wing it every day?  What are your favorite foods?

My biggest downfall! I don’t eat clean, or small for that matter. I love cooking and baking. I’m a meat and potatoes girl. I love pasta, starch and meat. I’m not necessarily proud of it but at this point, I’m not quite ready to change all that. I have good days and bad, I do love salads but I can’t thrive on them. One day I’ll get it…maybe.

Tough Muddette butting in here…….ain’t nothing wrong with being a meat and potatoes girl!  Kate, you expend a lot of energy caring for the cows, and the kids, and busting out your living room workouts.  Gotta eat big to account for that!

How do you unwind after a long day or long week?  Farming is physical AND emotional business.  How do you take care of yourself – your body and your mind – to make sure YOU are well physically and emotionally?

Oh my, is it! I love my wine! I usually have a glass almost every night. I love to have alone and quiet time. I’ve always been musical and appreciative of its qualities so I listen to music if I’m riled up. I think the workouts have helped a little with unwinding but the mostly just make me tired.

If you could wake up tomorrow, and have your perfect day ahead of you, what would it look like?

I don’t know if that exists. I guess taking bits and pieces from other days…mostly depends on how the kids are behaving to be honest. Some family time, great food, lots of laughing and then some down time would be great!

If you could go back and talk to your 21-year-old-self…..what would you say?

WellI was going through cancer treatments at 21 after going through a horrible breakup, so I hardly recognize that person anymore. I was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma in my right thigh and went through chemotherapy and radiation. I had to deal with the hair loss and all the unfortunate side effects. My family and friends were so beyond incredible and supportive. My faith kept me on the ground. I remember knowing that I didn’t have any other choice so I had to be strong and keep my spirits up to get through it. It taught me a lot about myself and about what I had to do to survive in life.  I would mostly have to say to that person to just give it time but try to find your passion and not give in to other peoples standards. Never depend on someone else for your happiness. Life only gets harder so enjoy the time when you can just do you!  

Anything else you would like to share with us?

I will always be a work in progress, but that doesn’t mean I’m not proud of who I am right now. I’m proud of what I am doing and I’m not going to be too hard on myself for what I haven’t achieved yet. I try very hard to stop saying “I’ll be happy when…”. I’m happy now and I’m going to embrace my good and my bad and be the badass that I want to be.

Kate, thank you SO MUCH for letting us peek into your life!  Keep being farmer-mom-living room yoga-badass!

Some Fun Fitness Finds I Love Lately

You know…..I like fitness stuff.  If I can squat in it, or wear it and feel good….I’m into it lately.  Ask me to get dressed for realisies in jeans or real people clothes….I’m out.

Ask me to find cool workout leggings and shoes and a hoodie….I’m all the way in.

So I thought I would share what I’m kind of in love with lately.   Full disclosure though…I am NOT a fashionista.  I really am just a sucker for workout gear.  So know that going into this post 🙂

Old Navy Go-Dry High-Rise Compression Crops

Photo Source - oldnavy.com
Photo Source – oldnavy.com

I love these!  This was my first venture into high waisted workout pants, and to be honest….I’m sorta bummed that all pants aren’t high waist, lol.  These don’t move when squatting, jumping, deadlifting, or running.  I have three pairs in a variety of colors/prints that I bought when there was a 40% off deal, so I paid like $17 or something per pair.  Heck of a deal!  I size up though, otherwise I notice that things get weird and see-through, and I don’t want to be that girl 🙂

Flag Nor Fail Weather Your Storm Baseball Tee

From Flag Nor Fail
From Flag Nor Fail      

I have been following Dana Linn Bailey on FB for a bit now, and I like her attitude.  Basically, lift the shit out of weights, kick butt at life, and be productive and nice.  So I saw her clothing line and found this shirt…and I love it.  I love baseball tees because they are comfy, plus this has a cool message.  It is a unisex fit, so you have to kind of pay attention to the size, and I sized down so it fit closer to my body.  I’ve worn and washed it three times and the color has not faded or had bleeding issues yet, plus it is lightweight and soft.  I love it!

 

Qalo – Customized Womens Ring

My Qalo!
My Qalo!    

