Building Mental & Physical Strength


Building Mental & Physical Strength

Before you can build physical strength, you must build mental strength. One of the world’s top personal trainers & returning Healthier & Happier podcast guest, Kelsey Wells shares her tips on how to find your motivation and be kinder to yourself, yet hold yourself accountable and create a no excuses mindset. She also shares her heartwarming story of how fitness & nutrition helped her overcome postpartum depression and anxiety.

Kelsey Wells

Kelsey Wells

Personal Trainer & Founder of PWR

Kelsey has become one of the most sought after personal trainers to provide health and fitness advice to women around the world, including for her over 2.7 million Instagram followers. Kelsey rose to influence following her transformation photos in 2016 when her message of wanting women to feel beautiful was heard online. Her social post ‘Screw the Scale’ went viral in July 2016 when media recognised Kelsey’s passion and desire to share her message with women globally.
Now Kelsey is a proud Sweat trainer and the creator of two workout programs; PWR - a gym-based weight training program designed to help women sculpt lean muscle and increase their overall strength, and Post Pregnancy - designed to carefully assist women in regaining their strength and confidence after having children through low impact abdominal, pelvic floor and full body workouts.


Maria Marlowe: [00:00:33] Welcome back to the Happier and Healthier podcast. Today, I’m joined by one of my absolute favorite people, Kelsey Wells, who is returning to the podcast for a second time to talk all about building both muscular and mental strength. So if you guys heard our earlier interview, you know that one of my favorite things about Kelsey is that she’s just so positive and she has, such a wonderful mindset. So that is what I want her to focus on. Yes. She is mega fit. If you don’t know who she is, she works with Kayla Itsines and as one of the trainers in the Sweat app. So she’s literally one of the most followed popular famous trainers in the world. And she was not always so fit five years ago. She was not fit at all. She had never worked out. And she was even dealing with postpartum depression. But then she turned it all around really in a relatively short time, and it’s now become this powerhouse. So I wanted to dig into her mindset a little bit, because I think that’s really the most important key in to changing your physical body or achieving whatever goals you have. It all starts with your mindset. Now, before we jump in, in case you guys missed it, my all new website, has relaunched. It is beautiful and filled with tons of healthy recipes. The previous podcast episodes, nutrition and wellness articles, meal plans and so much more. While you’re there, be sure to check out my signature program, my clear skin plan, which is all about clearing up acne through diet and natural skin care, as well as my paleo meal plan, which will help you eat healthily during the week stress free and all recipes are ready in 25 minutes or less.

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Maria Marlowe: [00:03:47] I’m joined by Kelsey Wells, one of the top trainers in the world and the creator of PWR. So you just launched a new PWR, PWR 4.0.

Kelsey Wells: [00:03:57] Yeah, it’s an extension on the programming. So it is just advancements. You know, you see some new, more advanced exercises that we’ve been building up to, but the formatting is the same. So the muscle groups split kind of builds up until week nine and then it’s the same throughout. But what’s so special and like really cool for me about 4.0 is that it marks one full year of PWR. So have my four beginner weeks. And then now we’ve won through 48. And so I can literally be your personal trainer for an entire year of unique programming, which is a massive milestone.

Maria Marlowe: [00:04:34] That is so amazing. Congrats. That’s such a huge accomplishment for you.

Kelsey Wells: [00:04:39] It’s it’s cool. Yeah, it’s hard. But how I train, I’m currently doing 4.0 and yeah, it’s good.

Maria Marlowe: [00:04:46] So I find that I when I get into a routine that I like, whether it’s a four week with women that I like to keep repeating it, a couple times.

Kelsey Wells: [00:04:54] And I often recommend that it’s like you. The cool thing about PWR is it’s an power hole. It it’s classic proven weight training exercises and techniques. Right. So it’s it’s not like you just do it once you’ve done it. It’s your body doesn’t tire of it because you’re using all planes of motion like it’s very scientifically sound. And a squat is a squat. A deadlift is a deadlift. Like it doesn’t matter what fitness level you’re at. Those exercise, the techniques can benefit you. So there’s it’s a lot of fun to, you know, redo the programming because you’re just stronger and not ever easier. You’re just stronger.

