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NBSV 124


Transcript of the No-Bullsh!t Vegan podcast, episode 124

Food, vegan nutrition, the BS of diet culture, and more with Desiree Nielsen + Zoe Peled

Karina Inkster: You're listening to the No Bullshit Vegan podcast, episode 124. Desiree Nielsen and Coach Zoe Peled join me for a serious bullshit-busting session about veganism, how we talk about nutrition, and more.

Hey, thank you so much for tuning in. I'm Karina, your go-to, no BS, vegan fitness and nutrition coach. I loved my conversation with Desiree Nielsen in episode 121 so much that I brought her back for more BS busting, this time with my coach colleague, Zoe Peled as well. Desiree is a registered dietician with a focus on plant-based and digestive health nutrition, host of the All Sorts podcast, and author of, “Eat More Plants” and the brand new, “Good For Your Gut Cookbook.” This new book is a 100% plant-based digestive health manual and full-length cookbook. It includes education on how to care for your gut, whether you're feeling great, or you have issues like constipation, IBS, or reflux. And the book includes low FODMAP vegan recipes, which are very hard to find.

Zoe Peled is a fitness coach with our K.I team and has a particular affinity for kettlebells, strength training, boxing, and calling out industry bullshit on the regular, especially if it's about food or what our bodies “should” look like. Zoe just completed her first triathlon and she does additional work in marketing and community engagement, leads several local activism ventures, including Ban Fur Farms BC, and founded the Vancouver Vegan Resource Centre in the fall of 2018. Zoe has been vegan for almost 12 years and an animal rights activist for almost the same length of time. Hey, Desiree and Zoe, thank you so much for joining me on the show today.

Desiree Nielsen: Hi!

Zoe Peled: Thanks for having us. It's gonna be a good one.

Karina Inkster: I feel like there's gonna be some mic drops happening! So for our listeners who did not listen to Desiree's first episode, go do that right now! It's one of our latest, episode 121. And we kind of went off on a topic, that we weren't gonna focus on in our conversation, around how we talk about nutrition and just kind of like this bullshit busting type stuff that I love doing. And it was so great. I'm like, dude, we need to do a whole episode on this, and we need to get coach Zoe in on the deal, and just like, see what happens, cuz I feel like there's a lot to unpack. We're all in a similar space in like trying to dismantle certain structures within the fitness industrial complex, which is what fitness for all bodies calls it, which I love, and the diet industry, the nutrition industry, as a whole.

So I am very stoked about this conversation. And so let's kick things off with a point that Desiree made. So before we hit record, Desiree you had a point around veganism and weight loss. So let's just start right off into the sphere of veganism. And then we can kind of branch out as we go and talk about, you know, how we approach food in general and that kind of stuff. But your point was, there may be an issue around speaking about weight loss as a benefit of the vegan diet, right? So it'll create inherent weight bias and it's alienating vegans in larger bodies, and there's like a lot to unpack here. So is this something that you come across a lot in your work or in your conversations? Like do people actually use veganism as a weight loss tool and do you think it's not a good approach?

Desiree Nielsen: You know, I do actually. And you know, one of my biggest challenges with selling weight loss as a benefit of a vegan lifestyle is that I mean, and a lot of folks do it, like a lot of health professionals do it. And we are still at the point in 2022 where the vast majority of health professionals advocate for weight loss if someone's body does not fit the accepted BMI range. So, you know, acknowledging that that is still the prevailing mood, as it were, amongst a lot of health professionals, particularly down in the US where obesity medicine is such a huge thing. So weight loss is sexy. We all sort of grow up in this stew of diet culture, thinking that there is one type of body that is healthy. And so when someone sells a way of eating or a way of living to us as also enhancing weight loss, we're like, Ooh, yeah, I need to lose weight!

Like I've been told all my life, I need to lose weight. I want that. That sounds good to me. The challenge is it simply perpetuates this stereotype that there is only one kind of body that is healthy. And while it is true in some of the scientific literature that certain health outcomes are associated with higher BMI or body mass index, that doesn't mean that simply losing weight will fix all of your problems, nor does that mean that someone in a larger body does not also have health as a possibility for them. And when I look at it as a dietician, tell me what you do, and I'll look at your numbers. Like how's your cholesterol, how are your blood sugars?

Like those things we know. We want your cholesterol to be in a certain range, you know, in order to prevent cardiovascular disease. We want your blood sugars, if you have type two diabetes, we want your blood sugars to be in a normal range to help you decrease your risk of anything else going on for your body.

