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NBSV 167


Transcript of the No-Bullsh!t Vegan podcast, episode 167

Coach K answers 19 listener questions on veganism, fitness, habits, accordion, and much more

This transcript is AI-generated and [lightly] edited by a human.

Karina Inkster: You're listening to the No Bullshit Vegan podcast, episode 167. I've got an awesome episode for you in which I answer 19 listener questions.

Hey, welcome to the show. I'm Karina, your go-to no BS vegan fitness and nutrition coach. Via my email newsletter and my social media channels, I put out a call recently for questions I could answer on an Ask Me Anything or AMA episode. So today I'm powering through 19 questions from followers and podcast listeners on topics ranging from veganism to sleep and from didgeridoo playing to morning routines. 

Now for new listeners, allow me to introduce myself. I'm a fitness and nutrition coach, author of five books, 2- 2-year vegan and magazine writer. I'm the founder of KI Health and Fitness where I and my team lead award-winning coaching programs that help vegans worldwide get super strong and build health habits they'll still hold at the age of 103. I hold a master's degree in gerontology specializing in health and aging. And of course, I host the No Bullshit Vegan podcast, which is available on all major podcast platforms and also syndicated on radio in my city of Powell River BC.

My work has been profiled by CNBC, HuffPost Healthline Bustle, Livestrong, and the Instagram stories of vegans across the globe who are tired of hearing about diet culture and transformation bootcamps and want to share evidence-based weight-neutral inclusive information. Instead, when I'm not eating dark chocolate or doing a ridiculous number of chin-ups, I perform and teach accordion piano and didgeridoo. And I can also be found dawning a giant inflatable T-Rex costume to video bomb my neighbor's wildlife cams. To connect with me, learn about my work, and check out our coaching programs. Go to our show notes at

Question number one today comes from CK whom you should check out on Instagram by the way, CK Westbrook author. CK writes, do you ever feel sad or angry when with people and they're eating cow or pig and complaining about their health or climate change when they know you're vegan and have had conversations about the impact of eating animals on the body and the planet, how do you handle it?

Start the conversation again, seethe with anger, but let it go. Point out their stupidity. Make a joke. I work in the environmental NGO world and have this experience often, and I find it depressing and infuriating. Have you experienced it and do you have any tips or advice?

Okay, so this is a very extensive question and I feel like the only place I have real experience with this myself regularly is online. There are so many supposed animal lovers, climate activists or environmental protectors who either honestly have no idea how their diets impact animals and the environment, or more likely they feel they enjoy animal products too much to give them up. So there's some cognitive dissonance there probably. I also see really large-scale animal protection agencies hosting fundraising events where they're serving dead animals as part of their banquet meals and for us vegans, of course, all of this is very depressing and very infuriating.

Now, it sounds like you often encounter folks who have already had conversations about how our diets impact climate change or our health. So maybe starting the conversation again or asking if they remember a previous conversation is one option here. It might be kind of like the idea in marketing that a potential customer needs to have multiple touchpoints. I think I saw the number seven floating around somewhere before they're ready to buy from a company. So perhaps some folks need multiple vegan related touch-points before they're ready to make a change. But at the same time, I think that we need to remember that while we can do our best to educate others, we are not responsible for other people's actions. Now, arguing and debating is much more of a default mode in the online world, I think, and it probably doesn't do much good anyway.

But with in-person interactions, I found that asking questions seems to work pretty well. It makes the other person feel like their responses are valued and it prevents us from coming off as lecturing or preachy. And these questions could get more and more pointed as you go along. So for example, let's say you're dining with someone who's eating parts of a cow or a pig while discussing the devastating effects of climate change. And let's say you've already had a discussion with this person at some previous point about animal agriculture and climate change. So you could ask something like, do you remember the conversation we had about animal agriculture and climate change? Did any particular points stand out to you? Do you still have questions about the relationship between our diets and the environment? Knowing what you do about this relationship, what do you think that should mean about your food choices?

