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My own fitness journey started when I was 16 years old, I got my first gym membership at my neighbourhood YMCA. The real reason was that I didn’t make my grade 9 volleyball team, but I had always loved being active in some way so I joined the gym the year after I didn’t make this volleyball team, at a younger age than most in my school because I for some reason felt inclined to work on myself and my own fitness, and I quickly fell in love with it. I was one of the only females and youngest females at that time in the weight room, and although it was intimidating I LOVED it, and often would admire the other women in this area and would always look up to them telling myself I wanted to be as strong and muscular as they were. The gym atmosphere was something I fell in love with, I loved pushing myself, also learning from others around me, and it became kind of a safe and happy place for me from a young age. Over the next few years of high school and early college years, I got more and more serious and dedicated in my training, I hired a few personal trainers over the course of these years to learn from and really take it more seriously and practice proper form etc. When I was 19, I hired my first online coach to help me prepare for my first bodybuilding show to compete as a bikini competitor. My mom had been a huge influence in my fitness journey at this time and had done several bodybuilding shows in her day, so it was something I wanted to try and dedicate myself to. I was so young, I definitely didn’t take it as seriously as I should have for my first show, but I still enjoyed the process and learned a lot about discipline and focus, I ended up doing quite well and from there knew I wanted to keep going down this path and new bodybuilding journey. Over the next few years, I did 3 more bodybuilding shows, I qualified for my regional show (Manitoba), then for nationals in Canada (Edmonton was where it was held, 2017 I think), and then I did the Vancouver Pro/am in 2018 which was my 4th and final show. Throughout these years, I had phases of growing, eating lots, and then dieting down for the show, and I began to realize I was starting to develop a lot of difficult and frustrating eating habits such as restricting and binging, and also developing body image issues. I struggled with this for many years, but I wasn’t fully aware of what was going on, I thought it was simply normal in this sport.

It wasn’t until about 2 years ago that I had been preparing for the Arnold expo, and then dieted for a Hawaii trip right after, and then went straight into another dieting phase for the Olympia that same year. It was a lot on my body and I could see that I was really suffering both mentally and physically.  I pushed through and brought my best physique to date to the Olympia Expo in Las Vegas of 2019, I went with Magnum as an athlete at the booth and it was such an incredible experience, also my first time in Vegas! As soon as I got home, I vowed to myself that I was going to heal my relationship with food and no longer restrict my body, because I was scared of eating enough and afraid of eating carbs for so many years, and because I had seen my body at such a lean state for so many years I was incredibly self-conscious of my normally healthy body because my body dysmorphia was getting worse. So I decided to take things into my own hands and heal, it was very uncomfortable to gain weight and begin eating normally, but I also knew that when I become a coach not long before that year of multiple preps, that I had to set a good example for the women I was coaching to nourish your body and not deprive it to reach goals. I also wanted to be able to walk the walk and find food freedom and body positivity for myself, something I struggled with for so long, and I felt as if I was an imposter if I was teaching my clients how to do this but I didn’t even possess this for myself. So I embarked on this journey in order to better myself and be a better, more supportive coach. It has been almost 2 years now since I have engaged in restrictive diet behaviour, and through this process, I have gained more muscle, I’ve fallen in love with weight training and being active again because I’m doing it for me for once, not for looking a certain way for an event, I have found a routine that I love and have discovered how to nourish my body while still promoting longevity and feeling my best. It was a rollercoaster, over the course of those two years, I definitely had setbacks and would WANT to restrict or under-eat, but I didn’t let myself, daily I struggled but I knew I was doing the right thing by facing my disordered eating head-on. I started slow and simply began to incorporate more food/carbs into my daily eating, I stopped overtraining and doing excessive amounts of cardio and instead I did my best to silence the voices in my head and just learn how to ‘be’. I found comfort in chatting with a few other women going through the same thing, and that helped me SO much because I knew I wasn’t the only one going through this, but at the time it was such a taboo topic, no one in the bodybuilding industry talked about these very real ‘post show’ binge episodes or having body dysmorphia etc, so I began to be more open about it on my own Instagram and realized just how many women were also struggling, it was eye-opening and part of the reason I kept going.

I now focus wholeheartedly on nourishing my body and have been on a mission to heal hormone health and promote a strong metabolism. So now, I am even more in love with my fitness journey, because I’ve taken back my power to be my best for ME and no one else. I still enjoy building my physique and working towards improvement, but I do it in a sustainable and long term way that I know will benefit me for life. I also focus on MORE than just my external appearance, like also making time for my mental health and healing inwards also. I train now maybe 5 times per week to allow for rest and other hobbies in my life, and I no longer cut out foods I love, I eat everything I enjoy in moderation and enjoy cooking healthy meals for myself. I am currently rehabbing from an oblique tear, which has left me out of the gym or from doing much movement for the last 2+ months, this has been the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced, both mentally and physically, when working out has always been my safe place and a place to go to relieve tension and stress, and just overall it’s my happy place, it’s been very difficult having that being taken away. Though it has given me a chance to work more internally right now on my mind and inner happiness, it has been a whirlwind of emotions but it has only added to my journey as a person and coach as now I know what it’s like to be unable to workout for a long period of time which is really tough, I know everything happens for a reason and I hope to be back working out and moving my body in ways I love very soon again! I want to continue to share my story but also help other women see that deprivation will never be the answer and that there is so much more to life than just what your body looks like. I want all women to learn how to nourish their bodies instead of starving them, true health really does start within and we cannot take our health for granted on any level!

