Recovery Day: Fittest Woman & PHIIT Mom Creator Kari Pearce Reveals Favorite Cheat Meal & More
Candace Cordelia is a Pennsylvania-based journalist and on-camera broadcaster/host, with…
The fittest American woman for 2016, 2018, 2019, and 2020 talks exclusively with Athletech News
If there’s one individual you should take cues from when it comes to fitness, it’s personal trainer Kari Pearce. The four-time Fittest American Woman victor and six-time CrossFit Games competitor has dedicated her life to motivating others to live with purpose and better health in mind. And while she’s constantly on the go maintaining her business and Instagram account, which boasts around 495,000 followers, the third fittest woman on Earth (!) still manages to find time to put her phone down long enough for nice walks, sleep and the best fajitas in Sin City.
The pioneering creator of PowerAbs, PHIIT & PHIIT Mom carved some time from her schedule to give Athletech News the scoop on her day-to-day life, including her sleep regimen favorite Las Vegas restaurant, for this installment of our Recovery Day series. Fitness is her “passion,” but our time spent talking with the Michigan-born phenom proves she’s just as committed to living a life of balance, encouraging others to do the same.
Athletech News (ATN): How do you start your day?
Kari Pearce: I usually get up, depending on the day, but it’s usually around 7. Recently, I’ve just been waking up naturally not to an alarm. I usually try not to get up past 7:30, because I just feel if I sleep too much then I feel groggy. So it makes me go to bed at a decent hour if I know I have to get up around 7 or 7:30. Then after that I usually go and wash my face and then I come into the kitchen and I drink a glass of water, first thing. Right after that, I drink some coffee.
While I’m drinking my coffee, I go into my email, Instagram, just kind of check those things off. When I’m done with that, I like to just take a 10-15 minute walk to just get the blood flow going and wake up a little bit. I live in Las Vegas so I’m really lucky that it’s typically good weather and sunny in the morning. So it’s nice just to get out and get a little bit of sunshine, a little bit of Vitamin D.
ATN: When can you actually “relax”?
Kari Pearce: During the day I’m pretty busy just doing work stuff, online business, doing videos, working out, doing programming, answering people. So, every night I try and just relax. I leave my phone away from me at least for an hour. Every night I make sure to take time for myself. Sometimes I just go for a nice little walk at night to relax as well. I’ve been better about taking a day on the weekend, at least half a day, where I am not working because I’m the kind of person that will go 24/7.
ATN: Can you disconnect from “devices” (ie. emails, work)?
Kari Pearce: It’s super important to be able to disconnect from devices, especially [in our] world today. You can be on 24/7 because a lot of us work from our computers and from our phones. For me, I love going on walks and it’s easy for me to bring my phone with me and have it and do work while I’m walking, and come back [home] and then I have more work. I’ve realized how important it is, even if it’s just five or ten minutes [to] just leave your phone at home, go out for a walk, enjoy nature, enjoy yourself and letting yourself decompress. I feel like it goes such a long way.
I love what I do. Absolutely love it. It’s amazing. I get to impact other people’s lives, make their lives better. But no matter how much you love what you do you still need to take that time for yourself.
ATN: How much sleep do you get?
Kari Pearce: My goal is to get 8 hours per sleep. I don’t necessarily always get that. Bare minimum — seven hours. I feel like if I get less than seven the day is just not productive and I feel groggy and then I usually end up taking a nap. Usually it’s right in between that seven to eight range because I know how I feel when I don’t get enough sleep. I suggest people try to get at least seven hours because you just feel like a new person.
ATN: What do you do on your “off” day?
Kari Pearce: I do a little more business. If there’s anything I need to catch up on then I take the morning, especially after my morning walk, I come home and zone in to my work. But I still like to stay kind of active during the day. I’m the kind of person that doesn’t like to just sit around. I feel like sitting around makes me more tired. So even if it’s little breaks periodically through the day I’ll get up and go walk around. Recently, I’ve been going out and either doing a hike or now that it’s warming up, I’m gonna try and take my paddleboard out on an off day, whether I might paddle for fun intensely or more chill or just lay there on my paddleboard.
I like being active but the off days [I’m] not worried about doing certain workouts or anything. It’s just whatever I feel like doing. I love taking a bath at night just to relax and recover.
ATN: What does your food shopping/prep look like?
