Ep #100: Strong is a mindset

Strong is a Mindset with Carrie Holland | Strong Is a Mindset
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As you’ve probably noticed, things are changing over here. We are now Strong Is a Mindset! I’ve learned a ton of lessons from the first 99 episodes of this podcast, and today, I’m sharing not only what these lessons are, but also how they’ve contributed to my decision to take the podcast in a new direction.

However, one thing that has not changed about the podcast is that my goal here each week is to give you something practical you can use to change your perspective, whether it’s a tool, concept, or question to get you moving in the direction you want to go. This is where the idea of Strong Is a Mindset comes from.

Tune in this week to discover the lessons I learned from my first 99 episodes of this podcast. You’ll also learn why Strong Is a Mindset is an absolute truth, why it was the next right step for this podcast, and what the future holds.

Are you ready to eat, move, and think in a way that gets you strong both physically and mentally? You deserve to have both no matter how busy you are, and I can help. I’m opening up my one-on-one coaching program for new clients, and I would love to work with you. Click here to learn more about working with me.

Get access to my collection of books that changed my life here! Check it out and find your next great read.

What You Will Discover:

  • Why Strong Is a Mindset is an absolute truth.
  • What I’ve learned about being a mom, referring to myself as a mom, and the traditional roles of moms in society.
  • Why who you really are is more than who you’ve become in your career.
  • The societal expectations that are put on women, setting you up for exhaustion and burnout.
  • What happens when we get stuck in a process of constantly going, grinding, and shifting between our titles.
  • How this podcast is designed to help you become the woman you want to be, regardless of your titles.
  • Why the real work on your fitness journey is getting your mindset cleared up, so your brain can support you instead of working against you.

Listen to the Full Episode:

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Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You are listening to the Strong Is a Mindset podcast, Episode #100. Time for some lessons learned and time for some change. Let’s go.
This is the Strong Is a Mindset podcast, where you’ll learn how to build both a strong body and a strong mind by eating, moving, and thinking. I’m your host physician, personal trainer, certified health coach and certified life coach, Carrie Holland.
Hey, how are you? What’s new, what’s good? So, what’s good here? Well, a number of things are good here. If you are new to this podcast, welcome. If you’ve been around, and have been listening to this podcast for a while, you may notice that something’s a little different today. Beyond the new cover art, the new music, and the new intro, this podcast has a new name.
This change has been on my mind for quite a while. And as I got closer and closer to Episode #100, I’ve decided that it’s time to pull the trigger and do it. This is a big milestone for me and for the podcast. Over the last few months, I’ve hemmed and hawed about what to do with the show, and finally I made the decision to change the name.
If you’re wondering why I decided to do this, well, that’s part of what today is about. So, today, I want to share with you some of the lessons I’ve learned 100 episodes into this podcast. But beyond that, there’s a super important message that I want you to walk away with. Because one thing that has not changed about this podcast is my goal to give you something you can use.
Whether that’s a tool, a concept, a question, a framework, whatever it is, my aim is that you walk away with something actionable, or at least something to think about, that might just change your perspective. I know I like to talk, but this podcast has a purpose. And that purpose is to educate you and help you change the way you think. That is not going anywhere. But before I get into that, I also want to tell you about something else I’ve been working on that I’m happy to finally share with you.
So, if you’ve listened to other episodes of the show, or if you follow me on social media, you know that I am a huge book nerd. Or really, it’s more like an audio book nerd. Because the second I open a real book, I doze off; ask my kids. They laugh at me whenever I read with them, especially before bedtime, because they just watch me nod off, and then I finally give up.
Now, it is audiobooks in the morning while I work out. That’s just how I roll. But all the same, I have read and listened to hundreds of books, many of them more than once. And now, I’ve compiled them into my favorites and I’m excited to share some of them with you. So, please check out www.CarrieHollandMD.com/books, and download my first collection of favorite book recommendations.
One collection is books all about career and work life balance. And then, the other is a collection of books that in one way or another changed my life. So, that list, that is my all-time favorites list. These are books that I would tell any human to read, because there is something in each one of them that has the potential to transform your life, like they did for me.
