My Roadmap | Cat Ellis | Makeover | catellismusic.com

September 24, 2023 in Makeover, Ramblings

My Roadmap

It’s hard to get anywhere without a map and directions. So, I created a “roadmap” to get me from where I am now to where I want to be. I want to go from being a good vocalist in her 40s who happens to be overweight and a little clumsy, to top rate vocalist with incredible stage presence and the stamina to put on a high-energy show.

I’ll save the vocal plan for another post.  Here’s what I came up with for everything else.

The Big Picture

My first step in making sure I wasn’t on a road to nowhere (come on, you knew a Talking Heads reference had to factor into this post) was to list all the things that I wanted to see in my life and why.

  • Improve health to have as long of a music career as possible.
  • Improve my fitness levels to:
    • regularly put on high energy performances.
    • increase lung capacity while singing.
  • Increase my joint stability and mobility on stage.
  • Reduce my size/weight to:
    • take pressure off my joints and feet.
    • increase my wardrobe options.
    • look better in photos and videos which are key to promotion.

Each of these larger goals needed to be broken down into a plan of their own. They each needed more specific goals to reach, a plan to reach it, and a time frame within which to meet them. This thing started to grow more and more legs, and quickly became a monstrosity in my mind.

What to Do When the Big Picture Is Too Big

So… Do I resume weight training? Should I go back to keto, or try something different? Maybe I should sign up for a bellydance class for those strong abs I need to hold those long notes? What about my 35+ years of insomnia and the C-PTSD that leads me to binge eat at night? Maybe I should address those first? What about rejoining the YMCA? Maybe I should try one of those home-delivery meal plans to simplify things? How am I going to fit this into my already insane schedule and a tight budget?

From my herbalist background (You can check my herbal book out here.), a list of herbs and supplements flooded my brain. Herbs, supplements, memberships to fitness clubs, how am I going to afford all this?

My mind was swimming. Overwhelm was setting in. Cue: screaming into the great void.

Honestly, the full scope is too big right now, even for a big picture person like me. So, I decided to pick some smaller goals that are in line with my big picture goals, and the reevaluate weekly.

I decided to focus on the following.

  • Quality Sleep
  • Quality Nutrition
  • Intermittent Fasting
  • Restorative and Intelligent Movement
  • Setting up support systems

Below is a brief write up of why I chose these areas. But, they will each get longer articles on their own because they are so important.

Quality Sleep

I could write for days on the impact of sleep on one’s health and appearance. I’ve been researching sleep deprivation, sleep debt, and their short and longterm impacts on the body, weight, and aging for a few years now because I have a 35+ year history with insomnia. I was also diagnosed with severe sleep apnea a couple of years ago and sleep with a CPAP.

It seems part of my insomnia was triggered by my severe sleep apnea. I guess that happens when you’re being choked of air every 10 seconds on average. I’ve been able to manage about 5-6 hours of sleep for the past two years, which is a definite improvement from the 3-5 hours I was getting before, assuming I slept at all.

But, that mild improvement isn’t enough. It certainly won’t make up any of my enormous sleep debt. Without adequate,  recuperative sleep, the body suffers on multiple fronts. Beyond eye bags and brain fog, it puts you at higher risk for a number of diseases, reduces telomere length, and makes losing fat nearly impossible.

My other sleep obstacle is my C-PTSD, which is worse in the evening. This leads to both an inability to go to sleep and mindless eating due to anxiety. If I take cannabis drops to calm my symptoms, I do get more sleep. But, it gives me the munchies. Neither is a good situation.

I’m flat out not interested in psych meds. If they help you, great. Keep at it. I have my reasons for this position for myself, so don’t bother suggesting them.

My plan for this week is to:

  • establish a nightly routine.
  • shut off all devices and early in the evening.
  • go to bed at the same time (except on show nights).
  • take a relaxing nervine herbal tea a couple of hours before bed
  • take an herbal supplement to help manage overall stress levels

My aim is to get 8 hours of sleep at night, and fit in a nap in the afternoon whenever possible to make up some of my sleep debt.

Quality Nutrition

I’m opting for a low-lectin, keto diet which will lean heavily on seafood, eggs, cruciferous vegetables, and healthy fats. I plan on some red meat twice a week, and limited dairy. I’ll also have some naturally-cured cold cuts and some chicken to mix things up a bit.

This has worked exceptionally well for me in the past, so that’s my starting point. I’ll no doubt have to mix it up as time goes on and as I’m more active.

Seafood can have high amounts of mercury. I’m going to be relying on a lot of frozen wild-caught salmon from my local wholesale club. But, I have also ordered some low/no mercury canned salmon and tuna for things like tuna salad and fish cakes. I also picked up some avocado mayo for chicken, egg, and tuna salads.

I am also supplementing with some nutritional supplements and herbal supplements. It might seem like a lot. But the plant is to taper off as time goes on and certain conditions (like fatty liver) clear up. These include:

I have linked to the exact ones I’m taking. I’ll write more on each, what my expectations were, and if they were helpful or not. Keep in mind I already had much of this on hand, so it wasn’t a massive outlay of cash to start taking these. The only ones I needed to buy were the krill oil and the saffron.

