Are you curious about how our EM2WL clients are doing? In this video series, we'll be highlighting one of our amazing success stories! This particular client has lost an impressive 20 lbs! Watch the youtube videos above to learn more about her journey and find out the tips and tricks she used to achieve such great results! We hope you find this information helpful and inspiring. Congratulations, Athena, on your incredible accomplishment! You should be very proud of yourself! Way to go!!! :)
Part 1: How to Cut For Fat Loss (Without Losing Muscle) – Kiki Reacts
Here at EM2WL we have talked in great length before about this lifestyle being a journey, not a race. We don't reach the end result in 21 days or 90 days, or even in a year. The path to breaking free from Diet Mentality begins with a single step forward. For CTDM Workshop Alum member Rachel Perry, the first step forward was to take a step back.
Healing During the Messy Middle
Rachel joined the Fam during our first Crushing the Diet Mentality workshop over two years ago. Eager to learn how to take control of her life again, Rachel jumped right in to the materials and began her journey. She quickly realized that she had wasted over 20 years of her life by jumping on every latest diet trend. (not including the thousands of dollars in the process) After the workshop ended, the real work was set to begin. Rachel made the decision to enter a chill phase and spent the next two years relearning how to just live life again.
Rachel recently sat down with Kiki to discuss her messy middle – that part no one sees between the before and after pictures. In her interview, Rachel discusses many of her mindset shifts that occurred over her two years in chill. Some key points they discuss in this vlog are:
Having a DEXA scan done and seeing just how much muscle she had lost from dieting
Gaining 10 pounds in a year and none of it being Fat.
Learning that the work is being done under the surface, and that you can't see it most of the time.
Understanding what it truly means to be in a Chill phase.
Learning that diet mentality makes you track time, not behaviors.
Realizing that it is a really cool journey learning about yourself.
Appreciating that she can now have Cadbury eggs in the house months after Easter
No more GUILT!
Rachel's journey is far from over. She shares her messy middle to encourage new members that there are people who took back their life. There are members of the Fam who understand your struggles and are here to help. And there is life after the scale.
Be sure to take a few moments and listen to this amazing conversation!
Be sure to head on over to our Online Facebook Community to see Rachel and all of the Fam who have gone through, or going through the Messy Middle
Leigh Anne is a long time EM2WL vet who decided to push her limits by entering Strongman competitions. This is a recap of her last event.
I am still reeling from an incredible Strongman competition weekend and I need to share! I competed in the first Strongman at a gym in Charlottesville, VA. There were over 90 competitors, it was over 90 degrees and all but one of the five events were outside.
It was a long day.
I weighed in at 242. My previously steady weight of 237 was definitely boosted by eating super well a couple days prior. I ate well that night and ended up getting some delish local grub at a farmer's market the next morning, along with the most amazing iced coffee I've ever had.
I wore a tank top. I never wear tank tops, but it was HOT! I got two compliments about how “bad ass” I looked in my tank!
I did not have my best showing, but I can identify where I need to improve and where I messed up. I was not confident in my squat and I bottomed out – but I expected to. I was not confident. I skipped a 340-lb. deadlift to try for the 360, when I shouldn't have … but I tried and it moved! The truck pull was deceptively easy from the start and I did not brace myself nor get enough momentum to pull the full 50 feet when I hit the up-hill grind. BUT … I cleaned a 100 lb. axle and never did that before! I loaded a 135 lb. stone to a 54-inch platform when my previous max was 125 to a 48-inch platform. The roar from the gym when I finally got it loaded (it was a struggle, ya'll!) and my coach's wife yelling in my ear to NOT STOP was life. That was amazing.
I cried several times that day. Not because I was upset with how I did, but because I was so proud of those around me. My amazing friend, Autumn, pulled the Mission BBQ truck the entire 50 feet and did not give up. She has been training for less than a year and I am so incredibly proud of her.
Then I met Mary Jacobson. Mary is 62 years young. Mary had gotten dehydrated a couple days prior, blacked out in her apartment, woke up in the hospital, pulled the IV out of her arm and told the staff that she had somewhere to be! (Please, I am not advocating doing this, but the independence, the drive and the determination of this lady was demonstrated here). Mary deadlifted 340 pounds. Mary pulled a 2.5 ton truck. Mary put on an amazing show, shared her knowledge. She was amazing. This lady is a cancer survivor. She was in a coma for two years. She won't let anything stop her.
