Gaining confidence in your body: Kristine’s journey
This week, Kristine Gardner shares her personal journey to get more movement into her body and overcome the injuries that were holding her back.
A health and wellness coach, naturopath and trainer in her 50’s, Kristine knew she wasn’t moving enough despite her busy and active lifestyle, and as a result she experienced niggling pain throughout her body.
Kristine joins Michael Dermansky to discuss her experience of building confidence in her body through targeted exercise. It’s a journey that’s had a profound impact on her life.
CLICK HERE to read the full transcript from episode 5 of The Confident Body Show
Topics discussed in this episode:
- Why women underestimate how important it is to build strength in their body. (4:15)
- The key areas women in particular can benefit from strengthening their body. (6:00)
- How exercise and strength work can help to minimise pain. (16:40)
- The hidden benefits of lifting weights for women. (13:45)
- Why women in their fifties and even sixties are often stronger than women in their twenties and thirties. (22:30)
- Your goal may seem silly or small, but it’s not – it’s what’s important to you. It’s about getting confidence in your body so you can do great things as well as those small silly things. (2:20)
- Women underestimate how important it is to build strength in their body. We see a lot of very weak women for whom strength isn’t something they think they need to work on. And yet their lives are so different when they build it. (4:15)
- “It’s amazing that strength was something I hadn’t considered. But now that I have it I don’t want to ever give it up because it’s given me so much capability to do heaps of things that I couldn’t do before. I never understood what I didn’t have until I gained strength.” (5:00)
- Time and again we see women who are weak in the hips and pelvis and the upper body. You need those muscles to be strong to be able to lift and carry things. When women build strength, their lives change quite a lot. (6:00)
- “You have a moment when you remember, ‘oh actually that used to hurt, or be something I couldn’t do’. The benefits you get from this level of fitness and strength work sneak up on you.” (6:30)
- People forget when they’re in no pain. When you can once again do something, you forget that you couldn’t do it. People’s lives can change when they work on targeting their strength. (7:00)
- “When I came for the seven-week check-in and saw how much progress I’d made, that made me reflect on how much stronger I felt even at that point. I would’ve been happy with that, but a year or more on I’m so much further than that. After starting lifting weights, I was really proud of the fact I could lift a 20 kilogram bar. Every milestone is motivating. At the end of the 13 week program, I was really impressed with what I’d been able to achieve.” (8:00)
- “I know that the exercise I’m doing is absolutely targeted for me. I’ve had some pretty amazing results this year. You’ve got me lifting ridiculous weights now so I’m happy. It’s really good. I’m finding it really motivating all the time because I’ve come so far in that period of time that I’ve been working here.” (8:50)
- We tell people they need to be doing exercises for 13 weeks, minimum twice a week. They’re not random numbers. That’s how long it takes to get to the first stage of building muscle. Twice to three times a week is the load that your body needs to stimulate change. If you come in every so often you’re not going to see any difference. If you’re consistent with it over time and we progressively overload and do a little bit more, a little bit more, then you start to see change. (10:00)
- One of the biggest things over the last ten years is how important lifting weights has become, particularly for women in terms of bone density and maintaining muscle mass. Lifting heavier weights than they think they can lift has been a game-changer. We’ve seen changes in bone density. (13:45)
- People with pain can be afraid to move or do exercise. We know that exercise is part of the therapy. It’s not just the hands-on stuff. The exercise is how we’re going to make you able to do things despite pain. (16:40)
- We see a lot of people in their fifties and even sixties that are so much stronger than women in their twenties and thirties, because strength training is not something younger women do. They do a lot of high volume, high repetition stuff that does not load them up correctly and they just don’t get the outcomes. (22:30)
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Episode 5: Full Transcript
Hi, everyone and welcome to the show that helps you become more confident in your body, so you can keep doing the things that you love. I’m your host Michael Dermansky, senior physiotherapist and I have a special guest today, Christine Gardner.
She can introduce her qualifications but she’s been a customer of ours since about April of last year. I wanted to have a chat today about someone who’s worked on building confidence in their body and what that journey really looks and what it means in their life. Christine, welcome to the show.
