Maya Nassar, the Start Living Right founder and fitness modeling champion, is a story that has inspired thousands and why not: she achieved what most people only dream about. From being fat to becoming one of the top fitness models and sports trainers, she turned her life around by making healthy choices. She later founded ‘Start Living Right’ as a platform to help others achieve the body shape they want. She has won many competitive awards and has been covered by various media outlets extensively.
The Health Units team had a chance to sit with her and have a chat about her struggle, the difficulties she faced, her goals, and future plans. Here are some excerpts from an interview with this amazing woman.
Health Units: Tell us about yourself?
Maya Nassar: I’m certified in sports nutrition and personal training and I compete abroad in fitness modeling championships. I never used to be healthy and was overweight at one stage in my life, so I had to work very hard to reach where I am today.
Health Units: What was your inspiration for becoming a fitness model?
Maya: My inspiration was to take things to the next level and push to my ultimate best. I did not just want to be average, but I wanted to challenge myself to my limits both mentally and physically. I wanted to go from being chubby and insecure to being confident and in the best shape of my life.
Health Units: What prompted you to start ‘Start Living Right’?
Maya: As I was preparing for my first competition, I regularly posted my training regime and diet on Facebook. A lot of my Facebook friends started asking me questions about weight loss and this gave me the idea to start a free online platform where anyone in the world can have access to information to help them live a healthier lifestyle. My website was a great success and this inspired me to create a mobile version of the website with more useful tools. People can download my mobile app for free by searching for “startlivingright’ from their smartphone store.
HU: What is your audience? Do you think people understand the importance of work you are doing?
Maya: My website and mobile application cater to anyone who is looking for health tips. The majority of users are women from the Middle East; however, there are also many male and female users from all over the world. I believe people understand the importance of the work I am doing. This is because being fit not only improves your health and your wellbeing, but it changes your whole life in every possible way.
HU: What kind of difficulties, problems have you faced in your professional life?
Maya: The main difficulty I have faced is that bodybuilding competitions for women do not exist where I live. This means that I have had to do most of the hard work on my own without any support, including my training and diet. I do not have access to specialized trainers, seminars, workshops, etc which help to prepare an individual for a competition. Although it has been challenging, every second of hard work always pays off once I reach my goal.
HU: Do you think the media prompted image of ideal beauty is ruining our understanding of what real beauty is?
Maya: I believe the media plays an important role in influencing how we view beauty, but it is important for each individual to define what ideal beauty is to them. My personal view of beauty is to be fit, healthy and athletic. I always tell women that their goal should be to become healthy and strong, and never to be skinny. My personal preference for my physique is to have curves with soft muscle definition.
HU: What kind of responses do you normally get from your followers?
Maya: I usually get a lot of positive feedback from my followers and people have told me that I’ve changed their lives or inspired them to start living a healthier lifestyle. Unfortunately, there have been several negative responses, particularly from religious extremists. However, I never give negative responses any importance.
HU: What do you think is an ideal exercise to staying fit and healthy?
Maya: I believe the best way for anyone to stay fit and healthy is to lift weights. Weightlifting is so effective when it comes to fat loss and shaping your body. It also protects your bones and joints and prevents diseases. Many women fear weightlifting because they believe it will make them masculine, but this is completely untrue. Women do not have enough testosterone in their body to look bulky.
HU: What are your plans for the future (any expansion plans, future competitions etc)?
Maya: I have plans to open up my own gym and my goal is to compete in fitness competitions every year. I am constantly working on improving my website and application to become even better and more user friendly. In addition to that, I always love to set new goals and challenges. I always tell myself that success is achieved and maintained by those who try and keep on trying.