This article was first seen on the Huffington Post. For this installment, we are joined by Angie Marie Okon.
Let’s start off with a general introduction. How would you describe yourself, what are you all about and how did you get involved in health and fitness?
I live to motivate and inspire the world around me. I feel that everyone has a purpose, and it is up to us to decide whether or not we want to share our unique gifts with the world…or never tap into our greatness. This is something we have the ability and choice decide.
I am passionate, I am happy, I am genuine with a good heart and good intent, I am a motivated woman on a relentless pursuit to live a life worthy of living. I made some wrong choices in my life and ended up in a place where I lacked confidence, was unhappy with myself, and was lost without a purpose.
Until the day I had had my moment. The day I had had enough of the negative mindset and bad attitude. This was the day, and it was the day everyday since then. The day I woke up, I mean really woke up, and just decided I was GOING to change my life. I didn’t say MAYBE, I didn’t say TRY, this was going to happen for me. By thinking with this mindset, I made it impossible to fail at what I set out to do because I knew that my life had purpose, and it was up to me to make that happen.
I knew that to be happy and confident I needed to love myself, and much of my self loathing was physical. So I started small and began biking to the free gym at the university I was attending. I researched (more like googled) healthy foods and the rest is history.
Where does your motivation come from?
I used to dread this question because people always had some admirable person that motivated them to pursue greatness. To be honest, I am motivated by myself. I want to be the best version of myself and make a difference in the world around me. I do this for me. I wake up every day passionate about living. Passionate about doing the things that I love and bring me joy. I am motivated by the chance that I can help change someone’s life in a positive way. That is what my purpose is, that is what motivates me.
As you decided to make a career out of your passion – what were your biggest stumbling blocks along the way?
The fear of failing. The fear of falling flat on my face, letting myself and my family down, and being flat broke. Until my conscious (AKA my brother, business partner, and best friend Daniel) reminded me that I can, I will, and failure is not an option. But the fact is, failure is very real, and very much part of my journey.
Had I not failed at so many other endeavours I would not be sitting here as the woman I am today. What I used to fear, I now fully embrace and accept with open arms. Simply because I know that no matter the obstacle, no matter the hardship or stumbling block that tries to knock me down, I will fail relentlessly…because one day I will be successful. I will not stop until I am. Do not allow the fear of failure to prevent you from chasing your dreams, failing is what leads you to success.
What’s your perspective on the importance of self-care?
In our society we love to acquire nice things. We work so hard to buy the jewelry, the house, the newest electronics, the dream car, whatever measurement of success we feel we need to possess to have “made it”. Once we acquire these possessions we spend as much time as needed to care for these materials. We get our jewelry inspected and cleaned, electronics always within arms reach, vehicles filled with the best gas, the best oil, monthly check-ins, homes cleaned and well maintained, the best care for the things that matter most, right?
This is where many have fallen short, or have been mislead by the examples set out for them. While these things are all well and good, without our health, what do any of these things matter? It’s important that we remember that we are given one body. If we can take care of our material possessions and make sacrifices for them, then why can’t we do this for ourselves? Love yourself enough to take care of your body.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions about women lifting weight?
Society has taught women that if they lift heavy weights they will get “bulky” or get “too muscular”. When I first started lifting heavy weights I was so afraid I was going to “look like a man” or get big and “ bulky”. First off, you are not going to get bulky from lifting heavy weights. This is a widely spread misconception that has been passed on from person to person that could not be more wrong.
Lifting heavy weights will do quite the opposite, they will make you lose body fat (which typically means less size so no “bulk” here). When you lift heavy with the proper diet you will see muscle growth, when you add muscle your body will burn more fat. For every pound of lean mass that your body has, your body requires more oxygen, and a higher oxygen demand results in an increase of metabolic activity. More metabolic activity leads to more caloric expenditure.
And second, by whose standards do we decide that women are too muscular? It is time for women alone to decide how we want our bodies to look, our imagine and idea of beauty is all that matters. It is not up to society or the opinion of others how we should look. Whether you have a lot of muscle, a little muscle, no muscle, are curvy, or thin, you are beautiful the way you are. If you love yourself and your body, then you have figured out what many cannot. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, you can decide how to shape and mold your beautiful.
Many young women who want to lose weight believe that not eating is the way to do it, without realising the consequences of that kind of behavior.
Why do you think this is and what’s your perspective on educating society on healthy nutrition habits?
Lack of knowledge makes this the easy and obvious answer. Stop eating food and you will lose weight, because we relate food with getting fat. I have strong opinions on how I feel about the lack of information taught to our youth on the basics of health and nutrition. I was that girl who would want to lose weight and by doing so I would restrict my calories so low that it was dangerously unhealthy…but what does it matter as long as I look good…this mentality was so wrong.
