Ossa Lounge Episode 27: Heike Yates, Fitness/Nutrition Expert & Host of “Pursue Your Spark” Podcast
About Heike Yates:
Heike Yates is a fitness & nutrition expert and speaker who has been helping women around the world stay fit for over 30 years.
Heike’s passion is empowering women over 50 to take action in taking back their health and strength to lead a vibrant life. Her fitness, nutrition, and mindset programs help her clients build muscle, burn fat, and prioritize their health goals to look and feel their best.
Listen to Episode 27 featuring Heike Yates, host of Pursue Your Spark podcast:
Episode 27 Highlights:
0:00 – 4:57 ~ Introduction and inspiration
4:58 – 9:06 ~ Difference between men and women in fitness
9:07 – 16:15 ~ Aging with exercise
16:16 – 25:21 ~ Healthy food options
Links from this episode:
Episode 27 Full Transcript:
Meredith Reed 0:07
On this episode of Ossa Lounge, we are going to be interviewing one of our amazing podcasters and I want to make sure that I say your name correctly. So is it Heike?
Heike Yates 0:20
Heike. Okay, so think about going for a hike-a.
Meredith Reed 0:27
Ah, got it. Okay, thank you. So I’m here today with Heike Yates. And she is a fitness and health expert for women over 50. She helps women over 50 get their mindset right, so they can pursue their spark and live their best life. And the name of her podcast is Pursue Your Spark. So can you just start by telling our audience a little bit about what you do, in your own words, and also what inspired you to create your podcasts.
Heike Yates 1:02
I help women over 50, or I would like to phrase it as I empower women, because you want to have the tools to move forward in your life, to lose body fat, gain strength, and embrace a healthy lifestyle. So you feel and you look better going forward into the second half of life. And this is why Pursue Your Spark is an overall umbrella. And I’m a fitness and nutrition coach. And I help exactly with those strategies. Plus, also, when you’re looking into mindset strategies, we all need a little bit of help at some point in our life.
Meredith Reed 1:40
Yeah, so I’m curious how you got interested in this in the first place? Was there something on your personal journey that got you passionate about health and fitness and in particular, for women over 50?
Heike Yates 1:53
You know, I seem to always fall into the niche of the age group that I’m in right now. So when I was a mom, I would never have thought that I ever would be in an exercise class ever. And I fell into ending up teaching fitness dancer-cise classes, as they were used to call in many of our ages will remember dancer-cise with great lines and cha-chas. And so that was that age group as I was when I was a mom that I was trying to stay fit as a mom with two little children and helping other moms in the same venue. And as I got older, I then changed from being a mom with little Munchkins, as I like to call them to more adult children. And that’s when I changed into becoming a fitness trainer, a personal trainer. And also on my journey, throughout those years, I became an ultra marathon runner. So that’s somebody who runs more than a marathon. So 26.2 miles is a marathon distance. And so as again, when I embraced the running lifestyle, I was surrounded by women, my age in my 40s. At this point, they were also interested in staying fit as they were getting older and their kids were older, we had a little bit more time. And so I was a running coach at that point, but also still teaching classes, still coaching on nutrition and strength training and a healthy lifestyle. As we got older and the different needs that changed. And then I am, when I started menopause, all hell broke loose as many women can relate. Nothing works. Nothing seems to go in a good way and you gain weight. And I was like, you know, I own a personal private studio, a boutique studio where I see people one on one. And when I saw what was happening to us as women collectively during that age group, I was like, I need to talk to my peeps, everybody needs to feel better, enjoy their lifestyle, eat better and have solutions to the problems we have. And I understand that there are situations when you go through menopause where you require medical help. These are not the people that I can help and I realized that in this case, you need a doctor you need somebody who really knows in depth medications and however hormone treatments. But what I can do is I can help with a positive mindset. I can teach the right exercises, the right nutrition to that age group that I am in now too. And truth be told ladies, I’m going to be 60 in just a few months. So I’m already rolling with you. And that’s how I got into this and I’ve always been passionate about this. Helping others just feel better.
Meredith Reed 4:58
Well, I think that’s amazing and so important. I think at every stage in life, we need resources. And I think, in particular, for women, with the journey that you mentioned, going through menopause, it presents a unique set of issues that men might relate to the whole getting older or slowing metabolism, that kind of thing. But the menopause piece, and hormonally how much you change, that adds a whole additional factor to your health and fitness journey. So I think it’s so important that people have help and understanding, like you said that you’re not a medical professional, but for the pieces that are not medical, that are related to those transitions in life, it’s so great to have someone there who can support you. So I’m curious, do you find that? Do you interact with men at all who are interested in your specialty? Or is it specifically women that come to you looking for help with their health and fitness?
