6: Personal trainer Kate Graham shares how it was growing up with 5 sisters, finding her husband on a blind date and having her daughter against all odds.
The sister that introduced me and Michael, unfortunately about two weeks before we were going to be married, she died in a car accident so it was very shocking.
In this episode I'll talk to Canadian born Kate Graham, who grew up with 5 sisters. Growing up Kate always was into some sort of sport and got into gymnastics but came to really dislike how they treated gymnastics. At the age of 12 she left and volunteered to become a coach instead and continued to do so in different areas of sports. At a later stage in her life she became a personal trainer and a yoga teacher. She also will share with us how her sister who late died set Kate up with a blind date with her now husband, the miracle of having her daughter, moving to Australia away from her family, how to make The Sexy Mayan smoothie, to how to deal with people farting in her Yoga classes.
In this episode Kate talks about:
Helpful Links and resources:
• Book: 5+2 Fast Diet for Beginners, by Rockridge Press
( Although this book, above, is not mentioned in the interview, I thought I would still include it here. I bought this book after the interview with Kate to understand the diet better. The book is pretty basic and delivers what the title says “5+2 diet for beginners”. It has a good introduction of what the diet is and makes it easily to understand the concept. It also has heaps great recipes. I did followed the diet strictly for 4 weeks and although I no longer do it now, I must say I did feel amazing while doing it and lost a couple of kilos as well. What was the best though was that by reading the book I got a much better understanding of what I put in my stomach and it has totally change the way I eat.)
Thank you so much for listening to my episode today!
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A big THANKS to: Kate Graham for joining me this week.
See you next time!
TRANSCRIPT WITH KATE GRAHAM
Yenny: Today is a glorious day. I’m sitting here at Sunshine Beach at a coffee shop called Envy and I am interviewing actually an old friend of mine that I met a couple of years ago actually when just I got my first boy and I was really bad… I had really bad post natal depression and so did she.
Yenny: But anyway, I met her and she was a personal trainer and she was doing Cage Fitness training and I must say it really changed my life because I got much stronger and also... a couple of like a year ago, we actually met down here. I just moved to this area and we met again.
Kate: We met up again, yes.
Yenny: And we haven’t seen really each other for five years.
Kate: Long time.
Yenny: So it was pretty cool, yeah. So Kate, I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about yourself. I mentioned that you’re a personal trainer but you’ve done so much more and you are actually from Canada. Can you tell me a little bit like how you… where you grew up in Canada first?
Kate: I grew up in a very small little town just outside of Toronto, so more like a suburb.
Yenny: Not in the forest?
Kate: No, not in the forest, not with Mounties or anything, no and I have five sisters and a very busy wild household as you can imagine. My father played professional sports, football and hockey. He actually played for Team Canada way back in the late ‘50s which is very cool.
Yenny: Oh cool.
Kate: We still fight over his jersey which is an antique and yeah, so he actually got all of us into sports. He was very active and had a great influence on all of us to... so we were all into field hockey, playing a little bit of football as well and so lots of different sports. Yeah, it was quite…
Yenny: As in football you mean like football, not soccer?
Kate: Not soccer like actual football.
Yenny: Yeah, the football.
Kate: The American one with like the pointed ends.
Yenny: Yeah, because they are from Europe.
Yenny: Like they are different so we don’t confuse our viewers and how was it growing up with so many siblings?
Kate: It was a wild time. My eldest sister, she grew up in the ‘60s and she actually went to Woodstock’s so she taught me a lot.
Yenny: Oh nice.
Kate: About some positive things, some not so negative things but she really taught me a lot about life and having fun and yeah, she was a great influence, so were all of my sisters. We all are extremely close, still are very close so it’s really nice and really lovely.
Yenny: So, you live in Australia now.
Yenny: Can you just tell us a little bit-- before you came to Australia, you were in gymnastics.
Yenny: Is that right?
Kate: Yeah, I started taking gymnastics, I think when I was about five and stayed with it but then when I was…
Yenny: Were you competing or were you training?
