One on one with fit pro Lisa Raleigh

When someone mentions the phrase fitness celebrity, Lisa Raleigh is one of the names that comes to mind. Over the past 15 years she has established herself as a leading lifestyle and wellness expert and exercise specialist.

Lisa has built her profile with intelligent brand associations, such as her prominent role as a Biogen brand ambassador, and a number of mainstream media opportunities, including her role as blue team trainer on The Biggest Loser, as a co-presenter on Doctor’s Orders and as a health and wellness consultant on SABC 3’s daily morning show, Expresso. She’s also an author and has profiled her own transformation following her first pregnancy. 

Find out how else Biogen is helping to transform the lives of everyday South Africans.

How Lisa eats

Did you get help from a nutrition coach to dial in your diet for fat loss? Nope, I guess I’ve got enough experience over the years to know what works for my body. Plus, I took a DNA analysis test a few years ago, which confirmed that my vegetarianism and following a Mediterranean diet is what keeps my body happy.

Do you eat the same food on the days you don’t train as in the day days you do? Yup!

What have you found has been the easiest way to stick to a diet, other than sheer will power?Preparation. Have the good stuff on hand and keep the bad stuff out of the house. I make sure I have little tasty snacks on hand – nuts, veggie crudités and hummus, and egg muffins are always within reach. Having a rough meal plan for the week – think shopping lists and dinner menus – makes life easier, too, especially if you only have to cook a few nights a week. You can then supplement with services like UCOOK or a cheeky dinner out.

How Lisa trains

What do you do on the tough days, when motivation levels are low? I keep my workouts short and intense. The quicker they are, the less I battle with motivation. Then, I schedule in a few paid classes. Booking and paying in advance, knowing someone is expecting to see you, and the added fun of a supervised class helps keep me on track.

Do you change your approach to training from time to time? Definitely, but within a few general constraints. In the summer, I spend far more time outdoors, generally running. Winter includes plenty of rebounding, BOUNCE classes, Bodytec and HIIT. Anything goes as long as I skip endurance or longer steady-state training (and overtraining) – I like a lot of variety.

What are you loving right now? Weight training in my beautiful home gym – it’s new and I love spending time there. My BOUNCE fit class on a Saturday is also so much fun and I train at Bodytec once a week. In between that, I’m on my rebounder pretty much every day.

Yay or nay?

Long steady rate cardio? Nay. It doesn’t work for me and my body. It eats away my lean muscle and I find myself inflamed and sore afterwards.

Oats in the morning? Yay. I eat mine with pea protein powder, blueberries or strawberries, squashed banana, almond milk, cinnamon and a dash of honey.

Training in a crop top? Nay. This is not a favourite of mine, haha! I need to wear them for shoots, but I definitely bare more in front of the camera than I ever would organically.

Burpees? YAY. I love burpees. They’re a full-body, compound, functional move that works the whole body and burns calories. What’s not to love?

Gym selfies? YAY – from time to time. In my industry, motivation and inspiration (and sometimes just providing proof that what I advocate works!) is all part of the repertoire. Moms need to see what a tummy can look like after having kids, and I like to give my audience what they want.

Pre-workout nutrition? Yay. I keep mine simple, with either a coffee or a banana.

Intra-workout nutrition? Nay. I’ve never trained long or hard enough for this to be necessary!

Post-workout nutrition? YAY. I eat within 30 minutes after training. I combine a protein, carb and fat into a meal.

Grilled hake? Nay. I’m vegetarian, so no fish for me!

Fat burners? Yay & Nay. I’m not a huge fan of these, unless you have a goal and can use them in a very controlled, healthy environment for short periods of time. The healthier, more natural types of fat burners can serve a purpose in these circumstances, although it needs to be for no more than 12 weeks at a time.

Deadlifts? Yay. I love hamstring work in general, especially deadlifts. I find any exercise that includes a stretch before the contraction tends to yield a better contraction. I’m always stiff after them!

CrossFit? Nay. I’m not a huge fan. I’ve seen too many people suffering with injuries from it, and the few times I’ve tried it, I’ve ended up majorly inflamed, swollen, sore and overtrained. The female CrossFitter’s body also doesn’t suit me.

Sports massage? YAY. I absolutely love sports massages – and quality massages of any kind really – and incorporate these into my routine fairly regularly.

Cheat meals? HUGE YAY. I’m a lover of all kinds of ‘cheat’ foods, from quality vanilla sponge cake, to French fries and mayo, to pizza. It’s all about balancing it out with super clean food at your next meal.

Early morning training time? YAY. My favourite training time is 6.30-7.30am before I need to sort out Bella.

Training partner? Yay & nay. I train alone a lot, but if not, it’s with my hubby or at a class.

Running? Yay, but never more than 5km. That’s what my body needs to not get inflamed. I definitely prefer the sprinting approach versus marathon running. I just try to up my speed a little each time I run.

Social media? YAY. I love it. I’m well aware of the potential negativities it harnesses, but I use it to spread things I love, like fitness inspo, recipes, feelings and healthy tips, and it has been amazing for my business.

Active rest? Yay. I love foam rolling and various forms of active rest, like light rebounding, yoga, deep breathing and walking.

EMS, tried it? YAY. I love it, and practise it once a week. It takes just 20 minutes and it’s intense, which makes it so great for busy moms who want results.

Any final thoughts?

I think the biggest excuses I hear about not exercising are “no energy” and “no time”. Time-wise, we’re all stretched. We simply need to prioritise working out, which means adapting your schedule however you can. Whether it’s waking up just thirty minutes earlier, breaking up a daily workout into three 10-minute sessions, or cutting down on TV time.

Then, when it comes to energy, you never regret a workout (unless something has gone wrong!). In fact, training leaves you completely invigorated, filled with happy hormones and, ironically, energised. So the real challenge is just convincing yourself to start the workout, because once you do, you’re guaranteed to feel better.

Author: Pedro van Gaalen

When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.

When he's not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He's worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.

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