Heike Yates 6:00
The Pursue Your Spark is primarily a women brand. And I intended it to be that way, because we can talk about things that many women don’t feel comfortable talking about in front of men. But I have all through my years, and particularly in my studio and personal training studio, I’ve worked with a lot of men and men and I seem to gel well, you know, men come in and they oftentimes when they have a female trainer, they look down upon us. And they say, “Well, what does she know? I want to get big, bulky muscles, or I want to train really hard.” But then when they come with me, and I’m, you know, everybody has their own thing, but I’m very direct. I’m always saying what I think, what I feel, and men seem to respond well to that approach, the no bullshit approach.
Meredith Reed 6:59
I can relate to this because I too have that personality type. And it seems to be something that men are receptive to. I also do a ton or did pre COVID a ton of workout classes. And it’s always really entertained me how a lot of workout classes in particular tend to be pretty much women and then occasionally get, you know, a man or two coming in and doing some of these workouts that are kind of stereotypically women’s workouts. And they’re the ones just struggling. Like, I think they go in thinking that they’re going to be easier workouts. And they’re really not like I’ve had guys I know that have tried these workouts, they’ll say to me, like they’re so painful like these micro muscles that you can look at it and be like, that doesn’t look tough. It doesn’t look like a big like, you know, lifting a giant weight would. But it’s really hard. And it’s really good for your body.
Heike Yates 7:51
It is and then they go like “How do you do this?” I’m like, “Oh, yeah, that’s super easy.” And they’re like “Nah, I can’t do that.” It’s true. And I always encourage men to come but like I said, with Pursue Your Spark. It’s definitely, men are more than welcome, because they have their own menopause. But, you know, I found Meredith that over the years that I’ve trained, I can, every time a guy comes to me and says, “So I can do this push up.” And I’m like, “Umhmm, just show me what you got.” And they do their push up. And in most cases, they have bad form. And I was like, “Come on, let’s do things better. How about we just engage our core a little bit more, or we do some things different.” So as we age, we also do things not just because we saw them somewhere on Instagram or wherever they saw the exercise, but that they actually do the correct form to not injure themselves as they get older. And then they go back and they’re like, “Wow, this was really hard.” I’m like, “Yeah, pumping it out is easy. But doing it right, is that’s what the secret sauce is.”
Meredith Reed 9:03
Right? I totally relate to that. So we just had a question come in. It says “I am a 66 year old who has exercised my entire life. But I can’t help noticing my recent decline in physical strength. Can you comment on finding the balance between pushing back and acceptance?”
Heike Yates 9:25
There’s many answers that I have to that question. 66, male or female?
Meredith Reed 9:30
Heike Yates 9:31
Female, 66. Okay, we’re going through a metabolic decline as we age. And we have to, in my opinion, accept that we just slow down. We don’t want to and I’m going to use myself as an example. I’m an Ironman triathlete. That means a few years ago, I completed an entire Ironman that means 2.2 miles, no, 2.4 miles swim 112 mile bike and a 26.2 marathon. As I got older, I noticed that my body was just a quick, quicker fatigued, and no matter how hard I pushed, I fatigued myself more than actually gaining the results that I had hoped. And I said, “Okay, you know what, I’ve been a fitness professional for 30 years, I’ve done it all, I’ve been a bodybuilder. I’m an ultra runner, I coach Pilates for 20 years, I know how things work together.” But I have to say that we can still be fit and active. But the harder we push, I found, from my own experience, the less results I get. So I always tend to say, listen to your body, when your body says it’s tired, it needs a break. When your body says I can’t go up another five pounds on the dumbbell, give it some time, start smaller increments, or do more repetitions, or realize that this is your max for this time, at the moment, your muscle mass will decrease. There’s no doubt about it. So we are now pushing a big rock up the hill, trying to maintain muscle mass being metabolized naturally by our bodies, and trying to stay strong and fit. And I know you probably who asked the question, don’t want to hear that you’re like, “Yes, I can do this.” But I say listen to your body, take a break, it’s not going to break the bank, as I like to say, it’s not going to be that you suddenly are getting weaker, and you’re losing a ton of muscle and you get the super flabby, but the rest. And you know, if you’ve been exercising or if you’re an athlete, like I have been, you know, when we rest, we recover, and we gain more strength and are stronger because of our recovery.
Meredith Reed 11:58
Right. Thank you. I think that’s, that’s such a good answer. And it really is about finding the balance between pushing yourself and recognizing when your body is trying to communicate that like, this is enough, you know, you don’t need to do another round You don’t need to push it more like you want the healthy push, but you don’t want it to be too much for you to take on. So I’m curious if you have any particular main, like more mainstream workouts that people would know the names and stuff like that. What do you normally recommend for people, women 50 and older, like, what do you find are good workouts for that age group?
