5 Minutes with Kayla Itsines

I’ve interviewed Kayla Itsines a few times (most recently for Teen Vogue when I worked there), but I’m most proud of the first. While running my online magazine, Love Twenty, in college, I noticed this amazingly fit Australian girl popping up on my feed. She had a big following, but it was no where near it is today at 4.6 million. I reached out to set up an interview — the first in the United States! — and Kayla and I went back and forth with questions online. Now remember: this is in early 2014 before she even had a full PR team and her very own #KaylasArmy. Crazy, right?

Unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to continue running a full-on magazine of my own once I started working full-time and the website is no longer up, but I wanted to re-publish this interview because it’s still so good. This lady knows her stuff, and she has since the very beginning. And the part I love about her most is that she hasn’t changed. She hadn’t even reached a million followers yet when I interviewed her, and now she grows thousands upon thousands by the day — everyone knows her name. If there’s anyone completely deserving of their success, it’s this #girlboss.

What’s the #1 mistake you see women make when they’re trying to get fit?

Girls so often fluctuate between taking their health seriously and not doing anything at all. Nothing is worse for your body than constantly putting it through changes like this. This frequently is the cause of bloating, rapid weight gain or weight loss, emotional eating, and disappointment.

You have an amazing stomach. What are your tips for getting those abs?

My biggest tip is “be consistent.” As I said above, nothing is worse than changing your training or eating patterns all the time. If you act consistently, your body is able to change progressively and healthily. Changing all the time to attain a quick fix basically just stresses your body out and more often than not sends you backwards.

Do you have advice for someone who wants to quit eating junk food and jump into a healthier lifestyle?

I could write about this question for ages! There are so many little tips or foods you can use to help curb cravings for sugar or bad food. I think the biggest mistake women make is that they try to change overnight and they cut a lot of carbs out. My recommendation here is to keep carbs in — just exchange bad, sugary ones for healthy and high-fiber carbohydrates. This will keep you full, help curb carb cravings, and will give you lots more longterm energy. I’m not saying you’ll forget about chocolate, but it will soon leave the front of your mind when your abs start showing. 😛

What are your favorite exercises?

To be honest, I don’t have a favorite — I have a small group of favorites. These include skipping, ab exercises on a decline bench, and challenging jump exercises such as tall box jumps.

What’s your go-to snack?

I love fruit like there’s no tomorrow. My yiayia and papou (grandma and grandpa) grow their own figs and they taste amazing.

If a woman only has minimal time to work out, what type of workout would you suggest?

This is actually what I base my entire training principal around — getting workouts done fast. All of my workouts are 28 minutes plus rest time. Any high intensity, circuit training from my Bikini Body Training Guide will definitely get your heart pumping and can be completed in under 30 minutes. They are designed to burn fat, fast.

What do you think of “cheat meals”? Is one big, unhealthy meal worth it, or would women be better off giving themselves smaller treats more often?

I’ve touched on this a few times on social media and inside my health eating guidelines. I believe that one single meal outside of your eating regime per week is enough. There isn’t any huge physical benefit to this, but in terms of living your life, enjoying time with family and friends, and being able to relax, I think this can be paramount for some people’s lifestyles. Typically during the week, I create small, healthy treats like protein balls, but these still actually fit within my regime.

What are the things you absolutely need in your gym bag at all times?

Without a doubt at all, I always have headphones with good bass for my iPhone, a drink bottle with lemon/lime and ice, and my sweat towel.

What do you recommend eating before and after an intense workout?

I typically work out in the middle of the day, so I have a small snack prior to my workout. I don’t usually have big meals beforehand because this can make me sick. Afterward is always lunchtime for me, so I definitely have a big meal here and it’s usually some form of sushi or wrap — those are my favorites.

What’s the best piece of fitness advice you’ve ever gotten?

“Worry about the future, don’t worry about the now. You will get there, but something that will always come in between you now and you later is time.” My boyfriend, Tobi, actually said this to me after an operation I had for endometriosis. I was so ill and fatigued I couldn’t even sit up out of bed. I was so upset after going from working out a lot during the week to barely being able to roll over in bed. Not long after, I was well and truly back into it. I think sometimes people just want to rush everything in today’s society — whether it’s weight loss, growing up, or driving from A to B. Perhaps we all need to slow down and learn to experience change as it comes. It’s the change that happens over time that changes you as a person, not the difference between you before and after. The process and experience for me is greater than finishing first.

