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Host: Hello and welcome to the Lifelong Wellness podcast, where we talk to wellness professionals from around the world to gain their insights into healthier living. I’m your host, Wes Malik. Our guest today, Gemma Rayne, specializes in helping women overcome their mental blocks surrounding health, fitness and weight loss. Gemma is an exercise physiologist and integrative nutrition health coach, a fitness expert and author and speaker. She also hosts her own podcast called Momming Like A Boss, is a regular feature guest on the Home Shopping Network, and is founder and president of Thrill the Burg Children's Charity, a St. Petersburg based charity that positively impacts the lives of local youth through movement, dance, community and the arts. Let's welcome her to the show. Gemma, welcome to the Lifelong Wellness podcast. How are you doing today?
Gemma: I’m great, Wes, thank you. How are you?
Host: Very good. So, I hear it's sunny and warm in Florida.
Gemma: Yes, it is. I have no complaints.
Host: (laughing) That's great! One huge benefit of living in the south and living in Florida is the wonderful temperatures you have and you can always get out and do outdoorsy stuff. Whereas, a lot of the states in the US, especially northern ones, in Canada where we are, right now we have to kind of bundle up in November and December. Although the weather has been warm, but that's one great advantage you have.
Gemma: That’s definitely an appeal to the change of seasons, but my appeal down here is the fact that I can get outside any day of the year and, you know, three young children. So having that kind of freedom definitely appeals to us down here.
Host: A lot of people move for their health as well, especially in their older years. A lot of people go to Florida. A lot of people go out to Vancouver or Seattle or Portland, possibly even California. Does weather, you think, play a huge role in living healthy, especially when you're older?
Gemma: I think, definitely. As you know, people age, they tend to lose the ability to keeping their body warm and so being in a warmer climate helps to not be as cold all year long. So I think that is definitely a draw. I know that my mother, she hates the cold because it gets in her bones so much, so she loves living here in Florida. So there's definitely an appeal to it. But then also the communities, because so many people as they retire they flocked to Florida. There are amazing retirement communities down here that are so social. There are so many events for people to partake in. So it's a very rich life down here for the retired.
Host: Fantastic. Now, you’re wholly immersed into fitness. That is your life. How long have you been associated with the fitness industry?
Gemma: Well, I’d like to say it's more wellness, is more wellness than fitness. I started my career in fitness about 23 years ago and I have evolved through my career, my passions and now I focus more on wellness. It's not just fitness, it’s total body wellness. It's not just physical, it’s mental and it’s emotional. And it’s about tying it all together because in the years when I was addressing fitness only, I wasn’t getting the results with people. I wasn't able to help clients the way I wanted to. And then when I started addressing it in a more holistic manner, the benefits that my clients received when we started looking at so much more than just, you know, how far can you run, how much can you lift. We started looking at the emotional and the mental health side of it, that’s when my clients really started to see long-lasting true transformations.
Host: Now, are there other things you focus on as well? Or is it just these things that you just mentioned?
Gemma: Really this is mostly for women, that's my niche. And it’s total body wellness, physical, emotional, mental wellness. We talk about nutrition, we talk about the reasons why you, a client cannot stick to their diet. Why not? It's not because they don't want to. There’s other things going on. What's going on? What’s preventing a client from getting up and going for a walk every morning when that’s what they say they want to do. So we look at the whole picture. So, nutrition, fitness, mental health, physical health, total body wellness. It really is completely in that nice little package and we just really dive deep and pick it apart.
Host: Do you find that people struggle or have challenges with their wellness and fitness and that's why they come to you?
Gemma: Definitely. I think a lot of people do. Otherwise, if the diets work…
Gemma: And if all the fitness fads worked…
Gemma: There’d be a one and done. It wouldn’t be a multi-billion dollar industry because if it worked, people wouldn’t have to keep coming back for the next thing.
Host: And why don't they work? Are they just fads or we don't do them properly or what's going on?
