Ask the experts – Amber Walker, personal trainer and holistic nutritionist
I first met Amber when I was living in Darwin. At the time Amber was really well known in the fitness/bikini modelling industry (having achieved not one, but three world titles), and I loved her approach to competing in a holistic way.
Today, Amber is a personal trainer and holistic nutritionist who takes a much rounded approach to health, fitness and wellbeing. Read on to find more about Amber:
In three words describe yourself, and why you picked these three words.
Energetic, Passionate and stubborn.
I am very energetic by nature, always wanting to try new things and take new adventures. Nothing scares me more than sitting still. Passion rules my entire life. I believe you either do something with passion or not at all, life is too short for anything less. And stubborn… well whilst not always a good quality it has allowed me to get where I am today, when you combine energy, passion and the desire to never give up, you can achieve things that many people believe is impossible.
Amber, you have quite a diverse background – competing at national level in sports, a degree in Exercise Physiology, you’ve competed in body sculpting competitions, you’re a mum and now you can add Health & Nutrition Coach to your CV… Can you tell us a bit about your career to date and your journey?
Yes, It has been a journey, I have always been a very active person, growing up sport was my life, I competed in everything that I could. Health and fitness always intrigued me so it didn’t come as a surprise that I wanted to go on to study health sciences after school. I became a personal trainer and have continued to work as one for over 16 years now! Along the way I have studied nursing, bio-medical science and more recently nutritional medicine. I love learning new ways to improve the lives of others through nutrition and movement.
As a result my method of training is very holistic, I always consider the whole person and their lifestyle when it comes to training and nutrition. This method has allowed me to successfully work with people from all walks of life, from mothers down the street to international fitness models to hollywood actors preparing for movie roles.
Tell us a bit about your relatively new program 60 Days to a sexy soul. How is it different to other online health/wellbeing programs?
60 Days to a Sexy Soul is about empowering women through education, there are so many cookie cutter meal and exercise plans out there that don’t work. Although many of them appear ‘healthy’ on the outside they are still encouraging yet another dieting cycle. Anyone can get results following a plan for a few weeks, but my concern is what happens once someone finishes the plan. Do they have the knowledge and support to work out what they actually should be eating? How they should be moving their body?
60 Days to a Sexy Soul encompasses everything that I believe is important for health, And there is a lot more to health than just the exercise you do and the food that you eat. There are many other things including mindset and spirituality. The western world is finally beginning to catch up with mindset and mental health yet it still treats spirituality as taboo when in-fact this is a critical element for our overall health. The 9 week program covers off all of the elements allowing the participants to devise their own plans, taking control of their health and wellbeing.
What made study to become a Health & Nutrition coach?
What I have learnt through science is very interesting but not always applicable to my clients. I decided to study health coaching and nutritional medicine after I began recognising that every person needed a different approach. There is no such thing as one plan fits all and health and nutrition coaching allows me to work with clients t discover exactly what it is that works for them. Having suffered an autoimmune disease of my own I know the difference that diet can actually make when the medical world seems to fail us.
Body sculpting is a such a passionately discussed ‘sport’, what have you learnt from your experience as a body sculptor?
I learnt that I could literally do anything I put my mind to but I also learnt that there a lot of people out there that would unfortunately do anything for a plastic trophy. My experience as a competitor was great. I loved the discipline involved, the people were fantastic and competing at an international level allowed me to travel the world doing something that I loved. However my greater experience came as a coach, and this is where I learnt all about the darker side of the sport. The extreme dieting, the obsessive exercising and controversial supplementations.
Many of the girls who came to me for help were seasoned competitors that were experiencing eating disorders, hormonal issues and metabolism disorders. All from previous dieting and exercising in the quest to become a local fitness model star. It broke my heart. The sad part about body sculpting and fitness modelling is that you are judged on how you look on a particular day, no consideration is given to how you got there. Although it is the same for many sports body sculpting allows this to be taken to the extreme, as most sports still require you to ‘perform’ on the day, whereas with body sculpting it all comes down to how you look.
You’ve recently spent 3 months traveling the world, can you tell us the reason for your trip and what you learnt from it?
My 3 month adventure was booked to gain insight into the other cultures around the world and how they live that allows them to be so happy! Part of my studies have been looking at other cultures and how they eat, how their food reduces the incidence of disease. What I found particularly interesting in my studies was the impressive mental health of the people from these cultures that are apparently so poor. I believe there is only so much you can learn through text books so I decided to find out how these people lived for myself. I visited the main cities and stayed with the local people in places like Peru, India and Nepal, what I learnt was nothing short of astounding.
These people, though they had nothing were the happiest people I have met. They were full of gratitude and were thankful for everything that they did have, they also had a true connection to their community. Connecting to the now and their environment was a daily pastime, the stress levels were low and the festivities were high. Although none of the diets I came across were amazing, they all had one thing in common. They all ate real food, not food-like food is so common in our culture today and as result they were a lot healthier as a community than what we see here in Australia.
All of the cultures I visited had strong spiritual beliefs and took spiritual wellbeing very seriously, I did not come across one Dr, Shaman or Ayurvedic medical practitioner who didn’t discuss health in terms of spiritual, mental and physical. To them treating a physical ailment without consideration to ones spiritual and mental health would be absurd. Something for us to consider here in the western world.
What does your training regime look like at the moment?
I have learnt how to respect my body and am taking it quite easy at the moment. I no longer thrash my body in workouts but I do make sure I intentionally move at least 4 times a week. I always like to include body weight exercises and weights at least once a week. The other thing I make sure I practice is trying something new and getting outdoors, at the moment that has meant surfing with girlfriends once a week which has been amazing.
What are three pieces of health & fitness advice you try and instill in your children?
Get out, get active and eat real food! This means going outside, away from the X-box, finding something active to do like swimming or playing soccer with friends and staying away from processed food.
If you could tell women who are wanting to life a more positive, healthy and fit lifestyle ONE THING, what would it be?
Learn to listen to and love your body, health comes in all shapes and sizes and if learn to nourish it with healthy food and reward it with the movement it craves, then you are well on your way to a healthy, happy life.
Ask the Experts is a series featuring experts in the health, fitness and wellbeing industries where I ask the hard questions.