Podcast Episode #036: Strive For Progress, Not Perfection
Are you a "black and white" kind of person? When you decide to do something you go "all in" until you make it...or decide to give up?
This type of approach to fitness and weight-loss can lead to positive results, but it also presents an opportunity for ongoing disappointment and feelings of failure. The trouble is, if that's how you've always done things, how can you change now?
Our guest today shares some excellent strategies that will help you strive for progress, not perfection...
Make Your Body Work Podcast: Episode #036
- Check Out Jennipher's Work at Fit Bottomed Girls
- And More at Fit Bottomed Mamas...
- And Even More at Fit Bottomed Eats
- I Exercise But Still Can't Lose Weight [MYBW Podcast #035]
- The Jo vs. Dave Fitness Challenge [MYBW Podcast #026]
- How to Measure Your Fitness Progress [MYBW Podcast #009]
- Lose 10 Pounds in 4 Weeks - Take the "10 in 4" Challenge!
Strive For Progress, Not Perfection [Full Text]
Hey thanks so much for joining me on 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 and
I just want to start of the show by saying thank you. Thanks for all the listeners out there. Thanks for your amazing questions. Thanks for your emails. Thanks for sharing your lives with me and hopefully get some inspiration from listening to this podcast. I'll do my best to help you out.
Today, I have a great question that I know a lot of you are going to be able to relate to. It's from Kel. Let's dive right in. Kel says,
"I think I'm just a black or white person. When I get into something, it's all I think about. I noticed it so much in my life when it comes to food and exercise. I know that I'm healthy already, so I don't need to obsess about every little thing I eat, but I can't help it. The same goes for exercise. If I miss a day or two, I feel miserable and very upset with myself. It's exhausting to constantly feel like I'm evaluating myself. I wish I could just stop, but I don't know how. How can I just be okay with being me?"
Kel, honestly, my heart goes out to you when I hear you say those words and I know that, again, so many of us go through that. I've been through that. Pretty much every client I've ever worked with has gone through this as well.
This idea of putting in full effort and then something disrupting that effort and beating ourselves up and feeling like we failed and there's no way we're going to be able to get back on track. Then going back, even with a fuller force or more of an effort, only to see that happen again. That's the nature of yo-yo dieting. It's the nature for so many
To help answer this question, I've recruited a guest for today, who, she's all over the place when it comes to the health and fitness world. I'll let her explain. She's basically dominating the fitness world. But the reason I chose her as today's guest is because she's been through this exact same situation herself.
I know that for
So, without further ado, I want to introduce to you Jennipher Walters. Hey Jennipher. Thanks so much for joining us today.
Meet Jennifer Walters
Jennipher: Thank you for having me.
Dave: I don't even know where to begin to describe what you do in the health and fitness industry because I feel like you do everything.
Jennipher: We do a lot. We do a lot.
Dave: So maybe you can start off that way. Just kind of tell our listeners, what did you get started with? What was your first venture?
Jennipher: Yeah. In 2008, we started Fit Bottomed Girls. We, is myself and my really good friend Erin Whitehead. Back then there weren't a ton of fitness blogs that were on the scene. And there wasn't a lot of specifically positive body image blogs that were out there. So we kind of put that message out there and we started. We're super-old in internet years, I feel like. 2008 is so like dog years. We're like 100.
But it kind of took off and got some momentum. And we we're really lucky and built a community, really letting women know they are more than a number on the scale, which wasn't a message they were getting in mainstream media. At that time, definitely not. Still not fully today, but really not then.
Then in 2010, we launched the Fit Bottomed Mamas, when Erin got pregnant with her first kid. She now has three.
Dave: So you're just going to follow your own lifestyle as you guys go through different stages of life?
Jennipher: Yes. We just keep building and growing. Just keep building it out.
Then in 2014, we launched Fit Bottomed Eats because our nutrition content at Fit Bottomed Girls just blew up because cooking and healthy eating was so great. Now, we're planning on launching Fit Bottomed Zen.com in April, which is just a lot of mind body meditation. Improve your life, your self-confidence kind of thing.