Gemma: I mean, some of what I believe is controversial, so I'm going to lay it all out there. It’s an industry. It’s an industry and it’s designed for, you know, it’s a moneymaking industry. And so the marketing is brilliant but it’s banking on the average person failing. And then, you know, when you think of an average woman, she’s probably been on more fad diets in their lifetime than they can possibly count.
Host: It’s true.
Gemma: And typically these diets are a massive overhaul on your normal life. So you not only…You get this new program, you’ve got to eat food you've never heard of before, you’ve got to cook them in ways you've never cooked them before. Now you’ve got to eat certain times, certain ways and we have a busy life already. So adding such a massive upheaval and a massive change in your life is very very difficult to not only start but definitely stick to. So most people go on these really strange and very different programs and then they don't stick to them. It's not designed for you to stick to them. We don’t have time. We don’t have the time to upheave our entire lives based on a diet program. But then what happens is instead of the customer blaming the program, customers blame themselves. They think,
“There’s something wrong with me”
“I can’t do this”
“I’m a failure”
And then there’s the guilt,
“Oh, I spent all this money on this”
“Oh, what a waste of money”
“I’m a failure”
“I can't do this”.
And then they end up typically doing what they're trying not to do, which means they exercise less and they eat more because now they feel bad. They feel bad and the comfort is to eat the food that is their comfort food and they end up gaining more weight than they want to lose in the first place. Now, this primes the customer for the next marketing campaign to say, “Hey! The last one did not work. Maybe this one will”. And so it’s a roller coaster that leaves people feeling defeated, feeling like a loser, feeling like a failure and then there is this psychological pit that is devastating. It’s devastating for me to know that people are struggling like this because that’s no way to spend our life feeling like you’re a failure in health. Health is not difficult if we look at it the right way and we have the right tools. And I’m telling you the next fad diet, the next fad fitness program is not the tool. It’s not the tool you need. It’s about connecting with why you didn't stick to whatever program. And getting to really the root of the problems, “Why don't you value yourself enough to make yourself a priority?”. Why are you bullying yourself into fitness versus creating enjoyable, you know, activities that fill your heart and soul so you want to do them. Creating foods that feeds you and you feel nourished and you feel alive and you feel fresh and energized when you eat foods versus bullying yourself and thinking, you’re not allowed to do this, you’re not allowed to do that. So my goal is to shift the entire psychological, you know, I guess the psychological way that people have addressed fitness and dieting. We got to rework that, we got to rewire ourselves so that health and fitness is not a horrible journey to be on, but is an enlightening, it is energizing, it’s a gift to yourself. So I help clients shift from that bullying mindset to a joyful mindset around their health and wellness.
Host: Let’s quickly talk and touch upon those fads right now. I hear a lot of chatter about intermittent fasting and I hear a lot of chatter about the Keto diet, which I think I'm not too sure what it was a diet, you know, a little bit more popular about 10 years ago, even 30 years ago. The Atkins diet. They must be similar. I don't know too much about it. Is there any fad that I'm missing these days?
Gemma: So many. I mean, you blink and there’s a new one.
Gemma: And again, they are making a massive amounts of money off these programs. They’re selling books, they’re selling food, they’re selling protein powders and energy bars and you name it. They’re pitching things centered around these fads. Now, I don't like to take any one particular fad and use it. However, every single fad has something at the root of it that is correct. Something wonderful. So, if we can break down and say, “Okay, what’s the really good thing on that fad that works for me? Let me take that”. But I don't have to be subscribed to the entire program. Also, one thing the fad diets take into account is they assume that we’re all the same.
Gemma: But we’re all not the same. We’re individual. Every single one of us is different and we have different ways that our body will respond.
Host: Right, okay.
Gemma: I have some clients who love intermittent fasting. They are super energized, they’re really happy, they’re getting results. They are so happy with intermittent fasting. However, if I try and do that, by 11 AM I am a hungry, grumpy little elf. I am angry. (laughing) I don't do well if I don't eat on a regular basis. That's my body. So, these programs, these fads, they kind of take a one-size-fits-all approach, but we’re not one-size-fits-all. We are all unique and we have to connect. And this is another thing that I try to coach people through, is find what works for you. If you feel amazing and great doing it, then you're meant to do it. If you feel drained and exhausted and grumpy or if your body is having a physical response, maybe it’s giving you a headache or a tummy ache, you know, your body will tell you. If you feel awful, stop doing it. If you feel amazing, then you know you found something that's worth keeping.
