The guest, Dibs, runs a website called dibsfitness.com and can be found on Instagram at @dibs_pt.
The host, Margaret Killjoy, can be found on twitter @magpiekilljoy, instagram @margaretkilljoy, and on Patreon at patreon.com/margaretkilljoy.
Hello, and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast where it feels like the end times. I’m your host, Margaret Killjoy, and this week I’m going to be talking to Dibs who is a personal fitness trainer in Montreal. I’m going to be talking with them about personal fitness, obviously, I guess that’s the name of the episode that you clicked on. And they have a lot of really useful and concrete tips for how people with different relationships to their body can engage in personal fitness and training. And of course, well, it’s worth pointing out that this episode does come with a content warning. We do talk about eating disorders, and we talk about relationships to eating and fitness and the way that they can become obsessive. So—and that that question is pretty clearly marked. It doesn’t come out of the blue. This podcast is a proud member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchist podcasts. And here’s a jingle from another podcast on the network.
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Okay, and Dibs, if you would like to introduce yourself with your name, which I guess I just said, and your pronouns and any, you know, what you do for work, any political or organizational affiliations that make sense with what you’re going to be talking about today? Also maybe, like, your identity as relates to some of what you’re going to be talking about today?
Sure, so I’m Dibs, my pronouns, they/them, I am a certified personal trainer or fitness instructor some might call it, so I have my certificate 3 and 4 in group fitness and one-on-one training. I identify as transgender, and I have ADHD, and I am sort of still recovering from an eating disorder. So I guess that’s relevant to probably what will come up, maybe?
Yeah, that actually-that is a lot, like-and that’s actually something I’d love to talk to you about what we’re talking about this is like food and our relationships to food. So I wanted to have you on because I spent a while looking around, I was—I wanted to get someone on who is a personal trainer. And, of course, one of the problems with personal trainers, not personal trainers themselves but the fitness industry, is that it is very ablest, very centering of cis people, very centering of like thin people, and also centering of the weight experience, and just has a lot of problems. And then you came highly-recommended through our mutual friend as a personal trainer who specifically works to kind of counteract that stuff. And the reason I want to have someone on is talking about personal fitness: one is just sort of selfish. I’m like, “Oh, I’m getting older, and I need to worry about this stuff more.” But you know, it’s like—okay, it’s a weird tangent to start with. But the first time I really ever thought about this stuff was years ago I was playing accordion and Amsterdam and a friend of mine walked by, and he was this older, like, super tough anarchist guy. And, you know, maybe in his 40s or something—actually might have been much younger than thatb ut when you’re young, everyone seems old—and he said, “Oh, what are you doing?” I was like, “Oh, I’m playing accordion.” And he said, and I said, “What are you doing?” He said, “I’m coming home from the gym.” And I was like, “Why are you at the gym?” Because I was an idiot. And he was like, “Well, because we want to have a revolution and we need to be stronger than the police.” And I was like “Shit.”
I’d never thought about it from that point of view.
And that’s kind of where I’m coming from personally about a lot of like fitness goals. And I think that a lot of people are looking at this, as the world becomes more conflictual, they might be more interested in personal fitness. As the world gets a little crazier, they might be more interested in personal fitness. Would you be able to talk about your own experiences where you’re coming from about personal fitness and kind of what got you engaged with it?
Yeah. I mean, I’ve always been an active kid. I definitely have, you know, some symptoms of ADHD just have many hobbies, try all the things, like, as a child in like primary school, I did everything from like tap dancing, to soccer, to softball to netball to guitar lessons. Like, I always had, like, something that made me need to want to move. And then, so I played team sports for a while. And then when I left school and I became an adult, that’s sort of when I looked at the gym for exercise. And at the same time of leaving school is when I started to think about my gender. And I’ve spoken about this to many people with, like, how my sort of gender dysphoria and body dysmorphia is very much intertwined. And so I don’t know, you know, what led me more down the path of wanting to lift weights and stuff. But, you know, wanting—having—being transgender and wanting to change your body. Before I started HRT, and before I had top surgery or anything, like, my only option or what I saw was to train so I started doing weightlifting. And then my dad passed away when I was 19 from heart disease. Suddenly, just one night, he went to bed and didn’t wake up. And that scared me.
And I was like, well, I, you know, I want to live longer than 44 maybe. I mean, now I’m not so sure. But, you know, I was like, okay well, these are the things that led to that for him. What can I do to change my lifestyle? And yeah, and then I went from gym to gym, and I’ve done the fad, you know, lose nine kilos in six weeks, I’ve done those dumb challenges a couple times. And I’ve done—you know, and then I became a personal trainer and I found a gym to work at and that was a whole—that’s a big story itself. It was very culty and so toxic and weird and straight and suburbian—suburban, sorry. But uh, yeah. So that’s sort of where my journey—my fitness journey in a nutshell.
No, that makes sense. And it brings up a ton of things that I’m really curious to ask you about. Because I’ve had some of those same experiences of like, you know, when I would go and study martial arts, I would go and study martial arts like, “Hello, fellow cisgendered men,” and like, it would never really work, you know, like, people couldn’t quite figure out what to make of me. And usually, I didn’t get along very socially in any of the martial arts gyms that I’ve trained in. So, for listeners who are just starting to want to get into personal fitness, I guess, where do you begin? And I know that obviously, like, hiring you, for example, would be a good way to start. But that isn’t going to be available for everyone. And, you know, like, how do you begin? How do you assess where you’re at? How do you start building program that works for you?
