from stressed to strong: karen’s client story

client story, under eating, body image issues, coaching, calorie intake, mood, energy, body composition, food freedom, flexibility, nutrition

Emily Field (00:00:03) – Welcome to Macros Made Easy, the podcast that takes the confusion out of tracking macros. I’m your host, Emily Field, a registered dietitian that specializes in a macros approach. In each episode, I help you learn how to eat in a way that supports your health, body composition, and athletic performance goals. We’ll cover the basics of macronutrients how to track for various goals, the role of macros in your health, and how to make sustainable changes to your habits. I’ve helped hundreds of people experience more food freedom and flexibility while navigating their nutrition. So whether you’ve tried macros and it just didn’t stick or you just heard the word macros yesterday, I can’t wait to help you too. Today we’ll be talking to my former client, Karen. Karen has long considered herself an athlete, but that didn’t stop her from falling into the trap that many active women do under eating for that active lifestyle, she got curious that she might not be eating enough when she started linking her cravings, low energy and persistent injuries together, Karen had assumed I would help her eat more, since she heard me talking about how this was a constant thread in my online messaging.


Emily Field (00:01:07) – But ultimately, Karen wanted to be leaner, lighter, and stronger, so she was concerned what moving up in calories and macros would do to her physique. Because she was already feeling uncomfortable in her skin. She was unsure about how it all would shake out, but she decided to treat it like an experiment and trust the process. In the first several weeks of coaching, we slowly brought Karen’s calories up by 3 to 400 per day and to her surprise, she started losing inches. Her cravings disappeared and her energy bounced back. But more surprising, however, was that eating more food and aiming for more protein had such a profound impact on her mood. Gone were the days where she felt anxious, depressed and irritable. She felt level balanced and happier altogether. That period of time that we established her maintenance, calories and macros was so powerful because she could experience how it felt to eat enough. She, like so many of us, had no idea that she didn’t have to feel so low and lousy most days.


Emily Field (00:02:03) – From there, we had the foundation set to drop into a painless, easy, and sustainable fat loss phase. And Karen loved jujitsu, CrossFit, and strength training, so we knew we had to keep calories high enough to support her energy for the sports, but low enough to produce fat loss. And she was super successful. She was able to strike that balance and lose about £12 of fat in 15 weeks, which removed about 8 to 10in from all over her body. While her work ended about three years ago. Karen and I have stayed connected and she’s taken the lead on her own macro phasing. Her body composition is dramatically different than it was 3 to 4 years ago. Because she’s rotated through these cycles of fat loss, muscle gain, maintenance, really isolating one goal at a time over the years. I am so proud of Karen for really digging into the mental work that goes along with nutrition coaching. She confronted body image issues and unraveled deeply buried diet culture rules that she didn’t even realize she had for herself.


Emily Field (00:02:56) – As a result, Karen sets a powerful example to other women that come through her jiu jitsu studio and to her kiddos as they grow up. Thank you so much for being here, Karen. I’m thrilled to talk to you about your journey through coaching. We worked together several years ago, and one of my favorite things about having a conversation with a client like this is to kind of show the audience where you were before we started working together, where you are now, now that we’re not working together, because my guess is that you learned a lot about our time, and it has really come through over the years, and it’s going to stick with you for a really long time. Is that correct? Definitely, yeah. So remind me and tell the audience a little bit about how we came to be and why you decided to hire me.


Karen (00:03:42) – Okay. So I actually was able to meet you in person before we started working together. I met you through a CrossFit the gym in my town, and I was interested in learning more first.


Karen (00:03:57) – And I followed you for a long time on Instagram and chatted with you. And I think your posts started to kind of make me notice my life a little bit. Just like your graphics about like you might be under eating if you feel like this, this and this, and you know, if you feel really sluggish or you feel really puffy or you don’t have a huge appetite all the time, those started to really blow my mind little by little, thinking about under eating or missing out on enough protein or carbs or whatever, and how it might look different than just one specific little thing, you know? Absolutely. There are a lot of indicators of that that I could really identify with. I think what led me to eventually work with you was that I definitely am a learner. I really like to learn new skills, and I started to see it as a new skill that could. Hopefully just make me feel better in my life, you know, which really would just make my life easier if I had more energy, if I had a better body image.


