I recently sat down with expert fitness trainer Heidi Powell on my Parenting Great Kids podcast to talk about all three of these things. As the former co-host of the hit TV show “Extreme Weight Loss,” Heidi knows a thing or two about physical health and wellness. But Heidi is also a transformation coach, mom, and wife. She and her husband, fellow fitness guru Chris Powell, have two children together, Cash and Ruby, and Heidi has two children from a previous marriage, Matix and Marley. Together, they are successfully navigating the blended family life.
I asked Heidi all about parenting in a blended family, how to really achieve your fitness goals and what challenges she’s faced personally and professionally and how she overcame them. You can listen to the full episode here, but here are a few highlights from our conversation.
Dr. Meg: You’ve seen a lot of people lose significant amounts of weight. When you’re working with a client on weight loss, are you focusing more on mental physical behavior?
Heidi: To most people’s surprise, what we do and what I’ve always done is 99.9% psychological and emotional. To the outside world, they see weight loss, and yeah, in order to lose weight, physiologically you must burn more calories than you consume on a daily basis. But we’ve always said there’s a difference between transformation and weight loss.
Weight loss is calories in and calories out. Transformation, though, is permanent. Weight loss can come and go. Most of the time when people learn how to eat, and they lose the weight, they gain it back. They yoyo. It’s because they never figured out why they gained the weight in the first place. They never realize that if you don’t love yourself now before you start reaching your goal, you’re never going to love yourself at the end. It really is rooted in self-love.
Dr. Meg: Let’s talk about your blended family. How do you and Chris make that work so that all four kids feel loved?
Heidi: I have to give credit to Chris. He has done such a phenomenal job doing his best to create balance between all four of the kids. Before he and I had kids together, the stepparent side was really difficult for him. He didn’t understand why Matix and Marley couldn’t love him as much as they loved me or their real dad.
It wasn’t until we had our own biological children that a lot of that started clicking for him. [What’s so important for] a stepparent walking into a relationship where kids existed before, is knowing that you don’t know it all. And Chris has been a shining example of that.
Dr. Meg: What are the three most important things that you and Chris did as partners to smooth the transition for all four of your kids as you grew into a blended family?
Heidi: I’d say the most important thing is respecting the biological parent. Chris was incredible in knowing that, from day one, Derek was Matix and Marley’s biological father. Stepparents will come in, and sometimes they want to make their mark. They want to be the parent. Chris has always genuinely respected Derek and who he is and accepted him.
Secondly, making sure that my kids, all four of them, never hear me or Chris speak an ill word about the stepparent or each other. I think that’s really important…We’ve had to learn to be very respectful of how Derek parents at his house, whether it’s different than us or the same. We respect it and we abide by his rules and we support him 100%. And he’s been really great on our side doing the same thing.
The last thing I would say is consistency and not taking things personally is super important. Like I said, it was hard for Chris for a while to not take it personally that Matix and Marley didn’t know how they felt about him in their lives, and they were pretty shut down to him for a while. I would say, “Listen, even if they don’t act like they love you back, the more love you can give them consistently, that consistency is going to be everything.”
I couldn’t agree more with Heidi. The most impactful thing I’ve seen in my practice is parents sticking by their kids no matter their mood and attitude toward them. Parents—whether they are a biological parent or stepparent—who consistently love rather than get upset, show their kids that they will love them no matter what. And that type of love is what raises great kids.
I’m so thankful Heidi took the time to chat with me. Please listen to the full episode here to learn more about Heidi’s story. You can keep up with her, Chris and their family by following them on social media at @realheidipowell and @realchrispowell.