 

 

What’s (Really) In My Gym Bag

Packing for trips and vacations is always hard, but packing for the gym? Even harder. You never know what you’re going to need and when you’re going to need it in New York City, so you pretty much have to have everything on your at all times. My purse is always jam-packed, and the same goes for my gym bag.

It took a while to find the perfect gym bag, and believe me — I was on the search forever. It needed to be something small enough to take to work in case I had a class afterward, easy to carry, and hold everything I need — my tennis shoes, makeup bag full of essentials, and gym clothes. At last, I finally found my perfect match: a bag from Athleta. I don’t think it’s still for sale online, but it’s amazing. It’s small but somehow fits everything Mary Poppins-style, and it’s a chic backpack that I don’t mind wearing into the office.

Now, what do I put in it? As I’ve had a more consistent gym schedule over the past year, my needs have definitely changed and I feel like I have my bag down to a science. Here’s what’s really with me whenever I head out the door.

1. A Water Bottle

This is a must. If I don’t have a water bottle on hand — especially during a cycling class — I’ll seriously pass out. I’m pretty sure I’m always in a constant state of dehydration (working on it!) due to my lack of drinking water throughout the day, so having a bottle in my hand is a great reminder to keep taking sips. As for the bottles, I have two favorites: one of my S’well Bottles (I have three now!) and my CamelBak, which is great for spinning with the easy-to-sip silicone straw.

2. Face Wipes

Next up, my face wipes. I use them for everything. Cleaning makeup off my face before my workout, wiping sweat off my face after, and even wiping down parts of my body so I’m not all sticky on my walk home before showering. No one likes dried boob and butt sweat. I’ve been using Simple wipes for a couple years now, but their new Micellar Water wipes are my new favorites.

3. Deodorant

I’m not too picky with deodorant — I basically buy whatever is on sale or try to use up the endless number of little travel-sized deodorants I have lying around my apartment. My most recent is from Birchbox’s new ARROW line — it’s made without aluminum or alcohol so it’s really gentle on the skin.

4. Band-Aids

Since you never know when you’re going to get an annoying blister, I always love having these babies on hand. They’ve been a lifesaver.

5. Contact Solution + Extra Contacts

I don’t know why, but I feel like I get something in my eyes way too often. It might just be the contacts or quite possibly garbage constantly blowing around NYC, but it’s super annoying. I don’t go anywhere without an extra pair of contacts and solution.

6. Aquaphor

After I got introduced to this amazing product, I was hooked. It’s great for literally everything — dry skin, chapped lips, cuts… it doesn’t matter.

7. Toothbrush + Toothpaste

Annnnnd, mouthwash and some floss. Gotta stay fresh, right?

8. Headphones

If I don’t have my music playing while I’m working out, it’s almost impossible to keep going — it’s just. so. boring. The days I forgot headphones were pure torture, so now I always have a pair in my bag.

9. Hair Ties

I currently need to restock due to losing/using the handful I had in my bag (where do they even go?!), but I usually have 2-3 just hanging out. Whether I forgot to bring one to the gym or break the one I already have, they always come in handy. Especially if you have a friend in need.

10. Extra Socks

If I forget anything when I’m packing my gym clothes, it’s my socks. So just in case, I usually keep a spare pair at the bottom of my bag.

11. Tampons

Because you always need one most when you don’t have one.

GIVEAWAY! Want to win a cute little makeup bag for your gym bag? Head over to my Instagram!

 

Apple-Pineapple Smoothie

If you love sweet smoothies, keep reading. I’m not a fan of anything bitter, so when I came across Juice Generation’s Get Ur Green On juice it was pretty much a dream come true — it tastes like candy. Well, as much like candy as a bunch of fruit and veggies could, anyway. Keep trying, guys.

Unfortunately, those juices are about $10 each, so it’s definitely not an every day indulgence — more like a luxury. $10 for a burger makes sense, but I can’t really justify spending that much moolah on liquid that doesn’t involve alcohol. Instead, I came up with my own version.

