Certified personal trainer Nia Shanks joins The Nourished Podcast today to talk about how to break free from the exercise and diet obsession and start living the life that you want!  After years of calorie restriction that led to binge eating and exercise addiction, Nia learned how to change her mentality to slow down, eliminate rules, and just focus on being strong and happy.  She now teaches this mentality to her clients and on her website niashanks.com.  


Check out this episode!

Do you love The Nourished Podcast?!  Let us know by leaving a review on iTunes!  It helps us spread our message!

Episode transcription:

Episode #49 Breaking free from food + exercise rules with Nia Shanks

00:00:52 – Intro + updates

00:00:43 – Introducing Nia Shanks

00:09:30 – How Nia became interested in lifting for strength vs. for aesthetics + her history with binge eating

00:13:54 – Simplifying to overcome food rules + food obsession

00:19:01 –Focusing on quality over quantity and making exercise fun

00:26:00 – Nia’s favorite workout moves

00:35:30 – Nia’s workout programs + the lift like a girl challenge

00:45:20 – What we’re into lately + Shawn’s random question

Meg: You’re listening to Episode 49 of The Nourished Podcast.

Shawn: Thanks so much for tuning into The Nourished Podcast with Meg Doll and Shawn Mynar. We are two holistic nutritionists with a deep passion for finding true health and happiness, in our own lives, and helping others do the same in our private nutrition practices. We created this podcast to share what we know to be true about finding those two crucial pieces to life – and how to have fun along the way. We love chatting with others in the health community too, who have done the same and shared their stories right here on the show. Now, on to today’s episode.


Shawn: Hey guys, it’s Shawn.

Meg: And I’m Meg.

Shawn: And today we have a super special guest, which is actually, I’m going to go ahead and say Meg that it’s your, your girl crush.

Meg: I was just going to say that. I’ve seriously been.

Shawn: We agree.

Meg: I’ve been crushing on her for the past four or five years. I found her quite a few years ago when I was obsessed with going to the gym, six to seven times a week, and just realizing that it wasn’t doing anything for my health, and it wasn’t making me happy. It was making me stressed. And one day I just, kind of woke up and realized that I could not live my life like that anymore. So I started, you know, looking around on the internet and I remember coming across a workout template online that was for either working out three days a week or four days a week, and it was written by this girl named Nia Shanks. And I started going through her website, and basically her training philosophy was, like to be a beautiful badass while training so just training to be, basically a badass and just get stronger. That was mainly her message. Not to grow your biceps or sculpt your shoulders or get a chiseled six pack. None of that nonsense that was, like, driving me literally insane. It was just, you know, in her posts on her blog and stuff it was always just, you know, do this workout three to four times a week, and every single time try to either increase your weight or do one more rep than you did last week. And I thought, you know, that’s simple enough. And I think that’s going to make me feel better, so I stopped working out six to seven days a week and started working out four days a week, and my life changed. And my relationship with working out and fitness changed. My health improved, and I got happy. So having Nia Shanks on our episode today just made my life.

Shawn: Yeah, it’s a fan moment for sure, for you, so that’s super cool. But she’s also just a great person to talk to about all of this stuff that has gone through a lot of our heads over the years. Just of over-exercising, being super obsessed with everything that you’re putting in your mouth and all of that stuff, so we have a really great interview with her today, which you guys are goanna love. But first, let’s chat a little bit about our updates. We were on a podcast together, another podcast.

Meg: Yes, we were.

Shawn: Not ours [laughing].

Meg: No. So you guys can head over to Jimmy Moore’s podcast. He has a couple, but we were on his low carb conversations, and he interviewed us, so that was fun.

Shawn: Yeah, and we got to talk about the Eat Feel Live Love Challenge and why we started it. And speaking of, the March edition of the Eat Feel Live Love Challenge started yesterday.

Meg: Yeah, so hopefully our…

Shawn: New group of people!

Meg: Yeah, our girls should be enjoying that, getting started on their week 1 meal plan and making all those delicious recipes.

Shawn: Yep, and if you missed it this round we will have another one a little closer to summer, probably around May we will start again, and you can join in there. But we’ll keep you updated here, of course, and both of our newsletter email lists, so make sure you get on that. You can get to mine at well-belly.com.

Meg: And you can find me at megtherhn. Everywhere.

00:00:43 – Introducing Nia Shanks

Shawn: All right, well let’s get this party started with Nia Shanks.

Meg: Hi Nia, we’re so excited to have you on the show today. How are you?

Nia: I am absolutely fantastic. Thank you for having me on.

Meg: Yeah, it’s honestly been a dream of mine to chat with you for the past, probably four or five years, so this.

Nia: My. Feel the pressure now [laughing]. Feel the pressure.

Meg: [laughing] I’m just so excited. And I’m sure our listeners are too, so I would just love it if you gave them a little intro to who you are and what you’re all about.