Karen (00:05:17) – All those things related to your worth, it would just improve my life. And after our first call to see if we would be a good fit for each other, I think what really kind of made me want to work with you was you pointed out that all of my goals were centered around weight loss, and I was actually sort of surprised because I hadn’t noticed, and I don’t think I had really noticed how negative my body image really was, like how focused I was on that stuff. So that was surprising. But it was interesting and being kind of a bigger person. I’m five eight, and now around 165 or so. I’ve always felt proud of that. I felt proud of how capable and big I am, but that I could feel that pride, but also kind of have this negative body image. It was interesting that those two things could coexist, you know.


Emily Field (00:06:23) – Totally mean you were you are an athlete. And when I met you in New Jersey at that CrossFit gym, it’s clear that you own a jiu jitsu studio.


Emily Field (00:06:32) – You love jiu jitsu, you love CrossFit, you’ve been competitive in jujitsu. And so it is interesting to maybe be, like, alerted of the fact that while you consider yourself an athlete, you might not be eating like one. So yeah, what was that like when I kind of maybe shared that you have a lot more that you could be eating? There’s a lot of gains left on the table here. You could potentially feel so much better if you were to eat more. Were you surprised by me saying that?


Karen (00:07:02) – Yeah, I definitely was. And I think probably part of why I was surprised was because I thought that I ate a lot. Yeah. You know, and I think part of the reason why I thought I ate a lot was at times in my life I have when I was a lot younger, I could eat like a garbage disposal, you know, and things would be relatively unchanged all the time. But I kind of thought I still ate like that. And I felt like even though it felt like a little bit nervous, who increased so much, I think we ended up increasing like 700 calories a day.


Karen (00:07:42) – For a while I just felt like, okay, I’ve already kind of gotten to a place where I feel kind of low, so like, what do I have to lose to try this? And it was like really kind of mind blowing how immediate I saw a positive effect from that.


Emily Field (00:08:02) – Well, for context, you know, before we started working together, I usually get kind of like a food diary, like to get an average of what you typically eat. So I can see what changes might need to be made. And you were at that time averaging around 1900 calories, which for a woman who is listening to this might be like, well, that’s that’s a lot. That’s like way more than I ate. I, you know, I would consider that enough, but because you don’t have the academic background and the professional background that I do, it’s very likely that most people listening to this and even including you before we work together, don’t know how much food is actually appropriate for you. Because the only reason, the only way we’ve been served nutrition information, a lot of times as women is through the lens of a diet.


Emily Field (00:08:45) – So you hear numbers like 1200, 1500. If you want to lose weight, you have to do this, that and the other. So for the untrained ear, 1900 calories might feel like totally enough. But as Karen said, we slowly increased her calories to where she should be for her 4 to 5 days of activity each week and mothering two kids and running around town. She’s up to 2500 2600 calories. And yes, probably mind blowing from the perspective of like, how can I house this much food? How much was I missing out on from an energy perspective? From a mood perspective? I mean, remember these being the things that you came to me saying, like, I’ve got cravings, I’m munchy crunchy things. I had a low mood. I feel snippy with my partner. I don’t always feel happy. My energy is quite low. So it’s oftentimes depressing to think that, like, I’ve been playing myself back from feeling this amazing and it just I just needed permission to eat, you know? Totally.


Emily Field (00:09:44) – Yeah. So yes, from we initially had a conversation, I found it quite interesting that your goals were around fat loss, being in a certain percent, body fat, losing weight, and also you were struggling with all these other things, but for whatever reason, those weren’t symptoms. That you were really associating with under eating at that time. Think you thought you were struggling with postpartum depression? I think you thought you were just simply in a low kind of in a slump in your life. But it just so happened that eating more turned around, your mood turned around, your cravings, your energy and all that. And also, we were able to set up for a quite seamless fat loss phase.


Karen (00:10:23) – Yeah, I thought it was because of several vitamin deficiencies. I thought it was, like you said, postpartum depression or too much caffeine and or whatever. And increasing protein, especially in calories, means so much of that just went away so fast.


Emily Field (00:10:44) – Yeah, that’s so cool. So tell me a little bit about was it nerve wracking? Tell me about your experience increasing calories, because we’ve had conversations with clients before where you can read about it.


Emily Field (00:10:56) – You can read it from like, say, even my Instagram. I’m showing examples of clients who are eating more and not gaining weight and if anything, maybe losing weight or losing fat. And you’re like, I get it. I get how that might be true, but it could not possibly be true for me.


Karen (00:11:13) – So it is.


