I am so excited about today’s conversation, as this is a subject I get asked about a lot. Liz Wosman is both a vegetarian and successful macro counter. She’ll share about her journey, the ways she was able to be successful, and how vegetarianism and macros can work in harmony together. So without further ado, let's jump into the interview.
Find show notes at bicepsafterbabies.com/185
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- What a vegan diet is (4:46)
- It’s possible to count macros as a vegetarian (6:31, 11:33)
- Tips of how to be the most successful as counting macros as vegetarian (13:19, 15:20, 25:03, 29:47, 35:58)
- What a complete protein is (19:02, 19:31)
- Collagen (21:29)
- Protein intake levels compared to fat intake levels and the carbs (33:12, 34:33)
- Understanding the all or nothing mentality (36:33)
- Building muscle as a vegan (39:30, 41:51)
- Benefits of lifting (43:02, 44:44)
- Macro counting as a tool (49:12)
You're listening to Biceps after Babies radio episode number 185.
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 0:46
Hey, Hey, Hey, welcome back to another episode of Biceps after Babies Radio. I'm your host, Amber Brueseke. And we are talking today about a topic that I get asked a lot about and that is counting macros as a vegetarian. And as I am somebody who is not a vegetarian, and has never been a vegetarian, I have a concept and idea and understanding of how to coach vegetarians and how to work with them but I've never been one myself. And so I wanted to bring on someone who has that life experience, who can share from their personal experience, what it's like to count macros as a vegetarian, and the ways that she's been able to be successful. And so I have Liz Wosman on the podcast today, and she's been a vegetarian for 32 years. So, this is not just a little fad that she decided a year ago. She's been very vegetarian for a very long time. And in the most recent past, got into macro counting and utilized that as a tool in her journey and had to figure out how to pair both of those things together. This identity that she has, the choices she makes as a vegetarian with this new tool that she is utilizing. And she's been able to make it work.
Amber B 1:59
And so one of the messages of this podcast is One, that it's possible to count macros as a vegetarian. Two, to give you some very tangible takeaways and tips if you're struggling or if you are wanting to have some idea of how to be the most successful as counting macros as vegetarian. And then three, we kind of get to the very end of the episode. So I'm gonna save that little tidbit for you to get at the end of the episode. But it kind of wraps it all together that even if you aren't vegetarian, why the information that we provide in this episode is so important. So without further ado, let's jump into the interview with Liz Wosman.
Amber B 2:40
Hey, Liz, welcome to the podcast.
Hey, thanks for having me.
Amber B 2:45
Yes, of course. I'm excited to have you. One of the things that I will share is that Liz is so amazing. She had an idea about the podcast and some content that she would like to see about vegetarianism and macros. And so she so gently and kindly messaged me and was like, “Hey, have you ever thought about having someone that's a vegetarian and counts macros?” and I was like, “Yeah, we'd love to do that. Let me think about who I can do it with.” and then just like a couple minutes later, I wrote back and I was like, “Why don't you do it? What have you come on?”
That wasn't the answer I was expecting.
Amber B 3:23
I know it wasn't. But it's going to be perfect because you are the perfect person to talk about this. So, we're going to talk about vegetarianism and macros and how those two can work together and work in harmony together. But before we dive into all of that, let's start with just giving our listeners a little snapshot of who you are.
My name is Liz Wosman. I'm not from South Lake, Texas, but I live in South Lake, Texas, which is a suburb of Dallas right between Dallas and Fort Worth. And I'm from Chicago via L.A. in Germany. But now, my family has found their home here, at least through my children's high school education. So, I have three kiddos. I have a nine-year-old, eight-year-old, and then we still have a little guy who's three. So, busy, full of life. I was in corporate America for many, many, many years. Too many years. And I'm kind of recovering from that. And now, I am actually a macros coach as well. And I'm actually in Amber's class for Biceps after Babies transformational coaching class. So, that's kind of how we connected as well.
Amber B 4:29
Yeah, that's been super fun. Okay, so, let's talk about vegetables and vegetarianism. And let's just start with you just kind of giving us an outline of your vegetarian journey. When did that start? What made you make that decision? And what has that experience been for you?
Yeah, but I think for me, first of all, it's important to just clarify what a vegetarian diet is because I think it's kind of a hot term between plant-based and vegetarian whatnot, and I do not eat fish meat or poultry. I do primarily eat a plant-based diet. But really, all that means is I put plants forward on my plate, right? So, you can actually be a meat eater and still be a primarily plant-based eater. So, for the sake of today, I am a vegetarian, so no fish, meat, or poultry. And Texas people definitely are like, “Wait, so you eat chicken, right? Or you eat steak?” and I'm like, “No, no, no.”
Amber B 5:23
So you eat steak?
