Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Mom in the Spotlight: Personal Trainer, Liz Davis

How many children do you have?  Boys? Girls?

I have a son named Kolton. He is 22 months old. Turn on some music and he’ll show you how to Zumba!

What was your relationship to fitness before motherhood?  How did it change after?

Prior to motherhood, I was always pretty fit and involved in all kinds of competitive sports.  I was a gymnast and dancer until I went to college. I had a scholarship to run sprints/long jump in college (NCAA Division 2 school—Adelphi University, Garden City, NY) and I decided to major in Exercise Physiology and earned my Masters.

Here’s the clincher though…

After college, even though I competed in local endurance events—5ks, half marathons, sprint triathlons etc.— and even though I had a fair amount of success, I was eating whatever I wanted, paying no mind to nutritional value.

I was partying all the time and drinking large amounts of alcohol. So sure, while I may have looked  fit, I wasn’t. I wasn’t even toned. I was extremely insecure about how I looked.  I mean I hated my body, my big “thunder thighs”—or so I believed at the time—and this prevented me from reaching a higher level of success in fitness.  

On top of that, I openly admit that from ages 16-25 I battled with bulimia. I had such an unhealthy view of myself.

When I got pregnant I was TERRIFIED of gaining weight. One minute I was so excited about my baby. And then I would find myself crying, weighing myself daily. I even had “friends” tell me my clothes would never fit the same and I’d never have the same body because losing weight was nearly impossible after having kids.

Well, I proved that wrong, that’s for sure. I hope any woman who has ever had those negative thoughts enter her mind is reading this.  

Anyhow, I had always had an interest in competing in figure competitions since my senior year of high school. So, I decided what better way to ensure that my baby weight would come off than to commit to a structured nutrition and exercise regimen in preparation for the figure competition. This was a guaranteed way for me to hold myself accountable.

It was SO hard, and there were days when I wanted to give up. But I didn’t. I kept going. Here is a picture of me, not even a year after having my baby.

Ten months post pregnancy, I stepped on that stage at 133lbs and a size 0/2—a size I’d actually never been in my life!

That day, I realized what I was truly capable of if I did the work  and believed in myself. I decided that I loved my body, appreciated the miracle of giving life to my son, and I even happily embrace my stretch marks.  

Many women shy away from muscle development.  Why do you think they should embrace it instead of shy away from it?

I am so glad you asked this question because it is an important one and a hot topic amongst women. I hear women say all the time that they are afraid of bulk or that they think muscle will make them look too masculine.

Well, first, there are numerous health benefits for women who work to increase their lean muscle tissue. One: Strength training with moderate-heavy weights -- especially when it comes to the spine and upper body/torso of a woman, helps prevent osteoporosis.

The National Osteoporosis Foundation reports that over 12 million people over the age of 50 are expected to get osteoporosis. By 2020, that number will exceed 14 million. Most of these cases will be women.  

The good news is that it can be prevented with increased muscle tissue.  

When a bone is put under stress, such as while lifting weights, the bone actually bends just like the muscle and stimulates additional bone growth—thus can prevent and help manage osteoporosis.  

Besides that good news, did you know that stronger muscles can help increase mobility, flexibility and balance? And that doing so prevents falls and increases the ease of daily activities? 

As if that weren’t enough, muscular weight is more dense than fat weight which means it takes up less space. 

So, a 140lb woman with more lean muscle may wear a size 2 dress, whereas another 140lb woman with less lean muscle tissue, may wear a size 8, 10 or even 12 depending on their body structure.  It’s fascinating. 

The other thing I want you to understand is that women who appear to have the same amount of muscle tissue as a man are likely using supplemental androgens, or what is called anabolic steroids (such as Human Growth Hormone (HGH) and Testosterone). 

So ladies, trust me, as women we do not have enough of the hormones it would naturally take to develop that “manly” look you fear just from lifting heavy weights. That would require some sort of steroid.     

So how and what do you eat to stay so lean?  Will you ever eat a cookie?

That’s funny!

Sure, I’ll eat a cookie. But, it’s all about balance.

With my history with bulimia, I found that my initial attempts to only eat “clean” and only eat natural food that we cooked at home, I was starting to fall back into binge behaviors and I would allow myself some of these “bad” foods.  Things got a little out of hand.

So now, I am much wiser. I no longer label foods as “good” or “bad”. Are you kidding me? They are all just foods! And we have a choice what to eat and how much.

Every day I choose to try to select a majority of nutritious and naturally occurring foods. And I make every effort, every day, to make cooking at home a priority. This equals out to about 80-85% of the time. Or, if I’m nearing a competition, it goes up to about like 90% of the time.

And that remaining 10-20% of the time?  If I have a craving for something, I eat it. But, I choose to have self-control and enjoy a single serving. Or, sometimes, even a single bite is enough.

I’ve found that this way, I am not tempted to binge.

I allow myself the foods that my body needs—which I actually enjoy eating—and occasionally something that lacks much nutritional value.

Of course cleaner, more natural foods are preferable for overall health, but when it comes to maintaining a lean physique the secret is simple.

It’s all about calories in versus calories out. It’s that simple.

And that simple rule is what helps me to maintain a healthy, balanced and non-restrictive lifestyle.

