Christel Oerum is the writer behind TheFitBlog.com, a blog she shares with her husband, Tobias. She is a blogger, certified personal trainer, bikini fitness competitor, and fitness model. She has been living with type 1 diabetes since 1997 and decided early on that it wasn’t going to slow her down. The blog is dedicated to demonstrating that it’s possible to live a fit, healthy life with diabetes and features fitness routines, yummy healthy food, and articles about diabetes. Christel also trains people with and without diabetes from across the globe, online and in person, and supports them in meeting their fitness goals.
What is your favorite part about working out?
My favorite type of exercise is resistance training. I love to walk into the weightlifting room, tighten my ponytail, turn up the music, and just tune out the world while I train. Lifting can be almost meditative for me and it’s often how I recharge after a long day. Another great side effect is that working out aides my diabetes management tremendously. By doing resistance training, my insulin sensitivity improves and that, combined with me eating a relatively healthy diet consisting of lean proteins, healthy fats and low glycemic carbs, helps me keep my blood sugars stable and lessens my need for insulin.
How did you get started?
I’ve always been active in some form or other but never to the extent I am today. Growing up in Denmark, I always biked everywhere, and my family didn’t have a car for years, so there would never be a day where I didn’t move. When I moved to Santa Monica in 2010 with my husband, I became a part of a fitness culture where really fit, healthy people and fitness professionals surrounded me. I decided that that was what I wanted. I wanted to be as badass about my fitness as those people were.
How many fitness shows have you completed in?
After I got more serious about being healthy and working out, the idea of competing in a fitness competition started to take root. I did my first show with the WBFF in 2014 and then had my NPC debut in March of 2016 followed by another show in June. It was so much fun and I did incredibly well for a rookie placing top 4 in both shows (one 1 st , two 2 nd and one 4 th place) and thereby qualifying for Nationals twice. But competing puts a strain on the body and I consider it an extreme sport so I’ve decided to not compete again this year. I’ll probably be back on stage again at some point but I don’t know when.
What are your favorite exercises and why?
I do resistance training minimum 4 times a week and I focus on different body parts for each workout to ensure my body gets enough rest between workouts (for an example of a complete month of workouts see this post). I think my favorite day is leg day, primarily because I always leave the gym feeling like I gave it my all. Since legs are such a large muscle group, pretty much every exercise will make my heart race and quickly build up a sweat. A real challenger is the Deadlift; it challenges not only your lower body but your core, arms, shoulders and lower back. However, it’s also an exercise where you have to be very careful about lifting with proper form, so please be careful if you chose to try it out.
What is your best training tip?
If you don’t enjoy your choice of activity you are very unlikely to stick with it, so find an activity that you love. You don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to live a healthy life. Make small healthy choices daily and you’ll go far. Three quick tips are:
1. Articulate what your goals are, write them down, and make a tangible plan for achieving them
2. Schedule times for workouts every week (make appointments in your calendar if you have to)
3. Plan your meals for the week, cook most meals at home and bring your own lunch to work
What keeps you motivated?
Having a goal and a plan is what keeps me motivated. And I don’t have to be in the best shape of my life all of the time. A good goal can also be to love where you’re at with your health and your body and try to maintain that. One of my favorite goals is building strength. It’s super rewarding because you’ll quickly see results if you fuel your body properly and push yourself in the gym. I love that feeling of getting stronger week over week. Nothing to me seems more empowering.
What advice would you give someone who is just starting on his or her fitness journey?
Set small and achievable goals that lead up to your big goals. You may want to be able to deadlift 200 lbs., to run 10K, or to drop 20 lbs. and that’s all fine, but it’s going to take time and consistency. You can’t undo several years of not taking care of yourself in just a few weeks, but you can make major progress in that time frame. So, set smaller sub-goals and learn to love the process. Don’t become too focused on the end goal. Keep it in mind, but mentally celebrate the small steps. Celebrate that you have consistently been working out for a month or that you ran or walked around the block or walked up the stairs without being winded.
When you finally get to one of your big goals, pause, reflect, and then decide what’s next. There is nothing you can’t do if you set your mind to it!