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Step Up and Transform Your Fitness Routine – Shona Vertue

An all-fitness deep dive with the trainer David Beckham described as “the best.”

Shona Vertue is a personal trainer and yoga teacher whose clients include David Beckham. She has over 300,000 followers on Instagram and one of the most popular YouTube yoga channels in the UK.

Shona was a trainer on the cast of Warner Brother’s Wonder Woman 2, scheduled for release this autumn. She spends her time between London and Sydney where she surfs and skateboards – and I think Shona is one of the funniest people on Instagram! Her program, “The Vertue Method”, combines resistance training and cardio with yoga and meditation, and places as much importance on rest and recovery as hours in the gym. Yay.

We went deep into fitness, exercise and health, and Shona shared her knowledge and expertise across these domains. Why exercise? How to exercise optimally? What if you’re a total beginner? What if you’re already working out 3-4 times a week? How much do we have to do each week? When can we fit it into our fast-paced lives? We also talked about food, and explored the concept of “having fun”. 

Shona moved from sports (gymnastics and dance) into the corporate world. That experience did not last long, but informed her view of what corporate workers need to do to stay well. Shona quoted the Australian Department of Health and said that “health is not merely the absence of disease” – this quote resonated with me deeply.

When I asked Shona for book recommendations, she went with “Intuitive Eating” by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, and “Strong Curves” by Bret Contreras and Kellie Davis. The latter will enlighten you on the importance of the glutes in overall fitness and might (!) explain Shona’s own obsession with a strong and healthy butt!

Maya Angelou is a massive inspiration to Shona and she mentioned the SuperSoul Conversation Oprah Winfrey had with Angelou as one of her favourites.

You can find Shona on her websiteInstagram, and Youtube. Her book, The Vertue Method is available in stores.

Read the Transcript

Note: While When Women Win is produced as an audio recording, we are delighted to produce transcripts for those who are unable to hear. Kindly note that these are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Media is encouraged to check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.

Rana Nawas: (00:00)
Hello ladies and gents. My guest on today’s show is a personal trainer and yoga teacher whose clients include David Beckham. Shona Vertue is an Australian coach with over 300,000 followers on Instagram and has the third most popular yoga channel in the UK on Youtube. Shona’s program, The Vertue Method, combines resistance training and cardio with yoga and meditation and places as much importance on rest and recovery as hours in the gym. Shona lives between London and Sydney where she surfs and skateboards. She was a trainer on the cast of Warner Brothers Wonder Woman 2, slated for release this autumn. On top of everything, I think Shona is one of the funniest people on Instagram. We discussed fitness. Why exercise? How to exercise optimally. What if you’re a total beginner? What if you’re a middle of the road person already working out three to four times a week? How much do we have to do each week? When can we fit it into our fast paced lives? We also talked about food and explored the concept of having fun. So, let’s get into it.

Rana Nawas: (01:18)
Shona, I am thrilled to have you on When Women Win, thank you so much for making the time.

Shona Vertue: (01:22)
Thank you so much for having me.

Rana Nawas: (01:24)
How did David Beckham become a client of yours?

Shona Vertue: (01:27)
I was living and working in London for a company called Bodyism. James Duigan, who was the founder and director at the time, had met David a couple of years prior. We actually were in Granger & Co in London and David walked in and James said, “you need to do yoga with Shona.” And so it began.

Rana Nawas: (01:46)
And when it comes to fitness requirements and routines, are there differences between men and women? Because I assume you work with a lot of men and women, right?

Shona Vertue: (01:53)
Yeah. To be honest, it’s sort of shifted now. I work with a few men and then mostly women because, you know, I’m a woman, I’m in a female body. I really am passionate about women lifting weights and training in a way that they may not have been used to or training in a way that society may not have encouraged at one stage. So there are definitely differences. I mean, there are huge physiological differences that can’t be ignored.

Rana Nawas: (02:19)
How would you train a man and how would you train a woman?

Shona Vertue: (02:22)
The way that I generally do it is with women, I encourage them to lift weight and men I encourage to spend more time mobilizing their body because the truth is that women will always gravitate towards their stretching or their yoga or their cardio and they’ll often ignore weight training and strength training and men go the other way. So they’re all about getting big and massive or being super fit, but they totally 100% will neglect their mobility and flexibility practices, to their detriment. So, that’s a very generalized statement, but it’s what I’ve found.

Rana Nawas: (02:58)
And when you say mobility, you mean yoga, right?