So, check it out. Head to CarrieHollandMD.com/books and you’ll get access to both lists. There are many more lists coming. I’ve got other book collections already done, so stay tuned and I’ll tell you about those in future episodes.
Some of the other book lists are about habits, lifestyle, parenting, exercise, nutrition. There were enough books that I was able to break them up into categories. More on that to come in the future. And if you have recommendations, if there are books that I’ve missed, or books that you love that I haven’t mentioned, please tell me. I’m always looking for a good listen or read, especially if it’s a self-help book. It’s my favorite genre, for sure.
And if you read a lot of self-help books like I do, you know that the messages are often the same, but they all have their own unique spin. So, it can be as proper and eloquent and grammatically correct as Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Or it can be sarcastic and full of four-letter words, like Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass. The message is the same, but it’s wrapped differently. Either way, there is something to be taken from each and every one of those books, and I’m here for it. And I’m here for your recommendations, so tell me what I should read next. You can shoot me a message at Carrie@carriehollandmd.com with your recommendations. Alright?
Okay, so let’s dive in. After you’re looking back on the last 99 episodes that got us to today, I’m sharing some lessons learned, as well as some things to consider going forward. Most importantly, I’m going to explain why “strong is a mindset” really is the absolute truth, and why it was the next right stop for this podcast.
I’m sharing what I’ve learned along the way, both by coaching loads of women and by creating 100 episodes of this podcast, and I think you’ll see why this change makes sense. Alright? So, let’s go. The first, and maybe one of the most important lessons I’ve learned, is that not everyone here listening is a mom. So, in the time that I’ve started this podcast, I’ve gotten loads of comments, questions, emails, and episode suggestions from women who are not moms. I absolutely appreciate, and I do not take for granted, that someone who is not a mom would choose to listen to a podcast titled Strong As a Working Mom.
Beyond that, I also took a hard look at what I do in my day-to-day work. I am a life coach, and I have the honor of spending my workday coaching women to feel better. That’s through a combination of eating, moving, and thinking. But what I’ve realized is that these tools apply to any person, to any woman, whether she is a mom or not. And the more I coached, the more that became apparent.
Over time, it just didn’t feel right for me to ask my clients who are not moms to listen to a podcast called Strong As a Working Mom. So, as an aside, sometimes in coaching sessions if a concept comes up where it fits, or if I’ve written an episode about something that relates to what we’re talking about, I’ll refer clients to a podcast episode to listen to. But it just felt misaligned to be sending my clients who are not moms to listen to a podcast for working moms. It just did not feel right to me.
So, that made me do some serious thinking about the role of mom and what that means to me in my own life, and how that plays out in the way I coach. What I landed on, after a lot of reflection, is this. While I am a mom, and many, but not all of my clients are also moms, I am way more than that. And for any moms listening, please know that you are also more than a mom. Okay? Really.
I’m not speaking for the women I coach, but this theme has come up enough times in coaching sessions that I think it’s worth sharing. So, I’m speaking for myself here. I value being a mom. Being a parent is by far the best and also, hands down, the hardest job I’ve ever taken on. It has brought out the absolute best in me, and it has also brought out the absolute worst in me.
But being a mom does not define me. It is not all that I am. Because I am more than a mom. And while I very much appreciate having that title, I don’t want to use it to silo myself from other women. That is not my goal. The title of “Mom” is just one of many that I hold, and it’s just one of the many titles that some of my clients hold. While we can use that word to identify ourselves, it is not the entirety of our identity.
I don’t know, maybe that sounds harsh. I don’t think it does. I want my own identity beyond that of being a mom, and I want that for you too. Because while being a mom is most definitely part of me, it is not all of me. And in honor of all the women that I coach, past, present and future, I want you to know that you are your own person. You have your own identity beyond that of being a mom. And that is true, whether you call yourself a mom or not. Okay? This was a huge lesson that I learned.
Alright, next. The second lesson learned here, and the second thing I want you to consider is this: You are also more than your career. Okay? This is another big concept that I want to pull apart. Often, one of the first ways we identify ourselves is by our profession. Think about it. When you’re at a party, when you’re out and you meet someone new, when you introduce yourself to a friend of a friend, what usually surfaces? That question: What do you do for a living?
