Karin G. Reiter. Australian Medical Nutritionist

Australian Nutritionist Karin G. Reiter inspires me not only to change in nutrition. She was an lawyer in a bank industry some years ago, studied Medical Nutrition, opened her Nutrition clinic in Singapore, became the wife of a happy husband and a mother of two healthy children. In the same time Karin was educated as a personal fitness trainer, shares her professional and personal experience in her blog Nutrisious&Delicious, has launched its own free ebook with healthy recipes, exercise five times a week, and just lives a fulfilled, meaningful life.

LOVE YOURSELF ENOUGH TO EAT A GOOD FOOD

Karin is my teacher about medical nutrition during the course “Personal trainer FISAF Singapore”. I am very inspired by her lectures, and wanted to know more how she organizes a healthy food habits for her family with two children at ages five and three years old.

Me: How do you teach your children to eat healthy food?

Karin: They were born to know healthy food flavors from birth. They eat vegetables, fruits whole grains like quinoa, lentils, nuts and seeds… I make an almond milk… So they know flours in their systems and they love it. The challenges happen around the ages 3 or 4 when the children see the other children eating unhealthy food. So I do a workshop called “Kids eat healthy”. I educate parents why some food is unhealthy for children and how to get your children to eat healthy food. Because most people don’t really understand why some food is best avoided or how to get their kids to eat healthy. And also I explain sociological side how to deal with that: children should eat 90% healthy food cooking at home or eating at healthy restaurants. My kids love sushi and there are many places in Singapore where you can find fresh juices. So it’s very easy for us to eat out. And we never eat at McDonalds or places like that. And when we go to parties, I allow the children to eat whatever they want. Because this is a small percent of their food. They are still kids.

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Me: You told me that problems happen around the ages three to four. So how do you persuade them to eat healthy food 90% of their time?

Karin: You don’t persuade children. And you don’t teach them what is the nutrition food. You just try to create positive thoughts for their habits. I’m modeling behavior for my children. I eat healthy food, they eat healthy food. They help me to cook food. They help prepare the food, touching it, smelling it, learning about it. They come shopping with us to the markets. So they know well what is healthy food. And when they choose healthy food, I tell them “Good choice, healthy choice”. When my daughter wants to eat unhealthy food, she knows this is unhealthy. And sometimes she can say me “I feel a stomachache”. And I remind her, she has a stomachache because she ate an unhealthy food. Or also there is a big connection between unhealthy food and children’s reaction and feelings. When you have kids one day, you will see that when they eat unhealthy food, they have mass of reaction. Really like running around, crying. And it’s very difficult to manage. So I try to show connection to my daughter how she eats and how she feels.

Me: What are the general rules to choose a good food?

Karin: The first is it’s a natural form: coming from trees, from a ground rather than something coming from a box. And fresh is best. Also little or no ingredients. You need understand all ingredients. I strongly recommend eating 80% of plant-based food: vegetables, nuts, seeds, lentils, beans and different kinds of whole grain, brown rice, quinoa, and buckwheat…. Things like that.

Me: And how many times a day do you eat? How many times a day do you recommend to eat?

Karin: There is no one recommendation for every persons. Everyone isn’t the same. Some people need to eat six meals a day, and other three meals a day. I think it really depends on your hunger, your personality. I think generally you should eat around every two hours when your stomach is empty of previous food. So it can be three main meals, and two-three small meals. Or ot can be six small meals.

The photo is from a personal archive of Karin
The photo is from a personal archive of Karin

Me: How much time do you spend for cooking every day? Because some people think it’s quite difficult to cook healthy food.  

Karin: I usually write down a menu plan on Friday for the next week. So know where my kids will go next week, or if we have guests at home. On Saturday I make shop for a whole week. And then usually on Sunday I cook four or five different big dishes. I make a lot of vegetables, I make hummus, I a big soup, I make much amount of beans or lentils, I make an almond milk. I don’t make fresh food in advance. I like fresh salads, green juices and smoothies, which I can prepare very quickly during a week. And I cook some fish, steamed vegetables during a week too. I don’t spend so much time for cooking. I usually spend one day for shopping, one big day for cooking around for three hours, and 30 minutes for cooking during weekday.

