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Today I’m sharing with you an interview with one of my good workout friends. Cherie and I met on an exercise forum over 10 years ago, where we found that we have much in common, including our oldest kiddos being born on the same day and year. We’ve shared the ups and downs of working out, sending our little ones off for the first day of kindergarten, and later on, their first day of middle school. And as the years have passed, I’m happy to say we have grown older and wiser together.
I approached Cherie about my idea of doing a series on When Healthy Eating Becoming Unhealthy and asked if she would be willing to share her experience, because I thought if this could happen to her, then it could happen to anyone. I was ecstatic when she agreed to it. I know her experiences with placing healthy foods in the “off limits” category, having feelings of guilt for eating those foods, and limiting social interactions so that she could remain in control of her diet, would resonate with many.
After trying several different methods to gain control of her eating habits, Cherie came across a program called Lean Habits. This program not only helps with issues like Cherie was having, but it also helps break the bad habits associated with stress and boredom eating. It’s a scientific approach to making new habits that will last a lifetime so that you can lose and maintain your weight loss in a healthy fashion.
Meet My Friend Cherie
Tell us a little about yourself and your family life.
Hi! My name is Cherie and I am a 47 year old mom of 2 girls and 2 standard schnauzers. I live in a tiny rural town in the mountains of Idaho where my husband grew up. I am an Occupational Therapist and a Certified Hand Therapist. I own my practice and work with outpatient kids and adults as well as school based services. My husband also owns his own business as a contractor.
What are your hobbies?
Living here I have been able to explore a lot of new hobbies. I love to cross country ski in winter and I also enjoy hiking or trail running. I golf a little bit, since we live on a golf course. I also like to cook and bake thank goodness, since there really aren’t any restaurant options here.
How and when did you get into working out?
I have always always been active. I played sports through high school and in college along with jogging, aerobics (it was the 80s!), and some weight lifting. After I graduated college, I began competitive dancing (country western and ballroom) which was lots of hours of practice. When I moved here, I got into the ‘video’ craze doing, “The Firm” videos, and running here and there. I even did a triathlon.
I fell in love with heavy weights and noticed good changes in my body after having kids, and I began trail running and really enjoy that as it gets me out in nature and the essence of it is that you run/walk so there isn’t the “pressure” of road racing.
What type of workouts have you done over the years? What are the pros and cons of each?
Aerobics or too much running makes me very hungry (con, for me at least!). I did the P90X series, Insanity, and briefly Asylum. For me the pros, each program was laid out and you checked your calendar and stayed on task so there was no guessing what you needed to do each day. The con, is there were some videos I absolutely despised doing. I finally said to myself, “WHY??? Why are you doing this if it makes you miserable? Find something you enjoy!”
I was turned onto Get Glutes by you, and initially was terrified. I thought, “Umm… I have large glutes! No more thank you very much.” But decided to try it since I was very bored with the rotation of videos I had and I was feeling stagnant. Get Glutes was the boost I needed. For me, personally, heavy weights helps me expend some Type A energy, makes me feel powerful, and has the best effect on my body.
Any aerobic activty I do now (running, walking, cross country skiing, or even a video) is because I LOVE IT and not because I feel I have to do cardio to get the results I want.
Right now I am also enjoying a PBS series called Power Yoga and I love an MMA series called Les Mills Combat. I like to mix it up!
Has there been one type of training that has worked best for you? Or do you think variety is the key?
For me weights by far is best for my body. I do put on muscle easily and so I have to be careful that I don’t overdo anything. So I do maintain a balance with whatever other ‘active’ activity I feel like: walking, trail running, a video, yoga, golf. I think that whatever gets you moving that you enjoy is important.
How do you handle missing a day of workouts when life gets busy? Has that changed over time?
I used to be militant about working out to the point it affected plans with friends or going to parties, etc. I would not be able to ‘miss’ a scheduled day or it would send me into a tailspin of self hatred and restrictive dieting.
Since I started the Lean Habits Program (designed by Rutgers-trained and science based nutritionist Georgie Fear and her Husband Roland) I have been able to let a lot of that go.
Get Glutes and also Lean Habits are very complimentary. Bret’s program emphasizes the 4 workouts a week with anything extra really not necessary and Lean Habits emphasizes (in a nutshell) eating 3 meals a day, waiting for hunger and stopping at the just right point. It also really emphasizes self care and acceptance with practicing something.
What advice do you have for someone who is new to working out or who is struggling to stay on track?
Don’t think because you missed a week, or a month or whatever that all is lost. Start small and start again. It is a marathon, not a sprint!
In the grand scheme of things just doing something is great. Give your body a break when it needs it- some of the hardest times for me to lose weight were when I was working out most intensely.
Our bodies needs rest. Don’t give up. Don’t despair.
Also, just because you aren’t sore doesn’t mean it isn’t working. You don’t have to crush every workout- just like if you are a runner you can’t win every race.
Start with small achievable goals and build your workout into what works for YOU and YOUR DAY. I prefer evening workouts, and always have. Maybe early morning works for you. I consider my weekly events and obligations and plan from there.
Lean Habits for Lifelong Weight Loss Program Review
Let’s talk nutrition. I think many of us have found that being consistent with working out is fairly easy, but getting a wrap on nutrition is much harder. Can you describe your relationship with food and how it’s changed over time?
Oh my. How much time do you have? I have had a disordered relationship with food ever since I can recall- probably 7th, 8th grade. I watched my mother try every crazy fad and weird “exercise” trend. She used to go to a facility to have electrodes placed on her legs, then wrapped in cellophane and then that was supposed to firm, tone and slenderize your legs.
My grandmother was super critical of my appearance, commenting on my weight negatively. When female figures in your life are not promoting health, but rather criticism and their own poor body image it affects you!
