This article was first seen on the Huffington Post. For this installment, we are joined by Kit Redfern.
Let’s start off with a general introduction. How would you describe yourself, what are you all about and how did you get involved in health and fitness?
I guess I’m a snowboarder turned bikini pro turned weightlifter; it’s been an interesting ride getting to this point to say the least. I first joined a gym to start building up my leg strength to be better at snowboarding, but fell in love with the training and gym atmosphere.
Lifting weights had a positive effect on my shape so I set myself a challenge of transforming my body and competing with the WBFF. I won my pro card in my first show, and the European title 6 months later. After nearly 3 years of competing I needed something new to sink my teeth into so I started Olympic Weightlifting, and now I’m focusing on getting to a competitive level with that.
Where does your motivation come from?
It’s who I am as a person – I need to be working towards something or I feel stagnated. Training gives me a challenge that I can tackle everyday; every workout is an opportunity to be a little bit better, a little bit stronger, a little bit closer to my goal, and I thrive on that.
As you decided to make a career out of your passion – what were your biggest stumbling blocks along the way?
Turning my passion into my career was a big leap – when I moved to London to become a personal trainer I didn’t really know anyone, I didn’t know how to start a business, and I spent all my savings doing my first competition prep in my first 6 months. I think the risk factor made me work harder, but I still feel lucky that everything turned out how it did.
What’s your perspective on the importance of self-care?
It’s a stressful world we live in, and while I can’t speak for everyone it does seem that most of us have a never ending to-do list hanging over us. Taking the time to do something for ourselves, something we enjoy, something to relax or unload frustrations can have a huge impact on stress levels and consequently our health. I’m a big believer in working to live, not living to work but we can all benefit from a reminder of that at times.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions about women lifting weight?
Hands down and without a doubt it’s the idea that lifting weights will make a woman bulky, but it’s simply not true. Women do not have the hormone levels to pack on masses of muscle. What most will find instead, when they start lifting weights, is that the small amount of muscle they do acquire raises their resting metabolic rate, having them burn more calories and consequently they will lose body fat (provided their food intake stays the same).
Many young women who want to lose weight believe that not eating is the way to do it, without realising the consequences of that kind of behavior.
Why do you think this is and what’s your perspective on educating society on healthy nutrition habits?
The problem comes from the way the world has demonised different foods over time. Whether it’s low carb, low fat, gluten free, there’s always a finger being pointed at food being the reason people are overweight and so many then start to cut out foods or cut down their calories out of fear. Instead of focusing on removing the ‘bad’ we should be educating the public on what they should be including instead.
There’s a cool thing they do on food packaging in France where they tell you what you can eat alongside a food to make a balanced meal. It’s not a perfect solution but it’s more helpful than just throwing macronutrient numbers on there.
What are the most unexpected lessons you’ve learned on your health and fitness journey this far?
The biggest lesson was how underwhelming it feels to be in top shape, to have a six pack. I used to think that would mean I would be at my healthiest and happiest, but in all honesty I’m much more content focusing on performance goals and not worrying too much about being lean.
What do you do to maintain balance in your life?
I make sure that I put friends and family ahead of training. There are some things that are more important than a regimented training schedule, and while I’m not exactly out partying every week I do make sure that I don’t stress about missing a workout or going out for a pizza now and then.
How do you stay productive?
I live by my to-do list, and I have no idea how I managed without one in the past. I also keep all my work in a cloud based storage system so I can access it while I’m on the go.
Can you give a breakdown of your current diet, training and supplementation regimen and the thinking behind it?
I tend to train 3 days on, 1 day off rather than on set days of the week. I’ll do a thorough warm up, 1-2 exercises focusing on the olympic lifts, then squats or accessory work. Strength training can take a long time because of rest periods between sets, but I try to be done within 1.5-2hrs.
My diet reflects my training goals – right now I’m trying to build as much strength as possible so I’m eating in a caloric surplus, with high carb meals around training so I have plenty of fuel in my system to perform well and recover after. I follow a flexible dieting approach, tracking macros instead of following a set plan, but I would say that 90% my food could be considered ‘clean’ – however if I want a pizza I will have it (just not every day).
I’m very lucky to be sponsored by PhD Nutrition, so my supplement regime is on point – I take omega 3, a multi nutrient, reinforce caps (glucosamine and chondroitin) every morning, a Recovery 2:1 shake with creatine post workout, and a casein shake with ZMA caps before bed.
To explain it simply, what I have in the morning covers nutrients that may be deficient from my diet, my post workout shake refuels my muscles ready for the following day, and my evening supplements aid my recovery while I sleep.
If you could only choose one thing, what would you tell your younger self?
I wish I could tell my 13 year old self that dieting will never be the answer, but to go pick up some weights, eat plenty of good food, and the rest will take care of itself. I wonder how strong I would be by now if I knew that then.
What are your goals for 2017?
A big goal for me in 2017 is to compete in Olympic Weightlifting. I’ve been working hard towards this already, and had a little taste of the competition environment, but next year I plan to do it for real.
Where can people go to learn more about you online?