All right. I’ll just get you [00:00:30] to introduce your background and what you do and then we’ll talk a little bit more about your journey.
Yeah, sure. I am a health and wellness coach and a naturopath and also a trainer, so I do a few things. I have a busy life as Michael knows, and I work really hard and I work at a desk most of the time. I guess I came here because I wasn’t moving enough. [00:01:00] I was walking, but I really wasn’t getting enough movement through my joints and body.
I had wanted to try Pilates for a long time. I’d done floor Pilates but I hadn’t tried Reformer but I also knew that I wanted targeted exercising and I looked around. I did lots of research because that’s what I do and landed on you guys. Yeah, and that’s why I ended up here because I really had niggly pain throughout my body from injuries and other things, but also I just knew [00:01:30] that I’m in my fifties, I needed to move my body more.
Right. I mean, I know you’ve answered this a little bit too, but where did you need to build more confidence in your body?
Look, I think around my overall flexibility. One of the things that I came in when I did the assessment was I wanted to be able to do a Downward Dog when I did yoga. That was my big thing and I wasn’t able to do that. I had always been able to touch my toes or do things like that but I just [00:02:00] lost that flexibility. It sounds like a really ridiculous thing because that was my marker for being able to be flexible enough to be able to move enough and have fluidity in my joints, I guess.
Right. I mean that’s your goal and that’s the whole thing, that no one has the same goals. And it may seem silly to you that you think that’s a small thing but it’s not, that’s what’s important to you.
And something else that’s silly to someone else, I think it’s a small thing but it’s important to them and that’s really where the confidence in your body’s [00:02:30] really important. So that you can actually do those great things and the silly things that you want to do with your life as well.
Absolutely. I think, it was about the Downward Dog but it was also if I could do that, then there were a lot of other things that I could do as well. As we’ve worked together, silly things have come up like not being able to kneel down to get to the bottom of the pantry. And we’ve worked on that and now I can kneel down and get to the bottom of the pantry, those kind of things. They sound seemingly nothingness but [00:03:00] they’re important things.
I know we’re looking back at this as well, but is there anything particular that you would’ve noticed, that you weren’t able to do with your life when we talk about pre-April last year, that you really wanted to? And then you look back now and say, “You know what, I should have been able to do that and I couldn’t do that with my life as well.”
Oh, so much. Down to really fine detail, that I can lift enormous amounts of weight now, which means that I can carry all the shopping in, instead of getting the boys to help. There’s a lot of [00:03:30] very day-to-day things that I can do but I’ve also got better strength. I’ve got better endurance. I’ve got better energy.
I really do attribute it to this because over the last year, it’s coincided with me being even busier at work which meant I couldn’t do the normal exercises that I did, which were walking predominantly and yoga. They went by the by and this stuck and I still feel more energized, more capable of doing things than I [00:04:00] really should be, in my opinion, given I’m not doing those other forms of movement.
Right. I mean, this could be a bias from my point of view but in terms of the strength thing, I mean, my biggest thing is that what you said that you couldn’t do those things. This is the difference where building strength is. I still see very strongly, women underestimate how important it is to build strength in their body. Men and women but particularly women, we see a lot of very weak women who are… Strength isn’t something [00:04:30] they think they need to do and yet their lives are so different when they build it.
Exactly. I guess it was always the gap in my… Not always, but over the last 10 or so years it’s been the gap in my movement. It was one of the appeals about coming here, because I did want targeted exercise and I knew I needed to have, no disrespect, but not just a Pilates class. I needed to come and do something that was specific to me and it ticked that box from the start which is why I’m still here.
[00:05:00] But yeah, and it’s amazing that strength was something I hadn’t considered. But now that I have it it’s like, I don’t want to ever give it up because it’s given me so much capability to do heaps of things that I couldn’t do before.
Well, I mean, how active was your life beforehand? I mean, I know you got more just now but you had a very active lifestyle as well.
Oh absolutely. I’ve got two kids and I run a business after hours and I work during the day. And then we’ve got sport all [00:05:30] through the week because of the kids and I walk the dog every day and I’ve got a social life. There’s a lot. It’s a busy, busy life and it is active. I say, “I work at a desk.” But I still move around all day. What parent doesn’t really?
