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I AM ALFA because I have the best intentions for myself and others. I accept failure and I live with no regrets. I embrace my journey and don’t allow myself to be crippled by the past. I am constantly learning, growing and trying new things.

Photography: ALI SOHRAB

Hair and Make up: SHANNON PAYNE

Colour and Tape Extensions: TIFFANY PEREZ

Growing up I was always obsessed with sports, fitness and beauty. I was born in Toronto, Canada, family of 4 girls, no boys, July 1971. I grew up Italian with a father who was very strict and had many stipulations and rules for his girls. We were told that we were only able to be housewives like my mother. Typical male thinking back in the 1980s. Little did he know that the world would evolve, and Feminism as we know it today would empower so many strong and lively people. When I was 16 years old, I decided to join after-school sports and modelling school. My father definitely did not approve, and I eventually had to leave everything behind.

Fast forward to 1996, I met my future husband, Jerry and married in 1998. In 1999, the year I was pregnant with our daughter, my mother was diagnosed with an illness called Spinal Cerebellum Ataxia Type 1. At that time, we saw a neurologist who told us that there is no medicine. The ultimate way to keep the illness at bay or slow it down, just a little, was to incorporate fitness! Saying this to my mother was hopeless. She landed in a wheelchair at the age of 55 and chose to give up on life at 66. The unfortunate part to this illness is that it is genetic. My aunts, uncles and a few cousins carry this illness as well. Most of them have chosen to just live life and whatever happens will happen. Thankfully, one aunt chose differently. She is exercising almost every day and today, she is 73 with only a walker!! She is my goal and inspiration.

My mother will always be my ROCK! My aunt is my HOPE!

Therefore, I guess my journey to health and fitness started when I was diagnosed with the same illness, Spinal Cerebellum Ataxia Type 1, two years ago. To simplify this illness, it is quite similar to Multiple Scoliosis and ALS. There are so many illnesses in this world that carry unknown cures, but one can take on illness with positivity and acceptance or negativity and denial. I chose to live to the best of what I could be and do for my life! OPTIMISTIC AND HOPEFUL! Today, I belong to an incredible gym, Orange Theory Fitness and exercise 1-2 hours daily, 3 times a week. I feel strong and alive! I plan on living this life with happiness, love, fitness and health!

I AM ALFA BECAUSE my husband and kids motivate me every day to be confident, balanced, accept criticism and not be intimidated by others. I am smart, and work tirelessly to overcome my illness. I have the best intentions for myself and others. I accept failure and I live with no regrets. I embrace my journey and don’t allow myself to be crippled by the past. I am constantly learning, growing and trying new things.

What are the most rewarding things that Fitness has brought you? Fitness has brought to me a place where I can go to forget all my daily stresses. It has given me hope for my future as a wife and mom, even knowing that there is no cure for my illness. Fitness gives me my freedom to be who I need to be and where I am the most strong and able.

When was the most ALFA moment in your life, and why? I guess the most alfa moment was when I found out about my illness 2 years ago and I decided to take fitness to another level in my life. Without fitness I would be in a wheelchair today.

How Has Covid-19 impacted your daily life? During this time, Covid-19 has taken the better of me and I can honestly say, for many of us to. We have all done our best to stay active while self-isolating, but our overall fitness may not be what it was before Covid-19 locked us out of our gyms and inside our homes. Whether we are heading back to our gyms or just sticking to our at-home fitness routine, it’s time to shake off the last few months and get our blood pumping again! Let’s get back in the groove.

If you had to choose any positive thing about isolation, what would it be? I was told to be as active as I could be, even during this time of isolation and this is what I am doing every day. I know that at this time we do not have any cure for “my illness” but, I do know that I can try to beat this with FITNESS and eating a healthy diet. It gave us more quality family time.

How have you been maintaining your emotional, mental, and physical well-being while in isolation? I have been trying to stay positive during this lockdown period. I can’t say that things are easier now--just a new normal that we are all living with. It’s been difficult to go to the gym, so my husband found gym equipment to create our home gym. Your mind is very powerful, so keeping it in a positive state is where you can maintain your emotional, mental and physical well being.

How do you envision the social, business, and family life to be after the lockdown? We hope that this new normal ends but unfortunately I envision this lockdown as the norm for many years to come.

What would be your message to the world? There is no one magic pill that’s going to transform our bodies, or our health. Your pursuit of wellness requires a much bigger commitment and understanding! Know your self-worth and know that you are worthy of living the most amazing life you were given. We are not always given what we assume we want but we can make it the best that it can be for us! Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is unknown and today is our best day ever.

Please share up to 5 things people don’t know about you.

I enjoy eating mustard on almost everything

I’m really not a true blonde

My favorite flowers are white carnations

I shower before and after I go to workout

My nickname is MEMME (given to me by my sisters.)

Please name up to 5 ALFA people you know.

Jerry Nicolazzo

Rosie Nicolazzo

Angelo Nicolazzo

Pattie Ursua-Gagliardi

Angie Di Biase

What would be the ultimate tips you could share with everyone about LIFE? Life is precious and we only have one life to live. So take care of it and in return it will take care of you.

Make your health a priority.

Keep your goals in front of you. Make no excuses.

Have an attitude of gratitude.

What would be the ultimate tips you could share with everyone about Health? There are 5 Natural Remedies for MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS Nerve Pain in the Legs and Feet.

Warm compress or a warm bath, NOT HOT.

Massage can stimulate blood flow to relieve muscle pain.

Therapy can help physical stress, depression and anxiety.

Nutritional supplements. Such as Vitamin B, D, E and Zinc.

Dietary changes eliminating common culprits such as corn, dairy, gluten, soy and sugar.

Your top favourite quote

“You are going to be happy”, said life, “but first I’ll make you strong.” You never know what tomorrow will bring, so make today your best day ever.

Where people can find you?

Instagram: @FITINKED71

Facebook: Mary Nico

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