Kate: I did for one year and I really disliked how they treated the gymnasts. It wasn’t fun. It was very regimented.
Yenny: And how was that?
Kate: It was terrible. I disliked it; so did a few of my mates who I was with. So then when I was 12, I left and just went back to recreational gymnastics but when I was 15, I started to volunteer as a gymnastics coach and I was very determined to try and change the view that coaches had on gymnasts and competitive gymnasts. The element of fun was just gone and it’s one thing if you’re training to be in Olympics.
Yenny: Just trophy and yeah, that kind of... yeah.
Kate: Yeah, it had to be fun. It shouldn’t be out there to stunt your growth and be really disciplined. There has to be that element of fun. So yeah, so I’d been coaching on and off for over 30 years.
Kate: Which is great.
Yenny: So was that a lot like with the gymnastic, was that like how they actually coach but also was that the body issue as well that you were opposed?
Kate: Most definitely.
Yenny: And can you tell us a little bit about that?
Kate: I think that a lot of people are confused about what, how disciplined a gymnast should be and I think it depends on the goals that not only the child has but the parents and together what their goals are. There just has to be that element of fun I think, in every sports. I don’t think that they should be so disciplined to a point where their diet is restricted and therefore, it affects their growth and especially when they reach puberty as well. We want them to still reach puberty in a very natural way but not have their growth and their diet stunted and changed because body image is just so challenging that they…
Yenny: Did you go through that yourself or did you encounter a lot of kids?
Kate: No, I definitely encountered a lot of girls that felt that they should be that thin.
Yenny: Do they have bulimia or anorexia?
Kate: Some of them did, most definitely, and I’ve always been kind of stocky and muscly like my father so I’ve kind of had this voluptuous curvy-ness to my body when I started puberty and into teenage days and I think that sort of also led me further into fitness as well.
Yenny: Yeah, encouraged you to change.
Kate: Yeah, to not and to feel good about the way that your body is and not think that you have to be a stick, very unhealthy so.
Yenny: So you did some coaching there like and train as a trainer.
Yenny: And then, can you tell me a little bit like just you were there and then you were yeah, went over to Australia but just before you went over to Australia like it was a good then kind of a sad thing that happened or sad first and then a good thing like, you have mentioned to me and that was what happened in your family?
Kate: Yeah, I was working for the YMCA and I was directing sports and specialty camps and it’s a huge job, about 350 kids in one camp. It was just amazing and that also led me to other areas of interest in physical fitness and my eldest sister called me up and asked me what I was doing for Easter weekend and she said, 'I have somebody I really want you to meet, he’s a vet from Australia' and so I had about 12 hours to say yes, get work off, receive the tickets.
Yenny: So it was a blind date, kind of.
Kate: A very long distance blind date.
Kate: Something I normally wouldn’t do.
Kate: Well, back then anyway. So yeah the next two days so I flew there and met Michael, my husband at present and we just hit it off. We had so much in common and…
Yenny: And before this point, a lot of people had tried to set you up with a lot of, like a couple of guys by your sisters.
Kate: Yeah, well it was actually… I was dating somebody at the time and our relationship was just sort of ending and so he was much younger than I was. So yeah, it was just sort of ending but yeah, my sisters had sort of tried, thought this person would be good for you and so yeah, I just thought what do I have to lose by going to see my sister in Oregon and meeting Michael and plus it was a chance to see her. I haven’t seen her in quite some time as well so yeah, it’s a very interesting three days. That’s for sure. And then after that, he went back to Australia, I went back to Toronto and then a couple of months later, he flew to Toronto and stayed with me and then we just started going back and forth from Australia to Toronto and just staying as long as we could and yeah, so our relationship just developed and progressed from there, yes.
Yenny: You mentioned something before about your sister as well, one of your sisters.
