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Finance graduate turned fitness trainer shares her secrets

Uleen Fourie is a 24-year-old finance graduate who ditched the corporate world to follow her passion.

She worked at the largest health retailer in South Africa and then went into International Insurance.

Fourie studied financial and investment management at the University of Stellenbosch, then did her postgraduate degree in brand and project management at the University of Cape Town (UCT).

She then completed her professional diploma in sports and exercise nutrition, and also a qualified spinning and exercise instructor. Fourie spoke to The South African about her health, fitness, and nutrition journey.

Q&A with Uleen Fourie

How did your fitness and health journey start?

Sport has always been part of who I am. I choose to exercise because it makes me feel strong, it makes me feel empowered, it makes me feel on top of the world.

I have always been very active and loved eating healthily. Back in school I participated in various sports and acquired my provincial clothing in swimming and tennis and my national clothes in netball.

Exercise has always been a part of my daily routine, but for as long as I can remember I have had a bad relationship with food.

I did fad diets from a young age that gave short-term results and I knew every Monday when I started over that this was not the solution.

It took years and years of struggling and learning, under-eating, overtraining, and working with trainers who I learned a lot from. Then I signed up for a nutrition diploma and started learning more about the science behind nutrition.

“I still learn every day, but I wanted to share my journey with young women preventing them from making the same mistakes that I did.”

Let’s fast-track their education and transformation.

What inspired you to inspire others?

I knew that if I was going through this, surely there are other women who have the same struggles.

The more I started to share about my journey and transformation the more people responded to it and wanted the same.

Educating myself around food has helped me not just to improve my physique but actually teach me the basic principles of nutrition. Those will stay with me forever and give me a better relationship with my body.

My biggest drive behind inspiring others is that I’ve been in their shoes.

I’ve been on the other side. I’ve been frustrated and emotional but mostly just tired of starting over.

Uleen Fourie’s health philosophy

What is your health philosophy?

“Educate yourself about YOUR own body!”

My biggest lesson and philosophy is that not one single one of us is the same. The thief of joy is comparison and that is why I am so against fad diets.

They are simply a meal plan designed for a group of people who actually have very different bodies, lifestyles, views, and goals.

The one-size-fits all-approach is something of the past, you should focus on YOUR journey and learn to understand YOUR body.

What are your top three do’s?

  1. Make sure you can sustain whatever you are currently doing in the long run.
  2. Eat more protein and do resistance training, every single one of us, young and old should focus more on our protein. Protein is not just good for building lean muscle but also for bone health, blood pressure, muscle growth and so much more!
  3. Create structure in your days. It is so easy to say that we don’t have time to prioritise our health, but we haven’t even tried. Take the stairs, drink your water, make sure you move more, focus on your nutrition – and educate yourself!

What are your top three don’ts?

  1. Do not ever cut out a food group, carbs are not your enemy!
  2. Don’t compare your day one to someone else’s day 100. Stay in your lane and focus on yourself.
  3. Don’t do hours of cardio. Rather start lifting some weights and focus on getting stronger instead of focusing on fat loss.

Make a change to see a change

How can people with full-time jobs or studies make lifelong changes to their health and fitness regimes?

I get it as I worked in a corporate environment for more than three years. So I got up at 5am to work out and got home late. Drained, tired and I did it every single day!

“I’m quite hard on myself and I don’t have a lot of empathy for people who have excuses.”

If you want something you unfortunately have to work for it. You need to make a change in your life to see a change.

I get that everyone’s schedules and jobs require different things. I thought I’d share some great tips that helped me stay on track while working long hours and prioritising my health:

  • Wake up a little bit earlier, get an early start to your day. It’s much easier to do it in the mornings than in the afternoons when you’re tired.
  • Prioritise movement, park further, take the stairs. If you’re sedentary make sure to make a conscious decision to be more active during the day.
  • Try and be prepared. Pack lunches and snacks to prevent you from grabbing the easiest unhealthy on-the-go meal.
  • Be mindful of the choices you are making. Don’t let your career get in the way of your health. And always make time to move if that’s what makes you happy.

“Exercising is a celebration of what our bodies can do and it should never be a punishment.”

This journey has led me to a life of fuelling my body with nutritional food and learning to listen to my body. I choose to see food as a source of pleasure and delight, instead of restriction and guilt. Go give her

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