Today I'm interviewing Heather Robertson about losing half her body weight, and she has an amazing story! Heather lost 170 pounds. And more importantly, she's maintained that loss for eight years now. I hope that you'll be able to listen and apply all of Heather’s great insight about losing half your body weight to your own fitness journey (especially if you are currently feeling some of those feelings of restriction and resentment).
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You're listening to Biceps after Babies radio episode number 72
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, online fitness coach, wife, and mom of four. 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.
Hey, hey, hey! welcome back to another episode of Biceps After Babies Radio. I'm your host Amber Brueseke, and I'm super excited about this interview today. So on the podcast today I am interviewing Heather Robertson, and I met Heather a little over a year ago. We met online, classic like Instagram stalking and I just really resonate with her and her platform and what she stands for. So I asked her if she would come on the podcast and share a little bit of her story. She has an amazing story, which you'll hear a lot more about, but she lost 170 pounds. And more importantly, and we get into this on the episode, not only has she lost 170 pounds, but she's maintained that loss for eight years now. And we talk a lot about this idea of maintenance as a mindset. And I love, I love that phrase that she brings up maintenance as a mindset. Um, so I am so excited to share this episode with you. Make sure that you listen and focus on what she's talking about when it comes to maintenance, because I feel like maintenance is like the long lost stepchild that people don't think about until it's actually right in front of them. And that's kind of the wrong way to think about maintenance. So, and Heather has some great tips about how to do that. Um, they'll make sure you stick around to the very end because the last question I ask Heather has to do with feeling restriction and has to do with resenting the process and which I hear a lot of people saying that they like don't want to track, they resent tracking, they feel restricted. And Heather has an amazing answer to the question of how did she get to the place where she didn't resent it and she didn't feel restricted and what she says. I hope that and I think that you'll be able to apply into your own fitness journey if you are currently feeling some of those feelings of restriction and resentment. So without further ado, let's hop into the episode with Heather Robertson.
I'd like to welcome Heather Robertson to the podcast today. Hey, Heather.
Hello. Thank you for having me.
I'm so excited to have you. Heather actually reached out to me, I don't know how long was it a go that I was on your podcast like a year ago, year and a half.
Skype said we talked like a year or so ago, a long time ago.
And she reached out and had me on her podcast. This is before I even had a podcast and I loved getting to know her and her brand and her podcast. And um, when I started mine and I was like, Heather is definitely on my list that I wanna make sure that she comes and chats, cause I love your story and I'm really excited for you to share all of your wisdom and knowledge with my audience.
Oh, well thank you so much for having me. Absolutely. It's awesome to be able to connect with other people online that you actually jive with. Put stuff out there. I don't jive with it. So when I saw you sharing about your story and how logical and down to earth you were about things, I was like, I like this girl. I gotta get her on my show.
We can be friends. Yeah, totally. Awesome. Okay, so Heather, tell us a little bit about you and about what you do.
Absolutely. Um, so just so real quick overview of me, I um, I had struggled with my weight since I was a kid. I, I really started gaining quite a bit of weight around the age of eight and nine. I actually started even binge-eating as early as then and my weight just every single year was going up, up, up. And then I did a hit a, what I thought was an all time high weight of like 225 in high school. I decided to crash diet like so many kids do unfortunately. And I lost like 80 pounds in six months and then really gave no mind to how I was going to keep that weight off or what that was going to look like. And then I just continuously, when I go into college I continuously was going back to my bad eating behaviors and really back to struggling with binge eating again cause I was so restrictive to try and get my weight down there that I didn't know how to eat kind of in a moderate way.
And so then I spent about a decade, a good solid 10 years from say 20 to 30 trying to lose weight ultimately restricting, doing extreme things and then bingeing and gaining more weight. So like I might've started out at say 220 but by the end of that 10 year stent I was up at 290, so I perpetually was just putting more and more weight on. And then I finally got pregnant when I was 30, with my first son, and I was a public school teacher and I really had one of those come to come to God moments, if you will, where it was like I was struggled with weight my entire life. I never knew a world where that wasn't a problem for me and I didn't want my kid to experience it. And how in the world was I going to teach him to do these things that I knew were not good for me?
Like I wanted to change my family tree. I wanted him to have a better situation than I did. And I realized that kids don't listen to you. I mean, you know you have kids, they tune you out after a while, your voice just becomes white sound. But what they do is they watch you. They really pay attention to your actions. And I realized that I had to start to do the actions that I was going to eventually want him to do and believe were important. And what that meant was a total rethinking of the entire process. It wasn't Heather seeking out the quickest weight loss so she could be at her goal by the end of the year and all that kinda stuff. I had to totally scrap that thought process and say, okay, what is the most important thing here that I do something I can keep the weight off forever cause I could lose weight.