Heike Yates 12:40
Pilates, of course! What else? I mean, if you’ve never exercised before, and you want to get strong, lean, long muscles, maintain your flexibility, improve your breathing, and everybody listening: breathing is so so important! And many of us, including myself, we noticed that we’re breathing much shallower than we actually can. So I would say Pilates, it looks really complicated. But it can be learned. And there’s many ways of how to go about learning Pilates: at home, with a coach in a class, which is super fun. And if Pilates is not your thing: go walk! I know many women poopoo walking and they’re like, “Well Heike your’re so fit. I just walk.” Man, walking is great. Because number one, you get fresh air, you get some sun, get a little bit, Of course we put on sunscreen, so we’re taking care of that part. But we still want to expose ourselves to sunlight. We get fresh air, we’re starting to breathe, we’re increasing our metabolism by movement. And movement, however you look at it, provides happiness. I can’t tell you how happy I am when I just walk around my house and just outside and check out my plants in my garden. And I come back in and I’m like “This was great!” So if you’re just starting out, do something that you think you can enjoy. And I mentioned gardening, so if you have a great garden, gardening is a great form of exercise. It doesn’t have to be a gym. It doesn’t have to be a class or a trainer or if you’re not into formal exercise training. If you are, you got plenty of options. But if you like gardening, if you like shoveling snow, I love shoveling snow. We have had very little snow this year. So any physical activity that you do and you enjoy, dancing around the kitchen, you know? Find something that sparks joy. That says, yeah, I really like doing that! There’s always something that we can find that we enjoy and start with baby steps. You know, nobody says go run a marathon. Nobody says, “Hey, pumping weights” when you’re like, “I don’t even know what to do with these things, they look scary.” There’s many ways to go about it, but start with something that you enjoy, start with something that you can manage, and then see how it goes from there.
Meredith Reed 15:19
Right? I really, like everything you said about that, my personal relationship with this is I have scoliosis and chronic back pain, and I’ve always kind of worked out, but I was never really like, hardcore about working out. And it was when I started doing more strength based training, that it, it actually took care of probably 80% of my chronic back pain. So I’m extremely passionate about building like, for me, it was my core strength. It, I mean, I, I never would have believed you, if you told me how much pain I was in versus where my pain got down to just from building my muscles, my, you know, core muscles. So I’m really passionate about that. And I think, you know, as, as you age, it’s a natural process, you have to put a little bit more work and a little bit more thought into keeping yourself strong. So I want to transition because I know you’re also an expert in health as it relates to food. So I’m wondering if you can tell us a few of your favorit, like superfoods that you recommend to people, if they’re trying to swap out something that’s a little less healthy for something that is a little bit more healthy.
Heike Yates 16:37
Now first off, I have to preface this with I love avocados, and anybody that has ever come across my feed knows I love avocados. Now, thinking about nutrition, I believe that we should eat from all food groups, though in my mind, there is, in my world, there is nothing that we can’t eat. As you oftentimes hear, “Oh, if you take this out of your diet, you will get such and such result.” I believe that we own what we eat, meaning that we own up to it, that we’re saying, Okay, if I eat french fries, I own up to eating the french fries. But there are so many ways how we can prepare foods in different ways. And they’re steaming and grilling. And I think a lot of it has to do with the preparation of a specific food. Like I’m going to make brussel sprouts tonight, another one of my favorites, and they’re all also high in fiber. So this is definitely a super double whammy right there. The thing about it is you can take the brussel sprouts, and you could, which I’ve seen because I’m not from the States, which I’ve seen that you can serve those fried in in a pan with cheese sauce on top. And I was like, “Oooh, why would you do that?”
Meredith Reed 18:03
I’m laughing because I’m originally from Wisconsin so everything has cheese sauce on it. Everything is cheese and meat.
Heike Yates 18:12
Cheese and meat. I think that’s where I came across it because I was just like, “What are you doing with those good vegetables?” If you take the brussel sprouts, you wash, cut and peel, cut them in half, you put them on a baking sheet and you bake them for 30 to 40 minutes. And I recently discovered convection cooking which I didn’t know what it was and it browns your vegetables beautifully. Little salt and pepper and is the best thing, it keeps all the nutrients. So think about swapping out is in my mind is more of a way of how to prepare something rather than taking the food and saying that maybe an example would be, “Oh, I hear I shouldn’t eat spaghetti, spaghetti are starch. Spaghetti is not good. Spaghetti makes me gain weight. Spaghetti is hypoglycemic, spaghetti is not good.” You could say okay, eat zucchini instead, spiral you zucchini and replace it with that. But it depends on the goals you have. What is your goal? Is your goal just to eat better? Is your goal to lose body fat? Is your goal to lose weight, is your goal to deal with a health condition and that’s why we should ideally shouldn’t eat high glycemic index foods? So this is a very tricky and very individual question. And I go back to it depends on how you prepare it. So take the french fries. You can take a potato, cut it into little pieces and you cook it in your, or you broil it again with nothing, you have a perfectly good potato. Does that answer your question?
