Episode 2: Accountability Partners: Help Me Help You … But Mostly, Just Help Me

No one is more surprised that AJ and Hillary have been working out together twice a week for more than two years than AJ and Hillary themselves.

What’s even more surprising is that neither has brained the other with a dumbbell. 

Along the way, they’ve figured out some stuff that seemed to keep them on track and some other things that didn’t really go as planned.

So, whether you’re looking for someone to help you stick to your fitness goals or eating plan or daily mediation, give these five tips a whirl.

1. Pick your poison … uh, “partner” … wisely.

Some folks have good luck with their significant other as their accountability partner. Others like staying married. Similarly, sometimes, your BFF makes a good accountability partner. But friendships and squat reps don’t always mix. Depending on the type of accountability partner you want, sometimes people you don’t know super well make ideal workout buddies. We tend to be the best version of our selves with those we don’t know well so that they’ll think better of us and because they’re not contractually obligated to love us no matter how often we flake out. 

2. Set the rules of engagement right away.

Make sure each of you understands what the other expects. If you can’t make it to the gym or yoga class, do you let the other person know or keep it to yourself so that they still head to the gym or class and get their workout in? Do you want someone who will help you correct your form or keep their lips zipped if your side plank looks like it’s warped? Will you be doing the workouts together or will you do your own thing while each of you is at the gym? Whatever your expectations, make sure your clear so no one’s feelers are hurt later.

3. Do what you say and say what you do.

Sure, there will be times you can’t make it to the gym at the predetermined time or you fall off the eating plan wagon you both agreed to. We’re all humans and fuck up a bunch. But don’t be completely unreliable. Be honest with yourself, and if you know you’re shit when it comes to being on time or sticking with something, don’t subject someone else to that. It’s fine to be a free spirit. It’s not cool to be someone others can’t rely on. And there’s your after-school special message for the day. You’re welcome.

4. Find someone at your level.

If you’re just starting to workout, a gym rat might not be an ideal buddy. You might both end up frustrated, and you could end up hurt if you try to keep pace with them. If your partner is just starting an eating plan you’ve been doing for months or years, you could get annoyed by a bunch of questions or listening to frustrations you’ve already overcome. That said, if you set the rules of engagement and are cool with all that, then rock on with your bad selves. 

5. It’s OK to break up if it’s not working.

You aren’t married to this person (unless you are, in which case, our sympathies). But if the accountability portion of any relationship isn’t working, come clean. You can do the “bad news sandwich.” “Hey, this was great, and I really appreciate our time together. I’m going to try something different though, so I won’t be able to workout/eat paleo/stretch your quads any more. Thanks so much for giving this a whirl! Let’s do lunch/smoothies/never see each other again!” Embrace the awkward suck for eight seconds, and then move on with your day.

What have you found that does — or doesn’t — work when it comes to an accountability buddy? Partner up with us in the comments!

Episode 1: Going Keto: You Can Have My Carbs When You Pry Them From My Cold, Sticky Hands

Because we’re trendy and on top of what all the cool kids are down with, let’s take a moment to explore what seems to be about the diet du jour (that means “diet of the day”): Keto.

So, let’s talk about what keto is and what it is not.

Keto’s best explained as an ultra low-carb diet. The idea is that after you stop ingesting the majority of your diet’s macros from carbs — between 20-50 net grams a day — your body will stop using glycogen as fuel and will begin to use fat as fuel, thus releasing ketones. (Also, “net” means after you subtract out the grams of fiber and — sometimes more controversially — the sugar alcohols.)

With a keto diet, not only do you eat very few carbs — whether that’s breads, pastas, rices, sugars, etc. — but you also eat a whole shitload more fat, like 60-70 percent or even higher.

Also it seems like a fairly new diet, keto’s actually been around since like the late 1700s. (Warning: That’s a Wikipedia link, so take it for what it’s worth). Some rando doctor put a couple of soldiers with diabetes on the keto diet, and thus, the fad was born. … OK, not really. In the 19th century, keto was usually the treatment for diabetes.

Then, in the early part of the 20th century, keto became a treatment for kids suffering from epilepsy. Keto reduced the number of seizures epileptic kids would have — often by at least half — even after they stopped the diet.

In the 1960s, Dr. Atkins hit the scene and started pimping keto as a weight-loss diet. Then, in the ’70s through early ’90s came the low-fat craze, and keto largely took a back seat. In 1992, Atkins re-released his book with some better packaging and slick marketing. Though it’s had some ups and downs, its popularity has been steady-. And that’s despite some controversy and a lack of long-term studies to determine if the diet actually works or if it’s sustainable or what kind of impact it can have on someone’s health for the long haul.

What’s All the Hype Anyway?

