Episode 149 – Kathy Smith
What’s up everyone? It’s me, Drew Manning, back with another great episode on the Fit2Fat2Fit Experience Podcast. Thank you guys for tuning in today. Today is a special guest and I think if you don’t know who she is, ask your parents. See if they know someone by the name of Kathy Smith. She’s known as a fitness titan. She’s been in the industry since way before I was born, or maybe even any of us were born. *laughing* She’s got such a great story and I am super excited that I had a chance to meet her, well not in person yet, sorry I did not meet her in person yet. But, she only lives about 30 minutes away so that is going to happen soon. Ok, so really quick, if you don’t know who Kathy Smith is, she’s got an iconic library of exercise videos and she stood at the forefront of the fitness and wellness industry for more than 30 years, you guys. With her highly acclaimed podcast and all in one workout app, Kathy remains at the cutting edge of the business she helped pioneer. Kathy Smith’s empire has over 500 million dollars in sales, with a collection of New Times Bestselling books, videos, lifestyle products and fitness equipment and a spot in the video hall of fame. *laughing* So, I remember when I was interviewing her, I was blown away at how she has seen the fitness industry change so much from before there were DVD’s or video cassettes even, she was in the fitness industry. There was no information on nutrition and exercise and the right way to do it. She was talking about this doctor who invented the word “Aerobics”, right? We can’t even fathom the fact that someone even invented that word. That was only a few years ago, you know? It was so interesting to talk about her journey and her story. She’s a wealth of knowledge. It’s interesting to see how she, from her perspective, has seen the fitness industry change over the years and how she has had to adapt and adjust to kind of stay at the forefront. She’s been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show and she was a columnist for the LA Times. In 2012 she partnered with PBS to launch her special ‘Ageless Energy’, which spotlights her unique tools for boosting energy, stamina, strength and vitality at any age. I mean she’s older, but man, she is in such good shape. I love her approach to health and fitness and that’s why I loved interviewing her. I think you guys are going to love this interview with Kathy Smith. Ok, let’s go hang out with Kathy Smith.
Drew: Alright, Kathy Smith, welcome to the show. How are you doing today?
Kathy: Good, I am really good. *laughing*
Drew: *laughing* I am super excited to have you on and we have so much to talk about. Obviously, you live here in Utah. I live here in Utah and we still haven’t met in person yet, so this is the closest we’ve gotten so far. But we will get there. *laughing*
Kathy: *laughing* Exactly, let me shake your hand. I can’t wait to go hiking one of these days! For sure!
Drew: Yes, we will. So, here’s the thing, I think most of my audience knows you, but I kind of want to start with your journey from the beginning, like how you got in to the fitness industry. I think a lot of people don’t know that, they just know you as Kathy Smith, the fitness model, the fitness person. I want to talk about who you were as a kid. What were your passions growing up that led you down the path of where you are today?
Kathy: Ok, great question. I was raised in the military. I think we start there because most people don’t quite understand how that really defines you as a person. Because every two to three years you are having to move. It’s not like you are with the same friends, every two to three years I’m either in Brazil or Hawaii, San Angelo Texas, Mobile Alabama, San Diego, Illinois, Wisconsin and there is a thing that happens to military kids. One of the things that happens is that you either learn how to put your hand out and make a friend or you get very introverted. I became one of those, ok, let’s make a friend and let’s get connected. I have to say that a big turning point in my life, and this is where the real story of my career begins, when I was 17 years old, I was in Belleville Illinois and my dad was 42. He was an Air Force pilot. I get a call at school three days before my high school graduation. The call was you need to get to the hospital. I got to the hospital and by the time I got there my dad had passed away of a massive heart attack. It was just one of those things that devastated me, because I looked like my dad. His name was Carl and they called me ‘little Carly’. It just devastated my life. But then a year and a half later, my mom and my step dad were in a plane. They were flying from St. Louis to Wisconsin and it was winter time and the plane iced up and it went down in a farmers field. My mom and step dad were killed. At that point, I was in Hawaii and in college and I got the call. I just sank down in a chair and I put my head into my hands and I was just bawling and crying and thinking, ‘What am I going to do with my life? How am I going make it through all this?’ As life has a way of opening doors when you need them, I had a boyfriend at the time. He was a football player. I wasn’t athletic. I need to tell another part of the story. I need to get back to it because this is an important part of the story. I would just go to the track with him. Not because I was a runner or anything, but I just didn’t want to be alone. I was afraid to be alone, so I would go to the track and we would run. He would be running and I would run a lap and then I would rest and then I would run another lap. Pretty soon I started linking those laps together and eventually I started running longer and longer distances. But, what happened was when I got to about the four mile mark, I would come back from these runs and I would notice that everything started feeling a little lighter. I felt like I was going to be able to make it. I knew that I could find an answer. The depression was lifting, the anxiety was lifting and I was able to focus more at school and at college and study. I started to make this connection between what you do with your body and how it affects your mind set. Now, to put this in context, I graduated high school in 1969. I was in college, so everything we are talking about happened in the early 70’s. So if you think about what was happening in America and for a lot of your guests, they maybe weren’t born then? Or they were too young to remember, but I will take you back there. *laughing*
Kathy: There is a saying, “If you haven’t lived in the 70’s, you haven’t lived!” *laughing* It was civil rights, women’s rights, Woodstock, the English Invasion with the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, the whole thing about music. Sex, drugs and rock and roll, it was all happening here. It was the whole revolution in this country. We were sending men into space for the first time. College campuses were erupting with all kinds of political movements, because people were very much into equality for all, especially for blacks and for women. I was involved in all these movements and I found that here was a time that most people were running to get away from their parents and to live life and I was sitting here orphaned and not knowing what I was going to do with my life. My only solace, the only thing I did every single day no matter what, was I laced up those tennis shoes, I got out the door and I ran. Eventually in 1975, I ran my first marathon. The reason why I’m getting back to this thing about the time period is because when I ran my first marathon in Hawaii in 1975, the Honolulu Marathon, the field was about 800. It’s now 10’s of thousands. But the most important part of the story is that there was only about 3% of the field were women. So out of the 800, there might have been 15 women. The reason why that is so important is because to this day, people always go, ‘Did you know you wanted to be a personal trainer’ And I would have to go, ‘Honey, there wasn’t such a thing. There were no certification programs. There was nothing.’ We hadn’t even really made the connection of neurotransmitters and everything like the dopamine, the serotonin and the endorphins that get released when you exercise. Back then I was fortunate because there was a doctor in Hawaii and his name was Dr. Jack Scaff. Right around the time of another very famous doctor, his name was Dr. Cooper. Dr. Ken Cooper coined the term ‘aerobics’. He was the first doctor to ever use the term aerobics. He has the Cooper Institute in Texas. He started doing all the testing on aerobics. So, when I first started running, and you really have to get this, doctors would say, do not run. If you are a woman, don’t run. You won’t be able to have children. Your uterus is going to drop. Your boobs are going to drop. It’s very, very unhealthy for you. You are up against all this. So, that’s what you were kind of up against. I was kind of …. I was just …. I knew they were wrong because I would sit there and think nothing that feels this good could be bad for you. I knew running saved my life. Then I found this other doctor in Hawaii that was taking 56 heart patients. By the way, you can cut me off whenever you want because I can go on ….
Drew: No, keep going. This is so good. *laughing* This is so good.
Kathy: So, there are 56 heart patients and they would gather at Kapiolani Park. And when I say heart patients, these folks, mainly men. I think it was all men, who had had heart attacks. He was going to prove, his idea was to prove how important exercise is because they took these 56 heart patients and trained them for the marathon. So, I would show up at Kapiolani Park, I would listen to his lectures on nutrition. I would listen to his talks on running. Then we would start running and eventually we would get buses and they would drop us off at different places on the island and we would have to run back to Waikiki beach. What I learned along the way with all of this, is again for heart patients they were saying, ‘If you have a heart condition, don’t move too much. Don’t have sex. Don’t walk up a flight of stairs.’ The whole idea was you had to protect the heart. It’s not like this muscle that we had to strengthen. That was my introduction to cardio. But interestingly enough and what I feel very blessed about is in this 3 or 4 year period I am talking about, I have this boyfriend that I mentioned. His name was Rocky. I have Rocky and Rocky would go into the gym with the football team. They were just launching a type of of fitness equipment called Nautilus. Nautilus was from Arthur Jones. Arthur developed Nautilus and these were the prototypes. I would be with all of the jocks in there and again all the men. But I started back in 1973 or 1974 with this bicep curl. The whole Nautilus was based on a cam system, that wherever the weakest point of your muscle is, the machine helped you through the weakest point so you could lift more weight. Anyway, I started right then getting fixated, like wow this weight …. I think honestly I liked being around the guys too. So, that helped! *laughing*
