98: Habits that Lead to Optimal Health with Dr. Ali Novitsky

I’ve never done an episode on fitness and nutrition before. But since the New Year is fast approaching and people are thinking about their health during the Holidays, I’m bringing in an expert to help me explore nutrition and fitness, and look at the habits that contribute to your overall health from a different perspective than you’re used to hearing.

Joining me today is Dr. Ali Novitsky, a neonatologist certified in obesity medicine, a Master Certified Life Coach, and an expert in fitness and nutrition. When we think of health, sometimes we go straight to thinking about diets, restrictions, and hardcore self-discipline. However, Dr. Ali Novitsky knows that unrealistic strategies don’t help you reach your goals, but healthy, sustainable daily habits do.

Tune in this week to gain a deeper understanding of your nutrition and fitness needs and the different layers involved in the pursuit of long-term sustainable health. We’re discussing energetic health as a way of achieving optimal health, sharing why optimal health has nothing to do with your BMI or your size, and you’ll learn how to know when you’re ready to do the work of optimizing your health.

Habits on Purpose with Kristi Angevine | Habits that Lead to Optimal Health with Dr. Ali Novitsky

I’ve never done an episode on fitness and nutrition before. But since the New Year is fast approaching and people are thinking about their health during the Holidays, I’m bringing in an expert to help me explore nutrition and fitness, and look at the habits that contribute to your overall health from a different perspective than you’re used to hearing.

Habits on Purpose with Kristi Angevine | Habits that Lead to Optimal Health with Dr. Ali Novitsky

Joining me today is Dr. Ali Novitsky, a neonatologist certified in obesity medicine, a Master Certified Life Coach, and an expert in fitness and nutrition. When we think of health, sometimes we go straight to thinking about diets, restrictions, and hardcore self-discipline. However, Ali knows that unrealistic strategies don’t help you reach your goals, but healthy, sustainable daily habits do.

Tune in this week to gain a deeper understanding of your health and the different layers involved in the pursuit of long-term sustainable health. We’re discussing energetic health as a way of achieving optimal health, sharing why optimal health has nothing to do with your BMI or your size, and you’ll learn how to know when you’re ready to do the work of optimizing your health.

To get on the waitlist for the next Habits on Purpose for Physicians group coaching program and to be the first to hear about or next start date in 2024, click here!

If you’re interested in connecting with me for private coaching, I do keep a small panel of private clients and I love helping them explore their minds and explore their habits so they can make real shifts in their lives. To get more information, click here!

What you'll learn from this episode:

  • How people come to Dr. Ali Novitsky with a physical goal, but realize they need to change their mindset first.
  • Why optimal health isn’t about your weight, size, or body-fat percentage.
  • The physical results that will inevitably follow the mindset work.
  • How your energetic health serves your mental, emotional, and physical health.
  • An in-depth definition of high-vibe versus low-vibe.
  • What Dr. Ali Novitsky recommends for her clients instead of cardiovascular exercise.
  • How to know when you’re ready to really do the work and commit to optimizing your health.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Powerful Takeaways:

04:25 “What I know to be true is that restriction doesn’t work.”

10:00 “There’s more than meets the eye when thinking about our health than just food and working out.”

13:50 “Energetic health is a new form that I’ve been talking a lot about, and I really love it.”

20:40 “As humans, we want to be accepted and we want certainty.”

25:32 “NEAT is non-exercise activity thermogenesis.”

28:59 “The idea is that we always have to change, and once we change then we’ll like ourselves. That’s not how it works.”

Featured on the Show:

Related Episodes:

Full Episode Transcript:

Enjoy the show:

Welcome to Episode #98. I’m Kristi Angevine, and I'm here to help you understand why you do what you do, why you have the habits you have, so that you can start living your life on purpose instead of on autopilot.

One of the areas we haven't focused on yet is fitness and nutrition, and all the habits that surround this. Given that it's about to be a new year, and fitness nutrition are such common things for people to think about during the holidays, I wanted to bring in an expert to help me explore health, nutrition, fitness, and look at these topics from a different perspective than what you're likely used to hearing.