Also, I do cardiovascular exercises such as running, walking on an incline, or the stair master. I do this for 30-45 minutes about 5-6 days per week. Also, I lift weights 4 days per week and I try to remain relatively active throughout the rest of every day. This includes teaching numerous group fitness classes per week.

And, I’m sure you and the “Mom’s New Stage” readers will appreciate this… I also burn a lot of extra calories just seeing after my toddler! 

So many women seem to be at war with their bodies, trapped in a cycle of self-loathing that would continue if the last five pounds were lost or not.  How do we as women get past this?

I’m so glad you asked this question. I’ve been there. I’ve been through that. I was that woman.

Every day I make a choice to work hard and re-commit myself  to being a better me.  That’s part of what being a woman is all about.

Honestly, the key is to surround yourself with positivity. Every woman needs to find a support group, if not several. Find people, other women if  you can, who will lift you up and not knock you down due to their own insecurities.

Learning positive self-talk is extremely important and makes all the difference.

And that is why I started leading online virtual support groups.

Every week I lead a discussion group for groups of women who are either trying to reach or maintain their fitness and nutrition goals. Check my website to sign up for future groups! It helps them, but it helps me, too. It’s always good to be connected with supportive women.   

Also, I happen to have a very supportive husband who also makes fitness a priority in his life. So I’m blessed in that way. But, I don’t depend on him completely for support.  Not all women can depend on a significant other to understand their personal journey with fitness and nutrition. You’re blessed if you do, but whether you have that or not… Women need women.

The other things, being meditative and reflecting on what is truly important in life helps me on a daily basis.

It used to be that even if I lost my goal, that “last 5lbs”, I would still want to lose 5 more.

The unhealthy pursuit of perfection only leads to more disappointment and self-loathing because none of us or can be perfect.

The images we see from the fitness magazines sometimes look perfect, but are sometimes airbrushed. The models rely on makeup to help project a certain look. Not to mention, strategic lighting and posing helps.

My point is not to criticize fitness models. I am one of them. And I am inspired by them. My point is to encourage other women to look at fitness magazines and models as a source of inspiration to be a better them, not a perfect them. 

A perfect you is a pointless goal. That's just not happening. 

As a fitness and lifestyle brand whats a dream opportunity for you?

This interview is one of them!

I mean, honestly, I just love any opportunity to talk to other women, especially those who are like minded and believe in supporting other women, like yourself—so this has been a dream. And I thank you for having me and for your wonderful blog, “Mom’s New Stage.”

Any opportunity to inspire other women and spread the word about MOMaletics, my lifestyle brand to inspire and empower other women—especially aspiring or current moms—to read and maintain total physical, mental, and spiritual wellness…  

I’m ready to travel the country inspiring women’s groups so I’m actively accepting opportunities to do so as I gear up to release my eBook!

My goal is to continue to dispel the many myths and misconceptions about what it means to be a healthy and fit woman. As I continue to do this, through my virtual support groups, the classes that I teach, my social media, and of course fun interviews like this, I will feel like I am living my purpose.

And, then, what’s my dream big goal? I want to create a MOMaletics apparel line for fit moms. Just because you have a baby doesn’t mean you can’t still be a sexy babe. I can’t believe some of the myths I used to believe.

As I expand the brand of apparel and grow MOMaletics,  I want it to be thought of in the likes of Nike, Under Armor and Reebok!

For now, as a step in that direction, I recently launched the sale of my official t-shirts.

I grew up in New York as well!  Whats your favorite NYC TV show?

So cool! A fellow New Yorker…

I grew up on Long Island, but have been living in Ohio since I was 23.  

I absolutely love Live with Kelly and Michael. She’s definitely a hot mom and the woman comes to mind when I think of fellow MOMaletics women. (You too, Keesha, by the way! Love your story!)

I also really enjoy Law and Order SVU and Third Watch. Not many people remember it, but it was about NYC firefighters, police officers and EMTS. I really loved that show.

Your best this would only happen to meMommy moment?

Kolton likes to call out people who “toot toot” even in public. Even if he’s passed gas himself. It’s hilarious. He keeps me laughing and is a constant reminder not to take life too seriously and to just enjoy the day sometimes.  

How does fitness/wellness play into your sons life?

My husband and I take Kolton with us to the gym or YMCA all the time when we go there to work out. He gets so happy when we get there! He loves running around with the other kids in the child watch.

He also is constantly asking to go outside to play and likes to “go running,” where we run while pushing him in the stroller, or he runs up and down the hill at the park with us.

He’d choose the park over the iPad anyway because he sees Mommy and Daddy doing those kinds of things.

He also balances his treats and goodies such as pizza with asking for “chicken and tatoe” or “chicken and broccoli”.

We aren’t pushy. We don’t ban foods. We don’t force activity. We just lead by example with our son. We let him choose, but are always trying to teach him along the way!

How do you keep moms who are often so busy taking care of everyone that they forget themselves on track?  

With MOMaletics and the different activities that I mentioned above, I make it a point to be honest with women, especially when it comes to being realistic with goals. It can take a while to reach them and can be even harder to maintain once you do. That’s the reality.

Thank you so much, Keesha, for having me. You are such a great example of a MOMaletics woman—a total babe after babies and doing an awesome job of inspiring others to greatness.

Liz Davis

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