Women In Wellness: Ali Kay of INVEST YOUR BEST On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing
An Interview With Candice Georgiadis
Your thoughts shape your reality — — If you are constantly telling yourself you can’t, you don’t have time, or that you aren’t good enough then that’s the reality that you will create for yourself. I was so negative towards myself in the beginning as far as what I was telling myself and what I believed about myself. Once I chose to shift that mentality towards telling myself that I can do it, that I am worth it then my entire reality changed. Your thoughts and your beliefs about yourself are key in your journey towards wellbeing.
As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ali Kay.
As seen on The Doctors and Women’s Health, ALI KAY the fitness influencer and host of INVEST YOUR BEST has lost over 70lbs in a year and a half and says she has never felt better. Her transformation has gone viral on TikTok (@alexandrawille), earning her more than 388,000 followers.
The mom-of-two has become a TikTok star after detailing how she lost a whopping 70lbs and transformed her body after her second pregnancy. Bottom of FormThe mom was busy looking after her two sons — Lukas, seven, and Ford, two — and felt she had little to no time to prepare nutritious meals for herself.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
During my second pregnancy with my son, I indulged in living the pregnancy lifestyle and had an unhealthy pregnancy as I gained a lot of weight during it. After I gave birth, I found myself continuously gaining weight and feeling less and less like myself. I was around 70 lbs overweight (almost 200 lbs for my 5”1 body frame) and it was getting to the point where my maternity clothes, that once fit me during pregnancy, no longer fit me. I looked in the mirror and could barely recognize myself. I started feeling defeated, unhappy and as a mother to two boys, I started missing out on memories with my kids. I wouldn’t go certain places with my family or participate in certain things because I didn’t feel good or even have the desire to go because of how I was feeling overall. I was becoming complacent with my new lifestyle and becoming more and more unhappy and discouraged.
There was a day that I call my “ah ha” my moment where I took the first step towards change. It was like any other day, and I had declined my oldest son’s offer to go swimming with him at a pool. I felt overwhelmingly frustrated as I watched my husband walk out the door with my two boys as I stayed home. I think that was the first day I truly looked at myself in the mirror and gave myself grace. It was at that moment that I realized I needed to make an overall change that had to do more than weight loss and it started with my mindset. Up until that moment, my inner self-talk was extremely negative, and I was against myself. I chose to give myself some much-needed grace. From that day, I started making small steps towards change to become the best version of myself mentally and physically. I think shifting the mindset from seeing was more than a “weightloss journey,” was also key because I wanted to feel good, strong, and just overall healthy. That was the day that I chose to start prioritize my mental and physical health first before anyone or anything else.
The foundation of my 70 lb weightloss/wellness journey included: prioritizing moving my body 30 minutes for my mental and physical health. Some days that just included prioritizing the time to get it done by walking and pushing my son in the stroller or getting imperfect workouts done in my living room with my kids crawling on my back Next was focusing on slow and steady changes to what I was eating to build sustainability, accepting myself at every phase of the process and tuning into my inner self-talk to encourage myself, and gaining the accountability from social media by sharing and documenting my journey. It took over a year to lose the weight, as the progress was slow, but I’ve been able to sustain the weightloss by building those small habits by the small changes I made along the way.
