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Episode 06: Amy Tsai - Fit & Fierce Over 40
There are many components to self-care and to the overall field of fitness. No matter what stage of life you are in, learning more about it will help you form your own individual, inclusive plan that will benefit you in many ways.
My guest this week, Amy Tsai, is the owner of Fit & Fierce, built specifically for women over 40 to help them get off the diet treadmill once and for all, to lose the weight and love their bodies for good.
Amy believes that you should never have to feel shame or guilt when it comes to eating the foods you want and enjoy. You’ll hear her dispel the hype about aging, believing that women can feel more energetic, youthful and vibrant over 40.
She will talk about how to have a newly inspired zest for life where everyday is your best day!
I’m down with that!
Hi, and welcome to Live Your Bloom. I'm Sharman Nittoli. And on my program, I like to interview people who are stepping out of their comfort zone and Living Their Bloom, identifying things that they never did before and taking that chance to do them now. And I often bring on experts that can help us get there. Like my guest today, Amy Tsai, who has this wonderful program called "Fit & Fierce Over 40". And I'm over 40, so I can't wait to hear about it. I'm just going to turn you right over to Amy right now. Welcome.Amy Tsai:
Thanks, Sharman. Thanks for having me here. What a pleasure to be on your podcast. And I'm a longtime fitness trainer here in Toronto, Canada. How many years? Probably about 25 years, if I had to count them all up. And so I transitioned actually into the coaching role. And the reason being why I did that was because I felt in the 25 years experience of training women, that they really struggled with body image and weight issues. And a lot of women thought that was because of their weight that caused their body image problems. But in reality, as I discovered over the years, that these are actually two separate issues, and they're actually a bigger topic than just, you know, fitness training and what have you. And I really felt the need that women over 40 need to come together and to really support one another and guide each other. Because you know, when you get to a certain age, you know, things change, as you know, right Sharman? It's not that pleasant, and we need to share our experiences so we can grow and feel better in our bodies. Because what used to work in our 20s didn't work in our 30s. And it certainly isn't working in our 40s and so on and so on. Right Sharman?Sharman Nittoli:
I know what that feels like, I used to have a exercise bar in my room, I used to be able to take my leg and put it up there and wrap it around. And I don't have it anymore.Amy Tsai:
I'm not far behind you there. But things change. And the important part for women is we need to change as we age. And this is the biggest mistake that women don't do. They always think about what was or comparing themselves to other women, which is really unrealistic. You can only compare yourself to yourself, right? And that's the most fair way to assess yourself in terms of how did you feel yesterday versus how you felt today? And then so on it, you can you know, you can even go back as last week last month, when did we start going back to years and decades before, you know? It's not to say that it's not possible to feel like in your 20s however, that takes up a lot of time and energy. Unless you have that time that time and energy, it's best just to move forward and feel the best that you can at the age that you're at. And that's really important for me because you know what, you know, in your, in your teens and in your 20s we're so self conscious of ourselves. And then once you've had your family and your careers, you realize you know what, those things just aren't as important anymore. It's about how I feel. And what I believe is what makes me feel better in my body.Would you say so Sharman?Sharman Nittoli:
I would and I also know that when I realize I've strayed a little bit from a diet that I know is healthy, I pay for it with my energy, my attitude, the way I get up in the morning, I might have trouble sleeping, it really truly affects me where it didn't affect me when I was 21.Amy Tsai:
But the biggest culprit in terms of women's struggles is really there's two things. One is the belief in the diet culture. And the other one is belief in yourself. And those are the two biggest when you peel back all these onion layers, it really boils down to do those two issues. And the reason being Why is the reason why women struggle is because you know when when you don't feel good in your body, when you don't feel good, or you don't feel like you look good in your body, we start detaching ourselves, we're like, we don't want to look in the mirror, you don't want to try our clothes, you don't want to wear things that look good. You just try to hide all the time, right? And then as well. So what happens is you detach yourself from yourself. And then if it's a weight struggle, which a lot of women do struggle with their weight, whether it's realistic or not, women feel like they need to be thinner than they