In the Gym with Kiki of EM2WL

Kiki of EM2WL #weighless #eatmore #liftweights

FFFC:  Please introduce yourself to our readers.

K:  Hey everyone, I’m Kiki!  I’m a rambling, baking, homeschooling mom, (non-apologetic) chocoholic, and wife to my high-school sweetheart :). I’m also a personal trainer, owner, and co-founder of Eat More 2 Weigh Less (EM2WL).

FFFC:  How did you get interested and started in fitness?

K:  I guess I can give most of that credit to my hubby.  I’m a total cardio-phobe and always have been.  I was never very active or involved in any sports when I was younger. I had quite a few health problems — so I was typically excused from participating in PE class — and I adored junk food (which my amazing teenage metabolism allowed me to eat a fairly decent amount of). Within the first year of marriage I discovered that my lack of physical activity/love of junk food had not only led to rapid weight gain (with no signs of slowing), but also further deterioration of my health issues. Oops.

To top it off, my husband and I were TTC (trying to conceive) and having issues (to say the least). Everything that I was researching was telling me that I was in need of a lifestyle change. And after a couple of years of battling the pounds, and being glued to the couch, I asked hubs to add me to his gym membership. That’s how I learned how to lift.  I was shy, and didn’t know any better (neither did he, thank God!) so I just followed him around the gym and did whatever he did.  I never realized that it was what most ladies fear as “the men’s side” of the gym. Guess I was just oblivious, and more afraid of being on the “women’s” side without him!  LOL.  A month later he had to move away temporarily for work, but I was hooked! I kept going to gym every day (alone), following the workout plans (and diets!) from his bodybuilder mags. I was eating like crazy (2-3k cals), yet my body was changing in amazing ways. I became addicted to feeling so strong.

Kiki of EM2WL #weighless #eatmore #liftweights

FFFC:  Why did you start Eat More 2 Weigh Less?

K:  Oh man…it was a long time coming.  But I just had no idea how, or that it would happen like it did.  Over the years (after discovering eating and lifting “accidentally” from hubs) I eventually found out that everything that I thought I knew about working out was apparently “not suited for women.” I fell into the trap of reading the women’s fitness magazines, and thus doing the super low cal eating plans and even dove headfirst into the circuit/cardio madness.  My progress took a huge downturn, and just kept spiraling.

The more I tried to do what the media was telling me the worse it got.  Even my old faithful Slim-Fast diets stopped “working.” I was honestly devastated. I went from feeling like I was just one workout away from my dream body to feeling like I was just a failure.  As much as I loved to cook and spend time with my family, I felt like I was trapped in a glass box watching them enjoy the foods I made and loving life while I ate less and less and loathed them for not doing the same.

One day I thought back to the last time I really “enjoyed” working out and was actually getting results, and I remembered my early days.  So I just decided…”What the heck? It’s not like a have a woman’s body anyway” (a self-hating thought I’d allowed to creep in from being deemed infertile) – “I may as well go back to working out and eating “like a man” since I at least enjoyed it.” So I did.  Lo and behold the results came rushing back!

That “comeback” led me on a research mission (did I mention I love to research?). The more I researched the more it became clear: In order to get the results that I wanted, I had to eat enough to fuel my workouts (no more 1200 cal nonsense) and LIFT.  I had it right the first time!  As I discovered all of the dangers behind what I had been doing (undereating/overexercising), I began to want to shout it from the rooftops to every woman I knew! “You don’t have to starve to lose weight!  Starving is actually stopping you from losing weight!”

Though my research rambling mostly fell on deaf ears, eventually Lucia (co-founder) stumbled upon one of my blogs, and was excited about what she read.  I was even more excited because…when she talked, people listened! LOL.  We both wanted to spread the word that the popular media hype (eat less/workout more) was leading ladies FURTHER from their goals rather than toward them. Almost overnight, we became fast friends and partners in spreading the message. The rest just kinda fell into place from there. We both made vids about how it all I’ll avoid rambling even MORE. Haha. Plus, you’d probably hear her side coming best from her.

