Angela Brown is a certified personal trainer, exercise coach, and physical therapist with an emphasis on mind-body fitness and exercise prescription. She’s also a Nutrition Specialist and the owner of Sweat St. Louis, a full service gym that offers personal training, boxing classes, physical therapy, massage therapy, and nutrition counseling.
According to a recent survey from Statistic Brain, to no surprise, the most popular New Year’s Resolution is “Lose Weight/Healthier Eating”. But it’s not just a new year’s resolution, it’s an all year’s resolution. To help accomplish your goals, you have to have a good foundation or nothing will change. We asked Angela to shed some of her tips and experience with healthy eating and creating the habits of a healthy lifestyle.
How long have you been working in the health & wellness field?
Angela Brown: I have been practicing in the health and wellness field since 1999. I love what I do and the fact that I can do it all in one place makes me extremely happy! 🙂 I attended Maryville University and earned a Bachelors degree in Physical Therapy in 1999, graduating magna cum laude.
I worked in outpatient orthopedic and sports clinics until 2007 but at that point, I knew I wanted something more. I joined the team at SWEAT in 2007 and continued offering physical therapy services as well as personal training. I became certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. After a few years I decided to pursue another certification. I became certified as an Exercise Coach through the CHEK Institute in August of 2012. This added a lot of expertise to my practice as a personal trainer and physical therapist. A key component of this certification is the integration of mind-body fitness and traditional exercise prescription. I am able to show clients how different types of exercise affect both parts of the autonomic nervous system – an often neglected factor that is vital to achieving success with clients.
The same year, I also became a Fitness Nutrition Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. This allowed me to supplement my knowledge of good fitness techniques and methodology with an extensive understanding of good nutrition.
My passion for nutrition and lifestyle change didn’t stop there. I was struggling with my own health issues and wanted some answers. I found a program called Functional Diagnostic Nutrition that helped me discover that I had hormone imbalance, adrenal dysfunction, gastrointestinal dysfunction, food sensitivities and many other issues. I immediately knew that I wanted to add this to my practice and I became certified as Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner in 2014.
With my love of health and wellness and extensive background in the healthcare field, I am able to assist any client in achieving their goals. I have a genuine desire to help people and can develop a plan to make you feel your very best! Our gym is a full service gym that offers personal training, boxing classes and training, physical therapy, massage therapy, and nutrition counseling. We have a great group of trainers and instructors that are ready and eager to help clients.
How did you get started?
Angela Brown: I’ve always had an interest in sports. I was a cheerleader and played volleyball and softball throughout grade school and high school. But my true passion for the healthcare field began in high school when I took my first anatomy class. It was then that I knew I wanted to pursue a career related to the body and how it functioned.
Staying committed to living a healthy lifestyle takes a lot of hard of work. What’s your biggest motivation for sticking to your goals?
Angela Brown: As I mentioned, I have been practicing in the healthcare field for 18 years. I have seen so many clients that have had numerous different dysfunctions and diseases. I want to live a long and healthy life and be there for my son and husband so it much easier for me to stay motivated.
In your experience, what are the biggest challenges people face when trying to change their eating habits and create a healthier lifestyle?
Angela Brown: One of the biggest challenges that I see is the busy and crazy life that most people lead now. It is harder to stick to a plan with people being on the go so much and not taking the time to take a deep breath and give more time to themselves. And so many people have functions they need to go to on a weekly basis. Plan ahead when you know you are going out to eat. I always look at the menu before I go! And every restaurant I have ever been to will accommodate you.
For people who say that a busy schedule is their top challenge, what advice would you give them?
Angela Brown: PLAN…..PLAN…..PLAN! I literally sit down once a week and plan out my meals for the week. I definitely do this before I go grocery shopping. I love to cook but you don’t need to be a gourmet chef to do this. In fact, you can buy rotisserie chickens already made. It is easy to throw some chicken or hamburger on the grill. Keep things simple but you must plan ahead.
What tips do you have for keeping healthy eating & exercise goals and not giving up?
Angela Brown: I like to tell people to create a list of goals and hang it somewhere that they will see it every single day. And I don’t like a goal with number on it without a reason for it….. like “I want to lose 20 pounds”. I like someone to say “I want to lose 20 pounds so I feel better when I go on a bike ride with my son.” When you put a reason behind it make the goal so much more attainable.
Do you have any advice for parents who want to eat healthier and need to feed a whole family?
Angela Brown: I run into this problem personally every single day! My 11 year old son might be the pickiest eater I have ever seen which can be extremely frustrating! That is where “simplicity” comes into play again. I make a protein source that is simple and a few different veggies. Then he has a few options. I don’t eat rice and potatoes since I am sensitive to them but my son and husband love them. I make a large batch of them and keep them in the fridge so they can reheat them with dinner if they want that to go with the rest of the meal. I also “batch” make food (especially veggies) that can easily be reheated.