After I had that turning point to just simply start, I also wanted to make it a point to openly share my entire journey & genuinely on Instagram and my IG stories. I shared raw progress photos, videos along the way, I talked openly about feeling discouraged, I shared my moments of celebration, and I relied on my Instagram community for accountability and support throughout my entire 70 lb weightloss journey which later turned into sharing on TikTok. I felt like sharing that this journey isn’t linear nor is it never over it would help or inspire at least one person to show that it is possible with the right mindset and the willingness to put in the work to build a sustainable lifestyle that doesn’t include body perfection, fad diets, extremes, or all or nothing thinking. October of 2020, I launched the “Invest Your Best with Ali Kay” podcast that casually explores what it takes to live your best life mentally, physically & spiritually by focusing on things you can control; your thinking and actions. Nothing is off the table as Ali discusses, shares personal experiences, as well as interviews guests that will give listeners insight in understanding what it takes to step into action in many different areas of their lives. My goal is to continue openly sharing my personal journey, post weightless, to show that the journey in being your best self is never over nor is it a perfect or linear one.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
I think the most interesting thing that has happened to me since I started to openly share my journey, even to this day, is the support and encouragement I have received from complete strangers on the internet. I think there are so many people who desire to change their lives and want to focus on their wellbeing but don’t really know where to start or what to do. I think just by me being vulnerable and putting myself out there even though sometimes it can be scary to do so, I have been able to find support and give support to others. Recently, I have been very open about how I finally made a leap to become alcohol free because I felt like alcohol was bringing me further away from my goals and not adding value to my life, and as I continue to share my daily updates on social media (I have made it over 100 days without alcohol) I have been getting so much feedback from people how they want to do this too, or have felt the same way etc. And that is something that continues to personally inspire me in my every day life. I have woman especially mothers who message me a lot telling me how they started their own personal journey towards well being or they finally started just moving their bodies little by little and have never felt better both mentally and physically. It continues to be the inspiration and accountability for me to stay on this journey towards wellbeing, as well as know that I am not alone in it.
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The biggest mistake I made when I was first starting was my initial mindset. I didn’t have a lot of progress in the beginning because I was putting my happiness on hold and had extremely negative inner self-talk. It was always the mindset that was “when I looked a certain way, I’ll do this,” or “when I feel a certain way then it will be like…” and as a result I was putting my happiness on hold and missing out on life, especially with my kids. It wasn’t until I shifted my mindset to love and accept myself at every phase of the journey that my progress started to happen and my reality started to change.
Let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
I think by sharing my personal journey openly and authentically which includes the ups and the downs, I have shown a realistic and relatable journey that people see and know that they can do it too. My 70 lb weightloss journey and the journey I continue to openly share on my social media platforms and podcast to promote health and wellness includes one that doesn’t involve perfection or a “perfect body,” overnight success, a diet fad or something extreme. It’s just sharing my journey towards being the best version of myself mentally and physically. My journey involves just starting by shifting that mentality to accept yourself and tell yourself you can do it then prioritizing your mental and physical health by moving your body, making those small and steady steps towards change to create a sustainable lifestyle that works for you and focusing on quality, nutrient dense foods that energized me rather than leaving me feel sluggish. My weightloss journey took a long time and in society, I think we are fixated on “quick fixes” and “instant gratification.” I am promoting health and wellness that promotes prioritizing your mental and physical health, as well as tuning in to your thinking & actions, which is the theme of my podcast “Invest Your Best”.
Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.
1.Prioritize YOU- When I made the shift towards working on the relationship with myself, how I talked to myself, and prioritizing my mental and physical health, my life began to transform my wellbeing and the relationships I had with my kids, my husband, my business, responsibilities etc. Once I realized that I was a better person all around when I prioritized me, like getting my workouts in, taking time for self-care, I dropped the guilt that comes with putting “you” first especially as a mother. Investing in my mental and physical health has changed my life and when you make yourself a priority you drop the excuses because it’s a must for your wellbeing. It doesn’t matter how busy you are but when you prioritize and invest in your mental and physical health first, you are able to put your best self forward. It’s just like the metaphor when you are on a plane and the oxygen mask drops, you have to put it on yourself first in order to be able to help others put their masks on.
2.Start small! — It’s all about starting small to build long term habits and increase motivation. In the beginning, I could barely do a lot of physical activity so I would just simply walk 5 minutes a day. I slowly built upon those 5 minutes, as my small action started to drive more and more motivation, and then I was able to work my way up to doing 30 minutes workouts/moving. I also did not try to start eating 100% healthy foods, I slowly started incorporating whole and colorful foods to my diet. I slowly started to reduce processed and high sugar foods from what I was eating and focused on smaller portions. My changes were very small, and my overall progress took time, but those small changes made big changes as time went on as I built and felt motivated to keep taking actions towards building a solid foundation towards a sustainable lifestyle.
