Teaching It Like She’s Living It

The best thing about fitness is that it’s contagious. If you’re lucky enough to grow up in a household of fitness enthusiasts, then chances are you’ll adopt a healthy lifestyle too. It’s a domino effect. Your children too will follow in your footsteps. This was the case for Fitmark Ambassador Joelle Samantha. Now a high-school teacher, and strength and nutrition coach, she’s a living example of just how contagious fitness can be.

Ambassador Joelle Samantha Envoy Backpack

I’ve always loved exercise and fitness, and grew up in a healthy, bodybuilder household ~ Fitmark Ambassador Joelle Samantha.

The Beginning of the Fitness Journey

Joelle’s fitness journey begins in high school, with a love for cross-country running. She told us:

I had always been rather lean growing up and I ran cross country in high school, which definitely kept me lean. I had always loved exercise and fitness, as I grew up in a healthy/bodybuilder household. Because I always stayed so “naturally lean” in high school, I was that girl that ate whatever she wanted and never really gained weight (because I was running 10 miles a day!)

College Life and Weight Gain

But like so many people, entering college was the beginning of a different lifestyle, one that is notoriously unhealthy. She told us:

And so there came a time (COLLEGE!) when I stopped running cross country BUT kept those same eating habits…and well…I gained 30 lbs. Although I had stopped running, I still went to the gym and exercised nearly every day, but STILL put on 30 lbs.

You Can’t Out-Exercise Bad Habits

Which is when I realized I couldn’t out-exercise poor nutritional habits. And so began my journey to a healthier lifestyle. Unfortunately, due to all the myths and misconceptions in the health and fitness industry, my “research” led me to spiral downwards into disordered eating and a very unhealthy relationship with food. My issue was known as orthorexia, which is an obsession with clean eating. I was under-eating, overexercising, and extremely unhealthy (regardless of the six-pack). 

Flexible Dieting

Although I looked healthy, my hair was falling out, I was fatigued, fainting, and was the furthest thing from physically AND mentally healthy.

Joelle continued living this unhealthy lifestyle until one day, she was introduced to a different brand of “healthy.” She says,

A while later, there came a time when someone opened up my eyes to the notion of flexible dieting. That WHAT I ate didn’t matter as much as how MUCH I ate. And that’s what began my TRUE health journey. My journey to find the meaning of balance and moderation.

With so many diets out there, it’s easy to get lost in one version over another. Good foods, bad foods, we all have our own list of foods that we avoid and foods that we favor. But sometimes you need a fresh start. Joelle told us:

Throughout the years I have learned to erase that imaginary list in my head of good foods and bad foods. I have learned that food is FUEL and we need it! It’s nothing to fear. It’s not a reward for exercising, rather it is necessary to live and to be healthy.

Balancing Career and a Healthy Lifestyle

Joelle has a real passion for what she does, so balancing it all has always come as a welcome challenge for her. She says, “Balancing it all can definitely be hectic at times but it’s what I love to do. When you’re doing what you love and pursuing your passions, it never really feels like work.”

With a double major in Health Education & Physical Education, Joelle went onto study for her Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology. Then something amazing happened:

Upon completing that degree, I was offered a job that served as the best of both worlds. It combined my love for teaching and my love for exercise science. I was asked to start a new program at a high school for students that wanted to go into a sports medicine, exercise science, or health careers field. Now I am a high school educator teaching health, nutrition, personal training, athletic training, physical education, etc. It’s truly been an amazing opportunity!

Building a Business

During college, Joelle didn’t rest. She used her growing experience to counsel her own clients and set up a strength and nutrition coaching company called Joelle Samantha Fitness, Inc. She told us:

Now I am not only helping students start a healthy life, but I work with my clients to teach them how to live a healthy and maintainable lifestyle as well.

Joelle’s balancing act, as she calls it, begins with an early start at 5 in the morning. She heads straight to the gym and starts her day with a workout, no excuses! Then it’s back home to get ready for work. After teaching all day, she spends her evening planning her lessons for the next day before heading to bed. She says,

Throw in some meal prep /eating and ya got yourself a full day in the life of Joelle Samantha! Sure it gets a bit crazy at times, but I see it as doing what needs to get done and doing what I want & love to do. No one HAS time to run a business, work another full time job, cook, clean, workout, etc. You MAKE time for things that are important to you!

Like any journey worth exploring, it takes time to reach your destiny. She says:

Years later, I am finally happy and comfortable with my mental and physical health. My desire to learn more about nutrition, exercise, and the body is never ending. I have this burning desire to learn yet my passion to educate and help others along their fitness journey is just as strong.

Joelle’s Top 3 Favorite Exercises

We thought we’d ask Joelle for her top three favorite exercises, even though we knew what she’d probably say. As a strength coach, it’s a no brainer! She said:

I may have to go with the “big three” on this one. I love my squats, deadlifts, and bench press! They are the foundation for building a strong body!

