A former NFL cheerleader for the New England Patriots, Elizabeth Hanson is now an actress and fitness professional in Los Angeles. A native of Boston, MA, Ms. Hanson got her start in fitness and performance when she was just five years old and began attending ballet lessons at the Harriet Hoctor Ballet School of Wakefield, MA. In addition to living a healthy, active lifestyle, Hanson’s interests include real estate (she just began working as an agent with The Sunset Team in the West Hollywood/Beverly Hills market), sewing and cooking. Hanson is looking forward to her first NPC and Fitness America competitions coming up in the second half of 2011!
What is your standard workout routine?
Whatever Shannan tells me to do! My standard workout routine is six days a week with four days training a different muscle group with weights; 30 – 40 minutes of cardio 4 out of 6 days; and the other two days circuit training.
What nutritional information have you learned that most people don’t know?
It sounds very basic, but I never realized what an enormous effect diet has on the body. I hear people say all the time, “I can eat dessert, I worked out today.” After training and eating differently, I now realize that in some ways, diet is even more important than training. You can change your body significantly with diet alone. Not that you can never enjoy dessert again, but if you have goals for a specific look, then your diet needs to reflect that specificity.
What training information have you learned that most people don’t know?
I never knew what a huge factor heart rate has on your cardio training. It’s not just about getting on the treadmill and busting out 30 minutes or more. Your heart rate MUST climb as high as 170 beats per minute several times in order for you to really change your physique!
What are your three biggest nutrition pet peeves?
- Dieting can become very boring when it is too bland!
- Living in Los Angeles, there is a fast food chain on every block! The lack of fast, healthy options is depressing to me! I think I’ll have to open my own restaurant to get the food I need and want.
- When companies claim their products are “healthier” because they contain sweeteners like ‘evaporated cane juice.’ Don’t be fooled; it’s still sugar!
What are the three things you see people doing in the gym that bother you most?
1. Wearing improper footwear. The single easiest way to prevent injury is to wear a supportive running or cross training shoe. When I see people wearing flip flops, Vans, any slide on shoe without laces, or those “bare-foot” shoes that are really trendy right now, I want to tell them to go change! But I don’t because they ‘d probably think I’m crazy!
(Editors note: Flat soled shoes like vans or bare-foot shoes have their place in the gym. They are often cited as the best shoe to squat or deadlift in, for instance).
2. Talking on the cell phone! I think wow, you made it all the way to the gym, you owe yourself the focus on your workout! Just call them back!
3. When people camp out on a machine and won’t let me work in. Come on, share! I promise I’ll power through it and give it right back!
What is a quote that you live by?
The following quote by Marianne Williamson speaks to me very loudly. I know the fear of success is sometimes just as strong as the fear of failure and I love how eloquently she describes that phenomenon. Just think if everyone in the world was really playing to win; we would accomplish great things very quickly.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest thef glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Who is your inspiration?
My Mom! She is not a bodybuilder, she’s a crafter and a quilter! But by getting me into ballet classes when I was five, my Mom instilled in me a love of fitness and health from a very early age. She is a great listener and has always encouraged me to go after my dreams; even when those dreams changed every five minutes! Most recently, I was preparing for a weekend in Vegas with some girlfriends, and I told my Mom I was worried about staying focused on my diet and fitness goals while away and limiting my alcohol intake in that environment. Her advice was “just have one glass of wine and then go to the gym!” Hahaha! Gotta love Mom’s advice!
Who or what got you started?
For a long time, I wanted to push myself and achieve the athletic look I’ve always been inclined toward. Before I started training seriously, I had naturally decent muscle tone and I finally thought, “Wow, if I challenged myself and really put the effort into this, I could be a real fitness model!”
Two things really launched my efforts in bodybuilding and competing. The first was I stumbled upon an article featuring a former teammate of mine in Oxygen magazine. She’s achieved many wins and successes within fitness and bikini competitions. I was so excited for her and inspired, the next day I found her on Facebook and asked her advice on getting started.
The second inspiration was my desire to start a family within a couple of years. Before I have a baby, I want to be in the best shape of my life! Selfishly, I want this for me and the way I look; unselfishly, I want my body to be the best, most fit, most healthy home for my kid to start off in.
What is one piece of advice you give to new lifters?
What is one piece of advice you give to seasoned lifters?
If you see me struggling to put my 60 lb barbell back on the rack, please help! I promise I won’t be insulted; I’ll be grateful!
What’s your goal for 2011?
1. I would like to win first place (overall or in my height class) in an NPC or Fitness America bikini pageant!
2. Become sponsored by a great protein bar or nutrition supplement company.
3. Close my first deal on a home (I got my real estate license last year and just started working with a brokerage in West Hollywood!)
What body part do you struggle with the most, and what have you done to overcome the problem?
The hardest muscles for me to shape and define are my quads and glutes. I’ve overcome this problem by steadily increasing my weights in this area and incorporating running at an incline on the treadmill. There is also a level of acceptance that comes into play; no matter how many hours I spend at the gym, I cannot change the length of my legs. Training to me has been about taking what mother nature gave me and making it the best that it can be. I’m not 5’9” like my Mom, and I’m not all arms and legs like a skinny fashion model; but I’ve got a 5’5” frame that I am prepared to morph into the best, most athletic machine it can become!
What does your typical diet consist of?
Whatever Shannan tells me to eat! My diet is pretty basic. Lots of lean clean protein (chicken, turkey, lean beef) and I try to get at least a cup of green
vegetables with each meal. I avoid sugar, limit carbs (I go for slower-acting carbs like oatmeal and sweet potatoes). And I always keep great protein bars like Quest (my favorite is Vanilla Almond Crunch) in my car with me!