Emily Field (00:11:14) – Really interesting how we play mind games, but can you tell us a little bit about your experience increasing calories? You know, were you nervous, you know, kind of what was going through your head during that time?


Karen (00:11:23) – Yeah, I was nervous. And I think the nervousness kind of goes into that like diet mindset, especially women around my age. I’m 39. We grew up in the 90s where it was diet culture everywhere. It was how many ways can we cut back, you know? So it really was going against a lot of stuff that was ingrained in me, I think, and I think societal stuff, too, of just it’s better to be smaller when you’re a woman.


Karen (00:11:57) – I mean, we have gotten that message in a lot of ways, and I think I came up against a lot of that increasing calories. And I think I also was just nervous to make mistakes. I’ve worked with coaches before or just because of my personality or whatever life experiences. I was kind of afraid of making mistakes and feeling shame about messing up the process, and that was something that I really appreciated about working with you, was that you are just a very kind coach and very empathetic. And you know, when things like that would come up, we’d talk about it. You would say things like. I’m sorry that you have felt like you need to feel shame about that. Mean that it’s very validating. It’s nice to hear, you know, and I think I just because of how kind you were and just the very detailed description of what the process would be like, I felt comfortable enough to just trust the process that I’d be okay. Yeah. You know. Absolutely.


Emily Field (00:13:16) – Yeah. Well, I really do appreciate that about you.


Emily Field (00:13:18) – I mean, what makes a great coach client relationship is when the client is able to communicate fears and doubts and nervousness. And I can’t do my job if I don’t know how you’re feeling. So you came to the table a lot of times saying, this is how I’m feeling. I’m willing to move past it, and that gives me the floor to maybe reinforce what we’re doing, explain it a little bit more. Maybe it’s gentle coaching. Maybe it’s empathy that you need. But I can’t do my job as a coach if I don’t know how you’re feeling. So I really appreciated the transparency there and most of your check ins. So that was great. Yeah. And I do think that what tends to be a, you know, a differentiator between my successful clients, maybe the ones that don’t accomplish what they think they should and coaching is they treat this time like an experiment. And there’s going to be multiple times throughout your life where you’re going to try on different habits, and you’re going to try on different modalities and you’re going to get something out of it, even if it’s just from the mindset perspective, or even if it’s like, well, that didn’t work for me.


Emily Field (00:14:20) – You can take it or leave it kind of thing. So one thing that I think you did with our time is like, well, I have nothing to lose. And you said that even earlier. Like, I have nothing to lose here and I’m willing to try it. The best case scenario is I accomplish everything I set out to accomplish. Worst case scenario is I learned to eat more food, and I had some and education along the way. So that was that was really cool that you approached it that way. And you’ve since worked with other coaches for different things, and it seems like you definitely take that curiosity mindset with you in almost every coach client relationship you have.


Karen (00:14:50) – Definitely.


Emily Field (00:14:51) – So I would like to I mean, I think I know what the biggest differentiators were or the biggest needle movers were in our time together. What made the biggest difference? You already touched on eating way more calories, eating more protein, but what other things, if anything, do you think was like the biggest needle mover in your success?


Karen (00:15:09) – I think like the biggest accomplishment, I think that came out of working with you and it wasn’t something that happened fast.


Karen (00:15:19) – Like it really took all of our one on one coaching time and then also getting help from you again over that last couple of years, since one on one time is getting to a really different mindset about the scale number, really feeling so neutral about what the scale says and seeing it as just information to work with. That was a huge change, and it really feels like so fortunate to have that relationship with the scale or just with my size. You know, I’ve done jujitsu for a long time, and I competed in it for a long time, and I think for a while I was holding on to a certain size, because that was the weight class that I did for many years, and I like telling my body felt then. And so I felt like I just always want to be that same weight class and kind of just letting my body change, you know, and having my goal now be that I’m really just want to feel good. I want to feel strong. I want to feel healthy.


Karen (00:16:42) – I want to feel energized that those are what motivate me rather than being this certain weight that really feels huge. And I have kids. I have a daughter and a son. I think men go through this stuff too, but especially just having a daughter who is also going to grow up to be tall and big and athletic, that I can guide her from a place of that. And not everything that I’ve gone through to get here.