Maria Marlowe: [00:05:27] And so. Right. And you can do more.

Kelsey Wells: [00:05:29] Yeah. Exactly. Yeah. And then you go, oh I remember this like. Yeah. It’s cool. It’s fun.

Maria Marlowe: [00:05:34] Yeah. I saw you doing on your Instagram the other day. A move. It looked like a burpee. But you were doing a handstand. What is that?

Kelsey Wells: [00:05:45] I was just kind of messing around and filming some. I want to focus on my body weight had HIIT stuff, which I often do because HIIT is part of my power programming. And with the launch of 4.0, I also launched some new challenges and quick workouts into the app. And some of those are like hit or strength hit. So it’s like a body weighted workout, but also counts as your high intensity cardio. Right. So we were just having some fun and we filmed some and then that was just more advanced. Yeah, now you love that. But yeah, I was. I love handstands kind of impressing those. So I wouldn’t try it unless you’re if you’re headstand or handstands or nails and you’re tuck jumps, then you’re like, you know, that’s level. Then you can totally do it. Yeah. Yeah.

Maria Marlowe: [00:06:28] Don’t start down. That was very advanced. You’re hardcore. My husband actually, he’ll watch your video and say like wow, like she was hard core to him. So for someone who is just starting out though, if they thought that, they would probably be terrified. You don’t have to start there. No. So where do you start?

Kelsey Wells: [00:06:47] You know, beginner thought just five years ago, which is nothing in the scheme of life. Right. I couldn’t do a single sit up or push up, let alone a handstand or anything like that. And I think the key is it’s always easy to get overwhelmed. No matter what level you’re at. We can if you choose to compare yourself to anyone else, you’re always going to feel less than you’re always going to feel insecurity. You’re always going to feel overwhelmed. But no matter where you’re at, you can also always choose to be grateful for where you are and decide the direction that you want to go. So it’s not about what you can or cannot do. It’s about focusing on putting in effort and bettering yourself.

Kelsey Wells: [00:07:24] And that’s with fitness, with, you know, our mental and emotional well-being. It’s with goals, with, you know, like work goals. And you know what I’m saying? It’s just it’s always about it doesn’t do us any good to focus on what we can’t do. Right. It’s like, what can I do right now and how do I get OK? I’ve set myself a goal. But what am I doing today to get me on the path to reach that right. And you break it down and baby steps cause nothing great ever was achieved in a moment. You know, it’s like even the buzzer beater out that wins the NBA championship game. That moment was only possible because of the whole season of games before it. And then all the practices and then the offseason and then the ten years. And then that kids growing up playing basket every day. You know what I’m saying? So it’s like. You don’t need to get overwhelmed or feel bad about what you can’t do. You just need to put in daily effort and you’ll do great things right. You’ll get where you want to go.

Maria Marlowe: [00:08:16] Yeah. One question I get all the time whenever I’m talking about fitness or I mentioned that I’m going to have you guys on the podcast ask you and Taylor and the question that I get all the time as I want to work out. Then I just feel like I’m not motivated.