Yeah, it’s, uh, it’s tough. Like, I think the overwhelm is in the choice because anyone can go on the internet and look up, you know, “home workout program,” or “three day home workout program,” or whatever. And there’s so much free stuff out there that’s just copy and paste, cookie cutter bs that, like could work for some people, but it’s not going to work for the majority of people. So I guess, like, start—there’s a lot—there’s so much on social media right now that’s for queer people and for people of all different bodies and abilities, especially like on YouTube as well, you can find little communities of people who were various abilities and various backgrounds showing what you can use with just your body or like very cheap pieces of equipment. So, you know, using the internet is great, but then where do you start? And then if that’s overwhelming you, I guess like, if you’ve done something in the past and you’ve sort of fallen off the wagon, you can go back to that thing. So like did you use to cycle? Did used to swim? Did you used to play team sports? What about that sport did you like or what muscle groups did you like working the most, you know? Like, was it your agility and your hand/eye coordination if you’re playing tennis, and what can you sort of relate that to? That’s another thing that you can start practicing if you don’t necessarily have a tennis court near where you live in, you know? So it’s like, you have to be—start slow and be really kind to yourself to not expect too much too soon. And the act of just making something a small habit that you maintain through, you know, half the year or year is a massive goal in massive achievement in itself. So, you know, if you don’t know—if you really want to learn how to squat or do a push up, you can—there are so many articles on working your way up to a push up or working your way up to a chin up or something like that. Everything can be broken down into much smaller steps in fitness. But my sort of mantra is—what I what I like to promote to everyone is joyful movement, and you find the movement that brings you joy, and you’re going to do it, and it’s not going to be like that daunting task that hangs over your head.
So rather than like, you know, screaming, “I’m doing this for Sparta!” and then doing like 50 pushups every morning or whatever, like…
Yeah, like—because yeah I know, like so many people, like, “Oh, I just do 20 push ups and 50 sit ups before I go to bed every night.” And that’s—like, my mom says that. She’s like, “I do my 20 sit ups before bed and like 20 squats, and that’s how I’m gonna keep my belly fat away.” And I’m like, oh my God. Like you don’t—and that’s not fun for her. She doesn’t like doing it. She just thinks that’s what she has to do to look hot for her boyfriend. And, you know, like you—but now she plays—or well, before the pandemic—she played adults all-gender soccer. And she—that was what she was what she thought was fun, because she played with some people from that she worked with so she got to see her work colleagues, she got to, you know, have fun in a non-competitive teamsport environment. Like, yeah, basically—I mean, I know, even if we are doing this for serious business, because we want to, you know, fight off police and survive the apocalypse. You can still, while the world is still [inaudible] have fun. Find the thing that brings you joy and, you know, make light of it. Because that’s the only way you’re going to commit to it before the end times when you’re like, “Oh, shit.” You’d rather be prepared—this is the whole point. Yes. You’re preparing now.
Yeah. Oh, that’s actually that’s really interesting because I, you know—um, before COVID and things like that I would go boff, I would run around in a park with foam swords and shields and—actually turns out that learning how to fight with sticks and shields is way more of a life skill than I expected. But, um, but you know, that’s not happening right now, because of COVID. And a lot of, like, team or group exercise stuff obviously isn’t happening right now. And what are some ways that people can find joyful movement in isolation or in greater isolation?
Yeah, so I guess if you’re one of those people who is really just not leaving your house at all for—unless, you know, you need groceries, or even then you’re just getting someone else to send you stuff and you’re stuck at home: I’ve been leading online aerobics dance classes, which are quite fun. Or, you know, if you can’t find one of those and you don’t know—if the time is not good for you—like, put on some music and dance because cardio is so important, like your cardiovascular health is gonna—that’s what’s going to help you run and keep running and not stop. So dancing for, you know, an hour non-stop, like, that is a hardcore workout. People who have gone to raves, I’m sure you know how sore your body is the next day. Like, dancing is really, really good for you and it’s going to help you build stamina. So that’s one thing. Just putting together a little routine at home is quite easy. I like to tell people, there’s a form of exercise routine called an AMRAP: as many rounds as possible. And so I say, you know, find five exercises that you know, you’ve been taught before, do 20 of them all in a row as many times as you can in 10 minutes, or 15 minutes, or 25 minutes. So say you’re doing 20 squats, 20 push ups, 20 mountain climbers, 20 burpees, 20 lunges, and then go back to the top of the list and keep going, top of the list, keep going, work your way through until your timer goes off on your phone, and boom! You’ve done a workout. It’s—there’s so many different ways that you can do it and to keep you motivated and to remove the thinking out of it. You don’t have to make it complicated. It can be quite simple. And, you know, if you can’t do push ups, do them on your knees. If you can’t do knee push ups, lean against the wall and do them on the wall or the door until you build up your strength or lean on your kitchen counter or your couch or something. There’s so many things you can do just at home to-you know, or follow along YouTube workouts. If you just type on YouTube “follow along workout.” I know they’re not the best because they’re always just demonstrated by people who were ripped in bikinis. I’m gonna try and put some out online to try and show some diversity. But, you know, there’s different ways at home that you can find-or like find your favorite person on the internet. Copy what they’re putting out. But yeah, like, dancing is my favorite. And then creating your own routine and, you know, maybe put on a podcast where you’re doing it or put on music that you like and work through your 15 minutes, and then you’re done.