25 years old

Victoria, British Columbia

Online Women’s Nutrition, Wellness and Fitness Coach

In your opinion weight loss is more of a fitness issue or a health issue and why?
Weight loss is a tricky subject because, for many, it’s not ‘weight’ they need to lose, but perhaps just a bit of body fat. Losing weight and losing body fat are two completely different things. So I think if we’re looking at losing weight if it’s done in a healthy and sustainable way (not going to extremes for a quick fix) this is more so based on the person’s health. IF you are overweight there’s not necessarily anything wrong with that unless it’s directly affecting your health in some way then you would want to lose a bit of excess fat for health reasons like healthy arteries, joints and so on. Both fitness and health come into play because when you can work on your personal fitness you’re working on things like heart health, joint and bone health and also contributing to the quality muscle which has huge benefits. When we look at the opposite, perhaps someone who just needs to lose body fat and not necessarily ‘weight’ this is perhaps more of a fitness-related situation because weight is not everything and if you’re a healthy individual but just want to see more muscle definition or feel better, you may just want to lose a bit of fat and this has nothing to do with what the scale says! Too many people get caught up in what the scale says, or when the scale doesn’t move we get upset, but in reality, so many things affect our weight and it will always fluctuate, so even when the scale doesn’t move as much as we want, but we’re noticing progress in areas like how we look, our energy levels, how our clothes fit, our strength, our mood and quality of life etc these are all really great measures of progress that the scale won’t show us!

If you have 100 tokens in total and you could apply them to the following categories, how many would you apply to each?

  • Fitness level: 25
  • Health level: 75

There’s no right or wrong answer here, but I know that most people struggle with health/nutrition on a deeper level, and when you can really nourish your body in ways that matter with prioritizing nutrient-dense food, learning how to cook meals you enjoy, creating meals with balanced macronutrients, enough minerals and things like that you can really do a lot for your health and working towards your goals. Of course, movement and training play an important role, but even if you didn’t work out or move much, your nutrition would make a bigger impact than if you trained constantly but ate like garbage. Both components matter, but we can really make big waves when we care about what we put INTO our bodies!

Thoughts on HIIT, Powerlifting, TRX, Yoga, bodybuilding, others?
I think whatever movement you enjoy, is what you should do, so long as it’s benefiting your health and happiness, it doesn’t matter what you do at the end of the day, obviously if you have specific goals certain training may reign superior over other methods, but if you’re enjoying what you’re doing and it gets you moving, that is what counts! I think that my favourite ways to move are weight training, for muscle growth and overall longevity benefits, when you can build lean muscle mass not only do you become stronger over time, you are also contributing to quality long term health, bone health and mental health! When individuals focus on bodybuilding, it can be great because ultimately you are working to achieve muscle hypertrophy and building shape which can be a boost of confidence and also a great overall way to train for long term health and not damage joints etc time. I also love yoga as I think it’s healing and beneficial both mentally and physically, you are able to slow down, use your breath and focus more on how your body feels than just going through the motions, I think it’s extremely therapeutic. One method of movement that I think is often overlooked is walking, it is SO beneficial to your overall health, and especially when you can get outside and go for a simple walk it has a hugely positive effect on our mental health. Walking is free, easy and low impact, most people overlook this very basic way of movement but it truly is one of the best things anyone can do at any age and as a great addition to their weight training or other training programs!

How did your passion for fitness start? And what was the biggest challenge you have faced on your journey?
My passion started when I was 16, the second I stepped into my neighbourhood YMCA it was like game over. The feeling I get when I put my headphones in, get in my zone and just can lift some heavy things is like no other feeling in this world. I have always felt deeply connected to really any gym I step into. It has made me who I am today, and I truly feel like if I can get through a really hard workout that pushes me and challenges me, then I can get through anything in life. It’s almost like the energy and passion you can exert in a hard workout is the biggest relief in life, and when you’re done with that workout everything around you in your life seems less daunting and almost easy in comparison to putting your body through that gruelling workout. I think over the years,  I’ve just grown even more and more appreciative for this passion of mine, I don’t take movement or my body for granted as there are so many people in this world who don’t have the same opportunities or options to move in the ways they want or access to a facility to train. It truly is a blessing. My passion just really stemmed from the connection I have always had with working out, it also grew into something bigger being able to also share this passion with my mom who used to do bodybuilding shows and also has always loved the gym as her happy place. We bonded immensely over this hobby and just knowing I can always push myself to be better keeps me going. I love being driven and striving for more, it’s a chase I love and never want to end.

