#88 Strength Training, Psychology, and Smart Nutrition For Women - with Amy Needham

The Holistic Nutritionists Podcast


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"I believe strength training for women is a catalyst for positive self-esteem. Their ability to move a heavy object improves the way they see themselves, because they realize they're more capable than just their aesthetics and what they look like. I see women develop this inner confidence as they realize they're capable of lifting a load or pulling up their own body weight. These are the kinds of things that women can focus on for self-esteem that aren't associated with what they look like."

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In Episode 88 of The Holistic Nutritionists Podcast, Natalie Douglas and her guest, Amy Needham (Nutrition & Performance Coach), discuss the benefits of strength training for women and investigate what is HIIT Training good for.

  • The biggest mistakes women make when it comes to exercise
  • Benefits of strength training for females
  • Will HIIT training alone get you results
  • The physiology behind why some women end up looking puffy + inflamed when doing too much HIIT/Crossfit/F45
  • Sustainable Fat loss nutrition + the biggest mistake women make
  • What happens when someone YoYo diets and calorie restricts for years + what to do
  • Strength training + Nutrition tips across the menstrual cycle
  • The art of being a good coach + the role of mindset, self-worth and your “why”
  • What Amy would change about the fitness industry

Amy Needham
Nutrition & Performance Coach

Intro 0:00  

Hello and welcome to The Holistic Nutritionists Podcast, with your hosts Natalie K. Douglas, Thyroid Healer, and Kate Callaghan, The Holistic Nutritionist. Nat and Kate are degree-qualified dietitians and nutritionists, certified fitness instructors, speakers, and authors. If you love unfiltered banter, unedited bloopers, and authentic heart-sharing, then we are your ladies! Now it’s time to sit back, relax, and get ready for our latest tips on living your healthiest life possible.

Natalie K. Douglas 0:37  

Hello, guys! I thought I would do a quick introduction before we get started because we are lucky enough to be joined by another amazing guest, Amy Needham, and Amy is a nutrition and performance coach. She currently lectures and mentors in performance nutrition to a variety of people across the world, including doctors. Amy sees clients both online and face to face, with most of these clients looking for body transformations, and a mental shift in regards to health. Amy was a competitive gymnast for 10 years and has several qualifications in yoga, massage, powerlifting, women’s artistic, gymnastics, boxing, cert three and four in fitness, and personal training, along with mentorships in exercise, sport, science, and physiology, as well as female health. This legend of a fellow nerd is also a student in a Bachelor of Health Science in Nutrition, and Master’s in Dietetics. Her focus as a coach is upon improving the lives of all that she, all that she meets, creating a body and mind transformation, working specifically with hormonal health and the psychology of eating to create lifestyle-based body recomposition to maintain a lean and strong physique year-round is definitely her jam. As Amy puts it, she bridges the gap between health and fitness to dispel the bullshit and give knowledge to the masses. Her point of difference as a coach is that she doesn’t want to retain clients, she simply wants to create the physical change in a way that educates the person enough to go about it alone after they finish up. Now, before we jump in, I just wanted to remind you that this Friday, the 7th of Feb is the last chance you have to join my online program Thyroid Rescue at the early bird offer. This is the only time in 2020 that the live round Thyroid Rescue will be at this price. So if you know that you need to make a change this year, and break the cycle of just surviving. And you want to reclaim your energy and heal your thyroid naturally. And balance your hormones and optimize your gut health, and be surrounded by not just myself, but a whole bunch of like-minded women, just like you, then please don’t just sit back and wait. There is no perfect time to make changes to your health, your schedule is never going to be completely clear of obligations. And that’s so okay because that is real life and something I am super passionate about helping you navigate in the program while you heal. If it’s money that is holding you back, let me remind you that without your health and energy, your ability to be productive and make more money, and the ability to show up as the best version of yourself for your loved ones and yourself is seriously going to be compromised. You have to see your health as the investment it is because as cliche as it sounds, you can pay now or you can pay later. And I know you know this but remember that it’s not just money you pay in by not committing to doing something different. It’s all of the other stuff. And I’d argue the more important stuff like time, energy, memories, you are smart and you know this. So here’s your sign if you’re looking for one to feel the fee and do it anyway. And if you want to have a quick chat with me, I am offering free 20-minute discovery calls before the program sign up or the cart closes on February 7th. So to book one of those in please just contact me at [email protected] or DM me on Instagram and I will find, I’ll give you the link. Okay, that is all for me. I really want to jump into this chat with Amy because I know you guys are going to love it. Hello, Amy, and welcome to The Holistic Nutritionists Podcast. Thanks so much for taking some time out to chat with us. I’m really excited about all of the things that we have to talk about today. What I wanted to start with before we jump into the deliciousness that is going to be in this podcast is what’s your current morning routine? I’m really interested in this because I know from an Insta stalk that you do get up early.

Amy Needham 5:01  

I did get up early this morning was 3 AM. So just kind of pushing that a little bit.

Natalie K. Douglas

All right.

Amy Needham

So my morning routine normally wouldn’t be 3 AM, and normally at 4 AM. My first clients are normally up at five. So at the moment, I’m kind of working on a habit change. So it used to be when I first wake up in the morning, I would check my phone, which is terrible. Especially if it’s Instagram or client emails or WhatsApp. So now I’m switching over to I checked three apps. I checked my word of the day, so I learned something new.

Natalie K. Douglas

Oh, I love it.

Amy Needham

Yeah. I checked my affirmation app. And then also while I check my sleep quality and my motivation. So more kind of a positive mindset app is that I can work through before I quickly switch on Spotify onto like an old school bangers like and then jump out of it.

Natalie K. Douglas 5:56  

Oh, I love that. Tunes, it’s like music such a good way to start the day, I reckon.

Amy Needham 6:01  

Yeah, Beyonce in her finest ones always gets me out of bed in the morning.

Natalie K. Douglas 6:05  

Oh, I love Beyonce. I actually think that I would I missed my calling as like, a like a dance of some Beyonce description. I just started dance classes this year. Like I didn’t dance when I was younger. But I just started dance classes oh, last year, actually, and did jazz. And I’m doing jazz and hip hop this year.

Amy Needham

So good.

Natalie K. Douglas

So fun. I’m like, man, why did I not do this earlier?

Amy Needham 6:29  

Like, I should have been more into dance instead of gymnastics as a child, I went back and tried the same and I tried to be hip hop and gymnast trying to be flowy.

Natalie K. Douglas

Oh, yeah.

Amy Needham

A little different, especially with long limbs? It’s not quite as good.

Natalie K. Douglas 6:45  

Yeah, I can imagine. I feel like my body is built for hip hop because I’m kind, I’m short.

Amy Needham

Oh, it would be so well to grind.

Natalie K. Douglas

Yeah, that’s right. That’s it. So I’m just embracing the, you know, it’s never too late vibe over here. So that’s what we’re gonna go with. I love that morning routine. Now, moving into more of our topic of today, what do you feel like the biggest mistake women make when it comes to exercise?

Amy Needham 7:13  

Personally, I think it’s that they’re focusing on fat loss when it comes to exercise, as opposed to focusing on progressive overload. So progressive overload being the ability to do more, over at time changing training variables. So things like your load, your volume, or the number of reps and sets that you do, and the range of motion or the amount of muscle fibers you can actually recruit. So obviously, we know if we can squat a little bit deeper, we can recruit more muscle. But a lot of the time, females seem to focus on getting sweaty and using that kind of as a marker of success. Now, that doesn’t necessarily equate to a greater, or tighter, or leaner physique. Especially if your body’s going to adapt to it and it can see it more as what we would call NEAT or non-exercise activity thermogenesis if you’re repetitively doing the same thing and wondering why you’re not kind of getting the changes you want to see.

