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Fuel Your Strength 377 - Overtraining, Injury and Burnout with Dr. A'Naja Newsome

Overtraining, Injury, and Burnout w/ Dr. A’Naja Newsome

If you have ever been injured in your sport as an athletic person, you know how challenging it can be to get back into it. Not just for your body, but also for your mind. Movement, exercise, mental health, mindset, self-efficacy, and burnout are all connected, which is why it can be extra difficult to come to terms with a change or adaptation in your training routine. This is why it is so important to find harmony in your training, and recovery, as an athletic person.

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Key Takeaways

If You Want To Overcome Injury and Avoid Burnout, You Should:

  1. Look for new or interesting ways to experience the mental benefits of exercise in a way you haven’t done before 
  2. Remember the importance of proper recovery in order to maintain your ability and motivation
  3. Take a step back and look at your environment and how it affects your goals, lifestyle, and mindset

Overcoming Injury with Dr. A’Naja Newsome

Dr. A’Naja Newsome is an exercise scientist, coach, and educator who is passionate about helping people like you to optimize your strength, mental health, mindset, self-efficacy, and balance training with recovery. She knows firsthand the struggles that adapting your training and understanding how your body is healing can take on an athlete. If you have ever been injured and noticed it took a toll on your mental health or identity, this episode is for you.

The Mental Benefits of Movement

Often when people think about the benefits of exercise, they focus on the physical benefits without realizing all of the amazing mental benefits movement and exercise can have. Improved mood, cognitive function, memory, and overall happiness are just a few of the ways that exercise and physical activity can benefit your life. 

However, when we have to change the way in which we train, it can feel like an overwhelming task. This is where your mindset, lifestyle, and goals come into play.

Building Goals Against Yourself

Dr. A’Naja is an advocate of adjusting your training to where you are right now. Instead of trying to compete against others or an old version of yourself, she recommends taking a step back and re-evaluating your training goals. By building goals against yourself, you can align the things that matter most to you so that you can improve your ability and performance while avoiding burnout, overtraining, and poor motivation.

By adjusting your mindset, you can adjust your training and recovery to your lifestyle. Because life is always going to happen, and as athletes, we need to find ways to improve our self-efficacy while taking a step back and checking that our actions are moving us towards our real goals.

Are you struggling with overcoming an injury or changing your training routine? How do your lifestyle, mindset, and goals play into your recovery? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.

In This Episode

  • Explore the connection between movement and mental health (9:56)
  • How to develop the motivation, self-efficacy, and mental skills to promote longevity in your physical activity (16:06)
  • Advice for those having difficulty adjusting their identity to a new training regime (21:34)
  • Mindset and mental health strategies to help you adjust to a change in your physical activity (29:36)
  • The importance of social support when it comes to self-efficacy (35:34)

Quotes

“Enjoyment, happiness, those are all things we have seen a connection with increased physical activity.” (11:15)

“It is really important to understand that physical activity and exercise is not just about physical improvement. There are mental and psychological improvements as well that can be had.” (13:02)

“[Overtraining] is not worth it in the long run. For your physical health, but also your mental health. It is not good in the long run for the longevity of being an athlete to overtrain.” (20:18)

“Your lifestyle is going to constantly change. Your mindset is going to constantly change… you have to fully align your training goals to your nutrition, to your mindset, and to your lifestyle.” (26:16)

“I don’t care what your one rep max is. I want to see if you can hit 85% six times, and look sexy doing it.” (31:15)

“Self-efficacy is not about it being easy, it’s not about choosing easy tasks, it is simply about believing that you have the tools to overcome whatever obstacle is going to come.” (34:24)

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Ep 362: Sports Injury Rehab & Returning to Lifting with Dr. Leada Malek

 

Overtraining, Injury, and Burnout w/ Dr. A’Naja Newsome

Steph Gaudreau
If you’ve ever sustained an injury during your training, you know how hard it is to not only get back to it physically but how to deal with the challenges to your mindset and your identity that can come along with that injury. Today on this episode, I’m welcoming a very special guest who’s exploring the connection between movement, exercise, and mental health, as well as overtraining, burnout, and injury. We’re also talking about self-efficacy, and so many of the superpowers that exercise has when it comes to your mind.

Steph Gaudreau
If you’re an athletic 40, something woman who loves lifting weights, challenging yourself, and doing hard shit, the fuel your strength podcast is for you. You’ll learn how to eat, train, and recover smarter, so you build strength and muscle, have more energy, and perform better in and out of the gym. I’m strength nutrition strategist and weightlifting coach Steph Gaudreau. The Fuel Your Strength podcast dives into evidence-based strategies for nutrition training and recovery, and why once you’re approaching your 40s and beyond, you need to do things a little differently than you did in your 20s. We are here to challenge the limiting industry narratives about what women can and should do in training and beyond. If that sounds good, hit subscribe on your favorite podcast app. And let’s go!