Today, I'm speaking with Dr. Ali Novitsky. Ali is a neonatologist certified in obesity medicine, a Master Certified Life Coach, and an expert in fitness and nutrition. Let's get right to it.

Welcome to Habits On Purpose, a podcast for high-achieving women who want to create lifelong habits that give more than they take. You'll get practical strategies for mindset shifts that will help you finally understand the root causes of why you think, feel, and act as you do. And now, here's your host, Physician, and Master Certified Life Coach, Kristi Angevine.

Kristi Angevine: Dr. Ali Novitsky, welcome to the podcast. I'm so delighted that we got to spend some time together today. For the people who don't know who you are, can you take a second to introduce yourself?

Dr. Ali Novitsky: Sure. Thank you so much for having me. This has been a dream of mine and here I am. So, yeah, I'm Ali Novitsky. I am, my background, a neonatologist. In 2018 I started my company, where I help women physicians with optimal health. I've rebranded the name a couple of times, and currently we are called The Fit Collective. We just really incorporate all the different aspects of health, surrounding it in community and also coaching.

I have some kids. I have two daughters, a husband, and a dog. If anybody likes mini-Labradoodles, I have one of those. Yeah, that's me.

Kristi: So good. Speak to the people about where in the world you're calling in from, and maybe another fun fact about you, before we dive into all the other stuff.

Ali: I would love to. I am from just outside of the Philadelphia area. I always say Philadelphia, because it's easy for people to kind of identify where that is. But a lot of people think Philadelphia and New York are similar if you're not from the East Coast, and we're very different. We're very, very different. So, Philadelphia, southside, it's called Chadds Ford.

Another fun fact about me is that growing up, my brothers… I have two brothers. I'm right in the middle. So, middle child, two brothers. We're all doctors. My older brother is in pulmonary critical care. My younger brother is an internal medicine hospitalist.

Growing up, my brothers would always tease me for not having a hobby. In reality, my hobby was working out and reading nutrition books; that is a hobby.

Kristi: Okay, I just love this so much, that that was your hobby. I've heard you referenced that before. But this is just perfect, because one of the things that we really haven't dived into on this podcast, are the habits related to the topic of health, in general. So, this is your jam. I would love to talk a little bit about health.

What I mean by that, is when people hear “health,” and this isn't just me, when we hear “health,” sometimes we go straight to thinking about diets and restriction, and this really almost hardcore supreme self-discipline. So, I would love, before we jump into anything, would you to share your take on all things related to the diet industry?

Ali: Oh, sure. My background starts with my introduction to the diet culture at the age of six. I don't know how many of your listeners out there know how much they weighed when they were six, but I know how much I weighed when I was six, and seven, and eight and nine.

It started when my best friend's mom told me, at the age of six, that I needed to go on a diet. It was because her daughter, who is a naturally thin individual, was 40 pounds. I am a mesomorph individual, and I was 60 pounds. And so, it really started then. Then my first diet started at the age of eight.

With all of that being said, what I know to be true, is that restriction doesn't work. Lacking self-love doesn't work. Over-exercising doesn't work. A specific nutrition strategy that is not realistic, doesn't work. So, I hate to say it, but most of it won't work unless you're all in on it.

It really comes down to understanding health as it relates to learning who you are authentically. Everything about your health is going to be driven by how you're driven. And so, what we have to do, is we actually have to uncover all the different layers that are maybe covering up what you need to discover, before you can really pursue that commitment to long-term, sustainable health.

Because I'm not just talking about physical. I'll tell you, that most people come to me thinking they have a physical goal. Most people are kind of midway through the program realizing that that's not their goal. That, okay, yeah, the physical changes that happen, as a result of the other work, are going to happen. Really, the work is diving into the mental, the emotional aspect, and typically everything else will follow.

I think it's really interesting, because if I bill myself as somebody who says, “Okay, we're going to get really uncomfortable. You're going to come in, I'm going to give you this awesome plan, you're going to work out with me, and we're going to have so much fun. You're going to see these great physical results.” We'll have everybody joining.

If I say, “Okay, that's what I'm going to tell you we're going to do, and we're going to do that, and then halfway through you realize that there's a whole lot more and you're going to get really uncomfortable, things aren't going to feel good. You're going to have a lot of doubts. And then, you're going to start to see the light.” I don't know how many people would really sign up for that.

