In today’s “I Did It” Series, we have Amanda Sussman, who went through an intentional maintenance phase for almost an entire year. In the episode, we discuss how her experience was, what maintenance provided for her goals and journey, and any fears she encountered along the way. She also shared three great tips that will help you all embrace intentional maintenance, too. I’m so excited for you to hear from Amanda, and hopefully, apply it to your own journey to see what intentional maintenance can do for you!
Find show notes at bicepsafterbabies.com/186
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- Amanda’s reverse and maintenance journey (7:17, 8:56, 11:13, 26,05)
- Utilize other data points to look at and not only the scale (12:30, 12:53, 13:11)
- 3 tips to rock intentional maintenance (14:39,16:41, 19:29)
- Have something to focus on and recognize that making progress is valuable (15:53)
- Transitioning from a maintenance to a cut (21:30)
- The presence of fear in doing something new and how to deal with it (24:46)
- The idea of I deserve it (26:50, 29:02, 29:42)
- #ilovemechallenge (30:57)
You're listening to Biceps after Babies radio episode number 186.
Hello and welcome to Biceps after Babies radio. A podcast for ladies who know that fitness is about so much more than pounds lost or PRs. It's about feeling confident in your skin and empowered in your life. I'm your host, Amber Brueseke, a registered nurse, personal trainer, wife, and mom of four. Each week, my guests and I will excite and motivate you to take action in your own personal fitness as we talk about nutrition, exercise mindset, personal development, and executing life with conscious intention. If your goal is to look, feel, and be strong and experience transformation from the inside out, you, my friend are in the right place. Thank you for tuning in, now let’s jump into today’s episode.
Amber B 0:48
Hey, hey, hey, welcome back to another episode of biceps after babies Radio. I'm your host, Amber Brueseke, and I am back with another Friday episode. This is where we bring on women and share how they did it with the hopes that as you listen to these stories, you will start to believe that you can do it as well and that you will learn from women who have gone before you. The truth is a lot of the things that we experience ourselves are things that other people have experienced. And so when we can learn from people who have walked that walk have been through that hard thing and learn from their experience, we're able to move through it quicker, and be able to recognize that we're not alone and that we're not wrong, that we're in the situation and know what the next step is.
Amber B 1:37
And so today, I'm so excited because this episode is one for those of you who are thinking about being scared about in the middle of an intentional maintenance period. I bring on Amanda Sussman and she tells her story about maintaining it for almost an entire year. And in the podcast, she mentioned that she hears women a lot of times when they go into maintenance about wanting to do it for the shortest period of time possible. And how that's really sad to her because of how amazing maintenance has been for her and for her journey and for the goals that she's trying to achieve. And so I wanted Amanda to come on so that she could talk about maintenance. And specifically, she could give you tips about how to make the most of the maintenance period. And she gives some three really great tips that are going to allow you to be able to embrace this period of time, see what it can actually do for you. And then at the end of the podcast, she talks about her cut that she just started. So after a year at maintenance, she just started into a cutting so we talk about some of the fears that come up with that, and how she's handling that situation. So I am so excited for you to hear from Amanda, to learn about maintenance and how magical it can be.
Amber B 2:56
I am so excited to welcome Amanda to the podcast to be able to share her story today. Amanda, how are you doing?
Amanda S. 3:02
I'm doing well. How are you?
Amber B 3:04
I'm doing so good. And I'm excited for people to be able to hear your story and learn from it. That's really what these “I Did It” series podcasts are about is recognizing that, first of all, sharing your story is so valuable because other people inevitably are going to have some of the same experiences. But more importantly than that, than finding a community with other people is that we can learn from people who are a little bit ahead of us. And that's why I'm bringing you on the podcast because I think you have some real wisdom to be able to share with people that you've learned along the way. So that's what I'm excited for people to learn today. So will you just kind of give us a little paint a little picture for us about you know, where you were before you found me before you joined Macros. 101, what was that like what were you struggling with? What results were you trying to achieve that felt hard?