But yeah, it was active and I considered myself pretty fit and healthy. I mean, I’m a naturopath and a health coach. I’m passionate about those things but I honestly it’s like you said [00:06:00] before, I don’t think I understood what I didn’t have until I had the strength, honestly.
Yeah. I mean, that’s again, a bias of mine as well but I see this story again and again and again with women as well like, “Oh, I’ll just go for a jog. I’ll go for a run and I’ll be fine.” Then we see these really, really weak women and particularly in the hips and pelvis and around the upper body. The story happens again and again and again, and then when there’s changes their lives change quite a lot.
[00:06:30] It’s so important because you need those muscles to be strong to be able to lift things, to be able to carry things. All the stuff we take for granted to think, oh, I can just do that. Well, you should be able to just do that but you need to be strong enough to be able to do that.
Well, I don’t know whether you recall the other day, I said to you something about, “Oh, I didn’t realize I hadn’t had pain.” I don’t even remember what it was but I said to you, “It suddenly occurred to me that I no longer had pain in one of those areas that I used to have pain in.”
That’s the thing that happens, isn’t it? You suddenly are [00:07:00] doing things and have a moment when you remember, oh actually that used to bother me or that used to be something I couldn’t do. It’s sneaks up on you, that level of fitness and strength that you do get from this kind of work.
Right. I mean, it’s interesting that you said that. I mean, I’ve seen this again quite a lot is where it’s very easy to forget. People forget when they’re in no pain, which is great. We want them to forget. That’s where we’re designed to that where when you can do something, you forget that you couldn’t do it. [00:07:30] And it’s really good to see that people’s lives can change when they work on targeting their strength and being better.
Let’s talk a little bit more about your journey about what’s happened. April, 2021 we started working together. Tell me how the processes felt for you. Not you just coming here but how that process of change has affected you at the very start, halfway through, more [00:08:00] now, how’s that whole system felt for you?
It’s always been exciting and I think that’s why I’m still coming all the time and otherwise you’d have no reason to get up early, early in the morning, I’m sure. But I get excited about initially it was when I had my assessment and all the numbers meant nothing to me when you do your assessment, but then you have your, I think, it’s a seven week-
Seven week. Yeah.
Check-in. I was really motivated as we always are when we first start something [00:08:30] like this. But when I came for the seven-week check-in and saw how much progress I’d made, and that made me reflect on how much stronger I felt even at that point. At that point I would’ve been happy, but a year or more on I’m so much further than that.
Every time you set me, when I started lifting weights, that did not start from the start. But when I started doing that and I was really proud of the fact I could lift a 20 kilogram [00:09:00] bar but and every milestone is motivating. That’s the first thing, that it’s motivating for me because I want to see it.
I love mowing the lawn because I can see the results so this, I can see the results because it’s measured, whereas with other things I can’t necessarily see the results. That’s been motivating all the way through. In terms of halfway through, I guess when I came to the end of the 13 week program, I was really impressed with [00:09:30] what I’d been able to achieve. But I’m really impressed with what you guys have been able to make happen for me and love the fact that it’s my program. If I’m here, it doesn’t matter whether I’m here with two or three other people, I’m doing my thing.
You’re doing your thing. Absolutely.
That’s gold for me, so I know that the exercise I’m doing is absolutely targeted for me and that motivates me as well. All along it’s been really easy to stay motivated with it and then I’ve [00:10:00] had some pretty amazing results this year. I went away for three weeks expecting to come back really weak and I wasn’t too much worse than I had been before I left. You’ve got me lifting ridiculous weights now so I’m happy. It’s really good. I’m finding it really motivating all the time because I’ve come so far in that period of time that I’ve been working here.
It’s interesting. I’ll parse it into two stages. I mean, first of all, you said, ” [00:10:30] At 13 weeks as well.” Because I mean, we talk about 13 weeks and it’s not a random number. 13 weeks is how long it takes for you to build up the first stage of the building of muscle. The first seven weeks of any exercise program, all that have really happens is your brain gets better connection into the nerves, so the nerves grow and they get more efficiency.