Kathy: I loved it and once again, I loved what it did to my mind. And what I started noticing is, cardio does one thing, but strength training did another. It was very …. and for any woman out there, which I know most of you women watching are into this already, but strength training is powerful for empowering you. I mean there is something about …. I mean it’s one thing to be able to run, but there is another thing about feeling very strong and powerful that you take into your everyday life with your relationships and everything else. Even like with the “Me Too’ movement, just being able to stand up for what you believe in. A lot of that starts in the gym. For me, because I just felt like …. I felt strong. Anyway, and then the triangle is complete because at the same time, I was very fortunate that I started Yoga. There was somebody at the University of Hawaii that was teaching a Yoga class. I don’t know if you’ve heard of this name, but there was Paul Bragg and Paul Bragg is Bragg Amino Acids, if you go to the health food store. If you buy your Apple Cider Vinegar or your Amino Acids it says ‘Bragg’ at the top. Well Paul Bragg was 92 and kind of another granddaddy at the time of the health food movement. He would teach a class on Waikiki beach and it was kind of like a stretch thing. Then I started Yoga classes and it was very much that mind, body, spirit that we started with the Yoga. It was not just the flexibility part of it, but I went to a class that was very much about being present and giving. You couldn’t get into the class unless you went and swept the floor. It was a community. You had to make sure that you were on time and that you were sensitive to other people’s needs around you. All those teachings early on just launched me. I’ll stop about Hawaii. 1975 I get to L.A.. The way I got to L.A. was I paid for part of my college education through doing bit parts on Hawaii-5-0 and little bit parts in movies and things. A producer came to me and said, ‘Would you like to come to L.A.?’ And I, having been raised military, I hadn’t been in the big cities before. So, here I come from military bases and now I find myself in …. wow, L.A. I was a little overwhelmed, but excited. I’m 25 or 26, something like that. L.A. had horrible, horrible air quality. I know you know about this, because Salt Lake doesn’t have good air quality, by the way. I came from this pristine running condition in Hawaii, now I’m in L.A. and I can hardly breathe. I started looking around to see if there was anything I could do and it just so happened that a woman who was launching an activewear line had asked me to be a model for her hang tags. She said she was teaching some classes in her garage and then she had a place in Century City, which is next to Beverly Hills. She said, come to my class. I went to the class and so Barbra Streisand is on this side and Jane Fonda is on the other side and the class is like arm circles. So, we started with ‘give me 8 circles, ok, give me another few circles’. I don’t know if you can see what I am doing with my arms? *laughing*
Kathy: We weren’t really bouncing up and down. We did shoulders. Your shoulders would start burning because you would do 8 minutes where you are just like, ‘ok now arms are up and down and up and down’. There was absolutely no aerobic component to it. I loved the class format. I loved that we were coming together and inspiring one another, but there was no aerobic component to it. So, I took my love of aerobics, which I had gotten from my running. I took my love of music. I always loved to dance and I put them together in a class format. I started teaching. Just like certain things you talked about, how the stars aligned as you did something, like when you did your Fit2Fat2Fit. Then people started coming to the class and saying, ‘Ok, we need to do something.’ Now, the difference being, something back then …. because now we are talking 1978. People say, ‘Did you start doing videos?’ No, there weren’t enough VCR’s in the market place. The first product I did was an exercise album. So you would have an album and you would put it on a turntable and then on the wall you would have a poster of me with pictures. You would hear my voice to music and I would be saying, ‘Ok, it’s time to warm it up. Give me four more. Touch your toes, round it up.’ You would listen to my voice, listen to the music. That went into video, so I was the first person to ever do an exercise DVD, CD ROM. I sold over 20 million DVD’s. My first DVD hit and it got me on all the talk shows. I got my own TV show on USA network. It was a daily show. I got articles and became a correspondent for The Today Show, as well as a weekly L.A. Times contributor, every single week. Since that time, I’ve had 10 books, 3 of them New York Times best sellers. I’ve had over a 100 DVD’s and product lines, QVC and infomercials. Through the years, I’ve done over 500 million dollars in Kathy Smith products.
Drew: Wow. Wow. WOW! That is just so amazing, Kathy. That is such a good story. I could have listened to you for another 30 minutes. *laughing* I know you had to shorten that because there are so many valuable pieces in there. I kind of want to bring it back to the beginning and talk about this, because it seems like exercise for you became your therapy, right? Were you working with someone to help you overcome your parents deaths? Or was it just the running that helped you through that?
Kathy: In the beginning, it was just the running and then I started working with some people in Los Angeles, different people. I was working in Hawaii with people, but not one on one. It was more like a workshop. So, there were things, but again there were things like primal therapy, where you would go in to rooms and just …. well they had …. I want to make sure I say this so I don’t sounds like I’m crazy ….
