The “Mary Poppins of Menopause” has returned! Amanda Thebe has released a brand new book called “Menopacalypse: How I Learned To Thrive During Menopause And How You Can Too”. We had a great conversation back on Episode #166 and this time we dive even further into the pitfalls and solutions for women who are experiencing perimenopause and menopause. From fitness, to food, to alcohol, you’ll want to tune in. I can’t recommend this episode or her book enough.
To learn more about Amanda’s work and to order her book:
To know how someone achieved a goal, it may be helpful to know where they’ve come from. When it comes to how my wife lost 35 pounds, I probably know more about the details than arguably anyone else.
When Marissa and I started dating back in December of 2009, she was still working full-time at Disney, dancing and singing over 30 hours a week. She was, at the time, 25 years of age and, whether she knew the term or not, ate a diet that would be considered flexitarian. For those not aware of the term, for her application, it was a diet predominantly of vegetables, some dairy (cheese, ice cream) and fish/seafood.
By comparison, I was the way I am now: an omnivore. I’ll consume damn near anything as long as onions aren’t a part of the plan. I will say to her credit, I didn’t eat as many vegetables then as I do now. Conversely, Marissa has transitioned to being an omnivore as well. She now eats almost all conventional animal products (no organ meats, etc.)
Throughout the time we’ve been together, she was at her lowest weight when we started dating. I’m going to come back to that point later as it will have more bearing. I won’t be referencing actual numbers 1) Because I don’t think they matter 2) I don’t have her permission to do so.
What I will talk about is some relative ranges and why I think the path she’s on now is arguably the “best” for her.
Over the span of years of us dating, being engaged, getting married, her weight shifted up roughly 10 pounds from when we first met. Also within that time, her contract ended with Disney so some of the weight gain likely came from a big decrease in daily/weekly activity.
In the winter of 2016, Marissa broke the news that we would be expecting our first child together. As it stands to occur, her weight continued to increase steadily over time until Sebastian was welcomed into this world in August of 2017.
Shortly after he was born, I started to cook more dinner for the family. I knew she had her hands full with the baby and I was enjoying learning a new skill of cooking. I found a series of high protein recipes that made it easy for me to learn from and provided enough variety that she and I were pleased with how dinner was turning out.
After her phase of breastfeeding Sebastian, Marissa’s weight dropped from it’s highest point down about 20 pounds (give or take). It was at that point that she came to me and asked for help getting her back to pre-baby weight.
Part of this was about more than just aesthetics. Marissa has a massive amount of clothing that she wanted to be able to fit back into. I’m not certain exactly when we started working together on a weight loss plan, but let’s say for simplicity’s sake, it happened at the beginning of 2018.
There was one attribute of Marissa’s eating patterns that I needed to bring her attention to. For one, she wasn’t exactly aware of the fact that she did this and, because it was such a natural pattern for her to fall into, I thought we could work it to her advantage.
Historically, Marissa would wake up in the morning, have some coffee (black) and get her day started. She would frequently skip breakfast and have a small lunch and a larger dinner. If this kind of pattern sounds familiar to you, it’s because she was essentially doing intermittent fasting (IF) without ever being cognizant of it.
Before my readers jump to any conclusions here, there is a reason I don’t automatically default to IF when I start working with clients. I see it fail more people than it helps. I’ll caveat that by saying that it can be a fantastic tool for some and absolutely terrible for others. However, I can say that about pretty much any diet, if I’m being honest…
Routinely, Marissa would ask me certain questions about what she was eating: How many calories should I be shooting for? Should I be paying attention to fiber/protein, etc.?
They were and remain reasonable questions to ask. Even though Marissa had used a food app at one point to track her calories several years ago, I knew it wouldn’t be the best use of her time, so I just gave her some small tips that made applying easier for her: focus on lean proteins, get some veggies, and if you have a larger breakfast/lunch than you anticipated, we’ll focus on a smaller dinner.
I didn’t hound her or pester her about her progress. There would be spans of weeks where she would tell me nothing about her scale weight. Then, she might make a small mention of “My weight is down.” I’d ask her for a number if she felt like sharing it and we might have a little bit of dialogue about how and why the scale might give a certain reading.