Okay, that makes sense to me. That’s, um, that’s like stuff that I feel like, on some level, is like what I was subconsciously drawn to when I was trying to become more in shape. I was like, “Oh, I’ll just, I’ll dance more, you know, while like working at a standing desk I’ll, like, play music and then, like, walk away from the computer or something.” But then, as I find myself being like, “No, I must be serious about fitness” instead, I kind of find myself moving away from that kind of stuff and more back into the, like, you know, “I must do yeah, 20 squats every morning” or whatever.
Yeah, yeah, it can come in whatever shape you want. Because even within dance, you know, if you’re dropping it low, you’re doing a squat. Like, there are many ways to do the typical fitness movements like the patterns that you use, like a push, a press, a squat, a deadlift—there’s so many ways to do that, that are not, like, regimented and formal in everyday life, like when you’re cleaning or you’re gardening. Gardening is great exercise, as long as you keep good posture and you’re not hurting your back. Like, that’s another way to get those movement patterns in.
So that’s—that brings up something that I think about a lot. Most of my exercise at the moment—obviously, everything—I think about everything through the lens of myself, but whatever, that’s totally normal, you know, it’s not like people listen to this. Um, okay, so like, most of my exercise comes from construction and building and crafting, right? Because I live, you know, in the woods alone. And so, like, I feel like most of my exercise is like carrying heavy shit up the hill to my house, right? And I often wonder to what degree I’m like getting exercise and to what degree I’m just like hurting myself. And, like, when you’re talking about gardening and being good exercise as long as you maintain good posture, like, it seems like maybe that’s useful across the board is like—where is the line between getting stronger and more fit and wearing yourself down?
Yeah, it’s—that’s a hard one, especially if you’re doing something out of necessity, like, if you’re building stuff and you need to get the materials, you know, before it rains or whatever, like, you’re not going to stop when when you reach that limit, you’re just going to keep going. So then you just have to know how to look after yourself afterwards. Like, the line is different for everyone depending on, you know, depending on what you’ve built up before and you’re—like, I love that that’s how you get your exercise because I love functional fitness. I’ve been, you know, rummaging through curbside trash way more often than the last three months that I have in my entire life. And I’ve been—I’ve found four cinder blocks in the last four weeks and I’ve carried them home like four blocks to my house because I wanted to make a bench seat out of them. And like, you know, I—by the third one that I found, I figured out the correct posture and the way to hold it that wasn’t going to make my biceps feel like this snapping off. So sometimes it’s trial and error. But, you know, and sometimes you pay for it afterwards and you just have to make sure you rest or stretch correctly. But the—it is such a fine line between totally wearing yourself out. But I guess, if you’re doing something functional fitness-wise and it’s taking you the whole day, like, you know, people who do landscaping and they’re just slugging it out for six hours, eight hours, all day. And a lot of them have bad backs. But you can avoid that if you’re using the right tools, like if you have things that help you lift and wheel things like a wheelbarrow or dolly or whatever. You just have to make sure you’re taking breaks intermittently, like think—stop and think. “How am I holding this? Like, where’s the weight? Where can I feel the most strain? Is it in my back? Is it in my biceps? Is it in my core?” You really want to feel things in your abs the most when you’re holding them rather than your back. And then, you know, if one bicep is straining more than the other change the bottom arm and the top arm so you’re evening yourself out. Cuz you just have to be more attuned to your body and take time and do a little scan and think, “Where am I feeling this?” I know it’s hard because when you’re in the moment and just want to get stuff done, you’re not going to stop, but I find that difficult as well. And then maybe when I get home I realized that I was carrying it wrong. But to people have a much better attention span than than me, that’s something that you can do is stop, scan your body, where am I feeling this? Can I readjust? Can I change hands or or change my stride somehow or change my posture? Do I lift it closer to my chest? Do I hold it down below my legs? Do I lifted it up above my head with my elbows locked out if it’s light enough to give my back a rest? Those—you just carry things in a different way each time to give different body parts the load.
Okay. Yeah, it’s funny, I have—there’s sort of a joke that, you know, if you’re like punk past 30 you have to like pick between your options and it’s like CrossFit, or knitting, or whatever. And I didn’t pick either of those, I guess I picked podcasting and that’s probably on there too. And sometimes my friends who do deadlifts and stuff, I’m kind of jealous because I’m like, “Oh, I should probably know how to do that really well because I like, later today I’m going to go have to drag my 50 pound generator to a different spot and hook it up to a 20 pound propane tank to get enough power to, you know, edit this interview. And I don’t know, this is like cliche, right? But what I was like younger, I didn’t really think about this stuff. And now I’m, like, I always make sure I put down heavy things, not on the ground but have thing’s at about waist level.
You know? And am I like, am I doing myself a disservice by doing that? You know, like, am I reducing my ability to learn how to deadlift? I don’t know.
I think you’re saving your back in a long time. Because especially like, deadlifts are really good, they’re an amazing full-body exercise. But if you’re having something with an awkward shape that prevents you from doing it with the correct form, then it’s not going to be good to do so I think you’re correct in putting it up higher so you don’t have to go all the way down if it’s a weird-shaped thing.