But tell me how you live, and I will tell you where you are on your journey to being healthy. Are you eating vegetables? Are you taking time for rest? And I think one of the biggest challenges in all of this is unlearning this idea that only one body style can be healthy or is healthy, because that's absolute garbage.

But then the unintended - I mean, that's an unintended effect - but a secondary unintended effect is that vegans in bodies that do not fit the stereotype of being healthy also may feel well, what am I doing wrong? Am I a bad vegan? Am I doing this wrong? Why does my body not look like what people are telling me my body should look like, you know? So we sort of get into this area of questioning ourselves, questioning our bodies, questioning whether or not health, which should be attainable to all, is attainable to us if we sort of don't meet this like culturally acceptable body size.

Karina Inkster: Oh man! Well, you just dropped about 18 mics all at once! That’s a really good point. And also Desiree, you have said that you've actually had conversations with people who are like, well, this person must not be vegan because they're in a larger body size.

Desiree Nielsen: I have, on more than one occasion. You know, coming into a vegan space and talking with other vegans and someone will say to me, you know I have been asked exactly that. Can you imagine for someone you have dedicated your life to this lifestyle for the protection of the planet, for the protection of animals, and then someone questions you on your choices, based on what they see on the outside of you? Like what must that do? I'm coming from a privilege of being in a culturally acceptable body. I can't imagine what that would feel like to be in this community that you have embraced and that you have supported literally with like every single choice you make every single day of your life, and then to have someone else in the community be like, “oh, well you must not be vegan.”

Karina Inkster: Mm-Hmm. You know, I think this ties into veganism as automatically being a health move. Sure, some folks might lose weight when they go vegan, but I think we're all ethical vegans here. I didn't go vegan for health reasons and I'm a fitness nut. That's what I do, but I didn't go vegan for health reasons. So I feel like this whole arena is also immediately equating veganism with health. And if you're not doing it in a so-called “healthy way,” which there's no definition for, of course, then you're doing veganism wrong.

Desiree Nielsen: And the idea that like not every choice and you know, this is a whole other aside, but like as a dietician, not every choice that you put on your plate or put in your mouth needs to be quote-unquote “healthy.” And as someone who is making the choice to live a vegan lifestyle, that's great. Oreos, great.

Zoe Peled: Great!

Desiree Nielsen: Love me an Oreo every once in a while. So there is that aside that we don't need to put the pressure on ourselves that every single thing we eat needs to be quote-unquote “healthy” for us to be healthy. But also, yes, I do think, particularly over the last five years, like so many things, the documentaries too, have really taken the tack and equated a vegan lifestyle with health. And so I do think that that is really putting vegan for health front of mind. And I do know a lot of people that I've encountered in my practice, encountered out there in the world, who are like, I am vegan for my health and that was actually like their driver, but I think that's a new thing. And that's obviously not where this started.

Zoe Peled: I believe that still, even though this is shifting a little bit, and even though, you know, discussions around ethical veganism are changing and they are becoming more mainstream, I do feel that one, not the only reason, but one of the reasons that there has been such prevalence in veganism for health is because on average, it is much more societally acceptable to have that dialogue around wanting to shift the way we eat as it is to say, no actually, I'm changing the way I eat because I don't believe in consuming animal flesh or byproducts. And there's much less of a heavy series of conversations associated with vegan for health, because usually, the common response is good call. Good for you.

Karina Inkster: That's a great point.

Desiree Nielsen: That's an excellent point. And, you know, I would say that as a dietician, I'm probably definitely part of that conversation because my core education is on health. And so of course, in the next breath, because we also do have the data to show that particularly plant-based, and so this is where you start to make the divide between a vegan lifestyle and vegan choices, and then like a predominantly plant-based diet where you're like not just eating Oreos, you're also eating broccoli and chickpeas and lentils and that kind of thing.

Zoe Peled: Mm-Hmm. Well, and I think something worth acknowledging here, and I think that we are all hyper-aware of it already, is also the role and the danger that absolutes play because none of us here are saying there is anything inherently wrong with becoming vegan for health. That has tons of positive outcomes. And often that can be the segue into exploring other branches of it. The problematic piece comes up when we assume that that is the only reason. And if you are not focused on that, you are inherently failing.

