“Know that you have the power to change your life, to turn things around, to make things better.” with Demi Dee and Dr. Marina Kostina

For me, living “on purpose” means to have goals and dreams and, each day, to work toward achieving them. Many people live their lives with a resolve that their life is “as good as it gets”. They wish away the week, counting down to the weekend. Then on Sunday, they dread the arrival of Monday. […]

For me, living “on purpose” means to have goals and dreams and, each day, to work toward achieving them. Many people live their lives with a resolve that their life is “as good as it gets”. They wish away the week, counting down to the weekend. Then on Sunday, they dread the arrival of Monday. And then the cycle begins all over again. Know that you have the power to change your life, to turn things around, to make things better. You just have to take that first step and believe in yourself. Your mindset determines your success.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Demi Dee, Fitness Trainer and Health Coach, and Founder and CEO of The Knockout Room. The Knockout Room (TKR) is a lifestyle brand for tween and teen girls that offers online holistic coaching in fitness, nutrition and wellness. Body confidence, self-esteem, and joie de vivre are important elements of emotional wellbeing and the heart of the TKR brand.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

My pleasure! I’m thrilled to be part of your Joie De Vivre series.

My experiences in the last few years set me on this career path. Between taking care of my grandfather who was terminally ill and then moving to Copenhagen to pursue my Master of Business Administration degree, I had many opportunities to reflect on my life, my purpose, and what matters most.

As my grandfather’s Power of Attorney for Personal Care, I spent quite a bit of time in the palliative care unit of our local hospital. I witnessed the last moments of many patients’ lives as they came and went from our shared hospital room. I witnessed my grandfather slowly slip away. It was both a terrifying and humbling experience. My own health deteriorated in the process; I wasn’t sleeping or eating well. I learned that I have to take care of myself before I can take care of others. I’m reminded of the airplane analogy where you’re told to put on your mask before you help your child. I took this lesson with me to Denmark where I had a new outlook on life and found that I didn’t sweat the small stuff anymore. No matter what challenges I faced in this new country by myself, they paled in comparison to the tough end-of-life decisions I made back home (in Canada) in that hospital room. My year in Copenhagen was a healing year in many ways because I was able to reset emotionally, physically and mentally. I was in an intense professional degree program during this healing year, but it was the daily challenges of the program and of expat life that tested my values and showed me what was truly important. I made time for self-care. I made time for things that made me happy. Living in a health-conscious country helped the healing process; I adapted to the Danish lifestyle quickly and established new healthy habits. My desire to pursue a career in health and wellness stems from this evolution.

What does it mean for you to live “on purpose”? Can you explain? How can one achieve that?

For me, living “on purpose” means to have goals and dreams and, each day, to work toward achieving them. Many people live their lives with a resolve that their life is “as good as it gets”. They wish away the week, counting down to the weekend. Then on Sunday, they dread the arrival of Monday. And then the cycle begins all over again. 
 Know that you have the power to change your life, to turn things around, to make things better. You just have to take that first step and believe in yourself. Your mindset determines your success.

Do you have an example or story in your own life of how your pain helped to guide you to finding your life’s purpose?

When I was a tween, I had the opportunity to skip a grade in school. This opportunity came halfway through my sixth-grade year. My parents, teacher, and principal decided that it would be a smoother transition to send me to seventh grade immediately rather than skip an entire grade the following school year. After all, I was already in a mixed-grade class. (Our class was a mix of grade-6 and grade-7 students.) Academically, I adapted quickly. Socially, I faced a backlash. My best friend stopped talking to me. The kids in my class said mean things to my face and behind my back. The 11-year-old me learned a lot about life in those moments. I became very independent. The character I developed early on helped me with those same types of bullies later in life.

Pre-adolescence and adolescence are transition years when your body is changing and you’re forming habits and opinions about food, your body, your self-worth, etc. It can be a very emotional time. With the advent of social media and cyberbullying, this transition period has become increasingly difficult and painful for many kids. My desire to help young girls came up over and over again when I watched the news or read the latest finding about suicide rates among young girls. Tween and teen girls need assistance now more than ever.

The United States is currently rated at #18 in the World Happiness Report. Can you share a few reasons why you think the ranking is so low?

The following reasons may explain why the happiness ranking in the United States is so low:

– the violence and crime in the country (e.g. the mass shootings);

– the healthcare system (e.g. women’s rights to abortion are under attack);

– the political situation (e.g. lack of trust in the presidency); and

– gender inequality (e.g. pay disparity, pink tax).

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I volunteer regularly at my alma mater in Toronto. I mentor students in both Denmark and Canada. I believe in paying it forward and being the change that I want to see in the world. We have to lead by example. Working closely with the students enables me to apply my real-world experiences to strengthening the university programs and services to give students and graduates a better future.

What are your 6 strategies to help you face your day with exuberance, “Joie De Vivre” and a “ravenous thirst for life”? Can you please give a story or example for each?