Kathy: Well, you know you had things and you would just feel the feelings. They would get you into the feeling and then it was just like trying to get the anger out. Or then you would do things where you would get very, very quiet and you would just try to talk. I remember for years when I was on a therapist couch, it was talking to my dad and just saying why did you leave me? It’s that abandonment, it’s things that rationally don’t make sense. But that feeling of abandonment, that there you are and now you are 17 years old and you just left, you didn’t even say goodbye. You left and again, an adult mind can say, well yeah he had a heart attack, but you know when you are 17 it’s just like he’s gone and I didn’t get to say goodbye and I don’t have anybody. I don’t know what I am going to do the rest of my life and I’m afraid. That afraid side comes up sometimes when you notice that you try to act too strong or too aggressive or too powerful. And really underneath all of that, it’s just you are so afraid. I am just kind of afraid I am going to be found out as you go through your career. I think there is an arc to all of these careers, I mean you are in one stage of it. But even with the Kate Spade committing suicide or those kind of things, it’s almost like in the beginning the first stuff is the easiest because it just kind of happens. And you think, oh my gosh, this is fun. But there is no pressure at that point and then a year or five, ten, fifteen or twenty years into it, what are you going to do next? How did that one do? Where are you going? Are you still relevant? The growth pattern for all of us, just like we have talked about for acceptance and non-judgment and your body and where you are in the health cycle of your life and if you have weight to lose or no weight. There is a gentleness and a calmness and an acceptance of where you are in the arc of your life. Sometimes the way that people are judging you and if the judgment is only on how much money you are making or how many Instagram followers you have or how many TV shows you have been on, once you can click those off …. I think this is what we all find. I know you have gone through it. I’ve gone through it. But once you can click those off, ok, I’ve been on The Today Show. I’ve been on The View. I’ve been on The Oprah Show, I’ve been on this and that. Ok, you have all that, but right here, right now, that doesn’t really make a difference. Right here, right now, it’s what am I doing today? How am I waking up today? What is my contribution to my family, to myself and how do I find resiliency, as well as just joy and happiness with just this.
Drew: Yeah, and we will talk about that at the end because I have a question for you that I also ask everybody else, about fulfillment. But before I do that, the reason I asked about the therapy thing is do you still see exercise for you today as a form of therapy or has it become something different for you now that you are, fast forward, to where we are today? What is exercise to you now?
Kathy: It is a yes and no question. Yes, I love …. I love movement. The funny thing is, I love movement, but probably not in the traditional sense that people are thinking about. I will go to a gym and every gym I go to …. I’m going to Europe for 6 weeks. We are leaving next week. You can give me any gym, the crappiest gym at some hotel somewhere that has 4 pieces of equipment there and I walk in and think, ok what can I do with this? I don’t need the best of the best, but if you give me the best of the best, it’s how can I use it differently? But for me, I feel and I have visions of this. If you go to the Natural History Museum, they have a show right now and part of the show is on cheetahs. I remember when I used to run, I used to channel or always feel like this must feel what it’s like to go across the plains of Africa. I would be running and sometimes I would be so depressed at night, that I would get up and put my shoes on. It would be a full moon and I would just go for a 5 mile run and I would just feel the heaviness lifting. I don’t have that heaviness anymore. Through all my work, I don’t have that. But here is what I do have, I feel that with …. I’ve always been a person with a lot of thoughts. I’ve always been a person with a lot of ideas. I’m an entrepreneur. I built a business. I ran my business. I love all that. I think what can happen with my type of brain is it can go all over the place. I can have 400 thoughts in the time I am talking to you right now. I think with the exercise and that whole process of my routine in the morning, whether it’s exercise or just my morning ritual, it gets me into focus. I think that’s where I find most joy is when I get focused. I like to let my brain go, because it’s very exciting, into all of these areas. But at one point, I need to bring it back and this is what I am going to accomplish today. I like that focus. I just like the way that exercise feels in different parts of my body. I have been involved with self awareness work for 40 years now. So, you can imagine …. I know you have your shirt off, but for me …. so I am looking at your muscles, but you know like what body builders go through. But the non-bodybuilders, the people like myself who aren’t bodybuilders, all of a sudden I will find something where I go, ‘Oh my gosh, look at that! If I pull that back, oh I get it here.’ I just love that feeling because I like activating new muscles. I find that fun and fascinating. So, that’s what keeps me going back.
Drew: It’s that level of self awareness and that mind muscle connection that you had to figure out. There were no Podcasts that you could listen to and learn this stuff. It was kind of like self taught in a way. That’s really cool to hear your story, because we live in a day and age where there is CrossFit gym and there is a cycling class. There is Zumba and a million things out there versus before when you got started, there was hardly anything. There was no certification, like you talked about. There was no access to this information, unless you went and studied it or you just kind of figured it out on your own, which it sounds like you did an awesome job of. The question I have for you next is, how has the fitness industry changed over the years? How have you been able to adapt over the years? Everything 10 years from now, everything we see now will probably be totally different. But how have you been able to adapt over the years?