Nia: Yeah, for sure. Well, I basically fell into health and fitness really naturally because my mom was the first woman personal trainer in our entire area. And I basically just followed in her footsteps. She’s the one that introduced me to the weight room. She was a damn strong woman, you know, I got to watch her lift weights and get stronger. And I was watching her train men and getting them stronger. And she introduced me to lifting weights, and once I started doing it, I just was hooked. It was so fun watching the weights go up each week and really what I was capable of doing. You know, I kind of had these feelings of elation, like oh my gosh, I didn’t know I could lift that much, how much more can I lift? And it was really that, that experience and that enthusiasm, I was just thinking, you know I want other people to feel this. I want other people to see how awesome this is. And that’s what really snowballed into me really diving into health and fitness and becoming a certified trainer and getting my bachelors in exercise physiology from the University of Louisville, and starting my website. So it was really just kind of, that was the beginning and it really became a passion to get the message out to as many women as possible that health and fitness is not about deprivation. It’s not about trying to eat better or move more because you hate how you look and you feel disgusting, and you’re punishing yourself. Hell no. It’s about increasing your confidence and seeing what your body is capable of doing, and then pushing that more, and seeing what else you’re truly able to do. That’s really what has been inspiring me over these past several years, is just spreading that message and watching women grab hold of it, and saying and you know what, this is, you know, I don’t have to diet anymore. I can love myself now. I can become a better version of myself. I can use health and fitness to reduce my stress and make my life better. And again, I warned you I would ramble so [laughing].

Shawn: [laughing]

Meg: Keep going.

Shawn: Yes.

Meg: Keep going.

Shawn: Girl power [laughing].

Nia: I’m fist pumping over here guys [laughing].

Shawn: Okay, good. [laughing]

Nia: But that’s really, that’s my background, and I’ve been doing it, you know, I’m thirty now, so I’ve been involved in the health and fitness field for at least a good eleven years. And that’s pretty much what it’s been about.

Meg: So with your mom, when did you start lifting weights and getting into that sort of thing?

Nia: Actually, I was introduced to the weight room, I got in a really bad car wreck when I was thirteen and got mangled up pretty good, and broke a lot of crap, and had to go to rehab afterwards. And the rehab I went to was actually housed in the gym where my mom worked. So I’m over here getting rehab actually seeing my mom lifting weights and training men, and it was through that rehab that I had to strengthen. I broke a growth plate in my right ankle, and so my entire leg was in a cast and experienced immense muscle atrophy, and so I had to start lifting weights to get stronger. And that’s what really introduced me to it, was going through that rehab experience.

Meg: That’s amazing. I think it’s so great that you were able to start so young.

Nia: Yeah, it was definitely, it was definitely really fun. And I was always active as a kid anyway, but I was more into individual activities. I wasn’t big into team sports. Like I [laughing], I used to build, this is totally off topic but you asked what I did. I used to build homemade ramps and rails, and I did aggressive roller blading. I mean, I had these ramps where we’d be launching ourselves into the air. We had these homemade boxes and rails, and we’d be jumping flights of stairs. That was my kind of fun stuff. And, you know, I like failing on my own and succeeding on my own, and that was kind of the appeal of weight lifting, was you know, just you and the barbell.

Meg: Totally.

Nia: [laughing]

00:09:30 – How Nia became interested in lifting for strength vs. for aesthetics + her history with binge eating

Shawn: So with the whole kind of your, the whole girl power thing I guess, and lifting for strength as opposed to aesthetic purposes, how did you kind of fall into that? Did you see some trends as you were becoming a trainer, or how did that become your message?

Nia: Oh goodness. Actually, we’re going to have to kind of deviate off the, off the path with rainbows and magical unicorns and all the happy stuff because, again, now you’re going to have to cut me off if I ramble so I’ll try to keep this short.

Shawn: [laughing]

Nia: Now, in my quest to become a better trainer, I wanted to increase my own knowledge about nutrition. And because I grew up in a household, you know, my mom was a trainer, my dad was a runner, we were really active, eating healthy was just something I had always done growing up. Because it’s just the way my parents did things. It’s just how I ate. So I wanted to learn more about certain diets I was hearing people talking about, nutrition, all that stuff. So I started reading more books and getting more information, and then I started to become aware of, you know, calorie counting and macronutrients and all that stuff. So out of curiosity I started tracking how many calories I ate every day, how many grams of protein I got, how many grams of carbs, and all that. And so it basically started off as innocent experimentation and awareness slowly led me into trying different diets I was reading about, or diets I heard people talk about. Just seeing, you know, I was like I’ll try this and just see what happens. But then, as that progressed I started becoming really obsessive over what I would eat. There were certain foods I would avoid. I would only eat at certain times. You know, I would only eat certain food combinations from when we would go out to a restaurant. I would get online before we went, looked at the menu, planned ahead of time what I was going to get. And so I became really, really obsessive with my eating habits, and this eventually led into my very first episode of binge eating, which scared the crap out of me. Because it just, anybody that’s ever, unfortunately, fallen into that trap, you totally lose control and kind of go into a robotic state of just eating. And then that led me to battling a good three and half years of binge eating. And because I was binge eating on a daily basis, I gained, I want to say I went from maybe 115 pounds to 140 and 145.  And so I was terrified because, not only had I put on weight, I looked visibly different, I felt like a hypocrite because I couldn’t control how I was eating. I was a personal trainer, and I felt like, I felt like a hypocrite. I was like, you know, I know how to tell people how to eat, and yet here I am over here unable to control things. And I don’t look the way I feel like I should look. And I was just, I hated myself, I was disgusted with myself. My workouts at that point were nothing but punishment. I was punishing for having just gone on a huge binge or punishing myself in anticipation of a binge that I knew was just right around the corner. I was just trying to burn as many calories as possible because I was disgusted with how I looked. All of that to kind of say I came to this, this point where I realized this is not going anywhere. I kept trying diet after diet, hoping one of them would be my salvation and help me to break from free the binge eating and all that, and nothing did. And finally, thank goodness, I had this revelation that a diet is not going to solve something that another diet started in the first place. And I realized that working out for the sole purpose of hating how I looked wasn’t going to get me anywhere either. And so it was really from that saying, there’s got to be a better way that really transitioned my focus to saying, you know what, the workouts are about nothing but about getting stronger. They’re about nothing but seeing what my body is capable of doing, and then trying to do a little better each and every time. So again, that was a tangent, but that’s kind of how the transition over the years has gone.