That's all just been a natural progression of things as we've gotten more into it and seen a need. All of our sites have a really strong mission, so it's always positive body image. It's always improve your life. But each of those sites can have their own unique twist on that area of life.
Dave: I was gonna say, you've sort of come full-circle because Fit Bottomed Girls, like you just described, originally started from that place of acceptance. And now, topping off with a site that's devoted to that mental well-being.
Jennipher: Yeah and it's something that, I think, has been so interesting to see as myself. We have a new business partner who came on with us, Kristen, last January. So Erin, Kristen, and myself have all personally gotten more into that, gotten more into the mediation site, gotten more into how to boost confidence, how to be well.
Adopting a Positive Body Image
Because, as we've all learned, nutrition is super-important. Workouts are super-important. Just the way your lifestyle is set up, it's also so important for your health. If you can get the mental side and the stress side and the time management side all taken care of, it's a whole lot easier to find time to workout and to have the energy to workout and eat right and cook and do all the other things you want to do.
So, being a Fit Bottomed Girl, or as you are a Fit Bottomed Dude, it's not just going to the gym and eating right. It's really, truly a lifestyle that supports your life's purpose.
Dave: I couldn't agree more. It's funny, I just recorded and interview, episode 35. For any listeners, Makeyourbodywork.com/35. The question in that episode was from someone who, her name was Joy, and basically she was exercising like crazy and wasn't seeing any results. That's what we talked about, is this idea of being kind to your body. It's more than just eating and exercise.
Jennipher: It is. It really is.
Forget the number on the scale. Cultivate positive thinking and learn to feel good about yourself.
Dave: This question, today, from Kel. I know when you and I chatted via email, you thought, okay, this one is perfect for me. Kel basically, she says, I'm a black and white person. I go hardcore, all into exercising and eating and just can't stop. But then if I fall off track, I just absolutely kick myself and get really down on myself. Is that something that through your relationships with people that visit your site and your community, do you see that a lot?
Jennipher: Yeah. Kel's experience is so common that kind of all-in, all-out. On again, off again relationship is so common. That is actually, my experience doing that exact same thing, over-exercising, under eating and saying next week I'm gonna do it even harder and even better and then not being able to sustain it because it's not realistic, is something I went through before Fit Bottomed Girls was started.
Me getting that together and making peace with that and realizing that I was more than the number on the scale, so why am I torturing myself like this, this is not the way to live, is a lot of the foundation of what Fit Bottomed Girls is built on.
How Jennifer Did It
Dave: Before you get into it, where you go with that, can you tell us a little bit more about your story? Why do you think that you were going through that?
Jennipher: Yeah. I think as a culture and as a society, specifically for women. It targets men too and I feel like almost some of the pressure is getting harder, more on men than it used to be. But for women we are told so many times that what you look like is where you should derive your worth and all of your self-value and all of your self-confidence.
When you're growing up, when you're in your teens, when you're twenties, even when you're older, these are issues that just linger. They affect your self-confidence. For myself, I always put my power in what I weighed and what I looked like. I actually, I like to workout. I actually like to eat right. I thought I was doing the right things. I started teaching group exercise classes in college and I loved it.
I loved it so much that I got into personal training. But that, and I already had some negative body image stuff going on, which is just a result of just basically being told over and over and over again that, you'll be a better person, you'll be prettier, all the guys will like you, and you'll get the job of your
But once I started working in the fitness industry and no one else was putting pressure on me to look a certain way besides myself. But I felt
Dave: So right now, I was just gonna say, I'm doing this fitness competition with a guest of mine from a previous podcast episode and she's getting ready for a photo shoot. It's fascinating because she's a fitness competitor.
If you look at her, you think, wow, she's got the dream body, she must be in such great shape. She came on episode 26, Makeyourbodywork.com/26 and basically said, I look like that for one day. And I'm so miserable at that point that I can't wait until that photo shoot is done so I can be normal again.
Jennipher: And I don't want to live that way.
Jennipher: You know? That does not sound fun to me. I would much rather have a slice of pizza and a glass of wine a couple times a week, than have the perfect body. That pressure is so real. So when I was kind of going through that, I was over-exercising. I was under-eating.