Like anyone else, Marissa would be frustrated with the very normal upticks in scale weight that might come from variances in sodium intake, wild variances in carb intake, changes in waste removal, lack of water, etc. I’d have to go through the checklist of: Did you have a high salt meal? Have you had a regular bowel movement? How much water have you been drinking? Yes, even my wife get the same questions a client would.
One thing that began to work to my wife’s benefit was the type of alcohol we began to consume. She was always someone who favored wine or beer over, say, hard liquor. My own tastes changed as well and I shifted into drinking exclusively bourbon/whiskey. Part of this was due to how it made me feel. Beer made me feel bloated and wine immediately made me want to take a nap. I could have a shot of bourbon, not feel the need to overdo it and suffer no side effects.
As a result, she also took to sharing the same drink with me, which as we figured, cut back the calories in alcohol consumption by about 50%.
There are some other factors to note.
While I have owned this business for longer than Marissa and I have been a couple, she was mostly inconsistent with her own exercise. I never gave an opinion on that either way. If she wanted to train she could, but I never made her feel like she was obligated to do so. As a result, she would go periods of months without conventional exercise, try to add it back in, get busy with life and parenting and then try again.
After the lockdowns occurred this year, she renewed her efforts and started coming to the gym 3x/week for strength training. To date, this is the most consistent she’s ever been with a workout plan. She does absolutely no cardio work. Her efforts have come from dietary adherence and 3 days a week of lifting weights for about 30 minutes.
Recently, she was doing her hair in the bathroom and when she lifted her arm up, she noticed a prominent line in her arm…to which she remarked, “That’s the first time I’ve ever seen muscles in my arms!”
Throughout her weight loss journey, she would from time to time tell me what her goal weight was. It was usually a number very similar to the weight she was when we first started dating. I would always try to say to her: “I’d prefer you healthy and strong over skinny.” I never wanted her to feel like the number mattered to me because it didn’t. I wanted her to focus on her strength increases in the gym so she could feel confidence in herself and her abilities (and also be strong enough to kick my ass if I ever got out of line…which, of course, NEVER happens…) *cough*
To date, Marissa has lost 35 pounds from when she first asked for my help. It hasn’t been fast, it hasn’t been aggressive, it’s just been a methodical drop to where she is today which is lower than she was when we got married and only slightly above her lowest weight since I’ve known her. I think she looks better now than ever.
Some other things to note: Once she started seeing progress in the gym and reigned in the focus on her food intake, she started carrying herself differently. She showed more confidence and more energy. Although her body changed after bringing a baby into the world, that’s not a bad thing. Yes, there was a recomposition, but nearly every mother goes through that and I believe that Marissa worked everything to her advantage.
I had always told her that if she ever needed to lose weight, I’d hire a dietitian to help her. Part of that was because I didn’t want it on my shoulders if she hated her diet plan. In hindsight, I’m glad it worked out the way it did. We got to share more input together about what was working, what wasn’t, and make any necessary changes in short order.
If I were to share any direct tips with you that might help you with your own weight loss based on what worked for her, it would go something like this:
–Minimize the food you get from restaurants/take-out. It can be harder to control caloric intake if you’re not the one cooking the meal. While you can still overdo it with home cooked portions, you can also stack the deck in your favor by learning how to cook lower calorie meals.
–Learn your dietary triggers. Marissa wouldn’t say she’s an emotional eater but she did identify with being a boredom eater. Once she noticed it, she started only buying snacks that would work for Sebastian but would be less attractive to her. She also knew that certain foods like cheese needed to be purchased with less frequency because that was a food she could easily overdo. Desserts were limited as she and I both have a sweet tooth. Pizza was also another food that was easy for us to overdo so we kept it to a minimum as well.
–Earn your carbs. I affectionately swiped “earn your carbs” from my buddy, Mike Doehla of Stronger U. While chasing around a toddler is its own form of exercise, it’s nowhere near as active as she was when she was at Disney. If she had a high carb lunch/breakfast, we’d normally go lower carb at night. Nothing wrong with carbs, mind you, it was just an easy place to cut back to keep her on her plan. To that point, we would frequently sub in cauliflower rice for regular rice to 1) increase vegetable intake 2) drop calories in the meal.
