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Hello everybody. I am so excited for today. I have Sam here and we were just chatting before about how needed this episode is. We are going to dive into all things fitness, movement, and really talk about how fitness culture has kind of changed the name of the game in diet culture and how easy it is to now kind of deflect some of these healthy behaviors or whatever the case may be behind fitness and kind of redefining the way that you guys can look at fitness if you felt yourself kind of get sucked into this world. Obviously, as I always say, never from a place of judgment or shame, but always just awareness so that you can feel better and get stronger and just live a healthier, happier life. So Sam, thank you so much for coming on. I am so grateful to have you here.
Thanks so much for having me. I’m very excited.
So for anybody who doesn’t know you yet and hasn’t heard your story, been to your Instagram, tell us a little bit more about you, what got you started in this industry, what is your story?
Yeah, so I always really loved movement. I was a dancer growing up, and I knew my whole life I wanted to do something in the field that involved movement. I originally thought that was to be a physical therapist. That didn’t work out for a lot of reasons, but I went to Penn State, got my degree in kinesiology, and afterwards I became a personal trainer. So I’ve been in the fitness industry for about 10 years, and I started in personal training. And to be honest, at first I was like, I don’t know what I’m doing. Like, I don’t know how to train people, but through years of working at different, various gyms, and even really finding what I like to do in fitness, which was always like empowering women and empowering people to feel good in their skin and really moving from a functional place in terms of like making fitness so that you can live more life, so that you can get off the ground with your kids or grandchildren or run faster, whatever it might be.
But really just empowering people through fitness to be able to live a fuller life was always kind of my goal and the way I saw things. So I worked for various big box gyms, pretty much you name it, I’ve worked there. And over time, I, post-college actually, I had gained some weight, which is fine, but I right after graduating I wasn’t feeling comfortable in my skin. So I went on my own weight loss journey if you will and that quickly developed into disordered eating between being in a gym sitting and feeling like I had to either work out and look a certain way because Personal trainers at the time I feel like we’re very judged by what they look like and people at least in my brain, I felt, well, if I don’t look a certain way, why would people trust me to work with me if I don’t look that aesthetic?
I think that on top of diet culture, on top of a restrictive way of eating, just was like one thing after another, bam, bam, bam, really drove me to a very disordered place with both food and exercise in terms of under eating, way over exercising, and it became very disordered. And it wasn’t really until I was with my husband, and I’ll just remember so vividly, him being like, let’s go out to eat. I remember being like, I can’t. I don’t have any calories left in the day. And he was like, Sam, this cannot be a thing anymore. Like, no. And I was like, yeah, this is controlling of my life. I went and worked with a dietician. And it was the first time I was really introduced to intuitive eating. And I read the book, and I was like, oh wow, this is so powerful and like this makes sense to me. I don’t think it really clicked for many more years of work, but at least the seeds were planted.
So then I realized that this kind of disordered behavior was pervasive in the fitness world because I saw so many either women feeling stuck, feeling like they were constantly dieting, not feeling good in their body, and it got me really interested in eating disorders and disordered eating from my own perspective of if I’m going through this, I know somebody else is as well.
So then I decided to get my master’s in nutrition and one day I was sitting in class and literally the food thoughts could not have been more consuming. Like the numbers, I was like, I can’t even literally focus in class. This is obnoxious. So I literally walked myself downstairs. We had a nutrition center in our building and I was like, I need help. I need to schedule a session. I’m done with this. I cannot deal with it anymore. And so through working again with a dietician, a therapist, working through intuitive eating even more, that helped me really get into recovery. And then while I was in grad school, I met this woman, Chrissy Chard, who is one of the directors of a nonprofit called Smart Fit Girls. And Smart Fit Girls is an after-school program for adolescents that helps them gain strength and confidence through strength training. It makes them feel good in their body. And I was like, wait, this is me! Oh my god! I love that!
So what do I want to do? I happened to be so burnt out of the fitness world at that time. I really didn’t know what I was gonna do in the fitness world. I was so annoyed with it. And I was like, I need to be a part of this. So I started volunteering and I was a coach for them. That led me to develop a thesis for them, which was intuitive eating for adolescent kids. And then I realized I could blend my two worlds, that the two worked so well together. That like finding your own strength and finding movement you love and intuitive eating led me to where I am today of creating a group program, how I counsel people. Basically everything I do is kind of all those things together is finding a fitness you enjoy or movement you enjoy, what foods you enjoy and make you feel good so you can step into your power and live a more wholesome life.
Holy freaking cow, girlfriend. That is a lot, but in the best way. Did you have any idea that this was going to be your path like as you began school and college or did it kind of just manifest as your life manifested the way that it did?