Amanda S. 3:55
Sure. So before I found you and Macros 101, I actually had started a weight loss journey using Weight Watchers, which I'm sure many people have ventured into that area. So after my third child was born, I was pretty overweight and pretty unhappy. And so I joined Weight Watchers and I was very successful on Weight Watchers, I lost about 45 pounds, and I reached my goal weight. And then you end up in this land where they're like okay, so now maintain it, but there's absolutely no support. There's no so they don't tell you what to do, how to transition from weight loss to maintaining. And I was getting really frustrated. I did maintain on my own for about a year. But I felt really deprived and I was always hungry and I was miserable. And I just knew there had to be a better way that there was something better out there. And I was actually following someone on Instagram who was kind of in a similar boat. And she was starting to talk a little bit about macros and how she had found macros. And she was just, you know, sharing her journey as she switched from maintenance and Weight Watchers to moving towards using macros as a better way to track and through a series of following her and then following people she was talking about. I ended up following Katie Crocus. And she was talking about your five day challenge. And so that's how I found you, Amber. And so I joined the five day challenge, because I was like, Okay, I've started this macros on my own, but I don't know what I'm doing. And maybe, maybe I'll learn something in the five day challenge. And I just loved your approach. And so I started, after the five day challenge, I decided, well, I'm in, I'm going to try Macros 101 and see what I can learn. And maybe, maybe I can figure out a better way to do maintenance. And I really, really did.
Amber B 6:10
Well, tell us about that. I mean, everyone's like, okay, tell us I want to know, what's a really good way to do maintenance? Because I feel like this is like the forgotten stepchild of the process. Right? It's like everybody fawns over cutting, everybody fawns over like, even reversing is super sexy. And then it's like maintenance. That's lame. That's boring. So talk to us a little bit about what you've learned about that process and about maintenance.
Amanda S. 6:36
Yeah. So if I'm really being honest, when I first started Macros 101, everyone was cutting. So I was like, Okay, well, I'll do that again for a little bit. And I made it about four weeks into the eight weeks of Macros 101. And this was the September 2020 group. And I was like, this sucks. Why am I doing this? And everyone, you know, some people were starting to venture into the land of reversing. And we were learning about what is the reverse and what is maintenance. And I decided, okay, well, I'm not happy being in a cut. And you kept telling everyone on coaching calls, if you're thinking about a reverse, it's time for a reverse,
Amber B 7:15
It's probably time that you're gonna do it.
Amanda S. 7:17
And so the more I thought about it, the more I decided it's time, so I started doing the reverse. And I just kept adding calories and adding calories. And I was like, wow, I can eat more food and not gain weight, this is amazing. And so I reversed it from October through December. And it was about seven or eight weeks, it took me before I finally called it if you will, and when I realized I'd hit maintenance. And I was surprised by how much food I could eat and not gain weight. And I actually pretty much stayed in maintenance all of last year. And it has been amazing. I couldn't believe how much more energy I had, how much better I was sleeping, and just how much better my workouts were just eating enough food that I could actually function. It wasn't as tiring, I had more focus at work. And I honestly just didn't want to get out of that place. And I love being in maintenance.
Amber B 8:32
Yeah, okay, question for you. Because I know there are people who are listening to this and they may be thinking about doing a reverse or going through that process. But one of the biggest questions that people always ask is how do you know when you're done? Like how do you know when you finished, when you finish the reverse? And like how did you know you said you know, these terms like call it how do you know to call it and be like this is my maintenance. So what did that look like for you?
Amanda S. 8:56
Well, so I started following the steps that you gave us, I added calories and I actually also did a mix of adding calories and cutting cardio because I really hate cardio. And so I actually completely cut all cardio out as part of my reverse. I was also adding calories. And so I did, the cut I started in when I first was the first few weeks I was in Macros 101 was about 1800 calories. So I started slowly adding back in you know about 100 calories per week, watching my scale weight my measurements and looking to see if they would increase and they really didn't for a while and then I had a few fluctuations. There were a couple of weeks where I just held steady at the calories I was eating but then I was able to push a little higher and up to like 2600 calories from 1800. It was amazing. And then when I was at 2600, I started to see it kind of going up a little bit and then it kind of stabilized there. So I stayed, I actually didn't drop back down. I stayed at 2600. And just watched and it stabilized pretty nicely at 2600 calories. So I stayed there for a while. But then interestingly, when I started lifting, I started gaining weight. And so I actually did drop it a little bit. Because I unintentionally bulked for a little while, I think it kind of caught up like the dropping all the cardio and adding all the calories kind of caught up with me about about six weeks after I had stopped adding calories. And then I watched the trend rate go up a little bit. And after about six weeks of seeking a going up, I was like maybe I'm a little over maybe I overshot it a little bit. And so I dropped down to about 2400 calories and then it stabilized at the weight I was at at that point. I stayed there from March through December.