Shona Vertue: (03:02)
I don’t just mean yoga. No, actually the beef that I have with yoga, I don’t have beef with yoga as a philosophy; just because something is old, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s right and it’s definitely not necessarily right for the modern day movement culture that we live in. So you have to remember that when yoga was created, particularly the asana and the whole practice and process, most people had lives where they were like farmers or they lived in by the ganges. They spent time in a squatting position, they had very different bodies and different movement schedules, if you will. These days, a lot of us and the majority of us will spend our time in chairs, maybe nine hours behind a desk, then we get back into our car or sit on the tube and then we sit on our couch and then we lie down in our bed and so we have a very different way of moving. And I think that yoga alone isn’t enough for modern day bodies and that’s why I created the method, The Vertue method, because I wanted people to have a sort of “tick all boxes” approach.

Rana Nawas: (04:08)
What is The Vertue Method, Shona?

Shona Vertue: (04:09)
So the Vertue method is basically a combination of weighted circuit training, yoga, meditation, and lots and lots of glute activation. Because for anyone listening, they’ll know that I’m quite obsessed with the glutes, with your butts and not in a perverted kind of way, not in a creepy way. Obviously they look great, but their functionality for the body is really super super important to pay attention to.

Rana Nawas: (04:40)
And how did you get into creating The Vertue method? How did you get into the fitness world?

Shona Vertue: (04:47)
Well, I sort of entered sport and fitness when I was very young. I was about 3 years old, maybe 4, when my parents enrolled me into a program called “Jumping Jelly Babies,” which was at the local gymnastics center in Sydney and I started there and then was taken from that program and put into the elite program where I was training 20 hours a week or over 20 hours a week as an elite gymnast.

Rana Nawas: (05:09)
Oh my goodness.

Shona Vertue: (05:10)
Yeah. Crazy, crazy amount of time. Basically that was where it all started and I didn’t think that, I didn’t know whether I’d make a career out of it, but essentially it got to the point where my dad had to sit me down and say, okay, we’ve got two options here; you can make gymnastics your life or you can have a life. So I chose life and I chose a childhood. So I quit gymnastics and moved into dance.I went to a performing arts high school, danced there, thought I might make that a career. There was barely any money in it. So when I finished high school, I thought maybe I’ll just go in to enter the workforce and so I started working in an office as an Assistant. I was doing sort of nine to five and it was there that I actually really learned a lot about what it is to work in this sort of corporate world and what it does to your body and your mind. It was that that motivated me to actually go back to fitness, back to health and back to movement because I thought “this isn’t for me,” but also I developed this “I want to help people that are in this world, that live in this world and there’s a lot of us.”

Rana Nawas: (06:19)
So you’ve been doing this for some time now?

Shona Vertue: (06:22)
It’s been a long time. So I became a yoga teacher and then I became a personal trainer and I’ve been doing it now for over 10 years and I’ve never looked back. It’s an amazing process. So to answer your question about where The Vertue Method came from, essentially, it’s kind of like a culmination of all of the experiences that I’ve had from gymnastics, to dance, to yoga teaching, to personal training. It really is this, that’s how it came to be because I ended up drawing on all of my experience while I was training clients.

Rana Nawas: (06:51)
And you mentioned the word “health,” Shona. You’re not just about fitness. You really talk a lot about health and well-being. What does optimum health mean to you?

Shona Vertue: (07:03)
So interestingly enough, I was just reading about this the other day, the Department of Health in Australia actually talks about it. It defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and it’s not merely the absence of disease. And I think that’s really powerful too to acknowledge because very often we come at health from a tiny perspective. So many of us have different ideas of what health might look like for us. A lot of the time we leave the sort of social and psychological aspects out and we associate health with what we see on the cover of a magazine or a magazine that says health in the title or we might associate it with what we see on Instagram. But health is so much more than what you see on someone else’s body. And so I really loved that definition from the Department of Health actually in Australia. It is complete physical, mental and social well-being.

Rana Nawas: (07:59)
I think that’s valid what you said about it, not just being the absence of disease. A lot of people know that I was diagnosed with cancer about a year ago and my doctor always asked me if I’d been sick before…etc. And I said no till now I’ve been the healthiest person I know and you know, I never got sick until I was diagnosed, like really ever. I’d never been to a hospital except to have my two children. And what came out of that was very interesting; you obviously weren’t healthy just because you weren’t getting sick. You weren’t healthy.

