A CHAT WITH NADINE LAHANA – PERSONAL TRAINER & NUTRITIONIST
Nadine and I hit it off from the get-go. We met through a mutual friend and cemented our friendship over the whizz of a green smoothie and later a clink of champagne. Why? Well, she’s inspiring on many levels. I mean – just look at her! Washboard abs, lean limbs and cheek bones that are the envy of Angelina Jolie. Plus, she concocts, blends and mixes food that is not only delicious but fiercely healthy too. And as if this isn’t enough – she’s incredibly warm, kind and still knows how to party. She epitomises the pursuit of balance. I asked her please to share her thoughts and insights on healthy living with us.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO NUTRITION AND PERSONAL TRAINING?
Since I can remember, I have loved exercise. I have never been afraid to join any type of class, no matter what level, from Yoga and aerobics to advanced Jazz classes in London (to the amusement of the rest of the class no doubt!). I think it is all about perspective. I was there to learn, not impress anyone. When my husband and I immigrated to Canada in 1998, we were both out of work for a while and this course came up with Canfit Pro. After completing Group Fitness, I went onto Certify in Personal Training. My passion for anatomy and physiology drove me to further my skills at Movement design and suddenly my creative juices were overflowing and I had created my own Method of training that took me out of the gym and incorporated more multi muscle training mixed with Cardio. Nutrition was an easy 3rd Certification as I got to know my clients personally and witnessed their battle with weight and wellness. I also had my own bumpy journey with Nutrition as a young girl going Vegetarian without sufficient knowledge. A few hard lessons brought me even closer to my passion for helping others.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE HOLISTIC HEALTH?
Holistic health is having a clear idea of the importance of balance. Mind & Body. Balance is key in all aspects of life. Mentally and physically we need to find it and consistently work on it. Both my Nutrition and my Fitness Programs teach this. My POWER3 Program emphasises the importance of : Balance, Variety & Moderation of all 3 Macronutrients. I strongly advise against Elimination diets that require restriction of essential vitamins minerals and fibre simply to attain a calorific deficit. My Fitness Program works on the POWER3 by including Cardio, Strength & Flexibility in one session.
HOW WOULD YOU SAY EXERCISE BENEFITS THE MIND?
Mind rules body. You know what they say… “Your body is capable of anything..it’s the mind you need to convince!” This is the first and MOST important step of both my Nutrition & Fitness Programs. The benefits of daily exercise to mental health are priceless! Just a brisk walk outdoors clears the head and can transport us to a more positive disposition! Scientifically, hundreds of clinical trials have proven the efficacy of brain stimulation and regeneration of cells thanks to exercise. My own personal prescription for a bad mood is to switch on some banging house music and get bouncing on my rebounder. Within seconds, I’m smiling!
YOUR ADVICE FOR MANAGING STRESS/MENTAL HEALTH?
There’s no point in making lists, resolutions, promises you can’t stick to, so my best advice is to: 1. DEFINE what you want. 2. DESCRIBE (in detail) what YOU are prepared to do to get there. 3. VISUALIZE your end journey. 4. INVEST your time and energy into making it happen. Stress, disappointment, disillusionment all come from poor management, inconsistent follow through, lack of get up and go…No matter how tough the challenge). Just do it! If you fail, try it another way. I have also learnt the value of putting yourself first. I’m not talking about abandoning family’s wants and needs but just making sure you don’t abandon yours in the chaos that is parenthood. Before you can achieve self improvement, you must attain self respect. If you do not love you, you will not see the worth of the investment in you.
FOODS YOU RECOMMEND FOR MANAGING STRESS?
We all know sugar plays havoc on our health but I still think it’s power to cause malfunction within the body is hugely underestimated. Over 20 years in this industry have taught me that no matter whether you’re looking to improve sleep, lose weight, balance blood sugar, lower cholesterol, improve insulin or eliminate depression and anxiety, the recipe is the same… Eliminate detrimental, nutrient free calories and focus on valuable foods that fuel body and brain. Most people who come to me for help have no idea just how much ADDED sugar they are consuming until we get started with analyzing Food diaries! My CSCC (Clean State Calorie Consumption) Formula is very successful as it teaches the basics of WHAT to eat, WHEN to eat and HOW to prepare. Preparing food from scratch eliminates a bunch of preservatives that wreak havoc on our health. Complex carbs such as Oats, fruit, nuts, seeds, veg, rice, lentils, beans…all provide a good boost of B vitamins that help regulate Seratonin levels and manage stress. Another reason I am always on a campaign trail to oust FAD DIETS that call for elimination of essential vitamins and minerals. The focus is on calorific deficit rather than health!
FOODS YOU RECOMMEND FOR GLOWING, HEALTHY SKIN?
Anything you’re eating because clearly you got that right girlfriend! But seriously, I’m not going to lie, skin is very much down to genes. Then there are of course lifestyle factors and availability of healthy foods. Once again, sugar takes the cake (excuse the pun) for being the number one cause of sagging, dimpled skin as it depletes the body of collagen. Unfortunately it is easily accessible and affordable! For glowing skin, the gut needs to glow. You need to first glow from within! Plenty of pro and pre biotics, Fruit, veg, good grains that provide essential FIBRE. 1 and a half to 2 litres of water per day (depending on your activity levels). If you’re not a disciplined water drinker, herbal tea and herb infused water will do. And plenty of fresh air and exercise.
