For today’s “I Did It” Series episode, I have Maureen Szente, a 41-year-old Special Ed teacher and mom of 3 kids. In this episode, we talk a lot about how changing your nutrition can be the key to getting off the cycle of feeling like you always have to eat a little bit cleaner and eat a little bit less. Maureen also shares a great response to people who don't understand why she's putting so much effort into her goals. So without further ado, let's dive into the interview with Maureen Szente.
Find show notes at bicepsafterbabies.com/219
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- Commit to your goals and put in the work (7:45, 12:10)
- Your goals don’t matter to others, it matters to you (9:45, 9:50)
- Insights inside MACROS 101 (15:08)
- Diet cycle: Trust and enjoy the process (23:15, 28:20)
- How transformed people transform people (20:50)
- Setting an end date, not an end weight (22:10)
- Diet culture vs. macro counting (25:42, 27:49)
You're listening to Biceps After Babies Radio episode number 219.
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 0:47
Hey, hey, hey, welcome back to another episode of Biceps After Babies Radio, I'm your host, Amber Brueseke. And this is another Friday episode, which means it's another “I Did It” series where we interview a woman who has gone through this process, is in the middle of this process, right because it's not really actually ever over, but has some words of wisdom and has a story to tell and learning from her that you can do as you listen to her tell her story. And today is an interview with Maureen Szente and I loved Maureen, she reminds me a lot of myself. And that's always fun. But I make the point that we like to bring a lot of different types of women onto the podcast to share stories because there are a lot of you out there experiencing a lot of different things. And my goal with these Friday episodes is to give you experiences from women who maybe are a little different than you because I think we can learn a lot from people who have different experiences. And also to hopefully allow you to find women who are maybe very similar to you and have similar life experiences, or similar goals or similar struggles and be able to learn from them as well.
Amber B 2:03
So you'll hear Maureen introduce herself. But she is 41 years old, has three kids and she works as a full-time teacher in special education. And in this episode, we talk a lot about those last 8 to 10 pounds, and how changing your nutrition can really be the key to getting off of that treadmill of feeling like you always have to eat a little bit cleaner and eat a little bit less. And it always has to be about being smaller and that treadmill that a lot of women find themselves stuck in to be able to get to that next moment. And one of the things that I loved most that Maureen shared was her response to people who, I don't know maybe, like don't see why she's putting so much effort into her goals or kind of say, Hey, why are you eating that? Like you can eat whatever you want? Or do you ever eat unhealthily or do you ever eat fun foods? She has such a good response to that and we talk about that in the episode. So without further ado, let's dive into the interview with Maureen Szente.
Amber B 3:13
I am so excited to welcome Maureen to the podcast. Maureen, how are you doing?
Hi, I'm doing awesome. I'm so excited to be here.
Amber B 3:21
Me too. I'm really excited about your story. So let's start a little bit just kind of introducing you to everybody who's listening. Tell us a little bit about your journey up to this point.
Okay, well, I am a mother of three. I'm 41 years old, by day I am a special education teacher. I teach high school. I help special needs students transition out of high school and find meaningful experiences, Post Secondary. It's a really fun job, I guess is my 17th year as a special ed teacher. So I've always been active my whole life, from childhood up until you know, the high school I did sports teams, I always did cheerleading and dance. College is when I really started working out in a gym. I worked out forever. I had three kids, I gained weight, you know different amounts of weight with each child. And then you know, as a woman, you gain that weight, you tried to lose that weight, you get pregnant again, you gain weight again, and I did that three times. So I would never consider myself to have been overweight, per se. But I think there's you know, there's times where I've been heavier than I am now. There are times where I've been lighter than I am now. And I think that's also important to recognize because I feel like a lot of women are at that stage where they almost feel silly reaching out for help or doing macros or getting a coach because they're like, Well, you know, I don't have 100 pounds to lose.
Amber B 5:00
It's not that bad.
Right, right. And you know, people will think I'm crazy if I do this because I don't have over 50 pounds to lose. But I was at that point where I was working out six days a week. And you know, I thought I ate well, I ate healthily, and I just was seeing no results. So about five years ago, after my third child, I really recommitted to fitness and was kind of eating clean. And then after about two years, I was like, you know, I'm like grinding and seeing nothing like my body looks exactly the same, I'd lose a few pounds, I gained a few pounds but there was no more muscle tone. So that's when I really became interested in focusing on nutrition.