Her vid:

My vid:

FFFC:  What do you like most about what you do?

K:  OMGosh.  Everything.  I guess that’s not really an answer though, huh?  I guess I’d say…the people.  I love Team EM2WL.  Love, love the EM2WL fam.  And I absolutely adore my clients.  Like seriously, loveeee. They are like sisters to me, we talk about things that are completely non-fitness related like 80% of the time. LOL. It’s just like that with the EM2WL fam, in general.  We all connect over this huge “failure” (weight loss) that we’ve had in the past, and we grow and develop together as we stand against societies norms.  We’re beating the odds of a flawed system, and because of it, we’re stronger.

I love when someone who would never imagine themselves lifting weights gets their first taste of the iron, and loves it. I love seeing the looks on people faces (rather in person, or through our beloved — and totally overused — emoticons) when they see their body take on amazing contours and shape from lifting. Or when someone actually gains weight, but looks like they lost.  Or when a person says “there’s no way I can eat that much..” Golden. 🙂

I guess I love it all, lol…well, not the website upkeep…I can totally do without that…and vids…hate hearing/seeing myself ramble! LOL

FFFC:  What is your favorite exercise routine?

K:  As I mentioned, I’m a lover of the iron, so I really love lifting weights.  Being in the 5-7 rep range, and lifting really heavy, is my happy place.  I would do that ONLY if I had a choice.  I’m a stickler about periodization though, so I periodize my routine (mix up the rep ranges) for best results.  Even though I’m a trainer and spend most of my days creating workout routines, I still love to resort back to my ever increasing workout DVD collection when I don’t want to have to “think” about what to do.   My all-time fave workout DVD series is STS by Cathe Friedrich.  It’s the only program in the market that uses a linear periodization with the 3 main phases (strength, endurance, hypertrophy).

More on phases of lifting:

FFFC:  What do you consider the most & least useful piece of workout equipment?

K:  The most useful equipment that anyone can have is their own body.  No matter where you go, it’s with you.  There are so many bodyweight exercises, from beginner (ex: knee push-up, squats) to advanced (ex: handstand push-up, pistol squats) that no one should have an excuse for skipping their workout.  But that being said, most women do not push themselves enough with those exercises.  So I do think everyone should at least have a set of adjustable dumbbells. There’s something to be said for lifting a weight that truly challenges you around the 6-10 rep mark.  And because each body part is different (larger muscles — like back and legs — need heavier weight) having only one set/size of weights is not gonna get anyone the results they’re after in the long run.

I don’t really think that there’s a totally useless piece of equipment.  I think most workout equipment is useful…to an extent.  And that extent is that it’s still challenging to you, and truly pushing you OUT of a comfort zone…not neatly tucking you IN to one.  If someone uses the same workout, with the same 5lb dumbbells for 5 years — both the workout and the dumbbells become useless.  But if they do that same DVD with 10, 15, 20lb dumbbells, it’s suddenly useful again.  Or if a person has a treadmill, but runs the same 30-60 minutes (or 5-10 miles, etc) every time — the treadmill is useless.  But if they decide to hop on and do a 15-20 min HIIT workout instead, the “dreadmill” can reclaim it’s place in the goal-seeking line up.

FFFC:  What do you think is the biggest misconception about women building muscle and strength?

K:  It’s still hard for me to believe that women think that lifting will make them look like juiced-up bodybuilders. Juicing up is the only thing that will make them look that.  LOL. But I guess some myths die hard. Along with this belief, so many ladies think that they should only lift super light baby weights to “tone” their bodies (define the muscles) without adding “bulk.”

In order to have muscle definition or tone, you must have actual muscle.  In order to have muscle you must lift heavy enough to challenge your muscles for hypertrophy, or muscle growth (meaning if you can do more than 10-12 reps with that particular amount of weight…it’s too light). In order for that heavy lifting to equate to actual muscle growth, you’d have to be eating enough food to support muscle growth (it takes a surplus of 2500 cals to build muscle). Even with all the stars in alignment (lifting heavy, and eating in surplus), most women can’t even pack on a 1lb of muscle per month. Considering how little space muscle takes up, that’s not a whole heck of a lot.

