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Autumn Calabrese On How Fitness Will Make Us Stronger At Life

author image Jess Barron
Jess Barron is head of editorial at LIVESTRONG.COM.She has appeared on MSNBC's "The Most," ABC News Now, and XM satellite radio. Barron's writing has appeared on, Yahoo! and
Autumn Calabrese On How Fitness Will Make Us Stronger At Life
We interviewed top trainer Autumn Calabrese for LIVESTRONG's Stronger Women series. Photo Credit: Adam Valencia/LIVESTRONG.COM

We interviewed top trainer Autumn Calabrese on the set of her new Beachbody on Demand fitness program 80 Day Obsession as part of LIVESTRONG’s Stronger Women series.

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What Does Being Stronger Mean to Calabrese?

“Life is really hard,” Calabrese said. “And there are days when you just want to break down, and you need to be emotionally strong -- for your family, your friends, the people around you, for work.”

As a single mom to son Dominic, Calabrese has a busy schedule: getting up at 5 a.m., getting Dominic's lunch packed for school, getting breakfast made, getting her stuff ready to go and getting out the door to her set where she films her workout videos.

“I take what I learn in my workouts and I take the strength that I get both physically, mentally and emotionally,” she said. “And I can apply that to my life, so that when I’m up against something hard I have that inner strength to battle and work through it.”

According to Calabrese, working on our fitness teaches us inner and outer strength.

“So often the focus on fitness is about the way you look -- and that’s lovely, and we all want to look great and feel great in our clothes, but I love what fitness teaches us about being strong person on the inside,” she explained. “When you’re in these hard workouts and it’s getting tough and you want to give up and your muscles are on fire and you find the strength to push through. That teaches you how to be strong in life when life gets hard.”

How Does She Find Balance?

Calabrese told us there’s no such thing as real balance day-to-day.

“What you try to do is find the balance throughout life,” she explained. “So that you know sometimes the scale tips this way and sometimes the scale tips that way, and overall you hope that maybe they even out throughout life.”

According to Calabrese, there are times where work simply has to take the focus.

“When I’m filming for 80 days, it has to be a priority,” she said. “This is not only my job, but I’m hoping to help make a difference in the world, so it has to be a priority, and unfortunately other things suffer a little bit.”

Autumn Calabrese leads her team in overhead dumbbell presses on the set of 80 Day Obsession.
Autumn Calabrese leads her team in overhead dumbbell presses on the set of 80 Day Obsession. Photo Credit: Adam Valencia / LIVESTRONG.COM

Calabrese explained that being on the set at 7 a.m. each day means she doesn't have much of a social life during the 3 months while she is filming. Also, she was not able to take her son to school during the 3 months while she was shooting the workouts for 80 Day Obsession. However, she said when the program ends filming -- that’s when the balance shifts back over to her family life.

“It’s impossible to always make them level out and have complete balance: something like spending 8 hours with my family, spending 8 hours on work and getting 8 hours of sleep,” said Calabrese. “It just doesn’t happen that way. And if you find that you shifted too far in one direction for too long, you sit down and you reprioritize and you shift it back in the other direction.”

What Are Calabrese’s Four Favorite Self-Care Rituals?

According to Calabrese, practicing self-care is essential. "We are a fast-paced society that likes to beat ourselves down, but not build ourselves back up," she said.

1. Water. Staying hydrated is the first piece of self-care Calabrese mentioned. "The biggest thing for me is getting enough water," she explained. "I always have water with me. I never leave the house without it. I never get in the car without it."

2. Sleep. "I’m very big on 8 hours of sleep," said Calabrese. "Sleep is where all the beauty happens. Everybody thinks that the magic of exercise happens in the workout. It doesn’t! In the workout you break your body down. You tear your muscles on microscopic levels. It needs a chance to repair. The repair process happens when you’re asleep. So, if you don’t go to sleep and give your body a time to shut down so that it can do the repair work, the results aren’t going to be what you need them to be."

3. Massage and foam rolling. "Soreness happens, so getting massages is important," explained Calabrese. She told us she gets a massage each week, but she understands that for many people that is not possible. She recommended we aim to get a massage at least once monthly. If the expense is too much, she told us to focus on foam rolling. "A tight knotted muscle is not a strong muscle," she said.

4. Epsom salt baths. Calabrese told us she takes an epsom salt bath every night. "They help with soreness and they’re just relaxing – it’s a chance to decompress," she said. "I’ll use essential oils like lavender in there."

LIVESTRONG GM Jess Barron interviews Beachbody trainer Autumn Calabrese on the set of her new fitness program 80 Day Obsession
LIVESTRONG GM Jess Barron interviews Beachbody trainer Autumn Calabrese on the set of her new fitness program 80 Day Obsession Photo Credit: Adam Valencia / LIVESTRONG.COM

What Are Her Favorite Healthy Foods?

While eggs used to be her go-to breakfast, she found out she was allergic and now she is all about oatmeal.

Calabrese revealed one of her faves: Oatmeal inside an acorn squash, sprinkled with cinnamon and a little maple syrup.

“I love breakfast -- it’s my favorite meal of the day, and it doesn’t have to be hard if you meal prep,” Calabrese pointed out. “If you cook your oatmeal ahead of time or you bake your acorn squash ahead of time. You just throw it all together, warm it up and you’re good to go.”

Calabrese does her meal-prepping on Sundays, and she said she loves to cook. “Anybody who says there’s not enough time, I promise you, if you saw my schedule you would realize if it’s really important to you, you will make the time to cook what you need to cook,” she explained.

Autumn Calabrese leads her team in dumbbell lunges.
Autumn Calabrese leads her team in dumbbell lunges. Photo Credit: Adam Valencia / LIVESTRONG.COM

What Are Her Go-To Snacks?

“I sometimes make blueberry almond muffins with almond meal instead of white flour. Or, I will pack a chewy granola bar that I make,” Calabrese said.

She mentioned that she’s a fan of fruits and veggies, but she does not chop up her veggies and instead packs them whole.

“Vegetables are super easy,” said Calabrese. “I don’t cut my vegetables up ahead of time, because once you start cutting them the air and the oxygen will start to deplete them of their nutrients.”

Calabrese described people laughing at her because she eats whole bell peppers by biting into them like an apple. "What’s the difference if I slice it up or bite into it?" she asked, and pointed out: "At least I haven’t cut it in advance and started to lose my nutrients that way."

She said she loves seaweed snacks. "Instead of potato chips, I’ll do the seaweed snacks that just have a little bit salt on them,” she said.

“There’s a million healthy choices out there if you’re just willing to take time,” Calabrese explained. “A lot of times we don’t want to give up our junk food, so we use the excuse that we’re too busy, so that we can have it.”

What Advice Does She Have for Someone Just Starting on a Fitness Journey?

“Don’t compare yourself to anybody else and where they’re at in their journey,” Calabrese said. “It is about progress – it’s not about perfection.”

Check out Calabrese's Beachbody on Demand fitness program 80 Day Obsession, and see more of LIVESTRONG's Stronger Women interviews.

About the Author

JESS BARRON is VP & GM for LIVESTRONG.COM, a leading healthy lifestyle website with over 29 million unique monthly viewers. In addition to LIVESTRONG, her writing has appeared in Entrepreneur, Fortune and MyDomaine. Jess has appeared on MSNBC and ABC News and has been a keynote speaker at Health Further and a panelist at Create & Cultivate and Digital Hollywood. Follow Jess on Instagram at @jessbeegood and Twitter too!

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