Definitely as my life manifested. I feel like now more and more, I see these signs of like things that like happened in my life that I’m like, okay, it makes sense that I’m here, right? Like I was a dancer, we’re eating disorders, we know are pervasive in the dance world, okay? It makes sense, I was very familiar with that. I had teachers that I know struggled and deeply impacted my life and made me want to help them so badly. And even like when I was first in school for kinesiology, I wanted to go to PT school, I wanted to become a physical therapist. I didn’t get in for a reason, right? And now I’m like, that’s because I was on this path to do something different.
And then after meeting Chrissy Chard, I mean, I was like, not necessarily going to drop out of grad school because I always wanted to get my master’s, but I was like, right, like, why am I here? Like, what am I going to do with this? Why am I here? My focus is so different than what my peers who are like, love them dear, but very interested in like the very cellular things about food and fluvocans and things. And I was like, No, this is not my realm. And so I think now, like, I look at it and I’m like, there were all these little signs, I think, that it like makes sense as to why I’m here doing what I do.
Yeah, so before we dive into your beautiful brain and unpack all of your knowledge, how did you, once you realize, okay, I am clearly going down not the best path, and it is time for me to do something different. What did that look like for you? How did you pull yourself out of that to get to where you are today?
Yeah, I think a lot of it was a conscious choice. Like I realized that I literally couldn’t focus in classes because I was counting calories over and over and over again in my brain, worried about when I was gonna work out. And it was like beyond stressful. And I mean, there were even points where I was like, how would I do this as an adult? How would I do this when I have kids? Like, this doesn’t seem realistic. And when I started working with a dietician, really one-on-one when I was in grad school, and these are my peers that I’m working with. Like, it was like my own professors and my peers, and I made a point to tell everyone that I was doing it because I felt like if I shared my story, somebody else is going through it too, and we need to bring awareness to this because at the time, it wasn’t really brought about how many dietitians or trainers were also struggling.
But I made a choice. It was like every time the thought in my brain wanted to come up to count, I had to change that thought. And I had to constantly tell myself, whatever, for me it was like an affirmation, but telling myself something to make my brain switch a different way. And then I really dove deep into intuitive eating, studying it. And I also just had this goal of being an eating disorder dietitian. And I said, like, I’m not gonna be still struggling trying to help other people. Like, I have to lead by example. I want to get into recovery so that I can help other people and do it in a way where I’m, you know, empathetic and I understand and I have this fuller grasp of it, having experienced it.
But it was really, I hate to say it, but a choice. And you got to change the thoughts in your brain. And I would always tell myself, like, every day I have to wake up and choose to not, to change my behaviors and to change the thoughts in my head.
Yeah, I so appreciate you saying that, because I think that it is amazing how much information there is out there now. And all the books that you can read and the information that you can find on the internet. And I know that a lot of people reach out to me saying, you know, I’m still struggling. I don’t understand why this is so hard for me. And oftentimes it’s because even though they have that information, they’re not making that choice to do something different because that’s where the work starts and that’s where things get really uncomfortable.
And I’ve shared a few times, you know, I went to two therapists before I actually started to heal myself from binge eating and it wasn’t that the third therapist that I went to told me anything different. It was I was finally willing to put in the work and to choose to challenge all of those behaviors. And I feel like that is the little piece that gets so overlooked. It’s like you can have all the information in the world, but if you don’t do anything with it, nothing’s going to change.
1000%. And I think it’s like also is point to point of like, you have to be ready to change too. You can have education. I knew what I was doing was wrong. Maybe not wrong, but not helpful. Not helpful. Um, but I had to want to change my mindset. Like, I think for me, it helped that I got to the point that I was like, this is not going to work. Like, you can’t do this. But yeah, you really, you have to want it. And I always tell people that getting into recovery is really hard. It’s very uncomfortable. It takes so much work and it’s hard, but every day you have to decide to make a choice.
Yeah. Yeah. So from that moment when you started to decide, okay, I’m making the choice to change my life, and you did, and now you are helping other people do the same, you’ve created this concept called intuitive strength. Tell me more about that.
Yeah, so intuitive strength is this idea of finding movement that you enjoy that allows you to step into your power. I want everyone to just live their biggest life and take over the world is the best way I can describe it. I always say I’m gonna take over the world, but I’m serious, I’m gonna do it in the best way possible. Like, watch out. It’s finding something that empowers you, right? Whatever that might be. For me, it’s strength training. But building this inner strength, right?
