By Nynke Burggraaff
Nina-Iraq recently sat down with Lebanese fitness star and business woman Maya Nassar to talk about what motivates her, how she stays in shape and what her advice is for Nina’s readers to get fit and healthy!
Hi Maya. Can you tell us a little about yourself and what you do?
I am a certified personal trainer and sports nutritionist. I also compete abroad in fitness modelling championships and have a passion for female bodybuilding. I recently launched the first ever mobile application in Lebanon which has been ranked number one by the Apple store.
How did you get into fitness?
After gaining a lot of weight and feeling very insecure, I decided to change for the better. This is when I changed my diet and started exercising at the gym. I discovered a passion for fitness and then became certified as a trainer and in sports nutrition.
What is your favourite way of staying in shape?
I enjoy staying in shape by being active all the time. Whether it is a weekend or if you are abroad traveling, doing fun outdoors activities or going for long walks is one way to ensure you are getting the exercise your body needs.
About competing in fitness competitions, what would you say is the most challenging part?
The most challenging part is the diet. It is incredibly difficult to follow a strict diet for 3 months and I sometimes have days where I feel incredibly hungry. However, it all pays off in the end!
What would you say is the biggest misconception about female bodybuilding?
….That women who lift heavy weights will bulk up and look like men. Women who look extremely masculine take steroids or anabolic drugs. A woman does not have enough testosterone in her body to bulk up like a man naturally.
In Iraq as with many other Middle Eastern countries, women are restricted in the kind of exercise they do, going for a run for example is not going to be easy. Can you share any exercise trips or ideas for those more focused on indoor exercise, something they can do at home maybe?
My website offers a complete home exercise guide which shows women how they can train at home using minimal equipment. This is listed under diet and exercise programs. My mobile application is also linked to animated exercise illustrations which women can use to learn how to exercise at home. I also recommend buying at home fitness equipment, such as a treadmill or elliptical as a quick and easy way to stay in shape. Another fun activity is to purchase a workout DVD and train in the comfort of their living room.
As with us Lebanese, I’m sure Iraqis love their food also! Does committing to a healthy lifestyle mean you have to give up on your favourite food for good?
Not necessarily! There are many delicious and healthy meals that all Middle Eastern women will love. However, when it comes to junk food or sweets, it is always best to restrict it to once a week. This is because it offers zero nutritional value and will only sabotage your fitness goals in the long run.
I’ve read that one of your goals is to empower women by helping them achieve a healthy lifestyle. How does this empower women?
Achieving your fitness goals helps you achieve all other goals in your life too. Being healthy teaches a woman dedication, discipline and how to set challenging goals. I believe once women are healthy and fit, they become stronger and more confident. Achieving your fitness goals helps you believe in yourself and always strive to do better.
Lastly, what is your nr.1 advice for women who need that extra push to get started with a new healthier lifestyle?
My advice is to work hard and never give up. Many women feel that it is too difficult, but it is only hard in the beginning. Once you get through the first month, it will become a part of your lifestyle.
You can go to Maya’s website for more information www.startlivingright.net . Her mobile phone app, which can be can be downloaded on any smartphone by searching for “startlivingright” in the app store.
“My website and my mobile application contain a ton of information and are entirely free. I also have social media pages and post motivational quotes on my Facebook page almost daily. “