–Be patient. To Marissa’s credit, she never got impatient with the process. She knew she needed her energy for parenting and getting through her day and never let the scale dictate unreasonable dietary decisions.
–Change your vice. As mentioned before, an easy way we cut back calories for her was to switch the choice of alcohol. Because I don’t have a tendency to overdo it with liquor, neither does she. When it was wine and beer, the calories were always higher. With bourbon/whiskey, the calories were dropped by default and I could always measure out the pour if need be.
–IF was the most logical tool for her. It was easy to get Marissa to follow even a loose interpretation of intermittent fasting because it was the way she had eaten for most of her life. I don’t recommend it for the vast majority of people because it just doesn’t work as well. While many of my clients have tried it because it’s seeing a resurgence in the diet world, the results are mixed at best. Perhaps because Marissa had me as a sounding board and someone to help with understanding meals/portions at home, it just worked better for her.
–Support matters. I can’t oversell this one. It would have been easy for me to frequently suggest takeout, desserts, etc. (especially in the midst of a pandemic) but I knew that it would be a short-term pleasure and then the frustration on the scale for her. While there were occasional splurges, it was less than once a week and more like every other week. It wasn’t anything we would argue over, it was just an unspoken understanding that if it wasn’t an option, there was less temptation.
I wish I could tell you there was some fancy magic going on to get her down to the weight she is today but it wasn’t. She was consistent (not perfect) with food and strength training, she ate enough protein, knew when to self-regulate and stayed the course. It wasn’t fast but it was effective.
Proud of you, Mrs. (Sebastian and Jackson are too).
I was recently sharing time with Nikki Naab-Levy on her IG live about responsible fitness marketing and the conversation was so fascinating, I asked her to come back onto this show so we could compare thoughts on how we approach marketing in our particular stratospheres in the industry. Nikki has been on fire lately with her own content and I highly recommend you keep an eye on her on social media. Also, please reference our 3 previous episodes together (#147, #164 and #251). Download, subscribe, share with your friends and please take a moment to leave us an Apple Podcasts review.
A couple of months ago, I had a sensitive conversation with a client (let’s call her Judy) which was hard to forget. Judy had been approached by someone close to her who insinuated that maybe she wasn’t taking her weight loss very seriously due to a plateau in results.
I take a lot of issue with statements like this.
For one, as the coach, I don’t strong arm my clients into better results. Some clients want more frequent touch points to stay on track and some need breathing room to try and sort things out on their own after initial guidance. These positions aren’t static, they’re flexible. A client can shift on either end of that spectrum depending on life stressors and their current priorities. So, as life ebbs and flows, scale weight may do the same. My clients don’t lose weight on my time schedule, they do so on theirs.
However, Judy was upset about being approached in this way and, to be honest, it got me sort of riled up too.
To that point, I pushed back and said: “Well, we have a new goal now. When you’re ready to focus on weight loss again, we do it to send a nice, big “f*ck you” to anyone who thinks you can’t succeed.”
Let’s come back to that.
I don’t know about you, but I grew up with a family who was tremendously supportive of me. They may not have agreed with every move I made but I had guidance, I had support and I had love every step of the way. I know many others who did not grow up with the same foundation that I did. For that, I am immensely grateful.
However, my biggest critic, the most negative voice in my life, was my own. That was/is the voice that screamed: “You can’t, you won’t, you don’t deserve it, you can’t succeed at it, etc.”
Maybe your current lack of results is because you spend too much time listening to the voice that I listened to.
Or, maybe you’re like Judy and some part of your intimate circle of friends/family is the voice that keeps you from moving forward.
Either way, the advice is the same.
Most of my clients (and most of my readers) know the answer to their weight loss struggles. They know about calories, they probably know about macronutrients, and they’ve likely taken a ride on more than a handful of dietary rodeos.
So, it’s not a lack of information, it’s a lack of faith. Faith in staying consistent to the plan and faith in themselves that they can get the job done.
