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Finding Balance in the Modern World
Two years ago, Remi Ishizuka was a french-fry-munching, workout-averse sort of gal.
"I was proud of the fact that I ate stuff like buttered popcorn and french fries all the time and never worked out," she says.
Her mom had gone to the gym every morning when Remi was growing up, and would drag her daughter along on weekends as she got older. "But I never wanted to go!" #TheStruggleIsReal
Then while scrolling through Instagram one day, she found Kayla Itsines, creator of the Bikini Body Guide.
"She was a major influence on me -- not the diet and exercise part so much, but the fact that fitness and health could really be a lifestyle. That got me and I picked up her guide."
Remi says that was 87 weeks ago and she's rarely missed one of her six-a-week workouts since. She's also become something of a fitness guru in her own right. A year and a half ago she began posting recipes and workouts to her blog early each morning before work as a personal assistant at an interior design firm. "I've always been more artistic than sporty," she says. "And I really liked thinking about what would work on the blog, and then shooting it and pulling it together. So I'd wake up at 6, work out, make my food, shoot it, and then go to work at 9."
Remi says it wasn't long before all she was thinking about was her blog and Instagram feed. "I would think about it at work all day: what can I create next? What will my breakfast bowl be tomorrow? My boss noticed I was sorta checked out, so he wasn't too surprised when I asked to go part-time."
To help herself learn Instagram, Remi started a feed for her pet bunny, Monkey. "I sort of practiced all these things I was reading about Instagram -- hashtagging and connecting with other people in a niche, even taking photos in general," she says. "I basically learned Instagram through Monkey, which I guess is kinda weird!"
A few months after that, with a growing online following, she went full-time as a fitness blogger and hasn't looked back. Today she spends her days "sweating," thinking up new recipes (overnight mason jar recipes like chia pudding or overnight oats are her faves), and connecting with people and brands she meets online. After working with brands like Lululemon, Aveeno, and Michelob Ultra, Remi is about to sign with Adidas for a year. But she stresses that for her the "fitness blogger" thing is more about mental health and finding a balance than looking cool. "I feel so much better, I have so much energy," she says. "That's what really hooked me in the early days, it's a very mental thing -- I just had so much more energy, could wake up earlier, and was more productive when I worked out in the morning."
And there's a body positivity slant as well. Remi stresses that it's not about having a "bikini bod," but rather about feeling strong physically and mentally. "For me specifically I've always been self-conscious about the fact that I don't really have boobs and I felt like I had no shape," she says. "But after building up strength and seeing my progress physically and mentally, I've changed perspective: It's not about the boobs or the shape, it's more about feeling strong and doing your best at being healthy."
To that end, and because brand ambassadorship can be a fickle mistress, Remi is now also taking courses at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. In a year she'll get her certificate as a health coach. "I did it because I live and breathe it every day so I wanted to learn more about it, delve into the nutrition side a little more," she says.
Eventually she hopes to coach other women to health, to help them "tap into what they already know they should be doing." In the meantime, she hopes to inspire other women by sharing her struggles as well as her triumphs and lifehacks. "If I don't feel like working out or I feel lazy, I admit that because that's normal," she says. "But in my head it's just not an option to skip a workout. I've done it 6 days a week for so long now that it's not an option not to. And if I don't do one, then I have to do two workouts the next day, which I don't really want to do."
Remi says keeping her workouts to 30 minutes helps. "I know I can always do 30 minutes!"
When she's not working out or prepping food in her kitchen, Remi is getting more and more into the creative side of her blog. She bought a "real, expensive" camera recently, learned how to use it, and now lugs it everywhere. No more iPhone snaps for her. "It's actually really heavy and bulky but I don't care, I'm obsessed and bring it everywhere."
In addition to her artistic side, Remi says most people don't know that she's a giant goof. "I don't really show that in my Instagram feed, so when people first meet me, they're like 'I thought you were so serious!'" she says. "I'm not, though, I'm just shy. After I get to know you a bit that layer of shyness goes away and I'm like a 12-year-old boy."
Maybe not so serious, but seriously motivating for thousands of women. Thanks, Remi, for giving us all the #goals.