Emily Field (00:17:15) – Yeah, you’re giving her permission to let her body change, and I think that’s something that women don’t hear enough of. It’s because men can largely move throughout their life, being around the same weight and around the same size. They don’t have as much transition and life change as women do, especially if we choose to have children. So having permission, you’re basically giving her permission, just acknowledgment that your body is going to change and it’s going to be different sizes at different times. And. So for you, that’s really interesting that you say, like you from your competitive Jiu-Jitsu experience, you’re holding on to a certain way, class and weight.


Emily Field (00:17:52) – For other women. It’s the way I was at my wedding, the way I was, you know, before I got pregnant, the way I was when I gave birth. Like these numbers, for whatever reasons, stick out in our mind. And even though we might say, I don’t care about the skill number until you do coaching, sometimes I wonder if you really believe that, because think that you thought that. Karen, I think that when we started together, you’re like, I’m an athlete, I’m strong. I just had knee surgery. I want to get to be as strong as I can. Yet when we dig underneath the surface, it’s like, I want to be a certain way. I want to be a certain body fat percentage. I want to be. And those goals are valid. But you got to do a little bit of digging about maybe the motivations around that. And how are we actually measuring it, because a scale isn’t going to measure your body fat percentage, and the scale is not going to measure how strong you are or how good you feel in your body, your mood, stuff like that.


Emily Field (00:18:42) – So if you say you care about those things, we got to actually measure those things appropriately.


Karen (00:18:47) – Yeah. And I think too, like recording my weight every day, like it really showed me how much it fluctuates and why it fluctuates like what it does when I’m around my period, what it does in all the different parts of my cycle, what it does if I didn’t get that much sleep one night, I mean, it’ll I’ll be like several pounds heavier if I had bad sleep the night before or if I’m fighting off a cold or something. And it just kind of let me just be a lot less hard on myself.


Emily Field (00:19:27) – I think that’s so good. Tell me, I’d like to talk a little bit about your fat loss phase, because I know this is what interests a lot of people when they start coaching. They want assistance in losing fat. And when I come to them as a coach, I say, it’s possible for you to engage in a fat loss phase. That is easy and sustainable and quite frankly, painless.


Emily Field (00:19:49) – And that feels incredibly foreign for a lot of people because their experience with weight loss and fat loss in their history is usually very painful. It’s white knuckling it through diet rules and deprivation and all of that. So we obviously took your calories way up and you didn’t really gain much weight during that time. And if anything, you were starting to see some body composition changes because you were eating enough to fuel your strength training. Finally. So when we did start a fat loss phase, it probably was at a higher amount than you ever thought possible, which is pretty crazy. Yeah, I don’t want to give away all the details. Please tell me what it was like going through that fat loss phase. In your own words.


Karen (00:20:29) – It was crazy. I mean, I think that first time we did a fat loss is I don’t think I ate less than 2000 calories a day, and I was losing weight pretty steadily. And, you know, I’d been through it to where I had dieted for competitions where I was probably eating like 1400 calories a day, which is insane to think about now, and it’s probably the amount of calories my 11 year old eats a day, you know? And immediately after going through that kind of cycle, I gained weight back, like within two weeks, you know? So that first time we did a fat loss phase, it really was like my awareness changed so much about what I needed for my body, about what was possible.


Karen (00:21:27) – And I don’t know, it was just very easy. You know, we I think I ended up doing like around 15 weeks of a fat loss and I lost around like £12 or something. It just felt very easy. And I think viewing a fat loss means like that. And also having several years of macro tracking under my belt now I feel like we’re just talking about the scale neutrality. I feel a lot of food neutrality to wear, both for our time working together. I would crave like French fries, fried food. Ice cream desserts. I had like such strong cravings for stuff like that. And I went through a fat loss phase where I didn’t really experience those kind of cravings, which I think most people, when they die. It it’s like you find yourself thinking about that kind of food all the time.


Emily Field (00:22:27) – You think it’s a willpower issue? Yeah.


Karen (00:22:29) – Yeah, totally. And I had these easy fat loss seasons. And now being in several other kind of seasons, I go out to dinner and have a little bit of French fries if I want em.


Karen (00:22:43) – But I never find myself needing to eat or not needing to eat, but like, wanting to eat every single French fry or getting a dessert to share with somebody and eating the whole dessert like a few bites satisfies me. And that’s not to say like you shouldn’t have the whole dessert if you want to definitely do that but don’t want it, you know, it.