How important is the practice of meal planning to keeping up with healthy eating goals in your opinion? Do you do it? If so, how do you go about it?
Angela Brown: I think it was of the most important things with trying to eat healthy. I do keep a food planner. It is my Bible! I have a notebook that I do my planning in and my family all knows that is not to be messed with. I plan one week at a time. I sit down on a Saturday or Sunday and plan for an entire week to the best that I can. Then I do my grocery shopping once I have my week planned out. It makes life so much easier! And I do a lot of cooking on the weekend, especially veggies and just reheat throughout the week.
Do you have any tips for people who are new to meal planning?
Angela Brown: I love to reiterate…simplicity. And don’t be scared of leftovers! In fact, I find that leftovers are even better sometimes. I also tell clients to not be scared to eat breakfast for any other meal and that breakfast can be anything that you eat for lunch or dinner.
What are some of your favorite healthy foods to keep stocked in the kitchen?
I always have hard boiled eggs, cooked chicken, beef burgers, cooked veggies and canned tuna and salmon, and homemade bone broth.
What’s your favorite healthy snack to keep around?
Angela Brown: I love Epic Bars, raw nuts like pecans and almonds, and hard boiled eggs.
In your opinion, what are the most important things people should think about when they’re at the grocery store picking out foods?
Angela Brown: Shop the perimeter of the store. The middle of the store is mostly processed and pre-packaged foods. The only things I get much in the middle are oils and canned tuna or salmon. Sorry Nabisco. 🙂
In your opinion, what’s the most important reason to switch from grain fed & industrialized meats to grass fed & pasture raised meats?
Angela Brown: First of all, the taste is remarkably different. Trust me on this! 🙂 I have found that grain fed meats and commercialized meats are really bothersome for most people. They can be inflammatory for most people and they don’t know it until they switch to grass fed and pasture raised meats. Also, most commercially raised meats have hormones and antibiotics pumped into them. Many years ago I watched a video on how industrialized pigs, cows and chickens were raised and treated. I almost (and I mean that loosely as I couldn’t live without a good steak or hamburger) wanted to become a vegetarian after watching it. It was extremely disturbing. I am so happy that there are farms, like Farmer Girl, in our area!
In your opinion, is there a link between local & sustainable foods and their nutritional value? If so, why?
Angela Brown: I always tell my clients to buy local at all possibility. I feel that the less time there is between the farm and the consumer…..the better. The nutrients are so much more sustainable and why not support your local farms? My husband and I are self-employed and we know what is it like to run your own business.
What are some of your favorite activities to recommend to newbies who want to be more active and start exercising more but can’t find something that keeps them motivated?
Angela Brown: The first thing I tell my clients that are newbies is to start with something that they know they will like. And start slow. We offer boxing and personal training. Some of my clients like one or the other or both. If you absolutely hate running then don’t run! Get on a bike instead. I always recommend strength training as well. It needs to be at your own pace though. Some people do better starting one day a week and some need 3. You need to figure out what is going to keep you going. Don’t overdo it right away and then you quit because you overdid it.
What are some simple things people can do right now to start eating healthier and stick with it?
Angela Brown: I like people to change one thing at a time. If you are addicted to soda then wean off of it. Do that for one week and then move on to the next thing, like sugar or gluten. I find people do better if they do it slow than go cold turkey. Think of it like quitting smoking. It does get easier.
What should people use to measure their success when planning their healthier lifestyle?
Angela Brown: People don’t like it when I say this, but DON’T weigh yourself everyday, especially if you are a woman. I like people to see how they feel and how their clothes fit. Weight is just a number and can be so different one day to the next. And DON’T count calories! Not all food is created equal. I don’t like people to get obsessed with number counting. It becomes a problem and most get so hung up on it and they get lost in what the real goal was.
Where do you like to get inspiration from for maintaining a healthy lifestyle?
Angela Brown: Facebook…..JUST KIDDING! There are some inspirational quotes on there, but my inspiration comes from my clients. They make me feel so proud and helps me stay motivated. And my hubby and sons are another huge inspiration as they comment all the time that they think I will live forever since I eat healthy and take care of myself. 🙂
What do you like to listen to pump you up for your workouts?
Angela Brown: Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake, Maroon 5, Red Hot Chili Peppers and (wait for it……..) The Beastie Boys. Yep……I love a mix of music 🙂
There are so many different programs and fitness trends popping up every week. Are there any healthy eating myths you’d like to debunk or steer people away from?
Angela Brown: Low fat is one of the worst ideas that I have ever seen. Your body can’t function on low fat. Your body, especially the brain, needs fat…..but healthy fats. Avocados, olive and coconut oil, nuts and seeds, raw cheeses if you tolerate dairy. And the cayenne pepper/lemon juice diet…..wow! This is not on my list of healthy eating. 🙂 Plain and simple….EAT REAL FOOD.