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Being an athlete can have some interesting challenges on its own, but if you’re a mom on top of being an athlete… well, you’re some kind of superhuman. In today’s Episode we have Britt Schenck on the podcast to discuss life as a mom + powerlifter, how she balances it all & to share some of her helpful tips on how to best strike a balance with both. Enjoy!

You can find Britt here: https://www.instagram.com/brittschenck/

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Kristin:

Welcome back to the Female Strength Academy Podcast. This is Kristin and today’s episode is a little bit different. Mary will not be joining me, but I do have a very special guest. 

 

Britt Schenck is one of the coaches I have brought up through Fiercely Fueled Nutrition. I have known her for several years and am so proud of the person that she is and the work that she does. She provides a perspective to female lifters that Mary and I simply can not provide. She’s a working mom to a toddler, and I know a lot of you are moms and athletes and struggle with that balance and want to hear from someone in the trenches.

 

So we decided we wanted to have Britt on to talk about some of the challenges that she’s gone through as an athlete and a mother. Um, and then also as a coat, her perspective of how we can be doing things and, um, arranging our lives in such a way that you can still be a successful athlete.

 

So take a listen. I hope you enjoy it. We also dive into just tips in general for cooking for your family and still staying on track with your macros. So whether you’ve got kids or you’ve just got a partner or roommates that you are also cooking for, make sure you listen towards the end because that will be a really good tip for anyone. I hope that you enjoy this episode as much as I enjoyed this conversation with Britt.

 

Kristin:

Thanks for joining me today. I’m super excited to have you here!

 

Britt:

Hey, thanks for inviting me on. I’m excited to be here.

 

Kristin:

So, tell our listeners a little bit about yourself.

 

Britt:

Sure. So my name is Britt Schenck. It’s not spelled the way it sounds; that’s always a point of confusion. I am 32 years old and I’ve been lifting for about three years in the United States Powerlifting Association. I’ve been a nutrition coach with you through Fiercely Fueled Nutrition for about, oh my gosh. It’s almost been a year. Oh my gosh, that went fast.

 

I am a mom to a toddler girl, and she’s about to turn two years old next month. So she keeps me on my toes for sure.

 

Kristin:

For sure. And besides just being a nutrition coach, you also have a regular nine to five.

 

Britt:

Yes. I have a full-time job working with a therapeutic boys boarding school in South Carolina.

 

Kristin:

So let’s just recap. You’re a competitive powerlifter, a mom to a toddler, you’re a wife. You have a main job currently. You’re a nutrition coach and have other hobbies. And do you have other things and have a family and all of that and manage it all.

 

This is exactly why I wanted to have you on, because you can speak to something that a lot of that Mary and I can’t speak to that. I think a lot of our listeners go through this, “How do you continue to be an athlete and have a job and have a young child?” I know that it’s challenging.

 

Britt:

It’s very challenging. I basically don’t sleep [laughs].

 

Kristin:

That’s not true, you prioritize your sleep!

 

Britt:

I have gotten much better about prioritizing it.

 

Kristin:

We’re going to get into some of that in a little bit about your tips and tricks and how you adapt your day based on how you’re feeling and how much sleep you got. But tell us a little bit, because you started powerlifting before you had a child.

 

Britt:

Yep. So I started powerlifting in 2017, I think.

 

Kristin:

So, how is it different now than before you had a kid?

 

Britt:

It is very different now. So, when I started powerlifting, I was the only one powerlifting in my gym. I live in a very, very small town with no support system other than my husband, of course. But I was kind of going out on my own and figuring out everything without somebody there to kind of help walk me through it, which was interesting.

 

But you know, I worked out in a Globo gym, and you’ve got all of those complications with a regular commercial gym, just like anybody else would. But I was able to go in at any time with my leisure around my work. It was a 24/7 gym, things like that, very climate-controlled, which will make sense in a moment.

 

Fast forward, while I was pregnant in 2018, my husband and I decided to build a home gym because I knew driving 15 minutes one way to our commercial gym was going to be a little bit more inconvenient with a newborn. So, we built a home gym in our backyard. It is not climate-controlled, which adds to a little bit more complication with training,

 

Kristin:

Especially, well, you’re in Georgia, but you’re right on the border of Georgia and South Carolina. We live like what, maybe 30 minutes from each other?

 

Britt:

Yeah, 30-40 minutes.

 

Kristin:

But different states.

 

Britt:

Yeah, so we built a home gym in our backyard, and that made it a lot more convenient once I had the baby because trying to fit my training around my husband’s schedule, who also lifts and also works a full-time job, plus a newborn plus my full-time job. It was just a lot easier to be able to slip outside, get my workout done in an hour, and then come right back in instead of incorporating two hours between driving to the gym, getting set up, driving back, and all of that. So, that was more convenient.

 

The inconvenient part of that again is climate control. It gets really cold in the winter, and then being in Georgia, it’s awful in the summer. And humid.

 

Kristin:

I remember asking you a lot about that. When the pandemic hit, my husband and I decided that he would build me a gym in the backyard because I have so many high-risk patients that I didn’t feel comfortable going to the gyms, even though they were open. And I remember asking you like, okay, how bad is it in the summer? And what do I need to do? You were out there measuring your own shed for me.