1. I plan my day the night before to avoid rushing the next morning. This includes making my lunch, preparing my outfit, packing my bag, etc. This clarity and organization go a long way toward creating a sense of calm in the morning so that I can focus on my wellbeing.

2. I declutter my space! This includes my space at home and at work. We don’t realize just how much clutter affects our mood making us feel overwhelmed with a sense of dread about finding anything in the mess and/or having to clean up the mess.

3. I practice gratitude in the morning. While getting dressed or brushing my teeth, I make a mental list of five things that I am grateful for. This exercise allows me to focus on positives and adopt a glass-half-full mindset.

4. I schedule “me” time in my day that includes a fun, de-stressing activity that I can look forward to. This could be a leisurely afternoon walk, exercise time or watching a TV show in the evening. If I’m struggling to find a large block of time in my schedule, I break up the “me” time into smaller timeframes such as 10- or 15-minute time slots.

5. I sing! I sing in the shower, I sing while brushing my teeth or when combing my hair. I just sing! I play some tunes during my morning routine and sing like no one can hear me.

6. I get moving in the morning! Exercise releases endorphins — the feel-good hormones; exercise is a natural antidepressant. The movement helps with mental and physical fitness. I feel better and look better because exercise helps clear my mind and work my muscles.

Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that most inspired you to live with a thirst for life?

Yes, of course! These are some of my favorites:

· Matilda by Roald Dahl — I loved Matilda as a little girl and still love this book today. Matilda immersed herself in books and stood up for what she believed in. She reminds me to speak up and to never stop reading. Reading takes you on many amazing and exciting adventures!

· Health entrepreneur Lori Kennedy’s podcast The Business ofBecoming — Lori keeps it real when it comes to creating a profitable thriving business designed for the life you want. I feel inspired and excited when I learn more about what she has created for herself and I am confident that I can do the same!

· Fit Chicks Chat Podcast — Laura Jackson and Amanda Quinn, my fitness and nutrition certification trainers, talk all things fitness, nutrition, and wellness on their podcast. They bring enthusiasm and authenticity to everything they do. If I ever need a pep talk to get back on track in terms of mindset, I listen to one of their podcast episodes.

· The Classy Career Girl Corporate Rescue Plan by Anna Runyan— Anna Runyan, Founder and CEO of Classy Career Girl is an authentic and down-to-earth entrepreneur who takes her tribe through the many phases of entrepreneurship from full-time 9-to-5er to full-time entrepreneur. She inspires me to dream big and to trust the process and journey.

· The Feminine Power Courses and Global Community — This community of powerful, amazing women is led by the incredible Claire Zammit, Ph.D, an expert transformational teacher, leader, mentor and successful conscious entrepreneur. Her Feminine Power courses inspire me to bring my passions, big ideas and visions to life.

· Jumpcut Academy by Jesse and Kong — the two guys don’t hold anything back when it comes to delivering quality programs and information about the reality of entrepreneurship. Their frank approach and step-by-step method always re-affirm my faith in my own vision and encourage me to keep going to make it happen.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that relates to having a Joie De Vivre? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favorite “Life Lesson Quote” comes from American entrepreneur Derek Sivers. He said, “If you’re not saying ‘HELL YEAH!’ about something, say ‘no’.” This rule of thumb has helped me manage my time and enabled me to be selective and only pursue opportunities in life that feed my soul and make me happy.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I am! I’m creating my first online program for girls struggling with body confidence and self-esteem. The program will launch in 2019. Body confidence and self-esteem are two big concerns for young girls, and for people in general. My program will give participants a system they can follow to skyrocket their body confidence and self-esteem by addressing the underlying factors that lead to low levels in both these areas. Until then, people can follow along on my Instagram handle @theknockoutroom for more discussion on these topics, and much more!

I’m also giving my audience a behind-the-scenes look at the making of The Knockout Room on my Instagram handle @demideetkr. Here I discuss business topics such as corporate social responsibility and accessibility, as well as key learnings from the different stages of building my company. You learn more about what went into preparing for a photoshoot, why a certain decision was made, and what I was really thinking about a particular event. The behind-the-scenes access is important to encourage and support young girls, and others, who want to become entrepreneurs. It’s also a way to address one of the common problems on social media — the effect of unrealistic and unattainable looks and lifestyles on impressionable young girls. By showing the preparation that went into a certain look or event, I keep it real, raw, and relevant.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would love to inspire a TKR-mindset movement around the world! My goal is to reach as many young girls as I can. Earlier this year, I launched an Instaquotesgram campaign on my Instagram handle @theknockoutroom to introduce my company, explain the meaning behind the company name, and to highlight key topics that I address in my business. One of the quotes in this campaign was “The Knockout Room is a mindset free from negativity where creativity thrives and confidence soars.” Self-esteem and mindset are key. They kickstart everything you do in life. No more band-aid solutions for tween and teen health. We need to address the heart of the matter. I want every girl to have a strong sense of self.

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