We’re pleased to announce the launch of our regular interview sessions with our very own Verv experts, who will share with you their healthy living secrets and tips, their stories and what inspires them.
This month, let us introduce to you Dominique Gummelt, an international keynote speaker, fitness and wellness expert, coach, lecturer, author, filmmaker and musician.
Since 2001, she has obtained a wide variety of experiences in corporate, medical fitness, commercial and educational settings - training, coaching, teaching, inspiring and transforming peoples’ lives. But it’s best if she tells you her story herself, meet Dominique.
Please, tell our readers a bit about your backstory.
I was born and raised in Germany and came to America at the age of 17. And I am currently the Director for University Wellness, for a small university in Southwest Michigan, along, of course, with being Verv's wellness expert and media spokesperson.
But I'm also the CEO of Living Alive – my own coaching and consulting wellness company, am a certified personal trainer and a certified wellness practitioner. In addition to all that, I'm also an Exercise Medicine Specialist, Level 1, for the American College of Sports Medicine, and have the privilege of being an international speaker and writer.
I have had the honor to be part of lots of amazing projects and work with great people. I have worked as an Assistant Professor for many years, teaching at various universities. I've been a personal trainer and fitness instructor over the last 20 years in various commercial settings. I've worked as a director in wellness facilities that focused on building up teams and helping people.
But at the end of the day, I just really enjoy helping people live their life to their fullest potential, using every tool at their disposal.
I’m very passionate about life, I love physical activity, love spending time with the people around me, with people around the world, meeting new people. I love traveling and I really love music. Music is a big passion of mine. Singing, playing the piano. And I've had the privilege of recording my first two singles. So I do that as well.
What first attracted you to a healthy lifestyle?
I have to say that I'm quite privileged to have grown up in a very active and health-conscious family. We always paid attention to staying active, to being outside, spending time in nature. So I was lucky enough to have that as a child. My mom cared about good nutrition and other healthy habits.
But it wasn't until later, as I really got into sports and focused on being a high performing athlete, that I really started being more passionate about all that. I was confronted with a lot of different concepts of fitness and nutrition and what discipline it required.
And then, a big change happened after I stopped competing in tennis. I had to realize that it's going to take a lot of different approaches to live a healthy lifestyle long-term, rather than just training for performance. And so I struggled with gaining weight at the time. I struggled with making better choices. I had to confront myself with the subject a lot more.
And so I was attracted to that and I was inspired. A person who inspired me was Billy Blanks from Tae-Bo. He inspired me with the way he taught fitness, the way he talked about why to do fitness. And so that really transitioned for me from being a high performing athlete to being really an athlete of a healthy lifestyle.
What’s your philosophy on food and healthy living?
My philosophy is that we need to do the best that we can to balance all these elements as best as possible. I believe that extremism will lead to failure. I work with a lot of people who say “I will never eat chocolate again” or “I will never drink soda again”. But inevitably, that's not going to last. That is not how human behavior works.
And so my philosophy is that I believe every single person was made to live their lives to the fullest potential in every way.
I believe that we need to make everyday choices that will lift up our life in every possible way. So if you have a mindset that supports your choices, you will just significantly improve the quality of your life, which then inevitably will help you live a longer and more satisfactory life.
What does your typical day look like?
My typical day is very eclectic. And that has to do with the various jobs that I hold.
I have to be on my feet all the time. My day switches from giving public lectures to coaching, to speaking, to writing, to giving interviews, to talking to the media, to talking to the press.
And so a typical day for me is really not typical. It's a different schedule every day.
So I have a morning kickstart routine. I work on an evening elevation routine. And so no matter how crazy it gets, no matter how many twists and turns there are, I always focus on:
- making sure I drink enough water
- eating enough fruits and vegetables and whole grains.
- eating healthy proteins
- making sure I get at least seven to eight hours of sleep every night.
- making sure that I move a lot and sit very little
- structured exercise and fitness
And so these elements are always present.
I've worked very hard for many years with this establishment of the routine. And I can just say that no matter how crazy the day gets, those types of things become like brushing your teeth or taking a shower because they have such value in your daily life, they become a staple item.
