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Ep 23: Discover 4 Ways You Can Easily Improve Your Health With Proven Strategies
Episode 239th April 2024 • The Holly Perkins Health Podcast • Holly Perkins, BS CSCS
00:00:00 00:34:43

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Did you try yet ANOTHER workout or diet and you're still not seeing your desired results? Don't worry, you're not alone! For over 30 years, women just like you have been coming to me to achieve their fitness goals and live in the body they've always wanted. So, in this episode, I share 4 tried and tested ways to improve your health that have worked wonders for women in their midlife. These tips are research-backed, easy to follow, and will benefit every woman! 

Today, I highlight the most common mistakes women make when working out, a straightforward diet approach that takes the guesswork out of meal planning, and expert advice for improving your body composition. Trust me – if you follow these tips consistently, you'll start feeling better and healthier today! 

Want FREE access to my brand new four-week strength training plan, Strength Without Stress? Head over to where you can upload a screenshot of your review and gain immediate access. This is a limited-time offer before it sells for $197, so be sure to grab it now!

Topics Covered:

  • Understanding when and what to eat throughout the day 
  • Why you need to stick to a strength training plan
  • The importance of consistency 
  • How to eat a strategic combination of each macronutrient
  • Tips for improving your body composition 
  • The quality of weight loss drugs and supplements 

Resources Mentioned:

  • Listen to the first 22 episodes of Holly Perkins Health Podcast HERE
  • Check out The Nutrition Project HERE 
  • Listen to Episode 21: 5 Protein Mistakes You Might Be Making HERE
  • See the research on the effects of strength training on health HERE
  • See the research on hypoglycemia HERE

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Find me on Instagram: @hollyperkins

Learn more on my website:

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Disclaimer: Content and information as part of The Holly Perkins Health Podcast is for general interest, education, and entertainment purposes only. The use of information on this podcast or materials or products linked from this podcast or website is at the user’s own risk. The content of this podcast is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Users should not disregard or delay in obtaining medical advice for any medical or mental health condition they may have and should seek the assistance of their health care professionals for any such conditions.


Holly Perkins:

Why is it that some women look and feel great all the time seemingly effortlessly, without over obsessing about workouts or over restricting their food? Do you know someone like this? Do you want to be someone like this? In this episode, you'll learn four easy ways to become someone like this. If you're not already,

Holly Perkins:

Women usually come to me because they are sick and tired of being sick and tired, or because they tried yet another diet or another new workout that didn't give them the results that they wanted. Or they're confused about what to eat, or when to eat, or what kind of workouts they should be doing for their goals. While each woman is unique, and my advice always depends on your specific biology, there are four things that work for pretty much everyone. In this episode, you'll learn when to eat so as to avoid getting too hungry. And therefore devouring the entire box of crackers. You'll learn the most common mistakes, I see women making their workouts, the easiest diet approach that relieves your brain from worrying about how many carbs to eat, or how much protein do you need, and how improving your body composition is the biggest bang for your buck. I believe every woman is capable of becoming stronger, leaner, having more energy, and living out the rest of your life without a chronic disease. Regardless of your age, you can create the body that you need to keep up with the life that you love. It's just a matter of the right strategy paired with consistency paired with some patients.

Holly Perkins:

So let's get into four ways you can easily improve your health and your results with proven methods. I've been in business for a long time, I started my professional career as a dance aerobics instructor at Penn State. While I was studying exercise physiology and nutrition, can you see it, I was into the spandex. And the thong leotard, the headband, the leg warmers, I had the whole thing going on, and I was the jam. It was amazing. I absolutely loved it. It's some of my favorite memories of my entire life. I learned from the best about strength training, cardiovascular health and conditioning and a ton about nutrition. And even with that incredible education, which was essential. I've learned so much more since being in the field and applying various techniques to my actual clients. And then witnessing what works best. I am proud of my education. But boy, I did not get good until I had worked with women in person for at least 15 years. So my now 30 years of experience has illuminated some revolutionary things that I know will help you. If you apply them. The four things that you're going to learn in and then it are powerful. If you'll act on these, give it some time and stay consistent. I promise you will feel better now and you'll be healthier tomorrow. So let's get into it.

