Lost 85 pounds

How I Lost 85 Pounds and Kept It Off [Podcast Episode #115]

Do you ever feel like you've heard enough about weight-loss?

There are so many "new" secrets, programs, or strategies that are being promoted online, on TV, and in the magazines you read. What's real? What actually works?

I want to help by introducing you to a friend of mine who's done it. She struggled with her weight for years, trying every diet imaginable with little success, until she made a few simple changes to her approach. Then everything fell into place.

How does a real-life woman lose 85 pounds and keep it off? Here's how...

Make Your Body Work Podcast #115

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How I Lost 85 Pounds and Kept It Off? [Full Text]

Dave: Hey. Thanks so much for joining me in this episode of the Make Your Body Work Podcast. As you know, this show is all about helping you live a healthier and happier life. Today, I have a very, very, very special episode for you. I've been really excited about this one for a long time now, because it's not based on a question. I love answering your questions.

I love having expert guests come on the show and talk about the question that you send in, and please keep sending those in. That's what the show's all about. But today, we're taking a little bit of a break from that format, and I'm bringing a friend of mine on this episode who ... Her and I've been working together for about the past two years. She's gone through my program called the 10 in 4 Challenge.

She's done several of my workout programs, including one right now that she's working through called Low-Intensity Fat Loss, the LIFL program. And she has an amazing story, and we're going to talk about her childhood, how that set her up for a stage of dieting. And when she lists off all the diets that she's tried since her early childhood years, throughout her teen years, college years, and into adulthood, your jaw's going to drop, because she names some that I've never even heard of before.

But her story of persistence, her story of figuring out how to love herself, and her story of figuring out what actually works for big-time weight loss ... And I'm not going to ... I'll let her explain how much weight she lost and where she's at today.

But she's just such an amazing story of success and such an inspiring story of someone who is doing things— I'd like to say— the wrong way, because I do think it's the wrong way, and she'll even identify it as herself doing things the wrong way and then figuring out the right way, the healthy way to lose weight, to keep it off, but most importantly, like she'll talk about, to really just feel good about her body and about who she is and what she's doing in life.

So I don't want to spoil any more of this interview because it's fantastic. You're going to come away very, very inspired, and I know that anyone who listens to this is going to want to take some of the steps that she's taken as well. So I'm super excited to introduce to you my friend, Jennifer Exoo.

Meet Jennifer Exoo

Dave: Hey, Jen. Thanks so much for joining us on the show today.

Jen: Thank you very much for having me. I appreciate it.

Dave: I'm excited. You and I were talking before we even got to this point, and we've been sort of working together for probably maybe two years now?

Jen: Something like that, in different ways, different things.

Dave: And this is our first opportunity to actually speak face to face, and the first thing that I said when we talked is-

Jen: Crazy. I know. It's crazy, right? I mean, I feel like I know you, but-

Dave: Likewise, likewise. And then we had a little bit of a laugh, because as soon as we got on the call talking, right away I just noticed you have such an accent, and I never pictured you with an accent before.

Jen: In a good way that. You have to qualify that.

Dave: You have a great accent.

Jen: All right. All right then.

Dave: Jen, I want to start off by asking you if you can just tell the listeners a little bit about yourself historically from a health and a fitness perspective? Can you talk about growing up, what were you involved in? And then, how did you end up in the place you're at right now? So, what have you been involved in? What kind of different paths has your life led from a fitness perspective?

Jen: Oh my goodness. Well there's not a short answer to that question. Let me think about that a second. To be honest, I don't think that my story is that much different from most other women that I talk to in groups these days. My family moved around a lot when I was a little kid. I was chubby always. I had two long braids, wire-rimmed glasses.

I liked to read a lot, and I sort of got good grades in school. So none of that made for great social connections altogether. And so, you can imagine eating and reading was just sort of a comfort for me from very early days. And my mom of course saw that I was struggling and she did her best to help me. And at that moment, her best was putting me on a diet and restricting my food.