Then I would be so starving, I would be so hungry because of everything I was doing. Just constant cardio and not eating enough. Then I would go completely off whatever crazy thing diet plan I was following and eat a ton. Then feel really, really bad about myself, every single time. Every time I did it, I would go
When you think you're failing repeatedly, your self-confidence continues to tank. So it's tanking, with me being able to step outside myself and say, hey, Jenn, guess what, you don't suck. What you're doing sucks. Your diet sucks. You're good. But this whole dieting thing, over-exercising thing, it's not working for anyone. It's not working for you. That's the problem, not you as a person.
Dave: Oh man. Can I just stop you? I just want to emphasize that point again. Listeners, that is so true. Being able to separate yourself from your actions or whatever is going on in your life is crucial. It isn't you. It isn't you. Great message.
Jennipher: Yeah. It's not you. That's why yo-yo dieting is so and why we wrote a whole book, called The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet, because dieting is so detrimental to health.
It is always about deprivation and it's always an
Dave: Glad you clarified that.
Jennipher: Hold on. That came out wrong. But when I started to do my wedding planning and bought my dress and everything, I really started thought about that day, the day we got married. I did not want to walk down the aisle worrying about if my arms look fat, if I fit in my dress, what the pictures were going to look like.
I wanted to be
So I met with a registered dietitian, who specialized in emotional eating and intuitive eating. Our first meeting, she goes, "can you imagine what the women of this world could do if they stopped worrying about the number on the scale?"
Dave: A lot of extra energy we spend elsewhere.
Stop Expecting Perfection
So with her help and journaling and lots of other self-care practices, I stopped over-exercising. I started eating regular amounts of food. No foods were off limits. I got in touch with my hunger and fullness cues, which took me months.
But basically, I stopped fighting myself and I just began to learn to trust myself and get back in touch with my body. When you stop expecting perfection for yourself or just be like, you know what, no, I'm fine as I am. I'm gonna start making choices because I love myself, everything really changed.
Stop expecting perfection. It's the small steps that ultimately let you climb the mountains!
Through that experience and then Erin and I talking about those experiences and finding workouts we liked and really putting fun back in fitness and fun back in healthy eating and not having it be about diets or deprivation. That's where the mission really comes from. So, when you get a question like that, I know it.
Dave: Yeah you do.
Jennipher: I know it. I know it hard.
Dave: Honestly, that story you explained is exactly what Kel's talking about. You said a lot of stuff that I want to unpack. One of the questions I have is you talked about your book.
Jennipher: Yeah. The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet.
Self-Awareness Is Key
Dave: The anti-diet. You also talked about the idea of stop focusing on the numbers on the scale and just love yourself and be okay with yourself. Those are both fantastic concepts. How can those play out in real life?
Because I think a lot of us just go through life beating ourselves up without ever stopping and being like, oh my gosh, did I really just have that thought? That's not really appropriate. I wouldn't say that to someone else. Why would I say that to myself?
I think awareness is key. And that may be something as simple as you setting an alarm on your phone, where every hour you have an alarm that goes off and all you do, for 20 seconds is kind of check-in with yourself and be like, hey remember, we're treating ourselves with love today. We're respecting ourselves.
Treat yourself with love and respect just as you would other people whom you love
We're talking to ourselves like our own best friend. Because the thing with thoughts, you get into habits with thoughts. You wake up, you have a bad thought, not even a bad thought, but you have a negative thought that you don't look good or something.
Then that just you have it again. Then you're having negative thoughts about something else and the negative thoughts. Then those thoughts actually turn into emotions. Then once you start having emotions, then you're acting out of them. If you act out of them enough times, you build habits. If you really want to improve everything, starting with the thought process is number one.
Your Relationship With The Scale
I also recommend and this is in our book, we have a bunch of 10-minute fixes to actually ditch dieting. But one of my favorites is to either repurpose your scale, either make it a little dream board with pictures and sayings on it that say, we call
Something kind of fun. And a woman
Then when you see your scale it's no longer a mortal enemy, it's kind of just a thing.