Kelsey Wells: [00:08:31] And what advice do you have for these people who look, this may not be a popular answer, but motivation is fleeting. You’re never going to be motivated. You need to do it anyway. You have to exercise discipline and realize. I think I mean, that sounds harsh, but it’s just true. Like, I even I don’t always feel motivated and I’ve thought about that, OK? I’ve given that answer a lot and then it might work. But how can I say that answer but also help people because I don’t want to be too harsh. And I think it comes down to understanding why. Why are you going to exercise? Why are you doing this? When you when your efforts and fitness and nutrition are based off of aesthetics, based off of feeling like you’re not good enough or any place of negativity, it won’t be enough. That’s not enough to exercise discipline with consistency. It’s just not. But when your efforts and your why is based out of gratitude for your body, when you’ve internalized understanding that fitness is not to look a certain way, it’s because you’re a human being who’s alive, who has health, and you take care of your body because we need to keep our hearts beating and we need to you know, we brush our teeth every day. It’s not because we love to do it. It’s because you take care of dental hygiene. And it’s the same thing. You need to do this to take care of yourself. And I think it’s a beautiful gratitude practice. But even if you’re not in that space, it’s like you do because you need to do it and it doesn’t have to be hours a day is not be your thing, but you’ve got to exercise, you know, a few times a week, at least 30 minutes, because you’re worth it, because you have to. You need to take care of yourself. So when you understand your why, then you exercise that discipline. Right. It’s not about motivation.

Maria Marlowe: [00:10:10] All right. So nice. We have to do things that we don’t want to do. I don’t want to pay taxes or file the taxes, but I’ve got to do it. Yeah. And I think that beyond even just the why. I think when people realize what the other benefits are of exercise, like mental health is actually for a personally for me, I think I’m in such a better mood when I exercise regularly and I just think better. I think more clearly. And you yourself, you talk about a lot that you use exercise for your mental health as much as your physical health.

Kelsey Wells: [00:10:41] Absolutely. I’ve struggled with anxiety from childhood and postpartum that was especially prevalent and heavy. And I still have anxiety and that’s a part of my life of which I’m no longer ashamed or quiet about. And I don’t like I think it needs to be more widely talked about. But exercise enables me, exercise and nutrition and enable me to cope holistically with my anxiety, which is a huge superpower for me. And you’re exactly right. I exercise and I exercise that discipline to exercise because it’s good for me. And that’s a very literal thing. I don’t really, just like you said, feel like myself if I haven’t, you know, been taking care of myself and it’s you sleep better, you have more energy. I mean, there’s the non-physical benefits of exercise are very real. And science will show us that we need to be doing this. But it’s also how you feel.

Maria Marlowe: [00:11:35] Yeah. And I think science tells us so much. But it is it ultimately comes down to how you feel. And so many times you’ve not wanted to go to the gym. And then we drag ourselves. There we go. And then we feel me. And you never feel like, oh, I wish I didn’t go. Yeah, that’s true. Yeah. Nobody ever says that or you feel so good. So I feel like once we just get into the habit, maybe the first week or two, it’s a bit tough. But once you get into that routine, you feel so good you don’t want to miss.

Kelsey Wells: [00:12:01] Definitely the more you do it, not really, the easier it becomes, but the more understanding you have of all the amazing benefits of it. Right. I think it’s you know, for me, like fitness was a very literal metaphor for my whole journey of self-love. But it’s not just like you exercise and you love yourself. It’s like it helped me accept myself first. And then you choose to believe in yourself because you can’t do anything unless you believe yourself first and then not. Self belief and self-confidence and self love And they just kind of work in symphony. with each other. And that doesn’t mean you’re always confident. It doesn’t mean you’re never feeling insecure. It just means that you appreciate and validate all that you are and where you are.

Kelsey Wells: [00:12:44] And the fitness helps you gain that confidence, which translates into every other area and aspect of your life. And so it’s not actually for me. Exercise is not actually so much about the physical, what it’s doing for me. Of course. Yes. Taking care of my health. But when I say take care of my health, I’d just as much mean my mental and emotional health, which is that confidence, which is that self-love, which is that peace. And so, yeah, I’ll do it. I prioritize that it’s non-negotiable for me because I need my mind, right. You know, I need that.

Maria Marlowe: [00:13:16] Of course. Are there any other practices or habits you have that you feel like also helped you with your self-love and confidence health?