WHAT DO YOU RECOMMEND HAVING IN THE PANTRY FOR BREAKFAST?
Oats, Buckwheat, Chia seeds, raw nuts and seeds, Gogi berries. As little as possible should come from the pantry. Fresh is always best so fill the fruit bowl and veg tray consistently. Use those wilting fruit and veg for smoothies. I usually recommend a 3 Rotational Meal Plan (there we go again with POWER3) as it helps to create the other important 3: Balance, Variety & Moderation. My plan looks something like this.. Option 1: Oats or Buckwheat Overnight pudding or warm bowl with Chia, almond butter, blueberries and banana. Option2: Poached eggs on a giant grilled black mushroom with grilled tomato and homemade coriander pesto. Option 3: Creamy Greek Yogurt with fresh fruit and mixed seeds.
YOUR FAVOURITE BREAKFAST RECIPE?
My Saturday treat: Smoked salmon, poached eggs, Capers, grilled mushroom, avocado, sourdough. Yum. It’s a lot of food but it’s all about prep methods and if you’re grilling rather than frying and eating the right fats, you’re good to go! If I’m more pressed for time, it’s a Banana Boost Smoothie.. Banana Cinnamon Plant milk Sugar free peanut butter Oats Blend and go!
STRATEGIES FOR A HEALTHY LUNCH ON-THE-GO?
The most common cause for failed lifestyle plans with my weight loss clients is LACK OF PREPPING. The second…either fast food lunches or no lunch at all. Most report: “No time” or “no idea what to grab on the go” Blood sugar levels drop rapidly causing lack of concentration, fatigue and basic HANGRY-NESS! It is actually so super easy once you learn proper Meal Planning. I think of my lifestyle as a relay race..Every Plan has a prep and every prep is done with thought ahead. Every night I make a BFS (BIG FAT Salad), loaded with veg, seeds, mixed leaves, avocado..you name it, if it’s got value, it’s in there. Always a plant protein such as chick peas or lentils or I’ve made extra chicken and set some aside to add to a lunch on the go. As part of my weekly prep, I always have either wild and brown, black rice or Quinoa refrigerated for 3 days. Before work, I simply fill a Tupperware with leftover salad and a serving of grains and off I go! The less prepared you are the more you are at the mercy of Fast Food and unwanted calories.
A QUICK, EASY LUNCH RECIPE?
To be quick, most of these preps should be in place. Red cabbage & Carrot coleslaw with Tzatziki is my favourite. Or Lentil, black bean & Goats cheese with Black rice and beets. I like to keep dressings simple. If I am using leftover roast veg ( I brush roast veg with Moroccan spice and olive oil) then I don’t need a dressing. Or I keep a simple lemon and rosemary dressing in my refrigerator. 1C Olive oil 2 cloves crushed garlic 1/2 C lemon juice Zest of 1/2 lemon 1 sprig rosemary chopped fine 1 tsp mustard
DO YOU BELIEVE THAT COLLAGEN AND BIOTIN WORK FOR SKIN AND HAIR HEALTH?
Ok this is a big question and one I get asked this a lot. Generally I do not believe in daily supplemental health benefits. Hundreds of thousands of clinical trials have proven their lack of efficacy. In some cases toxicity (where overdose of vitamins and mineral are taken). The biggest problem is the belief that swallowing a handful of pills will compensate for a poor diet. It won’t. Pills simply cannot replicate the vitamins and minerals that real food contains. Even in their most “natural” form they are missing essential antioxidants and FIBRE. With regard to collagen products, my personal belief is that although these products, depending on their quality, may provide some benefits, it is important to understand the strength of genetics and lifestyle factors. You cannot expect to be consistently drinking a collagen powder but inconsistently managing diet and exercise, not getting sufficient sleep. Indulging in excess refined foods. You know what they say about outrunning a poor diet.. In short, there is simply no supplement for real health. Remember, beauty has become a multi billion dollar industry so watch out for scams! Energy bars and drinks containing collagen are most likely loaded with sugar which provide the opposite effect!
DOES YOUR EXERCISE ROUTINE NEED TO CHANGE WITH AGE?
Yes. Most certainly. As we age, the focus should be on functionality. Use it or lose it is a very real thing. Muscle depletion is actually very detrimental as we age so working out with weights is crucial. Again, the POWER3 comes into play as the body needs Cardio for max heart and lung capacity, strength for muscle and bones and flexibility for daily functionality.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE WORD ‘DIET’ AS IT PERTAINS TO WEIGHT LOSS?
I hate the word diet. I never use it. Although it’s origin stems from the Greek ‘diaita ’ meaning “way of life, countless FADS have given it a stigma of restriction. Lifestyle Plan makes more sense to me as it encourages a LONGTERM mindset. We need to develop a good relationship with our body’s by switching off the internal chatter and taking back control. FAD diets encourage severe restriction of either calories or one or other essential macronutrient. My clients begin their Program with a complete change of Mindset, only then do we venture into Nutrition basics and Meal planning.
