The Key to Your Best Metabolism

by | May 7, 2024

Mindset or Metabolism?

I posted a question in my free Facebook group asking the 6800 women in there Hey, without overthinking it, do you think your bigger problem is mindset or metabolism? I think it’s probably both for most women. A lot of women replied and said mindset. I did have someone say it’s mindset, but they definitely know that they have friends who have a metabolic problem. 

I do believe that I myself came out of a terrible metabolic place. It was really after getting on stage and competing for like two years in a row. I would be doing two hours of cardio a day, eating very little, taking lots of different supplements, not sleeping, and doing 8 million energy drinks. That is really ruining your metabolism starter pack. Every single thing you can do to think of to ruin your metabolism, I was doing that.

I don’t want to say that my coach made me do all that stuff. Some of it was on me. I’m drinking all of these crazy drinks, and just jacking my system. Also, I think my metabolism was already kind of in a shaky place. Here I am in my late 30s. A lot of different things have gone on over the years before my mother died. Then I found out a boyfriend of mine had been living sort of a double life, cheating on me for like a year. We owned a house together, and then my mom died. It all happened, like within 48 hours. It was a super crazy, stressful, horrible time in my life. 

You would think, okay, so you get rid of somebody bad and you move on and you find somebody else and you get married and you live happily ever after. I kind of threw myself into bodybuilding. So I was under a lot of stress, I would say probably from the ages of 35 to 40, 43, 44. Throw in some pregnancy losses in there, it was quite a wild ride. 

It really kicked into high gear with bodybuilding, for sure. This was 2000-2007ish. Back then I think coaches for bodybuilding were a little bit more old school, and they really weren’t paying attention to women’s hormonal health or how to make sure your hormones don’t go sideways and you don’t ruin your metabolism forever. 

One part of the coaching that I don’t really speak to in my podcast, but I do help competitors like that is a big part of who I am. I really always made it very clear that hey, I’ve already been down a bad path. I am not going to set up a program that creates that sort of hormonal horror show for other women. I am definitely like, no two hours of cardio, no million years of strength training and all of those things. Yet I do see some of that because there are 6800 women in my free group and millions of women on the internet. 

Not everybody who has metabolic dysfunction necessarily went down the bodybuilding path, but there are some similarities. We’re eating so little, and we’re working out so much. We’re eating a lot of the same things over and over. We’re not realizing that we’re having some gut issues, food sensitivities. We just accept that this is the way it is. I always feel bloated or I always feel gassy. We’re not sleeping well. 

I do believe that there is a thing called weight loss resistance or some type of metabolic resistance. There’s a lot of things that can go sideways when you are female, especially over 40. It could start in your late 30s too. Perimenopause can start in your mid to late 30s. For those of you out there in my listening audience who’ve had babies over 35, you were probably also followed and monitored by the Maternal Fetal Medicine Department at your local hospital. Which is essentially,the nice way of saying the old lady doctors. They consider you more high risk. You’re more at risk for gestational diabetes, or more at risk for strokes and things like that. But I digress. 

I had this aha moment today.

Where I’m like, if I could summarize how to unf*ck your weight loss in a couple steps it would be something about your metabolism, and it would be something about your mindset. When it comes to your metabolism. I do think the secret sauce is consistent strength training. By consistent strength training, I mean probably two to three times a week and not overdoing it. Not trying to be beast mode all the time, but challenging your body so that we are not getting into this place where your body has adapted. The place where you’re still using the same weights and you’re not really growing muscle, you’re not getting stronger, you’re not building new muscle, all you’re doing is more like a conditioning type of exercise. You could be lifting weights quickly, you could be doing 30, 40 reps and things like that. That’s not what I mean. 

When I talk about strength training, I am really talking about progressive overload. Where you are going to want to progress. If you’re doing a 10 pound bicep curl then the next weight on the rack is 12 or 12.5. Can you do that, depending on your home gym or your gym. Whatever next level dumbbell they have. Then you’re going to try that one next. Strength training is the long game. 

One of the things that’s interesting to me, is sort of in the post COVID world. Obviously COVID really shook up people’s routines. People who went to the gym suddenly found themselves not able to go to the gym, having to build a home gym, having to do whatever ragtag equipment they could find, smaller dumbbells or bands and things like that. 

It was interesting to me that you have to shut down the gym, but you can keep the liquor stores open. I’m not putting on my tinfoil hat and I’m not going to get into the conspiracies of COVID. But when we look at health, health care, longevity and helping people age, when you have muscle you are a healthier person. You have a better immune system. You’re better able to handle everything. Whether that is actual physical stress, or it’s mental stress. You fall down, you’re in an accident, you have a disease or something like that. A person who strength trained and has a greater level of fitness is going to have a better outcome than somebody who doesn’t strength train who does not work out. 