Kate: Yeah, the sister that introduced us unfortunately about two weeks before Michael and I were going to be married, she died in a car accident so it was very shocking. I wasn’t sure whether to continue with the wedding or, obviously emotionally, I was not prepared to get married but my family had... I guessed they really talked to me into continuing to have the wedding because that’s what she would have liked. So yeah, we celebrate her often and toast her because of her keen eye in finding my husband and yeah, so it’s bittersweet, that’s for sure. I don’t really remember much about our wedding celebration unfortunately but we do often celebrate and toast her which is really nice to keep her spirit alive.
Yenny: Well, she brought a real gift to you though, like your husband.
Kate: She did and my daughter, yes so.
Yenny: Yeah and tell me a little bit about that, your daughter, because she’s really... Tell me about it.
Kate: Well, I guess Michael and I met very late in life. We met in 1998 and we had a lot of learning to do about each other and we wanted to travel and experience the world together and we both wanted to have a child but time just kept getting away on us and getting away on us. We just… we’re having so much fun getting to know one another and it just got to the point where I was 43 and time was running out and I was extremely healthy and really fit and yeah, we had I guess, tried for about a year and a half, two years or so and all of a sudden, it happened. I felt pregnant, naturally, which was really wonderful and yes, it was a very, very grateful to have a very healthy child.
Yenny: Surprise present.
Kate: Yes, a wonderful surprise and just so grateful that she is so healthy. We’ve read a lot of statistics having about my age.
Yenny: That’s amazing, yeah.
Kate: And especially falling pregnant naturally which was really great so yeah, very grateful for her.
Yenny: And how old is she now?
Kate: She’ll be eight in a couple of months so yeah.
Yenny: She’s very beautiful as her mom and dad.
Kate: She’s the joy of our life and she helps to keep us healthy and as young as well. We’ve changed our lifestyle.
Yenny: I was going to ask you actually that because for me like my boys that I also got a little bit later on in life that actually changed my whole life and how I see things and they calm me down a lot. So do you feel that as well, having a child have totally changed you how you see life in such?
Kate: Most definitely and I’ve worked with children for almost 35 years and I’ve always been drawn to spontaneous nature that the children have, how they see the importance in something really small that we often forget about as adults and we just get so caught up in life and responsibility and they’ve always just brought such joy and plus a sense of humour as well. I think that by showing children your sense of humour, they’re drawn to that. They see you as being safe and fun and they want to be with you and therefore, it helps to build their self-esteem, and my daughter Elle, she brings that joy to us. We’ve changed our lifestyle. We started on the 5+2 fasting. We’ve been on it for two years. Initially…
Yenny: Is that because you wanted to feel younger or like healthier?
Kate: Well initially to lose weight.
Yenny: Yeah, can you also tell the audience what 5+2 is?
Kate: Yeah, sure.
Yenny: Very curious about that and maybe I can learn and do a little bit more now.
Yenny: It’s kind of it more like a lifestyle than a diet.
Kate: It most definitely is.
Yenny: Yeah, it’s called 5…?
Kate: A 5+2 and it’s a real pity actually that it is called a diet because we don’t see it as a diet. As you said, it’s more of a lifestyle and this doctor, I believe in the UK, did so much research involving fasting and just what it does for your body. So initially, we started it for a bit of weight loss because we definitely were carrying around a few extra pounds that just drag you down. They just... and it didn’t suit our lifestyle so -- excuse me -- initially we started it for that and then we read a little bit more about the medical benefits, anti-cancer for your kidneys, for your liver. So what happens when you fast is your body just goes into regeneration mode and it also rests on your body and your internal organs have a chance to rest then everything can regenerate and it’s just not only that, it feels fabulous. When you wake up the next day after fasting, your body just feels so clean. I have way more energy and you can basically eat whatever you want on the other day. So for those two days, women can have 500 calories and men can have 600 calories.
Kate: So in the other five days, you can basically eat what you want but because your stomach has shrunk back to its normal size which is about the size of your fist, you don’t feel like eating more and not only because your stomach has shrunk but you also, it’s almost like the yogic philosophy. When you start to practice yoga, it starts to seep into all different parts of your life and you feel…
Yenny: You have thought about the nature as well but before we do that, can you just tell me like how so 5:2, I thought it was like five days normal eat and two days fast.