Okay. Cool. Glad to hear my laziness is good. You mentioned food and eating disorder stuff. Is that is that okay to talk about?
Yeah, we can dig into that.
Um and, you know, content warning for anyone who’s listening, obviously, we’ll talk some about eating disorder stuff and I know that that can be very hard for a lot of people. So how does one—one of the things that I also worry about as I do this, right, um—again, to just use myself as the example for everything—I didn’t think a ton about food until I came out as trans. And now I think about food way more than I would like to just because of the way that my body puts on weight being in a sort of masculine way, right? And both the combination of aging and suddenly holding myself to like feminine beauty standards are—is a wonderful one/two punch to deal with. But it’s hard because I also want to become more fit. But I also really don’t want to fall into what I can really easily see as disordered eating and just obsession about food. And I’m wondering how you manage or how you would recommend to people to manage dealing with fitness and as relates to food and how awful our society is about food and body image?
Yeah, it’s pretty terrible because, you know, a lot of the things out there are all about eliminating a certain either food group, or food source, or whatever. And it’s all about eliminate, eliminate, eliminate. So the way I reframe it is don’t think about what to cut out thinking about more about what you want to add to your diet to help you either feel fuller, or to help you get the nutrients that you need. So, you know, if you’re a person that doesn’t drink any water, start by adding an extra glass of water to your daily intake until that becomes a habit then add another until you’re drinking, you know, at least 2-3 liters a day. Yes, good job drinking your water. So (laughing) she takes a sip. Yeah, so, you know, adding things like that. So it doesn’t have to be food, it can be water. It can be, you know, if you’re someone that only eats two colors, brown and white, maybe start adding a yellow thing or a green thing or a red thing to your plate. So, you know, add a sweet potato if you really hate vegetables, I know mushrooms are also black and white and brown, but there a vegetables so you can add mushrooms to your plate. I, you know, I used to hate sa—I probably only started eating salad when I was like 18, maybe 19. I used to never eat any vegetables and then I realized the certain ways that I like them cooked or prepared that will make me eat them more. So, you know, add—when I have now my bacon and eggs for breakfast I will put, like, a handful of baby spinach on top. And, you know, the way that that tastes is delicious is because it’s smothered in bacon juice. Sorry, the vegan. But, like, that’s how I deal with it and that’s how I add my vegetables in so when you’re thinking about like food and eating for your body type, like, there’s a couple of TED Talks out there actually that are that are titled, you know, “The Perfect Diet,” or “What is the perfect diet?” And I quite liked them. I watched them all because I wanted to see what they, what dumb stuff they said. But it’s actually quite good because at the end, they’re all like, “The perfect diet is the one that feels the best for your body or like what makes you feel the best.” Because the Mediterranean diet’s not everyone, keto is not for everyone, intermittent fasting is just dumb—unless, you know, unless you are experiencing food scarcity and then, you know, of course, you’re going to not eat for 12 hours, and then you have your little window of eating time or whatever. But you know, a lot of us try all these things that were just not made for us. And instead of listening to what someone else’s is spouting on the newest Instagram trend of the newest juice cleanse or whatever, like, just listen to your body more and think, “Okay, do I feel bloated when I eat beans? Do I feel bloated when I eat dairy? Do I feel bloated when I eat this? Like, do I have diarrhea or gas? Or like, what is this food making you feel?” I realize I get real gassy and I get an upset tummy when I have dairy, so I try and reduce that. Like it’s—if you stop—and stress is something that helps you hold weight too that is—prevents you from digesting properly, right? Because you’re in fight or flight, you’re not going to digest your nutrients and absorb them. So if you’re stressing less about, “Oh I can’t eat this, or I can’t that,” and you’re just, you know, you’re not being too hard on yourself, that’s also going to benefit you because you’re going to be more calm. So I like to go at it thinking of what can I add? What’s something easy, just one thing at a time, to add to my routine, to add to my grocery list or when I go out dumpster diving, what’s the ingredient I’m going to add—you know, add a new vegetable a week, or whatever, a new legume or bean or whatever to try if you need to color your plate, and then pay attention to what foods make you feel like crap.
Okay, I like that idea of the adding and sort of—that’s—it’s one of those things that probably should have been obvious. But, I mean, I spend a a not tiny amount of time like—I mean, I do the same thing that I think a lot of people do where I kind of go through a, “Oh crap, I’m out of shape, I better go figure out what will suddenly make me better,” and then get into it for about three weeks and then drop it. And so I’ve, clearly, I’ve read a lot of fitness blogs and diet blogs and things like that as a result. And I haven’t run across that and it seems so obvious. One of the things, you brought up dumpster rain, and I was thinking about how I actually ate better back when I dumpster dove for more of my meals then when I stopped dumpstering. I stopped dumpstering personally because of anxiety, I have a lot of food anxiety issues. And—but then what would happen is I didn’t have much money and it’s really hard to prioritize greens, it’s really hard to prioritize things with no caloric content to speak of, right? You know, when I—if I have $8 to spend at a restaurant or something like that, there’s no way that I’m buying the $8 salad, I’m buying the $8 burrito, you know. And it’s interesting because that habit stayed with me after I no longer have the same, like, financial issues. Yeah, it was only very recently that I was like, “I’m ordering a salad at a restaurant.” And it was very, it was a—a whole new world.
