You’ve heard time and again that we love to eat. But let’s just say, last March, Ash and I realized it was time to make a bit of a lifestyle change. We were working out super hard (seriously, like 5+ spin classes a week) and weren’t seeing the results we were hoping for. Don’t worry though… we still got something great out of our spin classes (and still do!) – we met Rachel Rowley, the creator of Lifestyle Design 8.
Meet Rachel! She’s a spin instructor at The Union. Not only does she kick your booty (in the best way possible of course), but she is also incredibly motivational. I’d be lying if I said I’ve never shed a few tears during her class because she speaks her truth and encourages you to speak yours too.
As we got to know her better, we learned she created a program that is more than just a diet. It’s truly a lifestyle change that encourages healthy eating, preparation, and accountability. Last March, Ashley and I decided to sign up for the program and commit to this lifestyle change. And we’re sure glad we did.
We often get asked from friends and family what the program involved so this week, I sat down with Rachel to ask her a few questions about the program.
Hayley: Tell me about Lifestyle Design 8. What all is involved?
Rachel: Lifestyle Design 8 (LD8) is a program I created to help women reach their desired body composition as a lifestyle they enjoy rather than a diet they want to be over as soon as possible. It involves everything from community with other women, nutritional education, group calls each week, and accountability check-ins with me each week. I also write meal plans that are tailored for each individual that they are responsible for meal prepping once a week. If they need help with substitutions, I walk them through that, as well as provide one-on-one coaching with unlimited access to me when they have concerns or questions.
There is quite a bit of misinformation out there when it comes to nutrition. I educate women on what works – the how and why of it. I love coaching them to help them reach their goals as well as any life changes they’d like to explore beyond nutrition. I also show them that they can enjoy sweet and savory without picking up sugar. I have a wicked sweet tooth that I totally enjoy everyday. I’m telling you, it’s possible!
During the 12-week program, we ideally steer clear of alcohol, sugar, gluten and dairy. We avoid alcohol and sugar because we know those aren’t good for our bodies. But we steer clear of gluten and dairy to determine whether our bodies are intolerant of them. You may find yours does just fine with them and want to incorporate them back in at the end of the program. For me personally, I see a difference so steer clear of them at all times.
Hayley: When did you get into health and fitness? Have you always had a career in this field?
Rachel: I really dove into fitness about 10 years ago. I began by becoming an expert on my own body – with both nutrition and exercise. I didn’t start working with others until I began teaching spin 4 years ago. I received so many requests from my athletes regarding nutrition that I began the Lifestyle Design program.
Hayley: What inspired you to create LD8?
Rachel: I wanted to help women who are where I once was. I was not happy with my results. I felt like there weren’t enough options for me, especially because I wanted both energy and results. Honestly, it seemed like my options were to either:
- starve myself for 4-8 weeks and then go right back to what wasn’t working before
- eat for energy and not see results
- spend an incredible amount of money on a magical shake that in the end I wouldn’t be able to afford nor did I want to give up real food – I LOVE FOOD!
In the end, I created a way of living that allowed me to eat until I was full, have great energy, and get incredible results. I wanted to provide another option for female athletes.
Hayley: Before I did this program, I knew nothing about macro-based eating. What does that mean?
Rachel: Basically, it is about eating a certain percentage of 3 categories that all food is made up of – proteins, fats and carbohydrates. We break those down into percentages and build our meals around those percentages.
Hayley: You probably remember well that I used to be a very picky eater! At first I was concerned about whether I was going to like all the recipes that were provided each week. What kind of advice do you give your participants that are picky but still want to participate in the program?
Rachel: You?!?! Never!
Yes, I do remember. I thought you did such a good job of staying open, honoring your truth and reaching out to me for solutions. So, I would say to mirror your beautiful example and to be open to possibility. There are always ways to substitute certain foods we just don’t like and I support that 100%. I would also say to reach out before registering and ask questions. I’m pretty honest with women who apply because I want it to be a good fit just as much as they do. There is also a 2-week grace period to change your mind and not proceed with the program if you end up feeling like it’s not a good fit.
Hayley: Ha! Thanks for the ego boost! Speaking of recipes… meal prepping is a critical part of this program. Why is that?
Rachel: One word… PREPARATION. Research (and real life) have more than proven that as human beings, we will choose whatever we can get access to in 20 seconds or less. When we do this, we aren’t lazy, weak or self-sabotaging. We just aren’t prepared. Most everyone meal preps OR has someone do it for them. Just ask yourself if you want it to be you. Or do you want it to be the fast food chain, the grocery store pre-packaged processed food, or the restaurant down the street? I choose me and I have yet to regret it.
Hayley: Friends, these are the truth bombs she shares in spin. Good, huh?! Okay, Rachel, I know for me personally, exercise was also a very important part of this program. I learned how important eating before and after a workout is. How do you advise clients about this?
Rachel: I advise them to treat exercise like a supplement and not a meal. We have been taught that in order to lose weight, you should restrict calories. This is actually counter intuitive to what our bodies need and can result in lack of fat loss, slow metabolism, late night binges and higher rates of injury.
