Lean Eating coaches confess – Part 2


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Last week I brought you some True Tales from The PN Trenches, and kicked off some confessions from one of the Lean Eating Program coaches… me.

I also reminded you of JB’s commitment to a junk-free house — for more on this, see All About Kitchen Makeovers.

This week, let’s check in with the coaches of the women’s Lean Eating and Lean Eating Alumni program.  Again, these women are “experts”, right?  They always look and feel fantastic, and they always do everything perfectly, right?

Yeah, right.

I asked them three questions:

  • What have you learned from hard experience? (And what do you still struggle with sometimes?)
  • Fill in the following sentence: “Despite being an ‘expert’, I still…”
  • What was your lousiest workout?

Time for some unvarnished truth. Let ‘er rip, ladies!

Kate Kline

From experience, I’ve learned…

…that thinking — or over-thinking — can be destructive.

I have a natural inclination to think too much, too often, and/or too far ahead. I’ll often over-analyze simple things or catch myself thinking about what’s happening next month or even 3 years from now.

The result?  Stress and anxiety.  My work, sleep, training, and diet are negatively affected. I end up feeling like utter crap.

Now, when I start to get the urge to think too much or anticipate the future, I try to turn that part of my brain off immediately and instead switch my focus on that day only and how I can make the most of that  day — that moment, even. When I do that, it feels like a stack of bricks was lifted off my chest and life suddenly becomes a hell of a lot more enjoyable.

From this, I’ve learned to teach my Lean Eating clients how to focus on moving towards their goals in small, manageable ways each day, and how to build routines that will help them get there.

…that I have to do what works for my body.

I went through the whole fitness media compulsion/blog-reading/program ADD phase.  What a waste of time and energy.

I can’t just go read “Franny Fit’s” blog and expect to get the same results if I just copy her diet and training.  Boo!  How come? Oh, because I’m Kate Kline. Duh!  I’m not Franny Fit. My body is unique to me.

… that I like to train… a lot.

I’ve had to learn the hard way the importance of rest and listening to my body.  The times when I’ve ignored important signals or didn’t schedule adequate recovery time, my body responded by forcing rest upon me.  And not just a couple of days either.

…that I’m a creature of habit.

I like to stick to my routines.  Change kind of freaks me out.  Years ago, my good friend Krista Schaus told me to “Feel the fear… and do it anyways”.  I took those words to heart. The opportunities, knowledge, insights, and growth that have resulted from facing my fears and embracing change are absolutely incredible.

Now I make it a point to do at least one thing that “scares” me each week. And I gently encourage my Lean Eating Alumni clients to face their fears too — and emerge victorious!

Despite being an expert…

…I still have days where I wake up feeling discouraged and/or unmotivated.

You know, the “I feel like sh*t days.”  I know that during these times, I need social support, so I reach out.

This PN community is the cornerstone of my network.  I can “stop by’” anytime and receive encouragement, motivation, and advice.  Thanks, guys.

My worst workout…

The absolute worst workout I ever had was when my shorts split while squatting.

I had my headphones going and was so focused that I didn’t even realize it at the time.  After walking around the gym for a good 20 minutes, finally someone had the guts to tell me there was a tear in my shorts and my undies were showing.  Face palm.  After leaving the gym mortified, I decided to look at the positive — I must be growing that booty I want!

Then there was the day that I dropped not one, but two 45-pound plates on my toe.

Shortly after I proceeded to warm-up on the lat-pulldown machine. When I took out the pins to set the weight, the bar fell from above onto my head, almost knocking me out.  It was definitely not the kind of “hurts so good” workout I had in mind!

Krista Schaus

From experience, I’ve learned…

…not to assume I know it all.

No matter how long you’ve been in this game, don’t assume you know everything.

Assuming I “know it all” has been one of my biggest mistakes through my many years of striving for improved health, physique and performance.

And when I found new concepts, protocols or knowledge about nutrition (or training), I wouldn’t realize that this showed that I didn’t know it all (or that “knowing it all” wasn’t even the point)… instead, I’d think, “Well, now I know it all!”

Hello, is that EGO who entered the room?

Well after enough times I finally figured out that the more you learn, the less you know.

I now see my knowledge and experience as a pencil dot, and the available knowledge and experience as a factory of pencils. (To be fair, I think my pencil dot is pretty big and bold!) I have a lot to learn, but the knowledge I have already helps people in many ways. Thus, be aware of your strengths and your value but be open to learning about your obstacles and limitations too.

So I am excited and proud of what I have learned and experiences I have gained but I am more excited about what I knowledge and experience are waiting for me to gain.

This attitude also keeps an open mind – you must be open to the fact that what you know now can change and that you can be right one minute and wrong the next.

If clients put themselves in our hands, they have to learn to trust us and open themselves to the knowledge that we have. And we learn from one another.

…don’t deal in absolutes.

I come from a hard-ass history which also means I will bang my head against a wall a few times before I figure out that it hurts, it’s dangerous, and I shouldn’t do that any more. However, once I “get it” I really get it, and will tell everyone and anyone loud and clear not to do that – until I discover I was again wrong (see above).

So, I’m the type of person who used to say “always” or “never”. For example:

  • “NEVER do cardio in the morning because it’s bad for your adrenals.”
  • “ALWAYS do squats in your workouts.”

That’s the past for me now. It’s hard to work for PN and people like Dr. John Berardi and be that closed-minded for long. And after working with so many clients, I now realize that each client has unique needs, abilities, and limitations.