Kelsey Wells: [00:13:25] Meditation is huge. I know that’s something that I introduced probably two years ago now and a very similar happiness. I’ve been blown away by the benefits of that. And I don’t think there’s one right way to do it. I don’t subscribe to like just one practice or anything. But I think practicing mindfulness and meditation. It’s, you know, being talked out so much lately. I have how great that is for stress relief and all that. There’s so many benefits, but personally, it definitely helps me stay grounded and connected. And yeah, yeah, I agree.

Maria Marlowe: [00:13:59] I started meditating a few years ago as well. And it is a game changer. Yeah. It’s amazing how many really successful people, especially in business, meditate also. Which is quite interesting. And time has an excuse a lot of people have. I guess I can’t meditate cause I don’t have the time to meditate. I used to say that all the time. Do you use it?

Kelsey Wells: [00:14:19] I think it was Oprah that literally said or maybe it was Deepak Chopra. They said, if you say you don’t have time to meditate, you need to meditate twice. Yeah. It’s made me laugh. I’m like, yeah. It’s funny. But it is it’s again, it’s we all have the same amount of hours in a day. We prioritize what matters most to us. Which you know, I used to find a lot of time to watch Netflix and I don’t like I don’t really remember last time I watched the series or a show. But I have new priorities and and nothing wrong with watching shows. You know, I think it’s fun to do that sometimes, too. But we do. We’ve got to prioritize the things that are going to help us. You know for sure like that.

Maria Marlowe: [00:14:55] For sure. And I find with meditation, other people have said this as well. Meditation, it takes 20 minutes out of your day, but it gives you hours of productivity. Because you’re you’re calmer, you think more clearly and you’re just more productive when you’re in that state of mind. I agree. 100 percent, yeah. Are there any other practices or daily habits that you have that you have a morning routine or an evening routine?

Kelsey Wells: [00:15:25] I do have a bit of both. But I one thing that I really just want to point out, especially to any like parents or mothers or or honestly applies to everyone. But one thing, a lesson that I’ve learned, just in mostly like the last year of my career is the importance of being present and fully doing what you’re doing. I think I especially as a mother, I would carry so much guilt because I work and I travel. And that’s hard. It’s hard. I’m always missing my family when I’m not with them. And I would struggle a lot because I’d be gone on these amazing opportunities and I’d just be worried sick about this mom guilt or about like, what are they doing at home? Does he miss me like all of these things? And then when I’m home and I’m so sorry playing with him, I’m just thinking about the million e-mails that I have responded to and the things I need, you know, and the next big trip, it’s coming up. And it’s just like it’s not about anything except being where I am. And when I finally realize, like when I’m playing with my son, I’m playing with my son and not worry about work. I’m just right there with him. And then when I’m here and I’m not leaving camp, I’m just right there because these women are giving me their time and I’m going to give them mine. And it’s like whether you are with your friendships or whatever it is, it’s not necessary. It’s always about quality over quantity. You might not be able to see your mom as much as you like, but when you’re with it, just be with her. And then when you’re working, work hard and be proud of that. And I think that’s, I guess, not so much a routine, but just something that’s helped me immensely is when I finally kind of clicked into place like guilts doesn’t serve us. You know, it’s like just be where you are and focus on the next right thing and then fully do it, whether it’s in your social life, in your work life. The key to balance is just being flexible and and giving your whole self to that present moment of what you’re doing.

Maria Marlowe: [00:17:15] Definitely. And the guilt, I feel like permeates through a lot of areas of our life, not even just with work and kids, but also if we sometimes if someone doesn’t eat right or if they do message in a session.

Kelsey Wells: [00:17:28] Yeah, I’m such a kid for the principle that like the most unhealthy thing you can do, serving your diet is feel guilty or stress out about something you eat like whatever. Like that guilt and stress is worse for you than anything you be. And it’s we have to disassociate guilt and stress from our food because food is fuel we need to eat. We’re nurturing our bodies. And it’s okay to eat things that are less nutritious. Sometimes they’re just less nutritious. They’re not bad. They’re not cheese. It’s just all food is fuel and learning how to indulge in moderate. And to enjoy food in a way and find a balance that for you is going to help you feel your best and carry you throughout your day and give your life and give you the energy to exercise and do all the things that we want. Right. And, you know, I think healthy eating is just about its very core. Finding like that mental switch, because unfortunately, it’s very hard. In society, I think, to disassociate the guilt from the food. But I think it’s imperative.