Most women live a fitness lifestyle that is completely contradictory to the body changes they are seeking. Eating too little, doing tons of cardio, minimal lifting (or using weights that are too light), are all a recipe for muscle LOSS.  Muscle loss leads to higher bodyfat levels, even though the weight is still within range of what they once considered “ideal.”  The term “skinny fat” is often used to describe this but the concept is happening to many ladies who don’t consider themselves “skinny” by any means.  Sadly, they’re spinning their wheels, in pursuit of a body that will constantly allude them.

I talk about my own experience with that here:

Kiki of EM2WL #weighless #eatmore #liftweights

FFFC:  Are there any fitness fads or food misconceptions you wish would just fall off the face of the Earth? 

K:  Anything extreme!  I know I’ve gone on about 12 tangents here, lol. But extremes of the industry are my biggest pet peeve.  I’m currently doing a video series on this right now.

Whenever we feel the need to choose “either/or” it should be a red flag that we are headed down a path of “extremism.” I don’t know if it’s our feelings of needing to be in with a certain camp or school of thought, but it just bugs me to no end.  I seek moderation in balance in all things, so when I hear people bash one way of fitness to build up another, I just think it’s unnecessary.  Some of the ones that come to mind:

Lift vs Cardio – I personally hate cardio, but I get that some people love it. Is what it is, I think it’s just best to make an informed decision based on how what you love will affect your goals and go from there. Example: too much cardio can inhibit muscle growth…if you’re in a muscle growth phase, turn the runs/classes down a notch.  If you decide you want to run a marathon, work in a phase for it.  Practice for and run it….but don’t expect any radical muscle gains, or be surprised if your bodyfat increases a tad.  You love it, so it shouldn’t matter.

Self Love vs Seeking Physique Changes/Fat Loss – I feel that it’s completely possible to love yourself and seek changes at the same time.  They don’t need to be mutually exclusive. We consider EM2WL to sit firmly between both camps.  If you don’t love yourself now, then it won’t magically happen when you reach a “goal weight/size” – you are who you are, so work on that first.  When you reach a place, mentally, that you know that even if you never lost another pound, you’d be ok…you’re ready, and able to accept all changes as a blessing.

High Reps vs Low – Both have pros/cons, and actually work awesome together in unison. Don’t be a rep range Nazi.

Food Exclusions – Unless it’s for religious reasons, removing entire food groups or macronutrient groups without doctors orders can be more hurtful than helpful. When is a medical necessity for one group of people becomes the newest diet for the masses, our “fad” radar should go off.

I could go on…but don’t wanna bore your readers, LOL.  The point is that it’s perfectly doable to find a happy place in your journey that isn’t so extreme.  Too much of anything is not good for you.  While on that same token, everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.

FFFC:  What do you think causes some women to have a love/hate relationship with food?

K:  I think a lot of it has to do with what I mentioned above.  We go through these dieting extremes and end up labeling foods “good” and “bad.”  But psychology has repeatedly shown that once we label something as “off-limits” we immediately desire that thing even MORE.  The freedom of knowing that we literally can eat anything that we want can cause feelings of unease for most of us.  We want to know what to do or not do exactly, or have an exact set of rules to follow. Being left to our own devices we think we’ll get out of control and ultimately have no progress.

But we need to face those demons head on, rather than trying to stuff them into a closet.  Any control that we feel from starving or over-cardioing is a false feeling of security.  Actually paying attention to the way that food makes us feel, eating when hungry, stopping when full are cues that many of us have lost or smothered over the years. When you regain control and truly understand how each part affects the whole, it becomes easier to say yes or no to a certain food, based on what you know.  When we discover saying “yes” doesn’t have to mean a free-for-all, and saying “no” doesn’t mean no forever…we take back control over restrictive yo-yo dieting.

FFFC:  What general tips do you have for the average woman balancing family, career with health and fitness?