Amber B 5:53
I want to ask you a question because this is, you know, I think it's one of the reasons that I have such a variety of women on the podcast, is because there are a variety of women in the world, right? It's like, and I think sometimes what you said was so important is that it can be so easy to discount our goals when we have that comparison game of like, oh, it's not that important. I don't have 50 pounds to lose, you know, I don't have 100 pounds to lose. So my goals or my story are less important. So one of the things that I want to ask you is because I see a lot of women struggle with this. Did you have any struggles with setting goals for yourself as aesthetic goals for yourself? Because on some level, you felt like it was vain or it was selfish or it was, you know, self-centered of you. Because you didn't, it wasn't like about your health, or the fact that you had diabetes, or that you couldn't get up off the couch, that but that it was more of like, Hey, I want that last 10 pounds. Did you struggle with those thoughts of vanity or selfishness or telling yourself that your goals weren't important because of those things?
Not necessarily selfishness, but a lot of okay, you know, I'm thinking abs would be great. That'd be nice. Yeah, it'd be nice to have more definition in my legs. But then I'm thinking of people who say, why are you-? Take my mother, for example. Why are you doing this? Why are you always walking? Are you always working out? Why do you work out so much? Oh, just eat this just, you look great. You don't need to do that. And it's more about what I wanted for myself. And if I'm spending time during the work, I want to see the results.
Amber B 7:34
I was gonna say, how did you deal with that? Because you're not alone in that. There are a lot of people who have people in their life that want to tell them, like, what is important or what they should be doing?
That's a really good question. I'm very self-determined, I would say I have a lot of, I don't want to use the word motivation but I work well with a routine. So when I set a routine for myself, that's how I function best. So I have my routine of waking up really early before work and working out and that's my habit. So that's what I do daily, and I work out in my basement. So it's very, you have to do it yourself. There's no one, there's no one making me get up in the morning. There's no one asking me if I worked out. There's no one asking me if I'm progressively overloading on my sumo squat. So it's a lot of just committing to the goal and putting in the work.
Amber B 8:40
Did that impact you when other people have opinions about your goals?
Honestly, no. No, I don't let it, I don't.
Amber B 8:51
How do you do that? Because I think it comes easier to some people than others that where we can separate like, well, you can have whatever opinion you want about my goals and that doesn't really impact me. I think some people have a natural tendency to be able to create that line. And then for a lot of people, it becomes a very blurred line, where it's like, well, other people's opinions about my goals, what really matters to me. And so I think it sounds like for you, that's a little bit of an easier, natural line that you're able to draw, but I think we can still learn for people who aren't, that isn't easy. We can learn from some of the reasons that it naturally is easy for you. So when somebody has an opinion about your goal when your mother makes a comment about well, why are you eating this or why are you doing that? Can you walk me through some of the inner dialogue that maybe you utilize just naturally that maybe someone who that doesn't come naturally to could be like, Oh, I can try that next time? Someone else has a comment about my goals.
Yeah, I've seen a lot when I first started learning about macros, and even now I just like devour all the information I can on macros, podcasts, yours, in particular, I go back and I read listen. And I think it was on one of your podcasts where this was an episode and it was talking about what other people think of your goals when there are unsupportive people in your life? And it was said, when someone asks you, you know, the different ways you can answer them, one of the ways was, you know, you just say, I've got goals. And I'll tell you there, my son plays football, and it's five nights a week and on weekends, and it's two and a half hour practices. And of course, it's during dinner. And I'm like, we can't eat take out five nights a week, like, I still want to eat my good food. So I bought an insulated bowl and make my dinner at home, I bring it to practice and people say, what are you eating? Oh, my gosh, what's that bowl you brought that? You know, why are you eating that? And I literally just say, because I have goals. My goals don't matter to you, my goals matter to me. Whether I want to get abs or whether I am reversing or bulking. I have goals.
Amber B 9:50
I think that's a great answer because you don't owe anybody an explanation. And I think sometimes we feel like we owe people an explanation. And that's where people get really uncomfortable is like when somebody challenges them and it's like, well, why are you doing that we feel like we have to explain it to them, and we have to get them to see our perspective. And we have to help them understand and not think that we're vain or that we like whatever. And what I'm hearing you is just like you can just very plainly say like I have goals, period. And I don't need to explain them to you. I don't need to tell you what they are. I don't need to like a conversation. I can just, that's it.
Yeah, a lot of people don't want me to go on a diatribe about macros and why I am doing this. I've got goals, and anyone who knows me will tell you, that I don't have the people pleaser syndrome. So for me, it is much easier to just say I have goals. You know, people at work will say they'll see my lunch because I have to bring lunch every day to school. And they'll say, Do you ever eat unhealthily? Yeah, but I'm not today. Yeah, I have a goal.