It’s interesting that our government saw that in order to be healthier and to protect people, let’s take them out of the gym, but let them into the liquor store. I won’t keep going but I had a bigger point. It’s not a conspiracy. I know post COVID that a lot of people changed their routines. A lot of people did not ever get back to the gym. They did not ever get back into a regular strength training routine. Partially because they workout at home or they kind of workout at home and they go from home to the office. Their whole routine changed. 

Many people who tell me they workout at home, don’t really work out at home. This isn’t like me pointing a finger at you or trying to call you out. But if you want to lose weight and keep it off, one of the things that you can do is lift weights two to three times a week. It doesn’t have to be super strenuous. It doesn’t have to make you breathless or sweaty, you don’t need 3000 different pounds worth of dumbbells and barbells. 

If you have a gym that you can go to, great. If you can get into some type of strength training class or small group training or personal training or have someone show you the machines. If you don’t know how to strength train, it is definitely worth learning. It is the gift that keeps on giving. That is something to think about. 

Cracking the code.

If you really want to crack the code on long term weight loss, that would mean having a better metabolic rate. If you want to have a better metabolic rate then you want to be someone who has more muscle, more muscle fibers, and the ability to actually eat and burn more calories. Strength training is that vehicle.

I don’t know why it never dawned on me to do more podcast episodes just about strength training. I think partially I haven’t because it’s just something I’ve done forever. Like I started group training. I started teaching group training in the early 90s as part of the group training. I was a Jazzercise instructor. I was first a Jazzercise student and then I was a Jazzercise instructor. In the Jazzercise class you would have a strength training portion. Granted the weights were 5, 8, 10, 12 pounds, probably not more than that. That was the beginning where I’m like, Oh, that’s cool. I like that. 

In 1998, I found myself thinking, I gotta get to the next level. I’m going to be a personal trainer. Partially it was my mom. She was like, “Hey, you teach group exercise. If you can teach to like 20-30 people, you can do one on one.” At the time in the 90s personal training was a special thing, it was a big deal to be a personal trainer, and train people. One on one somehow was considered better than group exercise. That could be a podcast episode in and of itself. 

Before I became a personal trainer, I started getting personally trained. I was now in the gym several times a week and learning how to lift weights. Learning, this is a leg press, or these are lunges, and this is a row, and these are all these things. And it changed my life. Literally strength training changed my life, it changed so many things, for me. 

I’ve been lifting weights since I was 19, like in the gym lifting weights since 1998. That’s a long time. For me, I’m in the fitness realm, I’ve trained 1000s of people, I sometimes forget that a lot of people don’t necessarily strength train all the time. Or they fell off somewhere, something happened, life happened, COVID happened, their routine got interrupted, and life went on. I mean, COVID is like four years ago. Four years goes by and things change. People get older, kids go to college, all this stuff. It’s okay, is what I’m saying. 

If you’re like, yeah, that’s me, I need to get back into a regular routine. Definitely do it. It’s going to be something that is going to pay off. If you’re listening to me right now and you’re in your 40s or 50s, or 60s, or however old you are, it’s never too late to do strength training. I would think doing it now versus waiting for 5 to 10 years makes more sense. Because obviously, as we age, we are losing some of our natural testosterone. 

Making strength training easier, would mena having all of the hormones of a 25 year old, but we don’t. It doesn’t mean that you cannot get good results and that you cannot build muscle and also preserve the muscle you have. Strength training is like ding ding ding. That’s the thing. 

The scale.

Where I think people really fall off the rails when it comes to the mindset piece is when we focus too much on the scale. I am guilty of this too when it comes to celebrating other people’s weight loss victories. In fact, if you want to strength train, get stronger, build muscle and preserve muscle, the scale is not always going to be favorable. If you’re just trying to make it go down, yet you’re building muscle you might end up with a zero scale loss. 

You can;

  • lose body fat, 
  • gain and keep muscle, 
  • change your body composition, 
  • change the way you look, 
  • change the way your clothes fit, 
  • change the way you feel, 
  • change your energy levels, 
  • change your health status, 
  • change so many different things,

with strength training and also in the way you view the scale. 

I’ve seen coaches, not me, but other coaches talk about how you need to use the scale for data. If you ignore the scale, that’s a big problem. You wouldn’t ignore your bank account. In some ways, sure, I agree. If you ignore your bank account, all kinds of things happen. Like you’re like, oh, sh*t, I forgot to deposit that money, or I forgot I transferred that or Hey, what’s that weird charge, or hey, my bank and my savings account isn’t giving me enough interest. Yeah, if you ignore things in life, then you go back, and now you have to go through 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 months worth of statements and being like, what is all this stuff? Why are my kids buying all of these roebucks? Right, all of the charges to Apple, iTunes. I did not realize. Yes, sh*t happens when you don’t check on it. 

