Kristina Olson Real Talk Real Women

Kristina Olson: “It’s Clear That There’s A Lack Of Education When It Comes To Nutrition”

This article was first seen on the Huffington Post. For this installment, we are joined by Kristina Olson. 

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?

First I’d say I’m a person of passion. I always choose to do what I love, though it may not always be the most lucrative. Before I started working in the fitness industry, I worked in the music industry spending hours rehearsing with my band Kristina & The Dolls and writing songs for motion pictures like Beastly and One For the Money.

At that point, I was mainly a cardio queen with so-so eating habits. It wasn’t until I went back to college at UCSD to earn my degree in Earth Sciences (emphasis in Geochemistry) that fitness really hit me. This is the time when I really struggled to find balance.

Between the physics, chemistry, and fieldwork, all my time and energy was zapped – Poof! I knew I had to do something because I’d stopped taking care of myself. I had managed to quit exercising and simultaneously adopted terrible eating habits, including lots of junk food. I actually started craving it. This was very foreign to me and consequently tipped me off that something was wrong.

After a long look in the mirror, I put my health and fitness back at the top of the list. From that point, things just kind of snowballed into where I am today.

Where does your motivation come from?

This is such a hard question to answer. I really don’t know where it comes from. It’s very intrinsic to me. Looking at my past, you can see it’s just there. I can’t get rid of it, and if I ignore it then I’m absolutely miserable.

It probably stems from my dad. For starters, he didn’t raise his girls to say, “I can’t”. In his eyes and words, we could do whatever we set our minds to. Plus, he’s hardwired to be extremely motivated. I’m sure at least some of it was handed down from him.

It’s definitely been a bit of a double-edged sword at times though, being driven can make it hard to just go with the flow. I admire people who can just relax and enjoy the moment. I’ve worked at it and made progress but I hope to find more balance.

As you decided to make a career out of your passion – what were your biggest stumbling blocks along the way?

This question made me chuckle. I do love fitness and it’s definitely a passion of mine. I really enjoy touching people’s lives (much like with music), and helping them achieve their goals. There’s nothing quite like feeling the joy pouring out of a client as they cry because they haven’t been this size in years.

That said, to be quite frank, fitness took me by surprise. I’d stopped my work in the entertainment industry and had fully intended on continuing my education to get my Masters in a discipline of Earth Science (most likely Geochemistry or Environmental Planning). Then things started happening in the fitness industry for me (which operated much like the music industry, on the sponsored athlete and model side anyways).

Music has always been my number one passion, but I needed a break after 10 years in the industry. Fitness (like music) comes natural to me since I played junior Olympic softball growing up and always excelled at extreme sports.

I’d say the biggest stumbling block in fitness is not much different than that in the music industry – being able to make it financially rewarding. This is made even more difficult by the fact that there are so many “models” and “athletes” on social media these days who will do just about anything for nothing in return.

Knowing your value is important and at some point you have to draw a line in the sand. Unfortunately, sometimes this means that you’ll lose out on the bird in the hand while you wait for the other two in the bush. Ultimately though, you get what you pay for and I’d rather work with people and brands who understand my value and recognize potential.

Kristina Olson Real Talk Real Women

What’s your perspective on the importance of self-care?

Self-care is more than going to the gym. It’s more than eating the right food. It’s about mental and emotional health as well. You can workout to your heart’s content and eat the cleanest food in the world, but it won’t do your health much good if you’re bombarded by stress 24/7 or drowning in a toxic relationship.

You have to take care of your mind, body, and yes, your soul. You also need to be honest with yourself because you can’t start to work on your life until you really take a good look at it under a microscope. Sometimes we have to come to grips with things we just really want to avoid, but that’s where the real work and “self-care” begins.

There’s just no sugar coating it.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions about women lifting weight?

It’s just the same ole story, women don’t want to get bulky. That being said, I do think that the “bulky” phrase is on the way out. Women are becoming better educated when it comes to the benefits of weightlifting.

I think the barrier to entry, a.k.a. weight rack occupied mainly by men, still has many women feeling awkward, inexperienced, and lacking confidence. For the most part when I see women in the gym, I make a point to go say hi and introduce myself.

I know what it feels like to be there and lack confidence, or feel out of place. It’s nice to have some reassurance and occasional tips on how to get more bang for your buck with certain exercises. Don’t be shy ladies, get up in there! You’re killin it.

Many young women who want to lose weight believe that not eating is the way to do it, without realizing 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?

It’s clear that there’s a lack of education when it comes to nutrition. Maybe if more young women realized the impact it has on their development, they would adopt better eating habits. For example, without getting too technical, studies indicate that approximately 1 in 3 women will fracture their hip in their lifetime and that the mortality rate the year post fracture is 14-58%.

Those are some pretty crazy statistics. If young women don’t reach their peak bone mineral density, which can happen if they have eating disorders or disordered eating patterns where calories are restricted, they can be at greater risk for not only hip fractures later in life but also osteopenia and osteoporosis (disorders that impact a number of female collegiate athletes).

Moreover, lack of education is not just a problem with young women, it’s a problem with young men as well. It especially impacts both male and female athletes at the collegiate level. It gets better at the pro level because athletes have more resources at their fingertips, but even at the pro level some are lacking.