And I am honored to have met her.
Two days after this competition, I have signed up for my next one. It will be 10 weeks away – the first weekend in October. I plan to cut between now and then … and I have planned my meals to equate a 15% cut for now. A couple of the events at my competition in October are moving events, so I need to incorporate cardio into my training, but I hate the treadmill, elliptical and bike. My plan is to do light farmers, tire flips and truck pulls when possible. I am anxious to see what this cut does … and hoping for the best!!
Share your success, no matter how large or small. You never know who you may inspire to hang on just a bit longer. We love featuring results and journey stories in REAL time, not just before/afters. If you have a victory (scale or not) let us know and allow us to share with the fam, by submitting to success@EM2WL.com
Thanks so much for agreeing to this! I saw that you just finished a powerlifting competition, can you tell us how you did?
I did my first WNPF (World Natural Powerlifting Federal) national meet on Sunday, September 6th. After four weeks of training specifically for this event, I ended up coming in first in my weight class and was awarded Best Lifter Award for my recognizable 350 pound deadlift. My total at the end of the meet was 710 pounds which qualified me for the World Meet which is scheduled for October 24th. I am currently the WNPF’s NJ record holder in my weight class for the bench, deadlift and total weight! I was extremely excited to see my hard work pay off.
You also compete in figure, right? How long have you been competing now? What inspired you to start?
About four years ago, my husband brought home a magazine with Alicia Harris (Ross) gracing the cover. Her chiseled body made my jaw drop and my heart yearned to take my fitness to the next level. At the time, I was working out but I guess you can say it wasn’t working! I just knew that my body and I were capable of so much more. I had to see how far I could possibly push myself and competing seemed like the perfect opportunity. I met a trainer, committed to a show, trained my butt off, committed wholeheartedly to eat extremely clean and competed. My first season ended with me finishing 2nd in my first show and 1st and overall in my second show. The next two seasons also added nice trophies to my shelf. I love the sport of bodybuilding and am looking forward to helping others prepare to grace the stage but I decided to switch to powerlifting and crossfit for the future.
On IG a few months ago, you described an epiphany that you had over becoming a more flexible dieter, vs a super-strict “clean eater/binger.” Can you tell us a little about your diet struggle, and how that change has affected you mentally, physically?
Eating clean is a good thing when balanced with nourishing fruits, vegetables and a treat here and there. Eating 100% clean, 100% of the time is not such a good thing. At least, for me, it wasn’t. When I competed, I was required to eliminate most of my favorite foods including, breads, pasta, chocolate chip cookies, fro yo, cheese…I could go on and on. I was limited to about 10 food options for weeks at a time and no I am not exaggerating! This was not bad coaching or anything like that. It was just a method used to get to my goals of competing in figure competitions. It actually worked and I ended up doing really well in my competitions, however what was being displayed on the outside was not depicting my true emotional, physical or mental health at the time. I was STRUGGLING! Anxiety was taking root and honestly, overtaking my life. The phases of low/no carb days would make my blood sugar so insanely low that I experienced fainting spells, foggy brain and even depression.
When I was finally able to eat, I ate EVERYTHING that I possibly could. This had negative effects on my already sensitive stomach and proved a hard habit to break once I entered my off-season. Last season, I did a lot of research on meal plans, metabolic rates and carb intake. I decided to follow a more flexible plan while still keeping track of macros. This helped me stay on track with my goals but still have energy to carry out daily activities. My focus really shifted to becoming healthier, developing sustained fitness, and getting stronger as these were the things I was encouraging my clients to do. Flexible dieting changed my life! I’ve learned that you need food to reach your goals and balance is key. In order to get stronger, you have to eat more. I don’t count marcos anymore because the many months of counting every single marco has made it easy to guesstimate how much I’m intaking. I do ensure to eat my carbs mostly in the morning, before and after my workouts as this is the time where my body can use them the most.
Did you gain weight when you increased your carb intake?
When I changed to a flexible diet, I did it very slowly after my last cutting season. I used a method called reverse dieting. This simply means that you take your current macros and add on to them over the course of a few weeks until your weight begins to change. By doing this for about a month or so, it allowed me to increase my carb intake to almost triple the amount that I was accustomed to during prep season without gaining more than a few pounds. My body did change slightly but that was a welcomed change.
