I’m so excited to share this interview with one of my favorite experts in the Health and Fitness world – Leigh Peele.
Leigh is the real deal.
What do I mean by that?
Well, she’s one of the top experts in the Fitness industry, she cares more about her clients than some people do about their own family and she’s one of the sweetest people I’ve had the good fortune to meet through this blog.
If you’re looking for someone to help coach you through something as challenging as fat loss, how can you go wrong with that type of coach?
Here’s a little piece from Leigh’s “About” page that gives you a little insight into the kind of person she is…
My ultimate purpose is to help educate people on the most efficient methods of making yourself become the person you want to be. Inside and out. I don’t believe in wasting time and I don’t believe in agreeing to dogma protocol for the sake of it. If something isn’t right, it just isn’t right and it is okay to say that. Trust me, my honesty is the best thing you have on your side.
Leigh is also one of the most sought after experts in the fitness industry.
She’s trained a range of people from famous people on TV, Professional Athletes and people with the hardest job of all, Moms and Dads. I’m a little biased 🙂
In this interview we cover….
1. Leigh’s unique approach to fat loss coaching
2. The “Mental” & “Technical” side of Fat Loss
3. Common Roadblocks to Fat Loss and What It Takes To Overcome Them
4. Understanding What It Really Takes To Achieve Fat Loss
5. Tools To Help Achieve Fat Loss
6. Leigh’s Website: www.LeighPeele.com
7. Cookbooks: Body By Eats Fat Loss Recipes
8. Leigh Peele Membership Site: Leigh Peele Members Area
Here’s the interview!
Tim Murphy: Hello and welcome to Renegade Dad Radio Show. This is your host Tim Murphy and my guest today is Leigh Peele. Leigh is The Master Of Fat Loss and has worked with every type of person from people on TV to Pro athletes to moms and dads but Leigh is much more than a fat loss expert. She is an honest tell it like it is kind of person who really cares about helping people to change their lives for the better and that is why I am so excited to have her on the show today. So let’s get to it.
Leigh, welcome to the show.
Leigh Peele: Thank you very much. That was quite an intro; my head is swole right now.
Tim Murphy: One of the things I find so unique about you is that you are one of the top experts in your field even though you don’t have a lot of formal education in the health industry. How did that happen?
Leigh Peele: You will find that there are quite a few people that are transitioning, they are kind of what they got in to be and move into the health industry. I think that it’s one of the most fascinating industries because it does that. I find so many people that have their B.A. and they have their M.S. in this and what they end up finding is they aren’t satisfied and I don’t have any of that. I was a musician before I was anything and I thought that I will give this whole music thing a shot, I’ll dive into that dream and ultimately, it kind of failed, I don’t know if you notice, I’m not famous and the reason I think it really didn’t take off very well is because I had absolutely no knowledge whatsoever of the business side of music; I just knew I liked playing, I liked hanging out with my friends, I liked touring, I liked going around the country and doing stuff like that and doing odd jobs in between. And I’ve had so many jobs and I’ve done so many things and I kind of hit that place in my life where I said to myself, “What am I doing? What am I doing with my life? I am not old yet but I’m getting to that point to where childhood dreams and irresponsibility starts to become…Oh you are that strange adult that hasn’t like grown up and has Peter Pan syndrome and I didn’t want to go in that direction. So, I kind of thought I need to get in shape, I need to get healthier, I need kind of to just shock this system a little bit and I looked into getting into shape. I looked into getting healthier and losing some weight. I have never been largely overweight or had any sort of issues like that but I certainly was pudgy and wanted to, for lack of a better term, back then tone it up and my idea of eating healthy back in the day and losing weight was if I ate a Nutri-Grain bar that somehow I would lose fat and maybe if I kind of looked at my Swiss Ball every once in a while and that was really like I just had no idea what I was doing and I found a message board forum and I started posting on there and asking some questions because previously that’s how I interacted in the online world like I was a part of like all kinds of message board forums and I was a forum board geek and that’s kind of like how I did things. So, I thought well I would find out about weight loss.
So, I started asking questions and investigating things and I lost some weight and got into shape and started training and getting like really obsessed with training and the kind of foods I ate and started following my own gurus and people that I take advice from. I then started kind of seeing holes, I started seeing like problems or places where people kept hitting these roadblocks. They were other success stories and there were people that had success upon success and kind of fit into a mold, if you will. They fit into the system very easily. They did what person said to do and for them it worked but there were other subset of people that they were trying to do those things and it didn’t work for them or by this point they were jaded or something had happened and there was always a reason for it; it’s just that they couldn’t find that reason and they couldn’t figure it out. So, I kind of started making suggestions and I came up with the original fat loss troubleshoot which was just a sticky that ended up on a forum for a while and it kind of had these things like “if you are doing this, check this and if you are having problem with this, check that”. And eventually, and to fast forward a little bit, years later I decided that I want to do this, I like helping people, I like helping change people’s lives and I started training people, anyone I could get my hands on for free and just training – athletes, moms, dads, kids – like anyone I could get my hands on – my friends were my guinea pigs getting, their family were my guinea pigs, people I had no idea. I put stuff on craigslist, I mean I wanted to get a hold of anyone I could and I think that’s how I kind of shot so fast was because I just said “I don’t care if I am getting money or not, I don’t care what’s happening with all this; I just want to know, I want the experience.” So, I gave myself a crash course experience, I got my certification, I started working at a gym. I was working just so much with people and starting to see pitfalls and things that happen continuously, things that are really good, things that are really bad and it just kind of went from there. My thirst for knowledge never stops ever. It doesn’t what the topic is. It can be music, it can be health and fitness, if I am into it, I want to know, I want to know all of it. And I think that’s also how I got to be respected in the industry even though my formal background education is not in it because technically, at least currently with licensing, there is none; you just have to have a certification for it. I didn’t just want to be a certification. I didn’t just have one, I had as many as I can possibly find because I thought that would make up for things. Eventually, I realized that it’s ultimately way beyond being a personal trainer; it not just about that. It’s about helping people figure out their lives and you can call that a life coach or you can call it a trainer or you can call it whatever you want but you don’t need any formal education for that; you just need a thirst for education. The proper education that a course will give you of course is certification and continue that but ultimately there are trainers that have kinesiology degrees and there are registered dieticians that have all types of course and yet they are my clients and they come to me for help and doctors and it is not because they are uneducated people, it’s just because this is what I am good at and this is what I do and it’s what I love and I am obsessed with it.