Holly Perkins:

Number one, eat before you're hungry, but not sooner than two hours after a meal. Now this might fly in the face of what you've heard before. But one of the first things that I clear up with my clients is when they're eating. Now you might have been led to believe that you should eat when you're hungry and stop when you're fall. Have you heard that? While I kind of agree that you should stop when you're full, I totally disagree that you should wait until you're hungry to eat. If you struggle with hunger or cravings, derailing your intentions or feel like your energy swings up and down during the day. This one is extra important for you. Hunger is a sign that your blood sugar is getting too low. Now some people call this hyperglycemia and colloquially it has come to mean that your blood glucose, ie your blood sugar is bottoming out. Irrespective of the actual medical definition hunger is a sign that your blood glucose is too low. This is your body's way of saying it

Holly Perkins:

A, our vital organs are not getting what we need to fully function. And in particular, your brain, the master organ of your entire body must have its juice at all times in order to keep up with all of the tasks that are needed to keep you alert, alive and fully functioning. in the notes below, I've added a link to an article from The Endocrine Society so that you can educate yourself and see exactly what I'm talking about here. Keeping your blood glucose levels as stable as possible is a powerful key to your optimal health. I'm not the only one saying this. Pretty much any bonafide medical expert will say the same stable blood sugar levels are super important. Even if you're not worried about or have diabetes. It's also key for having good energy all day long, and burning more fat, even while you sleep. So because of this, I teach my clients to eat according to the clock, not according to their hunger or appetite. You want to eat before you get hungry. This reduces the chance that you'll eat more than you need. And it keeps your blood glucose blood sugar levels stable. More on this in the later episode. Because what you're eating in that meal does matter. And blood sugar levels are interesting and a whole episode in and of themselves.

Holly Perkins:

The truth is, throughout the day, your blood sugar levels are going to go up and down for a variety of reasons. But the key is to keep that window as narrow as possible. And one of the most powerful ways to do that is what you're eating. The best way to eat so that your blood sugar level stays relatively level is to pair protein with carbohydrates at each eating. You've probably heard me talk about this before. And this is exactly what I teach inside of my digital course the nutrition project. If you wait until you're hungry to eat, your blood sugar levels have already dropped enough to signal you that your body needs fuel, namely carbs. And if you wait too long to eat, if you know what I'm talking about hangry anybody. And if you eat until you're full, you will have eaten more calories or volume than you actually need. The only way around this is if your meals are perfectly balanced and feature lean protein and tons of vegetables. And if that's you, you can almost eat as much as you want. But the truth is, that's not most of us for every single meal, it's important to eat a balanced meal that has sufficient calories for your goals. And then wait about least two hours before your next meal or snack. During the two hours after a meal. Your body is digesting and it's learning to self regulate blood sugar after the meal, and you want your body to go through that process first before eating again, I'm not a proponent of the Grays all day approach. And I get the best results in my clients when you eat a well constructed meal with balanced macronutrients every three to four hours, going four and a half hours at the most. So I challenge you to try this out. Note the time of your next meal. And then if it's a reasonable normal sized meal, see how you feel about five hours later. I'll bet my 30 year career on the fact that you are hungry if not ravenous at that five hour mark. And even if you don't experience hunger at that point, maybe you've experienced a situation where you don't think you're hungry. So you start to nibble and it opens the floodgates and you cannot stop and you realize how hungry you are. This is really common, especially if you're a woman over the age of 37 or so. And this is because our hormones our appetite hormones often are not regulated or balanced or secreting properly. If you want to stay consistent with your diet and avoid having to rely on willpower eat before you're actually hungry.