Host: Now you mentioned about rewiring ourselves and maybe recalibrating ourselves. What are the steps that we need to take to start getting onto the path of living healthier?
Gemma: I think the first and most important step is to get off the fad diet roller coaster and I think also trust. I think most people in America know what to do for exercise. They know to go for a walk or if they've got a treadmill or bicycle in their home or to join the gym or do this with YouTube. There’s so many fitness videos you can do, yoga videos. People know what they should and should not eat for the most part. So, more knowledge in diet and fitness is not the answer. You have enough knowledge in those areas. You know how to move, you know what healthy foods are. This is pretty blank statement but is pretty accurate for the average person.
Host: So we know it and we realize it and the information is freely available. We’re having a podcast about it, there are hundreds of podcasts about it, there's Internet articles, blogs, even books you can pick up at the library or you can buy through Amazon, but what stops us? What is that mental block? Do we have mental block? Do people have a mental block when it comes to living healthier?
Gemma: Absolutely. So going back to this that self-defeating mental attitude that you’ve tried things before and they failed so you’re not capable of doing it. That's a mental block.
Gemma: People often think there's something wrong with them because what they tried didn't work, but you’re not wrong. The program you tried was wrong for you. Or maybe the program was good, but the time of life you chose to do it was you had too much stress in your life and so the program didn't work. So step one is to get off the fad diet roller coaster. Step two is to connect with your body and your mind and start being kind to yourself. Fitness and diet isn't, like I said you shouldn’t be bullied. You shouldn’t feel like you're being forced to do something. Health and wellness is an amazing gift for yourself, so can we shift our mindset into an idea that we are gifting ourselves with movement. We are gifting ourselves with very nutritious food so that we can be gifted with more energy and a more vibrant life. So we have to shift from that, you know, punishment mindset to a gifting mindset when it comes to health and wellness.
Host: Now, when it comes to men and women, you deal with women more than you do with men. Is there a different approach that you’re supposed to take?
Gemma: Oh, yes. Absolutely. (laughing)
Host: There is? Really? Okay.
Gemma: So, you know, I’ve been doing this for 23 years but I'm going to give, and I’m speaking in generalization so please know that. So, there are people who are different, but for the most part, women and their self-esteem and what they eat and how they eat and how they care for themselves is very emotional, is very rooted emotionally.
Gemma: And that’s what I love to get involved with my clients. I want to help them pick apart those, you know, deep emotions that have been preventing them from reaching success in their wellness journey. Men typically don't have as much of an emotional connection with what they eat. And so, you know, that's why, you know, it's a cliché that there’s the man and woman and they both started diet on the same day. And one week later the man has lost 10 lbs. and the woman has gained 5 and they’re doing the exact same thing. So men are different. They’re not as emotionally attached to their routine. It's just very scientific. Okay, stop eating that. Start doing this. And also men typically have more muscle mass and so their metabolism is higher. So there's genetic things involved, the fact that they just are wired differently psychologically. So what I love to do is work with women. And really, you know, “Get under the hood” and say, “Let's finally, for the first time in your life, let’s get to the root of what is going on here. Why you're not reaching your goals”.
Host: Usually when you talk with your clients, what are the most generic things that you discover? What are the things that block people from getting to their goals?
Gemma: Oh, good question. As long as it is that inner dialogue, that self-talk that they are being their biggest bully inside your head versus being their biggest cheerleader. So the inner voice is saying,
“You’ll never be able to do this”
“You can’t do this”
“You’re a loser”
“Forget about it. You’re just out of shape”
“You’re just going to be tired forever”
This is what is going on in their head, the voice in their head 24/7. And being able to point that out to a client and have them connect and really just see it for the first time of how devastating and damaging that kind of talk to yourself is and then rewiring that. And putting practices into place to help clients have a more positive mindset so their inner voice is saying,
“You can do this!”