Strength doesn’t have to come from picking up a dumbbell and putting it down. It just comes from this inner confidence and feeling of like, you can take on the world and that you can handle whatever things come your way. And so it’s finding movement that makes you feel good in your body, makes you feel confident and strong and empowered so that you can go on to do whatever those things are, but also doing it from a place of self-care, of listening to your body, coming from within. I think kind of just like intuitive eating of like, hunger being on like a hunger scale and fullness, you know, really listening to those inner cues to guide you.
Yeah, if somebody is coming from having a very obsessive disorder relationship with movement and the thought of doing movement for fun and not just for calories is out of their, their just like thought process. How can someone begin to find movement that they enjoy? Or what do you recommend if they’re kind of in that headspace where it’s like, movement’s been punishment for so long, I can’t even imagine finding joy in it.
Yeah, I think the first thing is, A, trying something new that allows you to move your body in a way that celebrates what your body can do. So if you know one form of movement always puts you back into a mindset that is disordered, maybe we need to take a break from that form of movement. We need to kind of like, give it a little time, find some new movement that lights you on fire. And think totally outside of the box, if you will, of like, it could be rollerblading, it could be playing with your dog, it could be chasing your kids, it could be swimming. And maybe it means trying something new, right? Something you’ve never done before. I like to think kind of like what you enjoyed as a child. You know, nowadays, we can find, even not just sports, but clubs for everything. I mean, in college, if somebody wanted to play Quidditch, there was a club Quidditch team.
Like, you could do anything, but find something that You genuinely enjoy and that you can feel like it’s a celebration of what your body can do and allows you to feel empowered but I think also Thinking about movement in a way that has nothing to do with aesthetics or weight So choosing to move your body even if it’s just from a place of I want to feel better or I need to have you know de-stressing so a form of self-care, of allowing yourself to decompress from the day, or maybe it’s, I want to feel stronger. So really looking at it from things that don’t have to do with aesthetics and our weight, but have to do with just inner feeling of good and give you confidence.
So I recommend like finding something that genuinely brings you a little bit of joy and you look forward to, and you can kind of see as a celebration of yourself.
I love that celebration of yourself and your body. That is super powerful because that is something that we forget so often. I know I’m guilty of that as well, is not taking the time to celebrate what my body actually allows me to do or to be grateful for all of the things that my body allows me to do. Like even something as simple as carrying groceries up to my house, like thank you arms for allowing me to do that or for hugging my loved ones or walking up a mountain, I don’t know, whatever the case may be, like celebrating those parts of your body can be super huge. I love that you say that.
So moving from there, I think that adding to that, it can be really hard when someone is struggling with body image to move to this headspace of celebrating my body. So for your own personal work or clients that you’ve worked with that are particularly struggling with body image and letting go of enjoying movement because they’re struggling with body image, what are some things that you recommend?
Yeah, body image I think is such a tough area and one of the first things I would recommend is working with a therapist along with working with myself because there’s a lot to unpack with that and I think it’s really important with that. But one of the first things I’ll start with is trying to get them to express gratitude for their body. So whether that’s just starting with like name one thing your body got you through today that you’re thankful for, right? Maybe it’s walking your dog, going to get the mail, got you to work, right?
Or my body woke up today so I can go do my job or whatever it is They can take care of your kids like whatever it is start with a little bit of gratitude for your body And I think this is really really tough But it doesn’t have to be start with five things you love about your body or like about your body because that can be really Hard but start with something you’re thankful your body can do so we’re already getting that like okay My body does things for me Then you can develop that into five things you like about your body, or three things, or sometimes it’s starting with one thing. I think meditation is also really powerful because it connects brain to body to breath.
And the more connected we are to our bodies, the more we can start to feel better about them because you’re just more connected to it, right? Kind of like with intuitive eating, the more connected you are to those hunger cues and cravings and everything, the better you feel about those choices you make around food. I think everyone is also cleaning out your social media, getting rid of.
Getting rid of the images and the things that trigger you or don’t make you feel good, right? I can’t count the amount of times that I see one post from someone I’m like, unfollow, get out of here. Like, no, get rid of that. Like, let go of the things that do not serve you. And let me tell you, there’s probably a lot of that on social media. So really being mindful of what you ingest and what you’re looking at. And I think, too, again, it’s a little bit of that rerouting of the brain. You have to start to tell yourself different things. The narratives that we tell ourselves end up becoming our realities.
And so if you’re constantly talking down on yourself, you’re not going to feel good. You have to try to change those thoughts and be more, be kind to yourself. Give yourself some grace. Those are the big ones That I like and also just getting rid of things that don’t make you feel good about yourself whether that’s people places things Apple watches whatever
Oh my god. Yes, how could I ever forget? I literally sent eight eight boxes to thread up this year eight not to mention the stuff that I sell on Poshmark But like literally clothes that don’t make you feel good get rid of that Don’t hold on to them because that’s not doing anybody any good get rid of them. I promise you’ll feel better.
