By Stephanie Dane
French Canadian is not just an ethnic group. It’s the core of Nathalie. “It’s a huge part of me, my background and how I think. Living in Ontario my whole life, I was considered a minority; a challenge that requires a constant fight for your rights. This battle has created a fighter in me. Some of my confidence and my pushes come from that whole background of being a non-visible minority.
A single mother of two daughters, fitness entered Nathalie’s life during her first pregnancy. “While I’d been a runner since high school, I never did it for fitness. I never had a weight issue. I ran for me. The true shift began when my doctor handed me a piece of paper which listed everything I shouldn’t eat while pregnant. I thought, If I can’t eat these foods when pregnant, why am I eating it when not pregnant? And why would I feed my child these foods?” It was from this moment that Nathalie began thinking more consciously about foods, diving deeper into nutrition and ingredients.
A few years later, Nathalie attended a local figure competition to support her cousin. “I was struck by how beautiful AND strong these women were. I wondered ‘Why don’t I look like that? I run, I eat super healthy…I’ve never struggled with weight, but I wasn’t happy with my body. I was looking for a better body composition.”
And this blossomed into the next milestone in Nathalie’s wellness journey. She began working with an online coach to incorporate strength training to her routine. She even competed herself, placing Top 3 in Bikini and Glamour categories. “This sport has given me a sense of EMPOWERMENT. It forced me to believe in myself. Set a plan, follow it, trust the process and results will come. I got to see my strengths and weaknesses... but also learned to love that I’m perfectly imperfect. My body doesn't have to always be 100% perfect. As long as I’m healthy, I’m happy. The experience taught me that "what one man can do, another can do". With some focus and determination, ANY goal I set can be achieved; failure isn't an option. Standing on stage in front of a crowd in that itty bitty bikini, you have no choice but to find a way to believe in yourself. That confidence and self empowerment stays long after the heels and suit come off.”
Through her own personal fitness journey, Nathalie discovered a desire to help other women in the same capacity. In addition to working full-time as a Quality Control Coordinator for a preschool, Natalie became a trainer to share her knowledge with other women. “Knowledge is power and I wanted help others achieve their own goals.” In addition to helping women with overall fitness goals, Nathalie became a certified Core Confidence Specialist. The core and pelvic floor are area of weakness not only for women after being pregnant, but individuals who struggle with excess weight or bad posture/alignment. “Now, I can help my clients strengthen their core.”
Helping others and sharing her knowledge doesn’t stop with just her clients. She works to incorporate healthy nutrition and fitness practices at home with her daughters. Nathalie knows her girls are watching her and look to her as a role model. “When preparing my foods, I have the girls help me so they understand it’s not about deprivation. Rather, it’s to ensure I eat ENOUGH. I explain that weighing my food ensures I am eating enough to nourish my body.
“The girls enjoy working out with me. We stretch together in the evenings, which is a great way to build fitness into our routine while joking and talking about our day.” In addition to exercise and nutrition, the girls have even taken an interest in Nathalie’s newest hobby.
“I recently began Savate, which is french boxing. It’s the only kind of kickboxing in which you wear boots. Savate allows me to use and build upon my other fitness hobbies. Her strength from weight training and empowerment from competing have been valuable assets in her new endeavor. “It also challenges me, because not only do you need to be strong, but you need to be flexible.” Another love for Nathalie’s newfound sport is the cardiovascular component. “Boxing is a great form of cardio; it’s energetic and sporty. Having a new goal keeps my mind refreshed.”
While Nathalie uses weight training and Savate to keep her body conditioned, mental strength and balance are also a focus for her. “I've started to meditate. It’s amazing. The feeling of refreshed I use to get from running…. I can achieve in 4 minutes of meditating. It’s something that I involve my girls in, so that we can do it together. Mindful meditation has been really good for them in terms of concentrating at school. It’s been a huge help in keeping my mind calm and balanced.
“The mind is everything. What you think, you become. Whether you think you can or you think you can’t…. you’re right. That goes for everything in life. If you doubt your ability to achieve something, sometimes you just need to fake it til you believe it. If you can’t believe in yourself, find something that will do it for you until YOU believe it. When doing cardio, I listen to empowerment videos. The repetition and positivity truly can shift the mindset and help you believe that you CAN achieve something.”
Nathalie is gearing up to embark on a new chapter of her life through her move to London, ON. She plans to train at a gym to continue sharing her knowledge and helping clients. “For a long time, I’ve wanted a to find a balance between having a little bit of everything in my life. Working to help others, family life, weight training, boxing, meditation for my brain. And I have found that balance…”
Seeking this balance truly illustrates Natalie and who she really is. “I don't feel that I need a label to "be" exactly just one thing. I’m not a competitor, even though I have and will compete again. I'm not a boxer, even though I do boxing. I'm not a runner, even though I run. I'm a mom first but that is not all... I'm a little bit of everything and that makes me complete.”