Kari Pearce: I work with a meal prep company and so [I] obviously get a lot of the proteins shipped to me (chicken, beef, salmon, ground turkey, sweet potatoes, quinoa, veggies). Other than that, I’m a big Costco person. I like to eat similar foods all the time. One of my favorite things to get from them is the frozen stir-fry veggie mix just because it’s easy to cook. I usually just do it in a skillet, thaw it out, add a little garlic, salt and I just throw the protein in there and it’s done in 10 minutes. I love eating oatmeal. People joke with me, but I eat it sometimes three to four times a day. It’s super easy for me just to throw in some hot water, throw it in the microwave.
Before I worked with a meal prep company I would do a lot of cooking on Sunday — prepare my meat then or any sort of protein because then you set yourself up for the week. If you work weekends there’s a day in the week that you can figure out making things simple, like cooking a bunch of meat. I always have peppers in my fridge and usually cucumbers just to have an easy vegetable to go to and then already-cooked sweet potatoes or quinoa that’s always in the fridge. I keep frozen berries in the freezer because I’m not the kind of person that likes to go shopping all the time. I think keeping frozen foods in your freezer is super easy, super convenient. I order a lot at a time so that I don’t have to worry about always going to the grocery store.
ATN: What does breakfast look like for you on a regular day… on your cheat day?
Kari Pearce: Blueberry pancakes are my favorite thing. But I feel like I need some sort of protein, so I either eat it with some eggs. I just love omelets too. If I have eggs then I love having veggies in it just because I feel like a meal isn’t complete without veggies and that’s something I got into when I was doing physique training. My favorite veggies are peppers, but I like stir-fried onions with my eggs as well.
ATN: What are some of your favorite restaurants…when you are being super good…and when you are indulging?
Kari Pearce: There’s this place in Vegas called Hummus and it’s these bowls that you can get and it’s hummus on the bottom and then it comes with either spinach or arugula or kale, you can choose your greens, and then it just comes with a bunch of other fresh vegetable toppings and you can also get a meat. So, I like doing things similar to that. It doesn’t have to be like that exact one, but things that are just more fresh and I can kind of build my own meal.
Indulging… everyone jokes because I’m like “Fajitas!” And they’re like, “That’s healthy.” But when you’re eating at a restaurant and the fajitas are in a bunch of oil and there’s probably a lot more guacamole and things like that than I would normally eat, then it is indulgent. I usually get chips and guac and then always fajitas. Me and my boyfriend are on a mission to find the best fajitas in Vegas. I’m a hardcore Mexican food fan.
[For dessert], cookie ice cream sandwich (two cookies with ice cream in the middle) and usually just chocolate chip cookies or chocolate chip walnut cookies with vanilla ice cream rolled in sprinkles.
ATN: Do you have a therapist?
Kari Pearce: I have a physical therapist that I work with constantly on my body and making sure that my body can feel good. I feel like in our daily lives a lot of us have different areas of our body that ache. It’s important to get that fixed, no matter if you’re competing as an athlete or if you’re a normal person living your life and you want to feel good because you sit at a desk a lot. It’s important to feel good and be able to move properly. A Lot of us sit at desks nowadays hunched forward, and so we need to open up those shoulders and everything because it can start to cause back pain and tight hips. I go once a week to get bodywork done.
ATN: When you are injured how do you manage your inability to workout?
Kari Pearce: Unfortunately injuries are a part of life especially since I am so active. I have had quite a variety of them but always try to find the bright side in it. The main thing that I focus on is what I can do. If I hurt my ankle then I realize that I can do upper body work. No matter what body part you injure, there are still exercises you can do and get better at. Also it usually gives me extra time in my day to focus on other things such as nutrition. I also keep in mind that it is my body telling me I need a break and if I take care of myself now, then I will come back stronger and hungrier than ever. It is only a short term setback if I take care of myself. Yes, I try to focus on the positive instead of the negative when it comes to injuries but also many other things in life.
Candace Cordelia is a Pennsylvania-based journalist and on-camera broadcaster/host, with a reporting background in wrestling, entertainment, and lifestyle. Her reporting work has been featured on websites and in publications such as Bustle, Pro Wrestling Illustrated, New York Daily News, am New York, ABC News, Yahoo!, Good Morning America, Madame Noire, Sister 2 Sister, etonline.com, Diva Dirt and The Everyday Fan. Her favorite workout influencers include Chloe Ting, Cassey Ho, Pamela Reif and Mary Braun. She still can’t stand burpees and Rebbl Dark Chocolate Immunity Elixir is one of her favorite post-workout protein sips. You can follow Candace on Twitter @CandaceCordelia and on Instagram @thatgirlcandace16.