Photo By: Zack Taylor

My biggest challenge thus far has been currently as I face this injury. It has been 2+ months now since I was injured. The worst part is I have no clue what specifically caused it or really even what it is, most professionals are guessing either sports hernia or a tear in my oblique, either way, it’s painful and it sucks. I’ve been to the emergency to rule out anything internal, I’ve done ct scans and ultrasounds, and now I am waiting for an MRI which who knows how long that could take, but I am currently seeing an osteopath who is giving me some movements to strengthen the area so I’m hoping this will help and get me back on a path to recovery. Although, I still know I have a long way to go. This has been the longest I haven’t worked out or really moved since I started working out at 15/16, so in 10 years this is the longest I’ve been out of the gym, and it has been the most challenging thing I’ve ever experienced. Not only is the physical side of things tough, being in pain and not being able to do much or go outside is hard, I can’t even really go for walks, and forget hopping on my bike which is how I usually get to and from places which I miss deeply, but also the mental side of things is what I did not expect. When your whole identity is working out, and when it’s such a huge role in your life and happiness, it feels like I’ve lost my identity, and more importantly, I’ve lost my outlet for stress relief and mental health maintenance. It has been a real struggle. I have been trying to be open and honest about this struggle and injury on my Instagram page, as I know so many people struggle with mental health regardless of the ‘root’, it is always hard. I have always been the type to suffer alone or never reach out for help, but I’m realizing how much I need it now, and I can no longer do this on my own. I have been leaning on my support system and going to a therapist now to help with my mental health, and it’s helping a lot. I still struggle but I at least have found some things to do that keep me partially sane, my main go tos for getting out of this funk are definitely getting outside, reading or journaling, being with friends or family and checking in with my therapist when I feel I’m getting in my own head too much. It has made me appreciate the simple things in life so much more, so I know this phase in my journey is giving me perspective and I’m trying to ask myself what can I learn and receive from this. It’s also made me realize just how much I focus on my external body, and I am trying to shift things inwards to focus on real internal happiness, not just thinking I am solely my body and what it looks like, I know many struggles daily with body image but internal health is what matters most, we are not our bodies!

Share your unique training/coaching methods?
What makes me unique as a coach is that I take a sustainable, enjoyable and healthy approach to coaching my clients. I don’t believe in diets or restricting or cutting out foods etc. I don’t believe in going to extremes. My main goal as a coach is always to give my clients knowledge, empowerment and tools to feel self-aware and capable of doing things that make them feel good, nourishing their body and being able to carry out their routines for the long term. I believe in nourishing the body from the inside out, so focusing on things like eating upon waking, eating every 2-4 hours thereafter and listening to hunger/fullness cues. I focus more on ADDING things to your lifestyle instead of cutting things out or taking things away from your lifestyle. My approach as a coach is to help you find what will work for you for the long term, it’s about making it a lifestyle and adopting meaningful habits and routines that you enjoy and can see yourself doing for the long term when you enjoy what you’re doing you’ll never feel the need to diet or hop on a fad restrictive diet again, cause you’ve also taken the time to learn what your body needs and about how to truly nourish your body. I help my clients find food freedom, adopt a healthier relationship with food and also heal body image issues. Nothing happens overnight but with positive support and guidance, you can slowly shift the inner narrative to be your own best friend instead of your worst enemy. I am very mindset orientated, so often if a client is struggling it stems a lot deeper than just nutrition or movement, if there is something going on within we must address it and find out why certain patterns are occurring for example reaching to food for comfort or having negative thoughts about your body etc. I help my clients also ditch the all or nothing mindset, and instead focus on the small wins and winning the day, when you can learn how to be proud of yourself and focus on consistency over perfection not only will you enjoy the journey so much more but you’ll have a more positive attitude around what you CAN do, instead of dwelling on the negative.

Trainer Philosophy:
My philosophy when it comes to how I train my clients is quite simple, it’s to stop overcomplicating your journey and to find what works for you in a way that you enjoy. I believe in the long term, healthy and sustainable approaches that make sense for the individual, there is no one size fits all when it comes to how you nourish and move your body. I take the time to find out what works for the specific person because not everyone has the same schedule and some have very different lifestyles, so it’s about finding what is realistic for you personally and I help my clients feel confident and capable of still putting themselves first and showing up for themselves even when life gets hectic! The little things add up, and the small steps forward make a difference, so focusing on the small improvements you’re making instead of dwelling on how far you have to go or on what feels hard will help you make it a lifestyle and enjoy what you’re doing. We are only human, we can only do our best, and things will always happen within our week that will maybe feel like an obstacle, but having the tools to still navigate through those bumps in the road is so empowering to know you CAN keep going and you don’t have to strive for perfection. My main philosophy is really just focusing on what your body needs to feel its best and function properly, hormone and cell wise etc, so nourishment is a big thing that we focus on and teaching my clients how important carbohydrates, adequate-protein, healthy fats, stress management, quality sleep, rest and recovery, weight training and mindset work is all part of the equation.

