Jan 19, 2015

Inspirational Mothers: Karla Gilbert

Ever wondered how those fabulously fit and healthy mothers manage to find the time to workout, eat well and look so healthy while still meeting the needs of their families?  Well, I'm really excited to kick off my Inspirational Mothers series today which will be happening here for the next little while.  Every Monday, I will be introducing you to a fit mama who is successfully finding ways to manage her family, health and fitness. This series is designed to inspire you as well as bring you practical tips for living a healthy, active lifestyle. If you've ever wondered how other these inspirational mamas  manage it all, then this is the series for you!



Today we are talking to Karla Gilbert who is an Ironwoman champion, SUP title holder, mother of two beautiful girls, blogger and wellness coach. I am a huge fan of Karla's blog, Ironmum Karla where she regularly shares healthy recipes and fantastic fitness advice. Karla is a terrific inspiration and has been kind enough to share a little about her lifestyle with us today.


1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your fitness background.

I competed professionally in the multidiscipline sport of Ironwoman racing (swimming, running, ski paddling and board paddling in the ocean) from the age of 15 and won 7 consecutive Uncle Toby’s/Kellogg’s series titles, 2 world Ironwoman titles and 3 Australian Ironwoman titles. After retiring from the sport I lasted about 1 year not competing and thinking I could return to a somewhat ‘normal’ life but this thought didn’t last long and I dabbled in Adventure racing which lead to an Australian title in 2007.

Kids then entered the scene and Ella – 7 and Summer – 4 who brought a whole new dimension of being busy to my life ;) After Summer was born I began standup board paddling (SUP) as a way to strengthen my body post kids while still being able to enjoy the ocean. One thing led to another and I began competing internationally and have won the past 3 Australian SUP titles as an ambassador for Naish SUP.

I am now a Lifestyle, Food and Wellness Coach assisting people to achieve their own goals in health and blog at Ironmum Karla

2. Have you always been able to successfully find the time to stay fit/active while being a mother?

Yes, with a lot of support from my husband, it was hard at first to try and work around a breastfeeding schedule and tiredness but as the kids got older this freed me up and to helped me to feel ‘me’ again after some horrible nauseating pregnancies.

3. How often do you manage to exercise during the week, and how does this fit in with your family's schedule?

I will do something each day. My husband is active also so we alternate mornings with our different training groups. The mornings he is out I duck into the gym (we have set up at home) and jump on the spin bike or do some strength work before the kids wake. It really is about grabbing any opportunity whether it’s 1/2 an hour here or there. Time is a luxury when there are kids involved, but we do try and hit the beach together on a weekend and go surfing.

4. What is your favourite type of fitness/exercise, has this changed at different stages of your children's lives?

I have always loved anything involved in the ocean. This is where I feel my calmest and at peace. The ocean allows you to only focus on what is around you and brings perspective and clarity once you return to shore. Swimming, surfing, SUP’ing, ocean ski paddling all fall under this umbrella. I used to punch out 3 sessions a day – 6 days a week while I was competing professionally, like any job where I was earning an income the time had to be spent but these days it is more about the social aspect and maintaining a level of fitness and strength that allows me to do the things I love in life. More emphasis is now placed on quality workouts in less time rather than quantity unless I have an endurance event I am training for.

5. So, tell us what your average day looks like?

4.50 am wake up, then off to SUP group training or in my gym, my husband takes control of the kids until I return (or vice versa if he is out training) where I hit the ground running when I return to get the kids ready for school and dropped off at the gate ( Ella in grade 2 and Summer kindy 2 days a week). If it is a day Summer is a kindy I usually have my wellness coaching clients timeslotted during the day or if not we are off to get groceries, the park, housework etc.

Before you know it, 2.30pm rolls around and it’s time to pick up the kids from school and on to after school sport. If my husband has finished work early I might be lucky and get out of this one and get some stuff done around the house otherwise we are back home at around 4.30pm and thinking about dinner and perhaps a quick 25 minute HIIT session in the gym while the kids chill. Usually we have the kids marching up to bed by 6.45 pm for books and homework and asleep by 7.15pm.

In the evenings I tend to work on my blog Ironmum Karla and research with follow up emails for my wellness clients. Once this is done there is some couch time with my husband before I head up to bed around 9.30pm.

6. What is your philosophy/goals when it comes to family nutrition?

Everything in moderation, sticking as close to the source as possible and minimising processed foods. I think being mindful of what you eat throughout the day has a lot of impact on your family’s health. Try to include a rainbow of colours each day and create some sort of plan so you’re not just winging in regards to your grocery shopping and meal plans. If you don’t buy the junk then your kids can’t eat it.

7. Do you have any fitness/exercise goals for the future?

I train for life, and that has always been my philosophy. The last few years have had some big SUPing goals with races in Maui and the USA but this year I want to focus more on my Wellness Coaching and help others achieve their best. Who knows, I haven’t planned most of my sporting endeavours and I tend to go with the flow of what may come!

8. What is your best advice to mamas that would like to be able to be more active, but are having trouble finding the time?

There is never a good time to start, you just have to make a commitment to yourself and make it work. Even when my kids were young, if I had a spare moment I was in the gym and knocking over some dance cardio while they slept or taking the double pram for a spin. Sure I was tired too but I knew it would bring energy to me and make me a happier person. If your kids are at school then is your chance to get something done but do it straight after drop off or else things tend to creep into your day and it doesn’t get done. I know some crazy busy mothers that don’t have a lot of support but they still make it work. We are really good at making up excuses to suit or give a biased opinion but in the end everyone is accountable for their own actions but with a few simple changes to your lifestyle and routine, exercise can become a constant in your life and be the element that brings a sense of control.

Thanks so much for sharing with us today Karla, there is so much wonderful advice here! If you would like to learn more about Karla then head over and check out her awesome blog.