ordinary people doing awesome things (interview 1) : Isabella Taylor

Who doesn’t love hearing about ordinary people living awesome lives?

This post kicks off a new series highlighting people I’ve met who live the ideals of this blog- eating well, exploring the world, and getting outside through sport/adventure. We all love stories about well-known people who accomplish insanely cool things, but I’m constantly being inspired by people I’ve met who are just ordinary people, living awesome lives. I’ve begun asking around for interviews, so if you know anyone that inspires you who you think I should interview, let me know in the comments!

Let’s get started…

– – –

Isabella Taylor

is a experienced cyclist and certified yoga instructor, currently living in Brisbane, Australia. I met her at cross country camp in high school. Since we met I’ve followed her adventures through her blog and Instagram, and am so impressed and inspired by what she’s been doing with her life.

Keep reading for her thoughts on cycling, yoga, food and more!20155966_10209427401297222_587309723534585907_nGive us the basics! Who are you and what do you do?

Basically, I’m an aspiring professional road cyclist, part-time student, and I work part-time in the bike industry selling and servicing bikes at a shop. Recently, I’ve been travelling around Europe, SE Asia, and Australia which has been motivating me to do things a little differently when I get back to Portland- like pursue an education full-time, and pursue goals with bike racing.

I know you’ve taught yoga and are an avid cyclist. How does each of these sports play a role in your life?

I’ve actually let yoga slip away from my daily life within the last year or so, and I’m not too upset about that, honestly. I always struggled as a yoga teacher with the spiritual side of the practice. Other teachers seemed to stress the connection between the physical and spiritual practices, and it never felt authentic when I’d attempt the same in my own classes. It made me feel very disconnected from the community as a whole, to the point where I’ve transitioned away from practicing and teaching yoga. I’ve always been afraid to lose the label of “yoga teacher”, but I’ve learned it’s just a silly label.

21751510_10209799668683674_872706518133545486_nCycling has always been there through thick and thin. I think it’s stuck around and transformed so many times in my life because it’s always been able to teach me lessons outside of sport. Bike racing in particular has taught me to persevere through hardships, and to stop running away from pain. There were so many races where I’d think about quitting the entire time because it hurt so badly, but I’d surprise myself by ending up on the podium because I stuck it out anyway. It’s a real self-esteem transformer, because you prove to yourself that you CAN do it after believing you couldn’t. Taking that into other areas of my life has only strengthened my attachment to cycling- like sticking through college, even though it sucks sometimes.

What’s the best part about being an endurance athlete?

The best part is the feeling you get after a workout. Even if the workout was crappy and you didn’t hit a PR, or you didn’t podium in a race, you still went out there and did it which always feels great.

What’s the worst part?

It’s easy wrap up your self-worth in endurance sports. Taking forced time out of the sport has always thrown me into depressive states because I think many athletes believe it’s the most important thing in their lives. Injuries are often imminent, since endurance sports are really repetitive, so any existing muscle imbalances stay silent until it’s a full-blown injury. Especially in the day and age of social media- you’ll be in the throes of a terrible injury, then you see your mate posting pictures of how great their intervals went that day and it adds insult to injury.

When I met you, you had a small healthy eating blog. I’ve also gotten some great advice from you on where to eat in Portland. What does eating well mean to you?

Healthy eating has always waxed and waned in my life. When I wrote my health blog years ago, I was dogmatic about living a healthy lifestyle, while also struggling with a secret eating disorder. That was at a time when healthy eating was like a means of control for me, in a sense, to cope with anxiety. Nowadays, I’ve chilled out on the dogmatic and controlling ideology, and have gotten rid of the nasty eating disorder in exchange for a little more balance. Cooking for me has always been therapeutic- what’s changed is my attitude towards it. I appreciate fueling my body with tons of fruits and veggies, but now I can also indulge without feeling like the world is going to
end.

How does healthy eating tie into sport for you?

When I feel as if I’m fuelling my body with tons of nutritious whole foods, I think it feeds my soul as well. It’s hard to explain, really! It makes me feel like I’m doing the best I can to invest in my body for optimal performance on the bike, which ties into my overall happiness.

In the same vein, what is an average day of eating like for you?

It’s so different all the time, but I try to fill most of my meals with fruits and veggies the best I can. For breakfast, it’s usually some form of oats with chia seeds, berries, and peanut butter (I definitely have a love affair with peanut butter). I always take lunch with me to work, and it’s often leftovers from the night prior. A typical lunch/dinner looks like either rice or couscous with a side of beans (I’ve been really into cooking dry beans from scratch lately for protein), and some kind of veggie combination stir-fried in coconut cream curry.

What is your best piece of advice about health and nutrition that you’d like to share with others?

Michael Pollan said it best- “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” It’s perfect because it simply stresses that you shouldn’t strive for perfection.23622241_10210208470143455_482401791835690644_nLet’s talk about travel. You are currently living in Australia. Why did you decide to go there, and how did you get there?

My boyfriend has been wanting to travel the world ever since we started dating three years ago. He basically said, “well, I’m going- you can come with me, or not”. Hard to argue with that! I was so fearful before we left about leaving everything behind in the US, but it’s been almost a year now, and I’m so glad I took the chance. It’s really easy to obtain year-long working holiday visas in Australia, so we settled down here in Brisbane with jobs after three months of being broke vagabonds in Europe and SE Asia. It’s been an unintentional education of getting to know myself better through meeting and bonding with amazing people from around the world.

What is the health and fitness scene like in Brisbane?

It’s off the charts. The weather is polar opposite to the PNW, so everybody is out exercising constantly. We are headed into winter right now, and the blazing temperatures subside into 70 degrees and sunny (unthinkable in Seattle or Portland, right?!). It makes it hard not to get out and go for a ride or a run!

In life, what do you think is most important to be happy and healthy?

Balance, open-mindedness, letting go of control, but also the ability to stand your ground.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Nope! Thanks for having me, Kenaia! 🙂

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Thanks so much to Isabella for being the first interviewee! You can follow more of her awesome adventures at @isabellanais on Instagram.

Stay tuned for our next interview!

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