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Fuel Your Strength Episode 414 How to Leverage Essentialism for Fitness

How to Leverage Essentialism for Fitness

If you are a woman over 40 trying to build your fitness and muscle, you know how important it is to get into the gym on a regular basis. But if you struggle to find the consistency or motivation to exercise, you are definitely not alone. I find consistency as one of the most common things my clients struggle with, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

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Key Takeaways

If You Are Curious About Essentialism, Try: 

  1. Taking time to decide what is truly important for you
  2. Saying no to the things that you do not want to do
  3. Doing fewer things but doing them better

Adding Instead of Taking Away

A lot of things in the health world are focused on removing or distancing yourself from a thing. Exercise is certainly not that way, and it requires you to lean in when it comes to changing your health habits. Although exercise takes time, energy, and space in your daily calendar, adding it to your life consistently is going to help you achieve the results you are looking for.

All 24 Hours Are Not the Same

While there are 24 hours in a day, each of us has our own schedule, timeline, and ability to prioritize exercise. Finding the time, space, and motivation to be consistent isn’t necessarily easy, but by asking yourself the right questions, you can identify what’s important, what you may want to say no to, and, ultimately, how to live more aligned with your values.

The #1 most underrated concept when it comes to helping you find more time, which can, in turn, help you increase your consistency with training, is essentialism. There is a counterintuitive reason why finding consistency with your workouts is so hard, especially as a woman over 40.

Have you ever approached your fitness with an essentialism mindset? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.

In This Episode

  • Behind-the-scenes update of what to expect in the coming months on my training platform (2:47)
  • Why exercise does not follow the standard ideal of health change (7:43)
  • Understanding essentialism and why it may help you assess your life (9:50)
  • Questions you can ask yourself as a thought exercise to guide your actions (13:04)
  • How to implement the principles of essentialism into your own life (15:25)


“It has been extremely gratifying to really bring those of you over 40 who are looking to improve your strength, muscle, and fitness, and feel strong. To really bring you a comprehensive program that is going to tick the boxes that we need as women over 40.” (3:47)

“If you are feeling challenged with consistency, I promise you you are not alone in feeling what you are feeling.” (4:52)

“Exercise cannot be accomplished through subtraction, elimination, or avoidance.” (8:33)

“Exercise is a form of self-care. We are taking care of our health.” (15:12)

“Ultimately, we all don’t have the same time in our day. But by implementing the principles of essentialism, hopefully, you can carve out just a little bit more for yourself.” (17:47)

Featured on the Show

Strong With Steph Info Page

Apply for Strength Nutrition Unlocked Here

Essentialism by Greg Mckeown

Get 20% off Legion Supplements with code STEPH (20% off your first order, double points on follow-up orders


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Related Episodes

FYS 410: The Power of Intrinsic Motivation in Fitness

FYS 408: Growth Mindset in Fitness

How to Leverage Essentialism for Fitness Transcript

Are you struggling to be consistent with working out? If you’re a woman over 40, and you’re trying to build your fitness and improve your strength and muscle, then you know how important it is to get into the gym on a regular basis. But if you’re like many of my clients and community members, you’re finding it difficult to do so.

On this podcast episode, we’re taking a look at, in my opinion, the number one most underrated concept to help you find more time, which will help you increase your consistency with training. And we’re also going to be taking a look at a counterintuitive reason why finding consistency with your workouts is so hard in the first place. Finally, I leave you with some tips so that you can start to open up more space in your schedule for strength training.

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’re 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!

Welcome back to the podcast. Thanks so much for being with me today. I am so excited to be covering this topic. Because if there is one question that I get all the time, it’s you know, I start off being consistent with my training. And inevitably, something happens and I kind of fall off track. And it’s really hard for me to get going again, how can I find the time, the space, and the motivation to continue to be consistent because I know consistency is really where I’m going to see results? I also earlier this year talked about several podcasts relating to mindset.