“So, you eat ham, right?” It's been kind of amusing going from L.A. to Texas. But-
Amber B 5:35
And then vegan. We just described vegan too for…
Vegan. It's just no, no, no animal products. And I've experienced, especially, when I was breastfeeding, I tried that out. I've definitely kind of done the whole gamut. And my journey is kind of an odd one, right? I started let's eat 32 years ago. I'm 42. Never really loved meat. It just wasn't my thing. But I am from a huge meat-eating Chicago family. My brother-in-law still to this day, and I've known him for 25 years, says, “Are you still doing that vegetarian thing? Like, “Alright, to me, this thing is just my life. So, it's not changing. My everyone, my husband, my kids, everyone needs me.” And I started because I never really ate it. I liked a few things. And then the girl in fifth grade told me what a hotdog was made out of. And I happened to love hot dogs. That was my thing. And I was devastated. I had one more farewell hotdog from Boston lackeys and Chicago was a chili cheese dog that never had one again. And my father loves to say, “Well, you ate enough hotdogs in the first 10 years of your life to make up for the rest.” So, I really do not have this big reason that so many people have. I've done a ton of research on it. So, I'm glad that I'm a vegetarian. But honestly, it's part of the food chain. Eat it, enjoy it. My whole family does. I cook it not well. I have no idea what it tastes like. It's been so many years. Yeah, so, that's kind of how I started. And I definitely was a very unhealthy vegetarian for many years, right?
So, being vegetarian or plant-based is often synonymous with being healthy, right? And I think I lived in that mentality for many, many years. I mean, I lived in Germany, where all I ate was meat and cheese– I'm sorry, cheese and bread for seven or eight years. I mean, the idea of tempeh, or tofu, or whatever, it just didn't really exist, especially in Europe at that time and especially in my college and grad school budget. I kind of live my life eating pasta and meat, I keep saying meat, cheese, and bread and just a really carb-heavy diet thinking, “Oh, but I ate lots of fruits and veggies and salads like I'm healthy.” And then fast forward to my second baby, for whatever reason, I just lost more hair than usual, my skin changed colors, everything was just, I was in bad shape, I was exhausted. And my doctor looked at me and said, “You're done breastfeeding, or you're going to a nutritionist.” So, I decided to hire a nutritionist. And I walked in there kind of with a little attitude. I did not want to be there. I already had enough on my plate. And I just wanted her to kind of tell me what I needed to do. And I'm forever indebted to her because she looked at me and said, “You know what? You need to learn this.” And she kind of, “What's your approach?” It's like promoting autonomy, right? She was like, “No, I'm not gonna tell you what to do. You need to figure this out.” And it wasn't really called macros back then. So, it would have been nine years ago. It was probably called macros but it was very similar. We started with protein, carbs, and fat and kind of took me all through it. And that was kind of the beginning of my journey. And then as I evolved, it turned into macros.
Amber B 9:03
You're like, “It was macros before it was in vogue.” Because I feel macro counting isn't in vogue in some ways. It's like people have heard about it in the last couple of years because it's becoming more of a general term in a general population. But the concept of macros is not a new concept. That is a crucial concept that dietitians and nutritionists have learned for eons. It's that's there's nothing new about the three macronutrients
Well, and I feel in fact, it's actually stripping away all these toxic narratives that we've been taught over the years like high-carb low carb-juice, and like, “I've done them all, right? I've lived a life of restriction.” And so when she stripped it all away and kind of brought me back to the basics, it's like, “Oh, wow, this is,” first of all, really interesting. As a vegetarian at that time, it was over 20 years I guess. I didn't even know what a complete protein was. I mean, what kind of a vegetarian is that? My body lived on carbs. So, no wonder I was tired, and no wonder I was losing my hair and all that. And so that was kind of the beginning of the journey. And then macros, specifically, I signed up with a program after my third baby. And at that point, it was invoked by macros and I was just really kind of tired of living a life of restriction and gaining weight, losing weight, I was done having kids. I just wanted to strip it all away and kind of just figure my life out, right? My daughter watches what I eat. Our children model our behavior, and I want them to see someone who has good habits and someone who eats cake, and someone who– I love french fries by the way. That's a big fun fact about me. I love french fries. I can't give up french fries. I gave up deep-fried food for six years.
Amber B 10:57
Including french fries?
Yes. I wouldn't even eat the chips at a Mexican restaurant. How unhealthy is that? Right? So, I was just tired. I wanted to kind of strip all that away. And then that's when I started counting macros, I guess it was three and a half years ago.
Amber B 11:17
And what was the biggest thing? Because you learned about macros, what, 10 years ago, or 20 years ago when you started with that nutritionist, but then what was different? Or what was the shift that you started to make when you actually got into macro counting as it is presented now?
Oh, man, there were so many shifts, and they're still happening, right? So, first of all, I like that transformation is ongoing, right? I am a total work-in-progress. And I'm still working on things like all or nothing. And I'm still working on all these different concepts. But I want to say really, I just started to understand how to fuel my body, right? And we'll talk later. I'm sure about protein because that's always the hardest part when you're a vegetarian, but just understanding why my body needed protein or even carbs, right? How many people don't eat carbs? I would never eat a piece of bread. And now, I eat bread. And I love bread. So, just really understanding the why behind it. The educational piece. And then slowly transitioning. I slowly bought in just kind of to all of it and then started– at this point, too, I had stopped working in corporate America. And I really just started kind of diving in deep with macros, and just mindset shifts and all of this stuff that falls into this world. And so it's kind of just been these three years of building on that knowledge that a nutritionist gave me nine years ago to where I am today.