Photo By: Natalie Prefontaine

Training Plan:
My typical training plan involves 5 weight training days, usually 2 upper body days, one more focused on back and arms, and the second focusing more on shoulders and chest, then I have 2-3 leg days where I focus on hitting my glutes efficiently and also targeting my hamstrings and quads. I train for typically 45-60 minutes and don’t try to always go as hard as possible, when I used to do that I would never recover and I’d always be sore, not ideal for gains and enjoyment, so now I push myself and challenge myself but I also prioritize rest and recovery as its equally as important. I also go for daily walks, I love being outside so whenever I can I’m hiking, biking or walking around the beach or in nature. I try to take 2 days off weight training or strenuous training to let my body recover and on these rest days I take things easy but sometimes I’ll do a light walk or have a more active rest day doing things around the house or being outside in a fun way! Ultimately the way I train now is for myself, I train the ways I enjoy that I know are efficient and still getting me closer to my personal goals. I love incorporating compound movements, and also more precise movements that sometimes focus on stability or core strength or agility, I like trying new things and like to challenge myself! I don’t dread workouts anymore because I genuinely see them as a privilege, it’s a blessing to be able to move your body exactly how you want to, not everyone has this opportunity, and this current injury I have with not being able to work out has changed my perspective forever now, I will never again take for granted being able to move or jump or run or picking up a weight, it’s not something to dread or hate, it’s a gift to move your body and exert energy!

Nutritional Plan:
I don’t follow any diets or nutritional protocols, I focus on full-body nourishment, balanced meals and eating enough each day. Coming from a background of dieting and always starving myself, this took me a while to get here. It wasn’t always easy to just eat upon waking, or eat when I am hungry, those were foreign concepts at one point in my life. I had to reteach myself how to listen to hunger cues and not intentionally deprive myself of a smaller body. Now my main focuses when it comes to my eating habits include eating upon waking, eating every 2-4 hours thereafter, always making meals and snacks balanced with protein, carbs and fats, honouring cravings and not feeling guilty when I have something out of the ordinary, doing my best to cook homemade meals MOST of the time but also enjoying a meal out when I want one or when I’m with good company. I prioritize sleep and manage stress in healthy ways to keep my hormones as balanced as possible. Although I’m still working at this as I was dieting for YEARS and surely did a bit of damage, I am focused on healing these internal systems. I don’t drink often, but now and then I’ll enjoy a glass or two of red wine and or cocktail and once again I just enjoy it and move on, I don’t restrict or under-eat, I eat the foods I genuinely enjoy and focus more on pro metabolic foods that give me tons of nutrients and satisfaction in my daily eating. No more low carb or no sugar anything, I just eat real food and it does me good.

Supplement Plan:
Currently, I don’t take many supplements, as I get enough nutrients through my usual eating. For the basics, I do take a multivitamin, Vitamin C and Vitamin D daily, and I do usually incorporate a scoop of protein most days just to help with overall protein intake, otherwise, when I do work out I enjoy sipping on a pre-workout or intra workout!

Do you prefer to take and recommend all natural (no sugar, no artificial colors/flavors/sweeteners) supplements or supplements with artificial flavors and sweeteners? And Why?
I don’t prescribe or believe in cutting out sugar, I don’t believe in ‘no sugar’ diets, as sugar is our bodies preferred source of energy. Of course, the quality of foods we eat make a difference but in general terms, the average person doesn’t need to be cutting out things or afraid to eat certain foods. Of course, I do believe in minimizing your intake of anything artificial like additives and preservatives in certain foods, but everything in moderation doesn’t hurt you or hinder you. If anything, obsessing over restricting foods is more harmful and stressful than actually just eating what you want to eat in moderation now and then, in the grand scheme of an overall nutrient-dense diet that provides the body with what it needs, enjoying a meal out or having the cookie you want is not going to do anything negatively, that is part of life and I teach my clients how to enjoy all foods so they can ditch the diet culture mentality and no longer fear foods or have all these labels around food! Typically when we restrict or cut out foods we genuinely enjoy, we get more obsessed about them and that is often when we start to binge on these foods. This is a hard cycle to get out of once you’re in it, when you restrict so hard and say ‘no’ to things you’ve ‘put off limits’ it can feel extremely hard to stop eating those foods once they’re in front of you (like eating until your stomach hurts etc because you’ve restricted so hard), that is where most people lose all control over the weekends for example because they restrict Monday-Friday and then go crazy on the weekends. When you incorporate ALL foods and have an overall balanced way of eating, the binging and food obsession can usually be eliminated!