Kate: Yeah, that’s it.
Yenny: But do you do Monday and Wednesday?
Kate: We both do Monday and Wednesday fast, and then the other days, we just eat normally.
Yenny: Eat just normally, yeah.
Kate: Yeah, just normally.
Yenny: So you don’t go extreme, extreme like you allow yourself if you want to.
Kate: Almost definitely like, I love French fries. I love potato chips. When I’m normal, I love wine but it just helps you see your intake of food and drink and alcohol in more moderation. That’s really what it does, so.
Yenny: You mentioned to me that on-- is it fast days that you do the smoothie or is that the day when you-- because you train quite a lot?
Yenny: So on the fast day for example, what do you eat then, not drink, sorry… what do you not eat?
Kate: What do I not eat, yeah.
Yenny: And what do you drink?
Kate: Well, I try to… I like to sort of have more bang for my buck so I stick to really super low calorie foods so I can eat more in bulk. Some people with this diet they have… they just eat three or two meals a day, that’s it with high calories.
Yenny: But when you fast?
Kate: Yeah, when I fast but for my fasting days, I eat sort of the way that I eat on the other days as I’m a grazer, and because I drive a lot of my energy from calories, I like to have little bits of food throughout the day.
Yenny: So you don’t just drink?
Yenny: I thought that was...
Kate: No, anything up to 500 calories, you can have.
Yenny: Okay, so you can eat like five carrots if you want to.
Yenny: I don’t know how many calories. I will like eat the whole bag, I think.
Kate: Not very many.
Yenny: Oh my god, I’m so hungry.
Kate: Not very many. At first, it was challenging but once you do…
Yenny: So you do count like, so for example like you said you had a coffee with a little bit of sugar actually.
Kate: Yeah, a little bit of sugar and milk.
Yenny: Skim milk and how much is that?
Kate: It’s about 40 calories so yeah, it seems like a lot but only 500 calories is not very much when you think about it for a day.
Yenny: Yeah, but you also make sure you drink a lot of…
Kate: Heaps of water and it also shows you how water can give you energy.
Kate: When your body is more hydrated, not only do you feel good but you look better. Your skin is more plump, your joints are juicy, and it just feels good to have so much water in you.
Yenny: But also days when you do eat like you said the other day is I have this wonderful smoothie. Can you just little bit quickly just say what you put in it? Maybe we can put it in the show notes and in the blog as well like the recipe.
Kate: Sure yes. Right, I sort of borrowed and derived from the organic place in Southern California where my sister lives and it’s called the Sexy Mayan.
Yenny: Sexy Mayan.
Kate: Sexy Mayan, it’s the most delicious smoothie I’ve ever had.
Yenny: Okay, so tell us.
Kate: So it’s just frozen banana, a little bit of skim milk, some crushed ice, protein powder of your choice and it doesn’t have to be flavored so you can put like a little bit of vanilla extract in it, heaps of cinnamon, about five shakes of cayenne powder which gives it that “oomph” and a teaspoon of cocoa.
Yenny: Okay, it’s a just…
Kate: And a teaspoon of nut butter so cashew butter, almond butter and blend it out.
Yenny: So do you have that every day when you're actually not on fast?
Kate: Yes, right after I train because I need the protein to replenish what I just lost and help my muscles recover as well.
Yenny: So can you share it with us a little bit what you do now because you are my, not personal trainer but like you were training the Cage Fitness and just for you, I don't know, it’s not like kicking each other.
Kate: I’m in a cage. I’m not in a cage.
Yenny: It’s more like a training program that…
Kate: In a bikini.
Yenny: The actual guys that do Cage Fitness. They actually did that so it’s like half an hour. You have a bag that you carry it.
Kate: Yeah, actually.
Yenny: But from that, and that I met you a couple of years later and you were more into personal training and yoga as well, how come you started to do more of that?