Steph Gaudreau
What is up? Welcome back to the podcast. Thank you so much for being with me here today. Make sure you push that subscribe button on your podcast app and on to this show. If you have ever been injured in your sport, as an athletic person, you know how challenging this can be not just for your body, but also for your mind. My very special guest today is Dr. A’Naja Newsome. She is an exercise scientist, educator, coach, and athlete who is passionate about helping people just like you to optimize their strength and yes, mental health mindset. self-efficacy, how we balance training with recovery are huge parts of what she is talking about in this episode. If you’ve ever been injured and felt like you had some mild depression, or you were dealing with a lack of identity, then this episode is absolutely for you. I’ve been there, she’s been there. And I know that this episode is going to be super helpful. I know that I really appreciated her perspective on how connected all of these issues are. And that is absolutely true. There is such a strong connection between physical health, and mental health, and how as athletic people, we find harmony between our training our recovery, what we put in our body, and how we foster the resilience of our mind.

Steph Gaudreau
Before we dive in if you are a midlife athlete or athletic person, and you’ve been struggling with this idea of how to blend, nutrition, training, recovery, and how to manage stress, then go ahead and check out the strength nutrition unlocked program. This is going to be for you if you want to build muscle get stronger, you want to have more energy, and perform better in the gym. But you’ve been kind of lost about how to bring all of the pieces together and implement put them into action. Along with of course evidence-based solid sound information, coaching and accountability, and a community. We’d love to chat with you more to see if this is a great fit for you. And you can schedule a call with the team over at StephGaudreau.com/Strong Alright, let’s go ahead and dive into this highly requested topic of the connection between mindset and strength with Dr. A’Naja Newsome. Hey, A’Naja welcome to the podcast.

Dr. A’Naja Newsome
Hi, Steph. Thanks for having me.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, you’re very, very welcome. I’m really excited for us to chat today and, and just share your perspective on training and share your perspective on strength, and all of the different things that you talk about which I’m really excited about because we haven’t. We’ve touched on this in past podcasts. But we haven’t ever really had somebody come on the show to specifically talk about some of the things that are really in your zone of genius. So I’m really excited to introduce you to everyone and hear from you about all of the things that are going on in your world and you love teaching about awesome.

Dr. A’Naja Newsome
I’m really excited to be here and I love sharing and talking about some of the things we’re gonna talk about today and the more that we can share it I think it benefits people outside of you know, just general exercise training and I think it’s great it’s an important influence into training.

Steph Gaudreau
Absolutely. So give us some background, I guess on yourself. Sometimes I call this the superhero origin story. I know that you really love strength, I know that you are an athlete yourself, give us the kind of background, how did you get into sports and training? What influenced your decision to specialize in exercise science? Like, how did you get to this point?

Dr. A’Naja Newsome
Yeah, so you know, I, I played softball growing up in, in high school and in college, and unfortunately, I tore my ACL. So I tore my ACL in college for the second time. And at that point, I kind of had to make a decision about whether I wanted to just walk in, you know, not pursue an athletic career. After tearing your ACL twice, the rehab gets twice as long. And it was through physical therapy, though, I found exercise science, I really started wanting to understand how my body was healing, how I could get back to where I was, you know, pre-injury. And I had a really awesome physical therapist that introduced me to group fitness. And that was kind of my entry level into fitness and sport and as a professional. And so I changed my major to exercise science, just out of that relationship with my physical therapist, you know, I was a pre-med major, I thought I was going to be a pediatrician.

Dr. A’Naja Newsome
And that changed suddenly, drastically after Organic Chem. And, you know, that’s the weeding out class. So exercise science became my thing, I didn’t really know what that all entailed. I just knew that I was fascinated with, you know, how we can adapt to strength, how we can adapt to aerobic conditioning, you know, the role that fitness and exercise played in, in people’s lives that were around me, I just thought that was really important. And so I ended up getting my bachelor’s in Exercise Science and went on and got my master’s in sports administration. And I worked in our Collegiate recreation program at the time, really teaching group fitness and doing personal training. And that was kind of my gateway into a professional in exercise, and fitness, and health.

Dr. A’Naja Newsome
Fast forward a little bit, I developed this love for exercise, and we’d learned all the benefits of exercise and how it’s so good for you, and it helps with your physical and mental health. But then there’s also this side that you experience of people just not wanting to be physically active, and not wanting to exercise or not knowing how or not understanding the, you know, the access points. And so I was reading through and, and reading through some articles, and there was this research article that said, you know, almost 90% of people identified the benefits of exercise and physical activity. But of that 90%, only 33% were physically active on a regular basis. And so there was this weird juxtaposition between what we know, and what we actually do. And so that kind of catapulted me into a Ph. D. program to really understand kind of the psychological aspects behind exercise and behavior change, and how since we know and we understand the positive benefits, how can we get more people involved and keep them involved. And so that’s kind of what led me to where I got my earned my Ph.D. last year. And my focus is on the psychosocial aspects of physical activity and exercise. And that includes some of the adherence motivation, behavior change, and things like that.