Not starving me or anything, but she felt bad that I was getting teased and stuff like that. So I probably went on my first diet when I was maybe 10 or 11 years old. And as long as I can ever remember, especially growing up, I just wasn't in a home where I could eat anything I wanted any time I wanted.

So as I grew up, what happens, I think, when someone— and with all the great intentions and love and everything else— is trying to help you in that way, you grow up not knowing how to eat. By the time I got to go away to college and grown up, I didn't know how to put a meal together, and that didn't help.

So my weight has fluctuated wildly over the years. And as far as being active, I've always enjoyed being active. I was the best non-shooting point guard on our church basketball team for many years. And hey, it's not as weird as it sounds when you're 10 or 11 years old, but anyway…

So I did stuff like that, normal kid stuff I guess, but I can't say I ever did anything athletic until I picked up a tennis racquet when I was about 22 or 23 years old. I had taken tennis lessons when I was little, so I had always played, and in high school, we always had a group of people go out and play, but I never really played competitive tennis until I was in my early 20s, so probably my first step towards feeling like an athlete.

Dave: Jen-

Jen: And from there, it's just kind of grown.

I Always Thought I Was Different

Dave: I want to ask you a few questions. You mentioned something really interesting, talking about being on that first diet at such a young age. Do you remember knowing, understanding what was happening? Did you know you were on a diet?

Jen: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Are you kidding. I'll never forget. So all the other kids got to eat lunch at school, which I thought was the best thing ever, because you got dessert every day. You got a piece of pie or a cookie and peanut butter sandwich.

And my mom made me great lunches, but it was that ... It was just that feeling of being other, so I would often trade away some really great stuff I had in my lunch for the really crappy stuff that they had in school lunches. So yeah. Oh no, I knew. There's no doubt.

Dave: And what do you think that did then? In retrospect, do you think that that changed your perspective about yourself as a person? Do you think that impacted your relationship with food? Starting at such a young age on a diet, what do you think the repercussions of that were?

Jen: Well, like I said, the biggest one years later was just that I never learned how to eat. And there was always something. I always thought that there was something ... Well, maybe not at that age, but as I got a little bit older, I used to think maybe there was just something, not wrong with me, but there was just something about me…

There was no way that I could eat normal food like everybody else ate and not be chubby or overweight or whatever. So I guess it just ... Like I said, it started me down a path. And please, now don't think that I was starving, or that my parents were mean to me, or that there was. It was nothing like that. It was just that realization from early on that wow, I'm different. I'm different from the other kids, and I can't eat what they eat.

Dave: And so talk about how that transitioned, then. So you mentioned going off to college and not knowing how to prepare a meal. What happened to your food choices at that point?

Eating Habits Are Established Early

Jen: Oh, my good. So I got to college, and we had ... And this was back in the dark ages, but we used to have this little punch card, because you bought a meal plan. At my school anyway, you would buy a meal plan with your residence hall or whatever. And I discovered quickly that I could punch in my three meals a day for chips, and cookies, and crackers at the snack bar.

I didn't really have to go eat. And like I said, I never had access to that kind of food before, and it was like hey! It was startling when I came home for Christmas after my start of my freshman year in college I had this pink warmup suit, and my mom told me years later. She's like, "You looked like a big Easter egg." I was like, "Okay." So some kids gain the freshman five, and some gain the freshman 15. I gained the freshman 50

Dave: Are you being serious? 50 pounds?

Jen: Yes. Oh, yeah. I'm totally serious. Maybe not from September to December, but certainly that first year. It was startling.

Dave: And during that phase then, that first year in college, you must have realized that you were putting on some weight. How did you feel about that? Did you have any thoughts about things that you wanted to change? What was going through your head at that point?

Jen: Well, I don't know that I ... Of course, I was thinking about it. All the girls in my dorm ... And I had joined a sorority at that point, and all the girls that I knew were on diets, crazy diets, and I went on diets right along with them.