Natalie K. Douglas 8:13  

Okay, interesting. So when you say, like kind of repeatedly doing the same thing, if you’re talking about progressive overload, how often for example, should someone change their program or manipulate part of that equation that you’re talking about?

Amy Needham 8:31  

So generally, if I’m structuring a program for a client, it’s three to four weeks, I structure a program for them. I personally like programs, undulate. So what I mean by that is that three weeks might be focused on higher rep ranges, with a moderate kind of load. And then the next three or four weeks would be focused on lower rep ranges, with a heavier load, so it’s kind of naturally allows their body to get challenged, but then also deload so they’re not overly stressing their body out, rather than focusing on a similar rep range, similar set of sets, and not really progressing in the amount of some weight change that they get on about.

Natalie K. Douglas 9:15  

Yeah. Okay. So, I love that. And when you’re talking about like, changing, so a lot of people assume or I need to change all the exercises that I do but are you saying that you can keep some of those foundational lifts. For example, if we’re talking about strength training, we can keep some of the foundational lifts in but actually manipulate those other variables like reps for example to create the change, it’s does your body get used to squatting for example, and you need to stop squatting?

Amy Needham 9:47  

No, you can definitely keep the similar. Like it depends if you want to be a master of one area rather than a jack of all trades, and you really want an amazing squat. There is no reason why you can’t have a squat throughout 12 weeks or 16 weeks, if not longer of your programming if that’s what you want to improve upon. If one of my girls wants to increase her pull-ups, and be someone who does like pronated, or wide grip pull-ups with weight, then I would obviously program that in for a lot longer, so that they can actually master the exercise that they’re doing. You do want to go through full range of motion through most of your limbs. However, it’s not great. If you are doing that in a squat, it’s not going to cause any issues unless of course, you have some kind of muscular imbalance and you do need to work on one side more than the other or work on unilateral exercises to kind of even out.

Natalie K. Douglas 10:43  

Okay, awesome. Got it. I actually funny, you said that I used to when I was doing CrossFit. Don’t judge me, it’s a moment of a few years actually. A weakness, I ended up with when I used to, I think it was when I used to squat, what like my left foot was like almost half a foot in front of my right foot. And I felt like my hips were square. It was like this is not right but I was that person that was like, I’m just gonna do everything as fast as I can and like no way, I fall. So, I’m an example of what not to do everyone. Yeah, but that’s okay. We all learned from our from our mistakes.

Amy Needham 11:27  

Exactly. You just made it looks fancy, it was little like, thanks for that. Thanks for that, you know a B-stance.

Natalie K. Douglas 11:34  

Oh, there you go.

Amy Needham

There you go.

Natalie K. Douglas

I was a 100% ahead of my time, they’re gonna bring it to the CrossFit games.

Amy Needham

Oh, they are.

Natalie K. Douglas 11:40  

B-stance squat brought to you by Natalie Douglas. Oh, I love it. Okay, so now when it comes to strength training for females, or I guess the benefits will also be for males as well. But let’s just pretend we’re talking just about females, because that’s mainly who is listening. Can you tell us what the actual benefits are and maybe can you define what you’re talking about when you’re saying strength training? So some people will not know exactly what you’re talking about. So is it are you talking about, you know, lifting weights, even if it’s in like a circuit, or you specifically talking about a certain way to lift them?

Amy Needham 12:21  

Yeah. So generally, when I’m speaking about strength training, I’m focusing on that progressive overload. So, for example, if somebody competed three sets of 10, and they did it in 30 kilos, and the total volume, or the total weight amount that they lifted, by the end of their four weeks, if they increase per week, that program itself would have a weight capacity that they lifted overall if in, so you want to see progressive overload weekly, but also by the end of that programming. So if, okay, I’m doing squeezer random number, but if they did two times at the end of their first program, but then when they repeated that program, they will lifting three times. That’s creating more progressive overload. So what you’re looking at is that you’re constantly stressing those muscle fibers to lift more load. The benefits of that as well aside from that you actually can challenging their body. We know that strength training improves our immune function, it boosts out libido, it improves our bone mineral density, it helps prevent things like osteoporosis or osteopenia, as well as it tightens our physique. So I think we’ll go into this later but it muscle is actually quite taut and it’s very lean, regardless of the weight comparison to body fat. So some people kind of get confused with that, thinking that they’re going to get quite bulky. Strength, if you’re trying to strength then and that would be your rep ranges, generally below five, that doesn’t really stick any muscle fibers, you’ve got obviously a variety. So you’re at type one, at type two or at aerobic and aerobic, which is why undulating a program. So you know, maybe three weeks at higher rep ranges, and then three weeks at lower rep ranges that trains both muscle fiber types. So there are kind of ways we can manipulate our strength training to suit somebody’s body composition, especially as women are quite diverse in the muscle fiber types in comparison to men, so we can train more frequently, we recover better, and would generally not going to get that muscular kind of male physique. Yeah, I think the one main important thing that I like to focus on with strength training, especially for women though, is I think it serves as like a positive self-esteem kind of catalyst, like the way they approach their strength training and their ability to move an object, I think, improves the way they see themselves, like if they think they’re more capable than just their aesthetics or what they look like, but they’re capable of lifting a load or pulling up their own body weight. You know, they are kind of things that they can focus on for their self-esteem that aren’t associated with what they look like.

Natalie K. Douglas 15:09  

Oh, totally. I totally agree. I agree with that. I found like, as much as I pay CrossFit out, one of the things that doing something like that, like helped me with was shifting my focus from what I looked like to what my body could do. And I think that you feel empowered, like most women who have I mean, of course, when you start anything, you feel like an absolute gumby trying to do something, but once you actually, um, you know, know what you’re doing, it’s really empowering to lift heavy shit.

Amy Needham 15:42  

Oh, yeah.

Natalie K. Douglas

And it makes you feel great

Amy Needham

Especially as far as like, there is a benefit to obviously CrossFit and stuff as well as their community basis is amazing. That’s why people keep going back because it’s your body and you’re seeing changes in your body, which are a lot more of a mental shift, but it’s very positive and supportive. 

Natalie K. Douglas 16:02  

Hmm, Yep. Yep, I agree. That was what kept me there for a while. So in terms of just on the like, since we opened to the can of worms around the, do weights make women bulky? So what about, like, can you address where people tend to get like, women tend to get in particular, this kind of puffy look, when they start to do too much of CrossFit is the one I see a lot where and it happened to me too, but where they’re like, okay, but I’m doing weight training, and weight shouldn’t make me bulky but I have now, I’m now starting to look like.

Amy Needham

Quite Ani. 

Natalie K. Douglas

Yeah. Like, pretty, pretty much and it’s a bit confusing for people because on one hand, people were like weight don’t make women bulky. And on the other hand, they’re having this experience with them, which is not doesn’t happen to everybody. But for them, it’s changed their body to look away that doesn’t make them feel feminine or comfortable. What’s happening there in terms of.

