Health and Wholeness

Coffs Harbour-based  fitness instructor Jenna Ferreira believes that health and fitness goes far beyond the numbers on a scale or the latest fad diet. Coastbeat spoke to Jenna about reframing the conversation around diet, exercise and mental health as well as the importance of balance and a gentle approach so changes can be maintained long-term.

Cb: In late October, you presented a Nutrition and Wellness Day at the Bonville Golf Resort. You brought together respected health practitioners who focussed on the elements of a balanced lifestyle: fitness, nutrition and mental health. What was your aim?

Jenna Ferreira: I wanted to teach people how to live a balanced lifestyle. In this industry and in the age of social media, people have the wrong idea about health and fitness. There are so many fad diets – from juice cleanses to cutting carbohydrates – so I want to teach people that they can live a balanced lifestyle and stop classifying food as either good or bad. We shouldn’t have to deprive ourselves. When I put this workshop together, I wanted the focus to be on nutrition. Although training is important, before that even happens, we have to get our nutrition right. You can never out-train a bad diet.

Health and Wholeness
Attendees at the Nutrition and Wellness Day at Bonville Golf Resort

It’s all in the label

Cb: There’s so much confusion around diet and nutrition. Every day another social media star is telling us what to eat, what to cut from our diets and how the latest superfood will change the game.

JF: A good place to start is reading labels on food – the ingredients but also the macronutrients. That’s protein, fats and carbohydrates but also fibre intake as well. It’s teaching people about food and how to read labels and it just goes from there. My clients learn so much about their food and we work to stop that binge eating cycle and the thought patterns that say all carbohydrates are bad or they must starve themselves until midday.

Cb: I must admit, I jumped on the ‘starve yourself until midday’ bandwagon. What are your thoughts on intermittent fasting?

JF: Fad diets are not sustainable. I want to see people making life-long sustainable changes. Your body needs food every single day in order to function. Otherwise, your body starts shutting down. This is especially an issue for women. So personally, I’d stay well clear of any fad diet like that. I believe in a balanced lifestyle that includes all foods. I’m all about making sure we’re getting the right macronutrients for our bodies.

Get moving

Cb: How much exercise do we really need? 

JF: Every single human has a certain number of calories that they burn naturally each day and that’s based on age, scale weight, height, muscle mass and the level of activity they do on a daily basis. This is called Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. A coach or trainer can figure out how many calories their client needs to consume and burn each day.

For the average person, I’d advise going for a walk most days and getting into the gym about three days a week. I highly recommend weight training when at the gym, and then adding a brisk walk.

Cb: What if you don’t like the gym?

JF: You don’t have to have a gym membership in order to train. I have lots of clients who train at home and just use their body weight instead of additional weights. You can train outside as well. People in Coffs Harbour are so lucky! We have so many outdoor trainers and classes. I’m sure the same is true all along the coast. You certainly don’t have to be inside a gym to get moving and create healthy habits. Read the Coastbeat article about great outdoor fitness activities this summer.

Health and Wholeness
From the ocean to the beach or garden, here on the coast we can enjoy fun fitness activities outdoors

The power of the mind

Cb: How does mental health fit in?

JF: In the pyramid of nutrition and training, the very first thing that comes into play is stress and sleep. If you don’t have stress and sleep under control then there’s no way you’re going to get your nutrition and training right.

You must aim to balance your stress and sleep. That may mean spending less time on social media or considering the people you’re spending time with and asking whether they’re good or bad for your mindset. How do they make you feel? Is your workplace stressing you out? You need to find those stress points that are causing these issues.

If your sleep patterns and stress patterns are all over the place, it will take a huge toll on the body. Our body will not respond well unless those two are underway. A lot of people report feeling stressed but there are definitely ways to make that better. I use and encourage my clients to try meditation apps like Headspace.

I recommend psychologists, too. I think every person should speak to one at some point in their life. I’ve seen clients experience amazing transformations and they’ve been very thankful. There’s no need to be embarrassed at all.

New year, new me?

Cb: Summer has just begun and it’s typically a time when people go to drastic lengths to try to lose weight or change their diet.

JF: If we can focus on creating a balanced lifestyle where we’re not restricting things, it’s so much healthier, not only for the body but the mind. The focus should be on overall health and it shouldn’t matter if you have a wedding or a birthday coming up.

Don’t worry about ‘New Year, New Me’. I don’t like that approach because come the end of January, people tend to blow it out of the park and get so disappointed that they didn’t follow through on their plans.

We say to people, don’t train because you hate your body. Don’t eat chicken and broccoli because you want to lose weight. How about focussing on the fuel you’re putting into your body that will give you lots of energy throughout the day? Why not actually be thankful that your body is capable of doing a set of squats or push-ups? If we can think like that instead of, “Oh it’s summer, I need to fit into a bikini” and deprive ourselves of food, then we can avoid the vicious cycle.

Health and Wholeness
Next, Jenna is looking to host an overseas retreat with yoga as one of the key focus areas

Cb: Excellent advice. Where can people learn more? Any other wellness days planned?

JF: The recent workshop here in Coffs was amazing! It sold out and I had great feedback. My next project is to run my own retreat overseas. The focus will be on nutrition, training, yoga, and meditation. You can keep up to date via my Instagram and Facebook.