Kathy: First of all, I have always been fascinated by technology. I started with technology back in 1971, when I was in Southern Illinois University. I was in a computer science class, which back in those days if you are in a computer science class …. just to put it in perspective, this is still when Gates and Jobs and people …. we had to go into these big rooms and you would do programming. I loved that kind of stuff. I was always fascinated with technology. Through my career, it’s been the merging of technology with fitness. So, if you think about it, it was an album, then VCR, then DVD’s and CD ROMS, then we went into interactive. Now I have downloadable apps and downloadable workouts. One of the reasons, even with Jeff Hays, who is a mutual friend of ours, he was the reason why I came to Utah. The reason was because he started a company called Nextfitness. And Nextfitness was downloadable workouts on your mobile devices. So, all of that, how you deliver information has always been fascinating to me and how do you motivate people? Why your story resonates so much for me is because after about 15 years in the business, I thought I can’t get back on stage again and tell people they need to work out and eat right. I mean it’s just like if people don’t know after now …. and then after 20 years, they know this. I changed my speech. When I would go to speaking engagements, I would walk out on stage in a kind of confident fashion and I would just put my arms out and go, ‘ok, so what’s your excuse?’
Kathy: ‘You know everything I’m going to tell you right now, you pretty much know.’ But especially back 20 years ago, let’s say. We were just getting into encouraging people to work out and lift weights. We weren’t getting into all the minor details that we are now, like how much saturated fat. I take that back, that was a little bit …. I misspoke a little bit. The big thing is for about 10 years, I had to encourage women to lift weights. Everybody still thought 10 years into it, that you were going to get too bulky. The message was you need to do this, but why aren’t you doing it? Then I would go through and I would think, ok I am going to give a book, a free book out to anybody who could give me an excuse I haven’t heard before. But today what we are going to do is let’s hear your excuses and it’s not enough time and it’s I don’t enjoy it and I’ve got a hurt knee. But then in really listening to my audience, just like you did with your program, you find that people have some amazing lives. Sometimes they just get very complicated. They are going through divorces and they have aging parents that have Alzheimer’s and they just don’t have the time. So, that was where I felt very, very much if I could find ways to bring this to their home, if I could find ways to solve their problem to help you do it on that chair or at the office or in your home, not have to get to the gym, that’s where my brand exploded. It was when those women started getting pregnant, they had their children and couldn’t get out to the gym. They wanted, because of the love connection and bond with their babies, they didn’t want to leave their babies. Then we started bonding and we didn’t have the social media that we do now, but we would communicate like on a TV show. We had a contest and we had a 100,000 letters that came in to this contest. Every morning, I get up and watch it, because I would teach an exercise segment every morning on TV and then we would get into our nutrition and everything else. You just had people who were like, ‘I’m at home. I don’t know what to do. I’m going to do my whatever with Kathy.’ They just to that point, became a friend, a confidant and sharing their stories. The biggest thing for me was that people started sharing their stories of empowerment. The women really did. I know you’ve heard this through the years, but women, once they discover their bodies and they discover how their bodies can serve them to just be powerful and confident and all that. Well, then their relationship with their husbands, their work environment, everything starts changing. Those women will come up to me and start crying and say, ‘Kathy, I didn’t realize your exercise class would change my life the way it did.’ I think you get those stories, I get those stories and that’s what fueled us and kept fueling us. For me, I’ve always been a seeker. I’ve always been curious and I’ve always been able to put myself into situations where there is a lot of hot shots around. I like being around the hot shots, people who are doing it. I don’t feel competitive, I don’t feel less than them. I don’t feel more than them. I love to learn. I think that has drawn a lot of people into my life, so that I get to continue this path. Whether it’s having a wonderful Podcast with you, we talked about some people today before we got on, but just continuing to build business and write books relevant to my age group. Because as much as you see what you are going through, I am so excited to see what you are going to be going through the more you turn into …. when you start speaking to the aging aspect of this. Because so much of it is still so focused, in your 30’s and 40’s, is still focused on how great am I going to look. But at one point it’s how great am I going to feel and are the things I am doing to look good, also the things I am doing to make me feel good for a long time? That’s where there might be a little disconnect here and people aren’t realizing that what you do to get you losing a lot of weight or get you in shape in this 5 year process, is that going to be the thing that’s going to help your longevity. We have discussed it before, which you are very much into, which I really am following your Podcasts and I am so grateful that you talk so much about it. What is happening on the inside of all this, so that we know what we are doing is really healthy for us and not just a vanity play. There is nothing wrong with vanity, don’t get me wrong. I’m not like trying to say we don’t all look in the mirror and stuff, but every year you pass a certain age and it’s not as old as people think, by the way. But every year you pass a certain age, it’s like, man I want to be on this planet for a long time so I want to make sure I’m doing things right. And not just on the planet, I just finished last week running a half marathon with my daughter in New York. You know how much fun it is to be …. I am 66 years old right now and my daughter is …. I have a 29 year old by the way that is an Olympian, who went to the Olympics in Rio. We can talk about that in a second, about what I l have learned from her.