Amy Needham 17:10  

Yeah, so you’ve kind of got two things. So you’ve got the people who seem to think it’ll make them bulky. So this is when I talk about we don’t really have the hormonal profile for a bulky kind of muscular physique like you just don’t have enough testosterone growth factor, or IGF one, etc, the same as men. And that diversity in our muscle fiber types, because we have, you know, a lot of the type one ones which are the thicker, we can’t get that thickness. Now, in saying that there’s two parts to this if you’re repetitively training, cytoplasmic hypertrophy, which is not to throw big words, but it’s kind of like your fluid in the muscle cell. So that type of hypertrophy makes us look thicker. If someone’s continually doing hypertrophy kind of ranges of like 8 to 12, they may potentially be looking at more of that form of hypertrophy versus something which is more myofibrillar. And this is the one which focus on the strength of like contractor part. So basically, our muscle fibers, they’re the one of myofibrillar hypertrophy, they equate to strength and to speed and more like a functional growth of strength. Now, a lot of what I see in CrossFit would be a lot, well depending on programming, I don’t want to. I know that I actually do know quite a few CrossFit coaches who actually cross periodized really well for their client and quite individually. Now, because you’re using a blanket rule in something like CrossFit to train people in a group setting. I don’t believe there’s enough focus on the stabilizer muscles or on individual periodization, or programming, or exercises to combat their specific issues. You can also look at, so we don’t exactly know the reason why, but women do seem to be more sensitive to cortisol or lack of a better word stress. Cortisol is kind of called anti-stress hormones, but if someone is continually overtraining, for example, like whether it be F45, or HIIT, or CrossFit, and their bodies activating quite a lot of cytokines or inflammation, this can create more of a hormonal imbalance, like imbalance or risky of like HPA dysfunction. The increase of like, you know, stress cascade of kind of like CRH or corticotropin-releasing hormone. It’s kind of pro-inflammatory. So this is the kind of thing that can create potentially intestinal hyperpermeability, and those foreign bodies and bacteria that then get through our stomach, or through our lining, can create systemic inflammation which can create that fluffy kind of look. The way I normally see it is, if a client comes into me and they think overtraining, or they’ve just come to me from CrossFit, or they’ve come to me from F45, or HIIT, or whatever they’re doing, and then they signed up for a package to me. The first time I pinch their skin to do their skin folds, the skin is quite red and it’s really thick. So it’s hard for me to actually pinch. So that’s a form of the inflammation that I’m kind of talking about. Now, as they start to eat healthier, and they start to lower down their training volume, and it comes a lot easier to pinch their skin. And they think initially that they’ve lost quite a lot of weight, but a lot of it is they’ve lost quite a lot of fluid, or their bodies been holding quite a lot of fluid because it’s such a stress state. So when that inflammation decreases, obviously, their weight decreases initially, and they come a little softer looking, and their skin is easier to pinch. So there’s so many factors, and it depends on the individual, even particular individuals will have like their immune system set up to be a little bit more sensitive, it feel like a histamine response but if they are someone who is quite reactive to whether it be, you know, FODMAPs, or stress from training, or under sleeping, like, I can definitely tell when someone’s coming, they’ve either not slept enough, or they’ve eaten food, which doesn’t quite agree with their body, or they’ve just been overtraining, or they’re, they’ve not quite looked after the rest of recovery quite so much. So that can create a puffy look. It could also be as simple as like their electrolyte balance if they’re constantly sweating out, and they don’t have or they’ve excreted too much like potassium, and then their bodies kind of lean a little bit more of an electrolyte is imbalanced, then that also can kind of change the way their body looks. Like I’ll find one of my clients today, she’s PCOS, but she would be more inflammatory focus. So she just went away on holiday, she comes back looking so much leaner. And it wasn’t because of anything changing, like meat wise, or steps or like her, her training or her thyroid, but just she honestly just rest as well.

Natalie K. Douglas 22:11  

It’s so like, thank you, firstly, for sharing all that. Because yeah, definitely speaking my language I see. I mean, I don’t train people, but I used to treat a lot of people with thyroid issues who always have adrenal issues along with it, you know, quote-unquote, adrenal issues, HPA axis dysregulation issues. And it’s amazing what stress can do to the body. And you’re right, it is individual, though, like everyone has a different tolerance to it, and a way that their body responds, which is why I think it can get confusing for women when they’re like, but Jackie down the road does F45, six days a week and you know, looks great, I just need to do what she does. But you don’t need to do what Jackie does, you need to do, what you need to do. And I think also something important for people to remember, at least in my experience, is that how your body responds to different types of training, and what that might look like physically on you or feel in your body can change over time, like, you know, for me, once upon a time, when I was much younger, and I was doing sensible amount of like HIIT training, it was fine. But then as I got older, and I’m not old at all, but just as I kind of life got busier and there are more stresses accumulating in my life, it kind of tipped to the scale in the wrong direction in terms of just my stress bucket overflowed. And you have to look at I think you have to look at stress, as you know, you have this bucket, and there are certain things that fill it up. And there are certain things that start to empty it out. And every individual is different in terms of how many things are being put in there and what effect they have and how many they’re actually actively taking out. So I love and I also bloody love that you shared the link between the gut and stress there.

Amy Needham 24:12  

Yeah, and you’ll find that and they weren’t related like I think it comes down to what people perceive as stress to you. Like, I will work my butt off and like, you know, I’ll have oh, like of like, oh, no, no, no, I’m not. I’m fine. Like I never see if I am I’m completely fine. They’re like, oh, you work too hard or you’re too stressed. I’m like, I’m not stressed like I’ve totally got this and you will find that people like that as well as that their perception of what stresses their body versus what’s going on in their body can be two different things. Like they’re be like, oh, no, no, I’m doing really well but then you can look at okay, cool. Well have you progressed in the weight that you’re actually lifting? Has your slate gone to shit? You know, are you getting a lot more food cravings and you can’t stick to the food I’m giving you, and your hunger is increased, or a hormone called ghrelin. And you’re really fluidy like, your body’s kind of giving signs that you are under some form of psychological, physiological kind of stress, that someone will still, depending on what they feel like they’ve never for a long time felt what it’s like to be healthy and less inflamed and in a relaxed state and happy. Their perception of what they think is stress and what their body looks like stress is going to be completely different.

Natalie K. Douglas 25:27  

Oh, yeah, I so agree. I, I, I see that all of the time and I’ve had many experiences where, you know, clients have said to me, that, you know, oh they’re fine, they just get on with it, just get it done. And there the people are like, red flag, red flag. Like, I totally, I don’t want to take away from there, like, positive, you know, optimism and all that kind of stuff. But then I am also like, it’s not just a matter of mind over matter, like, I really think you, you know, I actually personally think there’s more strength in being able to slow down some of the time. I know, for me, I would so have found it easier to just, I have a history of over-exercising, I would have so found the easier to just get up and do what I’d already planned mentally in my mind to do than to be like, hey, buddy, how do you feel today? Maybe just a walk.

Amy Needham

Are quite intuitive with it now? 

Natalie K. Douglas

Yeah. But it’s, you know, a massive journey. So what I want to do is play devil’s advocate here now for the people because I know it’s a question listeners have. So do you think that someone has to lift weights to achieve a fit-looking physique, or do you think that some people can do it with something like HIIT or endurance training, for example?

Amy Needham 26:50  

So in order to build muscle, or to drop significant body fat, or even just to support strong bones, I think, yes, you do need to lift weights. But this is where smart programming comes in. So we talk about like different muscle fiber types. So the genetics have, they plays a role in how your muscle fiber types are built and where they’re situated in our body. However, we still can manipulate what is present. So if someone was, say for example, like a dancer, you might do more lighter weight.

Natalie K. Douglas

Like me, like me?

Amy Needham 27:21  

Oh, yeah. Like, yeah, graceful dancer. They might do potentially accumulation phases, or a lot of rep ranges and things if they don’t want to stimulate those thicker muscle fiber types. However, they will plateau a lot quicker and you might find that those ballerinas and whoever they are, they have to control their diet a lot more strictly to avoid getting the bulkiness, which is normally from more like triglycerides, or glycogen, or carbs, for example, in between our muscle fiber sheets to make it fuller. So you can manipulate it, definitely, but they will plateau quite quickly. So to create that progressive overload, you do need to lift weights.

Natalie K. Douglas 28:07  

Gotcha. Makes sense. And what about like for people listening that just love more of like endurance-based exercises like running or swimming or triathlons? Is there a way to make that type of training more sustainable from like, maybe let’s talk about from like a hormone and health perspective, like, is there certain ways of breaking down that training or certain ways they should be eating if they if they’re choosing to focus more on that style of training?