This tastes amazing in juice form — I just hate cleaning my juicer. But after turning this recipe into a smoothie, I’m even more in love. And it’s not just because the clean-up takes 30 seconds.

Apple-Pineapple Smoothie
Save Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • Handful of kale
  • A little spinach (optional)
  • 1 cup chopped pineapple
  • Mint leaves to taste (2-3 is usually good)

Instructions

  1. Chop up the apple and pineapple and combine with the greens.
  2. Put everything in a plastic baggie and freeze overnight.
  3. In the morning, put everything in the blender (I use a NutriBullet) with 4-5 ice cubes and a little water, then blend until smooth.
  4. Drink up!
http://www.tehrenefirman.com/blog/apple-pineapple-smoothie/

 

5 Minutes with Megan Lawing, AKA North Carolina Yoga Girl

In the ‘5 Minutes’ series, you’ll meet the raddest health and fitness ladies on the internet. Get ready for a serious dose of inspiration from empowering women I admire around the globe.

Name: Megan Lawing
Age: 27
City: Lincolnton, NC
Day Job: Stay-at-home mommy/yoga model

What’s something people don’t know about you?

I’m married to someone 10 years older than me!

What keeps you motivated on days you’re feeling blah?

My sister makes me do yoga even if I don’t want to. Not that she joins me — she just makes me get up and going!

Your go-to healthy snack obsession… and unhealthy guilty pleasure.

Any fruit, especially watermelon or açai bowls. And chocolate. Definitely chocolate. Butterfingers, Reese’s, Snickers… OK, I’ve gotta stop.

Most random thing in your gym bag.

I actually don’t have a gym bag — I always work out from home. But there’s always a set of yoga clothes in my car!

Your favorite and least favorite workout moves.

My favorite is handstands. They build up strength in so many areas, plus they’re fun! My least favorite is ANY kind of hip opening stretches/workouts. My hips apparently hate me and those stretches are incredibly painful.

Tell me something (anything!) 100% honest.

I have a phobia of spiders, and no one better use that against me!

Most embarrassingly awesome workout jam on your playlist.

Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name.”

Love Megan as much as I do? Keep up with her here:

Instagram: @northcarolina_yogagirln
YouTube: North Carolina Yoga Girl
Facebook: North Carolina Yoga Girl


 

Saying Goodbye to Fried Food (For Now)

Is there anything better than fried food? No really. Think about it. After downing way too many delicious wings and cheese fries on a double date a couple weeks ago, my friend and I decided we were going to try and live a life without fried goodness for the next couple months. Unfortunately, when we made that agreement, I totally forgot how much food is actually fried. Wings and fries are just the beginning.

No more donuts. No more sesame chicken and egg rolls. No more mozzarella sticks. No more onion rings. Being from Iowa, fried food is a staple right beside steak, potatoes, and sweet corn. Have you ever been to the Iowa State Fair? There’s fried butter, people. I’ve yet to try it, but it’s there. I honestly didn’t think avoiding fried food would be much of a challenge — I do eat fairly healthy, after all. But it’s harder than it seems.

The hardest part about avoiding fried food is probably going out to eat. Have you ever looked at an appetizer menu? 99% of it’s fried. And when your boyfriend orders fries and you can’t have any, it’s a very similar feeling to being punched in the face. My friend and I have sent each other multiple pictures of the food in front of us that we’ve somehow avoided the temptation of eating, and I’ve gotta say — it feels good. Not only does it feel nice being able to say “no” to something, but my stomach is also incredibly happy. I probably only had something fried a few times a week, but getting it completely out of my diet has given me a really nice boost of energy — and I haven’t had that awful feeling of regret after eating a plate full of honey BBQ wings.

Usually telling myself I can’t have something results in me only eating that thing and nothing else out of spite, but this time around it’s working — really well. Maybe instead of trying to be 100% healthy, it’s better for me to take small steps. Because clearly I can’t go cold turkey. Considering fried foods are one of my biggest weaknesses (oh sesame chicken, how I miss you!), I’ll never give it up completely. But this vacation was much-needed. Next step? Candy.