Maria Marlowe: [00:18:33] Yeah, I agree 100 percent. We need to release the guilt. Yeah, of course. And I eat French fries. I mean, I eat unhealthy foods from time to time. If I want it, I’m gonna eat it. I see. And I don’t feel guilty about it. And that’s everything. Yeah. Yeah. And what we do most of the time is what it’s going to shape our health. And what we do once in a while is. Yeah. Just helps us live our life a little.

Kelsey Wells: [00:18:58] That’s good for your emotional health. Like a piece of cake. Exactly. Sure.

Maria Marlowe: [00:19:02] And one thing I love about your Instagram is that you’re a very positive and very inspiring. Your captions are the best and actually helpful. I thought I was. I don’t remember what post it was that I saw that someone had commented your captions basically win Instagram. Something like that. Yeah. Thanks. Where does this positivity come from? Have you always been so positive?

Kelsey Wells: [00:19:27] No. I think many people falsely misinterpret positivity to a be like natural. I don’t know very many born optimists. I’m not really sure if that’s really not. I think life is hard and it’s always hard for everyone of us are dealing with struggles that others have. Know nothing about. And none of us are immune to tragedy and heartbreak and mourning and death and all of those things that come along with life. And being an optimist or positive person doesn’t mean that you wear these rose colored glasses and just ignore all the hard things. You’re just fine, you’re just happy. It’s not that at all. It’s just understanding in your darkest moments that, OK, even though it’s nighttime right now, I’m not going to ignore my hard feelings. I must to say you’re going to feel them. But I also know that the sun still exists. It’s just not shining on me right now. Maybe it’s Misty or maybe it’s in Australia because they live in the US. Right. But it’s going to come back and it’ll be daytime again. And so it’s just having that assurance that like you can and will survive anything. And understanding the peace that comes with knowing that you get to choose.

Kelsey Wells: [00:20:34] No matter what happens to us, our reactions and our choices of our perspective are the number one influence of how our life will be. No question. And I’m not instigating anything that anyone’s going through. It’s not about that. It’s about. For me, for a long time, I just didn’t understand any of that. And it’s very freeing and powerful. And that’s something that my fitness journey also taught me, is that. We are strong, especially as women were survivors and we don’t have to be victims regardless. But we’ve gone through, we can get up and we can always survive and. We can choose with which attitude to do so and with if you choose to be grateful and choose gratitude, then you’ll always find something positive in any situation.

Kelsey Wells: [00:21:27] And that’s a mindset that you have to cultivate. You know, I do a gratitude journal every morning and actually every night. And my mindfulness meditation has really helped me cultivate living with gratitude. And I don’t think it’s something that it’s just like fitness. Right. I don’t mean something you don’t exercise for really hard for a month ago. I’m good for 2019. I did my exercising. It’s like there’s no shelf-life to this. It’s our health. So whether it’s mental, emotional or physical, you exercise regularly to take care of your physical health. And I practice gratitude practices all the time to live in that space of gratitude that when the hard things happen, when the dark nights are here in your life, you can press forward and continue to be OK and happy and positive. And it’s I think so worth the effort in the fight.

Maria Marlowe: [00:22:19] Yeah. And I appreciate that you said that the positivity doesn’t come natural and that it is not for me. I don’t know. I don’t know if you’re right. I don’t think it comes natural for any of us. I think that we are always aware of danger and we are scared of things to keep us safe. And so it’s not a flaw. There’s nothing wrong. Right. You know, we need that to protect ourselves. But we also we have different dangers. Now, I think things are different now. And we social media and just life in general and our lives today, they seem to elicit more fear and more anxiety and all of this. And so we do really need to cultivate a practice of gratitude and mindfulness to make sure that we stay in that place of positivity. I agree. Yeah. So any tips or advice for people who want to get into fitness and a healthy lifestyle and are just not sure where to start?

