20 questions on health and fitness: Lisa Barwise on kettlebells, kickboxing and kaizen

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Belfast personal trainer and 'Kettlebell Warrior', Lisa Barwise

Lisa Barwise, founder of Warrior Goddess Kettlebell Training studio in Belfast
Gail Bell

1 Up and at it – what is your morning routine?

As a homeschooler, there are no school runs, so mornings don’t normally begin until 10am, maybe 11am. Usually, they either start with clients in the studio for personal training, or, if I am at home, walking the dog.

2 What might you eat in a typical working day for...

Breakfast? As I follow a carb cycling with intermittent fasting nutritional programme, breakfast is either at least 30g of protein or none at all. I'll have a green goddess smoothie or add a scoop of protein to my porridge or just a cup of hot water and lemon.

Lunch? Tofu scramble with brown rice, sweet potato and bean chilli with coconut milk or a warm quinoa salad with avocado. Sometimes, lunch is just a smoothie.

Evening Meal? I love Mexican food, so I eat a lot of rice, beans, guacamole and tofu nachos or bean chilli. I also love vegan beans on gluten-free toast or a gluten-free vegan burger.

3 Is nutrition important to you?

Yes, but not only because it is my job, but because it was important enough to make it my job. I have been studying nutrition for the last 10 years and, as a gluten-free, dairy-free vegetarian, I have to be careful what I eat.

4 Best meal ever?

There is nothing like a proper stack of American pancakes from a New York city diner at 4am after a night of dancing...

5 Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Gluten-free brownies and pancakes.

6 Have you ever been on a diet? If so, how did it go?

I have tried everything – and I mean everything – and now I don’t believe in diets. I have found the answer to having the body and lifestyle I want is from eating lots and lots of food and lifting heavy weights and never feeling deprived.

When you understand 'fuelling' the body – that i, eating the right thing at the right time for the right purpose – then you will never have to ‘diet’ again.

7 Do you take health supplements?

I take dried fruit and vegetable powders in capsule form (called Juice Plus), Vitamin D, probiotics, vegan omegas and essential aminos acids which I put in my protein shakes.

8 How do you relax?

Watching movies and nice, long walks in the woods with our dog.

9 Teetotal or tipple?

Tipple – I like a wee cocktail now and then.

10 Stairs or lift?

The lift, definitely. I get enough exercise...

11 Do you have a daily exercise regime?

I teach 11 kettlebell classes each week, but only actually 'do' three or four of those classes from the front of the room – the others, I just coach. I also lift in the gym three to four times a week. The other days I usually rest or do yoga. Some weeks I will do private kettlebell, kickboxing or Pilates sessions.

12 Best tip for everyday fitness?

I believe that to see a real result in your fitness, health and body, 30 minutes of exercise three days a week is all you need.

13 On a scale of one to 10, how fit do you think you are and how fit would you like to be?

I would say that I am a seven as I am coming back after an injury, but I don’t believe in perfection. One of my favourite words is [the Japanese] word, 'kaizen' which means constant and never-ending improvement – something I like to live by.

14 Have you tried, or would you try, alternative therapy?

I have a diploma in Naturopathy and I believe there are four pillars to true health – nutrition, exercise, mental and emotional health and structural or spinal health. As part of our classes, we meditate regularly which can help with emotional resourcefulness, as well as reducing stress – and belly fat. I advocate regular bodywork in the form of chiropractic, osteopathic or kinesiology-based sessions. I also believe in the power of herbs and oils to aid in anything from improving sleep to helping minor ailments such as upset stomach or headache.

15 Were school sports happy times or do you have a memory you would rather forget?

I loved school sports and represented my county in athletics (javelin). I played hockey, tennis, squash and I loved netball as I used to play it when growing up in Australia.

16 Did you ever have a health epiphany which made you change your lifestyle?

Both of my parents died very close together when I was in my early 20s from degenerative diseases that could have been cured, or at least prevented, from lifestyle changes, so, when I fell pregnant with my son Josh, I made a decision that I was going to be around for a very long time.

17 Best health/lifestyle advice you were ever given and would pass on to others?

It’s not sexy or particularly unique, but it is the most effective advice when followed: Take responsibility; no-one else is going to get you there.

18 Who inspires you or would you try to emulate in terms of fitness/attitude to life?

My two girl crushes are Hannah Eden and Steph Fit Mum (Stephanie Sanzo). Hannah Eden is so genuine about her life, her business and her struggles, but totally kicks ass and is a beast when it comes to fitness and her lifestyle. Steph Fit Mum is from Australia and is a diminutive powerhouse.

19 What time do you normally get to bed and do you get enough sleep?

My body clock and lifestyle run on a different timetable, but I always get eight hours, if not nine to 10 hours sleep a night. You need to sleep more to build lean muscle and lose fat – it’s science.

20 Would you say you have a healthy attitude towards your own mortality?

With my current situation of being an orphan and a single parent, I had to be a real grown-up in approaching this subject. As a mum, your mortality is something that you need to prepare for. However, what I prefer to concentrate on is my legacy – my work, how I have affected and helped people, and of course how I am raising my son to be the best human being he can be.

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