Please describe the importance of mental health?
In the last year, I have learnt more about mental health than I ever have. For most of my life my identity and (perceived) happiness were centred around my body and appearance and working out, I thought as long as I had control over my external appearance I would be happy and fulfilled. But this is not the case and is far from the truth. It wasn’t until this past summer I suffered from a very sudden injury leaving me unable to work out and even move the way I wanted to. I either tore an oblique or have a sports hernia, I still don’t know, but regardless it put all my physical activity and being outside to a halt, I couldn’t go for walks, I couldn’t bike to my destinations anymore, I couldn’t go to the gym to let out my energy and mentally destress. So I became very aware of my mental health, over the first few weeks of this injury I was growing more and more frustrated and was really suffering, I cried a lot and I felt hopeless and like I might never move the way I want to again. Injuries can feel so heavy. It can feel very lonely and scary going through an injury, especially when moving and working out is your identity, I felt so lost and like I didn’t even know who I was. Then I started to realize I had to do something about my mental health, I needed to reach out for help because although I can usually get myself out of my own head most of the time and keep a positive attitude, this was like nothing I have ever gone through, I knew I needed to reach out for help and see a therapist, because also how could I help my own clients if I couldn’t even handle my own life struggles. I can’t do my job to its full extent and help others if I myself am struggling. I stayed very open about this whole journey the entire time on my Instagram because I know how many people struggle with mental issues on many different levels, it’s something that is still stigmatized and most are afraid to talk about it or open up and ask for help, it’s not easy but it should be a normalized thing that everyone works on themselves from the inside, I think mental health is just as important if not more crucial to prioritize because it’s from within that we cultivate our own happiness and idea of what we want our life to look and feel like. I think everyone would benefit from having a therapist or talking things out. We all struggle and you never need to go through anything alone!

Take us through a typical day in life for you?
A typical day in the life for me has changed a lot due to my injury, in what ill call my ‘normal’ typical day, I would have woken up around 7 am, I express a bit of gratitude before I get up from bed, sometimes I’ll just do some breathing and stretching before I get up then once I’m up I make my bed, wash my face, take my vitamins, all those fun things, and from there I usually start to make breakfast right away. I always eat breakfast upon waking because I’m focused on nourishing my body and upon waking it needs that fuel! This is something I had to relearn, I’ve learned how important this is and how much more energized I feel when I eat breakfast. It helps keep my hormones and metabolism strong and healthy! While breakfast is cooking I’ll sometimes squeeze in a little stretch in my living room or put some music on to start my day off on a positive note. I definitely used to be the type to first thing hop on social media, but I notice such a huge positive difference in my mood and mindset when I don’t spend time on my phone right away. Once I’ve eaten, I’ll usually then hop on social media to post or connect a bit with my community. As I said, in a normal situation from here I would be biking to the gym to get in a good weight training session. I love training in the morning or early afternoon because it sets the tone for my day and this has just always been my favourite time of day to workout and move! However these days I usually get on my laptop and start to work on my business, reaching out to clients, finalizing programs etc, and maybe write in my guided journal to start my day off right. Now that I can get outside a bit, I’ll usually try to get in an afternoon walk for some fresh air, fresh air is like therapy for me and always regrounds me, I love my time outside and can’t wait to get back to biking around! I’ll usually then have a snack or some lunch, do a bit more work and maybe do a bit of reading. From here I am usually creating content or again posting things onto my Instagram page / engaging with my followers! I love to share things like meal ideas, what I’m up to in the day, little tips for mindset or movement etc, and sometimes it’s just funny life things I like to share. In the evenings this is my me time, I’ll either have a hot bath with some music, maybe I’ll get a bit more fresh air and head to the ocean with a friend, or maybe I’ll put on some Netflix. I have learned to enjoy some alone time and really have started to appreciate discovering myself and getting to know myself better. I love the support system of my girlfriends and hanging out with them but I’m also embracing now not trying to always be distracted or busy, and embrace the nights I spend alone either with a glass of wine, reading, feeling inspired and writing content or just relaxing! I have worked hard to be more present in my daily life, taking time to appreciate the little things and I’ve gotten so much better at going with the flow and just enjoying the present moment, so each day I do my best to find something to be grateful for even when it feels hard and it has changed my perspective so much! Most days, I finish my evening off with my homemade cookies, they are to die for they are so good! I have them most nights, and they are one of my clients’ favourite recipes too, the perfect sweet treat before bed, made with all nutrient-dense ingredients!

What separates Status from other fitness magazines?
Status Fitness Magazine has always been a dream of mine to be featured in. I appreciate the inclusivity they strive for and all the different components of health and fitness they speak towards. I first discovered this magazine at one of the expos I attended a few years back and I think it’s so great they give people a chance to inspire others in their fitness journeys and provide quality information that so many people of all fitness levels can benefit from! It’s an honour to be part of this!