No, it was—it was good but it was like I still have kind of this, like, yeah, but if I’m paying at a restaurant, I want to be stupidly full. Like I want to, I want to look at the last bite of food and be like, “Can I do it?” You know? And I don’t know maybe that’s just from, like, food insecurity. I’m not sure.
I’m like the opposite. I’m like, “I’m paying for the salad. I must eat all of my vegetables. I have paid for it.” But uh, yeah, no, I get what you mean about that habit and you want to you want to spend your money on what’s going to make you feel the most full, which is totally fine. And, so hot tip to anyone who has minimal income to spend on food and wants to feel full: potatoes, white potatoes are the most satiating food on the planet. I’m sure you’ve seen [inaudible] this fact. Probably many times.
I haven’t. No, go ahead.
Yeah, well, fun fact: most satiating food on the planet like per gram, what you put in your mouth is it fills you up more than anything else. So you’re—I mean, they have a decent amount of vitamins and minerals in them but, you know, you want to mix it up. If you want to, like, if you find potatoes or buy potatoes, and then you find other green things like zucchini or asparagus or bell peppers, capsicums, whatever you want to call them. I call them capsicums. You North Americans very strange. “Peppers.”
I was thinking that your accent didn’t sound very Canadian.
Yes, I’m from Australia. I now live in Canada. Mysterious So, you know, you can mix that potato with other things and then hopefully it still comes out tasting like potato because obviously that’s going to be the most tasty thing in your meal. But I like to just heat up a skillet, grate some potato, and then grate some other veggies on top. And then you’ve got this big mishmash of delicious, mushy—or crispy depending on how you cook it—vegetables to put in your facehole. And, you know, it’s—so if you want something to feel full, like, don’t feel—be ashamed of not eating that many green things, but have your base, you know, starchy carbs that’s going to make you feel full like beans, or rice, or potatoes, or pasta, and then throw some green things on top. Like it doesn’t occur to many people when they’re making pasta to do more than just the pasta and the sauce, like, you can throw baby spinach leaves in your sauce or you can throw like chopped up asparagus or mushrooms or whatever other vegetable to like, fatten it up, you know, make it really chunky and more filling. And then you’ll—the pasta won’t sustain you for that long, but the vegetables will help you keep—stay feeling fuller for longer. So you want to eat things that are full of fiber, right, that’s what’s going to make you full. If you go to, like, a juice bar. And, you know, you order a tropical juice, whatever, they’re going to put things through the juicer, they’re going to remove the skin and you’re basically getting like the sugar from three apples and a banana and a pineapple, half a pineapple, or whatever. And none of the fiber or the really good chunky nutrients that are gonna fill you up. If you actually eat—physically eat an apple and bite into it—you can’t eat more than like one and a half, two apples max before you feel like you’re gonna explode because you’re super full. Because you’re getting all the fiber and you’re getting the gut, like the guts of it. You’re getting the meaty part of the fruit. So it’s—that’s another hot tip is don’t juice things, like, you want the skin you want the flesh, that’s what’s going to feel you—make you feel awful.
Okay. Yeah, I like that. It seems like a lot of food stuff comes down to, like, eating simpler—like not eating like less things, but eating like—not like raw food, but like, closer to—like less, I dunno, less processed.
Less processed. Yeah, I mean, I know it’s not easy for everyone to find that, to do the, you know, no processing. Like, some people want to get a $2 burger from In and Out Burger or A&W or whatever because that’s what they have access to and that’s what’s going to be their meal for the day and that’s fine. But, like, if you—you know, dumpster diving, or you have a local grocer, or a local farm, veggie and fruit distributor down the road from you, and you want to spend a couple bucks, like, that’s the best way to do it is, like the closer—the less stages from earth to you to your mouth the better, right? If it’s fall off a tree, it’s grown from the ground, it’s come straight off an animal’s back, like, eat it. Fantastic. It’s going to fill you up and it’s going to be cheaper than if you’ve gotten something that’s been picked from a tree, put on a truck, gone into a factory, run on a conveyor belt four times, got put in packaging, got on another truck, and onto a shelf, and then into your hand. You’re going to be paying more for it and you’re going to be getting less nutritional benefit from the thing.