Me: How do you help your clients to change them?

Karin: We set goals: where we are gonna to be six weeks later, 12 weeks later or one year from now. And how we are gonna to get these goals. Maybe one week you cut out this type of food. You know, that’s the goal for this week. So it’s about the goals. But also about the plans how to make these goals. For example, if you want to decrease your cholesterol, how are you gonna to do it? Are you gonna to workout three times a week, to eat fresh vegetable salads for lunch every time, and you’re gonna to cook by yourself 90% of time.

Me: What could you recommend to people who have allergies?

Karin: You need to define if you have food allergy or food sensitivity. You feel tired, your mood is not good, your skin is not good, your bowel is not working correctly then you might have food sensitivity. The cheapest way to test if you are allergic to certain foods is to do elimination diet. So generally many people don’t feel good to gluten or wheat, dairy products, eggs and nuts. So and you need to avoid these food for two weeks but 100% to avoid them. And after two weeks one by one to add them and to see if you have a reaction. And if you have some of reaction like your skin, stomachache or headache, or diarrhea. It means you have sensitivity to this food. So you should cut out of your diet.

Me: Could you let us know your food diary for a day?

Karin: I don’t eat the same every day. But I can say what I ate yesterday. I had a green juice for breakfast with muesli, almond milk and berries. And then I had buckwheat with homemade hummus and fresh salad, and lemon for lunch. And afternoon I had berries, and some nuts, and some pineapple. And then for dinner I had a sweet potato with a small piece of fish and a big salad.

The photo is from a personal archive of Karin
The photo is from a personal archive of Karin

Me: And if a person wants to lose just 2-3 kg, what could you suggest generally?

Karin: Go back to the labels of food, which you eat. They should be simple with few ingredients. Drink a lot of water, eat a lot of vegetables in all forms: soups, salads, juices. Limit your fruits during a day (up to three fruits per day), eat only whole grains, and reduce the amounts of animals, which you eat.

Me: Thank you so much! And what is your main advice for people?

Karin: My main advice for people you should listen your body. You should learn about your body. Most people have no idea: they listen to the doctors, they listen to other people. Don’t follow the trends, magazines. The point is not to be skinny; the point is to be happy. And nutrition connects with your happy. When you eat a good food, you are happy. You are happy inside and love yourself enough to eat a good food. So all starts to love yourself and being true to yourself.

Everything happens for a reason

Natalia and I studied together. We were both television journalism students with prior TV work experience. You might expect something interesting with such a background, right? Natalia, now 29 years old, first worked as a translator and then as a PR-manager in a foreign company before eventually ending up as a yoga instructor.

In Natalia’s words, everything in her life has flowed naturally: twice living and working in the USA, a second higher education degree at the Department of Oriental Studies, teaching yoga, studying Japanese in Tokyo for three years and working in a show business. But I don’t think people’s lives are determined by luck. Natalia knows how to dream, and perhaps more importantly, how to make her dreams a reality.

Me: Why did you go to the East, to the origins of yoga?

It had always been my dream. After living in America I could speak English pretty well at the age of 22 and I decided that one foreign language was not enough for me. I had always wanted to visit Japan that is why I chose Japanese. This language is interesting and pretty hard to learn. Plus, three years of living in Japan is a fantastic experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I’ve experienced and compared European, American and Asian ways of thinking. And it’s been fascinating in speaking of our perceptions of the world.

The photo is a personal archive of Natalia. Model's work in Tokyo
The photo is a personal archive of Natalia. Model’s work in Tokyo

Me: Did yoga change you?

Yes, it did. Nothing would have happened without it; I couldn’t have earned enough money for my education and I wouldn’t have had the strength to change my life so radically.  I feel it gave me the belief that no matter what I chose to do everything would be fine.