Amber B 12:48
That's awesome. Yeah, so, let's talk about being a vegetarian and counting macros and the lessons that you've learned. And really what I want people to hear is some of the tips that you have, and someone who has that experience who has that lived experience. I can give tips about counting macros and hitting protein and things like that, but I haven't ever lived it. And so I love that we can have someone here who can share tips. So, what are some of your biggest tips if somebody here is listening and saying, “I'm a vegetarian. How do I do this? How do I count macros?” What would you tell them?
Okay, so I'm going to start actually halfway answering your question. If you're hiring a coach, this is really important because I wish I would have done more homework on hiring a coach. There is a big difference in someone who understands being a vegetarian and someone who's lived that lifestyle. And I say that lovingly. I've worked with two different, really big programs and four coaches, and they all were well-versed in being a vegetarian. But honestly, I received very little support at the onset. And, so, I would encourage besides a cheerleading email once a week, and I would encourage people to really do their homework. There's such an amazing Instagram community out there. Shoot people questions, ask them, and I didn't know this at that time, right? And, so, in retrospect, I wish I would have known to do your homework before hiring a coach because you really need to find someone who kind of understands the issues and how to hit the different goals. And this goes for anything. We were talking about hypothyroidism, or if you can't eat gluten, or if you have a dairy allergy, just really understanding the coach you need. You might not know what coach you actually need, but at least they should have a really deep understanding of how to help you hit your goals or to help you hit the level of lifestyle you want to live. That makes sense.
Amber B 14:46
Okay. Well, that's a great tip. Do your homework.
Yes. So that would be my first tip. And I was trying to think about how to kind of bucket my tips and they really fall under two buckets. I think protein is probably the biggest bucket that most vegetarians are like, “I can't hit. I can't count macros,” and I love when my clients are like, “I could never eat 130 grams of protein.” And I'm like, “Guess what? I ate, you know, 144.”
Amber B 15:18
And a vegetarian, yes.
So, if I can do it, and I am 80% whole Foods, 20% kind of fun-processed foods. And I try to only have a half a scoop of protein a day. Not even one portion of two scoops, I do half of one. If I can do it, you can do it. But I think if we start with protein, I think the biggest tip, obviously, would be starting a little on the lower end and working your way up. So, I think I started around 99 or 100 grams. So, it felt not only was it optimal and obtainable to use. I don't know if those are your words. I use those words or someone but um, yeah. So, I think really starting kind of low and incrementally increasing your protein is really important. And then I think that's one of the most difficult parts about being a vegetarian. As you know how they always have those little memes or clips about the best vegetarian protein sources, right? And it always has like black beans on it.
Amber B 16:27
Which is not a protein source.
No, or at a mommy, and it drives me insane. Because first of all, I love black beans. Yeah, the second of all, you need to make it a complete protein, you need to pair it with something, but the problem is that I can't just eat or be a vegetarian, we can't just have a slice of tuna, like my husband for 42 grams of protein. And he's living his best life, right? All of my protein sources are all a vegetarian diet that has a really fair amount of fats and carbs. And, so, when you start out, trying to figure out how to hit your protein, but staying within your carbs and fats is really important. Now, everyone has that problem, right? Everyone who has macros has their problems. That problem. Especially when you start, but I think it's a little bit more challenging for vegetarians because we're apart from egg whites, right? Tempeh and all these really rich protein sources have fats and carbs. So, the trick when you're a vegetarian is really figuring out how to tweak your portions. That's the biggest key is figuring out the portion sizes and playing around with it and knowing that you're not going to get it right, right? It takes time. It took me- I think I've gotten three zeros on my macros four times in four years, right? Like-
Amber B 17:42
It's good for people to hear.
My husband. And that's in my other bucket, too. Now, I'm going back and forth. My husband said four times a week, right? And as a vegetarian, I tried to even do plus or minus three for a while. It is just not possible for me, right? It's just too difficult. And it's not worth that gram. And so really, I like to make batch foods, which everyone I recommend for everyone, but really tweaking the contents. And so instead of using if I need fat, I'm going to use higher percentage yogurt versus lower, right? Or higher cream cheese than that, right? So, kind of really not only tweaking the portion sizes but tweaking the ingredients. So, I do a lot of Lily eats. I love her so much. And I also tweak a lot of her dishes to be vegetarian, which is totally possible. And you can make a lot of those vegan as well. And you just kind of tweak the portion sizes to make it work for your macros. And again, it's a lot of trial and error and a lot of figuring out just what's going to work on that day.
Amber B 18:52
Okay, I want to go back to your tips. But before we do, I want to define what a complete protein is because I know that there are people listening who are like, “I don't know what a complete protein is,” so, will you kind of describe that.
