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I'm very excited to announce that my podcast — The Balanced Vibes podcast — is here!
Thanks so much for tuning in! Please listen to the first, introductory episode below…
Welcome to the Balanced Vibes Podcast!
I've been thinking about starting my own podcast since the summer of 2019… And in April of 2020, it's finally here.
I started this podcast because I wanted to create a resource that truly represents balanced approach to health and fitness, without any extremes because extremes simply don't work. There's so much black and white, all or nothing, right or wrong thinking in the food and fitness industry, but this podcast is different.
What You Can Expect From This Podcast
Goals. My main goal is to bring you a well-rounded, balanced approach to health and fitness that is free from black and white, all or nothing mindset.
We all say that we want to have balance in our lives, however, we often end up choosing extreme approaches… Because they're tempting! I'm hoping that this podcast will help you to find that true middle path because this is where the real health happens.
We keep it fun and complaint-free. I want this podcast to offer great insights into health and wellness and touch many serious topics, but I also want to keep it light and positive. That way, it will be more fun for both you, the listeners, and for me as well as I'm putting together the episodes. My mantra is: No negativity, no complaining and no victim mindset. The focus is on broadening our understanding of what true health and fitness looks like, and provide solutions that help you, the listener, to get there.
Guests. I'm planning to bring on a lot guests. Every time when I've had an inspiring conversation with someone, I tell them: I wish I had a podcast so I could interview you! Now I finally have this opportunity, and I'm happy to bring the knowledge that these people have to share, to you. Of course, there will be plenty of solo pods as well, where you hear me talking about what's on my mind.
Practical tools but also venting… In many of these episodes, I will be sharing tools and tips, but there will also be many where I sit down and talk because there's something on my mind and heart that I have to let out. I'm a pretty intuitive (and sometimes impulsive) person so when I get the feeling that I have to talk about a certain topic NOW, I probably just sit down and record it. It's going to be real and raw, that's for sure!
Length of the episodes. The episodes will be 20-60 minutes in length, and I'm planning to release a new one at least one a week. There probably will be some surprise episodes though!
Before we get to our first official episode, I want to give you a little backstory about myself: Who I am, what I do and why I do what I do. When you read or listen to my story, there's a good chance that you recognize yourself in some parts of it, and maybe even say: That's me too!
I’ve been athletic from a very young age. I did track and field and played basketball through high school. In high school and college I was a competitive javelin thrower. Because I was so active, I stayed in shape easily and never had to worry about what I ate and how it affected my bodyweight. I've always had a huge sweet tooth, but it never caused me problems. I never thought about calories, burning fat or losing weight. Until a few years after high school…
I Lost 30lbs In 5 Months
In the first few years of college, by the time I was 20 or 21, I had gained quite a bit of weight. That didn't happen because I was partying, drinking beer and eating pizza as happens to many people, but because I missed home. I also got my first car and drove much more, and I had stopped track and field. So, there I was, eating several large bars of chocolate almost every night, to soothe my feelings.
At one point, I realized that I really want to lose the weight that I had put on. I never thought that I'm an unworthy person when my weight was higher; that wasn't really what I dealt with. The problem was I wasn't used to having this softer body, I had always been so athletic. That was new to me and very uncomfortable.
I joined the Weight Watchers to get rid of that weight that I had put on. In Weight Watchers, we had our daily points that we could eat. I remember to this day that I was allowed to eat 21 points. Most days, I ate less and also ran a ton — at least an hour every morning, which put me in a huge caloric deficit every day. As a result, I lost a lot of weight quickly: About 14-15kg/30lbs in 5 months. But I also became severely overtrained…
Losing So Much Weight Was Unhealthy For Me
While I was feeling high from all the weight that I had lost, I also started developing health issues. They were caused by working out too much, sleeping badly, and not eating enough. Here's what overtraining can really do…
For example, my sleep got really bad which was a totally new thing for me because before that, I had always been a great sleeper. I remember that when I was in high school, my mom would have to try to wake me up a million times before I actually got out of bed and ready for school. I would always sleep long on weekends. Now, I started waking up around 4-5am, exhausted, anxious, and not knowing what's going on (I now know that it was probably because of chronically elevated cortisol). Even though I was exhausted, I headed out to run as soon as the sun was up.
I also lost my period. The condition where you lose your period as a result of overtraining and under eating is called Hypothalamic Amenorrhea which I also didn't know about until years later. When I first stopped getting my period, I went to see several doctors. They did multiple tests but found nothing; they concluded that they don't know what the problem was. They asked: You don't want to have babies right now, right? I was in my mid twenties, so no, I didn't. I have never been sure that I want babies at all, so I wasn't too concerned.
I didn't know that not having a period is dangerous in so many ways.
There was one doctor who suspected that maybe I’m too skinny to have a period, but at the same time, my BMI was in low 20s or high 19s which is considered “normal”, so technically, there should have been nothing “wrong” with me. Of course, now I know that BMI may tell nothing about your health, so this really isn't the right number to look at when talking about someone's health.
I was also cold al the time, was quite irritable, had headaches and low energy. I was 21 but my sex drive was tanked.
How Strength Training Changed My Relationship With Food
From 2007 to 2012, I ran every morning at least 10K. I didn't hate it. I loved the runner’s high. I loved being fit and conditioned. While my behavior was definitely obsessive, for example, I couldn't go day without training or I'd feel incredibly guilty, I also didn't hate running.
In around 2013, I got into Crossfit and started doing a bit more strength training, and continued to run but much less. This was the point where I realized that I have to eat more when I want to get stronger and perform better at CrossFit. When I was still running a ton, my diet consisted of foods like pasta, oatmeal, some tuna and chicken, some bread, and lots of veggies. I was barely eating any fats at all, and my protein was always whatever the lightest thing was that I could find.