Shawn: No, you really hit the nail on the head with that one for a lot of our listeners, I know. And Meg and I are sitting along here nodding because, you know, we, a lot of what you just said resonates with us and our past too. And breaking free from that and just being able to eat and work out because you’re nourishing your body and your soul and your heart and your mind, and all these other things. And not just for what the mirror is showing you, basically.

Nia: Exactly.

00:13:54 – Simplifying to overcome food rules + food obsession

Meg: Yeah, exactly, and just kind of going back and touching on how you said you know, you were just innocently counting calories and tracking macros, and then it became an obsession.

Nia: Mmm hmm.

Meg: And could you just kind of talk a little bit more about when you realized that, you know, you could not live your life like this anymore? If you could provide our listeners with some of the things that you did to let go of that lifestyle that you were leading and start living this kind of more simple lifestyle.

Nia: Mmm.

Meg: I suppose.

Nia: Oh, I’m all about simple

Meg: Mmm hmm.

Nia: And, I, I’m going to assume ya’ll and probably quite a few of your listeners can relate to this, I am a perfectionist. Actually, I prefer to say I’m a recovering perfectionist because I’ve, ever since I was little, you know, wanted to get straight A’s in college, I wanted to get straight A’s. I, anytime I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it perfectly. And I approached health and fitness no differently. So, you know, trying to follow all these really strict diets I, it was kind of that all or nothing approach. Either you’re on it one hundred percent, or if you do something in the slightest bit off plan, you just say screw it, and you go completely off and you go crazy. So I am a perfectionist, and that’s when I realized that I really needed to strip things down to just focusing on a couple of things. It’s kind of the equivalent of saying, you know, if you’re gonna try to juggle, imagine you’re trying to juggle fifteen balls at once, if you’re lucky they’ll stay in the air for a second, but at some point they’re all going to fall. But if you just had, you know, two or three, it’s much more manageable.

Meg: Mmm hmm.

Nia: And so that really made me tailor my approach, especially in regards to nutrition to, instead of saying, eat at this time, don’t eat at this time, eat this many meals a day, eat this many calories, eat this many grams of protein, eat these combinations. Instead of all those frigging long ass rules, I said, what are the fewest things I need to focus on that are going to provide the majority of the results. And so that basically came down to me at the time saying I’m going to focus on just eating real food most of the time. I’m going to learn how to listen to my body, and I’m going to eat when I’m hungry. I’m not going to eat just because it’s, you know, nine o’clock in the morning and I, I have to eat breakfast. I’m going to learn how to listen to my body’s signals. Eat when I’m hungry. Stop when I’m satisfied but I’m not really stuffed or overly full. And, you know, make a more conscious effort to eat more fruits and vegetables. Just really, really simple things that didn’t overwhelm me was really what helped me regain my sanity and try to disregard all of the other information that had been just kind of swirling in my mind. Because I am an avid believer that the ultimate goal, especially with nutrition, should be that at some point we don’t think about it. We just do it. It should just be lifestyle habits. It’s not something that should drain our mental energy because I know first hand what it feels like. And this is not an exaggeration, from literally the moment I would wake up until I fell asleep, I was constantly thinking about food.

Meg: Oh yeah.

Nia: And that crap sucks! I mean, it’s food! You know. And so I was really trying to search, you know, how can I break away from that to where I just eat well, but at the same time, you know, have something on occasion that I know isn’t super healthy, but eat it without feeling guilty. It was really about trying to get to that point. And for me, and hopefully for the people listening, you know, just get it down to the basics. Focus on just a couple of things at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself with this long list of do’s and don’ts. Just ask yourself what are the one or two things I can focus on that are going to get me moving forward, that are going to build momentum, the biggest things that will start giving you results. I mean, that’s, to me, what it’s really become about, is simplifying, as much as possible.

Meg: Yeah, I’m a hundred percent with you, girl. Like, I was also, you know tracking calories, tracking macros, and timing all of my meals, and I thought there was this rule to have, like, six to seven meals every single day regardless of whether I was hungry or not. And even if I was hungry, but I had a planned meal two hours later, I wouldn’t allow myself to eat because it was, you know, not mealtime yet.

Nia: Mmm hmm.

Meg: And then once I realized that I just needed to, like you, you know start with the bare bones again, what I did was I just created, like, two criteria for myself, and told myself that I was going to eat whatever made me healthy and happy. And that, kind of, you know, the answers for those can change.

Nia: Mmm hmm.

Meg: At certain times. And that’s kind of what go me to where I am with freedom, but yeah, it’s all about just getting really, really simple and letting go of those rules. That huge long list.

Nia: I agree.

00:19:01 –Focusing on quality over quantity and making exercise fun

Shawn: So, if we can flip the switch a little bit. We talked about your past food obsession, I guess you call it. Did you ever have any sort of over-exercising or exercise addiction during your time of being a trainer? Or do you know your clients that have, and how did you overcome that?

Nia: Oh hell yeah. [laughing] I mean, when I was doing the binge eating, yeah I was also piling as much exercise on top of that as I could. I mean, I was doing minimum of two workouts a day, usually three. Like I’d get to the gym really early, do cardio before clients, squeeze cardio in between clients, do a weight workout, do more cardio later in the day. Yeah, it was, it was insane. And again, it really kind of just comes down to kind of harnessing that quality over quantity mindset. Especially in regards to strength training. It’s something that you focus more on the quality than doing as much as possible. And then also kind of, there’s something I think a lot of people have a hard time grasping, and that’s the fact that exercise can be fun [laughing]. You don’t have to do something like get on a cardio machine for an hour. You don’t have to take group classes. Unless, of course, you want to.