Karina Inkster: A hundred percent. I think Zoe, you and I have had conversations around folks who are coming to us as clients who are all somewhere on the vegan spectrum. I mean, look, you're not gonna work with us if you're not interested in plant-based eating on some level, but not everyone is a hundred percent vegan or plant-based coming in or ever even when they're working with us. But we've had a lot of conversations around this motivation or reasoning that folks have to make the choices that they make with their food. And it's always the same pattern. So the initial reason is very different for people. Sometimes there's a health scare. We have a client who had a heart attack at a very young age. He went vegan immediately. You know, there's folks who watch a video of slaughterhouse footage, and then for ethical reasons immediately they're vegan.

So I feel like there's a lot of different individual reasons folks go vegan, but the trend over time is whatever other reasons weren't included at first, end up getting included later. So using myself as an example, I started 20 years ago, almost entirely for ethical reasons, but now it's health as well. It's athletic performance, it's the environment, it's other humans on the planet. And I feel like that tends to happen for most, if not all long-term vegans. And it's just kind of interesting that we're now looking at it on a kind of large-scale society level as just do it for health. End of story.

Desiree Nielsen: These conversations that we're having, I think really speak to the evolution of the movement and the evolution of the community, because as the community grows, as people live more of their lives this way, these become all of these questions, cuz these are all the questions about life, right? Like what is my impact on others? What is my impact on this planet? And like, oh hey, I'm in this body. I'd like to be in this body for more than 15 years. I'd like to make it to a hundred. So then like, I think it really speaks to sort of this evolution and maturing of what does it mean to be vegan, You know, what does that mean for your body? What does that mean for the people around you? And then also how do we have these conversations too?

And I think it is really important if the movement is going to embrace all people and welcome all people and that we start to get critical about how we speak about these choices that we're making, particularly around food. And one of the things that I find really challenging as a dietician is that as a dietician, particularly, you know, trying to divest myself from this really gross diet culture that we're in, is that I'm trying to eliminate conversations and communications where guilt and shame and even morality around food are inherent. 

But then I have a real challenge with like my vegan hat because you know, this is a choice I make for reasons of ethics. And so I do find it a really interesting place for myself as an educator, trying to speak to everybody. I don't have answers for that at this point. It's just something that I'm really aware of and just trying to do better.

Zoe Peled: Oh my gosh, throughout this entire conversation, so many things are just like pinging Light bulbs on. Kind of spring-boarding off what you said about shifting communication and shifting the different modes of that that are present within the movement, like as someone who identifies as an ethical vegan and would, you know, rank myself 15 out of 10 on that scale, if you would've asked me about this subject matter, being folks coming to veganism and coming to plant-based eating for different reasons, my answer at that time, probably would've been you need to start immediately. It needs to be all rooted in ethics. If it's not, you need to change overnight.

And you know, almost 12 years later now I have realized that sure, there are some individuals and for them, that dramatic and that immediate shift will happen, but it will not be the case for everyone. And we actually end up bringing ourselves to a much greater point of success when we are open to all of those different entry points and we're open to answering questions and having discussions and also acknowledging, and this doesn't get talked about a lot, that a huge part of that shift is pertaining to access, and not all individuals have the access to make a complete shift overnight.

Karina Inkster: That's a great point.

Zoe Peled: So how can we keep that on the radar and support that piece too?

Karina Inkster: Mm-Hmm. The access piece I think, is hugely multifaceted. It's not just literal access to food, although it is, that's a huge part of it, but you know, I mean resources available, you know, life circumstances, there's a lot that goes into it for sure.

Desiree Nielsen: And you know, from the dietician side, it is, I think it's so important that you mention that because, on one hand, people talk about the fact that it's a privilege to be vegan and it really is a privilege to have the power to choose what you eat and to choose the things that come into your life. That is a privilege. And the financial piece is there, but also you're right. The opportunity piece is there. People who just don’t, who can't cook, who don't know how to cook for themselves, who don't know how to access certain types of foods or even information. And it's funny because, in North America, I think many of us with these privileges, we're like, oh, you just go on the Internet and the Internet's gonna teach you.

And it's like, well, what if you don't actually have access to that? What if you don't feel resourced enough to make these changes a hundred percent, but you can maybe make these changes 50%? And you know, to me, my idea has always been the more people moving towards, the more people shifting the needle from zero to 40, or, you know, 40 to 70, the better of an impact and the larger of an impact we have. And I think actually a lot of the people in my community, like I'm generally not talking to vegans. I think vegans make up a small part of my actual community and I think I have many people who are plant-curious. I think my community is very plant-curious and it's interesting to have those conversations with people like, oh, well, like I'm not a hundred percent yet.