So well said and I love that you brought up the fact of changing up your social media feed because we don’t even realize that our Brain innately wants to compare to other people like that is a biological thing that our brain does. So if the only thing that you’re exposing your brain to are these images that aren’t necessarily reality, like your brain is still gonna compare your life, your body, whatever the case may be, to those images. So changing that up and diversifying your feed is huge.
And I know also with a lot of my clients, you know, challenging these biases that we have in our mind that I have to look a certain way to be strong, or if I have fat on my body, or if I’m X size, and I’m not technically fit, or I’m not strong, and go out there and find accounts on social media that disprove that. I know that a lot of people talk about social media being so toxic, but I think it can be a really helpful thing as well, when we do have access to all of these different bodies and you know, looks of people that can challenge those biases. If you don’t think that you can be strong or attractive at your current size, go find someone on social media in your body that you do see as strong and attractive. And yeah, that is huge.
1000% like, absolutely. And I think people don’t realize that how subc… I mean, correct me if I’m wrong, but how subconscious that comparison is.
Like, it doesn’t have to be a conscious thought in your head, but we just naturally do it. And like, comparison is truly the thief of joy.
Oh my gosh, yeah.
Like, I think it makes such a big difference. I have some really great resources we can share. I’m trying to, like, get a huge list of good social media accounts, if you will, to follow.
And even shopping at more inclusive brands that have bigger sizes in stores, you know, do more things like that. It makes such a big difference because I agree with you. It doesn’t have to be toxic, you just have to find more people that either look like you and that you can identify with.
Totally. So I think it’s really important for us to kind of recognize right now just from what you’ve seen, what maybe some red flags are that maybe let’s check your relationship with exercise because I know oftentimes it’s from a very innocent place. And usually what we are doing with exercise, we might not see it as anything crazy because because everybody around us or our family engages in exercise in the same way. And so I feel like it can be really helpful to have some like definitive things that are kind of like, oh maybe check that. So if you were gonna just throw out some red flags, what would you say?
Yeah I think this is a really good topic especially because I think these behaviors are like diet culture very normalized in science culture and they are not. One of the biggest ones is, I think, feeling like you have to exercise. Whether that’s coming from what I call a burn and earn mentality, this idea that you have to burn what you just ate, or you have to earn what you’re going to eat later on in the day, that could not be further from the truth. We need to eat every day. We need to nourish our bodies no matter what. That’s a survival thing, and you never have to earn your food.
So biggest one is that earn and burn mentality. I think another one is not taking rest days. So over exercising and whether that’s doing multiple workouts in a day, which again 100% not needed, never necessary, you put yourself at risk of injury, but over exercising even in terms of never taking a rest day. And one thing about that is that frequently gets celebrated in the fitness industry, which just sickens me. Like, I make it a point to talk so much about taking rest and recovery, taking days off, like your body needs it so badly. I like to tell people that exercise is like stress on your body. If you’re stressed out every single day at work, what happens? You burn out and you feel like junk.
Yeah, you’re doing high intensity every single day, you’re gonna also feel that terrible. Like no. And so not taking rest days. And I think even feeling like guilty or feeling some shame when you take a rest day, and I think also one thing that I’m starting to see more and more of clients is this idea of some workouts being of greater value than others. So putting more emphasis on like higher intensity cardio raising workouts versus like something that might keep your heart rate a little bit lower like a Pilates and a yoga, which is still such a powerful way to move your body.
So I think those are a couple red flags. The other one that I think goes onto tech too a lot is feeling like you have to close your Apple Ring every single day.
It doesn’t know you, it doesn’t know your life. So I think those are like three big ones.
So, so many good things and I really love that you brought up that kind of like feeling the need to like earn your food or like having to work out. I know for me, like, you know, the reality is, is that that disordered voice in your mind, especially for however long you engage with it, it’s just kind of like dormant in your mind. And like, sometimes there are some things that trigger it, but I don’t think that it ever goes away. You just get better at managing it. And so I know for me like here and there I’ll have those days where that voice in my mind will be like, oh you have to go work out or whatever the case may be.
And I’ve made it a rule to myself and I know that you know I don’t want to have there be rules, but I feel like this is a good one where if I have that thought I do not allow myself to work out. Because because to me that says I need self-care and not a workout. And so I’m like, if there’s any thought in my mind that’s like, I have to do this because of calories, I’ll be like, nope, like I’ve kind of lost that privilege today and I need to go do some self-care because that’s not honoring my body. Because I feel like that is something that, yeah, is so, it’s just something that’s said over and over and over where it’s not even a statement that anyone blinks their eyes at. It’s like, yeah, I got to burn XYZ off or I have to whatever. And it’s like, wait, no.
