Warrior girl Carina Marx: Life Lessons Learned

There are three words to describe Carina Marx: pretty, modest and pleasant. But throw some obstacles, mud and challenges at this pretty girl and she instantly transforms into a real Warrior girl. Carina has been consistently ranked as one of South Africa’s top performing Obstacle Course Race (OCR) athletes since she started competing in the sport. Carina shared the life lessons she has learned through OCR with PhysEQFiT:

     By Carina Marx

     OCR Elite Athlete

OCR, Obstacle Course Racing, has been a booming sport in the USA and Europe for the last decade. In fact more competitors crossed the OCR finish line last year in the USA than marathon and half marathon competitors combined! We are going on to the 4th year of OCR’s in South Africa and its growing in its popularity by the day drawing thousands of competitors at each event and series of events such as The Warrior, The Impi Challenge, The Grind, The Beast and Battle Rush races. OCR mainly consists of trail running and obstacles. The obstacles themselves can consist of climbing nets, crawling through mud, jumping into water from high platforms, tyre flipping and intricate rope climbs to name but a few. They are based on what the navy seals use to train on.

 Before you say, “Oh no! I would never be able to do that! “, I would like to invite you to come and experience the fun and camaraderie at one of the events. It is not only a physical challenge for yourself, but it will also challenge you mentally. It will return the self-belief and confidence you lost along the way in the relatively mundane existence we follow daily. You are guaranteed to walk away with a new spark for life after an OCR race. I guess that is what made me so addicted to this sport.

 There were a few life lessons I have learned through OCR. The first was a reminder to live again. My first event was that of Rookie race (Rookie race, is a category in the Jeep Warrior race with the shortest distance) with some of my work colleagues. I ended up smiling from ear to ear with a certain sense of achievement. This was a good way to start and I got hooked. For once I felt alive again!

 Another major life lesson was to believe in myself. I struggled with a very low self-esteem and hardly had any confidence in myself throughout life. OCR changed that for me. These days I can overcome obstacles that I could only dream of. It became visible in my daily life and I came to realize that very little is impossible.


OCR has taught me what a healthy and sustainable lifestyle can be. You cannot afford to starve yourself when you train for this type of sport. I still managed to lose 10 kilograms in 18 months, albeit in a healthy way. All the running in my training is a big contribution to weight loss, but I changed my way of eating too. My sports nutritionist, Karlien Duvenhage, is the best. She taught me how to enjoy a balanced diet and still having energy for my 2 to 3 training sessions a day and to lose weight gradually. Lesson learnt: Stop beating yourself up for cheating now and then. It is okay, but don’t overdo it! That is the key!

 After being involved in Obstacle Racing for 3 years, I have learnt to always strive going forward. The only time you look back is to remind yourself how far you have come. Once again it is a great metaphor to describe how I live my life. I believe in growing and moving in a positive direction. Use the failures as learning curves, so you don’t repeat your mistakes.


The last, but most important life lesson I have learnt from OCR was that I had to face my weaknesses and accept myself for who I am. That was probably the hardest thing to do. But since I started facing it I decided to make the best of what God has given me. I had no excuses. I had all my limbs and great health, what was there to stop me? Absolutely nothing! Initially I was too heavy and far from being a runner, but I had a dream to compete alongside the top Black ops Elite ladies (Black ops Elite, is the category for experienced athletes who have to complete all the obstacles unassisted over the longest distance) and today I am living that dream!

Often you are your own biggest obstacle, because ultimately you make your own choices in life. So be careful and make wise decisions. You might be missing out on life and a lot of the pleasures it has to offer. Live with no regrets!

Why do you have to eat more to lose weight?

By Ashleigh Frost (Lemmer)

Fitness Professional, WBFF Pro, 2 times North American Pro Bikini Champion, 2 times Cover Model

Contact Ashleigh:

Ashleigh FB Ashleigh cover

This is one of the most misunderstood concepts when it comes to nutrition and losing weight. A difficult concept for most people, especially women, to grasp. The human body is fascinating, and once you understand a little bit of the science behind how it works, the easier it will be for you to apply the knowledge and understand the results.