“You freaking rock!”
“You’ve got this!”
Like “Step it up, girl!”, like, “Come on!” and its mantras, its inner dialogue, it’s the reminders, its connecting with, you know, with others. And I do groups online, we connect with other people in the groups, the coaches help remind. Anything can be a change. You can attain a complete shift in mindset if you commit to it. It’s very, very doable and that is something that I'd say 95% of the clients are dealing with.
Host: When it comes to fads, we talked about dietary fads. Are there any fads in exercise that you see around, you know, that people are enamored with?
Gemma: I think, yes. I mean, right now yoga is really hot. It’s been hot for a long time, it wasn't for a while. There's CrossFit. CrossFit is very popular right now. You know, Zumba was really big for a really long time. So these fitness fads, they’re not quite so psychologically damaging really because there’s not as much emotion tied to it. I just urge everyone to find the right fit for you. And, you know, if you go to a yoga class and it's not for you, it doesn't mean all yoga isn't for you but perhaps try some different instructors or different styles and find the one that works best for you to make you feel amazing when you're done.
Host: So it's a matter of discovery…
Host: And evaluating different things and to see what's right for us.
Host: Everyone loves to change but then, of course, we don't want change. Change is a very difficult subject with human beings. When change is forced upon us, we tend to resist it, but we do internally crave it. We always crave to be better, especially when it comes to ourselves, our minds, our bodies, our lives, our careers, our families, our relationships. We always want to get to the next level and make it better. Once we start doing that or getting on a path to that, how long do you think it takes to change mindsets and bodysets, if I may call them?
Gemma: So statistically speaking, it takes 21 days to create a habit.
Gemma: So I mean that’s, you know, yes that’s sort of what I read. (laughing)
Host: All right. So it is, okay.
Gemma: I mean, even though I’ve read that and I’ve seen some great research supporting that, creating a habit and then undoing bad habits are completely different. So that's where it gets a little more sticky because to retrain your maybe, like I was talking about the psychological bad habit of talking down to yourself and being negative in yourself, try to retrain that into something positive. It’s something that maybe you have to continue working on and it’s just like a muscle that gets stronger the more you exercise it. So everyone's different. It depends how, you know, I don't want to say bad but that’s the word that’s coming to my, how bad was your negative self-talk. If it’s something that you've been doing since you were a child, it may not get better overnight, but you keep working on it. And that muscle, the muscles of being positive, they get stronger and stronger and stronger and you just keep trying. It’s an addiction. You know, your brain has addictions and we tend to slide back a little bit, two steps forward, one step back happens. Sometimes twenty-five steps forward happen and then twenty steps back happen when the likes of it happens. But it is always about trying to take another step forward and leveling up and working towards what your goal is. The goal typically is not a weight loss goal or a running a certain mile goal. If you really break down the goals..
Gemma: It’s typically more energy, more vibrant life, being able to partake in more aspects of life because you have more energy and more physical ability. Those are normally what the real reasons are for wanting to get healthy. It’s about living a more vibrant and higher quality of life based on whatever standard. So everyone’s standards are different in that matter, but everyone’s pretty much the same. It’s not about the 10 lbs. It's about how they feel when they walk into a room and not saying no to invitations because you feel bad about the way you look or you don't have the energy to show up all the time for your family events, to your friend events. It’s that quality of life that gets better when you feel more energetic, when you feel more vibrant.
Host: I'm so glad that you brought that up because I was going to ask you about what goals we should be setting because usually it's, “Oh, I’d like to drop 50 lbs. and a couple sizes”. It’s shape and weight that's what our main focus is on all the time. Especially when we think about getting healthier or living more well but you very aptly summarized that it should be, the goal should be different and they should be based on the quality of life. As in, do you start gasping for air after two flights of stairs? Maybe you want to work on that, maybe your stamina. These kind of things. Can you expand more on what are better goals rather than just weight and shape?