And at this point, I'm pretty sure that there's going to be at least some degree of cognitive dissonance happening where they know that they should decrease or eliminate animal products, but they haven't yet. So you don't have to change anything overnight is something that you can remind this potential person, but you could ask them what would be a feasible first step for you and how can I help? So that's just one approach, asking a ton of questions. There are lots of others, but keep me posted with how it goes.

Question two is from Jackie. She asks, what made you interested in playing the didgeridoo? Was it a specific artist or a concert that you attended or a trip down under?

Well, this is a fun question because it's something outside of the usual veganism and strength training realm, but I've been playing didgeridoo, or didge as it's called in the music world, for 23 years now. I think almost 24 years. I was 14 when I started and I was playing in a small community orchestra for young people at an art center called Plus des Arts in Coquitlam. And I saw a poster or an ad on the wall for didgeridoo lessons with Don Portelance, who was one of the founders of this art center. My dad had just been to Australia, so I kind of felt like, oh, I know what the didgeridoo is I've heard of this thing. I might not have heard what the instrument sounded like yet at that point, but I connected with the Australia piece and I knew that it was an indigenous instrument. So I started taking lessons and it kind of evolved from there. I went to Australia twice, one time in 2007 by myself and one time in 2017 with Murray, my husband, because of the didgeridoo connection.

So I purchased instruments there from indigenous makers and I took various workshops and connected with other didge players. So it really was kind of a random beginning seeing an ad for a very niche, very unique instrument and then taking it from there. And now I play in a band called whatever, four spelled FOUR, and we do gigs. We're going to play at a fairly large scale festival coming up, and it's been super fun. And I'm teaching it too now, actually as of a few months ago. So that's along with the accordion, something I'm doing at our local music academy. And I would like to acknowledge that I am not playing didgeridoo as a traditional player. There are traditional owners of the didgeridoo, and they are indigenous folks from Australia generally in the northern part of Australia. So they have created this instrument tens of thousands of years ago, and I'm coming in as someone who acknowledges the traditional owners and who is not playing this instrument traditionally.

Next question is from Kathy, who by the way, has been one of the most long-term supporters of my work and this show. So shout out to Kathy. She writes, what are your daily sleeping hours, regular bedtime, regular wake time? You have such a thriving life and it's captivating to watch. I just marvel at all you do in a week and wonder when slash how you sleep.

Well, thank you for the compliment, Kathy. I have to tell you that I am not a human who can function with too little sleep. So I spend at least eight hours in bed, usually longer, and I sleep for at least seven and a half hours. So some of that time is spent reading my Kindle says, my streak currently is at 152 weeks, so it's closing in on three years straight of reading before bed. And so that tells my brain that it's time to sleep and it works really well.

However, unfortunately it works against me if I want to read at any other point in the day. So if I want to do some reading on a Saturday afternoon, for example, my brain is like, oh, great, it's sleep time and I just have a nap then whether I want to or not. So there's pros and cons to the reading approach, but sleep is very important to me. I am someone who sleeps very lightly, and so all the variables have to be correct earplugs and full blackout curtains. I sleep in my own room. My husband and I each have our own room entirely for sleep quality. So all these variables have to be checked off. And as for sleep time, ideally if I'm waving a magic wand, usually I'd sleep from 10 to six, but in reality it's usually more like 10 30 to six 30 or 11 to six 30.

I usually wake up pretty early around five regardless of what time I go to bed. And then I try to get a little more sleep after that. So unfortunately for me, the only way I can get a decent amount of sleep is if I go to bed at what my friends call a geriatric hour. Question number four comes from Jim on Instagram. What tips have you got to stay motivated and do something every day like you've been doing forever? Well, this is a great question, and the answer is the only way to become really consistent with something and to do something every day is to train yourself to operate without motivation. So some days we might feel motivated, other days we definitely don't feel motivated, but the people who are consistent have learned to do what they need to do, even on the days they don't feel motivated.

