WELLNESS IS A JOURNEY: Come Along for the Ride with Giulia Calefato of ‘FIT IS BEAUTY’

Our special interview guest is proof of that. Giulia Calefato is a wellness and nutrition counsellor and blogger, but also a regular working woman and a mom. At 46, she is living a life of mind-body harmony, but it wasn’t always that way. Like many women, she struggled with issues about body and self-image at a younger age, but her journey towards health, wellness and balance is truly captivating. We sat down with Giulia to ask her how she did it, and her favorite tips and recommendations on everything from what to eat, when to exercise, how to relax and what’s the best skincare routine. Meet Giulia and get inspired!

Giulia, tell us about you – in a nutshell.

My story, like everyone’s, begins in my childhood. As a young girl, I suffered from eating disorders, and when I reached about 18 years of age, I decided I needed to take care of myself and begin a journey of healing. For me, that meant searching for psycho-physical balance – which might sound scary, but actually just means body and mind.

So over time, I consulted with nutritionists, psychologists, psychotherapists, and personal trainers. Then I decided to take it to the career level, and became a fitness instructor, earning my diploma from the Italian Fitness Federation, I learned how to exercise effectively and build a healthy relationship with food. This allowed me to leave behind all those diets I’d tried in the past and achieve excellent mind-body balance. Today, I’m 46 years old, with a slim, toned body but above all, a healthy one. I suppose I could sum up by saying that Giulia is a woman like many who has found a way to love and take care of herself. I am also an entrepreneur, wife, and mother of two children, Arturo who is 12 years old and 9-year-old Elvira.

What’s your recommended routine for a healthy body and mind?

I recommend training three times a week, with exercises that are safe and easy to do at home. You can find loads of short and effective workouts at my blog or on Instagram @fitisbeauty_official. 

These are perfect for people who are short on time because they only take about 20 minutes. Of course, if you’ve got 40-45 minutes to spare, that’s even better! But if not, then don’t worry – even if you can just manage 20 minutes three times a week, you’ll do fine. On the days when you don’t train, consider taking a brisk 30-minute walk as active recovery.

All this activity must be combined with a healthy diet that limits simple sugars, alcohol and carbonated drinks, and desserts, replacing them with complex carbohydrates (like whole pasta, brown rice, oat pasta, quinoa, buckwheat). You should never cut these healthy carbs, but rather include them in your daily menus in a balanced way. I don’t eat a lot of dairy; not because I don’t enjoy it, but because I try to focus my diet on non-inflammatory foods. 

For protein, I prefer turkey and chicken – white meat basically! – as well as fish, organic eggs and egg whites. Here’s an example of a quick, easy recipe that’s a great source of protein for an afternoon snack or post workout: Cook 100ml of egg white in a non-stick pan, add 30g of fruit compote and two wholewheat crackers or Wasa crispbread. Or here’s another idea, also terrific for after a workout: 30g of protein powder mixed with 250ml of water or vegetable juice, and maybe half a banana or an apple. 

Great healthy ways to get a nutritious boost.

Do you recommend exercising every day?

No, I wouldn’t recommend exercising every day – three or maximum four times a week is ideal, because the body needs to rest between workouts. This is especially true if you train with heavy weights. Rest allows the body to recover and restore energy supplies, and also for the muscles to grow and become stronger.

What exercises are an absolute must in the workout routine?

It really depends on your goal and physical condition. There are no exercises that are a must for everybody. You need to create your own routine based on your body type and fitness level. Always keep your goal in mind, but don’t pressure yourself to get there too quickly. Real body changes and health transformation won’t happen in a short time frame, but with continual practice, you can do it!

Any cheat days allowed in the diet?

Certainly some “cheat” moments are allowed. I recommend one ‘free’ meal a week, when you eat whatever you like, as long as the other meal that same day is a non-carb meal. This might be Saturday evening or Sunday lunch, or any time it suits you. For the non-carb meal, include protein-sourced food, vegetables and 10-15 grams of almonds so you don’t exceed your daily carb allowance.

