December 18, 2017

Staying Fit and Healthy: Interview with a Personal Trainer

Eating healthy foods and staying fit through physical exercise are both so important for living a life that is rich and fulfilling. It is because of this important partnership of food and fitness that I have decided to partner with a fitness trainer to bring you some amazing content on nutrition, exercise and getting motivated to get moving! And let me tell you…I could use the motivation myself so I am super excited to learn more!

Every few months here at The Flavorful Fork I will be handing over the wheel to someone that feels as passionate about health and wellness as I do, Allison Bonnelli from Fitness Together Personal Training Studio. She will provide posts on the importance of proper nutrition (especially when working out), ways to get and stay motivated and much more. To kick things off, Allison and I had a chat about what drew her to the field of personal training, why people struggle with sticking to an exercise and food plan, what her personal eating routine is like and more! Over the coming months look for more useful information from Allison.

Welcome Allison! So glad to have you visit The Flavorful Fork! Let’s jump in and get started!

What drew you to a career in personal training?

I’ve always had a passion for helping others. It is truly rewarding to watch someone reach their goals, and find that new self-confidence along the way.  Physical fitness has always motivated me and empowers me to strive for greatness in all that I do.  I want everyone to feel comfortable in their shoes and empowered!

Do you have a specific story or two to tell of a client that you are most proud of?

I will have to be sappy and say that I am proud of all of my clients! They are all unique with their own set of goals, responsibilities, and restrictions, but they are all motivated and dedicated to feeling better and living a healthy lifestyle. They give it all they have and at the end of the day that is all that matters.  It is truly inspirational to see a client with severe physical limitations push harder than someone who is physically able, but makes excuses to stay on the couch.  It is also totally impressive to see a client in his/ her 80’s deciding to start a workout program at that stage in life.   When it comes to fitness, it is never too late to start – I am thankful to have clients who make this philosophy a reality!

We all know exercise is good for us, yet so many of us struggle to work it into our schedules. What are the top reasons you think people have for not exercising and how as a personal trainer can you help them overcome these reasons?

Time is the number one reason. They have to get the kids to school, go to work, after school activities, dinner, etc. Having an appointment with a personal trainer is as easy as setting aside one hour out of your day. Your trainer will know what they are going to do with you based on your goals, restrictions, and likes or dislikes. You just have to show up and they will motivate you through that hour.  I often tell clients, somewhere out there is a person with a schedule that is more hectic than yours and he/she is working out right now.  We all have priorities, but often times our top priorities consist of taking care of others (kids, parents, significant others, friends, etc.) and in the process we begin to lose sight of ourselves.  Our program allows you to make yourself a priority without having to neglect those you care the most about.

Let’s talk about food – my favorite subject! At Fitness Together you have a strong emphasis on nutrition and proper diet. Can you talk a little about the importance of diet as part of an exercise plan? What happens if I am working about 3-4 per week but I am still drinking a lot of soda or eating very salty foods, for instance?

You will not see the results you are hoping to see. I have clients that have the mindset that “… I worked out today. I can afford to eat that or drink that.” Not the case – you need to try and eat as healthy and clean as possible. Not only will it help you lose the weight more quickly, eating clean will also help you have more energy.  Once clients begin training and realize how much hard work and effort they are putting into their program they begin to appreciate the importance of clean eating.  For example, one reckless trip to the bakery for a chocolate fix could translate to an extra 2-3 hours on the treadmill to keep things on track.  It all comes down to thinking in terms of cost vs. reward; the cost being “what will I have to do in the gym to balance my poor eating decision this week” and the reward being “were those 3 cupcakes really worth sabotaging today’s workout?”.

Creating new habits is hard. For someone that may currently be eating a high fat, high salt, processed diet, how do you help them make changes to a healthier, whole foods diet?

Take it one step at a time. I usually have a client pick one item to work on for 3 weeks. Once it is successfully out of the diet I have them pick another item to slowly eliminate. It is important to do it in steps – not all at once. I have seen clients who jump in and start working out, eating healthy all at once and they usually fall off the wagon a few weeks later.  Let’s make sure we are making this a lifestyle change.  Weight gain doesn’t happen overnight; it takes years of poor food related decisions and unhealthy eating habits to gain weight.  Therefore, you can’t expect to change your diet in a single day, a single week, or even a single month.  With respect to nutrition, taking baby steps until new healthy habits are formed will yield long-lasting results.

What makes Fitness Together different from other fitness centers?

I believe there is a lot that sets us apart from other fitness centers. We have great trainers that love what they do and love seeing their clients succeed!  I make sure that I select trainers who are truly passionate about what they do because you have to not only practice what you preach – you have to be willing to guide clients every step of the way.  Our number one priority is our clients and their goals. We will make sure we do all we can do to help them reach their goals safely and within their limits. We make sure that whether it is one-on-one or PACK they are getting the individual attention that they need and deserve.  Everything we do is tailored to each client on an individual level – it can be a challenge sometimes, but the end results are totally worth it.

What does your personal exercise regimen look like? What is your favorite type of exercise or exercise equipment?

I do exactly what I tell my clients to do. I lift weights usually 3 times a week. I do some kind of cardio activity 3 times a week also. That can range from going for a run, to taking my kids for a walk around the lakes. At the beginning of the week I take a look at my schedule and see when I am going to be able to set aside an hour for me. I do better if I get up in the morning and get it done before the day as a “mom” begins.  Even when life gets crazy I make it a priority to get some type of physical activity in because I know afterwards I will feel much better knowing that I was able to accomplish something that day.

On a typical day, what would your breakfast, lunch and dinner consist of?

For breakfast, I usually eat gluten free oatmeal with fresh berries, flax seed, and some brown sugar.

For lunch, it usually consists of salad with chicken, or soup, or I do love a fried egg sandwich.

For dinner, we will grill chicken, or pork chops, or make homemade burgers with lean meat. We will serve with any fresh vegetable, and yams.

On workout days I will supplement my meals with a vanilla or chocolate egg protein shake.

Everyone has days when they just are not motivated to exercise or eat healthy foods. When you are feeling this way, what motivates you to get moving and not overeat?

My kids! Everything I do what I do for them. What kind of an example or role model am I if I can’t eat healthy for them or take them for a walk? I want to teach my kids the importance of following through with their commitments. Working out and eating healthy needs to be looked at as a commitment.

You and I are both moms of young kids. There is a constant battle in our house around sugary snacks and the kids are much happier to play on their iPods or on the computer than do things outside. What are your thoughts on how to start teaching your kids about the importance of a fit body and good nutrition?

It all starts now. I allow my kids to have a treat once in awhile, but that is what it is – a treat. They do not get it every day. We have a lot of yogurt, fruit, cheese sticks, and other kid friendly healthy snacks around the house. When they ask for a treat instead of a yogurt I make sure to tell them why they do not get a treat. I want them to understand what it means to eat healthy. I believe it is as important as teaching your children how to get dressed on their own, or being potty trained.

Thanks Allison!


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