Steph Gaudreau
Wow, well, congratulations, hey, I’m, you’re on earning your Ph.D. That’s no small accomplishment. So well, well done for that. And I think what you’re talking about here is so crucial, you know, to your point, a lot of people are able to say, Yeah, exercise is something that you do for XYZ benefits. And it is one of those sorts of health-promoting behaviors, but what are the things that stand in the way and help people to sort of move past those or work through them and overcome those things? What is in their power to change? I think is, is the is one of the keys like, it’s like the key to unlocking all of the things that we know is so amazing about movement.

Steph Gaudreau
I know that for you discussing the elements like mental health that go along with movement is very important. So it’s not just the physical. Can you talk to us a little bit about the connection between movement and physical activity and mental health and some of the things that we see are, are those positive changes? And what we’re not necessarily talking about quite as much.

Dr. A’Naja Newsome
Yeah, absolutely. So we have spent a lot of time, as a matter of fact, there’s there was a lot of research that was done for about 10 years asking participants to identify the benefits of physical activity. And of that list, I think seven out of 10 identified physical changes, weight loss, muscle mass growth, the ability with functional activities, things like that run faster, lift heavier, they identified all of these very physical changes. And very few identified psychological changes such as improved mood, and improved cognitive behavior, so thinking and functioning and remembering long-term memory have shown to be connected to physical activity behavior. And so when we’re talking about older individuals, we are trying to boost cognitive performance. You also see this with college students. So trying to connect study behaviors with movement, increased movement, and less sedentary behavior to improve cognitive function.

Dr. A’Naja Newsome
And then also enjoyment, happiness. Those are all things that we have seen a connection with, with increased physical activity. And I want to just preface that I say physical activity and exercise because, in my field, they’re different physical activity is a general movement that you know, gets the heart rate going. And that could be anything from leisurely gardening to, you know, taking a walk with your, with your animal with your pet and things like that. But exercise is a more planned structured exercise, for the purposes of some sort of health benefit. And so you’ll hear me refer to physical activity and or exercise throughout this because what we have learned is that a lot of the research, especially in the public health, from a public health lens looks at physical activity in general, and not necessarily structured exercise. And so that’s kind of where we are, where we’re headed when we talk about the connection between positive mental health.

Dr. A’Naja Newsome
So improvements in stress levels, reduction of depression symptoms from a sub-clinical or a clinical diagnosis, and anxiety. What we’ve seen from a clinical standpoint, is that we know that aerobic performance, improves mental health and mental illness. But what we’re looking at now, is the relationship between strength training and mental illness. Is there a relationship there? Is there a dose-response relationship, meaning, the more that you strength train? What is that frequency? What does that modality look like, as it relates to anxiety, depression, stress, PTSD, even and some bipolar disorders? So that’s all new and emerging research. But it’s really important to understand that physical activity and exercise is not just about physical improvements, there are mental and psychological improvements as well, that can be had.

Steph Gaudreau
So powerful. I know one of the things that some folks in my community will say are things like, you know, one of the ways I deal with my stress is exercise. But they kind of wonder at some point whether or not it becomes their only coping strategy. And so do you have any thoughts on that or anything that you’ve seen from your research?

Dr. A’Naja Newsome
Not necessarily, from my research, I have also heard, you know, physical activity and movement in general, being a coping strategy, and it’s a positive coping strategy that is in the research, the connection between positive coping strategies versus avoidance behaviors. So we want to provide clients and athletes with positive activities that they can participate in that are going to reduce stress. But there is this other spectrum because stress exercises, stress exercise is a stressor on the body as well. And so I think that we have to really balance the stress that exercise is going to put on us with what we’re trying to cope with and what we’re trying to overcome and manage. I think it’s really important that we can use exercise as a coping strategy. But it’s not necessarily a stress reducer. And I think when we understand the differences between that we still need to address those stressors in our lives and be able to adjust those stressors and manage those stresses. But exercise can be a positive coping strategy when we are in those moments of high stress.