K:  EM2WL has a firm family first approach. It’s the basis for everything we’re about on the outside and within.  If your family doesn’t have your back, then it’s a long, hard (almost impossible) road. Original co-founder, Lucia (mentioned above) actually chose to step away from running EM2WL as it was (is!) extremely time consuming.

In the beginning, it was just the two of us and a rapidly growing community.  Our desire to spread the word was so intense that we literally put every waking minute into it… almost to the detriment of our families, and our own health/fitness journeys.  (People underestimate the toll that stressing takes on your body…especially when you are stressing over a few thousand people who are worried sick about increasing cals!) Her health was taking a nosedive, and work (day job) responsibilities weren’t letting up.  After much prayer and contemplation, we both agreed that the EM2WL fam would understand her decision to step down and take care of her number one priorities (5 beautiful kids and a super supportive hubby).

We put together Team EM2WL before she left (so that I wouldn’t completely lose my mind!), but every person on the Team was told from day one…if responsibilities here get in the way of home life, just say the word. Every once in a while, one of just needs a break to get things in order.  So we let the Team know, and we take the break – no questions asked.   We’ve got each others back and that’s what’s important.  You need a support system.  And you need to be able to take care of yourself.  If it feels like you are doing too much, you probably are!

Life comes at us in seasons.  You may be in a season that you can do more, you may be called to let some things go at this time.  Again, it doesn’t mean “forever” – just a season.  I’ve been a homeschooling SAHM for over a decade…I walked away from several “opportunities” during that season.  Now that my “baby” is nearly an adult, I train clients, and take on a lot more activities outside of the home. You have to decide upfront what your priorities are, and be unrelenting about holding everything else up to the light of your priorities. If you have like 8 priorities…ummm, they’re not really priorities, lol.  Some are extras, and they may have to move down the list…for a season.

FFFC:  Are you hosting or participating in any special fitness events?

K:  The only thing that I have on the agenda right now are a few of the fitness conferences I attend every year. There’s currently about 3-4 on the schedule, ranging from CA to VA to FL.  Most of these events do a great job of combining both my love of fitness and research.  My sister (also a personal trainer) is currently begging me to go back to IDEA World Conference and Expo this summer in CA.  We’ll see…

Kiki of EM2WL #weighless #eatmore #liftweights

FFFC:  How can our readers learn more about the services you offer? 

K:  Team EM2WL offers coaching services (nutrition/workout) for those who want a more personalized approach, or are increasing cals for the first time and want a bit of hand-holding.  We also have pre-made plans available on our website for more advanced/independent trainers.

You can find both on our website by clicking on the services tab, or the store section of the site.

FFFC:  Where can our readers follow you on social media?


Twitter: @EM2WL

Instagram: @eatmore2weighless

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5 Replies to "In the Gym with Kiki of EM2WL"

  • comment-avatar
    January 29, 2015 (7:22 am)

    I love that you and your hubby workout together and live the healthy lifestyle together. Look at those guns!

    • comment-avatar
      January 30, 2015 (2:33 pm)

      Thank you! I’m so grateful that he works out with me. I can say without a doubt that it would be so much harder to stay the course without his support 🙂

  • comment-avatar
    February 5, 2015 (4:35 pm)

    My hubby and I workout together as well! Just because we’re trainers doesn’t mean we don’t benefit from having a gym buddy 🙂

  • comment-avatar
    Wendy May 21, 2015 (12:57 pm)

    I just love this. My coach has me do heavy lifting cycles 2-3x/year. And you’ve seen pictures of me, so you know I”m not busting out with muscles. Lifting heavy, low reps is the best thing I have ever done. Not only has it benefitted my running, but it has made me just overall stronger. Plus I can eat all the food! Great interview, Diatta! Thanks for sharing. I’m going to start following Kiki.

    • comment-avatar
      May 21, 2015 (1:29 pm)

      Awesome Wendy!! Yes Kiki is the woman and knows her stuff. Lifting heavy is so helpful in so many ways. For me. As I get older, I need to strengthen to keep lean and youthful. Lifting heavy does that. Thanks for stopping by and reading.