I like this ring because it says yes I’m married and cook a mean pot roast, but I’m badass and kill it in the gym.  This specific one has a kettlebell on it :).  Last year after prepping for the RKC and the snatch test, my wedding ring got a bit snug on me.  My grip has changed, and thus my finger size has changed.  I need to get it resized.  So this is my gym friendly wedding ring stand in that I can wear all day :).

Forged Incorporated Tank

I heart a good racerback!
I heart a good racerback!

 

I’ve bought a few things from Forged before, but it’s been awhile.  I love this tank!  This one is kind of a charcoaly brown, super soft, lightweight, and comfy.  I really like the Forged story best, though…I feel good about putting money towards companies that use it to do good.

 

 

 

Reebok Women’s Crossfit Lite Lo Training Shoe

Photo source - amazon.com
Photo source – amazon.com

I just ordered my second pair of these.  I’ve been wearing my first pair for a year, and they need to be replaced because I’ve worn them out.  I prefer workout out, especially lifting, with bare feet, but sometimes you need to wear shoes, yo!  These are way more comfortable than Chucks, in my opinion, for workouts!  I love them!

Under Armour Eclipse Bra

Photo source - amazon.com
Photo source – amazon.com

I think I have like five of these bras.  Super comfortable!  They are supportive enough for me to jump and run in without feeling outta control, but really, really comfortable,  Um, I wear these with regular clothes sometimes and not just for workouts because they are that comfy.

 

 

Do you have some faves that you can’t live without?  Share them with me!  I want to hear them!

Awesome Interview: Dairy Woman Strong!

I have been Facebook stalking Dairy Woman Strong for the last while.  I am a creeper like that.  And I have to say, I appreciate her posts and thoughts that she shares on social media.  I dig a good farming story, and because this is a WOMAN farmer story, it is exponentially more awesome to me.  I was raised on a farm, as was my husband.  Our parents are still hustling in the farming business.  We live in a farming community.  Farmers provide for us.  And to be honest, I get a little jacked up when they sometimes get portrayed by the media as evil scientists who create sneaky stuff for the world to eat in their top-secret laboratories.  Farmers and those who know them know that they care very deeply for their land and their animals.  They respect them.  Farmers aren’t scary and they sure as heck aren’t secretive, in fact….they are some of the nicest people you will ever meet.  And I’m sure if you wanted to learn more about farming, reaching out to your nearest farmer might bring you some education and new experiences that you don’t even know exist.  And you never know, you might gain a new friend out of the deal!

So, basically, what I’m saying here, is Farmers Freaking Rock.

Anyways, I’m rambling.  Let’s get to the good stuff.  Our interview!

Tell us a little about yourself, Dairy Woman Strong!  Let us get to know you!

I am Shannon Seifert, life long dairy enthusiast. I have been a dairy farmer, dairy educator, and dairy professional. I currently work as a dairy specialist for B & R Dairy in Winthrop where I help farmers with their milking equipment. I chose Dairy Woman Strong because it describes my attitude for life. I am passionate about dairy and cows, I am a woman in a typically male profession, exploring everything about that, and Strong, using this life to learn the real meaning of strength.

Shannon Seifert, AKA Dairy Woman Strong
Shannon Seifert, AKA Dairy Woman Strong

What is the coolest thing about what you do for a living that we might not know?

The coolest thing about my job is using technology to help diagnose problems and prevent issues for our dairy farmer customers. They are some of the hardest working people I know and I love being able to help them achieve their goals and help their cows have a more comfortable life.

Give us an example of WHAT you do every day, or what your day looks like.

My typical day isn’t very typical. Some days I am working on a construction project, other days I am in the office editing our company website. Because my customers are farmers I need to meet them when they are most busy. Some of my days start at 4 am, some of them finish at 9pm. I am working with farmers who do not have set hours because the cows they care for need care 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. My responsibilities include evaluating milking equipment, training on farm employees and working with farmers to help achieve their goals. I most enjoy walking through cow barns and really taking the time needed to watch the cows. Cows will tell you an enormous amount of information about their care if you stop and just watch them.

What do non-dairy people NOT know about the dairy world and how would you educate them?