And I'm like, that's okay. You are having these conversations. You are curious. You are asking yourself, why do I make the choices that I make? How can I make different choices? And, you know, I think the other thing, particularly for women who have sort of grown up with diet culture and really restrictive mindsets, one of the things for me, because I was vegetarian like since I was a kid and it was a gradual transition for me, and it was really interesting. I mean, you're already vegetarian, like what is the damn problem? But to go from vegetarian to vegan was hard because I still had this anxiousness about restriction. And I literally had to like get the cheese out of me because I was that vegetarian. I was like, I could go eat vegan, except for it's just the cheese. It's just the cheese.

And I had to get to the point where I enhanced my skills in the kitchen, where I sorted out my access to products that felt like I wasn't restricted. And then honestly it was like, oh, boom. Oh gosh. Okay. Okay. We're good. We're good. We're good. Like, no looking back, no cravings, no desires. Like I'm here now. It took a little while for me. And it took a little while of information that I found very inconvenient and like that ethical and moral dilemma within myself because I wasn't eating in the way that ethically I wanted to yet. And so, you know, as someone who did take that transition a little bit slowly in her thirties yeah, it's an interesting thing.

Karina Inkster: Absolutely. So what you just brought up is an interesting point because I wanna get the dietician perspective on this. When we talk about diet culture, one of the things that we often mention as being not great, especially for populations who have maybe had eating disorders in the past, not great relationships with food, this whole idea of restriction, whether or not it's related to veganism, is generally not looked upon as something that's A: psychologically healthy and B: a long term approach to nutrition. But how do you Desiree, how do you work with that whole concept when it comes to veganism? Like what if you're working with someone who is just making the transition to veganism and all they feel is like, oh, well I can't eat that anymore. And oh, I can't eat that anymore. It's avoidance. It's restriction. It's deprivation.

Desiree Nielsen: Yeah. Yeah. That's a really great point, especially because, you know, I just shared how I had this anxiety around restriction. Because a vegan diet couldn't be further from restriction. You know, my professional opinion is that a vegan diet is incredibly abundant. There are actually very few foods that you are choosing, especially in 2022, you know, and like 1990, a little bit of a different scenario. Like the cheese situation wasn't what it is today. So if someone is transitioning and they do sort of fear restriction and in all honesty, like 10 years ago, a lot of dieticians said that vegetarian and vegan diets were restrictive. Which, you know, I was like, where is your data for that? Like, what is inherently restrictive about them? There is such abundance in the plant world.

And when I'm working with clients, my biggest thing is to A: focus on what to eat more of. And the other thing is to really educate on swaps because especially today, we have the enormous privilege that choosing to eat vegan foods is simply about swapping. You love pizza. Oh, we can do pizza. You love Mac and cheese. Like we can do Mac and cheese, all of these foods. So it is about telling people, well, here's your pallet of ingredients. Here are the products available out there. If you're not like a huge cook, if you're not gonna make cashew creams and all this kind of stuff here are the products out there and focusing on more. It is very much the tack I take in nutrition in general. I call it positive additive nutrition because our mindsets, particularly when we are so inundated with these messages of restriction and wellness, and we associate healthy eating with deprivation and quote-unquote, “doing the right thing” with deprivation, that my messaging is always more.

Karina Inkster: Love that.

Zoe Peled: What was the term again? Positive…

Desiree Nielsen: Additive nutrition.

Zoe Peled: Yes! When we have clients maybe who are navigating that beginning process, one of the things I like to talk about is doing an assessment of the actual numbers and the fact that we're actually talking about an equation of multiplication. Because let's say that you have the 10 most common products that come from animals. When you shift those, then you get to replace them with definitely you'll find your favourite for each one, but you have at least three to five, if not more options.

Karina Inkster: For each of those!

Zoe Peled: For those original 10.

Desiree Nielsen: Yeah.

Zoe Peled: So one of my favourite terms, when the word restriction comes up, is to kind of redirect the conversation to expanding and to expansion.

Desiree Nielsen: I love that. And you know, it's funny, I never thought about it that way, but when you say it was like, okay, so you had dairy milk before now you have oat milk rice milk, almond milk, cashew milk, buckwheat milk. It's true. We actually have like a ridiculous amount of swaps.

