Shelby of Fit As A Mama Bear: “Find A Bulletproof De-Stress Technique”

Find A Bulletproof De-Stress Technique: one of the main causes of weight problems is stress! Stress can come in a lot of forms, and you need a way to manage it both acutely (in the moment) as well as long term. It could be as simple as learning some new breathing techniques or putting on […]

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Find A Bulletproof De-Stress Technique: one of the main causes of weight problems is stress! Stress can come in a lot of forms, and you need a way to manage it both acutely (in the moment) as well as long term. It could be as simple as learning some new breathing techniques or putting on an uplifting song when you need it. However, from a long-term perspective you either need to figure out how to eliminate or significantly reduce the stressor.

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So many of us have tried dieting. All too often though, many of us lose 10–20 pounds, but we end up gaining it back. Not only is yo-yo dieting unhealthy, it is also demoralizing and makes us feel like giving up. What exactly do we have to do to achieve a healthy body weight and to stick with it forever?

In this interview series called “5 Things You Need To Do To Achieve A Healthy Body Weight And Keep It Permanently” we are interviewing health and wellness professionals who can share lessons from their research and experience about how to do this.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Shelby.

Shelby is a strength & Nutrition Coach and the person behind the blog Fitasamamabear.com. As a mom of three young girls and coach for the past ten years, Shelby now strives to make fitness and healthy living practical for busy moms. By sharing her knowledge and the resources on her website, Shelby helps busy moms get fit, happy and healthy.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Most people believe that personal trainers naturally grow up athletic and in sports clubs. For myself, this wasn’t the case. In fact, I’ve never been on a sports team in my life and by seventeen I couldn’t run around the block without huffing and puffing!

I started smoking at an early age and by twenty I was smoking just under a pack each day and lived off frozen meals. There was no big “aha” moment for me, just a desire to be stronger. I didn’t jump into the lifestyle with an all or nothing mindset. Instead, I worked bit by bit and day by day. I started out following workouts in print magazines (and doing them completely wrong!) and slowly adding healthier foods into my diet. After a year or so of trial and error I decided I wanted to get certified as a Personal Trainer in order to understand the best path to my goals. That led to me getting certified as a Strength & Conditioning Specialist and helping others achieve their goals for the past decade.

Once I had my first daughter, I started pushing myself even harder in my goals for strength and health. Now, as a mom of three, my girls love being in the gym with me everyday as they truly believe that being strong is FUN.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

Long before I was a trainer, I was a restaurant manager. Late nights, lots of cigarettes and a lazier lifestyle. My first year into working out, I began to really dislike what I was doing with my life.

I noticed a gym in my area was hiring and sent a very emotional email to the manager. Instead of a “pitch”, I literally told them that I had started working out, really enjoyed it and currently hated my job. It ended along the lines of “please fix my life”.

The manager actually replied to the email and had me come in to chat. He helped me get started on getting my first personal trainer certification and brought me onboard to the gym after I did! It was the most random (and slightly pathetic) email I have ever sent, and it made all the difference. He took a chance meeting me and it forever changed my path.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

About four years into my personal trainer journey, I was working at a boutique studio as a coach as well as the administrative manager. More often than not, I worked alongside one of the investors of the studio who already had a big name in the training world. He had been coaching body builders and elite sports athletes for a decade with a specialty in sports nutrition.

The more I worked with him the more I became enthralled with all the possibilities of elite coaching. It was him who recommended I get certified as a Strength Coach as well as a Nutrition Coach through Precision Nutrition.

After two years of working together I branched out on my own and ended up working alongside my mentor coaching figure competitors. There has never been a person I have learned more from or who has pushed me harder in my knowledge. The hours I spent alongside him were invaluable to my career and took me from an average trainer to a true coach.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

Having spent a lot of time coaching figure competitors my mindset was frequently on following a meal plan to the tee so that I could look a certain way. This definitely gave good results, but it was a lot of work. After having my first babe, the last thing I wanted was a meal plan.

Instead, I stopped focusing on how my tummy looked and started focusing on getting really strong so that I could carry and keep up with her.

The irony was that the more I focused on strength and not aesthetics, the better I looked! By “quitting” I learned that shifting your perspective to performance and using food as fuel (choosing quality foods) gives better results than constantly restricting or trying to be lean with food choices. It’s far more enjoyable too!

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

“Don’t put in half the effort unless you’re okay with half the results.”

Motivation may be what gets you started, but it’s rarely what keeps you going. We all lose our motivation. But dedication to your goals will pull you through. Serious goals take hard work and consistency. I love the quote because frequently, your results are a direct reflection of your hard work. So, if you have big goals make sure you’re putting in an equal amount of effort.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

In 2017 I launched my health and fitness website Fitasamamabear.com. Since then, I’ve made it a personal goal to help make fitness PRACTICAL for busy moms. While I provide a lot of mini workout demos on the website, I’m currently revamping my YouTube channel for my moms to include more follow along workouts.

