Joelle Samantha - Fitness for a Cause
Occupation: Health and Exercise Teacher, Fitness and Health Coach
Like so many American women of her age, Joelle followed a typical US life path, running cross country in high school, graduating and going to college, where she gained the infamous Freshman 15. However, lacking knowledge on maintaining a healthy diet her Freshman 15 soon turned into the Freshman 30. That is where Joelle’s story takes a different road, one that leads to immense personal strength and the passion to help others on their own health and fitness journeys, be it through her online personal health and fitness coaching or teaching health education and exercise science to high school students.
Starting from the Bottom
In high school I loved running, and that’s what kept me in shape. When I went to college and no longer ran ten miles a day, but kept on eating the same unhealthy way, I put on about 30 pounds. I realized that just working out wasn’t enough, and that nutrition was a big part of maintaining weight. Like so many people in the health and fitness industry, I went from one extreme to the other, and after losing all the extra Freshman weight, I just kept going. I spiraled into an eating disorder, around my second year of college, which led to me transferring home to get the help that I needed. It took a few years to get my head on straight, but I worked with a health coach who helped me get where I needed to be.
"I’m gonna go to the gym because I love my body, not because I hate my body"
A lot of teachers say they chose to teach because they had a teacher who really mentored and helped them, but I had the opposite experience. I realised I could be that driving force for high schoolers, I could be the teacher that I never had, but wanted. I love teaching health, it’s my favorite class to teach, and I think that the way I teach is different to other teachers.
"I think it’s important as a teacher that I show I’m vulnerable, and show my experiences to even the playing ground"
I do a huge section on mental health, because I’ve dealt with it personally, and a lot of people don’t realise that eating disorders are mental health topics. I share a lot of my own stories and experiences, and I’ve learned that that helps my students so much, because when I open up to them, they feel more comfortable opening up to me.
I think, like anyone in the health and fitness scene, everyone has a bad body image day, every now and then. It’s not an everyday struggle, but it’s definitely an every now and then struggle. You do everything in your power, for me it’s self affirmations and self talks, to help kick the little devil off your shoulder and to look to the angel on the other.
"Something that will creep back into my mindset is allowing myself to rest, it’s a part of the process, you can’t be go, go, go, 24/7"
If I do struggle, those methods really help, and I’m happy to say those thoughts don’t last as long as they used to. It’s a really cool experience to be able to shut up those voices.
I wanted to be that guiding force that I never had, especially at the high school where I work. A lot of the students don’t have someone that they can turn to for advice. If I didn’t have experience with my own eating disorder I don’t think I would take mental health as seriously as I do. I take an all encompassing approach to health. I’ve always wanted to have an impact in some way, and being able to have an impact on kids is amazing.
My message to everyone is to do everything in your power to be comfortable in the skin you’re in. To remind everyone how incredible they are as a human inside and out. We often focus our worth on a scale number or how we look, especially in the fitness and health community, and I want to remind everyone your worth is not determined by a number on a scale, your flaws, or what you perceive as flaws. Just be yourself and be confident in who you are and what you can bring to this world.
I truly love FRÉ and I started using their products in December. Beyond the products, everyone I’ve been in touch with has been so sweet and I’m honored to be a part of this community, and be able to grow with them. I don’t get behind a product I don’t love and believe in, but I’ve had great success with FRÉ and I love being able to share that with my followers.
Rapid Fire Questions:
- Favorite exercise?
- What’s a skincare tip you swear by?
- FRÉ haha, does that count? Officially for the past 3 months that is what I swear by, but for me moisturizing is key.
- Music or no music during a workout?
- What comes to mind when you think of FRÉ?
- Active women with great skin.
- If you were a hashtag, what would you be?
- How would you describe yourself?
- An active, energetic lover of health and fitness.
- How do you feel you are perceived?
- I think I’m perceived as energetic and active, I think they match up pretty well.
- Who do you admire the most?
- My parents #1, and my husband as #2.
- What’s the best advice that you’ve ever received in your life?
- It would be from my dad, he said there are two types of behavior and two types of people that are part of your life, and they are the same thing, you have behaviors that either contribute or contaminate you and who you are, and it’s the same with people.
- What advice would you offer to your 16 year old self?
- To always be yourself regardless of what other people are doing, you will always be the best at being yourself.
- What is an issue that you wish a lot of us would be talking about a lot more often?
- Mental health and self esteem, just feeling good about yourself.
- What does feminism mean to you?
- Feeling good about yourself as a woman, and uplifting other women.