So that was beginning of crazy, crazy dieting I suppose, but I went on all those diets with them. And we'd all lose five or 10 pounds together for spring break and gain it back again during speak. Looking back on it now, I never really thought about it, but that really is where a lot of patterns get early adulthood, I suppose.

Dave: Well, and that's one of the reasons that I wanted to have you on the show so much is for the listeners. So Jen has been participating in a couple of my programs over the years and is an integral part of our online community.

We have Facebook communities for some of these different programs. And it's been interesting, Jen, because hearing you talk about some of the things that you've tried in the past and diets you've been on, it seems almost as if you're talking about a different person, because the woman I see today, when you give advice to other women in the group or encourage other women in our groups, you're so wise.

I'll often check in. Someone will have tagged me in a post, and I'll go to respond. And I'll read your response, and I have nothing left to say. Literally, I can just like or love your comment.

Can you talk about going from that place, which I think is probably pretty typical? People go off to college. They don't know how to prepare healthy meals. It's this free for all of eat whatever you want. You don't have your parents looking over your shoulder. What happened next? So when you come out of college, what started to happen that transitioned you towards where you are today?

Jen: Oh, it was a long time. It wasn't by the time I got out of college. I went through several ... Like I said, most people gain five or 10 pounds, and I was queen of the 50-pound swing or more. And I gained 50 pounds. I'd lose 30. I'd gain 10 back. I'd lose 20. I'd gain 50 back and lose ... just crazy seesawing. And there's a lot of personal stuff in there.

So I had a failed marriage early on. That doesn't ever help a young woman's self-esteem, I suppose. And yeah, it just continued. You always feel a little bit out of control, and so some of those crazy diets, crazy as they were and are, they, at least for a brief period of time, they helped me feel like I was a little bit more in control, but I can't say that any of them lasted.

Although, I will say that every failed diet program that I ever participated in, that I learned something out of it that helped me the next time. It's just that my progression was super slow. So seriously, it was four years ago, five years ago, and when I finally ... I was 85 pounds overweight five years ago and finally was able to take everything that I learned over the zillion years previously and make it work.

Many Different Diets, Same Result

Dave: During that point when you were fluctuating so much weight wise, what was it you were trying? A couple times, you've used the word crazy and said these are crazy diets. What were they?

Jen: All right, let's see. I have to reach way back, and some of these are before yours, or maybe some of your listeners', time, but there was ... Well, there was always the Atkins diet. That was a big thing way, way back. There was that. There was the rotation diet. There was the Scarsdale diet. There was the Hollywood diet, the grapefruit diet, the Miami Heart Institute 3-Day Wonder Diet.

There was a big period of time when a lot of those pyramid-selling things were en vogue, and so the Cambridge diet was one of them, and— what's that with the— oh, Herbalife. Herbalife, that was a long time ago. I did that one.  There was one of them ... Oh, what was that one? I had to eat frozen fruit four times a week. Crazy.

And of course, I went on other diets that weren't so crazy, but in the great mix of things, none of them seemed to stick. So I had tried Weight Watchers time and time and time again. I had been on the Diet Center, which was one of those plans where ... It was similar to a Jenny Craig or a ... Actually, that was a very low-carb plan. But I did go to Jenny Craig.

I did go to Nutrisystem. Any others you can think of? About the only thing I didn't try, because it was too late in my process, I never tried that Keto diet. And you know I would have, because honey bacon. You know I would have tried that for sure, and the paleo diet, too, for ...

And I was just apologizing, because I don't want to knock any diet, Whole30 people/lovers out there or whatever. If it's working for you, it is working and I'm proud of you. But none of that stuff really worked for me.

Dave: Now, when you were going through all those, because you literally ... You gave the laundry list. I was trying to think of other ones that you didn't mention, and you've exhausted all the diets that I know of.

Jen: Yeah, I wasn't kidding. There's probably some other ones in there that I just forgot about.

What Was Jen’s Deep Motivation to Change?

