Below is an interview I did with Krista Stryker, an athlete, entrepreneur, writer and adventurer based in San Francisco, California. Krista is a strong believer in the power of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), and is also the founder of12 Minute Athlete, a website providing free, incredibly effective HIIT workouts and awesome fitness motivation to athletes of all levels.
What's your path into fitness? How did you become interested in it?
I played soccer and basketball and high school and always enjoyed being active, but when I went off to college at 17 I didn't know how to stay healthy. I started working at Starbucks, so I ate their pastries and sugary coffees constantly, I didn't walk anywhere, and the only actual exercise I did was a half hour or so on the elliptical machine every few weeks or so. I had a little roll around my middle and basically felt like crap all the time.
I'd done weights a little bit in high school for basketball, but I didn't know how to do them on my own at all. But then, I started working with a trainer a little bit to get in shape before my wedding and I fell in love with strength training. I'd always considered myself as strong, and never wanted to be a girly girl - but at that point I couldn't even do a single pull up or push up. So when I started working with a trainer I gained strength so quickly it was amazing. Then when I moved to Europe I got my personal training certification and really became addicted to exercise.
Where did the idea for 12 minute athlete originate?
When I became a personal trainer, I was working out in the gym for about two hours every single day, on top of training clients. I was exhausted, overtrained, and constantly injured, but I felt so much pressure to be constantly exercising that I couldn't stop. Then, I started doing CrossFit a few times a week, which I loved (and still do) but which also made me tired, always sore, and took up so much time. I loved the bodyweight stuff in CrossFit - the rings, burpees, box jumps and all that, but I never was really into the Olympic lifting. I was too competitive so I'd push myself really hard and then barely be able to move for days, let alone do all the stuff I actually wanted to be doing like going on hikes, biking around the city and playing sports.
That was when I started playing around with high intensity interval training or HIIT. I started to put together these workouts that took anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes, and it changed my life. When I was working out for hours on end, I was so hungry from all the exercise I actually gained a little weight. These shorter interval workouts resulted in me actually losing weight and being more cut than ever before. And I got way stronger from doing the shorter workouts than I was when I was working out for hours. Even now, when I actually go to a gym (I do most of my workouts in my home or outside), and I start doing pull ups, most of the people stare at me because who ever heard of a girl doing pull ups?
Since this is also a blog about travel, where has been your FAVORITE workout "location" while on the road?
I love working out outside, and I never let traveling stop me from getting a workout in. I was recently in Mexico where I got to work out on a rooftop overlooking the ocean - that was awesome. Other than that, I love working out on the beach or on top of a hill with a view.
What's your recommendation on how to get the ball rolling with working out?
Pick a really small goal, and stick with it. Post people try and do everything at once - change their diet, start exercising two hours a day, five days a week, give up alcohol altogether. Doing so many things at once just doesn't work. Pick one thing - such as doing HIIT 3 days a week, and try sticking with that for a month or so. If that works, add in something else, like giving up soda or replacing processed food with vegetables.
What's the most challenging aspect of meeting your nutritional needs while on the road?
I'm a vegetarian, so getting proper amounts of protein is always more challenging for me than the average person while traveling. I always bring a ton of protein powder with me wherever I go so I can at least use that as a fallback option. Other than that, sometimes it can be difficult to find fresh produce, depending on where in the world I am. I do my best to eat healthy like I would at home when I'm on the road, but it doesn't always work out perfectly.
Do you mostly cook or eat out?
Like most fitness people, I generally cook most of my meals. I love eating out though - in a city like San Francisco there are so many awesome restaurants - so I generally treat myself to a few meals out a week. Luckily, there are healthy options where I live, but that isn't always the case while traveling.
What is your absolute favorite work out to do?
I'm an HIIT junkie, so I focus pretty much every single one of my workouts on interval training. But I love workouts that include pull ups, burpees, and handstand push ups.
Any parting words?
The 12 Minute Athlete HIIT workouts are tough - even for me. But I truly believe anyone can do them if they put their mind to it.
Because it doesn't matter how many breaks you have to take, how many reps you can do or how much you have to modify an exercise just to be able to do one single rep.
All that matters is that you try - and that you really, truly give it your all.
So stop making excuses, and start getting in the best shape of your life today.
Thanks Krista for all the insightful tips! Although I haven't touched much on the nitty gritty details of fitness routines, this is an excellent resource for all you readers who are interested in switching up your fitness routine. The best part? You can do the majority of these workouts with no equipment at all.
Readers: Do you have any experience with HIIT? Or do you prefer heavy lifting or long runs? Leave your responses below!
What if I could clue you in to a foolproof way on how to make more friends in a brand new country, within a week of arriving?
