This is the audio from our March 2018 episode of We Chat Divorce, which aired in March 2018. You can watch the episode here.
In today’s episode, we’re joined by Cecilia Halseth, author of Walking is for Wimps. We had a great time discussing how to start, and keep, a healthy routine throughout a stressful time.
Karen: Welcome to We Chat Divorce. This is where we talk about real people, real situations, and real divorce. I'm Karen Chellew, and I'm here with Catherine Shanahan, we cofounded a Divorce Solutions company that really is committed to changing the way people get divorced. And we do that by having this show and having guests that help us help you navigate your divorce process. So today we're going to be talking about managing stress and how it affects your well-being physically and mentally.
Catherine: We see a lot of people and they are concerned, and we're concerned for them, and we assess them about their financial, emotional, and physical well-being. Have you ever heard of the divorce diet?
Catherine: Okay so when I went through my divorce, there's this "divorce diet", and it was great. I lost 20 pounds, and it felt so good, but it just wasn’t good for me. It was all stress related. It wasn’t anything I was doing healthy for myself. I was just stressed out all the time. So, I'm really excited for our guest today to get us on track on what to do properly. Even though I lost that 20 pounds and I felt great, it has come back. As you know I can't fit in some of my clothes right now because it has come back. So, I need some help today and I'm really excited about today.
Karen: Me too. My divorce diet was not eating at all. When I manage stress, I just don't eat. I feel like crawling in a hole. So, I'm excited for Cecilia to be here. And we notice when people talk about divorce, one of the first things they want to talk about is "I'm a mess", "I don't feel good", "I don’t look good", "I'm not eating well", "I'm eating differently", just because the whole family dynamic is all shaken up. And, so, that needs to be address right at the beginning.
Catherine: Yeah. And we're all so focused on that. I remember my first spinning class. I'm by myself and I'm sitting in the gym, and I'm to the right and it’s a really dark room. And I'm spinning away, and the class is over and I'm trying to get off the bike. I hear a group of women, the instructor also, talking. And I hear the instructor say, "I lost 185 pounds." Now I don't know any of the women, or the instructor at that time either, and I'm thinking "Oh my gosh. 185 pounds! How did she do that?" So, I'm thinking "I'm pretty social. I'm going to go meet these women." So, I go over and say "Excuse me, this is such a great class. I'm so curious, how did you lose 185 pounds?" And they all start cracking up and she says "Well I just divorced the guy I was married to! He weighed 185 pounds and I'm rid of him now". She's a good friend of mine now and I found that to be so funny. But fast forward, me going through my own divorce, I realized maybe it's not so funny, that we focus on that. Or often you'll hear "Oh, he lost a lot of weight, He must be doing something he shouldn’t be doing." Or "He's preparing to divorce me." So, it will be really nice to hear a healthy approach to look at ourselves.
Karen: Absolutely. So, our guest is Cecilia Halseth. Cecilia is a ball of energy, and the author of a book entitled Walking is for Wimps. Cecilia holds a degree in exercise and physiology and she's been a part of the fitness industry for over 25 years, teaching exercise classes and giving lectures.
Catherine: She'll help us help you get on a healthier path to a nice future.
Karen: Cecilia, thank you for joining us!
Cecilia: My pleasure. Thank you thank you I'm so excited. So, I was listening to you guys and exercise is an important part for anybody to not only feel better, but as a mood booster, which is one of the big problems when you are separating from someone you loved sometimes for many years, and you're going through the stress of divorce. Exercise could help as a stress releaser, and as a fantastic mood booster.
Catherine: I'm so excited to hear how you'll help us stay on track. First, get on track, and then stay there, which is what I'm having a problem with.
Karen: But wait, walking is for wimps. Please tell us.
Cecilia: Wimpy wimpy. Well this is very interesting. I have for many years created and filled in my own personalized "keep in shape plan". One of the things I discovered is that so many women get frustrated because they exercise but cannot lose the weight. It's because they're not doing it efficiently and effectively. And that's one of the things I see. I see many women walking, having a good time. Chit chatting, and they take a nice long stroll through the park, through the street, but they're not trying. So, don’t take me wrong. Walking is a wonderful way to exercise. But, if you're doing it very easily, it's either because you're very old, because you've been injured, or because you're recuperating from illness. But most of us who are active and young, you must add what I call "moments of intensity". And those moments of intensity could translate to sprints or walk faster. So, that's what I mean by walking is for wimps. You must add moments of intensity. Even 30 seconds of where you feel your heartbeat go up, you start feeling moist, you start feeling sweaty. That's what will create changes. That's what will allow you to lose the weight faster. And nobody gets more motivated then when you start seeing it reflected on the scale. So, walking is for wimps means to add moments of intensity. Then you can lose the weight faster and stay motivated.
