Debra has published more than 200 articles on a variety of topics geared toward fitness for folks over 50 and is a renown fitness expert. She has a new book coming out this year (which we’ve already previewed) and it is superb.
Once it’s out (via Kindle) we’ll let everybody know how they can get it.
To say Debra’s reputation speaks for itself would be an understatement. We hope you enjoy this interview.
1. Can you give us a brief background about yourself (where you were born, how it was like growing up, education, where you lived, etc.)?
Born in the Midwest…Iowa..land of corn-fed beauties and had as close to a Normal Rockwell existence as one can have. Raised by older parents and had older siblings… pretty sheltered, very valued and small town living unheard of today. Amazing foundation..but it took seeing much more of the world and people in it to realize it!
I stayed in state for college and grad school. Excellent science base and proud to be asked to come back and teach as I finished grad school.
2. As the Author of Fitness Marketing Mastery and Navigating Fitness after 50, you have a busy day to day existence. How did everything get started for you and what prompted your decision to follow these paths?
I sat on all sides of the desk… started as a fitness instructor>personal trainer, taught in Kinesiology at ISU for 15 years working with emerging fitness professionals entering the program…then on their internships as they went out… managed a large multi-site personal training program for 6 1/2 years: I saw what trainers thought they needed to know/what I needed them to know/and what customers needed them to know…and there was a GAP… I felt if I could see it then it was my responsibility to DO something about it.
3. Can you tell us more about your business and how you see it evolving over the next 5-10 years? Talk about how your experience and training while in the Corporate World impacts your day to day life now?
My last 23 months has been vastly different than the 28 before it. Over the years I’ve literally spent up to 4 hours a day teaching physical activity…. for periods of time… even as a manager of 20 trainers I was hands-on with them teaching practical skills, observing sessions, being the guinea pig… and constantly moving through my day. My recent focus and mountain top office while in a 18 month sabbatical..there has been a lot of gluteal amnesia inflicted.
I “get it” better than I’ve ever before how clients can have a hard time doing what they need to in order to be well and productive. We really need to share this more – clients and fitness customers too often think what we do – those to promote fitness and wellness is just exercise all day. They need to understand that we too have to “fit it in” and it’s a challenge, but worth it. They need our tricks and trade-offs.
4. As an individual who lives a healthy and fit lifestyle, we’re curious, what does your daily diet look like? Do you give yourself “cheat days”?
I don’t have a “Cheat Day” proclamation…it sounds a little too much like an “on” “off” ramp…and that’s a slippery slope. I have a diet- not a four-letter word that I have to “get back to” …it’s a way of eating. Period. That I can live with the rest of my life. I’m not doing anything that feels deprived. I’m not missing out on anything that I want either.
If I cheat- really long bike or big training day leading to an event…I crave a pesto turkey wrap from Whole Foods. Bizarre but true!
We do go through periods of time…stress, hormone changes that we either see and feel or test for certainty, that should change the diet but for me…if I go to a favorite restaurant…and there’s something I’d might have typically had years ago… (our knowledge of how foods affect us change) – I’m not “pulled” to eat it ….knowing the energy or drain I’ll feel after…is deterrent enough! If I want a bit of frosting… I’ll have it. (don’t like the cake so much- it’s all about the frosting) – but the taste is all I really want.
#1 Protein smoothie post a quick fasted intervals… or I’ll do a super green drink first thing sometimes instead. After traveling…sometimes to reboot the “greens”
#2 Steel cut oats with protein powder, berries, walnuts, cinnamon…I love after a training session on the bike or a swim…but it’s not the best thing for my stomach…if I’m really training …I’ll do an early “lunch” instead- leftover fish tacos (brown rice tortilla)
#3 Roasted veggies plus fish, chicken, brown rice or a fresh spinach ‘garbage salad’
#4 apple and peanut butter
#5 grilled chicken, salmon + grilled veggie, baked cod/tilapia or zucchini noodles “and” a lean meat/pesto small bit of parmesan
#6 Might end with a protein powder/drink before bed if I’m hungry. or chia seed pudding
5. What does your training routine consist of? (Please include a few details – training split, sets/reps, exercises, types of cardio, etc.)
I’m happiest training for an event and active in life not in a gym…Ironman has been my lifestyle for the last 5 years…triathlons of shorter distance before it. So anything I do is focused on getting to start line healthy, finish line smiling and not losing muscle or bone density (time in saddle and pool).