When you think of the word ‘relax’, what color comes to mind?

Green, for sure! Green is the color of nature, especially sage green. For me, that completely represents relaxation.

Ocean or mountains?

That’s why I’ve been living right by the sea for two years. It was my dream come true. Living in a super relaxing place takes away my anxiety and gives me lots of energy. Mountains are not for me; they make me anxious!

What’s the best beauty routine after a workout session?

First, take a shower. Then, apply sweet almond oil to body skin, perhaps mixed with a few drops of energizing essential oil. Personally, I enjoy using it for an invigorating leg massage. For the face, I would recommend cleansing, followed by a serum and moisturizing cream with hyaluronic acid for deep hydration. Once a week, use a face scrub and hyaluronic acid mask.

What’s the main difference between a morning and evening beauty routine?

The morning routine requires a super moisturizing cream, while for the evening, a vitamin C serum is really important to work on blemishes and prevent the appearance of first wrinkles, and also to boost the skin’s overall glow. Vitamin C also helps enhance collagen production while you sleep.

Any other wellness tips or tricks up your sleeve?

Definitely relaxation and meditation! I especially recommend making the time for it in the evening. Before going to bed, for example, do 5-10 minutes of meditation.

The last thing you do before falling asleep?

10 minutes of meditation.

How do you recharge on the weekend?

Truth? I don’t recharge on the weekend. I try to recharge a little every day by devoting an hour just to myself (like exercise, meditation, or relaxation). Having two relatively young children, I can’t always create “me time”, a common problem for us mothers! But if I had a weekend off, I would exercise, enjoy a massage, and get some sleep, as well as nourishing myself with delicious and healthy food. Usually on the weekends, I try to carve out a couple of hours maybe to watch my favorite TV show, exercise, and of course spend time with the kids outdoors, going to the beach, playing basketball, or taking a walk.

During times of stress, what do you do to avoid feeling overwhelmed?

When I’m stressed, I exercise! Working out releases endorphins and instantly puts me in a good mood, lowers my stress levels and keeps nervous hunger at bay. It also gives me a real energy boost.

What is the magic formula for self-love?

There is no magic formula. It took me a long time to learn, twenty years! Today, I’m in a great place in terms of mind-body balance, and there was a lot of hard work on both a physical and emotional level. 

 During my journey, I focused on how to build a professional path that could support my sense of wellbeing and happiness. So, I abandoned a corporate career and became a freelancer. For the past five years, I’ve chosen to work in the field of fitness and wellbeing, and this has expanded into choices in other parts of my life, such as moving to the French Riviera. Although I hadn’t always expected to make the move, I knew deep down I had to do it as soon as possible, and it was like a dream come true.

Through all the years, I have tried to commit to doing one thing every day to boost my personal growth, despite the chaos of thousands of little chores that make up regular daily life.

Another important thing is to avoid comparisons. Now, at the age of 46, this is clear to me, but at 20, it wasn’t so obvious! I try not to compare myself to other people, because there will always be someone more beautiful, fitter, or smarter than you. Focus on what makes you unique. As I always say, we were born to be real and not perfect! So, let’s improve ourselves every day with physical activity and good nutrition but above all, show you value yourself through self-care, skin care and a great beauty routine. 

Every woman can be beautiful and special in her own way. I think I am proof of that precisely because I am just a regular woman like everyone else. I’m not a model, I simply learned to take care of myself. I can say now that I am so happy with the results, even if I’m not perfect. 

And you know what? I don’t even want to be perfect.

What she said!
Wellness begins with “we”, and in sharing her story, Giulia helps bring the possibility of health, fitness, and self-love to everyone. Although the path to wellness is not straight or short, it’s a journey that we can all take to discover the real, beautiful ‘me’ inside. All you need is awareness, dedication, and the right knowledge. Check out Giulia’s Instagram and blog for more tips and inspiration from a woman who says she’s just ‘regular’ but who is actually totally awesome!

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