100%, I love that. And I think sometimes it’s also perpetrated by fitness professionals. And that’s what like saddens me the most is that you hear the fitness industry touting things like never miss a Monday. Girl, Monday’s on my birthday very frequently. Like, don’t, no, don’t tell me what to do. Or even just fitness industries promoting this is a 500 calorie workout. First of all, that doesn’t even make any sense. Everybody is different. Calories are like, I call them like a made up science. They’re not really real. Like, no. And you see it also even in, again, it’s sometimes celebrated by instructors, which is why I’m so passionate about changing the fitness industry.
And I’m literally developing this course to help fitness professionals change their rhetoric and change the way we coach so that we can be more empowering and not be sometimes causing disordered behaviors that you might not realize as an instructor or a coach that you are unfortunately just continuing to progress, if you will, to feed into. Because they are very normalized and quite frankly It’s how the fitness industry is sold to us like the fitness industry isn’t sold to us is like come do this It’ll make you feel great, right?
Always sold with a weight loss or Like some sort of body aesthetic thing and that’s not what movement should be whatsoever I I think we need like it’s again like systemic change which hopefully start to see I think there is starting to be this movement of okay we can move for other reasons right and then we should move our body for other reasons so hoping to really change that but yeah I think that it’s kind of a good reminder of like when you’re having that disordered thought okay what am I really needing and yeah it’s a form of self-care I think that’s such a good good way to check yourself kind of where is this coming from?
Yeah, for you as someone who is a professional but has also gone through it, how have you kind of gotten to this place or done the work where you have let go of this belief that your body has to look a certain way to be worthy as a fitness professional?
That’s a good question. I think I just, I don’t care anymore. People, one thing that I always tell myself is people don’t like me for what my body looks like. They like me for who I am. And that’s a mantra that I use not just on days where I’m having a bad body image day, but days where I just need that confidence booster. People don’t come to my class because of what I look like. Nobody really cares. They come to me because of the words that I use. They come to me as a coach because of how I make them feel. The empowerment that they get, the confidence, whatever those things are. I think there’s a degree of that. For me, of wanting to be a role model to others, in that sense, I started this thing over. I’m a big, I have them on now, a big proponent of wearing shorts.
Wear the damn shorts. Over the summer, I had this campaign going where every day, whenever I had shorts on, I would post a picture saying, wear the damn shorts. And I was trying to get other people to do that. And this idea that like, your legs don’t have to look any sort of way to wear shorts. Like it’s hot out. Life is way too short to be miserable when it’s 90 degrees out. And so wear the damn shorts. And so I think a large part of it to me was to be a role model, to show people that you can wear whatever you want. You can feel good in what you’re wanting. I mean, there were days where, like, should I wear shorts to work?
I’m like yeah I am gonna wear shorts because I want to show people that they should wear shorts and we need to feel good in our bodies. So I think for me part of it was just to be honest choosing to let go of I just at a very young age I became I went through a lot of like friend transitions and I realized like I don’t care what you think about me if you don’t like me it’s not my problem and that has transpired into kind of everything that I do. I’m like I’m not for everyone. And so if you’re going to judge me for my body, I probably don’t want to be your friend anyway.
Right. It almost like just saves you time to get to the people that matter faster. I know that it’s so hard to have that mindset of like, I don’t care. I know I’m not for everybody, but then when we can kind of just remind ourselves, well, then that doesn’t have me waste any energy on people that aren’t worth my time. And I just get to the people that are faster. I know that’s something that I’ve had to kind of like put in my head over and over again, especially being in this space, realizing that just like everybody is not for me, I am not for everybody as well. And I love that wear the shorts mantra. That is so powerful. And I have to ask, as a fitness professional who’s like promoting shorts. Do you have any like short recommendations that you love?
Yes, I have a whole highlight on Instagram too, but I have a couple. So personally, I’m a big fan of a five inch inseam. It just makes me feel better. I find it’s long enough that like, it just covers my butt. I have a bigger butt, so it makes me feel like my butt’s covered, not gonna see anything I don’t wanna show. So I love Lululemon’s, it’s called, now I can’t remember, but it’s something like the Run Short. And it’s a 5-inch inseam. Love that one. There’s a company on Amazon called Colorful Koala, and they make like a 7-inch biker short with pockets. They’re $24, and they feel like the Lululemon Aligns. Like, literally, they feel like an $80 short. So I’m a huge fan of those.
