By Dulcy Gregory
Fitness experts—athletes, personal trainers, coaches and nutritionists—help us on our journey to achieve our health and fitness goals when we’re at the gym. But what do they do when they go home? How do they keep themselves in tiptop shape while helping thousands of people learn to work out and eat right? We asked Sea Island’s Daniel “Ox” Hocutt and Joyce Mattox about their own healthy habits and favorite principles that keep them on the path to wellness.
“Fitness for me is both an indoor and outdoor activity,” says Hocutt, a certified personal trainer at The Spa at Sea Island and Fitness Center. “For every two days I spend inside a gym lifting, I spend at least one outside riding bikes, battle rope training or flipping and beating a tractor tire.”
Because not everyone is able to work out for a living, Hocutt has some advice for squeezing in exercise throughout the day, whether you’re at a desk or on your feet. If a desk job keeps you tied up inside, replace your office chair with a stability ball, or set an alert on your computer that reminds you to get up and move around every 15 to 20 minutes. If you’re standing for eight hours, do trunk rotations by twisting at the waist and alternate from one foot to the other to work on balance. Calf raises are another great exercise for circulation.
For Hocutt, fitness didn’t always come easy, nor did eating right. Having started his journey at 325 pounds (he’s since lost 125 pounds), he had plenty of obstacles to clear. “Discipline happens only after a habit of consistency is created,” he says. “Most of my healthy eating habits revolve around moderation—but I have my vices! I’ll eat a chocolate bar or have a muffin from time to time, but for the most part, I eat very clean. Fruits and veggies make up roughly 75 percent of my diet. That is what you will find in my fridge along with fish, chicken and maybe a little skim milk.”
Discipline is also a cornerstone concept for Mattox, The Spa at Sea Island and Fitness Center’s nutritionist and lifestyle coach. But so is simplicity. “Don’t make dieting so hard; food shouldn’t be complicated,” she says, “I don’t teach calories or diets; I teach lifestyle.”
At Sea Island, evidence of the easygoing Mediterranean lifestyle is evident, especially in the Spa kitchen where fish, tomatoes, beans, extra-virgin olive oil and green leafy vegetables are always on hand.
Mattox teaches several nutrition classes each week. Her best culinary advice is to choose “real” foods. “People are always looking for gluten-free, fat-free and sugar-free to lose weight, but this is the exact opposite of what you should be eating,” she advises. “If it comes in a package, don’t buy it. Choose real, natural, fresh foods and always keep a water bottle nearby.”
When it comes to trending “superfoods,” Mattox has been using a lot of kefir. “It’s a lot like yogurt,” she explains, “but it has about 10 different cultures compared to yogurt, which only has two. It works great in smoothies.”
No matter what you eat, in the end, eating right is all about mindfulness. Mattox recommends yoga and a supplementary exercise. “Take a yoga class to practice mindfulness and breathing,” she says. “Stop by the smoothie bar, then pay a visit to the resort’s Georgian Dining Room to savor the flavors from the wellness menu. Sit down and eat. Chew your food and, most importantly, take your time.”