Staying in shape and keeping a balanced diet, especially when working from home, is a challenge. When there’s no-one around or no colleagues to get up and talk to, it’s easy to fall into the trap of working (and often sitting) for hours straight which has a detrimental impact on our posture, flexibility, strength and overall physical and mental health.
Nutrition I’ve found to be equally as challenging when working from home because it’s so easy to either not eat regular or vise versa, eat too much and get into a dangerous habit of snacking often when those temptations are nearby.
In this episode, personal trainer and fitness coach Aoife McAuliffe of empowerher.fitness shares her top nutrition and fitness tips for helping work-from-home web designers and entrepreneurs stay healthy, balanced and physically fit to combat all the temptations that working from home brings.
**Have any additional tips for diet or exercising when working from home? Please leave a comment on the post!
In this episode:
04:48 – Greeting to Aoife
06:18 – Teach sustainable habits
09:47 – Where it all started
16:20 – Don’t use willpower
17:08 – Meal prep
20:31 – Veggie ideas
24:02 – Rules for food
26:18 – Staying hydrated
28:25 – Quick meal tips
31:18 – Equipment at home
33:37 – Exercise suggestions
37:54 – Cardio thoughts
39:51 – Mindset change
43:20 – Core strength to posture
46:59 – Proper desk set-up
48:51 – Take a break
55:02 – Working with a coach
56:36 – Where to find Aoife
You can also view the full transcription of this episode below.
Aoife’s 8-week mini cut program – “Learn more about nutrition so that you can lose up to 10lbs of fat while enjoying all your favorite foods.
I also run an 8-week female strength and fat loss program (encompassing training and nutrition) but the next intake for that will not be until March 2021.” – Aoife
Connect with Aoife:
Featured links and tips mentioned:
Hey, everybody, welcome into Episode 92. This episode is a little bit different. I wanted to take us in a different direction in this talk, because for a lot of the podcast, we’ve talked about web design, best practices, design principles, conversion principles. And of course, the majority of my solo episodes and interviews up to this point have been in and around the business side of starting and building your web design business. But one thing that I realized that we have not touched on yet is our health. And more importantly, our physical health, because this is something me and my family are really taking seriously this year. And I’m not like terribly out of shape or anything. But I’ve definitely got some what I like to call web design Pudge. And this is something that I realized, I’ve kind of let my health become not as big of a priority over the last couple of years. And I personally can make all the excuses I want, I have two baby girls have a busy life. But you know what, at the end of the day, it’s all excuses. My one of my challenges for this year is health, and particularly my physical health. So what I wanted to do was to have somebody on on the podcast that can help us with this, because I know a lot of you have expressed ways to stay healthy and fit while working from home. And often, you know, as web designers, we go into what I like to call code mode, where we just hunched over and get down to business. And the next thing you know, your neck is killing you, your back is killing you, you just don’t feel great. And I want to help you avoid that because I’m writing in the thick of this with you. So in this episode, I’ve got very special guests. This is Aoife McAuliffe, and she is a personal trainer and kind of a fitness guru. And we’re actually we connected because we’re in a podcasting group together. And I really just love her approach to health and fitness particularly she works with majority of her clients right now are working from home. So she has a lot of strategic things to help people with staying balanced and fit in the in their home offices and working from home. So in this episode, we get into kind of two main areas, nutrition, and fitness. And both of these areas are key to us living a balanced and healthy lifestyle while working from home. And Aoife was great she empower us had empowers us in this talk with a lot of practical things we can do that you can apply right now. And the really cool thing is, I think you’ll find this her approach is just great. It’s all about balance and moderation. She’s not saying you can’t eat foods you enjoy. She’s not saying you have to work out seven times a week and have these long workouts. She’s and I totally agree with this mindset. It’s about habitual things, just little changes step by step that will help you get to where you want to be, and will really improve your quality of life. So I’m super excited to hear all this one helps you out. Now before we dive into this one, this episode is brought to you by my website maintenance plan course, I found when I launched my web site maintenance plan, it really ended the feast and famine game I was playing. And when you talk about health, both physically and mentally, that was a game changer for me. Because up until that point, I had no recurring income in my web design business. And it was pretty stressful. I gotta be honest, there was a lot of highs and lows. But once I started building recurring income, through a maintenance plan that really mentally helped reset my mind and made our income more stable, which allowed me to be more healthy and have more time to be able to focus and prioritize working out and doing some stuff to keep me strong and healthy. So I would love to help you do the same. If you have a maintenance plan, I want to help you level it up. And even if you don’t have one and you’re thinking about it, my website maintenance plan course will be a great resource for you because it is my proven path to building and launching a recurring income website maintenance plan that you can add to your business right now. And if you don’t have recurring income with a website maintenance plan, I’m telling you guys, you’re missing out, you’re missing out on such a great opportunity. And I want to help you with that. So that course is available right now check out the show notes for this page. And if you’re interested, join today and let me know if you have any questions. And without further ado, here’s Aoife. We’re going to talk nutrition. We’re going to talk fitness and we’re going to help you live a balanced and healthy lifestyle while you work from home and build some kick ass websites. Let’s dive in.
Aoife, welcome to the podcast. It’s so great to have you on.
Thanks for having me.
So we got connected. We’re actually in a Facebook group together and I saw You were up to and I first of all, you have a new podcast, which is super cool. And I loved your approach to fitness. And particularly I know a lot of your clients are working from home. And I wanted to pick your brain about work from home fitness, because that’s what I do. And a lot of my audience you know, particularly with the stuff we’ve seen with COVID, more and more people are working from home. For some people getting into web design, like media, my audience is, it can be a culture shock, so they might be used to getting out now they’re like pivoting and trying to do stuff at home. So I’m really excited to pick your brain about this topic. Before we dive in, though, if you can let everybody know where you’re based out of and what you do. Exactly.
Yes. So my name is Aoife. I’m pronouncing that right. First off, by the way,
I listened to your podcast first to make sure I got I listened. I listened to it right before our call started. So I made sure I got it right.