My blog has been my major outlet to educate the public about dairy farming, the one key take home message I want our customers to know is that “We CARE”. A lot of myths stem around the fallacy that farmers don’t care and they are only in farming to make a profit. Yes, farmers need to feed their families and farming is very capital intense but at the end of the day they truly CARE about their land, their animals, and their resources because they are working so tirelessly for their families and yours.

With a physical job, how do you use exercise to take care of yourself so you know you can perform your best in the farming world?

When I get to the dairy farm, it is not uncommon to log 20-50,000 steps a day on my FitBit but even then I still know that exercise is so important to my mental, spiritual and physical health. I really enjoy running, walking and biking the most. I try to mix in some strength training to keep my core solid, especially with a physical job.

What types of physical activity, besides farm work, do you enjoy the most?

I’m an outdoors girl by nature. Even as a kid I would go biking after chores at night. I love hiking, walking and running in the great outdoors. I love going to parks and exploring.

Talk to us about how you eat….are you a home cooked meal type of girl, or do you wing it every day? What are your favorite foods – dairy and non-dairy choices!

I am a home cooked type of girl. With a farming background I am used to making good, healthy meals. I do have a garden that I share with a friend. I love using produce from that garden year round for my meals. My mother was an avid gardener as well, so I was raised eating lots of fruits and vegetables plus meat and dairy. My favorites are really good savory salads with protein (fish, chicken, beef, pork), dairy based smoothies, and I do treat myself to some delicious chocolate every once in awhile. I typically buy my veggies and fruits each week and do prep work so they are quick snacks or easy to pack lunches. I always have three servings of dairy each day, my coworkers make fun of me for my thermos of milk everyday. I love exploring food so I am constantly trying new recipes and new foods/ingredients.

How do you unwind after a long day or long week? Farming is physical AND emotional business. How do you take care of yourself – your body and your mind – to make sure YOU are well physically and emotionally?

When I exercise it is what I call my “God time”. I have a few really good female based spiritual podcasts that I really enjoy listening to. When I hit the pavement, I pop in my ear buds and enjoy mental, spiritual and physical stimulation. Then I usually cool down with some time in my flower and vegetable gardens.

If you could wake up tomorrow, and have your perfect day ahead of you, what would it look like?

My perfect day would be getting up with a breath in my chest surrounded by the ones that I love (that alone is a blessing like my grandma used to say). I would be able to help a dairy farmer solve a problem or even go to work on my own dairy farm (I am aspiring to return back to the farm in my future). I love growing cows, crops and people. We have this life to make relationships and impressions on others and I really hope that I am making good ones with my friends and family.

You are a dairy nutritionist….what is that?

A Dairy nutritionist is responsible for testing all of the feed that a cow might eat and balancing the diet to provide the correct amount of nutrients at an affordable cost for the farmer. It was a great job helping farmers make amazing forages for their cows and helping their cows stay happy and healthy.

I LOVE your Bad Asses Of Farming post, and your use of a Brene Brown quote.  I’m a fan of hers!

I love Brene as well! I have read all of her books and it is her study of vulnerability which helped me to realize that TRUE strength comes from being vulnerable and taking risks. During my divorce two years ago I found a lot of healing in her words. My ex-husband divorced me. Not only did I lose my best friends and my husband, but I also lost my job, the farm I loved and helped build, my career, my passion, and how I defined myself for so many years. The past two years I have spent time working to figure out who I am, I don’t need a dairy farm to be passionate about cows, but farming is definitely in my heart.

(You guys, please read her Bad Asses Of Farming post HERE.  Also, if you haven’t read Rising Strong yet, please do).

Ok, and you’re I’m Fine posts rocks, too!

Thank you! All too often we use that phrase. Part of being strong is admitting that we are “not fine” and being honest with those closest to us that we have more to us. We need to ditch the hard shell.

(Go on to read the I’m Fine post here if you’d like).

Well, you guys.  I don’t know about you, but I got some awesome insight in this Dairy Woman Strong and her life!  Please check out her blog at http://dairywomanstrong.blogspot.com/ and also her Facebook page HERE.  She is down to earth and shares some real (and really cool) stuff!

Training Thoughts: The Last 12 Weeks

I just wrapped up a nice little training cycle, and thought it would be fun to actually reflect on my experience.

