It feels like every personal development journey seems to start from a point of deficit. I may be wrong in saying this. But I feel like the most successful influencers on social media are the ones who stand up and share when they’re at their best AND worst.
No one is perfect every single second of every day, that’s common knowledge. But most of us need to act and share like we are. In the end the most relatable and influential people are the ones who combat social norms and speak their never-ending truths.
And that’s exactly what Mari Llewellyn is accomplishing.
I’ll give a little insight into who she is before we dive into this Q&A I pestered her with :).
I met Mari when she was attending Drexel University with me. She’s actually from Wales in the UK and that’s why she has such a one-of-a-kind adorable accent! And unlike most Instagram influencers she’s honest, she’s sweet, she’s whole-hearted and she’d do anything for anyone, all you have to do is ask!
She graduated from Drexel’s Westphal College with a degree in design and merchandising. Her and her boyfriend, Greg, have been dating and motivating each other to be better and more purposeful people from the get-go.
She has a pupper named Lulu who’s rambunctious and energetic. She started sharing her fitness journey on Instagram in October 2017. Through her journey she has discovered so much about nutrition and exercise, and how it can be used for mental health.
The transformation photo below is what “broke the internet” and now she has a climbing following of nearly 280,000 followers! From then on, she has been creating content, sharing her story and helping thousands of other women achieve their goals too.
Mari has a website where she sells gym guides, nutrition guides and her newly developed resistance bands that have gotten five stars across the board from all of her customers.
What sets Mari apart from most IG fitness gurus is that her products are affordable AND effective!
What’s your weekly gym schedule?
“I weight train 5-6 days a week.”
What was the hardest part about adapting to a heavily focused life in clean eating and fitness?
“The hardest part about changing my lifestyle was the disapproval I had from those around me. While I had a ton of support from my boyfriend and immediately family, a lot of people could not understand why I needed to make a change.
As someone who used to party frequently, many people from my previous lifestyle felt as though I had changed. I was so determined and set on my goals, I didn’t allow for anybody to distract me. I said no to pizza, no to drinks, no to going out. A lot of my friends didn’t like this.”
Did you ever feel like you wouldn’t succeed? Tell us about those tough days.
“All the time. When I first got started in the gym I had no confidence and a lot of anxiety. I felt like crying every time I was in there, I felt like everyone was staring at me!
I was so nervous that I would give up. I kept telling myself that every time I pushed through those tough days, I was getting stronger. Not just on the outside, but with my confidence as well. ”
Do you have a “goal weight” per se in mind?
“No I never had a goal weight! I hit my ‘goal’ a long time ago, now most of my focus is on growing muscle. When you put on muscle the scale goes up (muscle weighs more than fat.) I’m much more concerned with how I look and feel than the number on the scale.”
Do you ever feel weird filming content in the gym? / What made you start filming?
“I used to feel super weird but I’ve kind of gotten over it! Everyone at the gym is used to me filming now. When I started posting about my journey I had a lot of questions regarding my workouts, so now I post around 2 workouts a week. I found workout videos so useful when I first started my journey- I want to help beginners!”
This is definitely hard question and it’s completely rhetorical, but do you think if people don’t have a certain person pushing them (like Greg with you) you wouldn’t be able to achieve your goals?
“While Greg taught me a lot about bodybuilding, nobody made this happen except for me. My entire journey took place while Greg was living in Philadelphia attending Drexel.
Almost all of my workouts, meals, tough days, anxiety attacks etc. took place while on my own in New York. This was a super individual journey. While he was an awesome support system, this was something I did on my own, for myself.
In fact, it was one of the first times in my life I’ve ever had a goal of my own. My fitness journey has completely changed me as a person- I am someone who is determined, persistent, and goal driven.
While support systems are great, if somebody wants to change their life, they’re going to have to do it on their own. Greg and I do a lot together, but our fitness journeys are very individual.”
How has fitness positively impacted your mental health?
“Fitness has become an amazing outlet for me. When I’m feeling anxious or stressed, getting a good workout and sweating it out makes me feel so much better. Additionally, fitness has given me a routine and a structure that I never had before.
Many therapists suggest developing a routine in order to keep yourself busy. This has helped me a ton, the busier I am the happier I am.”
I feel like a lot of fitness and health gurus on Instagram eat the same things ALL the time. How do you plan what you eat? Do you ever get bored of eating the same thing over and over? How do you switch things up and stay motivated?
“I am definitely guilty of eating a lot of the same things every day, but I definitely eat things that I like. I stick to a high fat, low carb diet. This means I get to eat yummy things like whole eggs, avocado, olive oil, red meat etc.
However, I definitely avoid sugars/carbs. Personally, I find that I feel a lot better following this diet. My mood and physical health is noticeably improved. However, this is not to say this is the diet for everyone. I always say the best diet for you is the one you can stick to. With that said I definitely enjoy cheat meals on the weekends.”
What’s your favorite cheat meal?
“It’s hard to pick but we love Greek food, sushi, crepes, pasta!! Sometimes I just love a good sandwich.”
What doors has fitness opened for you?
“Fitness has changed everything for me. I am able to be creative through video editing and content creation. I am able to connect with thousands of women and help them start their journeys. I make products that transform people’s lives.
It’s honestly a dream come true. I worked hard to get where I am, but I will always feel incredibly lucky to be where I am at now.”
What do you like to do for fun? Are you passionate about any causes?
“For fun Greg and I love getting outdoors. We love biking, hiking, and playing with our dog Lulu. We also LOVE to travel. Due to my own life experience, I am very passionate about mental health awareness. I often post about my own struggles, I want to make sure my followers know that it’s ok to not be ok, and to ask for help.”
What’s your dream place to travel?
“Fiji or New Zealand!”
I see you’re selling your own bands now? Did you ever believe you’d be your own CEO? What does that feel like?
“It’s a crazy feeling. I never expected to be this fulfilled or happy, let alone creating my own product. I never even knew this path would be an option for me. Looking back on where I was two years ago, I can’t believe where I am today.
This is why I feel that sharing my story is so important, everybody has the potential to do something amazing!”
What are some tips you can give to the readers about staying motivated?
“Constantly remind yourself of your ‘why.’ Why did you get started? I used to write down my motivation every day in my notes.”
What’s your dream/end goal?
“My dream/end goal is to show women that they can change their lives for the better. Not just physically, but mentally. Fitness has allowed me to do so much, I want to show others what it can do for them.
I’d also love to spread awareness regarding mental health, and create more content to help those who are struggling.”
You can follow or contact Mari via:
YouTube: Mari Fitness
Photos courtesy of Mari