Strong, Healthy Women Interview Series: Natasha Rabe
- Created: 22 May 2020 22 May 2020
Natasha Rabe is far from your typical personal trainer. The Canadian-born accountability coach is on a mission to help make exercise and good nutrition less intimidating and more accessible to every day Western Australians.
To start with she says the number on the scales is far less important than your frame of mind. She acknowledges a slim, toned physique is high on the wish list of many people who walk through the door of boutique fitness gym, Body ‘MBrace. But she believes positive mental health is the greatest benefit that can be delivered from exercise and healthy eating. The trick is to be accountable to yourself.
Find inspiration as we talk to Natasha Rabe in our #StrongHealthyWomen interview.
Hi Natasha! Thank you for being part of the Health and Fitness Travel, Strong, Healthy Women Interview Series, where we are shining a light on the importance of self-care, not as an indulgence but a necessity to reduce stress and general health issues.
Is there such a thing as a typical day for you and what does that look like?
Most days are different as being a personal trainer gives you a pretty diverse schedule every day. However, my morning and evening routines are set like clockwork.
My morning routine is where it starts for me and that's one of the first things, I encourage my clients to do - find a morning self-care routine that works for them. Get up before everyone else. For me, that's my non-negotiable selfish time that nobody can mess with.
I don't touch my phone for the first hour of being awake, except to listen to a meditation. I drink warm salt water with fresh lemon juice followed by a coffee with MCT oil which is known to help stimulate the brain. I drink my coffee outside to get some Vitamin D while reading a page out of one of my favourite books "The Daily Stoic" by Ryan Holiday.
I then meditate with an app called Insight Timer for 10-15 minutes. I lie with my dog for 5-10 minutes as well. I find her love and energy so soothing. This might all sound a little woo-woo but hey, it's my routine, I own it and it works for me; that's all that matters!
The evening is more just a time to wind down. I try to limit my time on my phone and if I am on it, I wear blue light blocking glasses, so I don’t compromise my sleep.
A warm drink like a peppermint tea or a cacao latte with almond milk is usually what I have as a treat before bed. Lights out is usually 9:30 or 10:00 after reading a fictional book to take my mind off work or anything else that’s plaguing me.
Can you share a time when you felt your well-being was challenged in the past and what did you do to overcome it?
In 2015, I participated in a bodybuilding competition that changed me forever. I went into the show dieting way too hard, and exercising way too much. I didn’t place, I felt awful and this wreaked havoc on my mental state and in turn, my body.
However, I ended up learning so much about my body and mind after the competition was complete. I gained about 10kg in 3 months by binging on foods uncontrollably. When I finally stopped feeling sorry for myself, I started practicing some self-care techniques such as meditation, journaling and gentle exercise to heal my body.
This was transformative for me because it helped me realise that you can diet as much as you want and exercise as hard a humanly possible, but if you’re not taking care of your mind, nothing will change. You will fall into the pits of self-loathing over and over again and then turn to food as a coping mechanism.
This is what I teach my clients - I won’t even talk to them about calories until I’m convinced that they have the ability to heal their mind before they consider dieting.
Do I feel calories are important? Yes absolutely, and I do track mine when I need to tighten things up. But this period of time in my life taught me a valuable lesson - bad habits accumulate when the mind is unsettled. Settle the mind, and you will undoubtedly settle your impulsivity with food and exercise.
What does 'being healthy' mean to you and how do you keep this at the forefront when life gets unavoidably busy?
I have an acronym using one of my favourite words that perfectly describes what health means to me. When I’m feeling a little “blah”, I use this acronym to remind myself of my seven non-negotiable needs for ultimate health and wellness. WARRIOR:
WATER – Hydration is so important and key to me feeling my best.
ACTIVITY – Any kind of physical movement, every single day.
RELATIONSHIPS – Making sure I have the most uplifting people in my life and nurturing those relationships every single day.
REST – I’m obsessed with sleep and sleep hygiene. Without adequate sleep, I have an uncontrollable appetite and I’m a total grump!
INTROSPECTION – Self work, always, every single day. Navigating my thoughts and emotions through meditation and journaling.
OWNERSHIP – This one is my favourite because this is the scariest one. Further to introspection, taking ownership of behaviours, actions and habits that are not serving you or others. In other words, calling yourself out on your own wrong doing.
REAL FOOD – Simple. Sugar and processed foods make me feel awful. The more I avoid it, the better I feel.
With these seven things intact, I feel as if I am truly unstoppable. A warrior, if you will.
Have you ever taken a holiday specifically for your well-being? Can you share what the experience was like?
To be honest, I don’t think I have. However, it’s definitely something I intend on doing in the future. My partner does, and I think it’s such a fantastic thing that I am so supportive of. Every September he goes to Hawaii with his best friend for a boy’s trip.
That sounds like it would be something wild, but this trip is their version of “self care”. If you’re interested in what men do for self care it goes something like this: Wake up at 10AM, watch Fox News, discuss the latest Trump shenanigans, sleep on the beach for hours, have a mini heart attack at the calorie content of the Cheesecake Factory menu and then continue to eat the triple sized portion of garlic bread anyways. An evening circulation of the Honolulu Cookie Factory for unlimited taste testers and a movie starring Sylvester Stallone decapitating people follows these exciting events. Of course, there’s minimal personal hygiene taking place and definitely no shaving. A man’s dream come true- no wonder he comes home totally relaxed.
All jokes aside, I love talking about this because it helps us understand how individualised self-care is for everyone. You just have to find what makes you happy!
Every woman's idea of self-care is different, please tell us what does self-care mean to you?
Self care starts in the mind, there’s no doubt about that. You have to make a decision to prioritise yourself so that you can be a consistent line of support and an active role model to those that you love the most. I have no shame in saying that I put myself first, and my partner does the same for himself.
In addition to keeping self care on the top of your to do list, I feel as if it’s incredibly important to make sure you are moving your body every day and feeding yourself whole, nutritious and nourishing food. Both of these things tie back to the mind because of their effect on stimulating the “feel good” chemicals. There’s no denying how good exercise makes you feel, and I think anecdotally, we have all experienced this feeling.
In addition, the science is rapidly expanding showing that most of the feel-good chemicals that we produce start in the gut. This brings truth to the old adage “you are what you eat”, which I wholeheartedly believe.
Lastly, I believe in a well-curated environment. That can include everything from interacting with the right people, maintaining healthy relationships and finding quality connections to personal organisation, a clean fridge and making your bed everyday.
This is highly individualized but in order to take care of yourself, it’s important to figure out what kind of environment you need in order to flourish, thrive and live your absolute best life!