Shona Vertue: (08:31)
I think the exercise isn’t just about feeling good. I think it’s about learning to better feel your body. And I think that’s one of the things that people lack these days. We’re inundated with information about what to do. So we have lists and lists and lists and so much information thanks to the internet, you know, don’t eat this, do eat that, don’t use that it’ll give you cancer or don’t, whatever it be like, eat more broccoli, eat less junk, eat this. And I think that it’s so overwhelming. The best and most powerful thing that you could do for your body is develop a more refined sense of awareness of what your body needs and of what you’re experiencing. So even just something as simple as knowing, “oh, my left glute is more active than my right glute,” that can then shape the way in which we train so that eventually you don’t lead yourself towards an injury because at the end of the day, an injury is so boring and horrible to heal. It’s much easier to prevent an injury than to have to fix it. Anyone that’s had to give up smoking will know that. It’s a much tougher process to quit smoking than it is to just not take it up in the first place. And I wouldn’t know from experience, but I’ve definitely had a lot of clients that have smoked in the past. And it’s one of those things where it’s like, oh, they always say, “why didn’t I just not start?” And with exercise and with understanding your body and becoming more connected to it, the more I train older people, the more they’re like: “oh, Shona, why didn’t I start that earlier?”

Rana Nawas: (10:05)
What is the one thing that listeners should know about exercise?

Shona Vertue: (10:12)
You know, what I would say is that physical activity is defined as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that expends energy. And the reason that I say that definition is because I think a lot of people get caught up in trying to pick the right one and it’s like if you haven’t moved in a long time, if you’ve been sedentary, if you haven’t exercised, I think it’s really important to just acknowledge that, just start the movement first, then start moving more. Start looking at your life and think, “okay, where can I integrate more movement?” And that is essentially what physical activity and exercise is. So the other thing I would say about physical activity is that it is not a punishment and I don’t think it should be. I don’t think the gym is the place that you should go to repent your diet and lifestyle. Since exercise is a celebration of the body that we’ve all been gifted with and what your body is capable of doing, regardless of your actual physical ableness, every time you go exercise say, “what can I do?” We need to think of exercise as an opportunity rather than a chore or an obligation.

Rana Nawas: (11:25)
I love that, that turns it on its head because you’re right, people really do look at exercise as ‘”uh, I’ve got to exercise” and also it breeds a lot of guilt, you know, guilt breeds punishment, and that’s why I think we look at it as punishment because we feel guilty all the time because we know intuitively that we’re not getting enough exercise.

Shona Vertue: (11:43)
Exactly. And I think that’s definitely the wrong way to go about it. I mean for anyone that has a child or anyone that has like pets or anything that they love, when you’re sharing care and love towards that person or animal, what you love or whatever it might be, I don’t think we ever really approach as a chore. I think if you truly love something, it just doesn’t feel like effort and the real difficulty, and I’m not saying this is easy, this is really hard, but what I try to encourage people to do and what I’m always in a constant process of learning to do is to flip that and actually try to share that same care and love for myself. And a way in which to express love for your body is to exercise, is to take care of it in that way or is to consume a nutrient dense foods, or is to quit smoking. So those are all actions of self-love. And I think that that’s really difficult, but it’s also really important. The way that you can maintain motivation for the rest of your life is if you look at your exercise in that way.

Rana Nawas: (12:50)
I love that and we will come to the food element shortly. I just want to give a challenge to the listeners for the next week to demonstrate some self-love by doing some exercise, by looking at exercise as an opportunity to celebrate your body.

Shona Vertue: (13:06)

Rama: (13:07)
Give me some feedback, listeners! Let me know if you’ve done it! So Shona, let’s look at the people who exercise. So, to me it seems that there’s three buckets, three very well defined buckets. On the one hand, you have the super duper professional athletes, triathletes…etc who are exercising at least once a day, right? Then you have the middle of the road people exercising three times a week, right? And then you have the totally sedentary bunch who either have never exercised or they used to and they’ve been out of the game for some reason; maybe they had a child, maybe they had a disease, whatever it is, they’re not exercising at all at the moment. So let’s ignore the triathletes for the moment because I don’t think many of our listeners are in that bucket and talk about the other two buckets and what advice you might have for them. So let’s start with the people who train three times a week and maybe their challenges are “alright, how do I stay motivated and keep it interesting?” What would you advise them to do?