Kristi: Totally, I have a very similar take, right? We overlap in that way. In the sense that most of the time when you're telling people about how you can help, we don't lead with, “The way that you're going to get whatever you want is to go through a lot of discomfort.”

Well, let me backup a second. Based on what you're saying, because I think your take is different than what most people hear, I think it would be really important for you... I mean, you're a neonatologist, you're a board-certified Obesity Medicine Physician, and you’re a Master Certified Life Coach; these things that a lot of people don't put together.

How did you get to this passion for fitness and coaching, other than just having a natural hobby? A sort of natural desire to learn about it? How did you get to this place in your life?

Ali: I knew, for me, that achievement was really something that I hid behind because of the discomfort in, I think, or maybe it's not the discomfort, but maybe it was the lack of belief in myself, or the confidence that I didn't have in myself. And so, going into achievement mode, that was easy for me, because I could be a great athlete, I could excel in school, I could be friends with everyone. And that seemed to really do the job.

I did that. And I'm really so glad that I did that. My father's a physician and his office was in our house. So, it just was pretty natural, as it came to relating to people. So, going into medicine was not a surprise. It’s just kind of something that our family did. I mean, my brothers are both physicians, and so that's amazing.

However, I said this to my medical director; I'm still really good friends with the medical director in the NICU. I said, “When you came to work every day, you would have new hats knitted for the babies. Neonatology, working in the NICU, was what you were born to do.” I mean, the amount of notes that patients would send her because she just was so in it. I said, “I would just look at you and admire you.” I was like, I want that.

I was a good neonatologist, don't get me wrong. I loved what I did, but I'm just saying it's a little bit different. When I help women, and I walk with them into a space where they feel so vulnerable and so uncomfortable that they have to face all the things they have to face, for them to then decide how they're going to walk out of it, and really blossom into who they are, now, that fills me up.

One of my friends always says to me, “You were born a coach, and you just happen to be a doctor.” So, I just think that it's one of these things that maybe it was uncomfortable for me to say, my life passion is to do this, because medicine just seems like, obviously, that's a big accomplishment. Let's go with the big accomplishment. That looks really good. And that was my way of accepting myself, before I was really willing to go deep, right?

And now, I'm like, no, I had to uncover all that. I had to go through all that so that I could do this. That combined with you… I do have a natural athletic tendency, and it was something I excelled at. So, of course, having lack of confidence in my body, if my body could do something good or do something well, then I would latch on to that.

And so, I think that because I was like, oh, my body works really well, I think that I held on to that so much. And it helped me to discover how interesting I found nutrition and exercise and all those things. So, that's kind of how I found it.

Ultimately, what happened is I had a real face to face with myself and I said, “Okay, where do you see yourself in 10 years?” I saw myself working for myself, helping women to basically achieve their most optimal health.

Kristi: Now, I just love this story. I've heard you reference it before, but I don't know that I've heard it put together in such a cohesive fashion. So, thank you for sharing it in that way. I've known you for a long time, and one of the things that you teach is what you just referenced, optimal health. You look at it from these different perspectives. As you said, there's more than meets the eye when we think about our health than just food and working out.

I love how you teach that there's these different pillars; there's mental and emotional and energetic and your relationships. I'm wondering if you could sort of just give people a little overview of these different facets of optimal health?

Ali: I love it. So good. So, physical health is the one that typically everybody thinks of. What is physical health? What I'd say is, yes, there is going to be a nutrition aspect that's going to be more beneficial for most. And there's going to be an exercise strategy that is going to be very beneficial for women once you hit a certain age.

And I'll just be honest, focus on understanding what you need in terms of protein, understanding what you need in terms of strength training, and committing to a minimal amount of that. That is physical. I will tell you, though, that probably more than in that physical realm, is understanding your body type and understanding more about your genetics. Because a lot of times, we set these really unrealistic physical expectations.