Dave: Yeah. I like that. I'm gonna stop you there. Another question I have for you as your speaking is, there is an importance in being able to see progress. I think that in the fitness industry, we just tend toward using the scale because it's so objective. It's easy to see that number.
The number changes. Therefore, you must be doing something right, even if that might not be the case. What do you teach as another barometer for success, if you're moving clients away from looking at the scale?
Jennipher: Yeah. We'll say, it kind of depends on where your relationship is with the scale. I feel like there are some women who can get on and they're not overly bothered by it. They're okay with wherever they are. If that's you and you're not obsessed about it, that's cool. Weigh in every couple days, every week, every couple weeks, whatever you want to do.
If you are someone who has a past like me who, that number that was flashing at you, determines your mood for the day, then yeah, I'm like put it under the bed, put it in the closet. Do not weigh yourself 2, 3, 4 times a day. Get it away.
Instead, you can go by how your clothes feel. That's always a good way that you hear a lot of times. Also a simple tape measure, $2. And then measure different areas on your body. Measure around your belly button, around your hips, or your arms, your legs.
Dave: Again, without doing it 4 times a day. You can do that once a week or every other week or something.
I think at the end of the day, no matter who you are and what your goal is, maybe your goal actually isn't to lose a bunch f weight. Maybe your goal is to actually feel good. I think that's what we're all trying to go towards.
Dave: You know, the way that I like to say it is, everyone wants to be happier. If losing weight will make you, maybe that's the case.
Jennipher: Maybe not.
Dave: Maybe it's something else that's tied to that whole fitness process and that's what going to make you happier.
Dave: You are preaching to the choir. You used to be a personal trainer, so I'm sure you went through this, doing an intake process with someone. Pretty much everyone who comes into a personal trainer says I want to lose weight.
You go through that process of asking why and you find out the underlying root cause of that is so removed from just changing that number on the scale. It's usually something so much deeper. But without going through that process you have no idea.
Jennipher: Exactly and today, maybe that has nothing to do with working out or eating right. Maybe that has to do with you having a difficult conversation or standing up for yourself or starting your day in a different way.
Then from there, once you start to feel a little bit better, then maybe you have some of the energy. Then okay, let's do a workout that also helps support that. Instead of beating yourself death in the gym with something you hate to do and then you just hate your life.
It's Time to Give Yourself a Pep Talk
Dave: I couldn't agree more. So Kel, she's explaining exactly this, this idea of beating yourself up. She says, her exact words were, "You
I think sometimes you just have to sit down and be like, self, it's gonna be okay. You missed two days, it's gonna be okay. Fitness, healthy living is not going anywhere. You know? You can do five minutes of burpees. You're gonna feel it. You're gonna feel great afterwards or terrible. Both sides of the coin there.
Then a lot of times, I'll even have clients write themselves a love letter. Maybe if she just took a few minutes and wrote a letter to herself that was like hey, you're gonna be okay, like a reassurance letter, almost? That's something she could even go back and look at later in times where she's really trying to beat herself up and feel...
If she's having trouble writing it, you can even have one of your friends or loved ones, someone that's really supportive and you've shared some of these things that you're struggling with. Have them help you write the letter
Dave: I love that idea. Particularly, if it was dated. I could imagine someone having this letter from a month ago and they went 2 days without exercising. Then a month later they realize, wait a second, I didn't fall apart, I'm still in just as great a shape as I was a month ago. Then it's like proof of concept. Okay, I am okay to miss a day or two.
Jennipher: Exactly. Exactly. You got this. It'd be like your own little pep talk.
What you say to yourself
Dave: That's so powerful. Then tying it in, she talks about the food as well. You, me, everyone, we all go through these issues, where we eat poorly or whatever, or fall off our plan. Again, mindset-wise, what do you suggest for people to do in those cases?
Do You Really Love Your Food?
Jennipher: Yeah. For that, I think that a lot of times, the kind of all or nothing mindset. It's not a complicated issue and it is a complicated issue because I think it's a little bit multi-faceted. I think some of it is definitely hunger and fullness cues. A lot of times, if you've been the yo-yo dieting thing, you rarely eat because you're hungry and you rarely stop when you're full.