Holly Perkins:

Number two, follow a strength training plan and stick with it consistently for at least 12 to 16 weeks. You may have heard the term muscle can fusion. And without getting into that too much, it simply means that in order to keep your body improving, you have to keep it guessing what's coming next. The idea is that you mix up your workouts each week, and you do different things or different kinds of workouts in an attempt to, like I said, keep your body guessing, I find that life throws us enough curveballs that you don't even need to intentionally mix things up all the time. Also, the idea of intuitive workouts applies here as well. Intuitive workouts are where you base today's workout on what you feel like doing. If you feel like going for a run, or if you feel like your body is ready for a strength training workout. If you've been using either of these approaches, I'm going to bet that you don't look or feel as fit as you'd like. And that's because your body needs consistency. To adapt. I want to get a bit more specific in case you're new around here. The term workout can mean many things depending on your perspective and your preferences. And while I use the term workout to mean any kind of physical activity, anything from a boot camp or spin class to yoga to running or even lifting weights, I'm usually heading in the direction of talking about strength training workouts. This is because I believe and teach that no other workout is as important as strength training. If you want the most bang for your workout buck, prioritize your strength workouts as that is what's going to change your body the most consistent strength training holds the most power to improve your body not only because it builds muscle, but because strength training provides so many other benefits like improved insulin sensitivity, which means that you're going to manage the carbohydrates that you eat better, even if you don't currently have an issue with insulin sensitivity. And even if you're not worried about diabetes, it also means improved bone density.

Holly Perkins:

Strength training is proven to protect your joints and improve stability around the joint as well as the prevention of injuries in the future. Strength training improves your mood and your energy and reduces your risk of numerous chronic diseases. I've included a link to one of my favorite articles that I've referenced a number of times, and it's by one of the most respected experts in my field, Dr. Wayne Wescott. He has no idea. But we're besties I literally agree with everything he says we are so on the same page. Everything he publishes is gold, you can click on that link below if you're curious to read it. In order for strength training to be so powerful, it's important to allow for proper progressive overload. This means that you've got to ensure that you're challenging your body each week. Beyond its current ability. The only way to spark improvements in your strength or muscle mass, or even your fitness level in general, is by strategically pushing your edge so that your body is forced to adapt. I'll use an example here, let's say you strength train three times a week. And one of your go to exercises is the leg press. It's one of my faves. So that's a perfect one to use for this example. And let's say you complete three sets of 10 reps at 100 pounds for each of those workouts each week.

Holly Perkins:

The only way you'll get stronger is if you force yourself to use incrementally harder workloads over time. This can mean that you use 110 pounds next week, or you do 12 reps, or maybe you do more sets. The idea here is that you have to do more next week beyond where you are this week. And the only way to truly know if you're pushing yourself into new territory is by following a strength plan consistently and following it week after week for 12 to 16 weeks or so. Conversely, if you're always doing different workouts each week and you don't have a reference point for moves or exercises, you'll never know if you're actually challenging yourself enough because you don't really know where you were Last week, sure you could show up for workouts and just push yourself hard each week and just give it your best. But that's what I consider sloppy science. Because the quality of your workout is affected by so many things like your energy, or even your mood, how you fueled yourself before your workout, how well you're recovering how well you slept. And what your hormones are, it's not effective to just wing it. When you're a woman, you've got to have a plan, follow it, stick with it, and stay consistent until it's time to actually change the overall plan. And the research shows that's about 12 to 16 weeks, sometimes longer. It might feel boring, it might feel redundant at times. But the only way to know that you're actually challenging yourself, is by staying conscious of the week to week incremental measurements of progress. Rather than bouncing around doing different workouts or different classes. When you feel like it, choose the foods you eat, so as to balance your macronutrients each day. These days you hear eat more protein, or healthy fats or a miracle food. And you might be inclined to eat according to an idea that some foods are good, and some foods are bad, right? Healthy fats are good. So I'm going to eat lots of them so that I'm better or carbs are bad. And so I'm going to eat fewer because they're bad. For me, maybe you think that whole grain steel cut oats are fabulous because of the slow complex carbs. And it's high in fiber. So you have some oats for breakfast, and you add the superfood wild blueberries to it for breakfast, and you think that you've won. But making your food choices based on this is good, is a bit short sighted.