So, then we live in disappointment, and the only way you'll ever come out of that disappointment is if you can actually really understand your body type. That's a simple one. Are you naturally thin? Are you naturally muscular? Do you naturally tend to carry a little bit of additional body fat? The physical realm, yes, and it actually has a lot more to do with self-love, self-acceptance, body acceptance, relationship with food, relationship with exercise.

When we move into the mental aspect of health, it’s being able to develop the skill of separating yourself from your thoughts. Now, mental health is so much deeper than that, obviously. I mean, I'm married to a psychiatrist, just so I could really be sure of it.

But the idea for my perspective, and really how I help, is the idea that we are flooded with thoughts. Many are distorted. How can you recognize these distortions? How can you actually observe them, rather than taking them as truth?

So, the more that we can be willing to change our mind, and really stay more in a growth mindset, it's going to absolutely help us with our mental health. Because the idea behind this is, we know thoughts create feelings. Everybody hears that, and it's probably been said again and again.

The idea is that our emotional health… I like to target emotional health. If I had to pick one pillar of health, it would either be emotional or energetic. So, emotional health is really our ability to feel. A lot of what we don't realize is that our “why” or our desire for something, comes from these core desires of what it is that we want.

It's not like the new electric Rivian that I want, it's the ability that makes me feel powerful. It makes me feel just complete luxury. It feels luxurious to me. Okay? It's not the car, the car is awesome and all, but it's how I feel about it. And so, it's really kind of tapping into how we want to feel, and figuring out a strategy to be able to do that more often. So, that has to do a lot with the emotional regulation piece.

The other thing too, is that exercise, emotional health, and physical health, to me, are really hand in hand. Because exercise is actually an amazing way to emotionally regulate. And also, for us to start really learning how to process emotion. Everybody says that, “We have to process our emotions,” and then nobody knows what to do.

I use exercise as really a platform to help people to start to feel. Because when you move your body and something hurts, you feel it. When you have a negative emotion, it hurts, you feel it. So, they're not that different. We can use one or the other, and really kind of work them together, so that we can start to maybe feel more comfortable and do it more often.

Energetic health is a new form that I've been talking a lot about. I really love it, because it really is going to play back on mental, emotional, and physical health. The idea is, how do we stay high vibe? How do we stay high vibration? And so, high vibration people are going to be people that are in the growth mindset. They're always working on themselves. You'll know them, you'll want to be around them.

The really cool thing is that you can raise your vibrational energy. So, if you are somebody that sits at a lower vibe, and that's not a bad thing; if you sit at a lower vibe, nothing's gone wrong. We just can tweak some things to help you live at a higher vibe. When you do that, you will attract the things you really want to attract.

A lot of times, when people have good things happen to them all the time… There's that person and everything always works out for them… it's not a coincidence, okay? They probably have a really high vibrational energy and things are being made to happen for them; but they're actually making it happen. And so, I think that's a really cool aspect of health.

When you put them all together, that's optimal health. Notice I didn't say a weight size or body fat percentage, because optimal health really has nothing to do with that.

Kristi: I love that it's multifactorial. They can't stand alone, but they're each important. That's not really what we think about when we think… I mean, it's not what I think about when I think about optimal health; five years ago, until I learned more.

A tidy side note for all the kind concrete, clipboard-holding scientists listening. People who hear “high vibe” and “low vibe” and they think of, I don't know, “We're going to manifest our destiny and light some candles,” Can you translate what you mean by “high vibe” and “low vibe” into a different way, such that somebody who winces when they hear that understands what you mean?

Ali: I think that's a really important point. I love that you actually bring that up, because I do realize that sometimes it can be a little bit uncomfortable for people. They all of a sudden think I'm going to go sit on the top of a mountain with dragon flies buzzing around me and start chanting. The reality is, this is physics based. Vibrational energy is science based.

Everything in the universe has energy. So, what happens when you have something that has a lot of energy? What happens when you have something that's buzzing? Things happen when things are buzzing. When things are buzzing, it's high vibe. Okay?

So, how do we get to a space where we make things happen? Well, we have to be able to have a growth mindset, quite honestly. If we can be willing to think about things differently, if we can be willing to take different actions, if we can be willing to learn, if we can put our ego aside, from a physics standpoint we are going to be more in motion.