Dave: When you were going through that process, because I know this is going to resonate with many of the women who listen to this show who are in that place or have been in that place of always looking for what's next, can you talk about what was your motivation? Why did you keep trying when, seemingly to that point, it didn't work? Or did it feel like it was working even though you put the weight back on?

Jen: I guess I felt like I was just doomed to go through the cycle, and I was never willing to just give up. I have a super stubborn, confident mind, and I just would never have let myself give up forever.

There certainly were times, because it becomes just this weight on your shoulders, and it weighs you down. And you just want to ... you just, every once in a while after you've been on crazy diet A, B, C, whatever, afterward you just want to lay the burden down.

You just want to be like, "You know what? I just want to go out and ... I just want to go have a meal." I don't want to think about how many whatevers are in it. I just want to go eat for a while, and then, I'll get back to it. Yeah, for me, it was hard, but it was never a question of giving up.

I think the other part of your question was what's your motivation? I always felt that the person that I was looking at was not the person that I really was, and it just wasn't. And I knew I could do better for myself and my body than what I was doing. And it had less to do with looking fat than it had to do with feeling fat.

Dave: When you say that the person you were looking at, that wasn't sort of your true self. Who is your true self?

Jen: Well, I hope it's pretty much what you see now or what it is now. And again, that's not so much a reflection of my size, but it's interesting for me. My size is a little bit ... Your size gives you health and gives you ... For me, when I was able to lose excess weight, it helped me feel better, just physically feel better.

And then, once I felt better, then it was like ... I do. I wake up every day and I feel like I'm ready to launch and go out and do something, just the energy level and everything else. So even back then, I was tired of being tired all the time.

Dave: That's something so common that I hear. And again, one of the reasons that I wanted to have you on the show is you're just an inspiration, because it's interesting seeing you interact online and just hearing about your life and seeing the things you do. I see on Facebook just activities that you're involved in.

You seemingly are full of life and full of energy, so hearing you talk about this almost separate life when it was these ups and downs, and you were tired and kind of struggling and knew that you needed to press on, knew you needed to find yourself but hadn't found a solution. It's hard for me to even picture that version of you.

A New Mindset: It’s About How You Feel, Not How You Look

Jen: Well, yeah. And I'm not sure that I would have presented that. I think if you had known me all those years ago, you'd probably say that, personality wise, I'm probably pretty much the same, but some of those struggles are internal. I do want to be careful to say that it's not all about your size. It is really about how you feel.

And to me, one of the curious things was it was at the moment when ... I won't say that I was giving up, but it really was at the moment when I said, "You know what? I don't care so much if I'm heavy for the rest of my life. I just need to feel better. I'm just going to feed myself better. I'm just going to make some better choices."

And that's the moment that all the stuff that I was doing started to work. It's when I was able to just say, "The size doesn't matter. I could be this size for the rest of my life if I'm healthy and if I feel better." And I used those words for many weeks, because as you know, when you are trying to lose weight, some weeks you lose weight and some weeks you don't. Some weeks you gain weight. It just happens that way.

And I would always tell myself if I had that week when I didn't lose any weight or maybe I gained a little weight for some reason, I'd say, "You know what? I can look like this the rest of my life and be happy, because I know that I'm healthy and that I'm doing the right things for my body. And if I'm doing ..."

Your size or your weight, to me, is an outcome of being healthy. You don't be healthy in order to be small, whatever size you think you might want to be. Your weight comes after you decide you want to be healthy. It's an outcome of that. Does that make sense?

Dave: Yeah, it totally does. Now, when you had that sort of epiphany moment, was it literally a light switch, and you thought, "Okay, I'm going to stop focusing on my weight, and I'm going to start focusing on making healthy choices and feeling good. And if I never change my weight, that's okay"? Was it actually a switch, or did you find that after that moment, there were still times when that old mindset started to kick in, and you started to focus on weight again? How did that work out?