If you could ask Status Fitness Magazine Editor in Chief Rodney Jang any industry question, what would that be?
The one question I would ask the editor in Chief would be, as the times change within our society in terms of certain movements and new outlooks like body positivity, mental health awareness and the insane pressure our society places on us (both men and women) to look a certain way or uphold a certain physical standard, do you plan to diversify your magazine or social media content and do what you can as a big sports magazine to normalize all these important aspects of what the world really looks like, in terms of people of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, genders and so on? I think if more large companies continued to have a diverse representation of what it means to be healthy and confident because there is no one size fits all for health, we could slowly help the younger generation and all those affected by body image issues in a way that when you look in a magazine, you could see someone who looks like you, not just perfectly edited models.

Status Fitness Magazine runs model searches across North America including the largest one at the Arnold Classic for the Status cover.  As part of the Status family, you will receive a special participation invite. How excited are you for this opportunity?
I didn’t know about this special invite but I am very excited about this and love to travel and experience new opportunities in the fitness and health industry! I think it is so beneficial to meet new people and adopt new outlooks from new experiences, it’s what keeps us growing and learning constantly!

Describe your coaches and the impact they have on you?
Currently, I coach myself and have for the last couple of years, but of course, the truth is that my previous coaches over the beginning of my fitness journey had a huge impact on who and where I am today. I had 2 really great mentors when I was first starting out. Initially, I had a personal trainer who I hired from the YMCA to help me with form and to really take my workouts to the next level, Chantal taught me so much and really instilled in me that being strong is empowering, she taught me a lot of amazing things about pushing myself and going past my comfort zone. I will always remember all that she taught me about working out and loving the gym in those early years! More recently, my bikini competition coach, Dre, has shaped me in so many ways. She was a good friend as well as a coach and the way she showed up for me in many ways is something I will never forget, she saw something in me from my first show onwards and I still don’t know what it was or why she had a gut feeling about me, but I will always be so grateful that she took me under her wing (as a pro-WBFF competitor herself) and taught me so much about the bodybuilding world and fitness industry, and is also the one who encouraged me to start documenting my journey on Instagram, that is what helped me really share my voice and journey with others and eventually inspired me to become a coach myself. She inspired me to want more out of my life and strive to do the hard things! Thanks, Dre!

Can you share with us your goals for fitness and life?
My goals in fitness and in life are big, I have always dreamt big and I don’t plan on aiming small anytime soon. I genuinely love pushing myself and seeing what I am capable of. I have always been one to strive for more, and always try to better myself both mentally and physically. In terms of fitness, my goals have always been to continue to grow and transform my physique, I genuinely love seeing what my body can do and I love building muscle and shape of my own, as well as getting stronger, it is so fun! Right now my main goal is to get back to regular training and heal from this injury. I think beyond that, I am excited for where life may take me. I of course want to continue to grow my coaching business, I want to learn more about nourishment and hormones so that I have continuous new knowledge that I can evolve and grow from, and I hope to continue down the path of my own nourishment and healing from the inside out. I have always thrown the idea around that perhaps one day in a few years when I have more muscle mass and want a bit of a push, I would love to do a WBFF show, or perhaps I would love to dip into a race of some kind either a strength-based type race or an obstacle course type fitness race. I think those would be fun to train for as it would push me in new ways and I could focus more on my athleticism and not just how I look. I’m not sure where I’m headed fully, and that’s part of the fun I think, but I know I will continue to go big. Other areas I would love to explore would be surfing more, and trying new things I’ve never done like skiing or snowboarding.

My life goals, this is a big one and I think I have many that interest me and keep me going. I would say my main life goals are to continue to grow from within and expand my internal mindset, this is huge for me because I know that our perspective and the way we view our lives and new experiences can make all the difference. I want to continue to grow my business to the point I can help more women from all over the world discover how to nourish their bodies and do my part in eliminating diet culture methods and restrictive eating programs out there. I want to travel the world, and be able to work as I travel. I would love to live somewhere across seas for a few months, meet new people and just continue to make the most out of my life. I think my goal is to just truly be happy, and not get caught up in materialistic things or stress about money, wouldn’t we all love that. I want to never stop believing in myself, and I want to help other women discover their potential and see that they too can live their best lives on their own terms.

5 things people don’t know about you?

