Ah…the warm weather is here. That means shorts, tank tops, and bathing suits for the foreseeable future. Maybe some of you have dutifully stuck with your New Year’s fitness resolution this far (congratulations, and also, please tell us your secret). Or maybe you never made one to begin with. Or maybe you’re just getting around to committing to fitness. In any event, if you’re starting to panic that beach season is just around the corner and there’s absolutely no way you’re going to be ready, we recommend a conversation (or training session, or twelve) with Erin Olsen, a trainer at MAC Wellness. Her infectious enthusiasm and encouragement is bound to motivate (and educate) even the most dedicated couch potato. We recently asked her advice about getting into shape for summer, and—seriously—could swear we felt healthier by the end of the conversation.
Baltimore Fishbowl: So Erin, tell us a little about yourself. How did you get interested in fitness, and in being a personal trainer? What do you specialize in?
For a majority of my life I was a swimmer – and played soccer for a few years. I always enjoyed being active, and come middle school and high school I was fascinated with strength training, so you could say I have always had a “thing” for health and fitness. I decided I was going to attend Towson University, and obtain a BS degree in Exercise Science. I became a trainer because I wanted to work with people to help prevent them from getting heart disease and other health issues. One of my coworkers who was a past figure competitor, told me she wanted to do a fitness bikini contest and asked if I wanted to do it too. I was immediately intrigued, and said yes! She taught me about clean eating, and not to be afraid of heavy weight training. I have been competing now for four years, and recently earned my Pro-Card as a Bikini Competitor with NABBA. As a trainer, I specialize in basic strength training, body building, and weight loss.
That’s quite a resume. And it brings us to our next question, which is, of course, about the approaching summer. Many of us are starting to think about how we’ll look on the beach. Where (or how) do we start planning and getting fit for summer?
First things first, it’s all about the “diet.” I do not like the word diet because it sounds so harsh, and depriving. So I say it’s all about a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle isn’t just exercising and eating well, it’s about eating foods in their most natural forms (not necessarily organic all the time) also known as “clean,” and strength training more often than doing cardiovascular exercise. So get your “diet” right, and hit the weights! And for all the women out there, don’t be afraid about getting “bulky!” Women can’t get bulky, they don’t have enough testosterone in their bodies (like men) to get bulky!
Ooh. That’s interesting. Now, let’s say we started today, and got really, really dedicated to a fitness regimen. What kind of results can we reasonably expect in the next couple of months? Can you help us with setting realistic expectations?
Nothing happens overnight. Once you clean up your eating habits, and eat regularly (about 5 small meals a day, without skipping meals) you may automatically see results in as little as 2 weeks. If you have been close to sedentary, and add in strength training at least 3 times a week, and cardio 3 times a week, you can see even more results in as little as 4-6 weeks! It all depends on the person and his or her current lifestyle and fitness level. If you started today, cleaned up the eating lifestyle, and exercised at least an hour a day with 45 minutes of that being strength training, your body will be leaner, and more toned for sure!
Well, that is encouraging! What are your top picks for exercises that help people lose weight? How much cardio, versus how much weight training? And what kinds of cardio are best for weight loss?
There aren’t really any specific exercises to lose weight in certain areas—doing a thousand crunches won’t make the fat in your stomach go away. Doing a full body workout will help redistribute the fat to burn it off all over, simultaneously. Doing a full body workout includes about two exercises per muscle group, with three to four sets and 12-15 repetitions per set, three times a week. This will automatically start transforming your body. Cardio can be added on three alternate days for about 30-40 minutes max, leaving one day left in the week for the body to rest! Rest is just as important as exercise. Rest leaves time for the body to recuperate and rebuild itself.
As a trainer, do you also help people figure out how to eat for the best results? Are there standard pieces of nutritional advice you find yourself giving to people who are looking to lose weight? How much of weight loss has to do with exercise versus diet?
Eating right has everything to do with weight loss. Remember, abs are made in the kitchen! I always ask people first and foremost what they are eating. Nine times out of ten, they have processed foods dominating most of their diet. My advice is, if anything came from a box that isn’t rice or quinoa, toss it— it’s not worth it. Even when it says “made with whole grain” or less than “100 calories,” it means it was processed to be a certain way, and nutrition and substance has been altered. I also tell people to always include lean protein such as fish, chicken, ground turkey, or lean beef in every meal. Having protein will only better your body, and your mind, leaving you feeling satisfied for longer. Especially in combination with a high fiber vegetable.
Exercise and weight loss can be a slow process and it can be hard to stay motivated when one doesn’t see immediate results. Advice for sticking with it?
Don’t quit! No matter how hard it gets, look at the little victories you have had along the way. Sometimes we get lost in the “big picture” but the little things add up to the big picture. Right when it gets hard, and then gets even harder – DON’T QUIT- that’s when something great is about to happen. Don’t miss your chance!
You’re so encouraging! This is awesome! Any other words of wisdom for those hoping to get their bodies ready for the beach this summer?
If you’re scared to start and don’t know where or how to start, just ask. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7) You never get anywhere without starting – even if it is asking for help! Seek out a personal trainer to get you started in the right direction! Be amazing!
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