I mean I could drop 30, 50 pounds. I would always gain it back, plus more. So the losing it was it really like, you know, when we really think about that wasn't the harder part for me. It was that, how do you keep that weight off? So I started to focus on maintenance as a mindset. I said, you know, I would say to myself, is this something you're going to do forever, Heather? That was my constant checking point for myself. And so I made the end my focus, not the beginning and not, not where I was in that moment, but where do I want to end up? And that changed everything. Um, I ended up spending about five years, uh, and had two more pregnancies in the next, I had three boys that are three years apart in age and I managed to lose 170 pounds in that five year standpoint with those two other pregnancies thrown in and I've been maintaining my 170 pound weight loss going on my eighth year this upcoming January.
So actually it's actually proven to be really in my mind successful because since my approach was focusing on maintenance and now my maintenance timeframe actually is larger than what it took for me to lose the weight. I feel like that in of itself is the win. Like you know, people go Meyer down in how much did you lose and how fast did you do it? But they don't ask the most important question, which in my opinion is how long have you kept it off? And that to me needs to be a paradigm shift that happens. If we want to see weight loss statistics change longterm, we have to go in with a totally different mindset.
Yes. And I love what you say is maintenance as a mindset like that that is your focus. And I feel like you're right. That's so many women, that's not even in the realm of what they're thinking about right now. It's always about getting smaller. It's always about weight loss. It's always about seeing the number go down and they have no plan for longterm success. It's just about in the moment. Um, and so how, how do you suggest somebody who maybe is on a weight loss journey, maybe somebody who's been burned a bunch of times, right? Like you said you had that you've had the experience, which a lot of women have had of setting a goal for, for weight loss or fat loss, maybe even being successful in losing it, but then yo-yoing back up and regaining it. What would you say to that woman about how, like how can she change this way that she's looking at it so that she can really focus on how can I maintain this longterm and not continue that yo-yo pattern?
So, yeah, I love this question and honestly I'm to tell you the moment that I had, so I used to be a math teacher. I think I mentioned that and I did some basic maths and I said, okay, Hey Heather, how much time of your life have you invested in quick weight loss? Like literally every January Amber, I would get out of calendar and I'm like, okay, this year I'm losing a hundred pounds, I'm going to lose X amount of pounds per week and dah, dah, dah, dah. Like I had it all laid out right and I was going to do it fast. And at the end of that 10 years, I weighed more than when I started that process and I thought to myself, had I slown that sucker way down and I shot for one pound per month for that 10 years, I would have lost 120 stinkin pounds. And it was like, wait a minute. That's a slow as molasses in January. And if you had asked me that 10 years ago and said, Hey Heather, I just want you to lose one pound per month, AKA 12 pounds a year for the span of 10 years, and that's all I want you to focus on. I would have been like, no, that's just too crazily slow. There's no way to do it. But yet I ended that same 10 year decade of that 80 pounds. That's crazy. And that was like a light bulb moment for me. It's like insanity, right? What's insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. And when I saw those numbers, you can't, you can't mess with numbers. Like it's pretty legit. Like if you're looking at these two things side by side, if you see stocks are performing great over here, but they're lousy over here, you're going to go where they're good. Right? So it's like I was looking at that going, wow, I'm, I've totally been looking at this the wrong way.
So I had an honest moment with myself where I actually reflected on how much time I invested. Most women do not do that. By the way, when I, when I have them do that, they're usually like in shock and all. They're like, Oh my gosh, I've spent the last 20 years trying to lose this weight. Like that's a huge investment of your lifespan. When you think of getting honest with yourself about how much time you've invested in this quote unquote quick weight loss that you've been pursuing. And then the second thing that I would bring up, and I always share this with people is there is no end point and the more that I experience maintenance, I really get that. Like when I started realizing that all the actions and habits I had to do to lose the weight, I was going to have to continue past that point, it all of a sudden put me in a more balanced place where a stopped feeling this pressure, like I'm rushing towards a finish line. Like if I could just cross this finish line. Well no, because the day after you wake up, guess what? I'm still tracking. Guess what? I'm still working out. Guess what? I'm still having to weigh and measure my food and I'm having to be mindful of what I'm doing and I can't have all the treats and I can't eat out all the time. It's not like my life looks any great difference from weight loss to weight maintenance as a few extra hundred calories a day. You know what I mean? There's not, there's not a big span of change. So that was the other factor that I had to consider. And then ultimately what I also, so I want to make sure I don't miss any parts of your question. Was there something else in your question that I wasn't that I didn't, no,
I just specifically what would you tell that woman? Like how to make that change. And I love what you said about like calculating it out. Like looking at the math of, we often think it's like either I can lose 50 pounds in six months or I can lose it in a year. And that's not really an accurate comparison. It's not between 56 months in a year. It's oftentimes it's like you can either you lose it in a year or you can be heavier a year from now than you would if you tried to do it too fast.
