You guys! Today I’m so excited to share my friend Laura Yasinitsky’s story with you. She’s been a soul sis of mine for years (we connected over our shared passion for veganism) - she’s fun, fabulous, and just has a kind heart and shiny soul. But these last few months I’ve noticed something else about Laura—she seems really happy. Which makes me happy! And part of what’s been making her so happy (in addition to her adorbs boyfriend who clearly adores her) is getting super fit and having lots of fun with her exercise routine.
Here’s a photo she shared recently, showing how far she’s come in her fitness journey:
We share such a similar philosophy about keeping things in balance, never body shaming, and making your routine doable (and fun!!) that I just had to ask her some questions, and share those answers with you!
So here goes:
Me: So here's the thing: You look amazing these days, and a big part of that is your happy glow. Can you tell us what makes your fitness routine so fun for you?
Laura: Thank you so much! A big part of my happy glow is definitely my fitness routine, but more importantly, it’s taking that time each day that’s solely for myself, and that’s what my training sessions are. I’m daring to put myself first and take time for ME every single day. And of course I’m so lucky and grateful for my good health and an able body. It’s a privilege and a blessing to be able to do the workouts that I can; it’s so important to think of exercise as a way to honor your own body, to bask in self care, and as something we *get* to do. So often exercise is viewed as a punishment or something one *has* to do for whatever reason. I want to flip that thinking.
Me: Oh hell yes. Hell yes!! I could not agree more. Don’t you find that taking time for yourself also makes you less likely to want to “go to the dark place” with food? I’ve seen that over and over with clients, and in my own life too. There’s something about feeling depleted and giving too much to others (and not enough to yourself) that makes people eat crappy food, and too much of it. Whereas, taking precious me-time makes us more likely to exercise and eat in ways that are nourishing. What are your thoughts on this?
Laura: Oh absolutely! I’m a huge believer in the saying that you cannot pour from an empty cup. And for whatever reason taking care of yourself can seem so radical in our modern world, especially in American culture, but it’s exactly the thing that will keep you in a healthier place. Habits are built, and if you’re in the habit of prioritizing your own self and taking time for yourself, it becomes easier and easier, and ultimately essential. The tough place is when you’re not in that habit, and then it feels so outrageous and self indulgent to take a 2 hour bath or exercise for an hour in the morning instead of checking your email, but when we take that time, we can be our best selves.
Me: I remember a post you did a while back, saying how your body has changed. You were careful not to body-shame anyone for not being thin, but you also said you feel so much better now that you've got a healthy routine and have dropped some weight. What was the turning point for you?
Laura: Well, it means a lot to me that you feel I was able not to body-shame. It is so difficult to celebrate physical gains sometimes without feeling like I’m feeding into the “fat=bad/skinny=good” culture. For me, my body was at its largest size in January of 2017 and I had a physical with a doctor who expressed concern. I knew it was time to take better care of myself in so many ways. I was also on daily medication I knew I could get off of, and for whatever reason that doctor’s appointment got me inspired to try new things. That’s when I started integrating exercise into my life on a regular basis.
Me: What did you do to make changes? Was it just exercise or was it diet too?
Laura: At first it was only exercise. I started taking spin classes at a local gym and honestly I loved them and at the same time felt that I should be teaching them. Haha! I was like “I could make this way more fun.” The desire to get certified as a fitness instructor and to teach spin really drove me to train regularly and get my fitness to a level where I could be instructing. This year I dove into nutrition much more and have learned a lot. I started to worry that I wasn’t eating correctly to fuel all the training so I learned more about macros and basic nutrition stuff like that. I do feel that I wasn’t making healthier choices before because it simply wasn’t something I was being mindful about.
Me: What does your daily routine look like? Do you even have a daily routine? How much exercise do you get on a weekly basis, let's say?
Laura: I’m a morning workout gal, so I always have a calendar I’m following and know what workout I’ll do each day. I wake up, eat breakfast (DRINK COFFEE), then train. This doesn’t always work perfectly with every day of course, but the key for me is to have my calendar planned out so I can know when I’m doing what workout and plan my week to include that. Important to note that my personal training sessions are on average 30 minutes, and I train myself 4-6 sessions a week, depending on what program I’m following. So that’s about 2-3hrs a week I spend working out, which, when you put it that way, I mean, it’s really not that much!
Me: Wow, I love that! Totally doable. I’ve been loving putting my workouts on a calendar too—it really does help make it a priority! What does your diet look like? And by diet, I mean how do you eat? I'm not a fan of actual diets, because they suck and that sort of overly restrictive eating me an obese vegan for most of my 20s. What's your experience with that?
Laura: I very much do not ever want to be on a “diet.” But I want to fuel my body with good food to maximize my energy, my training, and to keep healthy! For me I try to get enough carbs and protein each day to more or less hit my macros, but at this stage it’s all very second nature for me. I do have a protein/superfood shake every day, I love Vega all-in-one and the vegan Shakeology from BeachBody.
Otherwise I pretty much just eat healthy. It’s not complicated! Lots of veggies and fresh fruit—and I eat potatoes, rice, oats, or pasta every day. Carbs are so important, especially if you’re active! This has been a big learning curve for me because whenever I wanted to lose weight or “go on a diet” before, I always eliminated all starches and carbohydrates, which of course works, but is miserable, and I could never maintain it and would end up over-binging them as a result.