Shona Vertue: (14:13)
I think for those that are…you know, it’s funny because the advice probably isn’t going to change that much.

Rana Nawas: (14:19)
It will a tiny bit.

Shona Vertue: (14:21)
But for the people that are training three times a week, I would say you’re essentially consistent now. There’s a consistent approach to training, maybe you’ve found your flow, I would say to take it to the next level and really achieve results. It’s important to get onto a plan. And the reason I say that is because there are certain principles in exercise science that are really important to bring into exercise in order to get those results that you’re hoping for or that you’re training for. Now moving alone, physical activity, as I said, is great, so it is going to help the body regardless. It’s not like, okay, if you’re just doing random workouts, it’s not benefiting you. It definitely is. But I would say to take it to the next level and to stay motivated and to start really achieving different goals and watching amazing things that your body can do, I would recommend following a plan because any good plan will incorporate important principles like the principle of progressive overload and I will give a simplified explanation of what that is very quickly. Progressive overload is essentially things getting harder over time. So your exercise getting more difficult and more challenging for your body over a certain period of time. The reason that is important is that in order to facilitate adaptation, that is to say in order to change your body, so your body to adapt, you need to be constantly increasing the stress progressively over time. It’s one of the aspects certain people always write to me on my DMs on Instagram about and say “I’m just not getting results, but I work out three times a week and I do this and I eat healthy and blah, blah, but why am I not seeing any changes?” There could be a huge number of reasons for why, but one of the answers that I always give is “are you incorporating progressive overload into your program?” And a lot of the time they’re like ” I am sorry, what? And so this is definitely something that I would say to that bucket of people who go to their hit class three times a week or they go to their random yoga clubs and they do this. You need to then, if you want to take it to the next step, be applying certain practices.

Rana Nawas: (16:33)
Sorry Shona, so just to get more practical tips on that then, when you say progressive overload, you mean that if you’re doing weight training, your weights need to get heavier? And if you’re doing cardio your pace should be getting faster, that kind of thing, right?

Shona Vertue: (16:47)
Absolutely, yes. And maybe not faster, but it could be longer. It’s basically tweaking certain variables. So when it comes to weight training, yes, it could be lifting more weight. It could also be reducing the period at which you rest. Just pick one avenue for which you want to progress. But what I’m saying is that there are different variables that you can tweak.

Rana Nawas: (17:09)
And on weights, I mean there’s different… I’ve come across different PTs, different philosophies on retraining. So some will say “do 15 reps, three times, three sets of 15 reps” and others will say “just pick up the heaviest weight you can and do three reps.” So which is right?

Shona Vertue: (17:29)
So as a personal trainer, I would say they’re both right and I would also say that, you know, it really depends on the individual. When you’re training someone individually, you have to listen to their goals, but really we should be hitting all of those different rep ranges. And again, it depends on the goal. So if you’re more endurance based and your goal is really endurance, then yes, we’re going to go higher repetitions. If, however, your goal is strength based, then we’re going to go lower reps with a heavier weight. And in the middle, if it is just to create shape, we want to go with something sort of in the middle. If we want to build a little bit of muscle tissue, we want to go in the middle of that. However, just to add another more confusing point: research actually shows that we should be trying to hit all rep ranges to facilitate some kind of result. So actually the body does respond in different ways and it’s important to kind of, again, I come back to it, I keep using the same words and sentences, but tickle those boxes.

Rana Nawas: (18:31)
Thanks. right. Let’s talk about the total beginners now.