Emily Field (00:23:10) – Feels like it’s driven more out of like you’re able to make a mindful decision because you’re well fed most of the time. And if you do choose to eat over quote your needs or eat emotionally, which is not necessarily a bad thing or eat socially, yeah, you don’t beat yourself up for it. It’s not out of like, totally like a primal drive to eat. Sometimes how I describe it, when we’re dieting, it becomes like this primal drive to eat, and that’s not where it’s coming from anymore.


Karen (00:23:37) – Totally. And there’s no shame involved. You know.


Emily Field (00:23:42) – It’s great. So part of our process obviously, is, you know, living most of your life, living most of your year in maintenance.


Emily Field (00:23:49) – So eating enough calories to support your current activity period and then inserting periods of fat loss if you would like to do so. So those are short term finite phases. So we have an end date. You know, we decide how long it’s going to be. We maybe play with that end date a little bit depending on how good we feel. But in general it’s just a finite phase. But what people might not realize is that when we go from a fat loss phase two maintenance, there’s a period called the reverse. And this is where we slowly increase your calories back to where they need to be because you’re under eating them for that fat loss phase, that calorie deficit. Then we move back up to maintenance. And that can be one of the most challenging times for people because they feel so good about the weight they’ve lost or the fat they’ve lost. So sometimes they can get carried away thinking like, oh, I just want to stay here. I just want to keep going. Push, push, push.


Emily Field (00:24:37) – And having a coach walk you through a reverse and knowing that’s part of the process, can, I think, be one of the biggest needle movers for people’s success?


Karen (00:24:45) – Natalie.


Emily Field (00:24:46) – But can you tell me what it was like when you were at the end of your fat loss phase? Did you confront those feelings at all around, like I should keep going or I want to keep going? Or were you ready to be done at that time?


Karen (00:24:57) – I think I’ve gone through both still. I think after that first one it was so successful and it was so everything was so brand new and amazing that I was ready to be done and felt really good about learning that reverse dieting phase and getting to maintenance and just observing what that looks like. And then this year, I did a fat last phase that you helped me with, and then the reverse part of it. I was on my own for some of it, and there was a moment where I was like, this feels really good. I feel so being, you know, and maybe I’m just fine right at these calories.


Karen (00:25:47) – But I got a little reminder from you that was like, this feels right. Totally fine to stop, but check in and see, you know, are you sleeping well? Are you experiencing any energy slumps during the day? And there are a few other things. And when I got that reminder, I was like, you know what? I haven’t been sleeping that well. You know, it had been a couple of weeks that I was waking up a lot in the night. I was having a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep and then feeling really kind of wired when I would wake up and I was like, okay, so maybe I’ll add like 150 calories to my calories per day. And within a couple of days, my sleep was so much better. And so having that little moment was just another great little learning nugget of, yeah, noticing those things that we don’t really think of being a part of the big picture. You know, we’re kind of just thinking about the way our body looks and the progress we’ve made.


Karen (00:27:01) – But what about these other quality of life things?


Emily Field (00:27:06) – Yeah. It’s so important to recognize that while we do have calculations and we do have the numbers that we can figure out your maintenance or we can estimate your maintenance, it is an estimation. Your body is going to tell us if you’re there or not. And so we take a quick little checklist and assessment of do you feel all these things. Yes. No. Then we have a better, more accurate reflection and picture of where we should go or should we stay or should we go up? Should we come down all these things? So yeah, I always have to remind people that while we do have formulas, it is still just a guess. It is still just an educated best guess. And having a client like you, who has been in and out of tracking diligently for several years, in and out of different phases, you have all the data you need to decide what is your probably your maintenance now. Yeah. And if I were to do if I were to just run your numbers, maybe I would be off because I don’t have as much data anymore.


Emily Field (00:28:00) – You hold that data. So that’s pretty cool.


Karen (00:28:03) – Yeah. Yes.


Emily Field (00:28:05) – So okay, I guess I’m just curious about what your future looks like right now. I know we’re coming up to the end of the year. What phase are you in right now? Are you tracking it all?


Karen (00:28:13) – So I’m not tracking right now. After the fat loss phase earlier this year, I tracked through the summer, and I really like having tracking during periods of life or seasons like summer, where things can get really chaotic and out of whack. I see tracking in those times of life as just a tool to feel good. And so I went through summer and then when fall started and my kids are going back to school, I haven’t been tracking this because I haven’t really needed to have my routine to myself. You know, they’re at school during the day, and so I eat my meals and snacks and I at this point, I also kind of can eyeball meals pretty well and know how much it is as far as macros and calories.