So I always tell my clients that it's really about outsmarting your own brain rather than trying to change how your brain operates. So for example, I know that I'm way more consistent with my workouts when I have other humans to whom I'm accountable. So that's how I've set up my entire workout schedule. I work out with my friend Vanessa three evenings a week. My friend Silvana three mornings a week, and my friend Setareh one evening every week. And this has been the schedule for years. My friend Andrea and I co-founded an open water swim club. So in the summer we organize lake and ocean swims, and in the winter we train in the pool. So I've got a swim community to hold me accountable for that as well. So in terms of tips, here goes, first of all, see if you can set yourself up with an accountability buddy or multiple accountability buddies.

And I find it helps to keep track of a few important things just for yourself. So don't bog yourself down by trying to track 26 different things. I track my workouts and my music practice and it's one of the few things that I do non-digital in an old fashioned paper planner. And this way I can see my months at a glance really easily and I can see my overall consistency. And I also think there's something about writing it down manually that feels like I've checked something off the list or I've done something for myself. So you could try that. And lastly, I realize it sounds kind of cliche, but write down your whys. Why is it important to you to work out regularly, for example? And you then need to ask yourself why multiple times? So for example, why is working out important? And you might say, well, because I want to increase my health.

Okay, well why do you want to increase your health? You might say, because that'll help me prevent chronic disease and maintain mobility when I'm older. Okay, why is that important? You might say, because I want to be around as long as possible for my kids and I want to be able to go on adventures with my grandkids. Okay, why is that important? And you might say, because I want to be a supportive, engaged father and grandfather, so that's the real why. So you see how you need to ask yourself why multiple times to get to that level. Now I have a quote or a couple paragraphs saved to my desktop about motivation that I'm sure I have shared on the podcast at some point at least once, probably more. And warning for listeners, it is very colorful language, but I'm going to read it out for you just for Jim to get a sense of where I'm coming from when it comes to motivation.

So this is by someone with a screen name, the Angry Violinist, and it's an answer to the question, how do you keep yourself motivated to practice from an anonymous question asker? So the angry violinist says, fuck motivation, it's a fickle and unreliable little dick fuck, and it isn't worth your time. Better to cultivate discipline than to rely on motivation. Force yourself to do things, force yourself to get out of bed and practice force yourself to work. Motivation is fleeting and it's easy to rely on because it requires no concentrated effort to get motivation comes to you. You don't even have to chase after it. Discipline is reliable, motivation is fleeting. The question isn't how to keep yourself motivated. It's how to train yourself to work without it.

Question number five comes from Stephanie via email who writes, what's in your opinion the best gluten-free flour to bake vegan cookies? I love the taste of coconut flour, but it's been my experience that it's way too fine and crumbles much too easily to bake anything that not only tastes good, but that is also presentable for serving. Thanks for taking my question. I look forward to hearing your podcast and trying some of your yummy cookies.

Now, this came in response to my request for questions and the publication of episode 165 of this podcast with Ray Ortega, who is the original cookie master in the vegan world. He started the first vegan cookie brand in the nineties. So if you haven't checked out episode 165, go do that now. Now I don't do a lot of gluten-free baking, but I do some occasionally. I have a few friends who have celiac disease and I used to do quite a bit of gluten-free baking for one of my grandma's who also had celiac disease. She passed away a few years ago.

So I find generally that using a blend of several flowers works best. And because I am basically a lazy human, I use pre-made blends most of the time, like Bob's Red Mill or Cloud nine brands. And these mixes also include xanthin gum, which is an absolute must for gluten-free baking because there's nothing else that would be holding together your baked item. And you can also make your own gluten-free flour blend. My friend Andrea, with whom I lead the open water swim group in my city is gluten-free and does a lot of amazing baking. And so they include five different ingredients in their gluten-free flour blend, and I have permission from them to share it with my listeners, this top secret blend. So if you have a note taking app or a writing utensil ready, I can tell you the numbers of Andrea's top secret gluten-free flour blend.

So it's 120 grams of white rice flour, 455 grams of sorghum flour, 225 grams tapioca starch, 225 grams potato starch, and 40 grams xanthin gum. And if you want this in written form, just get in touch with me at and I will send you the numbers.