Karina Inkster: Yeah. It's the same thing for proteins too, right? Like a lot of folks who are newer to veganism, especially if they're working with us, they're doing strength training, and hey, if you're doing strength training, whether you're vegan or not, you're gonna need some more protein than the average person who doesn't strength train. But that's a whole conversation obviously in like, well how much do we actually need? But it's the exact same process where folks are used to like maybe four animal-based, like so-called lean-protein sources. And now we're like, well dude, which of these 25 options do you wanna choose?

Zoe Peled: Mmm-hmm!

Desiree Nielsen: And you know, you've just said something that spurred something on for me. And it's really true. Like the average North American doesn't eat a very diverse diet. And what I find the opportunity of making these changes is, is that when we make a dietary change, we usually gain diversity because it shakes us out of our rut. Like you said, just imagine that client who is like broccoli and chicken breast, cauliflower and chicken breast, over and over again. It's like, if you're eating chicken five days a week, you are going to expand. 

Cuz now you're like, oh, what do I put in that place? You put lentil, like you put a gorgeous lentil salad. You put like a chickpea tuna, you put, you know, like grilled tofu, you put like, you know, veggie fingers. There are so many opportunities. And because you're in this mode of like, not just making these choices, subconsciously you're actually making them consciously and you start to go, oh hey, like what is out there?

Karina Inkster: I love that. What about the restriction in the diet culture in general? I mean, your audience, Desiree, is not a hundred percent vegan. They're plant-curious, which I love that term by the way. But you know, there's a lot of this kind of like, well, if you're not calorie restricting or if you don't have a list of no-go foods at the moment, then you're not like doing it right. What's the deal when you approach this on a kind of larger perspective when it just comes to food in general? And maybe someone wants to lose weight, maybe they don’t. 

You know, we all have health goals, but what are your thoughts on this kind of concept of restriction in the diet industry to begin with?

Desiree Nielsen: Yeah. Like all the wellness lies?

Karina Inkster: Yes. exactly.

Zoe: Peled: The wellness lies!

Desiree Nielsen: It really is what it is and it becomes like, where does this come from? Like why do we always find ourselves back here? Because before we had the diet industry, and wellness came in and like, I'm OG. I was into wellness so long ago when it was these, you know, transformative ideas of go to yoga because stress is hard on the body. Like, let's relax. Like, let's take time for ourselves or let's eat fruits and vegetables, you know? And its intention was really about sort of like getting away from this, let's go on a diet. The only thing that matters is your weight.

And now wellness has grown up I think cuz diets have just transformed into quote-unquote “wellness” and this idea that this is the way to live. If you are not living this way, then you can't be well. So it's just become this hierarchy again of people who are in the club, people who are, gluten-free, lectin-free, all of the things free and like doing all the super, super fancy workouts that like not all of us can afford. And only that is healthy. We continue to sort of like uphold these like deities of wellness, who again, all have a similar body style, all eat in a similar way. And we praise them as if they know so much more than us.

One of the things that I will say in terms of health goals, where weight is concerned, you know, I'm not going to pretend that people don't have weight loss as a goal, nor do I think it is my place. As much as I try to maintain a weight-neutral practice and be weight neutral in my communications, I also do not feel that it is my place as a dietician if someone has come to me saying that they want to lose weight for me to go, oh no, no, no, no, no. Don't lose weight. No, no, no. You're a grown-ass adult and you get to decide what you want to do with your body. 

I think my biggest thing is that I'm always going to focus on health because we all have a comfortable and healthy weight for us. 

And when we focus on the behaviours that bring us closer to health, maybe there's weight loss, maybe there's not. And that's why I think that focusing on weight as a number is so damaging because if you're only focused on a number and you don't reach this imaginary number in your head, you don't care about the fact that now fully half of your plate is vegetables. And all of those vitamins and minerals and phytochemicals are like literally supercharging your cells right now. You forget about the things that do actually matter when we're just focused on a number.

Karina Inkster: Oh, I love that! Love that! You know, actually, I think I mentioned it before as a kind of parallel of what we're just saying about why folks come to veganism and then expanding those reasons over time. That happens with weight loss a lot in our clients. At least we can see this happening, right? Where sure, maybe they're coming in, maybe they're through the door because all they care about right now is a number on the scale. And as you said, they're grown-ass adults. They can make their own decisions. That's cool.

