How To Choose A Trainer & Eat Better With Wellness Coach Diego Carrete
Diego Carrete has a never say die attitude. As a boy growing up in La Coruna, a small beach town North of Spain, he thrived on endorphins, surfing every day for almost 14 years. But it was time to get out of his comfort zone. “When I turned 18 my dad sent me to the UK to live with a host family, I went with no money and a monthly allowance of £25 (R523),” he says, with his father wanting him to learn English. “You have to work hard to earn a living,” he told his son. “He was also a firm believer that the experience would open many doors for me,” Diego adds, “I did not know what I wanted to do with my life.” Noting he would skip school to catch the surf.
After a year in the UK village of Stamford, Lincolnshire, Diego was fluent in the language of the land. Not only did he get out of the sun, but he dove straight into the working class, tackling jobs as a glass collector in pubs and as a kitchen assistant in restaurants. The time was wild, with Diego hustling on minimum wage.
One thing’s for sure, the now 32-year-old has mastered the skill of discipline. Based in Dubai, Diego holds three international business degrees in management and marketing. He’s also a certified nutritionist, sports nutritionist and qualified personal trainer by Reps, ISSA, and IFBB. And if that wasn’t impressive enough, he holds one of the most prized achievements – he’s a Men’s Health Cover Guy (excuse our bias).
Here he answers 9 questions on what he’s learnt in the fitness industry and how to enhance your lifestyle during lockdown. Plus, he gives us his 15-minute bodyweight blaster you can do anywhere. We’re spoiled for choice, really. Learn from him!
What drew you to fitness?
Being 188cm tall at 15 years of age made me grow with the complex of being too skinny, I was bullied all the way through high school. I was reminded daily on how I was born imperfect, too tall and different. I remember wearing flat shoes so I would not look that tall.
This led me to start working out so I could gain weight. I am very grateful for that experience and how everything unfolded, today I am able to share this story and preach self-acceptance, compassion and help my clients with issues of self-esteem and insecurity.
What’s a day in the life for you? Take us through your routine.
Have a focused week, but leave a day to unwind and have fun, Diego says. Here’s his routine:
Sunday – Thursday and Saturdays:
- 6:30am No phone for the first half hour of the day and 0,5litres of water whilst practising gratitude and 10-minutes of meditation with the Calm app
- 7:00 Cardiovascular activity (mild cardio finishing with 5 intervals)
- 8:30 One-on-one sessions with clients
- 11:00 Business work online
- 13:00 Training (resistance training, 5 times a week, or HIIT)
- 14:00 Family, friends or business lunch
- 16:00 Business work online
- 18:00 One-on-one sessions with clients
- 20:00 Family time plus dinner
- 21:30 Phone away and business work online
- 23:30 Bedtime
Business for Diego is twofold. On the one hand, he has to check in on his clients and on the other he has to grow his business online, where he has his own fitness app. Check it out here.
Fridays are considered part of the weekend in the UAE. Fridays are for my friends and family, the beach, group sports, travel around the UAE, content creation … everything is allowed on Fridays! And the phone is away, posts on social media are automated and I am only allowed to check the phone twice a day! (Lately it has been different because of the worldwide situation but this is how its supposed to be).
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I want a personal trainer, what do I need to ask and check before I get one?
I would advise to check three things at least: experience, education and case studies.
There are certain things as a coach that you can only learn with experience, I recommend someone who uses science and evidence-based approaches. Secondly, the person has to be qualified and have the right academic background to ensure he knows the industry’s best practices and can provide the right guidance. Last but not least, I recommend to cross check trainers’ case studies: testimonials are not enough and the same applies to transformation pictures, a good external transformation does not mean a good holistic (external and internal) transformation. What I mean by ‘internal’ is one’s relationship with food and sustainable habits.
How often would you advise desk-bound workers to get moving in a day? Any advice?
I recommend 15 minute breaks every 3 hours maximum and to follow the 95/5 rule. This means, every hour try to move around for at least 3 minutes, you can even set an alarm to remember this. There is no study behind this rule but after years of trial and error, this is a strategy that has worked for me and my clients.
This rule is included in my book which will be released soon. It will be called “Lose weight at the office” and has been in the making for over 2 years. It’s targeted to corporates and people working in sedentary environments. It’s full of tips, solutions and practical applications so sedentary people can manage their weight efficiently and get sufficient movement to ensure optimal health.
Follow Diego on Instagram and watch his socials for the book’s release: @diego.carrete
Let’s talk wellness. Let us in on your concerns when it comes to people working from home?
Working from home implies normally a high level of sedentarism, which can entail most of the following side effects: anxiety, cardiovascular disease, migraines, computer vision syndrome and depression.
Other important issues are the upper cross syndrome and the lower cross syndrome. Crossed syndrome refers to tightness in one area leading to weakness in other areas which leads to poor posture. Some of the main problems that can arise from poor posture are: back, neck, and shoulder pain, poor circulation, poor digestion, depression, mood swings, anxiety and even early death.
Movement is one of the keys to health, in any form or shape, something that I try to provide to my clients who are within this demographic.
How can one avoid a sedentary lifestyle during the pandemic? Any advice?
My advice would be to try and be as active as possible and move as much as possible within the constrained space. Try and incorporate physical movement to any other scheduled activity.
Diego suggests you try the below:
- Watching TV whilst riding a static bike
- Walking around the house whilst listening to a podcast
- Walking up and down the stairs whilst taking work phone calls
- To have ‘walking meetings’ over the phone
- To schedule daily sessions of bodyweight workouts and mobility
- To perform your chores at home like washing, ironing, cleaning the house. Did you know that you can burn up to 300 calories an hour just by cleaning your house?
The most important thing I would like to highlight, is to take everything with a pinch of salt and allow extra flexibility during these times. Mental health is the most important so self-compassion, self-understanding, being kind to oneself should be the number one priority.
What are the first steps one can take to change their eating habits for the better?
If someone is eating in a certain way, there’s probably an underlying issue or source.
Changing the cause and not the consequence. If someone is eating in a certain way, there’s probably an underlying issue or source. By changing the paradigm (multitude of habits) the behaviour will change and this will automatically change the results. Paradigms can only be changed through repetition (95% of the cases) or emotional impact (5% of the cases). Something I recommend is the replacement strategy, to change your habits successfully you have to replace one habit for another and if the habit is too complex you have to break it down into smaller habits until you manage a high adherence rate to that habit (above 85% of the time). I recommend not trying to change more than 2 habits at the same time.
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You’ve given us a 15-minute workout for corporates. Tell us more about this workout?
This workout suits the corporate environment because it’s simple, practical and requires zero or little equipment. It has easy progressions and regressions depending on your fitness levels or level of tiredness and fatigue. It’s designed in such a way that can be performed with minimal rest in-between exercises and in an ergonomic sequence. It also recruits the main muscle chains providing a full-body activation.
Tell us some of your biggest lessons you’ve learnt as a fitness professional over the years?
- Compassion is the most important and at the same time the most overlooked skill for fitness professionals.
- We raise by lifting others.
- Don’t strive for perfection, strive for progress and to become better than you were yesterday.
- You are not a failure when you fail, you are only a failure when you stop trying.
- What the mind can perceive the body can achieve.
15-Minute Office Bodyweight Blaster With Diego Carrete
What you need: A chair/desk/couch and a resistance band.
Instructions: Do 20 reps per exercise, taking a 30 second break in-between. Do 4 rounds!