Meet my style icon, from my favourite blog Training for Chocolate, Vicky Drake.
Anyone who knows me, will know I love my gym gear, and Vicky knows her gym gear - her Instagram posts make me drool.... Seriously. Her stylish leggings, trainers and jumpers from my favourite brands make me swoon!
You will love reading Vicky's journey to good health (it didn't get started until her 40's) which I absolutely loved!
"Before I turned 40 I had literally never done any exercise in my life! Before I became a mum, I was also a chain-smoking- junk-food loving couch potato. So I always say, if I can do it, anyone can."
We hope you enjoy reading Vicky's journey to good health and check out her blog for even more inspo!
Enjoy your lil slice of healthy inspo for today :-) Xx
Tell us about your amazing blog, ‘Training for Chocolate’
Training for Chocolate is place to visit for a bit of inspo on healthy treats (so many yummy recipes!), different ways to move your body and get fit, advice on what activewear you need in your workout wardrobe and interviews with some of the greatest people in the health and fitness world.
What has your career journey been like? What's your background before starting the blog?
Prior to being a mum, I had a 15 year career in advertising and marketing, working on some of Australia’s biggest brands in Sydney’s best agencies.
Then I was a stay-at-home mum for a few years, looking after my step-daughter and little boy, then about 4 years ago, I discovered the joys of being fit and eating properly. A little later than most, I was in my early 40s! It was a revelation to me, how good I felt and how much I (and the children) benefited from an active lifestyle and the right food. So I started blogging about it to share my experiences and encourage others to do the same.
What’s was your inspiration for Training for Chocolate? Is it your full time job?
I guess the difference with Training for Chocolate is that I am a regular mum. I still eat chocolate daily (and drink the wine and eat the pizza). I still struggle to fit training into a busy schedule of working and parenting, especially now I’m a single mum. So other women can really relate.
Plus, before I turned 40 I had literally never done any exercise in my life. Before I was a mum, I was also a chain-smoking- junk-food loving couch potato. So I always say, if I can do it, anyone can. I think this inspires other people to get up off their butt and give it a go, because they can see that I’m not the typical ‘health influencer’ who’s been fit and active all their life. I can’t do pull-ups unassisted. I don’t run marathons. I just do what I can and have fun while I’m at it.
Training for Chocolate was my full time job until around 8 months ago, when I became a single mum. Now I need more financial stability, given it’s just me, so I am working a ‘normal’ job too (well, two actually!). Training for Chocolate is my still passion project, and at some point I hope to make it my full time job again, but right now, it’s about adjusting priorities and naturally, at this time, my priorities are my son’s emotional wellbeing to help him through this tough time, my own healing, and paying the rent!
What would be your 3 top tips for a successful blog / social media presence for our readers?
Well, the success of Training for Chocolate kind of took me by surprise and my little side gig as an ‘influencer’ (I always have to put it in inverted commas because I feel silly saying it!) was a complete accident and unintentional. In all honesty, I didn’t think anyone would be interested in what a 40-something mum from the suburbs had to say about health, fitness, activewear and food! But in the end, what I thought was a weakness ended up being my biggest strength. Because it was real and relatable.
So my first tip would DEFINITELY be to just be yourself. Don’t try to be anything you’re not, be real, be honest. You will find your tribe.
My next tip would be to love that tribe. I have the BEST followers. Some have become real life friends. Some live on the other side of the planet but they sure feel like friends. Engage with your followers, reply to their comments when you can. Sometimes you just can’t, because there are only 24 hours in a day and they’re there to be lived, but when you can, interact.
And finally, make your pics the very best you can. You have to decide how much effort you want to put in. I have no photographic skills and just use my iphone, but I do really care about my pics and do the best with what I’ve got, whilst still retaining the ‘real’ness.
If you want to make the blogging/influencing a proper living then obviously, you need to up the ante and dedicate a lot more time than I ever have on promoting yourself and it.
How would you describe your diet?
I guess the best way to describe my diet would be JERF (Just Eat Real Food) + Chocolate + Wine ;)
Most of the time, I eat a healthy balanced diet, but not always. If I haven’t prepped the veggies on a Sunday, I’m less likely to be eating the salads for lunch during the week, as I’m (like most) so time poor and actually a bit lazy haha.
So my goal is always to have a range of salad bits n pieces ready to throw together quickly… washed and chopped veggies, some quinoa soaked and cooked, a tuna mix made up or chicken breast marinated and cooked, some nuts/seeds toasted and a salad dressing mixed and ready to pour. Then it’s easy to grab lunch quickly.
For dinner I eat with my little boy, so it’ll be spag bol, meatballs and pasta, fish and veggies, home-made pizza, that kind of thing. We also love a thai takeaway, just quietly. I eat what I like and just aim to keep it mostly healthy. I refuse to feel guilty about the treats, life is too short and to me, a ripped body is just not worth missing out on food that I love.
