I had the honor to interview another one of my favorite body positive influencers for all of you! Meet Katerina Mangini!
Katerina is a 20 year old college student, health coach, and registered dietitian in training. She has a Tik Tok account dedicated to promoting a healthy lifestyle with over 29.2k followers, as well as a health Instagram account with 2,500 followers. She encourages all of her followers to find balance in their own lives and embrace the skin they’re in.
When did you start your health journey?
My mom is actually a health & wellness educator and went to culinary school, so I have always been very aware and interested in nutrition! I would say that my passion really intensified when I went to college. I realized that I was fully independent and that I needed to learn to feel confident in myself and love myself, so I did my research and started experimenting with healthy eating and exercise! I also came to the realization that I was not looking at food as fuel, but rather as the enemy. It was taking up a lot of my thoughts every day and I didn’t want to feel overwhelmed like that anymore, I wanted to enjoy my life!
How has your journey to health and balance improved your overall life?
When I was a senior in high school, I was around 20 pounds heavier than my current weight, so a major change I saw was in my weight (which is not always necessarily a good thing for everyone! However, personally, it was something that helped my energy level and mood). When I started eating in a way that fueled my body right and gave me energy, the weight just fell off and stayed off! Like I said, I’ve noticed such an increase in energy and I noticed that my mood stabilized a ton. Additionally, my skin cleared up and I noticed that I just felt more confident and happier. I definitely used to look at healthy foods and working out as a punishment or something that I “needed” to do, but now I prefer my days with movement and meals that FEEL good in my body. Lastly, my relationship with food has become so much stronger. I no longer look at food as the enemy or feel the need to restrict. I eat everything in moderation and honor my cravings; I eat intuitively!
What do you do on bad body image days?
On my bad body image days I definitely feel like staying in sweats all day long!! BUT I know that I won’t feel my best that way, so I tend to find a happy medium – I like to get dressed in a way that I feel confident, but also comfortable (so maybe that means dressing up a cute pair of sweatpants with a fun purse and top). I also try to accept the fact that I am human and we ALL have insecure days, but I try to keep in mind that my body is single-handedly keeping me alive and I am so so grateful for everything it does for me. So I try to remind myself that my body is doing its best given whatever the circumstances are, and that no feeling is permanent. Without the bad days, we wouldn’t know what a good day feels like!
What are some specific affirmations you try to remind yourself of?
I try to write 3 affirmations for myself daily. They tend to be something along the lines of “I am worthy,” “My beauty is not defined by others or my negative thoughts,” and “My body is doing its best.” I tend to gravitate toward writing affirmations that make me feel grateful for everything that I have! This improves my mood each morning so much.
How do you balance a healthy lifestyle with school, work, social life, etc?
I think that everyone is different and everyone prioritizes different things (and that’s perfectly okay!). I think it’s super important for every person to experiment with and figure out what their priorities are and what habits they want to keep up with. Personally, I feel my best when I prioritize eating and moving in a certain way, so I make sure I am keeping up with healthy habits that support those priorities. Some of my routine habits are not constantly being on my phone, getting proper sleep, and keeping organized with a planner. All of these allow me to spend time doing what I need to get done (work + school) but also enjoy things I want to do (hang with friends + self care time). I also think it’s so extremely essential that people understand that even though I have created a good balance with my lifestyle, that I do have my “off” days or days when I am not practicing my routine and that’s okay because I am a human being! Being kind to ourselves is so important when it comes to creating a balanced lifestyle.
What inspired you to start making body positive content online?
Honestly I only started my health accounts at the beginning of quarantine as a creative outlet for myself and to share fun and healthy recipes + tips with people. I never expected it to turn into such an amazing community! However, I have 100% come to prioritize it now because I know exactly how overwhelming starting your health journey is and I want to help people understand health from a holistic point of view (health as a whole, including mental health, physical health, spiritual health, etc.). I think that knowing people enjoy my content and are genuinely learning + absorbing what I am sharing is one of the best feelings ever and I definitely want to continue to help and share my positive message!
Were you afraid to start making body positive content?
Honestly, no! Once I told my friends I had holistic health Instagram and Tik Tok accounts, they were so incredibly supportive (which I expected – they rock!!) and I was very confident in myself, so I wasn’t ever super afraid. Obviously at the beginning it was a bit nerve-wracking to put content out into the world for strangers to read and listen to, but I realized holistic health is what I am passionate about and people are eager to learn, so I had no reason to be scared or nervous besides my own ego getting in the way. Once I let that go, I felt like I was actually successfully sharing a genuine message with my audience! The people that are truly close to me and important will always support me.
YOu have so many followers on Tik Tok and instagram, did you expect your platform to grow so much? How has it affected your life?
I definitely did not expect to have such a large community and following on either platform, but I am so incredibly grateful for every single person that supports me! I feel like I have created an entirely new supportive and positive family that wants to share and learn together. Additionally, I honestly didn’t really expect myself to be as dedicated as I have become – it’s kind of become like a job along with school these days, and I really really love that! Having these platforms has not only boosted my confidence in my own abilities, but it’s led me to meet so many new people and friends through the accounts. I can’t wait to see who else I meet along the way!
What do you hope others take away from your content?
Not to take life too seriously!! Yes, nutrition and physical health are extremely important, but so are making memories and EXPERIENCING life. There are so many things I could include in my answer for this question, but the main messages I want my followers to absorb are:
Hold yourself accountable, but be kind to yourself when you need to be! Food is fuel, honor your cravings, eat everything in moderation (stop dieting and counting calories, listen to your body). Learn about your health and yourself by experimenting with foods, movement, and hobbies. That’s what life is all about! Enjoy your life! Eat that cookie, cut out toxic people, do what you love!!!
What advice would you give someone struggling with their body image?
I think the issue of body image in our society is so prevalent and continues to grow everyday because of toxic diet culture. We have been taught that there is only one type of figure that is beautiful or that beauty is physical, so everyone is trying to look like that exact image. But, what most people don’t realize is that beauty is found within themselves and that we are all unique (none of us are supposed to look the same)! Health is NOT a specific body type or look. Health is mental, physical, spiritual, creative, and so so much more. Our bodies do so much for us, so try to respect them as much as possible. Also, experiment with movement and eating in a way that feels good for YOU (nobody’s food or movement looks the same) and optimizes your mood and your life. Confidence and self love are JOURNEYS, they do not have end dates or days when you will just say “okay I have achieved my maximum amount of self love.” We are constantly changing and evolving, so take it day by day. And ENJOY YOUR LIFE! Don’t take yourself too seriously. At the end of the day, that extra piece of cake is NOT going to matter, but the memory will! Be grateful for what you have, work on yourself FOR YOURSELF, be kind to others.
Thank you Katerina for being on the blog!
Tik Tok- katerinamangini