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Health Warrior : Debra Kaniho

Admired in the fitness world here in Hawaii, Debra Kaniho was one of the first locals who befriended Nathaniel and I when we moved here back in April. This woman is a fierce fitness warrior! Not only is she former Ms. Big Island Bodybuilding Champion, former NPC Light Weight Champion and a published fitness model, she is also a fellow A.C.E Certified Personal Trainer and mom! Not to mention she continues competing as a bodybuilder - she has a show this November!

Debra, thank you for setting such a good example of commitment to health both in and out of the gym. Your story and insight into what it takes to overcome destructive habits and replace them with great ones is a special one to share!

1. Debra, let's start from the beginning. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got started in health and fitness? What prompted you to pursue competing

I've been an athlete all my life. I was a swimmer. I swam from childhood and competed all through college. Then I got into bodybuilding and eventually gave up swimming after moving to Hawaii because I wasn't an ocean swimmer. I also got into bodybuilding because I had anorexia and knew that needed to change. It was through bodybuilding that I really learned how to control my mind. It took a long time and a lot of work to basically reprogram my mind. But it eventually became a regular practice and helped me heal.

2. In your opinion, what is the most important part of a healthy lifestyle?

You can't pick just one! A healthy lifestyle is about combining all aspects: eating, sleeping, exercising. You can't do good in the gym and then go make poor food choices and expect great results. You have to choose what you want to be, how you want to live, and stick with it! Find a good balance and then give it all you've got!

3. What is one non-negotiable part of your health routine each week? Something you protect or put in place to take care of yourself.

Working out. My husband even knew from day one... I told him, "don't ever stop me from working out."

Awesome! And how often do you work out?

Five to six days a week.

4. What motivates and inspires you toward goo health and fitness?

I'm very self-motivated. Every day I tell myself, "get your ass up." And every day I do it! It's embedded in me, a habit I stick with.

Does working at a gym make it easier to stay so consistent?

No, sometimes working at a gym actually hinders me. You know, after I've spent all day at the gym, I'm tired and don't want to be here anymore, just want to go home. I have to make myself do it!

5. How do you set health and fitness goals for yourself? What are some goals you are currently working on?

I think it's good to have something to strive for! Eventually, I'll have to let it go, but right now competitions are my goal. I guess I've always loved competition events. Before, it was swim meets and now it's bodybuilding shows. My next competition is on November 4th in Honolulu! After competitions, I always make rest a priority. I give myself a week of rest and relaxation, and spend extra time with my dogs.

6. What's the best advice you could give someone just beginning his or her own health journey? A key takeaway you could share with us?

Don't measure yourself next to anyone else but yourself! We're all in it together. Just go against yourself. No matter what --> it's you vs. you.

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