A:Interestingly I have four nationalities. I was born in New York, lived in Africa for 10 years and have a Dutch mother with a Lebanese father. This means I have four passports: American, Ghanaian, Dutch and Lebanese! The advantage is I hardly ever need a visa whenever I travel.
Q:Describe growing up in these cultural backgrounds...
A:These cultures are quite different and I have picked up a bit of each. I love socializing and going out like the Lebanese do, but mentally I am more like the Dutch. I am extremely liberal, nonjudgmental and carefree. Whenever I am asked where I come from, I have extreme difficulty answering because I can never give a direct answer. I’m not fully Dutch, but I’m not fully Lebanese either. I have been positively influenced by both cultures and believe both have brought out the best in me.
Q:What's the key to gym motivation?
A:I really believe the first step is to want it bad enough. You need to want to see results and build the best body you’ve ever had. This inner desire is the driving force that will keep you working hard until you’ve reached your goals.
The next step is to never compare yourself to others along your journey. It is very easy to look around and feel very demotivated if you see someone stronger, fitter or leaner than yourself. See fitness as a challenge against yourself and nobody else. Work harder each day and recognize that any progress, no matter how slow, means you are moving closer towards your goal. I always recognize that it will never be easy. Training and dieting is going to require time, effort and dedication. The closer you get to your goal, the harder it becomes. I always tell myself that anything worth having will never come easy.
Finally, I always think about the results and how good I will feel once I have achieved my goal. There is nothing better than looking back and seeing that did your best and worked the hardest you possibly could. I also never stop setting goals. Once I achieve one goal, I quickly start working towards a new one. This is how you constantly keep yourself growing and improving
Q:Describe your workout routine and diet...
A:If I’m competing, my workout routine and diet are a lot stricter than usual. For this, I will eat low to moderate carbs with lots of veggies, lean protein and healthy fats. I am extremely rigid with my diet and measure every portion of food. Right before the competition, my carbs tend to drop slightly lower, however I never eliminate them completely out of my diet. I have cheat meals right up until a month before the competition and stop alcohol completely.
For training during competition prep, I tend to do much more cardio, sometimes up to five or six days a week. I usually my legs twice a week and isolate each muscle group. I focus on heavy weights with less repetitions.
During my offseason, my diet and training are a lot more flexible. I do not measure every portion of food and change my training program every six weeks. Being healthy is a life-style and I tend to eat clean up to 90% of the time. I have cheat meals up to twice a week during the offseason and drink alcohol no more than twice a month. For training, I do cardio no more than two or three times a week and alternate between heavy to moderate weight lifting. At the moment, I am doing a combination of super sets alternating between heavy and moderate weights.
Q:How did you get involved in fitness modeling?
A:I got into it when I started competing. I never really took care of my health or my body and decided to change after gaining a lot of weight. Once I reached my ideal weight, I stated looking into bikini competitions and taking things one step further. I didn’t just want to be in shape and wanted to take my fitness to the next level. Competing gives you a lot of exposure with the media and also boosts your portfolio as a fitness model. It is one thing to be a fitness professional and a whole other thing to practice what you preach and push to your best ever condition.
Q:Where have you been published?
A:I have been published all over the media where I live. I have been interviewed and appeared in newspapers, magazines, on TV and even on the radio. I was also lucky to appear on the cover of a magazine this summer. The media section on my website currently contains all of these publications
Q:Can you give us all of your social media handles?
My website: www.startlivingright.net
Interview done by Elliot Rivera for healtHaven.com