Kathy: My youngest daughter, who is 26 right now, and I ran with her in New York. But that is the type of stuff that you are doing right now, that you are helping people do, so that you can be having this kind of life. Like heading to Europe and I just climbed Kilimanjaro and doing these things that are exciting times of your life. So life, for me, is only getting better. As opposed to, ‘Ok, I can look good until like …. I am going to make sure my abs look great until I am 45 and then it’s a downhill slide.’ It is more exciting than ever because of all the new research we have. I just want to maybe touch on too, maybe really quickly, things that have just come out recently. Because with my weekly Podcast, I’m always bringing people on with what’s the latest in aging. Some of the stuff that we think about with my early career, was a lot of this aerobic dancing. When I say aerobic dancing, we were still doing jump squats and everything, but it might be ‘step together, step touch, jump squat’ and it was still very vigorous. But one of the things they are finding now, and I just interviewed Dr. Amen on this on brain health, is that coordination moves are so important for brain health. Just doing strict running and strict motions that require no coordination don’t really stimulate your brain. Even some strength training, which is great for several things, don’t get in that coordination side. So, for aging, coordination moves are really important for brain function and balance. You know another really great one is, as we age, the first muscles to go are your super fast muscles. So, you have fast twitch and slow twitch, but the super fast twitch muscles are the first to go. This is true of a lot of people, but especially women. They are not training really propulsion and training things that are really explosive. Those are things that I find, like little nuggets that I like to pass along all the time. I was at the gym yesterday and I’m jumping up fairly high. I had a couple of guys come up and they go, ‘Oh my gosh.’ It’s just something that I train, because it’s something that goes if you don’t do any of that kind of training. A lot of people think weight training is a bicep curl or something. I know you don’t obviously.
Drew: *laughing* Yeah.
Kathy: Through the years I have always liked these different modalities. I think it keeps you very well rounded.
Drew: Yeah, that’s great advice and especially for a lot of women. Because you were lifting weights in the days back before women even knew it was important to lift weights, thinking they would get big and bulky. Even today, in 2018, there are still women that think that if they lift weights they are going to get bulky. Here we are, 30-40 years later from where you started lifting weights and now some women are coming around to it. But, I am glad that you’re a proponent of things like this, you know box jumps and those fast twitch muscles that a lot of women just don’t focus on. We get static in our day to day routine sometimes. So, you’ve given us some great advice. I kind of want to shift gears and talk a little bit about how your nutrition has changed over the years with the new research coming out about nutrition. How has that led you down …. because we talked about this on your podcast, to find what’s optimal for you today? How has your nutrition, over the years, from research or from people in the industry talking about, ‘Oh this is the hot thing! Low fat!’, how have you navigated those waters to find out what’s optimal for you?
Kathy: Really good question. Even back in the days in Hawaii, I happened to right out of college date a doctor. He was an emergency room doctor and he was very much into nutrition.
Drew: Was this after Rocky? *laughing* Or was this before Rocky?
Kathy: *laughing* It was after Rocky!
Drew: Ok, gotcha!
Kathy: From football player to doctor! *laughing* There was a book at the time and it was called ‘Mega Vitamin Therapy’. It was really the beginning of what can vitamin C do? What are the different vitamins? Vitamin B and so on. Princeton, the university, had a division that was called the Brain Bio Institute. We went back there, because we were very focused on what do these chemicals do to the brain? What do ingesting vitamins and such do? They were doing some research on Mega Vitamin Therapy for people with depression and especially schizophrenia. So all that stuff, right from the beginning, was really fascinating to me. One of the things that I had an acute awareness of early on was I saw that what I put in my body, I would react to. I could be out to dinner and again, I’m like 24 years old and I have a glass of wine and some cheese and something else and I could feel like something happening in my body. I could feel my brain start to go, ‘Wow, I can’t focus right now.’ Or all of a sudden, I would just feel very emotional. Back then, you are not connecting the dots, but I am thinking oh no. But eventually I started connecting the dots of what you put in your body is affecting your moods and your mindset. I started to do slight refinements at that time, but not much. It was just very much what I loved to eat. Which I happened to love …. I was raised military, but my family was from Wisconsin. We come from farmers. When I would go back in the summers and we would plant gardens. We would have cows that we would milk. My aunt would go kill a chicken and then bring it in and cook it for dinner. It was very much farm life and in farm life, you are eating a very healthy diet in the sense of it’s fresh foods. You go and pick it and you eat it. The meat you are eating is right there, you are killing it and eating it. If you are having bread, you are making it. So, I came from that and then traveling obviously, the fast food. I will go back and say I was a Twinkie lover and every day after school I would have a Hostess Twinkie. I loved that sort of thing, but it didn’t seem to be a huge problem at the time because I burned it. To answer your question, I know I am beating around the bush. The reason I am beating around the bush is because I am thinking about all the stages we have gone through. Let me just jump in now, I think I’ve got my focus. All of a sudden fat became a bad word and everything was low fat and we switched over to carbohydrates. It was low fat, but full of sugar and that was probably what propelled our obesity epidemic. I did not fall into it. The reason I am sort of hesitating is I’m thinking, it was there …. I wish I could cut this part of the interview out!