Karen: Okay so we have young mom going through a divorce. She has two small kids, with no time. And as a matter of fact, she's overwhelmed because there's not enough hours in the day. She's not eating well, she's not exercising, she's totally stressed, what does she do?
Cecilia: This is very interesting because I've seen people being in that same situation. And I think to myself "Okay you're stressed to the max, you're probably also part-time working or full-time working, you go back home and must deal with the kids, there's not another parent to help, and you want to go work out? Oh please." What we want is a glass of wine, a little cheese and crackers, and to put the kids to bed. So, how do you incorporate? The first thing, I believe, to incorporate exercise into your life consistently is that you must start by being motivated. Motivation is a process in which you will start to feel motivated once you start losing the weight. But how do you start the motivation process? The first thing we must understand is that we must be absolutely at our whit's end. Out of frustration, of weight gain, and say "I have to incorporate a stress releaser." Even for ten minutes. So, the first thing these people must think is "Okay, I have all this stress, I have all these kids, and now you want me to work out for an hour?" No. That's also a part of the title of the book. Because if you walk wimpy, then you must walk for an hour, 45, 50 minutes! We don't have time. What I suggest for these people is that if you're an early riser, then think "I'm going to take 15 minutes in the morning before the kids get up, and if you can afford it, then get a little treadmill. [And it doesn't matter if you're in your pajamas], get a pony tail, and go before the kids get up for 15 minutes. And add those moments of intensity. Walk for four-five minutes and then push it a little bit. The moment you push, and your body wakes up, then you say "Ham! I think I can do another minute". So that's one of the things you must think. If you've an early riser, then do it then. If you go to work, go at lunch time. You just change your shorts and do it for 15 minutes, and you still have an hour of lunch time. So, go there, change, go outside, feel, inhale, push it and push it, come back, put a little deodorant on, and then it's over!
Karen: Speak for yourself!
Cecilia: Yeah, you can do wonders with perfume. And in the afternoon, if you finish early with your walk and you don't have to pick up your kids until 4 or 5, then incorporate that exercise. Again, do it efficiently and effectively, add your moments of intensity, and do it for 15 to 20 minutes, and then it's over!
Catherine: So, I'm hearing you say just start with day one. Take 15 or 20 minutes. Say "This is what I'm doing today for myself" because we deserve it. Everyone deserves 15 or 20 minutes to themselves. And you don't have to start with "I need to do a 45-minute class," or " I need to go work out for an hour" or "I have to run for 30 minutes". You can start with just a walk, add some intensity, and make it a regular habit.
Cecilia: A regular habit... That's very interesting that you bring that up because you cannot change physically, emotionally, and mentally if you don't achieve consistency. That's a big one – consistency. So, the first thing you must think is, most people think consistency means they must do it 3-4 times a week. No! Start twice a week. But really commit to it. Like I myself obviously have really committed to exercise because I already know the wonderful benefits of exercise and now its part pf my life. But it took years. Because the first thing I wanted was to lose the weight. I wasn't thinking "Oh I need to work out so that I can increase my lung capacity. No! The first thing I wanted to do was to lose the weight.
Karen: So, about being consistent with exercise – especially when you're dealing with a stressful situation. I wanted to tell you guys this story because exercise became a very important component of my lifestyle when I went through divorce. My kids were 7 and 5, and I didn't eat. So, it wasn't a weight loss thing for me, but it really was an anxiety reliever for me. So, I would have play dates for them. After school they would be on the playground and I would just run around. I started with ten minutes and I couldn't breathe. But over time it became a lifeline. It remains a core part of my day. But I always need to exercise with someone. So, I have an issue. When that someone isn't available, I sleep in.
Cecilia: It's very interesting. First, I want to say I also did that. If I didn't have the time, then I'd play ticklish monster. I'd chase all the kids in the preschool. And believe me after 20-30 minutes you end up with your tongue out. Something about the companionship, I highly suggest that if we love a song, and we're listening to the radio and we're driving, you start moving. Go write down those songs and say, " I cannot wait to listen to those songs!" And go out there whether you have a friend or not. In fact, no friends so you can go and pump it. It's a fantastic way to do it by yourself.