Amy Needham 28:41  

Yeah, like there’s a part of this as well as like, you’ve got the happiness level too, like there’s a good, better, best. There’s the best situation that I’ll give someone I’m like, look, I really don’t want you to add cardio in yet because I want it to be, I want to have tools in my toolkit. If someone starts with me, I’m not going to give them cardio straight away, it’s going to be my last line of defense, one, because it might increase a little bit more inflammation in their body. But it is that caloric burn. If I can do that with nutrition first and get them stronger with weights, then I’ll do that, then I might to start to adding in HIIT or LISS and things around it. However, if it brings quite a lot of joy, and they can be really compliant to the program then obviously, I’m going to keep it in like one of my clients really love doing The Bay Run. And so would run every weekend, but it was a family thing. So obviously, if that brings quite a lot of happiness in the community I’m not going to take that away from someone. If I were to structure it potentially into the menstrual cycle I might do it more within like an accumulation phase when I like potentially like a luteal phase if it’s low impact, because where we can go into it later but it was easier to mobilize some of the body fat at that point in time. So because of that, they, it would make sense to do science like a low intensity or MITs if they’re doing running and something like that as well. So yes, you can do it. And it may just equate to being more nonexercise activity thermogenesis or something. If you’re doing it repetitively, your body no longer gets quite a lot of stimulus from it, because it just sees it as routine. I think you like there’s a definitely a way to balance out what you’d like to do versus what’s going to be most beneficial for your body composition.

Natalie K. Douglas 30:36  

Yeah, that’s definitely a constant battle of mind. I am, I actually really love cardio and the HIIT stuff. And I go through phases with weights. And so it’s definitely, you know, a, like, a balancing act for me. I wish that I just loved lifting weights, and that was it, but I just I am, I am that person that’s like, maybe I’ll just do some running or HIIT or soon. I think it’s because it’s what I grew up.

Amy Needham 31:04  

Yeah, exactly. So, funny if I, I’m going to send you some phases. So all of my clients do neurological testing. And like their values, so we talked about before, and you’re like, oh, how long does a program run for. If someone, if they get bored easy, they may be more dopamine driven. If you’re someone who likes to be quite outdoorsy, and you can’t really hold down to a set program. Then may be more serotonin driven. And you spoke about people repeating the same exercise throughout a program. If someone needs more GABA driven, they like repetitive and they want to master a skill. So they may be people that I do keep programming and things for. So that’s why I think individual programming is so cool it is because you should be able to cater to what someone really loves. But like what their neuro type is, and what their values are, and what they enjoy doing, and what’s going to get them the best results but they can be compliant too as well.

Natalie K. Douglas 32:01  

Yeah, I so like, I so agree with that, because and also would be so interesting to do those quizzes. I think I’ve done a few in my time but I haven’t done one recently. But I just, I think it’s really interesting and I find the same thing in terms of when I’m working with you like trying to find that balance between okay, what brings you joy, what’s going to move you closer to your goal, what really is your goal? Because I think getting someone to actually figure that out for themselves is really important as well, a lot of people, I feel like borrow goals or that they think they should have. And I’m like, what do you really want? Like some people really want to change their body composition, and that is so fine. But some people really just want to enjoy the training that they’re doing.

Amy Needham 32:53  

Yeah, like move well, and.

Natalie K. Douglas 32:55  

Yeah, and I’m like, it doesn’t matter what it is but it matters that you know what it is because sometimes, yeah, there has to be compromise. And if you know what your goal is, you can move towards it. But if you don’t, or if you’re trying to like achieve, you know, 5 billion different goals at the same time that are going to have some contradictions to them, you’re probably not going to get there and then it’s going to leave you feeling like you haven’t succeeded when.

Amy Needham


Natalie K. Douglas

If you to find it in the first place. I don’t know if that’s something that you come in, into, I don’t know, come into contact with in terms of goal setting.

Amy Needham 33:30  

Yeah, I think a lot more in relation to food and things as well. But with a goal-setting like I do what they, their values and their goals, and what would it would mean for them, like kind of on a tangible level if they were to achieve it. So if they can taste it, if they can feel it, and they feel like it’s right there. They’re going to be more adherent to the program. Now, when someone, I had a student in my class, she was like, oh, what happens when, you know, you’ve tried all these things, and I’m the coaching things and I just can’t stick to my nutrition. I just, you know, for whatever reason, like on Saturday, like I just can’t do it. And my response to her was wasn’t like, oh, you know, try harder or do this. And all you should try this this way instead, my response to her was, I was like, you don’t want it. Like and some people just have to realize that as well as if you’re pushing towards something and you keep getting in your own way to get it, there’s a strong chance that you either have a bit kind of void against actually getting there or you have a priority which is bigger than that, that you’re prioritizing more, whether it be socializing and drinking on weekends and things and that is okay if you accept it and if you understand it, or if you can link what you want with what you value most. So, yeah, you can go out and be social and just go out for a coffee or something if you’re in like go out for a walk or social catch-ups and things like that. They can still be involved with friendship is like your highest value. If someone can link it to what they want, then that’s going to step and better but there’s no point in setting a target which you want to achieve, which will only make you feel yeah like you said like you feel shit about yourself because you’re like, oh, why can’t I do these? You know, you’ve got to make it something you can speak to but something that you’re going to enjoy and be compliant to.

Natalie K. Douglas 35:11  

Yeah, exactly. Because you’re like, you don’t want to get to the end of, for example, a 12-week program or working with a practitioner for three months or whatever, and feel like, okay, that’s over. Now I’m going to go back to work exactly what I was doing. I think we have a similar philosophy in terms of trying to make ourselves redundant, essentially, in the in the process, like educating people on how to actually understand their body and make the choices that are going to maintain their results, post having their hand being hold, because I think it’s so important to have someone guide you, and to put you on the right path and to help you. But then there needs to be a point, you know, for most people where you can be that person for yourself, and it doesn’t just have to be I’m on a program, I’m off a program, I’m on a program, I’m off a program.

Amy Needham 36:09  

Yeah, I think the marker of a good approach in any respect or in any kind of qualification is that the way your clients are without you is a reflection of how much education you’ve actually given them like they should be able to do it on their own by the end. And that’s kind of what I like to be able to say to my clients as I was like, I’m not here to keep you like, I don’t want to keep you, I want you to learn from this process and do it yourself. But that I think is kind of what’s missing. Like we don’t have a diving problem, or like people not wanting to work out and working out is like if working out was a beam and all of like a physique change or anything that every single person you see in the gym would be fitting and shredded. But if it’s like a nutrition focus, hence while we have like more of an obesity issue, then like with people know how to diet. What they like, we don’t have a dieting issue. We know how to make anything cauliflower or zucchini guys like.

Natalie K. Douglas 37:06  

Yes, so I do. Yep.

Amy Needham 37:07  

I am the mustard. But what we struggle is is like the reverse dieting and the food psychology part of it. Like we just don’t get taught that side of it as much as we should, like, anyone can drop down to like calories and do it for a week or so. But then getting out of that or understanding like the benefit or the importance of mindfulness around food and how it benefits more than just our body but also our psychology as well. I think that’s the biggest kind of gap in the industry at the moment.

Natalie K. Douglas 37:37  

Yeah, I so, I so agree. And I think it’s not, but I love that you encompass like movement, nutrition, and psychology because it’s half the battle isn’t knowing what to do, it’s actually doing it and the things that are standing in your way that are stopping you from taking consistent action. Like we’re all human and every now and again, like, you know, you fall off the bandwagon or you make one decision that’s not in complete alignment with your goals and whatever move on, but it’s in terms of like being able to make really consistent action if you constantly are getting tripped up. Like there’s things to look at there, like you’re not broken, it doesn’t just not work for you. It’s that formula is off for this. Something that you have an uncovered for you as an individual,

Amy Needham 38:25  

But it sells right? Like if someone told you, you know, you you just keep messing up and this is the program that’s going to work and you know, that’s why people go back to Weight Watchers and things, it was like oh, I had a great body when I was on Weight Watchers. I’ll just go back to Weight Watchers, I’m gonna go back to my 1200 calories because that’s what works. Alright, that’s what works temporarily.

