Kim gets her inner athlete back
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A former Division 1 athlete, Kim’s fitness (and her perception of her body) deteriorated rapidly after college.
The days of regular workouts and healthy eating were replaced by high-stress jobs and overindulging on fast food.
But after too many long, disgusted looks in the mirror, Kim decided she wanted to re-kindle her athletic body.
“I loved competing and outdoor activities,” she says, “I wanted a body that I could be proud of and would enable me to succeed.”
A year after signing up for Lean Eating, Kim lost over 24 pounds and 16% body fat, winning the Lean Eating $10,000 prize and forever cementing the healthy habits she needs to stay lean, athletic, and fulfilled.
“Lean Eating not only taught me how to make my own food, it taught me how to make my own happiness,” she says. “That’s better than any amount of weight loss or money won.”
On paper, she thinks, her life looks great.
Ivy league graduate. Former Division 1 athlete. A high-profile job as a Nuclear Program Manager for a world-renowned, non-profit think tank. Good friends. Nice family. You know, all the stuff that should make for a rewarding life. But she just doesn’t know anymore. Something feels off.
Right now, sitting in her office in Washington DC, Kim Misher, 24, is uncomfortable in her own skin, wearing it like it’s someone else’s fat suit. Kinda like one of those sumo wrestler outfits. But this one you can’t take off.
She hasn’t been to the gym consistently in over a year, and she can tell. Her mood is sour and she’s lost the grit and determination she had as a high-performing athlete. A former Division 1 lacrosse player for Brown, she ran up and down the field and made her opponents quit with her conditioning and tenacity. She hit the gym to lift weights and trained up to six hours a day in season.
Now she sits in an office, lifts a latte, and watches the seasons pass outside her window.
Kim wants to know some things, like, where’s the engaging, dynamic life she was promised coming out of University? Where did her athletic, lean body go? And this job? Sure, she gets to rub elbows with ambassadors, congressmen, parliamentarians and secretaries of state. But it’s barely paying the bills. And she’s not sure if she’s lost her passion for it or if she ever had it in the first place.
This isn’t how it was supposed to go. This really can’t be the “real world.”
It was comfortable in school. Pretty easy. And she loved the real progress markers — they let you know exactly where you stood. Pass the test or fail the test; get a good grade point average; do well and earn a diploma But how, she thinks, do you mark progress in life? It seems like there is no check mark, no box to tick off.
She’s stuck in a quarter-life crisis. Her body needs to change. Her job needs to change. Her life needs to change. But those are big, scary goals. To take them all on together would be a heroic feat, and it’s just not something that seems reasonable.
Instead, Kim decides to start with one thing and see if it snowballs.
The job? This feeling of despair? She’ll tackle those later. Maybe they’ll even work themselves out over time. But right now, her weight is a constant post-it note stuck to her mind.
Yeah, that’s it. Body first. Life later.
At least, that’s the plan.
It’s December and Kim just signed up for the Lean Eating coaching program.
It’s week one, day one. Game time.
She’s looking at the Lean Eating software — graphs and charts galore — and she’s totally geeking out. It’s like she’s back in school.
“This one measures my habit compliance. This one measures my weight changes. This one measures how many inches I lose. This one measures my workouts!”
This Lean Eating thing, she thinks, it looks like they cover all the bases.
She opens a Word document and prepares for the onslaught of information. She was made to soak it up. She was an Ivy league standout and international award winner. She wants it all. Give her the diet and the workouts. Give her everything she needs right now and she will crush this.
Kim, ready to read 200 pages and plan the next year of her life down to the hour, reads her first lesson: take fish oil and a multivitamin.
She clicks ahead, trying to find the next lesson. There isn’t one. At least, if there is one, it’s hidden from her.
She can’t believe it. One lesson, and it’s to take some fish oil and some vitamins? Where’s the next lesson? Where’s all the research? Where’s all the freaking information?