So today’s going to be a bit different. We’re not really diving headstrong into the mindset pieces. And I highly encourage you to go back and listen to those podcasts as well. Also, make sure you subscribe on your favorite podcast app if you’re enjoying the show. And if you’re watching on YouTube, hello, welcome and subscribe as well, and hit the bell for more notifications. Before we jump into the episode wanted to share a quick update with you about what’s been happening behind the scenes. Since a lot of times, y’all don’t see all the things that happen behind the scenes to bring you content and bring you programs and those sorts of things. And it’s really fun for me to kind of share the process in the journey along the way.

But in September, kind of late August, early September of 2023, I finally launched Strong With Steph, this is my 12-month progressive strength training program that’s purpose-built for women over 40. I am so proud of this program, it was definitely a labor of love over a year in terms of conception to the actual launch of this program, we have a full app built out as well through True Coach, it has just been an incredible amount of work, but at the same time, extremely gratifying to really bring those of you over 40 who are looking to improve your strength, your muscle, your fitness, you want to feel strong, to bring you a really comprehensive program that is going to tick the boxes that we need, frankly, as women over 40.

So in future episodes, I’m going to be covering some of the different pieces of the programming why I’ve created it the way I have, and how to get the most out of your strength programming overall, with different concepts regarding training variables, and so on and so forth. But for now, we have sort of the first group of people going through this program. And it is so gratifying to see their reports every week. You know, they’re writing notes, they’re sharing what’s happening, the results, and it’s just been incredible. So you’ll have to check the website to see what’s going on currently with the program, but you can find out tons more about it on the info page. And that’s at Steph, alright, let’s go ahead and dive into this topic today.

Which is if you’re struggling to be consistent with working out there are so many people who are struggling with this who find that consistency is the number one bane of their existence. So if you are feeling challenged by this, I promise you, that you are not alone in feeling what you are feeling. So let’s just kind of set that aside and say you’re not the only one. You’re not a freak of nature. This is something that a lot of people are really challenged by a spin actually in midlife, maybe you’re not 20 anymore.

Especially if you’re a woman over 40, who’s listening to this, you’re going to be in midlife, that’s just the way it is. And maybe when you were 20, and maybe you were in college, or you just had your first real kind of adult job, you had a lot of time, maybe you didn’t have a partner at that point, or you didn’t have kids, or your work life was much simpler than it is now. Maybe you had fewer responsibilities, you had fewer stresses and worries. I know a lot of my friends have had family members who are sick, they’re caring for an aging family or their family has passed away.

And it’s just a really stressful time for a lot of us, for a lot of people. So this is one of the things that in midlife, we’re often challenged by because it sort of becomes that question of where do I fit in this training? Where do I fit in exercise in general? And in this episode, I wanted to give you some coaching and insight, this is more of a coaching and insight podcast, about your own situation. So here’s how I would frame it out. A lot of healthy habits or a lot of health behavior changes that folks are trying to make involve breaking a habit or stopping doing something. There are numerous examples of this.

But a couple that come to mind would be things like smoking cessation, reducing your alcohol intake, or cutting down on screen time, these are just three out of the numerous that people will oftentimes say, we’re working on this as a way to try to improve our health, we’re in our 40s or beyond now. And there’s oftentimes kind of this wake-up call that comes where maybe we’ve received some health news for ourselves or a family member, it could just be a time where you were feeling like it’s time to take action, maybe your kiddos are grown, and you have more time to put into your own health and well being and taking care of yourself and you want to make some changes in your life.

So we have those sorts of habits that people or behaviors that people oftentimes want to get rid of, and even along the lines of nutrition. And we could do a whole podcast about how I take a different approach. For example, in my Strength Nutrition Unlocked program, where we’re focusing on an inclusive approach, but for the short term here, even nutrition or “healthier eating” in the mainstream, oftentimes focuses on getting rid of certain foods, or okay, of course, we do have things like add fruits and vegetables, but a lot of times we see and I see clients come in and say I have this long list of foods that I’m trying to avoid and just trying to focus on cutting them out. So we have this idea that a lot of health change is focusing on taking things away.