Mostly because I have the tendency to put blinders on and focus FORWARD, and rarely ever settle down and reflect on all the hard work I actually DO in the gym.

So, here we go.

I finished up a cycle on the “big three”…….squats, deads, and bench.  I was like….should I really do this?  I’m a kettlebell girl.  And I love that.  Should I start owning the barbell a bit more?

Then I stopped shoulding all over myself and bit the bullet.  I’m glad I did!  I had a lot of fun training something new, and to be honest, I learned and learned and learned some more.

The first few weeks were a little bit higher reps (8ish per set) with lighter weights….60-75% of max.  I loved these weeks, because I don’t train all of those lifts consistently.  I played it safe and used conservative max numbers because I didn’t have a true max to go off of and base my training around.  It should be noted that I don’t spend tons of time in this rep range with kettlebells, or at least I hadn’t for some time leading up to this new program.  So my body REALLY felt awesome during this phase and responded well, too.  I built me a nice meat shelf on my back to hold my barbell during back squats.  I also got REALLY comfortable in the hole of my squats, and with different deadlift variations – sumo, pause sumo, deficits, etc.  AND I LOVED THEM ALL!  I trained four days per week, a squat day plus assistance lifts, a bench day plus assistance, a deadlift plus assistance day, and then finally a wide grip bench plus pull day.  And towards the end of this part, I readjusted my guesstimated max because I realize I started too easy on myself.

The next few weeks, we started inching the reps down a bit and jumping the weight up a bit.  This was super comfortable for me, because the reps and heaviness, although I train the with the heaviness of kettlebells so it is a bit different…well, that feeling was familiar to me.  I started owning my lifts here.  And happily clocking in the work.  Still four days per week, same schedule as above.  I also really seriously plugged a fifth day in these weeks as well in the form of a circuit, or kettlebell workout, or mobility or whatever the heck I needed during those weeks.

Final weeks, well….first I took a deload.  Which basically means an easy week where you back WAY off everything, and do your lifts with like easy peasy weights.  Then, we started working in that 2-3 rep range but for sets.  Starting to own the heavy heavy shit.  And this is where it gets mental for me.  Doing 2-3 reps of stuff isn’t a biggie.  But when you are constantly starting your workouts knowing it’s going to be at 90% weight….it gets in my head for some reason.  Not sure why.  Nevertheless, I did them.  I pissed and moaned about them, but I did them.

I started the 12 weeks with “sorta maxes” of:

Bench – 100

Squat – 160

Dead – 225

Ended with:

Bench – 125

Squat – 200

Dead – 255 (tried for 275 but that beast wouldn’t even budge from the floor but I’m coming back for it)

Nutritionally, I tried some things as well.  I thought, why the heck not….because I’m trying a new way of training, let’s throw some food fun into the mix too.  Mostly in the beginning I was noticing that I wasn’t recovering well from workouts.  Taking a peek at my nutrition, my carbs weren’t as high on meals right after lifting PLUS those meals typically included more fat.  So I reversed that.  Got about 25 grams protein PLUS about 50-75 grams carbs and tried to stick around 15 grams fat.  Made a HUGE difference.  Plus it was fun as hell to eat.  Me and white rice are BFF’s now.  I didn’t do that if my workout volume was low or “easy” or if it was a bonus circuit or workout…..just the biggies where I knew I would need help recovering.  I sometimes also added an intra-workout protein shake mixed with orange juice those days for energy and to start the recovery process after workout ASAP…especially if I wasn’t going to be home from the gym for a long time because I had clients or something.  Both of these tiny changes helped me quite a bit.  I actually learned through this process that I respond very well to a moderate protein, higher carb, lower fat way of eating.  It just fits me.  I could live off rice and potatoes and such.  I’m not as excited about olive oil everything and I just feel better with my carbs a bit higher.  Would be fun if we could do “high everything”….high protein, high carb, high fat, right?  But unfortunately, that doesn’t exist.

All in all, this was a fabulous experience for me.  I learned a ton.  And to be honest, I was consistent as shit.  At training, and eating, and sleeping, and all that jazz.

Thank you, Marisa Inda (world record holder powerlifter), for this experience!

Dear TM: What Is The Best Time Of Day To Workout?