 

Britt:

So number one, get an AC unit in the window. So yeah, it is a lot more convenient being back, like being at home for my workouts, but we now have to stagger because of our daughter. Somebody has to be watching her. She’s too young to be in the gym with us. Our space is not big enough to set her up in a corner with some toys and let her really be in there with us. It’s just too close quarters.

 

So, before having my daughter, I could go on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and then if I didn’t feel like going on Thursday, I could bump it to Friday or Saturday. I don’t have that luxury anymore. I have to be very, what’s the word I’m looking for? I’m very intentional about my workouts.

 

Kristin:

Yeah, your schedule can’t really change based on how you feel. So the way I’m training right now is different. I used to be very regimented with my days, and now that I’m 40, recovering from injuries, I have a lot going on in my businesses. I’m able to say, “You know what? I really don’t think today is going to be a very good training day. I’m going to push it to tomorrow.” You can’t do that because if you push it to tomorrow, you’ve now screwed up your husband’s training schedule.

 

Britt:

Yep. And I can’t do that. So, I work out Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday. He works out Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Sometimes there can be a little wiggle room, not as much when I was working out four days a week. I recently pulled back to three days, and I’ll be bumping it back up here soon. But there is that level of commitment now and that regimen I have to stick with, or else my training doesn’t happen.

 

Kristin:

Do you feel like that pushes you and motivates you in a way like, “Shoot, I just have to suck it up and go today, or does it suck?

 

Britt:

For the most part? Yeah, I would say it motivates me. You know, it’s not, it’s not as easy to just say like, “Oh, I don’t feel like it” and kind of push it off. A lot of times, my feelings don’t even come into the equation.

 

Kristin:

I think that’s being a mom, like a lot of times your feelings don’t matter.

 

Britt:

Basically. Yeah.

 

Kristin:

Well, I know they do matter!

 

Britt:

I know exactly what you’re saying. Like, when thinking through life situations and schedules and things like that, like there’s not  that ability to sit back and think, “Hmm, do I want to do this?” It just, it is what it is. Like you were saying with mom life, like my sleep schedule on the weekends, many things have completely changed since having her. Which ironically has actually turned me into a morning person. And I look forward to waking up before her.

 

Kristin:

It’s your quiet time in the morning.

 

Britt:

It is, and  I take full advantage of it.

 

Kristin:

For sure. Well, it’s so important to still have that time to yourself. So I think that’s what I hear you saying is, you’ve got to prioritize some of these things for yourself.

 

Britt:

Oh yeah. My “me” time is scheduled. And if anybody knows me, I am not like a Type A schedule person, but I’ve had to become that for me to wear so many hats. Like, I didn’t have a choice if I wanted to continue doing the things that I love. And that was important to me. As we were discussing starting a family and what does this look like? So that I’m not putting my needs on the back burner. Does that make sense?

 

Kristin:

Yes. And I think that so many parents can relate to that.

 

Britt:

It’s easy to do.

 

Kristin:

It’s very easy to do. I’ve seen a lot of people do it, and then you get a few years down the road, and you’re like, “Who am I? What do we even exist for other than wiping noses and wiping butts?” It’s challenging.

 

But I know a lot of moms that struggle with guilt around that. Yes. Can you talk about that?

 

Britt:

Yeah, absolutely. So there is that sense of, especially in the beginning, the “mom guilt” was so bad.

 

Kirstin:

How do you deal with that?

 

Britt:

A lot of self-talk, honestly. At least for me, there were several factors. So again, my home gym is out in my backyard. We live in a very small space right now and our walls are very thin. So, if my husband was tending to Jordan, my daughter, in the house and she was having a meltdown, I could hear it out in the gym. If I didn’t have music going or even sometimes having music, I could still kind of hear her in the back. And I can’t tell you just how guilty that made me feel to be out there and not be in there helping him.

 

Kristin:

I can totally see that that would be really difficult. Cause you’re like, “I’m just going to keep doing my thing, doing my me time. Sorry, buddy.”

 

Britt:

Yeah. And you know, there was a lot of texting and things like that. Even the first time I came out and worked out with you and Mary after having my daughter, there was still that level of guilt because she was having a bad day. I didn’t say anything to you two, and he and I are just like texting back and forth. But it really put a little bit of a damper on my time with you guys because I was just feeling so bad the entire time that I was there, even though I was trying to enjoy myself and just have that “me” time.

 

So a lot of it is just reminding yourself that my time is important too. If I’m not taking care of myself and my mental health, I am not doing her any favors.

 

Kristin:

100%. I feel like as someone who’s not a parent, that would be my advice. But I think to people that are parents, it doesn’t come across quite as well.

 

Britt:

That’s easier said than done.

 

Kristin:

I’m sure it is. But then the flip side is true, right? There are times your husband prioritizes his “me” time. Surely there are times where he’s in the gym training, and you’re inside dealing with a meltdown. Right?

 

Britt:

Exactly, exactly. That’s the other thing too, just remembering I am very blessed to a husband who pitches in and pulls his weight, and he is a hundred thousand percent supportive of me being involved in powerlifting. He has been from the beginning, and he has been even with having our daughter. Just really encouraging me to continue doing it and making time out of his schedule to allow me to do that. So, I am very fortunate in that area that he is around to do that.