Amber B 11:13
Okay, so here's what I love so much about what you just shared, is that people psych themselves out so much with this idea of like, what if I overshoot maintenance, right? They like it, it's really scary to a lot of people. And I love the example that you just shared because it's like, yeah, you may like, you may do it, you may overshoot maintenance. But did you die? Like was it the worst thing in the world? Did you lose all of your progress and all of your results? No, you're like, Huh, that's interesting. I'm maybe overshot it a little bit, and you dropped down and you kept going. And it was like no big deal. So I'm just so excited for women who are in that space of like, the fear around overshooting maintenance is often I see it preventing them from even getting to maintenance, because they're so afraid of going over that they sell themselves short. So you know, how did you work through that? How did you talk yourself through maybe some of those fears? Did you have some of those same fears?
Amanda S. 12:09
It was a little bit weird at first like I was watching the weight go up and weirdly not being upset about it. Yeah, I was using it a lot. It wasn't just the scale that I was using as a metric. I was using measurements as well. I was using how my clothes were fitting, my pants still fit. So
Amber B 12:30
more data points, people, this is why we take more data points, it just gives you a better picture of what's going on.
Amanda S. 12:36
Yeah, like I was, I was still wearing the same size pants. They weren't tight. They were still fitting. And so I knew that some of what I was gaining was muscle because I was lifting weights, and I was lifting pretty heavy.
Amber B 12:48
And I love your weightlifting videos, PS. It’s so fun.
Amanda S. 12:53
And so I knew that I knew that some of it was muscle and that maybe there might be a little bit of fat. But as long as my clothes were fitting, and my measurements were staying pretty stable. The number on the scale really didn't bother me anymore. Because it's not the only measure that I was using.
Amber B 13:11
Yes. Okay. So good. I just want to reiterate what you said, because so many women are very attached to the scale, and they don't know how to let it go. They're like, how do I let or how do I dissociate with that number? How do I not let it impact my mood or my emotions? And that last sentence that you just said was so important? One of the ways you're able to do that was because you had other data points to look at. So if you are, if you're living and dying by one number, what it says on the scale, it's going to be really hard, it's going to be like ups and downs, like a roller coaster. But when you pair that other number with multiple data points, you're able to get a much better perspective and maintain a little bit more of a level head as you're looking and figuring out what's what's going on. That's so good.
Amber B 13:55
So good Amanda. Okay. So someone, let's say somebody who hasn't done maintenance, or maybe they're just starting maintenance, and they don't really know what to expect. What tips would you have for somebody who is intentionally maintaining, and I use this word intentional maintenance, because sometimes women maintain unintentionally, but very few women ever intentionally maintain say, like, I'm going to take the next year and I'm just gonna stay the same weight. Very few people do that. So intentional maintenance to me is very different. So if somebody is entering unintentional maintenance for the first time, what three tips would you give them as someone who has rocked that experience yourself?
Amanda S. 14:39
Well, my first big tip would be to set new goals that have absolutely nothing to do with the number on the scale. And it's so strange to make that transition from looking for a number on the scale to be going down. And now you're looking for it to stay the same and it feels a little disappointing almost because you're used to that little dopamine hit when you total the number goes down. And now you don't have that. So you need to replace it with something else. And so it can be anything, it doesn't have to be an aesthetic goal, it can be something in the gym, it can be something in your job. Even mental progress in your journey working on you know, journaling, or whatever that looks like for you. Amber knows I'm not fond of journaling.
Amber B 15:28
Me neither, if you are, okay.
Amanda S. 15:32
If you need to find something else to work towards, because it can be really frustrating when your goal is to just stay in the same place. So I switched my focus from the scale weight to what I was lifting in the gym. So having a different goal gave my mind something to focus on, instead of focusing on the scale number.