3. Drop the ALL or Nothing thinking & Set realistic goals — In the beginning, I was guilty of saying okay “tomorrow I am going to eat completely clean for 6 weeks and start working out for 30 minutes every day,” which was extremely different from my current lifestyle at the time. Then what would happen is that I would be good for like 2 days then I would eat a slice or pizza or brownie, miss my workout then completely give up. I think it’s important to understand that it doesn’t have to be perfect/all or nothing. When we think this way, we set ourselves up for failure. It’s about setting up for success and going back to that idea of starting small, making slow and steady changes to build a sustainable lifestyle that work for you. If you’ve never worked out before, set the small goal to move your body for just 5 minutes a day and build upon that. It’s important to understand small actions drive motivation to build that foundation towards wellbeing.
4. — Move your body for your mental and physical health and find a workout you actually enjoy — This is such a game changer. Right away, I became addicted to the feeling I got after a workout as I found I was energized, less moodier, happier, patient etc. I never once, to this day, have regretted a workout. When I first started moving my body, it was just walking and pushing my son in the stroller. But as time went on, I found myself looking forward to the time I made for myself to workout. I was open to trying different types of movement like cycling, boxing etc. and I am constantly switching it up because I like to find new things. Working out can be enjoyable, you just have to find something that you like. And Moving your body can come in so many different forms other the stereotypical “gym workout.” I also found that it doesn’t have to be “perfect” workouts. Many times, I will just get a 30 minute workout in my living room with my kids and there are many interruptions and stopping with the kids but I still finish and get it done because I know I feel better after the workout.
5.- What you tell yourself is what you believe — — When I felt discouraged in the beginning of my journey, I found that I was telling myself a lot of negative things like I can’t do it and I am not capable of losing the weight etc. Or being “healthy” is jus too hard and not for me. My mindset is and was everything and what you tell yourself is ultimately what you believe and shapes your reality. It’s great when you have someone else telling you that they do believe in you but it’s effective when it’s your own self saying that you can do it. Believe in yourself. I think that’s so powerful in achieving a journey towards wellbeing because if you are constantly telling yourself you can’t do this workout or you’ll never be able to eat healthier, then that’s going to be the reality you create for yourself. Once I shifted to the mentality that I can do this, then my initial progress began.
6. Measure your progress by a photos, how you feel, and your clothes…don’t fixate on the number on the scale — Every time I stepped on the scale, I would get off feeling discourage and defeated. The number on the scale was barely moving in the beginning of my journey and as a result, I wanted to give up so many times. I got to the point where I had to ditch the scale strictly for my mental health and measure my progress by photos, how I felt, and how my clothes were fitting. It’s amazing the changes you will see in the progress photos that you don’t get from a number on the scale. You can still be losing inches and gaining muscle without the scale moving and that was definitely the case throughout my entire journey even to this day my body has changed so much as I continue to build muscle that I can see from photos. I also noticed how I was started to smile in my monthly progress photos which showed that I was making even bigger progress in the way I was feeling overall.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
The movement for people to prioritize their mental health by consistently moving their bodies. Society understand and highlights the physical health benefits to working out but there is also a big association with working out in society that benefits only “looking a certain way” or highlighting that working out is only for “weightloss” or to achieve a certain “body type” etc. And I think as a result, a lot of people don’t enjoy working out, don’t see it as a mental health benefit or view it as “punishment” in some ways. Working out can be dreadful when you have this mentality towards it and I think majority of society have experienced it this way.
Very early on, as it is the foundation to my journey, I became addicted to the feeling I got mentally when I just went outside and walked for 30 minutes. I could barely do anything in the beginning because of the extra weight I had on my body so I just started with walking. I prioritized every day, going outside and walking for a few minutes with my son in the stroller. That walking gradually became jogging, cycling, weight lifting, boxing etc. And I got it in no matter what, even if it included kids and it wasn’t a “perfect” workout session because it made such a difference mentally. I continued to experience the mental benefits post workout which made it easier to prioritize the time for myself get “moving my body” in because it was for my mental health. Movement became my medicine, even to this day, as I am someone who struggles with anxiety and depression, I move my body for my mental health. I feel patient, motivated, energized, less moodier, and overall happier. Moving your body for your mental health is an evidence-based practice that studies have continued to find reduce the long-term effects of depression and is a mood enhancement as the brain releases endorphins and it increases serotonin. I think shedding light to prioritizing moving your body for your mental health (and movement can look so different for everyone) — whether it is running, weight lifting, walking or just dancing in your living it has mental health benefits that need to be discussed, highlighted, and exemplified as movement & working out is not just for physical health, weightloss or vanity reasons.