She emails Krista, her Lean Eating coach, to ask just what the hell is going on. Big Coach tells her to slow down, to stay calm. You don’t need all that info right now, she says. What you need is to follow your habit: take your fish oil and a multivitamin. Everything else is just a distraction.
Kim is close to making the classic rookie mistake, the same mistake every woman who wants to lose weight makes: the belief that collecting more information will help her lose fat.
She already knows how this game works out: get a lot of info, read everything, try it for two weeks, and lose a few pounds. Screw up the next week, beat yourself up and plan to “get back on track”. Screw up again. Quit. Move to another program or weight loss book. Do it all over again.
Krista’s advice isn’t what she wants to hear, but Kim is a dutiful student. She listens to her coach.
She takes her fish oil and multivitamin. And that’s it.
Kim doesn’t have time for chit-chat in the gym. She’s there to work, and her commitment is paying off.
Three months into the program, Kim’s body is firming up and she’s dropping more than a pound per week. Her legs — her “powerhouse”, as she calls them — are stronger than ever, thanks in part to the squats, something she never thought she’d do again.
She looks like an athlete and is starting to feel that way, too. She does biceps curls in front of the mirror without shame, loving the way her sculpted arms look.
Her commitment to the gym is something she still can’t really understand. Some days she loves the training. Others, it’s a real struggle. But she does the best she can, and doesn’t succumb to transient feelings of apathy or despair like she used to – like most women do when it comes to exercise.
When she first started, she beat herself up for not doing extra, for not working out four or five days per week. If a little is good, isn’t more … better? Then she read a lesson by Dr. Berardi who said that he felt like going to the gym only 50% of time.
“I didn’t know it was normal to feel that way,” she says. “It was a huge burden that got lifted off me. I learned that sometimes you have to drag your ass to the gym, even if you don’t feel like going. And while the workout may be slow moving and uninspired at first, once you’re there it’s super easy to finish.”
Sure, there are still days when she loses hope and doesn’t make it to the gym. But she’s learning to forgive herself.
“In Lean Eating, I learned to clean my slate, forget the past, and focus on the next positive thing I can do,” she says.
Whether that’s the next set of squats or scheduling her next workout in her day planner, she looks for an action trigger that will help her follow healthy habits.
Kim knows we shouldn’t focus on the past; it’s simply not in our power to change it.
But the present? Well, that can be whatever we choose it to be.
Kim is catching her breath on the sixth floor in the stairwell of a random hotel in a random city.
She has five more flights to run, then she can head back to her room and shower.
After traveling for 26 straight days, meeting with diplomats and heads of state, you learn how to improvise. The workouts are the easy part. It’s when she sits down with her colleagues around the dinner table when things get difficult. She makes good choices, gets a salad instead of a burger, water instead of a Coke. But the rest of the people around the table make the meal difficult.
It’s like Kim is directly offending them by skipping the appetizer or asking for her salad dressing on the side. When someone offers her a bite off their plate, someone else speaks for her. “No, she can’t have that. She only eats lettuce,” they say.
Not only is it patronizing, it’s not true.
In fact, Kim is eating a wider variety of foods than she ever has before. Colorful peppers, vegetables, fruits and delicious lean meats make up the bulk of her choices, and she loves to experiment with different taste combinations and spices.
“I don’t want a bagel or a bowl of cereal in the morning,” she says. I’d much rather have a Greek yogurt with fruit in it. It’s funny how real food tastes better once you wean yourself off the processed foods, sugar and other stuff.”
For the past five months, Kim has treated her body like a science experiment, feeding it high-quality food and exercising a few times per week. She’s loving the results, but some people just don’t understand her commitment.
It’s tough when she’s back home, where she’s not sure if her family is trying to help or whether they’re urging her to throw in the towel.
“Look what she’s eating!” “Can you have pasta tonight?” “Why not?”
At first, it bothered Kim to have to constantly explain her meal preferences. Eventually, she learned to use it as motivation.