Meg: [laughing]

Nia: Some people enjoy those things. And if you enjoy those things, go do those things. But for some people that hate that kind of stuff, they think that’s the only way they can improve their health. That’s not the case. You know, I don’t work out near as much as I used to. Instead, I’m finding ways to have fun. Some of my favorite things to do are hiking, mountain biking, and kayaking in the summer. Racquetball. I just find ways to move in a way that’s enjoyable. And I think it’s important for us to kind of get back to that. Exercise is not another chore on your daily to do list. I think if we make a stronger effort to find a way to do things that make us happy, that’s where the magic can really happen because not only do you look forward to those things, but if you’re doing something you enjoy, you’re not just going to do it today and this week, you’re going to do it next month, and next year. And that’s what really helps you, not only get the results that you’re after, but sustaining them long term.

Meg: Yeah, I completely agree with that.

Shawn: Yeah, and so, so how did you kind of make that switch, again from, you know, two to three times a day working out, to just okay, I’m just going to do what I think is fun? Like, how did that process happen? Because I know many of our listeners are kind of stuck.

Nia: Mmm.

Shawn: There, thinking they have to do what their program says to do, on their day of their workout.

Nia: Mmm.

Shawn: Instead of waking up and being like, what do I feel like doing today? What is my body telling me? Kind of thing.

Meg: And that, I just need to chime in here because I [laughing] used to work out, like, six, seven days a week, and it was because I came across your website, Nia, and you had that blog post for, like a workout template. The best dang workout template, I think.

Nia: Ahhh yeah!

Meg: That one. And I came across it, and you recommended either lifting three days a week and doing, like a full body kind of training split. Or working out four days a week and doing two upper and two lower body workouts. And this was just like such a huge shift for me because I was working out six, seven days a week, and just feeling terrible. So when I came across your stuff and on the pursuit to just, to just wanting to let go of training for body image reasons, and you know, I really wanted to let go all of that and start training because I loved my body and just wanted to actually get stronger. And since that is such a clear message on your website, I saw that workout template, and I’m like, okay, I’m going to do one of these. And that’s why I no longer, you know, obsessively exercise. I now work out three to four times a week, and it’s all because of that blog post. So, just kind of go, now you can answer Shawn’s question. [laughing]

Nia: Rock on. That’s awesome. I’m really happy to hear that. And for, you know, a lot of people if at first you currently work out a lot, then hearing something like, you know, say just strength train three days a week is incredibly intimidating. I understand that. So, you know, if possible, I would recommend that people really try to take this quality over quantity approach. Commit to three, maybe four, strength training workouts per week. Focus exclusively on nothing but doing a little better each time you repeat a workout. Make it about your performance, not burning calories or being exhausted, or anything like that. Just doing a little better. Being proud of the things your body can do, and then really unleashing its ability to do more. And then, if you want to do other stuff on other days that you don’t strength train, I mean, I definitely encourage to try to move in a fun way, or just go for a walk, or do something else you enjoy. And a lot of people are really intimidated from this approach at first if they’re used to doing a ton of stuff because they think, oh my gosh, I’m going to gain weight, I’m going to lose all my results if I drastically cut back on my working out. And a couple of things can happen. One, people dive in and commit to this, and they realize, holy crap, I have so much energy. I didn’t even realize I was chronically low on energy because apparently I just got used to it. They realize that wow, I was doing too much. I’m feeling really great now. I’m getting stronger quicker. My workouts are just amazing. I feel awesome. And some people who had plateaued with weight loss before actually find that even though they’re doing less, they actually lose weight. And I think that’s kind of from a lot of different factors, like burnout and all of that. But it’s really something that I would encourage people, if you’re just drained and you’re busting your butt working out constantly, just give it a try. For at least a month, and just see what can happen. Because more often than not, I’ve never seen somebody regret doing less, but at a higher quality [laughing].

Meg: Yeah.

Nia: I’ve yet to come across that. So, it’s just, it’s one of those things that just, just try it. And that way you don’t have to take my word for it. You can just experience it for yourself.

Meg: Yeah. Just treat it as a little experiment. It’s not something that they have to do forever if they don’t enjoy it. But, like you said, you’ve never really, you know, met anyone who hasn’t enjoyed working out a little bit less, but at a high.

Shawn: Yeah, no one was like, that was the worst month ever. I got to rest a little more.

Nia and Meg: [laughing]

Shawn: I don’t think anybody would say that. [laughing]

Nia: Yeah, for sure.

00:26:00 – Nia’s favorite workout moves

Shawn: Um, okay, so let’s chat about what you, you said you like to do kind of like the outdoor stuff for a lot of your workouts, but what do you do personally, like when you’re in the gym? Like, what are your favorites moves? What makes you feel strong and beautiful and amazing?

Nia: Uh, lately most of my training, actually, pretty much all of it has been body weight and dumbbell exercises. I used to be really big into lifting as heavy as possible. I mean, I was known for my love of dead lifting. My best dead lift was 330 pounds, and I pulled 300 for three reps at one point. It was pretty rad.

Shawn: Wow.