Question number six, speaking of Ray Ortega, comes from him. So he was on the podcast again in episode 165, so listen to that for some vegan entrepreneurial inspiration. Ray asks, have you ever fasted for a period of time? Well, that's an interesting question. And fasting is generally used when people want to put themselves into a caloric deficit for fat loss, and that is not my goal. So before I moved my business a hundred percent online, when I worked with clients in person in a gym setting, I had to eat well over 3000 calories a day just for maintenance.

And if I had a time restricted eating window, I would never have been able to get in that fuel, especially because I don't really like eating massive meals. I'm kind of a grazer throughout the day. And back then I was eating all day. People just knew me as the person who was stuffing her face constantly. So now I eat closer to 2000 calories a day for maintenance, usually between about 7:00 AM and 10:00 PM and if I stop eating too early in the evening, I wake up in the middle of the night absolutely ravenous. So I'm basically just fasting when I'm sleeping.

The other thing here is that strength training and muscle building don't mix well with fasting. And since those two things, strength training and muscle building, plus crushing it in the pool, of course are my goals, fasting doesn't really align with those. Now, some people find fasting works for them because it gives them structure around eating, and that's perfectly fine. It's just one of many ways you can put yourself into a calorie deficit if that's your goal. But if it isn't, I don't think's a good fit.

Now we have three questions from Kathy, and the first one is, what is your opinion on seed oils, specifically avocado and sesame? Well, this is a loaded question, so I'm going to give you the CliffNotes version. My opinion is that they have been vilified by a select few individuals and that peer-reviewed research does not support the idea that we should all stay completely away from seed oils. So make sure you check out episode 144 of the show where Dr. Matt Nagra debunks myths about seed oils and shows us how research was misinterpreted. So it's important to keep in mind that not all oils are equal, and there's a large body of research showing that certain types of oil are in fact good for us and they have health benefits.

So as long as you're not guzzling cups of avocado or sesame oils, but using them for regular cooking or as ingredients in things like dressings, you're good. But do check out episode 144 for way more detail.

Kathy also asks, do you recommend an approximate amount of minutes each week for moderate cardio and or vigorous cardio for people wanting to lose fat and gain muscle? Of course, while strength training. Also, while I'm glad you included the strength training piece because that is super important, the general recommendation from the US and Canadian governments and from really large scale organizations like the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada or the American Heart Association is 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week plus strength training, of course, at least twice a week for all your major muscle groups. Now, this is a baseline recommendation.

So for even more health benefits, these organizations recommend 300 minutes or more of moderate aerobic activity every week. So that's about five hours weekly, and it can include things like cycling, power, walking, hiking, all sorts of things. Now, I have to say, I definitely do not get this amount of cardio, but I do do a lot of strength training, usually seven sessions a week with one day off. So on one day I have a morning and an evening session, and those jack up my heart rate, and then I swim three days a week for around half an hour. And that includes sprint work, which would definitely be considered vigorous. So in general, you want to do your strength training and you want to do at least 150 minutes of moderate cardio or 75 minutes of vigorous cardio per week.

And Kathy's last question, what is your morning routine? I love routines and love hearing about other people's. Okay, well, this might surprise some people because I am generally a creature of habit and routine, but I do not have an official morning routine. I have set things that happen on certain days of the week, and it all revolves around what workout is happening that day, but I don't have an official morning routine like you hear about the business gurus telling you you should do. So Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, I swim in the morning, so all my swim gear is already packed the night before. So I get up, I have my oatmeal, I feed the cats and I head to the pool. I'm usually there at eight on Sundays and slightly earlier around seven 30 on the other two days. And then Mondays and Fridays after my morning workouts, I head directly to music practice with my partner in accordion crime Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

I work out with my friend Silvana in the mornings, seven 30 in the morning on Tuesdays and Thursdays and eight on Sundays, or sorry, Saturdays, not Sundays. Sunday’s a swim day. Look, I'm getting confused with my own schedule on those days. I stay in bed as long as possible and then I get up basically at the last second and I head into my gym, which is like six feet from my house, and jump on FaceTime to work out with Sil. So I'm awake usually well before this time, 6:30 or 6, something like that. But I hang out in bed, I do some reading and I get up at the last minute. Now, could I be more productive if I had a strict super structured morning routine with 15 items to check off? Probably, but I feel like I have enough of that stuff during my workday plus trying to get in seven strength training workouts and four cardio sessions and daily music practice. I feel like that's enough structure for my week.

