This week, we had the opportunity to chat with Sara Durante, a health, wellness and motivation blogger from Australia.
Sara has written articles for Health Hacking previously sharing her tips and tricks for exercise motivation, and we were so excited to pick her brains and learn more about her fantastic blog, Ferret Fitness.
Sara is very open about her struggles with mental health and how she’s used key lifestyle changes to make improvements to how she feels. In this interview, Sara continues to keep that level of openness, sharing with us her experiences and thoughts of living with mental health and why keeping active and living a healthy lifestyle is so essential.
So Sara, firstly, tell us a little bit about who you are and what you write about on your blog?
Hey! I’m Sara, I’m the founder/writer/editor of Ferret Fitness – it’s a hub of all things health, mental health, motivation and fitness. Don’t let the title fool you – there is nothing about ferrets on the blog!
My day job is working in digital marketing for a tech company in Melbourne, Australia! In my spare time, I love to watch Netflix (who doesn’t), do a jigsaw, spend time with my family & plan whatever holiday is coming up next. We’ve recently returned from a trip snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef over Christmas. It was unbelievable.
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For the first leg of our holiday, we stayed at @sheratongrandportdouglas which was pretty perfect! We were so lucky with the weather, we had blue skies every day which was perfect for the TWELVE pools and ultimate relaxation. Will share more pictures soon. . . . . . . . . . . #ferretfitness #visitqueensland #portdouglas #discoverqueensland #visitaustralia #sheratongrandportdouglas #queensland #downunder #instralia #loveyouqueensland #queensland_captures #cairns #exploretnq #nation #exploreaustralia #greatbarrierreef #igaustralia #exploringaustralia #tropicalnorthqueensland #capetribulation #vacation #seeaustralia #aussie #aussiephotos #great_captures_australia #icu_aussies #focusaustralia #discoveraustralia #ozzy #ig_discover_australia
Where did the inspiration for Ferret Fitness come from and what’s your vision for the site?
The inspiration behind Ferret Fitness came about very shortly after my partner, and I joined a gym. After living with pretty average mental health for over ten years & gaining what I like to call ‘relationship weight’, I decided that if I didn’t start actively working toward better health soon, I could potentially do some long-term damage to my body. My initial aim was to document our journey of weight loss, muscle gain, better mental health and how the whole process of ‘starting to exercise’ would go. However, through natural progression, it became a place to share my findings & thoughts of how others can begin and continue their journey in the easiest & simplest way possible – as that’s my jam!
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I don't know why I've been putting this off so long, but I'm ready to share the blog with you! I've been listening to a podcast this week about blogging, specifically about 'launch' and the right way to do it. What I took from it is that there is no right way, and if I spend so much time trying to refine it and make it better – I'll never get it out there. So! Here it is. It still needs some work and I kindly ask that you're patient while we're still ironing out the kinks that come with building a website & trying something new. At the moment, I'll be posting something new every few days – but I'm still unsure whether I'll share every post on Instagram. It'll be a bit of trial & error – but I hope that there is something that is of use/interest to you at some point! Link is in the bio. Enjoy 😀 http://www.ferretfitness.com.au #ferretfitness
Can you share a little bit about what your new health and fitness routine entails
At the moment my partner and I are doing two personal training sessions at our gym a week which is usually paired with another class/gym session of our own when we can. We have also changed our diet, which is mostly the same, except we are planning our meals better to prevent those last minute ‘we should just get takeaway or order in’ weeknight panics. I am also maintaining regular appointments with my psychologist and practising better mindfulness & self-care!
Are you following a specific diet? If so, what is it and how are you finding it?
I’m pescatarian, so we eat a lot of fish, tofu, grains, vegetables and oats. We are more conscious of our macros since starting our journey, even though we don’t strictly follow them, and have increased our protein intake. For me, it’s been about making better choices rather than cutting things out entirely. For example, getting a healthier type of ice cream and only having a little bit after dinner. Investing in better quality, healthier snacks and always having them handy so I don’t dash to the store and get unhealthy snacks to fulfil my cravings. So far it has been going well – there has been a lot of trial and error!
What’s your favourite meal right now and why?
My all-time fave meal is mac & cheese, and since we’ve started eating better, I’ve been on a mission to find the perfect healthy alternative. So far, nothing is quite the same, unfortunately!
What’s been the most significant benefit you’ve seen personally since starting your health and fitness journey?
My mood. It’s exactly what everyone said it would be – once you start taking better care of yourself, you’ll notice a difference in your mental health. The thing is though when you’re struggling with your mental health, the last thing you want to do is leave the house and do productive things, let alone go for a walk or to the gym. Once I started seeing a physical difference to my body, it began to snowball (albeit very slowly) where I had more energy & motivation to keep working out as I could see a difference, and then I started to feel a bit more confident, and then my mood was better. It was crazy, at my last psych appointment I almost didn’t know what to talk about!
What motivates you to keep fit and healthy?
A few things! I’m a bit sick & tired of always feeling frumpy in my clothes. I want to look better for myself & my partner. I want to come off my medication. And then, in the future, I want to have a healthy pregnancy when we decide to have children!
You reference mental health on your website. How important is good mental health for you?
It’s essential, however, not necessarily crucial depending on circumstance. It’s hard to say as I haven’t necessarily had ‘good’ mental health for a long time. I think having good mental health depends more on how you manage it, opposed to the severity of your symptoms. For example, I struggle with bad social anxiety, however, as I have had a long time to develop management techniques, I can often (not always) strategise my way out of having a panic attack. However, someone with more mild anxiety may not have learnt how to manage their anxiety and as a result, may not be able to avoid having a panic attack. I think as long as you acknowledge that your mental health needs work, and you’re working towards improving it or managing it better – that’s awesome! It is always hard to get started & I encourage pretty much everyone I know to take things at their own pace.
Finally, what advice would you give to people who struggle to find time for exercise?
This was me a few months ago – literally, any excuse would do! My advice is to find pockets of time. For example, if you get home from work at 7:15 pm (like I do), just workout for 15 minutes before settling down for the evening. Or, while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil for your cup of tea, sneak some exercises in – even if it’s just 5-10 minutes of working your abs. You’ll feel better for it, and that positive feeling will encourage you to do it again next time – and perhaps for longer! If things are important to you, you’ll find time for it. I watch HOURS of Netflix a week – yet I can’t find time to contain the weeds in my garden… you know how it is!
If you’d like to find out more about Sara and Ferret Fitness, head on over to her website today.