That being said, I just want to make it clear because I did an interview once and I answered a question somewhat similar to this and I love formal education for people and I think there is nothing wrong with it and had I had the hindsight now that I have, I definitely would have loved to go to school for kinesiology or actually I probably would have been a physical therapist, that’s probably what I would have enjoyed schooling with the most because it’s what I have, not necessarily the hardest time understanding but what I find to be most fascinating and the hardest to relate via just reading; I think it’s very hands-on kind of thing. So, this is a bit of a long answer but that’s kind of why I think I am maybe where I am and what drove me here and how it kind of happened in a short, a very short kind of way.
Tim Murphy: That’s an awesome answer and there’s so much valuable information in what you just said on so many different levels but, you know what, the experts as they call them, say “follow your passion and you’ll be successful”. So, you found your passion and you latched on to it and you progressed and became one of the top experts in your field because you are passionate about it. One of the things that I love about your message is that you are not dogmatic at all, you don’t push any type of particular diet for anybody and I think that the mental aspect of health and fitness is probably the most important piece of the puzzle and it’s probably the most neglected by at least what you see on the internet and in books. Was that just natural that you figured that out or…?
Leigh Peele: Yeah. You know what I think that it is, is – and I don’t mean this to present this is going to sound so cocky and I swear I am not trying to present it that way – when you understand how it works, when you understand how fat loss works, it’s no longer this mystery thing, you got it and when your clients understand how it works, they got it, they get how it works – this is fat loss, this is it what you do, it’s this, that and the other – and I am not saying that there can’t be complications to it because there can but there is a, if you will, formula for it and it will take place. There then you run into that roadblock of “Oh my god! I know how to do it and I know what to do and I know what has to like happen. Why am I not doing this?” and I was finding in this weird way for some clients or people that I was working with that it didn’t make it worse per se them knowing what to do but it led to a different subset of problems – procrastination, lack of motivation and guilt – all kinds of things that would come out of it once their focus wasn’t 24×7 – “Oh, it must be this”, “Oh, it must be my hormones” or “It must be that” or “It must be this” or “It’s got to be this”. Once those problems are solved or removed that’s an issue or weren’t an issue at all in the first place whatever that maybe, people come to the terms and to the conclusion that ultimately you are the driver in this, it’s just you and that’s the brilliant thing about fat loss or about health and fitness in general is that you can be as rich as you want to be, you can be as famous as you want to be, you can be a nobody, it doesn’t matter; this game is played by you, only you, you are the one that is in control of everything. And while other outside influences, support and, yes, financial means can be helpful, at the end of the day, it’s just you and that’s overwhelming, to say the least, and I felt that if you don’t have some sort of navigation or guide for how to deal with that, if you don’t understand why you are doing what you are doing, why are you putting this off, what are really the triggers behind these things, behind procrastination, behind wanting to binge eat, behind wanting to delay workout and what kind of brings this stuff on, what spurs it that you are going to end up with a lot of people going “I don’t know how to do this. I can’t, I can’t do this. This is too much, I am just throwing in the towel” and I didn’t want to see that happen.
So, like with everything else, I dove into kind of the psychology of it and it’s armchair psychology of course; I am not psychiatrist or psychologist but there are studies, there are things that we can look at in commonsensical ways or in cognitive ways, everything from NLP to some sort of like secret 1920 study that looked at what you did if candle was facing in this direction or if the marsh mellow was on the table here. I mean, there are just so many things you can look at and it’s fascinating and you can apply it to someone because all usually somebody needs is to go “Oh my god! Really, I am not alone? I am not crazy? Like, this is happening?” and when you tie that with physical things that take place like, just real quick for an example and since your readers that are listening are mostly people that are trying to do things, if you look at someone who is coming off of a diet and they were doing a challenge or something like that, they took part in somebody’s 30-day challenge or 12-week challenge or something like that and they did really, really good, they lost weight and they were so gung ho on things and they had a great transformation and all of a sudden the come off the challenge and they are like “You know what, I am going to take a break, I deserve a break, I have been going for all this time” and then all of a sudden this insatiable hunger comes out of nowhere and they start to eat and they just eat and eat and eat, they don’t stop until they put back all the weight and there are psychological and physical things at play. Physical things at play are rebound hypoglycemia, something that’s very real, something that takes place whenever you have not eaten for an extended period of time and you reintroduce carbohydrates; it’s something that will physically force you to gorge on everything in sight and it is not you, you are not crazy and the changes in your serotonin levels and everything that takes place in that moment from your glycogen stores to just everything, it will effect that on a physical level, not to mention feelings of being deprived and the emotional restrictions that you had during that time and maybe even ending up not totally loving what you see at the end because maybe it was the wrong system or maybe you were expecting it to mean too much, whatever, and there are so many things that in that moment can be explained or at least helped so that when someone comes out of that, they are not blind-sighted by this lack of knowledge and the experience that they are going through and everything doesn’t crumble and it’s those kind of things that I think make the difference for people and that could help someone from finishing a challenge and winning still afterwards, I can’t believe I just said winning, but doing well afterwards and someone that ends up right where they were, not four weeks later. I think that’s where I got fascinated with it by and I think I use it amongst many other things that help explain as best I can why things might happen.
Tim Murphy: It’s got to be, I would guess, the biggest issue for most people. It’s not necessarily that they don’t know how to eat healthy for example. I mean, if you put a tasty cake… I am in the Philadelphia area, so if you put a tasty cake in front of somebody…
Leigh Peele: Or a honey bun in front of someone down here.
Tim Murphy: Exactly, and then an apple.
Leigh Peele: No brainer, right?
Tim Murphy: No brainer, but what causes that person to say “I am going to eat the tasty cake again today” versus the person that says “No, I am not going to eat the tasty cake. I am going to eat the apple.”