But in having a hopefully weight-neutral approach to coaching and also in what I think is part of our role as educators, plus the client going through a process that might be new to them, a lot of folks are coming and doing strength training for the first time ever, or they're doing it in a way that's very different to what they're used to. They're having a program that's progressive and tracking progress and all these things. Through that process, they expand this sphere of why they're doing this. And it's not just about weight loss anymore. Maybe it still is a little bit and that's fine. But a lot of these other, I would say more empowering reasons - I mean, I feel like I'm kind of judging right now, but things like being strong, being there for your kids, doing stuff throughout your day, that's a pretty empowering feeling compared to stepping on a box and it's spitting out an arbitrary number at you.

Desiree Nielsen: Yeah. I love that you said that. And I do think that if we can sort of like set those numbers aside and say, yeah, you know, maybe I would like to lose some weight, maybe moving towards a vegan lifestyle is gonna be helpful in that. But then like, let's open you up. Let's talk about how you feel. Like, let's talk about your energy. Exactly that. Like, what are your goals? Because oftentimes when people have weight loss as a goal, it means something else. It's like well, I feel so tired all the time or my blood sugars aren't doing well. And my doc is telling me that I'm gonna have to keep increasing my medication or, you know like I really wanna live to like run around the block with my grandchildren.

There's always goals. And then we can be like, oh, okay. So let's talk about real science, like backed. How do you build that muscle so that you protect your bones so that you're not going to have a fall when you're 70? All of these reasons that really do matter, and they're tangible too so that we can build confidence and we can build agency around because you're like, look: when we started talking three months ago, you had barely a vegetable on your plate and now look at you go kale salad!

Karina Inkster: Yeah!

Desiree Nielsen: And because when we talk about weight, we do sort of put all of those things aside and be like, oh no, I am eating the kale salad. Oh no, I can lift 50 pounds now. I could not do that before. Like that is very real. No one can take that away from me. And that is a measure of health.

Karina Inkster: Absolutely. And what you just said is weight loss as a proxy for other measures. And that's probably because we've been inundated with media bullshit about how weight loss equals health gains and people are coming in and saying, well, I wanna lose weight when in fact that might actually mean 12 different things that have nothing to do with the number on the scale.

Desiree Nielsen: Yeah. And, you know, I think it speaks to us needing to check our biases too because we all have them because we're all within the same culture. We see the same images and like how we interact with people. And a really great example that I saw and shared recently is you see a picture of two people eating an ice cream, a coconut ice cream. And, you know, one person is in a smaller body and one person is in a larger body. And we tend to praise the person in the smaller body for having an unrestrictive attitude toward food, and the person in the larger body, we're like, oh, that person maybe doesn't eat healthy. And so, you know, each one of us, particularly in the vegan community, we have a role to play in checking our own biases around weight and health and choices so that we can support everyone else in this community. Not only for the end goal of protecting animals and a healthier planet, but also caring for us as people. Because if we are well, if we are well, if we feel supported by our community, if we are confident in our choices, we will continue to make change and do better and grow.

Karina Inkster: A hundred percent.

Zoe Peled: I would like to kind of step back a bit. Sorry to change the direction slightly, but just wanting to add something to what, Coach K, you were saying about that perception of priority kind of shifting for clients. And I think that when it does come to folks who perhaps want to have weight loss or a shift in body composition, we are used to often observing those things happening in a really short period of time, in a really extreme way.

Karina Inkster:

Zoe Peled: And often that is also given a lot of praise and a lot of value. You know, look at you go! You ate a very small amount of food over one month, you lost this much weight! Well done! And because a big part of how we coach, and Desiree, I feel like it is safe to assume this is the same for your process with the folks that you work with, is not so much focusing on, you know, how much can we do in a really intense way, in a really short period of time, but how can we talk about things and how can we establish habits and practices that not only will get you to your areas of focus, it will get you there on a bit of a different trajectory. It might take a little bit longer than you were expecting, but chances are that those habits will not only stay around for a longer period of time, you'll have some realizations and revelations along the way that you probably didn't plan for.

Desiree Nielsen: I love that, Zoe. I agree. I think because of this sort of prevailing ethos that overnight is better! Always overnight is better. Patience is not a virtue that we have and we do have a false sense of urgency for making change, I think, cuz it's sold to us as such. You know, you're gonna pick up the magazine that says you're gonna do all these things by Memorial Day weekend, as opposed to, next year you're gonna feel great!

Zoe Peled: And so much value given to the first one!

Desiree Nielsen: Yeah.

Zoe Peled: So much.