Versus, let's say, we're in a space in our life where just a lot of stuff is happening and we are just really stressed. Whenever we're in massive amounts of stress, what happens is we go to old beliefs. When we go to old beliefs, we believe them to be true and we're not willing to move past them. That is not a growth mindset, that's more a fixed mindset.

Again, fixed and growth, we hear it all the time. When we're in a fixed mindset what's going to be put into action? Everything you're already achieving. So, when you're in a fixed mindset you're going to be getting the results that you are currently getting; you will continue to get those results. Okay?

That vibe is monotonous. That vibe isn't super high. That vibe is in motion, but it's not going on this upward trajectory, it's just kind of happening. That's how I like to think of it.

Again, it's the idea of, how do we build energy versus how is energy drained? Energy is going to be drained when we are not protecting ourselves. A lot of times, we're saying yes all the time. We don't feel comfortable saying no. We're not willing to put our needs first. We're not willing to honestly ask for what we need. So, there’s a lot that goes into it.

It can show up in different ways for different people. For some people, it shows up in relationships. For some people, it shows up with a kind of parenting. For some people, it shows up with how they walk their dog. Honestly, it can show up in a billion different ways.

So, I think the interesting thing, and how I like to talk about it is, maybe if the high vibe/low vibe feels like a little bit too much, I usually like to tell people, “On a scale of 1-10, where do you think you live on an everyday basis, as it relates to your energy?” For example, I give a three.

So, somebody with an energy level of three, they're usually going to be seen as introverted; they're usually pretty quiet, they're usually observing, they're very functional, they're doing all the things they need to do. But again, it's just more of this constant low-key energy.

When you get to four, you see a little bump in that. Maybe they're a little more outwardly spoken. We can go through the whole thing… I think the point is, that I like to say, “Okay, where do you think you average on a scale of 1-10, in terms of energy?”

Where ten, you’re at a rave, vibing on the dance floor and doing some shots and all the things. One, you're sleeping in a luxurious bed with lots of light, fluffy bedding.

And so, where do you live mostly? I would say that I probably live at a five, and my husband lives at probably a four. I used to live probably a lot higher, but I found that my natural energy is actually lower. I would kind of put out a higher energy into the world because I thought it was more accepting. I thought more people would like me if I did that.

Now, I'm just like, “Okay, I'm a five. I'm kind of fun sometimes, and sometimes I'm not.” My husband's a four, and we like to sit on the couch and watch Kelce, the new show on Jason Kelce; he's an Eagle. Go Eagles!

Kristi: I think this is going to resonate with so many people who just needed to hear it in that way. So, I love that you put it like that.

One of the things that I want to get back to you, because you've mentioned this a couple of times, is we hear this idea of body acceptance and self-love. You hear it in Hallmark cards, you see it on Instagram, we hear it. But when it comes to optimal health, I don't know that we oftentimes hear and really understand the importance of deep self-love and body acceptance, or body love and self-acceptance. Whichever way you want to put it.

Can you talk a little bit more about how that relates to health? Particularly how that might relate to optimal physical health?

Ali: Yeah, that's such a good question. The really interesting thing here are a couple of things. The standard answer that everyone's going to say is, “Well, the diet culture did it. This is how this person looks. This is how this actress looks. I already googled her stats, and I'm the same height...” It starts there, let's just say. The reality is, as humans, we're looking for acceptance. As humans, we want to be accepted. The other thing is, as humans we want certainty.

And so, the idea is that if we can tangibly see something that is appealing to our eye, and we think that we can get there with X-Y-Z strategy, because that’s certain, then we are going to completely ignore who we are authentically, and what we need authentically. We're literally going to say, “That's what I want, and this is how I'm going to get there. Because I’m certain that, yes, that's the body I want.”

Not realistic, right? Because the idea is that we all have different body types, we have different genetics, we have different appetite genes. So, appetite is actually genetic. We have different levels of hormones. We have different ways that we put on muscle mass. So, the idea of ever comparing yourself to anyone, you can throw that out the door right now.

I think that that's going to help relieve a lot of people's stress over constantly going out of their lane. You have to find your own lane. I have to tell you, that every single person, even though there's billions of us, you have your own lane. And so, when we can get into that lane, then the work begins.