Steph Gaudreau
Oh, that’s so good. Yeah, thank you for making that distinction. And I think that’s gonna really help people to understand kind of their own interaction with exercise and inactivity like you said, you know, I think one of the things that I hear a lot from athletes and I, when I say athletes, I mean athletic people who are training with a purpose. But when I talk to athletes, and they are sort of like, wow, I didn’t realize that even though I love my training, or I love to exercise I love working out. It’s, it’s really presenting some mental challenges for me. That’s a huge part of it for a lot of people. And I hear a lot of like, oh, I don’t feel like I’m motivated to work out and what’s going on there. So I know that you’re really deep in this world of talking about mental skills and self-efficacy and motivation. And I would just love to hear you kind of freestyle on this a little bit. Because I think this is such an important aspect of, I guess, to like, the longevity in, in participation in workouts and fitness. So what do you got for us there?

Dr. A’Naja Newsome
Absolutely. So I’ve seen this a lot. And I’ll kind of if you don’t mind transition, at the end of this into kind of this framework that I’ve been working on, on optimizing performance, but overtraining and burnout is real. And it is a significant reducer in motivation and discipline for any activity. But in this context, in this space, we’re talking about exercise and sports performance. Overtraining comes from the repetitive use of muscle groups in an activity without the proper recovery. Recovery is one of the things that help us minimize and overcome overtraining and burnout. Overtraining, specifically because that’s the physical ramification, but people tend to not understand what recovery is recovery, is it sitting on the couch. Recovery isn’t just taking one day off, but you are running 10s of millions of errands and not fueling your body hydrating properly.

Dr. A’Naja Newsome
Taking care of your sleep, I listened to an episode that you did on sleep, and I was like blasting it for everyone to hear because that sleep is so important for the recovery of your the physical recovery of your body to help us prevent overtraining, overtraining leads to burnout, burnout leads to poor motivation, burnout, we’ve seen increased injury, which is one of the most alarming symptoms that people don’t draw a connection from. So when you have burnout, you have a poor cognitive function, and lack of recovery. And usually, you have poor neuromuscular control. We see a ton of acute injuries as a direct result of burnout that results from overtraining. And so it’s a really important one that we recover. And two that we cross train. I’m an athlete, I do Olympic weightlifting, I snatch, clean and jerk. And when you look at my training in order to be really good at snatch and clean and jerk, what do you do, you snatch, clean and jerk.

Dr. A’Naja Newsome
And you know, it gets pretty mundane, you do the same thing over and over again, that’s how you build technical skills. But within that, you know, I also run, I also do yoga, I am, you know, subpar CrossFitter, if you will, one of my training partners will write a lot and I will grudgingly do it. But it’s because you need that cross-training in order to help your body avoid the repetitive use of the same muscle groups over and over again, which is where we start to see those nagging injuries.

Dr. A’Naja Newsome
You know, one of the other things that we see in overtraining is the lack of checking in on that elbow injury that you just keep on ignoring from overuse, it will continue to grow. And then that injury turns into something that will not go away. And then that turns that leads into not being able to train at all. And what we have seen there’s a research study published about four years ago, is the relationship between athletic injuries and depression. So athletes that are not able to train as frequently or as intensely as they have been, show higher levels of depression, subclinical depression, but depression nonetheless, because that athletic identity is so strong, that when you’re not able to do those things any longer it weighs on you from a psychological standpoint.

Dr. A’Naja Newsome
And so, as a coach, I am really, really a huge proponent of minimizing overtraining, the second that I see that you’re not, you know, moving the way that I know that you can move or recovering the way I know that you can recover I’ll pull training back. I will you know de-load you & we will taper we will take extra days off, because it’s not worth it in the long run for your physical health, but also your mental health, it’s not good in the long run for the longevity of being an athlete to overtrain sometimes I get younger athletes who they want to train eight days a week if they can, and they figure, the more hours that I spend in the gym, the better athlete I’m going to be. And that’s not the recipe for longevity, in sport, in a strength sport, and a high impact sport, or, you know, in your recreational runners and recreational lifters, longevity is about protecting your body recovering, properly fueling for what you’re doing, and avoiding overtraining or reducing that overtraining.

Steph Gaudreau
Yes, thank you. All right, everybody goes over real, I say rewind, I don’t think that’s actually both like, tap back and listen to this section. Again, this is real. You just dropped some incredible gems here and some really important stuff. And I’m so appreciative that you mentioned the connection between that subclinical depression, you mentioned identity, which was a word I had written down when I got injured, this is many years ago at this point. But that was one of the first times I couldn’t train. And it was mentally really, really hard. And I know that this is stuff people deal with all the time because they’re in my DMs like, I got hurt, I can’t train what how do I make it through this? How do I cope with the fact that such a big part of my life, I can’t participate in the way that I used to? So do you have any advice or any sort of, you know, evidence-based practices or anything that you’ve seen has really helped people to kind of get through it other than just saying like, it’s just time?

Dr. A’Naja Newsome
Yeah.

Steph Gaudreau
Which I know time and time is a huge element. But what do you think?