Amber B 15:53
Yeah, so it's so important. And I you know, I'm a little bit partial, I love focusing on the weight going up in the gym, I think that's such a great transition for a lot of women to make, instead of seeing the way go down on the scale, what if you were focused on the weight going up in the weights, you're lifting in the gym, but even I wildly want to push this home that even if that's not you even that's not something you want to do that doesn't feel exciting to you having some sort of other goal, like I want to run a marathon, or I want to start a new business or, you know, I want to get a promotion at my job, right? Like there's, it doesn't necessarily have to be in the realm of weightlifting, or even fitness. But having something that you can focus on as, like you said, getting those little dopamine hits of like, recognizing that you're making progress on something is really valuable. Awesome. Okay, number two.
Amanda S. 16:41
So my second tip would be to eat the foods you love and still find a good balance with your nutrition. I'm gonna be honest, I eat a lot of chicken and salmon, because they're good for me. But I also eat cookies and chips and chocolate and all of that, I just had to find a way to balance it. And usually I try and play on one treat every day. But I also then try to balance it with trying to have a fruit and a vegetable or a vegetable at every meal. And, you know, when you're in a cut, it's so much easier when you eat the same things over and over again, you're repeating meals, you know that it fits within your macros. But that's really boring and its maintenance. You don't have to do that. You can be more adventurous, you can go out for dinner more, you can find a way to fit in things that you haven't been enjoying a lot more easily. But it can be really scary at first. You think to yourself, well, it's a slippery slope. If I go out for dinner tonight and eat this delicious food that I haven't had. I'm going to want it every day. But it doesn't have to be that way. You can definitely find a balance. And you don't have to live on chicken and broccoli for the rest of your life.
Amber B 18:02
Yeah, that's really good. And did you so I think it is kind of counterintuitive, that with more calories, it can sometimes be harder to find that balance because like you said, it's easier to fit in a lot more fun foods. So did you find that it was in some? Like, what was that experience of having more calories and having a little bit more freedom? Did that feel good to you or was it actually harder in some ways?
Amanda S. 18:27
Well, at first it was really hard to find. I honestly struggled some days to eat enough. Yeah, because I was so used to eating high volume low calorie foods to fit into lower calories. That now that I had more calories I almost somedays found myself like Oh, well. I have like 500 calories left and I've already eaten dinner and what's something I can squeeze in that will fit and then I was finding I was falling more into more junk foods. Yeah. And then I started swapping out some of those. I stopped having the cauliflower rice and put the rice back into my diet, the real rice the delicious rice. As I started swapping out some of those high volume foods for lower volume, higher calorie foods, it just got easier. But at first it was hard.
Amber B 19:21
The transition. Yeah, for sure. Awesome. Okay. So set new goals, eat the foods that you love and find that balance. And then what's number three?
Amanda S. 19:29
Realizing number three is kind of similar to number one, but that's okay. So my other tip is really just enjoy your life without being hyper focused on food anymore. I found when I was in the cut, and previously when I was on Weight Watchers, everything was hyper focused on food. What am I eating? What am I eating? What can I eat? Can I have this today? And it took up a lot of space in my brain. And now that I don't have as much focus on all of the food and how to make it work. I have room for other things, I have room for hobbies, and I spend more time with my kids and the time we spend is more enjoyable. I just enjoy having more space in my brain that isn't hyper focused on the next meal or how I ate the wrong thing today, or how to make something fit where it won't fit. Doing macro Tetris because I ate something that the treat that someone brought to work. It's nice to have extra room in your brain.
Amber B 20:42
Absolutely. That's really good. I love those. I love those tips, all three of those tips. I give a double Amen to all three of those tips. I think it's really great. So you've been in maintenance for about a year. And then you just started a cut. Right?
Amanda S. 20:59
Amber B 21:01
Okay, so talk to us about that, because that's also something that people always have questions about, is starting a subsequent cut. What is that like? How is that coming out of maintenance? What kind of fears come up as you embark on this next stage?
Amanda S. 21:18
So far, it's going really well. I'm only about nine days in, though. So still early in the cut. But I've been seeing steady progress. And the best part is I'm cutting at about 2200 calories.
Amber B 21:30
I mean, stop it, right, like, stop it. See, this is why I tell you guys to spend time on maintenance, because now you're cutting 2200 calories. That's amazing.