Had I taken the time or been taught not only what foods are ACTUALLY healthy, but what different food sources do for your body (good or bad) I could have avoided years of thinking that I had to stop eating to attain the physique that society deemed as beautiful. Young women need to learn that food is fuel for our bodies, we need this in order to be healthy. We can achieve our beautiful, but we first must learn how to do so with the proper tools and nutrition. If you are lost, ask a professional or read a book. Knowledge is truly power.
What are the most unexpected lessons you’ve learned on your health and fitness journey this far?
It is much more than just going to the gym, eating healthy, and being physically strong. You have to be strong mentally, emotionally, and learn to speak life into yourself while working relentlessly towards your goals. Life is a lot of things, there are highs and lows, fun times and hard times. But you must learn to be tougher than your life is.
It is easy to be positive and keep going during the great moments, but you find true strength and power in those who continue to pursue what they set out to do even when life seems to go against them. You will learn who you truly are because in order to do the things that you want to do in life you must face the things that scare you the most. This journey will leave scars (sometimes physically lol) along the way, but the battles that you face will mold you into the powerful woman you set forth to become. This journey will change your life.
What do you do to maintain balance in your life?
Routine and structure. If I have no routine, I will fail. I must have life scheduled and organized in order to have a healthy balance. I love working. If I had a choice between doing something I most would enjoy, or working, I would choose to work. I am passionate, which is great, but I also realize that is not practical. Life is all about being balanced. So I work hard, I train harder, and I set aside time to have fun and be human.
At times being extremely structured can make you feel like a robot, but in order to accomplish what I have set out to do, It must be this way. I am no longer the friend you call to party or get drunk with, I am the friend everyone knows is working or training..and I am ok with that.
How do you stay productive?
I wake up every morning with a purpose. I know that my tomorrow is not promised, so every day I have on this earth has to matter. I am also old school and put pen to paper. I make lists and deadlines to check off each day, when I successfully get my list done early, I reward myself.
Can you give a breakdown of your current diet, training and supplementation regimen and the thinking behind it?
My training is specific to me and what my goals are for this season, so it is a bit more intense. But nothing worth having comes easy….
Monday : AM fasted cardio 30 minutes – Legs [Glute focus] followed by 15 minutes HIIT
Tuesday: AM fasted cardio 30 minutes – Back & Chest followed by 20 minutes steady state cardio
Wednesday: AM fasted cardio 30 minutes – Shoulders/Bis/Tris followed by 15 minutes HIIT
Thursday: AM fasted cardio 30 minutes – Legs [Quad focus] followed by 20 minutes steady state cardio
Friday: AM fasted cardio 30 minutes – Plyometrics followed by 15 minutes HIIT cardio
Saturday: Shoulders & Hamstring followed by 45 minutes steady state cardio
Sunday: Active Rest Day (yoga, walking, biking)
- 7AM – Meal 1: 1 Whole Egg, 1 c. Egg Whites 1 tsp coconut oil
- 10AM – Meal 2: 3 oz Ground Turkey, 4 oz sweet potatoes, 6 asparagus
- 1PM – Meal 3 : 1 c. Egg Whites, ½ avocado
- 4PM – Pre workout: 1 Scoop Supertrein, 2 Rice Cakes
- 7PM – Post workout: 3 oz Chicken, 4 oz sweet potatoes, 6 asparagus
- 9PM – Meal 6: 1 Supertein with 1 c. eggs (protein pancakes)
I follow this training everyday, consistently. The goal is to lower body fat while maintaining the muscle I have built.
If you could only choose one thing, what would you tell your younger self?
Worry less; everything will work out the way it was intended. Every failure, hardship, heart ache, or barrier needed to happen in order for you to become the woman you were meant to be. Keep fighting, it will all make sense.
What are your biggest life goals?
Is change the world too big? Haha. The list is long and extensive. But I will narrow it down to the two things I have spent my adult life working towards. I want to touch the hearts and lives of as many women I can. I want to teach them that they are powerful. For whatever reason so many women have never realized that they have greatness within themselves.
To empower a woman to use her mind to accomplish whatever her hearts beats for. There is power in a woman who knows what she wants and chooses to set out against all odds, all chances of failure, and works relentlessly until she is successful. Women lack confidence, self-love, self-worth, and choose to act in a manner they believe is socially acceptable, as a woman. I call bullshit.
You have brain filled with opinions and thoughts, EXPRESS THEM. You have ideas and dreams, CHASE THEM. Stop doing what is expected of you and live the life you feel you were meant to live.
One personal dream and goal for myself, is to compete on the Olympia stage in 2017. Being an Olympian has been my goal from day 1, I have been chasing this dream since I first set foot on stage as a bikini competitor in 2012. I will chase this until I get there.
Where can people go to learn more about you online?
Stay tuned for the next interview of Real Talk Real Women!