Kate: Well, I also started martial arts in Canada. I started quite late. I was about 29 and I basically started to give myself more confidence. I lived in a big city. I didn’t like having to look over my shoulder all the time and it did, it changed my life. It gave me such great confidence.
Yenny: The mental and physical posture.
Kate: Yes, exactly and I just love the balance between the physical and the art form. It was Goju Karate so when I came here, my husband, Michael, he also trained as well and was training so we joined a karate club together, got into the Cage Fitness and so I continued and then got my black belt here but it’s so interesting how they just filtered into one another so then I wanted to start to teach more group fitness classes so I took my certificate III online.
Yenny: And by the way, you’re a very good trainer.
Kate: Thank you.
Yenny: Very good.
Kate: I love it and I’m really passionate about it.
Yenny: Funny but firm.
Kate: Funny but firm. I'll remember that. That’s a good balance. That’s a good balance. But yeah, so I just needed to have that piece of paper behind me to go and teach more group fitness classes. Some institutions were hiring me but to work for the council for instance, and to get paid a half decent wage. I needed that piece of paper, the certificate III so that…
Yenny: Okay and what includes that, like the safety and anatomy?
Kate: Yeah, anatomy, everything it was…it was a really extensive course but it was also a great reminder and confidence booster to me, how much knowledge I already had about the muscles and human body and that type of thing so it was really good confidence booster for me.
Yenny: So at that time, it’s why you were getting more and more into yoga as well. Is that right?
Kate: Yeah, well it’s interesting…
Yenny: Did that just happen?
Kate: Well, it sort of happened at the end of my black belt journey. The club unfortunately just wasn’t really meeting my needs at the time because I was sort of an older black belt. We couldn’t go in there and train super, super hard because then we’d end up either a) getting injured or b) it would take us a week for our muscles to repair and to rest so I started Bikram Yoga. I took my first class in California with my sister.
Yenny: Which one?
Yenny: Which one, they’re so many.
Kate: So many yoga there but the Bikram is very interesting. I am not ashamed to admit that I didn’t make it through my first class. I was down onto my knees.
Yenny: One of those people like me-- it looks so easy that they just stand there and stretch and then you're in a pile on the floor.
Kate: But the fact that it was 103 degrees and just yeah.
Yenny: That’s a hot yoga, isn’t it?
Kate: Yeah, hot yoga. Yes, it’s a real mindtrip, Bikram. It’s a fabulous practice. Some people like it. Some people don’t. And I came in there kind of cocky, thinking 'oh yeah, black belt, yoga, shmoga, I can handle it.' The fact that I didn’t make it through was very humbling for me and I continued to sort of go back and follow the specific directions about not eating 90 minutes before and being well-hydrated and it’s a real reflection of your personality. You go through a lot of different emotions during that time and mainly because of the heat and the fact that it’s the same postures all the time. It’s a real big mindtrip and that sort of led me to Bikram here so I was trained, private training. I didn’t go through the Bikram training in LA. I was fortunate enough to find this amazing woman who spent about six to eight months training me.
Kate: And I taught for about two years and then I felt pregnant and sort of led me to more different types of yoga, more of Vinyasa yoga style which is a very flowing style with the breath and I felt pregnant so I didn’t want to be in the heat at that time so…
Yenny: And why is that, do you reckon?
Kate: Well, there’s conflicting opinions about having your body too hot when you’re pregnant but I wasn’t willing to take the chance because I felt pregnant at an older age, so I just wanted to be really safe.
Yenny: Yeah, you just have to do what you feel.
Kate: Exactly and the heat just-- even though it felt good, I just didn’t want to take a chance so I had already had two miscarriages and I just didn’t want to take the chance so it led me to teacher training here down in [?]
Yenny: So could you tell us five benefits with yoga, or six? What do you think, why you started and why you continued?
Kate: Right, okay. Number one, it just feels good. It’s super awesome. Your body and your brain feels so good after a class. It’s just amazing. That’s probably the number one.
Yenny: Number two?
Kate: It starts to seep into your life. You start to think about how to live your life in moderation. I think, 'all things in moderation' so this is about my personal factors why I started.
