Fitness & Nutrition Coach Tim Liu Talks Healthy Food Tips, Keeping Fitness Fun, & Self-Care
Fitness and nutrition coach Tim Liu has a lot going for him. Between running his own personal training business and making loads of free diet and fitness content online—he pretty much spends all of his time helping busy men and women achieve their health and wellness goals. Talk about a dream job! Today he opens up about how he keeps fitness fun, his go-to nutritional tips, and why he thinks emotional health is just as important as physical.
MAKING FITNESS FUN
You talk a lot about how fitness and health should be fun. Can you speak to why that messaging is such a crucial part of your approach to personal training?
TL: Although you do need to work hard and eat a proper diet in order to reach your goals, there should be an element of fun in it. This keeps things fresh for many people and helps them stay motivated.
How do customize your workout routines to suit your clients’ unique goals and needs and still make it fun?
TL: I first figure out what their goals and current fitness levels are and what they’re capable of doing. If you play a sport or aspire to get in shape for certain events, I’ll give you exercises that helps improve those things.
For example, I work with a golfer and a former volleyball player that want to lose fat and improve their game. We do a lot of exercises that improve rotational power and also some plyometric jumps. We kill two birds with one stone training this way.
How much weekly exercise do you usually recommend to your clients? And how do you help them find the right exercise intensity?
TL: I recommend at least three to four strength workouts a week and getting in at least 5000 steps each day. This is pretty doable for most people and prevents them from being sedentary.
Do you have a good at-home workout plan for those of us who’d rather not “live at the gym” as you say on your website?
TL: Yes! I put together two free home workouts back when lockdowns began in mid-March. You can get them here: www.timliufitness.com/quarantine
LET’S TALK ABOUT FOOD
What role would you say nutrition has to play in overall physical health?
TL: It plays such a huge role! Everything you put into your body affects how you feel and look.
What are some of your go-to healthy eating tips for your clients?
TL: When in doubt, pick a lean protein source and a green vegetable of some kind and have at least a serving of each.
If you’re unsure of what serving sizes or portions look like, one serving size of protein for men is two fistfuls, one for women. For vegetables, it is one fistful for both.
What’s one nutritional tip you share with your client that tends to surprise them?
TL: It’s okay to eat carbs, as long as the portions are controlled. Many people think that they have to cut them out completely when trying to lose fat, but that’s not the case. As long as you are active, stay within your calorie/carb limit you’ll still be able to enjoy them while losing fat.
What are your go-to vitamins when you’re working out regularly and why?
TL: Magnesium, zinc, vitamin D, and vitamin C.
Magnesium is a mineral involved in over 300 cellular processes in the body and supports muscle relaxation. Zinc is an essential nutrient and antioxidant. For Vitamin D, many of us aren’t getting enough sunlight and is needed for everything from immune health to muscle health. I take vitamin C for its important role in supporting a healthy immune system.
What about your favorite meals? Got any good recipe recommendations for us to share?
TL: My go-to meal would be chicken thighs (either baked or cooked in an air fryer) and sweet potatoes.
An easy way to prepare them is to coat them in your favorite seasoning, and cook them at 420°F for 30 minutes in the oven or 15 minutes at 400°F for 15-20 minutes.
For the sweet potatoes, simply poke a few holes in them and throw them into the oven for an hour at 400°F. Voila, easy meal prep!
THE WHOLE WELLNESS PICTURE
You’re pretty open and vulnerable about your past and the important role your history plays in your wellness. Do you find your clients also often have a personal story behind their relationship to health? What type of role do you feel mental and emotional health play into physical health?
TL: Absolutely! They all tie in together. Many people, especially now during these Covid times, are struggling with anxiety and depression.
They’re also not taking proper care of themselves, whether it’s having a poor diet, or just not exercising. A lack of movement and eating foods that are not good for you takes a toll on your overall health.
Many of my clients, before they started with me, were dealing with these issues and after being on a proper fitness program and eating right, not only did their physical health improve, but also their mental and emotional health.
Working out and eating right is the ultimate form of self-care, and you need to be doing it consistently.
What inspired you to launch Tim Liu Fitness? What are some of the most life-changing things you’ve learned while helping others change theirs?
TL: I was inspired simply because I wanted to help more people. Being a personal trainer is a great, rewarding job, but I was limited to the amount of people I could service given the number of hours in a day.
By launching my own online fitness coaching service, now I’m able to reach anyone in the world and can help inspire them and get them in shape.
One of the most life-changing things I learned while helping others was seeing how fitness improved all aspects of their lives.
Some examples are parents who are now a better healthy role model for their children, men and women who feel confident again while out in the dating game, and also women who are comfortable enough to wear certain clothes again.
What’s your favorite part about being a personal trainer?
TL: Besides being able to improve people’s health, I think it’s the relationships that I’ve built and developed with my clients. I’ve met some of the coolest and most interesting people during my career as a coach, and we both get to enrich each other’s lives. Because life is also about building and maintaining good relationships.
SWEET POTATOES & “TIM SAID IT WAS OKAY” FRIED CHICKEN RECIPE
- Chicken thighs
- Sweet potatoes
- Favorite seasonings
- Oven or air fryer
Preheat oven to 400°F. Poke a few holes in the sweet potatoes and put them in the oven for one hour. Coat chicken in your favorite seasonings and put it into the oven for 15-20 minutes, so about 15–20 minutes before the sweet potatoes are done. Voila, easy meal prep!
You can also make this in the air fryer, so it’s basically like a healthy version of fried chicken.
Tim Liu is an online fitness and nutrition coach based out in Los Angeles. Tim helps busy men and women lose fat and build muscle without having to live in the gym.