Minna Lee is a vibrant personal trainer, nutrition coach, lifestyle blogger, and entrepreneur that is inspiring women to reach their fitness goals while sharing her body positive message. We love Minna for her ability to channel positivity and empowerment in her daily life. This week, we got a chance to hear Minna talk about her love of health and nutrition while inspiring us to find balance in our everyday lives.
Tell us about yourself. How did you get into health and nutrition?
Hello Amari tribe! My name is Minna, and I'm a trainer, nutrition coach, blogger, and wellness entrepreneur based in NYC. I was a competitive figure skater for ten years, so fitness and health have always been a part of my life, but it wasn't until I was working at a desk job that I realized that this was my life's passion. After being a senior trainer at Equinox for several years, I got certified through Precision Nutrition as a nutrition coach to really help my clients achieve their health goals in a 360º approach.
Any tips you have for staying fit this summer?
I'm a big proponent of realistic balance, and living a truly active lifestyle. To me, that means saying yes to that extra glass of rosé during a beach getaway, but then also pushing yourself to try physical activities like hiking, paddleboarding, etc. that you might not be doing in your everyday life.
An active lifestyle doesn't have to mean living inside a gym 24/7 (and who wants to do that during summertime!), but rather taking all opportunities to try and do all things your body is physically capable of. Taking the stairs, carrying the extra heavy grocery bags home, and dance parties are all wonderful ways to incorporate a surprising amount of activity into your every day.
What are some of your go-to fitness exercises?
Strength training all the way, if you're looking to get strong and get lean. I'm so happy to see that more women are realizing that the fear of lifting heavy weights was perpetuated by myth and not science, but we still have a ways to go. I am a bit of a stunt monkey in that I love everything from olympic lifting, kettlebells, plyometrics, ballet, and mixed martial arts. My latest favorite moves though? I'm back on my deadlift game with 200+ lbs, love Turkish getups, and you can never go wrong with a circuit of kettlebell swings when you're short on time...super efficient!
How do you find the motivation to work out and eat healthy?
For me, my motivations have evolved a lot over the years. I struggled with an eating disorder for much of my life as a competitive athlete and thereafter, so part of that recovery process was learning how to appreciate my body for all the incredible things it did for me even when I wasn't treating it very nicely.
Then after my autoimmune disease (Hashimoto's) diagnosis 2.5 years ago, things shifted. It was just about making my body feel as good as possible to fight the chronic inflammation and fatigue I struggled with. Now after continuing to manage my illness, my motivation for training and nutrition are all about the future: I want to be able to be that crazy 80-year old lady sprinting around with her grandkids!
What do you like to eat before and after a workout?
I dislike eating anything right before a workout - I typically like to have a little something in my stomach about two hours before working out. Anything that is a mix of carbs and protein makes me feel best, like a banana with some peanut butter or some yogurt and fruit. And maybe some iced coffee or an iced matcha if I'm needing a little extra boost of energy. After working out, I always make sure to get a good dose of protein and some carbs to make sure I reap the rewards of all the hard work I just put in! I usually make one of my super smoothies that are packed to the brim with nutrients to save on time.
What's your favorite healthy smoothie recipe?
My power greens smoothie is a big favorite, but lately I've also been doing a smoothie with:
- 1/2 frozen banana
- Handful of strawberries and blueberries (and rhubarb if in season!)
- Splash of Lemon Juice
- A large fistful of baby spinach
- 1/2-3/4 cup Coconut Milk
- 2 tbsp Collagen
- 2 tsp Hemp Seeds
- 2 tsp Chia Seeds
Do you ever take "cheat" days?
I really don't believe in cheat days for most people - I find that it makes people go to extremes on both ends too much and it's really not a healthy balance. Going back and forth from over-restriction to a free-for-all isn't sustainable. I eat wholesome foods and what makes my body feel good, then sprinkle in enjoyable things when the occasion calls for it.
For me, my rule is that I always will have the really, really good food and especially when traveling and experiencing authentic local cuisine...some average store-bought dessert? I can pass. But a dessert from a family recipe at a famous little restaurant when traveling to Rome? I'd couldn't forgive myself for passing up on that!
Who has been your biggest influence in life?
My mom, 100%. More than just teaching me to be authentic to myself, she taught me the reality of how marching to the beat of your own drum is a challenging road to choose - but nevertheless, it will give you a life that much more fit for you to live and thrive in. She also really reinforced the dynamics of empathy, compassion, gratitude, and standing up for what is right, in my sister and I. I couldn't be prouder to be her daughter and more thankful that I seriously won the mom lottery.
If you could choose one piece of clothing to live in forever, what would it be?
It's really a blessing and a curse that my job allows me to live in stretchy spandex all day! I knew it was getting bad when a friend of mine looked at me one day when I was dressed in basic jeans and a casual top and remarked that I looked so dressed up - haha! I'd really live in oversized hoodies and tee shirts if I could. But there's something about a LBD or a flowy summer dress that makes me feel super feminine in a wonderful way.