Name: Neila Rey
So, why do you do what you do? Why fitness and not, let’s say, cross-stitching?
Well, one day, a very dark day in my life, I decided that I was sick of feeling weak – not just physically but mentally, too. I’ve struggled my entire life with self-image, defeatism and depression. My whole life I have been told that I am nothing and I will never achieve anything, be anybody or make any kind of difference in the world. I truly believed that.
I thought that yes, someone like me will never go very far and never be able to be strong enough to do anything of any worth. Until the day when I told myself “F*** it. I’ll be a warrior” and took off. It was very dramatic and pathetic at the same time. I went for a run. It was awful. I hated it. I was lying somewhere in the dark by the side of the road out of breath considering my options. And they weren’t many, I must say. I could either give up and go back to feeling worthless and weak, or I could go on and see where the journey would take me. I had to do it.
After that I kept coming back for more again and again, hating most of it, and complaining every step of the way. The beauty of pushing yourself is that you can’t really complain that much – if there is no one to hear you rant, there is very little point in voicing your discomfort. And then again – what is the point? I had made my decision to keep going so I knew I must. I felt that physical challenges would help me get stronger emotionally. I was right.
Getting out there and pushing myself forged me into the person I am today. Pushing myself gave me the strength I needed to live my life instead of accepting my existence. When I knew I could do things with my body I couldn’t dream of before, I knew I could also go after my dreams and change my life for the best, too. Instead of constantly asking myself: Why do it? Why bother? I instead kept asking: “Why Not?”
Where does your motivation come from to keep going each day? What motivates you to keep going?
Many people take motivation from competiveness or setting goals but I look deep inside myself – there is a well of strength and determination there if you dig deep enough. And once you find it you’ll never be unmotivated again.
You also have to realize why you are doing it, why do you go and force yourself to perform when you could have stayed home eating oreos. I used to be a chubby shorty who sucked at anything physical and spent her entire time in front of the computer or cuddled up with a book somewhere (not that I don’t do that now…) – making the transition from that hermit kid was not an easy task but I knew it had to be done. That “has to be done” is my greatest motivation even today. I know that training and hard workouts gave me my life back. It gave me my second chance, confidence and self-respect. Fitness is so much more than looking good. I would even say that looking good is a pleasant side-effect.
What is your favorite workout routine? And what workout routine works best for you?
I base everything around running – because it pushes me. Yet, I also love lifting weights and I love bodyweight exercises. I enjoy being able to perform difficult tasks with my own body – it gives me the sense of control. Being able to push yourself in different ways just feels right. It makes the pain worth it. I almost always start my workout with a run. Sometimes a run is my workout.
What does your diet look like?
I eat anything that is not nailed to the floor. So I try to nail much of it 🙂 Once upon a time I had an eating disorder. I had probably tried every single diet and ridiculous weight-loss fad out there when I was a teenager including fasting (like, no food for a week, just water) – and that’s pretty much how you get an eating disorder. It got really bad and really ugly, eventually. These days I eat anything but I practice mindful eating. Just like with training I realized that balance is the key to everything. If I was a fitness model I might go carb free but since I am not and I need my energy to be able to perform I eat whatever I want. I make smart choices over limiting my options in food.
I have done it all in the past; protein diets, going vegetarian… even the ridiculous blood type diet. Yep, I don’t lack experience in going stupid stuff. I am curious by nature, you know. I get easily excited but it’s the consistency I have to work on. So going for balance in a diet seemed like the right thing to do. I eat well and I eat simple. These days time is an issue so I try to think ahead about what I’ll be eating. I eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, yogurts, oatmeal is my staple, rice, lean meat (I don’t like fatty meat in general) and fish. I use olive oil in cooking a lot. Lately I started making protein bars for breakfasts just because it’s convenient. They are oatmeal, coconut cream and peanut butter based but I also boost them with dried berries, seeds and nuts. These go beautifully with my morning coffee.
Do you have favorite exercises?
I get bored doing the same things over and over again. I love weighed renegade rows with push-ups. Well, push-ups I suppose is my all-time favorite. Against-the-wall mountain climbers are also awesome.
What supplements do you take?
I don’t use supplements that much except for vitamins to support my ever-so-weak immune system. I do use whey protein powder for making my protein bars and I also add it to yogurt shakes sometimes. It’s not something I can’t live without but I find it pretty useful when you don’t eat a lot of meat and you need the extra source of protein in your diet.
What advice would you give others just starting on their fitness journey?
Give yourself a chance. Very often people just give up before they even begin their journey and that’s just sad. I know I inspire people and not because of how I look (I don’t think I look that fit) but because they see my determination when I train (Note from Dennis: I think we can all agree Neila is an incredibly fit individual. Something of an inspiration to us all!).
I see myself as a fighter and that comes through in my workouts. I am not just a fighter because I do what I do but because I continue doing it despite the fact that I could just stop. You need to cultivate that spirit in yourself – a warrior attitude to be able to go back into what you know is going to hurt and still enjoy it, thrive on it and come out victorious on the other side.
If you had to describe yourself in one word, what would it be?
I am a meanrat.
The day I came up with this name, my whole life changed. I was no longer someone who was fighting for the inner self but someone who has finally got a place, a place with a suitable name for the person I am now. It seemed very appropriate –from a grey mouse I turned into a meanrat. Now I am a founder of a movement for like-minded people who also see training as something more, something greater.
I never could fit in anywhere myself, so establishing a place for misfits like me seemed like the right thing to do. There is a power in the name and meanrat title holds a lot of it. Whenever I feel I can’t go on for any longer I remind myself that I am a meanrat and that is the same for me as saying “I am unstoppable”. Meanratting now is something of a life-philosophy for me, something I fall back on when I feel weakest. It’s a source of strength and a constant reminder of who I am.
Connect With Nel:
Google Plus: MeanRat Page
Google Plus Personal Page: +Neila Rey