Jen: Well, it was a little bit of option B there. I won't say that .... A lot of people say, "When was that moment that you knew?" I'm like, "Oh, gosh." I'll tell you one of the real reasons is I had a friend who was a personal trainer, and she had— for lots of reasons— had some difficulty building up her business out of her house.

And I hadn't seen her in a long time, and she called me up. And she's like, "Oh, I just needed to talk to you because I just ..." And she's telling me about these problems. I'm like, "Hey, I'll pay you to train me," because I thought, well, I'm just going to do her a favor and it wouldn't hurt me to move a little bit more. Fine.

So I started training with her twice a week, and we always had coffee afterwards. And I was making better eating choices just like I said because I wanted to be healthier, but it was easier when I was doing it somehow with her. And then, after the first couple, three weeks, I'm like, "Hey, I lost five pounds. Wait a minute. This is working." And then, I really started paying attention to it. So I sort of fell into it. I know that's not the answer a lot of people want, but it is. It's like you take everything that you've learned and it kicked in.

Dave: Jen, I think that's the true answer, though, because without saying it in these words, you identified very clearly that there was a motivation. We often talk about in the fitness industry what your Why is, and you identified that there is a Why for you that was deeper than your size, deeper than the number on the scale, because I've been in this industry for a long time now, and when it's only about that number on the scale, I won't say never-

Jen: Never.

Dave: But very few people actually have long-term success, and that's really what it's all about.

Jen: Totally agree. I totally agree. I don't know, and you are in contact with a lot more people who are on this path than I am, but I've never met or known anyone who was focused on I need to be a size zero by the time bathing suit season rolls around that is able to succeed. It's too much.

Why Community Is Crucial For Losing Weight and Keeping It Off

Dave: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, and it's neat, because then you immediately started talking about something else that I actually wanted to ask you about, was about how community plays into this. Because again, before we started recording here, we were sort of just talking about lifestyle, and personality, and such, and you mentioned that having other people in your life is really important.

And so you just talked about having that personal trainer, and then even I loved how you said having coffee afterwards. It was almost as though that were a treat that came along with the exercise. Can you talk about that and then just community in general? How has that helped you on your journey to this point?

Jen: Well, community is one of my three golden rules of success, actually, for myself. Over the years, like I said, I've just learned that some things work for me, and I know that community is a huge part of that. No woman is an island. I don't know very many people who can go it alone. And having community, by the way, doesn't mean showing up in a group program like a Weight Watchers, for example, and having that kind of experience.

It just means surrounding yourself with people who support you, and for me, that means meeting people at the gym. That means joining way too many tennis leagues, finding friends that I can ride bikes with, that I can be with, because I can exercise at home, and I can do all of that stuff at home, but I won't. I have to have people whom I'm meeting and going out to do that.

And the online community is also super important to me, because if you hadn't guessed already, I'm a little bit of an over sharer. So you ask me, I'm going to tell you, and I do that online as well.

Sometimes, even online in some of our groups, Dave, I find myself like okay, pull back a little bit, because I need that connection. I need to see what other people are doing. I need to hear about the hot chocolate race. I need to hear about ... I want to know, and those things help me, too, to stay focused.

Dave: Jen, I just want to say that it's so neat hearing you say that, because first of all, never pull back. I talked a lot on this show, and my guests, we talk a lot on this show, about vulnerability and that when we let our guard down and stop pretending that we have it all figured out that that's when real connection happens.

And from a fitness motivation and accountability standpoint, I'll see the interactions happening in our online communities, and quite often when you'll share or one of the other women will share a little more personally and they'll be willing to say, "Today wasn't perfect. I did this that I really probably didn't want to do,"

Do you notice how, instantly, that starts this whole cascade of other women saying, "Me, too. Me, too. Me, too." But it takes that first person who's willing to say, "Hey, let me be vulnerable."

Jen: And you know, that's one of the absolute evils of social media, is that you're tempted with Instagram, and Facebook, and Snapchat. You don't even realize you're doing it, but you start curating your life. You're thinking about what picture am I going to put up there that really represents what this is about, and sometimes I do that.