Okay. So in the meals that you’re describing, which are very similar to the meals that I eat, but they don’t have a lot of protein in them, as far as I can tell. And I’m curious your take on the—you know, I ran across the idea that you’re supposed to eat, what, half your body weight in protein every day or something? Well, not half your body weight…
Yeah, there’s a formula where you measure your body weight and then divide it by 2, and then there’s—you times that by 0.8 grams, and that’s the amount of protein that you—that is a minimum, quote/unquote, “minimum intake.” And that’s, you know, if you’re like lifting weights, if you’re trading. So obviously it’s going to be different depending on your hormones, because estrogen and testosterone do affect us differently and how our body deals with proteins and how it synthesizes muscle and stuff like that. So it’s going to change depending on your hormones, it’s gonna change depending on your weight, how much weight is muscle, how much of your weight is fat, what exercise you’re doing. So like, those calculators are sort of helpful for trainers as a base level so you can look at your client and—but then you have to put in all these other factors around that. So I’d say for the average person looking at that calculation, don’t worry about it. We—there’s so much protein—like I’m not advocating veganism, vegetarianism, or being carnivore or whatever, like, whatever you have access to, it’s great. I’ve tried so many different diets, like, I’ve tried all those things. And right now I just eat what I can get my hands on and what’s cheap. Um, because that’s what works for me. But you can get, you know, there’s so much protein in a handful of spinach or, like, you know, peanut butter or eggs—eggs or protein and fat. So if you just survive on eggs, like, I used to have a 5 egg omelet every morning. Like, if you can get your hands on meat, you don’t need that much, like, I used to—when I was doing like that stupid “lose nine kilos in six weeks challenge” like, what we’re eating every day was like 160 grams/180 grams of cooked meat. So like, one quarter has been removed, like 180 grams cooked meat and then 2 cups of veggies for 3 meals a day. And then, yeah, of course you’re going to get thin because you’re not like eating. And there was like no carbs. They were like, you have like a pinky-sized pile of mashed potato or whatever. Like that’s, you know, of course you’re gonna get skinny if you’re not eating any carbs and you’re and you’re in a calorie deficit so. But you can survive on not much protein and you can also build muscle on not much protein. Like, there are so many vegan bodybuilders out there and vegan athletes. And you can—there are many sources of protein and I think we don’t get taught enough about where our food comes from and what’s in our food in school. You know, I think there was a video—a viral video that went around of kids being asked, you know, “Where does the potato come from? Or where does this not come from?” And they couldn’t tell you whether it was a tree, the ground or, you know, they’re like, “The shop? I don’t know.” So I think we—it’s definitely important to learn more about food and what macronutrients are and what micronutrients are. So macros are your protein, fats, and carbs. Micronutrients are all the vitamins and minerals that are inside food as well. So it’s important to learn about that and to know what you’re getting from each different thing because you need, like, you know, life’s all about balance. You want—and your body craves variety. That’s why, you know, when you stop yourself silly with your main meal, your brain’s, like, “Hey, you still got room for dessert.” Because that’s a different nutrient for your body to absorb, its sugar. So you’ve just filled yourself up with, you know, some vitamin A, some vitamin C, some carbohydrates, like blah, blah, blah, and then you body’s like, “Hey, but you haven’t had that sugary, milky thing over there.” Like, that’s why we can still eat something different when we feel so full, because your body knows that you need a variety of different nutrients to keep yourself going. And it sees the benefit in all of them. So, you know, eating as many different things as you can is always better than, “This is my one food that I eat every day all the time.”
Mmhmm. That’s something that I’m very bad at and I have inherited been very bad at. At one point my dad who I don’t think listens to this podcast, I’m not sure—went to the doctor and was like, “I don’t feel good.” And the doctor was like, “What do you eat?” My dad explained exactly what he eats. And the doctor said, “Every day?” My dad was like, “Yeah.” You know, it was very carefully thought out thing. It wasn’t like, he wasn’t eating junk. You know?
And I have a similar habit that I have to fight the desire to just eat the same thing every day.
Well, because it’s easy, right? Like, that’s why a lot of people do it. And I used to do it and a lot of people with anxiety do it too because it’s something that you can control and you know it doesn’t make your stomach upset, you know, you can be full on it. Yeah, do you, how many meals do you have a day?
Two and a half?
More in the afternoon? Or do you like wait a bit after you wake up?
Yeah, I mean, okay, so—I eat a Builder Bar for breakfast or some other protein bar, which is another long standing habit of sloth, I guess. And then for lunch, you know—or sometimes a bowl of cereal or something. And then for lunch I’ll eat—if I’m feeling fancy I’ll cook like, you know, potatoes and some greens or something. But usually it’ll be, I don’t know, oatmeal or something like that for lunch.
And then dinner is like the meal that I’m like—I can’t be fucked to cook. And the worst thing about—well can’t be fun to cook for myself. Like I enjoy cooking with other people, but I have a very hard time convincing myself that like I’m worth the effort of, like, taking an hour out of my day, like, three times in one day.
Just to like eat food when there’s this packaged thing that will make me not hungry that says it has all the things I need in it. And obviously this is sustainable for the long term. Oh…
Well that’s where, like—you know, speaking of long-term prepping, short-term prepping comes in handy. So like, you know, cooking more rice than you need and then having it in the fridge and then, you know, you can have rice as your side for the next three or four days with your dinner. Or when you make a big salad or you make a big tray of roasted vegetables in the oven, make enough so you have, you know, enough for your sides for the next three or four days. So that’s something that you can do to help combat the time spent so then it’s like, “Okay, this one day, I’ll spend an hour or an hour and a half prepping and then tomorrow, the next day, the next day, I’m gonna thank myself because I’m gonna have to do is put it—warm it up somehow or a eat it cold.” And it’s done.
That makes sense. But um, it’s also a reason that I need to expand my solar bank to get a freezer.
At the moment, I have a very small fridge. And because it’s winter, I don’t even really successfully have a fridge because there’s not enough solar power. So now I have a cooler on my porch, which is perfectly good for vegetables, but I don’t know whether I would trust cooked rice to it.
Not sure. Maybe, I’ve always wondered that because it doesn’t get that cold in Australia. So I’ve come here and I’m like, “Wow, my outside is cold that my fridge. Do I need a fridge? Can I can I rent out my fridge in winter to someone else I just use outside for myself?”
Yes, but then it’s harder to keep it from freezing. The cooler on my porch is actually—at the moment it exists to keep my stuff from freezing, not to keep my stuff… Yeah, it’s interesting.