Natalie K. Douglas 38:42  

Yes. And we are so going to touch on this in a second because this topic fascinates me. Before we do, so I want to stay on this nutrition line of talking. So when it comes to fat loss nutrition, what do you think is the biggest mistake women make in particular?

Amy Needham 39:00  

Ah, okay, so we kind of mentioned this before, but as far as being the Queen’s of cauliflower and zucchini, the biggest mistake I think that women make is that they live in a deficit. So, this is going into more ooh, controversial but women I think from a young age are taught to minimize, reduce, in treating themselves. You know, diet magazines and dieting food and things like that is very much marketed at women. Your play.

Natalie K. Douglas 0:21  

I want to say what the, like was, there was more to it. And I always used to try and say it, but I can’t.

Amy Needham 0:28  

The only thing saying I know, it’s like how can I know the stuff.

Natalie K. Douglas 0:32  

Yeah. Yes, I always try and learn that once I Youtubed it for a few hours to try.

Amy Needham 0:38  

Well, exactly. It’s a good one, because it relates to tacos, so that’s why.

Natalie K. Douglas


Amy Needham

But basically, what happens when we do that is that we’re down-regulating our metabolic rate. So, our body kind of becomes into more of a survival mode. And just so I can’t find the exact terminology, I’m not gonna lose it completely for you guys. But it’s our body’s response to under-eating. So it’s going to naturally remove some of your body’s processes, or shrink the size of our organs, and lean, lean body mass to help accommodate for the fact that you aren’t eating enough. And when that then happens, if we make that biological adaptation to the energy restriction or dieting, it’s slowing down the metabolic rate, and to a greater extent then what’s kind of predicted by either physics or by maths alone, with we then, so it is there to help us. If we then follow that caloric restriction, with something like binge eating, or overeating, we kind of stressed the extracellular matrix about adipose tissues. That creates cell differentiation. So basically, we increase the number of fat cells that we have because our body has downregulated to adapt to the calories that we’re consuming when we when our body is happy, it doesn’t really care about how many fat cell numbers it has. It cares about the size of them. So it doesn’t matter how many fat cells you can, you can create, like, you can make as many as you want, you can continue to make them, you can’t ever lose them. So if we’ve come from this chronic restriction, and we we’re kind of set up in a position to gain more body fat, if we’re adding calories quite quickly. So when that fat cell size goes back to normal of what it was like before we were dieting, that’s when our body will be in a more of a kind of homeostasis or balanced state, the fat cells that we have, they’re the ones that control to hormones, which are like a hunger and satiety, so our leptin and our ghrelin. So the lower the leptin we have, which is when we’re dieting, the more ghrelin we have, so the more hunger we have. So you’re putting yourself in a really poor position, you’re in a position where you have greater potential to store body fat. And then your hunger hormones are actually increased as well. So the position you’re in at the end of dieting isn’t the best, especially if you’re going to then jump on to quite a lot of high calories because like, yay, like diet over, summer came, it’s going to be eat my feelings, like, it’s not ideal, but because all we kind of really know is this MyFitnessPal 1200 calories. If I can say with a brand.

Natalie K. Douglas

Yes, you can.

Amy Needham

Or even F45 1200 calories, those kind of things are setting people up to fail. So the more we diet, the more we are predisposed to gaining more body fat because we create more body fat cells. 

Natalie K. Douglas 3:45  

Hmm. Well, that sucks that we can’t get rid of them doesn’t it?

Amy Needham

I know right?

Natalie K. Douglas

Sorry, everyone. So, if someone has Yo-yo dieting and calorie-restricted for years, because I can think of, you know, a dozen patients, at least that would fall into this category. And I, I dare say, I would have I mean, I had an eating disorder for like a good decade, and I would, I reckon I’d fall into that category. So what like, what happens in that instance? If someone’s done that? So obviously, you’re saying that the fat cell now weight number increases?

Amy Needham 4:26  

Yes, the number increases? Yep.

Natalie K. Douglas 4:28  

So we accumulate all of the, all of these fat cells, does it make it impossible for these people to lose weight, or can we still create that change, but we have to use a different tactic?

Amy Needham 4:41  

They can still create the change. And then obviously, the tactics that we use, so that’s why I keep cardio towards them on the back end, because it’s kind of like a last line of a result, but it’s done so you’re more of a smart kind of programming or dieting wise, so if it was like, this is why I’ve taken a lot of reverse diet clients. And when someone comes to me, they’re like, oh, you know, I really want to diet down. But, you know, can we can we start dieting now? And they’re on hey, 1400 calories when they come to me and I’m like, how long have you been on that for? And they are like, oh, like, a few months now, it’s not really happening like my body just doesn’t really seem to change, they kind of get surprised but one of the first things that I do is I reverse diet them. So I very gradually increase their calories. Without the, hopefully to, for lack of a better word but so the body doesn’t really know what’s going on. So we have more of a gauge of what our lean body mass is, and if I increase it it’s going to be slowly, so it might only start if they’re being calorie dieting, or really low for a while might be start and increasing them by 75 calories, if it’s that bad. And then maybe at 200 calories, and that might be every seven to 10 days that the calories increase. So which is kind of counterintuitive to what they expect is going to happen, they expect that I’m going to give them a miracle meal plan of their 1400 calories boosts, you know, bananas from caramelize, from nania. And like some healthy smoothies. 

Natalie K. Douglas 6:20  

But you can’t do that. 

Amy Needham 6:24  

There is no fat-free food. I’m sorry to everyone it’ll for you. But like, they think, like, why is she giving me more food, and then I, I basically want to increase the calories very slowly, without their body really taking note of what’s happening. And at most, they might gain 200 grams to 300 grams per calorie increase, which for the most part will just be fluid, if it’s carbohydrates, um, until they get to their perceived baseline. So there’s a baseline that everybody’s expected to have, or they have TDEE which is like your total daily energy consumption that you should be having. If someone’s well below that, I need to reverse that then to at least that perceived TDEE and hold them for a few weeks, before I even think of guiding them. So I’m kind of offsetting any potential or greater damage to increase that cell number or size, far reverse siding them up first.

Natalie K. Douglas

That makes sense. And, and I can imagine that, you know, that process can take some time. And that, you know, being patient with the process is important, because I’m just thinking, if you’ve got someone that’s been eating 1400 calories a day, and you’re needing to increase it gradually to their maintenance calories that might be like 2000 or 2200, or more than that even like that will take some time. So how like, I’m interested as a coach, like, how do you keep someone motivated during that time where perhaps, I mean, for some people, they might lose, like their body composition, like they change in a positive way. Some people they might not, but they’ll be eating heaps more, how do you help that person who isn’t one of the quote-unquote, lucky ones that loses body fat or like or their body composition changes in a really favorable way during a reverse diet? What, how do you support someone who, you know, they have to go through this process. Because it’s essentially the last option, but the frustration might be there, because they’re eating more and more and more, and they just want to be changing their body composition in like in terms of losing weight, like how do you support someone through that process? 