Well done. Good job. So most people get that wrong. I’m Irish as you I guess from the accent in the name, but I live in Brisbane, Australia. I’ve lived here for over seven years now. And I work in the field of female health and fitness. So I work with women all over the world, helping them to lose weight and escape the restrictive diet mentality. And my main mission, when I work with people is to teach them more about nutrition and teach them that you can eat all the foods you enjoy, while still looking amazing and losing weight. And also educate them more about training. Because what I find is a lot of people tend to overdo it when it comes to training, when they want to get started with a new program, they go all out and train, you know, six times a week, as a lot of people are probably doing now with a new year and basically find that they can’t sustain it. So they have to give up after a week or two where they get injured or so on. And I’m all about making it more effective that you train you know, three to four times per week and perform each movement correctly and get amazing results like that. And like you said, a lot of my clients they work from home or they have been forced to work from home because of lockdown. So the majority of my training programs are based on home workouts as well. And it’s really amazing the results you can achieve by training from home and doesn’t mean doing you know crazy long workouts either most of the workouts are 30 to 45 minutes. And I’m all about fitting that into your lifestyle and making health and fitness at a sustainable habit that you can continue to build on long term.
Well I love a lot of what you said there first of all the fact that you’re big on you know not killing yourself diet wise enjoying in life enjoying food. I think that’s a big part. Of course I’d like I love my pizza, we were a food family but its health is definitely something my wife and I are like really taking more serious. We have a as I mentioned before we went live I have two daughters, a two year old and one year old. Makes it tough for our time too. But it’s it’s definitely something where we’re prioritizing this stuff more because I know how important it is. And I just I’ve found that I just don’t feel as good as I used to when I’m not active, be inactive and, and doing a lot of this home workout stuff that I personally have kind of neglected over the past year so that I I’m really excited to get back on track. So this this talk personally could not have come at a better time for me. So I’m super excited. I appreciate you also clarifying your accent because I was gonna ask about that because you didn’t sound Australian. But I had I had a hint of Irish or UK and so I was very curious.
People get very confused by that because my accent has kind of dulled my Irish accent is dulled a little bit I guess the longer I’ve been away. So I have a little bit of a mix of accents. And yeah, definitely Irish.
Well, I love that. Love it. So I would love to hear just maybe just a summary of like, Can you just give us a little backstory on your fitness journey? Because I know you have an interesting story. I mean, there’s the stories of people who lose 100 pounds. There’s their stories of people who you are all over the spectrum. But I think what I like about you is that it’s very habitual based and it’s realistic. I love that approach. Because you’re right there are there are a lot of the fitness marketers out there who just seem to want to kill you. And it’s just not sustainable. And as we all know, as entrepreneurs, if you would this applies to anything in business. If you do something that you just can’t keep a sustainable pace at, you’re never going to follow through. And I’ve seen the same thing with so many people who do these ridiculous diets. And what happens after 30 days they’re back to eating worse than they were previous to that and they seem like overcompensate. And same thing for working out. Like you said, I’ve seen a lot of people who just don’t stop they don’t give their body time to rest they go too far into it and it’s just not sustainable. So I love that. But all that said I’d love to hear just a brief backstory on your fitness like Where did you come from and what inspired your fitness journey?
Yeah, absolutely. So growing up, I wasn’t actually sporty at all I used to try to avoid doing and PE and school physical education. I used to hate that class. So I would always find an excuse not to do it and I found the Quite sporty, however, but I really didn’t get into the whole sporty side. And in my teens, and when I went to uni, I found that, you know, I wasn’t able to stay as lean as I normally was, and just eating more junk food and so on and kind of went through a period where like, I was probably crash dieting a little bit just because you know, as a young girl, like you really don’t learn a lot about nutrition at that young age. And what you do learn is from the media and from magazines, I guess back then, and seeing what celebrities are doing, and so on. And it’s all about, you know, crazy diets, which is so unfortunate, because, you know, if you could just learn a bit more about proper nutrition, it’s so much easier to maintain your weight and live a healthy lifestyle. And but unfortunately, I went through a period of just, you know, trying various different diets and nothing was really working, and then got into fitness as well and started going to the gym and made the mistake because you didn’t mention there were I was just going to the gym five or six times a week, doing like an hour spin class every day. And basically just running myself into the ground and not seeing any results at all. But just feeling super tired and low energy and very demotivated because I wasn’t able to sustain that level of level of fitness and level of adherence to trying to do such a crazy program. And luckily, then though I am, at that point discovered CrossFit where I first started doing strength training, and I found that that made a massive difference. And that’s why I’m a big advocate of lifting weights. And even with home workouts, you know, just using what you have at home as resistance, because resistance training makes such a big impact to body composition more so than doing any cardio.
Then eventually, I found a program that I could stick with and did that and it was all home workouts and lost a good bit of weight to healthy eating. – Aoife
And the other thing then, that adds to my journey, I guess is I came to Australia as a backpacker, seven and a half years ago, and as a backpacker, I was you know, living living a crazy party lifestyle, I guess back then and just traveling around and not paying much attention to what I was eating, and definitely not training or going to the gym. Because there’s so much traveling. And the crazy thing is I gained 10 kilos in my first year in Australia. And that was actually over a period of probably three or four months as well. And so after that I was really feeling like okay, I need to do something about this. But, and I was in the position that a lot of my clients are in when they’re starting out, or I just felt so lost, there was so many different programs that I could follow. You know, I wanted to do homework, so didn’t feel too confident going to the gym. At that point, I was also living in the countryside here. So I didn’t have gym access anyway. And then the easiest thing for me to do then was to go running, but I just wasn’t enjoying it. And also, I wasn’t seeing making any difference. I was trying to do some homework ads, but I find that all the homework has a very high intensity. So I was just really feeling very demotivated to do them because it was so difficult. And I would reach a point after you know, a week or two of doing them where I just couldn’t kind of maintain that momentum or motivation to keep going. And but then eventually, I found a program that I could stick with and did that and it was all home workouts and lost a good bit of weight to healthy eating and doing homework at that point. But then I decided to educate myself more on nutrition and training because I found that it was something that I was really enjoying. And I was amazed to see that you know, I could make progress by training from home. And just by cleaning up my diet and eating more healthfully and avoiding processed foods really. So I decided to look into nutrition and fitness bit more. And that’s where my passion for it all started. And I studied my pt pt certification here in Australia. And then after that, after doing that, I realized my main interest really was nutrition. So I decided to I decided to study applied sports nutrition here as well. And then after that started my business, which is mostly online and then at that point, I did some PT face to face as well. And where I would work with clients in a gym and then do a lot of nutrition work online. And my focus on nutrition really is educating my clients teaching them about what’s in the food they’re eating, and teaching them how to then eat those foods in the correct quantities in order to meet their goals. And so yeah, I guess that’s a little bit of a short background story hopefully.