Question number 11 is from Daniel over on Facebook who says, I'm dealing with a stress fracture in my foot due to running. It's been 12 weeks and still not healed. My doc asked if I was on any unusual diets like being vegan, and I was like, there's a whole bunch of yikes type emoji faces. So my question is, how can I best support my bone health and healing while still staying committed to living a vegan life as an athlete?

Okay, so I've had a stress fracture in one of my metatarsals in my foot before. It is not fun. So I'm not going to address the healing portion so much. It kind of depends where you're at. And I think this has been a while now it's probably closer to 16 weeks now since I gathered all of my questions. And then now I'm recording. So I am going to talk more about bone health in general as opposed to the healing piece. 

So one thing you can do is track your food in an app like Chronometer or chronometer, I never know how to say that, or MyFitnessPal, and see where your calcium intake is at. So we can't do a blood test to find out how much calcium we're taking in. We can do a blood test and find out where we're at with vitamin B12 and iron and zinc and a bunch of other things. But you can't do that with calcium. So the only way to know how much calcium you're taking in is to get an estimate by tracking your food for a while. So I would do that and see where you're at with your calcium and then try to get really, really high calcium foods into your diet like soy milk, which by the way usually has more calcium in it than cow's milk, tofu, edamame, almonds, legumes.

There's a lot of different options. Vitamin D is also super important for general bone health, so it helps the body to absorb calcium and you can get it in supplement form, which I would recommend for any human living in the northern hemisphere especially. And you can get it in fortified foods like your plant-based milk of choice. One note here is that alcohol affects how calcium and vitamin D are absorbed. So it's probably a good idea to minimize that if you don't already. And then the last point is strength training. So I don't actually know what your training routine looks like and whether it includes strength training, but runners need to be doing strength training. Well, really most humans need to be doing strength training, but a lot of runners, I'm not saying you Daniel specifically, but a lot of runners in general believe that they will get stronger and build muscle by running, which to some extent is true.

You can only get better at running by running, so you got to do that if that's important. But the missing piece for a lot of folks is regular strength training for muscle development, bone health, and becoming a more efficient runner. So if your main training is running, I would start with three 30 minute strength training workouts, full body, all your major muscle groups every time, every week.

Question 12 is from Eddie who says, how old were you when you started playing accordion and what drew you to the instrument? How often do you practice?

Well, I love this question about how old I was when I started accordion because a lot of people ask me that and assume that the answer is, well, I was six years old, but no, I was 27 when I started playing accordion. And what drew me to the instrument was the French film Amélie, which is one of my favorite movies, and it came out in 2001 where I basically decided that I was going to play accordion one day.

It's got an award-winning soundtrack by Yann Tiersen, and it features accordions of course, but also piano and really whimsical toy instruments like melodica and a toy piano. So that's when I decided I would play the accordion, but I was only 15 at the time. I had been playing piano already for 10 years. So I started when I was five and my musical life at the time when the movie came out was taken up by playing oboe. So I was playing in a youth orchestra and later I played in the Vancouver Academy of Music, symphony Orchestra and adding another instrument at that point was not in the cards until 12 years later, which was 2013 when I decided it was finally time to find an accordion teacher. And by the way, I had a very major, what the hell did I get myself into phase where I thought playing piano would make playing accordion fairly straightforward and I was very wrong.

I mean, it does help, but it's completely different. 

So your question about how often do I practice, I would say almost every day. So in a month, there's probably three or four days that I haven't practiced, and it's usually not super long, 30 to 60 minutes every day, but I try to make it focused practice. Now, some days I only have 15 minutes available, so it's kind of like working out where I want to keep the habit going, and I feel like 15 minutes is better than zero minutes. So I see a lot of similarities between music and fitness, things like the importance of building it into our daily lives, creating habits, focusing on the process rather than the outcome, and of course, always remembering to have fun.

