NAME: Debbie Bird
This month our interview takes a turn to look at a more holistic approach to health and fitness. Not only is Debbie is a Personal Trainer at Goodlife Robina she also runs The Holistic Hub and works closely with people to learn how to eat healthy, balance a busy life and above all be the best version of yourself. I loved looking into a different perspective of health and fitness and hope you take something from this interview as I did. =)
1.How many days per week do YOU work out?
ANSWER: So on average I try and workout at least 4 times a week.
2.What do YOU eat before and after a workout?
ANSWER: Well at the moment I’m doing a lot of Bikram yoga and you don’t want to have too much food in your stomach. So I’ll generally have a green smoothie and at least ½ to 1 liter of water before I go, this has to all be done at least an hour before starting yoga so that your stomach has already started to digest it and it’s reasonably empty. But after I go home I’ll have something quite a bit more filling. I might have something like organic rice bread with avocado and tomato on it with a bit of sea salt and pepper or I’d have a couple of poached eggs on some of the rice bread. Or sometimes I have my own muesli I’ve made at home so I’ll have some of that with almond milk and that has lots of nuts and seeds in it.
Q3.What cardio do you do and how often?
ANSWER: I run. I enjoy going for a run. I used to be a long distance runner but my knees aren’t what they used to be. So these days I prefer to do just 5 or 10 km, it’s usually a good distance for my knees. I’ll go for a run a couple of times per week.
Q4.What is your favorite exercise?
ANSWER: Squats! I think they are just an all round exercise. They are just a good solid exercise that everyone should be able to do.
Q5.What’s your favorite type of exercise e.g (weights/HIIT/Cardio)
ANSWER: At the moment, definitely Bikram Yoga. Bikram has been a new thing for me probably in the last few years. I’ve just found as I’ve gotten older I’ve kind of had to adapt my exercise to what my body wants to do. It doesn’t react as well these days to the harder workouts I used to do that were more physically impacting on my body.
Q6.What help’s you get motivated to workout?
ANSWER: As a trainer a big thing that encourages me is that I don’t feel it would be right to be telling my clients what to do if I’m not doing it myself.
Q7.What’s your favorite recipe or meal?
ANSWER: At the moment, probably because it’s winter one of my favorite things is making a really hearty soup! A soup that I’m really loving making at the moment has sweet potato, onion, tomato, leeks, celery, carrot and then I get organic grass fed mince made into meat balls and put it through and a little bit of organic stock. It’s great for meals and snacks.
Q8.What’s your favorite cheat meal?
ANSWER: That would have to be cheese platters. Anything with cheese and dips, cold meats, olives, sun-dried tomatoes.
Q9.What advice would you give someone who is having trouble with results? They’re exercising but can’t seem to get their food on track? Is food really that important?
ANSWER: YES!!! 70% of your weight loss is going to come from your diet! If somebody was really struggling I would break it down and look at one, how often they are eating, like are there long periods of time when they’re not eating. Are they skipping meals, are their diets restricted in certain types of food. Are they protein heavy or carb heavy. Are they looking at portion sizes. There are a lot of different things I’d have a look at to try and judge where the best place is I can help them.
Everybody is different. Some clients I can give three square meals per day and they lose weight no problems. But then I have other clients who I need to break it down to six smaller meals per day. So I try and work as much as I can with each person’s individual needs.
The same as some people are more alkaline based and some are more acidic based. Some people can process protein really easily yet some people will really struggle with it. If you eat red meat and feel really heavy and stodgy and it feels like it’s taking hours to digest it probably IS taking that long. Where as other people can eat a steak and feel great, like they feel really lean and healthy. It’s digesting really smoothly. Same as asking people how they feel after eating bread, rice or pasta. Some will feel really heavy and stodgy yet others like vegans and vegetarians who have quite a lot of those things won’t get that feeling.
If someone is really acidic based I’d actually try and introduce more alkaline based foods to try and lower that acidity. As humans we should be fairly alkaline based. It depends on your digestive enzymes and your stomach.
Q10.So your food is clearly important. Do you food prep? How often?
