Hey everyone! It’s Kierstyn! I have had the honour of knowing and working with Valene Walters for the past five years and I can tell you right now… she is one of the most optimistic and encouraging people I know! I asked her the same questions I asked Santo and Joe in their interview here and these are her answers!
- How did you start your fitness journey and what made you want to start?
My fitness journey formally began 2 years ago, January 2015, prior to the gym I was active in sports. It was January when I officially committed to a workout routine (BBG)/ the gym in general and have been addicted ever since!
- How long have you consciously been leading a healthy lifestyle?
Over the past 5-7 years, since being done post-secondary education and realizing the true importance of eating and being healthy, I have worked towards a healthy lifestyle. A lot of things have changed in my life since high school, including my body and my metabolism. People don’t realize that you can be a “fat” “skinny person” contradicting right? But what is most important is the fuel we give our bodies. I didn’t change everything all at once, over the years I have maintained changes, reduced processed foods, sugary food/ drinks etc. and reverted to old habits to only begin again, but it is this mindfulness that keeps me on my journey.
- What would you say has been the number one change in your body physically? Mentally?
Fitness, and the gym has been a significant stress reliever for me. I cannot even begin to explain the positive mental benefits completing a workout program, that extra 10 minutes on the stair master or that work out you didn’t think you would make it through initially. Not to mention my new love for hot yoga! I feel so balanced when my food and fitness plans align. When I am sick or unable to commit fully to both, my mind and body feel the difference. Physically I am more confident, I am strong, and I am a reflection of my effort, energy and hard work. I am proud!
- What does a normal day in the life of you consist of?
I work a full time job as a Human Resource Training and Development Assistant, I have been a part time student for the last year, currently completing my last semester to obtain my Human Resources Certificate.
My days begin with my workouts at 6:45am (this morning thing is completely new to me, 13 weeks since I have switched…but who’s counting?) I work 8:30am-4:30pm but optimize the time I have during breaks and lunch to fit in those 15 minutes of cardio. I have class on Wednesday nights 6:30pm-10:30pm. What free time I have left is currently spent making dinners and lunches, focusing on my online class as well as night class, spending time with family and my boyfriend and trying new things!
- Is there any one thing you wish you could throw into your workout routine? A new hobby?
I am always open to trying new things but fear I do not have the extra time. I have a passion for Hot Yoga, but unfortunately due to the expense I reserve this as a “treat” where I wish I could incorporate it into my lifestyle. I know I need to stretch more, I feel this is often a reactive choice after an injury or strain in your muscles. I unfortunately have not found a routine to add into my daily workouts to improve flexibility but this is an ongoing effort for me.
- Who has been the most influential person in your life in terms of your fitness and health journey?
I would have to say the internet and Kayla Itsines. Most people who read your blog will recognize her name as she is the creator of BBG (Bikini Body Guide). The way she creates the workout plan, has created this community full of other empowered women, and supports you along the journey has been instrumental in my success.
- Do you have a favourite song that gets you in the workout mood?
I wouldn’t say a favourite song, I love a wide variety of music but electronic dance music is my favourite to run to as it is intense and I focus more on the beat than my breathing.
- Tell us a little bit about your view on taking supplements. How do you know which supplements are the right ones to take?
This is an area I know a lot of people get intimidated. I cannot stress how important it is for you to do your own research and become knowledgeable on your own before consulting others. It is also important to be aware of your fitness goals and the journey you are on, and what phase of the journey. For me I use multi-vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Whey Protein Powder, Omega 3 Fish Oils, Amino Acids (BCAAS) as well as CLA. Each of these provides different benefits for my body. Below is a link for an explanation of the benefits each of these provide. Again I cannot stress the importance of doing your own research, I reviewed many sites before I established my supplement plan and have modified these numerous times based on my goals and progress or even brands.
- How did you get into a healthy eating routine? What advice do you have for people who want to adjust their everyday diet to reflect healthier choices?
I decided to have a healthy eating routine before I committed to the gym, but once adding the gym to my routine it only got easier to want to eat better. It’s funny how they end up going hand in hand. For me, again knowledge is power. A friend explained to me “macros” a form of counting your food intake, but focusing on the breakdown of Fats, Carbs and Protein (macronutrients) with the focus shifting from calories only. After I began looking into this, it gave me a greater understanding that processed food, and junk food become empty calories, I was unable to reach my macros with balance and awareness. For anyone and everyone, all you have to do is start. Begin by cutting out sugar, reading nutritional labels, drinking more water, being truly mindful and aware of your body. I found a tremendous difference when logging my food, this gave me awareness of portions, of the real value each item I ate in a day would provide etc. I am not suggesting you change everything at once, for me I used to drink 1 pop every day, now I can’t even tell you the last time I had pop nor do I crave it. With time it gets easier, ask friends and family or coworkers to do a challenge with you! There are many options on the internet but if you have other people supporting you, encouraging you and empowering you, you are that much more likely to succeed. If I feel I am slipping and eating worse than usual, I will do a 3 day detox to reset mentally as well as a reset for my body.
- Why do you think that people today want to be healthy but don’t?
We live in a fast paced environment, 9/10 people will say there is not enough time in a day, that they are on to go, and without planning ahead the only food choices on the go are unhealthy ones. It is easy to make excuses than to put in the effort even if you have the best intentions. You have to WANT this, and work towards it every day. We think we cannot afford to eat healthy, but if you sit down and crunch the numbers it’s almost the same, if not cheaper to eat healthy. People become addicted to sugar, fast food and processed food from a very young age, I ask anyone to cut out all fast food for 21 days, no chocolate, no sugar, no cake, no donuts or muffins or pastry’s, no chips, no pop, no ice cream. If you do so, I guarantee you will feel better and upon reintroducing these things you will realize you don’t really enjoy them!
- Can you give two pieces of advice for someone who wants to change their current lifestyle into a healthier one?
As I have stressed a few times already, knowledge is power! Don’t be afraid to ask questions, learn more and do your research. Having an understanding of a balanced diet, a reasonable workout plan and changes to your body will help support you along the way. We have endless information to us available at our finger tips!
Establish your goals, and make sure they are realistic. Have areas you can benchmark and celebrate the little victories. It only takes 21 days to form a habit, create a plan and go!