Instead, you eat because it's time to eat because the plan says it is or you're not supposed to eat even though you're hungry. You're always putting when to eat and how much to eat in the hands of someone else instead of your own body.
I think it's really important to, it can be easy as, I use the scale of 1 to 10. Zero or 1 is I'm gonna eat my arm off and 10 is like I'm so full, I had Thanksgiving dinner like 5 times. You want to try to eat when you're like at a 3 or 4 hunger level. Then you want to stop when you're like a 7, 7.5, somewhere in there. If you can just check in before you eat, when you're eating, after eating.
Then you don't have to be perfect with it. Perfect is not the point of it. The point is not to always be at a 3 and then always be at a 7. The point is to learn about yourself. Am I full? Am I hungry? What does that feel like. Then wiggle around and see what that's like and make it a practice, rather than an all-in or all-off thing.
So that was really important for me for getting over it. The other thing that was really important was to make sure that I always had a little bit of protein and a little bit of fiber and some fat, in every single snack I had and every single meal I had. For so long, I would always binge on carbs.
Then I would be starving afterwards because of all the things that go on. Don't have enough protein and fat in your diet. I was never satiated. I was never satiated. I found that adding more of those things in and having a more balanced meal and snack really, really helped me to feel more full and fulfilled.
Then it's nice to be at a place where, when you're used to constantly either being starving or stuffed, it's nice to just be a place where like, oh, I'm not hungry. I actually feel fulfilled. I feel really good.
Then my third thing is I do a 10-minute or it can even just be 5-minutes, chocolate meditation to help with mindful eating.
Dave: This sounds dangerous.
When you're done with it, you're like, oh okay, I'm satisfied with one piece of chocolate. But it can also be a nice
Because maybe just having a piece of chocolate in your hand is enough to make you anxious or to make you wanna feel like you wanna gobble it up right now. You just kind of breath through that. It's just a way to observe yourself. Not judge yourself. Just observe and learn and grow.
Dave: That's very reminiscent of Deepak Chopra. He talks a bit of mindfulness. I remember watching him give a talk once. He had a glass of water sitting on the table and he talked about how he was very tasty.
Instantly, we just want to grab that glass and he said, I'm just thinking about what it will feel like to pick up the glass. And he picks it up. Then I think about what it's going to be like to touch the glass to my lips. It's the painful process to watch, but boy does it make you mindful of when that water starts going into your mouth.
That is the mentality. When, instead you could be like, when you take the limit of good foods and bad foods off, then you can be like I'm gonnna have a couple fries now. If I want fries again tomorrow, I'll have a couple more fries, but I'm just not gonna eat so many of them that I feel bad.
Dave: You know, I love your message, this whole idea of the anti-diet. A sort of pet peeve and a message I like to try and convey is the fact that if you ever see something billed as the one-size fits all diet, run away because everyone is so unique that it's impossible for that to ever be true.
Dave: Exactly. Whereas your approach of really tuning in, it takes more work because we're not just following a set plan, but tuning in and thinking about where we are on that fullness scale and thinking about how we feel after eating certain foods and journaling that. Yeah, that would probably be a lot of work for 4 or 6 weeks. But then, guess what. You're pretty set on a plan that works for you.
Use How You Feel As A Guide
You don't have to rebel against anything. I used to rebel all kinds of rules that were set up. When you're really just choosing, I always call it choose your adventure, using your life as an experiment. When you do the work, later on, it actually becomes easy to go to the gym. And it becomes easy to turn down the unhealthy food because you know it makes you feel terrible and that's not worth it to you.
Dave: Yeah. Again, I like that you emphasize the fact that is gonna be a process. At first there are gonna be barriers and it is gonna be hard to break some of those habits. You talked really well, I liked how you spoke on the fact that we eat because it's a certain time of day or because those are social cues that say it's time to eat. Once we break through those, then it gets easier. But it is gonna be hard getting through those.
