DO YOU ALWAYS find your fitness revolution start-date continuously disappears over the horizon as soon as the weekend comes along? “I’ll start next week,” is the usual refrain while ordering another portion of ice cream. Well we’re here to let you know on a Sunday morning (because the idea of a ‘new you’ is always more welcome today), the time to begin is now and Iraqi fitness specialist Rachael Sacerdoti’s online regime is looking to make it easier.
Called It’s So Simple, Rachael is on the hunt to help busy women sustain a healthy routine in the UAE. Designed to maximise the potential of a short amount of exercise from the comfort of your pocket, the programme is easy to use whenever and wherever as long as there is a WiFi connection. It features online exercises, nutritional meal plans, progress tracking, personal consultation, and a WhatsApp group.
The idea is based on Rachael’s own journey which involved her losing 30 kilos, combined with a wealth of knowledge gained across the fields of nutrition, fitness, and passion and relies on two fundamental ideas: consuming fewer calories than you burn whilst increasing muscle mass over the course of three months.
Through It’s So Simple, women support women, Rachael told us. “We do not only learn from one another about developing healthy attitude towards food, eating and exercise but we help each other to achieve our goals.”
As part of the initiative, participants are also treated with easy-to-make recipes that the whole family can enjoy too. We caught up with Rachael to find out more.
What makes It’s So Simple unique? Is the programme only for women?
It’s So Simple is a global community to help women take control of their personal fitness journeys. It is a 12- week programme where we work both one-on-one and in a group of like-minded women to focus on the our core pillars of wellness:
Exercise: I ask our participants to do a mix of cardio and resistance workouts (resistance work builds muscle, which increases our metabolism).
Nutrition: You can’t out train a bad diet. We focus on educating our community members to understand what they are eating and make some simple changes to their diet. We do not exclude any food groups. I share a library of recipes for the community members to choose from and they often feedback their recipes into the programme.
Accountability: Unless we remain accountable for our actions and our goals, we are unlikely to succeed. When we work in a group we are much less likely to let the team down and we gain encouragement and motivation from others.
I pour my heart and soul into helping empower women to regain their confidence. I have been there, I know the journey myself and I have worked hard to demystify and simply everything. Hence the name, It’s So Simple. All our members have to do is show up and apply themselves.
At present the programme is only for women. We have been growing fast and it is vitally important to me that we deliver the very best experience to our members. I am something of a perfectionist! I have been asked on a number of occasions if I could extend the programme to men also, you never know, watch this space.
What makes the UAE a perfect fit in which to launch your business?
The UAE is such a supportive nation for female entrepreneurs and its rich mix of cultures makes it a perfect environment for the It’s So Simple ethos. I know first-hand the challenges women face living in such a fast paced environment. Society expects them to be perfect in every way, putting huge pressure on us. The It’s So Simple programme gives women a community, the ability to focus on themselves and a way to rebuild their confidence.
Tell us about your fitness journey and how you arrived at where you are today? Do you believe being fit is more vital now than it has ever been?
For much of my adult life I struggled with staying in shape. As with many people from my birth country, Singapore, I am a total foodie. Along with all the latest exercise crazes, I had tried every diet known to man. I worked with personal trainers (although I would often breathe a sigh of relief when they had to cancel our sessions) but nothing seemed to work, nothing was sustainable.
After having three children, I found myself a mess. I was 85kg and my body suffered. I really wasn’t happy, my feet and knees ached. I was always tired or sick. Energy was something I lacked.
Then I hit a point, when I was on holiday in Asia with my family, when one of my brothers pulled me aside and told me I had let myself go. This was the wake up call I needed. I swore to myself I would get healthy again. I had to. I owed it to myself.
I began to exercise, this time alone, with no personal trainers. At first my body complained, but step-by-step, I started to get stronger. Soon followed my change in diet. I began to eat more carefully, learning about what I was fueling my body with. I cut out refined sugars and made switches for healthier alternatives. I stopped gorging. Being the weight that I was, the weight loss appeared rapidly and kept me motivated.
Fast forward three years and I had lost 30kgs and for the first time in decades I had abs! Not only did I look better, but I felt so much better. More energy, more self-confidence, more alive!
I truly believe it is critical for women to be in good shape, not just to look good but to give them the energy and confidence to show up to the challenges that modern life throws at us. It is not a selfish act to look after yourself, it lets you be the best version of you, for those around you.
Is there any equipment you have which helps you stay fit at home or does your programme rely on body weight exercises?
One of the main things I have learnt from the lockdowns has been how well we can manage with little or no equipment. I used to be a regular gym goer and panicked when my gym closed. How could I do my workouts without all the equipment?
It is possible to achieve a great deal just with body weight, but I encourage my clients to lift weights and always tell them to invest in a couple of sets of dumbbells as well as a kettlebell, they really are all you need. During lockdown, I also invested in a bench and some resistance bands. My living room is now my gym set up. A lack of equipment should never be an excuse for not exercising. If you don’t have dumbbells you can always substitute them with bottles of water!
What are your top three exercises (which don’t involve any apparatus) that can be completed quickly in the morning which do make a difference?
Squats: One of my favourite exercises, squats are a really simple way to mobilise and provide a fantastic lower body burn!
Abdominal Bikes: great fun to learn, gets the coordination going! These are a fantastic way of working the abdominals, especially the obliques.
Tricep Dips: An excellent upper body exercise, using nothing but a chair!
How do you find the UAE compares to other countries in its attitude to fitness and wellbeing?
I have found that the women in the UAE are extremely open to embracing wellness and fitness in their lives. The abundance of delicious food from across the world clearly provides a significant challenge to UAE residents in staying in shape! The Emirates’ modern and international outlook means that residents are exposed to all the latest fitness fads from around the world. My back to basics approach seems to really resonate, empowering women with knowledge rather than gimmicks. Women in the UAE have busy lives and they need sensible solutions that can work in tandem with their everyday activities.
Who are your fitness inspirations?
Serena Williams: Serena came from humble beginnings to become number one in the world at what she does and is a veritable powerhouse both physically and metaphorically.
Janet Evans: US four time Olympic gold medal swimmer. When I was at high school I was a passionate swimmer, even having the opportunity to swim for Singapore on a couple of occasions.
Chontel Duncan: Australian trainer. Chontel was one of the inspirations on my personal fitness journey. A strong advocate of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts, a style that played such a critical role in my personal journey.
What is your life like as a fitness professional? Can you ever let loose?
Since I started my business, I have to be more regimental with my training. It’s very easy to spend the entire day hunched over my laptop at the dining room table (aka my office) so I’ve made it a habit to wake up before my family, six days a week to fit my workouts in.
Of course I let loose, I totally believe in balance. Do the right thing most of the time and you can afford to let loose on occasion. My greatest weakness is Nutella, I enjoy it often (perhaps a little too often), if you follow me on Instagram, I’m sure you’ll see it for yourself. We aren’t robots and I’m a firm believer in striking a balance.
For more information, visit the website on https://itssosimple.co.uk or on Instagram @itssosimple_rs.
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