Meredith Reed 20:02
Yeah, it does. I think that’s a really good point. And I also like that you touched on, well, okay, so I was from Wisconsin, I’ve lived in New York for the past, like 12 years. So the transition for me has been, when you were saying you prepare things, I was like, “No, you don’t, you order it.” And the problem is, with not preparing it yourself, of course, is that you don’t know what’s going in it, how much oil, how much butter. So I think for a lot of people, or at least I’ll speak for myself, a lot of that health journey and eating healthier is actually kind of learning how to make food that’s healthy, but tastes good. Because a lot of people just don’t cook or don’t really know any other ways. It’s like, oh, brussel sprouts. When I was growing up, I had them boiled, they tasted terrible, I don’t like them. And they don’t know that there are other ways you can make them that are healthy, that also tastes good. So I’m wondering if you have any recommendations for websites, or books or resources, or any type where people can find places to discover recipes of healthy delicious food?
Heike Yates 21:09
You know, my favorite, and what I cook probably 90% of my meals from is The Minimalist Baker. So she’s under, on Instagram, under Minimalist Baker, and I love her recipes, because, okay, until about a year, maybe two years ago, my husband was the chef in our house, and he cooks all these complicated meals with a bazillion ingredients. And I would sit on the other side of the counter and say, drink my glass of wine and be entertaining while he was cooking. And it was a great deal.
Meredith Reed 21:47
That’s my role.
Heike Yates 21:49
It’s a very good role. I enjoyed that role tremendously, because I raised two children, and I said, I cooked for my kids, family style, for so many years. I’m tired of cooking, I don’t want to do these meals anymore. In particular, now we’re two people and not four. So, but then he got a job, he used to work from home. And after 10 years of working from home, he got a job where he had to travel to work. So that cut into his cooking time. You’re like what? So I said, Okay, what am I going to do? I mean, I don’t know, I looked at recipes, and you’re so right Meredith, you look at the recipe, and you say 20 ingredients, 50,000 steps, I don’t even know if this is gonna taste good that I’m preparing. It was scary to me to make the recipes like this. And so when I found Minimalist Baker, her premise is 10 ingredients or less, 30 minutes or less to make a meal. So when my husband was like, okay, I’ve got a recipe that sounded really good. And I was like, okay, five ingredients, this is great. And I measured everything out. And I put everything out. And then I cooked it based on the simple steps. And she’s just my kind of woman. I’m like, I like simple doable steps. And so I’ve been cooking most of my meals from her recipes. And she also, as a German we’re pretty much a meat and potato people, but she really introduced me to plant based cooking, which I was kind of sort of dabbling with, but like you said, I don’t know if it’s gonna taste any good if there’s no chicken with it. And so for the past year and a half, two years, I’ve learned how to make vegetarian meals, vegan meals. And also other healthy meals that are quick, easy, and with ingredients that I usually have at home. So nothing crazy. Nothing like super duper, buy something and never use it again. So this is my go to girl.
Meredith Reed 24:02
Well, I’m so glad that you mentioned her. I’m familiar. And I think having someone on Instagram too is really nice because it just comes up in your feed, you have beautiful pictures and it just makes it. I love those videos where they like, I don’t know how you film them, you put the camera down and they like fast forward through like mixing it and then putting it in the pan and like it just makes it look so simple that I’m like, okay, I can take this on, you know?
Heike Yates 24:28
And you know, especially when somebody knows only one way, like you from Wisconsin, you knew a lot about cheese, then you go to somewhere else and you’re like, “Well how can I make this tasty?” And even from her videos, it’s like, it looks tasty. You just have to try it. So, her recipes are very varied. So that means there’s fish, there’s chicken, there’s some, I got a really good pork recipe, but a lot of the plant based recipes which I really appreciate. And I’m really pushing for all of us to eat more plant based going into our olden age, because that has so many more vitamins and nutrients that are so beneficial for our aging bodies. So now I’m hungry.
Meredith Reed 25:17
And I’m fully on board with that as well. So, again, this is Heike Yates, she has the Pursue Your Spark podcast. And before we go, could you just tell everyone where they can find you?
Heike Yates 25:31
Very simple. You find me anywhere, if you Google my name, Heike Yates, H-E-I-K-E Y-A-T-E-S. I’m everywhere on social media. And anywhere of course, here on Instagram as well. And I love to hear from you guys.
Meredith Reed 25:49
Great. Well, thank you so much for being here.
Heike Yates 25:52
It was my pleasure. And it was so nice to hear part of your story as well.
Meredith Reed 25:57
Well, thank you. It was so lovely meeting you. And so everybody listen to Pursue Your Spark and if you do, don’t forget to rate, review, and subscribe. That’s very helpful for podcasters and we will see you next time on Ossa Lounge.