Shona Vertue: (18:34)
Yeah, I am totally going to say I love you guys. So total beginners, that wasn’t me speaking to you by the way, I’m just talking to anyone who is listening right now and it’s a total beginner and is thinking, “I just hate exercise so much and I wouldn’t know what to do.” That’s cool. I would say that the first thing to do is, well, remember the spiel that I gave prior about the self-love, self-understanding and self-respect, that’s why we exercise and that should be the reason, first and foremost. The second thing that I would say is just start integrating a bit more physical activity into your day. So don’t even think about the gym just yet. Don’t even think about the HIT workout or the classes you’ve got to go to. Just pull back. Slow and steady wins the race, for the most part. It might be getting off the bus earlier and walking a little bit longer to work. It might be a case of not taking the car and instead walking. It might be a case of, you know, after dinner you grab your family and you say, let’s go for a walk, instead of sitting on the couch tonight, let’s just all go for a walk around the block. it’s different ways that you can integrate physical movement into your day that will be beneficial for beginners. Then I would say start small, so in addition to your consistency, start looking at some workouts that you can do online in the comfort of your own home that will teach you tiny little sequences like I’m talking 10 minutes, 20 minutes that you could do to just start building strength in certain areas so that when you eventually do go to a fitness class, when you eventually do build up the courage to go to the gym and start squatting and lunging and do all that sort of stuff, you feel confident enough to do that. You know, when people try to tell me that they’re too busy to exercise, I think it’s a weak excuse and I feel terrible saying that because I know that I don’t have children, I don’t know what it’s like for those sorts of situations. There are plenty of situations that I don’t understand and that I’ve never lived in. However, if there are 10,080 minutes in a week, right, you cannot tell me that it’s impossible for you to find 10 minutes a day. It crazy. And so there is definitely time. It’s just a question of effort and I really believe that exercise is as important as cleaning your teeth and I think that we need to hold it with the same sense of respect, right? It’s not always going to be an exhilarating process. Yeah. Just like cleaning your teeth is not really that fun all the time, but at the end of the day, I don’t want bad breath. I don’t want gum disease. It’s really important and I feel the exact same way about exercise and I tried to get every beginner to feel that same way as well. You need to do it. That’s the bottom line. It’s a bit of tough love there. I sound, I sound really mean.

Rana Nawas: (21:19)
And you mentioned something Shona, before to me, which is the education angle because I asked you, “well, how do you motivate people? What would motivate people?” And you said something that really resonated with me that “education is the strongest motivation.” So what do you mean by that?

Shona Vertue: (21:35)
So what I mean by education is the best motivation is that when we understand why we should or shouldn’t do something, we’re more likely to do it. When I speak to my clients and I say to them, meditate, I want you to meditate everyday. They’re like, “oh, I hate meditation or I don’t have time for it.” If I follow that sentence by; here’s all the research through which meditation helps reduce anxiety and depression and will make your brain function better, they’re like, “oh, hold up, hold up. I would love better brain function. My boss would also love better brain function” or whatever it might be. So it’s understanding the mechanisms. It’s understanding why something is good for you or isn’t good for you, that can help you feel more motivated to either do it or not do it.

Rana Nawas: (22:20)
All right. So let’s go back to this middle of the road bunch. Now assuming your goal, because as you say, your fitness program will depend on your goal. So assuming your goal was just to stay fit and healthy, so you don’t need to build bulk or fix an injury or anything like that. Assuming there were no time or space constraints, what would your perfect weekly program look like? I’ll tell you where I’m coming from. I really, really like the Paleo philosophy except now I’m a vegan and we can talk about that. But in terms of the Paleo philosophy of acting the way we did as cavemen and women. They talk about the activities that we used to do and if we were to translate that into life today, their view is you would do, for example, a day of weights, a day of cardio, a day of yoga, a day of weights, a day of cardio, a day yoga. And that’s it. And when they say a day, it does not mean for a long period of time, just like 20 minute bursts per day. What do you think about a program like that?

Shona Vertue: (23:23)
You know, I think it’s awesome, but again, it eliminates the context of individuality and specificity. So I would love to give you guys a blanket statement. I really would. But again, this is why I say that developing sensitivity and awareness of your own body is really important because the media is always telling us black and white, everything is all about yes or no, good and evil and you know, black and white. But essentially, there’s a lot of gray here. So what I say to people is if you’re super stressed, let’s say you’re going through a really stressful life period right now, would I really recommend that you go crazy with your exercise and do it every day? Probably not. I would say, okay, we might need to focus on a little bit more meditation and some mobility. This has happened a lot for people that are dealing with grief. So anyone who’s going through grief, if they listen to this podcast and I said I want you to train five days a week for 20 minutes a day, and they’re suddenly going, okay, I need to step it up, but it’s not acknowledging the fact that they’re also dealing with another stress. So coming back to that definition of health and looking at it from not just a physical health but mental and social well-being as well, I would love to say to you “oh, here’s the formula. It’s meditation, it’s yoga and it’s weight training for 20 minutes every single day.” But I cannot give a blanket statement like that. However, when I wrote The Vertue Method book, I said that I’ve divided the pillars of The Vertue Method into three. So we’ve got lift, lengthen and nourish. And so to simplify it, I guess I can say you should be trying to at least, if those were like bank accounts (lift, lengthen and nourish), you want to make sure you’re depositing effort and time into each of those three bank accounts, lift being lifting weights and developing strength, lengthening being your mobility, your yoga and your flexibility practices, and then nourish is actually divided into two aspects, the brain and the body and the body obviously being your fuel intake, so whatever it is you’re eating, but then also in terms of the mind, what are you nourishing your mind with? So this is where I talk about things like introducing meditation into your daily practices. What are you reading? What thoughts are you choosing each day? All those sorts of psychological things that are really important as well.