Now, I’ll walk you through that typical day of mine:
- getting up varies depending on how late the nights get
- having breakfast
- meditation and reflection
- spiritual and fitness time
- briefly connecting with family
- doing a basic exercise routine in the morning, and getting started.
Then usually it's filled with work and projects. I'm eating a healthy lunch and then always making sure in the evening there's some type of social connection with meaningful people in my life, with mentors and with friends.
What is your go-to food when feeling stressed?
This is a good question. Actually, when I get stressed, I don't tend to eat at all. I forget about any kind of food.
But if I had to pick something to answer this question, it would definitely be chocolate. But it has to be good chocolate. It has to be something like European Lindt chocolate, not with weird flavors, but rather straight-up milk or dark chocolate. That would be my go-to food.
What's your favorite exercise activity?
My favorite sport in the world is soccer. I'm from Germany, so maybe that goes without saying. But tennis is also the sport that I played competitively for many years, all the way through college in California.
All in all, I love all types of physical activity, but I have to say that I'm a huge fan of doing HIIT training workouts. So, circuits that are quick and really challenge you. That's probably my favorite exercise. Where you utilize your own body and functional training equipment like dumbbells, bands, balls, and just going through those short HIIT-focused routines.
We all need a little break from time to time. What is your one guilty pleasure?
I'm not 100 percent sure how to answer that question. Let me just say this. We do need a little break from time to time. I think it's really important.
I have a wellness practice where once a week I take a whole day, 24 hours where I do not work and I focus on well-being. And I'm focused on spirit, mind and body and social connections for rejuvenation, reconnections, recalibration and just rest. And it's been one of the most rewarding practices I've been a part of. I do that once a week, and that has been just great.
So that gives me that little break from time to time. As for my guilty pleasure, I love Mexican food. And that would be my guilty pleasure from time to time, for sure.
What is your biggest tip or piece of advice for someone getting started in a healthy lifestyle?
My biggest tip and piece of advice is to always remember that every single day you have a new opportunity to live a better life.
You cannot change the past. You can not do anything about the fact that you made bad choices yesterday or the day before. But you can choose better today.
So if you're gonna make a choice to get started on a healthy lifestyle, every single day, get up. Make that choice and actually feel empowered by yourself that you can achieve your goals. And you have the power within yourself to make better choices.
I also like to say to everyone who is starting out to live a healthy lifestyle: remember that something is better than nothing. So any type of behavior that you do well towards a healthy lifestyle is better than to do nothing at all, because I think people get overwhelmed with doing everything. And then when they don't, they quit altogether. So the focus of making small steps in the right direction will have a huge difference.
So my biggest tip is really that focus on the present to positively make good choices today. And with small steps, you can make a big difference.
The year 2020 has been truly testing our resilience. What helps you to stay healthy, both mentally and physically during these uneasy times?
First of all, what has helped me to stay mentally and physically healthy during these times is that I have my standard routine that I have implemented many years ago, and it's become a staple item of how I live my life.
And so this is the whole point. When you have that, it doesn't matter what happens. It doesn't matter what the context is. It doesn't matter what happens unexpectedly. It doesn't matter how your day goes. If you have staple items, you can stay physically and mentally healthy, even if things around you are chaotic.
And so, again, to bring this back in, the key elements are physical activity, a fitness program on a regular basis, daily reflection, meditation, and prayer.
And make sure you move more and sit less and design your living and working space in a way that will promote activity and healthy choices.
If we put that around us, we don't have to constantly practice resistance. So, for example, if you want to eat healthy, then stock your fridge with healthy foods. If you put unhealthy foods around you, you constantly have to use unnecessary energy to make those choices.
What you do is create an environment around you that helps you with your own choices. So remove unnecessary sitting, or things that make you want to lounge, place some exercise equipment or toys around you, so that you can say “Oh, that reminds me, I need to move”. Put water out to drink enough water, have fruits and vegetables easily available to you. Use a reminder in your phone to let it notify you to move, to eat well, to go to sleep, to meditate, to focus on having some quiet time.
So for me, when I talk about staying mentally and physically healthy, the key words I want to share are: mind, body, spirit, connections and contexts. Those are the essential elements that will make a big difference to elevate your life in a healthful way.