In part, it makes sense. You spend most of your waking hours at work. You may have spent years studying and interning and mentoring and preparing to obtain whatever career you have. So, it makes sense that we’re quick to identify by our career.
I know I did. I can use myself as an example. It took a long honking time to become a physician: Four years of college, four years of med school, three years of residency, and that’s the bare minimum. I’m on the short end of the training spectrum compared to some other physicians.
Depending on their chosen specialty, many of my colleagues have residencies that are longer. Or they take on multiyear fellowships that extend their training even longer. So, you’re looking at upwards of a decade of work, beyond college, to obtain your career.
And while that’s the case for physicians, there are also other professions that require years of training and ascending the ranks in order to get where you want to go. So ,when you put in that much time and energy into establishing your place in your profession, it makes total sense that your career is a large part of your identity.
But what happens when you realize that your career is only one small part of the picture? Or that your work is not what you thought it was going to be, and you don’t feel as strongly attached to your career as you once did, after years of chasing it? Again, I can use myself as an example. I spent a lot of my life, a lot of my energy, and a lot of brainpower becoming a physician. I thought that was who I wanted to be. Until I got there and realized, not too far into my career, that it actually wasn’t what I wanted. And now, looking back on it and reflecting on it, I realized that medicine was my escape.
I only recently realized it. But now that I’ve made that connection, it seems crystal clear and totally obvious. I thought that by becoming a physician, I was creating safety for myself. Growing up in my home, it was entirely obvious that my mom was completely and 100% dependent on my dad for everything. If he left her, if something happened to him, or if he was no longer in the picture, my mom would be totally lost.
She has no family, there is no one. She didn’t graduate high school. She held all kinds of odd jobs; fast food, house cleaner, waitress, gas station cashier. She did a little bit of everything. She had no money. She had no backup plan. And it was very obvious that she had nothing if my dad didn’t support her. So, what I translated from my upbringing was, “I need to find a career that creates safety.” I decided that, for me, it was going to be medicine. I wanted to help people. I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. And I wanted safety and job security. So, I got good grades, I was good in science, and I worked really hard.
All roads pointed to medicine, until I got there and realized that I did not love it. And then, I was sitting with a full-on identity crisis. Since high school, I had spent my life zoned in on becoming a physician. And then, I finally did it. I became a doctor, only to realize, “Holy cow, this is not at all what I want.” That was a real challenge, because that’s how I identified, as a physician.
So, when I went through my own career transition, not only did I change my profession, I also had to work on changing and accepting a new identity. It took me a minute to be able to declare with confidence, “I am a life coach.” That took some time. Because, both in and outside the medical community, there are opinions about being a life coach. That’s for a separate podcast.
But the important take home here, and the message I want to send to you, is that you are more than your career. You’re more than your degrees. okay? If you have spent years becoming a physician, or a lawyer or a business person or teacher or an accountant, or whatever your title is, that is just one small slice of your identity. You are so much more than your career.
Because your career is what you do, but it does not encompass who you are. And that, that is an important distinction to make. Because sometimes we can get so wrapped up in our careers, and whether we’re excelling and climbing the ladder, or getting good patient or customer reviews, that we lose sight of ourselves. We lose ourselves in the process.
I know I did. I had worked so stinking hard to become a physician and I finally was one. And I felt totally lost inside all of the bureaucracy, the policies, patient satisfaction metrics, charting, and units. I got so lost in all of that and it was terrifying.
It can be really unsettling to want to be something so badly, only to get there and realize it is not at all what you want. But whether you love what you do or you hate what you do, or you’re in the process of transitioning to what you truly feel called to do, the message is the same: You are more than your title at work. Your career is not your identity. Okay?
Alright, so now that I’ve shared two major lessons I’ve learned over the course of creating this podcast, let me tell you how this all comes together and why does this matter? What I realized is that regardless of whether or not you identify as a mom, you work hard; period, end.