Beautiful Yeah, it’s it’s an it’s interesting to hear I’m always curious about everyone’s path to get to what they’re interested in. So for you it was traveling and it was just a different lifestyle. It wasn’t like you were morbidly obese and you had like, you know, a massive life shift. But I think that’s what’s really interesting is that you were somebody who maybe just wasn’t at the forefront of your mind. But as we all know, sometimes the littlest things can spiral out of control and a bad habit can really really turn bad. And again, it’s something that I know me and my family were really taking more seriously we’re not like terribly out of shape or anything but I got a little web designer pudge like I like to call it and I’m I just want to feel better like I did when I was more active. And when I made it a priority, and to be honest, all entrepreneurs struggle with kind of just keeping physical activity on the side when there’s so much work to be done. So that’s a really big point, too, is to really make it a priority. So I’d love to focus on nutrition and diet. And then I also want to talk about exercises from home and training. So let’s start with the diet stuff. You know, that’s, and I think, particularly when it comes to working from home, it’s even harder, because the fridge is right there, you can just zip over and gets for people who are big snackers. That’s a really big problem. But it’s not too much of a culprit for me, I can generally do pretty good. Although every once in a while, I might snack a little more than I know I should, or, or something like that. But that seems to be a big problem for people who work from home. So yeah, what are your thoughts on nutrition? And how we can balance that? You know, while being home a lot?
Yeah, absolutely. It’s definitely a big thing. And it’s a big thing that with more and more people working from home, because obviously when you’re in an office, you don’t have the fridge within easy reach at 24/7, so absolutely.
You’re also alone, you’re alone, too. So it can be like you have to have some willpower, it’s like, well, at work, maybe I don’t want to jump on all these m&ms because everyone’s gonna see, but no one’s gonna know at home. So it definitely has some willpower involved. Exactly, that’s it.
And the thing is, you know, willpower is great, but I think it’s something that people overestimate their ability to use willpower. Whereas what you want to do is try to not have to use willpower so much and just create other ways of creating bit of friction between yourself. And that temptation, as what I always advise my clients to do is make food less obvious and less accessible if you’re working from home. So if there are certain foods that you know, you’ll tend to snack more on, either avoid buying them, maybe if they’re going to be a real temptation, or you know, you are buying them and say, you know, you have to buy them for the family and the kids and so on. And try to keep them out of sight, put them in the top cupboard or at the back of the fridge so that we when you are looking for snacks, it’s not to the forefront, and you’ll find something a little bit healthier, and you can eat that. And I would also then make it easier to choose healthy options. So obviously, meal prep is quite useful, and when we’re working in an office, but I would say as well working from home, because you can help yourself make better food choices. By having that available to you. It also save you time during your workday, you know you have a healthy lunch, ready in the fridge, and you can just grab that and go. And then you’d be less likely to be tempted by snack foods. And something I always advocate is trying to make your main meals more nutritious and filling, so you’re less likely to snack. So if you were to, rather than eating six or seven times a day and having lots of little snacks between meals, which is what I find the majority of people do because they’re attempting to eat less. So they minimize their meals. But then they find themselves getting super hungry in between meals. And they’re snacking a little things here and there. And they’re thinking that they’re eating less, but all those snacks are probably 100 150 calories each. And if you’re having you know, seven or eight of those a day, that’s an extra 700 to 1000 calories that you’re adding on without really realizing it. So making the main meals just more substantial and more nutritious, you’ll find your portfolio between meals, you’re less likely to be thinking about foods and wanting to snack. And then the other thing I think I mentioned already was just trying to not rely on willpower. Because that’s something you need to consciously develop. So you don’t want to be put to the test every single day by having trigger foods at home. So elimination that daily fight and daily struggle of you know, will I or won’t I by keeping your fridge in your cupboards stocked with healthy foods, rather than buying foods that you know will kind of trigger you to overeat. I think that’s a really big one, and just try to stop buying them or else buy them in portion controlled packs.
And it’s so simple the idea of just not making it like don’t put M&M’s right out front where you’re gonna see that before anything that is like, I mean, I’m pretty good with self discipline and willpower. But there are some times where like, if I just get a case of the munchies, if I find something like that, I might go for that. Whereas I kind of forgot that I had some apples in the fridge or something or bananas or something that’s a little more, you know, definitely. It’s a good reminder just to make those things in the forefront. Put those out there. So the bad stuff. That’s what a great just simple task. And another mind hack.
Yeah, exactly. And another really good little mind hack. And is, you know, if you find that you’re snacking out of boredom, ask yourself like, are you really actually hungry? Or are you just looking for a distraction, or you just, you know, procrastination, maybe. And because if you’re genuinely hungry, healthy foods will seem appealing to you. So you know, thinking of something like you know, am I hungry right now, we need to do I want something like a salad or a bowl of vegetables and that’s not appealing to me. If that doesn’t seem appealing to you, you’re probably not genuinely hungry. You’re just looking for a distraction, or procrastinating a certain task or something like that.
That’s good. That’s really good. It’s funny. This to remind Have a funny meme my wife showed me recently. It was this girl at a grocery store and she’s like, Hey lettuce, do you want to come and die in the back of my fridge? While I eat all the bad stuff. And that’s how I feel about some vegetables were like, Ah, shit damn says, I’ve spent all my money on this kale or something, I didn’t even use it. Yeah, that’s great, though. So just put it in the forefront. And, and I’m planning for that too, right, I’m sure that comes into meal planning, but really planning to utilize all the healthy stuff that you have, I would imagine that’s a good component. Right?
