The woman shap­ing us up

Fit­ness mogul Kayla Itsines, be­hind the Bikini Body Guidecult,is­thekind­of­wom­an­ev­ery­wom­an­wants to be. Aside from her chis­eled form and ac­ces­si­ble ex­er­cise and eat­ing plans, she’s in­cred­i­bly down to earth. She gives us a plan to thwart every un­re­al­is­tic reg

Emirates Woman - - #beauty #danaigurira - WORDS: MARIA L ALLY

K ayla Itsines is very much the mod­ern­day fit­ness star. Five years ago, a su­per­model client was the ul­ti­mate sym­bol of a trainer’s suc­cess, but to­day – in the so­cial-me­dia age – it’s all about your fol­low­ers. And 26-year old Aus­tralian-born Kayla is lead­ing the pack with an im­pres­sive 8.3 mil­lion fol­low­ers on In­sta­gram alone. To put that into con­text, De­li­ciously Ella – the clean-eat­ing star known for her im­pres­sive fol­low­ing – has a mere 1.2 mil­lion.Nowon­derKay­lawas­re­cent­ly­namedthe­world’s top so­cial-me­dia fit­ness in­flu­encer by Forbes magazine.

So,what­set­sher­a­part?She­cer­tain­ly­look­samaz­ing, with a feed full of pho­tos of her look­ing su­per-toned, along­side easy-to-fol­low work­outs, recipe ideas and in­spi­ra­tional quotes. She is a one-woman fit­ness em­pire: she­hasanap­pandweb­site,wherey­ou­can­signup­forher vir­tual ex­er­cise pro­gramme, or buy her books or choose from her range of branded prod­ucts. But she also shares the not-so-glowy parts of her life: when fol­low­ers be­gan com­pli­ment­ing her hair, she told them she wears a clipin pony­tail be­cause her hair is short and thin due to the fe­male-pat­tern bald­ness that runs in her fam­ily. And she also of­ten talks openly about suf­fer­ing from anx­i­ety.

In the flesh she looks per­fect, but she’s down to earth and open as we chat about her new book, which fo­cuses on how our habits are the key to good health. So, how can we make bet­ter ones?

Put your­self first (for a change)

“I train a lot of mums and what I find is women of­ten put them­selves right at the bot­tom of their pri­or­ity list,” says Kayla. “Above them comes their kids, jobs, hus­bands, run­ning their home, their par­ents and so on. Tak­ing time out to fo­cus on your health and fit­ness may feel in­dul­gent, but while it’s great to care for oth­ers you should value your­self – and your well­be­ing – above ev­ery­thing else. If you reg­u­larly run out the door in the morn­ing on an empty stom­ach bar a cof­fee, skip the gym and don’t eat right, you’re go­ing to be­come ex­hausted and not able to care for oth­ers as well.”

Start small (and be re­al­is­tic)

“Every Jan­uary, most of us make this big, vague res­o­lu­tion without any real idea of how we’re go­ing to get there,” says Kayla. “We say we’re go­ing to get fit, or save money. But how? And what does ‘get fit’ mean? Do you want to lose a lit­tle weight, run a marathon, or train for a 5km? Once that’s clear, how are you go­ing to do it? Are you go­ing to join a gym? If so, when are you plan­ning on go­ing? Are you go­ing to start walk­ing more? When? Don’t put it off – women tell me they’ll get fit when their kids are older, or when their job is less busy. But there will never be enough time or a good time, so just work with the time you have. Even 10 min­utes on the tread­mill, or do­ing one of my work­outs, or go­ing for a walk ev­ery­day helps.

“Be re­al­is­tic and think small tweaks rather than big goals: take a walk when you usu­ally drive, try a new work­out, eat a health­ier ce­real or go to bed ear­lier – these are more likely to be­come sec­ond-na­ture habits. And re­mem­ber – if you make the same mis­take you’ll get the same re­sults. But if you make new habits, you’ll get new re­sults.”


“I used to bite my nails when I felt stressed and eat a block of choco­late when I had my pe­riod,” says Kayla. “So I started writ­ing that down and then I’d also write dow­na­goodal­ter­na­tive.Dothe­same­with­y­our­trig­gers, which may be eat­ing some­thing sug­ary when you’re stressed or hav­ing wine af­ter a bad day. My own trig­ger came from my mum – when she had her pe­riod she’d eat choco­late and un­wit­tingly taught me to do the same. But choco­late doesn’t help pe­riod pain and the sugar spikes ac­tu­ally make it worse. Recog­nise your trig­ger and stop your­self when you’re search­ing the cup­boards for a snack or pour­ing your­self wine. Re­alise it’s just a plas­ter for the real prob­lem, like stress, bore­dom or tired­ness, and solve it another way. It doesn’t have to be a walk ei­ther: it can be read­ing a book, phon­ing a friend or get­ting an early night.”


“If you go to bed late and wake up tired, you’ll be chas­ing your tail all day, skip­ping ex­er­cise and crav­ing all the wrong foods. Form­ing a bet­ter bed­time rou­tine is one of the best things you can do to help your day­time habits stick. Firstly, go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Put your phone on the other side of the room so you have to get up and go to it in the morn­ing. Have break­fast at the same time, and if you can, go for a short walk. You may be ex­hausted and not want to do it for the first week, but by the sec­ond it will be­come a new habit. Be­fore long, you’ll be bounc­ing out of bed in the morn­ing.”

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