I’ve mentioned it multiple times on the podcast, and it bears repeating here, but if you are a woman there is a societal and cultural expectation that you are a caretaker and you are a nurturer. You put other people’s needs before your own. You smile and do as you’re asked. And that is true whether you identify as a mom or not.
So, there’s a saying that working moms are expected to work as if they don’t parent, and parent as if they don’t work. That is an impossible standard that no woman can uphold, and it sets us up for failure. But at the same time, there’s a similar but different expectation placed upon women who do not have children, whether that is by choice or not. And that expectation is that you work that much more, and give that much more to your career, because you don’t have children to hurry up and get home to.
This has come up numerous times in coaching sessions with my clients who are not moms, and it is also setting them up for total exhaustion and burnout. Okay, so I can admit that I don’t know what that’s like, because that is not my lived experience. But it has come up enough times for my clients who do not have kids that I feel it’s important to call it out.
There are double standards placed upon women, whether they have children or they don’t. I highlight both of these scenarios because either way you slice it, women often land in a place where they feel pressure to perform. And not just to perform, but perform well, as in get the A+.
Most of the women I work with did not get where they are today by going easy on themselves. I am honored to have a lot of very high achieving women in my circle, both as friends and as clients. The message I hear from them time and time again is the same, they are exhausted. And these women are exhausted because they are constantly running. They are running trying to balance it all.
Trying to balance career, family, kids, partner, friends, and relationships. All of it. And here’s the thing, there’s something that happens in that process. Sometimes, in that process of constantly going, of constantly grinding, and constantly shifting between your titles, you can go numb. You become a machine. That was me, I was a machine. I was doing all the things; full-time family doctor delivering my own babies, writing lectures for the med students and residents, raising two boys, being a kid-Uber, seeing my husband every now and then when our schedules matched up, trying to see my friends. I was a machine. I was super productive. You could ask me to do anything and I would get it done for you, and I would get the A+.
But I was operating on autopilot, and I was completely empty inside. That makes sense, that’s how machines operate. Machines just do, they act, they produce, they churn out work, and they get a job done. And that was me. I took loads of action, lots of doing. But there was very little thinking, and even less feeling. I went numb.
I stayed numb for years, until I hit my absolute lowest point and everything started blowing up. Work was way too much and I was totally fried. My parents were fighting all the time, and it was getting super ugly and dangerous. On top of that, things were not great in my marriage. That was my breaking point. That’s when I stopped being a machine. That’s when, instead of feeling numb,
I let it all come to a head. I was a total disaster, a total mess. I had so much pain bottled up and I had no idea what to do with it, because I was just so used to being numb. From childhood, I had learned not to say anything was wrong because that’s when I got in trouble.
Emotion? That was not allowed in my house. I can still remember being bullied in fourth grade, getting in my mom’s car sobbing my face off, and my mom threatened to make me walk home if I didn’t get it together. That’s all she knew. And that was the lesson passed down to me.
So, when in my adult life everything seemed to be collapsing all at once, I had no idea what to do. I totally shut down on the outside but I was a complete mess on the inside. It was not pretty, but I knew that I was not going to repeat history ,and there was no way in hell I was going to relive as an adult what I lived as a child. There was no way I was going to pass that message on to my kids, no way.
That’s why I got therapy, and got coaching, asked for help, and slowly, slowly turned my life around. I share this small slice of my story because I know I’m not the only one who’s been there. I know that I am not the only woman out there who has felt like a machine, toggling between the various roles you play and the titles you have, trying to live up to all of them, and becoming empty in the process. I know I’m not the only one who learned to cope by going numb.
But there is a different way. So, if you can relate at all to what I’m saying please hear me loud and clear. You are not a machine, okay? You are not a machine. You do not have to keep slogging along, operating on autopilot, being everything to everybody, and feeling overstretched and overcommitted. You do not have to keep grinding until your financial planner says it’s okay to retire. You do not have to rotate between work and home as if you’re on a hamster wheel, flipping between the various roles you play for other people in your life. You do not have to put everything in a pocket and shove it down for later.