Make Your Body Work Takeaway
Dave: So cool. I feel like we keep on talking about all kinds of different topics, but to kind of wrap this up, I like to do a Make Your Body Work Takeaway. It's just something that Kel or anyone who's in that yo-yo dieting or extreme exercising or beating themselves up, anyone that's in that place, what would you say is something very practical that they could start doing today that would help get them out of that place.
Jennipher: Yeah. I'm gonna give you two. I'm sorry. I think the first one is I would find a mantra or a phrase that speaks to you, maybe it's a quote or something or a song lyric that really speaks to you that you can call on on moments when you're like trying to do the yo-yo dieting thing or your beating yourself up or your really wanting to hop on that scale and feel terrible about yourself.
For us, for Fitbottom Girls, I'm more than the number on the scale can be a really great place to start. Or I'm more than a calorie. I'm more than my weight. I'm more than what I look like. Just repeatedly just tell yourself that over and over over again just to remind yourself to shift that thinking.
Then, like I was saying before, really begin to treat your life like it's an experiment. If you've been dieting all the time, it's really hard to be like, oh my god, so now you want me to say that I can just eat when I'm hungry and stop when I'm full and just eat whatever I want?
There's no way I can do that. That's insane. But if you do begin to, at the very least, just say, you know what? I'm gonna make a small tweak today. Today, instead of skipping breakfast, I'm gonna have a smoothie or instead of having toast for breakfast I'm gonna have a couple eggs or something.
Then just see how you feel. Do that one small thing for a couple days. See how you feel. Does it make you feel better? Does it make you feel worse? Does it change anything? Oh, it makes you feel a little bit better? Maybe keep trying that.
Now, once you've done that for a little while, that will become a habit. Once that's a habit and you're no longer having to use your willpower for it, then try something else, tweak something else. Try a different workout at the gym. Try something more intense. Try some weight lifting. Try some dancing.
Then just use how you feel as a barometer to just keep tweaking. Eventually, literally I've been doing this for years. And now I'm doing workouts that I never thought I would do, that I never thought I would enjoy and I do enjoy. I really, really enjoy. But I didn't start there. You just have to keep tweaking, tweaking, tweaking.
Dave: The same with food. You might end up eating foods that previously you didn't think you'd ever eat. Then all of a sudden you realize, wow, I feel good after eating this.
Jennipher: Right. Like, this is so worth it. Sometimes, it also empowers you to say, for me, yeah, on Friday night, I'm probably gonna have pizza because I know pizza isn't gonna make me feel great on Saturday, but that's okay because I really want to eat pizza. But Saturday, when I wake up I'm still gonna go to the gym because I know that's gonna kick my weekend off right and give me energy to do all the things I want to do.
Dave: I absolutely love it. You know,
Dave: Perfect and I'll put links in the show notes. All of those sites and definitely check them out. All fantastic. You post some really great content and always have. Very inspiring message.
Jennipher: Yeah. And you have content on Fitbottomed Girls.
Dave: That's true. For listeners,
Jennipher: Some amazing workouts.
Dave: Jennipher, thanks again for taking time out of your day to join us today. It was awesome.
Jennipher: Thank you for chatting. I loved it.
Dave: Thanks again,
And thanks to all the listeners out there again for joining me in this episode and thanks for your continued questions. If you have a question you'd like to see turn into a podcast episode or be answered online, go ahead and send me an email. It's [email protected] I'd love to hear from you and I'd love to help you.
If you're in a position, maybe like Kel spoke of today, where she feels frustrated with her current fitness or ability to be in the right space, where she just feels good about herself and good about the way that she exercises and eats, I'd love to work with you. Again, you can email me, [email protected]. Or if you want to get into one of my programs and actually have me as your coach, I encourage you to check out the 10 and 4 challenge. It's just a great way to build a sustainable fitness regime. Again, we're moving away form that idea of dieting or extreme exercise. It's all about little baby steps. Making progress, not trying to be perfect.
So you can check out the 10-4 challenge. It's at 10in4.com or again, send me an email. I'd love to work with you. I can't wait to see you here again next week.
Thanks for joining me today!