Over the next weeks, I am going to share with you insights from some of the most inspiring women I know that are heavily into health and fitness. These women have all figured out what works for them, their bodies, and have overcome mental and physical challenges. My hope is that you find someone you identify with, pick up on a helpful nugget of information and are overall inspired to be a healthier individual through their trials, failures, and successes.
I asked these ladies a series of questions with the main thought being “Basically I want to have something for women to read who are just starting out on their journeys from people who are ABOUT that health/fitness life. There are tons of misconceptions and an overwhelming amount of info for the beginner. Through your experience, I want to help them see what works/doesn’t work for others who have been successful at being/staying healthy.”
These are Maddie’s Responses:
Week 1: Maddie the Mostly Vegetarian Yogi
I’ve done a lot of research and from what seems to be the consensus is that the foods you eat have a direct correlation to your brain health. That means what you put in your gut has a big connection to your mental state. Switching over to organic food and cutting out processed food and refined sugar were the two biggest changes I made and then eating a diet based on whole foods. That alone made a huge difference for me while only enjoying dairy and gluten-based foods in moderation. I pair that method with a consistent and disciplined yoga practice which keeps me feeling mentally, emotionally and physically strong. So by eating better and making conscious food choices you begin to experience a shift in the mental state, and then the physical changes start to happen. I think we all appreciate the feeling of being fit. Fit is a loose term, bodies are built differently. The yoga has given my shape supple muscle toning through out my physical body while toning and massaging the internal organs in a way that I am strong but still have my natural and feminine physique. Overall by nourishing my body properly and getting on my yoga mat I have truly learned to love my body. I feel so solid in who I am now. One of the things that boost my self-confidence the most in terms of working out is toning my abdominal muscles and molding a strong core. When you feel solid there, you pretty much feel solid all around
What has your fitness journey taught you?
My journey with yoga has really shown me what is possible to achieve when you put the discipline in. I have a strong vinyasa style practice and I’ve learned the balance between pushing myself and finding time to rest and restore my body. On days like that I simply just focus on a more restorative practice and remind myself how important it is to slow down. When I make that decision I end up advancing even further in my practice in the long run. Learning to be happy where you are not focus so much on perfection. I’ve also learned that fitness isn’t the most important thing. Sorry, its the truth. If you live for that moment in your day and its genuinely a great outlet for you, then great, but it definitely makes me question my motives and ask deeper questions.
How your mindset has changed?
I’ve become more gentle with myself. I used to freak out if I wasn’t able to get a practice in. Eating right, resting, and enjoying little pleasures in life are just as important. Although I have a vision for myself, I allow each day I take and each opportunity on my mat to bring me closer to that vision, and to be honest, I’m okay with that being further down the road. In relation to health and food, I have developed very strong views. I am mostly vegetarian, very seldomly consume meat. If I do have any, its high quality, organic, hormone-free (etc. all the good things) and then I really learn to appreciate it. I have immersed myself in learning opportunities through workshops and documentaries, all which have expanded my mind. Like I said, switching to organic has been huge, but I understand not every one has the funds to eat that way, nor do they feel that strongly about it. I’m not gonna turn down one of my Mother’s delicious home cooked meals just because it isn’t made the exact way I would prefer. I remind myself I am human, and it is okay to loosen up a little bit.
Fad diets you’ve tried/thoughts on those:
I’ve never done a fad diet. I think it’s all bullshit. Just eat whole foods, learn moderation, understand sometimes you’ll slip. Think good thoughts about food, especially while you’re eating. Fad diets make you afraid of food, and create food guilt and overall it is such an unrealistic and ineffective approach to weight loss and improving your health. I enjoy an occasional cleanse, but the purpose for that has nothing to do with weight loss- it’s to clean my body out when I know it’s time. Drink a green juice, and enjoy your dark chocolate!
My secret? I am full of them. Listen to your body. It will tell you what it needs. I genuinely believe eating mostly vegetarian has been extremely beneficial for my body. My secret is that I’ve learned to understand my body. I know what foods make me feel inflamed or sick as do I know what foods make me feel great and give me energy rather than deplete it. I know when I need sleep. I know when my skin needs fresh air. I know the rhythm of my body. Simply, I am in-tune with myself and what my body is asking for. The more you listen, the clearer it becomes. Also- I never weigh myself. I think that is a destructive habit. But overall, learn to understand your body. Oh, & drink water. A lot of it. Lemon water, apple cider vinegar… etc. Sleep. Sleep often. We all know what we need to do objectively in order to be a happy and healthy human being- so do those things. One more thing I can add in, specifically for females, is to get your thyroid checked out. Make an effort to lower the cortisol levels- learning to manage my stress and keep my stress levels low has also been a huge break-through for me.
What is your favorite way to eat?