Quite often people dive head first into the latest trend or craze with a diet without doing any research or applying any insight as to why the diet might work or not. 99% of the time, this is why people fail. These types of trends are usually restrictive – too little calories and not sustainable. Even if the diet does work the first time, the process of losing weight too quickly shocks the body into defence mode and once you stop with the diet your body just piles on the kilograms and you end up heavier than when you started with the diet.

The reason you need to eat, at least 6 small meals a day, to lose weight can be explained like this. Your body is a vehicle that needs fuel to function, you cannot expect to put R100 worth of petrol in your car in Johannesburg and expect to drive to Cape Town with it. You are going to need to make a few stops along the way to refuel. The human body is no different. We need to feed it every 3 hours to sustain it and keep it running optimally. If you don’t do this, you are essentially starving the body and then it goes into a state of famine, it holds onto everything it does get, saving some as reserves and converting what it can into fat because there is no structure and it does not know when it will be fed next. However, if you train your body to receive the correct amount of fats, proteins and carbohydrates with each meal, your body will use what it needs, and get rid of the rest and in this process it starts to get rid of the unwanted fat as well. Of course this is only optimally true when applied in conjunction with sufficient physical activity and clean foods. All calories are not equal so don’t be fooled into thinking you can eat whatever you want in moderation if it fits your macros.

Contact me if you would like a customized nutrition plan to help you on your way to a better you.

Protein Based Breakfast

By Liesbet Nel

B.Sc. Dietetics, Herbalife Wellness Coach and Busy Mom

Contact Liesbet:

Protein breakfast The old saying of

‘Breakfast like a King, Lunch like a Prince, Dinner like a Poor man’ really carries some weight. Not weight in terms of kilograms but actually in terms of savings:

  • Having breakfast saves us cravings and in return gives us extra energy.
  • Having Breakfast saves us kilojoules and helps us to better manage weight.
  • Having Breakfast saves us feeling down and helps us to be more focused.

However in our western civilization we often get it the wrong.

  •  Lack of time
  • Lack of creative ideas
  • Lack of the right ingredients in your grocery cupboard
  • Not being hungry early morning or
  • Often you might be feeling hungry the whole day if you DO have breakfast. The word breakfast actually means ‘BREAK THE FAST’. Surely this makes sense! When we skip breakfast blood sugar levels drop below normal and our bodies react in a way that we experience cravings and a drop of energy during the morning – classic example of mid-morning cravings for food high in sugar or high in fat (pie and Coke; chips and chocolate).When you feel the drop of energy and cravings setting in we revert to simple carbohydrates (refined sugars) to achieve a quick surge / increase of blood sugar and to overcome the hunger craving and drop in energy. Simple carbohydrates will cause an immediate surge / increase of blood sugar and the body responds by an emission of Insulin (Hormone responsible for lowering the blood glucose levels – the insulin removes sugar from the blood and the excess is turned into fat.

This cycle could easily repeat itself 2-3 times a day. This cycle is one of the major causes for lifestyle diseases and weight management challenges.

In the morning simple carbohydrates (sugary refined cereals, white breads, rusks, muffins,) cause an immediate increase in blood sugar levels which results in a substantial emission of insulin. The insulin (hormone) acts as a carrier for glucose and helps to carry the glucose into cells. This is very important as cells get energy from the glucose being carrier into the cells – however when there is an imbalance between the amount of glucose and insulin that can carry the energy into cells our bodies react by turning the excess glucose into fat. The result is a decrease in blood sugar levels followed by a thirst for more carbs. This cycle could repeat again 2-3 time a day.

The ‘Breakfast fit for a king’ is a balanced protein based breakfast. Such a breakfast supplies our body with all the vital nutrients and energy without increasing blood sugar and insulin levels outside the normal range. It helps to keep us fuller for longer and ensures sustained energy levels. Every meal we eat should provide us with nutrition, energy and hydration. The benefits of a balanced protein breakfast are really remarkable. Balanced protein breakfast helps control cravings, increases metabolism and really assists in keeping energy levels up as our bodies then uses its own stored fat to get more energy.


