This is a friend of mine from High School Katina. We were on the drill team together for 4 years, performing dance and pom-pom routines, half time shows for football games and basketball games as well as lots of competitions.
Recently, we reconnected on Face Book and I was amazed! She looks awesome. Even though I just turned 42 in March, she will turn 42 in the fall. So, it got me to thinking. Has she been that way since high school? What does she eat, what kind of exercises does she do?
She is a fitness instructor, but besides that, she is a flight attendant as well. It can’t be easy to eat healthy when you are faced with airport food/hotel food, etc… So, I asked her a few questions about her life and was super excited she agreed to my interview!
1. Has it been easy for you to maintain your weight since high school, or have you struggled?
My freshman year of college I gained 20 lbs by Thanksgiving!! And it kept me from trying out for cheerleading. I didn’t like how I looked or felt, tired all the time, or how it kept me from living the life I wanted to live. Making some healthier changes like cooking dinner and walking between classes with sprint intervals, I took off 16 of those pounds during the next 3 years. It wasn’t fast or easy and it wasn’t like I had been before. But, that weight gain was my wake up call. I needed to have boundaries regarding my health and weight and couldn’t ignore either and expect good results. I knew how hard that 20 lbs. was to deal with and I never wanted to have to face an even bigger challenge.
2. How do you stay fit, what keeps you motivated to do so?
It used to be mostly vanity or pride, and lets face it, that’s true for all of us to some degree or other. We want to look good but along the way with age and wisdom, we realize that being healthy means feeling good and often looking follows. About 4 years ago my body started rebelling. I had mysterious muscle and joint pain similar to Fibromyalgia but different enough that several doctors said it wasn’t that, but didn’t know what it was or how to help me. They offered drugs, hormones and no real answers. I declined. I knew in my heart there was an answer and I was determined to find it and fix it. I started reading and researching it took me awhile to realize that it wasn’t just “getting older” or not taking the right supplements or not getting enough sleep. Fortunately, as a fitness instructor, I felt like I knew my body really well. That intuition served me well. Only 7 months ago I came across information suggesting wheat might be the culprit. I thought eliminating wheat would be difficult but I knew I needed to try or I wouldn’t know the answer. I did and it was good. My muscle pain was reduced by 70%! As it turns out, not only are there better sources for fiber, vitamins and other nutrients than grains, they made me more hungry and had a toxic effect on my muscles and joints! It’s funny, I started getting less healthy when I started getting “more healthy” with whole grains….the hull of which causes lectins and phytic acid reactions that aren’t good for us. Ultimately, I now follow the Blood Type Diet, a diet that I dismissed for sounding silly a few years ago but which has changed my life! My joints no longer feel like that of an 80 year old. You might ask, Is it difficult to eat like that? It would be if I were doing it just to look good, but I’m doing it to feel well and to have my life back, and that makes it easy! My muscles and joints are now 90% better just because of dietary changes and not all the hormones and drugs doctors wanted me to try. The upside, I’ve lost 8 pounds and I’m at my high school weight again!!
3. What kind of exercise do you do to stay fit?
I have been a fitness instructor since graduate school where I had to teach classes as part of my assistantship in Health Education & Wellness. I have a background in dance and gymnastics so I gravitate toward more graceful formats like Mat Pilates, Yoga, Aqua and Barre (ballet inspired cardio/sculpt). Those are the types of things I like to teach. Teaching fitness has been fun, I love the learning and sharing of information that can make people’s lives better but teaching has also been my accountability. I get paid to show up and with out that, I would likely sit on my couch and only think about going to the gym. Finding the most enjoyable formats to teach is key for me as an instructor just as it is for students. I have 2 cycle certifications but I’m not interested in teaching that as I prefer focusing on muscles, alignment and the core, so pilates, etc. suits me better. Enjoyment reinforces adherence!
4. What do you eat now, how do you handle social situations like parties and eating out? As a flight attendant you travel a lot, how do you avoid bad airport food/hotel food?
I eat pretty clean and simple. Organic as often as I can afford to. I am a bit lazy in the kitchen so I wind up eating a lot of fruit, some raw veggies and and lean meat including beef, chicken and fish. My bread is wheat-free Rye or Brown Rice Bread. I try to use veggies in hummus instead of crackers. I love baked squash or yams and will cook more than I need so I have some for the week. I usually eat eggs for breakfast because starting the day with protein makes me feel so much better than sweet or starchy food. I don’t drink coffee, I prefer white or green tea, water and flavored sparkling water. Oh, and plenty of good Belgian chocolate.
5. What tips do you have that you have learned along the way?
Just like a good mother always has snacks for her kids I treat my body with that same kind of nurturing. I bring my food when I travel and I don’t mean lots of things in wrappers. I bring fruit, hard boiled eggs, nitrate free beef or turkey jerky, maybe some beans or other veggies to add to an airport salad. If I do buy something in the airport, I don’t drop my healthy intentions I make smart choices. Aside from maybe 4 Egg McMuffins with only one piece of bread, which I no longer eat at all, I haven’t eaten at McDonalds in probably 6 or 7 years. It can be done! I learned to love my body and do well by it and know what goes into it. I don’t depend on others to take care of my most precious gift, my health! Knowledge is power, and the more I learn, the better my choices are.
6. Do you ever splurge at meals?
I splurge but within reason. If I know something has high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oil, no thanks, and for health reasons I don’t splurge on wheat although I was a lover of all things cake. I also try not to go hungry to a party that will be only finger food. I eat something before I go, preferably with protein as most snack food is not protein rich and protein will help me feel more satiated. I will have alcohol, dip or ice cream as a splurge and of course, even with splurges moderation is key.
7. What other advice do you have?
Read labels. The truth isn’t on the front, that’s the marketing, the truth is on the back: ingredients. Avoid HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), MSG, Hydrogenated oils, or isolated ___ proteins such as soy, corn, etc., that just means they have had too much tampering and modification. Beware of healthy foods that come in wrappers they are often as bad or worse than a food with a higher calorie count but a simpler ingredient list. Feed your body like you would a loved one whose health depended on high quality natural foods, because it does, only it’s yours! And remember it is harder to find your way back to health than it is not to leave it in the first place.
In Fitness and in Health!
Check out her website www.fitnessbykatina.com
Thank you so much Katina! I appreciate your honesty and your tips and how you live a healthful life!
On a side note, Katina is helping her friend with a fundraiser, here are the details!
My friend, Claudia Spooner, will be a guide for Myra, a 67 year old blind woman from Canada in the NYC Triathalon this weekend! Claudia is a Triathalon Trainer from Austin, TX (http://www.irunitri.com/) volunteering her time and skills for Myra, obviously an amazing and inspiring woman. And, also someone Claudia doesn’t even know so, she’s trying to raise $$ to offset the costs of her travels and stay. Give if you feel inspired even a couple dollars here and there all add up in the end!
Click HERE TO DONATE!!