Amy Needham

Well, I think that education started like, I’m never going to bullshit someone like I’m never going to say like, look, only do 12 weeks we reverse diet you, get you shredded, everything like that, like I explained to them from start, like this is going to be a longer process, like my minimum that I take someone on is for 24 weeks, I need you to understand that it’s six weeks for new gut lining, it’s 18 months, the last cell in your body to die off with apoptosis. So your body’s set point is determined by how long you spend in in a certain caloric intake and your body, how long it’s maintained that body composition for. So if you’ve spent a large percentage of your life going up quite lean, and athletic, and the majority of the use of your life has been that way, you’ll be more likely to not really gain weight in your reverse diet. Now, if they have a pretty good sporadic rate, most of my clients lose weight in a reverse diet, or they at least maintain. So you know, you’re going to like the wind. But if you pre-frame them in like look, the more cell will allow you to gain is half a kilo and they’re like okay, cool. Well, if you can deal with half a kilo, but you get to eat more food, that’s kind of one goalpost. I think the other thing I like to focus on is this is the point where I want to focus on progressive overload and like show me, show me that the calories I’m giving you can equate to an extra 10 kilos on your score or can allow you to do a pull-up or you know a big one and this is kind of the one I smashed on Instagram quite a lot is that libido. I’m like, you know, I want you to report back to me that you are having the most amazing like relationships and your player’s Jackson. You know, because that’s the big thing. And like one of the big things that people don’t really take notice of they’re like, oh, well, I look okay, like, my mental health is fine. And, you know, my partner’s happy. I’m like, okay, cool, like, and I’ll get to VMI with him. I’m like, so how’s your sex life like? 

Natalie K. Douglas 10:29  

Yeah. So I’m Amy and how’s your sex life?

Amy Needham 10:32  

Oh, it’s so sad. It’s like, and I’ll be like, so how many times a day you’re pooping? Like they they joke at me because I’m actually, I will ask them and like, did you poop this morning? Did you, like or like, how’s your date night? Like, I really want to know, but it’s something that’s not talked about enough and it is kind of something which is, I forgot the words but basically, it’s not spoken about enough. And women should have like cyclical abyss, like with their cycle but they should be able to have a jacked libido at points. Now what I find with a lot of the women that I do reverse cycle is I want to also check their happiness. And then because they don’t realize what carbs can do but.

Natalie K. Douglas 11:19  

I definitely understand.

Amy Needham 11:24  

But when they start to get happy for no reason I was like, like this is what I want you to expect. I want you to feel so you can you feel like running for no reason. Like you’ve got so much energy that if someone asks you to like, hey, dreamy, guy, like kick the footy in the in the park, but you’re all of a sudden up for it, you’re no longer that grumpy sour person.

Natalie K. Douglas 11:43  

No dressing on the side, please. I actually I’m that person.

Amy Needham 11:51  

But I would be that too, like for a long time, like competing for things as well. And like, I would have had like, and this is why I can kind of relate to the girls that I do reverse cycle, I would have no emotion at all, like if something good happens, just so bad happen. There’s nothing but you also want to feel so that you can be happy for no reason like and just enjoy your days and you can be more loving, and you all of a sudden, you’re the person who actually gives hugs when you wouldn’t have in the past. 

Natalie K. Douglas


Amy Needham

But like that kinda go post that people don’t, that’s what makes a quality life and those kind of things to get those clients to focus on, like their mood and their happiness and the energy and how strong they can be and how high their libido can get, you know, and how much food they can have like, all of a sudden, they can go out with their friends and actually enjoy a meal rather than going home to have the chicken and broccoli, like, their calories are a lot higher, and it gives them more of a bank and the fact that their body composition isn’t really changing, but the calories are increasing. It’s kind of a win for them in that case and like, oh, because the ones who do it the worst, are actually the lean ones. And the ones who have the most messed up got a generally the people who’ve been chronically restricting their calories as well.

Natalie K. Douglas 13:05  

Yeah, that’s definitely been my experience with clients as well. And I think, you know, it’s, it’s also about getting out, like, just realizing that how putting things into perspective, like how long have you felt like this or been doing this and recognizing that, like, for me, for example, not specifically related for fat loss, but for a lot of the thyroid and gut patients that I treat. I asked them, like how long have you been feeling this way and been suffering from a lot of these different issues and symptoms, and for so many of them, it’s rarely just a few months, it’s years, It feels like that and I just have to say, you know, it’s not realistic to think that in one week’s time, oh, that’s going to be gone like we have to give your body a little bit more like time and patience than that and recognize that you know, you will feel better along the way along this journey but you can’t expect to reverse years of this, you know not feeling this way or treating your body maybe not the way that it should have been treated even though we’re all just doing the best we can at each time but it’s not just going to turn around overnight and I really dislike any messages that you know, I mean fat loss, fat loss is an easy example where they just like eight weeks, you know whatever. And I think it’s it’s dangerous because it sets people up for being angry and disconnected from their body and I think that that is a huge problem in itself like your body is always doing its best to protect you including when it stops you from losing body fat because it’s down-regulated your metabolism. 

Amy Needham


Natalie K. Douglas

And the more you’re angry at your body and feel betrayed like I feel like on some level like the less likely it is to do what you want. And, I just yeah, that’s been my experience as well. 

Amy Needham 15:01  

Like a negative mindset can never bring a positive result. 

Natalie K. Douglas 15:06  

Nailed it. Line of the podcast. I love it. Actually, it was probably.

Amy Needham

Really? Loving the pooping one, right?

Natalie K. Douglas

No. No. It was that’s a regular talk for me, it was it was venue stung the taco line.

Amy Needham 15:22  

Okay, taco line. So, it’s gonna be it. 

Natalie K. Douglas

I’m just gonna be honest. No.

Amy Needham

Well, maybe that could be out. That could be, it’s like you get more food, but you get to keep your body like.

Natalie K. Douglas 15:31  

Yes. They have to be incorporated into like your business model or something.

Amy Needham 15:38  

Oh, yeah. 

Natalie K. Douglas

Oh, so, funny, you should dress up as a taco too.

Amy Needham 15:44  

With my enzymes like people go outside.

Natalie K. Douglas 15:46  

Yes. Okay, we’re probably the only one laughing but.

Amy Needham


Natalie K. Douglas

So in turn, like I really want to touch on as well, training and eating in relation to someone’s cycle because I think this is something that fascinates me and, like shocks me that women don’t know anything about like they do not realize and I’ve made it, made it a point, I think in the last three podcasts I recorded that have we’ve talked about hormones at all to try and get different people to talk about this. And I’m really interested to hear your opinion on how you approach this with women. So maybe let’s start with the training side of things. So throughout a cycle, how do you change people’s training regime?

Amy Needham 16:29  

Okay, so I love that. I don’t know if you’re seeing when I got my period back after 60 years this is a big event. So I love talking periods. So this is good. And so.

Natalie K. Douglas 16:39  

Period, pooping, sex.

Amy Needham 16:43  

Period, pooping, sex, and I also tell food. I ask what food competence all the time so.