I’ve heard the following question in my lovely little gym THREE TIMES in the past three days.  So, I thought it warranted an official post.

So, here we are….

And here’s the question……

What is the BEST time of day to workout?

We all want to know the best time of day to workout, right?  Where you can maximize strength and gains and all that stuff?  And lose fat!  FAST!  Like YESTERDAY!

The “fitness and diet industry” might have a different answer than mine.  Mostly because they want to sell you their “special program” or supplement that costs a lot but really doesn’t net the results they claim it does.  But we aren’t talking about their answer.  This is my blog, so we are talking about MY answer.

So, to answer the question.  The BEST time of day for an individual to workout is THE TIME THAT THE INDIVIDUAL CAN REALISTICALLY AND CONSISTENTLY STICK TO.

Whaaaaat?

I know, I know….maybe you were expecting a different answer.

Truth is, the answer IS different…..for each individual.  We can get fancy with workout timing and meal timing and should we do cardio or strength work in the AM or the PM, and ohbytheway should we train fasted.  That’s all minute details.  We don’t need to go to that level for a LONG TIME.  Like, months and possibly years (or ever, really), after we have mastered these TWO SIMPLE (but not easy) concepts.

Adherence and consistency.

Adherence, or ACTUALLY completing the workouts needed to to complete the program you are doing IS EVERYTHING.  Most of us love to be program hoppers, or doing “this program” this week, and “switching it up again” in a week or two.  Nope, adherence means….you actually complete the workouts you need to complete.  Or said another way, doing the work you need to do….not doing the work you WANT to do, or doing the work you FEEL like doing.  Adherence means you show up, even on the days that suck a little.  Here’s a tip on adherence….if you know you can’t realistically complete the program you are contemplating completing, it probably isn’t the program for YOU.  Find one that you CAN complete, realistically.

Consistency is something a bit different.  Consistency means you KEEP showing up to do the work.  Week in and week out.  Not three days this week, and 1 day next week, and hopefully two days the week after, and “ick, I’m over this” so zero days in week four.  Nope, consistency means you are doing it, on the regular, week after week, month after month, year after year.  THAT is consistency.

Keeping those two concepts in mind – adherence and consistency – well then, you can sort of KNOW when the best time of day for YOU to workout is.

Are you a parent with a younger family, or a family filled with extracurricular activities?  Chances are, if you commit to a training program that takes about three times each week to do, scheduling evening hours is probably not realistic, right?  Because during evening hours, you are probably doing family stuff and activities.  So, if it is REALISTIC for you to wake up early, start setting your alarm for 5am and knock out that program three mornings a week.

Are you past the stage of kids and activities because your kids are grown?  Dude, you my friend have the leisure of picking pretty much anytime to get your workouts in.  If you are a morning person, I’d suggest doing it ASAP before work and other stuff can get in the way.  However, if you KNOW you aren’t getting up early no matter WHAT, don’t commit to it!  Schedule a time in immediately after work or whenever else that fits YOU best, and make sure it is REALISTIC.

Maybe you have a job that allows you a long lunch break.  PERFECT!  A few days a week, you are getting those workouts in at that time.

Maybe you have kiddos in school most of the year, but have a flexible job or schedule during the day that allows you to get those workouts in mid-morning or early afternoon.  Nail them.

The BEST time of day to workout is when YOU can adhere to your program…..consistently.

Guess what the people who are adhering to their program consistently for six months/one year/five years?

The results that the people who burned out on their 60 day workout binge challenge who gave up on day 29 because it wasn’t realistic and they couldn’t adhere consistently.

And those consistently adhering people are doing it without trying because it was realistic to begin with.

And, if you are consistently adhering, don’t worry if it is perfect.  Worry about just showing up.

Further Reading That I Find Interesting:  How Half Workouts Can Add Up To Bigger Results by Josh Hillis

Don’t Take This The Wrong Way BUT (The Best Compliment Ever)

At 10:45AM Monday, I found myself wrapping up a coaching session with a fitness and nutrition client of mine.  I’d been awake since 4:45AM, probably smelled like sweat and had coffee seeping out my pores, and had little curly hairs poking out of my ponytail standing up on end from the summer humidity, in my standard uniform of yoga pants and a tank top.  My stomach was rumbling because it hadn’t quite had second breakfast yet, and I was staring down a long ass workout of heavy leg day after my client left.  I was feeling a little bucky about lack of sleep from the night before, plus Hangry was setting in, and the mental negotiations had already started in my mind on should I or shouldn’t I work out right now.