I've personally carried out this experiment three different times, and it's worked like a charm regardless of circumstances.
This method isn't a secret; in fact, it's a common passion shared by citizens of every country.
And it's been around for HUNDREDS, if not, THOUSANDS of years.
Morning routines are like excuses. Everyone has one. And just like excuses, some morning routines are more "legit" than others.
Take, for example, the rushed morning routine that involves waking up 10-15 minutes before departure, grabbing a quick bowl of cereal or energy bar, and heading out the door. This is the common way in which nearly everyone handles their mornings.
What's the more "legit" routine? I call it the relaxed approach: by waking up at least 45 minutes before departure at a set time every morning, the relaxed approach emphasizes a well thought-out morning routine that enables productivity and a happy mood throughout the day.
For most of my life, I've had a rushed morning routine, and man, was it AWFUL!
While chatting on Skype with my parents this past weekend, I shared my newfound philosophy on life with them. They listened patiently, like they always do, but proceeded to move on in the conversation.
However, before they did so, I stopped my Dad and said, "HOLD ON, A SEC. I want to hear your thoughts about my insights on life!"
As I've mentioned in a previous post, personal wellness is critical because of the freedom it provides. Yes, traveling is liberating by itself; but, when combined with wellness, it enables human beings to carry out two specific actions:
According to Leo Babuata of zenhabits, meditation is the most important habit to implement.
Three years ago, I began meditation after StumblingUpon Babuata's blog.
Every morning I woke up, sat on a comfortable cushion, and listened to my breath for 10-15 minutes. Well, every morning I wasn't hungover. And every morning I wasn't busy with school work. Aaand every morning I was at home, and not on the road.
Supposed "experts" within the fitness realm are keen to dole out a plethora of suggestions on how to stay in shape. Typical advice ranges from ridiculous things like "run 30 minutes on a treadmill, 3 days a week" to even MORE ridiculous tips like "avoid all free weights or DIE a slow and painful death." While the advice is awful, the intent is promising: improve your health to live a happier, more fulfilling life.
But why is it important to improve your health?
Sure, it's a powerful ego boost to look good naked at home and impress the attractive girl at work (not at the same time, necessarily); and there's incontrovertible evidence concerning the myriad of health benefits that come from getting off the couch and losing weight.
I recently read a post on zenhabits.net, detailing 12 rules fitness expert Craig Ballantyne lives his life by. I figured this is a great topic to tackle for Travel n' Wellness by answering the question: "What wellness rules do I live by while traveling?"
Before delving into my rules, I'd like to separate myself from Ballantyne and the manner in which he laid out his rules.
In Ballantyne's introduction, he gives the example of vegetarians and how they're dogmatically committed to following a certain set of protocols. Vegetarians, he says, no matter the circumstance, will not eat meat. They've created a unique world perspective that includes a strong commitment to not eat the flesh of any living organism. This world perspective enables them to entertain guilt-free behavior congruent with personal goals.
Let me make something clear: Dogmatism should not be the goal in following any rules. When you follow something dogmatically, you often do so in the face of conflicting logical evidence.
Some friends downstate just called and want to plan an impromptu get together for the upcoming weekend. The plan? Meet at a park a few hours away and enjoy the lovely weather while going for a few extended day hikes. There's a lodge nearby where you'll be staying (or, if you're like me, you just bring a sleeping bag and shelter), as your friends want to spend the weekend away from home.
But, there's a problem. Your friends, as much as they love the combo of fitness + being outside, are not conscientious of their nutritional habits. A typical grill-out with Jim and Sally consist of a few hamburgers and brits with white flour buns, potato chips, potato salad and a couple beers.
What do you do?
Pack a cooler!
As I mentioned in my first post, this blog is for those who leave home in search of adventure. A large chunk of the "adventure" category includes those who desire to escape the urban jungle for peace and quiet in the great outdoors.
I absolutely love to backpack. Give me a lightweight pack, throw in a warm sleeping bag, small tarp, and a few pounds of food, and I'm ready to test my metal against the unknown variables of Mother Nature. I've done weekend trips through Kentucky, a week long excursion in the Boundary Waters, and a week long trip through the Adirondacks. Every time I've "escaped", it's been difficult to come back.
But I digress. As much as I'd love to talk about all my adventures, it's much more practical to give some solid advice that YOU all can use immediately.
So without further ado, I present my Definitive Guide to Backpacking Nutrition:
Welcome to the third part of a three-primer series on the keys to wellness. If you're curious about the previous two, check out nutrition and fitness.
And if you have any questions about my previous two posts, please leave a comment or e-mail me. I’d be more than happy to answer any questions.
Okay, so part 3 deals with stress. I’ll address three primary parts of stress: what it is, the forms it takes, and how to deal with it.