What I usually say, is that many people, if you give them the option: You can keep your body or you can trade it for this person's body. A lot of people would trade their body. So, if you can get to a place where I asked you that question, and there's no way you'd ever trade your body, then we're really ready to do the work.

approach it. It's the idea that you have to be willing to own your body ‘till death do us part.’ It’s really what it's all about. When you do that, you will be willing to commit to the strategies that are going to really allow your body to be the healthiest version of its capability.

And everybody is going to be different. A lot of times, I'll have women ask me, “What's a normal body fat percentage? What should mine be?” Quite honestly, I don't know. Because it's genetically determined. Your weight is genetically setpoint determined. You can change your setpoint, yes, you can. However, it is determined that way.

There's somebody that can live at 30% body fat, and that might be the leanest they'll ever get without doing really drastic measures, and it's perfect. There's somebody else who might live in a 19%, because that's just, genetically speaking, how they carry themselves, and that's great, too.

And so, I think a big thing that comes in is the comparison piece. And also, the timeline. Everybody wants results yesterday. It took me about 32 years to get to my most optimal health. So, it's not six months, it's years. We have to be willing to commit to these strategies long term. It's also never too late to start.

Kristi: I remember one of the things that I heard you say, I can't remember exactly where it was, you were talking with somebody about goals, etc. You said something like, “Well, would you be willing to let it take six months? Would you be willing to let it take a year? Would you be willing to let it take two years?” Until you got to the point where they were kind of cringey and were like, “Ugh, I don't want it to take that long.”

It makes so much sense, perhaps when we were in middle school or high school and we could make a quick change that would make something fast. We're very productivity driven; we like to be super efficient. It makes sense that that baseline in patients would be there, with things that actually are not effective to be there with, right?

Ali: Oh, totally. I don't talk a lot about female hormones. I'm not going to talk a ton about estrogen or progesterone or anything like that, because there are many people who are experts there. I know enough, but I like to stick with the insulin, ghrelin, leptin, those type of metabolic hormones.

What I'll say is that if you're a woman over the age of 40, it's awesome if you have perfect lab work; love it. If you're physically having issues that you would maybe classify as some degree of insulin resistance, you're probably not wrong.

And so, I just want to put that out there, as we get older, even if our labs never show it and we might never need to do anything about it other than the healthy lifestyle interventions. I'm just saying if you notice that things are a little bit different… Yes. Okay, fine. We can say menopause is coming and whatnot, estrogen drops and whatever. There are all those things happening.

I will also say that we can do things right now that are going to promote the most optimal metabolic health, and yes, there are things that are within your control. So, even if your labs look good, and you're like, “Well, I'm still good. I'm just going to keep doing…” there are things that we can do to make sure that things stay good.

Kristi: The first thing that crosses my mind is something that I can't remember when you reference this to me, but talking about NEAT, the acronym. This comes straight to my mind, when you're talking about things that people can do that they might not think of that they can do. Can you just tell people who are not familiar with NEAT, what NEAT is? just as a side note. Then, I want to get back to this training you have.

Ali: Yeah, love it. NEAT is Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. Where that fits in, because I'm a big-picture person, is your total daily energy expenditure. So, the amount of energy you burn in a day, it has several different variables, and the variables are your basal metabolic rate. Which is going to be determined by your lean body mass, quite honestly; basal metabolic rate. Well, also your age and your height and things like that.

In general, the more lean mass you have, the higher your basal metabolic rate will be.

Then, we have our exercise. That is, NEAT and EAT. NEAT is Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis; this is unplanned exercise. EAT is Exercise Activity Thermogenesis; this is planned exercise. We also can factor in the afterburn effect of exercise, if we really want to get super technical. And the other variable is going to be the digestion of our food.

Our basal metabolic rate makes up about 70% of our total daily burn. So, sit with that for a minute. Exercise is at most, for people, maybe 20%. Your digestion of food is about 10%, and it's heavily dependent on protein consumption. Because protein has the highest energy burn for digestion.

NEAT, that's going to be your steps. So, anytime you can park a little bit further, anytime you can take the stairs, anytime you can just move your body, that’s going to be NEAT.

