For our latest ZOOM Features segment, we spoke with Whitney English (@whitneylenglish), of the trendy blog To Live and Diet in LA. Aside from being a healthy living blogger, she is also a certified personal trainer, a soon-to-be registered dietitian, and the star of ZOOM’s latest content series.
Below, Whitney weighs in on cheat meals, fighting through laziness, and the elusive “Vitamin P.”
1) If you’re in a rush, what’s your go-to healthy snack?
I usually reach for a banana and a handful of nuts or a single serving packet of peanut butter. This simple combo has a great balance of protein, carbs and fat – everything you need for energy on the go!
2) Cheat meal – go!
I know “cheat meals” are big in the fitness industry,
but I don’t believe in them! People need to become comfortable including foods that they love – that aren’t necessarily the “healthiest” – into their diet in a balanced way, on a regular basis. Labeling certain foods as “off limits” or “only for cheat days” increases the chance that you’re going to binge on them, ultimately reversing all the hard work you put into eating a healthy diet during the rest of the day/week. I say, go ahead and have that glass of wine, cookie, _____ (fill in the blank), if you want it, just make sure to eat it with other more nutritious items for a balanced meal.
3) Okay we’re obsessed with your dog. Does he eat healthy too?
Mr. Chow is a fit fella! He walks about two miles a day in between playing ball and chasing bugs in the yard. His diet is pretty healthy as well, in addition to his normal food, he enjoys sweet potatoes, carrots and peanut butter!
4) What made you want to leave TV reporting and focus on health and fitness?
Health and fitness have always been passions of mine, and topics I spent a lot of my free time writing about before I decided to go back to school to pursue a career in nutrition. When I found myself gearing all of my celebrity interviews toward these topics instead of entertainment, I realized I should probably switch fields!
5) We see you’re studying to be a registered dietitian. What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned about eating healthy?
It’s not all about the numbers. Calories, weight, and nutritional content are important, but when it comes to overall health, behavior reigns supreme. I can teach someone everything I know about nutrition but if I can’t get him or her to implement it, nothing will change.
6) It looks like you do a ton of traveling. How do you manage to stay active when you are always on the go?
I absolutely love to travel. Sometimes it can be difficult to stay on track but where there’s a will there’s a way. I always pack plenty of athletic gear and bring resistance bands so I can get in a workout anywhere. However, I really prefer to incorporate exercise into fun travel activities – that means a lot of hiking, outdoor exploring, and walking anywhere I can. On my last trip to Spain I clocked 14 miles one day just sightseeing!
7) What are your go-to resources for finding workout inspiration?
I get a lot of ideas from fitness classes. I love to mix up my workout every week, trying new classes in all different forms of athletics – boxing, dancing, Pilates, yoga, circuit training, etc. Whenever I go, I’m always keeping an eye out for new exercises I can use in my own workouts.
8) In a city that’s known for placing too much value on outer beauty, how do you keep the focus on staying healthy and fit in a natural way?
I focus on how eating healthy and exercise make me feel – strong, happy, exhilarated. Outer beauty fades but those feelings of inner worth and appreciation can last forever.
9) What are your favorite workout apparel brands?
Athleta, Lululemon, Carbon 38, Fabletics, Vie Active, Koral, Adidas
10) What do you look for in a great sports bra? How about workout pants?
Comfort is #1! I like sports bras to be supportive and soft, but not too tight. Workout pants have to be breathable and comfy as well.
11) If you’re feeling lazy/exhausted, how do you muster the strength to get in a workout?
If I’m absolutely exhausted then I just rest – a good night’s sleep or rest for muscle repair is equally important for health. If I’m just lazy though, I tell myself, “OK, let’s just go outside and go for an easy jog and see what happens.” Once the blood gets flowing, I tend to feel much more motivated and end up having a great run. Another trick I use is to sign up for a fitness class the night before. That way I have to go or I’ll get charged the missed class fee!
12) When do you officially become a registered dietician? What are your plans once it’s official?
I’ll finish my masters degree program and dietetic internship in May 2017. After that, I have to pass the board certification exam to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Once I’m official, I’d like to open up a private practice where I can provide my clients with nutrition counseling, healthy cooking, and personal training to give them a wide variety of tools they’ll need for living a healthy life.
13) We read your weight loss story, and love that your grandpa was a huge influence in your journey. What advice would you give to people that might not have a supportive, fit family surrounding them when it comes to pursuing goals, and even a career, in the health and fitness world?
Having a support system in life is imperative. If you don’t have that within your own family, find like-minded people who will support you! There are plenty of groups people can join to connect with people who share their goals – run clubs, workout classes, college courses, etc. And connecting with others doesn’t have to be limited to face-to-face encounters. Social media provides a ton of opportunities to connect with people who share your passion. I actually have several friends who I originally met through my blog or Instagram channel.
14) What are your biggest challenges when it comes to achieving your own health and fitness goals?
Injuries have been a challenge for me. Two years ago I had two stress fractures in one of my feet, and although they healed at the time, I’ve had reoccurring pain that comes and goes. I’ve found that switching up my routine and finding workouts that don’t exacerbate my problems has helped. That, and taking rest days – you have to know when your body needs to recharge.
15) What is the most overlooked aspect of living a healthy lifestyle?
Pleasure. A dietitian friend of mine calls it “Vitamin P.” Too often people look at nutrition and fitness as a chore or even punishment and hold them separately from things they enjoy. Health and wellness doesn’t (and shouldn’t) be like that. I enjoy hiking, dancing, and eating whole-wheat homemade pizzas. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t do those things. People need to figure out the aspects of a healthy lifestyle that they can find pleasure in, and throw out the parts that they don’t. The best diet, fitness routine, etc., is the one you will stick to, and the one you will stick to is the one you enjoy.