Absolutely. And with vegetables, like you said, like, some people are not too keen on vegetables, I think it’s more about trying different types and finding the veggies that you enjoy, but also finding ways of sneaking them into your food, because you want to be eating more vegetables, because that’s going to fill you up, that’s going to increase your fiber which is fantastic for your overall health. And and the majority of people aren’t getting enough vegetables in and a daily basis because they maybe are buying veggies that they’re you know, leaving in the fridge like you said, and or they just haven’t found once they enjoy. But what I would recommend, like a really simple hack is see if you’re making something like spaghetti bolognese, and cooking some vegetables and blending them into the sauce. Really easy tip to get more veggies in that way. Or you know, when you’re cooking your veggies just find different seasonings, you can add in like, you know, spices and herbs to add some flavor or add some like low calorie sources to marry sources, something I love, or just finding like a good recipe that you can follow that is vegetable based to add with your meals, you know, and adding in like, say, and then a really nice salad or, you know, just finding a good recipe that you know you enjoy, and you can recreate, I think that’s a really good way of upping your veggie content.
That’s good. It kind of reminds me of what we’re doing with our daughters, because they’re two and one now. So they’re eating more like real foods and stuff. And yeah, we’re like we’re trying to figure out ways to sneak more veggies in. So we’re kind of doing the same thing that we would do for babies for us. I just had scrambled eggs with spinach earlier this week, like just little, you know, little stuff like that, that we’re really trying to work on which we’re both pretty cool with veggies. But sometimes it’s like, man, I don’t want a salad. That sounds like something more substantial. So I love that idea of like, really, you know, sneaking those in, if you can and what you’re down with? I think that’s great. Yeah.
I think the flavorings it’s important. Yeah.
And the flavorings. Yeah, I know, you’ve got some resources on your on your website, too.
Yeah, I’ve got a meal prep recipe book in there as well. So that’s on my website, empower her fitness. So anyone can have a look on there and grab some recipes.
Yeah, I was just gonna say cuz I didn’t want to get too far into that. Because I know that could take up a lot of time. And I know you’ve got a lot of that those resources on your site. So because I’m going to take a look at that. I’m very curious. I would like to ask you about the number of times you eat, though. So we’re pretty. The way we do is usually a pretty decent sized breakfast, which it’s funny because most people in the corporate world eat no breakfast or very little breakfast, or it’s like a donut or something. I’ve worked from home for a decade. So I’m very used to doing like eggs almost every morning or we’ll do avocado toast or I love bagels. And we’ll do all kinds of stuff. And we’re bagels. Bagels are so good. Why are they so good. And then we’ll always do like pancakes or French toast or something. But the thing that I’ve experienced is working from home will often do bigger breakfast is and then regular sized dinners, which means lunch is very sporadic for us like sometimes we’ll do leftovers. Sometimes we’ll do a small lunch. Every once in a while. If I end up eating later in the morning, sometimes I just don’t eat lunch at all. And I try not snack too much like today I had a little bit of yogurt, granola and some banana. That was my lunch. What are your thoughts on the amount of times you eat a day? Cuz like you talked about the beginning? There’s so much information out there. I’m sure there’s numerous studies on different kinds of benefits. What have you found to be effective? Are you a harsh three times, you know, three meals a day kind of thing? Or do you…?
I don’t really like to like set like specific rules around food like that at all. – Aoife
I don’t really like to like set like specific rules around food like that at all. Because I think everyone’s different in the amount of times a day they want to eat, I think you ideally want to have at least three main meals. And you know, try to limit the number of little meals, like I said earlier. So avoiding, you know, going into the area of having you know, 6, 7, 8 meals a day where you’re having, you know, all those little snacks because we’re going to count them as meals, I would say you’re better off trying to have you know, three to four bigger main meals and that will just prevent you having extra snack throughout the day. But as well as that the reason that I am an advocate of having three at least main meals is because you want to get enough protein in throughout the day. Protein is really important, especially if you’re training in order to build and maintain lean muscle is also very satiating. So if you’re having protein with your meal, you’re going to feel fuller for longer, and then as we get older as well, we’re more sensitive to muscle Break down and Sakura Pena where we are losing some of our muscles. So as you get older, it’s even more important to ensure that you’re having protein with all of your meals. And in order to spike muscle protein synthesis, and that’s the building of building up of muscle. And in our body, we need to be getting protein with each meal to a minimum of about 20, or 30 grams, which would be about, you know, chicken breast, that’d be about 20, or 30 grams of protein basically, or, you know, say having a tub of Greek yogurt with your breakfast. So in order to get sufficient protein throughout the day, you want to ideally, break your food into about three to four meals just to space that out adequately.
That’s great. That’s great. I love that approach. Again, I love your mindset with that to where it’s not like you have to have exactly this. I think that’s great.
I think it’s important to listen to your listen to your body, and listen to your hunger and fullness signals. And I think that’s really important. You never want to force yourself to eat, because you feel like you have to eat this massive meal, you want to listen to your body, be mindful of what you’re eating, and and stop eating when you’re full. But then also be aware that you know, when you are hungry throughout the day, and you know, making sure that that’s going to be a meal that you’re having at that point while they’re done, and having snacks. And another thing to keep in mind as well with them snacking and hunger throughout the day is ensuring that you’re properly hydrated. I think that’s a trap that a lot of people fall into, especially with working from home, you may be less likely to have like a water cooler nearby or have water on your desk. And so just making sure you’re getting that’s really just water and throughout the day. So having you know a glass of water filled up in your desk at all times and just trying to drink that throughout the day. And oftentimes when we’re hungry, we’re actually thirsty. So having a glass of water, when you do feel the urge to snack, you might feel it feel that satisfies you because you’re actually thirsty.
That’s great. You just inspired me to take a drink right there. Yeah, that’s one of the biggest. That’s one of the biggest things I’ve learned as an entrepreneur working from home is to just drink water constantly. And it actually really has helped me because I was a little worse two years ago with snacking. And then it really helped me just stay more full just being hydrated. Like you said, it is interesting how it’s different. I know sometimes, if I do a lot of calls, or if I do some core stuff, and then I didn’t drink that much. Sometimes I’ll do that same thing. I feel a little hungry. But often it’s just because I’m not as regular with my drinking. So that’s a great tip. What a What a great idea.
Especially with you if you’re talking a lot peer job, you know, you’re going to become a bit more dehydrated than you normally what then so even more important to be sure that you’re drinking water throughout the day.