Gemma: Absolutely. I’m so glad you asked this. This is something I cover with all of my programs and my clients. Most of the people go into a program saying, and we’re just going to use numbers because it's just easier and more people can relate, ‘I want to lose 10 lbs'… And ‘I want to lose 10 lbs. in two months'. And that’s it, that’s their goal.
Gemma: But nothing is put into place of what has to be done to reach that goal. So two months pass and you've not lost 10 lbs. And then again, you're in that psychological pit of “I failed” and all of the ramifications that come with that with your internal dialogue. So I always coach clients to set action goals. So, say you do, yes, you do want to lose 10 lbs. Well, what can you put in place today that would actually help you get to that point? Is it getting up 20 minutes earlier and doing a workout video on YouTube? Is it walking three days a week during your lunch break? Is it cutting down on the wine you drink every evening and only drinking two glasses of wine this week instead of seven? So what is a measurable goal that you can put in place immediately? And also this is highly, highly important… make it easy. Make it so super doable because if, like I said, if we've got this mentality of “I can’t do it. I failed. I’m a loser. I suck. I just can’t make this work”, there’s a foundation of negatives. So set a goal that you know you can accomplish this week. So maybe it’s, I'm going to walk twice this week for 10 minutes. That is very doable for most people. And when you’ve done that, when you’ve walked for 10 minutes twice this week, celebrate! Give yourself a massive high five. Celebrate the fact that you did it, you accomplished that goal. And now you’re laying a foundation of success because we are more likely to be inspired and motivated by positive feedback versus negative. And mostly we have this negative feedback of failure. So we need to lay a foundation of positivity. It’s just like if you’re trying to teach a child to, you know, adopt to a new behavior. You want them to do chores. So you have them do the chores and you reward them with stickers or magnets or money or whatever it is that you have in place in your household. You instill in a youth, you instill the behavior you want with reward. And we know that punishment is, it doesn't get the same results when you're working. Same thing with pets. You know, you have a new puppy and we have to bribe him with…If we want him to do something, we reward the good behavior, we punish the bad behavior if this just doesn't work. So it’s about rewarding the good behavior. We know this. Managers of companies, you have your staff, you want them to perform so you have certain things in place for rewarding them for their performance. And we know this with animals, with kids, with employees. We know this concept and then the second we take it to ourselves and talk about wellness or diet or fitness, what we know goes out the window and we go right back to the negative. So, set goals that are totally easy to attain so you can build this foundation of success and you can just step on top of your last success. Set another goal you can achieve and just keep stepping on the last success as you go, creating a foundation of positive affirmation and positive feedback, rewiring your relationship with wellness.
Host: I like that you put it that way. If I may add that, you know, setting those goals in smaller pieces makes absolute sense to me now. I never thought of it that way. You’re giving me a very good realization for myself and I think for a lot of listeners out there, too. Because you set a large goal for yourself, you don't get to it, you attack yourself like, “Oh, man. You doing…” or “Buddy, what’s going on?” and you get into a cycle of negative feedback is kind of a loop and then you kind of spiral downwards. And you just mentioned a very nice way to spiral upwards by placing smaller goals, you know, and getting to them and I think I understand now why you're so pro the mental health. I don’t know how to call it but, you know, the positive mindset that you're promoting. Now I get it. Having those smaller goals will definitely help you have an upward spiral instead of that downward spiral with so many of us face and it’s true, it's real.
Gemma: And it’s also just asking yourself, “How do you want to spend your life?”. Do you want to spend your life with those negative thoughts and feeling like you failed? Or do you want to spend your life with the positive foundation and lifting yourself up daily when you reach those goals? It’s not just now, it’s not just this health and wellness goal, it’s lifetime. How do you want to spend, because your inner dialogue is in your head for your life. Who do you want to spend your time with inside your head? Someone who is celebrating you and lifting you up? Or someone who is driving you down and making you feel awful? Ask yourself that and then create that relationship in your head that you want because that inner dialogue is with you forever.
Host: Excellent. I also like the suggestion of smaller goals. I’ve never tried that before. If I've ever done a program, it's always go big or go home. Go large, you know, go for the big goal and just go all out instead of…If it's exercise it’s got to be six days a week, an hour day, you know? And you do it for two weeks.