Brooks Running also has a 5 inch chaser short it’s called. It comes in 5 inches. If you like a shorter inseam they have that available to you, but my go-to is finding shorts that have at least a 5 inch inseam. 4.5 is like, ah, but I like the 5 inches at least. And I’m really into the like longer biker shorts with the pockets. Just find shorts that make you feel good. One thing I found was a trick with jean shorts is the ones that are like rolled up on the bottom. I realized I could cut that and then they’re an inch longer. So I did that to quite a few pairs.
And I was like, wow, this is a huge feature. But finding them in a length and five inches is for me like chef kiss.
And I also, you know, to reiterate, finding shorts that make you feel good. I used to squeeze myself into these little shorts just to be a certain size because I didn’t want to go up the size and I would hate them. I was miserable because they were so tight and they hugged me uncomfortably and I sat and they just like squeezed everything and it was not fun and realizing, okay, I can go up a size and be comfortable in shorts is such a game-changer
That’s actually one thing that I do too is I always buy my shorts a size up As well, yeah, and I found that to be really helpful as well and just like trying on only if he’s got some great five-inchers Athleta I think has great stuff with great sizing in terms of inclusivity I tried to shop at brands that offer a wide array of sizes because I think that’s so important But those are probably my favorites, but yeah, I love shorts.
Thank you for sharing that. Okay so because you do have a nutrition background I definitely want to touch on some or like clarify some things where fitness culture and diet culture kind of interact and to get some clarity starting with your thoughts on fasted cardio and kind of just clarifying if that is actually necessary, if that is just a fitness culture, diet culture thing, kind of just bringing some clarity for people that feel like they have to work out fasted to get benefit.
Yeah, so a fasted cardio does not need to be a thing. Even the research on it is very split in terms of more fat burning results, if you will. But I think even if you’re doing it for those reasons, are we really moving our body for the right reason, number one.
So well said. I also, I’m a huge fan of eating before you work out. I’m a big proponent of having something in our body before you work out, especially if you’re doing cardio. Cardio runs on carbohydrates. So like eat some food before and I guarantee you’ll feel better. And I can’t count the number of clients or members that I see and they’re like, oh, I feel so sick. And I’m like, well, when was the last time you ate? And they’re like, six hours ago. I’m like, you need something in your system. Please. And then they’ll eat and they’re like, oh, I feel so much better. I feel great during this workout. I hit a PR. I’m like, yeah, I bet you did. Like, yes, please. I do think that there’s a lot of miscommunication and this fasted cardio thing got sensationalized, I think, when HIIT first came out.
And I just think it’s nonsense. That being said, I think you have to find foods that work for you and also what works for you. For example, I do coach at 5 a.m. a lot of clients. A lot of them can’t eat at 4.30 in the morning. It makes them feel very sick when they work out. Okay fine. Am I promoting that? Absolutely not. But I also understand there is a lot of individualness of what works great for you as long as you are getting food in your system after you work out. But in general I coach at 5 a.m. and at 4 30 in the morning I have breakfast. I am just a huge fan of you need to eat before you work out. It’s A, I think nine out of 10 times, it is find a food that you can work out on and that makes you feel good, and B, timing it right. Typically like an hour or two before your workout. So I think-
What are some things that you like to eat before you work out?
So I love a peanut butter and jelly, or a banana with peanut butter, little bit of carbs, little bit of fat. Typically they say to go with like lower fiber foods because it will not, you don’t want it to sit real heavy in your stomach because that can make you feel sick and lead to GI distress. I’m someone who literally has dove into pools with cheese rolls in my mouth.
I love that and I’m the same way I have to eat in the morning but you know I know it’s whatever works best for you but I definitely want to clarify that and then the next thing I would love for you to kind of clarify is I know a lot of my clients And this is something that I used to struggle with as well struggle with eating the same amount or even more on rest days like sometimes feeling even hungrier on rest days and not really Understanding why that’s happening Can you kind of give some clarity on what is going on in the body and why we need the same amount of energy even on rest days and why we might even feel hungrier on those rest days?
Yes, so number one, you do not earn your food. You need to eat, like, hands down. So number two, so when we work out, our body creates these, especially if we’re like doing any form of movement, we’re creating these little micro tears in our muscles. Right, those micro tears need to get repaired. So on your rest day, this is your body saying, hey, we’re gonna repair all these little micro tears. That’s how we build muscle. Building muscle requires energy. Oftentimes, maybe more energy than what we ate, say, the day before. Not to mention, our hunger levels are gonna differ on a day-to-day basis.