Kelsey Wells: [00:23:20] I could go on forever. I think, the biggest, I guess, piece and it’s kind of just my whole mantra and like message or what I’m trying to put out there with all of my programming. I want to help empower women. And that really means I want to help you empower yourself, because then I can’t do that for you. I give you self love, right. Like you think about how much you love your mom or your best friend, no matter what. You can’t make them have that for themselves. That’s self-love is the right of every woman on the planet. But it’s also the responsibility. And so I want to help you empower yourself. And I’ll give you the tools. Like I’ll write my programming. I will teach you how to weight train. I will teach you about nutrition.

Kelsey Wells: [00:24:06] I will help you cultivate mindfulness and help you, you know, give you the tools that help me with my gratitude practices. But at the end of the day, it’s all on you. You know, it’s only up to us. And I think understanding that when you’re in the beginning, every journey. I know how it feels to be like, oh, my gosh, I just have so far to go. Like that man is just too big. It’s too overwhelming, too daunting. But it’s not about getting anywhere. It’s about where are you right now? And instead of feeling like, oh, I just want to have a healthy lifestyle that’s just so daunting and overwhelming.

Kelsey Wells: [00:24:45] But it’s like, what can you do right now today? We’ll give you right now. Today. Oh, I can find a way to move my body and exercise. Cool. I would do that. I can’t eat a vegetable. Okay. When I do that. I wouldn’t drink water instead of my soda on the next meal. Okay, cool. And then be proud of yourself. It’s honestly about taking it day by day.

Kelsey Wells: [00:25:06] My whole life, but especially like my whole lifestyle, is completely one hundred thousand percent opposite from what it was five years ago, but nothing was done overnight. It was just those small little changes implemented until they’re my new normal. And then I took off something else and it’s like now I eat very clean, healthy, and it’s not daunting or hard or stressful because it’s just my new normal and I do it because it feels good. And that big lifestyle shift that you’re hoping for if you’re wanting to like get active in your sedentary right now or if you’re wanting to eat healthy and you just don’t eat all right now. It will come. But don’t focus on the massive change you’re trying to make focus on what can I do right now, To be out there to take care of myself.

Maria Marlowe: [00:25:48] Those baby steps really lead to big results overtime. Exactly. Yeah. Yes. Yeah. So we’re here in Dubai. You are about to leave. This is your first time here, right? Yeah. How are you liking it?

Kelsey Wells: [00:26:01] I’m just so, so grateful to be here. I wanted to come my whole life. So it’s been top my bucket list. I had high expectations, but it’s like exceeded them all. I think that people are so beautiful and lovely and warm and kind. And the architecture is unbelievable. I mean, there’s so many things I’ve never seen before and never thought of before. It’s just a very beautiful culture in place. Yeah. Yeah.

Maria Marlowe: [00:26:27] And you’ll be teaching at Dubai Active this weekend. Yes.

Kelsey Wells: [00:26:31] Friday. Live power session at noon, followed by a meet and greet at 1, which is always my favorite part. And then also like Q&A on Saturday, which was really cool. Just chat with everyone. 2 p.m. Saturday with the Q&A. Super cool.

Maria Marlowe: [00:26:45] Super exciting. I know I had you answer this question last time you were on the podcast, but maybe you haven’t. You answered. If there is one tip or piece of advice you can leave our listeners with. In order for them to live a happier and healthier life, what would it be?

Kelsey Wells: [00:27:01] Be grateful.

Maria Marlowe: [00:27:03] I think that was your answer last time was.

Kelsey Wells: [00:27:06] Was it?

Maria Marlowe: [00:27:06] I don’t remember. Yeah, but I feel like it probably was. That’s a great one either way. Well, thank you so much, Kelsey.

Kelsey Wells: [00:27:11] Thank you.

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