 

I had to kind of remind myself I have my moments where I’m supporting him, and likewise, he is okay supporting me too.

 

So it is a lot of, like I said, self-talk and reminding yourself of your goals and reminding yourself of the whole, “you can’t pour from an empty cup” kind of thing. I think that’s really important to just keep in the forefront of your mind as you’re easing back into lifting post becoming a mother.

 

Kristin:

Yeah. Can you speak a little bit about that? What was it like to go back into the gym and start training after having had a baby?

 

Britt:

I got lucky. So, even in my small town…this may be too much of a backstory, but halfway through my pregnancy, my OB-GYN decided to close. Literally midway through.

 

Kristin:

If you guys don’t know small towns, it is hard to find a physician in a small town. Especially like, you’re just lucky if someone will take you in as a new patient. In my town, no doctors are taking new patients right now. So I can see that being really terrifying. And then not only that, if someone will take you in, do you like them?

 

Britt:

Right! I literally called the new person like, hey, before I sign on the dotted line to become your patient, cause she took all of the patients from his practice when he closed. I was like, “I want to come and meet you and see if we even like gel.” So, I literally had an interview with this new physician before I was like, okay, I’m going to join your practice. And she’s great. That was the biggest blessing that I could have ever asked for.

 

Ironically, she is a younger physician, but she’s very much aware of the newer research surrounding pregnancy and lifting and exercise because she’s younger. And I mean, I can’t even tell you how perfect this was. My previous physician had told me not to lift during your pregnancy. Yes. I had had a couple of miscarriages prior.

 

And so she was really, even with my first pregnancy before my miscarriage, she was a little nervous about it. She was a runner. Okay, sorry – I was with a midwife who was with a male OB-GYN at the other practice. I keep saying “she” and “he,” and that gets kind of confusing. But she didn’t really understand the whole lifting aspect. So to her 150 pounds, cause I wasn’t lifting much at the time compared to three years later, she was like, “Oh my gosh, can you do like 10-pound weights?”

 

Kristin:

You’re like, “You want me to go get the pink dumbbells? Really?”

 

Britt:

Yeah, so I was a little disappointed, but you know, I took her advice because she was my physician and I didn’t really have anybody else to ask. And so, you know, with this third pregnancy again, I wasn’t working out. I was sick anyway, so it wasn’t going to happen regardless. But this new OB-GYN familiar with all the research allowed me to start lifting 10 pounds, even though I hadn’t done it for half my pregnancy.

 

So I got back in the gym was doing barbell movements, just to my comfort, making adjustments, that kind of thing. And then I had a very smooth delivery. Thank goodness. And she actually gave me the green light to go back to lifting like three weeks postpartum.

 

Kristin:

That’s amazing!

 

Britt:

So I jumped right back in.

 

Kristin:

How did your body feel overall?

 

Britt:

Well, it wasn’t bad because I had basically lifted up until the moment that I went to the hospital. I think I stopped a week before I went in. Things felt heavier, of course, and there was that time of like…how do I explain this. Obviously, when you’re pregnant, your belly is bigger, but then your joints get kind of loose and things like that. And so you have to make modifications to widen your stance or, you know, maybe not arch so much when you’re benching, or you know, now you’re doing Sumo deadlifting when I’m a conventional lifter. So there was that time of getting used to a normal stance again.

 

I was just excited to be able to get in as quickly as I did. I was terrified that I was going to be out of the gym for four months postpartum and that I was going to lose all of my strength. And frankly, it came back really quick. I gave birth in January, had a meet in August of that same year, and I put up all-time PRs at that meet.

 

Kristin:

That’s awesome. That’s amazing. Well, I think a lot of that just speaks to finding the right support system and the right people to be on your team to help you out too. You know, had you stuck with that midwife who was encouraging you not to lift, things might look a lot different.

 

Britt:

Oh, absolutely.

 

Kristin:

But you are very evidence-based and research-based, which is why you work with me because that is what I’m all about. And so I think that when we are used to really the research and looking at the research, we want the same thing out of the people that are taking care of us, right? Like you need to be up on the current research because if not, what are we doing?

 

Britt:

Exactly, exactly. Like I said, it couldn’t have been a more perfect fit with this OB-GYN. Again, I got very lucky because even people in large cities don’t always have that person who is aware of the new regulations with pregnancy and lifting.

 

Kristin:

Right. Did you get any negative feedback? Like, during your pregnancy lifting? Like people saying, “Oh, you shouldn’t be doing that.”

 

Britt:

Oh, every time I went in the gym.

 

Kristin:

What do you say to people that are experiencing that? Because I hear from so many people that are just like, Oh, I roll. Like how do I even deal with this? What do you say? What do you do?

 

Britt:

Ironically, it comes from men more than women.

 

Kristin:

Right? Of course it does!

 

Britt:

I’m like, “What in the world is going on here?” I would go in with headphones, not make eye contact. So while I was in the gym and there would always be this gym bro that walks over, and I could feel his eyes burning a hole through me. And I just would try not to look. And then inevitably, you’re going to look at some point, and he motions for you to take your headphones out. And the first thing out of his mouth is, “Should you be doing that?”  