Right? Yeah. So like if I was going to give her a checkoff list, one, it would be to calculate the amount of time she's invested in this whole process from the beginning to the end. And for most, for most women, I'm not saying every single woman. For most women, that's late teens to early twenties that's when I see most of them starting that. And then when they usually come to me like, okay Heather, I've been through this ringer and I've seen all the acts and the performances, they were probably pushing like, you know, late thirties mid forties they've invested a good 10 20 plus years of their life into this and sometimes much, much older. I mean, I always say that I've met women in their seventies who still are pursuing that and that's a huge significant portion of your life, right, that you've invested in this, in this pursuit. So that's number one. The second thing is to remove the feeling of there has to be this deadline. And you'll see this a lot when you see weddings summer season, right? Because the reality is, and somebody told me this one time and I think it's great, you don't want to just fit into the dress on the one day or the bathing suit on the one trip. You want it to be fitting seasons later and multiple events later. And what that means is that if you diet extreme to get into those things, you're going to probably overeat when you're away because you're making up for what you didn't need and that dress may not fit on the trip back from churchgoing. So it's a totally different mindset. And then the third thing I would tell her is plan maintenance breaks in your journey that troubles a lot of people because they are like, Heather, I'm not where I want to be.
Yeah. But every moment you spend practicing maintenance your securing a better chance of actually keeping this weight off long term. What most people do is they're super good at losing weight or gaining weight. They're really good at those two polar opposites. But that subtle place in between where they learn how to eat adequately to not lose or gain, but realize they can't have all the things all the time. It's a totally different frontier. And the more that you can go there and explore and practice and be comfortable with eating at maintenance calories and seeing what that feels like, you'll be better suited for when you do get to your goal weight and maintaining it longterm. We get good at what we practice, but no one practices maintenance. So shockingly, maintenance isn't something most people are good at, right? So if we want it to be something we're good at, we've got to practice it, which means while you're losing weight, loose, spending X amount of weeks or months losing or hitting a certain percentage and then taking a break, maintaining. And it's shocking because most people think maintaining should be quote unquote easier. But in some ways it's not. You know, and that's why that practice needs to happen, in my opinion.
Oh gosh, I couldn't agree more. Like can I get an amen? Like, I wish more women intentionally ate at maintenance. I feel like most women that you ask have never, never, like you said, they're either losing weight or gaining weight and they've never intentionally ate at maintenance for a period of time. And maintenance is a magical place. Like it's a great place. And I love that you say that. We got to practice it too. Um, you can't just expect to like, Oh, I'll, I'll, I'll get there. I'll practice it. When I, when I reached my goal weight. Yes. A little too late by that point. Maybe you got to like develop those habits a little bit earlier than that. Right.
Well, and I just want to throw this into, and I'm sure you see this where, um, by knowing that information and practicing it, it helps somebody become, uh, to build their self-efficacy. Because let's just say that she gets invited at the last minute to a party or an event and she's questioning, man, I don't know if I can hit my deficit calories or macros today. Like, man, I feel, I feel like this isn't going to happen. And that's where she thinks she has to stay. Well, more than likely it is. She's like most people, she's going to stop tracking. She's going to feel like I failed today. I couldn't adhere to my plan. But if you give her an alternative plan and you say, Hey, ideally you would hit this deficit or macro goal every day. Right? But there's going to be those life events and again, you're a mom, you get this. Like there's those things that just happen that might fall in your lap. I'd rather her know how to switch to her maintenance calories and cruise through that event without having the all or nothing black or white thinking and then hopefully she might even track the whole day and she may actually come out of it feeling more successful and like she did something that was good for herself versus this feeling of desperation, Oh well I'm going to fail. This isn't going to go well. And then she drops the ball completely. It's like, it's kind of like giving her safety net to where she has a place to move to when she can't do perfect or ideal.
Yes. Are you guys listening to this? Are you listening? Like if you're not gonna hit you, I love what you say. If you're not gonna hit your deficit, you're not going to hear you're with like your macros. Like instead of just not caring and being like, Oh, well, I'm not even gonna like track it at all. Giving yourself that grace of saying, no, I'm gonna eat at maintenance. And like, that's always better than just not caring. And then like you said, what I find that when a lot of women will do that and they'll, they'll still like hold themselves accountable and they'll still track, they'll be like, Oh, that really wasn't as bad as I thought it was. Like previously had I gone to that party and eaten X, Y, and Z, I would have been like, Oh, I'm way over my calories and I might as well just like eat whatever. And then they check it and they're like, Oh, like it really wasn't that bad. And it's, it's something that you can, you know, fit into a reasonable amount of food for the day. Um, so I want to change course just a little bit cause I think that you, I think, I know you will have a really good answer to this. Um, so there is a big movement I feel like in social media lately of this idea that like women spend so much time losing weight and they should just stop spending the time losing weight. Like, um, you know, you talk about women spending 10 years trying to, you know, lose and maintain that weight loss. And instead a lot of people will say, well, she just didn't even like try to do that and said like do other things with her life. Um, what would you say to that and how, how would you kind of like have that, have a conversation with somebody who like, believes that weight loss, like we shouldn't really ever intentionally try to lose weight because it's just a waste of time?