…fad diets don’t work. Real life change — which includes building good habits — does.

In the mid-1990s, I was a police officer growing a cruiser butt.

But rather than increase my activity and improve my nutrition habits (which I thought were perfect, of course), I thought I would check out some silly dietary tactics. I experimented unsuccessfully with everything from Atkins to “Stop the Insanity” stuff.

Luckily I was saved in the late 1990s by mentors who taught me proper nutrition for body and sport, and by habits that have come to be known as PN and the Habit-Based Eating plan. Now, I use these same habits to help all our clients meet and exceed their goals.

Despite being an expert…

…I still will easily eat half a jar of peanut butter in a few minutes.

Therefore I ration my servings to 2 tbsp max at a time, and usually opt for cashew or almond butter, which don’t have the same power over me.

…I still prefer chocolate over sex.

Hey, I am NOT the only one!!

The food that challenges even a strongwoman
The food that challenges even a strongwoman

My worst workout…

…was with Ralph Celio at his Toronto private training center, preparing for the 2005 Powerlifting Commonwealths. We did pause squats and speed squats, pause benches and speed benches; pause deadlifts and speed deadlifts… for three hours!

I think I died and was reborn during that workout. It still gives me anxiety attacks.

But that workout earned me a lot of mental and physical toughness. And for many months afterwards, I kept busting through plateaus. Many of the Lean Eating workouts will do the same for our clients — the training teaches them that they can accomplish a lot more than they realize… even if they’re cursing at the time!

Erin Weiss-Trainor

From experience, I’ve learned…

…be motivated to change for yourself to be the best you – not to be someone/something else.

When I first started working towards changing my body, my motivation seemed to come from wanting to look or be like someone else. Whether an image in a magazine or someone in my life I was a little “envious” of, it took a while for me to focus on just being my best me.

I think I came to truly understand what this was all about when I trained to compete in a physique competition. I had no real desire to compete or get on stage, but simply wanted to see “what would happen if…” I followed the plan to a tee because at the end of it, I wanted to see how far I could go with my body if I gave it all I had.

Seeing the end result, I came to the realization that I will never be or look the same as someone else. I now know that my “best body” will only ever look like me, and so now I focus on working with what I have and what I can be vs. going after someone else’s best body.

…to stop looking so hard for progress and let go of specific expectations.

It took me a while to figure out just how subtle and slowly changes in health and body composition can happen.

The more you go looking for them and focus on them, the more elusive they seem to be. It inevitably leads to feeling like “this isn’t working” and giving up on the process before you’ve even given it a real chance.

When you have a good plan, stick to it with strong consistency and compliance, and then stop trying to assess all the time whether it’s working or not. Yes, check in to make sure things are moving in the right direction, but leave expectations behind and just go with it.

…don’t let numbers define your success.

Changes don’t happen in a predictable way, nor are they defined well by numbers. It’s self-defeating to have it in your head that X will change by Y amount in Z time, or that you’ll look a certain way at a given body fat or weight.

…it’s not worth compromising nutrition long-term to achieve a perfect body or measurement.

I always thought that if I got to a certain weight/body comp that I would look or fit into clothes a certain way, and life would just be awesome.

As nice as it was to see lower numbers on a scale or drop down a clothing size, getting really lean kind of sucked. I couldn’t eat the healthy foods I really wanted and I turned into someone I was not.

And to be honest, no one could even really tell that I was 5 lbs lighter or 3% leaner than I was! Even to myself, I didn’t look as different as I thought I would.

Now I rarely step on the scale or take measurements. I can tell by the what I see in the mirror and how my body feels. And by keeping my food choices based on those that help me looking, feeling and performing at my best, I’m happier and healthier… despite what the numbers say.

Don't let this rule you.
Don’t let this rule you.

Despite being an expert…

…I still want more after I’m done.

Especially sweet or decadent foods, but even healthy foods. I find it very easy to eat more than I need.

So I have to be very mindful of portion sizes and limit what I put on my plate. Or just say no to foods I know will leave me with uncontrollable cravings for more.

Having calorie awareness, consciously eating less than I want to, and saying “no thanks” more often than “yes please” has been the key to staying lean.

…I still have a really good appetite and could easily eat twice the amount I eat just to feel remotely full.

My hunger between meals doesn’t change relative to how much I eat at meals. I’ve learned to work with when I’m most hungry, eating more frequently early in the day and to be okay with some hunger.

…I still cave to the “last chance” mentality.

If given the opportunity to have something I don’t normally eat, I easily fall victim to feeling like I need to get my fill. Like I won’t have another chance ever again.

So I’ve learned not to be overly restrictive with my food intake on a day to day basis so that I don’t feel like I may never get the chance again. I’m able to have some or not, based on whether I really want it, not because I don’t want to miss out.

Because I know how anxious this makes me, we don’t push restriction on our Lean Eating clients either. We teach people how to eat to meet their needs and get healthy and lean, without feeling deprived, afraid, rigid, or controlled.

My worst workout…

I’d say in general, the worst workouts I have are the ones when my kids were really little and I’d try to work out at home.

They were terrible sleepers and very attached to mommy, so I’d often find that I’d start a workout when they were down only to be interrupted mid-training. I did many a lunge and squat holding on to a kid, or with one in a carrier, or I’d lay them on the floor or baby chair, trying to rock them with my foot while I pulled off a set or two.

I have lots of solutions now to share with busy parents!

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