My whole day changed for the better upon the last bit of our conversation that morning.

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but when I first came here I expected to see a size two personal trainer. I’m heading in for my doctor appointment next week, can I take a picture of you to bring with me so I can show my doctor?”

She sort of explained her comment to me, with a roundabout meaning of it being surprising that I teach nutrition and fitness without looking like the usual trainer ripped out of her mind, or super small, or advocating eating diet food or chewing gum to avoid eating real food.

You are absolutely right, dear client.  I am not that person.

We went on to discuss why I’m not that person.  In short, I said I like muscles, but truthfully, having muscles isn’t synonymous with being smaller or bigger with regard to physical appearance.  I am ‘here’ because this happens to be the place where my life and health intersect very well.  I sort of explained to her that I used to strive to be ripped and small and skinny and a certain size, and that the behaviors that I adopted while pursuing those things were not healthy for me.  Those behaviors were of someone who hated herself, and promoted self-loathing instead of self-love.  They most definitely were NOT behaviors that were healthy.  Those behaviors were the opposite of healthy.  And as a non-ripped personal trainer, I still have healthy blood work, and blood pressure, and all that jazz.  So I must be doing something right 🙂

You have to understand some backstory to this relationship.  This client came to me feeling not so great moving her body.  Things hurt that shouldn’t hurt.  Balance was a struggle.  And, when that relationship turned into a nutrition coaching relationship, I learned that she sort of views her weight right now as a death sentence.  There must absolutely be something disgusting about her at the weight she is right now.  And for a bit, there was a hint of desperation to get the heck away from that number.

But there has been a shift.  We focused on habits, which, at first, were nutrition related.  How can we get more protein, more veggies, more good quality carbs, and more good quality fat into her daily eating habits.  Once that got a bit easier, how can we step back and learn how to manage or control stress through deep breathing, or listening to a devotional podcast, or going for a walk outdoors.  In about eight weeks, I began to notice a shift when my client began showing up for sessions.   Instead of dread, she was happier, more upbeat, and alert.  Our weekly practice of things began to shift from “let’s try this” to “I think I want to work on THIS, this week because it makes me feel better.”  My client is owning her choices.

We do still talk about the death sentence weight number.  It feels less and less like a death sentence.  Because, truthfully, her behaviors are serving her well and she will practice them at this weight or that weight.  The behaviors are self-love behaviors, and not self-hate.

So back to Monday morning.  She took my picture.  Full length, full body.  Of course, I flexed in that picture because that’s what I do.  I have zero idea what that picture looks like and I didn’t have the urge to ask to look at the picture, to ask her to put a filter on it, or to re-take it.  She just took it and we had a good laugh about me flexing for it.  She said she was bringing it with to her doctor appointment to show her doctor who she works with.

I’m super proud of that.  That was the biggest compliment anyone has ever given me, and my client probably doesn’t even know that.

I did, however, put a bug in her ear to ask her doctor how many times a day he/she squats, does planks and push-ups, and does he/she even lift.  Because that’s what I do 🙂

This job is about helping people realize that they can trust themselves, and they can do things, and they aren’t broken, and things aren’t death sentences.  Of course it is about fitness, and nutrition too, but those things are really just things that people who love themselves do.  They take care of themselves, because they believe they are worth the effort to take care of themselves.

Should personal trainers be ripped?  Sure!  If they choose to be, and if that is a healthy place for them!  Are they any less quality if they aren’t?  Nope.  Should you be ripped?  Sure, if you choose to be, and it is a healthy place for you.  Are you any less of a person if you aren’t?  Nope.

IMG_3611Look at the behaviors (or habits, if you want to call them that) that make you better, not the destination.  The journey is in incorporating those, YOUR way.

PS – back to Monday morning again.  I rocked that leg day.  It was the easiest leg day I’ve ever had 🙂

Originally this was my journey to Tough Mudder…now it's my record of all things fitness and health!

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