As with many diets, lots of folks hate them some keto. They say it’s not healthy, there’s too much fat, it’s not sustainable, it’s too restrictive, the side effects are too unpleasant. And many also point to the lack of long-term studies that would determine the diet’s effectiveness.

All of those are good points, so think hard about whether you want to travel down the keto path.

Both AJ and Hillary opted to try keto again because of previous successes. But they also both recognized that you best have a plan once you decide to go off keto. Otherwise, that weight’s coming back, and it’s bringing friends.

5 Tips If You Decide to Go Keto

Tip No. 1: The keto flu is just as real as the struggle. Prepare for it like you did for your SATs. Unless you blew them off, like AJ did. The SATS, not keto. She studied for that shit. Bought books. Took practice exams, broke into the flop sweats, suffered through Fresca-induced migraines, listened to coach pep talks over and over … and she puked. … Wait, are we talking about keto anymore or the SATS? Anyhoo …

The symptoms of the keto flu can include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Chills
  • Excessive sweating
  • Bad breath
  • Gastro issues
  • Aches and pains

None of that is fun. You can get through it, but you can lessen the severity and/or shorten the duration by:

  • Taking electrolytes. Have a stash on hand in the car, office, purse. And if you are still feeling the “blehs,” try increasing your sodium intake. There are some keto nerds … uh, “experts,” who say that “When you adopt a low carb, high fat diet like the keto diet, insulin levels are much lower and your body excretes more salt since there are no carbohydrates present in your body to spike insulin and hold onto the sodium.” We don’t know if that’s true, because again: not scientists or nutritionists. But hey, if you feel like hot garbage, try more salt.
  • Get your fiber in. You’ll be eating a lot of meat and cheese so … enough said.
  • Drink lots of water. Like maybe what might seem like a ridiculous amount. Some of the “keto experts” recommend as much as half your body weight in ounces of water. Yeah, that’s a lot of peeing throughout the day and night. But the point is: Stay real hydrated.

Tip No. 2: Goddamn, is it just us, or were there like 37 tips in that first one? Blame AJ. Tip No. 1 was her area of responsibility.

Let’s try shortening some shit up here.

So, exercise a bunch, or at least more than maybe you normally would. The idea is to drain your glycogen stores as quickly as possible so your body switches over to fat-burning mode more quicker.

When you exercise, you burn through glycogen faster. Obviously, don’t go crazy; there’s no need to take up CrossFit or run a fucking marathon here. Unless that’s your bag. But do a little more cardio maybe or some high-intensity interval training, if that fits with your activity ability.

Tip No. 3: Prep yo’ food. That’s a key to a lot of eating better success. It removes your excuses and helps when your energy and willpower are low. Picture it: It’s Thursday after a hard day. You’re exhausted, and your mind is strong, but your flesh, it is weak. Well, with food already prepared in the fridge, bam! Easy peasy.

Tip No. 4: Hold out on the “keto treats” for as long as you can, indefinitely if possible. You have to give your taste buds time to adjust, and that takes a couple weeks. Also, there’s the small detail of eh lot of keto treats taste like hot garbage and play havoc with your guts because of all the sugar alcohols and added fiber. Plus, the fake sugars in them could make you crave the real stuff and derail your progress. So, if you can hold out, do it. Be strong, grasshopper.

Tip No. 5: Plan ahead before you eat out. A lot of restaurants these days are offering more and more low-carb options. Make sure to do a lil’ online research before you chow down outside your home and figure out which meals will help you stick to your goals.

If you’re on the keto path, what tips have you found helpful? Toss ’em in the comments. Please add bacon bits.

Further info and deets

Who Are You People, and Why Should I Care?

It’s a fair question. Because, really, did the world need another health podcast? Yes, yes, it did. … Well, at least we think so. But you can read more about the two yahoos behind the mics and decide for yourself.

Hillary’s Bio

Oh, gawd. I have to tell you why you should care what a middle-aged white woman from the Midwest thinks about diets and health and wellness and fitness. So much pressure!

Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far … fuck. Such a cliche. Might as well start with “it was a dark and stormy night.”

Well, it wasn’t really a dark and stormy night. So, plot twist!

It was actually like a year or two after I graduated from college, and I was tipping the scale at about 240 pounds. At that point, it didn’t really feel like “tipping” the scale. More like the scale was pleading with me to get off because it wasn’t meant for livestock. (Hey, I can make my own fat jokes, OK? It’s called self-deprecation.)

Hillary, living her best life … kinda.

Anyhoo, I knew I needed to do something, but with no real experience with healthy eating, I didn’t really know where to start.

My mother had some success with “Sugar Busters,” so I decided that would be my jumping-off point.

And thus started what would be a solid 15-ish year battle with my weight.

In the beginning …

At first, it was all good in the hood. The first like 60 pounds came off, really, without much fanfare in a little more than a year. I also started incorporating more walking and a tiny amount of resistance training.