There’s no real change in actual muscle bulk, but the strength goes up and that’s how your body becomes more efficient and then it starts to grow muscle after that, too. Those time frames are not random, so when we tell people, “You [00:11:00] need to be doing exercises for 13 weeks, minimum twice a week as well.” They’re not random numbers. That’s how long it takes for the body to grow and make change.
Second of all, the numbers are twice a week to three times a week is the load that your body needs to stimulate change. If you come in every once, every so often you’re not going to see any difference. I see that too where, “Oh, I’ll come in every couple weeks.” Or they miss a session here or there or more and then there’s just [00:11:30] no outcome.
Like, “Oh, it doesn’t work.” “Well, it doesn’t work because you haven’t been consistent.” The physiology around it’s pretty straightforward. It’s no surprise. You’re consistent with it over time and we progressively overload and do a little bit more, a little bit more, and you start to see change.
Now, one of the big things about your program and particularly with yours, beside a couple of illness parts you’ve been ridiculously consistent. Which has made my life a lot easier because [00:12:00] I can just make changes in your program because you’re consistent as well. That’s hard and easy at the same time. How have you found that?
I mean, that’s one of the biggest challenges we have with clients. Our biggest issue is consistency. If we get that we see results. If we don’t get that, it’s a real struggle to get changes with people as well. How is that? It can’t be easy for you too, I mean, to making sure you’re always here Tuesdays and Thursdays.
[00:12:30] Your viewers might know this but I come at six o’clock in the morning so that is my motivator and that speaks probably more about my personality type. I’m someone who won’t let someone else down. That time works for me because even though I know you’re here doing your workout, I know if I don’t turn up, that’s probably going to be a time slot when you don’t have someone there that should be there.
For me, that’s a motivator and it also is the only time I can get [00:13:00] here. If I don’t make it, then I’ve let myself down but I’ve also let you down so that’s a personal motivated for me. But the bigger motivator is that what I was talking about before. That for instance, when I went away for those three weeks, I came back and I was really nervous about coming back because I thought I’m going to be weak. I’m not going to be able to do anything.
And so I think the motivator for me to come week after week after week [00:13:30] is I don’t have to get nervous about feeling weak or lost my strength or having pains because by the time I came back, I did have some pain. And so it’s maintaining that sense of wellbeing that keeps me motivated but I think more than anything, Michael, it’s just coming back to the fact that it’s my program.
It’s totally my program and I know I’m not wasting time. That 30 minutes I spend with you, I know is concentrated specifically [00:14:00] for me time. That’s a huge motivator because as I said before, I’m really busy, I don’t have time to spare. I don’t want to spin my wheels at the gym doing half-an-hour that I don’t even know is working for me. Coming here, it’s time and money well spent, that honestly is the reason.
Well, I mean that’s what we do. We are here. We want to see a change in people’s lives and you are telling me a story of what I love hearing is that you wanted to make a change in your life. You wanted to get more confidence in your body as well. [00:14:30] Then now a year later, not only that happened through the whole time, but you are doing things that wasn’t even on your radar, which is what we’re going to talk about right now.
When I first asked you to lift 20 kilos, which now seems like a piece of cake, but at the time I just had this… By the way, in context as well, one of the biggest things that’s shown in probably the last 10 years or so, is how important lifting weight particularly [00:15:00] for women at any age, is in terms of bone density and maintaining muscle mass.
And so lifting heavier weights than they think they can and they will be able to do, has been a game changer. We’ve seen changes in bone density. People come in with their Dexa scans and often it’s combined medications, but they come in with a scan and say, “Look, it’s actually better.”
Where for 15 years I would hear, “All we can do is reduce the rate of decline of your bone density. We wouldn’t be able to see [00:15:30] change in their numbers in the right direction.” That’s what’s so, so, so important. But tell me how that felt when I first told you, “We’re going to lift 20 kilos today.”
I was just thinking you’re ridiculous. Because one of the reasons is you know that I came is because I’ve got chronic shoulder stuff going on, that’s been there since I was a teenager and gotten worse over time. I have at all costs prior to coming here, avoided any upper body work because it [00:16:00] caused pain. Anything I did around my arms, shoulders, chest, it was just pain.