ANSWER: So I do my shopping on a Friday and on a Friday afternoon I’ll do most of my organising and preparing for meals we are going to have for the week. So, what dinners we’re going to have, making sure I have snacks that are healthy and ready to go in the fridge or cupboard.
I think the biggest downfall of peoples meal plans is when they are unprepared. What I don’t do is I don’t cook all of my meals in one go. I just make sure my snacks are prepared and all my other meals I cook fresh at the time when I need them, even lunches. Maybe if I worked full time it’d be different but as a trainer I have the middle of the day off. Even still in my head I don’t know how It’s that hard to make a salad in the morning and get some chicken. I guess, if you’re really low on time you could pre-cook your chicken but you can still get some free range chicken from woolies if you’re really struggling and take the skin off and add that chicken to the salad. I love the idea of food prepping but sometime I feel we need to just live in the real world and cook and eat a meal when we need it. Or get a salad and add a tin of tuna, or get an organic wrap and make it that morning before you go to work rather than having everything pre-prepared.
I don’t count calories, I don’t break down my macro nutrients I just make sure I look at my meals and make sure I have plenty of greens, protein, some slow release carbs and good fats. As long as my plate has all of these I know I’m heading in the right place.
Q11.What advice would you give to a women starting out exercising?
ANSWER: The biggest thing I say when starting is don’t set your goals too high. It’s been scientifically proven that our brain wants to move away from pain and towards pleasure. So if you set yourself a goal of I’m going to come in 5 times a week and I’m going to exercise for an hour every time what will happen is we’re setting up for failure because we also beat ourselves up for the one thing we do wrong. We never reward ourselves for the one 4 or 5 things we’ve done right that day. For example if you say you’re exercising 5 times a week I guarantee if you miss one of those sessions you’ll be like ‘oh man, see I can’t even exercise 5 times a week.’ Like, ‘I’m hopeless’ or ‘I can’t even achieve that one goal’. Where as if you set yourself up and say realistically I can easily come 3 times a week and then you happen to come 4 you’ll feel fantastic because you’ve more than achieved your goal.
So I always say to people it’s best to start small and work your way up than it is to have this big big goal to come 5 times a week and eating this and prepping that. It can sometimes be overwhelming so I make them have smaller increments and work up.
Q12.What do you believe is the most important when starting a new client out?
ANSWER: Most important for me I think is getting their nutrition right. If someone has good nutrition, everything is balanced and they’re feeling great because they’re not feeling bloated or lethargic or tired or having cravings then a lot of other things are going to fall into place, including their exercise.
So for example, in the first week with a client I might be happy for them to come to the gym twice that week and for that week the main goal is to make sure every single morning they have some breakfast if they haven’t previously, and I’ll run through some breakfast options with them. At the end of the week we’d check back in, great they’ve been eating breaky. So, next week, still happy for them to come to the gym twice in the week and we keep building on the nutrition so that their energy levels increase and they feel better. Amazingly more often than not at the end of the week they’d come to me and say guess what? I came three times this week and exercised or four times because they’re feeling better. The exercise then comes more naturally.
Q13.You started the Holistic Hub, what exactly do you do and how did it start?
ANSWER: So, the Holistic Hub is something I started with a really good friend Rachelle. We are both very passionate about making sure people understand the importance of eating a well balanced, healthy, all rounded meal plan. We’re very passionate about people having a healthy balanced life, so not being too hard on themselves or not being too focused on going in the one direction. The reason why is, can you realistically see yourself doing what you’re doing when you’re 60? If you can’t then maybe we should be looking at getting more balanced now so that it can remain for the rest of your life. We deal a lot more with mum’s, with people who work full time, with people who have a busy life outside of I guess they’re nutrition and exercise. We try and help them incorporate nutrition and exercise and being healthy into their busy lifestyle without them feeling like it’s just another burden to take on or another thing they have to squeeze into their already busy day. Things like we talked about, like having to exercise 5 times a week is just not realistic for a lot of people.
