By Mara Dobyns
Always consult your doctor before starting a new diet or workout routine.
You’re a Certified Insanity Instructor as well as a NASM Certified Personal Trainer. What made you want to get into this field?
I think there comes a point in everyone’s life where we are each faced with the decision to change because we no longer like the person we have become. I hit that point and decided to make some huge changes in my life. I started by quitting some things that were very damaging to my health and I replaced them with running. After weeks of hating it, crazy things started to happen. Instead of feeling horrible all the time I started feeling absolutely amazing, energetic, and noticeable changes were happening to my body. I had never experienced a high like the one I got from running and I really wanted to share it with anyone and everyone. Everyone deserves to know what their body is capable of but some people are just too scared to start. I wanted to help people get past that fear and go for it. It kind of snowballed from there! That passion went from running to strength training to just fitness in general and I had to spread my love for it.
It seems like a lot of workout time on the job and off the job. Where do you find the energy?
Our bodies are energy powerhouses just waiting to be tapped in to. Unfortunately we are living in such a fast-paced world that people put exercise on the back burner so they really don’t get a chance to tap into that energy supply and experience it. Surprisingly, the more active we are the more energy we will have. A lot of people don’t realize that at first, because the first weeks of starting a new workout regime can be extremely tiring and taxing on your body, but if you stick with your routine you will get past that fatigue and you’ll begin to feel like you’ve been reborn. Once you incorporate fitness into your life everything else seems to fall into place.
Do you recommend a specific diet for the energy that is needed for working out?
I believe 95% clean eating is the way to go. The other 5% goes to having those things you really enjoy. We all have to cheat once in a while or we’ll go insane. We’re only human, right? Whether you are on a paleo diet, are a vegetarian, or vegan, I believe that you should try your best to avoid processed foods and stick to the basics. Avoid foods that have labels and especially foods that have added sugars. Food is fuel but most people don’t look at it that way anymore. We need to go back to the way of eating we had on this planet before huge food corporations started corrupting us. A diet high in fruit, veggies, lean proteins, fiber, and clean carbohydrates is most definitely the way to go. Remember hydration and sleep are just as important as diet, too!
Do you have any tips for beginners trying to get fit? Where is a good place to start?
We all have to start somewhere so be proud of yourself for starting when you do. A lot of people make the mistake by starting off with a vigorous routine because they want to see results immediately…do not do that! If you have been sedentary for a while, now you want to make sure you start nice and slow to make sure you prepare your body for harder work in the future. If you haven’t been active for a while you must make sure to start with a routine that challenges the stabilization of your body to ensure that you strengthen your tendons and ligaments and address muscular imbalances before advancing your routine. Don’t feel bad starting out slow. Starting off a routine that is too extreme for your current state will often lead to quitting. Set yourself up for success, not failure. Go at your own pace; It’s a marathon, not a sprint. You want to strength train as much as you do cardio. As long as you stay consistent and control your diet, you’re going to get there and you’ll be so proud you stuck with it when you reach your goals!
What would you say is a healthy goal for beginners?
For beginners, I think 3-4 days is a reasonable goal to begin with. Schedule your workouts as if they are non-negotiable. It takes about 21 days to create a habit, so if you can stick with your routine of 3-4 days for three weeks, chances are you will want to keep at it. They say losing two pounds of fat [per week] is a healthy goal for anyone wanting to lose weight, but remember every body and everybody’s circumstances are different. One week you could lose four pounds and the next week you could lose one. You could be gaining muscle and losing fat at the same time. The most important thing is to stay consistent. Always remember that your results will reflect the amount of work you put in. Ignore the scale and pay attention to how you feel and how your clothes fit.
How do you personally stay motivated?
I stay motivated for many reasons: One being that I absolutely love what I do. Finding what you enjoy is HUGE. Another reason I stay motivated is because I love challenging myself. I love seeing the results of the hard work I put in. I love not being able to do something one week, then working my butt off at it, and then finally getting it a few weeks or even months down the road. I love raising the bar higher and higher and pushing myself harder every day to reach new goals I set for myself. And last, I remember where I came from and I never want to go back there. I wouldn’t trade this healthy lifestyle for anything.
Did you ever think you would be where you are today?
I never thought I would be where I am today–ever. I’m still in shock that I’m here. I honestly didn’t even think I would live this long with the past I have. Sobriety and fitness has brought me to where I am today and I feel so blessed and fortunate to have found myself and the ability to help others. There is nothing more rewarding.
Do you have any advice on staying fit?
“Fit is not a destination, it’s a way of life.” If you are starting up a new routine, set timelines for your goals but never set an end date. Being healthy is a lifestyle that you will need to keep up with the rest of your life. If you want to live the fit life, you will commit to it forever, but trust me it’s worth it!
I’m sure as a trainer you’ve tried a little bit of everything, do you have a favorite workout routine?
I think that I enjoy heavy weight training the most out of anything I do. I’m not sure there is a better feeling then working your butt off for months and then finally being able to throw a couple more plates on the bar then lifting them. But then again there is High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT. I love HIIT. HIIT is amazing for fat loss and you feel absolutely incredible once you’ve completed a HIIT routine. There is nothing comparable to the energy you get from that cardio high. There are so many different ways to do a high intensity routine. Just find what you love and incorporate high intensity intervals into it! Try running, biking, rowing, sprints, kayaking, boxing or whatever. My favorite HIIT workout is Insanity. Insanity was definitely the program that changed my life and pushed me in the direction of becoming a trainer. Now I’m both NASM certified and Insanity certified–the best of both worlds.
Now that summer is here are there any moves or workout routines you would recommend for doing outdoors?
Hiking and Kayaking! When I was living in Westwood, almost every weekend I would go hiking up Dyer Mountain. Doing sprint intervals up the mountain would be an amazing way to incorporate HIIT into your routine. Dyer is the ideal mountain to train on. Training at Dyer’s elevation is a huge advantage. You can throw in all sorts of intervals on your way to the top of the 2,500 ft. climb, too! Make a day of it and enjoy the outdoors. The Vitamin D, the views and the challenge will have you feeling happily exhausted by the end of the day. Dyer Mountain isn’t the only mountain to train on either. Go explore the beautiful area we are so blessed to live in! There is so much to discover. Kayaking is also a great way to get in a workout and still enjoy a nice lake day during the hot summer. You can do intervals on your kayak, and when you get tired or hot just hop in for a swim. Take advantage of the beautiful area. People who live in the city don’t get the same opportunities. I miss the mountains like crazy!
Is there anything else you would like to add? Hold yourself accountable. Schedule your workouts as if they are non-negotiable. Find a workout partner and push and challenge each other. Set goals and go after them. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and never let anyone tell you that you can’t do it because you can. Stay positive, consistent and you will make it I promise you!