Karen (00:29:14) – And I don’t think I’ll track through the holidays because why put that pressure on myself? Yeah, there’s already a lot going on. Yeah. And then in the new year, I like to enter a fat loss phase at some point because it feels good to just. Get kind of organized and tight and have a goal in mind. So that’s probably how things will play out for the next six months or so.


Emily Field (00:29:43) – Okay, so it sounds like when you’re not tracking and I love this, when you’re not tracking, you still hold on to some pillars from when you were tracking. And so it sounds like you are shaping your meals with protein, fat and carb whenever possible. You probably have an eyeball for that protein where you can, because that’s probably the hardest macro for most people, including you to get. Are there any other things that you’ve really held on to from your tracking experience that you carry into when you’re not tracking?


Karen (00:30:10) – I think eating frequently for me, I definitely can like just get into work mode and not eat for a long time.


Karen (00:30:22) – And I don’t feel that great when I do that. So I eat every couple of hours. And yeah, I think just staying really fueled the whole day definitely gained from us working together. And in the past, it would have been very easy for me to not eat for like seven hours and then just binge on whatever was in my past.


Emily Field (00:30:49) – Yeah, love that mean. Got to keep up on top of those calories. You can’t save them. So it makes a lot of sense why if you skip meals and go six seven hours at your body would give you some clear signs and signals. Yeah, it needs to eat. It’s so interesting that we can, like, try to pretend that that’s not normal. Like we can just tell ourselves that, like we’re the problem.


Karen (00:31:10) – Yeah, but.


Emily Field (00:31:11) – Again, that comes from our, you know, the way that we were raised 80s, 90s kids where, you know, it felt like hunger was a problem. We should feel guilty for feeling hunger when it’s a normal biological response to needing.


Emily Field (00:31:23) – Totally. Yeah. Well, thank you so much, Karen. This was really great. I would love to be able to kind of talk through what you’ve learned and where you were, where you’re at now. It just really seems like you are able like your your head space is not preoccupied number one, with weight and weight loss or number two, that your body should not change as you age. It seems like you have a lot of clear head space to give your gifts in other areas, and I know you have lots to give, so that feels really, really cool to know.


Karen (00:31:54) – Yeah, I wanted to say too, that I think that it can be hard for other people to be themselves sometimes, and other people’s process, especially if they hear, you know, I’m a jiu jitsu teacher. I’ve done jiu jitsu for 20 years. I competed in it that maybe that may make someone think like, well, she can do it. That doesn’t mean I can, but I don’t think I’m any different than anybody else.


Karen (00:32:23) – And it really is just skills that we learn. And I think macro tracking, or at least just learning that you need to eat more or that you need to eat more protein. I really think that so many women benefit from that. Or can, you know. Absolutely.


Emily Field (00:32:46) – That’s a really great reminder. I feel that way sometimes in my work. She’s a dietitian. She’s always known this, you know, she doesn’t have a traditional job, so her challenges aren’t the same. Yeah, you’re right, it really is. We all have that skill to learn. Like, even though I might know different or I may have learned earlier than you, doesn’t mean that it’s any easier for me. Or it’s still not a challenge to eat to my needs and, like, fuel myself. Yeah, I’ve experienced the same challenges that many of my clients have to just might have been years ago. And there’s just happening right now. That’s okay.


Karen (00:33:18) – Totally.


Emily Field (00:33:19) – Exactly.


Karen (00:33:19) – Yeah.


Emily Field (00:33:20) – Thanks for saying that. Well, I appreciate your time and I will talk to you soon when that comes around, around your fat loss phase.


Emily Field (00:33:28) – Thanks so much. Thank you so much for listening to the Macros Made Easy podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, take a screenshot of the one you’re listening to right now to share it on your Instagram Stories, and tag me at Emily Field so that more people can find this podcast and learn how to use a macros approach in a stress free way. If you love the podcast, head over to iTunes and leave me a rating in a review. Remember, you can always find more free health and nutrition content on Instagram and on my website at Emily Field. Thanks for listening and I’ll catch you on the next episode.

Ever thought about eating more to lose weight? Or considered the signs that you might be undereating?