But the biggest, biggest thing we are passionate about is helping people go back to eating a healthy, realistic diet. I don’t like using the word paleo because neither Rachelle or I eat a certain particular way, but if I were to talk about what is closest to resembling what we do that would probably be closest. We mix a bit of paleo with being vegetarian, making sure you get lots of veggies and we both believe that being vegetarian for a day or two a week is really good for your body. It rests your digestive system making sure you get lots of alkaline based foods so like your greens. We really try and encourage people to go back to basics, eat real, eat more steamed. If you eat meat make sure that it is organic and grass fed as it’s going to be much better for your body as your not getting all the chemicals that are released into animals when they’re stressed.
IF you eat whole and healthy foods you’ll find yourself a lot more healthy with healthier, glowing skin. Remember our skin is the largest organ on our bodies. So when something isn’t right it’s going to appear in our skin a lot faster as skin is where toxins are released. So yeah our biggest passion is spreading the word of eating whole, real foods and being healthy without having to count every calorie that goes into your mouth, without making it an extra burden of a busy lifestyle. I guess it started because we both run our own individual businesses but we share the same passion and we knew we could spread the word better and faster by the two of us coming together and starting the Holistic Hub.
So every 4-6 weeks we run a 4 hour workshop and we literally talk to people about nutrition and our beliefs on nutrition. We also do seminars on self help, about confidence building, increasing positive energy, goal setting, communication skills. Just lots of things that go hand in hand with feeling better about yourself in general. We do lots of different exercises and we try and draw people back to finding the stillness in themselves. We do yoga, relaxation and meditation. We also do some fun stuff like suspension training, TRX training and circuits.
Q14. What made you choose to become a personal trainer? Have you always done personal training?
ANSWER: I was really, really into my sports and fitness when I was at school. All through primary and high school I was a long distance and cross country runner. When I left school I did it for a few years also. I also got right into going to the gym and fell in love with it. Anything physical I was into. So it was kind of a natural progression for me. The biggest thing for me is I had the exercise part of it but not the nutrition side of it. When I was in high school and they asked me what I wanted to do and I just said well I’m really into sports. So they suggested something like a sports science degree or a personal trainer. So it went from there.
Q15. Where did your passion for nutrition come from? Have you always loved healthy eating or have you worked on healthy eating over time?
ANSWER: Definitely worked on it over time. It was more an ignorance thing than anything else. My parents have always been healthy. I grew up eating breaky, lunch and dinners. My mum always made our lunches, we had canteen once a fortnight. We always had homemade cooked dinners and cooked all our own cakes and muffins, so I’m really lucky in that respect. Our parents and grandparents generation didn’t have the same understanding of food or as a personal trainer as much as I understand now. So again, it was a way seen to get energy, If I had weet-bix for breaky it was ok to have sugar on top, or it was normal to have two pieces of bread with devon and sauce.
But now we know the nutritional value of two pieces of bread with devon and sauce is basically zero, yet back then that was healthy. Through study I was opened up to new ideas and I guess my passion grew from there. MY biggest passion is, we only have one life so I don’t want to be someone as a 70 or 80 year old who is stuck with a walking frame or wheelchair and can’t travel or do things. I want to be mobile, fit and active for as long as I possibly can. The only way to do this is to eat healthy and exercise.
Q16. How often do you believe someone is required to train per week to stay on track and reach weight loss goals?
ANSWER: I’d say MINIMUM three times per week. Then also making sure that food wise if they’re on a weight loss plan then 90% of what they’re eating is really healthy. But I’m also a huge believer in allowing 10% off. So that might mean that one meal a week there is no rules and you can eat whatever you want. When they’re at their goal I’d say 80% / 20%.
Q17. What would you say is the key behind your success as a personal trainer?
ANSWER: I think the biggest thing is that I genuinely care about them getting healthy and fit but I worry sometimes about emphasizing too much on them getting ‘skinny’ and that kind of thing worries me. I prefer to use words like healthy, fit and lean but I genuinely care about them being healthy and making sure they can do everything they want to and have energy every day to keep up with their families and jobs and themselves. You want to avoid any ailments that need constant medication. I believe in people healing themselves naturally and getting healthy naturally without having to take chemical based supplements, pills and potions.