Alright, I will give the high level, and then I will let you jump in because you are- you've been doing this a lot longer. But essentially, a complete protein is when you eat complete protein. It's the nine essential amino acids that our body can't produce on its own. So, usually it's fish and poultry, but eggs are also a complete protein. Or if you pair a black bean with rice, for example, that also makes a complete protein.
Amber B 19:31
Exactly. Yeah, yeah, I mean, she explained it so our body can make some amino acids. There are different amino acids that make up the term protein. And our body can make some of those amino acids. And then our body cannot make some of those amino acids, and we have to actually eat them to be able to get them into our body. And if a protein source contains all nine of those essential amino acids, those ones that our body cannot make, then that's called a complete protein. If it lacks any of those essential amino acids, it's called an incomplete protein. Doesn't make it bad, doesn't make it wrong, it just means it lacks some of the essential amino acids. And so what Liz is saying is that a lot of times, people can pair different protein sources together to create a complete protein. So, if you pair black beans and rice together, rice has some of the missing amino acids. Black beans have some of the missing acids, but they don't share those missing amino acids. So, when you put them together, now, you have a complete protein. And all of your protein sources do not need to be complete. People get really hung up on this thinking that all their proteins need to be complete. If you're eating a wide variety of protein sources, over the day, you are getting access to all of the essential amino acids. So, if one of your things is an incomplete protein, it's not the end of the world. Over a period of time, over that day, you need to be ingesting all of those amino acids. So, okay, that's a complete protein. So, I want to make sure that people understand that concept because that's a question that I get a lot. So, let's go back to your tips.
Yeah. Can I ask a question?
Amber B 21:05
So, when you talk about, I know, this is probably a debate for another day, but collagen powder. What are your thoughts about-
Amber B 21:13
Let's talk about collagen.
Well, because technically from my research, it does not include all the amino acids.
Amber B 21:19
It's an incomplete protein. Yeah.
So, I have a lot of– I do not personally take it, but I have a lot of clients who do take it, and I kind of just go with it. What are your thoughts?
Amber B 21:29
So, I get asked about collagen all the time. And then I get asked about how do you track collagen specifically because people hear that it's an incomplete protein. And then they think for some reason that means they need to track it differently. Beans are an incomplete protein. You don't track them differently. You just track them. You recognize that it's not a complete protein. So, collagen, I always questioned clients what are you using it for? Is it just as another protein source? There's nothing wrong with that but recognizing that it is incomplete. And it also does not contain the amino acids that are really beneficial for building muscle, which is why something like a whey protein is always going to be building muscle as part of your goal, and maintaining muscle mass is part of your goal. A whey protein, which is a complete protein, is going to be much better for that than collagen. However, for some people, they like to take collagen because they feel it helps their hair or their nails, right? The purpose is different. The intention of taking it is different. And in that case, it knocks yourself out. That's if you feel it helps your hair and your nails, and you like it, and your skin, and stuff, knock yourself out. It has the amino acids that can help with that. I just don't want people to get confused thinking that it's something that's going to benefit them in terms of muscle growth or muscle development because it lacks the amino acids that we would need to be able to do that.
And then another question too, this is actually for vegetarian clients, so, there's a lot of supplemental protein out there, right? There's drinking powders. Questions all the things. I generally say, “Try not to do more than 20% of your diet. But do. you have a recommendation that you do?”
Amber B 23:06
I usually say no more than two supplemental sources of protein. And that's not because that's a rule, it's because I want clients to get a variety of sources. Yeah, and from whole sources. And if you're having four scoops of protein powder a day to hit your 100 grams of protein, well, now, you aren't diversifying that intake, you aren't getting the micronutrients that you need from other food sources as well. Because that's usually lacking in supplemental protein sources. So, yeah, that's kind of my rule of thumb is no more than two sources. So, maybe that's like you have a thing: a protein powder and then you have a protein bar or something like that.
Yup. So, on the same note, one of the things that I used to see your steer clear from pre-macros because I always just considered it to be processed was any form of fake meat.
Amber B 23:57
Like beyond chicken or like the beyond burger?
Yeah, and I still can't do the chicken for whatever reason. I have definitely started and I do it in things like my favorite is Mason Woodruff's chili. He makes this amazing creamy taco soup, and I do that with beyond beef crumbles, and I think it's awesome. I can't do the chicken or anything yet, but I have started to introduce some fake products. I'm using bacon quotations. You can't hear them and the reason it's late but fit. More processed fake meats to hit my protein. So, I'm trying to show myself grace, there. So, I do that occasionally. And then, obviously, the protein powder, and then if I have too a protein bar, but otherwise, it's pretty much from whole foods.
Amber B 24:50
Yeah, so, if someone's listening, and they're like, “Dang, how does she get 140 grams of protein?” You started listing off some of those sources, but can you give us your go-to, “Most days, I'm having this, and this is what I'm using to hit my proteins.”