So just because you’re resting, maybe you didn’t eat enough the day before, so now you’re hungrier this next day, and you’re giving your body and your mind a chance to recover, for lack of a better word, but to actually recuperate what it needed from the day prior. So now your body’s trying to repair its muscles, which takes energy. You might be sore. That takes energy to, again, repair it, makes it feel good. And B, you’re giving yourself some time to recuperate from the days prior to work. Your body is going to need more energy.
Absolutely, I think that is a very hard mental challenge to realize that your body still needs to eat on those rest days. It might even need more, but oh man, your workout the next day is going to feel amazing when you give it that fuel. It’s going to feel so good, especially some carbs.
Yes, a thousand percent so helpful. Okay, so what I would love for us to kind of wrap up on is What are some? words or Tips that you would have for anybody really trying to build a healthy relationship with movement right now After coming off of a disordered one
Yeah, um, I think number one, try to find something you enjoy, something that you look forward to, something that lights a fire under you and that gets you excited about doing it. Whether that be a dance cardio video, or running outside, or playing soccer, strength training, whatever that might be, but find something that you genuinely look forward to and want to do and that you can see as a way of celebrating what your body can do. I love the instructor, Jess Sims, and I love that she says, you don’t have to do this, you get to do this.
It is a privilege to move your body, and it is a celebration of what your body can do. Those two things, I think, make the biggest impact. But, you know, find something that you enjoy, find something that makes you feel good, and try new things, especially if you know that in the past, maybe, for example, for me, I ran a lot, but running for me became very disordered. And so it took me years of not running to finally feel like I can run again for my own time. And one thing that I did to kind of repair that relationship with running, and the only reason why I even started running again was we were in quarantine. I wanted to get outside. I didn’t have access to a treadmill. And so for me, I started running for time, or not even for time, actually. I just went out and ran. No metrics, no distance or speeds. I just went. I listened to music. I listened to some intervals. I did it in a totally different way than before, and it allowed me to foster a new love for running that I could disconnect from a past disorder plate. So again, finding something you enjoy and something that gets you excited.
What about tips for anyone healing their relationship with food right now?
Yeah, that’s a lot to unpack. There’s a lot that goes a lot into that. I think starting to ask yourself, why am I eating this? Why are you having the kale? Are you having it because you feel like you have to get to or because you genuinely like the way kale tastes? Right, so looking at your intention behind eating that. I tell my nutrition clients all the time, I don’t really care that much about what you’re eating. It doesn’t really matter. But I care about why you’re eating it. Like I wanna support you to make balanced meals and to find foods that make you feel good in your body, but it’s not why. It’s why are we eating this?
Why are we choosing that? I think then starting to dig deep. I love the intuitive eating approaches and health at every size approaches and digging into that whether with a dietician or even if you’re starting with the workbooks, I think that’s a great place to start. But really starting to ask yourself, why am I eating this? And is this coming from a place of self-care? Am I eating this because it’s going to give me energy and nutrients? Or is this coming from some disorder of thought and starting to just kind of start to dig a little bit deeper into those to start to become a more in tune with yourself but also understand where it’s coming from.
I love that so much and I love the simplicity of that. I think sometimes we complicate things so much when we can just bring it down to the basics of, why am I eating this? Why am I moving my body? Like just starting with that, getting curious about your behaviors, awareness is key. And when we can become aware of what we’re doing, oh, then we can start to really get to that root.
Yeah, and being kind to yourself too. Like bring awareness and then be kind to yourself. Give it a chance. Yeah. And life’s hard.
It is, it is. Oh my gosh. Well, Sam, thank you so much for all of that. That was amazing and so helpful. And I know that as Instagram continues to grow and the fitness culture continues to grow, it is so hard not to get sucked into that and to innocently be like, well, I’m just being healthy or I’m just doing what they’re doing. And I think that having those red flags kind of lined out, but also being able to really realign to celebrating your body and asking yourself why is so powerful.
Yeah. Thank you. This was great. I hope it helps.
So to wrap up, what I love to do is to get everybody to know you on a deeper level outside of like Instagram and your work with some kind of just like random questions. So just answer with whatever comes to your mind first. Starting with, where are you from?
I am from Cleveland, Ohio.
Do you like living there?
I do. Cleveland is great. There’s a lot to offer. It’s a lot better than people think, but I’ve lived in a lot of places, but I came back to Cleveland.
I love that. I love that. What is a snack that you absolutely cannot live without?
Banana and peanut butter.
Love. Do you put honey on it or just like classic banana and peanut butter?
Usually just classic, but if I put it on toast, I add honey, or I get the honey, I think it’s like honey roasted peanut butter from Whole Foods.