I look at my own Facebook page occasionally, and I'm like, wow. If somebody looking at this page, probably wouldn't understand sort of the reality of my life. It's like a little Disney World version of my life, and that's not ... If you're going to be in a community of people who are trying to help each other reach goals, it can't be like that.

And so I struggle with that sometimes, because you want to post the good stuff. You don't want to open up and say, "Guess who had a glass, a bottle of wine last night?" You don't want to do that because you do, you still feel like oh, gosh. I should know better by now. But you have to. That's the only way you can find connections in that atmosphere that makes it work.

Dave: I completely agree with you, and I think that goes for online social media and then also in person as well. You mentioned finding community, and you said community isn't just showing up at a Weight Watchers meeting and being surrounded by other women there.

That's not actually community. Saying hi and bye to people and making small talk, that only goes so far, but if we're really looking at changing our lives, it requires intentional, vulnerable relationship.

Jen: It sure does. There are those meetings that are like that and that are helpful. I've found many of them not to be that way, but they're out there.

Exercise Success Secret: Do Something You Like, Be Consistent

Dave: This leads perfectly into my next question, because ... So you've talked a lot about what didn't work, and we sort of talked about mindset and shifting mindset to be successful, but what has worked? So I know there are going to be women that are listening to that.

And first of all, can you tell us where you are physically right now? I'm not asking you to divulge your weight. Don't worry. But in terms of ... You talked about these fluctuations in weight. Where are you now? How do you feel now, and what's worked to get you to this point?

Jen: I feel pretty awesome now, except for the parts that don't feel so awesome. And as you know, I'm kind of struggling a little bit with some physical back and hip sort of issues that are harshing my mellow, as they say, harshing the vibe on the fitness front. So that's been a little difficult to work through, but other than that, I feel pretty great.

I had a moment year and a half ago when my husband looked at me. For all you women out there... He looked at me and he said, "You've lost too much weight." And I was like ... I almost cried. I'm like, "Really?" It was hilarious, but he was right. I had gone a little bit too far over, and I actually look better about ... So I lost 85 pounds. I look better, let's say, at 80 pounds less than 85 pounds less.

And so no, I feel great, but the things that work for me, there's really two parts. This is not going to be news to you. I think you preach it as well. You have to find a program that lets you lose it and move like you want to live.

For me, that's why something like Whole30 ... That's why something like a lot of these elimination diets just aren't good for me, because I know that that's not sustainable over the long term.

And there's such a temptation for women to say, "Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. Who can do Whole30 for the rest of their lives? Fine. But if I could just get this weight off ... If I just get this weight off right now, then I'll figure out how to keep it off, because then I'll be fabulous, and no problem."

And it never works that way, and I'll tell you why in one girl's opinion. It's because you haven't had a chance to practice those habits that are going to take you through the rest of your life. You're practicing something that you can't sustain, and so then you get to the end of this short period of time and where are you? What do you do then? How do you know how to eat after that? It's nuts, so I feel very strongly about that, and the same with exercise. You have to find something that you like or you're never going to do it, ever. You have to.

And then the second part of that is whatever you decide to do, you've got to be consistent. You've got to have some kind of accountability, and you've got to have community. And if you've got all those things, whatever program you decide to walk down, you're going to make it. You will, guaranteed.

The Only Successful Approach Is a Long-Term Approach

Dave: Jen, I couldn't have said that better myself. I 100% endorse everything that you just said there, particularly the part about practicing things that are going to become lifelong habits. And you sort of made a joke about women, or men as well, but people will say, "Well, if I just achieve this, then I can go back into—" I hear the term all the time— "maintenance."

People have this idea that I can do something extreme to get big results, and then I can go into maintenance, and my body's going to keep those big results that that extreme action led me to. And yeah, I loved how you said that it's just not the way life works. It's not the way humans work.

