I am my worst enemy. There I said it. Every time I stand in front of the mirror, I can name 10 things, within 10 seconds, that I would want to change. As a child, I would often visualize slicing my thighs to make them look skinnier or stand in front of a mirror and pinch my love handles that I didn’t find lovely at all.

Not surprisingly, my imperfections were visible only to me; others barely commented. Even though I have grown, over the course of time, to love and appreciate my healthy body, I am still a work in progress, a recovering perfectionist, as a friend once commented.

But I can see why now is the perfect reason and season for the recovering perfectionist to relapse. Now that the warm days are finally here, I hear people talking and online articles churning out advice on  ‘how to get the perfect summer body’; ones I quickly skim past.

But what eventually caught my eye in the overcrowded world of churnalism (journalism’s sully brother) was Stef J.

A fitness model checks her reflection in the mirror and takes a selfie.
“If you had to guess the time difference between these two photos what would you say?! My mom guessed six months. Truth be told, they’re 15 minutes apart.”

 

Authenticity is a word that gets thrown around A LOT. That’s why Stef has my utmost respect for being honest AF in a world where originality is often filtered and imperfections are edited and resized to look #instagood.

Stef is the founder of Toronto-based Passion For Fitt, a safe place for real people who want to pursue fitness the wholesome way, a place where imperfections are celebrated and holistic health goals encouraged.

Q1. As a child, were you bullied for being big?

I wouldn’t say that I was bullied by others, more so by myself. I was constantly worrying what other people thought of me and was constantly comparing myself to others. Who knows what people said behind my back, but thankfully nobody ever made comments about my size to my face. I was insecure about my body; I was an athlete but as soon as I stopped playing sports that hit me hard. My metabolism has never been fast so with lack of exercise my body couldn’t keep up with everything I was eating.

I just never felt I was good enough, which I feel is even worse than criticism from someone else.

I still haven’t fully overcome my negative thoughts, but I have made so much progress. One morning in 2015, I was looking through Instagram, probably at some “ideal model body” account and decided that enough was enough. That I was going to make a change, and while doing that I was going to learn to love and focus on myself, instead of everyone else.

A woman at a fast food place.
“I wouldn’t say that I was bullied by others, more so by myself — I was constantly worrying what other people thought of me.”

 

Q2. What was the most positive impact after you took fitness seriously and religiously?

I think the most positive impact I experienced was hearing from people, who were in the exact same situation as me and who were thanking me for sharing my story.

A huge part of what’s
holding 
people back from
fitness is being 
afraid to fail; I know I was.

I think it’s amazing to hear that you’re making a difference in another person’s life. Knowing that I have inspired someone is the motivation that helps me continue on my fitness journey.

Q3. What your five go-tos to staying disciplined? What are five foods or habits you stay miles away from?

  1. Drink plenty of water.
  2. Workout every day, even if it’s just for 10 minutes.
  3. Don’t feel guilty when indulging in a treat.
  4. If you slip up, don’t stress, just get right back again.
  5. Plan your meals and treats ahead of time.

I actually wouldn’t say that I stay away from any foods, I strongly believe that everything in moderation is okay. Habits I try to stay away from are binge eating and falling off track. I think the hardest thing for me is having a bad day of eating, and then getting up the next morning and “starting fresh”, especially around holidays and weekends. I used to be so bad at having a bad day and then just continuing with that bad eating until the next Monday. I’ve become more conscious of it and, now, I definitely try to stay away from feeling guilty and needing a Monday to start fresh.

Every day is a new start so you shouldn’t feel guilty for enjoying or treating yourself.

A woman demonstrates a yoga pose.
“The best compliment was someone telling me that I’ve inspired them to start eating healthier and working out after they had given up on themselves.”

Q4. What keeps you busy?

I am currently teaching Grade 9 Geography, covering for a teacher who is on maternity leave. I work out at least 6 times a week — sometimes 7 if I’ve had a stressful week or am having a bad day and need to let off some steam. The time I spend in the gym depends on what I’m doing — some days take longer than others, like legs I can spend 2 hours in the gym doing; whereas, with back and biceps, I can get in and out in about an hour if I don’t get distracted. I think the best compliment I’ve ever received is someone telling me that I’ve inspired them to start eating healthier and working out after they had given up on themselves because they thought it wasn’t possible for their body to change. Knowing that someone thought they were a lost cause and I could change their mindset and inspire them to make a change is one of the most rewarding things to ever hear.

Q5. What was the highlight of 2017 and game plan for 2018?

My highlight for 2017 was definitely all the traveling I did. I would say that 2017 was the year that I decided to finally live my life and do things for myself. I went to see friends I don’t get to see very often, I got to experience things I have never seen — I got to sit in the sun and just relax.

It was great to revaluate my goals and start living my life for myself.

This year I hope to do much of the same — work on myself, both physically and mentally and learn to love myself and be happy with the life I live.

A woman enjoying the sights in Toronto.

Author: AD

Born and raised in India, Anisha Dhiman moved to Toronto to study Publishing and then Lifestyle Media at Centennial College. Writer, social media strategist and content creator, Anisha is the founder of Five Question Series, where she profiles people… you guessed it, by asking five questions. In her free time, she enjoys reading and trolling people with puppy GIFs and memes. Her only phobia? Losing her sight, but staring at the screen all day long doesn’t help much.

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March 14, 2018

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