 

Kristin:

No, actually, I shouldn’t be doing that. That’s why I’m here.

 

Britt:

Right? So, I basically would just tell them I have permission from my doctor. My doctor knows that I’m doing this and has given me the green light and just left it at that. It’s easy. Again, it goes back to that whole easier said than done. Cause some, some of them would take that and say, “Oh, okay cool.” And then others would try to expand on it. Do you know what I’m saying?

 

Kristin:

Oh no. Not only do they know what’s best for your body, they know better than your doctor.

 

Britt:

Exactly. Exactly. It’s insane.

 

Kristin:

So, well, I have to give you credit just even for explaining, because I think that my face would have just said it all. Hopefully, they would have been scared of me and run away because I’m not an explanation kind of person. I do not give explanations.

 

Britt:

I think I’m too nice. Honestly, I’m too nice. Although someone the other day told me that they didn’t even approach me in the gym because I had an RBF and I’m like, the least intimidating person on the planet!

 

Kristin:

This is why you and I ended up having similar experiences because people say things to us because we are really nice. And we try to make people feel, even if they are nasty, we try to like, maybe kill people with kindness or at least meet them with kindness because maybe we’re misunderstanding or who knows. But then we ended up having awkward conversations. And I wish I was better at having an RBF. So you need to figure out what you were doing and teach it.

 

Britt:

Well, I don’t really know because I was approached a lot, but this one guy told me that I had an RBF.

 

Kristin:

He was just intimidated by your strength.

 

Britt:

Probably, which is fine too. No, but I was approached enough to confirm to me that I do not indeed have an RBF, at least to most people.

 

Kristin:

Mary always used to tell me that. It was like, “You need to work on your RBF because people come and say things to you at the gym and motion to take the headphones out.” Like, no. Don’t. I have them in here for a reason. I have limited time. I have a job to do, and I need to get out. And my job does not include talking to you.

 

Britt:

Exactly. Part of my problem is, going back to the beginning of the conversation when I first got into this, I didn’t know anybody who was doing it. And I wanted that community. Growing up as a tomboy, I had a lot of guy friends. And so I am not that person that’s like, “Oh, you’re a guy, you’re coming over here to mansplain.” Like I don’t immediately jump to that. I guess I’m kind of like a puppy. I want to be friends with everybody. I want community, which ironically is how I met you and Mary. I was desperate. You know, I think that’s part of why I tend to be so nice in the gym because I just want to make connections. Right?

 

Kristin:

You are a people person. You’re social. You are great at building community and building connections. I totally get it. And it’s a fine line. It’s similar to what we’ve been talking about with being a mom and having to have your “you” time and not feel guilty about it. I think in every lifter who is wanting that community, there comes a point where it’s like, “Whoa, Whoa, wait, okay, hold up. This is encroaching on my lifting time here.”

 

So talk to me about some tips or tricks that you figured out along the way with getting in your training with your daughter. I know some of this comes down to a certain baby monitor.

 

Britt:

Yes. Yes. If you are listening to this and you are pregnant or have a baby get yourself a video baby monitor. I don’t have a brand to suggest because the one that we have no longer exists, but it carries all the way out to our gym. And so I can be out there lifting while she’s taking her nap, and I can see everything that’s going on. So, once she wakes up, I know exactly what she’s doing. If she’s upset, I can tell. But is this a need for me to go in? Or is she just adjusting? So, I definitely recommend getting a baby monitor because that makes things a lot easier for squeezing in that lifting during nap times, which is amazing.

 

As far as balancing everything, it really comes down to time management for me, and I think for everybody.

 

Kristin:

Yes, time management is huge.

 

Britt:

Before pregnancy or during, it was really easy to come home, sit down, and thumb through Instagram for an hour. Then you decide to make supper, and then you decide to lift after that. Everything is more at your leisure, and now I don’t really have that luxury. Every spare minute, you know, I still have to keep a clean house. I still have chores to do around the house and laundry to do and things like that. So it’s like you get home, you get her in for her snack. And while she’s eating her snack, you’re changing clothes to go out in the gym, or you’re cleaning something up or whatever.

 

Very rarely does a minute go wasted in my schedule. And this does not come naturally for me, but in doing so, I’m making myself more regimented and schedule-oriented. This allows me the freedom to go and have a hike with a friend or continue to compete in powerlifting, which I did not want to let go of. Or have a side job as a nutrition coach. By having that more regimented lifestyle, it allows me more freedom.

 

Kristin:

And I would say that you probably didn’t even realize how many minutes you wasted during the day before. I shouldn’t use the word wasted but just spent it in a way that you didn’t realize you were spending them. And you maybe could have done other things if you had been more aware.

 

Britt:

A hundred percent, a hundred percent. I mean, there were so many times I’m like, “Oh, I would love to go and do personal training on the side or strength coaching or nutrition coaching.” And I was like, but I don’t have time.

 

Kristin:

Which ironically, you became a nutrition coach after having your daughter.

 

Britt:

Exactly.

 

Kristin:

And obviously, I am not a parent, but I do have three businesses, and I am a competitive lifter. So, I noticed that the more scheduled I have to be, the better everything seems to be. If I have too much free time and too much time to waste, I don’t get anything done. And I don’t feel fulfilled at all.

