A transformative story of one woman’s path from studying nutrition, dietetics and working with the football team at the University of Arizona to getting her master’s in sports nutrition and becoming a competitive bodybuilder at Georgia Southern. Then how all of this came around to empowering and impacting thousands of people to become the best version of themselves.
Sam Gwazdauskas currently resides in Dana Point, in Orange County, Southern California where she is a wholesome nutrition, fitness, and wellness coach. She has always been passionate about health and fitness and she pursued this through her schooling so she could come to share it with others. She has her: Master’s of Science in Nutrition & Dietetics, Kinesiology & Sport Nutrition CSCS, Certification as a Strength and Conditioning Coach CISSN, and Certification as a Sport Nutritionist.
Sam never thought that her education journey would lead to where she is today. While pursuing her masters, she began bodybuilding because some of her friends in the program were conducting a research project on bodybuilders. While Sam felt very passionate and empowered by this sport in the beginning, she quickly realized that the constant cycling through 40-pound weight differences with strong focuses on image and performance was not sustainable for her physical or mental health. Sam decided she never wanted to go through another weight loss program again. She says, “For so long I was so hyper-focused on what I ate and what I did for exercise that I sacrificed everything else that would enable the success I was looking for.” Now she focuses on the way that she feels and the life she truly wants to embrace, putting a focus on deeper underlying issues that are not solved by the way that a person looks.
“FOR SO LONG, I WAS SO HYPER-FOCUSED ON WHAT I ATE AND WHAT I DID FOR EXERCISE THAT I SACRIFICED EVERYTHING ELSE THAT WOULD ENABLE THE SUCCESS I WAS LOOKING FOR.” – SAM GWAZDAUSKAS
Today, many people put a strong emphasis on tweaking their workouts to boost performance and creating complex diets to supplement weight loss. This common style of coaching was Sam’s original approach, it is what she knew from her bodybuilding experience. In her own life, she saw that this method, focused solely on nutrition and fitness, often leads to an imbalance of other aspects of life such as relationships, mental health, being a good student or employee, and other factors that are truly important to reaching overall happiness.
“YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT TO BE SUCCESSFUL.” – SAM GWAZDAUSKAS
After Sam had a personal experience that showed her a more wholesome well-rounded approach to coaching, she completely flipped her playbook. She says her new method of coaching is an “adaptation of something that I’ve done for myself that I want to teach and guide others through as well.” She shares her knowledge to teach people about the importance of performance and nutrition combined with an understanding of the underlying issues and subconscious factors that must be acknowledged. This is her approach to leading her clients to reach personal fulfillment and become the happiest, healthiest version of themselves. Sam stresses the fact that “You don’t have to be perfect to be successful. “
“WHAT BALANCE LOOKS LIKE FOR YOU TODAY IS GOING TO BE DIFFERENT IN A MONTH FROM NOW, IT’S A CONSISTENT EVOLUTION OF YOUR PRIORITIES, SCHEDULE, AND TIME.” – SAM GWAZDAUSKAS
Sometimes people focus so much on the pursuit of a singular goal that it causes them to sacrifice other aspects of their lives. Sam believes that its important to honor every aspect of your life each day. She says, “What balance looks like for you today is going to be different in a month from now. It’s a consistent evolution of your priorities, schedule, and time.” A large part of this balance is taught through her coaching with a focus on the client’s mental health aspects. With many of her clients, she asks questions to encourage vulnerability and honesty to get people thinking about the root of their health struggles. These questions range from, “What your biggest fear?” to “Why do you think the way you do about yourself?” to “What are your priorities?” and more. Sam’s thought-provoking questions are tailored to motivate her clients toward a place of empowerment. She says “I want to empower people to embrace whatever healthy looks like on them and to really remove any expectation of what beauty and health look like, and to simply pursue the best and healthiest versions of themselves.”
“I WANT TO EMPOWER PEOPLE TO EMBRACE WHATEVER HEALTHY LOOKS LIKE ON THEM AND TO REALLY REMOVE ANY EXPECTATION OF WHAT BEAUTY AND HEALTH LOOK LIKE, AND TO SIMPLY PURSUE THE BEST AND HEALTHIEST VERSIONS OF THEMSELVES.” – SAM GWAZDAUSKAS
Sam never thought the path she set out on would lead her to where she is today - a lifestyle coaching who is making an true impact on others. It is very inspiring to hear the story of someone who has let her passion evolve and guide her through such a transformation. Never forget, as Sam says, “Nobody has more time than now to invest in themselves.” Thank you for sharing your story Sam!
Written by: Anna Rice & Jason Crowe
Interview by: Jason Crowe