Well, I would say that, first of all, that's a very personal thing to make a decision on what's a waste of time and what's not. Right. So that would be my first thing to, to make a point. And what I mean by that is I at over 300 pounds at 30 years of age with kids, I was in pain. My back was slipping out of place. Um, I couldn't lay flat on my back and I literally couldn't. My husband was afraid if I did, I wouldn't be able to get back up and he'd have to come home from work to get off the ground. Um, and so I was having a lot of different issues because of the way it hurts us to get down on my knees, to bathe my kid in the tub. So for me it was one of those things where it was affecting my quality of life.
And so what I believe is that there are different, um, you know, different brackets if you will, or, or different parameters at different points in your life under which to view this whole thing. So in that case, you're, I'm over 300 pounds. It hurts to do things. It really wasn't a question I was going to lose weight. I needed to lose weight. And it wasn't because of a vein aesthetic purpose. It was I needed to be able to function in my life and I also knew I was going to shortchange my kids because I was going to say no to things that they might have really benefited from like pool parties and events cause I didn't feel good in my own skin and see here's the issue that I have with that particular topic is there's a couple factors. One is the physical, you know, just getting around issue but the second one is if you are so uncomfortable and every decision you make is under the guise of will I be able to fit into that seat?
Will I be able to take my kid in the pool without being really embarrassed and and all that kind of stuff. Your running all your decisions under the guise of body limitation and I don't think, I think that's a prison that we put ourselves in and we don't have to. Now there's a difference between looking airbrushed and quaffed and in all this kind of crazy business that can happen on Instagram versus being a normal functioning adult woman who can put on a bathing suit, go to events, and she can fit into a booth and she can go sit in an airplane seat without needing an extension, right? Like there was these two polar opposites. I have somewhere kind of in the middle. I think we should be at a place with our eating and our health that we can, we can say yes to things freely. We're not prisoned by our bodies and running everything under the guise of, or will I be able to or what will, you know, will my body be feeling good in these situations? And we don't also have to shoot for some kind of ideal airbrushed thing that we may never have the desire to achieve. But I think if we say to ourselves, just like we put limits on our budget, right? Like you don't just go out and spend whatever you want and do whatever you want and there's no, there's no boundaries on what you do. You know what your budget is, you, you live within it, right and if you want to pay off your debt, you put a little extra towards your bills. You live responsibly and you have healthy boundaries. But we live in a world where when it comes to eating often we don't put boundaries on ourselves. It's like we don't live with our parents anymore. I can eat that. It's available. There's a drive through, there's this, but we all need boundaries. We actually operate better with boundaries than we do without them.
And what you have to remember is boundaries are loving and they're supportive and often we don't see it that way because we have absorbed from the diet industry that we have to be very restrictive and it has to be very a certain way when in reality it doesn't. You've got certain eating habits and you might need to put boundaries on how many treats or alcohol drinks you have per week. You might need to put boundaries on some, you're eating more vegetables, having more water, things like that. But it's about self care. It's about taking care of the body. You have just like you budget your money and take care of your bank account, right? We've got to have that adult responsibility with our bodies so we can live our fullest expression, what we were meant to do and be put on this planet to do. And I see it as being very limited when somebody could say, yeah, I love the way I look, but if you're running any decisions to do things under what your body is capable of, then really you're not free. And that's what I want for everyone. I want them to have that freedom.
I love it. It said, said so. Well, um, that was, that was really good. I, I'm pretty sure I got the phrase, uh, there is a difference between a maintainable weight and an attainable weight. Um, I think I got it from you. I'm pretty sure I got it from you. Um, will you kind of just talk about that concept a little bit of the difference between a weight you can maintain and one that you can attain?
Sure. Yeah. And, and honestly that kind of piggybacks off the last question you asked me about. So what I often see is women shooting for the ideal, right? Like, okay, the BMI chart says I should weigh 120 pounds when I was in college, I weighed 120 pounds. Is there a chance that you could get to 120 pounds? I don't disagree with that. Right? You could dehydrate yourself. You could be up there running on the treadmill. You could be eating nothing but sprouts all day. Could you hit 120 pounds? Sure. When I say is it achievable versus maintainable? What I mean is that quality of life element that we were just talking about. If you have to say no to every social outing. If you have to say no to every treat, if you have to say no to everything you want to be eating and doing to keep your body weight at 120 pounds and I'm just using that number, it could be any number but to, to to get to that point, then what you are doing is you're affecting your quality of life, which to me is not maintainable.
So somebody might be shooting for 125 they might actually tap it on the scale. Yes, I rocked it. I hit it this one day. But then when you settle back into your life and the beats and rhythms and the PTA meetings and the date nights and the pizza with your friends, if your weight were to say settle at 140 could that be 20 pounds heavier than you were at your lowest 120, yes. But if you can live a full happy life and eat food you enjoy and have experiences that you enjoy and you're not obsessing about your body weight and you can actually live there, then that is what we call a maintainable weight. But I think a lot of times women tend to get tunnel vision on the achievable weight and they think they have to stay there. And so thus they get caught in that consistent diet cycle.