Amanda S. 21:40
I did add a little cardio, which I told you I hate cardio, but I figured there was a good balance, I could strike with adding a little bit more cardio and not cutting as many calories. I did add about 60 minutes of cardio into my week. Because I didn't have to cut my calories as steeply. And like I said, I don't usually do much cardio maintenance. I don't like it. But I figured it was worth the trade off.
Amber B 22:06
And so here's why I also encourage people to reduce cardio with the reverse and reduce cardio with maintenance. Because now you have the world open to you in terms of levers that you can pull, you can add cardio you can you know, take away calories you have unlimited, not unlimited but if you're doing five hours a week of cardio at maintenance, and you want to like add more now you're talking about what are you gonna do six hours of cardio seven hour cardio. When you start at zero, it's like, yeah, I can add 60 minutes of cardio, it's like no big deal to add that in. So that's another one of the reasons that I really encourage people to lower the amount of cardio you're doing during a reverse and maintenance so that when you go into a cut, like Amanda's you have it as a tool to be able to use.
Amanda S. 22:52
And you as if I had any fears? Well, of course I do.
Amber B 22:56
Yeah. I mean, I asked the question.
Amanda S. 22:58
I wasn't really worried that it wouldn't work. I actually did a little mini cut last summer, and it worked really well. But I was, I cut for about four weeks and realized it was a very bad time in terms of stress. And there are seasons. And sometimes it's not the right season for a cut. And I got out of the cut and went back to maintenance. And I'm glad that I did. So it did work, though I wasn't worried that it wouldn't work. I knew that if I followed the macros that I was setting and that if I focused on what I was doing that I would be able to lose fat, and probably scale weight. But my biggest concern really is that over the last year, I've been lifting heavy and I know I've gained a fair bit of muscle and I do. I want to see that muscle, but my biggest issue is, I'm really unhappy with how my midsection looks. No, I know I will never have a six pack and I'm okay with that. But I had three kids. And my big worry is we can't choose where we lose fat. So of course, I'm hoping to lose fat in my midsection. And I'm worried that I'm going to get to the end of my cut, and it's gonna look the same and my measurements are gonna be the same. And I'm gonna feel like I did it all for nothing except for them. I'll remind myself that I'll probably be revealing the muscles everywhere else. You know, it's hard when you've had kids and you know, your body changes in a lot of ways. And I'm trying to prepare myself for the possibility that it might just be loose skin and not really body fat. So…
Amber B 24:46
Yeah. Well, I'm so grateful that you're able to share these concerns because I asked you the question of like, do you have any fears going into this process because I would say nine times out of 10 There is a lot of fear of going into a new phase, whatever that phase is, whether it's your first time going to reverse, your first time maintaining, going into a subsequent cut, even going into like your first cut, there's usually a lot of fear of doing something new. And I think it can be great to spend a little time talking about breaking down what is my actual fear, like, I feel afraid, but of what, what am I afraid is gonna happen. And so being able to help you get really clear on like, here's what I'm actually afraid of, and starting to make peace with, even if that does happen, like making peace with that ahead of time really sets you up to be able to be so much more successful during the process. And then either you're surprised and happy that you do lose something in your midsection or you've prepared yourself for the possibility. Hey, I may do it all right,”right”, not anything I did wrong, but it is just where my body chose to take that from. So I'm grateful that you're willing to talk about some of those fears. All right, so as we're wrapping up, is there anything else that's coming to you that you want to make sure you say to somebody who is listening to this episode?
Amanda S. 26:05
I think it can be really scary to go into maintenance. And I know I've seen a lot of people through Macros 101 and Beyond, who have gone into that journey of maintenance, where they're thinking, I'm going to go into maintenance for the absolute minimum amount of time possible. And I'm going to go back to cutting because I'm not happy where I am. And it's a little discouraging to me to see that because maintenance is such a wonderful place to be. And it really is a place where you can feel good. And you can work on other things.