A lot of times, people think, “Well, how many days a week do I need to get on my Peloton? How many days a week do I need to do cardio?” I don't even prescribe cardio in my programs anymore. I've really used NEAT to take over cardiovascular training. I think it's great if you enjoy it, if you love to hike or run or bike or whatever. That's great.

I also think that NEAT is probably more important. NEAT is something that almost everyone can do. I mean, even if you're not able to walk there are ways you can use your upper body, if you're able to, to get that NEAT in.

I'll tell you, the biggest reason why people won't achieve results is they're not willing to be consistent, because what they think they need to do on a consistent basis is unrealistic. And so NEAT, it's just, no, move more, park further away. there's your NEAT. I usually like to get people above 5,000 steps a day.

Kristi: I love how you make that so accessible. Because I think one of the things that we oftentimes do is we think, “Okay, ‘Optimal’ health is going to be very difficult to do. Therefore, I'm going to have to start it later. It's going to require a lot of energy.” That all or none, “So, I'm not going to start anything.” But this, you can just park a little further away and it's actually effective. It's not some soft woo-woo thing, it's truly substantial.

Ali: Substantial and also proven to enhance longevity.

Kristi: That’s a nice little side note into some of the science behind this. I do want to get back to, you talked about getting to that place where you genuinely do not want to trade your body in for another body. I know we could probably talk about this for days, but what's involved in somebody getting to the place where they don't want to make a tradeoff?

Ali: A lot of emotion. A lot of hard stuff. It's really, when they come in, they usually come to me for a tangible result. Like, “I want to lose weight. I want to gain muscle mass.”

Or sometimes people will come to me because they're pre-diabetic, and they want to do everything they can from a lifestyle perspective. They get there, they do that, they have not yet addressed their body acceptance piece, because they've never actually thought about it. Right?

The idea is that we always have to change, and once we change, then we'll like ourselves. That's not how it works. You actually have to like yourself first.

I think what happens a lot of times is this will happen if somebody loses a significant amount of weight. One time, many times, I've had people, women, who will lose 30, 40, 50 pounds, and they are happy with their end result. But then they feel terrible because they don't feel as good as they thought they would. They thought they'd be so happy. They thought there'd be this parade, this party. They thought that they would be so high on life when they achieved that result, and it didn't happen.

That's when they have to do the work. Because they didn't spend the time loving themselves, to then allow it to just kind of feed into the result, or do it at the same time even. So, they can't be separate; they can be, but you're going to have to backtrack and then figure out the self-love piece to maintain that result.

Because if you get to that result and you don't feel better, have fun maintaining it. Because you're not going to want to continue the same behaviors, because you're like, “Well, what was that all for anyway? I'm not happier.”

Kristi: I think that's just such a huge piece that is so often overlooked. It might be not overlooked because we don't understand that it's important, we just don't know how to do it. Which I think is such a beautiful, very integral piece to the work that you do. You don't start off telling people, “Hey, I'm going to help you find the self-worth issue that's at the core of your inner struggle with optimal health.”

But once you work with people, that's a lot of what you do, is helping them with the specifics of the “how,” to navigate that really complex thing about self-acceptance in all the ways that it shows up.

Ali: Well, it's interesting, because you can't predict. I have women who come to me that might have significantly more weight to lose for optimal health purposes. I'm not talking about a size, I'm not talking about a BMI, I'm talking about, we have some insulin stuff going on, we have some other stuff, we have bad knees, we have weight loss. In general, it would benefit, let's just say.

Once we get there, they actually like themselves. We get to it, and they're like, “Yeah, actually, I don't need to go any further, I'm good here.” Then, I can have somebody who is not in that situation, they're probably in optimal health already.

Optimal body composition, for me, is a little bit different. I just want women's skeletal muscle mass above their body fat mass, which is going to be a higher BMI, honestly. So, I don't go with a BMI chart.

But with all that being said, I could get somebody who's pretty near optimal body composition, and you would look at them and think that they were completely fine, because from societal standards this would be a good standard, right? And, they are not happy. They don't have acceptance.

