I AM ALFA because I choose to be the person who helps people live life on their terms. I have experienced various forms of physical and mental health issues, and I know what it is like to be overweight, underweight and a healthy weight.
Photography by: ALI SOHRAB
Hair and Make up By: Eleni Banakas
I am first born generation Canadian on Costa Rican maternal side. I feel blessed to be Canadian born in Victoria, British Columbia. The home environment(s) I grew up in were dysfunctional and highly challenging. At 14, I emancipated myself and started to live a life where I would have more opportunity such as finishing post-secondary education and obtaining a Bachelor of Commerce Degree in Entrepreneurial Management; a Master’s Certificate in Project Management; and a Diploma in International Business Administration, with honours. I absolutely love learning and am consistently reading, volunteering, attending self-development workshops, and courses. I feel passion for public speaking, facilitating and living and sharing about strategic life management and how I have personally benefitted.
Over the years I have experienced various forms of physical and mental health issues and I know what it is like to be overweight, underweight and a healthy weight. I also know what it is like to experience symptoms of anxiety, depression, and panic. Now I am a trained volunteer counsellor with Citizens Counselling Centre, a non-profit organization that has been operating for fifty years. I help people with their life issues such as stress and anxiety management, anger, situational depression, communication, self-esteem, assertiveness, and relationships.
I feel like I have experienced many facets of life that has helped me become empathetic and relatable towards others.
Every day I wake up, I stretch, take several deep breaths and feel blessed to start the day!
Are you a Trainer? If yes, what does it mean to you to train your clients? I am not a personal trainer; however, Allison Dawson, Founder of Encore Fitness and Sport is my Coach that has successfully helped me become a competing Natural Bikini Athlete with the Canadian Physical Alliance (CPA). I have competed in the West Coast Iron Show as well as Popeye’s Fall Classic, October 2019, where I placed second in Woman’s Bikini Masters.
I AM ALFA because I choose to be the person I needed growing up. Being of service to others and helping people live life on their terms is my life’s purpose.
For many years I thought working 100 hours per week as a Project Manager in Government was my super power. I was awarded with plastic, glass and wooden placks, as well as promotions; which only fed into my false identity of self. I really believed that I was ‘my job’ and that that position is what made me of value. After developing chronic migraines and body pains, I had to re-evaluate how I was living and do a major personal life edit. This was when my life transformation process started. I edited what I ate and drank, what activities I performed, how much I worked, what company I kept, and how my environment felt. This was not an easy process.
I had to stop using food as a coping drug and toxic friendships as a distraction to living a life and being the person I really am.
This included a lot of solitude and being uncomfortable feeling my actual feelings and processing them. I did this with the help of major self-care that included counselling, speaking with a mentor, yoga, colouring, walking, meditating, and spending much of my time alone in nature. All of this was accompanied by pain-filled, ugly crying and journaling.
I feel pretty badass for continually working through my emotional and physical pain instead of distracting myself around it. Many times, people would suggest for me to enter a relationship, as though companionship would somehow help me, make me whole and /or solve my problems.
The thing is, I am already whole on my own and the timing did not feel right for me to start a romantic relationship. People see the happy, jazz-handed woman on the outside. Inside, they cannot see how I experienced an unexpected divorce and needed healing time. That way, when I enter a new relationship, I can say, ‘Like most people, I have baggage; however, mine has been checked.”
What are the most rewarding things that Fitness has brought you?
Discipline, focus and a relentless, real attitude to keep moving forward has been some of the rewarding attributes Fitness has brought me. Fitness has been a key element in contributing to my health and well-being.
For years I was on pills considered ‘medication’ to help me with trauma, grief and loss I was experiencing. Using food and fitness as medicine transformed my physicality and helped exponentially with my mental, spiritual and physical health.
When was the most alfa moment in your life, and why?
One of the most alfa moments in my life was reaching out for help when I realized I was not living the life I wanted. Asking for help felt embarrassing and like I was a failure. Reflecting, I am proud of the courage I summoned by being vulnerable. I also learned that people naturally want to help and be kind and supportive to one another. One must put themselves out there and share their truth to reap these benefits.
What’s next for you?
Currently I am focused on becoming a life strategist in health and wellness; treating myself the way I would treat a client wanting to improve various aspects of their life such as fitness, finances, healthy eating, relationship with self and others; home and work environment(s). Also, I am studying various health and wellness courses such as Sports Nutrition and the Science of Well-being. I really enjoy learning about the brain and neuroplasticity and how people can change the way they think and rewire the chemistry in their brains. I know this to be true as I actively practice rewiring my brain.