I think that even with the best of written programs, it can be hard to get them done. Having someone on screen showing you what to do and with you from start to finish can be a lifesaver.

And because my audience is moms of littles, I keep the workouts pretty short as well as practical. Most moms are not ready to start doing burpees and jumping lunge intervals. These workouts are a variety of no equipment, resistance bands and low-impact dumbbell options.

I want to show moms that a ten-minute workout is better than no workout and I truly believe these videos will help with that.

For the benefit of our readers, can you briefly let us know why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field?

I obtained my very first personal training certification in 2009 and have been coaching clients since 2010. Since then, I’ve become certified with the NSCA as a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (2013) as well as a Sports Nutrition Coach (Precision Nutrition) and have worked with clients from all backgrounds.

In the last ten years, I have coached woman with a variety of goals from competing in their first figure competition to preventing osteoporosis. I have worked around chronic inflammation, kidney transplants and eight-month travel schedules.

Like any good coach I place an emphasis on constantly learning and completing new courses each and every year. Health and fitness has been my primary focus for the last decade and I’m excited to see where the next one takes me!

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about achieving a healthy body weight. Let’s begin with a basic definition of terms so that all of us are on the same page. How do you define a “Healthy Body Weight”?

Truth be told, a healthy body weight to me is less about the actual number on the scale and more about your body! A healthy weight would be one in which it is easily maintained, you’re able to physically do the things you enjoy and are free from any medical concerns. Keep in mind that with this definition, there is no one perfect number or even equation.

How can an individual learn what is a healthy body weight for them? How can we discern what is “too overweight” or what is “too underweight”?

The standard for healthy weight is currently measured using BMI (body mass index). However, this equation doesn’t take into account your muscle to fat ratio. Given that having more muscle than fat on your frame is going to improve your health markers, the standard is inadequate.

Instead, have your body fat percentage calculated by a professional using calipers (this is the most accurate way). Knowing your body fat to muscle ratio is a better way to determine if you are underweight or overweight.

Keep in mind that body fat percentages are all relative. Meaning, what is healthy for a woman at age 20–30 might not be healthy for a woman who is 50–60.

This is why basing your game plan solely on a number can be misleading. It’s always best to look at the bigger picture of how you feel, how you perform and what your bloodwork is telling you.

This might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to expressly articulate this. Can you please share a few reasons why being over your healthy body weight, or under your healthy body weight, can be harmful to your health?

Both extremes can have their risks. This is why it’s so important to focus not just on your body weight but on other markers as well.

Being too underweight can cause issues with hormonal imbalance, especially the reproductive hormones. Women who are severely underweight can experience the loss of their period (amenorrhea) which can eventually lead to decreased bone density. It can also cause vitamin deficiencies, growth problems and a feeling of chronic fatigue.

Both being underweight or overweight can result in a loss of muscle mass. This can lead to a weakened immune system and a greater risk of getting sick.

On the other side, being overweight is one of the leading causes of cardiovascular disease. Being severely overweight will impact your hormones and how the body regulates itself. It will affect your ability to perform day to day tasks. And of course, it is the precursor for diseases like type two diabetes.

In contrast, can you help articulate a few examples of how a person who achieves and maintains a healthy body weight will feel better and perform better in many areas of life?

Maintaining a health bodyweight isn’t just about looking better. In fact, there are so many other benefits! You’ll have an easier time of playing with your kids because you’ll have the stamina to do so.

Many people experience more energy and sleep better when at their ideal bodyweight (which go hand in hand).

You’re able to continue to do the things you love as you age. There’s also less stress on your body and on your skeletal system. Which means you’re also helping prevent things like osteoporosis.

Ok, fantastic. Here is the main question of our discussion. Can you please share your “5 Things You Need To Do To Achieve a Healthy Body Weight And Keep It Permanently?”. If you can, please share a story or an example for each.

Find An Activity You Love & Do More Of It: You’re more likely to stay consistent to physical activity when you enjoy it! Thus, find something you truly love (hiking, cycling, yoga, weightlifting etc.) and do it frequently.

Focus On Eating MORE: When you’re first beginning your journey, don’t jump into the latest diet trend. Instead, focus on more: more protein, more veggies, more water. It’s easier to add items into your diet than remove them. Once you’ve got the basics down, then you can start tweaking.

Find A Bulletproof De-Stress Technique: One of the main causes of weight problems is stress! Stress can come in a lot of forms, and you need a way to manage it both acutely (in the moment) as well as long term. It could be as simple as learning some new breathing techniques or putting on an uplifting song when you need it. However, from a long-term perspective you either need to figure out how to eliminate or significantly reduce the stressor.