Collegiate athletes have come to me saying they need help because halfway through the game, they’ve lost all steam. Come to find out they don’t eat nearly enough to sustain their energy levels, and on top of that they don’t hydrate properly. I think there should be mandatory nutrition education in schools, especially concerning athletes.

What are the most unexpected lessons you’ve learned on your health and fitness journey this far?

Working in the health and fitness industry has really helped me hone my people skills. They were already good to begin with, but it’s challenged me and pushed me to be even better at reading people and knowing what they need.

I’ve dealt with many extremes (crying, puking, momentary hatred, and utter joy) and a lots of “I cant’s” from my clients. You figure out what drives the person and what they respond to best, and use those tactics to get them to perform and achieve. Another surprise is that it brings out my nurturing side. I care very much for my clients.

Kristina Olson Real Talk Real Women

What do you do to maintain balance in your life?

There are a few different issues I’d like to address on the balance side of things.

1. I make sure to set aside time for family, my fur babies, and extra curricular activities outside of fitness like music or reading. I especially enjoy reading before bed. It helps slow the mind and enables me to decompress before bed.

2. I make a point of going out and enjoying the world instead of being stuck behind the desk or slammed with clients. I also make it a point not to live in the gym. Yes, I love to exercise but the gym is not my life.

3. In moderation, I let myself indulge in the little things like a nice sour ale with a burger followed with some froyo. In the fitness industry it’s very common for people to become extremely rigid and strict with their diets. This just isn’t feasible in the long term and I need variety in my life.

4. One of the more challenging aspects these days is finding the balance between living in the moment and trying to capture a moment for social media. Social media is a beast of it’s own and can take over your life if you let it. Since so much marketing of a brand relies on the social aspect, it can be hard to get away from, especially if you’re a small or personal brand.

On this note, I try to limit my time spent on social media to times when I actually have something meaningful to post or say.

How do you stay productive?

TO DO LISTS! They are my best friends when it comes to productivity. Once I have a number of things on the list, I sort them (or at least mark them) by priority. I don’t worry about making it fancy like in an excel sheet or something. A good old piece of paper and a pencil do the trick. The list never ends, it ebbs and flows with things getting checked off/ and or added as you go along or as new ideas hatch.

If you could only choose one thing, what would you tell your younger self?

I would tell myself to listen to my gut and follow my instincts. I could have avoided a seriously toxic relationship that almost killed me if I would have just listened to my inner voice. But I was young, naive, and really lacked the experience and confidence in my instincts and myself.

It wasn’t until coming out on the other side that I’ve realized how right I’ve been on so many occasions. I finally trust my own judgment and instincts. It’s unfortunate that I had to learn by experience and not from the words of others. Hopefully someday my experiences will benefit others.

Can you give a breakdown of your current diet, training and supplementation regimen and the thinking behind it?

Supplementation: The only supplement I take is a pre workout. On rare occasion, if I don’t have a meal prepped or need something quick, I’ll drink a protein shake or eat a bar. I’m very picky when it comes to supplements and look over the ingredients with a fine-toothed comb.

Diet: My diet consists of lots of fibrous vegetables and some fruit (mainly apples, some berries, and citrus). I do love pineapple though! I’m definitely a meatatarian and it’s a personal choice (haha), therefore I keep red meat in my diet. I love wild game like venison and elk. It’s super lean and tastes amazing if cooked right. I don’t eat much fish. If I do, it has to be fresh and wild caught.

Given my background in Earth Sciences, I’m hyper aware of the environments in which fish are farm raised (e.g. Atlantic Salmon is farm raised, “fresh” does not mean “wild caught”). While I know our oceans are being overfished and sustainability is a monumental issue, I just can’t bring myself to eat farm raised unless I know more about where it came from. I’m not a big fan of poultry, but I have been known to roast some pretty amazing whole chickens!

For carbohydrates, I tend to stick to complex carbs like brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, and sweet potatoes. Though I can say I love 50/50 corn & wheat tortillas.

Training: I currently train approximately 4 days a week. It used to be more like six days a week but I’ve scaled it back since my goals have changed. I don’t do much steady state cardio right now and stick to high intensity intervals between my sets of strength training.

The jump rope is my go to. That way I can knock my workouts out in a shorter amount of time while still getting the cardio in. There’s also the added benefit of burning more calories in the 24 hours following your workout. Research indicates that you burn more calories post workout when you complete HIIT rather than steady state (like walking on the treadmill).

What are your biggest life goals for the year?

Lately I’ve been working with celebrities and I’d like to continue rounding out my roster with that level of clientele. I also just re-launched my website and it now includes custom online training and nutrition programs that are hand tailored for each unique individual, which is very exciting.

That said, I think my biggest and most exciting goal going into this year is outside of fitness. I plan on releasing new music this year under a new project name. As soon as I have some new songs catalogued, I’ll be working to place them in TV, Film, and Video Games. Pretty much picking up where I left off when I took my hiatus from the entertainment industry.

Where can people go to learn more about you online?

You can stay up to date by following me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook as well as my website.

Written by Miriam Khalladi

I guess you could call me the founder of "Real Talk. Real Women." - I'm on a mission to inspire women around the globe to live happier and healthier lives and do this by sharing the stories and life lessons of some of the most inspirational women on the planet!

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