The key takeaway here: You are more than the sum of your titles. You are more than your career. You are more than the roles you play for other people; whether that’s mom, wife, partner, daughter, sister, friend, or any other role you have. And you are not a machine, you are meant to feel all of it. You are meant to feel the joy and also the sheer pain.
I learned this from my own coach. How do you know what joy is? Think about that. How do you know what joy is? Because you know pain. It’s only in that contrast that you’re able to appreciate each. If we only ever knew joy, we would be none the wiser and we’d totally take it for granted. But it’s because we know what the nasty, icky lows feel like, that we’re able to recognize and appreciate the amazing highs and the joy that comes with it.
And I am here for all of it. These are important lessons I learned the hard way, through loads of trial and error. And in all fairness, also through loads of therapy and coaching. But if I can use the lessons I’ve learned. and help you understand this without all of the pain I went through, then I’m doing what I set out to do.
You are a person. You are a human with thoughts and feelings and desires and passions. And I want to help you become the whole person you want to be, because it feels so much better to be more rather than a title. I went through this myself. I owned it.
I owned all the crap that happened to me, and realized that while certain things weren’t my fault, they were my responsibility. Big difference. But it meant I had to take ownership. So, I did. I did the work. I am still doing the work. And while, yes, I still identify as a physician, a life coach, a wife, a mom, and all the other titles, I know that I am so much more than that. And if I had to choose exactly one word to describe who I am, it’s strong, hands down.
That word has nothing to do with any titles I have, any work I’ve done, where I came from, my upbringing, how much I produce, or how busy I am. Okay?
So, let’s talk about this. Let’s talk about the word “strong”. Because I haven’t really made any mention of exercise or cardio or lifting weights or salad or protein yet, and this is a wellness podcast, after all. So, where does this all fit in?
Well, that leads me to my third, and probably most important lesson learned. In full transparency, I learned this lesson before this podcast came to fruition. But I’m reminded of it every single time a client tells me she just needs to hurry up and lose some weight. Or she just needs to diet down until she can fit into the smaller size dress. Or she just needs to get under 150 pounds, and then she’ll feel better.
No. No, it does not work that way. Here’s my most important lesson learned, so far anyway. You’re ready? Here it is: You can be the most jacked person in the room, but if you are not managing your mind, if you’re not taking care of your brain, then you do not have wellness. Okay?
That is why every single thing I do will come back to eating, moving, and thinking. Because all three are essential for wellness. All three combine to make you strong. And once again, you can learn from my mistakes.
So, when all hell was breaking loose in my life, starting with my parents, and then within my own marriage, and my life seemed to be turning upside down, I was probably at my most fit ever. I was preparing for my fourth Natural Bodybuilding show.
I had more muscle than I had ever had. I could bench press more than my body weight, and squat twice my bodyweight. I was still riding my Peloton, and was pretty fit from a cardiovascular standpoint. My diet? That was on point. Loads of protein, whole grains, healthy fats. I was on! You could look at me from the outside and think, “Hey, she is fit.” But that was about as far as it went. It did not go any deeper than that.
I realize now, only looking back on it, that I was trying to solve my insides by getting totally ripped on the outside. I thought that if I got fit as stink, and if I looked like a total badass on the outside, if I could do more pull ups or if I could squat more than anyone in the room, that I was okay. As long as I stayed fit and looked a certain way and had a certain physique, I was safe. I could not get hurt.
Because I wanted to send a message, to anyone and everyone, that said, “Don’t eff with me.” That was all I knew how to do. But please, please hear me. I was totally, absolutely wrong. Just dead wrong. Because muscle does not heal pain. Thin means nothing. Being small does not solve your problems. Having a shoulder cap and arm veins and biceps does not matter. Fitting into a single-digit hand size does not matter.
None of the outside stuff matters if you feel like total garbage on the inside. That’s where I was; super fit on the outside, totally broken on the inside. And after having made that very painful realization myself, and after having worked through it and coming out on the other side was a very, very different perspective on what it means to be well and what it means to be strong, now I can take that experience and help you and help my clients see it for what it’s worth.