Leigh Peele: It’s fascinating. I think one of the things that I find, especially with moms and dads in this kind of situation is the “Why am I doing this to myself?” comes into play and they are “Why am I doing this to myself? I have a family, I have a great life, things are going good.” I mean, in essence it’s change that’s trying to take place and you have to find these reasons and you have to look at the bigger picture and be like “Yeah, I believe that healthy people treat other people around them good.” So, if you are healthy and if you are in shape and if you take care of yourself, it means that maybe you get in one less fight with your life or maybe you have a little bit more patience in a situation with your son or daughter and maybe your confidence extends more to the people around you and they are just happier and they feel the vibe that you have and maybe you have to realize that your health and your safety and where you are and your own physical wellbeing extends on to them and it affects their lives. Sometimes that makes a lot more sense than “Yeah, you are going to get those abs, babe. Wash board.” And that’s what’s going to take place and I think it’s good to look at all facets of that. I think it’s good to look at how it all makes a person instead of just an event that it ends up usually becoming in that situation.
Tim Murphy: Yeah, I totally agree. So, when you work with clients, how do you dissect or how do you hone in on what the primary issue or challenge is for them to create a healthier lifestyle for themselves?
Leigh Peele: Well, there is usually a lot of talking about their mother and things they went through their childhood…just kidding.
Tim Murphy: I am sure.
Leigh Peele: It does come up. Sometimes, we as trainers are more therapists than we are trainers, that can certainly happen but I think ideally it’s looking at each individual for exactly what they are as an individual and understanding that in those circumstances is there a one-size-fit-all for anybody because there isn’t and I have seen every diet and I have known everyone go through every single diet in the world and there is no one diet; it does not exist. Certainly, there are some diets that are more nutritionally superior than others. You know i.e. Paleo versus I just read about Manhattan Diet where you eat with like chopsticks or something. But, obviously no-brainer there but essentially you have to look at someone’s individual cognitive experiences and while it might seem a little heavy, I like to go into what they really can feel they can achieve in their situation and how much pushing they can take, is this someone that needs to be challenged, they need to be bossed around, they need to be told what to do, they need you in their face in keeping you like totally accountable or is this someone that needs a little bit more baby-stepping, not coddling per se but a little more allowance for the fact that the pace you may want to move as a trainer sometimes isn’t exactly where they are at and it’s not about allowing your clients to walk all over you because that’s not what it is at all. In fact, I will get rid of that client in a heartbeat and it’s not a mean thing, it’s that I truly believe in people not wasting their time and if they are not there mentally, it’s not going to happen and let’s just move on but it’s about figuring out what rate of change they can take and where some of their roots are and it can mean something kind of different because a lot of the kind of, I don’t want to say gurus, but a lot of the big players work with athletes; that’s a very big thing. A lot of big players work with athletes and I have worked with athletes and I do work with athletes but I do think that what I do work with more are, for a lack of better term, common folk, just mom and dad or people that are just looking to change their general life, they are not looking to all of a sudden be a part of a big major sports team; that’s not what’s trying to take place. They want to look good, they want to feel good and they want to become a healthier person; that’s what they want. And I look at that and I look at their kind of roots and we talk about things. My assessment is heavy – there is a physical assessment and then there is an emotional assessment – and that’s what I say to people like “We are going to have an emotional assessment and then we are going to have a physical assessment” and I look at both equally – “Were you the fat kid that got teased in high school? Have you completely let yourself go and your glory days were in high school? I mean, what is going on? How did you get here? Where is your motivation? Why are you doing this? What is it that you hope to achieve?” and constantly focusing on that as a goal and addressing those issues step by step and, to be perfectly honest, a lot of my kind of training and programming is very unorthodox. I mean, there are some clients I have sort of helped them date, I have helped them with clothing changes and how they dress, I have helped them with all kinds of aspects of lifestyle. I can’t tell you how many clients of mine have become personal trainers in the fitness field or started doing other types of jobs because they realized that parts of that life is what was making them so unhappy that nothing getting in the shape is going to fix it, that they were thinking what’s going to fix it and I just don’t think that people understand how multifaceted this is, getting in shape is; it’s about so much more than just a little bit of training. It takes up so much more space than that and so with my clients. That’s how we approach it and that’s kind of how it starts. So, there is not necessarily a template but I always just kind of say to people if they are not a client of mine and we are just having a conversation “What is it that you want out of life and how does everything correlate with that, not just your physical fitness, and look at the big picture and I think it becomes a lot easier to see how that can play a role and be honest with yourself.” So, yeah, I mean that’s a long-winded way of answering that but…
Tim Murphy: No, once again, awesome and great information there and I think that’s why the health and fitness world, why there is so much information and so many books and just so much minutia out there and people keep buying different things or looking for the right fix when they are not really addressing the root cause or the root issue. I think it’s really difficult if you continue to have those issues where you know you are trying this diet and that diet and you are not getting the results. The issue might be something else, something deeper that once corrected, you are going to create the change that you want and having somebody like yourself to help do that is huge.
So, you essentially go through the emotional assessment and kind of determine what the roadblocks are preventing this person from achieving the results that they really want and what are the motivators or what are the mental tools that they need to have to get there. And then you do the physical assessment. What does that entail?
Leigh Peele: We talk so much about the emotional side of it but obviously I am a trainer and the physical aspect of it is essentially trying to understand where they are coming from physically and it’s kind of the same thing in some sense is it’s do you sit all day and running through a certain amount of screens and physical assessments, how they plank or how they squat, how they walk and what kind of postural distortions they may or may not have, things that I can asses personally or things that they need to be referred out to a physical therapist or things like that because there has been so many times that people have come to me and they are in just such bad shape that they really need someone’s hands on them on a level that I am not qualified for and working alongside and the same is true with a nutritionist a registered dietician and things like that, that kind of hands-on- ness, they can really benefit from that; but most of the time more than not a lot of things can be straightened out and kind of worked out in the weight room, if you will, and you kind of figure out what kind of training program is going to be appropriate for this person and I think everything being specialized is what makes having an actual trainer worth it instead of having some sort of template. The first gym that I worked at we just had cards that we used. I mean, I never really did it from the get go; I did it when I had to do in training but after that I didn’t know what to do with it and it didn’t make me a lot of friends but it was literally a card that you carried around and you made them go to each machine and they would do the machines and you would watch them do the reps and then they would go away and that was their personal training session. I did not handle very well and I think that specialized training is so important. I have some clients who are going to be like “I don’t want to sweat. I don’t want to sweat”, like “I don’t want anything to do with sweating” and you might go “Okay, are you being a little bit silly but…”
Tim Murphy: And you would say “Back to the emotional assessment. What’s going on here?”