Dr. A’Naja Newsome
Yeah, so I’ll kind of parallel this with a story. In my own story, I started Olympic weightlifting seriously, as a competitive athlete. About seven years ago, now, maybe eight, and I had dreams of making it big, you know, I trained five days a week, I, you know, I did all the things that I was supposed to do, I feel I ate well, I even went into double sessions. I was training in double sessions a couple of days a week, and I was seeing a lot of improvement. At that moment in my life, I had the flexibility to really train full time as an athlete, my partner supported me full time as an athlete. And that’s really, really important. We’ll talk about social support towards the end of this, but that social support allowed me to really function and do what I needed to do to reach my goals. Then enter pandemic, pandemic shut down a lot of things. We were stuck at home gyms were closed, and we all shifted and we all pivoted.

Dr. A’Naja Newsome
During that time also, I was writing my dissertation. If you’re familiar with writing a Ph.D. dissertation, it is a lonely, isolating, exhausting time of your life. And so my time, my lifestyle, and the demands on my time shifted. And I went from being what I quote, and you can’t see these quotes, but being an athlete, being a full-time athlete who was going to go far to being stuck in the trenches of this dissertation research, and not really understanding how to balance full-time athlete with a full-time student. And I struggled with that. And so one of the things that I had to really understand is, what am I doing right now, what my lifestyle has, has shifted. And what does that mean for me, as an athlete? I went from training eight times a week, to training three days per week. And a couple of things that I had to really realize is that more wasn’t necessarily better.

Dr. A’Naja Newsome
Less isn’t necessarily better. It’s just different and different is bad. We need different we need to change up our frequency, we have the Fit principles, frequency, intensity, time, and type or modality, those things need to change in order for us to see progress. And so here’s a little story. I had not hit a personal best in two years. I was training eight times a week and not seeing progress. Do you know how frustrating that is as an athlete, and I’m pretty sure your listeners can relate to that you’re working hard, you’re putting in the time you’re doing what you need to do and you’re like, can I just get one additional pound? Like can I, you know, and so, but all of this time, I was also up at 5 am writing.

Dr. A’Naja Newsome
Being sitting in front of my computer, I was more sedentary than I had been in years, my nutrition wasn’t where it needed to be, and I was drinking very obnoxious amounts of caffeine to just stay awake during the day. So all of these things around me, my lifestyle was changing, my nutrition was changing, but I was trying to hold on to the training. And that’s what a lot of athletes, clients, and athletic people don’t really understand. Your lifestyle is going to constantly change, your mindset is going to constantly change, my priorities went from being a full-time athlete to being full time gotta finish this Ph.D. But I was still holding on to full-time training, right. And so I was spinning my wheels, I was struggling. So I moved from eight sessions a week to three days a week, eight sessions to 3-75 minute sessions a week, I thought that I had lost it as an athlete and was never going anywhere, I PR my back squat by 10 kilos. Because I finally aligned my training goals, my nutrition with my mindset with my lifestyle. And it took me a moment to come to terms with that to accept it. But when you then see those outcomes, those positive outcomes, you understand that it’s more than just training more, sometimes training less, and making those things align with whatever else you have going on, will actually improve the outcomes that you’re looking for.

Dr. A’Naja Newsome
And so I encourage listeners, I encourage people to take a step back, the socio-ecological approach to physical activity says that your natural environment is the biggest thing that you the biggest factor that impacts you know, whether or not you’re physically active, whether or not you make a change in the behavior, so your natural environment, you know, the areas that you’re living in your social environment, those are all big factors that impact our, our abilities to be athletes, our physical activity levels. And I think that we forget that when those things are shifting, and we’re holding on to the same training styles that we’ve had for five or 10 years, all of a sudden, those training styles are outside of our sphere. And when it’s outside, it’s not, it’s not you’re not going to find optimal performance there. And so that would be kind of what I would share with listeners is, things change, you change your the seasons of life change, you know, now I’m coming out of my Ph.D. program, I’m back to training five days a week, right? And I’m kind of actually like, Hey, I think those three days a week, that three days a week program a lot, you know, so and we can ebb and flow. And change is not bad. It’s just different. And sometimes it helps us improve, and get closer to the goals that we’re actually trying to get to.

Steph Gaudreau
Thank you so much for sharing your personal story. I love I think that’s always very powerful. Because it’s one thing to come on, I go on podcasts of guests on this show. And you know, we tell stories or real stories from maybe clients we’ve had or things we’ve seen, but then when we tell the story personally, people are like, Oh, okay, like it actually happened to you. You’ve been through it. You know, and I think what you bring up about optimizing your strength, kind of aligning your training to where you are in life is so powerful. I heard recently from somebody who said, you know, I used to be a competitor in CrossFit, and, you know, things have just changed in my life. I’ve kind of like, and I’m using air quotes here retired from the competition circuit, if you will. And that person was saying, you know, she’s having a hard time with that, that element of like those, the competition is missing, or, you know, she’s used to looking forward to what the season was going to bring. And now it doesn’t have that.