Holly Perkins:

On October 2, I did an episode on the five protein mistakes you might be making, and offered you very specific calculations for protein intake, so that you get the right amount each day. Now I wanted to show you how to use the numbers to get super specific if you're in a phase of muscle building. Or if you're someone like me, who is kind of a science nerd and you really like being super detail oriented. And if you want to do that, go for it. But the truth is, it's bandwidth that you don't need to use up because there's actually an easier way for you to get your protein right, and get your carbs and fat in alignment to rather than making your food choices based on an idea of this is good and that's bad. You'll feel better and get better results. If you focus on getting a strategic amount of protein, fat and carbohydrates throughout the day as a percentage of your total energy intake. And your total energy intake is measured in calories. All three macronutrients protein, fat and carbohydrates are equally important. Protein is not better, carbs are not worse. You need all three for the minimum effective dose of each of those three macronutrients. You need protein for structure repair, rebuilding your muscles after workouts, repair and recovery. You need carbs for energy and brain power and performance. And you need fats for hormone production. For the absorption of certain vitamins like vitamin A vitamin D, eating a strategic combination of each macronutrient ensures that you cover your bases. And it helps for keeping blood sugar stable. Think of it this way, why ie more fat than you need. And why eat fewer carbs than what you want? Especially if it's what your body needs. Doesn't it make sense to enjoy all the foods in combination so that you get the best benefit of each one of them. If you listen to the episode on protein mistakes, you might be inclined to sit down and calculate exactly how much protein you need. And you can absolutely do that. Go for it. I think it's a really great exercise. Again, if you're kind of a science nerd like me and you take your fitness or your body composition very seriously Do it, I think it's a great exercise, it's also going to illuminate what I'm going to talk about next, you're going to find that even if you sit down and do that mathematical calculation, you'll achieve roughly about the same amount by following my approach to Macros when you aim for a 5025 25 breakdown. Now, if this is a new conversation for you, what that means is that 50% of your daily calories are coming from carbohydrates, 25% of your daily calories are coming from protein, and 25% of your daily calories are coming from fat. So the equation is 5025 25, carbs, protein fat, it works out to be about the same amount of protein if you do it this way, unless you're eating a ton of calories, and then the protein number of grams is going to be higher. Keep in mind, if you're struggling with consistent energy during the day, I found that it's because of one or two reasons. And for this moment, we're talking reasons that are related to your diet, there's actually a million reasons if you struggle with fatigue, there's a lot of reasons that could be. But this is my triage of sorts, if you will, when a client comes to me really struggling with energy, usually what I have found, it's for one or two reasons. And those are number one, your macros are out of balance, and your carbs are out of bounds either you've got way too many carbs, which doesn't really happen that much these days, more than likely, you've got way too few carbs and way too much protein, it's just out of balance, the calibration is not there. Or number two, you might just not be eating enough. Now, I don't see this happen a lot. And that is why when a client comes to me struggling with energy, and fatigue, the first thing I do is I have her get her macronutrients balanced. And let me tell you nine times out of 10, that fixes things almost completely. And if not, then we got to start to take a look at where your calories are because calories really do matter. If your goal right now is to achieve a lower number on the scale, see what I did right there. Calories do matter. There are some expert voices out there in the internet land who espouse the idea that calories in and calories out don't work if you're a woman in midlife. And while the quality and the kind of your calories is influential, a calorie deficit is always required for your body to release extra body fat. It's just physics, energy cannot be created nor destroyed. And so there has to be a net energy deficit. In order for your body to release body fat. calories in and calories out does work. But you do also have to look at what form those calories are coming in from. So let's say for you, we calculate that you need an energy deficit of I don't know, let's call it 450 calories a day. And so we set you at a total daily calorie intake of 1600 calories. Now you could eat 1600 calories and candy bars all day. And you could eat 1600 calories of lean proteins and healthy veggies and some fats and some sweet potatoes, maybe even some pasta, calories or calories. You're going to lose weight on both of those scenarios if the mathematics are right. But you're not gonna feel so good eating candy bars all day long. And your rate of fat loss will be slower, you're not going to feel good. There's a whole bunch of different biological issues that come up based on where you're getting your calories from. And if you balance your macronutrients each day, you'll reduce the uncomfortable symptoms that come with weight loss. Number four, focus on improving your body composition by increasing lean muscle mass. As I said before, I focus on strength training as the cornerstone to your fitness and your overall health. It's by far the most important activity you can do each week, and it should be prioritized over every other activity that you do when women come to me for coaching. Most often, they're either not strength training enough, they're doing it incorrectly, or they're doing it, but are subconsciously holding back because they don't want to bulk up, or they're worried about building more muscle than they actually want. Now, I'm not going to go down the rabbit hole of bulking up, because it's complicated. And I do believe that there are some women out there that are able to build muscle more easily than others. I've worked with some women where it was shocking how easily they put muscle on. That's the exception, not the norm. And most women don't build muscle easily or quickly, especially if you're over the age of 37. But some women do build muscle easily. And most women just don't need to worry about it. If you feel like strength training isn't doing much for you, I promise you're not doing it correctly. Or rather, you're not doing it my way you might be doing it correctly as per someone else's protocols. And it might be that that protocol doesn't work for you. If your top goal is to lose weight, you might be doing things each week that hinder your ability to build muscle, like too much cardio or skipping food around workouts cutting back on carbs. Even if your goal is to become smaller, building lean muscle mass is going to make the process easier, and also give you a much better quality outcome. I'm going to talk about a hot topic right now. Have you been noticing the quality of weight loss that comes with the off label use of the drug ozempic.

