Last week, I posted Part 1 of my interview with Ally Templeton, personal trainer, yoga instructor, overall wellness coach, and purveyor of Alexandra Templeton Fit website and YouTube Channel. Here is the second part of our conversation, where we touch on trending wellness topics like intermittent fasting, COVID-19, exercise while traveling, and potential differences between the EU and US approach to fitness. I’ve included some video recommendations, so read until the end. Hope you enjoy it!
What trends are you seeing in health, wellness, and fitness?
I’ve been really interested in intermittent fasting. I see it as a valuable tool. While it sounds like a new thing, it’s been around for over a millennium. Almost every religion has some version of doing a fast. Some use it for weight loss, others for health reasons. Last week I had a cold, and it wasn’t going away for 3-4 days. I did a 24 hour fast. The day after, it was gone.
Your body takes on average 10% of its energy to digest food, with different macro-nutrients consuming more energy. (Protein, for example, puts about 20-30% of its caloric energy towards digestion.) When you take food out of the equation, your body can turn its energy towards healing itself. In the west, we’re always eating and pumping more into our system. Sometimes it’s nice to take a break from that. You don’t need to eat all of the time.
What about intermittent fasting and exercise? Do you have any tips for how to structure exercise so that you can maintain an active lifestyle?
Everyone has a different schedule and approach. I’ve had some clients who tried it and had an uncomfortable experience with hunger. Personally, I only had that for the first few days where my body was getting used to fasting. There’s a push through phase where your body adapts to it. I workout in the morning, and I find that the morning workout combined with the hunger is wonderful for productivity. I’m super focused, almost like the hunger is hunger for work. But it’s not that way for everybody.
If you feel fatigued or unfocused, I recommend adding a mineral to your water like salt or taking fish oil tablets, which can give your brain some energy. You can also drink tea. Psyllium husk can calm your hunger down because it’s very fibrous, but you have to be careful when you consume it. It can kick you out of a fasted state because it has some calories.
When to exercise during intermittent fasting depends a lot on your goals. If your goal to build muscle, then you’ll need to eat after exercise to feed the muscles. If you’re looking to lose weight, it’s a different prescription. If you’re training for an event, it’s also a different prescription. Each requires a different approach and depends on what is realistic for your lifestyle right now.
And if it doesn’t work for you to exercise in the morning, then find another time that works in your schedule. It’s just a tool at your disposal. My philosophy is that fitness should not become your life, but rather make your life easier. You want to be flexible and mobile enough to do the things you enjoy, with exercise as a stress reliever. It allows you to go about your life without having to think about pain or rigidity in your body.
(SF: For more tips on how to start intermittent fasting, check out Ally’s blog post.)
You have quite a lot of content online. Is that something you started before corona virus, or was that something that you did in response to the lock down and lack of opportunity to engage with people?
I’ve had my website and blog for 3 years and my YouTube channel for 2 years. It was in response to things I’m doing with my clients and allows me to share things I’m learning. For example, I’ve started mobility training and I’ve seen nice results and even put my boyfriend through it, why not make a few videos on it? It helps me to share whatever I’m experimenting with at the moment.
And with corona, it was nice because I could share some online tools for people when the gyms were closed. It was so great that people were trying something new and trying to learn how to exercise at home.
It sounds like a great marketing tool.
I’m semi-new to Brussels, so it’s like a living CV. If I have potential new clients, I can refer them to the content so they can see if it’s something they want to work with. While most of my content is free, I also have other products for sale. I have an e-cookbook that I released last year and am coming out with a new one around Christmas this year. I try to make my free content of such a good quality that when I release something extra special, like an e-cookbook where I’ve put in a lot of extra time, it’s exceptional and people are willing to pay for it.
Part of your blog is devoted to travel, and it looks like you’ve done quite a lot of traveling. Do you have a “go to” regimen that you follow while traveling?
Like everyone, I have these big ambitions when I go on a trip, like “I’m going to go to the gym” or “every morning, I’m going to wake up at 6”. But, of course, it never happens … because you’re on vacation! When I travel, I think it’s nicer to do activities. If you’re going to a place, you want to see the place. We were in Cuba in February for the holiday, and it’s a beautiful island so each day I had an activity planned. One day it was horseback riding; one day it was surfing; one day we went biking for 3 hours — those are all active but also fun. And you get to see the landscape. It’s the best compromise because you’re staying active and healthy but you’re also enjoying the place.
Since moving to Brussels, I’ve noticed a different philosophy about weight training in Europe versus the United States. One trainer even told me that strength training with weights is bad for me. What’s your view on this?
I can’t speak so much to Brussels, since I haven’t been to a gym here other than to train myself. But when I was working in Prague, I worked in a gym where most of the trainers were men and it was more of a Gold’s style gym, so they were all into weight lifting. And this tends to be the trend in more eastern Europe, like Russia, where it tends to be the more old school kettle bells, dumb bells, bar bells — all the bells.
To the extent that thinking exists, I think that notion is absolutely false, especially for women. Women are much more prone to things like osteoporosis when we age. And strength training is excellent for keeping your bones healthy. The more you strength train, the more fresh blood gets pumped into the bones, and the stronger the bones become. Women in general are scared of weight training because they’re afraid they’ll get all big and bulky. But I tell my female clients, you can shape your body exactly how you want. You can make your waist look smaller when you train your back more, or build up your butt. And, baseline, you feel great when you’re strong — more confident and capable. So why not?
There are definitely ways that you can hurt yourself while strength training if you use improper form. But psychologically, it feels so good when you struggle to do something, and then, after strength training, you’re able to do it. It’s the most rewarding feeling ever. Maybe your goal is to do a handstand, or to squat 100 pounds, or run a 4-minute mile — whatever it is — only you are able to do that for yourself. It’s very empowering.
Simple Fitness Conclusions, Part 2
So there it is, readers. A view from Brussels on how to stay healthy, happy, and fit. I like Ally’s approach to self-care — exercise should be an additive benefit to your life, not a chore to be done and dismissed. This resonates with me.
As a lover of travel, I plan to put her “one activity a day” advice to good use (once we can travel again more freely … *sigh*).
And, I’ve watched and done more of her videos since my last post. They’re easy to follow and entertaining. A couple of my favorites are included here — just in time to get that heart pumping for the weekend!
Till next time,