Kathy: I am teasing, but it’s actually good for me to think about and the reason why is because there were these camps. I remember writing a book about this. You had these camps and you had the Pritikin and the Dean Ornish diets and that whole thing, which is very low fat. There is a whole science that came out about if you want to reverse heart disease, you have to go very low fat. But they were also low sugar and everything. We had a Pritikin Center in Santa Monica, which I went down to all the time. They had a restaurant there and I would eat there. But it was all about cutting back fats and it was very hard to stick to. They were showing how they were reversing heart disease with this low fat and low sugar carbohydrate approach. Then you had your low fat, which is being replaced with sugars and that boom took over. We really hadn’t gotten to the high fat craze at that time. What started then, was the 30-30-30, which was the balance bar type thing, where we started moving a little bit more toward more fat. But in general, fat became a bad word. So I have to say I probably was in that camp where you heard so much about saturated fat and saturated fats were so bad for you. So, as the pendulum started swinging back, it was a little hard to understand if people were really coming at it or if they were just trying to sell a product or if it was really science. I could read science on both sides. Some science was saying too much fat is bad, then other science is saying such and such, like with Atkins and everything, you could change your blood work. That was a very confusing time. I think we are coming out of this. I think thanks to you and some of your messaging about go and see if it’s working or not. Find out, test your blood work. I think that is powerful messaging. So, what am I doing today? I have always been my own guinea pig. I don’t mind saying that. I like to try things and I like to see how it works. I can tell you pretty quickly, because if I find myself getting constipated, I can’t sleep. My baseline is I feel good, I am in shape. I don’t have any bloat. So, if I start there and I say, ‘Ok I am going to try a new diet. Oh my gosh, I haven’t gone to the bathroom in three days. That doesn’t seem right. Oh my gosh, I am so amped up, I’m in bed and I can’t turn my mind off. I wonder what that is all about. Maybe I don’t have enough carbs.’ And then last but not least, ‘Oh my gosh, I went and looked at my blood work and my cholesterol levels are going down.’ I start to refine around I need enough protein and I need enough vegetables. I need enough of good complex carbohydrates in my diet. Depending on what I am doing, if I am hiking for four days, I go a little bit more complex carbohydrates. I have tried more saturated fats, it does not work for me. I like fat. I get my fats from avocados, nuts and olive oil. I love to make smoothies. I like my greens and I like putting my coconut oils and stuff in my smoothies. I also go to my fish oils. But in general, I feel better when I have more oil in my diet. I feel better when I eat more fish based protein. I eat very, very little meat. I mean if you invite me over, I would have a little bit, but it’s really fish based. I love sardines. I love clean food. I love feeling that when I get done with my meal, I have a lot of energy. I can still get up and do a Podcast. I don’t want to feel sluggish. Even when it’s gluten free, I don’t eat a lot of processed foods. I only really do it when I travel. I try to have gaps between my eating. I try to stop my eating …. I can’t stop as early as people talk about, because I sleep better if I stop my eating around 8 at night. Then I eat again about 11 the next day or something. I have read research on the difference between men and women, the differences between intermittent fasting and what’s good for men, as opposed to women. I think one thing I’m noticing more and more …. I just had Sara Gottfried, who wrote “The Hormone Cure” and other things up here. One thing she emphasized is that men and women are different. Everything that is good for a man and what’s good for you …. I mean I have a very lean body. I find that I really start to lose muscle mass and energy and stuff if I go too much, too long, too many days with some of the things we are talking about. I’ve done it and I just start to notice more of an atrophy that I can’t take. I think your point as to what’s going on, knowing your blood work and what’s going on inside is very beneficial. I look at things and decide if it’s not so good for me. I notice that if I do sixteen hours of fasting, occasionally I can get very, very lean. I don’t like that, especially with the older you get. It’s not healthy and I don’t feel good like that, so I adjust accordingly. I take the information in and I try to access all sides. I try to access people that are telling me things, a lot of times they are trying to sell a product. I sell products so I am not against it, I am a marketer. So, I’m not against it, but I think we have to be careful where we are getting our information. If somebody has got something they are trying to sell you, just make sure that you are looking and listening. Also, see if it’s good for you. Maybe what you are doing for that gorgeous body of yours isn’t exactly what I should be doing for me.