So many. I feel I should pull together a list. Today, I made these amazing crepes out of egg whites and a super tiny bit of Kodiak mix, and I stuffed them with vanilla, Greek yogurt, and then put peanut butter on top, right? I mean, how good it was. 66 grams of protein was amazing. That was a lot for one meal. But breakfast and lunch. A good day for me is a day when I have no eggs, right? When I first started counting macros, that was all I could eat. I didn't understand what else to do. So, a good day for me is no eggs. I do all kinds of stuff. Gosh, I make skinnytaste Bagels all the time. I make pizza out of them. I make wraps and that's a two-pizza dough where it has protein. So, I like to find things that give me more bang for my buck. So, instead of just having straight up bread, which doesn't have a ton of protein, if I make the skinnytaste bread, and I make a big huge bag with a lot of it, I'm getting the protein, right? So, I'm getting added protein to it. Um, things like gruyere. I love gruyere, which is a supertype of cheese. It's a great, melty cheese. It's really high in protein. And it's very low in carbs. And some brands don't even pull up any carbs. Josef's Lavosh, right? That also more bang for your buck. It has a little more protein. Lower in carbs. I save my carbs for fruit. I mean, I love fruit. And at the beginning, I felt I didn't eat any fruit when I started counting macros because I was like, “Oh, yeah, you don't want to “waste your macros on fruit,' but I love it.” So, you need to find ways to work it in. Pash, what else?
Amber B 26:44
Did you do tofu.?
So, I am a weird vegetarian. I don't love tofu. I love tempeh. I make tempeh all the time. You could do so many good things with tempeh. You make chili, you can cook it with liquid smoke, you can put it in salads, I cook with balsamic, and eat it just straight up out of the pan. I mean, there's so many different things. But tofu, I struggle.
Amber B 27:11
Not your favorite? So, I have to tell you that my 14-year-old daughter just started being a vegetarian in November. So, what's been a couple months, and I've just kind of gone along with it. Sure, we can do this. And so, we've tried all of the things that
Does she like tofu?
Amber B 27:29
She does, and so I actually like it. I enjoyed it, so we'll cook it. Usually, if I'm cooking tofu, it's only for me, my husband, and my daughter. My boys look at it. They're like, “That's disgusting.” The younger kids don't really like it. But I've been impressed by the things that I've used trying to make tofu that I actually like, “This is actually not half bad.”
Do you air fry it?
Amber B 27:51
I have air-fried it. We just got an air fryer for Christmas. Yeah, but before that, I was trying to cook it in the saute pan and it stuck a lot. Anyway, but
Well, the trick is you have to drain everything out of it.
Amber B 28:07
Yes. And then we just did tacos this last week and so, I did crumbled tofu with taco seasoning for my daughter. And so, it was fun ‘cuz I ended up doing half meat and half tofu and mine, and I enjoyed a different protein source. Anyway, tofu has been a new thing that I literally have never used in my entire life.
Have you tried tempeh?
Amber B 28:29
I have not because. Okay, but this is my thing. Okay, you can coach me through this. It is so expensive. I go there and it's the tofu is so cheap compared to the tempeh and that-
Okay, no, I want to get it right. Oh my gosh, everywhere. Target even has it? I mean, it's probably $4. As opposed to if you're buying a steak, how much is this steak?
Amber B 28:55
Well, see, this is where I always talk about this is like, “What are you comparing it to?” Because what you're comparing it to matters, and I probably am comparing it to the tofu. And I probably should be comparing it to a steak where it's way cheaper than the steak.
Amber, It is $3 in 19.
Amber B 29:12
Okay, okay. Well done coaching me through that. Okay, so we will try tempeh.
I'll send you some recipes offline. It is so good. Some of my friends think it tastes like cardboard. But you can make so many things out of it. I use quotations a lot I realized. You can make a chickpea egg salad out of it. I mean, there's so many good things, whereas tempeh, if you don't cook it right, It's slimy.
You can also do little things using nutritional yeast by the way on your veggies. That's so good. And I've added protein, and I literally just sprinkle it all over my veggies, and I think it tastes delicious. It's not cheese. People use it as a cheese. It does not taste like cheese. But it is delicious, right? So, or hemp seeds, chia seeds, and your yogurt. I love doing that for a little crunch. So, all those little things you can do add up, and that's how I get my protein. So, no, they're not coming all from complete protein sources. But combined, I have a variety of proteins and I'm able to hit my protein. I mean, I feel my diet is very diverse. During the week, it's pretty boring. I tend to stick to the same things. We do pizza night every Friday. It's delicious.
Amber B 30:43
Yes. And I, now, prefer my skinny taste dough. I'm kind of an expert at it. Or I should say my husband is actually.
Amber B 30:53
Let's be clear.
He is what he rolls it out. He's so good at it, and we do it every Friday, and even the kids. Kids may put Nutella on it sometimes.
Amber B 31:05
On their pizza?
Have you never had a Nutella pizza?
Amber B 31:09
Well, is it by itself or a pizza with cheese and sauce, and then you put a Nutella on it.
You've never had a Nutella pizza?
Amber B 31:15
No, what is this sorcery? I haven't had tempeh. I haven't had Nutella pizza. I am living under a rock.