Amazing. Oh my gosh, that sounds so good. Okay, fill in the blank. The thing I know way too much about is?
Poop, I don’t know, that was hard, that’s probably poop. I talk about poop all the time with people in some ways, shape, or form, I don’t know. That was the first thing that came to my mind.
That’s hilarious. What is your number one beauty product?
Oh, that’s a good one. I live for a Glam Glow Mud Charcoal Mask. It’s worth the expense. So it’s like $50 for the smallest container but love it. Also dry shampoo. That makes like the world go round.
Give me brands girl, give me brands.
Okay here’s what I’ve learned. You gotta spend a little extra on the dry shampoo. The Moroccan oil or OUI. OUI is leave-in conditioner. Actually that might be my top, like I cannot live without it.
Love it. Okay, you just won a contest and now get an endless supply of a product of your choice. What would you choose?
Probably OUI leave-in conditioner.
I love it. What is your favorite way to move your body?
Slinging some kettlebells.
Nice. Do you take a class or do you just do it yourself?
I actually got certified many years ago in kettlebells and I just love it so much. I mean, dance would probably be the second way, would be more of dancing. But it allows me to feel really strong and badass. There’s nothing like swinging a 50-pound kettlebell. It just makes you feel so good. But I just, I love the way it makes me feel. And then because it’s like rhythmical too, it gets me back to like my dance roots, which I love.
Ooh, I feel like I’m gonna have to check that out now. How do you take your coffee?
With a little bit of coconut milk or coconut milk creamer. Sometimes, especially this season, I put pumpkin spice seasoning into it. And then every now and then a little bit of CBD in there too, depending on the day.
Yum. I know you talked about your maple peanut butter before, but do you prefer crunchy or smooth peanut butter?
And other than banana, what do you like to put it on?
Everything. I love toast. Toast and peanut butter is like a daily it’s a daily for me.
How many alarms do you snooze before you get up in the morning
A lot so I preface there are days I have to wake up at 340 in the morning to go to work
Okay okay that’s that’s different
But but also on the days where I get up at like 7 I have to set my alarm at like 630 and I like to set them for weird numbers so it’ll be like 634 or 631 and then there’s at least two or three alarms going up like at least two or three.
I just like to lie in bed for like a while I like I like to snooze my… oh why do I wake up at 340?
No, why the odd numbers?
I don’t know. It just makes me feel better that I’m getting one extra minute or something. It happened when I started waking up early and earlier, so I was like, well maybe I can do it. I don’t have to get up at 340, I can get up at like 343.
I would say at 3 in the morning, 340 and 343 is a difference.
It is. I think it’s why I rooted in getting up so early for so many days of my life. So now they’re just always, they’re very rarely on the zero or the five.
Oh my gosh, that’s hilarious. And last question, what does food freedom mean to you?
Food freedom to me is like living your best life and not worrying about food. It’s getting the ice cream when you want ice cream. It’s getting the chicken baskets at football games. It’s getting an elephant ear at the fair. It’s having an apple because I love apples is having toast It’s just it’s getting to live your full life without having thoughts consumed in your brain So that your brain can do all the other amazing things that you want to do like taking over the world in the best way possible
So beautiful Sam where can everybody find you if they want to connect with you chat with you more learn more about you
Yeah, definitely. The best place is Instagram. I’m at triple A wellness by Sam and that’s like spelled out like TRIPLA. It’ll be in the show notes I’m sure. Facebook, I’m also triple A wellness on there. I have a little TikTok but I don’t really know how to use it. But mostly Instagram.
Is there any story behind triple A before I let you go?
Yeah, actually. So when I first was personal trainer, I left my first job and we moved and I took it virtual and this was about 10 years ago. And back then my whole theory with fitness was that fitness could be done anywhere by anyone and in anybody. And so that became anyone, anybody, anywhere as my like belief around fitness and food and that became AAA. So it started as Triple A Fitness, became Triple A Wellness when I added the nutrition part of it But again like these little things that I planted, you know, ten years ago not even realizing And so now it just it just fits so well.
Oh Oh my gosh, amazing. Thank you so much Sam and yes, I will have all of those links in the show notes below so that you can connect with her and continue to learn more and so good.
Thank you so much. This was a blast.
Licensed Therapist, Certified Nutritionist, and Virtual Wellness Coach
Ryann is a licensed therapist and virtual wellness coach who has assisted individuals worldwide in establishing a healthier relationship with food and their bodies.
I understand—it can be overwhelming to figure out where to begin. Let's simplify things and have you start right here:
Why Am I Overeating?
First Steps To Stop Binge Eating
The Food Freedom Lab Podcast
the food freedom lab podcast