Gemma: And you know it. If it works for you then fantastic. Go for it. But if it doesn’t, it’s time to say, “Okay. Let’s try something else”.
Host: It always works for two weeks and then after two weeks you, I don't know, you take a long weekend and then you forget about doing exercise for the next three months or four months. That’s the way…(laughing)
Gemma: Think about it in your busy life, an hour every day. Before I had kids, I was at the gym gladly, 1 to 2 hours a day. It was my happy place, but I didn't have anyone to get home and care for. I was caring for me. I had time for that. So for those people who their life is structured in such a way that they can do that, they can jump all in, then go for it. But for busy people who have a very full life and they’re pulled in a million different directions and they have careers and they have family and they have responsibilities, then taking an hour away every day from everything you're already doing is a lot. So people often think, “I don’t have that full hour. I just won't do it”. But 10 minutes counts, 10 minutes everyday over the course of a lifetime makes a massive difference. You don't have to commit to an hour of a workout. Do something for 10 minutes. It matters.
Host: I like that advice and I’m going to take it, too. Thank you for that. Now, when it comes to your family, are you the person responsible for your family's well-being and fitness as well?
Gemma: I really am. My husband is very active as well. He works, he's a teacher. He teaches music and PE and he also is involved with baseball. He’s like a private baseball coach so he is very active. Our kids are 8, 6 and 3. And we do, we have a very active life. And I often incorporate them into my movement so I can always cuff time away from them. So when I am away from the kids, I've got to get my work done, I've got to hustle, I've got to get things done. So can I incorporate the kids into my exercise? So I will throw them on the bicycles and they'll ride their bikes around the parking lot at the school near my house and I'll jog next to them.
Gemma: And I'll stop and do lunges and just things like that. So, it's also about getting creative and finding a way to incorporate your wellness into your life versus trying to create a whole separate life for yourself that is your wellness.
Host: So, let's talk about family and kids for a second. If we're interested in promoting wellness and healthy living in our children, in our families. For example, I have one child who’s very, she eats great, she exercises 2-3 days a week, she walks. You know, she takes care of a lot of things, then I have one who is just a bookworm, so forget about anything related to physical activity or anything. And then we have a younger one who's kind of half-and-half, sometimes just a couch potato, sometimes is playing soccer or football all the time. How do we promote, what is your advice and your tips to get the family involved?
Gemma: So, when it comes to youth, the most important thing you can do is model the behavior you’re looking for.
Gemma: So, I think a lot of parents, they get worried, they worry a lot that their kids are going to be unhealthy. And, you know, as parents we sometimes yell a bit too much and we can kind of try different tactics. Always come from a place of love and your children will see your behavior. They'll see if you're exercising. Invite them every time but don't ever pressure them.
Gemma: Because they’re kids, they have to come to it on their own. If a child feels forced to do things like that, it often backfires. Can you say, “Hey guys, let's pack a picnic and all ride bikes to the park”. Can you invoke something that they do want to do but they have to ride their bikes to get to the thing. Also, reward systems. So my kids have a magnet system and if they fill up the magnet chart, they get to go to the treasure chest and pick out a treasure. And oftentimes there are like one or two magnets away from the treasure chest. And so, “What can I do? What can I do to get a magnet?” and I’ll say 10 push ups.
Gemma: And they’ll crank out 10 push ups for a magnet. Now I say, “Okay, 20 jumping jacks”.
Gemma: So I’m creating a reward system from just little simple performances of physical activity. Celebrate the activity. Celebrate their involvement in getting outside. But also, how are you delivering it? Are you delivering it to your children, like you need to do this to be healthy? What if we deliver it and say, “Hey, let’s go out for a walk outside. It’s beautiful. I’d love to just walk and talk with you”.
Gemma: And that’s the thing that I coach clients on – to movement for the joy of movement versus trying to reach a caloric expenditure goal or trying to get a certain mile.
Host: That is very valuable information indeed, Gemma. Again, thank you for joining us today and sharing your expertise with our listeners.
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