In my bazillion year career, all the clients that I had, who were obsessed with the scale, none of them ever lost weight and kept it off. All they did was kind of yo-yo back and forth day to day, like reactionary adjusting their day based on the scale. 

  • I’m going to have a good day. 
  • It’s a bad day. 
  • I’m going to overeat. 
  • I’m going to under eat. 
  • I’m going to extra exercise. 

All we do is create a cycle of stress, obsession, and misery. 

The more I restrict, the more I’m going to end up overeating. I’m not saying you have to ignore the scale, you can’t have the scale, and the scale is bad. Honestly, the scale is not a weight loss tool. I get it, a lot of us grew up thinking the ideal weight for a woman is 120 pounds or 125 pounds or 130 pounds. I just read somewhere that the average weight for an American woman is 170 pounds. In fact, a lot of athletes I know are 140, 150, 160, 180, 200 pounds. Many female athletes because they have a lot of muscle are going to weigh more. 

Speaking of weight, it’s sort of funny. I was online and I was looking at a clothing brand. I call this the VRE story. I don’t even know how to pronounce it. But they make very expensive joggers. I want to call them just expensive sweatpants. Now I have not bought them. I don’t even know, people swear by them. They have good reviews. But honestly do I want to spend 100 bucks on a pair of pants? I could go to Amazon and probably get something similar for $25. 

Anyway, I saw they had a pair of pants that looked pretty good. There are these wide leg pants and you can get them in a tall length. The size I thought I wanted was out of stock. And I’m like, Oh, maybe I could take a different size. I went to their find your size guide. They asked for your height, age, I think they actually asked for your bra size. I’m like, I don’t know why, this for a pair of pants. I put in the information. I put in five foot nine, and I guessed 162 pound because I don’t own a scale. I haven’t been on a scale in over 10 years. Anyway, it came back and it said okay, your best size is an extra large. I started to laugh because I’m thinking this is some bias about scale weighed. Like if you weigh a certain amount, you must be a certain size. 

Here’s the reality, most of the pants I wear are a size four. I’m not an extra large, not that there’s anything wrong with it. But if I got the extra large pants, they’d be super baggy. I could wear them, but they’re not gonna fit. I thought aha, I get it. These size finders are trying to be like the average size somebody who weighs 162 pounds is obviously extra large, interesting. 

I want to put it out there to you that if you want to lose weight and keep it off, and you really truly want to unf*ck your weight loss, I would take a look at actions. Things you can do for strength training, and then look at some of your thoughts, beliefs, and actions. 

  • What are you doing with the scale? 
  • How does it play out in your life? 
  • How often do you use it? 
  • Why are you using it? 
  • What are you doing with that information? 
  • Is it just data that you’re collecting or using it as a tool against yourself?

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Pumping Iron.

One of the things I had on my note was, speaking of strength training, Arnold Schwarzenegger. I think a lot of times as women we think, oh my gosh, strength training, I’m going to get bulky. I always gain weight, my clothes get too tight, all of that. I’m going to tell you, it is unlikely for you to get bulky from strength training, unless you are a female who is taking anabolic steroids. Not even regular hormone replacement therapy. If you are on hormone replacement therapy, that’s not the same level of anabolic steroids where you would become Arnold Schwarzenegger, that you would turn into a man. I don’t care how heavy you lift, that is not going to happen. 

What could happen is that we might not see the scale go down. Our clothes might fit tighter, but then we have to look at, am I doing too much? Am I overeating? Am I not sleeping? What else is going on? Because strength training by itself isn’t going to just make me massively more muscular. 

Now, a lot of women don’t like Arnold Schwarzenegger. I remember many years ago, when it came out that he had an affair with his maid. I remember a friend of mine was just like, I just can’t even, don’t even talk to me about him. But I like Arnold for so many reasons. Obviously, my background in bodybuilding. I’ve watched his movie pumping iron and I have his encyclopedia. Every time I read something about Arnold, I just read it in Arnold’s voice. He does have a newsletter that he sends out and the stuff is pretty good. It’s called The Pump, or something like that. I got one this morning, it was like Monday morning motivation, and I read the email in his voice. I like what he has to say about setting goals. He basically says it’s really about creating that vision, taking action, sharing, and being sure to celebrate. 