Nia: Then I got cocky and didn’t listen to my body and hurt myself. So [laughing] nowadays, whereas back then it was all about, how much can I bench press, how much can I squat, how much can I deadlift, I got bit by the power lifting bug. My training now is exclusively about what makes me feel good. I, I’m only thirty, and having severe back pain in my mid-twenties was a wake up call. I was thinking, this is ridiculous, I’m not going to be in this much pain in my twenties and risk it getting worse as I get older. Because I want to be able to do things more than just lift weight in the gym. I mean, I want to be able to walk my dog without my back hurting, which at that point wasn’t possible. So now my workouts, yes, it’s still about getting stronger, just in a different way. You know, like more advanced pull-up variations, more advanced push-up variations. Getting stronger with dumbbells instead of barbell exercises. So, I like feeling good when I finish my workouts. I love that my joints and muscles feel good, yet I may be tired but nothing hurts, nothing’s in pain. And that is crucial to me right now. So it’s just, to me it’s about having fun and feeling amazing, and making sure I’m capable to go do any activity I want to do. Whether it’s mountain biking or hiking or taking a flying trapeze class, which I did once, and it was amazing. You know, my body is a tool to allow me to go experience life to the fullest. So that’s kind of the focus of my training nowadays.

Shawn: Love it.

Meg: That’s so great.

Shawn: That’s perfect. Did you ever do a power lifting competition? Just, for my own personal [laughing].

Nia: I did, yeah, I did actually a push pull meet.

Shawn: Okay.

Nia: Which is just a competition of bench press and deadlift.

Shawn: Yeah.

Nia: I did it once, back when I was in college, just on a whim. Because they had one in town, so yes, I did do one.

Shawn: And did you like it?

Nia: I love it. It was rad. I actually ended up setting a personal record that meet. And yeah, I mean, the competition itself is so fun because everybody there is supporting everybody.

Shawn: Totally.

Nia: And they don’t care if you’re there lifting twenty pounds or two hundred. Everybody is so freaking supportive, and I’m gonna, okay, this is it, I’m spinning into a story, it’s gonna happen, just endure it for a moment. My mom actually came to my powerlifting meet, and she went, holy hell, I want to do this. And so my mom got into powerlifting. She’s actually done, I want to say three meets, and this is the coolest thing. Several years ago, my mom got a double prophylactic mastectomy, because she kind of at the point, with a lot of health issues. And her doctors basically said, it’s not a matter of if you get breast cancer, it’s when. So she and her doctors decided the prophylactic mastectomy was the way to go. So my mom gets this double mastectomy, and not even six or eight months later is competing in another powerlifting meet.

Shawn: Wow.

Meg: Ohh.

Nia: And it was so, I want to drop the F bomb, it was so freaking rad, man, because she just said, I’m going to come out of this stronger. I’m not going to let this devastate me. I’m not going to let this break me. I’m going to come out of this better, and holy s**t, I’m sorry if I’m not allowed to cuss.

Shawn and Meg: [laughing]

Nia: My mom went to this meet and freaking killed it. Squatting. Dead lifting. Benching. And it was just, I’m going to tear up, because my mom is just, she is just my inspiration. And just watching her do that. She’s like, hell no, I’m better because of this. This isn’t gonna, this isn’t gonna hold me back. So yeah, anybody that’s ever curious about powerlifting, go to a meet, just to watch it, because they’re so fun. I mean, everybody there is just screaming and just cheering everybody on. Like lift it! You go it! You got it! Just, it’s so amazing. So, yeah, my mom is, is, she is the essential queen beautiful badass. And complete inspiration.

Shawn: That is incredible. That’s so cool.

Nia: She is.

Shawn: Yeah.

Nia: I’m very proud.

Shawn: Yeah, I agree with the powerlifting meets. I did one, gosh, about a year and a half ago now, and was super nervous to do it.

Nia: [laughing]

Shawn: I don’t know what I was doing, and I was just a mess. But then you get there, and that energy is so contagious, that you…

Nia: It is, right?

Shawn: That you feel like you’re just going to lift whatever weight they put in front of you [laughing].

Nia: [laughing]

Shawn: Because it’s like, well, these people are making sure that I’m going to do it, so I’m going to do it [laughing]. Yeah, it’s, yeah, I would definitely say anybody that is even remotely curious, if you just go and cheer these people on, you’ll be like, next month I’m doing it. [laughing] You know, you just get this, like, huge desire to like be up there. Even though it seems so scary. It’s so cool. And, talk about like, just feeling that power of just lifting something and just having that whole, you can do it kind of attitude. That’s where you get it, for sure. I definitely recommend it. I don’t know if I’ll ever do one again, but it was fun at the time.

Nia: [laughing]

Meg: Well it just seems like a lot of women within our community now are getting into powerlifting, which makes me so happy because, you know, it seems like they’re really shifting their focus from what their bodies look like to what their bodies can actually be doing.

Nia: Absolutely.

Shawn: Yeah, and it’s just that feeling of when you do, do it, or when get a PR or whatever, and you’re like, oh my god, I just did that? Like that is such a great feeling. I love that feeling. Anyway, yeah, and your mom, obviously, is absolutely cool. Is she still lifting? Like what’s her status now?

Nia: Yeah. My mom, she’s still a personal trainer. She specializes in senior fitness. I mean, my mom has clients that are in their sixties, seventies, and she has a lady in her nineties.

Shawn: Wow.

Nia. It is.

Meg: Wow.

Nia: It is freaking awesome. Like, I posted a picture of them, several, several months ago on my Facebook page. And I just said that they are my fitsperation, in kind of that meme, you know.

Meg: Yeah.

Shawn: Yes.

Nia: My mom’s in her fifties and Weezie, her client, is in her nineties, and she’s been training with my mom for over a decade. And, I mean, that’s what it’s all about. It shows that health…

Meg: Yeah.