 

Britt:

Exactly. Or it winds up piling up and you get stressed. If I get behind on client check-ins or if I’m not keeping up with my lifting the way I need to, or if I get to the end of the day and I’m like, “Oh my gosh, I haven’t plugged a single thing into my tracker for my own nutrition,” It adds a level of stress. On top of everything that I still have to do, now I have to backtrack because I quote-unquote wasted time and didn’t do it earlier when I should have.

 

Kristin:

Right. So let’s talk a little bit about nutrition. As a nutrition coach and someone who’s also a nutrition client, we’ve been working together since shortly after you had Jordan. Talk to me about some of the tips that you have for other moms trying to manage their nutrition and hit, whether it be performance goals through dialing in their nutrition or in a deficit trying to lose weight. What are some tips and tricks you’ve picked up along the way?

 

Britt:

Oh gosh, it was a lot of trial and error. The biggest thing that helped me as a new mom was planning my entire day the night before. The reason being when you have a small child or when you have a newborn that is completely dependent on you, it’s so hard to sit down and try to figure out, okay, what can I eat today? It’s so much easier to open your app and say, okay, breakfast, I can have this, this, and this. Go put it on a plate, microwave it, cook it, whatever, and eat it. You have such limited time even to get meals in some days. You really don’t have time to figure out what you can eat plus eat it. It’s easier to know and just run with it.

 

Kristin:

For sure. I mean, I even do that just with my schedule. I can’t operate. If I don’t do that, I will mess everything up because my day can sometimes get out of control, and I need to at least make sure that I’m eating what I’m supposed to be eating. So if I have it planned out the day before, even if it’s not cooked, I know what I’m going to be making.

 

And I think that we can, everyone can relate to decision fatigue. The more decisions you have to make in a day, the more exhausting your day feels. And as a mom, you probably have way more decisions to be made, especially with a little one. Trying to think about what you’re going to eat is not even like…you probably don’t even have the energy for it some days.

 

Britt:

We do a lot of meal prepping too. That’s the other thing that has been a big time-saver for us. My husband and I don’t prepackage everything every day. If you have time to do that all in one day, great! Go for it. But what we do instead is just make big batches of meals. The Crock-Pot is my best friend for all of this. But we’ll just cook a big portion of food, and we know what our serving size is. If you have a soup or chili or something like that, you know how much it weighs when you scoop it out. When we’re serving it, we’ll use little measuring cups instead of dipping it out with a spoon. So there are little ways to do the whole meal prep thing without infringing on your time.

 

So, a lot of people feel like the whole process of measuring and weighing out their food just adds this exorbitant amount of time to their day. And it doesn’t have to. There are ways that you can make it take up less time. For instance, if you put your plate on the scale, turn the scale on, zero it out, then you’re just loading your food on the plate, just like you would be anyway. But you’re looking at how much it’s weighing while you’re doing it. And you stop at a certain point when you’ve reached your weight.

 

Likewise, you can weigh it out or take a measuring cup to scoop the chili out and put it in a bowl. Then you know how much you just scooped out and put in your bowl.

 

Kristin:

Right. You’re going to be doing it anyway. That’s my thing. Just take the one extra step to put the bowl on a scale and weigh it.  

 

I know for some of your recipes, cause we’ve had this discussion before, for some of your recipes, you make it the exact same way all of the time. So you don’t have to weigh the final product. I mean, I kind of fly by the seat of my pants with cooking, so I don’t know what the heck it’s going to weigh at the end. I might’ve put different ingredients in, who knows. I always weigh the final product, which sounds like it takes a lot of time. It does not take a lot of time.

 

Britt:

You have to pack it up anyway.

 

Kristin:

Right! So I have a bowl. I have a bowl that I know how much it weighs. It’s a very light bowl. It holds a lot. I just pour the chili in the bowl, weigh the whole thing. That was going to be four servings. I’m going to divide by four, put it in my bowl, and there are your servings. Super easy.

 

So we also have a different take on meal prep. You don’t do meal prepping the way that most people think of doing meal prepping. You don’t do a full week’s worth of food on one day. You do extra the night before, or you cook while you’re cooking something else? How do you do it?

 

Britt:

So again, we’ll cook a large batch of food and then we’ll pack that up and put it in the fridge. And then the night before, if we’re going to be going to work the next day, we pack it in Tupperware. We’re going to be doing that anyway. That goes back to the whole, like, it’s really not an extra step. I think it’s great that some people make this big batch of food, and then they take the time to put everything out into daily Tupperware. We don’t have that kind of chunk of time on Sundays, which is usually the day people do this. We don’t have that time. So we do that every night before we go to bed. That does save us some time. It makes it easy for us. And we are like most people; we eat the same stuff all the time.

 

Kristin:

You get in a rut with food, or you have the things that you like.

 

Britt:

But you know, some people think that that, like you just said, you get in a rut with food. We do. We definitely do that. And then that’s when we add something into our cycle of foods. But in some ways, it makes it a little bit easier. If you have some foods that you really like, and you’re plugging it into My Fitness Pal or MyMacros+ or whatever it is, it’s there the very next time you go to plug stuff in. You don’t have to create a recipe every single time you make it.