Rana Nawas: (25:41)
Well, I’m glad you talked about food because I’d really like to go there. Let’s do it. On your website, you have a lot of recipes, so it looks like you’re really into food. Why?

Shona Vertue: (25:51)
That’s a big question! You know, I think I only really recently just got into recipes, to be honest. It has a lot to do with the fact that I would get a lot of requests for it. But from when I was like four years old to probably when I was weight training as a bodybuilder, I sort of looked at food in this way: I would really look at food as fuel only. So I would look at it as simply what it was going to provide me to be able to execute whatever it was I needed to execute physically or mentally. So when I was doing gymnastics, it was very much how much protein am I getting? What kind of calories am I getting? Is it enough to fuel and sustain me through the 20 hours a week that I was doing in exercise? And this continued for quite a long time. The issue is that whatever sort of food philosophy you embrace as a child, you probably will most likely take into your adulthood unless you start to question it a little bit. So, the reason that I started to delve into recipe creation a little bit more was because I realized that my relationship with food had no artistic or imaginative approach and it’s something that I think is really beautiful about being a human is that we have the arts, you know, we are artistic and we are creative and there is such a thing as culinary art. And so I wanted to combine, I guess culinary art with health, fitness and fuel. So I guess, that’s essentially why I started creating recipes.

Rana Nawas: (27:23)
So what is your food philosophy? How do you eat?

Shona Vertue: (27:26)
How do I eat? I’m going to simplify it because I think that it’s important that, again, it comes back to every individual. So generally speaking, what I try to encourage everyone to do is get enough protein for their body, basically fill their plate with lots of different vegetables and to eat the rainbow. And the reason that I say eat the rainbow is that all the different colors that you see in food and in particular vegetables represent the different phytonutrients and the phytonutrients of the nutrients that you only get from plants. And they’re very delicate and very important for the functioning of our body. And so if you’re only eating one color, you’re only getting one type of phytonutrient. So it’s a really simple rule to follow. It’s simple to just try and fill your plate with as many different colors as you possibly can at every meal, seasonally as possible as well but don’t worry too much about. You know, trying to as much as you can is really beneficial for your body. And it’s a simple, easy thing to sort of apply to everyone’s life. My food philosophy in a sentence is essentially: I like to look at food as nourishment and you’ve got to nourish different things. You’ve got to nourish your body. And you might do that with a big bowl of vegetables and some protein of your choice, be it, tofu, whatever it might be. And then you’ve got to nourish the mind with the food as well. So making those sort of multicolored choices which will help with brain function as well. And then I also say that you have to nourish your soul and sometimes your soul needs nourishment, not from a massive salad, but actually from a creme brulee or a chocolate fondant. And I think that that’s important because a lot of people feel guilted into just eating healthy and then other people just go down the soul route and they’re not actually nourishing their body or their mind. So looking at it from the perspective of nourishment.

Rana Nawas: (29:23)
I’m just thinking of my fruitarian water fasting coach as he’s not even vegan, he’s fruitarian, so he only consumes fresh fruit and a few raw vegetables. He’s been doing this for 30 years and he hasn’t been sick once in 30 years. So, if I had him on the show, he would probably say that something else was going on but I’m not qualified to go there.

Shona Vertue: (29:48)
Totally. And I think the point is that what we have to be careful of is anecdotal advise or anecdotal evidence, which is essentially just someone saying it worked for me, I guess it works for everyone. And that’s quite dangerous because it can really affect other people. That’s why science takes a long time because it has to wait. Basically, science is all about just proving shit wrong so it can be very difficult to kind of get a definitive answer. And I think even then we don’t really ever get a definitive answer and that’s the nature of life and I think we just have to be very, very careful. There’s so many different elements and it’s people’s health we’re dealing with, so I get very nervous about saying “this works for everyone! You should do it!” Because it’s just, you don’t know not only the biochemical makeup of that person, but you also don’t know the way in which they think, you don’t know the way in which they approach other, like I talked to you about earlier, is their allostatic static load, the stress on their body coming from angles that you won’t know about. So to just suddenly say to someone, you know, “give up all of this” is dangerous because you don’t know the genetic makeup either. So there’s lots of different things. This is why, you know, most scientific boards, most nutritional boys will never ever get behind those things because it’s very difficult. It all has to stay very, sort of, general. It’s frustrating because we all just want to know.