So, I should say, I guess for me, I started eating it in Germany many years ago because they use it instead of peanut butter. But they use very little layer. They're very responsible. My kids like to splatter it all. Yes. And I actually like it. That's one of those things I can't really have in the house because for me, it was back to my high school college days where you eat it with a spoon out of there. And you're like, “This is vegetarian, see?” And I know people are probably going to be like, “Oh, but,” there's probably gonna be a debate now because Nutella has– what does they have in it? Palm oil?
Amber B 31:59
Oh, yeah, the oil.
But it's delicious. And there's a place near my house where you can go there and their dessert pizza has Nutella and mascarpone on it.
Amber B 32:09
So, come. Okay, fine. I'll have some.
Or this skinny dough. The skinny dough. Little things you can make dough. You can take it, and you can stop it with Nutella. It's so good.
Amber B 32:19
That sounds delicious. Okay, you're gonna be sending me lots of recipes after we finish.
People are like, “Oh, you don't eat anything good.” And I'm like-
Amber B 32:26
I have eaten lots of good things.
And I can work my Nutella. And so I always say, “I count macros because I'm so passionate about food.” If you get me talking about food, anyone in my family, we don't stop. That's all we talk about recipes. My dad tells me all his meat recipes. I don't care. I'm so listening. That's what we talk about. We love food. And so I count macros, so I can eat, right? So, I can eat and enjoy and not have these guilty feelings I used to have. Now, when I eat a piece of bread with butter and cheese, I put butter on my toast and cheese, and it's amazing.
Amber B 33:00
So, with your macro ratios, do you find a vegetarian compared to someone normal? How do those protein intake levels compare the fat intake levels and the carbs?
So, that's a good question. And you'll read different sources. If you're a vegetarian, they automatically start you lower, right? So, I think I don't remember what I weighed when I started because I just had a baby, but she probably started any closer to point six grams per round. Yep. And now, I am close to one. So, it's evolved over the years. And it depends. I tend to actually really try to understand first an acclimation period. What people gravitate towards because I have vegetarian clients who actually don't love carbs, which is shocking. So, I tried to start them in a range that works for them, right? So, that's still within the guidelines. But I love carbs. So, I automatically was like, “Give me as many cards as I can have,” right? And I'm always gonna be on the higher end of my carbs, and lower-end on fat because I naturally eat less fat than carbs. So, I guess my answer to that question is I really kind of tried to go off what the client prefers at the onset, right? And not dramatically. If you don't eat carbs, you're still gonna eat carbs when you count macros. But I'm going to set that a little bit lower and then half the fat just a little bit higher.
Amber B 34:33
Yeah, I think that's a really good tip for the people who are listening who are thinking about cutting macros as a vegetarian is focused on that protein, and then kind of see where you naturally fall with your carbs, and your fat, and based off of that, and maybe that evolution happens but getting for so many vegetarians it's protein is the hardest thing and if you're focusing all your attention on there, make it easy on the others. Make it as easy as possible for you.
And I would say most clients I have struggled with. And I've had far fewer clients and you and I are much newer at this. But most of my clients struck a couple true Texans really are great at their protein. But most struggle hitting their protein. So, it's not that different than what-
Amber B 35:20
Regular people struggle with hitting protein.
And I'm a regular person, right? So, it's just a little bit different. You might have to be a little bit more creative. But all my clients complain about eating protein. I have, obviously, some who complained about carbs, which I don't understand. Because I would eat carbs all day if I could. But proteins are just hard across the board. So, I'm sure when you started, you probably struggled hitting your protein.
Amber B 35:49
Yeah, it's very common. It's an acclamation. Okay, do you have any other tips for people who are listening?
Let's see, I think, again, I would just go back to managing expectations, right? And that goes across the board, again to all clients, it doesn't happen overnight, right? You have to show yourself grace and kindness. And this is a journey and it changes and your numbers will change. Your numbers will change as you change and as your goals change. And I think just really being true to yourself and being kind, right?
Amber B 36:31
Yeah, be gentle to yourself.
Yeah. Because when I started, I was learning from you. I am not all-or-nothing, right? I am not a perfectionist, but I tend to if I have to hit something, I want to hit it, right? And I think that also has just been such a transformation for me is understanding that it's this all-or-nothing mentality that just does not, should not, does not, apply to nutrition, right? It's just because yesterday, I went over in my carbs. 40 grands, or whatever doesn't mean today, let's throw in the towel. So, I think that's kind of been just a huge transformation for me. And even this is a side story that I just did my first DEXA scan. Have you done one of those?
Amber B 37:21
It's been a long time. But yeah, I have them.
So, for the listeners, it's a full-body X-ray, where it gives you this comprehensive snapshot of what's going on in your body in terms of muscle mass, bone density, and all these amazing things. And when I first saw it, I had to say, I was like, “Ugh,” right? I was kind of heartbroken because I've been on this journey for three years. I've made all this tremendous progress. And then I really had to step back and be like, “No, this is actually pretty awesome because, now, I can tweak my fitness and workout, and nutrition routine to the goals I want to accomplish based on real numbers, right? And so, I had to kind of step back and I had to coach myself for a moment and read this as a transformation. And it's messy. And I'm learning. And the goalposts move, right? Yes. And so three years ago, I literally pulled up my post-baby picture from three years ago, and I was like, “Okay, you're doing great.” I just came off five months of maintenance, which was amazing. Maintenance is amazing. It's awful and hard, but amazing, right? And I am going to cut now, and I had to pull up that picture and be like, “Guess what? I’m doing okay.” And I'm just moving my goalposts. And so that doesn't really answer your question. Have any other advice? But I guess.