Jen: No. And it may ... And you know what? If you've got a lot of weight to lose, like I did, it's flat out disheartening, because you know at one two pounds a week, you can do the math on how long it's going to take you to lose 80 pounds. And it's discouraging. How are you going to keep up something like that for a year and a half or two years? How are you going to do that? You're not. Nobody could.

And I think you set yourself up for disappointment by starting down that path. So I'll tell you that I lost 85 pounds in a year and three months or something like that, and I ate bread, and I drank wine, and I had cookies, and I ate what I wanted to. I had structure, for sure.

I wasn't eating that stuff hand over fist every day, but I didn't kill myself or anyone else in the process, because you have to think about your family, and your partner, and all that kind of stuff, too. That's a big impact over a long period of time.

And yeah, I feel so strongly about that, and that's what breaks my heart, is when I see women almost set themself for failure. "Oh, I'm going to do this detox. I going to do this." All right, well, there's a lot of different tools out there. Hope it works for you, but it has to be something that you can do over the long term.

Dave: Well, and I appreciate you being honest in talking about how your weight loss, that 85 pounds, you said it was over two years. And that's really key, because two years ... I know some of the listeners are listening right now, and maybe they have 85 pounds to lose, and the thought of it taking two years sounds so far out of reach. But we all know, as an adult, a year flies by, and just imagine a year from now, looking back and saying, "My gosh. I lost 40 or 50 pounds." Then, it becomes worth it.

Jen: And so here's the thing. You know how I feel about a streak, Dave. I love a streak, and so once you start down a path that is working for you, that's making you feel good, that's making feel like you can keep doing it, that's ... I wish that I could bottle up the feeling, that revelatory feeling of after two or three weeks in starting program, and you're like, "Oh, my gosh. I've been eating real food. I haven't been hungry, and I lost three pounds." It's the best feeling, and then you just continue. And the more success you have, the more motivation you have. That's human nature, too, right?

How Can You Start With One Small Change Today?

Dave: Oh, I completely agree with you. As you're saying that— you're talking about a streak— I'm thinking about one of the programs that you're working with me in is called LIFL, the Low Intensity Fat Loss exercise program.

And think about in our group the women who are posting pictures of their workout tracker with all those workouts checked off, and that's exactly ... They're not using the word streak, but they're saying look at what I've done, and they've got this string of eight or 10 workouts. And that's from some people who exercise isn't easy.

I know you love exercise, and so it might be a little bit easier for you, but establishing a streak, even if it's a small win each day. And in that particular program, we're looking for 2% of your day for exercise, so 30 minutes of moving. And for the listeners, can you do that? And if not, what about 15 minutes? How can you start to build that streak?

Jen: Well, and what I would say is just start. People really do, and I do, too. You know I overthink everything. We talk about some things in some of these programs, and I'm like, "Oh, well, I never thought about that before. Well, let me do some research on it. Well, let me read about it. Let me think about it. Well, let me ask some friends about it. Well, let me read a book about it." It's like oh, sweet [inaudible 00:35:56]. Stop it. Just stop. Just start. Just do something.

There are some days, and I am not making this up. There are even some days, Dave Smith, that I do not feel like going to the gym. And sometimes, I'll get up, and I'll say, "Well, I'm just going to put my shoes on, because they're comfortable shoes, and I'm just going to wear them around the house. And if I don't want to go the gym, I don't have to go.

And I'll be like, "You know they have that really cool machine that I can do some stretching on at the gym. I'm going to go to the gym, but I don't have to do anything else but get on that stretching machine. I'll say hi to some people. It'll be fine. And then once you're there, it's like, "Well, I could do a couple planks, because I'm here."

Just do something. Just make one step forward, and same with eating. Don't worry about changing every single thing you eat overnight. Maybe week one is you just want to drink more water, and week two is I'm not going to have soda this week. See what that feels like. Those are the things that get you across the finish line, because then you get to the end, you're like, "I didn't die." [inaudible 00:37:12], and it's fine.