Two sustainable meals a day with a few snacks in between. I don’t practice yoga with food in my belly. I wake up, have coffee and water, and get on my yoga mat. My practice is much more fluid and light with an empty stomach, so I only eat after my practice. After my practice I tune into what my body wants. Ezkiel bread with organic peanut butter, or maybe an egg on top. A bowl of oatmeal with dried fruit. Etc. I’ll snack a little after that, sweet potato is one of my favorite things to eat with hummus, or maybe snack on some fruit or nuts. I’ll drink water, herbal teas, and kombucha all day, and then dinner I go all out. It’s always really well balanced. It’s got some protein, carbs, and fat. I love cooking so this is easy for me. I’ll cook some brown rice, throw an egg on top with a bunch of veggies, and throw a dollop of homemade vegan cheese on top. It varies, but mainly, I eat organic, whole foods. I always cook my vegetables, they are easier to digest. Although you could call me a foodie, I love going out to eat on the weekend, and I eat whatever I want during that moment!
What is your favorite way to workout?
Two hour vinyasa yoga practice is the most ideal. I did this every day while training in Cape Town and I absolutely loved it. A vinysasa class is movement linked with breath. It is structured like a bell-curve shape. You
warm up the body, move into the body of the practice reaching towards a peak posture, and then you wind down. It’s a total body toning practice, with a lot of stretching and focus. The class ends in savasana (corpse posture) and this is where I meditate.
Are there any health/fitness misconceptions that come to mind?
Carbs make you fat. This is bogus- just eat them more in moderation and you’ll be fine. Salt is bad for you… yes… table salt is toxic. But a high-quality sea salt or Himalayan sea salt is full of minerals and trace elements. I’m not afraid of salt as long as its high quality!
What you want people to know just starting out ?
I want you to know that before you even begin you need to make a choice to love yourself. You need to love who you are, learn to love your body, and let that exude out. Some days are going to be difficult- but battle that mind baby. Each day is another day. You’re gonna slip up, and learn to be perfectly okay with that.
What motivates you?
My first yoga teachers. I trained with three amazing teachers and their stories inspire me each and every day. It drives me to work towards my full potential.
What happens when you have an off day?
It just is. It is what it is. I allow myself to feel what I’m feeling and let the emotions pass. I don’t suppress them or take them out on other people, I just let them in, take the time I need, even if that means I need to be a little introverted. Sometimes I’ll write about it, or just take care of myself that day. There is nothing wrong with an off day. You are human.
How does mindset play a role in health?
Understanding that your mind is a tool that is meant to serve you, not control you. Being positive and having a sense of discipline is important, but only as long as you are happy in the process. Learn to let go of self-deprecating thoughts and negative thought patterns. And learn to understand your mind and what your true
Are there any supplements you take or recommend?
Kelp. Adaptogenic herbs. Occasional probiotic. Turmeric. That’s all I take. Kelp to give me the iodine I need to help control my thyroid. Adaptogenic herb to give me a sustainable form of energy as well as managing my cortisol and stress levels. And an occassional probiotic to introduce healthy gut flora into my body. And turmeric to keep inflammation down in my body. I don’t think you need more than that
Do you have any physical challenges/injuries?
This is tricky. I’m pretty much always on the verge of injury because of how strong of a practice I have. I tend to go at it pretty hard and end up with strained wrists and fore arms or a pulled muscle. Right now im recovering from an SI Joint being out of place which ultimately throws my sacrum out of place and then brings my right lumbar spine out of place as well. That’s when I see a chiropractor and rest. I’ve also got a pulled glute and hamstring muscle- this is about five weeks into recovery. I have to balance between stretching it out and building strength. It isn’t fun, but it is a reminder that it’s time to slow your practice down and stop pushing yourself. You will be better off in the long run if you learn when to back off.
What are your Goals?
I want to continue to advance in teacher trainings, one day own my own studio, and then teach teachers how to become yoga teachers. That’s the dream. Ideally would love to run it with someone else who has the same vision as me. But I want it to be more focused on the spiritual elements of yoga. That doesn’t mean we wont practice strong, but I want it to be a life-changing space for students to come and continue to study yoga and advance their practice.
The Number on the scale — do you care? Yes/no/why
No. The body fluctuates. Just let it go. I never weigh myself, I do not care about a number. I care about how I feel inside and the results I see. Weight has nothing to do with it unless in extreme conditions.
Views on fat/having extra fat:
Chances are everyone is going to fixate on something they don’t like about their body. I think this can become really obsessive. I have just learned to love my body, love my curves. In the grand scheme of things it’s such a small thing. If it bothers you that much then be accountable and work towards your goal, but be patient in the process. The body takes time to change and it doesn’t happen over night. But I promise you if you enjoy what you are doing, then you will notice the changes a lot sooner. Be okay with not being perfect. I’m okay with a little extra on me when it happens. I feel good about who I am inside and I’m not going to get down on myself or feel a lack of self-worth over something like that.
What’s your focus? Aesthetic, performance, wellness, balance
Asana. Asana means pose. I work to achieve pose. I work to achieve balance, strength, flexibility and focus while maintaining good alignment and foundation. Meditation is a big part of it too. Sometimes a whole class goes by and I don’t even remember who I am because I am so focused in the moment.
Have a business?
I am a teacher for Studio One Yoga in Downtown Stillwater and their second location which just opened up in Roseville, Minnesota. I teach five classes weekly, almost all upleveled vinyasa classes. I teach private yoga on the side. I will of course have my own studio one day, but right now I’m still learning and growing.
What did you pick up on from what Maddie had to say? Leave a comment and let us know!