Amber B 38:47
No, well, that's good.
Be kind to yourself and your journey.
Amber B 38:51
Yep, it takes the time it's gonna take. Speed is not about. That is not gonna make it go any faster.
Yes. And it's so hard to believe that, right? It's so hard when you don't see the scale move. And your coach tells you, “Let's talk about your non-scale victories,” right? I get it. It's hard. But truly, it's a transformation, and transformation doesn't happen in two days or even three years, right?
Amber B 39:15
I want to talk a little bit about building muscle because I feel this is a belief that comes up too is that “Maybe I can hit my protein or whatever,” but building muscle is impossible as a vegetarian or as a vegan. So, talk to us a little bit.
Oh, well, so, I'm so new to this world. Actually, I love that you brought this up because I've always been obsessed with working out. I was the SoulCycle queen. I loved it. I used to go two times a day sometimes. I've always been and I definitely had a slight issue. And I've actually worked on that actually in the past three years. I overcompensated. I compensated for over-eating with exercise, right? To live with that mentality. So then, I had my fourth knee surgery eight weeks ago, and in preparation for that, I actually intentionally did this plan, which was all new to me, right? I usually fly by the seat of my pants. But I knew I had to have knee surgery, and I did the Bar Method. If anyone has never done the bar method, it is literally life-changing. Teaches you to be humble, listen to your body, strengthen, everything. It's amazing. Anyway, I knew I wouldn't be able to do bar methods as much after my knee surgery. So, I started working with a trainer because I also wanted to see what I've been doing since I lived in maintenance. Now, I'm going to cut how all that would impact my body. So, I am very new. It's been four months that I've been working with a trainer. I bounced back from my surgery. I think relatively quickly. I have to have one more, probably in the spring, which sucks. And that's a big one. So, now, I'm in a caloric deficit at 1,800 calories, which is awesome to be set at such a high calorie. I put the work in, right? And now, I'm so excited because we're ramping up my workout routine. I want to say, again, not my world progressive overload maybe? Is that what it is?
Amber B 41:14
Yes, we love progressive overload.
She actually is one of my trainers. COVID to poor, poor lady, but she's I have your workouts all ready to go. And so, yeah. So, you definitely have more knowledge. I'm super excited to see where it goes. This is kind of my new world. I love it. I am so far from doing a push-up or a pull-up. It's hysterical. But I am going to do a push-up or plug-pull-up before the end of the year. But right now, I'm literally I can just hang.
Amber B 41:45
Yeah, well, that's better than not being able to hang. So it's like step one, right?
Amber B 41:51
Yay, exciting. So, the ultimate thing that I want people to know is that you can build muscle and that intelligent programming is really going to be the key for anybody. And then yes, protein intake, right? Protein intake is important. But if you have protein intake, it doesn't matter if you don't have intelligent programming. If you don't have programming that clues it progressive overload. So, I'll be excited to see how you progress. And this new phase. It's such a super exciting new phase of the journey to be focused on something very specific of developing and training and getting better at and that you get to see that result of, “I can do a pull up now. And I can see these muscles and-“
It's like taking me away from the scale, right? I let numbers define me for so many years. I lived a life of restriction. And now, my goal is a life of abundance. And so I basically want to lower my body fat percentage, but it's hard to predict what the scale will do, right? So, I'm so curious in two months how my next DEXA scan will show up, right? When I'm consistently in my cut and working out. And then I'm gonna obviously go back up to maintenance for probably the rest of the summer.
Amber B 43:02
Yes, yeah. Oh, it's so good. So exciting. So fun. I love hearing new goals and new focuses on what your body can do. And I really think that's one of the benefits of lifting is that it gets you into that mindset of, “Let's see what I can do.” And away from that, “What does my body look like? Or what does it weigh?” And I think one thing that's really important that you kind of started to point out that I really want to emphasize is that if you're wanting to lower your body fat percentage, which that is a very common desire is to change your body composition and lower your body fat percentage, most people default to this idea that in order to lower my body fat percentage, I have to lose fat. And yes, that is one way that you can lower your body fat percentage, but there's another way and that is to add muscle. So, if you add muscle, yes, this weight, your weight may go up, but a greater percentage of the weight on your body is made up of muscle. So, you will actually that's why you can look differently. That's why you can see those pictures of women on Instagram where they're like, “I weigh 20 pounds more here,” but they look way better on the right. They're leaner and you can see their muscles than they do on the left. But they weigh more. It's because when a greater percentage of your body is composed of muscle, it looks different. You look different. So, not always defaulting to this idea that if I want to lower my body fat percentage, I have to lose fat. It was part of that too.