The next three questions are from Hadar. Shout out to Hadar, by the way, who was an excellent guest on the podcast back in episode 137.

She's a law professor specializing in criminal justice, civil rights law and politics, social movements and animal rights. So basically a certified badass. So if you haven't checked out episode 137, make sure you cue that up. So first of all, Hadar is wondering by how much to increase weight each time for workouts.

This is one of those questions like most questions in the fitness and the nutrition realm where the answer is, it depends. It depends what muscle group we're talking about. It depends what your training experience is. It depends how many reps you're doing. It depends what you're training for. But in general, if you're newer to strength training, you can use the 10% rule, which comes from running. So the 10% rule is you want to increase your overall training volume by a max of 10% every week, and this is specifically for new lifters or new runners for that matter.

So 10% of training volume increased every week. Now training volume is the number of reps you're doing multiplied by the weight you're using. So let's say you're using 10 pounds for a certain move and you did 15 reps with it. So 10 multiplied by 15 is 150 pounds of volume for that specific set. So you can look at your volume for your whole week and see if you can increase it by 10% each time or each week. Here's the thing though, as you get more advanced with strength training, there is no way that you're going to be able to increase your training volume by 10% every week. Think of someone who's deadlifting 350 pounds. Are they going to increase their deadlift by multiple reps next time with the same weight? Probably not. So again, there's a lot of variables. Think about the 10% rule if you're new to lifting, but it's going to go down from there.

And then muscle groups, you're going to be able to increase your lower body weights much faster and in larger increments than in your upper body weights. So something like a bench press with dumbbells or a barbell for example, is going to take a long time to increase. People will use fractional plates like a quarter pound or a half pound versus something like a barbell squat where you could potentially put five or 10 extra pounds on the bar and still do your reps. Hadar also wonders how much rest between sets to take. Now this also depends, but it's a little more straightforward than the volume increase question. So if your goal is strength and power, like a power lifter who's lifting a really heavy weight, but for very few reps, then you're taking two to five minutes between every set. If you're working on muscle growth or body composition, which is most of our clients where you're doing 10 to 15 reps, then we're taking 30 to 90 seconds between sets.

And if we're working with endurance, so usually lighter weights, more reps, or a HIIT workout, something like that, or conditioning, which is a combination of cardio and strength, then around 30 seconds is what we're taking between sets. Hadar’s last question, what are some good strategies for asserting oneself at the gym? I'm thinking huge guys taking over the squat rack, et cetera.

Okay, this is a really good question. I feel like a lot of this is more mindset than anything else. We have to remember that every human has an equal right to be at and to take up space in a gym. And we also need to remember that actually a huge percentage of gym goers have new idea what they're doing. They're not following a program or they do the exact same workout for months on end, or they spend their time texting their buddies from the squat rack.

So even though it might not look like it, a lot of people have no idea what they're doing. Now, kudos to them for getting to the gym. It's probably better than doing nothing, but it might seem like everyone has a plan and everyone is focused and everyone knows what they're doing, but that's definitely not the case. Now, as we strength train over months and over years, we build what I call our strength training vocabulary. It's kind of like learning a language, learning movements, learning how to use the equipment, and the larger our gym vocabulary, the more confident we're going to feel walking into any gym space. Now, this of course takes time to develop, but if you're in the gym consistently, then of course it'll happen. So let's say there's a huge guy taking up an area or a piece of equipment that you want to use.

I think there's generally two approaches. One is to say, Hey, I'd love to use insert piece of equipment here. How many sets have you got left? And so this is going to give the dude a hint that you're waiting, that you're keeping tabs on him, that he shouldn't be standing there texting his buddies. Option two is if the piece of equipment is something like a cable machine or a weight bench, something where changing weights is really easy and really fast, so not like a barbell with plates, you could say, Hey, mind if I work in with you? And that means taking turns using the equipment. This works especially well if you're doing a superset, which is two moves, A, B, a B, and you can take turns with someone. But generally a quick question, Hey, how many sets have you got left? Hey, mind if I work in with you is all that's needed?