I lift far more than most pro or elite triathletes do…I’m not after a podium finish… my book or program is that for me- this is just joy. So obviously my training goes through periodization pre-during and leading up to the event that changes from now to say July- next IM is Boulder early August. I lift 3 sets right now- focused on foundation building..inserting power in for bone density…and do a descending rep with increasing weight…it’s time to add a little strength/power until rides get long…and the sets will cut back to 2 reps to 10 to 12 and finally will focus on more aerobic lifting so the power goes into bike, runs and swims.
Right now it’s still base… 3 swims a week 3 bikes a week – and I’m running frequently (3) but not far to keep an old injury from being a problem. 2 lifts and yoga for a short time most days.
6. In addition to your diet and training, do you believe in supplements? If so, which kinds do you use and what results have these given you? Feel free to discuss whatever you use. We are very blunt and brutally honest. If you are using Anti Aging Medications-that’s ok.
I do a multi- is all. I’ve used CoQ10. If I didn’t have fish 3 times a week I’d add it. I’m considering magnesium and selenium and iodine. Observing my fatigue as I go into heavier training.
I use things in the kitchen…. hemp seeds, flax, avocado and coconut oil, maca … and some consider protein powder a supplement. I consider it the only way in some cases I can reach 30 grams of protein per meal – especially at breakfast or if I’m doing an otherwise plant based meal.
7. Talk about your Family-and Children. How supportive and accommodating are they to your Fabulously Fit Lifestyle?
It’s in the contract. 🙂 Some of my activities I’m sure seem “extreme” to others… or did 10, 20 and 30 years ago… it’s better..times are changing and they see more people doing things that help raise the glass ceiling. I stopped nagging and they began asking. Funny how that works! Significant others- have always been active…love the lifestyle too- I think it’s the only way it works. It’s no accident I ended up in Boulder…that for me is extreme..everyone thinks and trains like a pro athlete here! My son? Still yet to catch on…he’s a golfer and could spend hours on the course and then go back after a tournament and practice…but his strength and conditioning in college has been an eye opener I’m sure!
8. As a parent and having multiple business interests, how do you make time to juggle everything? Where does your motivation come from to stay consistent with your fitness and career and strive to assist others with theirs?
He’s grown- so easier now… except for the heavy lifting of the credit card. While I began training for triathlon and IM…he was at home though and I was teaching at university…managing a team of trainers…writing a book… it actually all was the reason it all worked. One thing fueled the next. I was doing everything I loved.
Looking in, that’s what people ask…but the opposite is true. How do you not? When you’re doing things you love, supporting the energy, endurance, stamina…. you simple WANT to do more. It’s less of an effort not more of an effort. I got the book done because I was passionate about it..I got the thoughts on hours on the bike for that and had “programming meetings” with myself running or swimming… often while someone was still sleeping.
The hardest thing was bedtime…I usually went to bed before my son! Now I always do!
9. Do you want your children and grandchildren to follow in your healthy and fit footsteps?
Absolutely. I just want them to find their passion. My step-son’s children love horses- they are constantly active and riding, caring for them…and they’ll be involved in sports too. My son likes to be active- he’ll come around to some type of fitness on his own-probably when it isn’t ‘mandatory.’ It’s the only way to really be “awake” through your life. Once you find out that secret you never go back.
10. What advice would you give someone (at any age) who wants to transition their life towards a more healthy and fit lifestyle, but doesn’t know where to start?
Get support from a trusted expert you can also relate to. Repeatedly I hear “it’s too confusing, I don’t know who to trust” “what diet and exercise advice do I believe?” Everyone who eats…or exercises tends to give advice! If it works for one person it doesn’t mean it will work for you- or that if it doesn’t you’ve failed. We’re each different – our biochemistry means some of us will feel better with less meat on a plant based diet … you need help finding out what works and what doesn’t.
A random approach gets random results.
Start small. Focus on the To Do rather than what not to do or not to eat. Much more motivating!
13. What is next for you in 2015? What are your future plans and goals?
I’m going to finish a book by August…. handing off the manuscript before Ironman Boulder. The corresponding iBook will be filmed and photographed sometime along the way. Presenting at National Strength and Conditioning Association in July, headed to International Council on Active Aging in November. I applaud Colin and Julie Milner.
I am working with 4 groups at a time right now-(that is a lot) and a handful of select private clients- fitness professionals or females 50+.
I’m moving in August… it’s a matter of where.. some opportunities bubbling up I haven’t said yes or no to yet.
Be the BEST YOU EVER!