Steph Gaudreau
How have you made it through those times? I guess this kind of maybe tacks on to the conversation, but like, are there certain things you tell yourself? Or if you have had those moments where you’re kind of feeling like you’re missing out? Or, you know, it’s not gonna get better? Are there any things you repeat to yourself? Any other ways that you kind of get through that?

Dr. A’Naja Newsome
Yeah. One thing that I would suggest is reevaluating how your frame of reference for goals and performance and from a psychological sports psychology standpoint, there’s a mastery approach. And there’s a performance approach. And that performance approach is generally what we do as athletes, right? We want to go into a competition we want to beat everyone we want to be number one, we want to be on the podium. And so it’s a constant comparison against a normative standard, you know, am I in the top 5 am I in the top 10 am, I in the first place, third place, how many points Am I earning for my team. And so we go into competition. And we go into performances with these performance approaches to goal setting or performance approaches to I guess, evaluating our approach, a mastery approach says, I’m going to compete against myself.

Dr. A’Naja Newsome
So it’s a different frame of reference. And so maybe the last time you went into competition, you know, your, your best squat was 100 kilos, 220 pounds. And so now your goal is to beat yourself and to improve upon yourself. Maybe it’s not even necessarily a number. But it’s the consistency of movement. I have athletes where, you know, in some sessions, we focus on consistency of movement at 85%. I don’t care what your one rep max is, I want to see can you hit 85%, six-time and look sexy doing it? Like, to me that’s, that’s, that’s a mastery approach to your goals. And it helps build self-efficacy. We talked at the beginning of this conversation about self-efficacy and self-confidence. And I think mastery approaches to performance.

Dr. A’Naja Newsome
Judging your own performance and your own competence based on yourself based on you know, some improvement over your own longevity, helps us build self-efficacy, self-confidence is a little bit different than self-efficacy. So I’ll share that self-competence is this global idea that I can do things, I’m good at things, and self-confidence is usually a personality trait. So some people are just naturally more confident than others, they will approach different situations, you know, more aggressively or more assertively than others. And so, so competence is this kind of global, more stable trait. Self-efficacy is more situation-based. So self-efficacy is about your ability or your belief that you can perform a specific task in any given situation. And so when we talk about physical activity, or exercise or sports performance, we’re looking at self-efficacy, your ability to come into a situation and perform, regardless of what’s happening.

Dr. A’Naja Newsome
And I think self-efficacy is a very important determinant of sport, it’s a very important determinant of physical activity, whether someone will adhere to physical activity or exercise. Self-efficacy, predicts performance. And then on the flip side performance actually predict self-efficacy. So if that makes sense. So the more self-efficacy, the more self-efficacy I have, the higher my self-efficacy is, and the more likely I’m able to go out there perform, perform my best take on more difficult, challenging tasks, and be successful. Now, that outcome of that performance, me being successful, actually contributes to higher levels of self-efficacy. So it’s a circular kind of give and take.

Dr. A’Naja Newsome
Unilateral directional type of relationship. And so when we talk about, you know, approve improving mastery approaches, if I’m competing against me, and not some other normative standard, I’m not competing against Steph anymore, because, you know, that’s not the season of life that I’m in, I’m able to build and improve that self-efficacy because I know that if I’m going out and giving my 100% best effort, and I am improving on my own performance, I’m more confident that I can do it again. Self-efficacy is not about it being easy. It’s not about choosing easy tasks. It’s simply about believing that you have the tools to overcome whatever obstacle is going to come. And so I think that’s so important when we talk about exercise when we talk about athletics because it’s not meant to be easy, right?

Dr. A’Naja Newsome
Once you get good at one thing, there’s always going to be something else that you have to get good at you know, I always say a PR is a PR until it’s not a PR once you hit it, you’re always looking for that next  milestone, you know, I remember the first time I squatted 100 kilos, then it was like, well, now I want 110. And so like, you’re never gonna you’re never going to reach that pinnacle where you’re like, I’m good at squatting. 150 kilos now. I don’t want anymore. I don’t want to squat heavier.

Dr. A’Naja Newsome
But you can build other goals, maybe you want to be able to squat more effectively, maybe you want to squat more frequently, maybe you want to feel better, more confident, when you get to that, you know, heavier load. And all of those things contribute to our self-efficacy, and performance accomplishment. So looking at the success, the outcomes of your past performances, vicarious experiences, so social support, social support is so critical to self-efficacy, because I can watch significant others, I can watch teammates, I can watch other people in my circle, and their experiences help build my own self-efficacy is, it’s really cool to watch a team build each other up, and you have this kind of collective group self-efficacy.