Nia: And fitness is a lifestyle. That you should be lifting today, whether you’re in your twenties or fifties or sixties, and I, that’s, that’s something I do want to say, is that some people say, oh I’m in my fifties, it’s too late for me. I’m in my sixties, it’s too late for me. Hell no it’s not. [laughing]

Shawn: Right.

Meg: Yeah.

Nia: My mom’s got a lady in her nineties kicking butt. You got no excuse.

Meg: [laughing]

Shawn: Yeah, I, actually I’m a trainer as well and I specialize in senior fitness

Nia: ***

Shawn: And I really got into it just because I was, at the time, I was working at a big box gym, and I was just, all the clients I was getting were these girls, because we live in a college town, these college girls, being like I need to lose ten pounds before I get in a bikini for spring break. Or whatever. And I was like, I’m just so over this, and then the seniors would come to me, and they’d be like, I just want to move better. Like, I just want to be able to play with my grandkids, lift some stuff over onto the top shelf of the kitchen. You know, it’s like that kind of stuff. And then when they see the remote, slightest result, they are ecstatic. You know.

Nia: Yeah, man.

Shawn: And that’s why I was like, this is way more up my alley. Because they actually appreciate the movement and getting a little bit stronger and more mobile, as opposed to like, oh I didn’t lose ten pounds because, whatever. You know.

Nia: Mmm hmm.

Shawn: You know, it’s like, oh gosh, it makes such a big difference. So that’s amazing. Ninety years old.

Nia: Yeah. You’re helping them maintain their independence. I mean.

Shawn: Totally.

Nia: That’s so valuable. I mean, in a lot of ways you’re keeping these people out of nursing homes or assisted living facilities, to where they can stay home and take care of themselves and, you know, get in and out of a chair without a problem. It’s, it’s…

Shawn: Absolutely.

Nia: Freaking amazing.

Shawn: And they just have way more appreciation of it all, so that’s amazing. I love it.

00:35:30 – Nia’s workout programs + the lift like a girl challenge

Shawn: Um, okay, so now let’s switch to what you, what you do on a daily basis. So you have lots of programs, right, for people that do want to, maybe, get started with some fitness in their life, or if maybe they want to take it down a notch and do something different. What do you offer?

Nia: Yeah, I’ve got a few different things. The newest one is better body by minimalism, and that is, it’s all about just focusing on the fewest things that you have to do to get the majority of the results that you want to achieve. So, it’s kind of that, that same philosophy that you’re off better focusing on two or three things and putting one hundred percent effort into two or three things, instead of putting, like five percent effort into twenty different things. So, that’s kind of the main thing, and it’s really just about keeping it as simple as possible with training, nutrition and mindset, which is absolutely crucial.

Meg: So what kind of workouts are in a program like that?

Nia: Yeah, well that one actually has four different workouts. Whether somebody just has nothing but their body weight to work with or they want to get stronger. There are several different ones in there, and what I call extenders, to where you can keep customizing the program for months and months and months on end. But it’s definitely all about strength training and focusing on the basic exercises, whether you have, just again, body weight, dumbbells or barbell exercises. It’s easily customizable according to the equipment that you have.

Meg: That’s great. And you’re also doing a little bit of a challenge right now. I get your emails.

Nia: [laughing] The lift like a girl challenge?

Meg: Yes.

Nia: Yeah, I mean, hell that’s everything basically we’ve talked about in this show. It’s about challenging yourself to move in ways that make you feel good. Eat things that make you feel amazing. Even sometimes skipping a workout because you’re exhausted, and you realize that you’re better off resting today than going to the gym. It’s really just about saying, health and fitness isn’t just something you do in the gym, or do in the kitchen, it really is a lifestyle. You know, whether it’s, like I did, over the weekend went to the library and got a new stack of books and spent a ton of time reading this weekend, and just drinking coffee and just sitting outside and playing with my dog. It’s really just about trying to make your life more enjoyable in any, and every, way possible. Even in the really, you know, small ways, because, let’s face it, most of our lives are not all big, exciting moments. A lot of times it’s just going through the ordinary things. But when we’re able to kind of slow down and really appreciate those ordinary things, man, it makes life so much better and exciting. Yeah, it’s really just about choosing, especially with health and fitness, choosing to use it as a tool to make you the best version of yourself. And to make the rest of your life that much more amazing as well.

Meg: So if people wanted to join in on this challenge they can, I think, post a picture and use that lift like a girl hashtag, correct?

Nia: Yeah. Yeah, I was just saying if you want to post pictures on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram and just use the #liftlikeagirlchallenge, and man, there’s been some awesome stuff already. So if you search that hashtag, it’s so cool. There are some women that are just making these huge mental shifts, and saying, hey, you know, I was thinking about getting down on myself today because I didn’t do this, but then I realized that’s not right. I’ve achieved so much. I’m really starting to grasp how much I’ve already achieved, and I realize that’s amazing. And people saying they’re getting into working out for the first time in a while, or they’re eating something without having guilt. It’s just, it’s really amazing. So yeah, if people want to get in on it, you don’t have to post pictures if you’re not comfortable with that. You can just post statements, anything. Just, yeah, lift like a girl challenge. Whatever *** you got, whether it’s food, or workout, or just doing something enjoyable like taking a walk or reading a book or taking a damn nap. I don’t care. [laughing]

Meg: [laughing]

Nia: Anything that makes your life better. It’s part of the challenge.

Meg: I think that’s really empowering and, you know, any of the girls that are listening to this, knowing deep down that they need to take a step back from working out too much, or you know, easing up on their strict nutrition regimen. You know, I think that challenge will really help them.

