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Fitness

Kayla Itsines, Kelsey Wells & Sjana Elise tell OK!: "There's no such thing as bad food!"

The It girls of fitness share their tips on training hard, nourishing your body and cashing in on your cravings.

By Alix Nicholson
Fit. Healthy. Strong. Kayla Itsines, Kelsey Wells and Sjana Elise - the women behind the super successful SWEAT - are all of the above. And with more than 25 million combined social media followers, the trainers are stars in their own right.

But it’s not about Insta-fame for these ladies; nor is it about fitting into a smaller size or watching the scales. They’re all about helping women feel good, grow confidence and live healthy, happy lives.
“You just want to be the best version of yourself,” says Kayla, whose partner Tobi Pearce is the founder and CEO of the app connecting a community of like-minded women. “Be healthy for you.”
For Kayla, SWEAT is all about empowering women to live their happiest, healthiest lives.
“Different people like to train different ways, but in general, we all believe that you should be active so that you feel good,” adds Kelsey.
OK! sat down with Kayla, Kelsey and Sjana to talk training, treats and taking it at your own pace...

Everyone wants max results with minimum time, and all your programs in the SWEAT app are 28 minutes. That seems so short, is it really enough?!
Kayla: It’s enough. The programs are 28 minutes, three times a week, but I always say do whatever you feel comfortable with. Once a week is fantastic when you’re just starting out. There is no right or wrong when it comes to exercise. That’s what we all say, just train at your own pace. For me, three times a week is enough, as well as walking, and that’s what I recommend for my clients…
Kelsey: And that’s how you personally train too, right?
Kayla: I train three times a week. I do my app!
Kelsey Wells, one of the SWEAT trainers, focuses on living an active life and being healthy.
How often should we change up our workouts?
Kayla There is no should when it comes to exercise.
Kelsey: Just strive to live an active life and be healthy. Find how you love to train and do that. It’s just about overall moving and taking care of yourself.
Sjana: There’s no right or wrong. It sounds like a really laidback approach but I think that’s the way to go about health and fitness in general – take it and yourself less seriously and just enjoy the ride, rather than trying to predict what’s around the next corner.

What’s your advice to someone who’s totally new to exercise?
Kelsey: Celebrate the little accomplishments. Starting out, it can be very daunting to think “I’m going to be more active” or “I’m going to do a 12-week program.” So take it one day, one workout at a time, and take a second to be proud of yourself. You did that. You did that circuit, you did that workout. And that is something that needs to be celebrated.
Sjana: It’s also useful to have more goals that are smaller and more achievable, so that way you can stimulate the reward system [in your brain] more frequently. Every time you do reach one of those small goals, even though they’re tiny, you get the sense of pride and enjoyment and accomplishment. And that in itself is motivation to reach the next goal.
Sjana's focus is on the body and mind, working as a SWEAT trainer on their yoga program.
Have you three always loved exercise?
Kelsey: No! I grew up active, but before I got married – I got married at 21 – and until I had my son at 24, I really wasn’t that active. I thought of exercise as like an ultimate chore; I did NOT want to do it. I did not enjoy it, I never exercised regularly. And then after having [my son] Anderson, I kind of fell in love with fitness - and really, it’s because I committed to doing it consistently, and again, it was only for 28 minutes a day when I started, three times a week.
By just taking that time, I started to notice so many benefits that spilled over, and not just physically. I actually didn’t see the physical changes very quickly at all, but I could feel it. I felt better mentally, it helped my post-partum anxiety, it helped me feel better, it gave me more confidence in myself, and it helped me have more energy…
Once I stopped looking at it as this horrible chore that needed to be done or that I “should” be doing and then felt guilty if I didn’t do it, I started doing it out because I genuinely feel better when I do it, and I want to do it because I deserve to take care of my body. Then I began to slowly enjoy it and now I love it!

Is that the same for you, Kayla?
Kayla: I’ve always been into fitness, since I was a kid - I don’t have a story! My mum says, ‘You were just go go go.’ I was CRAZY! Then I started playing basketball and my love of fitness came through playing team sport - that discipline and having trust in your team. So I played basketball until I left school, and then I became a basketball coach, and personal training came naturally after coaching kids and coaching people. I’ve always loved sport and training especially team sport and that’s why I built the [Bikini Body Guide] community, because I couldn’t do it by myself. I was always part of a team, so for me, it’s always about showcasing the success of others, showcasing my team.

Sjana: I grew up really active too. Sport and fitness and health are just a huge part of my family’s day to day. We grew up right on the beach and it was the best place to grow up, because if we weren’t at some kind of team sport event, we’d be surfing or like going for a run along the beach.

Do you ever struggle to find motivation?
Kayla: It’s about finding what you love. But everybody can struggle with motivation sometimes.
Kelsey: Motivation really comes and goes. But that’s where you still have a choice. You might not feel motivated but you can do it anyway. In the beginning for me, when I didn’t enjoy exercising, I continued to do it because I made a promise to myself and I was going to do it. And slowly you learn to enjoy it. And I usually do really enjoy my training, but some days, you just do it because you’re taking care of yourself and it’s good for you.

The message we often hear in relation to food is “everything in moderation”. But when it can be really hard to stop at just one square of chocolate/slice of pizza/cookie…
Kayla Do you restrict until you get to the point where you’re like, “OK, I NEED chocolate”? Or when you feel like eating something in particular, you just have it?
Sjana: When you’ve told yourself “no”, and think that a certain food is bad, it makes you want it so much more. So I think it’s more a mental thing - not seeing certain foods as bad or horrible, but just seeing food as food, and then asking your body what it wants. And I think there’s a big difference between what your brain wants and maybe what your heart wants, to what your body actually needs.
Kelsey: Honestly though, I can relate, and I think Sjana’s absolutely right, and I also think one of the most important things is, let’s say you do overindulge, but I think [it’s important] to not allow yourself to have this huge guilt, like, “Oh I’ve failed.” You don’t need to put that guilt on yourself. You didn’t fail. You didn’t set yourself back, you’re not like “off the wagon.” It’s OK, you know? You’re human. You just go forward and choose something healthy next time. Because it makes you feel better.

Kayla: I eat Greek cakes! But I couldn’t care less because the next day I go back to my workouts.
Kelsey: Switching to eating healthier was really hard for me and honestly, all I did was just try to make the healthier choice every time and it eventually became easier, and now it’s genuinely what I prefer and what I do 95 per cent of the time because I feel better when I’m eating healthier.
Sjana: As females, I think we’re also more inclined to associate food with emotions. So try to take that and utilise it for your own benefit. Notice that, when I do eat that less nutritious food, I don’t feel good, it does make me feel sluggish or lazy or lethargic, and instead noticing that when you do eat healthier options, how much more energised and revitalised you feel.

So what about those times when you’re just craving something and you can’t stop thinking about it?!
Sjana: If you’re having a craving, say, for something deep fried, you might not necessarily be craving that food in particular but a nutrient within it. So let’s say you’re craving something like popcorn chicken – you could actually just be craving the protein in it, or the oils within it - it’s just your body telling you that there’s some kind of imbalance.
Kayla: That’s so true.
Sjana: And there’s always a healthier alternative, so as soon as you start eating healthily, it becomes a habit because it feels so good. It’s not as if eating healthily is limiting at all, so there’s enjoyment in it as well. You don’t always have to eat just lettuce leaves!

For more of our exclusive interview with the SWEAT trainers, check out the latest issue of OK!, on sale now!
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