Having said that, I really do notice a difference in how my body feels after a salad versus after a bag of lollies. And knowing that difference helps me make much better choices now than I ever used to. I have so much more nutritional knowledge now, it’s easier for me to choose the right things to fuel my body - Most of the time ;)
We know it's important to have health & fitness goals... What's your current fitness goal or challenge?
You know what, I need to set one! I work out to have fun, keep fit and healthy (both physically and mentally).
When I was running, I would set goals, like running the 4km Mothers Day Classic race in under 20 mins (tick yay!) but I haven’t set myself a big challenge like that in a while.
I think I should choose push-ups, I suck at those, I have to do them on my knees. So I’ll set myself a goal right now – by the end of this year, I will do 10 push ups on my toes. Eeeek!
How many times a week do you work out, and how long do you typically train for?
I used to do 6 workouts a week, but now I’m a single mum it’s much harder to find the time in the day, because obviously, I can’t leave my little boy at home alone, plus I’m working.
My aim now is to do 4 x 45 minute workouts a week. Mostly F45 sometimes with a spin class substituted. Need to get back into regular yoga which has totally fallen off my schedule in the last 8 months or so… there’s another goal!
What are your 3 favourite ways to work out?
Definitely F45. Every class is challenging, fun, sweaty and varied. Plus there’s a great team spirit. Particularly love it when there’s a boxing station, or skipping. Love a plank and a deadlift too.
I also love a spin class and a workout outdoors, either a cardio HIIT one or just a beautiful walk alongside the ocean.
What is your biggest personal challenge when it comes to staying fit or healthy eating, and how do you combat it?
I have such a sweet tooth and love a glass of red or two… to be honest, I do believe that life is too short for denying yourself simple pleasures so I still enjoy chocolate, treats and wine, but I aim to eat healthily most of the time, so I’m happy with that.
Physically, I’m really challenged by my very dodgy knees – I have next to no cartilage plus Bakers Cysts and loose particles floating around in there, yuck. So painful. It means that there are a bunch of exercises I simply can’t do (for example lunging or anything that involves a jump or plyo action) so it’s hard to activate my glutes and get that tight butt we’d all love haha. And my poor trainers at F45 constantly have to modify for me, I definitely keep them on their toes.
Perhaps my biggest challenge these days, however is time.. when you’re working full time and you’re also full time carer for a child, the windows of opportunity for working out are few and far between unfortunately.
Fave healthy treat?
The Best Salted Caramel Bliss Balls from the blog. The recipe is by my friend Heidi from The Raw Treat Canteen. So so good. If you haven’t tried them yet, you MUST!
What are your favourite Protein Smoothie ingredients?
Most mornings I have a protein smoothie because it’s quick, yummy and got the nutrients I need to kick start my day. I usually have:
I’ll sometimes also add half and avo or some chia seeds or fresh strawberries.
Who inspires you and why?
My Mum always was and always be my personal role model. We lost her to cancer, very suddenly, 6 years ago, leaving a huge hole in my heart. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her, wish she was here to share our lives with and remind myself how proud she would be of me (especially in the last 8 months or so dealing with the pain of betrayal, end of my marriage, starting life again, becoming a single working mum and fending for myself and my son).
Mum always made everyone feel like the most important person in the room. She loved unconditionally, gave herself to others freely. Hugely empathetic, kind and selfless, but strong and stoic when needed, she taught me what it means to be a mother. In a world of back-stabbing, bitchiness, deceit, unkindness, entitlement and selfishness, she was a beacon of all that is good and pure. She was also a lot of fun, usually in the ‘embarrassing mum’ kind of fashion, and was a big fan of smiling and laughter.
Best advice you've ever been given?
Towards the end of last year, when I was processing a lot of hurt, anger and fear as my 12 year marriage ended, my counsellor said a line that I wrote down and still repeat often to myself…
‘Stay in your own lane’.
It’s hard, when you’re super emotional and dealing with some heavy stuff, not to focus on the injustice, the hypocrisy, what other people are doing and saying…. When I found myself becoming overwhelmed, I would repeat that to myself, to focus on my own happiness in a dignified and graceful manner rather than focusing on what anyone else is doing.
I say it to my son too, if kids are mean in the playground, or being unkind… ‘stay in your own lane, keep being you’. Because you can’t control what other people do, only how you react to it. So it’s eyes forward, get on with it…
Not always easy, whether you’re a schoolkid or a middle-aged mum, but it’s good advice to at least aspire to.
What is your favourite inspirational quote?
Oh my gosh so many quotes that I love, and I think favourites change depending on what is happening in your life, because different quotes will resonate more at different times.
I love ‘Leave people better than you found them’ and ‘Be kind, always’ which apply universally.
A simple little mantra of ‘You’ve got this’ can have amazingly positive impact on your attitude and mood.
And right now I LOVE ‘The universe has your back’ because for the first time in my life, I truly believe it.
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