Yenny: Of course, yeah and number three? We can just do three if you want.
Kate: Okay, sure, yeah.
Yenny: Like all benefits with yoga yeah so number three, the other third one. We just do for three.
Kate: Probably for building lean muscle and your core being really strong. Our core is our insurance policy I think, as our days progress. You have a strong core and everything works in harmony in your body.
Yenny: I was thinking because you’re a teacher as well. Would you be interested if I could film you once like sometime and share with the audience like…
Yenny: Maybe one or two poses.
Kate: Certainly, yes.
Yenny: For us beginners because I just started myself and it’s really like I was one of those people that have got yoga, you’re not here, I’ll be playing tennis and all, and then I was like after one hour, I think I went to your class in the beginning, I couldn’t walk the next day. I was like, 'oh my goodness'. And it has slowly changed me but from being actually I was that person who thought, those yoga people walking with the mat and all that. But they are just normal people like you and me.
Yenny: And I usually hide in the corner.
Kate: In the corner, yes.
Yenny: And it’s full of-- I think it’s a challenge sometimes I want to say people farting in there. That was…
Kate: It is so childish!
Yenny: No one really talks about that but I would say like I almost fainted like a couple of weeks ago. There was someone, I can’t point out who it was but it was someone. It was… and it got like-- the aircon wasn't on.
Kate: Oh dear.
Yenny: That almost start in the back there.
Kate: Yes, it was even worse when somebody would fart in Bikram because usually there’s no air flow and it’s hot and there’s rarely a window open. Sometimes at the very end, they crack a window and that’s about it so it is very, very challenging and... especially, I came from a family that’s very open. We just talked about farts. We laugh about your farts.
Yenny: It's natural.
Kate: We’re only humans. So, yes. But it's to make people feel comfortable, if they do fart and to let it out. I do have some students that’s just, they’re not embarrassed by it and they let it out but in terms of being in a closed room with no aircon is very, very challenging.
Kate: So yeah, it’s interesting. It’s like when a child does something and you want to keep a really professional response, inside you’re giggling but on the outside, poker face and you’re professional so yes.
Yenny: You have to be professional.
Kate: Of course, I even have a student come up to me after who let through three or four big ones go, like really noisy ones and she kind of smiled about it and nobody looked at her and I just sort of, I don’t make eye contact with the people when it does happen but she came up to me after and she said, “See, see what your class does to me, I just let it all hanging out” and I’m okay with it. It was a beautiful response. It was really nice.
Yenny: That’s so awful. So, that’s kind of yeah, finishes it often a little bit at the interview but from like we ended off with farts in yoga and the last question to you is, every time I ask someone about if you could tell us about-- if you have any self-care tips that you do every day or every week that taking care of yourself to heal and be stronger.
Kate: I think we talked about this before.
Yenny: Yeah, I know you did yoga, about that but anything else that you do that you could share with us?
Kate: I guess when you initially asked that question, my first thought was that I felt that I didn’t do enough and I think the things that I do for myself, though are more physical and it’s sort of the reason why I started to teach yoga and why I teach so many group fitness classes is I just love to share the joy of movement. It feels so good to have a healthy, active body, not just for the endorphin's but also to feel good about your body, the way it looks, the way it moves, and I think most things that I do for myself is a little bit of a self-practice yoga, probably not as much as I would like but I train myself as well three mornings a week and I train with a friend and I like to take my cup of coffee into my office which is all surrounded by greenery and the tree tops and I can hear the ocean, I turn on my fairy lights and sometimes I just sit there and stare into space and just allow my mind to wander wherever it goes so yes, I like to do that for myself.
Yenny: I just got so calm. I was like, I pictured myself sitting there like, I was like, oh.
Kate: So nice.
Yenny: Well, thank you so much Kate, for sharing everything.
Kate: My pleasure.
Yenny: And yeah, let’s have another cup of coffee.
Kate: My pleasure. It sounds great. I look forward to it. Namaste.
Smoothie Recipe “The Sexy Mayan”