Eating a balanced diet has been such a breakthrough for me! Another key point for me is to keep my treats treats, if that makes sense. So basically yes of course I eat candy, and cake, and pizza, but I eat those treats once in a while, not every day. So there’s that mindfulness again, that works well for me.
Me: Oh yes, I hear that!! It’s so important to feel satisfied, not deprived. I’ve seen this way too much, especially in my coaching work. When people feel deprived for too long, they invariably binge. Speaking of which, how do you manage the holidays? A lot of people fall off Santa's wagon and go on cookie binders.
Laura: This comes back again to balance for me. If you’re depriving yourself of all treats, then when treat time comes, you’ll make yourself sick. However, I think it’s so vital to enjoy your favorites and not be restricting yourself at holiday gatherings (or ever, really). Holiday meals are meant to be indulgent and we should enjoy them. One of my favorite sayings is: “Nothing you can eat will ever be as bad for you as negative self-talk.” So my stance is to please enjoy holiday foods and please do *not* beat yourself up for it. For me at the holidays I simply try to remind myself to drink water (I tend to forget this when I’m off my normal routine), eat a healthy breakfast, and then enjoy the day.
Me: Love it!! Oh, and here’s something I’m wondering: Are there types of exercise you hate? Personally, I can't stand elliptical machines. They make me want to pass out and fall over. Do you tend to focus on movement you love? Is that why I see you smiling all the time in your workouts?
Laura: Oh absolutely! However, there are many exercises I once loathed that now I enjoy. Pretty simply I have no desire to ever stand or sit on any stationary machine that has you do steady cardio in one position. I do love spinning, but it’s the class atmosphere I love, and the interval dimensions of the cardio, not the bike. If I’m going to walk or bike, I would rather do it outside, vs. alone in a gym bored out of my mind. Running, HIIT, and plyometrics, all used to be exercises I feared and hated but now that I’m stronger and more able, I enjoy them a lot. I never thought I’d like jumping exercises! As long as the movement is dynamic I’m pretty interested in trying it. But dancing is my favorite, so I keep dancing always, and that definitely keeps me smiling.
Me: Gah. Isn’t dancing just the best?! It makes you feel so good. OK so what are three pieces of advice you'd give to someone wanting to get in better shape, while still enjoying life?
1) Do it because you want to, not because you feel like you have to. Try to have a fun, life-enriching attitude towards the change instead of viewing it as a chore.
2) Try lots of different workouts! Don’t let anything intimidate you, be open minded and try new things. When you find a workout you love, keep doing that one! Then find another one you love and do that one too!
3) Take advantage of the gazillion personal trainers, fitness instructors, coaches, and nutrition advisors out there. Having a program to follow with guidance will be so much easier and more rewarding than just walking into a gym and wandering around wondering what to do with the equipment, or trying to follow a diet you learned about in some random article. There is so much good information and amazing professionals out there in this field, utilize them!
Me: What's your favorite healthy indulgence? Or maybe, five favorites? Because I have like twenty.
Laura: I’m obsessed with curry, and love how easy it is to have a huge healthy dinner that way. Basically I could eat it every day. I’m also super into overnight oats right now, and love all the different ways you can prepare them. Tomatoes, so ridiculously simple, I basically put sliced raw tomatoes on every plate, I love them so much. Dry roasted peanuts are my absolute favorite snack. And dill pickles!! Oh my kingdom for dill pickles they are hard to find in Ireland.
Me: I’m so sorry to hear that about the pickles. But I am totally doing your tomato slice thing! Love it. Who are your role models for fitness and health? Why do you heart them?
Laura: I’m extremely inspired by Kelsey Wells and her positive messaging, her training and program is superwoman badass and impressive (available in the Sweat app), but what I truly adore is her commitment to honoring the body and self and making exercise an act of self-love. Sarah Ramadan owns Fight for Growth, she’s an ED survivor, and she’s incredibly honest and real about her struggles and always shows how her training has helped her learn to love her body again. She’s an absolute inspiration and an amazing trainer.
Me: Wonderful. So, what keeps you inspired and on track?
Laura: I don’t think of it as “on track” so much as just doing my thing. For me, at this point in my life, I know what helps me be the best Laura I can be, and I’m gonna be doing that. Although I have to admit there are countless days I have to drag myself into my sports bra. Yet, every time I do it, I’m glad I did. I do know what’s best for me, even if it’s difficult to make those choices and take those actions some days. Luckily, the voice in my head that knows better simply must be louder!!
Me: Thanks so much for sharing with us today, Laura! If it’s possible to love you even more, I think that’s actually happened. Your answers were just wonderful, and so inspiring! Where can we see more of what you’re up to?
Laura: Oh please find me on social media, I have made so many amazing friends through those platforms! * Connect with me on Facebook HERE.
* Instagram: @LaraYaz
* And you can learn more about my journey with BeachBody HERE.
* To find out where to dance with me in my live classes go HERE.
Me: Thanks again for chatting, Laura! And to our readers, be sure to connect with her, and peep her fun fitness video inspiration via her Instagram page and stories! She’s got me motivated, and I know she can make you want to get up and dance too!!! : )