This article was first seen on the Huffington Post. For this installment, we are joined by McKinsey Gilligan.
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?
Well, for starters I am 19 years old. I am from an extremely small town and my family is everything to me. I am also currently in college to be a Physical Therapist Assistant.
I first got involved in fitness around age 16 during high school. I went to a tiny little basement gym just to try it out and it soon enough became my get away from everything. Working out was a way to clear my mind.
I then found the fitness industry on social media. I was young, vulnerable and uneducated. I didn’t like the way I looked, although I wasn’t “overweight.” I slipped into an eating disorder. I think most of it was lack of knowledge on how to take a healthy approach to dieting. I found myself doing all the fads and crash diets and restricting myself from so many food groups. After that I would end up binge eating a whole jar of peanut butter. It was a vicious cycle.
For the longest time, I never even realized that I had a problem, but once I did, I set out to fix it. Education and help from an amazing person in my life is how I beat my disorder. So what am I all about? I am all about promoting self love. I want to show other women that they’re beautiful in their own skin. I want to educate them on healthy approaches to dieting and working out.
Where does your motivation come from?
A lot of my motivation comes from seeing my body change. I am so fascinated by what the human body is capable of and how it can transform. I also like the mental challenge. It’s you vs. you. But I am not always motivated, trust me. I don’t always want to spring out of bed and hit the gym. Just gotta keep pushing!
As you decided to make a career out of your passion – what were your biggest stumbling blocks along the way?
Fitness is a huge part of my life, but I wouldn’t consider it my career yet. I don’t have a huge following or a dozen sponsorships and that is okay. You don’t have to have all of that to be inspiring or to actually be a part of the fitness industry!
I really do enjoy putting content out and sharing my journey with my followers though. I think people can learn from it and even if my posts inspire one person a day, then it is totally worth it!! Not everyone is going to support you or believe in you and that is tough sometimes. But you have to keep your goals in mind and believe in yourself.
What’s your perspective on the importance of self-care?
I strongly agree that self-care is so, so important. It’s so easy to get caught up in life and your daily duties and forget about your health and I’m sure many of us can agree that it is hard to make time.
But once you do find yourself time to care for yourself, you will feel great. It is important to have some “you” time. Where you can clear your head and even just feel better about yourself. This goes from hitting the gym, to eating better, to even just getting off your feet when your body is asking for a break or painting your nails to feel pretty. It’s essential for a healthy lifestyle to take some time for yourself and know that it isn’t selfish.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions about women lifting weight?
The biggest misconception, and I’m sure you’ve all heard it before, is “lifting weights makes women bulky and manly.” This is so not true girls. Lifting weights make you feel strong and look great!
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?
I hate that this is true, but it is. I think young women believe this because of all the crash diets or fad diet plans out there that people have made available. Also the bodies that are said to be “ideal.” There is no such thing as an “ideal” body, we are all different and that is beautiful. Body shaming is a huge factor with this issue.
The fitness industry is amazing, don’t get me wrong, but there are a lot of unhealthy ways of dieting out there. There are also a lot of photoshopped bodies making young women think that they are not good enough because they don’t look like those on the photos. I think it is so important to educate society on healthy nutrition habits. The more people and social media platforms there are putting important information out there the better. Hopefully one day we will all be preaching it enough that it outweighs the “fads.”
What are the most unexpected lessons you’ve learned on your health and fitness journey this far?
I’ve definitely learned a lot throughout this journey – I am learning more and more each day. What was most shocking to me, is how much better my body reacted when I stopped putting so much stress on it worrying about being perfect with my diet and training each day. Now that I listen to my body and give it rest and the nutrients it needs, I look better, feel better, and perform better in the gym. Balance is key.
What do you do to maintain balance in your life?
I preach balance day in and day out because I do believe it is the key to a successful healthy lifestyle. I am currently working on a mini cut, to lose some body fat so I count my macros and hit my numbers very consistently. But I do take days off as needed. Normally I will have a “free day” as I call them, on the weekend. This is a day where I don’t track and I listen to my cravings and treat myself. Then it’s back to the grind the next day.
This keeps me sane and keeps me on track. I also still go out with friends and family by fitting certain foods into my macronutrient goals. I also give myself days off from the gym when my body needs it. It’s honestly all about listening to your body. If fitness is your passion, keep it your passion, keep it fun. Don’t make it feel like a chore. Fitness should be a great thing in your life, not a controlling aspect of your life.
How do you stay productive?
I stay productive by getting my workouts in, cooking my meals, studying/school work and maintaining a social life/ spending time with my loved ones.
If you could only choose one thing, what would you tell your younger self?
If I had to choose only one thing, I would tell my younger self to be confident in her own skin because it is so, so important.
Can you give a breakdown of your current diet, training and supplementation regimen and the thinking behind it?
The current diet I follow and have followed for the past two years is called flexible dieting or “if it fits your macros.” It is becoming more and more common in the fitness industry. Basically, you have set numbers for your fats, protein, and carbs based off of your caloric intake and you strive to hit those numbers each day. You can fit in a variety of foods as long as you still are hitting your macros each day.
I find this way more flexible and all in all better because you simply are not restricting yourself from foods. It has helped my relationship with food significantly. For supplements, my go to brand is BPI sports and I normally just use protein powder and BCAAs. I take pre workout as needed. I have a bodybuilding type way of training. Normally 3 to 4 sets of workouts and 8-12 reps to each set. My split is chest/triceps together, back/biceps together, legs/abs, shoulders/abs, and arm days as needed.
What are your biggest life goals for the year?
I have a lot of goals and plans for 2017. My biggest goals are to do really well in school while keeping my fitness in check, and also to grow my social media platform so I can start reaching more people. I also want to try new things. I want to be a well rounded athlete. I would love to try different forms of exercise to change things up. I want to go hiking and try a yoga class. I have lots of things in mind, so we will see where the year takes us!
Where can people go to learn more about you online?
You can stay up to date by following me on Instagram.