  • I played the piano from the ages of 5-18. I was really good too, I did write and did practical exams, I was able to play big concertos and I practised daily. I played in many rehearsals/concerts and it was something I really enjoyed. I lost interest around the age of 18 because I just became one of those teenagers who didn’t wanna play the piano anymore, unfortunately, but I recently got an electric piano from my parents last Christmas and so I plan to reteach myself and learn how to play again. I have a few Elton John books and I know I’ll enjoy doing that again!
  • I am extremely fascinated with the sky, everything about it, the stars, the planets and the moon that shine at night, I find things like astrology and the way universes align etc to be so interesting. I just recently started to become more interested in it, researching a bit about the sun, moon and rising signs, and a bit about how our energies affect how we engage with others. I will always be the one looking up at the stars at night if I’m outside, my favourite thing is to go to the beach at night, listen to the waves and watch the stars! I once saw the strawberry moon rise up from the ocean and it was probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.
  • I LOVE to travel and experience new places, go on adventures and explore new cultures. This might not be much of a surprise, but I’m a huge travel fan. I haven’t been able to do much recently of course with the state of the world, but I plan to see a lot more of the world like all over Europe is my first stop and plan to spend a few months there in the next year, my other bucket list places are Australia, more of tropical Islands that I love like Barbados and hopefully travel back to Hawaii, my favourite place in the world so far that I’ve travelled to! Living on an island right now is a dream come true, the amount of nature that is right at my back door, between the oceans, hikes, other small islands, mountain tops etc I am in heaven!
  • I am super goofy and love to make people around me laugh. I am usually the friend cracking jokes or being incredibly sarcastic, it’s always fun connecting with people who also love humour and can go along with the random things I say sometimes. I just love having fun, laughing and not taking anything too seriously. I will usually always try to see the funny or good in any situation, no matter how stressful it might be, when you can make light of something and poke fun at yourself, nothing can really affect you, especially if at the end of the day it’s not something that really matters all that much!
  • I LOVE rollerblading. Especially when I can go for a blade down by the coast, it is one of my favourite things to do in the world. I love being outside in general, but for some reason when I put my headphones in and just start to go on my blade it is the funniest thing ever and I could do it all day if I didn’t get sore, it’s such a feel-good activity!!

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned in life and in my fitness journey thus far is that good things take time and that the journey is the best part. We are all so caught up with instant gratification, and results ‘now’ that we often rush things or wish time away. The beauty in the journey whether that be the journey of life or the journey you’re on in your fitness, IS the struggles and failures and learning from those things and constantly evolving and growing. I used to always be so caught up in where I wanted to be, and where I’m trying to go that I would fail to realize just how far I’ve come in each part of my journey. This phase or part you’re in now used to be where you wanted to be, so we must take the time to appreciate the journey itself, the things we get to learn and experience and figure out for ourselves along the way in trying to get to where we want to go. I have also learned that good things don’t happen overnight, and again this goes hand in hand with enjoying the journey and the process because when you learn to embrace the journey you are on you’ll realize that any quick fix isn’t actually gratifying or as fulfilling as putting in the work and knowing YOU did that, you weren’t just handed it. Putting in the work, knowing you’re not going to quit and knowing that your effort WILL force you to evolve is an amazing feeling. When I first started out working out, I always wished for more muscle and more knowledge and I just wanted it NOW, like at 20 years old I thought I should just know all these things and have all this knowledge and all this muscle, but no, these things take TIME and that is the best part, learning to be patient and learning that your efforts do make a difference over TIME is empowering, and knowing you can constantly push yourself and evolve within your journey is the best part in my opinion. This is the same for women who want to build muscle and shape, it will take time, and when you stop just wanting instant results and taking those shortcuts, and truly focusing on the big picture of what you’ll get out of putting in the work to grow in a healthy way both physically and mentally, that is when you will feel fulfilled and like you have found your purpose, whether that be in your career, your fitness journey, your life goals etc!

5 most important attributes you see in a person?
The most important attributes I see in someone is their ability to be authentically themselves and genuine, someone who is sure of themself and voices their truth is a quality I think everyone should learn how to possess.  It can be hard to find your own confidence, I know this well, but when you work on yourself from the inside out it’s empowering to know who you are, what your values are and being able to voice those no matter what is huge.

Kindness and empathy is another important one when you can care for others and take yourself out of the equation if need be and be kind to those around you, that is an important quality that all humans should possess, if we could all see things from each others perspective and be understanding of one another regardless of our backgrounds or beliefs, we’d be creating strong communities out of love and understanding.

Passion and drive is another huge one, regardless of what you’re passionate about, it’s inspiring to see others go after what they want and believe in themselves!

Another attribute that is important is just a zest for life and not taking yourself too seriously, I love people who can have fun and make the most of each moment we are given, whether it’s a new experience or just appreciating the moment in front of you, having fun and being able to have a good sense of humour is the best part of life, we aren’t just meant to be serious and focused all the time!

Finally, I would say trustworthiness is important. Having solid relationships with people is determined by their ability to prove that they are trustworthy and reliant, whatever that means to you and your relationship with that person, and once again this goes hand in hand with being authentic, someone who is always lying or faking who they are is not someone I want in my life. I respect people who are honest, straight forward and don’t lie to get somewhere in life! Be unapologetically and authentically you!

