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Interview with Coach Donald Robinson of Global Human Performance, Wilkinsburg

Updated: May 4, 2021

Our Public Ally, Americorps Member, Kathryn Ishiyama, Social Media & Communications Associate, sat down to conduct an interview with Coach Donald Robinson in the Bio-shelter at Oasis Farm & Fishery, October 2020

KI: All right, I'm here with Donald Robinson and he's here today to talk to the kids at better food better me about physical fitness and being healthy, and so I wanted to ask him about how he eats healthier.
DR: Hey, so thank you! I try to manage my healthy eating by just putting some routine and parameters on things, (I) try not to make it like anything difficult, or challenging. So, one thing that I'm really big on is preparing my food. I do really well eating healthy when I’m prepared to eat well so I'll make sure that I go cook in bulk. And I'll put my food in little containers, which really takes some of the thought work out of “man, What should I eat today?”, because no matter, you know, if you're really somebody who's really healthy like me or somebody who just kind of goes by and eats whatever's there. It's really hard to always make good decisions. When you didn't plan to make those decisions-- and just kind of like “aw, I'm hungry I don’t know what to eat” you’re gonna get something fast, so I try to cook out my food in bulk, plan it out, put it in little meal prep things. I always think vegetable-first. So when I'm planning a meal, I'm thinking, what is the vegetable going to be? What kind of plants am I going to eat? And then I build my carbs and my protein around it so that I'm prioritizing nutrient dense foods because what a lot of people don't always know is being able to eat a lot of vegetables can help fill you up. So I always think vegetable-first with all of that. And then I try to always start my day off with fruit and water.
KI: Can you tell me about what your go to meal is?
DR: My go to meal is baked chicken sweet potatoes and mixed veggies. So I'll roast up some peppers, some broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, mixed colored carrots. You know, whatever else I have around, and I roast those. take the sweet potato, roast that, and then I'll bake some chicken. That's my go to.
KI: Do you have a favorite vegetable?
DR: My favorite vegetable would have to honestly be like green beans. I mean, They're easy. I like the snap of green beans, but I really love corn on the cob a lot too.

Donald Robinson is the founder and head coach at Global Human Performance (GHP), a gym in Wilkinsburg, just around the corner from Homewood! It is two years old this month! He went to Slippery Rock University and earned his BS in Exercise Science and an M.Ed in Sports Science and Nutrition. GHP’s goal is to improve the way people feel, look, and move. They serve families, as well as adults of all ages, all over the world, and with purpose anywhere from competitive sports to looking good for the beach. Coach Donald finds immense fulfillment in guiding people to become their best selves; so he was excited when the opportunity to talk with the kids at Better Food, Better Me (BFBM) came at the end of September.

The day that Coach Donald came, he walked the kids down to our shared green space, where there are garden beds for other local environmental organizations, a playground, and some open field. There was a relay race among some other physical challenges involving pull-ups on the monkey bars between two teams. The losers had to do a few extra exercises. After Coach Donald led the 5th, 6th, and 7th graders through some physical activities, he led them through a discussion of what it means to live healthily.

“Do doughnuts grow on trees?” “NO!”
“Does ice cream grow on trees?” “No!”
“Do french-fries grow on trees?” “Nooo!”
“What grows on trees then?” Apples!” “Pears!” “Oranges!”

BFBM loved having Coach Donald as a guest! Oasis Farm & Fishery Manager says this lesson is his favorite of the most recent sessions; it was a great opportunity to expand on what BFBM has been teaching to the older kids. Sometimes as children enter adolescence they become too “cool” to stay active, and the Oasis Project aims to change that trajectory. Beyond this, BFBM encourages intrapersonal development through mindfulness and emotional intelligence with such activities. Coach Donald expertly married the importance of physical activity and mindfulness in an especially productive way.

Below are some key takeaways from our interview with Donald:

*When planning a meal: Think vegetable-first! Build your carbs and protein around that. This way your meal will be rich with nutrient dense food. Vegetables help fill you up!

*Meal-Prep: At the beginning of the week cook your food in bulk and separate them into containers.

*Breakfast: Start your day off right with fruit and water.

*Roasting and baking foods like vegetables and chicken is a simple and easy way to prepare food!

*Exercise Daily: It is great to work out everyday for at least a half hour- but not everyone can do this! If you can go for a short walk everyday your body will be happier and healthier.

Since the program’s birth, BFBM has always been about teaching youth about the food they eat, their bodies, and healthy lifestyles. The program started about four years ago when the Farm Manager at the time, Casey Clouser, had already been doing urban agriculture with the children after school. He was a soccer coach, loved to cook, and was already practicing athletic education. It seemed only natural that after the kids harvested food, they should learn to prepare it as well. The kids loved it and we saw more engagement than ever before. Thus, BFBM grew organically from that. Today, the program continues to teach children how to exercise their bodies and minds through urban agriculture, physical activity, and cooking.


Here’s Coach Donald’s Go-To Healthy Meal:

Baked Chicken and Mixed Roasted Veggies

Ingredients: Four-Six 6 oz Chicken boneless chicken breasts. Olive oil. Seasoning (Suggestions at the bottom). Vegetables (you can pick and choose, from those listed or whatever your heart leads you to) sweet potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, carrots, bell peppers, brussels sprouts, onion, and green beans.

Utilities: Oven, sharp knife, cutting board, meat thermometer, sheet pans, tin-foil, mallet/rolling pin/fist

Vegetables are very simple to roast:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.

  2. Cut your vegetables up however you would like.

    1. Recommended: cutting sweet potatoes into small cubes, cut and use the florets off the broccoli and cauliflower, slice carrots and zucchini into rounds, cut bottoms off of the brussels sprouts and then in half, cut the bell pepper into strips

  3. Toss them in olive oil and herbs and spices of your choice.

  4. Line pan with tin-foil to make sure they don’t stick. Lightly grease them with olive oil.

  5. Bake for 30+ minutes. Toss half way through.

Making baked boneless chicken breasts is also very simple, the key is in the cooking time and temperature:

  1. Pound the chicken breasts with a mallet, rolling pin, or your fists.

  2. Toss the chicken breasts with olive oil, herbs, and spices.

  3. Lightly grease a (tin-foil lined) baking dish or pan so the chicken breasts don’t stick.

  4. Bake chicken breasts for 20-26 minutes or until they reach 165°F.

  5. Rest them before you slice or pull them.

Seasoning suggestions: ½ tsp Thyme, ½ tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper, ½ tsp lemon juice, ½ tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp onion powder, ½ tsp rosemary, ¼ tsp dried parsley, ½ tsp rosemary, paprika, ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper.

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