BY MICHELLE XIONG
Alexandra Golovac is a University of Miami graduate and currently conducts her own practice as a personal trainer and fitness nutritionist. She is also a spin class instructor at the University of Miami Wellness Center.
Q: Weight is definitely a major concern for college students. What is your plan for students for maintaining their proper weight?
A: The most effective way that will last you a lifetime is eating with proper nutrition. It’s the best way to maintain a healthy weight or to lose weight or to even gain weight.
Q: Food options are a struggle especially on campus. Are there any tips you can give to our students for choosing what is healthy on the menu?
A: Always look for vegetables and fruit and fill your plate with that first so you will have less room for other fillers such as chips. Go for the salad bar if the place has one, or sautéed vegetables and lean protein, which would include eggs, lean ground turkey, chicken breasts or any part of the chicken, or seafood. The rest of your plate should be whole grains so avoid all the white pastas and go for the full grains like brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, and sweet potatoes.
Q: There have been articles that have said the salads can be the worst options on the menu. Why is that?
A: It’s the dressing. If you get it bottled, it is usually filled with chemicals, so when I work with my clients, salads are not always on their meal plan. Some natural dressing you can put on your salad is vinegar and lime or lemon juice.
Q: Not everyone lives on campus and it’s a struggle to put time into the gym, so are there any tips or tricks for those who can’t?
A: Well one of the great things at the University of Miami is that your tuition includes gym membership here, so you always have access to it. It is difficult to set aside time with busy schedules, but you have to make it a part of your life. That is something I always teach my clients and want to instill in people. If you have a pretty active lifestyle, 60 minutes of active work every day is enough to maintain a good weight and health. Honestly, there are no easy tricks to it.
Q: What are some at-home workouts that anyone can do?
A: You can always do intensity workouts with your own body weight to get your heart rate up at more than just a medium level. A good base time to start on is 25 minutes of one minute on high intensity and 30 seconds off for rest. You can do jumping jacks, high knees, burpees, push-ups, and bicycle kicks. You want to break a sweat because you want to know you’re doing something active and good for yourself.
Q: Motivation and getting started is a key factor. What is some advice you can give for those starting out?
A: Have a goal in mind like if it’s a certain physique or weight or whatever it is, small or big. Reach it! Once you’ve reached it, then set another one. Always try to prove to yourself that you can do it and when you’ve done it, you feel satisfied. I don’t like anything that has a negative connotation to it for example “I’m going to eat well for five days and have two cheat days”. A bad way of reaching these goals is not eating or exercising for hours on end. Make sure to stay on an achievable long-term plan. You may reach your goal of losing 5 pounds for only doing it for five days, but you’re not continuing on the path to reach your next goal. It’s all part of a lifestyle.
Q: Does the MyPlate also include foods like pizza and implicate you can have junk foods in certain portions?
A: There are no processed foods or anything like sugar or sweets, which the previous pyramid had at the top. MyPlate is focusing on whole, real foods meaning these foods have not been processed and are whole in their nutrition. Processed foods are man-made and are food-like items, which is what I like to say, rather than real food. It may be satisfying for you for a little bit by giving your body the calories it wants or needs, but it’s not giving you the nutrition.
Q: What have you seen people do incorrectly at the gym?
A: I’ve seen many people lift weights that are not in their proper form and stance so most likely they will have an injury whether it’s right now or it’s 10 to 15 years from now. A lot of back and knee injuries can happen or you can pull a muscle or strain a shoulder. Crossfit is a big thing that has come up in the past 5 years, and many injuries have occurred by compromising their backs and knees rather than going down a weight level and first achieving that weight. It is important to research how to do these and practice.
Q: Do you recommend any websites or resources to start off?
A: Bodybuilding.com is wonderful website. It’s not necessarily going to make you a body builder, but they have videos and written instructions on how to properly do a squat and bicep curl. They also have nutrition on there as well, but it is geared more towards muscle mass and bodybuilding. I have the NikeTraining app, which is free. It does the videos with you and structures different workouts that use body weight for 25-45 minutes.
Q: What’s your advice on sleep?
A: You have to do it. Everyone is a little different but definitely get within from 5-8 hours. One of the things people say is, “I’m not losing weight,” or “I’m not gaining muscle mass,” and it’s because you might not be sleeping. Sleep is where all the work you have done comes into play.