As I started CrossFit, my eating got definitely better. Back then, Crossfit went strongly hand in hand with the Paleo diet, so I decided to change my diet too. The Paleo diet, looking back, had its pros and cons, but the great thing for me was that it taught me to eat more fats and more nutritionally great foods. Before that, I had been very deprived from fats (no wonder my hormones were messed up!). Now, I started eating tons of fats and more protein. My diet definitely improved.
The problem was though that because all grains and even potatos were out of question, I ate quite little carbs, which, considering my activity level was not a great thing. But I didn't know it back then. I also binge ate on occasion, which happens with most people once in a while when they deprive themselves too much.
Instead of modifying, I was thinking that if I sign up for something, I have to go all in with it, or else I'm not doing it correctly. A typical perfectionist thinking!
How I Realized I Was Overtrained
From 2014-2016, I continued to run but replaced my CrossFit with HIT training. I did it at least 6 days a week, and some days I'd run in addition to that.
In 2016, some signs of serious burnout started showing up stronger than ever before. I had less motivation, I was really tired, I had hard time finishing my workouts, now matter how I tried to push through them.
At one point, I inured my wrist and went to an acupuncturist to see if he could help. What I really like about the Eastern medicine practitioners is that they look at the human’s body holistically. My acupuncturist asked me a lot of questions — about my mood, sex drive etc.
When I mentioned that I hadn’t had my period for 10 year but I didn’t know what to do about it… he told me that this is definitely not normal, and that it's likely caused by overtraining & undereating. He told me to cut back in the gym and rest more.
You may think that hearing this news was shocking… It was, for a second, but overall, I handled it better than I thought I would. I had become really burnt out after doing HIT almost daily and sleeping very poorly for over a decade…
I needed this permission from him. Go outside for a walk instead of doing a hard workout sounded like a permission. It’s funny to think that I needed this permission from him, but I hadn't been able to give it to myself.
Soon we went to Hawaii for Christmas. It was different this time because in the past I used to work out all the time when on a vacation, now I was just walking…
My energy started coming back 3-4 months after starting this. I also started sleeping better. I remember waking up after 8 hours sleep and feeling like a million bucks. 5 months after I had stopped working out, my period came back.
The Great and the Not-So-Great Side Of Body Positivity
While I was recovering, I had learned more about Body Positivity movement. It offered such a great perspective: Everyone, include those in bigger bodies, can be amazing people and do awesome things, and everyone should be accepted regardless of their bodyweight, shape, size, color… You don't have to have this super athletic body to be someone!
I liked the idea and started feeling more comfortable in my own skin too — more comfortable in this new looking body that wasn't as thin and athletic as it had been before.
However, I also started noticing some downsides of the Body Positivity movement. To me, some parts of the movement started feeling obsessive and judgmental in a different way. Here are some things that I saw people saying:
If you work out regularly, you have a body obsession and workout addiction. Every food restriction is obsession. No one should ever lose weight; intentional weight loss means that you're obsessed. Wanting to change your body is a bad thing.
I simply couldn't agree with these statements.
I am not against Body Positivity if its goal is to truly accept and empower people in all kinds of bodies… but I’m against extremes, which I noticed started showing up more and more in these communities. Of course, eating disorders are a big problem and I don't want anyone to ever suffer from those; but at the same time, let's not judge those who like to exercise and want to change their bodies in a healthy way. Wanting to change your body doesn't equal having, or developing an eating disorder!
Balance Is The Ultimate Answer
I want to make sure that you know that I don't have anything about Body Positivity movement when it's done in a right way, but a lot of times, it isn't. I also don't think that the typical dieter mindset is right — it isn't. The truth is in between.
A Bit More About Me…
In the second part of today’s podcast, I share a bit more about myself, not related to health and fitness but on a more personal level.
I was born and raised in Estonia. If you know where that is, that's great and a virtual high five to you! I also lived in Finland for 4 years before coming to the USA in 2012.
I came to USA to do part of my PhD here in Berkeley, California. This ended up being the best year of my life!
I found out several things about myself. For example, that I'm actually not socially awkward person and I like to be around other people more than I thought… I was in the right environment where all the chips fell in the right place. I'm still much more introverted but I'm not running away from people!
This year was a great eye opener for me. You may know that Berkeley is an extremely open-minded and liberal area where you can meet all kinds of people. I met many of them who went to school for one thing and now did something completely different for living…
For example my husband whom I met in Berkeley as well: I was surprised to learn that he studied biology in college, but was now making a living with online marketing. I had never thought about it that way — is it really possible? I had had a feeling that what I had been studying for such a long time, wasn't really the right thing for me, and now I was getting signs that hey, maybe it's time to change something about it…
After my year in California was over, I went back to Estonia to complete my PhD. It was my last year, so even though I had decided to not stay in Academia, I wanted to finish what I had worked so hard for.
The last few months of writing my thesis were super intense, because at the same time I was also studying for my personal trainer certification. And, on top of that, I was doing Crossfit and running, and had the worst insomnia of my life (looking back, likely caused by too much training).
I finished school, got certified as a personal trainer, and came back to USA in 2015. I've been involved in fintess, professionally, since then.
See You In The Next Episode of the Balanced Vibes Podcast!
That's it for our first episode! Our next episode is all about balanced in fitness and how to achieve that. Please tune in!
If you have any thoughts or questions, please comment below or connect with me on Instagram. If you liked the episode, please leave a 5-star review on iTunes.
Simple Strength For Women — A Bodyweight Strength Training Program for Women after Hypothalamic Amenorrhea