One thing I absolutely love about writing this blog is being able to make connections with people from all over the country (and sometimes the world!) One of these connections is Kenzie Nguyen- a twenty-one-year-old college student who is fiercely passionate about helping people love their bodies and repair their relationships with fitness and food. Kenzie enjoys almond butter, roasted veggies, hiking, and a really good cup of coffee. She hopes to become a nutritionist and to work with women struggling with eating disorders, and currently is in the process of starting up her blog about body positivity and acceptance. Kenzie and I met after she reached out to me on Instagram, and since then we've had fascinating conversations about our personal revelations, views on health, and our similar passions for writing, yoga, and helping others. I knew instantly that Kenzie was an Everyday Goddess, and I'm happy to share her interview with you today.
What is your "story"? What led you to become the person you are today?
I suffered from an eating disorder for many, many years. It destroyed my mental, emotional, and physical health, and led me to a place of complete hopelessness and darkness. When I had hit rock bottom, I became determined to find the beauty in life beyond my eating disorder, and slowly but surely began my crawl out from the pit of self-criticism I lived in. I fought every day to rediscover who I was apart from my illness, and to recreate a healthy relationship with my body and food. Flash forward several years, and here I am. I love fitness for showing me what my body can do. I love food because it’s pretty damn delicious and keeps my body going. I have a passion for helping others redefine their relationship with food and fitness, and I find nothing more fulfilling than helping people learn to love themselves.
How has yoga factored into your current lifestyle and sense of self?
Yoga has helped me learn that it is okay to slow down. I used to think that exercise was purely about intensive, sweat-dripping cardio, so when I first started yoga, I didn’t get it. I used to get anxious and frustrated. I felt like if I wasn’t doing sprints then I wasn’t working out. But ever so surely something started pulling me back to the mat. And as I let myself be pulled further into my practice, I felt those thoughts of anxiousness and dissatisfaction with my body start to float away. Yoga started to become a place where I could explore what my body could do, what it needed. It became a place to clear my head and distance myself from whatever was going on in my life. It helped me become aware of the deep connection between my physical and mental state, and that is such a gift.
How do you view strength? How do you view strength in relation to femininity?
I think strength is something so unique because it can manifest itself differently in each person. I think being strong in terms of fitness is doing what works for you and your body. I think it means knowing when to challenge your body and when to be gentle with it. I am blessed to know so many strong women, and each of them are strong in their own ways. Some are yogis, some are crossfit powerhouses, some are gymnasts, some are dancers. And though their talents are different something that I really admire in all of them is the ability to care for their bodies. As women I feel like we are told all these different ways to abuse our bodies, but rarely are we told how to care for them. But I think it takes courage to go against those social grains and to listen to what you physically/emotionally/mentally/spiritually need, and I think that takes real strength.
How would you describe the fearlessly authentic you?
The fearlessly authentic me marches to the beat of her own drum. She wears leggings because she feels her legs look good in them, and because they allow her to play and move hard. She tells her story of loss, of pain, of failure, and tells it from a point of having poured every ounce of strength into moving from those places getting to a place of freedom. She goes for days without brushing her hair because she doesn’t see the need. She eats almond butter and roasted veggies in impressive quantities. She cares deeply about helping others learn how to love their bodies, because she knows what it is to hate her own, and to learn to love it again. She devotes herself to love and to love and to love and to love. To love others, to love those who are hurting, to love herself. She is a fighter. She is a survivor. She is an imperfect, perfect human.