That’s great. That’s great. I think one last thought I had on this before I move on to training and exercise and stuff is one thing that I did that really helped that hopefully encourages everybody. As we were talking about options earlier, I was notorious for eating like a 12 year old several years ago, like my wife and I joke about it like we’re 12 we’d get like peanut butter and jellies and Cheetos or something. And then what we just started doing was I mean every once in a while we’ll do that if we’re in a pinch but we’ve tried to have more healthy options for lunches if we’re if we’re not, you know, going to do a big meal because it’s easy to whip together a pb&j it’s not always easy to put a big meal together for lunch with like chicken and rice or that well that can be fairly easy but often what we’ll do is we’ll just do the yogurt, granola, or banana or something like that to where it’s it’s a decent, you know, healthy lunch and it’s it’s big enough to hold us over to dinner, but it kind of alleviates that like well I’m just gonna make a pb&j cuz there’s nothing else so.
Yeah, well I’m all about like making healthy eating quick, easy and accessible. And because I’m actually not a big fan of cooking to be honest, it’s crazy considering I’m a nutritionist, and but I just try to like make healthy meals as easy as possible. So for lunch for example, if you’re stuck in a time where you just not wanting to have to cook up some food in the middle of the day, you can simply have like a sandwich with whole meal bread or whole meal bread roll. And you know some chicken and beef or you know, tinned fish it and salmon, tinned tuna and a salad mix and then added some toppings on that really easy. Or another option is maybe cooking off like a frittata or a big omelet at the beginning of the week, chopping that up and putting it in the fridge and then you have that as you go to lunches throughout the week. That’s one of the recipes I have in my meal prep book and it’s so handy just have that available. And I’m just having yet like you said options available to you and just having things in the fridge that are quick and easy to go. And another really good go to option is like for super easy lunch. And so you have some frozen vegetables in the freezer. You have some tinned fish like 10, sardines, 10, salmon and tuna, whatever. And you have those pre cooked rice you know like your green rice, basmati rice, sea microwave, your rice and your veggies, add in your tin salmon and just add in some salt and spices and it’s really quick, easy go to meal. Add in some sort of dressing up like there are some sriracha sauce and you’ve got a meal in like five minutes.
That’s great quote great advice. Well, this has been great so far. So let’s transition to some fitness stuff. Yeah, particularly working from home. So one of the biggest aversions that people have that I’ve often heard is I don’t you know, if I can’t go to the gym, I don’t know what to get, I don’t want exercise I can do I am fascinated with how much bodyweight exercises can do for you and how you can technically get by without having a look of equipment. I mean, push ups and some some body squats and stuff, I try to keep up with that. That really has gone a long way for me, although I do have some equipment downstairs, I have a little mat with some, some dumbbells and a pull up just some basic stuff. And I do have one of the door pull up bars that I’ll bust is a good, what would you recommend? Let’s start with some of the the type of equipment that is practical and whether you know what we need. And then I’d love to talk about some home base exercises that you recommend for everybody, because I’m sure there’s just some general good stuff.
Yeah, absolutely. Because as I said, I would say over 50% of my clients at the moment are training from home. And especially for anybody who’s a beginner or hasn’t exercised in a while, you’ll get amazing results training from home and you don’t need a lot of equipment at all, all I recommend getting is either a set of adjustable dumbbells, or an adjustable barbell, so that the majority of my clients, they’ll have two adjustable dumbbells with weights that will go up to 10 kilos and each side, which is about 20 pounds for you. And that will get you through like six months of workouts, really one of my clients, that’s all she had. And actually at the very beginning of starting working with me, she didn’t even have equipment. So we did bodyweight first. But you very quickly adapt to bodyweight exercises, and you want to be able to change things up a little bit and add some more variety into your program as well. So we added in some resistance with what she had around the house, which was too big and bottles of disinfectant that weighed about five liters. So those are our weights for I would say, and two or three months until weights became available again, because that was the beginning of lockdown. And she made amazing progress. Over the course of six months working with me, she lost 16 kilos. And that was bodyweight exercises at first, then adding into the five liter containers as weights and then bringing in adjustable dumbbells after that. So you really don’t need a lot. And you know, if you have a pull up bar, like you said, or a pull up are super handy, as well as ease but that’s basically all you need.
What about bands? What are your thoughts on bands, I know a lot of people like using bands for all sorts of you know, whether it’s bicep or resistant workouts, I know you can do a lot with your leg.
Yeah, bands is quite helpful, just for some accessory movements, they wouldn’t be a foundation for your program, because they’re not going to add enough resistance for you to progress over time. And the important thing with training is understanding that progressive overload is the reason that you’ll get stronger, build muscle and get leaner. And what that basically means is you need to be improving each week, so you need to be getting stronger each week. And unfortunately, with resistance bands, we can’t really judge the resistance and we can’t change the resistance too much. However, with dumbbells, we can obviously increase the weight. If we can increase the weight with the dumbbells, we can just add more reps. And but we still have a good amount of resistance there. Whereas with the bands, the resistance is that little bit less normally.
Now I know you work with mostly girls, but for everybody and guys included, are there some general exercises, whether it’s push ups, you know, body squats, is there some stuff that you recommend pretty much everybody’s just good overall fitness that we can do easily at home?
Yeah, absolutely. So like you said, you know, squats really versatile and useful movement to do. And just making sure with squats, you’re trying to get that full range of motion. And what I find with a lot of people is they struggle with squats initially because they don’t have that flexibility. So sometimes you might have to try squatting with your heels elevation and just have like a book under your heels, just to make sure you’re getting below parallel and your squat, that’s quite important because when you get full range in a movement, you’re going to find that it has a lot more effectiveness. And just because you’re using the entire muscle good push ups are great as well step ups, lunges, split squats, all of these sort of things. And you know, they’re really good exercises to be doing at home. But obviously, the main and most important thing, I think, is just making sure that you’re doing the exercise correctly, and that you’re doing the full range of motion and that you’re not rushing through the exercises. I think an unfortunate thing that’s happened with the influx of hate training, I guess in recent years that people feel like they have to get their heart rate up when they’re doing every type of training. Whereas with resistance based training, it’s more important to slow the exercise that create that mind muscle connection and ensure that you’re using the correct muscle groups and getting full range of motion. And not only will that help you to get better results from doing the exercise, but it’ll also prevent injury as well.
That’s a great tip. I know For the, I’ve tended to work out a lot and seasons, there are just seasons where I would really, you know, be into it and then back off for a little bit. But the times that I kind of caught myself with that was like, let’s say I was doing 50, or 50 reps or 25, push ups, let’s say for example, often I would like lose my form a little bit just to get to the 25. Whereas I kind of learned, you know, what, it’s almost more beneficial just to do 15, and really good form, then try to kill yourself hit 25. And that’s a mental barrier. Sometimes number is when when numbers come into play with diet or exercise. That’s tricky, isn’t it?