When the weight loss slowed, I switched to Weight Watchers.

But this was old-school WW. Like, there was a slide rule involved for some reason, and there were no online resources to tell you how many points restaurant food had, and a banana was 18 points, which was really disappointing because you only got four points for the whole day if you were a woman. … I may be exaggerating, but that’s for reals how it felt.

After another year, year and a half-ish (honestly, time is fuzzy at this point because I was in a constant state of hunger.), another 40 pounds came off.

Did I attend WW meetings to learn how to keep the weight off? Oh, sugar. You are adorable. I sure the fuck did not.

So, for about the next four years, I engaged in a restrict/binge cycle that was epic to behold. I was the picture of restraint during the week and then motorboated every gram of sugar I could find on the weekends.

See, without ever figuring out why I had worked my way up to 240 in the first place, I had no way to figure out how to change my relationship with food. … Jebus, that sounds like some shit a therapist probably said at some point. Regardless, it’s true.

Then came the Dirty Thirties

Throughout my 30s, a whole bunch of shit went down in my personal life, and I dealt with it all like a totally fully functioning adult: I ate my way through. All the while, I flirted with various ways of trying to get a handle on my bingeing, including CrossFit, yoga, paleo, Whole30, among others. Those flirtations, in turn, lead to some Light Bulimia and Orthorexia. So, I had that going for me.

By the time I hit my mid-30s, I was over all of it.

For the most part, I quit trying to follow any eating plan. I knew the only way to address my food issues was to stop putting restrictions around what I ate.

So, that all worked out perfectly, and now it’s all rainbows and puppy dogs, right?

Seriously, y’all are too, too cute.

Throughout navigating all the coping mechanisms of my 30s, I managed to pack on about half the weight I originally lost. I hated the way I looked. I hated the way I felt.

So, right now, I’m working on the hating part.

It’s far from over, but that’s what this Feed Me and Tell Me I’m Pretty adventure’s all about, and you can read more about that here.

AJ’s bio

AJ … strong like bull

Welcome to the Feed Me and Tell Me I’m Pretty podcast! … Or the FMATMIP podcast. That’s the handy dandy acronym that is really awkward and unwieldy. You’re welcome. … Or just Feed Me and Tell Me for short. Pick your poison! We’re very flexible here. Well, not physically, but …

Squirrel!

Wait, where was I?

Oh, right. My bio.

Basically, I love love food. But food doesn’t love me. … Well, it loves my butt, hips, and thighs.

But gluten.

Gluten wants to kill me.  

My name is AJ and I am a recovering couch potato. (“Hi, AJ.”) No, seriously. That’s a thing! The struggle is real, people. Especially when the couch is comfortable, the cheese doodles are plentiful, and Midwestern winters are about seven months long. 

I’ve struggled with my weight my whole life, and more importantly, I’ve struggled to reach a level of fitness where I could enjoy an active lifestyle that didn’t leave me breathless and overexerted from changing the channel. 

My heaviest weight was 225 pounds, but my steady-state weight was 195. … Until it wasn’t, and the number on the scale started to climb ever higher. 

I also watched the women in my family struggle with obesity-related health issues like diabetes. So, when the doctor told me that I was “pre-diabetic,” I decided to make some changes. Ever since, I’ve started to take food and fitness more seriously.

But wading through all of the information and conflicting science is exhausting. And every week, there’s a new diet guru to distrust. 

So we’re going to try some things. Hack ourselves, if you will. Hopefully not hack anything off or hack each other up (Hillary is cray and mean.) and report back to you all. 

You can listen in as we make this journey to more healthful living. But we’re doing it as real peeps because we know that’s what you all are too.

Learn with us. Laugh with us. Laugh at us. We’re game.

But Why Tho?

“Giving up is the only sure way to fail.”

— Gena Showalter

Hell yeah we started with a motivation quote. We’re not monsters here.

AJ and Hillary started this whole crazy scheme to create a community with
resources and support for people like us, people who struggle and can’t get it figured out and are tired — oh-so tired — of trying and failing and trying and
failing.

OK, that’s not totally accurate. We’re going to fail. We’re going to fail so
hard. And we want other people to fail.

But we hope to help people fail smarter.

We hope to create something where people can recognize themselves in our
experiences, try things for themselves, figure out what does and doesn’t work
for them, armed with the knowledge of what science says and where science has
fallen short in helping them lead healthier lives. (Please don’t think we’re
against science. We are very pro-good science. We just understand that science
is just the beginning, and that lots of people’s mileage may vary.)

So if you’ve ever struggled to eat better or exercise more or start a meditation practice or get more sleep or start feeling better, welcome.

We’re your tribe of weirdos, and we’re happy you’re here.

Namaste, bitches.