Eating and moving will only take you so far. They are certainly important if you want to be healthy. So, if you’re here listening to this podcast in order to get fit, rest assured, I have got you covered. I’ve got the training and the certifications and the experience to tell you how to lift the weights and build the muscle. I can tell you how to improve your nutrition in order to optimize your body composition. I’ve got that down.
I am a self-proclaimed science nerd. I’ve got the certifications. I’ve done it for my clients, and I will dive into the latest to get you what you need to know in order to be fit, no problem. But eating and moving are only a small piece of that puzzle. If you truly want to be strong, if you want to have true wellness, that starts with your thinking.
I make such a big stink out of this because I’ve seen you try to go out in reverse. It’s easy to identify the pattern because I’ve done it myself. I’ve had clients try to strongarm themselves into eating next to nothing. I’ve seen them try to take on super-intense exercise regimens only to crash and burn.
I’ve seen them cut out entire food groups, and cut their food intake so low that they’re miserable. I’ve seen them repeatedly cut and replace carbs because they’re afraid to gain weight, only to eat candy and pastries all weekend long. These are all examples of trying to fix an internal problem with an external solution.
Maybe this is you, too. If you have spent years trying to beat yourself up into a thinner version, if you do not accept yourself as you are now, if you think you will like yourself better, and your self-worth will improve when you’re smaller or more muscular, or when you look a certain way, please understand, that’s not going to work. That is not the answer.
Instead of trying to make yourself smaller, and instead of spending so much of your time and energy worrying about your calories, or your protein or counting macros, or what the scale said, how about you start by focusing on your mindset? What would happen then?
I know this is a hard sell. Going inside and working on your brain and your limiting beliefs and your self-hatred, if you struggle with it like I did, that’s not as easy as going to the gym or going for a run, or recalculating your macros for the 100th time. It’s easier to do those things because we’re looking for an external solution. There’s got to be a program or a diet plan or a macro split that will work and get you into a better body, right?
I get it, I was there. It was a lot, a lot, a lot easier to go kill it at the gym and load up the barbell and squat my ass off, than it was to get into my brain and realize that I was falling apart and that I had decades of self-hatred sitting inside that I was trying to push away.
But please, if I can help you see and learn from my mistake, that self-hatred doesn’t go away just because you have a different body. That self-hatred just hangs out and stays there. But now, it’s just wrapped in muscle or smaller sized pants. So, we have to get the inside right.
There is no diet book or meal plan or protein bar or macro split or Power Zone Challenge that will do that for you. While all of that stuff is work, the real work is getting your mindset cleaned up So you live inside a brain that supports you, instead of living with a brain working against you. That is what this podcast is about. I will nerd out with you all day long about eating and moving. You know I love talking about protein and macros and squats and pull ups. But where things really start to change is with your thinking. That is where I’m going to help you most.
So, to make this crystal clear, my goal has not changed. My goal is still that no woman should have to choose between career, family, wellness, sanity, or herself. That is not going anywhere. What I realize is that this is true for any woman, whether she calls herself a mom or not, and regardless of whatever title she has in her career or otherwise.
The days of being a martyr and ‘taking one for the team’ at the expense of your physical and mental wellbeing, they are over. If you are a person, you deserve to take care of your body and your brain in order to feel good. And that’s what I’m going to do. But it means that all three components have to be there; eating, moving, and thinking. Because you cannot be strong without all of them.
I will continue to talk about it and post selfies on social media and send newsletters and write podcasts about it until that message lands on as many ears as I can reach. That message is: Strength starts from within. Because strong is a mindset.
So, here’s to the next 100. I’ll see you next week. Hey, if you’re looking for your next great read, I’ve got you covered. Head over to CarrieHollandMD.com/books and download my list of most favorite reads. I’ve got two collections waiting for you. One is all about work-life balance. The other is a collection of books that have changed my life. I’ve referenced many of these books in the podcast, and now you can access those titles all in one place.
Again, that’s CarrieHollandMD.com/books. Check it out and find your next great read. Thank you for listening to the Strong Is a Mindset podcast. If you want to learn more about how to build both a strong mind and a strong body by eating, moving, and most importantly, thinking, check out CarrieHollandMD.com.

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