When Judy and I came up with a game plan to get weight loss moving again, I had a hashtag for her that was only somewhat in jest: #operationmiddlefinger
Whoever you are, wherever you are, there’s probably someone (or even yourself) who needs to be put in their place. You don’t have to confront these people and you don’t have to fight them, you just have to prove them wrong.
I’ve personally found that some of my own successes came when I had something of a chip on my shoulder.
I know this crosses into territories that are more extrinsic motivation rather than intrinsic motivation. Depending on who you are and what you’re struggling with, you may need more of one than another to get things moving in the direction you initially desired.
Ever since that conversation, Judy has been steadily moving the needle back the direction she wants it to go. She sends me sporadic updates about the food choices she’s making, she’s sticking post-it notes in places (pantry, dashboard and fridge) that serve as reminders that she has a goal she’s focusing on and she’s rallying the troops who she knows she can count on to keep her more aligned with her goals as opposed to the polar opposite.
Operation: Middle Finger isn’t about perfect lives, perfect people or perfect diets. It’s about lighting a fire up under your ass when things get weird (because they do) and putting the pieces back in place.
Shout out to Judy for making the “operation” work.
Darko Botic, of Macros Inc, returns to the show after a great chat back in February of 2018 (Episode #104). In this week’s episode, we talk about what the last two years have been like for him. His coaching has evolved since we last spoke and we touch on if he feels his own weight loss journey of losing 200 pounds gives him an inherent advantage over other coaches, the notion of addictive and triggering foods in the diet and how we’ve been helping clients navigate the ever changing madness of 2020. Download, subscribe, share with your friends and please take a moment to leave us a review on Apple Podcasts.
Recently, I posted the weight loss success of three of our clients: Faith, Don and Cherie. While I’m not always as consistent with this visual/physical reminder, it’s cool to see the client hold up a 35 pound or 45 pound plate to show off the number and actually feel what used to be on their frame.
Because everyone loses weight at a different pace and everyone is inspired and motivated by different things, I asked all three clients 4 specific questions to get their take on what that’s been like.
Of course, my ultimate goal is to get all three of them on the podcast (and in Don’s case, to be joined by his wife, Amy who is also a client) so we can dig deeper and find out more about the process for each of them.
Aside from some very minor typos to fix, I kept all responses just as they were sent to me. I wanted everything unedited and to faithfully represent their personalities.
If you want to get some more insight on what’s helping these three succeed, you can start here.
Faith G. (down 45 pounds to date)
1. What was your original motivation to lose weight?
I always have had body image issues and have been pretty much always trying to lose weight, but I guess my original motivation to get really serious about losing weight and getting a personal trainer was due to my consistent failures to lose weight on my own. Additionally, I started to notice daily activities were getting harder for me, which made me realize if I don’t do something now, then I could possibly develop some health problems in the future.
I called you the day after Thanksgiving last year. I had taken a lot of pictures and saw a lot of people I hadn’t seen in awhile that week. I couldn’t even recognize myself in pictures anymore and was just embarrassed to see anyone I knew at that point. I could feel their judgement and disappointment. I hated how I felt. I knew that the hardest month of the year (December) was coming up and knew I would gain even more weight if I didn’t do something different.
2. Do you remember what the catalyst was after you started that made you feel confident you could reach your goal?
During the month of December, I lost 8 pounds. I knew if I could lose weight at pretty much the hardest time of the year to lose weight, I would be able to continue what I was doing. The best part about December looking back is I was still able to enjoy myself. I definitely was able to enjoy some sweets and also drink. I didn’t feel like I really missed out on anything, I just had to plan better.
3. What was the best advice I gave you?
When I came in for my initial consultation, you asked me to describe my eating habits and what I typically would eat every day. And even though what I was eating everyday was complete garbage, you didn’t judge me at all, which I really appreciate.
You asked me what my “must haves” were, which I was really shocked that you asked that. I love to drink Coke, so that was a must have. You were able to show me how I could work my must haves into my diet. Of course, the overall goal is to eat healthier foods, but iIthink you understood that most people aren’t able to just cut a bunch of food/drinks out of their diets at once. So in conclusion the best advice that you gave me was essentially the hashtag you always use, #itsnotmagicitsjustcalories
4. Is there any advice you would give to someone who is also trying to lose weight?
If there are foods/drinks you really love and must have, don’t feel like you have to cut them completely out. Labeling foods as “good” or “bad” and avoiding those “bad” foods when trying to lose weight is only going to make you miserable and want those foods more. Of course you can’t always eat whatever you want, but you can work certain things you want into your calories for the day/week.