Natalie K. Douglas


Amy Needham

Okay, so if I’m looking at like, alpha molecular, or I could say menses and stuff there. So when we have kind of our menses or I believe, I’m focusing a lot more like blood flow work. This is if the client wants to follow a structure in alignment with their cycles, obviously, they don’t have to. If that is an option given. So you know, it might be more of the strongman work as well, but you’re just looking for that that flow movement and might be 70 to 75% of their max weight. Obviously, if they’re doing yoga, or same would definitely with certain versions sort of things. If they’re coming to their follicular phase or like their extrovert kind of time. So with that increase in estrogen, we’re actually more insulin sensitive. So we have improved insulin sensitivity it’s just fantastic for if we’re going into the intensification phase, which is what I would refer to as that strength focus with the lower reps. So they’re two weeks there, if I was doing a fortnightly, undulating program, they might do two weeks of strength, and focusing on hitting really big numbers their but low rep ranges. Because they have that increased insulin sensitivity and might give them more carbs, and also more protein to help that recovery from the heavier loads that they’re lifting. When we talked about, I kind of mentioned before, but like our adrenal receptors don’t really need to know much about, this sounds, but alpha and beta receptors on our cell sites and they respond to cytokines or our stress kind of response. So in our follicular phase, it’s harder to mobilize fat. So this is where I might incorporate because they can recover well, I might incorporate HIIT, if I were to do it because that allows us to mobilize stubborn body fat. When we then get to ovulation, we know we have that peak kind of strength and we can we can perform really well in the gym. So this might be where I set a target for them to actually hit strength-wise when I look at them like they have luteal phase, so they’re kind of introvert time. It’s easier. So our alpha receptors, as one of our receptors have downregulated, and our beta upregulated. What this means is it is easier to mobilize stubborn body fat. So because this is you, as I said before, like you might want to add in your runs here, you might do more lifts or miss, like low intensity and moderate intensity, because we’re going to naturally be able to get our blood flow into our standard body fat site. Whereas in our follicular phase, it’s a little bit harder to get that blood flow going there and where there isn’t blood flow there it’s obviously harder to mobilize any stored energy in that area. So the luteal phase might be more high rep ranges or like an accumulation phase. But because we have that decreased estrogen, we might look at getting like a lower-carb amount but because of the increase in metabolic rate, with higher progesterone. I’ve occasionally given someone so because it’s like 3 to 5%, I might have given them 1 to 300 calories at night from like berries or dark chocolate open on or something to help with their cravings. And also because they kind of have that before bed. I don’t, it doesn’t matter, but I at least pre-warn them that it’s going to be harder to start a dieting phase in a luteal phase of their cycle. And because they, so estrogen being like a carrier of the serotonin to our brain, like if they are a little bit sadder, or moodier, or anything in their luteal phase, I might suggest things like going to get the seratonin kind of from the outdoors or going for ocean swims, or least outdoors, just so they can actually naturally get that serotonin release from there but because it is easier to mobilize body fat, that’s when I’ll look at getting them to do more release here. They could do higher calories if they wanted in their luteal phase for two weeks, but keep it low carb. And then they could do low calories, but high carb in their molecular phase but you will find that everyone’s kind of individual. I have done two exciting two weeks of baseline calories with clients with a gut floor and she really enjoyed it. But like you said like not everyone wants to take that extra detail. And some people just want to get in and get it done. And they don’t want to prep for two weeks and then prep something different in the next two weeks. But it really depends on the client.

Natalie K. Douglas 21:27  

Yeah, I and I really, I really like the idea of working with our cycle though, because I also think it helps teach women to tune in more, instead of just like, I feel like it’s almost a stepping stone to being really intuitive. Like it’s it’s kind of where that kind of hand-feeding what you should be looking for and how you should be responding. And they notice how that makes them feel better. And you know, over time, they can see the effect that it has on them. The one thing I wanted to quickly clarify which I realized I did it before was for those people that are listening that are like, what is LISS, can you tell them what it is and give a couple of examples.

Amy Needham 22:10  

Okay, so LISS is low-intensity steady state. So it would be about 65 to 70 at most. More like 65% of your max heart rate, our max heart rate is, if you want to do the calculation of heart, it’s 220 take your age, that’s your max heart rate. If you divide that by 100 and times it by 65. That’s how many beats per minute you would want your heart rate at during a low-intensity steady state kind of movement. Now, this could be riding a bike, going for a walk, rollerblading, if you really want, that’s what I’m kind of getting to.

Natalie K. Douglas 22:47  

Oh, damn that sounds fun.

Amy Needham 22:49  

Yeah, before the stacks, like I don’t know if the stacks don’t count.

Natalie K. Douglas

Sure, yeah, of course.

Amy Needham

It can be cross-training. It could be swimming. So whatever it is, you just want it’s it’s it’s kind of like a heart rate rep range of 65% of your max heart rate. Whereas like you’re looking at, like 80, or like 90% of your max heart rate if you’re doing more of a HIIT. Yeah, so it the way that kind of works. And this is why I talk about alpha and beta receptors and things is because certain rep ranges of our heart rate increase, obviously, our stress hormones and stress response that can allow stored body fat to be mobilized. But low intensity, like LISS and things is actually where we oxidize that stubborn body fat or released energy. So this is why as well like someone who runs all the time and becomes more skinny fat, they don’t necessarily lose a lot of body fat, they just lose a lot of size or muscle because they can’t quite get into those stored body fat amounts, or they just mobilize it but they don’t actually burn it off.

Natalie K. Douglas 23:52  

Gotcha. That makes sense. So interesting. It’s all so interesting. And I’m, I’m really excited to hear. Everyone would probably have some follow up questions which we can maybe get you back on for but I actually before we get too close to the end, I have two more questions for you. One is if you could change one to three things about the fitness industry, what would you change? Assuming that you have all of the money and all of the support in the world?

Amy Needham 24:21  

Okay, so if I could do, so there’s a big divider, I’d say between kind of what health practitioners want and what fitness professionals want. And so what I find is a it’s either there’s people who I do what I say don’t do what I do, kind of fitness people. And Intagram is kind of heavily around with people who believe that it’s a look. Like it’s very aesthetics focus, like you have to have abs to be fit, you have to eat egg white or the opposite. Like you can eat donuts all day and you can still have shredded abs. And, you know, like, this is just how I look naturally. I woke up like this, but I’ve, the people who are the worst for these are also the ones who are not natural. And they’re giving this idea to the general population that it’s okay to do this and that you will get a fantastic result out of it. Like if you just follow my program, which I don’t actually do myself if you just eat from my nutrition that I don’t actually eat myself, you know, if you just take this whey protein, which, by the way, I don’t do because everything I’ve got is laced with some extra.

Natalie K. Douglas 25:33  

With some extra.

Amy Needham 25:36  

Yeah, then that’s like, it’s false advertising. And that’s probably the biggest thing that I have a big issue with. And a lot of the like, I will refuse to be sponsored by anyone, like, I’m not going to get Invisalign and be like, hey, guys, dental checks, you know, right? Kind of get, I mean, someone could mock my teeth now. They’re like, you know what you need them. But I’m also not going to inject melanotan and say that this is how I look because I live a healthy lifestyle, because Australia is known for being 10 but we know no, they aren’t so.

Natalie K. Douglas

Debatable as the years go on.

Amy Needham 26:14  

This is true. But I think what is marketed isn’t actually what is true health. So you kind of to balance between it’s like no, some people genetically will not have abs shown, even if they are 15 or 12% of body fat. And, you know, some people can be completely healthy, and not look aesthetically the way you’d expect them to. I’ve seen some of the worst blood results ever from some of the people who looked the most aesthetically pleasing. Some of the people with biggest neurological disorders or mental health issues yet looked their best. So I think there needs to be like a kind of bridging the gap between the two and finding that common ground, which I think is starting to happen more. So if it was and there’s only other thing as well, like we spoke guys, I don’t want to retain clients. So if I were to change the industry, if I was given millions of dollars, it would be more an education platform or a system, or a program that the general population can do to learn not to be coach, but to actually learn how their body works.

Natalie K. Douglas 27:24  

Yeah, yeah, I can see it now. It’ll be great. And they can pay you in tacos.

Amy Needham  27:29  

Exactly. But I totally have it’s gonna be a taco.

Natalie K. Douglas 27:33  

I really love that. And I, I feel like yeah, all of those are such valid things. I actually thought if you don’t mind, I have one more question because it’s something that we’ve talked about on the podcast before. And I find it a really interesting thing to to contemplate. It’s this idea of there seems to be these two camps where there’s one that says you, if you love your body, you can’t want to change how it looks. And then the other camp that say, like, like the opposite basically, it’s kind of like you either love your body and you don’t want to make any changes to it, or if you want to make changes to it, then it means that you don’t love your body. And I think people can feel really confused and conflicted by this especially if they’re working really hard at loving themselves and their body and feeling comfortable and confident in their skin. They can feel like oh, I can’t possibly want to make any changes to the way this looks. What are your thoughts on that? And have you ever struggled with that yourself?