Catherine: Do you use music when you work out?
Karen: I do, just sometimes...
Catherine: You want the person?
Karen: Not necessarily that I want the person, it's just the pattern that I've set for myself. So, for instance my friend stubbed her toe and I didn't get up and my husband said, "Oh you didn't work out today" and I would say "Well no, she stubbed her toe, so I can't work out." So, I just noticed that about myself.
Cecilia: So that's the thing. If you have the plan A and plan B music and if you are listening to music when you're with her as well, your music is not like "YES I am SO energized" because you want it loud and clear to push you. In fact, some of the parts of good music that excites you, I use as moments of intensity. When it gets to a certain part of the music, I know that's when I push it, and then come back.
Catherine: Yeah. I say we challenge Karen, and anyone else watching, that they should have their workout buddy be themselves. And you can log it in. I'd like to see how much you work out before our next show.
Karen: You're on!
Catherine: I love challenges.
Cecilia: You were talking about refueling. What does that mean?
Catherine: I lot of times in divorce, the reason couples grow apart is because someone is giving, like we give to our children, we give to our friends, we give to our spouses, and I remember being asked the question, by a therapist, is that "who's refueling you"? Being a stepmom of three children and then having two children ourselves, and with my ex-husband working all the time, I was always giving, giving, giving. Then because we didn't have a connection that was more emotional, I was feeling lonely a lot. So, the question was "How do we refuel ourselves?". I didn't grow up exercising. So, in your book I know you talk about that day to refuel which I'm excited to hear about because it could be something I could connect to.
Cecilia: Well refueling is interesting because it must do with how you manage your caloric intake? One of the first things I want to make very clear is that I love to eat, and I don't mean rabbit food. There's nothing I enjoy more than rich, high-caloric foods. If all the rich, high-caloric foods had the same number of calories as a carrot, we would not be overweight. One of the things that we must do is to plan – and it's okay to plan. It's not an obsessive thing. Every single person who has maintained their decent body weight think, every single day, how they are going to eat. How are they going to make themselves feel better through food or through exercise. I have fuel days, I have maintenance days, and I have cheat days. You must have cheat days. So, the fuel days, usually for me, are Mondays. Why? Because the weekends are mostly my cheating days. So, by Monday you feel so guilty, it is for sure a healthy day. You are going to put fuel in your body, but healthy fuel. Potato chips, fried chicken nuggets, are not fuel. I'm talking healthy fuel. And when you feel so guilty, your body and your brain tell you "Yes. You need to eat healthy." And then maybe Tuesday's another fuel day. Wednesday, I feel good, so I do a maintenance day. Maintenance day means you can still cheat a little bit, like, I'll have a nice salad, with a creamy dressing. Instead of liking on Monday I would have a salad with lemon juice. And maybe on a maintenance day you'll have a bag of Doritos or half the bag. And then cheating day doesn't mean that the whole day you're going to be cheating. What I'm trying to say is that you cannot cheat the whole day. So, what I do on a cheating day, I'm very aware of my exercise, a little quick workout, and then I know that that evening is the party evening. So, I can eat and enjoy myself, eat when I want, slowly. And there's specific tips on how to eat in moderation, a little lower portion, and how to enjoy right, high-caloric food within certain trade-offs – so that you will not gain everything back.
Catherine: You're pointing at me
Cecilia: No! Well you said that you will gain it back. So, one of the things is that you must fight back with all you might [against] that weight gain. And in my book, I have tips about it. Because nothing makes us more frustrated – us women – is [gaining] body weight. Practice managing the low-caloric fuel days, feel good about yourself with intensity and [sweat], and it will release the tension and you'll start feeling better with yourself. It will be a snowball effect. You start feeling better, you start losing the weight, you start being a little more aware or your food intake. Then people start saying "Oh my gosh you look great!" And that's the beginning of your new lifestyle.
Karen: That’s great. And you cover all of that in your book. Walking is for Wimps. Thank you for joining us as We Chat Divorce.
Catherine: And our viewers can get her book right from her website.
Karen: We look forward to seeing you next time. If you have any questions for us or if you want to suggest a topic for one of our next episodes, email us at info@DivorceUSolutions.com. Thank you for joining us.
Catherine: And remember – We chat because you matter.
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