Shawn: Yeah, and too, those girls, which I feel like a lot of our listeners are, what Meg just described, you know, spending a little too much time thinking about what they’re eating. Spending a little too much time exercising and doing things they don’t necessarily like to do just to exercise and burn calories, for instance. What was the one tip that you could give those girls?

Nia: Ahhh.

Shawn: It’s a tough one.

Nia: I would, I mean, I would, because there’s a lot but I, I would have to say, actually, is don’t think about what you need to do next. I think, the best thing you could do right now in this moment is just stop and take a moment to actually appreciate everything you’re already doing right. Because so often we get into this trap of thinking about the next thing we need to do, the next goal we need to achieve. We don’t stop to appreciate what we’ve already done. So I think that’s a good place to start, is be proud of all the things you’ve already achieved. Be proud of the workouts you’ve been doing and how you’ve been changing nutrition, whatever. Appreciate what you’re already done. Realize you’re further ahead than you probably really grasped, and then use that information to keep going forward.

Shawn: Oh, that’s so awesome.

Meg: Perfect:

Shawn: Good answer.

Nia: [laughing]

Meg: So Nia, Shawn and I have a program that is actually going on right now. It’s called the Eat Feel Live Love challenge, and we focus on four different pillars throughout that program. So eating real food, feeling better, living a little bit more, like doing healthy lifestyle activities, and loving our bodies. So out of those four pillars, which four pillar would you say played the biggest part in your journey to getting to where you are today?

Nia: I would kind of have to say it’d be more the lifestyle one.

Meg: Mmm hmm.

Nia: Not focusing so much on health and fitness itself, but the other things, probably, I’ll even go so far as to say, the better things in life. And really trying to appreciate those things.  You know, whether it’s just being healthy or having a home to live in or playing with the dog. It’s, I think we’re better off if we focus a little less on working out and eating, and focusing more on the more crucial components of our lives and really appreciating those because you never know, and I hate kind of dampering things, but you never know when life is going to punch you in the face with something you weren’t expecting. Because when those moments happen, we quickly shift our focus and realize that going to the gym isn’t that important. Maybe we’re better off spending time with somebody that we love. So, yeah, took that in a different direction, but [laughing]…

Meg: No.

Shawn: No, that was.

Meg: That was such a great answer. I was going to say, no one’s ever really answered life in that sort of approach before, and I really enjoyed that.

Shawn: But that’s so true, and that’s kind of what we do focus in the eat feel live love challenge is just, even just slowing down and focusing on yourself even. And just taking a moment to appreciate your own body and your own spirit, instead of thinking about what’s next. And so. That’s perfect. Yeah, why don’t we go into some fun segments. Nia, would you like to join us?

Nia: Let’s do it.

Shawn: Okay.

Nia: Let ‘er rip, tater chip.

Meg and Shawn: [laughing]

00:45:20 – What we’re into lately + Shawn’s random question

Shawn: Okay, so our first segment is what we’re into. So, does anyone…

Meg: If there’s something you, that you’re into.

Shawn: Anything

Shawn: Doesn’t have to be health or fitness or anything.

Meg: That you’re loving.

Shawn: Just whatever this week that you’re, like, all about.

Nia: Oh good, oh. Ahh! I’m just reading a lot right now. I’m binge reading.

Shawn: Okay. That’s, do you have, like, this book that you’re super into right now? Or one in the past?

Nia: Oh, okay, okay. I’ve got a few. Now, one I read not too long ago that I loved was The Righteous Mind. And, it’s more of a psychology book, but given the environment right now with politics and the presidential stuff, because in this book, he talks about why we’re divided on things, like religion and politics. It sounds kind of dry, but it’s super intense because he provides research and information as to why this happens and why it occurs. And it’s a book that I think most of us would be better off reading because our environment’s gotten to be so much of an us vs. them, which is completely terrible. And that book just helps us understand that we have more in common than we realize, and that we could, in fact, reach a common ground and get a lot more done. So that book, I think, is awesome, and people should read it. [laughing]

Shawn: Yeah, okay.

Meg: Awesome.

Shawn: I’m all about that.

Meg: Great recommendation. Actually, Shawn and I are both reading a book right now called Untethered Soul.

Shawn: Yeah, you have to read it.

Meg: And, I cannot, I don’t even know if I’ve said that’s what I’m into for the past couple of weeks.

Shawn: We’re both into it.

Meg: But that’s my, that’s what I’m into.

Shawn: Yeah, it’s an amazing book.

Meg: Because I, I can’t talk enough about it. It’s so amazing.

Nia: Rock on.

Shawn: Yeah, it’s an amazing book. Um, okay, so I’m going to not say a book or anything. I’m just going to be totally random with this. I’m super into oranges right now. And, like, I don’t…

Nia: Shut up. [laughing]

Shawn: [laughing] It’s the weirdest thing. Because, I don’t know, for some reason I haven’t purchased oranges in, like, a year. I don’t know why. But, I was in the grocery store, not anywhere near even the produce section. I was, like in the aisles, and I was like, god, I really want some oranges.  So [laughing] I went all the way back and picked up some oranges, and they’re amazing. They’re just super delicious right now. Obviously, my body’s craving some vitamin c, [laughing] I guess.

Nia: I dig that.

Shawn: So, I’m killing’ it with the oranges lately.

Nia: Coffee. I’m into coffee too.

Shawn: I’m jealous.

Nia: Everybody’s into coffee.

Shawn: Yeah, but I’m jealous. Meg and I don’t drink coffee because we…

Meg: We can’t do it.