So, you can't predict. That's why health really comes in all shapes and sizes.

Kristi: Absolutely. I think we're going to need to do a part two to this. Because you've brought up several things that I think would be really good to not only dive into a little bit deeper, but also be able to pair with some practical things. So, let's commit to where we'll do a part two.

Let me just ask, is there anything else, as we're reflecting on these things, this passion that you have in your work, is there anything that you might want to add before we wrap up this part?

Ali: Some of the biggest things are, that a lot of us think it's too late, or we think that we won't keep up, or it's not possible for us. I'm kind of talking more about, I would say, kind of this whole health realm. They kind of shy away from going all in. Because, like I mentioned, too late, not able to, what if I fail? It's like this fear of failure.

Then, the idea also that it's going to take so much of a commitment, they need so much more time, and they need so much more meal prep, and they just can't possibly… The reality is ‘smarter, not harder,’ and ‘less is more.’ It's all these things that we weren't actually taught to be true.

And so, I would say that whatever you believe about achieving really good and optimal health, whatever you believe right now, I'm not saying those things are wrong, but I would just ask you to question them. You could ask just something simple, like, is this the only way? Do I enjoy doing what I'm doing? Do I have the result that I want?

I just want to say that whatever results you want is worth exploring. Because we want to make sure that we are going for realistic results. But ultimately, really being sound in mind and body is always the goal. When you're pursuing health, it's not just about the grilled chicken and the elliptical anymore, right? It's the whole picture.

When you are in that pursuit, it’s making sure you're incorporating all the areas; mental, emotional, physical, and now energetic health. You will be so full of life, I think is the best way to put it, when you're able to incorporate all those things.

Kristi: It's not about the grilled chicken and the elliptical, that can sum up so much, right? Tell people where can they find you.

Ali: They can find me at www.TheFitCollective.com. That's our main page, and you'll find our programs. We have a program for women physicians and optimal health that gives 72 CMEs. It's called Transform. We also have a Fit Woman Collective monthly membership program. We have a podcast, and we're currently rebranding it to be called Transform. Instagram is @alinovitskymd. That's the main stuff.

Kristi: Oh, amazing. Well, thank you for going over so much. I mean, there's just so much depth here. Let's do part two really soon. Everybody, if you haven't already found Ali in all the places, go find her and follow her. It will really enrich your perspective on your optimal health. Thanks so much for your time.

Ali: Thank you for having me.

To celebrate the podcast getting to 100 episodes and moving into 2024, I am doing a very, very special giveaway for a woman physician listener. It has to do something with wellness and a tropical location. So, stay tuned for all the details for how you can enter the drawing.

If you love what you heard today, I would love it if you would let me know. It would mean the world to me if you would consider scrolling down, leaving the podcast a rating, and a very, very short review. I know your time is precious, and it is not a small thing to take a moment out of your busy day to do so. But it means so much for the discoverability of the podcast, and it means so much to have your word-of-mouth endorsement so that other people can find this work. Thank you so much for your review.

If you're listening and you're thinking the time to start being intentional with your habits is now, and you're a woman physician, you're going to want to go to the Habits On Purpose waitlist. Because when you sign up to this, you're going to be the first to hear about all the enrollment information and updates for the next round of my small group coaching program, Habits On Purpose for Physicians.

The small group coaching program is really incredible because it gives you an intimate community of like-minded physicians who want to work on their habits. We focus on habits ranging from overthinking, overwhelm, busying, second guessing, getting triggered, work stress, relationship stress, parenting stress, charting, self-doubt in leadership roles, people pleasing, etc.

The next round will begin in February, and it comes with CME. So, if you're interested, go to HabitsOnPurpose.com/waitlist and you'll be the first to hear about the details.

Now if you're more interested in private coaching, that's also an option. I have a few spots open right now. I coach physicians as well as non-physicians, and women as well as men. To connect to see if we're a good fit, if what you would like to achieve is a match for my coaching style, you can go to HabitsOnPurpose.com/private. Until next week.

Thanks for listening to Habits On Purpose. If you want more information on Kristi Angevine or the resources from the podcast, visit HabitsOnPurpose.com. Tune in next week for another episode.