Many women spend the better part of their lives dieting to achieve the fit, lean, muscular look that we see on fitness models and competitors like you. Can you explain to us the methods that you used to achieve your level of muscularity for the stage? Have you ever done specific “muscle-building/bulk” cycles, or were you always lean/muscular?
I have worked extremely hard to achieve the strength that I currently have. As a bonus, my body is shaped the way that I desire it to be. I was always very active with track, dance and outdoor activities so being overweight has never been a real struggle for me. However, through my experience of competing- I completely understand the struggle of dieting and having weight/image goals. Prepping for a competition usually takes about 16 weeks of working out about 3 hours, 6 days a week and eating 6 clean meals each day. When I competed, I did have bulking and shredding seasons.
Bulking is to gain size and muscle maturity to your physique. Although, it is considered to be a bulking season, in the beginning, I really struggled to build mass because one- it was SO hard and two- I was not comfortable looking too “fluffy” or far off from competition lean. After learning more about my body, I gained a better understand of the necessity of a bulking season and learned to enjoy it rather than to despise it. During my “bulking season” my carbs significantly increased, cardio was minimal and workouts include lower reps at higher weight. Once the prep season started my carb intake would change and I would try my best to maintain the strength that I gained during my “bulking phase” This was extremely hard with the lack of carbs and added cardio but with a committed spirit- I got it done! So can anyone else. It wasn’t easy but well worth it.
Can you describe the difference in your scale weight between off season and competition day? What about changes to your diet/workouts?
Competition day, I usually weigh about 115 pounds! Off season, I am most comfortable around 135 pounds. This fluctuates with what my goal at the time of my training. For my powerlifting meets, I am in the 132 pound weight class and general weigh in a few pounds lighter for security!
Remember, competition size is maintainable only for a short amount of time!
Do you think that it's realistic for women to strive for a competition/fitness model look all year long?
NO! Take a breath of relief! You are probably closer to looking like a competitor in their off-season than you realize.
Most competitors and fitness models look stage ready between a short window of needing to be on stage or in front of a camera. Between the water manipulation (dehydration) and carb cycling (sometimes close to zero a few days before), it is impossible to maintain the amount of leanness that you see on magazine covers. Besides, for a female, being under about 12% body fat is UNHEALTHY. When you drop your body fat that low, your body is unable to properly produce hormones which can lead to all types of problems including insane cravings, poor eating habits, mood swings, depression, menstrual complications and so much more. Our bodies have a little extra fluff because we need it. A good body fat percentage is about 18-25% for healthy females.
What would you say to the many women who want to look like a fitness cover model, and are eating 1200 cals, little to no carbs, and doing 2 hours of cardio/day to achieve it?
Friend, let go and love yourself! I had to learn how to do this again once my competitions were over. It is very easy to chase after the 6 pack while neglecting the needs of your body. Our body can live off of low calories but not live well. At 1200 calories you are most likely lacking a lot of nutrients that your body needs, eating away at your muscles and causing issues with your body’s natural functions. Consult with a professional to see what your daily caloric consumption should be.
Any parting words of advice or encouragement (to ladies who are struggling with the idea of fueling to lose, or waiting for the “perfect body” before enjoying life)?
A perfect body is one that healthy and appreciated. It is great to have physical goals but the first two should be – to love your body and to take care of it! You only get one body so I charge you to love it, cherish it, take care of it and appreciate it. When you look in the mirror, do not- for any reason- say anything negative about yourself. Rather, take the time to adore yourself, even your flaws! If you don’t love your body-it will be challenging for others to do love it. Change starts in the mind. If you love what you already have, it will make it easier to make changes in small steps. Change does not happen overnight, so in the meantime, enjoy the journey and celebrate the small successes.
When did you first learn that you needed to eat more to reach your goals? What was your original response?
After hitting my weight loss goal with Weight Watchers in 2012, I was working out on average an hour per day, almost every single day, and feeling extremely hungry all the time. I felt like I was having to white-knuckle my eating in accordance with my exercise.
I couldn't figure out why it was such a struggle to maintain my body weight. I started doing some research and found that, on average, I was eating around 1900 calories a day, maybe 2000 when you averaged it out over the week. I stumbled across “Eat More to Weigh Less” and some other blogspromoting the idea of eating according to your TDEE and activity level and I felt like a light bulb had gone off. I had been far under-eating for my activity level. I purchased a Body Media Band at the time and was astonished to realize that on certain days I was burning 2,600 to 2,700 calories a day, because of all my activities. I realized at that point that I was just not well-informed on how much calories my body required in order to maintain my weight. My dietary habits were based on a point system that wasn't working for me anymore. Of course, my next response after this realization was thinking, “Yay! I get to eat more food.”