Where would I would say is, well you first off should take maintenance breaks on your way there. So when you hit 140, you see what it's like to maintain 140, 130 maintain 130 because with each new 10 pound level, you may have to negotiate away some of the fun that you want to have in your life. And I think the fun needs to be the thing we consider when we decide whether we want to go for the achievable weight or if we want to be at the maintainable weight. And that quality of life to me is so important. If you don't take time out to enjoy the life you have, then what's the point of any of this? Do you see what I mean?
Totally. Yes. So good. And I want like if you're listening, I want you to be thinking about what Heather was saying, like is the goal that you're shooting for a maintainable weight or as an attained attainable weight? And it's not that, there's not saying it's bad to go for an attainable weight, right? Just that you'd be really clear on like is this something that you're looking to like maintain longterm and is it fitting into the lifestyle that you want to create or is it a little bit something that's a little bit more extreme and it's going to require a little bit more of you and you get to choose how much you want to put into that process. But I am all for living your life and having the weight that you choose and the like the life fit, the lifestyle that you want to live and not having that mean you can't go out to eat. Not having that mean you can't um, you know, have fun with your friends or go out to parties or whatever it looks like in order to hit a cut, you know, five pounds less or whatever it would look like for you.
And also just want to mention this as, as somebody who, I mean I have been maintaining a long time. I also would encourage people to think about a range because I think they get married to a specific number. Like I'm just, and I'm using 120 but I swear to God there's, I have nothing against 120, I'm just using that as a number cause I hear this one a lot, but like if you thought 120 truly was the weight you want it to be, what I often tell people is pick like somewhere between a five and 10 pound radius around that number because human bodies normally fluctuate. Like that's just a given. Like on a day to day basis it's two to six pounds like that. That can be a normal weight fluctuation. Then when you have your menstrual cycle. And then what I have noticed in charting my weight for the last eight years is that even with seasons, your weight can fluctuate. And I think that when we really feel like, Oh my gosh, I gotta be at this number or I've gotta be within one to two pounds of this number, we sometimes can become so preoccupied with that that again, we short, we short change our life experience for maintaining a number on the scale. And what I would encourage somebody to think about is like if you say, okay, I'd like to weigh somewhere between 120 – 130. You give yourself these brackets and you just want to live within that number, but you don't feel like you've got to be married to one specific digit on the scale. Does that make sense?
Totally. Yeah, I totally agree. Um, especially especially for my women who are, um, go through a fat loss process and then are trying to gain muscle, right? That's a whole other like layer that you're not going to stay that same weight if you're adding muscle, which is a good thing. We want you to add muscle, we want you to, to like, um, add that muscle mass to your body, but it is going to mess with the scale. And so having an idea of like, no, like this range is my range that I'm going to be in. And, and, and that's great. And if you may fluctuate, I love how you say about life's like seasons of your life. Just like there's like winter, spring, summer and fall. There's seasons to your life as well. Um, and it's, it's going to ebb and flow a little bit. Um, so you work a lot with women who, uh, like yourself have a lot of weight to lose. Um, primarily. So what would your, what would your advice be to a woman who has a hundred pounds to lose and how would that differ from someone who maybe has 15 pounds to lose?
Awesome. Yeah. And so I do work with women, a good percentage of which have a lot of weight to lose, but I've also worked with women in the last 10 to 15 pounds. And I've actually even worked with people who have lost all the weight and actually wanted help with the maintenance process. Cause that can be kind of, freak people out as well. So what I have noticed is is that really the struggle is the same way. And this has been that actually, if you were to say, Heather, what has been the biggest learning curve for you? It has been that truly when someone really is only like 10 or 15 pounds over where they want to be mentally, it's just as difficult for them as it is the person with a hundred. And when I was in my heyday, if you had told me that I would have blown you off, I was unfortunately in that mindset of, Oh she couldn't possibly understand what I'm going through. And that was my own youth and naive and just not understanding. But I honestly thought that like I'd see a thinner girl walk in weight Watchers or something and think, Oh why is she here? And now I showed her that, cause I, I totally get, she has, she has the exact same mental struggles that the person with a hundred plus pounds, she's just got less to lose on the scale. And so really it can sometimes come down to those, what I call you gotten rid of all the low hanging fruit. So now you're having to really refine, refine, refine, which means it's the more difficult things, you know, like the letting go of the extra glass of wine. Maybe having to weigh out your fruits and vegetables. Like if you're really wanting to get to that point and just general tracking's not working right, it might require a higher level of effort.
But if we're talking about say with a hundred pounds to lose or a substantial amount, I would tell her first off, you know, focus on your low hanging fruit first. Like, you know, generally look big picture. How much are you eating out? Uh, you know, are you getting enough fruits and vegetables are, you know, are you kind of tracking or have some idea of what you're taking in calorie-wise. And I always try to focus on this idea of starting out with eating as much as you can, uh, from the beginning to lose weight and not going to the other extreme of that more restrictiveness, which I think is if you were to say like, what is one of the biggest issues they will, you know, a lot of times they'll say, well I might, you know, I probably should be eating, you know, 12 or 14 or 1500 calories and this is somebody who's maybe right now eating 3000, 3500 calories and that's so far removed from where they currently are.