Leigh Peele: Yeah, right. And what that really says ultimately though is that this isn’t a person that likes to be pushed, they like to kind of go at their own pace and they really don’t want to get dirty, they don’t want to get dirty in their workout, and they are always very feminine and they have this ideal vision of some sort of, I don’t know, Kim Kardashian type fantasy where they are going to be completely beautiful in full make-up and doing like a lunge squat or something like that in their mind, like that’s where they go; but I know what type of woman that is and you know what kind of training that you are not going to be able to away with at first with someone like that and maybe never get away with and they may not be a client for you if you feel that you can’t really explore them as a client and that’s important; you shouldn’t take every client that comes your way, you should take the client you can work with but usually with those kind of woman it’s like, okay, we are going to be starting out with a certain kind of training system, more body weight kind of training, implementing like heavy weights where we can as we move along to the session and kind of we get them used to the idea of certain kind of things. Then there are some clients that come and they just want to be beaten and you have to reserve what it is that you want to do with them because they have beaten themselves up so much that they can’t exactly move at the pace that they want to and that can be discouraging but they will just end up hurting themselves; they want to bench more than they can and I will say that is generally the guys or the alpha males and alpha females too in this situation that kind of come in but they want to bench more they can bench, they want to curl and squat rack and they want to do everything because that’s how it’s done and be able to kind of drive them back a little bit and amaze them with biomechanics and how everything kind of plays out and explain to them “If you do this and you tuck this here and if you spread this out here in you stance and you do these things, you are going to get better drive in the end you are going to get better overall strength and you are not going to end up herniating a disk or breaking through a knee and that kind of things that are usually touted with squats or dead lifts that don’t have to be there.
So, the physical assessment is very important not only to where there weakness or biomechanical dysfunctions can be but obviously to the other end of the spectrum of what kind of workout is for this client because just as I do not believe in dogmatic diets, I don’t believe in dogmatic training either and I think that a lot can be accomplished by very different avenues with different kinds of trainings, especially when fat loss is ultimately the goal for a lot of people and maintenance lifestyle habits.
Tim Murphy: I agree, I agree 100%. Let’s talk about the emotional side of it again, are there a couple of emotional roadblocks that you see most often.
Leigh Peele: Yeah. I would say the biggest roadblock that I see more than anything else – I was just talking about this, this is kind of fresh in my mind but “I want to live” is probably one of the worst roadblocks I face as a trainer over and over again with the general population- “I want to live. I want to have a life. I don’t want my life to be about what I eat and about training. How dare you expect me to actually do something with this?” and I just thought that I could come in for 30 minutes a day and kind of watch what I eat and the fat will fall off or the muscle we build too. It’s the same in either direction, really. And I think that people’s – and this is not in a negative sense – but there are set-in beliefs of what they deserve, their kind of, spoiled behavior a little bit about how easy this is all supposed to come and their expectations of things is the biggest roadblock because this is hard, it is hard to do in a sense. When understand what’s going it becomes more calculated and you just got to run through the motions and the hardest thing is really patience because that’s a big one too, I mean, it’s a roadblock, patience is one, but understanding what it takes in the first place is not easy. I mean, there is a reason that it’s looked upon as impressive when you have a body that is in shape. There is a reason that people claim “Oh, it’s only because you are a celebrity and you have money and if I had a chef I could do that too” and all this kind of excuses come out of people because they expect that it’s easy and they expect that it should just be something like that can kind of like happen when you want it to and the truth of the matter is that depending on your lifestyle and depending on where you are coming from, this can either be pretty easy and you just follow some steps or it can be pretty difficult, especially if you are someone who has a very sedentary lifestyle or you are an office worker, you don’t move a lot and then you have a family where you spend family time sitting down and you spend time doing home work and you spend time doing things that are very sedentary in activity, you have to commute in your car and the amount of movement you get in a day, nothing, it’s nothing movement whatsoever and a 35-minute, high-intensity, interval training system is not going to cover it, it’s not, unless your diet is extremely restrictive which is why a lot of those people end up turning to very extreme carbohydrate restrictive or very low calorie diets and they swear up and down in Gospel that’s the only thing that will work for them and usually it’s because of that connection factor that they may be they just don’t realize why it worked for them but that is why it worked because it’s extreme low-calorie and restrictive. And when they try to do anything that involves moderation, it fails because in essence their life isn’t moderate, it’s extreme in the area of their sedentary behavior and while people that normally have a more active lifestyle or people that are more naturally active in the things they do or their job is more active can get away with more moderate behaviors usually and can get away with being people that succeed at things that are a lot more accidental and anything will pretty much work for them as long as they put their minds to it.
So, I think the roadblock of deserving and what you deserve and understanding that is very important and as a tip, one of the biggest things that I think that you can do as a trainer or as a client for yourself is to find some way of monitoring your caloric burn and seeing some level of realization for that, be it through a FitBit or a GoWear or something like that and getting hit over the head with how much you do move which maybe why you are binging if you are trying to starve so little or how much you don’t move which is maybe why you are having a problem with your diet even though you are being restrictive and eating “clean”. There are so many areas that you can fall into that are problematic that you can resolve by just understanding how much you move and how much your day to day activity adds up and how much your training may need to be a little bit more or maybe you need to take a walk aside from your training session or maybe you need to add in a couple of extra ones every week to kind of stay ahead of the game so you don’t have to starve yourself in order to lose fat; so many things that kind of come into play there. So, that’s like a little tip that I offer and no client of mine doesn’t have one of those devices; I am not affiliated with any of them whatsoever but I have never worked with a client since like 4 years ago in which that some sort of device was not used as a calibration for what’s going on with their activity and day to day lives and it really takes a way lot of that deserved attitude or end up beating up on themselves and explains a lot of the issues they have with patience and that’s also a very heavily emotional and psychological repercussion because it’s day after day after day and then after day and then you do it again and again because it has to add up and no matter what people think – and this is something that’s really important I think – no matter what you think about how it gets put, fat, be it carbohydrates or insulin or whatever, I don’t care, I don’t even care to discuss it, no matter how you think that that happens, the important thing to understand is that it is a physical matter attached to your body, it is physical, it’s not going anywhere, no different than fat back you put in a pan and you have got a burn to evaporate, like it is physical matter there and it does have its own makeup of caloric need and you have to find some way of deficiting your body. Now, whatever you choose or diet you go about doing is your choice but you have to find some sort of deficit way of burning into that fat, of removing it from your body and that takes time, it just does, it takes time and it takes effort. Unless you are on The Biggest Loser kind of camp and you are pumping away at it for 6-7 hours a day, it’s going to be a while. So, sit back, get used to it and understand that you are sticking to this. So, I think there are some emotional roadblocks that people have to come to realization with and it makes things easier in a sense because they start to be real with themselves and they start to get it for what it is and the excuses and the “Oh Woe Is Me” and all that kind of stuff start to fade away into “Oh man! Okay, I got to pick it up and I got to do this” and then you get proud of yourself being more and more and more instead of being defeated.
