Think you don’t have time to workout? Fit mom Andrea Kjaernet juggles her 8-5 office job, family commitments and deals with a mental disorder that recently came into the spotlight on local media yet still manages to regularly workout and maintain the great physique she’s worked hard for for several years. We interviewed her to find out more about her fitness journey and how fitness helps her deal with manic-depressive disorder.
1. How does your workout schedule look like? How often do you work out?
I have an 8-5 office job so I go to the gym right after, around 6-8:30 pm, 4-5 times per week.
2. Have you always been fit and physically active? If not, when did you start your fitness journey?
No. I was a member of the pep squad in high school and college but stopped all kinds of physical activity when I started working which was around 2008-2013. I took baby steps into the fitness lifestyle in 2014. I didn’t want to hire a Personal Trainer so I decided to study to become one. Then I applied what I learned to myself starting 2015.
3. Who or what inspired you to do what you’re doing now?
I was diagnosed with manic-depressive disorder in my early 20’s. It may seem unreal and overrated but it is a real, albeit misunderstood illness. It was full blown in my early-mid 20’s because I was living a very unhealthy lifestyle. I smoked, drank alcohol almost everyday, lacked sleep, lacked exercise, and ate very poorly. I made a lot of bad choices at that time.
Then in 2014, I moved to Norway and experienced winter and lack of sunlight, which I didn’t know contributes to depression. My condition worsened. When I finally sought help, the doctor told me that changing my habits will make a big difference. I learned that eating right and getting exercise will help heal me.
Who and what inspired me? My son and my own mental and emotional well-being. I’m a mother. How can I take care of my son when I can’t even take care of myself? How can I make sure that my son will grow up to be a healthy, balanced adult when I’m not even in that state? This is what finally pushed me. I wanted to be stable and reliable for my son. The physical aspect of it only came secondary.
4. What was/is your biggest challenge?
I work 7 days a week aside from making time for fitness. I do this not by choice but because current circumstances require it of me. My biggest challenge is to find balance in my time for work and family.
5. Do you have a fitspiration? Who is it? Why?
Aimee Mullins. She was born with missing fibula bones and as a result, had both of her legs amputated below the knee. But she went on to be known as one of the greatest athletes and fashion models of all time! I admire her discipline, ambition, and resolve! To me, she is a reminder that with the right attitude, that one can rise above their affliction.
6. What surprising lessons have you learned to get to where you are now?
That we shouldn’t set deadlines to health and fitness. Because once we reach that deadline, then what? Do we stop? I learned that we should treat it as an entire lifestyle change. We shouldn’t opt for shortcuts because those are unsustainable. We should find ways to make it not torturous but rewarding. So that it can be never-ending.
7. We can tell that you do a lot of strength training and weight lifting. What can you say to women who are afraid to lift weights because they don’t want to get “big” muscles?
It’s a myth that weightlifting makes women bulky. Steroids make women bulky. Without it, a woman is physically incapable of building big muscles like men. We simply lack the testosterone for it. A woman’s curves depend on how fat is distributed in her body. When you lose weight through cardio like zumba or running alone, you will also lose your curves because you will lose fat and muscle at the same time. After a period, your body adapts. And in order for you to keep losing fat, you will have to do more and more cardio, which isn’t very sustainable. Cardio plus weightlifting on the other hand, will help you lose fat and keep muscle. As you lose fat, you can build your curves back up with muscle. The more muscle you have in your body, the faster your metabolism, the easier it will be for you to keep fat off. This is the way to go if your goal is to look toned, tight, and curvy!
8. What advice can you give our readers, particularly women, on their fitness journey?
Don’t fall for diet and exercise fads! Slimming pills/teas/detox drinks/waist wraps/sweat suits don’t work. Shortcuts don’t work. Don’t blindly idolize fitness models because most are untruthful about what they’re doing to get to their state. Do your research, take the liberty to read and learn about the aspects of health and fitness that you’re interested in. Make wise decisions because you’re investing in yourself. Lastly, do it not because you hate yourself but because you love yourself.
9. What’s your next goal?
I might join a bikini fitness competition next year but I’m not sure yet. For now I want to mix things up and experience activities that aren’t aesthetic bodybuilding (which is what I’m most comfortable with). Fitness is dynamic, after all!
Andrea is an ISSA certified personal trainer. ISSA or International Sports Sciences Association is considered one of the best and recognized certification programs globally. Andrea is currently not a practicing personal trainer but she can help you with doing meal plans. If interested, check out her Fitsquad Personal Trainer profile here and send her a message. She is also planning to launch her own online coaching business next year so stay tuned for that.