Holly Perkins:

If you pay attention, or if you have a friend who has lost weight quickly using ozempic off label, you'll notice that they look gaunt and kind of deflated, maybe even saggy or unhealthy. Now I'm not picking on anyone in particular here. This is an observation that I'm seeing with this trend. And most of the time, that's the telltale sign of someone losing weight too quickly. And through calorie restriction. And that's what we see with weight loss drugs that reduce your hunger and reduce your appetite like ozempic. If you haven't noticed, just kind of take a look around and pay attention. You'll notice that they may have lost weight, but they don't seem better. They just seem smaller. They don't look necessarily look more athletic. They certainly don't have better muscle tone. And yes, they have a lower number on the scale. But the quality of it isn't ideal. Most of the time, I realize I'm making a generalized statement here. And if you have had wonderful results on any of the weight loss drugs, I'm not knocking that I'm calling out a trend, maybe even a worrisome trend that I'm seeing and people who aren't losing weight really in the most healthy way possible. If you focus on improving your body composition, the outcome is higher quality in terms of your appearance, your health, your athleticism, your muscle tone, and muscle quality. Improved body composition should be the standard measure for health instead of BMI or even body weight, which both are kind of irrelevant. In the simplest terms, your body composition refers to how much of your current body weight is represented by muscle, how much is represented by fat and technically how much is represented by bone and other structures. For the ease of conversation. We just focus on body composition being your percentage of muscle versus your percentage of fat. And we basically take 100% and x percent of you as muscle X percent of you is fat. Around here. I encourage my clients to start first by achieving 70% lean muscle mass strength training as compared to straight forward weight loss helps increase your lean muscle mass, which then reduces your body fat. If you do it right. You might even be the same way. But if more of you as muscle and less of you is fat, you'll be healthier. If you focus on improving your body composition, by increasing your lean muscle mass, it's a whole game changer. And body composition is a key indicator of your risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses that none of us want. Even if you want to lose weight, focus on improving your lean muscle mass and body composition, you'll look feel and be healthier than if you just lost the weight. Regardless of how much weight you need to lose. And regardless of what the scale says. And there you have it, four easy things you can do to improve your health. I know that changing your body or health can feel daunting, and in some ways it is. It's not easy to get healthier. If it were we would all be uber healthy and at the perfect body composition as per our own goals. But don't let the challenge stop you. Take it from me, life isn't much harder when you're dealing with a physical illness or disease. And the truth is, life is already hard enough for all of us. I'm committed to bringing you science backed ways to improve your health. I get that you might feel overwhelmed at times and aren't sure exactly where to begin. But just take one thing from today's episode and apply it to your life. Just one and repeat it. Once that thing becomes a habit. Add another thing in. You don't have to do it all today. Your Progress will be a series of baby steps anyway. So what is one thing that you can improve today? I hope you enjoyed this episode. I don't want to leave you hanging. So if you want some guidance for effective strength training so that you can feel good and age better and get all of the benefits that I just talked about. Download my forever free six week strengthen cardio plan at the link below or just come on over to Holly forward slash offer. Stay tuned. Keep your eye on your email inbox for something new from me next week. Take care




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