Rana Nawas: (31:20)
I think certainly something that is not controversial is that the vast majority of your diet should be plant-based. I think that’s not controversial.

Shona Vertue: (31:29)
I don’t think that’s controversial at all. I mean they changed the daily recommendation for vegetable intake; it went from 5 a day to 10 a day with the new research emerging. So 100 percent. I don’t think anyone argues that vegetables need to be consumed a lot more.

Rana Nawas: (31:47)
Shona, I usually ask my guests about book recommendations. For you, I’d like to ask two; one on fitness and one on nutrition.

Shona Vertue: (31:54)
Nutrition; I’m going to go with a book called “Intuitive Eating.” It’s by two registered dietitians, so that means they’ve done big degrees. They also specialize in eating disorders and developing better relationships with food. And “Intuitive Eating” is a book that I think should be on the curriculum in the school of life because it’s something, with the diet culture that we live in, that’s very bad; “get skinny, get beach body ready” or whatever it might be. Do this, don’t do that,” it’s developing unhealthy relationships for a lot of people with food. So “Intuitive Eating” by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, is a really powerful book. The exercise, other than my own “The Vertue Method,” I would have to say, God there’s so many…Okay, I’m going to pick a Bret Contreras book, it’s called “Strong Curves.” And it’s funny because it is definitely a book that was sort of geared towards women and the language is very much geared towards women, but I actually think more men need to train their glutes these days. But basically it’s called “Strong Curves” and it’s got three programs in there. It’s an amazing book on glutes. And Bret Contreras is basically the glute expert. He is in fact called that in the industry. He’s known as the “glute guy” and it’s a really, really amazing book and it will change the way that you approach… it might not even change the way that you approach, but it just gives you a deeper understanding of why glutes is so important.

Rana Nawas: (33:35)
Thank you for those recommendations. Tell me, is there a woman who’s influenced you?

Shona Vertue: (33:41)
A lot of women who influenced me. I think women are incredible, other than my mother who has obviously played a huge role in influencing me throughout my life, you know, as all mother-daughter relationships, I would say both through positive experiences and, you know, negative experiences. But sometimes adversity is a better lesson anyway, or a more pertinent lesson that stays with you. So we’ve definitely shared our trials and tribulations in that way. So my mother definitely. But also I would say Maya Angelou.

Rana Nawas: (34:18)
Oh wow!

Shona Vertue: (34:18)
Yeah, she’s been really.., Sorry, it’s not a personal trainer. I have plenty of personal female trainers that I know and love, but I think someone that’s really deeply spoken to my soul is Maya Angelou. And she actually does an incredible podcast with Oprah. And it’s amazing, I would recommend that everyone listens to it. But just anything by Maya Angelou, she’s incredible.

Rana Nawas: (34:47)
Maya Angelou, the author?

Shona Vertue: (34:48)

Rana Nawas: (34:54)
What do you mean she has a podcast?

Shona Vertue: (34:54)
No, no, no, no. She doesn’t have a podcast. She did a podcast recording with Oprah. Oprah has the podcast and she’s on one of them and it’s amazing. Sorry. You’re like, do you know…

Rana Nawas: (35:10)
I hate to break it to you but your hero is dead. From the grave? She’s doing this podcast from the other side.She’s crossed over. Shona, thank you so much. Look, I’ve really, really enjoyed this chat. Where can listeners find you?

Shona Vertue: (35:30)
They can find me on most places actually, most platforms. I will definitely suggest my website, and that’s v-e-r-t-u-e. I’m not quite virtuous, almost, but not quite. And I would definitely say…God, I use that joke all the time, it’s wearing thin. Definitely Instagram Shona_Vertue, Facebook under the same name, and Youtube where I had lots of videos. So for those of you who are new to training and those of you who have been training for a while, go check out my Youtube videos because they are really powerful and I know that they’ve definitely helped a lot of people get into the health and fitness wagon.

Rana Nawas: (36:10)
Brilliant. Shona, thank you so so much for coming on When Women Win.

Shona Vertue: (36:14)
Thank you for having me.

Rana Nawas: (36:17)
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