Dr. A’Naja Newsome
And I think that that’s important when we talk about different seasons of our lives and how things shift and change. Now it’s about the group. Now it’s about the group performing well. I see it in CrossFit a lot, you know, you go from individual competition, and you’re like, Well, I didn’t make the individual stage anymore. But now I’m in this group stage. And to watch the power of group dynamics play, improving motivation, and improve self-efficacy is really important.

Dr. A’Naja Newsome
Coaching also helps contribute to self-efficacy, from the standpoint of we when you especially when you have a coach that has influential leadership, high leadership skills, they can influence self-efficacy me saying, I believe you can do this, I believe that you can, you know, give your very best effort we were when we reward effort as coaches as opposed to outcomes we have when we reward, Hey, you said you were going to do this and you did it.

Dr. A’Naja Newsome
Well, we reward that effort that helps improve self-efficacy as well. The last thing is physiological and emotional responses to performance. I’ll tell you a quick story I was working with an athlete who had been working with a coach for a very long time who came to me and was trying to get her head wrapped around improving just functional strength training, she felt like she had been kind of beat up a lot like it has to be heavy all the time. And that kind of led to the overtraining and the burnout that we talked about. And she was trying to work through some of that. And so when we have negative experiences within training, that leads to lower levels of self-efficacy. And so with her, and while I do this with newer athletes, also, we’re setting both process and performance goals.

Dr. A’Naja Newsome
Because you have to enjoy the process, in order to improve self-efficacy and improve motivation to improve adherence, the more that we positively connect with the outcomes or with the process, the better the more improved self-efficacy will have. And so what I’ve found is that if we’re constantly fatigued from something, if we’re constantly tired from something, if, if something consistently hurts, or doesn’t feel good, it’s not a good environment, we have lower levels of setup self-efficacy as a result, and we lack motivation. And then that decreases our adherence to a program in general.

Steph Gaudreau
Wow, I again, like you gave us so many gems here. And there’s so much packed into what you just talked about. I mean, I love that idea of mastery, as something that you can kind of shift your focus to you talked about self-efficacy, and the things that affect it, the difference between that and self-confidence. I think this is just going to be so incredibly interesting for people and because you also mentioned that social support, kind of working together. I think one question that I have there that people might be interested in knowing the answer to is that, you know, you mentioned the pandemic earlier, and how we all kind of were forced to separate, literally, from each other. And a lot of people kind of found that training at home or training, you know, in their own time. worked better for them for whatever reason. If you are someone who is more of,  I guess, you know, lone wolf kind of athlete like how do you build that sense of community, I guess, or have you found ways that you can still kind of create that sense of like you’re part of something greater so you can develop that? I guess that motivation, that self-efficacy in that way?

Dr. A’Naja Newsome
Yeah, absolutely. So fitness technology is and probably will continue to be in the top five fitness trends for the next foreseeable future. So ACSM the American College of Sports Medicine produces a top 20 fitness trends list every year. So, and I would probably venture to say, I know for the last five years for sure, because I have them and I use them in my dissertation research, but probably a little bit before then mobile technology trackers, were at the top of the list, they were like number one, and two, they bounced back every year. And now we have, you know, we have your oops, and your Apple watches and your Fitbits and your mobile apps and things like that. And I think that one of the ways, one of the interesting things that social support does for us from a technology standpoint, allows us to connect with others that are distant. And we saw a huge increase in incentive programs via technology trackers that arose from the pandemic. And I think that they’re here to stay. So I know Apple Watch, for instance, allows you to challenge other people. And so you can challenge to who gets the most moves in a week. And you know, that little competition allows you to have that social support someone cheering you on but from a distance. The other thing that I found is that we lived on Zoom for two years. And that did not that that’s not going away either.

Dr. A’Naja Newsome
I remember being in my garage training, and we had group training sessions with other weight lifters, all of us signed on Zoom, and we were all in our garage, all at the same time. And we had the zoom camera up, and we would do our training, and talk to each other in between sets. And that was a huge, I mean, there were people on that Zoom call that were on my team from across all of the time zones in the country training all at the same time. And that created such a connection that I can’t explain, that I probably had never gotten before, but allowing that creative technology to allow us to train together while we were forced to be apart, but also because we all lived in different states. And so I think that social support is one of the biggest influences on changing behavior. As we’ve seen in physical activity, and especially in women, having strong social support networks actually leads to higher levels of adherence and self-efficacy for physical activity.

