LeanFit Transformation Stories highlight everyday Canadians who are working to live their healthiest lives ever.
Caitlyn Parisi successfully beat her serious battle with food.
This is her transformation story.
She now works in a gym as a trainer and bootcamp instructor, but 26-year-old Caitlyn Parisi from Hamilton, Ont., was never originally a fitness enthusiast. “Clean eating” and “protein supplements” were foreign words to her. “I was never worried about what I put into my body, or if I got any exercise that day,” she remembers.
It was an unfortunate illness that led Parisi to her passion for fitness and healthy food. A few years ago, she developed an eating disorder. “It didn’t hit me hard at first,” she says, “but within a year it was full-blown anorexia.” She was eventually so sick she was bound for the hospital and put on a waiting list for a rehab medical program.
In a last-ditch effort, Parisi’s mom booked a girl’s week away in New York, hoping a new environment with fresh sights and sounds would awaken something within Parisi. It worked.
“I was extremely anxious but threw myself into the situation because deep down I knew I needed it,” Parisi says. The trip opened her eyes to what she was missing out on. “It made me realize how deprived I’ve been,” says Parisi.
The Road to Recovery
When she got home, she started the daunting, long journey toward recovery. Her path had many hills and valleys, including a relapse, but Parisi was determined to transform both her body and mind and overcome her illness with the support of friends, family and medical professionals.
“My illness sparked my interest in cooking and I started cooking healthy meals,” she says. A family member mentioned culinary school to her. Aiming to take the reigns of her food choices, she completed a culinary management program. It turned out to be an important step in shifting how she saw and approached food. “I was moving towards becoming myself again,” she says.
She began reading voraciously, both online and in print, soaking up knowledge for her new health path. She spent time watching YouTube videos for guidance and encouragement, and she also began going to the gym, hoping to make her body stronger just like she was doing with her mind. The gym staff noticed her resolve, and one day her spin instructor asked her if she was interested in teaching classes. Before she knew it, she was completing fitness courses and getting certified as an exercise instructor.
“I just love the motivation the members give me,” she says of the classes she teaches. “I love pushing them to push themselves harder, because then it also pushes me. I try to inform them on how to fuel their bodies properly post-workout and make sure to tell them how frequently they should be taking these classes and how they should be recovering.”
Strength for the Body and Mind
Today, Parisi feels healthy and fully recovered, and she’s pushing forward on her next fitness journey. She recently began lifting weights, wanting to see a little more definition in her body and feel stronger.
Weightlifting showed her how much more she could do to improve her diet. “After the first month or two of regularly lifting, I hit a stall in my progress,” she notes. “I hit a plateau and it wasn’t because of my workouts: I wasn’t eating any protein!”
She says she was actually intimidated by post-workout supplements and the idea of protein shakes. “I thought they would just make me huge,” she laughs. “One day when I was in Costco, I saw the LeanFit completegreen vanilla protein tub and it caught my eye. It was less scary than all other proteins to me, and it looked healthy and full of added benefits.”
She bought it and started having a shake right after her workouts. “It changed everything,” says Parisi. “I had more energy, and eating it directly after my workout woke my metabolism up.” With the help of LeanFit’s protein mixes, which she uses in shakes and in baking, she now aims to eat a gram of protein per pound of body weight. “It was seriously a game changer,” she says. “My progress skyrocketed and today I am stronger than I ever imagined I would be.”
Parisi’s outward appearance now reflects her new, healthy inner mindset. “My illness was a huge speed bump in my life and put a lot of hold, but without those struggles I wouldn’t be as strong as I am today,” she says. “I would have never went to culinary school and never would have become a fitness instructor. Those two things are now my passion. I don’t know where I would be without them. They have made me a motivated, strong individual with drive and passion to get stronger physically and mentally.”
Food Tips by Caitlyn
- Eat healthy fats. They protect our heart health and reduce unhealthy cholesterol levels. “I like olive oil, coconut oil and avocados,” says Parisi. She likes to mix diced avocado with an egg white omelette
- Watch those carbs. For most of us, carbohydrates should make up 45 to 65 per cent of our daily calories. “I really like getting my carbs from fresh fruit, fresh veggies, sweet potatoes and air-popped corn air,” says Parisi.
- Keep it simple. “I try to eat intuitively,” says Parisi. “Most days I end up eating the same things as I’m a creature of habit and really enjoy the meals I make myself!”
For more inspiration you can follow @caitlynparisi on Instagram.
Editor’s Note: People of all ages and genders struggle with various eating disorders. If you have questions about eating disorders, contact the Canadian Mental Health Association to find education and support in your city.