Desiree Nielsen: Yeah. And it’s our marketing brains at work, right? It's like better, faster, more. And one of the things that I always say to people is that whatever you do to make change is what you're gonna have to do to maintain change.

Karina Inkster: So good!

Desiree Nielsen: And it takes a lot of trust to invest effort now and not immediately have a payoff in seven days. Like you have to trust. Like there is so much trust being like, this is what's right. I am on the right path. And I know in three months, and in six months I am absolutely on the road to where I want to be for my health. But then yeah. Also what a joy, because you build it so slowly you build these habits in, so that they're with you for life.

Karina Inkster: Mm-hmm.

Zoe Peled: Forever.

Karina Inkster: It's the compound interest of results. If you can keep doing those things that got you the change in the first place, I love that by the way - it’s brilliant.

Desiree Nielsen: And it's that idea of like 1% better every day - I think it was Atomic Habits. I think it's that book. And it's yeah, it’s like that. It's just one percent. It's just a little bit! You're like, yes. Like I added that little bit of extra weight to my lift. I added that extra serving of vegetables to my plate. The things that are not going to like take all of your energy when you're in the middle of a pandemic with children and running a business and all these kinds of things, but that stick.

Zoe Peled: Ooh, that's a huge one. And I would even say what you pointed out regarding trust and how much trust it takes in a client or someone using any of our services to embark into what I would say is a bit of an ambiguous territory, because we're so used to getting firm deadlines and metrics. So I want to know in three months, what are all the new numbers that are gonna be associated with my body, and that's not realistic. So I think there's also a societal and an industry obligation and opportunity to kind of shift away from using such specific timelines and numbers as benchmarks for everyone.

Desiree Nielsen: And before and after photos.

Zoe Peled: Yes!

Karina Inkster: Yes! This is why we don't use them. We actually made the decision last year to not use so-called before and after photos, we don't even call them before and after photos. They're during and during photos.

Desiree Nielsen: Haha!

Karina Inkster: But yeah, we did have some on our website at one point, right, and it just felt like the thing to do. I mean, there were some amazing transformations, but we made the decision fairly recently in the 10-plus year scheme of this business to no longer use these photos because well, many reasons. We had a whole episode on why we don't use progress photos, but that is actually one of the top things that I was just thinking, like, if I could wave a magic wand and change like one small aspect of the fitness and diet industry, that's like top three material right there.

Desiree Nielsen: Yeah. Because again, it erodes that trust. Like if we're talking about how much trust you need to have, you can have two people who make the same journey. They make the same commitment to you with fitness. They make the same commitment to a vegan lifestyle and are eating really well. And if they don't look exactly the same, the person who looks less societally accepted goes, 'what's wrong with me'? We should never put someone in the position that the first thing that comes to their mind is ‘what's wrong with me?’ Nothing is wrong with you. You are awesome. You are doing it. You are showing up, you are doing the things, you are perfect, and you are exactly where you need to be.

Karina Inkster: Woo-Hoo! Like, I love that.

Zoe Peled: Mm-hmm!

Karina Inkster: Yes. Hey Desiree, if you had to wave a magic wand, oh, what's one thing in either the diet industry or the so-called fitness industrial complex that you would wanna change?

Desiree Nielsen: If I only get to choose one, it would be…

Karina Inkster: Let's start with one, haha.

Desiree Nielsen: Well, let's just start with a big one. It would be anyone listing weight loss as a benefit of their specific program.

Karina Inkster: Ah! Interesting.

Desiree Nielsen: Or their diet book, their way of eating. Weight loss is not a benefit. Health is a benefit. Improved blood sugars are a benefit. Improved blood cholesterol is a benefit. Decreased risk of chronic disease is a benefit. Weight is not a benefit.

Karina Inkster: Oh, love that. How about you, Zoe? What would you either change or eradicate if you could wave a magic wand?

Zoe Peled: Okay. It is very challenging to just answer that with one thing.

Karina Inkster: I realize that.

Zoe Peled: So can I kind of spring it into two sub-answers?

Karina Inkster: I suppose I'll allow it.

Zoe Peled: Okay. I will be very concise. Some of them we've actually alluded to, but the things that really, really get me and the things I see still happening from the majority of practitioners, but not all, one: the rhetoric that larger bodies are bad and smaller bodies are good. The rhetoric that larger bodies are inherently unhealthy and smaller bodies are inherently healthy. And the last one is that we still in a lot of fitness and movement industries see verbiage around male and female.