Amanda S. 26:50
One of the things I really struggled with, when I first started in Macros 101 is, you know, I was pretty unhappy and I was pretty down on myself, I didn't think I looked good. I didn't think I was happy at the way that I was at, which is funny because it's actually less than I weigh now. But I realized through Macros 101 that I just didn't feel like I deserved good things. I didn't feel like I deserved to be happy to accept myself. And even I didn't feel like I deserved the time that I was spending or the investment I was making. Even going into Macros 101, I didn't feel like I deserved that. And I think a lot of people have maybe, I don't know, maybe it's moms, maybe it's just women in general. But I felt like I should be focusing on other things, I should be focusing on my kids, I should be focusing on my job. But through the process, realizing that I didn't feel like I deserved all of the good things that could come my way was holding me back from getting them. And, you know, I had a total breakdown during Macros 101, when I realized that's where I was that I didn't feel worthy of anything good. And once I realized that that was holding me back, and that I do deserve all of the good things that could come my way. Everything changed. And even you know, I shared this story with you before Amber but my husband was so grateful that I went through Macros 101 because he said, you're so much easier to be around, you're so much nicer to yourself, you're so much happier. And it made a difference in all aspects of my life. Because I don't feel held back anymore. I don't feel like I'm stopping myself from going for good things. I got a huge promotion at work. After going through Macros 101 because I knew I deserved it.
Amber B 29:01
Amanda S. 29:02
And I set aside time to exercise. That's my time. My kids need to get ready for school during the time that I work out. But I deserve it. It's the only time that I can do it. And so my husband is going to be the one who takes care of the kids and gets them ready for school every morning. And he's okay with it because he agrees that's my time. And it was hard. It was hard to come to that realization and it was really emotional and difficult. But Amber always tells us that the breakthrough comes after the breakdown. And it really does.
Amber B 29:42
Yeah, the whole idea of I deserve it. It's such a big monumental place that you can get to. Thank you so much for sharing that it was beautiful. So exciting. And I hope that people are listening and they are excited about maintenance. That's one of my goals, like having you share your stories, I want people to be excited about it. Like I said, it feels like the forgotten stepchild that nobody wants to acknowledge. But it can be one of the most beautiful experiences of your journey. And it really sets you up for that, that future success. So thank you so much, Amanda, you're a rock star. Thanks for being here. Thanks for sharing your story.
Amber B 30:21
I hope that you enjoyed Amanda's story. And that you were able to hopefully get a little bit excited about maintenance and see it as a really beautiful place to spend a majority of your life that's really where you should be spending a majority of your time. Small, little about in cuts, maybe some a little bit longer times in building muscle and then the majority of our time really should be living life, maintaining, focusing on all the other wonderful things that life has to offer us. So I'm so grateful for Amanda and sharing her wisdom. And I hope that it got you a little bit excited.
Amber B 30:57
The phrase, you have to love yourself first sounds nice but how the heck do you get there? You've probably heard of affirmations, positive self talk, maybe even read some self help books and those are all great. But when it comes to applying these concepts to your daily life, how do you do it? How do you get yourself to believe those affirmations? If I asked you to look in the mirror right now and say, I love you to the person staring back at you. Could you do it? And not only could you do it, could you mean it? I daresay most women would have at least a little resistance to verbally acknowledging themselves and their love for their body. And that's why I created the #ilovemechallenge, a free 14 day journey to help you increase your self love so that you can confidently say what you think of me doesn't matter because I love me. Hearing that part of you may think well that's a really nice sentiment Amber. But how can I love myself when there's so much that still needs to be changed when I lose my motivation to hit my goals if I am happy in my current reality. Spoiler alert, it doesn't work that way. Think about how long have you been beating yourself up and withholding love from yourself hoping that it would motivate change? If that strategy was going to work? It would have worked by now. The truth, the more you beat yourself up, the less motivation you have to change. It's just like a child who will perform much better in their soccer game. If you cheer them on rather than telling them you are withholding any applause or any love for them until after they won the game. What's between your ears matters. Your mindset is the determining factor for success. If you can love yourself now, you will be unstoppable. And reaching your goals will be easier. So are you up for the challenge? If so head to bicepsafterbabies.com/iloveme, all one word, and for two weeks starting February 13. So just in time for Valentine's Day, you'll receive one text message a day. These text messages will be short but powerful. There'll be mixes of quotes and action items and things to think about to be able to grow in your self love. This is entirely free. So if you're in head to bicepsafterbabies.com/iloveme and sign up for our free 14 Day text message challenge. That's bicepsafterbabies.com/iloveme. That wraps up this episode of biceps after babies Radio. I'm Amber. Now go out and be strong because remember my friend you can do anything.
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