Interview: A Professional Yogi: Rebecca Thieneman Yoga and Nutrition professional for men and women
I met Rebecca when I moved to Atlanta in 2008 and joined Lifetime Fitness. My mom had already started her yoga classes and had so many praises for the way she teaches and her nutrition and yoga AND meditation techniques, I just had to meet her. At the time, I was also going through a tough time personally and was looking for ways to calm myself. I had also started researching the benefits of yoga and staying fit. And trust me, Rebecca’s classes and her advice was not just the praises I had heard from my mom and several other members at the club. Her advice on a day to day life, how to handle stresses in your life and how to really use the techniques practiced in yoga in daily life has really stayed with me. Not only a yoga teacher but she became a friend as well.
Today Rebecca will talk not only about her yoga and nutrition experience but a little secret I stumbled upon by the ways of google: Rebecca was in a fitness competition during her college years! The training and dedication it takes to compete is mind-blowing. And so my respect for Rebecca’s dedication to her craft and career grew even more. Here is one person who has gone through the trials and tribulations of getting a perfect 10 body.
Rebecca Thieneman Yoga and Nutrition professional is based out of Atlanta, GA and currently works as an instructor at Lifetime Fitness. She is also pursuing further certifications in yoga in India. To contact Rebecca, please see the end of the interview:
- What made you want to turn towards yoga and nutrition as a career option? How did all this start?
I have always been passionate about health, and believe that while there are many ways to live, the only way to thrive is by sharing your passion with the world. I took my first yoga class at 16, and studied nutrition on my own until I was able to enroll in a university and study it more formally. Throughout college I taught fitness and nutrition classes in dorms, for sororities, at the campus recreation center, in local fitness facilities, and for various events and organizations in the community. I wrote for various health and fitness publications, and I had the privilege of teaching an Undergraduate Science of Nutrition course for several semesters while I was completing my Masters degree. I have for as long as I remembered sought out ways to share my passion as often and with as many as I could.
2. Yoga is a very talked about topic for weight loss these days. Many people are confused what yoga to do when. Can you talk about some of the different types and how to incorporate them into goals such as weight loss, meditation, peace of mind, depression, bouncing back from an injury, etc?
Yoga of any kind has benefits for all of the above. There is not a single person on the planet who would not benefit from this practice. That being said, Vinyasa yoga is a very active form of yoga, great first thing in the morning or any time during the day when you need a little pick-me-up. For a practice more focused on deep stretching and relaxation, yin or restorative yoga may be more appropriate.
3. What kind of nutrition plan do you suggest to your clients? Any foods that you recommend nutritionally that are perceived as “fattening or high carb” but actually have a high nutritional value?
I recommend as many whole foods as possible. With the low-carb craze fruits are often discouraged however I encourage my clients to include them daily. I also encourage vegetarian meals whenever possible, reducing the volume of animal-based foods, and instead focusing on plant-based proteins and healthy fats such as hemp seeds, chia seeds, legumes, beans, and nuts.
4. What are your thoughts on a “yoga” diet plan? Some yogis stick to very basic foods, right? Macrobiotic?
Yogic eating does include foods that are sattvic-or pure-in nature. It also includes paying attention to how you eat. Mindful eating is a great example of how the practice of yoga can become a way of life: being in the moment, and experiencing things one bite at a time.
5. We talk a lot about women and their weight loss struggles. Let’s flip the switch for a minute and talk about men. What would you suggest to a man wanting to lose weight? What is different for them vs women?
Some common factors I have noticed when it comes to men are their eating schedules and the lack of concern they have with their food choices. Often eating is an after thought during the workday, and meals are put off until arriving home in the evening. This creates an unhealthy balance of caloric intake throughout the day. Women seem to be more concerned with food factors such as organic vs. inorganic, brands, caloric content, nutrition integrity etc. while men seem to be more driven by taste and convenience.
6. What would you suggest to a man wanting/needing to gain weight? What is a sample diet chart?
Eat, eat, and eat some more! The amount of calories needed to gain weight is as significant as the amount of calories avoided in losing weight. To get the calories in, I generally recommend 3-4 solid meals with nutritional supplements in between.
7. I came across you one day in my Google searches being in a women’s fitness competition. Can you tell us about how you decided to take that on and what type of commitment it took?
I have always enjoyed fitness. As a former dancer and marathon runner, I appreciate challenging activities that require discipline. During my freshman year of college there was a local competition that I decided to channel my long hours in the gym towards. While I didn’t expect to win, this outcome led me to compete in quite a few more advanced competitions in the years that followed. Getting your body composition into peak condition is as much about diet as it is exercise-if not more. The combination of extended training and strict eating can be exhausting at times. That being said, I think it sharpened my character, and helped me endure my college years with more ease.
8. What was a sample diet you had to follow for a day and how many months did you stick to this?
Generally, the diet I followed was very calculated. When it came to carbohydrates, I focused on minimal sugar intake, though I did eat low glycemic fruits and natural sugars until several weeks out of the competition. Other common carbs were brown rice, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, non-starchy vegetables of all kinds, and whole grain cereal. I also prioritized lean proteins and avoided condiments, and processed foods of all kinds as much as possible.
9. What was the workout plan like for the week training for the competition?
First thing in the morning on most days I would do low-intensity cardio for an extended duration. Later in the day I would do high volume weight training, a short bout of high-intensity cardio, and have routine practice.
10. Can you suggest a sample plan for anyone wanting to lose weight? Does working out 3 hours a day help?
When it comes to nutrition, I suggest focusing not just on calories but the volume-the actual space-the food fills. There is evidence that volume contributes to satiety, the feeling of fullness and satisfaction. This means non-starchy veggies, fruits, and naturally high-fiber foods top the list. Protein is another nutrient that can help you feel fuller for longer, and also requires more metabolic energy to digest. Including a vegetable and/or fruit at every meal along with a lean form of protein is key. I also recommend using an online food journal such as thedailyplate.com, sparkpeople.com, myfitnesspal.com, etc. to keep track. The additional accountability and awareness this activity can provide makes a significant impact.
11. Tell us about what you do to keep fit and healthy?
I practice yoga daily, and run 3-4 days per week. I follow a vegetarian diet and always keep an open mind towards new foods and new types of physical activities.
Rebecca Thieneman: http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=100002418570752