Question 16 comes from Carla who writes, I've recently become acquainted with the term weight neutral fitness, and I've done a bit of reading on what it means. What does weight neutral mean in your coaching business?

Love this question. I think Carla, based on her profile, is a fellow fitness coach. So this is awesome that weight neutral fitness is on the radar. So this is taken directly from the approach to coaching or coaching philosophy document that we have on our website. So if you want to check that out, you can go to And here's what we say about weight neutral fitness: Weight neutral fitness means working outside the confines of fat loss or a smaller body size as the main goal of fitness. It rejects weight size or BMI as accurate measures of health. Do some of our clients have fat loss as one of their fitness goals? Absolutely. But focusing solely on losing weight often leads to restrictive diets, food and body preoccupation or a damaged relationship with physical activity.

We work with our clients on developing long-term health habits, fostering a movement practice that adds enjoyment and increases quality of life, and creating an eating pattern that supports their fitness and health goals. These things may result in weight loss, but they'll increase a client's health regardless of changes in body weight. Also, these practices are within someone's direct control, whereas the number on the scale is not weight neutral. Fitness also means making sure we're not stigmatizing or discriminating against folks in larger bodies. This could include questioning what we think a personal trainer should look like, not making assumptions about the commitment or self-discipline levels of people in larger bodies, not engaging in fat phobic discourse and valuing bodies of all sizes. We use strength training and other fitness activities to add to our client's quality of life.

Working out is a celebration of what our bodies can do. We don't promote exercising purely to burn calories, nor would we ever suggest exercising to burn off a meal or a treat food item. We believe you're perfectly awesome as you are right now, and your worth as a human is not defined by your fitness level or your body size, your physique and its changes. Don't validate your hard work. Your hard work validates your hard work. We celebrate results like feeling more confident, experiencing less pain, being able to enjoy more activities and adventures in your life, getting stronger and increasing mobility and much more. So again, this is directly from our coaching philosophy, and if you want to read more and go down the rabbit hole of how we approach clients, you can go to philosophy.

Question 17 comes from our excellent client, Lauren, who writes, what's your go-to resource for nutritional information?

Well, my one-stop, go-to resource is definitely, which is an excellent website and resource where a team of researchers amalgamate research that's been done on a particular subject, they have covered every possible supplement and styles of eating and a whole bunch of research within nutrition. They are not supported by any sort of company. They're not affiliated with an industry, they are community funded. And so they do really great work where you don't have to sit there and read hundreds of peer reviewed journal articles. You can go and look at their summary, which also includes things like how well studies were designed and the size of the effects that these studies found, whether they were statistically significant and how large the effect was in general. So is definitely my favorite source. It's my go-to whenever anyone says something like, Hey, what do you think about creatine? I just send them a link from

Question 18 is from Victoria, who is one of our awesome group coaching members. She writes, I'd love to know how to navigate slash manage cravings and tiredness during the periods when it's hard to exercise and follow healthy eating habits. I feel like I do so well for three weeks, and as soon as PMS hits all the hard work goes out the window, chips and candy and couch for days. Okay, this is a great question and I feel like there are probably multiple parts to the answer. Part A, and Coach Zoe, by the way, speaks about this a lot with our clients is there's a lot of bullshit out there in the fitness industry and elsewhere around what we're supposed to do or how we're supposed to operate when we have our periods. So folks who menstruate are supposed to power through, you're supposed to not let anyone know.

No one can tell, oh, look in the ad. So-and-so is engaging in sports and giving a presentation and nobody knows they're on their period. So there's a lot of bullshit around how we're supposed to operate when we have our periods with no consideration whatsoever for how some people feel and pain levels and all these other things that are involved. So I feel like part A of this answer is, dude, you need to just do what works for you. And sometimes that is chips and candy and couch for days, and that is totally fine. That's just part of how it works. So I feel like we can indulge. We just need to find ways that make us feel okay and not use things like guilt and shame when things like this happen. So you can find ways to make the indulgence work for you. For example, I get individual sized packages of treats because if I get a whole box or a whole bag, I'm just going to sit there and eat the whole thing and then not feel good after.