Mass-building for your Shoulders

By Quintin Steyn

Fitness Model and Advocate, Facebook: Quintin Fitness

Quintin shoulders

Most of us men want that V-shaped torso; the iconic Superman or Batman effect that just demands presence and dominance if you will. But, as individuals, we must acknowledge the fact that we all don’t build muscle the same way and especially not at the same rate. It is truly important to figure out what works for your body, what doesn’t and especially know your limits.

When training shoulders, I personally start with light to medium weights before raging into heavier weights. It is important to warm up your muscles before you intend on training them, as this will prevent any unnecessary and unwanted injuries in the future. As a first and foremost rule, I will yet again stress on the importance of correct form and posture while doing any form of exercises. Especially with regards to training your shoulders! Here most of your training consists of “over-head” exercises which requires stability and technique in order to prevent serious long term injury or discomfort. If you lose your stability in an “over-head” exercise it can cause injury in a second which can set you back for months if not years depending on the severity of the injury. It remains good practice to rather err on the safe side and concentrate on the actual “burn” and training of the focused muscle group rather than just going heavy in order to build bigger muscles.

I would suggest when training shoulders to start with a stabilized exercise, in order to get your shoulders warmed up before your “hard-core” session. A good stabilized exercise would be the Machine Shoulder Press – here you are able to start on a light weight, work yourself up whilst maintaining proper form / posture. Next, you can move to bar and dumbbell exercises to start with your main workout. I’ve used this method of training from the beginning and so I have brought it down to a few leading workouts that will help you reach your goal. Remember to start with a decent manageable weight and move heavier from there, but when you notice you are compromising your form, rather go a bit lighter and increase your repetitions.

  1. Warm up:
  • Machine shoulder press 4 x 15 reps
  1. Training:
  • Dumbbell shoulder press 12, 10, 10, 8 reps (rest 2 min)
  • Arnold Dumbbell Press 12, 10, 10, 8 reps (rest 2 min)
  • Bent-over Rear-delt raise 12, 10, 10, 8 reps (rest 2 min)
  • Front-barbell raise 12, 10, 10, 8 reps (rest 2 min)
  • Lateral raises 12, 10, 10 8 reps (rest 2 min)
  • Reverse Machine fly 4 x 15 reps (rest 2 min)

These are just a few of many shoulder exercises, but certainly the ones I find extremely effective. As I said, it is important to know your limits. It is perfectly normal to struggle in the beginning; this just leaves you more room to improve in the future. Try these exercises for 4-8 weeks and see what works for you and where you can add more focus.

Hydration is key to your health

By Liesbet Nel

B.Sc. Dietetics, Herbalife Wellness Coach and Busy Mom

Contact Liesbet:

2016 – It is a leap year – leaping forward – moving either towards your goal or away from it…interesting that our goals and dreams are more likely to put into action when our mind, body and soul are in balance.

“Breathe it all in – Love it all out.”

A fish without water can’t breathe, and so we cant live without water either! Staying hydrated is one of the most important ways to stay healthy and maintain a proper body weight, but most of us are dehydrated without realizing it. Without sufficient water in our bodies; our cells cannot maintain balance; the skin cannot regenerate and our bladder and kidneys cannot work properly. We can feel fatigued and eat too much because as we grow older we often confuse our urge for water for being hungry. Staying hydrated is one of the most important things you can do to stay healthy.

Benefits of drinking water

Drinking Water Helps Maintain the Balance of Body Fluids. Your body composes of about 60% water. The functions of these body fluids include digestion, absorption, circulation, and secretion of saliva, transportation of nutrients and maintenance of body temperature.

Water Can Help Control Calories. For years, dieters have been drinking lots of water as a weight loss strategy, however water doesn’t have any magical effect on weight loss, but substituting it for higher calorie beverages can certainly help.

Combats Fatigue. Water helps to energize muscles. When cells don’t maintain the balance of fluids and electrolytes muscle can shrivel, which can then result in muscle fatigue. When muscle cells do not have adequate fluids, they do not work properly and performance can be compromised

Water Helps Maintain Normal Bowel Function. Adequate hydration keeps the food flowing along your gastrointestinal tract and prevents constipation. When you don’t get enough fluid, the colon actually pulls water from stools to maintain hydration and the result is constipation.