I also think focusing more on what your body can do vs what the number on the scale is will keep you more motivated to continue trying to lose weight and developing healthier habits. I may not have lost any weight on a given week, but I may have gotten a new PR on squat, which is pretty fucking lit to me.
Don M. (down 45 pounds in the picture and 48 pounds to date)
1.) What was your original motivation to lose weight?
The motivation was my kids. I want to be around for them. I want to be able to throw the ball around with them and play on the floor and all the cool dad things. Things I never got with my dad. And of course, I was absolutely sick and tired of feeling like total hell all the time. Which I did. Everything hurt from my hair to my toenails. I still hurt, just in less painful ways.
2.) Do you remember what the catalyst was after you started that made you feel confident you could reach your goal?
I didn’t really set a goal for myself. It felt too ‘final’. I believe I said to you ‘if I lost 100 pounds, I’d still be a fat guy.’ So, the catalyst is different for me. 100 pounds seems like a good starting point, but let’s see what lies beyond that 100. If I can do that, I can do anything fucking thing I want.
3.) What was the best advice I gave you?
The thing that stuck out the most was the diet triangle, where we looked at what a typical day looked like for me. Zero breakfast, a little lunch, and HOLY SHIT YOU ATE ALL THAT FOR DINNER??? What hit home was taking the triangle shape that you eat and balancing it out. Make it parallel all day. The icing on the cake was the phrase ‘get comfortable being uncomfortable’. Once I figured that statement out, I knew how to work it.
4.) Is there any advice you would give to someone who is also trying to lose weight?
Advice? Me? Hahaha… seriously, I hate doing cardio. I hurt too damn bad for treadmills and elliptical. So if I didn’t have to do it, I didn’t want to. So I stuck with the diet plan- if that’s what you call it- less calories. I tried like hell the first week to stay around 1200 calories a day. Don’t know where that number came from. Just did it to ‘get comfortable with being uncomfortable.’ After that first week, it was easy. I found things I could eat that were less calories than the pizza and the pasta and the double cheeseburgers I was eating. Do I still want that stuff? Hell yes. Do I eat it? Hell yes! Just a lot less of it because I don’t want to erase the progress that I worked so hard for.
Cherie (down 35 pounds in the picture and 38 pounds to date)
1.) What was your original motivation to lose weight?
So August of 2016, my husband decides he wants to start planning my 40th birthday trip to Mexico in March 2017. I was excited but dreading it at the same time. I was tired of being heavy. People said I wasn’t heavy, but in my mind I knew I looked heavy. I had put 54 pounds on in 9 years. Mexico! My 40th! Time to celebrate! But I wasn’t excited for a bathing suit and pictures. I wanted to look beautiful, feel confident, not only for myself but for my husband, also be a role model to my young children who were athletes. So, one day this cool dude moves his gym into the plaza right next to my work. I saw he and his clients quite often in passing, saw what he was doing, and a girlfriend and her husband starting working out with him and singing his praises. I thought, he can help me! Once I went to talk to Jason Leenaarts, he became an instant friend and confidant, to me, my husband and then mother. Jason, you were a huge motivation/support for me!
2.) Do you remember what the catalyst was after you started that made you feel confident you could reach your goal?
There were a few things: A) interval training: I loved the 1 set reps, 30 sec cardio, rinse and repeat. B) because of the interval training I worked up a major sweat! That made me feel good about myself, accomplished C) you! You held me accountable for my actions. You were expecting me to be there when I said I would be and weighing in weekly. I didn’t want to disappoint you or myself.
3.) What was the best advice I gave you?
I hate cliches, they are the worst. You never said this exact quote to me, but in essence you referred to the fact, “slow and steady wins the race”! From the very beginning of me working with you, you explained that fast weight loss isn’t always the healthiest or most sustainable. Losing slowly, I was more apt to keep it off in the long run.