To this day, I prioritize moving my body for my mental health and it has completely transformed my life and the way I am resilient to life’s daily stressors. If you go to the doctor because you are stressed out etc, majority of the time, they won’t even discuss the impact moving your body can have on your mental health. I am fully invested in starting a movement for people to understand that it can positive impact both your mental and physical health, as well as it be something that can be enjoyable. I will continue to be a “move your body advocate” because it changed my life once I started prioritizing movement and the best thing is that it is free, accessible to any type of population, and it can be enjoyable; you just have to find the movement you enjoy.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
1.The journey towards wellbeing and working towards being the best version of yourself is NEVER over. — It’s not about reaching a number on the scale and crossing this imaginary finish line. Every day you have to put in the work and that’s why it’s so important to focus on building a sustainable lifestyle rather than a quick fix. I think once you understand that it’s a lifestyle and the journey is never open, then you understand the process more and allow yourself to be patient. It’s also never easy! And therefore I continue to share my personal journey post weightloss. Just because I accomplishing losing 70 lbs, doesn’t mean I am done, that it’s easy, that I don’t struggle or that I have it all figured out. I don’t. And that’s why the journey isn’t linear either. Every day I make the conscious decision to prioritize my wellbeing therefore the journey and putting in the work will always be continuous.
2.You will have bad days! — I think it’s important to know that you aren’t going to get your workouts in or you might have a day where you aren’t eating the best things for your body. But that’s okay. It’s about knowing that every day doesn’t have to be perfect and you can still keep pushing forward and put in the the effort.
3. Find Accountability friends and like-minded people — This was such a big reason why I shared and continue to share my journey on social media. I found complete strangers messaging me to encourage me, share their personal stories etc or tell me how I inspire them, which inspired me to keep going. Even if you aren’t big into social media, it’s so important to find friends or a community who have similar goals towards wellbeing. These are the people who will support, motivate, and uplift you especially during bad days. I host monthly fitness and alcohol free challenges with Way better for this very reason so that people can find a like-minded community who are invested in being the best versions of themselves.
4. You do have time!!…you just have to make it a priority. — I was guilty of excuses in the beginning as to why I don’t have time to take steps towards my wellbeing or get a workout in. I think we are all guilty of believing that we don’t have time and that’s what keeps us further and further away from our goals. Excuses are a result of poor planning and you do have time for things that you prioritize. That’s why making the conscious choice to make your wellbeing a priority will immediately give you the time. It just has to be a priority to make it happen.
5. Your thoughts shape your reality — — If you are constantly telling yourself you can’t, you don’t have time, or that you aren’t good enough then that’s the reality that you will create for yourself. I was so negative towards myself in the beginning as far as what I was telling myself and what I believed about myself. Once I chose to shift that mentality towards telling myself that I can do it, that I am worth it then my entire reality changed. Your thoughts and your beliefs about yourself are key in your journey towards wellbeing.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
Mental Health! As someone who has dealt with mental health which led me to get my masters in mental health counseling & psychology, it is imperative that we break the stigma around mental health and normalize discussing mental health, as well as bringing to light the evidence-based practices that exist to support mental health in addition to pharmaceutical/prescription treatments. I also want to share the message that a mental health disorder does NOT define you. Diagnosis’ are meant to guide treatment and not define a person. We need to discuss more about how we can prioritize and be an advocate for our own mental health especially through focusing and prioritizing our own wellbeing (what we eat, moving our bodies etc.) I am so open about having discussions about my personal stories and struggles with mental health and the positive impact counseling has made on my life in order to normalize the stigma and hopefully share the message that you aren’t alone in your struggles and that there is hope. Moving my body every single day has been a form of medicine for my mental health and it has changed my life, which is why I am so passionate about sharing this message about moving your body for your mental health. My podcast “Invest Your Best” is an extension of this by sharing how we can take control over our thinking, actions, and lifestyle in order to invest in being the best versions of ourselves mentally and physically.
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This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!
Women In Wellness: Ali Kay of INVEST YOUR BEST On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.