How did your body and scale in clothes, etc, react to the initial increase in calories?
I felt a little bit bloated around my midsection, and I did see an initial creep up in weight on the scale. I was maintaining my weight between 150 and 152 pounds. I noticed my weight would hit, at most, 158 pounds, but ultimately I just felt a bit more puffy from all the extra food I was eating.
Has your calorie intake changed over the past two years, and if so, how?
My calories really haven't changed much. I've been tracking them as of late because I’m currently cutting again. What I have noticed is that they typically fall between 2,300 and 2,600 per day, depending on my activity level. In the last two years, for the most part, I've kind of stayed within the same activity range and thus the same calorie range. I would say that, over all, I think most people (especially fairly active people) are probably unaware of how much they are burning in a day.I know I was really shocked when I learned about my own caloric levels.
Have your fitness and health goals changed? For example, do you still monitor aim or maintain scale weight, or has your focus shifted more to performance or other goals?
I actually do both. I am working on gaining strength. I've increased my squats, dead-lifts, bench presses. I've been focusing on all that, but I also keep an eye on the scale for myself. Having battled my weight my entire life, I'm not completely comfortable not checking on it. I created what I felt was a realistic weight range for me, 150 – 160 pounds. However, I'm more focused on gaining strength and building muscle and less on just losing weight. As long as I honor my commitment to myself by not gaining back the weight I lost initially, I'm fine.
What has been the biggest revelation you’ve had since increasing your calories and lifting heavy weights?
That it all balances out. Your weight training really impacts your metabolism. I never understoodthis. It shocks me how much I can eat and still be able to maintain my scale weight, and it’s because I lift weights. I feel completely different on the days I lift versus the days I don't. My hunger levels are different. The foods I can eat are different. I’ve learned I can eat a heck of a lot more and still lose weight. That's because I have a healthy metabolism now. And I attribute this change to taking the time to learn how to better feed my body in relation to my activity level from wonderful sites like Eat More to Weigh Less and others.
What method device do you use to determine your caloric intake? If you do use a Body Media or Fitbit, do you find it to be fairly accurate in terms of how much you are able to eat?
Yes, I use a Fitbit right now; although, I’ve used a Body Media Band in the past. Both devices typically show my caloric intake around the same place, which is anywhere from 2,200 calories all the way up to 2,700 calories per day. Most of these devices do not take into consideration things like weight training. However, they do capture my overall activity level and I have found them to be fairly accurate. If I were to take a cut in my calories using my FitBit as a guide, I’d find I don't have to go to an extremely low calorie range to start losing weight.
If I gain enough weight to put me out of my personal weight range and I need to cut back, I typically focus on removing 500 calories from my daily intake. If I find that my average calorie burn is 2,400 during an average 7-day cycle, I know that if I eat around 1,900 calories, I will be able to lose weight. When I do this I’ll typically lose about a pound per week. However, many people think 1,900 calories is what they need to maintain their weight. Understanding what I actually need to maintain my weight versus lose weight was extremely eye-opening for me.
Now that you're in maintenance, how do you stay motivated each and every day?
I stay motivated because I typically share a lot of what I learn with other people. I'm here to help inspire, motivate women to not only lose this weight, but to find a way that they can keep it off forever. I also find that it's really not as difficult as I thought it was. When I was white-knuckling it at the beginning, it was extremely difficult because I was hungry all the time. Now that I know how much I can eat and I found an activity I really enjoy, it's really not as painful as I once thought it would have been. Overall, I guess I have found something that I can do for the rest of my life. I found that I can eat this way for the rest of my life, enough it makes maintenance really not as difficult as I once thought it would be.
Any parting words of encouragement for those who are new to eating more, struggling with the decisions to fuel properly?
If you're maintaining your weight on a very low amount of calories, I highly recommend you take the gamble and do a reverse diet or metabolism reset. I always ask myself the question, “Can you continue to do what you're doing for the rest of your life?” If I had to eat at 1,900 calories for the rest of my life, always feeling hungry, I don't think I would have been able to maintain my weight loss.
