Trigger warning: dieting, weight loss, orthorexia, body dysmorphia, counting macros, weight loss surgery
Lindsey Heiserman probably wears more hats than anyone you know. She’s a speaker, business and life coach, personal trainer, and accomplished adventure racer. For the last 15-plus years, her work has been a blend of movement and mindset.
She holds a unique combination of education and skills—with an undergraduate degree in exercise science and a graduate degree in counseling and psychotherapy, as well as an additional life coaching certification, she’s uniquely qualified to help her clients navigate challenges both inside and, more importantly, outside of the gym.
Although her many roles might sound unrelated, they all spring from the same place—Lindsey’s desire to help people feel better in their bodies, in their businesses, and in their lives.
A lifelong athlete, Lindsey has completed over 100 obstacle course races, including multiple 24-hour events. And while she’s always experienced joy with movement, like many of us, her motivation originally stemmed from the desire to lose weight.
Lindsey’s clients say she’s “relentlessly positive and unabashedly real. She will challenge the way you think and inspire you to make moves in your life.”
Connect with Lindsey
In this episode, we talked about…
- Lindsey starting to diet as a kid with her mom
- Over-exercising starting in high school
- Becoming a marathoner
- Body dysmorphia
- How obstacle course racing helped her improve her body image
- How bold moves as an athlete and as an entrepreneur build on each other
- Recognizing the thought patterns that don’t serve her
- Worrying that she wasn’t “fit enough” to be a trainer
- Changing her self-talk
- Lindsey’s journey to feeling more free around food
- Questions to ask a potential life coach
- Coaching versus consulting
- The line between coaching and therapy
- How to train for your first obstacle course race
- Coping with fear
And when I was 12, I did step aerobics, Kathy Smith in the living room DVD. No, that’s a lie—VHS. … And I would do it multiple times. And I knew this connection. Doing exercise, it did make me feel better. … I got that kind of, but in my 12-year-old brain, it was 100 percent related that I needed to be skinnier. I need to be smaller. I need to lose weight.
I was not good at sports. I was actually terrible. It was a miserable experience.
[I went] through a period of overexercising. It was pretty close to a medical problem. I pulled it back just enough, but [it was] obsession with exercise, obsession with not eating that much.
I didn’t think it was a problem. I was just exercising a lot.
You know, we spent a whole summer after sixth or seventh grade eating. It’s so visual to me. I still remember exactly what it looks like. Light Italian bread, spray butter, and fat free cheese.
We made grilled cheese and we were going to lose weight. So we rode our bikes, like all summer, just riding around town, eating these, like, fat-free sandwiches. And we’re like, “We’re going to lose weight.” That’s what people did. I didn’t truly think that other people lived a different way.
People give you feedback when you lose weight. And so when you’re 13, you’re 14, you’re 15, and people are like, “Oh, you look great.” I’m like, “I am winning at life. I am small. And people are rewarding me and I am exercising a lot.” And so like, I am winning. It was still problematic.
I found that I actually did love running and that propelled me because I didn’t have to worry about anyone else. I could just run. I didn’t have to coordinate with other people on the team. And I took that with me to college, and I really started again, a little excessively, training for marathons.
How could I push my limits? I still wanted to be an athlete. You know, this idea between exercising and being an athlete. I’m still exercising a lot, but I’m doing athletic things, which starts to confuse my brain, I think. And it still does.
It always came back to, “My body must be wrong.”
This is the most terrifying thing I have ever done because all of these obstacles like were so hard. I didn’t know how to do them. I was nervous. I was scared of all of them, but every obstacle I did, I was like, “I may not have done that well, but I survived.”
I was able to start to see. Things my body could do versus the way I looked when I showed up at a race.
I started to just lose focus on what I would look like and more on what I could do.
The less I worried about what I looked like—I don’t want to say the better I looked, but—the better I looked. And also I thought more positively about the way that I looked because of how my body was doing things.
I still have a hard time saying I am an athlete.
I dieted for so long. I hated my body for so long. And to see it become something different or to do something different with it still doesn’t fully resonate in my brain. … That hard wiring from your early days takes a lot to unwire.
People ask, “How do you do a 24-hour race?” And I say, “You just put one foot in front of the other for 24 hours.”
I am sure that quitting my job boosted my confidence to be able to execute this race.
Anytime something goes wrong in life, I’m like, “I must need to lose weight. I must need to start tracking my macros. I must need to focus on my body.”
You don’t need to shrink to make your business successful.
What if I’m not fit enough to be a trainer? That haunted me my entire career at the gym. I looked around and I was like, these trainers are so fit looking and I will likely, as athletic as I am, never have the body of a ripped person.
I’m going to have cake.
The racing and the events really serve to propel my own sense of self and my own sense of who I am to then show up in my business.
Worrying or stressing about losing five pounds, ten pounds is not helpful.
My body is bigger now than it was in college, or even after that. And I can do so many more cooler things with it. The body I had when I was 23 could never have climbed the mountain that I climbed three weeks ago, ever.
If I’m still trying to be small physically, I’m probably still shrinking mentally.
I do amazing things with my body.
You don’t get the result you want from the thing you’re unwilling to do.
I want to feel calm around my food. Having some food prepped and easy-to-make lunches is one of the easiest things for me to do.
You know your body better than I ever will. You know what you need better than I ever will.
If you are a person looking to hire a life coach, ask all the questions you want, because every life coach is different and they will approach things differently. You also have to determine as the consumer if things like certifications matter to you, if degrees matter to you, because as you mentioned earlier, it’s a fully unregulated industry.
Coaching is about questions. Coaching is about being a partner with people. Coaching is about guiding, but never telling or assuming for someone.
Let yourself be a beginner at something.
I like to live like one adventure at a time and keep going after things not fearlessly, but somewhat fearlessly.
Failing’s easy. I mean, failing really is easy and once you’ve done it a few times, you’re like, again, I survived. And obstacle course racing really helps with that. ‘Cause I feel obstacles all the time. I’m never going to be perfect at them. So I practice. All the time.
“Chasing the athlete” talk
The High 5 Habit by Mel Robbins
The Guardian article about predatory coaching practices
Jamie Gold’s interview on Real Fit
The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin
Love and Basketball
Cotopaxi fanny packs
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