This is why we see also in the 40 and up group of women that I work with who are trying to build their fitness, improve their athleticism, build muscle, etc. oftentimes not eating until 2 pm every day because we’ve been told we should just not eat. So it’s easier to not do something than it is to do something is kind of the the place I’m going here. Exercise is not like that. It’s not like any of those things I just mentioned. Because exercise cannot be accomplished through subtraction, elimination, or avoidance. We have we have got to do it. It is that health-promoting behavior, and health-promoting habit that we cannot avoid in order to make positive change.

We have to actively engage. And I know this sounds really simple. But for some reason when we have that moment of thinking, Oh, okay, I can’t, yes, I have. I’m trying to avoid all these other things. But I actually have to actively make space and time for training for working out for exercise, whatever we want to call it. That’s when the challenge kicks in for a lot of people because exercise takes time. It takes energy. It takes space, in your actual daily routine in your calendar. There are resources that are often involved, that makes it more challenging than just saying I’m trying to cut down on my alcohol intake. So therefore I’m just trying to drink less alcohol as an example.

Years ago, I read the book Essentialism. It came out in 2014 and it was written by Greg McEwan. At the time minimalism was also gaining in popularity as a concept and I’m not here to knock minimalism or say that it’s bad or say the essentialism is better. It’s just that as a human, the concept of essentialism really resonated with me a lot more than the concept of minimalism did and I’m going to explain why that is, and what essentialism really is. And this, in my opinion, is one of the more underrated ways that we can start assessing our life, to try to free up more space time, and energy resources. So the idea of essentialism is to create more of those things, space, time, energy money, by deciding a couple of things, number one, what’s truly important to you.

And if you’ve never sat down and done a values, exercise of any kind, it’s highly illuminating, you can find many of them online. I’ve done this with a lot of my students and in my courses because if we don’t know what’s important to us, we might not realize why we keep running up against the same obstacles because there’s a mismatch there at some point. So I would suggest that when you’re deciding what’s truly important to you to also do a values inventory or a values assessment to help you there.

It’s not always easy to do, but it can be quite interesting. The second one is to say no to more things that you don’t want to do. And this is so hard, especially for people who are helpers. And maybe you have a helping type career, maybe that’s just part of who you are. Service may be important to you. But when we say yes to everything, then we don’t have time to take care of ourselves. And exercise is a health-promoting behavior, it is well-documented to have so many benefits for your health and well being physical, mental, and emotional health and well-being.

But when we say yes to everything that we don’t have that time for ourselves, this is particularly hard for women, especially, because we’re caretakers, maybe you’ve had the responsibility of taking care of the home, on top of a lot of other things. And of course, personality tendencies can factor into this as well. And also essentialism is the idea of doing fewer things, but doing them better, doing fewer things, but doing them better with higher quality or with higher degrees of attention. And this is kind of the concept that is like flying in the face of something like multitasking. Right?

Multitasking is doing as many things as we can at the same time, or doing several things at the same time. But what is truly the quality of those things? And really focusing down on just a few things, and doing those with a higher quality. So that’s the concept of essentialism. But of course, if you want a deeper dive, then go ahead and read the book. There are lots of other examples and exercises that you can use. There’s a reason why I suggest the book Essentialism to my strength Nutritional Lop students, as important reading for this reason. So what does all this have to do with working out?

I wanted to set up essentialism for you as we moved into the second part of this podcast so that you have a little bit of backstory. When you answer these questions, why are we asking these questions? So this can be a thought exercise for you grab a piece of paper and a pen, grab your notes section of your phone, whatever floats your boat, and jot down some answers to these questions. So the questions are, number one, what can I let go of doing that used to bring me joy or be fulfilling but no longer is? we outgrow things all of the time.

And you would be amazed how often people that I work with will keep doing something that is no longer fulfilling or aligned for them. Because they said yes, so many years ago to do the thing that now when they show up with that energy of begrudging, sort of a begrudging nature, other people can feel that, you know, resent resentfulness and those sorts of things. So, where can you let go of doing something that no longer is fulfilling to you? Another way to phrase that number two is what have I outgrown?