YOUR TOP SMOOTHIE RECIPE FOR HEALTH AND ENERGY?
Ok aside from my Power Boost Banana Smoothie, it would have to be the Apple & Beet Boost. Beetroot has enormous health benefits including: FIbre which balances blood sugar and creates satiety, they are packed with vitamins and minerals that improve energy, increase performance, balance blood pressure and blood sugars and improve immune function. 1 apple 1 beet 1 tsp Chia seeds 1 small slice raw ginger 1 C Pure apple juice Ice.
YOUR FEELINGS ON HEALTH AND ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION?
Hmmmm. My clients and friends know my passion for bubbles so I can’t say I don’t partake in a few non nutritive calories from time to time There is always an occasion for champagne! However, saying that, considering the significant contribution to calories and weight gain, I certainly don’t recommend alcohol on a Weight loss and Wellness Program. Most especially mixers and coolers with all that added sugar. However, if you are going to indulge occasionally there is always the Good-Better-Best rule. Drier wines (red is better) Whisky (with soda or water) Dry Champagne No mixers or sugary fizzy drinks.
YOUR TOP TIPS FOR SOMEONE WANTING TO PURSUE A HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE?
Start now. Don’t wait for the right day, month, occasion…Monday! Start as you mean to go on. A healthy breakfast and a brisk walk will set you up with a strong, mind body connection and make you feel fully in control. As opposed to waffles & syrup or a skipped breakfast that will mess with insulin levels and put you in an unhealthy mindset. (“well I may as well just have the muffin seeing as I had the waffles! Or “I’ll start again tomorrow”..) Just start with a small step in a positive direction. If you are not self motivated, find a Coach that will motivate and direct you. Be careful not to get stuck in a rut with a Coach who lacks knowledge on how to progress you or you will find yourself repeating the same boring moves with zero results. If you’re nervous of joining a class, grab a workout buddy and motivate each other with consistent power walks or runs until you both feel ready to join up! If it’s the Nutrition plan you’re finding hardest to get into, just try one small change at a time. Swap one of your 3 coffees for a herbal tea. Swap the biscuit on the side of your cappuccino for a handful of raw nuts and dried fruit. Turn that glass of wine into a Spritzer with ice. Replace half the portion of mince for that lasagne or Bolognese with lentils. Swap the creamy, white, refined pasta for a tomato based, whole-wheat pasta or rice noodles. Small steps lead to massive results and are easier to sustain than extreme changes.
BEST FOODS FOR HEALTHY HAIR?
As I’ve mentioned, a lot of this is down to genetics and lifestyle factors, extensive use of heated stylers, bleach, etc, but a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle certainly helps. As hair is made of a tough protein called Keratin, it is important to have an intake of foods that feed Keratin levels. Good Carbs: Carrots, Sweet potato, Mangoes, Green leafy veg, Good fats: Oily fish such as salmon and mackerel. Avocados, Raw nuts and seeds, Plant oils such as olive oil, Protein such as eggs. As far as exercise goes, handstands (against a wall if you can’t do free flow) certainly help encourage blood flow to the head which stimulates growth.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO UNWIND?
First I turn off the house music. Then the internal chatter! I have a busy mind and it is very attached to work because for me, work is also play! So, to switch off completely, I have to abandon my phone and walk my dogs or sit quietly and watch the rhythm of the ocean. I also happen to think we have one of the most beautiful Cities in the world at our fingertips so a quick catch up with Cape Town every now and then, goes down very well! One thing that I haven’t done in a while (a work in progress!) is read a good book. I have bought loads but just cannot find that un-putdownable one! Any suggestions?
HOW OFTEN AND FOR HOW LONG SHOULD ONE EXERCISE?
There is definitely no one size fits all here. Firstly it depends on the desired outcome. If it is weight loss, most definitely it should be an every day thing. Energy in must come out! And when the desired outcome is weight loss, more energy out than in! The most effective way to lose fat weight is to maintain muscle and for this, I use my successful TriFactor Method to train my clients. Rather than daily rigorous hour long gym sessions, we are constantly challenging the body with multi muscle movements. Each class is a dynamic mix of cardio, strength and flexibility. I have used this method to train my my own clients and also to create content for Celebrity Trainers across the globe. If you are just getting started then you need to understand that nothing will stick if you hate it so find something you like and keep at it. Try and stay away from dreaded “Cardio days” and instead incorporate some Cardio into your strength days. I encourage my clients to find balance with all types of fitness from yoga to swimming and cross fit and dancing.
HOW CAN PEOPLE GET HOLD OF YOU FOR ONLINE CONSULTS AND TRAINING?
There are 2 ways to do this: •Live classes via Zoom. These would need to be booked via PM on FB or IG. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/myJumpRoom/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nadine_lahana_health/?hl=en •On demand via Sudor Fitness App https://www.sudor.fit/gym/nadinelahana
Let’s just coddiwomple