Health + Fitness

From Overweight To Fit - A Personal Trainer's Guide To Shedding Fat

by Alecia Joy Ebersole

Once overweight, personal trainer, Alecia Ebersole says we need to get back to nature. She shares her diet and fit tips and debunks myths...

Alecia Ebersole is a Microbiologist, Coach, Personal Trainer, mum, wife and lover of life. She was also once an "overweight person". Shedding over 25kg after hitting her heaviest weight of 90kg some years back, she credits every single overweight person trying to lose weight as her fitness inspiration - she knows their struggles, she was once in their shoes. 

Below Alecia shares her weight loss advice, tips for establishing healthy diet and fitness habits plus 5 exercises you can do anywhere that will give you a good workout. Indeed, her favourite quote seems fitting, "Matter cannot be created nor destroyed, merely transformed from one form to another." 

Let your transformation begin.

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Tell us a bit about your own health journey and how you got into the fitness industry?

I was always an athletic child growing up – Tennis, softball, skating, horseriding but when I hit 13-14 years of age my weight ballooned to almost 90 kilos. Inactivity and persuing my academic career meant I had to focus on school rather than extracurricular activities. I lost 25kg throughout my final year of school through nutrition and walking and finally fell in love with les mills bodycombat and bodyattack at the age of 25. Needless to say that was JUST THE BEGINNING!!!

In your opinion what are the three biggest myths when it comes to weight loss and health and fitness?

1) Fat will make you fat. 

2) You need to spend an hour or two training every day, 4-6 days a week. 

3) Low calorie foods will make you lose weight.

What type of exercise do you think achieves the best results and why?

High Intensity Interval Training and weight lifting – Any short burst of intense movement incorporating multiple joins hence multiple muscle groups will ensure fast results. Not only from a fat burning standpoint but from an aesthetic viewpoint. The body shrinks and hardens when we train efficiently and at a high intensity.

What are 5 of your favourite exercises that you can do anywhere and get a good workout?*

1) Squat Jump 

2) Push up on toes 

3) Wide Mountain Climber 

4) Jack Knives 

5) Squat Thrust

The 3 videos below will show you how to perform all five exercises*.

*To reduce the risk of injury, before beginning this or any exercise program, please consult a healthcare provider for appropriate exercise prescription and safety precautions. The exercise instruction and advice presented are in no way intended as a substitute for medical consultation

How important is diet in achieving maximum results even if you are working out every day?

When we talk about diet these days we’re really talking about “fuel” as we’ve come a long way from the old, “calories in = calories out” days. The best advice I can give people is to eat what comes from nature. If it comes from the ground its good for you. If it comes from a box or plastic, it’s probably not. Im a big believer in “you are what you eat”... Diet is crucial to achieving the results you want.

Should we be working out every day? Yes /No /why?

Yes and by working out I mean movement. I take 2 days a week (Friday and Sunday) to rest. On these days I still walk, stretch, chase my child and generally move a lot even though I am tired and sore from the week of training. Movement on my rest days keeps me from feeling stagnant as 5 days a week I workout hard.

How long should we aim to work out? Is working out for longer better?

We should always aim to workout at an intensity that challenges us. With cardio, I tell my clients that they shouldn’t be able to talk in full sentences for 50-60% of the workout meaning they should feel their breath catch for the majority of the workout. The time spent working out is merely a reflection of how hard you’re challenging yourself. With strength training we want to aim for failure, whatever length of time that can be achieved in with enough down time between sets (every person is different). We know that glycogen stores deplete after 45-55 minutes of continuous aerobic exercise but we also know that intensity is the key to efficient training.

Do different types of exercises work for different body shapes? Give some examples.

Its physically impossible to “spot train” meaning you can’t isolate and shrink a part of the body by focusing on that part of the body. But you can certainly change body composition and build muscle which will in turn be reflected in the way your body looks by doing weighted functional movements.

What does a typical day on your plate look like for you?

Post workout: 1 cup oats with almond milk and hot water + 1 teaspoon of peanut butter OR Raw protein shake with ½ banana, 1 tablespoon vital greens, chia and/or 1 teaspoon peanut butter. 

Lunch: 2eggs, ½ avocado, 1 vegemite wrap OR Lentils, 2 eggs, spinach, saurkraut, avocado +/- lean meat.

Dinner: generally lean meat or vegetarian such as lentils and vegetables with greens, steamed broccoli and brown rice or sweet potato with 2 cubes of 86% dark chocolate... afterwards of course.

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Credit: Instagram
There are so many different schools of thought on the diets we should be following – paleo, keto, gluten-free, vegan. What is your advice when it comes to diet?

Sugar truly is the devil. Avoid processed food and if you’re going to eat animals make sure you get them from a good source – many animals are sick and dying before slaughter so source ethical meat and eat from nature, not a packet.

What sort of diet works best for you and why?

The “4 hour body” by Tim Ferris is the best diet for me. Based on slow carbohydrate metabolism and avoiding all sugar, this diet changed my life when I was crossfitting and power lifting every day.

What are some of your best tips for anyone who needs to motivation to get started on their fitness journey especially in the lead up to spring / summer?

Music. Get your playlist sorted!!! Music motivates, inspires and drives all humans. We have an innate ability to find motivation from music that inspires us.

What’s your favourite inspiring quote?

"Matter cannot be created nor destroyed, merely transformed from one form to another."

Who is your biggest fitness inspiration?

Every single overweight person trying to lose weight...as I was once in their shoes.

How important is exercise and nutrition to maintaining optimal mental health?

I personally think it’s a crucial part of our genetic and mental make up. Convenience has made us lazy and we’ve forgotten how hard it is to grow, harvest and prepare food from paddock to plate. We were far more active years ago and now we have type 2 diabetic adolescent children... I'd push people to grow food, not lawns and teach the next generation where our food comes from so they understand how hard it is to produce food. Id also add that for me personally, if I don’t exercise regularly I feel lethargic, unable to focus and sleep properly. Exercise and nutrition are paramount to maintaining overall health, both physical and mental.

Follow Alecia on Instagram and Facebook for plenty of fitness inspiration.   

*To reduce the risk of injury, before beginning this or any exercise program, please consult a healthcare provider for appropriate exercise prescription and safety precautions. The exercise instruction and advice presented are in no way intended as a substitute for medical consultation

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