So, if you were dieting down and eating 1,500 calories a day, and now you have to eat that amount of calories just to maintain your weight because your body has gotten used to it, I ask you, what other choice do you have? Well, you have two choices, actually. One, live with eating 1,500 calories for the rest of your life and be perpetually hungry. Or do a slow metabolism reset, where you increase your calories over time, and begin to let your metabolism repair itself from all the prolonged dieting you've done. Yes, you may gain a few pounds. My weight went up about 8 pounds total. However, I can honestly say it's the best 8 pounds I've ever gained! It was a great experiment for me to learn what my body needed and how I could feed it more fuel so I could enjoy my life more. There's no point in dieting down just to be miserable for the rest of your life.Find a way that you can eat and move that you love and that is sustainable for you for the rest of your life.
You can find out more about me and all the different things I have going on at HalfSizeMe.com. And be sure to check out my podcast, The Half Size Me Show, which is available in iTunes and Stitcher radio. I also have a Facebook page where I post videos and other content to help people. I'd love to connect with you on any social media platform.
After spending most of her life since childhood overweight or morbidly obese, Heather Robertson finally resolved to lose the weight. It took five years, during which time she had three c-section pregnancies and a double-hernia operation, but she managed to lose 170 pounds. Over the past three years since reaching her goal weight, she’s learned the importance of developing a maintenance mindset.
She founded the Half Size Me Community with her husband, who also produces her popular podcast, The Half Size Me Show, which was recently listed on The Huffington Post as being one of the 19 Best Health/Fitness Podcasts.
Heather’s driven to teach others how to live healthier, happier lives. She does this by hosting her podcast, working with the Half Size Me Community, and as a Life Coach who specializes in weight loss, habit change, and self-acceptance.
EM2WL: I understand you suffered from disordered eating in the past. What was your “ah ha” moment where you decided that things had to change, and how did you start working on changing how you looked at exercise and eating?
Nia: The problem was, I knew for years things needed to change! I was unable to do so. I went to three different counselors, read numerous books, and tried other suggestions. However, none of those things worked. It wasn't until I did things my way that it all started to improve. I stripped nutrition down to the bare essentials (eat mostly real foods, don't have any forbidden foods, eat my favorite “treats” when I craved them, listen to my body and eat when I'm hungry and stop eating when satisfied). I also made my workouts exclusively about what my body could do. My goal was to improve my performance and get stronger.
E: Many clients find EM2WL after years of extreme dieting and/or exercise. What would you tell a woman that is looking for quick results? How do you convince them that the long slow road is the way to go for maintainable results?
N: Anyone can hop on the latest diet craze or fad and lose some weight. But I'd say 99% of the time people gain back what they lost, with interest, simply because it was unsustainable. The goal shouldn't be to lose the max amount of weight as soon as possible. The goal should be to build a simple, sustainable, enjoyable lifestyle you can maintain long-term. After all, wouldn't you rather be able to maintain your results 1, 5, and 10 years down the road instead of constantly yo-yo dieting?
E: What do you tell women who are feeling “stuck” but seem to be doing all the right things – eating an adequate amount, and lifting weights, but feeling discouraged with what seems like a lack of progress? Especially when the scale is not moving.
N: Get back to the basics. Oftentimes people are trying to do way too much all at once. Focus on just the few BIG things that will have the greatest impact and forget about the rest. Make sure you're eating mostly real, delicious foods. Make sure you're using the best exercises and focus on getting stronger.
And be honest with yourself. Are you really doing what you think you're doing?
But when in doubt – keep it simple. Choose just 1-3 things to focus on exclusively for 4-8 weeks and track your progress.
E: For women that are looking for fat loss they are often surprised when strength training is recommended. Can you explain your philosophy behind using strength training as a method for fat loss?
N: Strength training helps burn fat and build muscle. Period. That's what helps people get the “toned” look they desire.
But more importantly, strength training boosts self-confidence and body-image. It's fun, motivating, and reveals to women the true strength they possess. I find that THOSE are the things that keep people coming back for more. And consistency is what really produces long-lasting fat loss.
E: Why do you feel that strength training is so important, especially for women?
N: Because of the additional benefits it provides that most people don't even think about: improved self-confidence and body image. It's a way of revealing and allowing women to appreciate and be proud of what their body can DO instead of obsessing over how it looks.
E: So, lastly, I have to ask, are you still moonwalking? I've checked your technique and it is flawless!
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