 

Kristin:

For sure. I have my favorite recipes. I go and change like, if the amount of meat or whatever is a little bit different, just go and change it, update it, change the number of servings or the number of grams. Yeah.

 

Britt:

It doesn’t have to be complicated.

 

Kristin:

Not at all. I remember a point in time where…well, you’re kind of going through this again, but obviously, as a mom to a young child, you have issues with sleep in your house.

 

Britt:

Oh my gosh. Yes.

 

Kristin:

I’ve talked about this on the podcast and on Instagram before. You and I have had these conversations before, too. Lack of sleep impacts your metabolism, and it’s going to impact your training. It has wide-reaching effects. But you can’t just force your child to sleep through the night, like all the will in the world isn’t going to do that. There’s no off switch, unfortunately. I wish, Oh gosh, wouldn’t that be great.

 

Britt:

How nice would that be?

 

Kristin:

So we have worked on dialing in your nutrition because nutrition is so important to recovery. And so is sleep. Those are the two things that really help your recovery. And if one is lacking, the other one isn’t, it can’t pick up the slack necessarily, but you can dial things in a little bit better. So we have done that with you, where we made sure to dial in your macros, your nutrient timing for performance, and recovery to make up for what you lacked on the sleep side of recovery.

 

Britt:

Yes, and that’s something that I preach to many people, whether you’re a mom or whether you are just somebody who, you know, works swing shifts or whatever that might be. Say you’re in a situation where you don’t have the choice to go to bed a little bit earlier or sleep in a little later and get that glorious nine hours of sleep that I wish that I could get. At that point, it is all the more important that you really dial in your nutrition, like really stay on top of it. And you know, once you get the hang of hitting your macros, taking that extra step with the nutrient timing will further enhance the recovery process and make up a little bit of what you lack with the sleep aspect. For sure.

 

Kristin:

Sure. I remember when we started dialing that in, and you were like, “Oh wow, this is making a difference in how I feel.”

 

Britt:

Huge difference. In the beginning, I was like, “Eh, that’s not gonna make that big of a difference.” But once I finally started being intentional about how many carbs I’m getting pre and post-workout and making sure that I’m getting the right types of carbs around my workout, it was worlds different. I mean, I can’t believe the difference. And when I get off of that, I can feel it in the gym. I don’t perform as well.

 

Kristin:

I talk to clients about this all the time, and I’m sure that you do too. We hear feedback from clients like, “I did not think this was going to make this much of a difference.”

 

Britt:

Once you get somebody to buy into it and they’re like, “Alright, we’re going to try this. It takes a little bit more time, but we’re gonna go for it. We’re going to try it,” they don’t want to come back off of it.

 

Kristin:

We’re going to run a challenge in January or February, a free challenge, that’s all about dialing in your pre-and post-training nutrition because it makes that big of a difference. And I want people to understand how much of a difference it makes. I’m so excited to do that. It’s going to be fun.

 

Britt:

It’s going to be awesome.

 

Kristin:

So, also, you are recently really working hard to prioritize your sleep. Jordan’s waking up in the middle of the night again, and you’re also in a deficit, trying to lose a little bit of weight. So really trying to get to bed earlier has been helpful for you lately.

 

Britt:

Yeah. Going back to me having to schedule everything, we were very intentional about getting her on a schedule and sticking to that schedule. And so she has the same bedtime every night. She wakes up at the same time, even on the weekends like clockwork. She’s just done this her whole life. And bless his heart, my husband is great about putting her to bed every night for me because she’s gotten to the point that for whatever reason, she just doesn’t go to sleep for me. She thinks it’s playtime, so he puts her to bed. And what I have started to do is I’ve started trying to read before going to sleep to try to wind my mind down so that I can go to sleep earlier because she has been waking up at like two and three o’clock regularly.

 

It was probably about a month that I ran on five and six hours of sleep on average every night. I am in a deficit right now, trying to cut back from this year’s COVID weight gain. And my weight was stagnant despite being a hundred, or not a hundred percent – I’m not that good, but like 90% on it with my nutrition and having everything planned out, my weight wouldn’t budge. And it was because of the lack of sleep. One day I went from having six hours of sleep and then two days in a row, I got seven and seven and a half hours. And then magically, it went down by like a pound or two.

 

Kristin:

Right. And it wasn’t that you had stopped eating earlier in the day or anything else changed. The only thing that was different was that you got more sleep. And that is one thing that you and I harp on with our clients all the time. Every time I’m on their check-in, I’m looking at that little graph and I would really like to see those closer to eight hours every day, instead of five hours.

 

Britt:

It feels so nitpicky when I’m doing it. I’m like, “Oh, you got seven and a half hours? Great. Let’s shoot for eight.”

 

Kristin:

No, you know what? I think that all of our clients would appreciate the fact that we are nitpicky about things. I say it all the time. I don’t expect everyone to be perfect, but wherever I can see you need improvements, I’m going to tell you because that’s my job. My job is to help you improve.

 

We all need someone to point that stuff out to us. Or you point out to me, because you are my nutrition coach. You can see when I’m reading a really good book because my sleep drops. I always read before bed, and if it’s a really good book, I will think that I’ve only read for 20-30 minutes and it might have been an hour and a half or two hours. And like, I can not put a book down. I just get so engrossed in books.