What I like about Arnold, and a lot of people may not realize is that, it was him and his friends and putting out this movie Pumping Iron that really brought gyms, strength training, working out, bodybuilding, and all of this stuff more mainstream in the 70s. This is our parents, at least my parents were born in the 40s. They didn’t grow up in a time where you worked out and you strength trained and there was a gymnasium and things like that. At least not for regular people. That whole era of bodybuilding was ushered in by Arnold. It was more of a freak show kind of a fringy thing. If he hadn’t come into America and been competing and the people who produce Pumping Iron didn’t make it more mainstream, I don’t know if we would have gyms the way we do. 

The reason I bring that up is that we can kind of see with people who are older, that if you don’t have the muscle mass, you are more prone to losing muscle and losing bone and getting what they call sarcopenia or osteopenia. Sarcopenia is losing muscle mass. Osteopenia is losing bone mass. You’re more prone to being frail, losing your mobility, and not being able to do everyday tasks. So as much as strength training is to help you have a better metabolic rate and to have that muscle tone, that aesthetic that you want to have, definition in your arms or legs or you want to have that flat stomach, it is also about longevity. I think it’s the gift that keeps on giving. 

If you are in a situation as I was many years ago, where you’re feeling like I work out a lot. I do a lot of cardio. I don’t eat any carbs. I do all the things and my weight is not going down. That’s an opportunity to look at are you overtraining? Are you pushing your body too hard? Do you not have enough rest time between sets? Are you trying to do your workouts too fast? Are you doing too much? More is not better, better is better. 

When it comes to getting that sustainable lifetime weight loss, sometimes there is that metabolic dysfunction, some type of weight loss resistance. 

As much as we can find a mindset issue, most people with a human brain are going to have some type of mindset issue, there is something that may be slowing your metabolism down. 

If any of this is interesting, or rings true to you, or you are that woman who’s like, hey, yeah, you know what;

  • I have that 10 to 20 pounds that I cannot get off, 
  • I do all of the workouts,
  • I do the cardio, 
  • I eat clean, 
  • I take the supplements,
  • I do all the things I’m supposed to. 

And yet my weight is not budging. I hear you loud and clear. There are a lot of different components that can play into your metabolism and your weight loss. If it was obviously just working out and just eating “right,” you’d be there. 

We would probably want to look at your gut. 

  • What is happening with your digestion?
  • What is happening with your sleep? 
  • Where are your other hormones? 
  • What else is going on for you? 
  • Is there other stress that we need to look at? 

Under-eating and over exercising just adds more stress to an already stressed body. When we can work on lowering stress, lowering inflammation, and trying to resolve some of these gut issues, that’s when you can actually heal whatever is holding your metabolism back. It’s not an instant process. It’s not just a matter of doing x, y, z. It takes a little bit of time. 

I wish back in 2007, 2008 that I had somebody who was that one provider who could pull in all the pieces for me. What I had to do was scour the internet. It was before social media. Now you have Facebook and Instagram. Not all the information is the best information, but at least you have more things that you can start to put together on your own.

If any of this rings true to you and you are looking for help with your metabolism and or your mindset, I would love to work with you. I do have several programs. One is a full coaching container with lots of accountability and lots of personalization. Then I have the Society membership, which is less accountability and a little bit more self paced. In all of my programs I teach from the same philosophy always, so you’re not going to miss out on anything. I don’t ever hold back, it’s just in the way the content is delivered. That’s the change.

I think I’ve said enough. I’m so glad you’re here. Thank you so much for spending this time with me if you haven’t already given me that five star review. I would love it especially coming up to my 100th episode. If you’re not already part of that free Facebook group go on over there Food Fitness, Fat Loss for Women Over 40. All right, my friends make it a good one.


Bonnie Lefrak is a Life & Body Transformation Expert and Founder of Self Made, a program designed to help you tackle the physical aspects of health and weight loss as well as the beliefs and thoughts that drive our habits and behaviors. It is her goal to help women create certainty in their own lives, their own results, and their own abilities.

Weight loss is not about the one “right” diet – it is about MUCH more than that. Weight loss is not about the one “right” workout. Weight loss is not about being positive and putting a big smile on.

Weight loss is about FEELINGS. All of them. Not trying to bury them or hide from them but knowing and allowing the full human experience. Weight loss is not about grinding hustling and will powering your way to some end line. Transformation (when done well) is done from the inside out.

By addressing both the physical and mental aspects of dieting and weight loss, she has coached thousands of women ages 30-55+ from all over and helped them ditch the mindsets that are holding them back, achieve permanent weight loss, and get the bangin’ body of their dreams.

Bonnie is an expert at Demystifying weight loss. She helps you u****k your diet brain. She is on a mission to help women love themselves, to find PEACE in the process of losing weight, taking care of themselves, and leveraging the power they do have to become who and want they want right now.

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