In this podcast episode, I had the pleasure of speaking with my former client, Karen, who shares her inspiring journey. Karen opens up about increasing her calorie intake, the positive impact on her mood, energy, and body composition, and the challenges she faced along the way. We dive into the importance of open communication in a coach-client relationship, changing our mindset about scale numbers, and the necessity of a reverse phase after a fat loss phase. Throughout our conversation, we emphasize the importance of listening to your body and normalizing hunger as a biological response. Join our conversation to hear more about:

meet karen: an athlete's struggle with under eating

I’d like to introduce you to Karen, a former client of mine. Karen is an athlete who, like many others, fell into the trap of under eating for her active lifestyle. She started noticing cravings, low energy, and persistent injuries, which led us to the conclusion that she might not be eating enough. 

Despite wanting to be leaner, lighter, and stronger, Karen was concerned about the impact of increasing her calories and macros on her physique. However, she decided to treat it as an experiment and trust the process.

the transformation: increasing calorie intake

Over the course of our coaching, we slowly increased Karen’s daily calories. To her surprise, she started losing inches, her cravings disappeared, and her energy improved. Eating more food and aiming for more protein had a profound impact on her mood, making her feel level, balanced, and happier.

the challenges karen faced during her journey

Karen’s journey wasn’t without challenges. Like many of us, she grew up in a diet culture where cutting back on calories was the norm. Increasing her intake went against what she had been taught. She was nervous about making mistakes and potentially feeling shame about messing up the process. However, through an empathetic coaching style, she gradually began to feel more comfortable and trust the process.

the importance of open communication and curiosity

As a coach, I believe in the importance of open communication in a coach-client relationship. Treating this time as an experiment and being curious about different habits and modalities is one of the main factors to success. Karen’s willingness to approach this process with a curiosity mindset was a fey factor of her ultimate sustained fat loss and overall transformation.

changing mindsets: the scale is just information

In our conversation, Karen revealed one of her game-changing moments: transforming her outlook on the scale. She shared how this shift in mindset became a pivotal milestone, where she no longer perceives the number on the scale as the ultimate measure of health, but rather a mere metric to guide her progress. 

Karen’s journey also involved releasing the grip on a specific weight class ingrained by her competitive jiu-jitsu background. Instead, she embraced a new goal: feeling empowered and thriving in her health and strength.

the reverse phase: a crucial part of the fat loss process

One of the topics we discussed during our conversation was the importance of the reverse phase in the fat loss process. After a fat loss phase, it is necessary to gradually increase calorie intake back to maintenance levels. This can be a challenging time for people, as they may feel tempted to continue pushing for more weight loss. 

Karen candidly shared her experiences with this phase, expressing both readiness to transition initially and an inclination to maintain the lower calorie intake, until a crucial reminder brought her attention to the importance of observing her body’s signals. This led to a profound realization: tuning into cues like sleep quality and energy levels proved instrumental in determining the right path forward during the reverse phase.

normalizing hunger and overcoming societal pressures

Karen’s journey illuminated the significance of regular eating habits and refraining from skipping meals. She shared how maintaining a consistent fuel intake throughout the day made a substantial difference in her overall quality of life.

During our discussion, Karen candidly expressed grappling with societal pressures that misrepresented hunger, portraying it as undesirable rather than a natural bodily response. If you algo grew up in the 80’s or 90’s, chances are, this is familiar to you too. We debunked the outdated stigmas surrounding hunger, normalizing it as a biological response.

Karen’s journey epitomizes the empowering shift away from such misconceptions about hunger that often go hand in hand with a macro journey.

Karen’s journey embodies a powerful narrative of transformation and resilience. Her story isn’t just about numbers on the scale or shifting calorie counts; it’s a testament to the fundamental shift in mindset—a shift from seeing hunger as a foe to understanding it as a natural biological response. 

I hope her story serves as an inspiration to embrace our bodies’ cues, foster a compassionate relationship with ourselves, and embark on a path towards well-being driven by understanding, curiosity, and self-compassion.


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  • DIY Macros Guide – Follow this free guide to set your own macros so you can start eating to your needs ASAP!

  • Macros Made Easy – Get on the waitlist to learn when we enroll next and qualify for exclusive bonuses. This is a professional led, self-paced online course that teaches you how to track macros—the stress-free way. Learn how to eat for your unique needs so you can be in the driver’s seat of how you look, feel and perform without relying on a restrictive diet plan ever again.
  • Eat to Lean Coaching – If you’ve mastered the basics of macros, but there’s still room for more clarity and personalization for your particular goals, join us in Eat to Lean Coaching! ​In this group coaching program you’ll learn nutrition, exercise and mindset changes alongside other women who are in your exact shoes.

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