And I think to add to the layer there, one of the things I'm in my lower 40s still good. I mean, I'm in my 40s, right? And I've been doing a lot of research, and I'm getting older, right? And as you age, you lose– how many? to 2-3% of your muscle mass per decade. Is that what it is, right? And so-
Amber B 44:43
It might be even more than that.
Is it? I mean, so basically it. They talk about this midlife midsection, right? And really just the best way to kind of rev up, and keep your metabolism working is through building muscle and strength training.
Amber B 44:59
So, I understand a lot of people think that lifting is a young person’s sport. And in reality, it's much more important for those who are older and aging to be lifting weights than it is even for those 20-year-olds.
And it's not scary. I was really intimidated when I first went, and it's actually so fun, and you meet awesome people, and everyone is so willing to help. And I'm very clear on having no idea what I'm doing. Every time I'm in the gym, I'm like, “Please help me.” and everyone loves to help, right? There's always trainers around who can jump.
Amber B 45:30
Everybody loves to tell you what to do. In the gym. I feel it's everybody just wants to tell everybody exactly what you're doing wrong.
And I can see eye-to-eye. I'm like, “Tell me. I have no idea.”
Amber B 45:40
Yeah. And the thing is that most people are really focused on their own workouts. But if you ask people in the gym, most people at the gym love lifting and just are so excited to help somebody else love lifting.
Yes, If you want to come take a SoulCycle class and dance on a bike, I can help you there. But they were teaching me how to make the… What's that machine? Is it the Smash?
Amber B 46:05
The lat pulldown?
No, I was doing a smith machine where you're doing the “Err” It looks really intimidating. But I had a 20-minute lesson. And it was only Lesson number one on how to use that machine. And I think it's fascinating. It's so cool.
Amber B 46:21
That's exciting. That's awesome. Okay, this has been really fun. I'm really hopeful that people are walking away feeling like, “Okay, maybe this is doable. Maybe I actually can count macros. Maybe it actually can work for me,” you can. That's if you did get that from the podcast, it is possible. You can do it. It just takes a little bit of tweaking. And as does, and this is kind of a wrap-up point that I want to make sure that hits home, as does every single individual unique thing that we have in our lives. It just takes tweaking. And that's if you have seven children, it just takes tweaking. If you are a vegetarian, it just takes tweaking. If you have hypothyroidism, it just takes tweaking, and it doesn't mean that you can't do it. So good. Okay, the last question is where can people find you if they're wanting to connect with you?
I'm on Instagram @macrodragon. Is my Instagram handle.
Amber B 47:16
Awesome. What's the story behind that name?
So I, well, I live in Southlake Texas, which I have never gone to school with a football team in my entire life ever, ever. And I now live in this football-obsessed world. I'm not. I mean, it is obsessed. We tailgate for first-grade games sometimes, right? It's crazy. Our high school stadium is insane. I mean, it's just football is life here. My home lives in the next town over, right? It's crazy. And so when you grow up here, everyone's a dragon. And so our town now is big enough to have two high schools. But instead, they intentionally kept our high school together. And they separate you. It's like Sixth and Seventh, Seventh and eighth or fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, 10th, 11th, 12th. So everyone has a dragon. So like my three-year-old is a dragon And he's very proud.
Amber B 48:14
Very proud of being a dragon.
Everything is Dragon. And I actually hate the color green. But now, I live in this town.
Amber B 48:25
It's like Green Dragons.
And I watched almost a whole football game on Sunday night. That's just not me. I have no idea.
Amber B 48:33
It's this person. The Texas version of Liz.
It is. And I may be one of two vegetarians in Texas. And I was definitely meant to live in California. But now I'd rather hear. Yeah, so there's a macro dragon that is just kind of a play on being a word dragon.
Amber B 48:51
I love it. Awesome. Well, if you want to connect with Liz and shoot her a DM over on Instagram, go give her a follow. And Thanks, Liz for coming on and sharing your experience and your tips, and your ideas. And I'm hoping that people walk away with the confidence that they can count macros, even if they are vegetarian.
Yes. Awesome. Thank you so much. This was fun.
Amber B 49:12
Thanks for listening to this episode. But I hope, as always, that you got something out of it. And that you really recognize that macro counting is a tool. And it is a tool that can be utilized in a myriad of different life circumstances in different diseases in different lifestyle choices. And that tool can be molded and adapted and created in a way that's going to fit you. The big takeaway that I want everyone to get from this episode is that we can ask questions like, “Can vegans count macros? Can vegetarians? Can someone with hypothyroidism? Can someone in their 70s? Can someone who's male? Can someone who's female? We can ask all these questions but at the end of the day, macro counting is a tool. And the most important thing is about how you apply that tool to your unique specific individual journey. So, I'm so grateful that Liz came on and shared her story, her recipes. I will be getting some recipes from her to apparently try out. And that wraps up this episode of Biceps after Babies Radio. I am Amber. Now, go out and be strong because remember, my friend, you can do anything.
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