Finally, part two of my interview with lifestyle coach and fitness blogger Joanne Encarnacion, AKA @gofitjo is here! This time we’re talking food, fitness and self-care.
Okay, let's say you have the power to eradicate one annoying fitness or food fad – what would you pick?
JE: One of the biggest things I’ve learned through getting my certification is that everyone is so bio-individual. What’s one persons’ fad is another’s saving grace. But something that can go is this idea that Acai bowls are extremely healthy for you, because it’s just a shit ton of sugar! And smoothie bowls; they’re beautiful to photograph but I don’t see the real nutritional value in them.
So what do you believe in when it comes to food/fitness?
JE: Weightlifting. I believe most women and men need to do a lot more of it. Classes are great; there’s a ton of people with you, and someone tells you what to do and you don’t have to think about it, but there’s definitely something empowering about being able to lift and understanding how to body build and what muscles we’re working on.
NGK: For me, weightlifting is the only thing that makes me want to be better. You can run on a treadmill all day but weightlifting allows you to challenge yourself more.
JE: Yes, I think weightlifting can give you this huge connection between your mind and body, and it offers you the opportunity to ask yourself: ‘can I up the weight by five pounds today?’ People are starting to do it more often, because more people want to actually sculpt their body. That’s exactly what body builders do; they sculpt their body by changing their muscle fibres, but I get it: there’s this stereotype of body builders being meatheads, but it really is about sculpting.
NGK: I know! A lot of women have the fear of getting big, while others think they can sculpt a shape just by doing hours of cardio.
So aside from weights, what’s your go-to, can’t lose workout?
JE: Plyometrics (also known as jump training or plyos). It’s a brutal, efficient way of getting your workout done – and feeling done! It’s a love/hate thing; I know it’s going to make me efficient at fat burning, with my strength training – especially if I mix it with some weighted plyometrics. But it’s also that workout where I’m like, ‘I don’t wanna f***ing do this today’. I wouldn’t advise that you do any longer than 30-45 minutes. I’ll do a simple set of 4 sets of 25 using my body weight, so I’ll do box-jumping, ice skaters, frog jumps, jumping jacks etc. You’re gonna be drenched in so much sweat, so you definitely don’t need to do more than 45 minutes!
When you’re travelling, working long hours, what’s the one thing you like to do to get your body/mind back on track?
JE: Lately, I’ve been doing yoga teacher training – because I hate yoga! During my introduction training session they went around the room asking people why they chose to do the course. One was like, ‘I’ve been doing yoga for 11 years’, while someone else was like ‘it’s my journey and this is the next step’, while I was like: ‘I hate yoga.’
I decided to do it because I know it does my body good. I needed something to balance my body out, with the weights, the plyo – everything I do is high intensity, but it was also screwing with my body. My body wasn’t recovering quickly enough, and, internally, because my brain was switching from school, to working on my blog; I’m constantly on a high stress mode. Yoga has become the thing that centres me. I love the studio I’m training with, Core Power. I love how they’re straightforward; it’s not like that new age yoga where they talk about unicorns. The music is a little more pop or trap so I’m like, yeah, I can do this.
The other thing I love to do is just unplug by the pool. I literally need to drench myself in water; I think water is my spirit element.
NGK: me too! I’ve always known that I need to live by the water.
JE: It’s funny – I was thinking about an Instagram caption this morning on the way from the gym and came up with something like: ‘you are just as strong and powerful as the ocean waves; you can crush land and reshape anything, but you’re also as gentle as those waves, that can wash away pain and suffering.’
And that’s why I love water, it’s powerful and gentle at the same time. I love to just dunk myself in water anytime I feel funky or out of balance.
Sugar is my kryptonite. I’m a beauty journalist so I know it causes glycation in the skin – I know it’s not good for my body, but I also have this whole, ‘I want the piece of cake, and you can’t stop me’ attitude. It’s almost like I’m sabotaging myself – what do you advise for people who have one major issue with a certain food?
JE: I always say replace the treat with something else if possible. So, if you’re craving chocolate cake, have a piece of dark chocolate. I always have a couple of bars in the house, just in case. Like, I know I can barrel through a tub of ice cream but then I know I will wake up regretting it, and I won’t feel good. So instead I’ll go get that chocolate square, and it seems to satisfy that emotion.
Also, I think we need to evaluate where those cravings are coming from. I went one week without sugar, and the one time I craved sugar, was the time my 13 year old was behaving like a teenager. I texted my girlfriends, there’s seven of us in a group, and I was telling them about my sugar craving and in that moment I realised that it was because my daughter had pushed me over my stress edge. We were in Ikea and she’d had a fit and I really wanted to eat the cinnamon rolls, the ice creams – I wanted everything, right now! I had to ask myself, what could be my other exit strategy; should I practice deep belly breathing instead? I didn’t want to cave and eat the sugar, so I told my daughter to walk away from me and I decided to give myself three minutes of deep breathing: immediately that feeling went away.
If you’re trying to be very disciplined and you have a specific goal, perhaps try fruit instead as it’s a natural sugar. Or, ask yourself, when you want that cookie; is this going to work towards my goal, or backtrack me? Is it worth the mental battle afterwards?
One thing that I’ve changed is, having all my sugary things in the morning. Typically, the afternoon crash is because your body is at that resting point of coming down after the hard work of the day. If I have a chocolate protein shake in the morning, I can cope a lot better with any afternoon slump.
What does feeling/being well mean to you?
JE: It’s that feeling of clarity. It’s that feeling of being able to accomplish the task at hand and being present with it.
What’s your favourite part of the day?
JE: Honestly, it’s that time where I’m wrapping up my workout and I’m feeling accomplished; it’s also the time when my creativity starts to wake up.
How do you approach finding time for yourself? You have a family, a blog, a business – do you have to prioritise taking time out or is it a case of taking it where you find it?
JE: Both. For a long time I used my workouts as my me-time, but I’ve realised that it becomes not so fun. I wanted to do something fun, so sometimes it’s about meditating, not thinking about anything – sitting in quiet. I tried to do that a lot when I worked in my corporate job – just shutting myself away ahead of a meeting – so I’m trying to get back to that practice now.
Earlier this year I realised that I was being terrible at my self-care practice, so now I try and stick to a Sunday self-care practice. Now it’s about taking care of my skin, putting on a mask, putting on a hand cream – I feel it’s essential to women to feel beautiful, feel delicate, take that time out.
If you loved reading this interview with Joanne, check out part 1; warning, it's bit of a tear-jerker but it's definitely a must-read, especially if you're going through a trying time. Check it out here