Tim Murphy: Yeah. Once again, so much good stuff in there and I wrote so many questions, I am just not sure which one to go with next. So, on the technical side of things, is that typical that you would start with something like monitoring their caloric burn? Is that kind of like metric no. 1 that you will look at?
Leigh Peele: To me, priority no. 1 is figuring out the activity factor and equation because here is what it boils down to. You look at all of these formulas that people have and I am not saying I don’t use formulas because I do; you have to have something to start off with for general population. Technically, I go by standard Harris-Benedict; there are some other ones out there but I like Harris-Benedict because it includes an activity factor. Problem with the activity factor inclusion is that a lot of people overestimate what their activity factor is mostly because of the suggestion of the Harris-Benedict equation which says, for example, if you are working out 5-6 times a week, you get a 1.5 activity factor. Yeah, that’s great, but if you are sitting on your butt all day long or you are kind of very low in activity in general, it’s more like a 1.1 or 1.2 and that’s shocking to people but that’s really what it is. And how much activity you do in a day determines the burn; that’s what it is. I mean, there is certain amount that your general BMI or your basal or what you need to survive, yes, but after that, it’s what you do. It’s walking to the mail box, it’s exercising if you sit, it’s all those things and that is going to be the ultimate determining factor to how fast or how slow it does, correlating it to what you eat, period; that’s what’s going to take place. For different people, of course, what you eat and what you choose, be its satiation, be it controlling your insulin levels, all that kind of stuff, that’s kind of like your personal preference and what works well for you but understanding that factor first is so key which is why those other kind formulas like 10 times body weight or 12 times body weight or 15 times body weight are some other people’s factors that they have, I am not going to name anyone specific, but they can work if you fall into their parameter if you happen to be that person that lines up with how that formula was created for in the first place. If you are not, good luck to you. And sedentary office guys, sedentary office women or people that maybe even they have a little bit of movement in their working activity but they like to sit at home on the computer all night for their entertainment, like their entertainment is sedentary at home it’s video games or things like that and there’s nothing wrong with it but when you are trying to lose fat, you are already up again certain battles with metabolic adaptations and slowdowns that happen naturally. If you don’t understand the activity factor, you are just shooting yourself in the foot. So, my no. 1 thing, first off the bat is we figure out how much someone moves in a day. And personal assessments can be off because I have some men that will be like “I don’t move at all” but it’s crazy like they will burn easily 2500 calories a day because they wash the dishes, they cook for their kids, they do their hair, they are kind of high maintenance in general and make sure they take care of themselves and then they train and they end up burning a lot and then some other people that will be like “I move so much, I don’t understand” but it turns out it just feels like a lot to them and as much as they wish that they had contributed to a lot more burn, their natural behavior, be it because of genes, be it because of whatever, just does not produce a lot and even with these things, the monitoring devices, there is human error there, there is calculation error, so they are not gospel but it’s a good start, it’s a good start to help you kind of figure out where to go from there and if the person has a certain amount of aggressive goals, they can set their calories based upon what that kind of formulates or like spits out and it really allows you to target and tailor things and it allows you to target and tailor the training too because if they are not very active, you work on mobility a lot more, you try and fit in a kind of training that will open up their hips, that might help them shortened hip flexors or a weakened gluteal system, core, all those kind of things. If there is someone who is very dominant with their arms all day, maybe they have problems with trigger-points in their wrist flexors. So, there are so many things that come into play there and if you understand just activity, it really gives you a guide to where to go everywhere else.
Tim Murphy: You are such an expert, I mean, I’ve been into health and fitness forever and studied a ton and listening to you I just realized how much I don’t know.
Leigh Peele: No, no. I mean, you just learn, you just learn, it’s over time. I mean, we all have our starting points and you just learn and I think you learn and a lot of my subset of clients and the reason that I think this came about so much is I have a tendency to attract and draw at lot of eating disorder girls, girls that have recovered from that or bulimia and things like that, metabolically challenged girls, people that have been on deficits for too long and that’s when things got really heavy for me because I know I would have a client doing all the right things, I would see their activity factors, I know they weren’t lying about what they put in, I know that everything was kind of lining up yet, the numbers weren’t lining up and they were unhealthy and it became that point I was like “Well, what’s going on here?’, like “What is this?” and this is a small subset of grouping, of course, like the majority of persons just need to not eat but there is the occasional person that needs to eat and that goes into like that kind of an avenue and it was really when trying to figure out that and the how’s and why’s to all that and coming to the conclusions and the answers to those things that led me to really understanding how to not simplify the process but how it kind of worked and oh that shifts here and that kind of trades there and some of these people think that they are having problems but they are not; they just don’t move, you need to move more and then some of these people need to eat more and you just kind of start to see it and it starts to focus and it plays in and then you just know and it’s like being able to do anything, it’s just like being able to tie your shoes or just being able to put on your clothes, you just do it and it’s instant and I think that that only comes though with being completely honest with yourself and your system and not just pithing away and I am not saying that all coaches and trainers and what not do that but I usually find that what happens is it’s like “Oh, you don’t fit into my system, you don’t fit into how things work, I can’t handle this; go somewhere else” whereas I get mad about it. I want to know why this isn’t working. It’s competitive in a weird way, I am very competitive, so it’s competitive and I am like “I want to know why this isn’t working the way I want it to work. Let’s fix this” and I would just work until it’s fixed what is it I wanted to fix. So, I think that’s why…
Tim Murphy: So, what about that person that moves a lot during the day, they move a lot during work, they work out after work and they are still not getting results or they are not losing as much fat or as much weight as they want? What do you do with that type of person?
