Katie Williams is a bundle of joyous energy. She’s an athlete and a role model in the fitness space, with her Instagram page an inspiring, realistic and positive source of #fitspoinspo for many. I recently caught up with her at Funkis Köket (a cute little spot in the Sydney suburb of Paddington) for breakfast in Sydney.

It seems like you’re a very busy lady! I’ve seen you described as a fitness model, athlete, ninja, MC, and fitness influencer and I’d love to know, how do you describe yourself? 

I think I’d describe myself as an all rounder. When I was young people only saw me as an athlete, as I’ve gotten older I’ve found a massive love for travel and music. I love live music and am always saving for my next adventure! I’m a YES girl, I like taking risks, I like doing things that push me to the limit and I love to challenge myself.

Where did your love of health and fitness come from? Has it been a constant in your life, or something that grew later on?

My whole life I’ve been an athlete, I grew up doing a mix of sports and then I fell in love with sprinting. At age 15 I decided to train for the Australian team, and 3 years later I made it! At age 19 I was the fastest woman in the world for beach sprinting. Last year I retired after 6 Australian gold medals and now I enjoy living a more balanced life while still training and loving feeling healthy. Health and fitness was definitely something I’ve always had a passion for since I was a little girl and now I see myself following it as a career.

Do you have any daily rituals or habits? 

Morning Ritual:

Step 1: Gradtiude journal (the 5 minute journal), or 5-10 mins meditation.

Step 2: Plan my day from meetings, to training to socializing.

Step 3: Warm water and apple cider vinegar.

Step 4: Almond milk cappuccino double shot!

Step 5: 9.30am most days I do kickboxing.

Step 6: Listen to 1 or 2 podcasts in the car on the way to meetings/events.

Night time routine:

  • Cup of tea, peppermint or chai.
  • Dinner no later than 8pm. I don’t like going to bed too full.
  • Metamusil and spirulina mix at night, to amp up digestion.
  • Turn on lava lamp and turn off lights.
  • I’m trying to get into reading at night, to cut out the stimulating blue light, although I’m very partial to a Netflix or YouTube binge.

After scrolling through your Instagram, it seems like your workouts are pretty diverse. Do you change it up regularly or are there a few constant things that you always do? 

I do a range of movements. Last year was ninja training, lots of rock climbing and grip strength. This year is kickboxing, one long run a week and then usually 2 gym sessions with plyometrics and upper body thrown in the mix aswell!

There’s a lot of fad diets and unusual ideas about health flying around these days, as a contributor to health and fitness publications and a public speaker are there a few common misconceptions that you see come up again and again that you wish you could quash once and for all?

  • That carbs make you fat!

You won’t gain weight from eating carbohydrates unless you are taking in more than what your body can burn for daily activity. Some experts believe, however, that the type of carbohydrates that make up most of your diet might make a difference. The 2005 Dietary Reference Intake for carbohydrates recommends an intake of between 45%-65% of our daily calories.

Diet trends come in waves, and the most recent low-carb frenzy was no exception. Enthusiasm for these diets may have waned (once again), because they don’t work in the long run. But there are still plenty of books and products out there, along with talk of “good” and “bad” carbs. What’s the deal with carbohydrates, and what role do they play in weight management? Here are some objective, scientifically-based facts.

  • The amount of weight lost on a low carb diet is deceptive.

When a person first begins a low carbohydrate diet, the initial weight loss can appear dramatic. But almost all of the lost weight is due to the release of water as the body burns glycogen. Also, if the total calorie intake is low enough, part of the weight reduction is from loss of muscle tissue.

  • Carbs keep us going.

Carbohydrates are the best energy source to keep our muscles moving and our brains functioning. Everyone needs “doses” of carbohydrates throughout the day, for emotional, intellectual and physical well-being. It is especially critical to fuel your body with a steady supply if: you exercise or participate in any type of athletics, you need to be mentally alert, and/or you live an active lifestyle. That’s most of us!

Carbs are essential for performance and also many functions of the body. I have nothing against keto diets however I don’t believe in extremism with diets. Everything in moderation is always what I’ve lived by!

What tips would you give to people who are trying to make some healthy changes to their life? Where should they start? 