 

Britt:

That’s where you and I are opposite, which is so funny. Cause reading makes me tired. It makes me sleepy. And even though I’m enjoying a book, I’ll actually go to bed sooner, depending on when I start reading. Whereas you, it kind of stimulates you and keeps you up.

 

Kristin:

Not really. What happens is I fight it because the book is so good that my eyes are starting to shut, and I’m like, no, no, no, it’s so good. I can’t put it down. You can’t be this tired. You got to find out what happens next. And I’m like falling asleep.

 

But yeah, definitely trying whatever you can do to get in a little bit extra sleep during stuff like this will help you, not just with your performance, but whatever your body composition goals are, too.

 

Britt:

Yeah. And some people are not going to be as fortunate as I have been to have a husband who is willing to put a child to bed every night. My hats off to you guys if you’re a single mom, or if you don’t have that level of support, you know, it’s hard. Even with that support. I can’t imagine not having that. And if you truly are going to bed as soon as you possibly can and getting as much sleep as you possibly can, you know, I can’t stress enough how important it is to dial in that nutrition piece.

Even if it means that you’re taking ten extra minutes the night before trying to figure it all out, it really will make a difference for you in the gym. Your training is going to be so much more improved. You’re going to be in a better mood because you’re not having that, what did you call it? Decision fatigue?

 

Kristin:

Yup. Decision fatigue.

 

Britt:

Yeah. You’re not going to have that element of fatigue on top of the rest of your day. So, again, if you legitimately cannot get more sleep than what you get every night, really dial it in, take the time to do that because it’s gonna make the biggest difference in your training.

 

Kristin:

For sure. And I think that comes down to this broader idea of control what you can and then don’t beat yourself up about the rest. And if there’s just no way you can, let it go and figure out where else you can make some adjustments.

 

Britt:

Yes. I’m trying to think how to put this, but stressing about things is not doing yourself any favors. And I think people get so hyper-focused on the shoulds and should not. And I have to do this and I have to do that. Or if I only get six hours of sleep, my training’s going to be crap the next day. We get so hyper-focused on it that we stress ourselves out, and you’re not doing yourself any favors. This is almost gonna sound like an oxymoron, what I’m about to say. In addition to scheduling and staying on top of your day, you also have to have a level of flexibility. Because it’s life, right?

 

Kristin:

If 2020 has taught us anything…

 

Britt:

Flexibility is the keyword for this year. I’ll use another example for me. One night, Jordan went to sleep, knocked out at 6:30 PM, and slept all night. Do you know how many hours of sleep I got? I was so excited. I’m like, I’m going to get nine hours of sleep tonight. It’s going to be great….and I got six. I couldn’t sleep.

 

Kristin:

Oh no! You’re like, dangit!!!

 

Britt:

I was so mad. I was like, “Are you kidding me?” But you know, we can’t control everything.

 

And I sometimes think with macro tracking, people feel like they have to control everything. And you know, I do come from a little bit of a disordered background with my food. I have had to repair my own relationship with food. Some people really get in the weeds with macro tracking and feeling like, “Oh, I have to count every grain of rice, and I have to control every little possible thing.” It shouldn’t be about that for me. 

 

And not everybody is the same. If macro tracking does not work for you, that is okay. You have to know yourself. But for me, tracking macros gave me a level of freedom because I don’t view it through the lens of control. I view it through the lens of flexibility. And that goes for all aspects of your nutrition. Control what you can, but go with the flow when things don’t work out.

 

Kristin:

I need to put that on my wall.

 

Britt:

I know, me too. I need that reminder.

 

Kristin:

But it’s so true. We cannot control every little aspect. And I think that macro tracking can become a little obsessive for some people, and they need to control this and control that. And then when they can’t control something, they kind of freak out and worry about it. When really, you could change your perspective, which that’s a lot easier to say than do. Change your perspective and say, “Wait a minute, this is allowing me to eat that thing that I thought was off-limits. And I see now it’s not. I can work that cookie or that donut.” Or, you know, whatever it is that you want to work into your nutrition plan – you can see how that fits a balanced diet that allows you to perform and recover.

 

Britt:

I actually just had this conversation yesterday with a client of mine. She grew up having dessert every single night after dinner. And so she was like, “You know, I want so bad to have something sweet afterwards. She’s like, I really tried not to, but I have that urge.” And you know, I told her that’s, that’s just the way you were raised. You’re used to that. You’re conditioned for that. So you want that dessert. And what I told her was you can plan for that. You want this, and that is a priority for you. Plug it in ahead of time and plan everything else around it.

 

Kristin:

100%. Totally. That’s good advice. That is something I figured out for myself years ago. Dinner can’t be my last meal of the day. I can’t eat at seven o’clock and go to bed at 10 o’clock and have nothing in between. Or I will wake up in the middle of the night hungry.  I also was raised that way of having dessert.

 

Britt:

Okay. See you understand.

 

Kristin:

Yes. Now it might not be a sweet snack, or it might be, but I plan a snack between dinner and bedtime. It’s the first thing that I enter into my macro counting app because I know that if I don’t have that, I’ll end up eating something in any way. And then it gets into this weird headspace of like, “Oh no, I wasn’t supposed to eat that.” But just plan for it!