“My family witnessed 24 years of bad habits. They know I liked Froot Loops and ice cream, so of course they are going to offer them to me. I have to show them differently. I have to build new habits for my family.”
Her family came around. After five months in Lean Eating, they know that Kim isn’t just going through a “healthy phase.” These are habits she’s building and practicing for life.
They stock the refrigerator with Greek yogurt. And they become curious.
“My mom told me she was poking around the PN site the other day,” says Kim. “She respects what I did.”
Even her brother asks questions, “He has the opposite problem: He loses weight when he’s stressed. I told him to check out Scrawny to Brawny!”
It’s only one month from the official end of the Lean Eating program and Kim is starting to freak out.
Like every transformation in the history of transformations, smooth sailing is a myth. People struggle, they doubt, they consider giving up.
Five months into the program, Kim vents in her PN journal; about how she’s backtracked, how she’s thinking of giving up.
Working out, eating healthy, trying to quell old habits — it feels way too hard. And the process feels way too long. She considers quitting. Then she thinks maybe she should just stop; start over fresh later.
She considers other questions too. Maybe she isn’t cut out for this. Maybe she isn’t supposed to be lean and fit. Maybe she’s weird and there’s something wrong with her.
What Kim doesn’t yet realize is that these feelings are normal. Common. Expected. Even people who are getting great results deal with these little freak-outs all the time.
Fortunately she’s been well coached. And in the middle of her journaling something magical happens. Something that would make every Lean Eating coach proud.
She pivots. The words on her screen go from negative to positive. It’s like someone booted her out of her chair and started typing their own version of the truth.
“Overwhelming” and “scary” turns to “commitment” and “keep going.”
It reads as if Kim is acting as her own therapist, voicing her fears and doubts, then reining them back in, getting back on track.
“I am recommitting from this moment on,” she writes. “I cleaned my apartment today, did the dishes, did my laundry, went food shopping, and cooked some meals. I will be trying my best to eat clean and get the workouts in.”
“Then it should be back to normal, and I am looking forward to really ramping it up.”
Ramp it up she did.
One month later, Kim wins the $10,000 Lean Eating finalist prize.
Kim no longer daydreams about having an athletic body — it’s hers and she knows it. She can feel the difference.
Not just happy with her physical development, she’s especially proud of her mental change. She’s losing the attachment to numbers and metrics. For Kim, the perpetual student, this is a big step.
“I’ve come around,” she says. “I realized that I didn’t want to be tied to some mystical scale number or calorie count. There are better things to be focused on.”
“Like how your body feels and moves. Like all the steps you take every day to live a healthy life, and how it feels during the process.”
“I learned that you don’t become a healthy person with a great body at the end of the process. Instead, you build those habits now, live that way now, even if the mirror doesn’t show your lean ideal. It’s a challenge, but after a while, you do end up there, amazed by the journey.”
Now that her body is back under her control, Kim is looking at the rest of her life and asking, “What if … ?” with new-found optimism.
She realizes she’s not stuck in the same job, the same body, the same anything. She believes in the power of the snowball, the power of living now.
“If you change one thing, it becomes easier to change another,” she says. “One rolls into the next. You start to feel the power.”
And after a while you just may find yourself in a completely different place than where you started, loving every minute of it.
Coaching from the world’s top nutritionists. $250,000 in cash prizes each year. Are you in?
Registration to join Precision Nutrition Coaching kicks off on July 16th, 2014. If you want to get in the best shape of your life and take a shot at the $250,000 in prize money we give away to coaching clients each year, we strongly recommend you put your name on the presale list below for Precision Nutrition Coaching.
We can only work with a limited number of clients. And spots sell out every time we open them up. So adding your name to this list gives you a huge advantage. First of all, you get the chance to sign up 24 hours before everyone else. Even better, you’ll receive a big discount at registration.
So put your name on the list below. Because, as always, clients are accepted on a first come, first served, and when spots are gone, they’re gone.