There are hundreds of fitness influencers on Instagram and YouTube, but few are as inspiring as Mari Llewellyn.
With 198k subscribers on YouTube and 1.6 million followers on Instagram, it’s safe to say that Mari Llewellyn is at the top of her game. What makes her so inspiring is that she started her platform and business (she owns the fitness app Slay and the supplement company Bloom Nutrition) from the ground up. She started her fitness journey weighing 250 pounds and has lost 90 pounds since.
How is Mari so successful? Here are five key takeaways from her journey that we can all apply to our lives to improve our mental and physical health.
Don’t Forget about Your Mental Health
In 2016, while she was still in college, Mari hit rock bottom. She weighed 250lbs and had been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and other mental health issues. BPD is “a mental health disorder that impacts the way you think and feel about yourself and others, causing problems functioning in everyday life. It includes self-image issues, difficulty managing emotions and behavior, and a pattern of unstable relationships.” Those with BPD tend to engage in reckless behavior and self-harm, and experts believe this manifests itself from childhood trauma. The side effects she experienced from her medication motivated her to start her nine month weight loss journey.
Mari believes there’s a strong correlation between mental health and physical health. This is important to remember because so many of us forget to focus on mental heath while trying to become physically healthy. Mari changed her mindset to focus on gratitude, and she redefined her limits. If you value both your mental and physical health equally, you’ll succeed with both.
Take the Time To Learn about Nutrition
Most of us have busy lives, which often means that we eat what’s convenient when it’s convenient. This leads to eating out often and eating tons of processed foods, completely ignoring our nutritional needs.
Shortly before Mari started her weight loss journey, her father bought her the book, Food As Medicine: How to Use Diet, Vitamins, Juices, and Herbs for a Healthier, Happier, and Longer Life by Dr. Dharma Singh Khalsa. After reading the book, Mari learned how to use her diet to help her cope with her BPD. She learned that a high sugar diet can be harmful to those with mood disorders and took her time to learn more about nutrition and what her body needed to feel nourished. She focuses on whole foods, healthy fats, and a high protein intake.
Learning about nutrition is important because even the best workout regimen won’t work if you’re not eating healthy.
Try Strength Training
Women are often turned off from strength training out of fear of looking bulky. Many women prefer to stick to cardio, and while cardio is important, strength training is what will help you develop lean muscle.
The truth is that women only have about 5-10% of the amount of testosterone that men have, and it’s this key hormone that leads to bigger, bulkier muscles. So it’s biologically unlikely, if not impossible, for women to naturally get bulky from strength training.
Mari often cites weight-lifting as some of her favorite workouts – she enjoys this form of exercise, and it makes her feel stronger. She strength-trains four days a week and does active rest the other three days. Adding weights to your workout routine will only make you healthier and stronger, and Mari is living proof of it.
Go at Your Own Pace
Mari lost 70 pounds over nine months, which she only achieved because she did it at her own pace. In a recent interview on The Skinny Confidential podcast, she discussed how she started working out gradually. She began by taking her dog on extra walks before she turned to going to the gym a few times a week. She emphasized the importance of showing up at the gym even if it was only to walk on the treadmill, saying she was intimidated at the beginning and that getting there was half the battle.
Something to keep in mind: if you go too hard at the beginning of your fitness journey, you’ll probably burn yourself out. Everyone is different, and it might take some time to find your pace and the workouts that you’re comfortable with.
Remember That Fitness and Nutrition Are Personal
One of the many reasons why Mari is successful is because she enjoys working out and eating healthy. If you view working out and eating healthy as a chore, then you won’t enjoy it, and you’re more likely to quit. She dislikes group fitness classes because she finds the process so personal and her alone time very therapeutic. This goes to show how important it is to remember that fitness and nutrition are not a one-size-fits-all journey. What works for you won’t necessarily work for the next girl, and the only way to succeed is through trial and error in your own life.
There are many takeaways from Mari’s inspiring journey, and many of them can be easily applied to your own life starting today. If you’re considering beginning your own fitness journey or just want to get into a healthier headspace, be sure to keep these tips in mind to help you become your best self.
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