Hayley: That was definitely a mental shift I had to make. But my body clearly needed the opposite which is clear by my results. You know I love the gym and love your spin classes, but what do you do when you get burned out at the gym?
Rachel: I take a pause, ask myself some questions, and then realign and refocus. If I am getting burned out, it typically means I stopped listening to myself and have ignored some warning signs. “Do I dread the style of workout?” “What percentage of the time am I dreading it?” If it’s 10%, I’m fine. But if I dread it 90% of the time, I know something needs to change and I need to find a different style before I walk away from the journey altogether.
Hayley: So true. I used to think that to be healthy or to lose weight, you needed to eat low fat foods. But when I did this program, I quickly learned that fats are actually really important and really good for you. Why is this so important?
Rachel: Fats have EVERYTHING to do with hormonal balance, reducing inflammation, and help with creating “happy” hormones. My program is high protein, moderate carbs, and moderate to low on fats – except for on the 7th day of the week when I ask my clients to eat high fat. It helps to reset and re-feed our bodies while getting results.
Hayley: How do you help someone like me change that mentality?
Rachel: I could tell people or I can show them by getting results. Nothing is quite as convincing as seeing your body do everything you thought it shouldn’t by taking certain actions. HOWEVER you can get quick results by super low fat dieting AND you can get really hurt – so much so that it could take you years to recover! Food is very powerful – it can heal AND it can hurt, depending on how we go about it.
Hayley: I also remember well that accountability is a huge part of this program too. Why do you feel that’s so important?
Rachel: Where else in life do we excel with accountability? School, work, relationships. The list goes on. We measure our progress and have someone that we are accountable to. The one area that we all struggle in is self care. Why? Well my theory is that there is little to no accountability there.
(Chase – Ashley’s husband – even gets in on the accountability and meal prep fun)
Hayley: There you go again dropping another truth bomb! Talk about some of the things you’ve built into this program that help with accountability.
Rachel: Ha! I just like speaking the truth! In this program, we have a Facebook community for members to post weekly meal prep photos. I also ask that clients text me their macros and progress pics every week. If a client has a specific goal beyond nutrition, they can use me for an accountability partner as well during the 12 weeks. We also have fun challenges throughout the year for all members to get refocused.
Hayley: What are your top three go-to tips for weight loss success?
Rachel: I’d say, eat enough protein and fiber. Reduce stress. And stay the hell away from sugar and alcohol.
Hayley: What’s your advice for someone who gets off track for a bit, but is ready to get back on the program? Asking for a friend of course…
Rachel: Remember the basics of what worked and think about what you took out. LEARN from it. Whenever we get back into old behavior, we don’t always get to say when it stops. I really don’t know why, but I do know that anytime in my past when I picked up sugar, I didn’t get to say when I set it back down. I finally accepted that moderation doesn’t exist for me with sugar, so I abstain from it completely and that works well for me. Build in an accountability system and talk about your goals with others.
Hayley: Such good advice! Okay, if someone was on the fence about signing up for LD8, what would you tell them?
Rachel: If your hesitation is because you don’t have enough information yet, reach out and get it. If it’s your gut, then stay on the fence and don’t make yourself wrong. I truly believe that we get a few seconds of opportunity in this life to be completely open to change. Those seconds are such gifts. We can either take the invitation or wait what could be a very long time for that window to open again. Forcing change has rarely worked in my life. I am a recovering alcoholic, used to smoke over a pack of cigarettes a day, and was a total sugar fiend. It wasn’t until I accepted myself as I was, dropped the baseball bat and just said “OK” that whatever it was that controlled me loosened it’s grip just enough that I could seek support and create change. I guess it boils down to this… let go and hold space for yourself. The answer will come and it may be my program or it could be something completely different. Stay open and follow your gut.
Hayley: Couldn’t have said it better myself, Rachel. I know you love a good daily mantra. So, what’s one that we can leave our glammers this week?
Rachel: “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.” – GK Chesterton
This gets me to move. Sometimes I freeze because I don’t “feel” like it, I’m anxious and worrying about what might happen, or I make excuses because I don’t have my typical energy. I have learned over the years that just showing up to my life is THE single most important thing I can do – no matter what it looks like. Once I show up, I start to remember who I am and the feelings follow. I have yet to regret it. It’s the days I don’t show up that I wish I could get a take-two. Even those days make me stronger and more sure that I want to live by that quote.
Words to live by folks! I told you she’s not only a great spin instructor but also motivational as heck!
I can honestly say that I have seen significant results through this program. But for me, the results aren’t just physical. I now understand that my body needs proper nutrition – not just low fat foods – in order to fuel it. I also learned to try new foods and step outside my comfort zone. Before, I ate about 2 kinds of vegetables. Today, I eat nearly all of them. What I’ve learned is that it takes time to change habits, but when you do, you come out much stronger.
If you’re interested in the Lifestyle Design 8 program, check out the website here. Registration for the January group runs through December 20th!