Les Alfred is the fit powerhouse behind the Instagram account, @balancedberry. She’s a personal trainer who jumpstarted her fitness journey after realizing she didn’t want to spend all day sitting at a desk. She now inspires a whole community of women with her 30-minute workouts, nutritious recipes and motivational quotes.
Les took time out of her busy schedule to answer a few of our questions. See what she has to say about her go-to exercises, the body-positive mantra she lives by (which you’ll want to start saying in front of the mirror too), and her post-workout skincare routine.
Thanks for chatting with Lively! Can you tell us what first got you interested in fitness?
Growing up, I was always active participating in sports and activities. Once I got to college and stopped playing organized sports, I took a few years off from fitness, not knowing how to exercise on my own. My junior year of college, I had my first corporate internship and didn’t like the way sitting at a desk all day (combined with eating crappy food) made me feel. I had low energy, and knew I didn’t want to spend the rest of my career feeling that way. So I started researching more about fitness and nutrition in hopes of feeling like myself again. From there, I created a new set of habits that have stuck with me ever since!
Do you have a go-to workout to target arms, legs, and booty?
Some of my go-to exercises are:
- To target the arms: Push-ups, renegade rows (dumbbell rows from a plank position), shoulder presses
- To target the legs: Curtsy lunges are great for toning the outer thighs. I also love deadlifts, and leg presses.
- To target the booty: Goblet squats, glute bridges, deadlifts
What do you eat before and after hitting the gym?
I’m a morning exerciser, so I usually like working out on an empty stomach. I will usually have some coffee pre-workout. Breakfast is my post-workout meal, so I usually reach for a smoothie made with frozen fruit, nut butter, almond milk and Vital Proteins collagen or I’ll have leftovers.
Can you describe your post-workout skincare routine?
I am very passionate about taking good care of my skin. First of all, I never work out with makeup on — at least not makeup on my skin. The combination of sweat and makeup usually leads to breakouts for me, and I find it isn’t worth it. Post-workout, I just wash my face with water and spritz with toner to get rid of any excess sweat or oil. Most of my skincare happens at night — I like using oil to take my makeup off, then follow up with a charcoal cleanser to prevent breakouts, toner to get any remaining makeup off, and a light moisturizer. Because I cleanse my skin so thoroughly at night, I’m able to just use water in the morning. And sunscreen always!
How do you personally overcome a workout rut?
First, it’s important to distinguish if the rut is mental or physical. Is your mind telling you no, or is your body telling you no? If the rut feels physical (truly lacking energy, diminishing returns, etc.) then it might be good to take an extra day or two off to recover. However, if your mind is telling you no (and let’s be real, this is what most of us deal with) I usually like to turn on a good playlist and tell myself that I’m just going to move for 10 minutes. If after that 10 minutes I’m not feeling it, I call it good. If after 10 minutes I am feeling it, then I’ll finish the workout. Nine times out of 10 with the right playlist, I’ll end up finishing the workout!
Do you have a body-positive mantra you live by? How would you describe your body confidence journey?
My mantra is “confidence over comparison” and I use the phrase a lot on my blog and social media. I truly believe that when we are confident and at peace with ourselves, the need to compare ourselves to others goes out the window. What’s interesting is that my biggest body confidence struggles came after I started working out regularly. I personally haven’t had a major physical transformation. Sure, over the year I have lost some weight and gained some muscle but it isn’t as dramatic as a lot of the other before and afters you see out there. I felt like because I didn’t have a dramatic transformation that I must have been doing something wrong.
Over time I learned that wellness has far more to do with how I feel than how I look. Sure, I may have some cellulite, but I also have strong arms, and a whole new sense of confidence and emotional strength that stemmed from building physical strength.
What is your favorite Vital Proteins product?
Oh gosh, I love them all! The Collagen Peptides are a daily staple for me, and I usually put them in my coffee pre-workout. If I had to pick just one product I would say it’s the Matcha Collagen. I have been a huge matcha lover for years and the Matcha Collagen is easily the best matcha I’ve tried. This White Chocolate Matcha Latte is one of my favorite ways to enjoy it!