should be. And so then what they do is they get on a diet and what the diet culture does is it even further detaches you from your body. So now your body becomes this foreign thing that you're just always being told what to eat, what to do, and so on and so on. And that's the real demise in the diet culture, because we're always seeking seeking answers outside of us. But the reality is, is all the answers that we're looking for in terms of being happy in your body or getting to your ideal weight is actually all here within you that you don't have to ask anybody you might need some guidance and direction and some accountability. But all the answers are right here, you're going to dig in a little deeper to get there. And same thing with the the other piece was the the belief in yourself right? When you, it really boils down to self love. If you struggle with self love, then you're gonna have issues in your physical body. Right? So that's going to show up in how you talk to yourself about yourself. Right? As we all know, we say things like, Oh my goodness, I can't believe I just ate that, oh my god, I'm such a this and such as that, and so on, you've stopped beating yourself up over and over again. And you do this continually. And for years and decades, you know, the statistics say that women struggle, women actually are on diets for 17 years of their life. That's one and 290 1% of women are unhappy with their bodies 91% as nine out of 10. And when you think about a Sharman, like when you think about your, your female friends over the years, and you think about the conversations that you have amongst yourselves, think about what you guys what we're all saying to one another, the conversations, it's all about die, how we hate our bodies, how we, you know, beat ourselves up, and so on and so on. Would you say that, that that was true for you as well,Sharman Nittoli:
I would. And I'm remembering my mom was a member of Weight Watchers her entire life and it became a social club. And the meeting happened to be next to Friendlys Ice Cream. So after they finished the meeting, they went over, oh, let's have a banana split. And they, and they labeled it good that we went to the meeting- bad that we had something we really wanted, which I think that labeling, that good bad, you know, if I make a bad choice in the morning, does it mean I'm going to be bad all day and make bad choices?Amy Tsai:
And that's part of the diet culture? Right? Bad food. You know? And then reality is. Sharman, is that food doesn't make you gain weight. People are so, women are so terrified of the food that's put in front of them, or the idea of certain types of foods. And that's because of the diet culture, the diet culture says don't eat chips, don't eat cookies, don't eat pop, don't drink pop, don't drink alcohol, don't do this. And so on. You guys know the list, right? So what ends up happening is that now that top 10 list of foods that you're not supposed to have has become, has now become the forbidden food list. So the idea of thinking about it, wanting it having it all that means for women i beating ourselves up, I just at that thru. I feel so guilty. I' shaming myself guilty myself fo the food that you've eaten. Me nwhile, it wasn't the food th t made you gain weight, it wa actually what precedes it, wh t's actually going on in your mi d that prompted you to have that ice cream or that cookie, or t e food. And this is what's happ ning is we have guilt and s ame. And we have deprivation So ice cream, okay, you feel guilty and shameful for having it. But yet you feel deprived for having it. So it's like guilt, shame deprivation, it's like there's no win, you just never get off, right? So what happens is, you know, we eat this food, you feel guilty, you beat yourself up over the head for whatever timeframe that you do -10-20 minutes, maybe more maybe the whole night. And the reality is, you'd never get off that teeter-totter. So it's, it's you've got to break that cycle, and know how to break that cycle is really about understanding what it is that you're saying to yourself about yourself, beating yourself all this negativity, you've got to change that language around. Because like I said, it's not the food, you've got to get to the bottom, the root cause of why you're eating when you're not hungry.Sharman Nittoli:
And this ties in with my theory that I have for Live Your Bloom, which is that if you're not living a fulfilled life, it doesn't matter if you're retired, or you're working or whatever. If you're not living a fulfilled life, you're going to have to fulfill yourself from someplace else. You know, I love my teacher friends, and they work very hard. They don't have good eating habits, that's for sure. Because the frustration level is so high. So they try to release it through food. You know, I always find when I'm doing what I should be doing, what's in my heart to do, I can really make better choices in everything I do. Yeah, I don't have to be extreme. I just feel better. My my attitude is better. And I can make better choices.Amy Tsai:
Yes. And the thing about eating call it bad food. Call it ice cream, for example, is you either eat it or you don't. That's it. There doesn't have to be an emotion attached to it. End the story, you don't have it because you don't feel like having it. It's not something that you really need, and you can forego it and you just let it go. And the key is to let it go. And that's how you break that cycle. Because at the end of the day, all you got to get over is one thing and that's you. That's what's going on in your mind. Is that hard? It can be there's no question that changing your habits is hard. And part of the reason why changing habits is so hard is because we don't understand how the mind works. So we have your conscious mind and your subconscious mind and your conscious mind is supposed to be the driver of the car. And your subconscious mind is the passenger of the car. And when we get to the age of 35 - 95% of our day is run by habits at the age of 35. Right? So then what happens is, the passenger to the cars become the driver and the drivers become the passenger. So now you're fighting 95% of your habits with 5% of your conscious mind. Right? So tell me that's not hard. Key is to not get caught up in that negativity. Because when you get caught up in that negativity, then you're just back on that hamster wheel; guilt, shame, deprivation, guilt, shame, deprivation. You got to figure out how to get off that get always called treadmill. But get off that teeter totter, get off that diet, treadmill, whatever it may be. That's what you got to recognize is you've got to change that thought pattern not to beat yourself up and go, okay, you know, what, if I'm going to eat this, I'm going to enjoy it. I'm going to savor it. And I'm going to love it. And I'm going to be like, yeah, that was so good. And that's the end of it. Right? And that's a tough one, it's this sort of work is possible. However, it does take time, because sometimes even our thought process has become habitual things we say to ourselves, have become habitual, like, Oh, my God, I can't believe I ate that. I can't believe I just did that, you know, I'm such a this, such a that has become a habit as well that you've got to recognize and learn to transition that into something positive. So one of the exercises that I do for my clients is I get them to write down all the horrible things that they say to themselves. And then I would probably say most of the ladies will look at that list and go, like they're sick to their stomach. And like, I would never talk like that to anybody, but they need to see it on piece of paper like, Oh my god, I can't believe this is what I say. And then on the other side of the page, you write the exact opposite. Instead of saying, I can't believe I just ate that piece of cake, you can say, oh, my goodness, I just enjoyed the best piece of cake ever, you know, and just allow yourself to have it, enjoy it and then move on.Sharman Nittoli:
You have three components that I read on your website that said the shamer, I got that the blamer, the postponerAmy Tsai:
Yeah, the postpone or the blamer. Okay, so we talked about the shame or the blame, or is always blaming things outside of us not taking responsibility for our own actions. Oh, because I had to work at six in the morning till 12 at night, or whatever it may be, right? It just means, you know, so we're always we're always seeking excuses outside of us. But instead of taking responsibility, and we start taking responsibility for your own actions, that's a huge step. That is such a big step that we don't typically recognize, we always want the big wins. And the big wins, typically, again, come from the diet culture, lose 10 pounds in three days, right? Until you start eating again. You know. And then the postponer is, oh, it's gonna go away, it'll get better just waiting and waiting, you know, at the age, you know, when you get to, like, 35 and up, you got to take action. If you want things to change, you've got to take action. If you don't take action, nothing's gonna happen if things aren't just gonna magically disappear. It's not like in life, you know, we're all old enough to say that there are no shortcuts in life Sharman, right. I mean, we think about our life school, you know, post secondary school, you know, career family, finding a partner, having children, raising children, you know, holding a household that there was no shortcuts. And health and fitness is no different. There are no quick pills anywhere, it's all work. But it can be enjoyable,Sharman Nittoli:
It's the choice also of your fitness program, which involves so, so much, not just the exercise, but the choice of the exercise. I follow my dog because he's a little older, and he needs to walk 4 or 5 times a day, but he can't go as far as he used to. If he walks, I walk, if I walk, I feel better, you know,Amy Tsai:
Focusing on what feels good, right?Sharman Nittoli:
Dancing, moving something, you know, something that is not going to hurt me, safe yoga. I think I used to do a lot of yoga, there are moves that I really just can't make anymore. But sometimes I stop. And when I stop, I pay for it.Amy Tsai:
