Lindsay Nohl Interview

Few people would argue if I were to say that Lindsay Nohl is one of the strongest athletes in the gym. A former competitive athlete and semi-pro soccer player, Lindsay works for the National Outdoor Leadership School, and trains at Elemental up to five days a week. She also climbs, is a cyclist, and is generally active in her everyday life. So how could someone like this need to lose fat? Unfortunately, fat storage does not correlate all that well with activity level. There are some really skinny people who don’t do a damn thing all day, and some really heavy people who are very, very strong. There are also those people who fall in the “5 pound club,” a group of very strong athletes that are carrying just a little more fat than they’d like. At the beginning of November, Lindsay and I made a plan to kick her out of this club.

I gave a little background above, but what is your current training schedule?

– Back around the beginning of October, I decided to really ramp up my fitness routine and spend time in the gym again. I signed up for Wednesday’s Program, Thursday’s Burly Girls and Friday’s CORE.  I went to these classes religiously.  I followed most of the non-class related Program workouts (intervals and foundations, but was substituting BurlyGirls for the metabolic stuff). All throughout October I was weighing myself and even with all this exercise, I was staying steady at 147 on the gym scale.  Maybe some muscle gain/fat loss, and I certainly felt more fit, but no net weight loss.

On October 30th, after talking with you about how to get more “cut” I decided to take on your “eat less than 75g of carbs a day challenge” (You also mentioned you can eat as many calories of anything else, which was helpful.) The first 12 days of doing this I wrote down everything I ate and figured out the number of calories, fat grams, carb grams, protein grams and fiber grams each night. To pull this new eating style off I had to do some research on the internet the night before my first trip to the grocery store.  Then, I shopped accordingly.

During November, my fitness regimen stayed pretty much the same, except that I started trail running at the “Bus” loop twice a week.  This was a mindful decision to start running again and get exercise for my dog since it was getting too dark after work. I typically don’t like running except when I’m chasing after a ball.  I bought new trail runners to motivate me and passed the “this is painful and I hate it stage” and actually have begun to look forward to the runs.

You’ve been training a long time, why do you think you’d even have an ounce of extra fat to lose?

While I honestly feel pretty fit, from ages 14 – 24 I was playing very competitive sports and never had to worry about any of this. After sports ended and I had no games, practices, etc, I have had to become motivated to train on my own. In the past few years, I’ve gotten into signing up for races (bike and tri’s) to stay motivated. This past year I didn’t do any. Instead I worked out at Elemental consistently from Oct – June and felt very fit.

In terms of extra fat to lose for me…well, it’s all relative, I guess. My upper body always stays pretty toned, despite what I do. But, I do carry more fat in my thighs and butt than I would like. When my weight changes or when I stop working out for a period of time (w/o changing my diet) I also can see fat in my stomach.

My second year as director of the Climbers’ Festival ended this July, I was personally very exhausted and I stopped working out at the gym or doing much of anything active for about 2 months.  During this time I also started eating more sweets and ice cream most nights.  In September, a few pairs of my pants that usually fit me, felt tight.  This is when I sorta freaked out and got motivated to get of my ass and head back to the gym again.

If you could isolate your nutritional weaknesses, what would you say they were?

I think I’m addicted to sugar.  I love chocolate, hard candy, cookies, ice cream, etc.  I have given my dentist lots of revenue in the last 15 years!  For the most part, I don’t buy a ton of junk food at the grocery store, cause I know it’s bad to have around the house.  Occasionally, I’d buy a gallon of ice cream and some dark chocolate. Never buy cookies. But, for awhile I was buying a candy bar a day at the snack machine at work. There is a “candy basket” in the NOLS lobby that I walk by about 15 times a day.  About half the time, I would take a piece.  I also really like to drink juices: orange juice, apple juice, etc. I like soda, but have tried to limit drinking it in the past few years. Sugar….yum.

You’ve lost about 5 pounds since the first of November, what have you done differently to make this happen in just one month?

Like I said, I lost zero pounds working out a bunch in October.  In November, I worked out pretty much the same amount, but also changed my diet.  I’ve lost 4.5 pounds and now weight in a 142.5 on the gym scale.  The low carb eating challenge has been huge for me.  For breakfast I used to eat a bagel with cream cheese every morning. I’d eat lunch at work and most likely have leftover dinner or a can of soup. A typical dinner for me used to be either a frozen pizza, pasta with red sauce and veggies or rice with stir fry veggies. Snacks would include a energy bar around 10am and a candy bar or something sugary around 3ish.  Plus various “candy basket” stops throughout the day. You get the drift.

Since November 1, here’s my typical day:

Breakfast every morning: 1 cup low fat vanilla yogurt with 1.5 tbsp flax seed, 1/4 cup sliced almonds and 1/4 cup fresh blueberries or raspberries.

Typical mid-morning snack: 2 Blueberry Scones (from – made with soy flour, sour cream, butter, cream, etc)  or a few hard boiled eggs or 1/2 cup almonds or mixed nuts.

Lunch (at work): leftover dinner food or avocado slices wrapped in sliced turkey and a few pieces of string cheese.

Afternoon snack: string cheese or nuts or beef jerky or summer sausage. (I keep nuts in my desk so I always have a healthy snack handy).

Dinners: Most features lots of veggies, meat and cheese (yum).  I’ve also been making my usual stir-fry meals, but using veggies as the base (instead of rice) and using meat as the topping (ie. chicken sausage, pork, chicken, etc).

I stopped drinking any juices and just drink 16 oz tea with a bit of milk or cream in it about 4 times a day. I stopped putting sugar cubes in my tea.

I also have only had a total of six alcoholic drinks since Oct. 30th.  4 glasses of wine and 2 PBR’s. This helps cuts calories, carbs and sugar a ton.

I have completely stopped eating candy since October.  Well, maybe I’ve had about 3 pieces total, I am an addict, ya know.  But seriously, the refined sugar consumption has been real minimal for me and I haven’t missed it much, since I stay full.

So, I figured my energy level would be low during this diet change. Nope. If anything, it’s better.  Without all the sugary snacks, juice and carbs, I stay in a more constant energy level all day.  No more sugar spikes and crashes.   Also, one of the most poignant things that you told me that makes sense.  “When you eat carbohydrates, you don’t get full until your stomach fills up.  When you eat fats and protein, they have the ability to shut off your appetite before your stomach gets full.”

Moving forward into the holiday season, how do you plan to keep the focus?

After about 12 days, I stopped writing down everything I was eating.  Writing down everything and the amounts is a challenge and it takes time.  But, I have been shopping the same and trying to consume around the same amount of carbs each day since then.  Thanksgiving will be hard for me, because it is such a carb-fest.  I love sweet potatoes and pie and stuffing my face.  We’ll see how that goes.  I’m actually not going home for Christmas for the first time ever and will be in Lander with easy access to the gym.  This will make it much easier this year to not sit on my ass, watch TV and eat leftovers for a week. Also, the classes at the gym throughout this holiday time will help me keep focus and stay on a regimen. I’m also gonna hang the Dara Torres posted on the wall for motivation….