Leigh Peele: There are a few areas that you look out. The most obvious and the easiest thing to determine is “Is the person in a deficit? Are they in a deficit of their needs? Is that what’s taking place?” because nine times out of ten that’s the problem is that somewhere along their estimations… for example, no matter what kind of diet you follow and while there are some that argue and there may be people you have interviewed that could argue this. I do not argue this, to me it’s simple, just a simple equation and it’s what it is but no matter what diet you follow, a deficit needs to take place. What helps achieve the most optimum deficit for you, what helps you comply to that deficit, what’s good for your healthy system, all that kind of stuff, that’s where you can really pick and choose as far as kind of food intake you do there but the deficit still needs to take place. So, my biggest question is “are you in a deficit?” and a lot of people will be like well I’m eating clean and it’s like “That’s great” but you can still not lose weight. Usually you won’t gain weight on something like chicken breast and broccoli and some olive oil and keeping it to like no grains and things like that but you can still maintain weight on something like that or be in such a small deficit that you don’t really see anything kind of going on because you are assuming that eating clean like that is all that it takes but it may be that the olive oil or the fats that you do because you are not eating carbs but you are allowing yourself to have bacon or you are allowing yourself to have higher fat foods because you are going maybe of the ketogenic kind of area, it might be too much. A lot of people do that, with like Adkins and things like that, they completely remove the carbs but they are just chocking in the fat and fat is very calorically dense, noting wrong with it, love it, love it, love it but if you don’t monitor it right and if you are not watching what’s going in, sure you are going to lose some glycogen weight from the decrease of carbohydrate which can be a little bit misleading and you might have like a general overall less bloated appearance because generally carbohydrates increase subcutaneous and glycogen stores so boom with like the bloat if you don’t have muscle base but you are going to hit a stall eventually and it’s because the fat intake is just too high, you can’t meet with that caloric demand and maybe you are satiating yourself enough to maintenance but you are not quite getting there for deficit.
So, my biggest thing in short is to make sure that that deficit is there, make sure that it is in place. If you are not sure, weigh and measure, just for a little bit; you don’t have to be OC you don’t have to do it for like a long period of time and your whole life is like buy digital scale… so many people get angry about counting calories like “I will not do that!” but it’s like “Come on”, just for a short span of time figure out where you are at and then eyeball it from there and if you stop having results, do it again and then eyeball again and so on and so forth because I feel like it’s a lot less frustrating an account for a couple of days or maybe a week, then it is to not get anywhere and you just keep digging in and living that little bit of denial maybe too. So, I think just do it – step up to the plate, do it and make sure everything is right. If it’s right, you really know that what you are doing is good, the method’s adding up. You’ve got the caloric deficit, you got the movement but something’s not quite happening, then I think you kind of move into the other category of where your metabolic adaptation meets up too high with what it is you are doing and you have been too long without a refeed, you have been too long without a break and it becomes a lot more of a complicated process. The simple of it is that you need to eat at maintenance for an extended period of time and you need to make sure in that maintenance that carbohydrates are extremely high source of intake of a macro nutrient because that’s the only thing that can communicate certain signals that you need to communicate with certain of your brain, with digestion function, serotonin, all of it that it needs for your body to go “Cool! I am fed. We are good to go. Let’s get back into this” because fat and fed is what lose weight, that’s what loses weight. You never see someone have a problem with it if they have been stuffing their face and their fat and they are fed and they are good to go, never have a problem of losing the weight once they stop eating but people that are very type A personality usually, gung-ho, give it all they got, watch what they are eating clean, they are not going to eat carbs and not going to do these things, they are being very diligent about everything that they are doing and they are really giving it their all can end up shooting themselves in the foot sometimes because there is that factor of apathy that kind of needs to happen where you give yourself a break, you give yourself those re-glycogen fills, you take care of yourself, you have a couple of days of that turkey Thanksgiving fed and sometimes there are some people that need to be longer than that depending on how long they are restricted and you get the reset that you need and until that reset happens, you just kind of function on optimal and it is not and this is the biggest thing – it’s not that you are not losing weight, even in a caloric deficit; it’s that you aren’t in one anymore or you aren’t in a large one anymore and that’s the problem. That’s why people confuse the whole issue with starvation mode. What happens ultimately is in a weird way you get more efficient and that’s all that it really is. You start to dial back on things that you don’t 100% need. Your blood pressure will lower. Your heart rate will lower. Your body temperature will lower. Everything just kind of pulls back a little bit. Some believe – and I think there is an argument for it – that ultimately that’s kind of how you end up being in the best overall maintenance shape is being in a slight caloric deficit because it keeps the ability to not grow cancer cells or to not like overly function and a lot of the negative things that need growth with food and I can certainly see an argument for that but in fat loss, you want the exact opposite, you want to kind of be inefficient in a sense you want to be a little de-conditioned if you can in certain places because you want everything to work really easily and as optimally as possible to remove the fat from your body, not to drive yourself in the ground so that the only way you are going to lose weight is to go extremely extreme and turn yourself into a starvation camp victim or turn to something like bulimia or anorexia and end up in the hospital.
So, what you are looking to do in situations like that, if it’s not (a), then look to (b) and if it’s (b), while, we could go into details about how not to gain as much weight and all that kind of stuff and it’s really complicated and involved; it’s eating, it’s eating at your maintenance and you can use one of those caloric monitors that you have to kind of show you what maintenance is so you feel a little safe, so basically eating the calories that it’s spitting out at you and then go back to life as you need to be in a deficit to get the rest of the fat off or go into maintenance and go from there. It is one of the two though. It’s really going to be one of the two because it’s a plateau or stagnation on some level and it’s either you are not in the deficit enough or you are not fed and you are not in a rested place enough and it’s in a bad spot. There is also something to be said for sure; you could change up your training and you could make the deficit come a little bit more from the exercise although that that term is always weird to me because it’s what you eat that makes a deficit, but you can try switching up your exercise and not getting into the mundane but ultimately it’s one of those two factors – the deficit is not big enough now or how you create it or you are not fed and rested enough.
