'You don't come to me because you want abs - it's about how you feel not how you look'
Donegal wellness and fitness coach Lisa Dee wants to inspire women to seek more than abs when they exercise
'I wasn't the type of girl who would be confident on stage; that wasn't me," says Lisa Dee, somewhat ironically, of her first bikini contest.
"At that time I needed something just completely out of the blue and crazy; I needed something different, and that was it," says the 26-year-old.
According to the Donegal native, Lisa back then - 2013 bikini contest contest Lisa - was miles apart from the fitness and wellness coach you see today, who has dedicated her life to empowering other women to feel confident in their bodies and minds.
"In school I didn't really take part in any sports or activities, but I was always active and always doing my own thing," Lisa explains.
After an evening of clearing my house out before the big move and giving away the final bits of my wardrobe, it finally dawned on me... I'll soon be living in the sun. Every. Damn. Day. I keep forgetting, I'll look at photos from earlier this year and cry "I misssssss the sun", before Ruairi replies with "Lisa... A few more weeks" #hurryup #beachbaby
"I started going to the gym when I was about 17 and I just found that I enjoyed doing weights," Lisa says. "So I played around at that for a while, but I didn't really take it seriously until I was maybe 21 or 22.
"At that point I found that going to the gym was my getaway and my time for myself," Lisa adds. "I went through a phase of not feeling so great about myself and when I went to the gym I felt better, so I was really aware of the difference it made to me.
"The bikini contest came along at a time in my life when I really needed that distraction; it sounds crazy, but I think I found myself almost by doing it," Lisa adds.
"I had a few weeks to get ready for it and I completely loved the whole process of having that goal and going to the gym with that goal in mind.
I found my fire again Since injuring my back I lost total passion for training and working out in general! The last 8 weeks have been MEHHH So 4 days off work so far, a (almost healed) back and a tonne of hair chopped off my shoulders and the result was that TODAY FELT SO GOOD! I did the lightest leg session of my life but it was just so nice to sweat properly again and not feel any niggles in my back or hip #happygirl #thelittlethings #firematters
"I started to feel more confident in myself and that is where everything really started for me. Doing this small, local competition [in Letterkenny] gave me more courage and it gave me more faith in myself.
"I didn't win - I didn't even place - and that didn't matter, in just doing the thing I had found something that helped me hugely in so many ways."
A short time later, Lisa studied to become a fitness trainer and subsequently began working as a personal trainer. Then she had a brainwave, and set about creating her own unique, female-only bootcamp classes.
"When I was in the gym everyone around was encouraging one another and it was a great feeling being around that, but where I was living there were no gyms; I had to drive 20 minutes to the gym, so I just put a status on Facebook one day and asked if anyone around would be interested in a girls-only bootcamp and the response was just crazy," Lisa explains.
"It just took off. When I started out I was doing personal training alongside the bootcamps, but pretty soon they took over.
"I realised very quickly that I wanted the women in my bootcamps to feel better about themselves; I really wanted them to find what I had found through training," Lisa adds.
"The realisation came that it is not about how you look, it is about how you feel when you are doing it. And pretty soon I began to see that in the women taking part, I saw so many girls just come out of their shells and begin to feel better."
Lisa began to immerse herself in motivational and empowering books, keen to learn more about the power of positivity, which she had noticed blossom in her bootcamps.
"I love motivational speaking and empowerment and mindfulness, so I incorporated that into my bootcamps as well," Lisa says. "So it wasn't just about coming in to train, it was about coming in to get empowered and to take control of your life.
"I want girls to learn a healthy balance. You don't come to me and say 'I want abs' - I can help you with that - but really you need to do it to feel better, to get a really deep confidence boost because that is what matters the most."
News of Lisa's holistic approach to fitness soon spread across not just Ireland, but the world.
"Loads of Irish girls living abroad were emailing me saying 'I wish I could come to your bootcamp, but I am living away' so I began to do online coaching as a result and it has gone really well," Lisa says.
"I don't actually do any personal training anymore. I just do the bootcamps and online coaching and I have my own gym in Letterkenny."
And Lisa continues to expand her growing business, by recently releasing her first eBook, The Chiselled Chick Cookbook.
"All the recipes are what I eat," she says. "I like to keep things simple, but super tasty.
"I eat what I feel I need to feel good that day, so every day differs and I am not too hard on myself."
Lisa's day on a plate
8am: As soon as I wake up, I'll make my signature green shake (full of veggie goodness) followed by a red pepper omelette.
11am: I like to have a small bowl of oats, mixed with flavoured protein powder, topped with strawberries and Greek yoghurt.
2pm: Before training I'll whizz up my PB & Jelly Chocolate Smoothie and drink that with a side of pineapple on the way to the gym. If I have time, I'll have a black bean and goats cheese quesadilla instead.
5pm: Post-training, I usually have a large tuna and Chinese-flavoured rice stir fry to refuel.
8pm: I love eating a late dinner, recently I've been eating my newest fave recipe a lot, the Cheesy Garlic Potato recipe from my book, along with any fish/meat of choice and a large salad.
10pm: For a nighttime snack, I'll sometimes have a herbal tea with some hazelnut butter-topped rice cakes.
Lisa's top 5 motivational reads
1. The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne
2. Who Moved My Cheese?, by Dr Spencer Johnson
3. The Road Less Travelled, by M Scott Peck
4. The Motivation Manifesto, by Brendon Burchard
5. The Life-changing Magic Of Not Giving A F**K, by Sarah Knight
Lisa's cheesy garlic potato recipe
25g boiled baby potatoes
1 Tsp extra virgin olive oil
Qtr. Tsp garlic
Half Tsp black pepper
A pinch of sea salt
1 Tbsp parmesan cheese
A small handful of freshly chopped parsley
1. Combine the olive oil, garlic and pepper in a bowl.
2. Chop the cooked baby potatoes and drizzle with the oil mixture.
3. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese on top and finish by topping with parsley and sea salt.
Health & Living