I went through a period of really restricted eating, I went through periods of intense, don’t miss a workout exercise (which, incidentally increases cortisol so your body hangs onto weight).
I attended The University of Florida and dealt again with body issues from being around so many other body conscious women. This was the ‘aerobics’ generation (you know, Jane Fonda, step aerobics, thongs overtop of tights).
I gained a lot of weight my freshman year, got home and embarked on a healthier regime of eating (though what I ate was strictly dictated by what type of food it was- this was the ‘low fat craze’), and swimming and weightlifting. I got back to school in the fall leaner and happier to fit in with the Florida girls.
I would say my relationship w/ food and body from that point forward (until pregnancy) I restricted and avoided whole categories to eat (of course to binge later on it…). After my pregnancies I lost weight with Body for Life and then began to eat a little more fat and protein.
When I discovered Lean Habits, for the first time in my life I have been more free of body image issues as well as eating issues. I no longer fear events where food is served. I used to avoid eating ANYWHERE but home so I could control macros, etc.
You’ve been doing Lean Habits for 18 months now. Can you explain what it is and how it has helped you?
Lean Habits is a program designed by Georgie Fear and her husband Roland Fisher.
It is a system of losing weight or maintaining your goal weight by adopting habits one at a time. It helps you do this with the least amount of ‘pain’ and the most amount of sustainability.
The habits are all science based/backed and build upon one another. The focus of this program is on positivity and success and reconnecting with your sensations of hunger or fullness.
I needed to get off the ‘crazy train’ of macro counting, restriction, and then feeling bad about myself when I inevitably binged.
I just found that my eating was not sustainable.
I was eating 6 “mini meals’ a day but never felt really full or satisfied and I was hungry all the time (about every 2 hours) and then had to always be sure I had food packed.
I would be super anxious about getting hungry and fearful of that feeling.
The scariest thing for me was trusting this program–but I knew I had to do something different (mentally). No food is off limits- nothing.
Lean Habits is all about listening and accepting when you feel hungry, eating 3 (or another 4th small meal) a day and feeling satiated.
I am simplifying this but that is the general start of the program. I like that it is very self aware, self loving and self connected vs. depraving and disregarding your body’s natural signals.
Many women are emotional eaters or they eat out of boredom. Others feel they need to “earn” their food through working out. Will Lean Habits help them normalize their thoughts and feelings on food?
Absolutely! Georgie has very specific chapters and blogs about this because it is such an issue for so many. Those ‘habits’ of eating because you are stressed or bored as well as the cycle of binge/punish are addressed in multiple ways. Lean Habits has very much released me from those cycles.
That is another thing I love about Georgie- she has the science to back it up. I feel like some healthy foods get vilified and some people use that as a way to lose/maintain weight without any justification.
Obviously if you get militant about avoiding all sugars or all gluten or all of whatever is going to restrict what you have availble to eat.
Maybe that is a controlling help for some, but for me it became a near eating disorder.
I feared being places where I couldn’t find anything to eat or had to make up something about having ‘just eaten’ so that I could avoid eating things I wanted but ‘shouldn’t have.’
Lean Habits has taught me to follow my hunger and eat at mealtimes.
When following Lean Habits are there any foods that are off limits?
None. Zero. But you are encouraged to listen to your signals of satiety and hunger. And, they encourage you to put your treats at the end of the meal. Often I will say to myself- I can have this, but am I full? Will I really enjoy it? I can have it later if I don’t think I really want to eat it now.
Can you still have a glass of wine or a piece of cake if you want it? How has Lean Habits helped you mentally accept that these are ok options to have in your diet?
Yep. Absolutely! Again- if you are trying to lose weight- then maybe you will mindfully track how many treats you have in a day or in a week depending but nothing is vilified. Often I find I don’t finish the glass of wine or sometimes I may have another! Or, I take a couple of bites of cake. For me it’s knowing I can have it if I choose it that has allowed me the freedom to quit the obsession.
Also, I have maintained this shape/measurements for a long time. With lifting I seem make small changes in my body appearance, but nothing super drastic. Allowing those treats in has stopped the binging, so I see that there hasn’t been an issue to my overall weight/ body composition. Now, I know I can enjoy those things without shame.
What advice would you give to someone who struggles with eating?
I would say, “Wow, so, so, so many people share your story and struggles! People who DON”T have food issues seem to be so few and far between!”
Find some mentors online via podcasts, facebook or social media groups. I love Georgie’s stuff, Nia Shanks for helping stopping binge eating, emotional eating and honoring your body.
Thoughts on body image and dieting when raising pre-teen/teenage girls.
I never *EVER* make comments on appearance that are unsolicited or negative about their weight/shape etc. That includes me. I don’t ask if pants make me look fat.
When my girls comment on me going to the gym I tell them, “ you only get one body- you gotta take care of it!” and I focus on my performance- “do you know how many pull ups I can do??” I talk about muscle and how good I feel when I accomplish something.
My girls and I are training for a a25K right now- and I focus on preparation, being injury free. I also stress having fun- laughing and trying new things. We did a rock climbing, rappelling adventure last year and it was a blast.
I am careful to not say negative things about anyone’s weight, appearance, etc in front of my girls. I don’t body shame ANYONE. I don’t talk about dieting or too many treats, etc. I focus more on proper fuel to make it through the day, etc. I have some junk in the house but mostly good healthy options. They can eat whatever they want- but mostly choose things like greek yogurt and fruit, string cheese, etc as after school snacks.
A big thank you to Cherie for sharing such a personal experience with us. I know a lot of people have the same issues, but they feel the need to keep it private and I hope your story can help others find a better relationship with food and with long-lasting results.
You can find Georgie Fear’s book on Amazon:
If you have questions or would like to share your own story, drop us a line and we’ll get back to you!