And so to get to a point where you were telling me, “You’re going to lift some weights.” I was really nervous but I trusted you because you’d come through for me every other time as well. I was just like, “I won’t be able to do it. There’s no way I’ll be able to do it.” And I could do it. That’s again, I sound like a broken record but that’s the trust element, I guess, that I know you know what I need for my body so [00:16:30] you push me and it works.
Yeah. Speaking of that, step backs. Have you had any step backs in the process as well and how did you handle it, too?
I have. It’s not like the pain hasn’t come back at times. I have hip pain caused from foot injury. I’ve got the chronic shoulder pain. I get back pain. All things that are related to injury and also posture and sitting all day and on occasions I’ve had that.
On occasions, [00:17:00] you’ve told me that I can’t do certain things like lifting weights or that I’ve had to spend more time in the treatment room. I guess there’s an element in me that thinks I’m phoning it in those days, but then I see the immediate improvement. I guess over time as well, again, I trust the process because you know what I need to do at that time, so that I can get back to that really quickly.
We [00:17:30] had something just a month or so ago where I was saying, “My hips and pelvis isn’t strong at the moment.” You just took me off some of the heavier stuff that I was doing and a week or so later I was all right to get back onto it. It’s not like I ever feel that I’m going to lose my capacity to do those things.
I truly trust that when I come in whether it’s you or somebody else that’s here, because sometimes I do see other people for whatever reasons, you’re going [00:18:00] to be on top of it. And you’re going to get me back to my program and more importantly, back to feeling pain free.
Yeah. I mean that’s a big deal as well. One of the things that we often have a conversation with people about, is that they’re very afraid to move or do exercise because, “I have pain. I can’t possibly exercise.” Where as a practitioner, we know that the exercise is part of the therapy. It’s not all the hands-on stuff.
That goes together with what we need to do but [00:18:30] the exercise is how we’re going to make you able to do things despite pain, or how we’re going to manage that pain situation really depends on the actual injury. But how does that feel from your point of view in terms of, okay, well I have pain. Oh, I can’t possibly do this. How has that changed over the last 12 months for you, that perspective?
A, I don’t have as much pain so it makes it easier to [00:19:00] do things but B, I think you and your team adjust my program accordingly. I still have knee issues but they’re not as bad as they were before and we put down the knee pad but it’s if I’ve got to do something on my knees.
But I think I find that when I’m struggling in my head about whether I can do something or not, you [00:19:30] guys segue around that to find a way that I can do it, or if I can’t do it, you will give me something else that gets me there. I don’t know whether I’ve answered your question, again.
Yeah, you have actually. I mean, that’s a really big, important thing is that there’s always a way. It may not be the one straightforward way. There are always ways of doing things as well, despite the fact that there’s been injuries and pain. Then having the confidence, you know what, you can do it, it’s just a matter of finding [00:20:00] a way of getting it done.
You have a very specific way, Michael, of targeting the areas that I try to avoid working.
One week I’ll be like, “Oh, I’m doing something and my balance is off.” The next week I get balance work and this week, “Oh my knee’s sore.” The next week we’ll be working a lot more around legs to build up the muscles around my knees. I’m not oblivious to the fact that you do that stuff as well and that, I mean, [00:20:30] it works so I’m really, really happy with that.
Let’s finish off with really looking about what other changes have you felt in your life now that you have got more confidence in what you can and can’t do? By the way, I have to look back at your record, I can’t remember. We’re lifting roughly how much at the moment now too?
Yesterday it was 60 kilos.
60 kilos as well. I mean, that wouldn’t have been even on your radar 12 months ago.
No. I think I had an inner chuckle yesterday when I was lifting that, just thinking this [00:21:00] is surely not me lifting this kind of weight that-
Yeah, but it is and you can do it and there’s no good reason why you can’t.
Michael, just segueing a bit. I think there’s also that element in women that if I lift too much I’ll bulk up.
Yeah. You don’t have the hormones for it. Sorry.
No. I don’t have the hormones for it, so there’s certainly been none of that. Just if people think that but that’s definitely not a thing. I have noticed changes around [00:21:30] upper body strength and that’s got to be where I start because I had none. I really had none because I was so cautious and so protective of my upper body.