Drew: Yeah and I think that is really good advice for people to hear. Rather than focusing just on your physical appearance, is this diet helping me lose weight or am I gaining weight on it? Maybe it’s not for me. The only way to really know, like you said, is to really find out what is going on inside. That is overlooked in our society, because we are so focused on the outward appearance. I want to be skinny. I want to have a six pack and whatever it takes to get there. Sometimes people will sacrifice their health to look a certain way. Just because you have a six pack …. I know people who do these physique competitions that get really, really unhealthy, but they look good on stage. Then we think that’s the idea of what we are supposed to look like to be healthy. When in reality, that is not the case. So, I am glad you talked about that. We are …. oh go ahead.
Kathy: I just want to put in, there is a saying that at a certain age a woman has to choose between her butt and her face.
Kathy: Or your abs and your face or whatever! When you get down to that place where I have. I’m going to be on the cover of ‘First For Women’ here soon. It’s a magazine that has about a million and a half circulation. We shot it in a bikini and it’s going to be on the cover. So, for those abs to look good, you really have to slim down and then if I stay that low for any length of time, my face gets a little too lean.
Drew: It’s good for people to know that or we are seeing these magazines thinking, ‘Oh Kathy looks so great. I want to look like her. I want to be healthy like her.’ You are kind of saying, that’s my ideal health weight, right? I like that you are talking about that. One quick question that I want to get to, Kathy, is with all …. you know you talked about Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade and those kind of things, and even Robin Williams and what is happening in society right now. Tony Robbins has a great quote. He says, ‘Success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure.’ You have been very successful, especially from an outside perspective. A lot of us don’t know you personally, but we see all the success and think you must be happy. My question for you is what in your life brings you that fulfillment? I think most people realize it’s not the money, it’s not the fame. What is it in your life that brings you that fulfillment, that truly grounds you throughout all the success you’ve had?
Kathy: I have a strong spiritual practice. On a daily basis, the first thing I do when I get up in the morning is say my gratitude prayers and connect with nature. It could be I step outside my back door and just feel the wind on my face and it blowing against the leaves. I listen for a few birds and I could almost cry thinking about it, because it’s funny how just the simplest thing of just thanking the Lord and thanking Him for the birds and the amazing color of the leaves and the trees and the sounds. Am I blessed or what to have all this? It doesn’t matter. I have had big houses and small houses and in between houses. I lived with Rocky when we had no house. *laughing*
Kathy: Every stage has just been magnificent. And part of it is, I’ve gotten knocked down a bunch of times. When you get knocked down, whether it’s losing parents or you have something that happens in business that doesn’t go your way. You have something in a relationship that doesn’t go your way. You find that through all of it, there is a center here of just I have my thoughts and I have the ability to help people every day. I’m not talking about fitness. I mean I literally the other day was in New York and I don’t even miss a beat. I am with my daughter and a guy comes up to me and he says, “Do you go into Whole Foods? Do you think I can have some soup?’ And I just literally go, “What kind of soup do you want?’ He looked at me like, what? I was kind of in a hurry so I asked again, ‘what kind do you want? Do you want a combination or do you want an 18 or a 16 ounce?’ I come out and then he goes, ‘Do you think I could get a roll with that?’ I go, “Yeah, do you want whole wheat or sourdough?’ I come out and I hand it to him and honestly it just quickly, in that moment, made my day. What does it take? It’s just buying someone a cup of soup or whatever and you have the ability every single moment of your day to do that. That brings me joy and I do that all day long.
Drew: That is beautiful and thank you so much for talking about that. Thank you for practicing gratitude on a daily basis. No matter what you have, being grateful for what you have is the most important thing. It’s not having those things that bring you happiness, but being grateful for what you do have. I do agree with you, that everything in this life happens for a greater good. Even if it’s a sucky, terrible, horrible thing, like losing someone, it happens so that in the end it happens so we can grow. In the moment things like that suck. You know, me going through divorce was really hard for me, but those kinds of personal experiences that break you down, they are there to build you back up in the end. I think that’s a good reminder for people that are going through hard times, that this is happening for you to learn a lesson. So, instead of life happening to you, look at life happening for you and what can you learn from these experiences? Kathy, before we go really quick, where can people find you online, social media, websites, maybe all of your DVD’s, I don’t know? You just tell us where to go so we can find and be in touch with you.
Kathy: Yes, just go to KathySmith.com. All of the other information is there. Instagram is @KathySmithFitness, but everything you can find at KathySmith.com.
Drew: Ok, Kathy, thank you so much for coming on the Podcast. I really appreciate what you do and admire you and respect you. I am looking forward to that hike. *laughing*
Kathy: Yeah, for sure! *laughing* Bye, bye. Thank you so much, bye.
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