Tim Murphy: What about the quality of the calories though? For example, let’s just say for somebody to be maintain the weight, they need to eat, let’s just say, 3000 calories a day. Will they not see a change if they eat just for keeping things simple, let’s say the 3000 calories come from chicken breast versus 3000 calories from Twinkies?
Leigh Peele: Oh, well, yeah. I mean, ultimately what I always… I always say these two things – one I say that your fat loss diet and your lifestyle diet are kind of two separate things because fat loss is war; I always say this, it’s war because your body makes a move you have to make a move, it’s strategy, right? And sometimes in war you have to do things that don’t make sense in real life meaning that in war of the fat loss a little bit you sometimes have to make bold moves that don’t necessarily emulate what you would do in your normal life, meaning that if I am in a deficit, I know there is going to be a period of re-feed times where I am going to gorge on some sugar because ultimately that is what’s going to help me increase my glycogen stores, assure my body that it’s perfectly fed, it’s going to raise my leptin levels and it’s going to put me into this happy fed state kind of coma that, that yes, it’s hard to come out of it and control sometimes and not everyone has to do it to an extreme but you need to give yourself some sort of carbohydrate awakening that says everything’s all good, we are all go. There are some people that can get away with doing it with fat re-feeds. I mean, it can take place and happen, even high-protein re-feeds; I am not going to completely discount any sort of arguments about ketogenesis or anything like that but this is just a general conversation. It’s a good fat loss strategy to have. However, in life, in maintenance, I think that anyone can agree that the goal is to try and get as a nutrient-dense diet as you can with the inclusion of what level of fun and sanity you so desire for happiness as there is a certain level of daily essential nutrients that we need. It’s pretty difficult to come by them completely from a dietary sense. I believe in supplements. I don’t believe in crazy weird supplements. I am talking a simple multivitamin kind of thing and maybe some additions of other types if you are in certain areas like vitamin D or calcium or magnesium, stuff like that; that’s about is all that extends to. I am not talking about anything crazy but I think making sure to get an amount of supplements that kind of cover your insurance basis, if you will, high absorption supplements, things that are very quality and good; they don’t have to be expensive, just quality and mixing that with a nutrient-dense diet is where it’s at. For some people, what that diet is going to be is it’s going to be a little different. I, for example, do better on a little bit of a higher carb based diet, that’s me. I am also a vegetarian. So, it’s kind of impossible to go on like crazy on protein anyway, unless I wanted to go on shakes but I do better on a carbohydrate anyway, it fits me. I have another friend who has issues with a little bit of rheumatoid arthritis and they do much better on a ketogenic style diet and their nutrient bases come from kind of a different thing. I do very well on things like rice or potatoes or things like that. I don’t do very good on wheat and things of that nature. I can’t have dairy; I am allergic to whey, it’s the saddest thing ever because I really love cheese but sadly, I can’t have it. I can have some hard cheese if I really wanted to but my face will break out in an instant, it’s like very aggressive allergy. So, for me there are certain dietary restrictions. Some people, no problem eating dairy. Other, lactose intolerance, it doesn’t work well with them and it can be inflammatory for them.
So, I think what it is kind of can range in a small sense but I don’t think anyone ever necessarily deserves a Twinkie but don’t get me wrong, I eat some cookies because I like them and I want to have some every once in a while and I am totally fine with that but they need to be when I have had my protein shake and when I have had my balanced meal and I get in my veg and I take care of myself in general and that’s lifestyle eating – you have some fun and you make sure you take care of your stuff at the same time – and I think that that’s a good way to be and I time my nutrition around my workouts and I kind of like watch things like that and make sure that I am fed and if I am in a deficit, things get a little different. I actually go a little bit higher carb, higher protein, lower fat in a deficit because that’s what I respond to a little bit well. Some people respond a lot better to higher fat, some with no carbs and proteins. It’s going to be very different, it’s very individualized but the point is I think we can all agree that as a nutrient-dense as possible is the best way to go and then what makes you happy in life because I am one of those people that think what’s the point in living for a very long time if you are not happy doing it. So, that’s where I think a certain amount of dogmatic restriction or fear is no not necessary and I think the balance is good.
Tim Murphy: Yeah. And I feel like I have been saying this the whole time but I agree too. I mean, I kind of think of it as get 80% of it right, something like that, the vast majority get it right but allow yourself to have some fun. I love chocolate chip cookies, I like pizza. There are certain things that I love that are not healthy but, like you said, I don’t want to live this life… there is a certain amount of stress that comes from resisting eating some of those things that you actually really enjoy; at least I found that.
Leigh Peele: Totally, I agree. I mean, I am a vegetarian for moral reasons; that has nothing to do with like I am afraid of eating a cow or something like that. I just like them and I don’t want to eat them. So, it’s a moral thing for me and I am always practically vegan because I can’t eat dairy but I will eat some eggs until like the cow’s come home and I have no problem with eating some naughty foods. I find it just being a vegetarian and having a dairy restriction because I have allergies is hard; it’s hard to like find stuff at restaurants or to find stuff that can fit into things. I couldn’t imagine if you are restricting things on even a greater level than that or being legitimately scared of eating certain food just because you are out with your friends and family and it can be very stressful and that’s not what having this body is about, that’s not what living life is about, it’s not to be so restrictive that you become scared or obsessive compulsive about it or thinking that there is some sort of elitism behind it that makes you superior… it’s not healthy. I don’t think that it’s healthy and I don’t think that it ultimately teaches you a lesson which is enjoyment; that’s the point – you get to live longer, you get to be sexy while doing it, you get to be strong while doing it and you get to have fun but you have the balance that says “You know what, I am not going to overeat because I care what that does to my body and I am going to try to do the best I can so I get really balanced nutrition and take care of myself but I am not going to do so because I am afraid” and I think that that applies in so many aspects and I am not going to be… and I don’t want to get… this isn’t like a religious instruction but I don’t want to be religious because I am afraid. I want to do it because I have faith and that’s what I believe in. I don’t want to believe in this issue because I am scared; I want to believe in it because it’s the right thing to do. And I think that it’s very important even with nutrition to go “I am not going to not eat that” or “I am not going to not do this because I am scared. I am not going to not do it or I am going to do it in less frequency because this is the better thing to do and I am going to take part in that as much as I can but I am not going to villainize this.” So, for me, that’s where I found the healthy balance for myself.