Me: So how did it happen?

My plan was to learn Japanese and to get to know the country but sometimes things do not go according to a plan. So I first worked as a translator, then as a model, and then finally found my place in show business. I met many famous people and went to the gigs of rock bands that I’d been listening to since I was a teenager. I never thought I would see them perform live!

Natalia and Paul Stanly in Tokyo
Natalia and Paul Stanly in Tokyo

Me: Wow, how do you combine yoga and rock music?

Easily! I’ve loved rock music since I was 14 years old. This is one of the reasons why I was so lucky to be able to work with rock musicians in Japan. When you’re able to tell Fred Durst from Limp Bizkit: “Hey dude, I was listening to your songs when I was a teen, thank you for your music!”,  you can understand each other pretty well. By the way, there is a popular American yoga instructor with black eyeliner and leather bracelets whose motto is, “Rock your pose! Rock your body!”

Me: Does she practice with rock music?

No (laughing). I’m also true to my temperament and I prefer dynamic yoga – ashtanga vinyasa. This yoga is for energetic people; it suits better to people with western cost of mind. Madonna, Sting and many other successful people do practice it. Yoga helps them to balance their eventful life and prevents them from getting bored during practice.

The photo is a personal archive of Natalia
The photo is a personal archive of Natalia

Me: When you just getting started, which way is better – to practice yoga with instructor or to do it by yourself?

I recommend to practice with professional instructor for the first months. As soon as you get the basics and learn how to feel your body you can try to do it by yourself. Goes without saying that practice with instructor cannot be compared to practice with videotape.

Me: Some beginners have health problems after yoga. What do you think about that?

It happens, and it is quite normal. When you are doing yoga all your muscles are working really hard. Some of them cannot actually be trained on any gym machines. So when you touch some previously stabilized old problems you can feel some pain. Your old injuries can “wake up”. You can even feel something than have never bothered you before. Do not panic. Just tell your instructor about it and he or she will help you to deal with it. You should not endure the pain or give up doing yoga. Your task is to find your optimal load. After that the pain will be gone and will never disturb you again. It applies to musculoskeletal system. But if you have some problems with your blood pressure or headaches, it is better to see a doctor and find a cause.

Me: Who comes to practice yoga?

Yoga is intellectual training. It is usually the choice of educated and successful people. Some people are doing yoga for muscle stretching or because of health problems and they are getting more than expected. Yoga means strength and flexibility of your body, balance and calmness of your mind. If your spine is healthy, you are healthy. Many people cannot live without final shavasana relaxation. It is an ideal asana for having rest after a workday.

Me: That’s right! I’m ready to see my Vietnamese instructor anytime only because of shavasana with stroking and head massage!

Yeah, I use this technique too. And I learnt it in Asia. It is not actually “stroking” (laughing). It is the way your instructor can help you to relax and take more comfortable position. Sometimes you cannot lie down comfortably by yourself, and it is very important. And also an energetic aspect should not be excepted.

Photo: Alexey Tulenkov by Pressfoto Production Studio
Photo: Alexey Tulenkov by Pressfoto Production Studio

Me: Can yoga be combined with gym workouts?

Yes, but not at the same day. You should not underestimate the exercise stress of yoga. If you combine them, you will just be tired. It is really cool to do yoga with run or any other cardio exercises.

Me: What about your nutrition?

My basic principle is to listen to the body. If you want to eat some cake: find a reason why. And then let yourself to eat this cake easily and with pleasure. If you want to eat cakes every day, you should definitely find a reason. Maybe it is lack of glucose. You should check it with a dietician. Do not eat something that makes you feel heaviness; eat the food, which you are enjoying to eat. My diet is based on a principle of inverted pyramid: I eat most of the food in the morning and noon. In the afternoon I eat less, proteins prevail, and I exclude carbohydrates and floury food.

Me: Do you eat meat?