And this just giving themselves that permission to start at that higher calorie target can be a mental struggle because they think they won't see progress. They think they're not going to be able to get where they want to go. But what they really don't see is by going extreme with their calorie restriction right off one, it limits their places to move on the chessboard of weight loss, right? Like you're going to the very end of the spectrum, which doesn't give you a lot of wiggle room. But two ,the chances of compliance when you're putting your calories that low, it's almost like setting you up for failure because there's only going to be so long if you've been eating 3,500 calories a day that you're going to be able to sustain a 12 or 1500 calorie day diet. So I think like the biggest mindset shift is one, giving yourself permission to actually not be as restrictive as you probably think you have to be. Starting with that low hanging fruit, realizing you're in this chess game of weight loss for a little bit longer than most people. So taking those diet breaks and allowing yourself to ease into the next level of calories without having to rush the process. I think that is like the big, big issues that I see for people who are in that weight bracket.
So good. And looking at your clients, cause you've coached lots and lots of clients throughout the years, what would you say are some of the things that make certain clients successful? Like what do they do? What do they think? What do they buy into that make them successful versus someone who maybe struggles a lot more through the process?
Yeah, so, so the people who are tend to be successful, they, they've luckily been listening to my podcast a lot. So by the time they come to me as a coaching client, they really know my message, which is super helpful. But they actually really do get this idea of the maintenance mindset, which is I am going to be doing things like this that I can maintain for the rest of my life. And what I typically see is when they are successful, one, they understand that it's a process, right? And that they're never really going to end the process. The process just might alter a little bit, but they're going to really stick with it. So they're never really expecting there to be an end to it. Um, they tend to be more willing to work on the things that lead to them not adhering to their calorie. So most people, you can hand them a calorie or macro goal and they logistically understand that they need to eat at that level. They understand, okay, this is why I'm supposed to be getting my protein, yada, yada, yada. Okay.
But then if their emotional house isn't in order, if they don't have good boundaries, if they don't have good time management, if they're completely stressed and overwhelmed, they might have three or four days of emotional eating thrown in the mix where if you're lucky, they've tracked it and maybe they've even tracked it to maintenance calories, but on a not so good day, they've just dropped the whole ball of tracking all together. Right? So when, when I tell them, Hey, we're going to be working on all those deeper issues that the reasons that leads you not adhering to your calorie goal, they are more receptive to that. Whereas when someone's just like, well, no, I just want to focus on my food or just focus on my exercise. That mindset I find is very self-destructed in this journey because we didn't, for most people, they didn't gain the weight because they don't understand the basics of weight loss. What it is, is they don't know how to manage their personal lives in order to adhere to what is needed for weight loss. Does that make sense?
Totally. Yeah. And I, I call it self sabotage when you know what to do and then you don't do it. And that's what most people struggle with is it's like you said, it's not the education. It's not, it's not the knowledge. It's not knowing like this is a healthy thing to put in my body and this is going to feel like that's not the issue with most people. It's the actual execution of it. Um, and being willing to dive into that and not just think, Oh, I just have to willpower harder. Like willpowering harder doesn't work.
No. Yeah. And I mean, it's funny, when I'm on a coaching call with a client, I might be talking to them about looking for their new job because they hate the job they're at and that causes them to stress eat. I might be working on them putting in boundaries with their spouse or a friend. Like a lot of what I am working on in our coaching calls is not about calories and exercise. I mean we do talk about that briefly, but it's all the things that will lead them to not adhering. And that's how I look at it. Like, you know, if we're thinking of a pyramid right at the top of the pyramid is calorie adhering to equal fat to equal fat loss or weight loss. But underneath that, all the tiers of the pyramid are all the other things, the sleep, the stress management, the boundaries, the time management. Because if none of those things are happening or that happening properly, then that those support you hitting at your calorie target. So I look at all of those because what I find is that's usually where the breakdown happens.
Absolutely. 100%. Yeah, I love that so much. Um, looking back, so you've now maintained for eight years and and have gone through, you know, that that period of maintenance, what would you say is different today than it was maybe 10 15 years ago? And then what would you say is, is still the same?
Right. So as far as, and I'm assuming you mean do you mean about my daily habits or do you mean about me and like my thought process so that.
Both, I'm interested in both.
Okay. So if I were to say what's different about my habits at this point, I would say I don't resent what it is I have to do. So when I was losing the weight, I think I was always hoping that at some point I might not have to do some of these things anymore or I wouldn't have, I could just, you know, eat quote unquote freely or normally. And at some point I would be quote unquote fixed and I've kind of relinquished that in my maintenance journey where I just accept this as my struggle and everyone has a struggle, right? Some people have a struggle with alcohol, with drugs, some people have struggles with relationship issues. Like everyone's got some, you don't walk through the human experience without having a struggle. So I've just accepted that this may be something I always have to be mindful of and thoughtful of, but it is something I can manage. Whereas I think when I was losing weight, deep down inside, I secretly hoped at some point I would just be, you know, a quote unquote normal eater, whatever that's considered to be.