Tim Murphy: Let’s say somebody wants to get in better shape aside from going to somebody like you or getting help that way. I mean, in terms of just food itself, are there certain foods that you have noticed really helped to trigger fat loss?
Leigh Peele: I think the best foods that… I don’t necessarily believe in fat loss foods as a food group but I certainly think that there is fat loss foods in the sense of compliance and that make things easier. I think that there is certainly truth and if you eliminate or restrict a certain subset of foods that you are automatically geared towards a more successful outcome, meaning the removal of white grains or starches in general that are processed or anything that’s easy, really, because let’s be perfectly honest, it’s not easy to prepare vegetables at least in the sense of what we see is easy and the fast food world kind of easy. It’s not easy to just make a steak or a chicken breast and have it also taste good which is why I care so much about cooking because I may not be a meat eater but I can cook a mean steak and I can cook some chicken and it tastes good and it can have very little amounts of oil on it and it’s about seasoning and manipulation but it’s not always the easiest thing; it can be a little intimidating for people.
So, the first step I think that’s good is to simply eliminate anything that’s processed or packaged, just don’t go for any of those kinds of things. I know it’s kind of old school but stick to the outer aisles of the grocery store. It may not seem that sexy or sophisticated but it really is an easy system to kind of put into your head. You can get starches that way, you can get fats that way, you can get meats that way and boom! It’s taken care of. I think a lot of the times people restrict fats so much and that’s where a lot of flavor is in a technical cooking sense. You get most of your flavor from fat. So, wrapping a chicken breast in some moderate-fat or even low-fat bacon can really bring the flavor to fruition and it didn’t take too many calories for doing so or like a lot of complication. So, I think fat loss foods, if you will, are the easiest things that you can calculate. It’s hard to kind of miscalculate chicken breast; it’s hard to go really crazy with broccoli or with spinach. It’s not like “Oh my god! I accidentally ate 300 calories of extra spinach” which you can do that with rice and you can certainly do with fats too like, for example, nut butters and nuts in general or peanuts, almonds. I see people go way wrong with that. Not that there is anything wrong with almonds or peanuts or anything like that but it’s really… I mean, a handful and not overflowing the hand… it’s kind of like tidy in the palm and that’s very calorically dense and you can get that wrong very easily and I hate seeing people be like “Oh man! I had it. I measured my almonds wrong” or “I wasn’t measuring the almonds and they are healthy” and it’s those little things that can kick you. So, going with stuff that’s really not easy to screw up, in my opinion, are fat loss foods because it’s really hard to screw up vegetables and lean meats or even saturated fat meats; it’s pretty hard to screw that up. It’s pretty easy to screw up packaged foods and pastas and rice and breads and things like that; it’s very easy to mess up. So, yeah, I think on simple answer, that’s the kind of stuff that you can stick with.
Tim Murphy: Yeah, you can definitely go overboard with so-called certain healthy foods and I think that trips a lot of people up because, like you said, they say “Oh, almonds are so good for you” and you eat 12 handfuls of them.
Leigh Peele: Yeah, and it’s like…
Tim Murphy: Yeah, something’s going to happen.
Leigh Peele: It’s a lot but chicken breast with some spinach and some peppers or maybe mixed in with some scrambled eggs and stuff like that sounds yummy and you do it right and… add a little butter, add a little oil, add a little seasoning, throw it in there but just make sure you are watching what it is and I think it’s a little easier to not screw that up such as… even oatmeal and things like that; the measurement for that is nothing, you get no oatmeal for 150 calories, it’s nothing, it is just a pitiful little thing in the bowl. I wouldn’t in a million years choose that for my 150 calories because I want volume. So, I think just understanding where the pitfalls are with processed and packaged foods and you can certainly make an argument for it that it has more nutrients than the other but taking that aside, it’s just a lot harder to screw it up and that just makes sense and a commonsense factor which is why I think things like the Paleo diet and stuff like that work so well. I think that that’s why it applies because it’s really hard to mess that up, if you didn’t hunt it or you didn’t find it on the ground, it works and it makes sense.
Tim Murphy: Yeah and, again, I agree. One last question…
Leigh Peele: Okay.
Tim Murphy: If somebody wanted to benefit from your expertise but they don’t live near where you personally coach people, how can they benefit from all of your knowledge and expertise.
Leigh Peele: Well, there are so many places you can go but I have a podcast. So, if you are listening to this audio and my like other audios, I have my own podcast which is Ask Leigh. You can type that in the iTunes. It’s also uploaded on some of those other podcast directory things. I am not going to lie, I am not 100% great about stuff but it’s on iTunes and some podcast directories and you can find it through my blog and RSS feed as well.
So, you can listen to that, they are free and I am also on the Fitcast, I am a co-host on there and you can listen to me on there as well as two other guys that are on the show with me and we just kind of banter and answer questions and what not.
And then there is just my website in general which is LeighPeele.com and I have educational materials available and cook books and all kinds of things and I have a member site and if you see stuff you like there, and you’d like to check it out; you are more than welcome but I am not going to overload anybody with a bunch of URLs. You can just type in ‘Leigh Peele’, there is not a lot of us. So, it can take you there immediately if you just type that in and you can just come and play around and explore.
Tim Murphy: Leigh, I have to have you back again because there is still so much more I want to ask but we have kind of come to the end of our time.
Leigh Peele: Sure, I would love to, anytime, absolutely.
Tim Murphy: Awesome. Thank you so much for coming on this show. It’s been such a pleasure and so much fun to talk to you today. I really appreciate it.
Leigh Peele: Thank you for having me. I had a blast.
Tim Murphy: Awesome. Thanks, Leigh.
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