But it wasn’t only your advice you gave me, it was you encouragement, belief in me, and most importantly, your friendship… to not only me, but my family.
4.) Is there any advice you would give to someone who is also trying to lose weight?
I’m no expert in exercise and weight loss, heck, I even lack motivation most of the time! But my advice is to find a workout buddy! Someone to meet you there, hold you accountable, you can talk water consumption and calories with! You can bitch about your trainer together jk! I’ve had a few over the course of my 4 years and that’s what keeps me going, keeps me motivated, again holds me accountable. I’m a mother of 2 teenagers that are extremely busy, do I want to just want to give in some days and be lazy, yes I do, and sometimes I do! But more often that not, my friends are there waiting for me, so I go do my thing!
My sincerest thanks to Faith, Don and Cherie who have not only carved out their own individual paths to weight loss but knowingly and unknowingly inspire others as well. Thank you all for being an integral part of the RevFit family.
It’s been a while since I’ve done a cross-promoted show but this week I wanted to feature my friend and client, Shon Christy, as he premieres his entry into the podcast world. Some may remember that Shon was my first “official” guest on this show and he was also featured in my most recent book “A Revolution A Day”. Shon is a local mover-and-shaker in the social media world and we dive into a lot of what makes RevFit tick: from our community to the social media posts, content creation and more. I do hope you’ll subscribe to his podcast to learn more about the great work he does. As for us, I hope you’ll download, subscribe, share with your friends and please take a moment to leave us an Apple review.
I said those words to my therapist a few months ago and I’ve been repeating it to some of my weight loss clients as well.
It’s a difficult thing, our individual responses to stress and how we allow it to dictate what we do in our lives, our relationships, with our diets and how we treat our bodies.
Once upon a time, my only response to stress and emotional turmoil was to turn to drugs. There was rarely a shortage of them and rather than find a way UP from my rock bottom, I’d grab a shovel and keep digging (more stress = more drugs to cope with stress).
Think about that with weight loss.
When you’re stressed, what food (or drink, such as alcohol) do you turn to?
Recently, one of my clients highlighted my point perfectly:
“When I feel like shit, I eat like shit.”
Let’s break it down further.
Eating “like shit” can mean different things. It can mean “too much” of a healthy food or poorer quality food by comparison (what many term, ‘junk food’).
Drugs may be long in my rearview mirror but that doesn’t mean I don’t have counterproductive responses to stress. For me, historically, a big stress outlet is retail therapy. If I’m sad, bored, stressed, or feeling resentful about something, that dopamine rush of buying something new is a quick surge of short-lived pleasure. (Thank you, Amazon, for making that problem infinitely easier to disappear into).
If I were chronically broke and struggling to pay my bills, my accountant (Hi, Deb!) would say to me: Well, you know Jason, you did spend $XXX on Amazon last month. Don’t you think you could pull it back a bit?
Treat your food in a similar manner. If we view our eating behaviors on that kind spectrum of “this gets me closer to my goal” and “this takes me further from my goal.” That’s one perspective to take.
I always like to highlight the way my friend and fellow coach, Kelly Coffey says it: “Is this the most caring thing I can do for myself right now?”
Personally, I like the visual part, hence the picture attached to this article. When you’re down, what do you do? Grab the rung of the ladder and pull up or grab the shovel and dig deeper?
The beauty of hitting “rock bottom”, whatever that looks like for you, is that you are literally one choice (one rung) away from a change of scenery and a change of outcomes.
Your stress, your response to stress, is your personal battle. If you look at your life and your weight loss progress with the view of “Well, this was a stressful day/week so I’m not stepping on the scale”. You have the data to tell you that food is your outlet for stress.
Focus on that. Put down the shovel.
Or, keep digging. Your choice.
For me, it’s never perfect. Sometimes I climb, sometimes I dig. I just know intimately what rock bottom feels like and I’ll be damned if I’ll go there again.
It’s been two years too long and Kate Galliett returns to the show. You can hear our first great conversation at Episode #123. In this episode, we talk about building unbreakable bodies, how we handle stress and learning how to make diet and exercise work into the chaos of our lives (especially in 2020). Download, subscribe, share with your friends and please take a moment to leave us an iTunes review.