Um, and so that was the one thing, my habits on a day to day basis, I have tracked pretty much every single day from weight loss to now every day in some aspect, whether it's hand journaling, whether it's um, you know, writing in my fitness pal, whether it's tracking a points and I like something like an I track, I invite app. And the reason I do that, it's the same reason that I keep up with my spreadsheet for my checkbook. If I want to know where all my money is going, if I want to get ahead financially, I have to be on top of those things. And it keeps me self aware. So I'm never shocked or surprised by anything because I'm constantly monitoring what it is I'm doing. But when I don't do those behaviors, it's easy for me to not be it, not to achieve the goals that I want. So I just kind of keep an eye on that. I also have worked out every single day pretty much since the time I've lost weight until now. But walking out or sorry, working out where that has really changed is I felt a sense of fear when I was losing weight. Like if I don't do it, I'm never going to get to my goal. It was a sense of, Oh my gosh, I have to do this. I have to do these really hard classes. I have to do these things in order to lose weight.
My biggest change I would say in the time that I've been maintaining and through this process has been looking at exercise completely differently. I look at exercise as stress relief. I look at it as building my body up and taking really good care of myself, but I put less overall importance on my weight management with my exercise and just more about my food management. So that's probably like if you were to say, what is the biggest change for you? That's it right there. Uh, I have really kind of prioritized food as weight management, fitness as lifestyle, health, stress, all of those good things in that bucket. But I don't mix the two together as much anymore.
Um, and then ultimately, as far as my mindset goes, I've learned to be much more compassionate with myself and realize that every mistake I make, it's a learning opportunity that I don't have to feel like a failure because I make a mistake. We all make mistakes as part again, human process, right? And then the other thing that I have done really well with is building in a gratitude practice. And that came about about five years ago. So one of the things that you might not hear that much about when somebody does extreme weight loss is the depression that can happen after you can lose 170 pounds and be crying every day. And your husband be like, Oh my God, I'm going to have to get her help. Because what you did in, in your mind, whether you realize you might've done this or not, is you kept telling yourself, well, you know what? When I get that next 10 pounds off, I'll like my body or when I get that 50 pounds off, I'll like my body. But if you, but when you get there, you'll still see flaws. You'll still just see things that end, quote unquote need to be fixed.
And then honestly, and I'm sure you run into this a lot too, that's where the well, if I just lost 10 more pounds. I just lost 15 more pounds. A lot of that stems from that depression that I'm talking about. So I kind of sunk into a little bit of depression and I said to myself, I have options. I can either stay here in this depressed funk. I've even gone to see plastic surgeons to, to do body circumferential lifts and all this other stuff. Or I can start to be grateful for what I've achieved. I can be grateful for the body I have for the actions that it allows me to do. And I realize even after looking at the before and after photos of people who had plastic surgery, there were still things that probably I would say would still want, I would want to fix if I was them, which basically gave me an indicator. This could never end. Like I literally could have lost 170 pounds, go in and have plastic surgery and come out and still see things that are wrong. And that means it's my mind. It's not necessarily the truth. And so I could be chasing that, that idea forever and ever and ever or I can build in something like a gratitude practice. So I started a gratitude practice about five years ago and it has helped me immensely. I would say it's probably helped me equally or even more than losing 170 pounds. But I started it because I didn't like how I was feeling even after achieving such a big milestone in my own personal life.
Oh it's so good. I want to ask you a little bit of clarity around something, cause this is something I hear a lot from people. You said that you got to this place where you didn't resent what you had to do in order to maintain? Um, and I'm curious about that because I hear it from a lot of people who, um, they, they do, they want the weight loss process to be different than what they actually have to do when they maintain and they're willing to commit to doing X, Y, Z to lose the weight. But if they don't really want to do that for the rest of their lives. And so how, how did you get to this place where like you didn't resent it, where it didn't feel restrictive, where it, where it didn't feel like, Oh, I can't believe that I have to do this. Like how did you change that mindset? And maybe some ways that, like the listeners can think about changing their mindset about what is restrictive and what is, um, you know, something that they resent doing.
Sure. Yeah. And honestly, I talk about this, I have a book that I wrote about maintenance and one of the things I talk about in there is there's the initial honeymoon phase, right? So this person lost weight, whatever the amount of weight is, and they're kind of flying high on cloud nine because they've done the thing that they've wanted to do and they feel really good. Right? And then after probably about six months of that, it settles in that this is your new normal. Like you're still having to do the same behaviors and actions, but you're not seeing anything change on the scale, which would a lot of people don't necessarily maybe think about when they're trying to lose weight, is that seeing the scale go down, it's like getting a paycheck every week. You're seeing some kind of quote unquote. Yes, you're seeing a kind of like a pay off or a progress for the level of effort you're putting in. But imagine that I asked you to show up at your job every day. Do everything you always do, but I decided not to give you a paycheck. Well, eventually you're probably either a going to be pissed off about having to go into this job and you probably are going to eventually quit and you're going to look for another job. Right? But the only thing is on this, she can't, because if you quit the job, you end up in a way worse position than you were to begin with and you ultimately undo all the progress you made. Right? And so that's where a lot of people find themselves. They find themselves in that job where they're doing the work and they're not getting the paycheck and then they feel that sense of bitterness and resentment because they realize that there is no where to go. Like, I mean, you're pretty much stuck there.