Food and nutrition are where I’m putting some cash investments in myself. The rest of my plan is low cost or free.

Oh, and no drinking. This is really tough when most venues comp drinks as part of musician’s pay. But, alcohol impairs the liver’s role in fat metabolism and weight loss. Never mind how alcohol can lead to “whiskey voice”, which is a very raspy voice. Thanks, but I prefer to choose when to sing with a rasp and when to sing with a clear tone.

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is when you stop eating for a certain number of hours (at least 12) and only eat during a shorter “eating window.” Most of the fasting hours are overnight, so it’s not really that difficult.

I’m doing a 16 hour fast (most of that is at night while sleeping) with an 8 hour eating window (11am to 7pm). During the fasting hours, you can only have water, seltzer water, black tea, herbal tea, and black coffee- no cream or sweeteners.

Fasting triggers a process called autophagy, which is where the body breaks down and recycles old cells. This has all sorts of implications for good health, disease prevention, managing blood glucose, and losing excess fat.

Intermittent fasting may also help minimize the amount of loose skin that can be left over after weight loss. Autophagy can increase collagen and growth hormone production, which helps the skin spring back and protects lean tissue (while burning fat tissue), giving your skin more muscle to adhere to.

Autophagy likely won’t prevent all of it. But, fasting is free. Surgery is expensive.

For more info on intermittent fasting and longer fasting, check out Dr Fung’s free videos on YouTube. You can also check out his book, The Obesity Code, here. I also just got a book called, “Fast Like a Girl”, by Dr. Mindy Pelz. Dr Pelz’s YouTube Channel suggests to mix up your fasting window, and I’m looking into this aspect more deeply and will adjust as needed.

Restorative and Intelligent Movement

In addition to my years working as an herbalist, I was also a massage therapist. So, I’m putting the knowledge from these two fields to work for me for once.

You may (or may not) be surprised to learn that trauma can get “stuck” in the body.  Massage therapists are taught to be prepared for clients having an emotional release during a massage. They may or may not even know where the emotions are coming from. I always had several therapists to refer clients when this occurred.

If you’d like to learn more about this, check out the book, The Body Keeps Score, by Bessel van der Kolk M.D.

I have a number of injuries, spinal alignment issues, bone spurs, and high cortisol. I also have some trauma to process. So, I’m opting for a combination of trauma-informed yoga and chi kung to help move that stuck energy and trauma along.

Chi Kung

There are a lot of yoga and chi kung videos you can access for free on YouTube. But, I’m working with a book I had on my shelf for a few years now, Chi Kung for Health and Vitality, by Wong View Kit.

To me, there’s no better back care than daily yoga. Any investment is minimal, like a book or a video, and even that isn’t necessary thanks to YouTube. You don’t need a fancy mat or equipment. Just clear out a space on a clean carpet, and have some towels and pillows for comfort. Plus, you can find loads free videos on YouTube. For larger bodies that need modifications, check out Jessamyn Stanley,Nourished Natasha, and others on YouTube.


I have a number of yoga books and DVDs, and my plan was to work through this book, Megayoga, which I already had. It is unfortunately horribly named. But, it has great options for yoga for plus-sized bodies. But, I came across this book, Therapeutic Yoga for Trauma Recovery, by Arielle Schwartz, Ph.D. She is also the author of, The Complex PTSD Treatment Manual, and The Complex PTSD Workbook. I ordered her yoga book, and I’ll let you all know what I think about it. I’m not sure which book I’m going to start with now, or if I’ll do a mix of both. We’ll see!

Time Saver

Daily chi kung will take up about an hour, and yoga between 30 min to one hour. That doesn’t leave much time for more cardio or resistance type workouts. I found Meredith Shirk’s YouTube channel with is loaded with “7-min workouts”. I’m adding two of them. They are both standing workouts, so I won’t have to get up and down from the floor. I’ll already be getting enough of that with yoga. I’m doing this full body workout 3x a week, and this abdominal workout daily.

Support Systems

Making massive changes in behavior aren’t impossible to do alone. But, it’s certainly nice to have support. When people make big changes in how they live, it can directly impact those people around them. Those closest to you can respond in wonderfully helpful and supportive ways. But, they can also respond in negative and sabotaging ways.

My support system includes my family and a couple of close friends. Thankfully, I now have supportive people who understand that I can’t have certain foods in the house, and that my schedule needs to change to allow more time to improve my health. They don’t call me “selfish” for taking that time. They don’t accuse me of “trying to be difficult” when I say I can’t eat something that everyone else is eating.

I haven’t always had this. In my younger years, those closest to me thought shaming and berating me would somehow motivate me. All it’s really accomplished was teaching me to feel embarrassed and unlovable.

If you’re trying to “help” a loved one get healthy through shame, rethink that. Trust me, you are not helping.

I also started seeing a therapist. My “bad habits” are just unhealthy coping mechanisms brought on by bullshit thoughts and negative self-talk.


Well, that’s it for now. It’s kind of a lot. At least, if feels that way. I’ll follow up after a week with a post on how this went.



About the author 

Cat Ellis

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