This article was first seen on the Huffington Post. For this installment, we are joined by Debra Ricci.
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?
To describe myself first off I am a very outgoing and positive person who is full of life and happiness. I’m an extremely dedicated individual and that pertains to my work, my career, whatever I put my mind to or decide that there is something that I want to do, I do it and I put forth 100% effort. I got involved in health and fitness back in 2002 when I started my weight-loss journey. Back in 2002 I was roughly about 50 lbs overweight.
Where does your motivation come from?
Most of the time my motivation comes from within. I am very self-motivated. However, at times I really have to dig deep to find that motivation because I am human, I have my days where I lack motivation.
There are days where I dread going to the gym, but once I get there I am in the zone. I tell myself that “showing up” is the hardest part, but once you show up, you can show out! I also like to listen to really loud music on the way to the gym, music really helps to get me hyped up for my workout.
While you’ve been involved in health and fitness since 2002, you haven’t made a career out of it – what can you tell me about that?
Actually my career is in the Financial Industry. I have been in the financial industry and banking industry for 14 years. Although, health and fitness is a huge passion of mine, I haven’t made it my career for personal reasons. I do however have an online personal training and nutrition coaching business that I do on the side and it works out well for me.
What’s your perspective on the importance of self-care?
My perspective on the importance of self-care is set very high on the spectrum. I feel very strongly that your health is everything and without your health you don’t have anything. You must take care of yourself with proper nutrition, exercise, water, sleep, yearly physicals at the doctor’s office, etc. All these things play a huge role in self-care and longevity.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions about women lifting weight?
That they are going to get BIG and BULKY like a man. I actually thought the same thing back when I first started my journey in 2002. I didn’t touch a weight until like 2004. For the first two years all I did was cardio.
Of course I laugh about that now. I was that girl – afraid to pick up the weights. Then I did some research and became educated on the benefits of weightlifting for women and since then I haven’t been able to keep my hands off the weights!
Building muscle helps to burn fat and it’s hard for women to wrap their heads around that because again, they think lifting and building muscle they will start to become big and bulky and look like a man. A female’s body naturally can not get big, bulky and overly muscular because a female’s body doesn’t naturally produce nearly enough testosterone like a male’s body does.
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?
Many young women think that because they think less is best. They don’t realize that in order to lose weight in a healthy way, and to be able to keep it off in the long run, and maintain their weight loss success that it requires eating healthy, nutrient based foods throughout the course of the day. Small meals, 5 -6x a day.
But they get freaked out when they think they have to eat “that” much food every day. I always tell people to think of their bodies like cars “in order to keep the metabolism (motor) running, you have to fuel it properly throughout the day.” Eating smaller, healthier meals throughout the day will speed up the metabolism and tap into the fat burning zone.
What are the most unexpected lessons you’ve learned on your health and fitness journey this far?
The most unexpected lessons I have learned on my health and fitness journey was when I competed for the first time. Nobody informed me or gave me a heads up that after the show I would go through an emotional and a slight depression state of mind due to my body not being able to stay in that type of shape or condition.
The reason the body can’t stay in that type of shape or condition is because you start reintroducing foods that you had to eliminate during your competition prep. It’s not realistic nor is it healthy for females to walk around with a super low body fat % and be “shredded” all the time. That was something I didn’t realize until I experienced it after my first competition.
I went through what I call the “post competition blues.” By the time my 2nd and 3rd competition came around I was better as far as “post show blues” because I knew what to expect from the first go round.
What do you do to maintain balance in your life?
Balance!! One of my favorite words! It took me 2 years after I stopped competing (which I stopped in 2013 due to personal reasons) to actually “find” balance. Now that I have it, I am not letting it go!! I maintain balance by ensuring that I eat healthy 90% of the time. Usually during the week I stay on a very strict routine with my meals, and on the weekends I let loose a little!
I enjoy some good food but don’t overdo it. I enjoy traveling, so I try to take frequent trips as much as possible. Even if I am traveling, I do my best to make it to a gym, and I’m also conscious about my food selections if I am unable to make it to a gym. But if I want to eat pizza and cake that is what I will do. Being that I no longer compete I am no longer putting myself through “extreme” restrictions with food, I hardly crave anything. But like i said, if I get a craving instead of battling myself I just satisfy it.
How do you stay productive?
I would say I stay pretty productive by keeping myself busy! I like being busy. Between working full time, taking one class a semester, working out 5-6 days a week, traveling, and enjoying life to the fullest I don’t really have down time and I prefer not to have a lot of time on my hands. LOL!
Can you give a breakdown of your current diet, training and supplementation regimen and the thinking behind it?
First of all let me start off by saying that my diet is set up for me, my body type, and the type of lifestyle that I have. I sit at a desk for my job so I don’t take in a lot of carbs throughout the day because I am not moving around a lot. I take in most of my carbs around my training so – pre-and post-workout. I also keep my carbs to about 100g per day. Keep in mind I weigh 110 lbs and I stand at 4 feet 11 inches. I will also have a higher carb day on the weekend which would consist of pizza and cake or some form of dessert!
My current diet is: Oatmeal and a banana for breakfast. A mid-morning snack I will drink a green juice (which I make at home with my Ninja Blender!), it consists of spinach, kale, an apple and some ginger root. Lunch is usually a big salad with chicken, mixed greens, tomato, pickle, avocado and Italian salad dressing. Pre-Workout meal is egg whites and rice. Post workout meal is protein and a carb. And if I am hungry before I go to bed I will make a spinach egg white omelet.
As far as my training – I don’t train all body parts like I used to when I was in competition prep. Genetics definitely plays a role and some body parts don’t need the training because I don’t want them to grow in size. I train shoulders, quads, back, hamstrings and glutes. I also love to run!! I am a person who enjoys cardio!! I do cardio 5x a week. I try to get outside and run 4 miles in the morning on Saturday & Sunday. During the weekdays I will do my cardio in the gym, and my favorite piece of cardio equipment in the gym is the stairmaster!!!
I don’t really “follow” a plan because I currently don’t have any specific goals as far as my body goes. I am not trying to add muscle size; basically I am maintaining my physique and I am happy with my body and how it looks!! I just do what makes me happy and if that means going for a run versus lifting weights, or vice versa then that is exactly what I do. I don’t overthink it anymore because that only creates stress and the body doesn’t respond well when it’s under stress.
As far as supplementation I take a multivitamin, Vitamin C, Zinc, and a hair, skin, and nails vitamin on a daily basis. I don’t drink protein shakes, I don’t use Pre-Workouts. To be honest I think those products are a waste of money and you don’t know exactly what is in them. I prefer to eat whole foods to get my nutrients and as far as a “Pre-Workout” if I need a stimulant or energy boost I drink straight black coffee!
If you could only choose one thing, what would you tell your younger self?
Don’t be afraid of taking risks. A lot of people stay miserable because they are afraid to take risks. Yes, the fear of the unknown can be scary, but you never know until you take the leap! You can either stay miserable or take a chance for happiness!
What are your biggest life goals?
My biggest life goals are to continue on with school, work hard, maintain good health, stay active, workout, and see where life takes me.
Where can people go to learn more about you online?
Stay tuned for the next interview of Real Talk Real Women!