I have always been health-conscious and pretty physically active, which I have my parents to thank for. I have vivid memories of my mom juicing fresh carrots in the morning and making my sister and I drink them with breakfast (I will forever hate carrot juice because of this). She would put vegetables, or a salad, in front of us before dinner, and I wouldn’t be allowed to touch my spaghetti (literally my favourite food until today) before finishing it.
Processed food, junk food, pop, were not a thing in our household.
And I am so grateful for it today.
My parents encouraged us to live active lifestyles, with bike rides and swimming on the weekends, hikes while on vacation. I was in dance classes and started at the gym at an early age. And living in Vancouver makes it impossible to not want to do hikes, water sports in the summer, or winter sports on the mountains.
I’m nowhere near being an expert, but I have been lucky to have so many great influences around me. I worked at a gym for two years, and was surrounded by advice from personal trainers, nutritionists and experts. I’ve had my own trainers, and my closest friends have been trainers themselves and bodybuilding competitors. (Which is insane, I admire so much the self-discipline and work you have to put into competitions!)
And I do a lot of research. Mainly watching YouTube videos on healthy diets and different workouts, which honestly made the whole process a lot more fun. If you ever see me in the gym, you’ll see me google-ing an exercise and watching videos when I have no idea what to do.
Besides all the encouragement, I personally just really care about being healthy and fit. And I think that’s the first step. You’ve probably heard something like this hundreds of times in your life, but you get one body and one life, so why not treat yourself with the most care and love you can? It’s hard to make any progress, or see and feel changes if you aren’t passionate about it in the first place!
After being passionate, being motivated and self-discipline come next. I don’t think you can make changes or progress, with anything really, if you don’t have those three. And it’s easier said than done!
That’s why I try to keep things fun. Working out with friends (especially ones who know what they’re doing) was one of the ways I make exercise into hanging out. I started taking dance lessons again, got back into hot yoga, and started circuit boxing. Being healthy, feeling amazing, and building the body you want doesn’t need to feel like work!
So I can’t say I follow a strict exercise routine, but I made it a goal to try to do something physically active every day. I try new things (keep up that muscle confusion!) I listen to my body too, and take days off when I feel it is needed. And coming up to the MWC week, I really did see changes in my physical health and fitness.
Diet & Nutrition
A huge component of those changes were changes in my diet. I already try to eat decently healthy, but before my prep I was probably eating McDonald’s, Tim Horton’s and A&W a few too many times a week (busy student life!) I don’t believe in crazy diets or going cold turkey, and I think diets and nutrition can be a hard subject to talk about because every person’s body is different.
I am already a picky eater, I don’t like avocados or seafood (the basic staples of a Vancouver diet), along with being lactose intolerant. I try to not eat pork for personal reasons, and really believe in plant-based diets. I do eat meat! But I love choosing meat-alternatives when I can, like soy, or veggie burgers, or eating at vegan restaurants.
I again, did a lot of research, being the Communication grad I am, and really saw people making a difference with their health, bodies and energy on Keto diets. It’s a lot to get into, but basically, Keto is a very low-carb diet, high protein and high fat. By removing the extra carbohydrates, your body starts burning fat for energy. I don’t follow a strict Keto diet, and I wouldn’t pass up pasta if it’s a special occasion, but I slowly began to restrict refined carbs to breakfast, and then eventually cut it out completely.
I don’t think it’s healthy to cut out any component of a balanced diet indefinitely, and I try to get enough carbs from vegetables and some fruit. I also cut out alcohol, besides a few special occasions, and I started drinking way more water. I started taking multi-vitamins and probiotics, and eating intuitively.
A month into my prep I already felt a huge difference. I had more energy, would wake up earlier, felt clear-minded, and felt lighter – not just in a weight sense.
These last two weeks leading up to MWC I added in intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting allows your body to burn fat by giving yourself long enough resting periods between eating periods. I am still eating the same amount of food, but choosing an 8 hour period when I eat, instead of just eating any time during the day!
It sounds like a lot, but they were really small adjustments I made over a long period of time. I feel so much healthier, that even after MWC I will probably continue to eat the same way, besides being more lenient about enjoying meals out and treats (it was really hard for me to give up muffins and pastries!)
The last, but I think most important, part of my health and fitness journey going into Miss World Canada was a change in mindset. Not that I was a negative person to begin with, but I decided I would make a conscious effort to think positively, be grateful, and have loving thoughts. I stop myself if I find myself being negative. I take time to stop and look at the sky and just be thankful, whether you’re thanking a higher being, the universe, or Mother Nature. Whether the sky is grey and rainy, or if it’s a summer sunset.
I find myself grateful for all my experiences, and even when life throws something crazy at me and I don’t think I can be more stressed out, or more behind, or more upset. I find myself being nicer to people and reaching out to do things for others or talking to people around me.
And this makes the biggest difference in the world! Life is so much more enjoyable with positivity and optimism, and I completely believe that like attracts like. Energy is so important, so begin with yours inwardly and you’ll see all the amazing things that come into your world!
Laying it all out here, my journey to Miss World Canada has already left me at a better place than I started out, and it really drove me to turn my motivations into action and self-discipline.