Practicing gratitude and re-living my accomplishments, which releases serotonin, followed by making decisions, such as setting intentions and goals, all contribute to changing my perceptions and engages the prefrontal cortex of my brain to default to a positive way of being.
Having an amazing mentor, authentic friends and a black lab helps too. Receiving and giving hugs also helps! All these actions and supports calms down a person’s limbic system as well as reduces worry and anxiety.
In between self-care, volunteer, fundraising, work, and my studies, I exercise and food prep. Right now, I am ‘off-season’ giving my body a break from prepping for fitness shows. This Spring, I will go ‘on-season’ with amplified workouts and planned nutritious eating focused on macros for the 2020 Vancouver International Pro Qualifier Fitness Competition.
Please share up to 5 things people don’t know about you.
I love space and minimalism. For example, in my athletic-leisure attire, I own 25 pieces of clothing that I mix and match into numerous outfits. In fact, I used to own 300 pairs of underwear and countless socks. Now I own 10 pairs of undergarments and 10 pairs of socks.
I choose to live this way because it helps me feel content and I can put additional energy into self-care, personal development, work, and relationships.
All clothing in my Alfa photoshoot are either borrowed, given to me or second-hand from the Salvation Army. Excess is huge in this world and I feel financially intelligent, environmentally sustainable, unique and fashionable with my clothing choices.
Sadly, I know what it is like to grow up without much essentials such as good and clothing, to then living in complete excess and unexpectedly going through life-changing trauma placing me in devastating financial ruins. After much struggle and what felt like ultimate failure, I was able to completely turn my life around. Now I choose to live a more simplified and balanced life. The side-affect: I am thriving instead of surviving and I feel like a warrior that can help others wanting change.
I have a gap between my front teeth, freckles on my skin, expression lines on my face, and real breasts that Cosmetic Personnel have suggested I ‘fix.’ I was born this way and I am ok with having ‘perceived’ flaws. I believe our North American Culture has created unsustainable beauty ideas to fuel company profits. Would it not be lovely and progressive for our culture to reclaim its power that it is completely beautiful, okay and acceptable to be natural? I feel like being natural and accepting our individual, personalized beauty will be the next ‘movement.’ See ya later butt implants and hello squats!
I have been a Certified Laughter Yoga Instructor for almost 10 years. I used to have a hotline where people in North America would call daily for a session. I helped people with various ailments including, COPD, Agoraphobia, Cancer, and Multiple Sclerosis.
Please name up to 5 Alfa people you know.
Alfa’s are everywhere. Be vulnerable. Open your heart, mind and body, and you will experience ‘Alfa magic’ from ‘everyday Alfas’ that surround us:
The new immigrant to Canada working hard to create a new life. Alfa!
Any person helping and empowering another for no personal gain. Alfa!
Single parents being dual roles for their children. Alfa!
Anyone choosing to be their authentic selves: Alfa!
What would be the ultimate tips you could share with everyone about life?
To be human is to be a living miracle. I feel it is our individual responsibility to take care of ourselves in life and health. So easily, many of us fall into taking care of others first and forget to be curious about our own lives in exploration and health. I feel it is important to discover ourselves as we are our very own masterpiece!
Try new, brightly coloured foods and practice ‘Hara hachi bu,’ a Japanese term meaning to eat enough to feel satisfied instead of full. I would also suggest drinking at least two litres of water a day.
I also make sure to move my body at least 15 minutes daily - whether walking, swimming, dancing – just pure movement in whatever my body can do. There have been times in my life where I was not able to perform physical movement. Instead, I would practice visualization and expel energy through imagery techniques. Do what works for you!
Breathe deeply. I like to use natural reminders. For example, every time I am at a red light, I take three deep Buddha-Belly breaths. This is a nourishing soul hug that helps me stay grounded.
Everyday, I believe the importance to make time for rest and relaxation. For me, it is practicing healthy sleep hygiene by dimming the lights and not using electronics before bed. This is my special time where I put on essential oils, practice yoga, read, and write.
What would be the ultimate tips you could share with everyone about life and health?
It would be about how to transform your life.
Practice Gratitude: Daily before bed, write three things you are grateful for.
Edit Your Life: Regularly evaluate what is working for you and what deserves changing. Feel the fear of change and do it anyway.
Love Yourself: Look at yourself in the mirror daily and say your name, followed by, “I love you.”
Instill boundaries: Saying ‘no’ to someone or situation is saying ‘yes’ to you.
Karma: Accept the kindness of strangers and pay forward.
Help: Be brave and ask for help. This is an act of vulnerability and love to yourself too.
Be You: Follow your gut and heart and stay true to who you really are. This is not popular and takes courage.
Your favorite quote:
“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we are supposed to be and embracing who we are.” ~Brene Brown