Meet our February cover model Holly Barker! We chat to her about the balancing act that is life.

Holly Barker - Women's Health and Fitness Magazine



On photoshoot fitness

Depending on my next goal or shoot and the amount of time I have, the rep range for my exercises will increase as I get closer to the goal date and I will usually incorporate more supersets to keep my workout intensity level high and cardio up. As I increase my rep ranges, my workouts need to be stimulating and enjoyable to keep me motivated, so I will typically keep my muscle groups and exercise types similar but change the routine or variation slightly.

On fitness wisdom

My biggest fitness mistake was overtraining. I enjoy training so much and it is easy to get into the mindset of ‘more is better’ – but that mindset can be detrimental when you are trying to take your fitness to the next level. Rest is just as important as training properly. By incorporating rest and recovery, my body has been able to respond better and I am able to achieve the results and the physique I aim for.

On body mistakes

The greatest mistake people make in fitness is thinking success depends on a number. As women, we validate ourselves so often by age, weight, dress size, jean size, salary. To achieve optimal happiness, I believe you must find what stimulates you mentally, physically and emotionally. Instead of living for a number, live towards optimal health in mind, heart and body.  

On calories

The greatest challenge I’ve overcome was my relationship with food. I’ve had to come to the realisation that I must fuel my body for what I want it to accomplish. It is scary to consume a lot of calories, to have an appetite and to satisfy it, but to build a body for fitness and to change my composition towards the bikini body I train for requires a lot of great fuel. I have educated myself on the proper sources, the proper breakdowns and the optimal timings to consume food for the results I want to achieve and the response is rewarding.

On cheat days

I believe in refeeds to stimulate your metabolism, but I do believe the approach is very personal. I feel that each individual must find the best approach for themself mentally before implementing a strategy solely based on physical output. The theories behind the ‘cheat’ are all similar, but the approach is what can make or break your success. If you are someone that has a binge-type behaviour, a cheat meal/cheat day may not be the best approach and cycling carbs or implementing a ‘zig zag’ nutrition approach is probably your best strategy. When preparing for an event, I prefer a carbohydrate cycle approach and stay away from processed foods high in sugar.

On self-doubt and social media

I absolutely encounter self-doubt. As I continue to work towards my best self and implement new training styles, routines and nutrition, I will have days where I will feel like I want the results quicker. I will feel off some days, I will be tired some days, I will be a grouch…that’s life! On days where I doubt myself, I find I am not asking myself the right questions, so when I encounter self-doubt I consciously try to change my mindset from all the ‘have tos’ that seem to be bringing me down and ask myself, what are the ‘get tos’ I get to enjoy? There are so many get tos that we all enjoy each day…there really is no excuse to stay with self-doubt as we each have the ability to change our mindset! I came across this quote from one of the guests for a recent podcast: Do not compare your documentary to everyone else’s highlight reels. This is so true in our age of social media. Everyone is constantly posting their highlight reels and this can be draining on the best of us. We all have mediocre days, we just don’t always share it with the rest of the world.

On balance

Balance for me is constantly aligning my actions to the results I am working toward consistently every day in mind, heart and body. I’m practising and learning every day and reflecting on my growth constantly. As I learn and know better, I do better and progress towards my achievements. As long as I continue to grow, to learn, to achieve, I will continuously find new balance each day.

On Sundays

Sundays are low key. My husband, my beagle, Billie, and I will go out and enjoy a hike and get lost in the woods for a few hours and then usually I will catch up on computer work, housework and meal prep in anticipation of a new week.

On life

Everybody has a story. Never sympathise with their sadness, but empathise with their situation. I dealt with a lot of tragedy as a kid and I never really knew how to deal with it or respond to it, so I kind of coped with tragedy by avoidance and non dealing. Since being a part of such an amazing company and learning from amazing mentors, I have learnt how to empathise with a situation instead of joining in misery with sympathy. This has given me the ability to lift others up instead of helping them stay down.

NEXT: Check out Steph Prem's tips to stay motivated.