Yes. Yeah. So it's all about you know, if we decide to do things that make you feel good, so focusing on how it makes you feel, then in most cases, you will make better decisions for yourself. So the thing about the conscious-subconscious mind is your is because your habits are 95% of our daily tasks or movement, is that your mind is saying go for a walk but your body's saying sit on the sofa and watch TV or watch Netflix or whatever, right? So you just got to get over that point. So you got to think okay, my mind is saying this, but my body's taking over. My body typically wins and that's why you know, sitting on the sofa. So now that you know that you can go 3, 2, 1 and you just get up and go. My husband likes to keep me in bed in the morning. Because it's cozy and of course, but I get up at 4:45 two or three mornings a week. And he'll say to me, "oh, just stay in bed." I'm like, you can't say stuff like that, to me, I go 3,2,1. , I gotta go and I get up. I' m a sleep, inner.Sharman Nittoli:
But How nice that he wants you to stay, you know, I also think, again, scheduling, which is what I help people with, is just having a schedule and, holding yourself accountable. Nothing like saying, if you're not a morning person, you're not going to get, if you can't get up at 4:30, you're not going to get up at 4:30. So if you get up at 9, there's got to be some plan. That's right, what am I going to do? You know, what am I going to do of activity today and hold yourself to it. You could put Netflix on pause, you know, I just go quick. You can do 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there. I do that a lot of times, but there is that other voice that will say, oh, what the heck you No, no, no, no, not what the heck, that's the accountability factor that we would instill in our children. And as teachers I instilled in my students, but when we get older, we're not really following our own advice.Amy Tsai:
Very good, right? Yeah, that's right. We're really good at dishing it out.Sharman Nittoli:
Oh, yeah. Yeah.Amy Tsai:
But you're right, scheduling is a big one. That's one of the tools that I use schedule, your food schedule, your activity doesn't have to be an hour, you know, people think they need an hour, no, they just need whatever time you've got, if you got 10 minutes in between something, then it's 10 minutes. If you got 20 minutes, then it's 20 minutes, it's all about making that physical activity work for you based on your schedule, right, I just was on a call with two other women. And she's got a two year old and two older kids. And she you know, basically, she told me didn't have a shower, she had a baseball cap on a big sweater. And I said, Yeah, she goes, I'm gonna start scheduling it in 10 minutes, go for a walk, get some fresh air, because now there's no you know, with the lockdown, there's no boundaries that work in home is kind of like this now, and you got to be able to separate yourself and do those activities. But yes, scheduling is a huge part of what I the advice.Sharman Nittoli:
And also, you know, you have to make yourself a priority, I'm, I'm doing this, I'm going to, I'm going to do healthy shopping, I'm going to spend maybe a little bit more, I'm going to have my food over there, I do this and say you see that drawer, don't go in it, because you got the rest of the refrigerator, but don't go in that drawer. That's my drawer. And you know, because I used to come home and my husband, God bless him, would take all the food I bought and make an Italian style 'jumbot salad', all of it, you know, with fruit, chicken and everything else. And I - thank you so much. That's so kind of you and thoughtful. But we have to have a talk -- and you negotiate, you know, What do you say to somebody who's this to say 30 pounds overweight? Which, which is kind of what happens when we hit 50 or 60? somehow we're like, Whoa, what happened? My waist? 30 pounds overweight? Where do they start? What's the first thing that they do?Amy Tsai:
Right, so there's two ways of going about it. And this is what I tell my clients is to figure out, make a list of things that you want to improve on, call it a list of top five, okay, so you can take the easiest, the quickest win is option one, and then work your way down the list. So number them, the list of five things or three things or whatever it is that you're trying to improve on weight loss feel good, or whatever they are, right, quickest win is number one, and then work your way down the list, the next quickest win, then the third and the fourth, and so on. That's one way of doing it. The other way of doing is taking that exact same list, and figuring out what the biggest pain point is. So let's say, let's say the 30 pounds it just, makes you just so uncomfortable. And it just really gets you down in the gutter. And maybe that's your biggest point pain point. And start with that. Right? So there's different ways. So sometimes, you know, small win, quick wins go a long way, because it's the little wins that make the biggest progress. However, people always want the big wins. But that's a that's because the diet culture- lose 10 pounds in three days, you know, like crazy stuff like that, right? So biggest pain point, or quick win. Those are the two things that I usually try to get my clients to figure out which one they want to tackle first. Sometimes their biggest pain point isn't all that painful, quick wins is better for them on their psyche to get them feeling better, and so on and so on. So those are the two ways that I suggest.Sharman Nittoli:
Okay, good. Yeah. And you have a special event coming up so maybe you can share that.Amy Tsai:
So I've got a free five day "Fuel Your Body Cleanse" and what that is, it is a cleanse where you're going to focus on fueling your body, nourishing your body and nurturing your body. Right. So getting rid of a lot of the junk that's a real opportunity to break some of those bad habits that you've developed over the last months or whatever it may be the months and years, it's a real opportunity to to do that. And as well to nourish and fuel your body and what happens there is it's not a diet, I believe in cleanses and detoxes to really give your body a break your organs like your liver and your kidneys and your gall bladder, and what have you. So it's real opportunity to fuel nourish, and nurture your body. And, and, you know, weight loss is just a byproduct of what's happening. And, and, but it's really about learning how to eat properly and nourish your food, because all their nutrients are mostly in vegetables and fruit in the fresh produce. That's where nutrients are, but we spend a lot of time eating the dry dead food, right. So it's getting rid of that sort of stuff, and focusing on nourishing and fueling your body. And that's five days, and that's starting on May the 17th. So it's a Monday to Friday, and the cut off time is May the seventh because I have a week, where we're going to be spending some time prepping, that's a really big piece to make sure that you're successful. And I've got some options in terms of what you can eliminate from your eating habits and what you can't eliminate. So that's it. So it's very personal. Because like I said, Every woman is different. Everybody's different. We have different circumstances. So there so I'm making this cleanse very personal for every individual.Sharman Nittoli:
So will they need - will I need a juicer, which I have, but I have a NutriBullet which I use, but will it will people need that piece of equipment or something like it?Amy Tsai:
You don't need you don't need that if you have a blender or juicer, of course you can incorporate that into your daily eating, but it's not necessary. So it's really about consuming whether it's in juice form or blended form or eating form on a plate - either one of those words. So it's really that, you know, the guidelines are pretty loose in the sense that I want to make it work for everyone. Because if you're someone who's been eating hot dogs and hamburgers for a decade, and then all of a sudden you're eating all vegetables, and no meat and just fish that person might have a hard time. Right. So it's really about making it personal for you. It seems complicated, but it actually isn't. It's just really taking it right down to the basics and being organized and plan and prepare for the five days.Sharman Nittoli:
Now, some of us have medical concerns and we're on certain medications, do you think this is something that they're going to have to let their doctor know? Is it that kind of? I'm not gonna say invasive, but is it something that should let their doctor know that they're going to do?Amy Tsai:
I don't think so. You know, I think this is a you know, I don't think so I think regardless of what medication are on, you should be able to do this. And for some people that, you know, you might need to incorporate a few more things into your diet and make it work. But we're going to have a a zoom call, like probably five or six days before we start to have to talk about the guidelines and to make sure that everybody's prepared for this cleanse. However, if you're someone who's been in odd hot dogs and hamburgers for for a decade, yeah, you might have some you might have some, you might get a headache, you might not feel well. And that's because you're really nurturing your body and getting rid of all those toxins out of your body and giving those organs a break. So there is a possibility for that. And you won't know to you do it. And and and that's that's definitely something that I need. I do need to mention it. It just all depends on everybody's diet, right? So if you're someone who's already clean eating clean, then you probably won't have a big a bigger, what do you call that aSharman Nittoli:
.....reaction? Yeah, I know that I know there's a word for it. But But I know what it is. Because I've done that when I sometimes when I've been I've lost my willpower, and my discipline, and there have been times when I felt it the next day. So I do tell people when they do this, try the day that you're starting or even the first two days, don't have a taxing schedule because you might feel wonderful, you might. But once it kicks in there is this feeling of euphoria and clarity. That is one thing I know when I'm on the right path and drinking water. I have a clarity. I feel it in my eyes and it's just a it's a very youthfull feeling and it's worth I walk taller. So then when I look in the mirror, I look thinner, you know the whole thing.Amy Tsai:
You're absolutely right. So it's for people that are feeling tired all the time. They're feeling sluggish. You've got gut problems, you got joint problems, any any type of physical ailment that you might be having, having hard time sleeping, anything like that, but a lot of gut problems, joint pain, body aches and stuff like that. That's as a result of lifestyle choices. And it's inflammatory response. And your body's going, Oh, my goodness, I need some attention. So if you're suffering from any of those things, or even eczema, skin condition, it's it's definitely cleaning up your eating habits can make a huge difference in how you feel. And that gives me that clarity, getting rid of that fog out of your head. And you're right, you might feel worse before you feel better. For some, for some people,Sharman Nittoli:
it's just to be able, if you need to lay down, be able to lay down, you know,Amy Tsai:
Drinking lots of water, you know, and it's an opportunity to cut out caffeine if you want to, of course, it's not necessary. So it's really a personal way of doing a cleanse and having it guided and getting some support and guidance and accountability along the way.Sharman Nittoli:
Will it be done on Facebook? Or will it be done through zooms? Will we meet every day? Or what will happen? Okay, I'm asking all this, because I'm going to be there. So I gotta know, I gotta map it out already.Amy Tsai:
Good question. So prior to the cleanse, starting, we're going to meet up on zoom. And then during the cleanse, we're going to be on Facebook. And then at the end of the cleanse, we're going to meet back up on zoom to do a little recap and see everybody was feeling do a little Q & A, but I'm going to be available for the full five days for questions and stuff like that, and we're gonna even play a little game, Sharman, we're gonna have a little self-care bago. So every day you get to fill in some squares. And that helps with accountability, and for some engagement, to support everybody in this journey of during this cleanse. And then and then yeah, have some videos and recommendations and so on. So we're gonna have some fun.Sharman Nittoli:
t sounds so ood. And so perfect. You know hat one of your statements also s to prioritize without guilt. nd I agree with that, when I ork with people on scheduling, rioritize yourself without uilt. You know, if you look at our day, and you kind of map it ut, sometimes we're just not etting done the things we want o get done, because the day is ust not long enough. You know, o sometimes it involves saying o to certain things and rioritize, I got to do this, ecause this is going to feed my nergy to do this. And who's onna benefit from that onderful personality? You, my amily, my friends, so don't, ou know, look, it's a kind of hat synergistic thing. But just o prioritize and don't feel uilty about it.Amy Tsai:
That's right, because feeling guilty is back on that teeter - totter. Yep, want to get off that teeter - totter? Yeah. And, and women and women are so good at guilting themselves and making themselves feel bad. And, you know, and and it's built into our DNA, and we kind of have to fight against it. And we shouldn't feel guilty for spending time on herself because everybody benefits, right. But you know, it's like that analogy Sharman, where when you're on an aeroplane, and you know, when the when the students at the front talking about the emergency protocols? When the mask comes down? What do they say put the mask on you first, then on to the child. Right? Yeah. And it's the same analogy, you got to look after yourself. And therefore you can look after other people. And you can't look after other people. If you can't look after you, if you don't look after yourself, right? Long term.Sharman Nittoli:
Now, I'm going to have your information on the page. So when people listen to this podcast, they'll know where to go. But for people who may be listening after this particular challenge is over, am I right to assume that you do this once in a while? And if they were to go to your website? Where would they go to just find out when the next one would be?Amy Tsai:
Okay, so the website isn't quite out yet. But you can always find me my Facebook pages is really where to go. I've got two public pages there one that is open, it's public. It's 'Fit & Fierce Over 40". And then I also have a closed community group specifically for women. Well, this is where we're going to be doing the the five day club, "Feel your Body Cleanse", it's going to be inside the community group. And any woman can join in there as well.Sharman Nittoli:
This has been a joy, it's so much in line with what I believe and what with the people that I work with. And you know what people, even if you have no weight to lose, there's still something to be gained from this five day challenge. Yes, it's just that that clarity, that energy, and I'm sure that you'll learn a lot more I'm sure I will too. And I used to teach exercise when I was younger. I took all those tests and all that, forgot most of it, but I know the science of it. So thank you so much for being a guest today. This is a great talk and I will definitely see you. Yeah, for the 17th. So thank you okay, Amy Tsai. Thank you. Be well everybody Happy Blooming. Remember, prioritize without guilt.