Karina Inkster: Ah yes!

Zoe Peled: And I think that we need to be collectively working towards a place of gender inclusivity when we talk about access within health and wellness and movement.

Karina Inkster: Brilliant. Hey, this could be a whole other podcast episode. We've been talking about like how all coaches should ask for pronouns in their consultation forms. There's actually been some pretty big change. Precision Nutrition, which is one of the hugest nutrition companies out there for certifications for coaches and such, only recently, but you know, at least they did it, they changed their nutrition guidelines from male to female to now be more about energy expenditure.

Zoe Peled: I love that.

Karina Inkster: And it's not gendered anymore, which I think is genius. But yes, absolutely. We totally need more. I think mine would be the progress photos and like the things that we've already talked about. But I think also the obsession in all of these industries, diet, fitness, wellness, health, whatever the hell you wanna call it, this like complete obsession with, you're not enough right now. You have to buy our product in order to improve yourself.

Like I understand we're all working toward things. I feel like, you know, we're all humans who wanna be doing things in the future that take a long time to get towards. That's fine, but it's not a mutually exclusive deal. You can be cool with where you're at currently. You can accept your situation, while also working on creating new habits, dietary changes, if that's what you're working on, you know? so I feel like it's this black and white thing of, well, you're either stagnant and you just accept your situation and you're gonna suck for the rest of your life. Or all you think about is what you could be doing better, what you did wrong, what next program you have to buy, what personal development book you need to read. It's just like, it's a bit much, man. And I realize it's all related to, you know, people making money on this stuff. But I think people need to realize exactly what Desiree just said. You're awesome already.

Zoe Peled: Well, I think part of that as well, it comes back to inclusivity.

Karina Inkster: Right.

Zoe Peled: And always remembering that people are doing different things for different reasons, at different points in their lives. We are certainly not always privy to all of the circumstances that are present in someone's life when they come to our respective coaching services. And to always be aware of that in how we communicate and how we market. But that is not the case for many, many, many brands and companies, and practitioners, as you have pointed out.

Karina Inkster: Very true. Totally. Well, let's wrap things up. Desiree, any last thoughts on our topics or ways that fitness professionals and others can kind of continue to work on some of these things?

Desiree Nielsen: You know what you said just there Karina, really, like that's it. We market things by telling people they are not enough and then promise them somehow a better life. And it's probably never going to change. And I wish that it was. But you know, for any in particular practitioners listening to this, to examine the ways in which we do this unknowingly, because I think there's many ways in which we communicate and educate, particularly if we have services to sell that unwittingly say, oh, maybe you're uncomfortable right now. I mean, we do it in marketing, like where are people's pain points? Get people to think about their pain points and how you're gonna solve them. How can we create a community that exactly as you said, Zoe, is inclusive and is like, you're fantastic. We think you are great as you are. If you have goals, we would be honoured to help you move towards those goals. But you are enough. You are enough as you are.

Karina Inkster: Love that. How about you coach Zoe any last closing remarks?

Zoe Peled: I would extend a reminder to clients. So existing clients or, you know, potential clients who may come to any of the three of us in the future, and that is a reminder that you should always be critical and you can always be critically aware. And if you see certain things happening within an industry that you don't feel are positive or productive or supportive, then say something about it and give feedback and start a dialogue. Because I think when we talk about these huge, huge shifts, we all play a role. And there's also a very powerful role that, let's call them the consumer, plays and gets to play. And just how much potential there is in those conversations as well.

Karina Inkster: Brilliant. Yes. That kind of brings it around full circle. Everyone can have an effect in multiple different ways. Love that. Amazing. Well, I'm really glad we could have this conversation. This is gonna be like a game changer for a lot of people listening. So Desiree, thank you so much for coming back onto the show. Thank you, Coach Zoe. As always, mics dropped.

Zoe Peled: Mics dropped.

Karina Inkster: And yeah, I'm really looking forward to releasing this conversation and getting some thoughts from our listeners and having it out into the world. So thank you two so much. It was fantastic speaking with you.

Zoe Peled: Likewise. Thank you.

Desiree Nielsen: Thank you.

Karina Inkster: Thank you again, Desiree and Zoe, for a fantastic bullshit busting conversation. Access our show notes at to connect with Desiree and Zoe. And if you haven't yet left a star rating or a review of this podcast on your podcast listening platform of choice, please do so now as this really helps new listeners to find the show. Thank you so much.

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