Now I do have amazing strength around… For me, it may not be for someone else, but for me it’s amazing strength in my upper body. Like I said before, I can lift the shopping. I can carry five or six bags of shopping in by myself and not think about it. I don’t get pain [00:22:00] around my shoulders at all, ever, which hasn’t happened for 30 odd years. That’s massive for me because whatever magic you’ve done in the muscles around my shoulders, I no longer get that pain.
See, there’s nothing magical about it. I mean, it’s just purely making you work on systematically making you just work on the strength as well. There’s nothing magical about what you’ve done compared to somebody else, it’s just slowly and gradually working on what your strengths are.
[00:22:30] Strength training isn’t complicated. It’s just a matter of doing a little bit more than what you were previously doing but not too much that it causes damage. That’s where the experience and the art comes into it too, that finding that balancing line. The science is pretty straightforward, but it’s just finding a balancing line where doing a little bit more than what you’re capable doing, but not too much that it overwhelms as well and you can’t break it down. It’s really important.
The other thing I guess, going on to that too, is that [00:23:00] you haven’t gone on a crazy program where I’m going to exercise six days a week and I’m going to make myself super strong.” You’ve been very consistent too, trying to workout twice a week. I mean, we know ideally it’s two, three times a week. And I see a lot of women also come in and say, “Oh, this week I’m going to get fit. This week I’m going to get fit. I’m going to go exercise seven days a week.” That is a guaranteed way of failure.
Yeah, and I see that in my work as well. I work a lot with weight loss clients, so [00:23:30] when people come in and they’re like, “Right, I’ve committed. How long do I have to commit for?” It’s like, “Well, it’s actually a lifestyle change. We can do it but we need to do it slowly and gradually and in tiers and it works that way.”
I hear what you said before about the commitment being so important. I think for me too, now it’s just routine. It’s something that I wouldn’t not do now. I have mild anxiety when you go on holidays. No, I’m joking, but it’s such a part of my [00:24:00] weekly routine that I wouldn’t think twice about it.
But yeah, look, the pain is pretty much gone. I don’t have the back pain anymore, even the knee pain, which we’ve been working on more recently. I think I said to you a week or so ago, “Oh my gosh. I can kneel down and get stuff out of the Tupperware drawer.” It’s like-
Yeah, you forgot that you couldn’t do it and now you can. Yeah.
Exactly and there’s no pain and that was really, that made me feel old and I don’t feel that way anymore. It’s really, I [00:24:30] obviously don’t need to keep coming back because you’ve done everything, Mike.
I’ve done everything so you can stop right now. But I mean, it’s just great to hear one, how much change happened. Two, you’ve been able to do things that weren’t even on your radar. The whole thing is you went overseas for three weeks, you were nervous about it too and yet you enjoyed that holiday.
We’ve heard from a number of other clients as well, where because they’re stronger and they’ve been able to get more confidence in the body as well, they didn’t just go overseas, they enjoyed their trip overseas and that’s the way it should [00:25:00] be. It shouldn’t be something they’re scared about or fearful about. Oh, I’ll go overseas, but I’ll just sit in my hotel room or we’ll just do some minor things. No, go enjoy the tours. Go see the sites. That’s why you’re going overseas so you can actually enjoy that time.
Well, it’s exciting for me that in my fifties, my body’s stronger than it was 20 years ago.
Oh, I know this story many, many times. I hear this all the time. In fact, actually, I find it easier to work with people in their fifties than I do in their twenties and thirties
We see a lot of people in their fifties and the even sixties that are so much stronger than women we see in their twenties and thirties, because strength is not something they do. They do a lot of high volume, high repetition stuff that does not load them up correctly and they just don’t get the outcomes.
Well Chris, thank you very much for your time. It’s been great talking and finding a little bit more about what your story is and how the difference of making your body stronger, being [00:26:00] more confident has made a really significant change in your life.
It has and thank you for inviting me in today. It’s been a pleasure.
Great. Next week we’re going to talk a little bit more or next two weeks from now, we’re going to talk a little bit more about what it’s like coming back from injury and what we have to do to make that change. Thank you very much.