I used to eat a lot of meat. In the last six months I eat only white meat and it is not because any ethical issues. I realized that red meat makes my body heavier. Sometimes I have up to 5 workouts a day so I need proteins. That is why I prefer to eat fish and chicken. My only weakness is Korean cuisine.

Me: How did you come to love Korean cuisine while living in Japan?

It happened accidentally. My language school was in a Korean district of Tokyo.

Me: What is the conception of your life?

I like yoga principles in respect to modern life. In every period of life things should happen when they are supposed to be happening. You should not give up your youth for enlightenment. If you like to drink with your friends, do it even if you practice yoga. Do stupid things, gain some life experience. There are many limitations in our life, don’t make more. Practice yoga and try to feel your body. Do no harm. Give more than you take. Don’t wait for anything in return. “Practice yoga and you’ll have everything”. I am the best example of this saying.

Photo: Alexey Tulenkov by Pressfoto Production Studio
Photo: Alexey Tulenkov by Pressfoto Production Studio

Me: What is your ideal of beauty?

It is when everything is real and natural. You have to do a lot to look naturally beautiful. I mean sport and healthy nutrition. It is much easier to do make up.

Me: What is the freedom?

In my opinion, freedom is wrong idea. What kind of happiness can be found in the freedom? For example, it is so good to be depending on your beloved person! Or find your place in society. Friends and job are limiting our freedom but give us a lot more instead

Me: Why did you come back to Russia?

I decided that it was time to progress in yoga. Neon lights of Tokyo led me a bit away from my main goal. I have just passed through selection into international fitness holding company “Citrus” fitness-club. So now intensive training is in process. Now I’m on the way that I’m going to be on for all my life. I had to change something. It is always a regress without a progress.

Me: What’s next? What are your plans for the future?

I’m going to go to California soon to have a 200-hours class of yoga instructor and get an international level certificate. In my greater plans I’m going to create my own unique approach of yoga practice.

That is so awesome! Will you come to our production studio for some pictures and videos before you go?

Yes, with pleasure!

How a programmer from Seattle became the manager of a fitness club

27-years-old Tony is a fitness manager in one of the most prestigious clubs of 10-millionth Ho Chi Minh City – California Centuryon. He was born in the same American city as Bill Gates, Bruce Lee, companies Boeing and Amazon. Here in Seattle he grown up, was educated and began his fitness career. He is a kind and sympathetic person and always helps me with professional sports information.

Recently I have interviewed him and found out some details of his professional activities. I also asked him about life principles which directly influence the results of person who is keen on fitness.

— How did you come to sport and fitness?
— I had been studying computer science in one of the colleges in Seattle. I had been sitting in front of the computer round the clock drinking lots of coffee and eating chips and burgers. I was fat. Then I found part-time job as a sales manager in a fitness club. I got carried away by fitness and completed the course of personal trainer. At the same time I worked in the club as assistant of fitness manager. When the previous manager has left, I was offered a promotion. Thus I became Seattle fitness club manager when I was 21.

— Why did you move to Saigon? Many Russians dream of living in Seattle!
— I have a friend from Seattle, he is a trainer and fitness manager and he lives and works in Vietnam for several years. Two years ago he offered me a job in Saigon. I agreed because I want to get life experience in other countries. In the next 20 years I’m not going to return to America. I would like to live in some other countries during that time.

— Who are you now?
— I’m a businessman who helps fitness club clients to enjoy fitness.

— Do you like it?
— Yes, I do. After several years of work as a personal trainer you will know all body types, how to work with them and potential results. Of course it is nice to help specific people. But I already want more global results. Now I’m helping more than 750 clients of our club.

— How much do you work?
— 12 hours a day, 6 days a week.

— Do you agree with the opinion that Americans are workaholics and prefer career to family?
— Yes, and I like it.

— What does happiness mean for you?
— To win and be the first. I had always been on the top — in school, in college, in fitness club.

— What is your life philosophy?
— To enjoy and to progress.