Amber B 12:10
Yeah, and I think because like I said, some people have more of a natural tendency towards people pleasing, and some people that's like, not a deal. And so if you're listening to this, and you're like, well, that is really hard for me, it is hard for me to separate, like what people think. I think learning from this and just even testing it out and saying, I'm gonna try that. Next time I feel really uncomfortable because someone's like, challenging me or asking me about my thing. I'm just gonna say I have goals period. And that's it like, I'm not gonna feel the need to explain myself or the need to, like justify it or get them to see my perspective. I'm just gonna say I have goals period. And test it out and see.
Yeah, it's very powerful.
Amber B 12:44
So much. Yeah. Okay. So you're at this point where, and I relate a lot to your story is like, you feel like you're doing all of the things, you're eating the clean food, you're doing the workouts, but your body is just not changing and not doing anything. So at what point did you find macro counting and why specifically did it appeal to you?
So I found Sydney Cummings on YouTube, she does workouts. And I did her workouts, like I said, I work out in my basement really early. And her workouts are uploaded at 5 am. So it was perfect for me. So I had done that for about a year. And she would say things about macros in the videos, but not give much detail, you know, a snippet here and there. So I eventually joined her Sydney Squad, and it's a private group where she does very large group nutrition coaching. So I really first even heard about macros there. And I thought, Okay, I'm doing macros, and I got on an online calculator. And I plugged in all my stuff, and I got my first set of numbers. So I thought, Okay, well everyone talks about meal prep and planning, you have to plan before. So I printed out a week-long calendar. And I actually took a picture of this because I was like, this is insanity, this cannot. How do people do this? I planned out every meal and snack down to the macro every day for a week. Because I thought that's-
Amber B 14:16
How long did it take it?
It took me three and a half hours on that day. I had cookbooks, I had everything spread out all over the table. I took a picture of it. And then the next day I meal prep for four hours. I'm like, Okay, that was my whole weekend. I have three kids, I have to go to work tomorrow, this is insane. But I did all this work so I'm going to do it. And then I realized throughout the week, that I am a human, I'm not a robot. I can't decide what snack I want at 4 pm on Friday when I'm meal planning on Sunday. So I did that over and over, several times stopped and quit or started and quit, started and quit because it was way too hard. And I was like anyone who does this is crazy. This is nuts. I cannot do it.
Then I saw MACROS 101 and heard about it on your podcast. And I was like, oh, that sounds really cool. I'll sign up for that, I'm still really interested in this. And what interested me was, that everyone's saying, You don't have to eliminate food groups, you don't have to give up the foods you love. And I'm like, and you know, then I started following some people on Instagram. I have an Instagram and I kept it private, for five years. And it was my daily accountability to myself, I probably had 20 followers, and we would kind of all kind of like a private group, we'd all talk about the workout that day and what we were eating. And I really did that for accountability. And so I saw MACROS 101, and I'm like, Okay, there's got to be something to this, I'm going to do MACROS 101. So I did that. Fast forward throughout that program, learned how sustainable macros are really learned the mental side, which is, I mean, 50%, if not more, and really learned goal setting. I wasn't setting any goals, I was just doing the numbers. So I decided to take a step back, I started just counting calories. I did that for two months, just to get a handle on calories. Once I had that, I added in more protein. And then I added in the other macros, I started planning one day in advance, and it became much more manageable. And I realized, okay, maybe there is something to this.
And kind of my “Aha” moment was, I have two: I did, I've always taken progress pictures since MACROS 101, and I learned to do my progress pictures. And there was just one day where I went down to work out and I was just feeling like, fluffy. And the scale was up a little bit. And you know, I just wasn't feeling great. And I'm like, what am I doing this for? And I took a flex picture. And I went back and I compared from just working out without doing macros to counting macros for six months. And I was like mind blown. I mean, there was so much muscle. And the funniest thing is, it's the same weight. It's the same weight in both pictures. It's total body recomp. And I had no idea until I put those pictures side by side. And it's just funny because I was feeling so down on myself that day. And I was like, I saw the picture. And I was like, wow, that I mean, that's amazing. And number two turning point or light bulb moment really was in MACROS 101 were, because I really had no guidance, like I was listening to podcasts. And really, that was the only knowledge I was getting. But in MACROS 101, where you explain the diet cycle. I mean, I had never heard that. I thought you just dieted forever. And I realized I did the math that I had been in a deficit for six months. And I was you know, and then you're like, you need to reverse.