And you give yourself permission, almost. If I miss soda that much, I can add it back in, but let me just see what happens. Am I going to feel better? And that's something that you're a big proponent of that I love, Dave, is that after everything you do, you're like, "How is that working? Is that working well for you? Because if it is, keep doing it. If it's not— hello— try something else.

Dave: It's true, because willpower is never going to be enough to force yourself to do something that we absolutely hate.

Jen: Absolutely not, and willpower ... They've done more and more research on that of course, but willpower is a finite resource, and you shouldn't rely on it. It's not trustworthy to get you where ... Even for someone as stubborn as me, willpower won't get it all done.

​Make Your Body Work Takeaway

Dave: No. Jen, before we started recording, we were sort of talking about the direction this conversation might head. And you sounded like, "Well, I don't know if anyone's going to be interested in my story," but I feel like you've given so much wisdom and so much practicality, and that's what I really love is practical steps. You know we like to end this show with what's called a Make Your Body Work takeaway, and I know we've already talked about a lot of different ideas.

But is there something that maybe you haven't mentioned or something that you would like to reinforce for the women out there who are, right now, where you used to be, in that position of trying fad diet or trying fad exercise program, seeing some results, then losing those results and are just feeling stuck? What would you say is one thing that they should come away with today?

Jen: Just one thing. Oh, boy. Can it be one and a half things?

Dave: For you, sure.

Jen: For me. Just for me. Just because. I think the very first thing that I would say to someone who is struggling like that today is be a little nicer to yourself. Just put the burden for a little bit. And then the second thing I would say is find a healthy plan and just start. Just be consistent with it and just start.

Because you're not going to be in any worse place in 30 days than you are right now. So right now, today, is the worst that you're ever going to feel. And at the end of 30 days, if you just start, do something nice for yourself. Eat well. At the end of 30 days, you will be completely amazed at where you are.

Dave: Jen, I absolutely love it. Again, I can't agree more, and there's probably a good reason why you and I get along so well, because we share a lot of similar philosophies about, I think, life, and health, and fitness.

And I just want to say thanks again, first of all, for being vulnerable and for sharing in this podcast, but also in our groups and connecting with all the women and being an integral part of other people's journey. And I know a lot of the listeners are going to really appreciate hearing your success, but also hearing about how it wasn't easy and how it's worth it sticking it out. So really, really thank you for being here today. Appreciate it.

Jen: Well, thank you for having me, and that means a lot to me. Thanks for saying that.

Dave: Jen, thanks again for being on the show today, and just thanks for just being so inspiring, being so awesome. It's such a joy to work with you. And I know that the listeners who tuned in today are going to really appreciate hearing your story and are going to be motivated to take some of the steps that you mentioned. And for anyone who's listening, thanks for tuning in today.

If you're interested in working with me through some of the programs that Jen and I have worked on, you can check out the show notes. If you go to makeyourbodywork.com/115, I'll have a link to the 10 in 4 Challenge, and that's my program where we go through principles primarily focused on healthy eating and also some other habits that really stimulate weight loss in a way that's sustainable, just like Jen and I talked about. These are ways that you can make changes in your life, and these are changes that can stick. We're not looking for any fads here.

And then, I'll also give a link to my exercise program called LIFL, Low Intensity Fat Loss. And this is for anyone who is looking for manageable exercise that's also going to get results, so this is the complete opposite of going in and doing crazy exercise classes or beating up your body in the gym. This is like the name suggests. It's low intensity. It's gentle, but it gets results. That's called LIFL. Again, you can check out the link in the show notes, so go to makeyourbodywork.com/115.

And again, if you have any questions for an upcoming episode of the show, you can always reach me at dave@makeyourbodywork.com. I love hearing from you. I love hearing about your successes. I love hearing your questions, and I just love dialoguing with you, so reach me there any time. That's it for today's show. Now, go have an amazing week, and I'll see you here again next week.

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Thanks for joining me today!