— What is your fitness philosophy?
— Be handsome and fit. I think that the main goal in fitness for the most clients is beauty, not the health. Exactly the beauty! And I’m glad that I help my clients to be beautiful and sexy.

— What is your nutrition?
— It comes from the following: to see health and to feel healthy is completely different parameters. But everyone can see the beauty. So if you want to be handsome you have to be healthy in the first place. Reduce the amount of carbohydrates.

— What do you think about sport supplements?
— They are very important but they cannot replace the food. Your diet should be balanced.

— What are supplements for? For the health or for the beauty?
— They are for quick result.

— How long are you going to live?
— 75 years.

— Thank you for your time and for the interview!
— You are very welcome! See you in the club!

From a makeup artist to a yoga instructor

Thao is the person, which has a fantastic energy and very harmonious body. She made her way from physical beauty to inner one in the true sense of the word.

I met her in “California Club” fitness club in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. She is an instructor of Satyananda yoga. Thao impressed me at first sight and at first class of yoga. Her body is a very athletic and well shaped. It is not typical for Asian girls; usually they are slim but not athletic. Thao’s energy is the best for yoga. Her training methods are intensive and soft at the same time and she pays the same attention to every student. In Thao I found a balance for my yoga practice, which I had been long looking for. After the class we talked and I realized that she had been doing many kinds of sports. This is just my opinion, that it’s impossible to have such a well-shaped body if you practice yoga only. We often talked after the classes about the health, fitness and diet.

Today we finally met and shared our experience in a café with the cup of coffee for me and strawberry smoothie for Thao. I should mention Thao ordered sugar-free smoothie, which is also not typical for the Vietnamese people. Most of them like sweet smoothies and ice juices.

Thao has always been an active person but never did sports regularly. She started to do it when she was 30. Her friend asked her to go to the gym with her. It’s been six years and Thao still goes there. Her friend stopped after two months.

She found enjoyment in exercises, got “addicted” to them. She started to go to the gym every day. She practiced everything: TRX, body pump, body balance, step aerobics, weightlifting, yoga… Thao never thought that she would become a yoga instructor but two years ago she became one. She has finished 200-hours class for yoga instructors and passed international exams. Now yoga is her occupation.

Today she is 36; her height is 166 cm, weight – 55 kg. Her son is 11 years old. She wakes up at 4:30 – 5:00 AM and having breakfast at 6:00. It usually contains quinoa, eggs or fruits. As most sportsmen she eats about six times a day. Dinnertime depends on yoga classes schedule but it is not later than 7:00 PM. She goes to bed at 9:30 – 10:00 PM.

As opposed to most Vietnamese people she doesn’t eat white rice and prefers brown. Thao prefers not to mix carbohydrates and proteins but once a week she can eat, for example, some fish with brown rice. Usually she eats proteins with vegetables but if there is enough time she eats them separated – vegetables first and then chicken, meat or fish 30 minutes later. Two years ago she was a vegetarian but it was not good for the health (she felt dizzy all the time) and doctor told her to eat animal protein again. So six months ago she started to eat fish again, sometimes she eats chicken and meat. She eats sweets very seldom just because she doesn’t like it.

I asked Thao to give some advice to people who want to build the body. She said: “Go to the gym, do exercises! You will be enjoying it after some time. But exercises must be combined with a healthy diet; otherwise you won’t have enough energy to do it”.

By the end of my first Thao’s class I realized that I wanted to be her student. She is doing some magical procedure while you’re resting lying on your back with your eyes closed. She comes to you, carefully stretches your legs and hands, then gently stretches your head and finally massages your head. I don’t know where she has learnt to do this but it feels amazing and I want to be her student only because of this 🙂

This is my first sports story. I hope there will be more soon because I meet interesting people almost every day. After the Vietnamese story I’m going to post Japanese, Russian, American and many other stories, because there are people from the entire world here in Saigon. Plus I travel a lot 🙂 Get inspired by other people’s experience and let it lead you to positive results!