Amber B 18:32
And I'm like, Oh my gosh. So I tried to reverse probably three times, I would go back and listen to your podcasts on reversing. I've probably listened to it six times. And I would do it and I would stop and I'd go back into my cut and I do it. So finally I did it successfully. I'm at maintenance now, which is everything everyone says about it. It's phenomenal. It's the best. I never want to do a cut again. But yeah, in MACROS 101, I didn't know how to set goals. So the goal setting and reflection piece. I still do that every Sunday.
Amber B 19:10
And I really encourage my clients to do that every Sunday because of writing it down and going back to it. You know, on Friday, I don't remember what I said. You know, I even go back on Wednesday sometimes now and do a midweek assessment. And that's been extremely helpful for me.
Amber B 19:32
That's awesome. Yeah, that's so great. And then you like didn't stop there. Yeah, so then what happened after that?
So then I decided I wanted to learn like the real science behind this because it is science and it's so funny when I tell women about it. They're like, what do I have to buy? Do you have to buy shakes? Do I have to buy, you know, I'm not selling anything. There's literally no gimmick and that's very hard in this diet culture for them to understand. So I was like, I want to learn more about this science, I'm gonna get certified as a nutritional coach. So I did the NASM certification, honestly, just for me. And then when I finished it, I was like, Okay, I have got to tell people about this, like, this is just too good. It's too good women have to know, that they do not have to be miserable to get to their goals. So I did that certification. And just this week, a couple of days ago found out I just became a certified macro coach through G-Transformation and Eve Guzman's Transformation Academy.
Amber B 20:41
So I'm super excited about that. And I was telling you before we hit record that I can't wait to do the BAB Coaching Academy.
Amber B 20:50
That's so awesome. Yeah, I mean, I love hearing that. And I think it becomes this natural progression, kind of that you talked about Maureen is like, it's just like when you watch a really great movie, it's like, you just want to go tell everybody, like watch this movie. And it's like, when you have this transformational experience, you just can't help but like wanting to share that with other people and get, you know, assist and help and educate other people. And I think it's just that natural, next step for a lot of women who come in and have their own transformation of wanting to be able to facilitate that for other people. And I think it's such a beautiful way to continue that cycle. I always say transformed people transform other people. And you just get to continue that cycle.
Amber B 21:31
So you know, you've coached clients, right? You were saying that you had clients. So tell me about that experience of like, what has what's been the difference of because I always make this point, there's a big difference between you getting results yourself, and be able to coach other people to get results, those are not the same thing. You can get fabulous results yourself and be terrible at coaching. And you can be wonderful at coaching and like not necessarily have the same results for yourself. So they're not the same thing. So what has been your experience in the difference between you getting results yourself, and now being able to facilitate that for other clients?
I feel like I am really able to help people in a more clear direction than I helped myself. And I tell people I'm like, it's just so fascinating because I treated my body like a science experiment. I was like, I'm going to do this cut. And then I'm going to, you know, take it lower, and then I'm going to reverse. And I went through and I saw what worked and what didn't so I feel like now I can kind of cut to the chase with other women. And really, I have them map out their year almost. What do you want to do? What is your year look like? When do you want to reverse? What points of the year do you want to be in maintenance and have that clear plan, and the other thing I learned from you that was huge. Set an end date, not an end weight. That is mind-blowing to me.
Amber B 22:59
Yeah. Oh, so much.
Just teaching them if we all set it a goal weight we would get there and we'd be there and life would be fabulous. Right? But that doesn't work. We've all tried it.
Amber B 23:13
We've all tried it.
Right? So yeah, the tell-it teaching them about the diet cycle is amazing. I love I feel like, I feel like I probably overshare too much with my clients because I'm like, I text them like, you have to listen to this Biceps After Babies episode. You have to listen to this. Oh, try this recipe. You know, I just love I guess that comes from my career as a teacher. I love teaching about it. And you know, just focusing on you may not be at your goal weight, but look how much stronger you are, and look how much you've learned. You are enjoying this journey rather than making yourself miserable eating 1200 calories a day, for God knows how long. And then you know, you know what happens, you end up binging and you never get to that goal.