And so this is where the gratitude practice came in for me because I realized that it was my mind that was the problem. It wasn't the actual actions. Like let's be honest, I, you know, and I'm not trying to put anyone down, I says, but a monkey could track in my fitness pal. Like if I get, if I gave a monkey a phone and I said put in pancakes, I mean it could figure out how to do it right. Like we're talking about, we're, we're, we're creating nuclear atoms here or anything like this is legitimately like an easy task to do. And it literally, we've got such great technology now that it takes you like what, maybe two minutes to track an entire day's worth of food, but yet we get upset about it. And that's what really hit me. Like my grandmother lost weight way back in the day when they were doing exchange programs and having to Mark boxes off on papers and all this other stuff.
And she had like one of the old school scales and it's like her generation made it work, but yet I've got way more advantage than she did and I'm still complaining. Right? So what I realized was it was a perspective issue. It was a, a an appreciation issue. It was a gratitude issue. And so what I did is I journaled all of the gifts that I got from my new body, from losing the weight. All the things I got is a gift for doing that process. The fact my knees didn't hurt, I could get up and off the ground. And if these few things that I have to do on a daily basis, like maybe journal my food, maybe meal plan for the week, you know, all these are things, and then you know, what else is great. I actually started listing out how they helped me in other ways. So for example, when I meal plan, yeah, it helps me here to my calorie goals. But you know what else it does. It saves my family a tremendous amount of money every week. I get a lot more money back into our family budget because I meal plan because when we weren't meal planning, guess what we were doing, we were eating out a lot, eating out a lot. It's really expensive. Right?
And so what I also had to realize was the freedom that I got from these activities. You know, a lot of times we sometimes forget the prison we were in when we were heavier. But what I would do is I would always think about the pain that I felt. I would revisit it mentally and I'd be like, Hey Heather, remember how much pain you were in? I used to step out of bed in the morning and it felt like I was standing on glass shards cause it my feet hurt so badly. I never feel that. And if you told me I have to track in on my fitness power for the rest of my life and never feel that pain again, I'm willing to do it right. And so what it was, it was realizing what these small actions every single day were giving back to me, giving back to my family and ultimately giving back to the world. Because when I'm not in pain and when I can show up as my best version I can, I can not only just help myself, but I can help others. And it's seeing it through that lens. It's all about the glasses you wear, right? If I were turquoise glasses, I see the world turquoise. If I wear purple glasses, I see the world purple. You get to choose how you proceed. Any situation, tracking your money in your, in your bank account could be a nuisance or a problem or it could be the best thing you ever did because it puts your family in financial freedom. It's all how you choose to look at it. You know what I mean?
That is so good. Yes, absolutely. Definitely get an amen. Continue to better herself. Um, awesome. So this has been so good and thank you so much for coming on and sharing with my audience. Where can people find you?
Yeah, super simple. Just go to halfsizeme.com. We turn out a podcast episode we've been doing so ever since 2012 every Monday. And that's available through, I don't know, I guess it's called Apple store now. Uh, but we also, we're on Stitcher radio. Uh, but yeah, you can find everything at halfsizeme.com and I would hope everyone would check it out. I think the show would be really helpful, especially if you're working on this mindset stuff. I know that honestly it's like again, we get the logistics of what needs to be done, but it's all of the thoughts that sabotage you from doing the actions. Right. And so that's what we're working on in the show is really helping people with those thought processes.
100%. Yeah and we will link all of that up in the show notes. So it's a really easy to go in and check out Heather's stuff. She is a fabulous resource and I am 100% on board with the way that she thinks about and teaches and coaches when it comes to weight loss and mindset. That's awesome. Thank you so much Heather.
Thank you so much for having me take care.
I hope you enjoyed that interview as much as I did. I love Heather's energy. I think we, I feel like we're matched very well in our energy level and she is obviously passionate about this topic and share so much wisdom and experience both from a personal view of her going through her own journey and then also being able to coach others through their journey. Those aren't the same thing. Like just because someone's gone through a journey doesn't mean that that can translate into being a good coach. And I feel like Heather really has taken the things that she's learned, the processes that she went through and has been able to now apply those to other people. Definitely make sure you check out her podcast and her Instagram account. She also has a YouTube channel and um, get some more information from her and see more of the things that she has to share about this process because it's really awesome. You can get all of those at the show notes, which we will link www.bicepsafterbabies.com/72. 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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