Prioritize Sleep: Sleep is when our bodies reset and rebalance. Unfortunately, many of us don’t make it a priority. Instead of just “catching some Zzzz’s” we need to focus more on quality sleep. Develop and stand by a good bedtime routine (like eliminating screens thirty minutes before bed). Try to go to bed at the same time every night. Deal with your stress before bed so that your body can focus on recovery. Sleep and bodyweight go hand in hand- don’t overlook it.

Reduce Processed Foods: While you’re unlikely to eliminate processed foods completely, scaling back is going to be to your benefit. Begin by making healthier swaps (water for soda is a great step) until the majority of your foods are from real, whole sources. The easiest way to do this is to learn to cook! Instead of relying on pre-made items, spend some time in the kitchen learning the basics. There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel or have something new every night of the week. However, being able to make your own food is a sure-fire way to reduce store-bought items.

The emphasis of this series is how to maintain an ideal weight for the long term, and how to avoid yo-yo dieting. Specifically, how does a person who loses weight maintain that permanently and sustainably?

The secret to maintaining a healthy weight is to enjoy what you’re doing. Most yo-yo diets fail because they’re very restrictive and no new habits are actually formed.

Instead, spend some time creating a way of eating that works for you, and you alone. Your diet should:

  • Provide fuel for your activities
  • Give you energy
  • Make you feel good

There’s no one perfect plan for everyone (we’re all unique), which means that our food choices will be too.

But at the end of the day, if you despise what you’re eating you won’t stick to it. It’s a bit of trial and error, and it definitely takes some effort but it’s worth it.

What are a few of the most common mistakes you have seen people make when they try to lose weight? What errors cause people to just snap back to their old unhealthy selves? What can they do to avoid those mistakes?

The biggest struggle for people who are trying to lose weight is that they see a deadline. They think “I just have to do this for thirty days, then I’m good”! But it’s about so much more than those thirty days.

This is why it’s so important to focus on finding a way of eating that you truly enjoy but still takes you towards your goals.

People also struggle to create new habits. It’s easy to go keto for a month and purchase all of your meals. However, what are you going to do afterwards? Unless you’ve learned to cook those kinds of meals it won’t work. Focus on the habit, not just the result.

Lastly, stress is often a trigger for most people to “fall off the wagon”. Adhering to new changes is easy when you have time and things are going well. But busy days and stressful situations are what make or break you. Have a game plan going in on how you’re going to deal with those situations. How are you going to eat healthy and make it work on busy days? What are you going to do when you come home from work super stressed? Answer those questions to set yourself up for better habits.

How do we take all this information and integrate it into our actual lives? The truth is that we all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?

One of my mentors used to always say “we know what to do. But, knowing isn’t doing”. And it’s true! We all know we should eat less sugar, change our habits and generally be healthier. And yet, many people don’t do any of the above.

And the truth is, it’s because it’s hard. Shifting habits, creating new ones, and staying dedicated long after your motivation runs out is a challenge.

It takes time for your taste buds to change. So, don’t expect to start liking healthy things all at once. Likewise, it takes time to get into new routines and fall in love with them.

We’re programmed for instant results. So, when it becomes hard and we don’t see anything immediate, we quit. Our mindset is our biggest obstacle.

On the flip side, how can we prevent these ideas from just being trapped in a rarified, theoretical ideal that never gets put into practice? What specific habits can we develop to take these intellectual ideas and integrate them into our normal routine?

The best thing you can do is take your time. “Healthy” isn’t a destination. Which means that every swap you implement makes a difference.

Our mind and bodies are programmed to choose the easiest route possible. So, start with one habit (whichever one you find easiest!), get it under your belt and then tackle another one.

Remember that the biggest thing that prevents us from taking action or maintaining momentum is our mindset. Spend time reminding yourself why you’re making these choices. Make note of the positive things you’re noticing and how you’re feeling. The little things matter.

Being healthy doesn’t need to be all or nothing.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I want people to focus on the simplicity of health instead of the complex aspects. Much of the time we place so much energy into all of the wrong things (like always being productive). If we use the age-old lesson of “you can’t walk before you can run”, we need to go backwards.

Focus on the simple stuff that we were made to do. Like moving more every day, resting when we need it, stressing less, and being outside.

It’s the simple things that we overlook, take for granted or don’t have a grasp on. Nail down those and we’d all be better off.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

Clearly that person is Dwayne Johnson! Never has there been someone more motivating or inspirational who truly believes anything is possible.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

I run the blog Fitasamamabear.com — a fitness and healthy living blog geared towards moms.

You can connect with me on my blog and get access to a plethora of fitness tips, workouts and recipes or you can catch me on my social channels @fitasamamabear as well.

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

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