Amber B 24:03
And you never get to the goal and it takes you way longer anyway. So just slow down and enjoy the process and actually arrive there at some point. Yeah, that's so good. And I think you know, your experience, it's also really neat as a coach to be able to have those experiences that you can share with clients to kind of personalize it and you know, your experience that you talked about of feeling down about yourself and feeling like oh, I don't feel great about my body or whatever and then taking that picture and being able to have that comparison. It's so funny how our brains are really good at discounting change. Our brains are just trained to discount change, and we have a hard time seeing it in ourselves. And it's one of the reasons that progress pictures and other data points are so important because our brains will all automatically filter and make us feel like nothing has changed. And it's like when you put those progress pictures, those hard data points next to each other. It's only then that you can see that your brain allows you to see Oh, there actually is a change. Oh, I am like the same weight but I look vastly different in these pictures because I've had that recomposition, and be able to share that personal experience with your clients, it's so powerful in helping them to get over that fear that you probably had at one point about what it was going to be like and how the weight was told the whole story. And you know, all those aha moments that you had, and now you can share with your clients.
Amber B 25:22
One last question that I want to address is because you had told me earlier that you found macro counting very different from diet culture. So in your words, what do you see as”diet culture” and how is macro counting so different from it?
Something that I even had to get out of the habit of is good food and bad food. Labeling foods as good as a diet culture tells us we do that you cannot have cookies, you cannot have ice cream, they are bad. You cannot have carbs, they are bad. Really understand that when you're doing keto, you're not losing weight, because you're not eating carbs, you're losing weight because you're cutting calories there in your carbs. But the magic is eating carbs. On the same token, yes, you can eat carbs and lose weight. Diet culture is never going to tell you that. Diet culture always tells you smaller is better. Smaller is not always better. The no restricting, I mean, I've made like the best craziest desserts that are high protein, and so good. I was telling my client the other day, I said, I just I honestly prefer this yogurt jello bowl, to ice cream. Like I'd rather have it than an ice cream cone. I just love it so much. And she's like, Okay, you went a little too far compared to ice cream. But I'm like, I'm serious. So just, you know, find foods that you love. I always tell people and they don't believe me. I don't eat anything I don't like. Diet culture is never going to tell you that, you know, it's gonna tell you to suck it up. Eat celery, and yeah, drink the chicken broth. And the aspect of not punishing yourself. Like, you'll see posts, Oh, you have to run however many miles to burn off one donut. And macro counting is so different. It's eating the donut, move on. Adjust your macros, and move on. And just the not constantly dieting, and the diet cycle, you'll never hear about the diet cycle in diet culture. They're never going to tell you that they're going to tell you to eat 1200 calories. And just do it. Right. You have everything you love. And don't go out with your friends.
Amber B 27:47
And if you want the body, then you'll do it. Right.
Right. You'll pay the price. That doesn't happen. So yeah, I mean, it's really macro counting is really like the antithesis of diet culture. It's the complete opposite.
Amber B 28:03
Yeah, so good. Oh, it's been awesome. Thanks so much for sharing. Are there any last words of wisdom that you have? Maybe for someone who's listening who's feeling a little discouraged or is in the middle is in the thick of it, anything that you know, words of wisdom that you want to share before we end?
I would definitely say, you may have heard this before, but trust the process. Trust the diet cycle, it works. I have experimented on myself, I have. I tried three times and failed to do a reverse. But in the end, I wasn't really failing. I was learning and then I eventually did it successfully. Trust the process, take the progress pictures, and enjoy it. Enjoy the process as you're doing it because honestly, there's no finish line. You're gonna keep going, you're gonna keep making new goals for yourself. So enjoy it.
Amber B 28:59
So good. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast and sharing your story Maureen. You are your delight, and I can't wait to work more with you and help you. I just see like, the ripple effect that you are going to be able to have is endless, transformed people transform other people and that's what I see you doing now. So it's awesome.
Thank you. Thank you so much. And can I ask people to follow me on Instagram?
Amber B 29:23
Of course, you can, plug away.
Okay, so just a little bit. My Instagram is, I'm 41 years old, I'm a working mom, It's real food, real fitness, real women. You will not see anything fake on my Instagram. It's me working out in my basement and the food that I cook in my kitchen and nothing curated. But my Instagram is @macros.with.maureen.
Amber B 29:45
Awesome, and we will link all that up in the show notes. So if you go to the show notes for this episode, we'll link Maureen's Instagram and you can reach out to her and connect with her after the podcast. Thanks so much, Maureen.
Thank you so much.
Amber B 29:59
I hope that you enjoyed that interview with Maureen. As I said, I love to bring different perspectives and ideas to the podcast. And I think if you've listened to enough of the “I Did It” Series, it doesn't really matter what the experience is of the woman who's listening, it could be similar to yours it can be completely different from yours. There are always lessons that we can be pulling out. And that's really my goal to share the stories with you in hopes that we can continue to learn from one another. I think that's such a beautiful part of being in this community is the ability that we have to learn from people who are in it with us as well. So 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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