If you could inspire one person, who would that be? And why?
If I could inspire one person, it would be the woman who is burnt out, tired of starving her body and afraid to eat more. I want to teach all women that this is not the way, but my messaging and mission really is to change the world of health and fitness one woman at a time. I know what it’s like to feel trapped in a diet culture mindset, or stuck in a binge and restrict cycle, or constantly afraid to eat foods you love or feeling guilty for going out and enjoying a meal. These are all things that no one should have to experience or go through, nourishment and a healthy lifestyle should be a human right, and I think the system fails us a lot in this way, and I know so many women are still struggling with this. We aren’t taught what’s actually good for us and what will contribute to a healthy body and mind from school or any establishments, I truly believe it should be in school curriculums from kindergarten onwards, things like how to grocery shop for nutrient-dense foods, how to nourish your body every day, how to cook healthy meals, how to manage stress and have quality sleeps, how to feel confident and happy from within and how to fuel your body not deprive it to look a certain way. So if I can inspire one woman to ditch the diets, give her the knowledge to do so, to start nourishing her body and teach her how to love her body from the inside out, I am happy with that. I wish I had had more messaging around these things when I first started out in my journey, and I think it’s partly my duty now to share this knowledge and give women the confidence and self-empowerment to take back their power and focus on their internal health and happiness from within so they don’t waste more time and precious energy trying to shrink themselves.

Who inspires you? And why?
The people who inspire me are my parents, they both have worked hard in their life and have been my biggest fans since day one, always telling me to chase my dreams and believe in myself, I’m extremely lucky to have both of them. Especially, my mom, she has always inspired me to be a strong, independent and empowered woman. Other women that have inspired me throughout my journey are Glennon Doyle, Hattie Boydle, Mik Zazon, Gabby Male, Molly Galbraith and Katie Willcox. All of these women have trailblazed their own paths, and many of them show the real side of being a woman and embracing your body and self for all that you are through their social media, it’s refreshing and we need more of it. They are real, raw and authentic and they are inspiring in the ways they promote a healthy strong body that you love, over trying to fit into diet culture standards. Women that inspire me are those that go against the grain, that don’t care what others think and those that are promoting self-love overlooking for external validation. More of that vibe, please!

What is your number one tip for people on their fitness journey?
My number one tip for those on their fitness journey is to slow down, enjoy the process and make it a lifestyle. Stop looking for a quick fix, stop looking for the most extreme way to do things. Don’t buy into the diet culture tricks that make you feel ashamed and guilty for embracing your body for all it does for you and enjoying all foods. Filter out what you read or see on Instagram / social media, this is a huge one. If you follow people who make you feel lesser than, or bad about yourself, or like you need to start a diet, unfollow those people.  Follow people who inspire you in a positive way, who give you the confidence and verbiage to be exactly who you are and not feel you need to change a single thing about yourself, and those who give you quality knowledge about nourishing your body and moving in ways you enjoy. Take the long term approach, focus on healthy hormones, metabolism and internal health, and the physical results will follow. When you stop being obsessed with the scale or with only your external body appearance, you give yourself the chance to find true inner happiness and you’ll see then that a certain body will never give you that. TRUE happiness starts within. You are more than your body, and while having physical and aesthetic goals are great, try to also accompany them with mindset or strength goals so you’re growing in all aspects of your life. This gives you a better understanding of who you truly are, and you won’t need to chase that external validation or fill a void, because you will see you are whole on your own as you are. I know those are a lot of tips, but in the grand scheme of things when you focus on long term, sustainable and healthy approaches you are going to THRIVE instead of being on the brink of barely surviving!

What does success look like for you?
Success for me looks like being happy and fulfilled in whatever I’m doing in life. Success can be measured in so many ways, and I think it’s important to remember that what makes one person feel fulfilled and like they’ve achieved great things, is not going to be the exact same for everyone. My definition of success is being able to confidently speak my truth, being my authentic self every day, showing up for those in my life who need me and also showing up for myself on a daily basis, ensuring that my personal needs are fulfilled and I’m setting boundaries when needed to protect my energy. I want to live each day to the fullest, not take anything for granted and be truly happy from the inside out by doing things I’m passionate about, not just pretending to be happy on the outside. That to me is a success, and I know for many success is measured by money or material things or the number of followers, but none of that matters to me if I’m not genuinely happy with who I am and what I’m contributing to this world. True happiness and for me, my idea of success starts within and only I can dictate that for myself.

What is your favourite quote to live by?
My favourite quote (right now, as I have many) is :

“When a woman finally learns that pleasing the world is impossible, she becomes free to learn how to please herself.” -Glennon Doyle

Connect with Marisa: IG | Website

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I am a content and talent manager of Status Fitness Magazine. If you are looking to share your story or get featured in Status, contact me.

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