Again, we’re allowed to evolve and change and you would be surprised how many people feel like they still should stay doing the same thing because what will people think of them if they decide they’ve changed? See every podcast I’ve done where I’ve talked about rebranding from stupid easy paleo to what we are now as an entity, which is SG Fitness. So that change, right I outgrew, professionally, that brand, I shifted directions. But what if I had stayed trying to make myself continue to do that? It would have rung hollow for everyone, and then a huge, huge weight on me. Number three, and this is probably the hardest one. I’m not saying this is easy.

Where do I really need to say no, this is very difficult. For a lot of people. We don’t want to let others down. But the thing is, we cannot manage other’s emotions and emotional responses and what they say to our actions. I know it sounds a little bit tricky, but sometimes when we say yes to doing things we’ve now comemitted ourselves time, energy, etc. And we don’t have space to do the things that we really need to do to care for ourselves. Exercise is a form of self-care, we are taking care of our health. Right? So where do I potentially need to say no to something? And we can say it in the most direct way, which would be no.

Or we can have all sorts of ways to gently let people down that feel really aligned for us. There are tons of ways you can do this. But to practice saying no more often. And number four, what is the trade-off, I’m willing to make? We cannot do everything. Recently on one of our strength nutrition unlocked group calls, one of our students was talking about loving so many different activities, different sports, different activities. And she said something to the effect of I just have to kind of pare down my list. It’s hard to do at all. And that was just a conversation regarding training, not to mention all the other things that we want to do in our lives.

So we may have to make trade-offs here and there. Okay, so those questions, what can I let go of doing that used to bring me joy or fulfillment, but no longer does? What have I outgrown? Where do I really need to say no? And what is the trade-off? Am I willing to make it? And again, I know these are not easy. You may go through this process and realize you still don’t have the most time or space created for yourself because we do not all have the same responsibilities. Within the same 24 hours. There are 24 hours in a day. Yes. But we from person to person do not have the same lives, responsibilities, schedules, and non-negotiables. Right.

So we just want to acknowledge that here on this show. I’m not saying you might go through this exercise and still say I only have 15 minutes that I was able to create for myself which we can do something with that time. Let’s go ahead and summarize this episode, we talked about why introducing or finding consistency with exercise can be challenging because it’s something we have to add to our lives as a health-promoting habit, instead of just removing it.

We also talked about essentialism and how you can use its principles to carve out more space, time, energy, and resources for yourself, and some guiding questions to help you identify what’s important, what you may want to say no to and ultimately how to live more aligned to your values. Ultimately, we all don’t have the same time in our day, but by implementing the principles of essentialism. Hopefully, you can carve out just a little bit more for yourself. Thanks for listening to this episode. Share your thoughts below.

Have you ever heard of essentialism? What did you think about it? Can you implement it in your life? And make sure you subscribe to the show, whether that’s on your favorite podcast app or here on YouTube. Be sure to also ring the bell for more notifications. And remember, if you’re looking for a 12-month progressive strength training plan that is purpose-built for women over 40 Be sure to check out Strong With Steph or for a complete roadmap for your nutrition training, recovery, and stress management and the coaching that goes along with that check out Strength Nutrition Unlocked at StephGaudreau.com/apply Thanks so much for being with me and I will see you next time. Until then stay strong.

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Steph Gaudreau

Hi, I'm Steph Gaudreau (CISSN, NASM-CPT)!

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: bigger muscles, strength, energy, and possibilities. We’ll do it with my signature blend of science, strategy…and a little bit of sass.


Purpose built for strength, fitness, and athleticism. This is a templated, app-based 12-month progressive strength program for women over 40.


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For athletic women 40+ who want to get stronger, build muscle, boost energy, and perform better. Implement evidence-backed strategies to fuel, train, and recover smarter with the support & accountability you need.

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