Amy Needham 28:41  

Yeah, definitely. Like I’m, like, I do a lot of like positive self-esteem stuff and then people will be like, oh, you’re just conceited. But I think like I, I competed for a long time, but I didn’t compete because I wanted to change my body. I competed because I wanted to push my body physically, mentally, emotionally to see what it was capable of. Now, I was a gymnast growing up. So I I watched a lot of snicket and nasty look in and like, oh might add us. I did. I’ve once fallen asleep in the slits because I was so determined to get there, and like I would make my dad filled me in trapeze and like I’d have ice baths and things. So I appreciate very much more of an athlete perspective. So I love the challenge of competing in fitness because it meant for the one I did was IPB it meant I had to do gymnastics routine, as well as do physique changes and things like that. So for me, I was like at least I can demonstrate my strength and I can demonstrate my sporting ability on top of just a physique now, I think if it comes from a positive mental approach, and it’s not focused hundred percent on aesthetics, but it’s focused on how your body feels but then I think your healthiest body is the one that you allows you to be healthy and move and have a great range of motion. It allows you to have a menstrual cycle if you came out. And for male and female allows you to have like a high libido. It’s the one that allows you to eat with your family and friends in moderation of like, the less nutrient-dense, the highly palatable foods, it’s, you know, it’s the one that continually gets stronger or focusing on that progressive overload. I think if it comes from a positive mental state, I think the same thing can be said for anyone who gets not that I like it but if they’re getting any kind of change in their body, like say Botox or lip filler or anything like that, if it’s from a positive standpoint, and their mindset is in the right place, and they genuinely enjoy the way they look already. And they just want to enhance their natural features. And or they just wanted to see what they capable of in a fitness protocol, and push their their mindset or their push their mental capabilities. And that is fine. If it’s coming from the I lose myself and I need to improve or no one will love me unless I do this. I don’t think that’s okay. 

Natalie K. Douglas 31:10  

Yeah. I so agree. And I think the one thing I’d close that out with saying is that you’re the only one that knows the answer to that, like people will be so quick to judge you, no matter which way you choose to turn. And the only, like the only person that knows where the motivation to make any changes coming from is you and that’s the only person you need to worry about. Even though it’s hard, I just think that that’s something I really encourage people to, to remember. A little time and I really want to get my last question out. So I’m going to squeeze it in here, which is, what is something you’re loving right now that’s improving your health. So it can be either improving your health physically or emotionally or mentally or spiritually, what’s just something that is floating your boat?

Amy Needham 31:59  

Okay, so I love the ocean. So that’s always going to be near, the ocean, but there’s actually, well meditation and I think always shaped with meditation. And I’ll be like, five minutes, I actually did my yoga TGC and we had to do an hour of meditation that probably almost killed me. But I can do five minutes, I can do seven minutes. So any kind of meditation apps I have, but probably one of the biggest things is there’s. I’m trying to think exactly the name is but one of my apps is like a gratitude up. Yeah, but I really like it because I’m quite visual. So you set the date and you put what you’re grateful for. And it gives you kind of like cues of like what you can think of like, you know, who did I help today, or someone I admire the best part of today was, a reason to be excited about future, etc. But then you get to pick a photo. So it’s a free app. So it means that every entry that you have in your little diary has a photo. So you know, we’re quite a photo kind of culture. So if you’ve got like, it could be an amazing meal that you had that day, or it could be a quote that you’ve screenshot, and you could add that to your gratitude kind of love. And I think, yeah, that’s one of my favorites, because it allows you to focus on like, you know, we’re very easy, especially if you’re like me, and you’re quite perfectionist, but focus on the things you didn’t get done, or the things you haven’t achieved yet, or what went wrong. Whereas having kind of the gratitude journal, not only allows you to set like the affirmations like your own but allows you to focus on what you’re grateful for.

Natalie K. Douglas 33:29  

Oh, I love that. Well, I will find the name of that later and pop it in the show notes for people because that sounds delightful. And thank you so much for spending this time with us and educating us on so much stuff. I am sure as I said, people will have way more questions that they’re interested in. Before we do wrap up, where can people find more information about you or just hear what you have to say more?

Amy Needham 34:02  

So I like writing and I kind of find it hard to limit it on Instagram but on Instagram I would be @NeedMFit so need and then the letter M for mom, and then fit for fitness. I will also give a link to set up to jump onto my mailing list. So, I’m in the process now of launching my website with all of my blogs because I like to write which will be www.NeedMFit.com. But I also do weekly emails on a Tuesday, and sometimes a rant but most of the time is educational.

Natalie K. Douglas 34:38  

Will take whatever you send. 

Amy Needham

They will need to talk about some libido and some poo so.

Natalie K. Douglas 34:45  

Beautiful, that’s my kind of talk. I will pop the link to that in the show notes for anyone that would love to sign up to that and we can follow you on Insta and yeah, thank you.

Amy Needham 34:58  

Thank you. Thank you so much.

Outro 35:01  

Thanks for tuning in to The Holistic Nutritionists Podcast. Remember, we love to make the show relevant to you. If you have any questions or topics you’d like us to discuss, just submit them to [email protected] and we’ll get them answered for you. Also, don’t forget to subscribe, rate, and review the podcast on iTunes and share it with your friend. And if you’re looking for more info about how we can accelerate your journey to your optimal health, you can find me, Nat, over at NatalieKDouglas.com, and Kate, at TheHolisticNutritionist.com. See you next time!



The Holistic Nutritionists Podcast - with Natalie K. Douglas and Kate Callaghan

Welcome to The Holistic Nutritionists Podcast!

If a professional, polished, well-edited podcast is what you’re after…then we’re not for you!

But if you love unfiltered banter, unedited bloopers and authentic heart sharing then we are your ladies.

We also have the most practical tips on holistic and alternative health care too 😉

Have a question that you want answered on the podcast or want to be interviewed? Get in touch!


Natalie K. Douglas | Thyroid Healer

Natalie K. Douglas | Thyroid Healer

Natalie K. Douglas ("Nat") is a Holistic Dietitian and Nutritionist dedicated to Thyroid, gut and hormone healing.

Nat shows stressed, burnt out, overwhelmed women how to value their worth again, change their mindset habits, prioritize healing, and reclaim their vitality. Guaranteed.

Her clients say she’s the right girl to see if you’ve tried the conventional approach and nothing has worked.

Kate Callaghan | The Holistic Nutritionist

Kate Callaghan | The Holistic Nutritionist

Kate Callaghan is a Holistic Nutritionist, Personal Trainer and Lifestyle Coach who specializes in women's hormone healing.

She recognizes that there is no “one size fits all” diet or “magic bullet” which is going to cure all illnesses.

She focuses on having a thorough understanding of your personal goals, needs, likes/dislikes, support networks and lifestyle in order to create a food and lifestyle approach that suits YOU.


Amy Needham | Nutrition & Performance Coach

Amy Needham | Nutrition & Performance Coach


Amy is a Nutrition & Performance Coach. She currently lectures and mentors in Performance Nutrition to a variety of people across the world including doctors. Amy sees clients both online and face to face, with most of these clients looking for body transformations & a mental shift in regards to health.

Amy was a competitive gymnast for 10years, and has several qualifications in yoga, massage, Powerlifting, Women's artistic gymnastics, boxing, Cert iii and 4 in fitness & personal training along with mentorships in exercise sport science & physiology as well as female health. This legend of a fellow nerd is also a student in a bachelor of Health Science in Nutrition & Masters in Dietetics.

Her focus as a coach is upon improving the lives of all that she meets, creating a body & mind transformation. Working specifically with hormonal health and the psychology of eating to create lifestyle based body recomposition to maintain a lean & strong physique year round is her jam.

As Amy puts it - she bridges the Gap between Health & 'Fitness' to dispel the bullshit & give knowledge to the masses. Her point of difference as a coach is that she doesn’t want to retain clients - she simply wants to create the physical change in a way that educates the person enough to go about it alone after they finish up.


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