So again, this is about outsmarting my own brain rather than trying to change how it operates. I actually used to buy 43 cents worth of jujubes from the bulk bin vegan ones, of course, because they're not all vegan, by the way, at the grocery store next to the gym I worked at, because if I bought a whole family size bag of them, which was the only other option in the store, I would just sit there and eat all of them when really all I wanted was 43 cents worth. So part A is acknowledge that there's a lot of bullshit out there around how we're supposed to operate when we have periods, and also find ways to make the indulgence work for you. And then part B is more outsmarting of your own brain. So snacks like popcorn for example, they work really well for the savory crunchy snack, but they're not very calorie dense if that's of concern.

Or things like smart sweets. I love smart sweets. They are chewy candies like gummies made from stevia instead of sugar without the weird stevia aftertaste, by the way. Now note here that not all the smart sweet options are vegan. They do contain gelatin sometimes, but a lot of their options are vegan, like the peach rings and the Swedish fish and the Coca-Cola bottles, although I don't think they call it coke. They probably call it soda bottles or something. I can't remember. But smart sweets is an option. You feel like eating candy, but you're not eating a shit load of sugar.

And lastly, we have a question from David that's actually not a question. He writes, I challenge you to share five random facts about yourself that most listeners wouldn't know. So it's technically not a question, but I included it anyways because it's kind of fun.

And I had to think about this one because I wasn't sure if there would be five interesting enough facts that most listeners wouldn't know. But here goes. So number one, if you were paying attention earlier, you will have heard that I played oboe back in the day. But my favorite instrument is English horn, which is like an alto version of an oboe. So it's a double reed. It's longer than an oboe, it's lower. I have played an English horn a few times when I had the chance in orchestras. So it is absolutely my number one favorite instrument. 

Number two, I speak German, which I probably have mentioned at some point on the podcast. My mom is from Germany, and so my sister and I only speak German with my mom. We speak English in social context, but it's a pretty brilliant way of creating an automatically bilingual child by speaking a certain language and then having your partner speak a different language. So it's like mom language and dad language. And now my sister who has a little one who's almost two is doing the same thing. So she's speaking German to her son and the son's dad is speaking English. 

The third random fact that may or may not be interesting is that I don't drink. I haven't had alcohol in about 13 years, and it's not because of a problem relationship with alcohol. This is actually very similar to Coach Zoe who's talked about not drinking just because it doesn't work for her. And when she was training really hard for a boxing match, she realized how alcohol had affected her body and how it felt when she didn't drink. So it's very similar. It's not my thing for many reasons, so I just don't drink. 

Now, here's a fact that is more about abundance and things I do consume. I realize that there are a handful of foods that don't sound like a good mix, actually, so I'm not eating them together. But there's a handful of foods that I eat every single day of the year. Now, it's probably no surprise to people who listen to the show that dark chocolate is one of those things. I will eat dark chocolate every single day, but there's a couple other items that I will consume 365 days of the year, 366 days of the year if it's a leap year. So dark chocolate for sure. Oatmeal because I have the exact same breakfast every morning. Arugula and sauerkraut - see the aforementioned German aspect. 

And then lastly, in case you didn't know, I really, really, really love Monty Python. I grew up watching it. I have to thank my dad for introducing it to me. He was born in England, and we used to watch Monty Python and Blackadder and Fawlty Towers and Jeeves and Wooster, all these brilliant English comedies. So Monty Python is a huge part of my life. I have a massive knight who say Ni flag on the back wall of my gym, and it's just absolute genius.

So that's what I have for you today. Thank you so much to all the awesome folks for their questions. And thank you for joining me for this AMA episode. Head to our show notes at to connect with me and to check out my fitness and nutrition butt kicking programs.

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