 

It comes down to knowing yourself, knowing what you need, and just planning accordingly. And I that’s what I love about macro tracking too, is it allows you the freedom to be able to do that and still hit your goals and still know in your head, “This is totally fine because this is getting me closer to my goal,” as opposed to thinking about it as this forbidden thing that’s taking you away from your goal.

 

Britt:

And you know, um, I’m going to segue here a little bit. What I’ve heard from other moms is, “I don’t want to fix a completely separate meal that fits my macros from my family because that’s added time and I don’t have time for that.” And I don’t either. I eat what my husband eats. Jordan is a picky eater, so a lot of times, she has her own separate meal. But what I have done with my personal deficit that I’m in right now, I’ve made a simple breakfast and a simple lunch that are low fat so that I have more freedom in the evenings to eat the same thing that my husband’s eating.

 

You want that family time. Food is so much more than carbs, proteins, and fats. Food, especially in the American culture, it’s quality time, it’s mental health. We have this relationship with food that it’s not just about sustenance, and that is okay.

 

Kristin:

Right. Mealtime is a time for family to come together and it’s quality time. And we do that over foods that we enjoy together, so food is about so much more than fuel. And if you think that food is only fuel, that’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with that. But also be aware that if you don’t think of it that way, it’s okay and that’s normal. 

 

However, you think about food, as long as it’s not a disordered eating kind of way, fitting it into your plan is so important. And I love that you just plan to eat whatever your husband’s going to eat. I don’t make two dinners. I do not. My husband has zero, I mean, like, a negative amount of interest in tracking macros or anything like that. He does not care.

 

Britt:

Mine does in waves.

 

Kristin:

I know what he likes to eat, and we like to eat pretty different things. Like he would be happy with meat and potatoes every night for dinner. Whereas I would like salmon and veggies every night for dinner and he hates fish. So when I make food, I figure out what he is going to like, and it usually is higher fat content than what I would normally make for myself, which I plan my day accordingly. And the one thing I do differently is that most of my carbs are on the side, right? Like sweet potatoes on the side or a dish that can be made with gluten-free pasta. So, I often will make separate carbs for us, but it’s no big deal. If I’m chopping up sweet potatoes, I could easily chop up parsnips or something for me. He knows I don’t have the carbs for potatoes. So that’s a really easy thing to do – similar but different side dishes.

 

Britt:

Yes, yes. And we actually do the same thing. I like to call it “layered meals.” Other people may call it something else. There may be an official term. I don’t know, but that’s what I call it, where if I’m having chicken and a couple of sides, or nachos is a really good example of something that we do. Everything is separated out. We don’t mix like the rice and the beans and the corn. Everything is in a separate container. And then if I need a little bit more carbs or fewer carbs or whatever, I determine the amount that I’m putting into my nachos that day, for example. Any time you can separate out the ingredients like that makes it so much easier to still eat the same foods but make modifications depending on what you need.

 

Kristin:

So much easier. Absolutely. Also, if you’re making rice for your family and don’t have the carbs for rice, keep frozen riced cauliflower in the option. I can’t tell you how many times I’ll just pull out and put a mess of it on my plate, microwave it for three minutes, put curry or whatever I made over the top of it. And it literally takes me an extra 20 seconds. It’s not any big deal. So you can make really simple modifications with how you want to structure your day.

 

Okay, so any last tips for moms or parents that are also athletes?

 

Britt:

Oh gosh. I think the biggest piece of advice that I can give to someone is to be patient with yourself through the process. Then, the way you did things with a newborn will be different from how you do things with a two-year-old. That’s going to be different from when they’re six and in T-ball to high school and doing travel sports. 

 

Things are going to have to evolve as your life changes. You’re always going to have that aspect of figuring out what this looks like in our life right now. And that could change season to season, and having that patience with yourself as you are figuring that out is key to success in the long run.

 

Kristin:

That is amazing advice. That is just amazing life advice in general. So, if people want to find you, they can find you on Instagram. What’s your Instagram handle?

 

Britt:

So my Instagram handle is @brittschenck. I’m sure you guys will probably link it.

 

Kristin:

We will link it in the show notes. And if you want to work with Britt, she is taking on new clients through Fiercely Fueled. Head to www.fiercelyfueled.com and sign up on your intake form. You’ll be able to request to work with Britt if she’s your gal.

 

We also have super exciting things with Fiercely Fueled coming out in the new year. It won’t be the very beginning of January, and it will not be weight loss driven. It will be performance nutrition driven because I feel very strongly that we need to stop sending the message that everyone needs to lose weight in the new year. If you want to look great, we’ll work with you one-on-one, but some of the other stuff that we have coming out will be all about performance nutrition and get you to dominate your training. Stay tuned for that. And thanks for joining us, Britt. This was super fun!

 

Britt:

Thanks for having me on. I’m honored that you asked me to be on here. I’ve listened to you guys for a long time. I listened to your podcast before I even met you in person. And, you know, just thinking about that, that sequence of events for three years to go from a listener to actually being on here with you and calling you my friend, that’s amazing. So thank you again for having me on.

 

Kristin:

You’re welcome. It’s been, you have been a very fun and important addition to my life.

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