Shawn: We have caffeine problems.

Nia: Oh, okay. Don’t worry, I’m drinking enough to make up for the both of you.

Shawn: Okay.

Meg: Okay.

Shawn: [laughing]

Meg: As long as you are doing that, that is perfect. Yeah.

Shawn: So I’m super jealous because I actually like, love the flavor of coffee. Even just straight black coffee, I love the flavor. So it’s a little tough to not have it, but it makes me crazy. [laughing] I’ve come to realize, it makes me a little loony. So I can’t have it. Do we want to do a random question?

Meg: Yeah, we also do one random question at the end of each episode if we have time for it. And I believe I did the random question last time.

Shawn: Oh, okay. Let me think of a random question here. What is the most binge-worthy show that you watch?

Meg: Ooh, good one.

Nia: Oh, crap.

Shawn: [laughing] I know, I already know Meg’s.

Nia: [laughing]

Meg: You know mine?

Nia: Ah, actually, ah I just finished binge watching. Not binge watching – it took me a while to get through it. Oh crap, what’s it called, New Girl.

Shawn: Oh yeah.

Nia: Because we don’t have cable.

Meg: Oh, okay. New Girl.

Nia: Anything that makes me laugh I’m all about, all about it. So.

Meg: New Girl, k.

Shawn: I love it.

Nia: What. It’s funny.

Shawn: That show’s actually super funny and it’s totally binge worthy. And the best thing is the episodes are only thirty minutes if you’re watching on actual TV, so they’re probably, like twenty minutes on Netflix, right? So…

Meg: Yeah.

Shawn: So you can just be like, oh, I’m just going to watch one more. I’m just going to watch one more.

Nia and Shawn: [laughing]

Shawn: And then suddenly, it’s like four hours. [laughing] Um, Meg, what about you?

Meg: Oh you know, I’m just like busting at the seams to share this. So I really don’t watch any TV, like New Girl, don’t even know what it’s about. And for, you know Breaking Bad and all those super popular shows, still haven’t watched them because I just, like, do not watch TV. But Suits.

Nia: Seriously, you guys.

Meg: I binge watched the first, like five seasons, four or five seasons, and now I’m all caught up and watch the new episode every single Thursday. And, like, my boyfriend isn’t a huge fan of it, but he knows how much I love it, so we have, like Suits night and…

Nia: [laughing]

Meg: It’s so, like, after every episode I’m like squealing because it’s so intense. So it’s about lawyers and, you know, drama in the law firm and stuff like that. So basically, I usually compare it to, you know, kind of like a Grey’s Anatomy but in a law firm.

Shawn: Mmm.

Meg: It’s that sort of thing.

Shawn: It’s weird because I’d never even heard of it.

Meg: Oh my gosh. And everyone is like, like all the guys are really good looking in the show.

Shawn: Oh, well that’s helpful.

Meg: So it’s always, you know, whenever that happens, it’s just like, easier to watch.

Shawn: [laughing] I actually have a new binge-worthy show, which I didn’t think would ever be a binge-worthy show of mine, but I really like Fixer Upper. Have you guys seen that? Oh my god.

Nia: I’m not sure what that is.

Shawn: So it’s on HGTV. It’s like an HGTV show.

Meg: [laughing]

Shawn: But, I know, it’s so weird. I don’t even know why I’m watching HGTV in the first place because I’m terrible at all of those things.

Meg: I am laughing so hard.

Shawn: But, it’s so good because they’re, it’s a couple, and they take this home that’s terrible looking. And the people just bought it. And they totally change.

Meg: [laughing]

Shawn: [laughing] Everything about it. But like the couple’s really cute and funny, and like the husband is hilarious. And they’re just, I don’t know, I don’t know why I’m binge watching it, but I am. I’m spending Saturday mornings.

Meg: I have no idea.

Shawn: Binge watching this, and I have no idea why. [laughing] It’s weird. But I’ve recently gotten really.

Meg: [laughing] That is weird.

Shawn: [laughing] Okay, okay, so someone, one of our listeners has to come through and tell me I’m not the only one here. Because I feel like, like a little bit of a weirdo. [laughing] Alright, so, Nia, why don’t you tell everybody where they can find you.

Nia: Yeah, for sure. Everything of mine, basically, is at my website niashanks.com. Also, liftlikeagirl.com if you’re not quite sure how to spell my name. That’s, basically, where you can find me.

Shawn: And you’re on all social media pages.

Meg: Instagram. Twitter.

Nia: Yeah, @niashanks for Twitter and Instagram. And same for Facebook.

Shawn: Awesome. Well, it was…

Meg: Thank you so much…

Shawn: Super fun.

Meg: For this amazing interview today. Everyone’s going to love it so much.

Nia: Well, thank y’all. I appreciate it.

Shawn: Yeah, that was a ton of fun. Thank you so much. We’ll talk to you soon.

Nia: All right.

Shawn: Thanks so much for listening to this episode of The Nourished Podcast. If you like what you’re hearing, would you mind heading to iTunes and leaving us a review? We would so appreciate it, and love hearing from you. If you’d like to hear more from Meg, head to megtherhn.com. If you’d like to hear more from me, Shawn, head to well-belly.com. If you’d like to learn more about the Eat Feel Live Love Challenge, which is the program Meg and I developed together based on the four pillars of true health and happiness, please head to eatfeellivelove.com where you can find out, much more information. If you have a question you would like answered on an upcoming episode of the podcast, please email us at thenourishedpodcast@gmail.com.

Get the latest articles, recipes, podcasts, and more straight to your inbox!