Yeah, I always say to my clients, when they are training from home, and we’re doing workouts where they’re trying to do more reps, it’s about doing as many reps as you can with perfect form. And once you get to that point where you feel like your form is breaking down, you couldn’t do another rep with perfect form. That’s your max, and you want to stop there, and you just want to try to improve on that number then the following week.
And what about like, instead of doing like, if I were to say, Okay, I’m gonna do 35 push ups, instead of that, what have I said, I’m going to do as many pushups as I can, and a minute or a minute and a half is that an approach that’s worthwhile looking into that you would recommend, as opposed to striving for a certain number all the time?
I would say, and that’s two different types of training, you could, you could change things up. And you could go for, you know, more time based training, if you wanted to do if you wanted to do a certain number in that period of time, that’d be more of your hit star training. And so you could then, you know, bring that in every now and again, but I think the main area that you want to focus on is just improving your overall strength over time. And that’s done by you know, increasing reps or increasing range of motion or improving your form on your exercises.
Gotcha. I would love to talk about cardio and then flexibility. So with cardio, you mentioned that earlier, I think cardio, I think more and more people seem to have found out that there’s some myths when it comes to cardio and I enjoy running I really enjoy running. I meant to tell you earlier to what’s really interesting about the time of this conversation is I’m at the tail end of recovering from knee surgery. So I just had a knee surgery three weeks ago from as we’re recording this. So I am I’m just like really working on my flexibility. And I’m on I’m in PT twice a week right now. What I’ve found is that my quad has like completely, like there’s like nothing there my leg right now. So I’m kind of reworking that. And cardio is really interesting, because I What are your thoughts? I mean, I know it’s important. And I’m, I love running and I love taking walks. But would you say that body weight and some strength training is equal or more important when it comes to weight loss and just overall health? Because I think a lot of people seem to just kill themselves with running or, or some of this cardio stuff. And it makes me wonder, is it you know, is it worth all that? What are your thoughts on that?
Yes, I have a lot of thoughts on it. I think cardio is great if you enjoy it. But I think as a weight loss tool, it’s definitely not the best investment of your time. Because basically what cardio does is it burns, calories, burns energy, and the amount of energy you’re going to burn through during, say 30 minutes of running is not as much as most people think it is. And you could actually deduct that same amount of energy from your nutrition. And you save yourself all the time of having to do cardio throughout the week. And if it’s something that you enjoy doing, and you know, you feel like it’s a stress release, and so on. Great, by all means go ahead and do it. But understand that your time is probably better invested. First of all by looking at your diet, and understanding that you need to have a calorie deficit in order to lose weight, it definitely can be created through food more easily than through cardio. And, and then the second most important thing when it comes to weight loss is increasing our lean muscle mass. And we don’t do that by doing cardio, we need to actually be doing some form of resistance training in order to do that. Because when we are losing weight and we’re in a calorie deficit, we’re losing fat. And and we can optimize the fat loss by actually training with resistance. Because when we lose weight, we lose fat and we lose muscle. This is the problem, we can’t lose one independent of the other. However, we can help ourselves to prioritize more fat loss than muscle loss by increasing our muscle and increasing our strength basically throughout the process. And that’s done with resistance training, but then by also prioritizing protein in our diet and making sure that we’re getting enough protein in in order for our muscles to be able to rebuild and repair. And what that means then is at the end of your diet. When you’ve lost fat, you’re going to look a lot more leaner and more toned because you have some muscle underneath that fat that you’re losing.
That experience kind of taught me like, okay, I like having a balance of everything, have a little bit of cardio, but you know, I’m really taking the weight training stuff more seriously. – Josh
That’s great. Yeah, that’s something right. Back in 2012. I ran a half marathon which is the most I’ve ran and I I remember like training for that it was my mindset. For some reason up to that point was weights and lifting was muscle run was just fat loss, I didn’t really think about lifting weights as being a weight loss and a lot of ways and shedding off fat and stuff. And so I noticed a lot of like, like, physically I trimmed up and stuff, but I definitely lost a lot of muscle tone, because I was running so much now wasn’t lifting as much. And so it was really interesting, that experience kind of taught me like, okay, that’s, like I I like having a balance of everything, have a little bit of cardio, but you know, I’m really taking the weight training stuff more seriously. And like I said that the recovery I’m going through right now after having knee surgery is that I have to do this like this is that the recovery particularly for my legs, and strengthening that and those muscles. That is, that is what I have to do right now. So it’s been a really interesting eye opening thing. And the next thing I want to talk about his flexibility. And working from home. This is what we all struggle with. Because particularly as web designers, we’re in front of the screen constantly. We often go to what I like to call code mode, which is where you just kind of hunched over and you’re just like focused on the screen. And after an hour or your necks killing ya, your back’s killing ya, posture is terrible. mobility and flexibility seem to be the biggest culprit in my industry of web design. So what are some recommendations do you recommend? I mean, I’m sure getting up out of your seat, you know, frequently and just doing little walks and stuff. Like that’s huge. But your thoughts on flexibility and mobility? What are some things that we could do particularly for my audience, as web designers? Is it like scheduled? Or, you know, fairly routine stretching times? What would you recommend?
Yes, so on the flexibility side of things, just I think there are first a few misconceptions there about, you know, the importance of being really flexible or really mobile. Obviously, flexibility is definitely important. But, and there is a correlation. And I guess our relationship between strength and flexibility, we need strength as well, along with flexibility, because a muscle that is, you know, really stretched, often isn’t very strong. So we need to ensure that we’re strengthening our muscles, as well as doing some mobility work. And so with, you know, people that have desk jobs, you want to first of all, ensure that you’re doing some exercises to strengthen your upper back and strengthen your core. And when you’re in that seated posture the whole time, and that will help you just to build a better posture while you’re sitting. And then lessen the need for so much flexibility and mobility work because you don’t want to overdo with that sort of thing, either. And so I think you need to do both, it’s really important. So if we want to talk a little bit about, you know, what exercises and so on, we can do go through that.