Yeah. But yeah, like it’s—then it becomes hard because if you don’t have storage space, or, you know, if you live with a bunch of roommates, it’s hard to put put things in a fridge for yourself. But yeah, you just have to pick the thing that’s small and easy to put in a little container and just pick one thing to prep that takes the longest time and then cook the other things the day of or whatever.
No, that makes sense.
Um, so you talked about how hormones affect your body differently, right—or different hormones will affect bodies differently. And I was wondering if you could talk about that, because I think that a lot of people who are listening are trans or have other reasons why they take hormones or hormone blockers. And not all trans people take hormones, I actually personally don’t take hormones. And I’m wondering if you could talk about how different hormonal systems affect your decisions about fitness and how to, how to work to the advantages of of any given hormonal system.
Well, so I’ve also trained myself before I started testosterone, and I was training when I was on testosterone, and now I’m off it again. And so I’ve experienced what training is like with all the different hormones—hormonal combinations. So you know, testosterone will turn you into a furnace, and so you’re burning calories a lot quicker then someone who runs on estrogen. Your—you build muscle a lot quicker as well. You know, lucky bastards. But, uh, so you need more food generally. So someone on testosterone is going to have a higher caloric intake to just maintain and it’s going to be easier to put on muscle. But the actual training regime, or like the exercise selection, should be exactly the same. You shouldn’t have any need to do a specific type of exercise or type of training because of your hormones. So a lot of—that’s why I think it’s such BS to put like gender on intake forms for gyms or trainers or whatever, because, like it actually doesn’t affect the training that much. If you’re giving someone nutritional advice, yes, you’re going to need to know that. But for the exercise prescription, we can pretty much do the same thing depending on your time available and your energy levels, you’re just maybe going to be lifting a different weight depending on how much experience or how much practice you put in. And, you know, I hate that standard barbells now, standard Olympic barbells, are categorized into the men’s barbell and the women’s barbell, because they have a 5 kilo difference—weight difference.
If you’d—like it’s so silly. If you’ve ever watched like, you know, a CrossFit competition, those women very strong, can probably lift more than a lot of cis men who don’t work out. So like, really, strength depends on how much time you put into it. Like if you’re someone that’s lifting a lot, doesn’t matter what hormonal makeup you have. Strength is about your body weight and, you know, how much practice you put in. So that’s why like powerlifting competitions are broken up into weight classes because it’s all about your power to weight ratio. It’s not fair if you know a 300 pound person is lifting against a 500 pound person because they’re gonna have just different power to weight ratios naturally no matter how much they practice. And so, as a, you know, as a trans person, and even as a cis person, you don’t have to worry about what trainings for men and what training so women or what trainings people on testosterone or not. It is does affect, you know, the amount of calories you’re burning at rest. And it’ll affect your progress timeline a little bit. But you don’t really have to take that into consideration when choosing your exercises. Like I always say, the perfect exercise is the one that you do, and the one that doesn’t injure you. So if you’re like, “Oh, I must do this specific type of training,” but you’re on the couch every day because you’re dreading doing high intensity workout. Obviously, that’s not the one for you, because you’re sitting on your ass. If you’re like, “F yeah! I’m gonna do boxing today because I love boxing, like, I’m gonna do some sparring or some shadow boxing,” and you get up because that excites you, then that’s the exercise that works for you. But yeah, like, hormones are really such a small player and, like, they choose—they decide where your body fat is, is the biggest thing that they do, right? So like, if you are a trans person not on hormones, and you want to make your chest look bigger, then you’re going to just do exercises that workout your chest. If you want to make your ass look better, you’re going to do exercises that target you butt. You cannot target where fat comes off your body. That’s just not a thing we can decide as human beings, it just happens randomly, just depending on your genetics. But you can decide where you target the muscle growth because you do exercises for those muscles and the surrounding muscles—the surrounding like assisting muscles. Okay. Yeah, one time I was—before I came out as trans even to myself, but I, you know, it was maybe one of the first really obvious signs—I was doing weightlifting and I stopped because I started having veins in my arms.
You know, like, muscle—like, in my, like, vein sticking out of my muscles or whatever. And I was like, “Oh, no, that is not an acceptable thing for me. I would definitely rather be a little bit weaker than have my veins popping out.” So I just stopped weightlifting. Probably should have just start eating more fat maybe? I’m not sure. But it wasn’t really the—I mean, okay, so that actually ties into something that I want to bring up is that—and I guess I’ve been kind of trying to—in the same way that obsessing about food can be really bad, ut does also seem like obsessing about fitness can be really bad. When I think about, personally, probably the time that I was physically healthiest was the time that I was mentally the least healthy, where I was incredibly obsessive about what I ate and about exercising, but it was absolutely obsessive. And I’m wondering if you have ideas about preventing fitness from being obsessive and like maybe, like, understanding like realistic goals or something? I don’t quite know how to phrase what I’m trying to get at.