Steph Gaudreau
I love that. Thank you so much. And yeah, I think you’re right, we’re gonna see that stuff here to stay that connection, however, we can make it happen is just so key. Having that support from people who get what you’re going through, is just priceless. So thank you so much for going through all of that. This has been incredibly interesting. And just such a pleasure to talk with you on all of these elements of training besides just the actual training itself, which can really, really lead to such positive outcomes with people. What are you working on now? What do you got kind of cook-in? And how can people connect with you?

Dr. A’Naja Newsome
Absolutely. So I’m a serial, do everything all at one time. I can’t do just one thing. So right now I’m actually writing a book on optimizing strength and aligning what matters to improve your training and performance. And I think it’s really important for folks to understand all of the factors that go into improving training and performance. So many times I’ve had clients come to me and they just want to work on their nutrition. I just, I just want to cut my body weight and cut carbs and eat very little. And I’m like, well, why, tell me why. And they’re like, well, because I want to lift in a lower weight class. And I’m like, well, why? Cuz I want to be strong, and I want to win. And I’m like, Okay, do you want to be strong and win? Or do you just want to be in a lower-weight class? And they’re like, Well, I guess I want to be strong. And when I’m like, okay, so how about we adjust your nutrition and adjust your training. And so I think that all of these things that aligned together, we have to stop looking at them as isolated, independent factors. And so I’m writing a book and working on some research that will help us as coaches and professionals better align those things, but then there’s also a framework that will help the athlete understand where they are, and build to kind of that optimal performance. So I’m writing I’m writing that diligently. And hopefully, that’ll be done by the end of the year.

Dr. A’Naja Newsome
While I was writing that I’m also rebranding my business coaching kilos which I started five years ago, four years ago. And it was all about fitness coaching and nutrition and I do online fitness coaching and online nutrition coaching as well. And what I’ve learned is that most people come to me with goals, but they don’t understand that their goals are a part of a bigger why and so I’m on a mission to help women athletes understand their bigger why, and work towards that goal.

Dr. A’Naja Newsome
So most of the time, it’s not just about a nutrition goal, it’s about they want to get off of medications. It’s not just about a weight loss goal, they want to feel stronger for their kids. It’s not just that they want to, you know, improve their fitness, it’s about that they want more of a sport-specific training program. And so I’m rebranding and introducing optimized strength, which I’m so proud of. And it’s, it’s a, it’s a reflection of my growth as a fitness professional as an exercise scientist. And a lot of the research and work that I’ve done, I’ve been doing, so I’m really excited about that this summer. And otherwise, I’m teaching in the local Orlando area. So I’m rebranding so for those purposes, you can find me on Instagram, my Instagram handle is @anajanewsomephd. All of my information, my content, my links, and my website will be there. That’s the most consistent way to get in touch with me over the next eight to 10 weeks.

Steph Gaudreau
I think that’s all incredible. Thank you for, you know, writing your genius down and being willing to share with the world, I think that’s going to be an incredible resource for coaches and people who have a stake in fitness and training. And rebranding is not an easy thing. So kudos on that. But you know, when you have that alignment, and I can see your face just lit up so much when you started talking about that in your bigger purpose. And I just think that that’s amazing. So congrats on that.

Dr. A’Naja Newsome
Thank you very excited about it, and very excited to share some of that with you because this is the first time that I’ve really communicated it out loud. I’ve just kind of been working in the background on it.

Steph Gaudreau
All right, well, here we are. It’s how it’s gonna be out in the world. We will link all of that in the show notes so people can follow you on Instagram. I love what you talked about there. In one of your recent posts, I was scrolling through and I was like, oh, carbs, yay. Like, we’re talking about all of the things into your point, right? It’s not just these little siloed things. They all work together. And I think you do an amazing job sharing that with the world. So thank you so much. Yeah, thanks for being here on the podcast. So grateful and can’t wait to hear how this podcast positively impacts people.

Dr. A’Naja Newsome
Awesome. Thanks for having me.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, thank you.

Steph Gaudreau
All right, my friend. Thank you so much for listening to this show. A couple of things. First, smash that subscribe button on your podcast app. Tell a friend about this show. And if you want to go check out the show notes, including a full transcript of everything that Dr. A’Naja Newsome talked about, and how to follow her on socials. Then go ahead and find all of that at StephGaudreau.com & thank you so much for being here. I really, really appreciate it. Let us know what you thought about this episode. And if you have time, share it out on Instagram stories we would love to see and then re amplify and share that back out into the world. Thank you so much for being here. And until next time, stay strong.

 

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Hi, I'm Steph!

Nutrition and fitness coach for women, Lord of the Rings nerd, and depending on who you ask, crazy cat lady. My mission is to help you fuel for more, not less: bigger muscles, strength, energy, and possibilities. We’ll do it with my signature blend of science, strategy…and a little bit of sass.

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