Absolutely. I was just thinking it’s funny how, like doing some core work? Yes, it’s, it’s interesting, it’s like, with the body, it seems like what you would think would not be related at all is exactly what you need, like in that case. And I’ve experienced this because I’ve, I tend to slouch. And I’ve really over the past couple years think thought more and more about my posture. And I’ve experimented with all kinds of different things. And a lot of people I’ve talked to have said that just that that like often it’s your it’s your chest and your core that’s going to help, you know, straighten out your back. It’s not necessarily just sitting up like that. So yeah, I’m all ears for that.
Yeah, absolutely. Because even when you think about like, say Pilates, for example, a lot of the movements they do are strengthening exercises for your core as well as strengthening your back. And I’m all about including those sort of exercises for my clients that work from home, just because having stronger muscles in your back and your core is going to help you to maintain better posture and then you know, prevent that, you know, branch of your shoulders and and just help you sit a lot better at your desk and feel a lot better and yourself when you’re working. And so yeah, a few exercises that I think would be really useful are so obviously talking about stretching, you want to stretch the upper back and our lats. So a really handy stretch for that. And if you feel like your upper back and your neck are quite tight, and you probably want to if you have a foam roller and a great stretch and a super easy one to do is just to lie on the foam roller in some along your spine basically, and then put your arms out to the side opens up your chest completely as just a really good release for your for your chest muscles, you feel like your shoulders feeling quite rounded. Another one to do if you don’t have a foam roller is called a kneeling thoracic extension. So basically getting your elbows and placing them up on a bench about shoulder width apart and then kneeling on the ground in front of the bench or in front of your couch even would work and then allowing your head to drop between your arms and that will stretch out your upper back and just holding that stretch for about 30 seconds or holding it for as long as you want and then coming back up and going back into the stretch again. That will give you a really good stretch in your lats and in your mid back as well.
That’s great I was just gonna say good job of explaining that to without being Visual, oh, this is going to be on YouTube as well. But for people who are just listening, that’s that was well done.
That was a test of trying to figure out how best to explain and visualize.
Another one I was thinking, then it would be just a back strain. And I’m just going to go through these two, I don’t want to overload everyone with too many ideas of what to do. But if you decide to incorporate that stretch, and then a strengthening exercise, and so this one is a prone snow angel, we’ll call it. So really easy to imagine what a snow angel looks like, you know, you’re lying on your back in the ground, whereas we’re gonna flip that over, so you’re lying on your chest. And what you want to do then is lift your shoulders off the ground, and then start with your hands reaching up overhead, and bring them all the way around to your side, while keeping them off the ground the entire time. And you want to do about 10 of those. And they are so tough, let me tell you, I am doing them at the gym at the moment with just tiny weights, and your whole back just gets entirely exhausted. That’s a really good one that you can do without any equipment whatsoever as well. And it just helps to strengthen the muscles or stabilize your shoulder.
Gotcha, gotcha. Well, that’s really good. That’s some good stuff because I, like you said and that’s it’s a good reminder, that flexibility obviously is super important. But there’s that component of strength in there too. I like the analogy said like, if you have a muscle, it’s super stretch, it might not be, you know, strong at all to be able to support your weight, which could be equally detrimental. So that’s huge. So um, posture, let’s let’s hit on posture real quick, because that’s the biggie This is, like I said, it’s thing that I’ve really taken more seriously, I, I didn’t realize it until I recorded one of my calls for one of my courses. And when I watched it back, I was realizing I was like hunched over while I was on the phone because I just didn’t think about it. Like I said, I just kind of go into it and just naturally just kind of hunched over. So really, really been more proactive on that. One thing that I did, I’d love to hear some of your tips for posture working from home. One thing that I did was raise up my screen to where I don’t look down at my screen, I look parallel with it, that’s really helped. I dropped my seat I used to sit higher, but now I dropped my seat almost as low as it goes. So I I’m forced to like kind of stay up because otherwise I used to have my screen a little lower. And that’s the big problem with coffee shop work is as much as I love working from a coffee shop, you end up slouch, you can never get the seat right. Even if you have one of the elevators it’s still Yeah, slouch a little bit. So at home at least I definitely you know that’s that’s one thing that’s really helped. A good seat is I’m definitely due for a new seat. I know that’s there’s been a lot of studies on that. But that’s been the biggest one for me is just having the computer screen at eye level and not to where you have to look down at it, any of the tips that you’ve seen to help with with working posture.
That’s great, as you said, and like just even Googling ergonomic desk setup. And just checking those points yourself, there are a few points you can go through. And I can’t remember off the top of my head. But if you google ergonomic desk assessment, you can assess your desk staff setup and just check that you know, your screen is at eye level, you know, check where your elbows are in relation to your desk, and so on. And just make sure that that’s all set up to optimize good posture. Another great idea and something that I really want to start doing is using a standing desk, or even getting you know an attachment that you can put on your desk where you can actually just move it up and down. So you can stand for some of the day because as we all know sitting is just really detrimental to our overall health. And it shortens our tightens our hip flexors as well. So that’s where we get a lot of that tightness there from sitting all day. And so if you can get a standing desk or get an attachment that can move your computer off and stand for some of the day, that will be really really useful as well, if you can’t do that, a really great alternative option is to try to get up and about more. And a way that I do this is I use an app called the Pomodoro timer. And you can just Google it. And you can have it done on your on your computer the whole time. And it gives you 25 minutes of focus work and five minutes break. So every hour, then you’re going to be getting up twice. And that gives you time to you know, get out making coffee, walk around, get some steps in throughout the day and get a little stretch and then get back to your desk.
It’s funny you mentioned that because the episode before you is the episode I mentioned to you earlier before we went live about time management tips. And we talked about that the Pomodoro technique we talked about and more more of a sense of like tasks for tasks like spend 25 minutes on this take a break. But yeah, absolutely. That’s a great reminder that we can do it for physical stuff as well. I know, for me, I do not work. I don’t sit at my desk usually for longer than an hour and a half to two hours Max, I generally get up and it helps having a busy family around because I’ll often be up and I try to always walk my dog at least once or twice a day. So those things have really helped. But I love that idea of like almost having a reminder, like at least get up do something get up and touch your toes for a second or just get get out of your seat. Now, I know, there have been a lot of studies more recently showing negative impacts if you stand all day as well. So I know that has to be done in balance, if you get a stand up desk, to where, you know, I know, there’s a lot of you just stand still.