Anti-aging. Water helps to keep skin looking radiant and healthy. Your skin contains plenty of water and functions as a protective barrier to prevent excess fluid loss. Your metabolic age (how old is your body on the inside) is closely linked to healthy hydration levels. For women healthy hydration levels is suggested to be 45%-60% and for men 50%-65%.

Tips how to drink more water

A guideline to use for calculating individual fluid needs is the basic principle of 1 liter of water for every 30Kg of body weight. For weight loss you can even add another liter after the basic formulation. In order to reach this goal you could start the day with a tall glass of water – adding a slice of lemon and a dash of honey will make it more attractive.

Drink a glass of water 20 minutes before each meal – practical tip – drink water as you start to prepare your meal.

Eat more fruits and vegetables as its high water content will add to your hydration. About 20% of our fluid intake comes from foods. However always double check or tune in to the needs of your body to distinguish between being thirsty and being hungry!

Once you have established your daily water requirements – you can add flavor to your glass – keep it simple, fresh and fun. Infuse water overnight in the fridge by adding cucumber or pineapple and ginger, or berries, or lemon and mint

I just love the saying”: “If it is not delicious we are doing it wrong!”

Leap into Health – stay hydrated!

Hydration Water pic Liesbet Pic Water





A proper workout for your arms

By Quintin Steyn

Fitness Model and Advocate, Facebook: Quintin Fitness

When mentioning arm workouts and effective results, the most common debate arising is that of: “go hard, fast and repeat”. This is surely not the best or ideal regime to follow if you truly strife for quality muscle gain. As it is surely impossible to achieve muscle growth instantaneously, you can surely see noticeable results in a short while, bearing in mind that exercise strategies are crucial to effective results.

It is important always to note that a muscle group should never be trained repetitively daily. While you train you effectively break down muscle fibres and in return your body rebuilds those torn fibres. Simply stated, this process allows you to gain muscle as you recover. It is critical never to “over-train” and always to give a minimum of 48 hours of rest before training that specific muscle group again. By doing so, you allow your body to rebuild those broken down fibres. If you re-train, you end up breaking down the muscle again and as a result you end up going backwards.

When it comes to “proper” training of your arms, it is always important to remember that your triceps makes out roughly 2/3 of your upper arm muscle. – This however is important to note if you strive to have broad, aesthetically appealing, boulder-bashing upper arms. Don’t assume to under train your biceps, ever! – Always remember that having a well developed arm from all angles is much more aesthetically appealing that an unbalanced arm.

When training arms it is, in my view, never about how “heavy you can go bro”. Often people can lift heavy weights, accompanied with horrible form, and still after a month see no change and question the mere reason they even try to go to the gym in the first place. For men, go for a decent weight; one you can effectively do 15 reps of and go higher from there without compromising on your form. Most women strive to tone their upper arms and with that, a lighter weight and high repetitions will tighten up and not further enlarge your upper arms.

The best advice I can give is training in 4 sets. In all aspects in gym, this is my main mantra I live by. Always respect the basic exercises; they have been successful for decades! Start with your first set of 12 reps, followed by 10 reps, another 10 reps, then lastly a “final-and-heavy” 8 reps. Want peaked biceps? I recommend seated dumbbell curls, followed by hammer curls (palms facing each other) and a final blast with barbell curls. Always, always keep a proper form! – Keep your back straight and tight and never swing with the weight, you will use your momentum to lift the weight rather than actually letting your muscle do the job. Swinging your weight will lead to zero results and you will develop bed posture throughout time.

Tricep explosion! Do tricep extensions, both with the rope and the bar followed by some “dips”. Also do some tricep “kick-backs”, concentrating on turning your wrist inwards as you push the dumbbell out. – That’s how you get that horseshoe effect on your triceps.

As I said before; a proper arm workout does not consist of attacking your muscle with brutality and heavy weights. Strive for effective burning, slowly progressing and never compromise on your form! And always remember if you ever feel serious pain or exhaustion during a workout; don’t “fight through it.” Instead, stop immediately and go consult a physician. So…let’s go do a proper arm workout!

Quintin Steyn