Finding Balance: Interview with Travel Blogger Katherine H
“Truth be told, 10 years ago I was probably the least likely person to work out. I was never particularly coordinated and my burgeoning sports career began and ended in junior high. Maybe it was the glasses or the fact that band was more my thing. Nonetheless it’s a pleasant surprise to see where I am today. I began going to a gym with one of my best friends. She had joined a women only gym in Calgary and convinced me to tag along. She raved about the aerobics classes, and after a few sprained ankles and bruised egos I found my groove. It was at this particular gym that I ended up meeting Nadine. Meeting is a very loose term for what actually happened. In fact, I admired Nadine from afar and never actually spoke to her. I ended up getting my hair cut one day and Nadine was super kind to pay me a compliment! After that I obviously did what any normal person would have done, and just stalked her on social media and fawned over her from afar.”
Katherine Hansen, Grade 1 Teacher, Married
I was born and raised in Calgary. In 2012, my husband Thomas and I decided to pack our bags and try teaching abroad. We ended up getting jobs at an International School in Singapore and we’ve been living here ever since.
Why did you move and when did you move?
Travel is something that Thomas and I love doing. Even before we moved away, every summer we had been together was spent backpacking around Asia. I absolutely fall head over heels with places that I visit, and coming home or coming back to reality was awfully depressing. We realized that we didn’t just want to travel to these places but we wanted to live there; experience it in a different way and be part of it, not just an outsider looking in.
What was your reason for contacting Nadine?
I’ve been following Nadine on social media ever since I met her at my gym. Her very first “What it Takes challenge” was inspiring and I was hooked by the way she motivated and encouraged her clients to be their best selves. I knew Nadine valued the same things I did. She didn’t make me fit her program, instead she made the program fit me and my lifestyle.
How have you found living abroad and incorporating the diet and training program?
It definitely has had its difficult moments. My weakness always has been and always will be my diet. I know I have had a very unhealthy relationship with food so that has been my biggest challenge. I’m very fortunate that I live in such a beautiful and easy country. There is a huge expat community living here and it is possible to get almost anything you need. I’m also very fortunate that I work at a school that has its own gym. I love being able to just head upstairs when school is over, to get my workout in.
What limitations do you have being where you live?
It’s very hot!…which is a limitation but also a really awesome positive. I still run on the weekends but if we’re heading out I try to go either earlier morning or later evening when the sun isn’t blazing. Initially it was difficult getting certain types of food. I have had to scour different grocery stores to get particular foods and I’ve needed to make substitutes here and there. Things are also definitely more expensive here as everything is shipped onto the island.
What is the one difference between your travels before working with Nadine and now?
Before when I traveled I wasn’t as conscience of what I was putting into my body. I love trying new types of foods but I was a bit mindless of what I was eating. It took some getting used to but I’ve been on a several holidays since working with Nadine and each time it gets easier. I still try everything I want to try, I’m just more careful about it now. For example, we went to India this past October and I just had to try it all. I ended up eating everything I wanted to eat (jalebi, samosas, butter chicken, paneer, the best garlic butter naan of my life). The difference was that I didn’t go over board. I made better, more informed choices, and I had an understanding of how much I should be eating, because I was keeping track of my macros. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I used to overeat and then feel guilty about it the next day. Knowing how much I was allowed to eat (within reason) made me enjoy the food even more.
You travel often? How are you able to stay fit while traveling?
Thomas and I are definitely not good at relaxing during our holidays. Even beach holidays where you’re supposed to lay on the sand and soak up the sun for hours gets us antsy. We have a fear of missing out and if we’re not walking around and exploring then we don’t feel like we’re traveling properly. Since Thomas is constantly taking photos we walk a lot! However, if we do happen to have a lazy day here and there we always end up offsetting it by getting up early to go for a run. We don’t normally stay in very posh hotels that have gyms. but when we do we definitely like to make use of it!
What is your motto?
“Dream Big, Travel Far, Live Well” When we were in Bali in 2010 we got it translated into Balinese and got a tattoo of it on my back!
Do you find where you live is as focused on health and fitness the same as it is in North America?
I think health and fitness is just as important to people living in Singapore as it is in North America but I think the focus is different. Local Singaporeans are very health conscious but what they are looking for I find differs from what the majority of women back home want. There has been a really great mind shift of women wanting to look slim versus women who want to look strong. In Singapore, local women are very intent on not wanting to bulk up. Their focus, in my experience is to have lean and slim bodies as opposed to muscle definition.
What is the biggest change that you have seen in yourself from a mental standpoint and a physical?
I just feel so much better about myself. I think, like many women, I have struggled with self esteem issues. It’s probably safe to say many of us have. I was never unhappy with the way I looked but I was never totally stoked. I also felt that I had a very unhealthy relationship with food. I didn’t have any will power, which in turn meant that I felt extremely guilty for the bad choices that I was making. I’ve definitely gained more confidence but I honestly like that I feel stronger. I can say no to food and I’m finally the one in control of myself.
You have a blog? what is the name and what is your goal for it?
Like a lot of people out there, Thomas and I would love to travel the world and get paid for it. Obviously that’s a lot easier said than done. We began our blog www.gate20.com as much for us as for others. We’re fortunate enough that we get to travel to so many different places and we thought that fun articles of things that we have done might be of interest to other travelers. It is also a wonderful place for us to keep our family and friends up to date with what is going on in our lives. Thomas is an amazing photographer and he loves sharing his pictures with others.
Where is one place you have yet to visit on your travels?
Oh we have so many more places to go! Believe it or not, we’ve never been to Europe and that is definitely on our bucket list. Our bucket list is actually on our blog titled “While We’re Alive.” As we check things off our list we try to write a post about it. Sometimes we add things to our bucket list after we already did it, just because it turned out to be something worth sharing. I’ve read lots of things about why people should or should not keep a bucket list. In my opinion I think it has changed our lives and had us achieve things we would’ve never thought imaginable.
What is next for you guys travel wise? What do you plan to do with your blog?
We have a few more trips planned in the next couple of months. We just came back from Myanmar where we spent a few nights in Yangon and Bagan. In March, we are heading on a house building trip to Cambodia. We have spent the last couple months raising money and we will be building at least 6 houses for different Cambodian families. We are also going to Japan, and a few other weekend trips here and there.
How can people find your blog and follow you?