Yeah. Well, that’s a hard one. Because, you know, that’s what happened to me and I don’t know if there was any way to prevent it, but at some point you catch yourself and I think it’s just one of those rock bottom moments where you’re like, okay, yeah, this is a problem. I’m—you know, because I had the similar thing to you as when I was at my physical peak and I thought I was looking great and I was trading all the time, but I was obsessing over what I was eating. Like, I ended up going to hospital with a stress condition that affect my guts. And I had—I was at a festival over a New Year’s and I missed the countdown, I missed the New Year’s Eve party, because I was in like excruciating pain and couldn’t get out of bed because I had, like, a gastro problem of like, cramping, like, all in my entire torso. It was like, terrible, because I was eating the wrong makeup of food and I was literally just stressed all the time because I was—it was—I was also working a really intense, demanding job which was in the gym. And so you have to have that moment where you’re like, “Okay, cool. Well, you know, I’ve missed this socialization with my friends, or I’m not going to parties, or I’m, you know, I’m stressing about pre-packing food to a wedding because I don’t know what they’re going to serve.” Like when you get to that point. Like, seriously, like, that’s what I was doing. Like, I was, you know, you don’t want to go out because you know there’s going to be cake and someone’s gonna offer you at the end and you’re gonna have to deny it, like say no, like, you shouldn’t get to that point. And that’s when you know, things have gone too far. So like, I mean, it is really hard to avoid that but you need to just go into any sort of exercise routine or nutritional change thinking that—or knowing that it could be sustained thing, or maybe you’re gonna try this and it’s not going to be for you, and that’s okay. And it’s totally fine to not have fitness, you know, not have your life revolve around fitness. Because, like, I like to come at it as a holistic thing, like, fitness is not gonna work on its own. If you’re smashing yourself in the gym six days a week, or you know, you’re going for runs every day, or you’re doing your home workout six, seven days a week, that itself is not going to help you holistically if you’re then not sleeping because you’re stressed, or you’re not sleeping because your body is ruined because of all the work you’re doing. You’re not hydrated, you’re not stretching, you’re not—you just can’t be calm because your heart rates always elevated because you’re always moving or, you know, cooking or whatever, like, it has to be a holistic thing for your body to be working properly and for you to make it sustainable. So if—something’s always going to give, you know, if you’re sacrificing too much for this fitness lifestyle or this diet that you’re following, it’s not going to be sustainable. And then it’s going to cause you problems in the long-term. So you want to think about, okay, well, I’m smashing all this protein powder and all these like supplements all the time. What about when your, like liver, it gives out later? Or what if, you know, you end up getting heart disease or you have a heart attack because you’re always stressed? Like, you have to think about long-term, what’s going to put the least amount of stress and strain on your body and your internal organs.
Okay. Yeah, I’ve always found—it’s funny, because I end up using like muscle building, for example, as an analogy when I think about different—the way that different systems work. About, you know, as far as I understand it, you need to like work out the muscle group until you damage it a little bit, but not a lot a bit?
You know, in order to trick your body into building it back stronger. And it seems like a lot of mental health stuff for me has been that way. Where like, you know, cognitive behavioral therapy, the behavioral aspects of it with like exposure therapy will be like, well expose yourself to the thing that makes you anxious, but not go overboard with it, right? Because if you go overboard with it, you just make it worse. And that’s how exercise feels like, is like, you know, you could be like, “Oh, I need to get stronger.” So you could damage yourself versus like, I don’t know, it’s an analogy I use for way too much of my life.
I like it. No, it’s good. Yeah, you need it—you need to challenge yourself a little bit, but not too much. Yes, I guess, that.
So one of the things that I want to talk to you about because I think that—one of the things that I’ve run into a lot when I talk about, you know, the end of the world and fitness—and obviously, anyone who’s listened to many episodes of podcast knows I’m not necessarily talking about, like, the nukes drop and everyone runs around in Mad Max cars or whatever. But actually, you know, I’d argue that we’re dealing with a version of the apocalypse right now, in that it is the possible death throes of a system that has currently sustained some of us and not others of us. But a lot of people feel like anything that talks about like disaster preparation excludes them because of especially disability. And also, things around fitness I feel like tie into both disability and like size-ism. And I really want to like separate out the two because I don’t believe that size is like a disability, you know, like being fat or whatever. But both of those things seem to come up a lot in fitness discussions. And I’m wondering if you have opinions about how to navigate this—how to navigate fitness from the perspective of someone who’s been basically told fitness isn’t for them or feels personally that fitness might not be for them.
Yeah. Well, yeah. And that’s something I’m really passionate about and I’m trying to get more into with the content that I’m putting out on my social media channels is to target those audiences who feel like, you know, the fitness industry is against them. But there is, you know, there’s a tiny mini little fitness industry revolution happening right now. And there are certainly people in my in my circles who I follow who are fat trainers, who are trainers with disabilities, who are, you know—or who are then specifically targeting those minorities and saying like, “This is for you. This is your time, like you can do this, we can all do it together.” And it’s not that hard to change, you know, if you have a class of people of different abilities of different sizes, like it’s not hard to accommodate those—that mix group as a trainer. And, you know, a lot of trainers—to be fair, like, these days, you know, a lot of degrees you just pay for, right? So it’s not hard to be a personal trainer. There are so many people out there who are a fitness conditional, like, you know, it’s—so a lot of them don’t know, they don’t have the ability, that haven’t been taught, or they haven’t tried to think for themselves, “How do I include these other types of people in my class.” So then, you know, a few people from those memories have gone and gotten their certification and have been, you know, the role model for everyone else. So, I like to, yeah, say that I—my tagline for my businesses is “fitness for every body,” as in every