It’s an adjustment, yeah. But if you’re sitting all day and you go straight to standing, it’s probably not going to be and really easy for you to do. And I think the problems that come with that are more to do with probably having a weaker core. And that’s why that’s quite important, you know, to be doing some core strengthening. And that’s something I didn’t mention when I was talking about, you know, this exercise that you could do. But if we were to have a list of four, and we would have, you know, so first of all that thoracic extension that I said, then the prone angels. At next one, I would say is a plank, really easy one to do from home, just on your elbows, 30, 60 seconds. And then final one I would add in there would be some glute bridges. So lying on your back on the ground, and knees bent, and feet up to up near your bum. And then just lifting your bum and that strengthens your glutes. And so those would be a really good little thing to tie into your day. And you could do that when you have your Pomodoro timer on as
Oh, yeah, that’s great. That’s great. I might have you sent me a list of those if you would, after this, I’ll put a little, little etha home workout for web designers. I think routine? Yeah, no, that’s great. That’s good. That’s really good. Because, you know, posture. That’s that’s the big one that the slouching is. And it’s just so easy to do. And we don’t even know it. I think that’s what’s even harder is you don’t even realize this, I this stuff wasn’t even on my radar years ago when I got going in web design. And I know we’re talking about stuff that all people on a computer deal with. But there definitely is a like a, it’s a whole different element, particularly when you’re working from home. Because if you’re in a corporate setting, often you’ll be getting up, you’ll go to meetings, or you’ll go to lunch with people or you’ll, you’ll go and chat somewhere. Whereas at home, you can very easily just sit in the same spot for six, seven hours and not move which is is really I mean, it’s just, it’s bad for your mindset. And obviously, it’s terrible physically. So that’s a great, that’s a great reminder, just to get up and do something even imagined him, it’s pretty small, just getting up and going and get a drink of water and coming back is better than sitting for three hours.
And then you’re getting your water consumption up as well. So you know, kill two birds with one stone. I think the two biggest things people can do for their posture really would be first of all, just making sure your desk is ergonomically set up well, you have a good chair. And then second thing, getting up on a bed throughout the day and trying to have breaks, you know, at least once now where you stand up and move back, even if it just means standing at your desk and doing a little stretch.
Yeah. And that’s great. I know it’s because I have a standing desk in the corner. The only problem I had with that is it didn’t raise up high enough to where my computer is on there I ended up standing and slouching to like on now the computer. So even with a razor like I had something that raised the computer, but I still found myself kind of slouching while standing up. So I’m not sure what to do about that. I’d probably have to like get…
Get get a shoe box.
And shoe boxes out. Yeah, I do more sitting generally in my office, but then I do constantly now. So yeah, yeah, well, that’s been great. This has been really good. If I feel like we’ve covered a lot we cover diet nutrition, particularly combating snacking, which was huge for us working from home. It’s it’s reassuring to know that we really don’t need much of anything as far as equipment. There’s obviously a lot we can do with body weight, but then just some dumbbells and some basic stuff, like you said is huge. We don’t need to, you know, have a complete full gym with a rack of weights that go up to 100 pounds or whatever, necessarily. It’s that, you know, when I think about home gym, that’s often what I think of but.
That’s all about minimalism, you know? Yeah.
And we talked about flexibility and, and being mobile and all that, but also with training and strength training, and how important that is, as a big component of all this. And obviously, this is all going to help with posture and some of the things we cover there. So this was great. This really gives me a good framework. And I’m sure everyone appreciates hearing this, as we’re, you know, still new in the year because this is when a lot of people are taking this stuff seriously. And like I said, I know we are as a family and as as I’m recovering this has been a good way it’s not a wake up call but this has just been a good like reminder that I have personally and I’m just speaking out loud. Personally, I have to make health and my fitness a priority for for everything for my family for my business for for everyone. Like it’s it’s just so crucial. It really needs to be a priority. I guess the last thing I want to ask you is do you have any sort of ending thought? I mean, I know everyone’s at different places. Some people might feel a little intimidated about this. What What would you say? I guess that’s actually the question I’d like to pose to you is, what would you say to somebody who maybe hasn’t taken this seriously at all over the past handful of years and has a long way to go? Where would you say that they should start?
I would say just start with where you’re at, the biggest trap most people fall into is feeling like they can’t get started because at their, their fitness level isn’t good enough yet. And that’s something I actually talked about one of my clients with recently for the podcast, where she said, she procrastinated on reaching out to me for six months, because she felt like she wasn’t fit enough to have a coach yet. And I was like, you know, you don’t have to wait until you’re fit to have a coach, you want to get a coach when you’re starting out, so that you’re making the most of your time and you’re getting the most out of your out of what you’re doing. Rather than doing all the wrong things or, you know, try jumping from one program to the next over a period of you know, six to 12 months and making very little progress. Why not reach out to somebody who can help you start where you’re at now, and build upon that over time. And I’m really all about, you know, implementing small changes, rather than overhauling your entire diet or lifestyle. I’m very much of the mindset that fitness should be something that fits into your life as it is now. So that you can build habits that you can maintain long term because there’s no point in trying to completely change that we need to everything, and then feel so overwhelmed that you just cannot continue doing it. I’m more interested in creating small changes and small habits that will stick for you long term.
Yes, I love it. What a great message to end off. I’m so glad you phrased it like that. I love it. Where can my audience find more about you and find out more about some of the free resources you have? And even if somebody is interested in working with you, where should they go?
Yeah, absolutely. So my website is www.empowerher.fitness. And you can find me on Instagram at empower her adult fitness for my podcast. And that’s linked to my personal fitness Instagram page as well, which is activelyAoife. A little bit trickier to find because Aoife.
I’ll have it in the show notes for sure. Yeah, I’m so glad I listened to the pronunciation before I go got on with it. Because I wouldn’t say that. Aofee is what I was.
Oh my goodness, I got that so often.
Gotcha well, I’ll have all that linked in the show notes. And I’ll definitely recommend that people check out your podcasts in particular. I know you’re you’re new in the game, but it’s it’s a really great show. And I’m super excited about the difference you’re making. And this was great. Thanks so much Aoife for coming on for for sharing your expertise. I hope you had a good time and really looking forward to staying in touch with you here.
Thanks for having me, Josh.