Smart small. With 1 healthy habit a week, and then add another per week. So many people start off the 1st of January with no alcohol, a new gym membership, cutting sugar and meal prepping. All these changes for the average person are far too drastic to maintain and often people will quit within a few weeks. So create small daily goals that will lead to your big goal. AKA if your goal is a half marathon, you are going to run 21 km on your first session, you’ll break it up into smaller runs and slowly increase the load, speed and intensity.

How do you find the balance between social media life and reality?

I use these methods to continue living well balanced life because it’s very easy to get thrown out of wack:

I take care of my body. You cannot accomplish anything if you’re unhealthy. Get plenty of rest, exercise and eat properly. Many of us think we can burn the candle at both ends, eat junk food, get very little exercise, and still function adequately. You may be able to get away with this for a while when you’re young, however, at some point, this lifestyle catches up with us. Burnout is a real possibility. Ideally, set aside time each day for an activity that you enjoy, such as walking, working out or listening to music. Or, allow yourself to unwind after a hectic day by reading meditating or taking a nice hot bath.

Know what my priorities are. Balance does not entail cramming in every activity possible. Examine your values and decide what’s important to you; then set your boundaries. You may be in the process of building a career, starting a family or going to school. Depending on what stage you’re at in life, your focus and energies will be different. Avoid becoming overwhelmed by juggling too many big projects in your life at once. Maybe planning a wedding is not a good idea when you’re studying for the bar exam. Nor, is starting a family when you are unsure about your career direction, or relationship status. Not knowing what you want and trying to do everything at once can be a recipe for disaster instead of the road to leading a well balanced life. As the saying goes, “do not bite off more than you can chew”.

Create an efficient mindset. Be organized and plan ahead. Take time at the beginning of each week to assess what needs to be done. Make a to-do list in a planner or calendar for upcoming appointments, impending exams. or meetings to attend. Be sure also to allow for recreation and quality time for yourself and your family. Taking the time to connect with family and friends will recharge your batteries and make you more efficient in the long run.

Expect the unexpected. Rather than get stressed and upset, learn to roll with the punches when something over which you have no control happens. You could get stuck in traffic, your computer could crash, or your child could get sick with the chickenpox. Stuff happens. We’ve all experienced the unexpected. If you accept that anything can happen at any time, it’s less likely to throw you off your stride when it does. Be able to adjust your game plan. Note also, that there are times when achieving balance may not be possible. For instance, you may have a family or career crisis that needs your immediate and undivided attention. It may require an exceptional amount of your time and resources. When that happens, do whatever it takes and when things go back to normal take time to refresh and rejuvenate yourself.

Maintain a positive mental attitude. Begin each day with the intention of making the best and most of it. It may not always go as planned, but it can go more smoothly if you put it in perspective. Part of living a well-balanced life is learning how to deal with adversity, unforeseen events and uncertainty. If you practice not letting things get to you, you will not only learn to live a well balanced and less stressful life, you will learn to live in and savor the moment. Once you’ve done everything you can within your control, let your life unfold. Be prepared for the future, but don’t worry about it.

Given all your training, I’m sure a good breakfast is very important to you. What are your top three spots for breakfast in Sydney?

The Grounds – Mexican eggs. The grounds is the most amazing cafe / food hub I’ve ever been in. It’s like walking into a garden with all different food hauls and freshly baked pastries and sweets.

The Boathouse – Nourish bowl.

Rusti Fig – Breaky wraps ! Cute little cafe in Newport, they make amazing coffee and it’s super well priced, all food is made fresh and it’s a great vibe right near the beach.

Katie Williams

Funkis Köket

Katie Williams

Funkis Köket

Katie Williams

Funkis Köket

And for dinner?

Hugo’s – Fav dish is the barramundi, Hugo’s Manly is on the water and has the best cocktails in Manly!

Chica Bonita – Go for the fish tacos. This spot is also in Manly, it’s a super trendy Mexican restaurant with the tastiest Mexican on the Northern Beaches, must try the coconut margarita!

Papi Chulo – Order the roast chicken to share. Papi Chulo (once again in Manly), is a Merivale venue on the water. The food is all to share and the wine list is amazing.

Last but not least, best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

The only person you should be comparing yourself to if the person you were yesterday.

Follow Katie on the gram at @katiewilllly