Joelle has the advantage of teaching people at both ends of the spectrum of fitness. She helps both students and clients to reach their fitness goals. You could say she has a unique perspective, and for this reason we were curious to know her top three fitness tips. Here’s what she said:

Joelle’s Top 3 Fit Tips

Don’t do something because you feel like you have to. If you don’t like running, find a different method of cardio. If you hate broccoli, don’t eat broccoli! Too many people are falling into fitness fads and trends. Find what you love and do what is maintainable for you! You’ll never stick to a plan you don’t like!

Learn your body! Every person’s body is built differently. We all carry fat differently, build muscle at different rates, have faster/slower metabolisms. Try not to copy other people’s routines. Just because someone loses weight on 2,500 calories a day, doesn’t mean you can too! Learn YOUR body though trial and error and DON’T compare yourself to others and their progress. It’s you against you!

Practice loving yourself at ALL stages of your fitness journey. Not just when you’re leanest or when you’re on track with your diet. We’re all human. But don’t pick at the things you love and hate about your body. Realize that it is a machine and a vessel, one that can do amazing things. Love it as a WHOLE, not just pieces of it. That way you can enjoy every step of your journey, both the ups and the downs. They make us who we are.

Nutrition Advice

Joelle has learned the hard way about proper nutrition and healthy dieting. Here are some suggestions for good, healthy, clean eats.

Anything that gives you MORE volume for LESS calories is a go-to for me! For instance, making spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles. You’re getting a larger portion of food for less calories/carbs then say, regular pasta!

Shakes and smoothies are another great way to feel full from the volume of the food without too many extra calories. For instance blending a ton of ice with a scoop of protein rather than just mixing protein and water.

One of my favorite recipes is to add ice, a scoop of flavored protein, and a banana to a blender! You can also add peanut butter or powdered peanut butter if you don’t want the fat, or a milk source (skim, almond, etc). What you add is up to you and your “budget of calories to spend (eat),” but simply adding ice/water can increase the shakes volume by a ton and help you feel full without all the extra calories.

Adding spinach is also the best kept secret. When blended in a shake with other ingredients, you don’t even taste it, but it’s a great way to get in an extra serving of micronutrients. Plus we’re visual eaters! So a big ol’ blender full of shake/smoothie goodness is way more appealing to our eyes and stomach then plopping a scoop of protein in some water.

Favorite Sport Teams

I think if I said anything other than the NY Mets my fiance would call off the wedding LOL. Honestly though, I’d consider myself a supporter of any NY team. Rangers, Mets, Knicks, and Jets are my go-to’s! I have to support my fellow New Yorker’s!

Role Models

When it comes to role models to follow on Instagram, Joelle says she’s all about “positivity, knowledge, transparency, and hard work.” She told us:

Some of the people I look up to most for educational purposes are @krissymaecagney, @biolayne, @bretcontreras1, and a few other accounts that work hard to put their knowledge and evidence-based practices out there. Some other accounts I look to for positivity, beauty, strength, brains (and good food pictures) are @mariewoldfitness @elle_bfitbody @em_dunc @amandabuccifit @ehfitness21 @randikennedy_ @leanna_carr @kbaymiller @katieanne100, etc. Too many to name! But all in all, things that make me follow: intelligence/knowledge, strength (mentally and physically), kind-heartedness, humor, transparency, and positivity!

Fitmark Envoy Backpack Meal Bag

Fitmark has helped me stick to my nutrition and fitness goals by allowing me to carry literally everything I need in one place. I used to walk around with TONS of different bags every time I had to go somewhere. My laptop bag, my backpack, my gym bag, my lunch box, etc. My Fitmark Envoy Backpack has allowed me to store ALL of that effectively and efficiently.

The lunchbox it comes with fits perfectly into its own separate pouch. The ice packs and tupperware are a huge help to keep everything fresh. Plus there’s two side pockets (for water & protein shakes in my case), a spot for my 17″ laptop, all my school stuff to grade the kiddo’s, and room for a change of clothes, gym shoes, etc. It can be hard to stay on track when you feel like you have “too much” to prepare for the next day. But rather than prepping 8 different bags, I know I can store everything in one place and keep track of it all. It just makes life so much easier!

As a high school teacher, Joelle says her Fitmark bag is the envy of all her students. She takes it to every class with her and everyone asks about it.

Do What Makes You Happy!

…and “ENJOY the process!” It’s Joelle’s passion for what she does and a subject that never stops to thrill her and challenge her mentally and physically. She says that it’s the secret to going after what you want:

It’s so easy to get caught up in the stress of everyday life, but this is your only shot. You get one life and one body! Treat it well, mentally and physically. Look at every obstacle as an opportunity to overcome and rise above. Strength is beauty!

You can Joelle on YouTube at Joelle Samantha.

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