Jaime caught our #Instaeyes due to her extremely fit physique (those abs are killer), relatability, and open LGBTQ relationship. She has been a personal trainer for 15 years, but there’s more to her story than meets the eye.
We chatted with Jaime to learn more about her fitness back story, #Instafame, and relationship.
***Trigger warning: Jaime openly discusses her personal experience with eating disorders in the conversation below.
Tell us your backstory. Why are you so passionate about health and fitness?
My story began when I was eleven years old and started my first diet. The apex was between ages 15-17 when I was hospitalized three times. And it ends… well, when I know, I’ll let you know.
The hardest part about having an eating disorder is learning how NOT to have one. Hallucination. Head trip. Phantasm. Delusion. Figment of the imagination. What appears to be real may just be illusion.
My eating disorder was a voice that lived in my head and consumed my thoughts. What was in the mirror when I looked was not, in fact, what or who was actually there. I had body dysmorphic disorder, which is the belief that one’s body is flawed or defective, resulting in an attempt to correct, conceal, fix, or hide it. I used a combination of all four to get my weight down to 96lbs when I was 17 years old.
There were days when I saw an overweight teen staring back at me in the mirror and there were days when I saw a hardcore, regimented, competitive bodybuilder. Neither was very accurate.
In Grade 12, a year after successfully making the national team for basketball (and 2 years after being hospitalized twice for anorexia nervosa), I decided to try my hand at competitive bodybuilding. I dieted down for a show in 2005, and it was only after a head judge told me I looked like I belonged in a hospital instead of on stage, that I decided to get my life on track. Well, that and the fact that I was so small, my parents were worried that my heart could give out at any moment.
I wanted bodybuilding and training to be my life, but instead, I was letting it deprive me of life. I over-trained and under-ate for 10 years. That’s no way to live. I lost my formative years to the vice grip of anorexia.
How did you gain hold of your struggle? And what led you to a career in personal training?
In 2006, I came clean with my friends and family about my eating disorder, and at 19 years old, made the decision to get healthy. This time, I used fitness, and what I already knew about bodybuilding nutrition, to gain weight/muscle. I went up to 165, then back to 135 for another competition in 2008. Then up to 175, and back down to 147 for a competition in 2012. I competed again in 2016, but suffice it to say, that was the last time. I’m not into being judged for my looks anymore.
Will I ever be able to really see what’s in the mirror? Perhaps not – at least not from the neck down. The mirror and I may have our differences, but the smile I carry from the neck up tells me that’s OK.
And that’s what qualifies me to help other people who have struggled (are struggling) with emotion eating and eating disorders, or just not happy with their body; because I’ve been where they are, and I’m still on my journey.
I love helping people get healthy – hence why I turned to personal training professionally.
You are a top Instagram influencer with over 100k followers! What do you contribute to your success?
Honestly – authenticity, honestly, and shirtless pics. LOL! I am goofy, I’m vulnerable, I’m a ball of anxiety, and I’m raw; but I’m always educated, successful, and work really hard for what I have physically and spiritually. So I think it’s that balance of relatability and credibility, authenticity and authority that helps me be successful online.
Given your top Instagram influencer celebrity status, I am sure others look up to you – a lot! How do you keep it real?
Well I definitely don’t do paid ads on my main feed. If I’m endorsing a product, it’s because I use it, I believe in it, and I’ve spoken with the owner of the company instead of just their PR person looking to give me X dollars for a post.
What I think keeps me relatable and grounded is that fact that I don’t curate my photos or the image I convey online. The brands that I pair with are totally cool with the LGBTQ+ community, and if they weren’t, or if diversity wasn’t represented in their brand, then I wouldn’t promote or work with them. I don’t want my page to turn into one giant ad. I want it to be more of a mirror for my audience to see themselves as they could be.
How do you use your Instagram platform to reach others struggling with eating disorders?
I’m relatable and credible. I’m real and show others that I’m just like them. I have struggled and reached rock bottom. But I am no longer paralyzed by my anxiety or my eating disorder. So many of my clients and followers are still stuck and they need to know that there’s help and support and SUCCESS on the other side of mental illness. I’m living proof. I’m not a unique snowflake If I can do it, so can anyone!
Now tell us about Katie! How did you two meet?
Katie slipped into my DMs. I was just coming out of one relationship and I had shown up on her discover page because she was following a bunch of fitness influencers (having just lost 40lbs on her own journey). We began innocently chatting on Instagram in January, which turned into regular Facetime conversation. This led to an in-person visit with only a one-way ticket. It was a classic U-HAUL situation, and we wouldn’t have done it any other way. I knew the day I met her that she was the one, so I went from a work visa, to a fiancee visa, to a green card to be with her here in the US.
Ideal date night?
I’d have to say April 25th. It’s not too hot, not too cold. All you need is a light jacket. KIDDING!
Probably in Fort Lauderdale, heading to a restaurant in Lauderdale by the Sea, watching the sunset, and then walking the pier. We like to talk about where we see ourselves in five years and all of the plans we have for our future.
We settled in Florida because we both come from cold climates and were ready for warmer weather! And just being close to the beaches is a game changer for my mental and physical health.
Now for some advice… For people who aren’t ready to venture out, what can they do to stay active at home?
Literally anything. Going outside for a walk, a bike, inviting a friend over to walk with you… or just turning on YouTube and finding something lower impact.
Since this is a travel magazine, let’s talk about travel! Any favorite Florida hotels that have the best gyms?
Most resorts are known for the gyms, but not so much hotels or motels. Katie and I usually Google a hotel in advance to see what the hotel gym looks like.
Tips for staying fit while traveling?
Same thing for staying active at home. Get out for a jog. Rent a bike to see the new city you’re visiting. Take a walking tour instead of a bus-riding sight-seeing one. Do what you can to order salads and high protein options when you go out to eat instead of heavy, sugary, carb-laden ones.
Favorite snacks for on-the-go?
I have a few. My go-tos are 1st Phorm Level 1 protein bars and protein powder, unsalted almonds, beef jerky and veggie straws.
Do you have a suggested workout time?
Whenever you have the most energy! Honestly, if you are not a morning person, then even if science says that morning is the best time you train, you’ll always be forcing it to happen, and it won’t be enjoyable. So find a time when you have the most energy and motivation. Then get your butt to the gym or wherever you do your fitness.
What’s your personal workout routine?
A little bit of this, and a little bit of that. I like to keep things varied and interesting. One or two times per week I throw in a Crossfit workout. Five days a week I target my upper and lower body parts (legs, shoulders, arms, back, and chest). And three to four times per week I do cardio (either low intensity on the elliptical, or intervals on the bike). I want to make sure I’m always enjoying myself, regardless of how I’m training. When something stops being fun, I stop.
Favorite florida restaurants in your region with healthy options?
Any of the ones that allow you to look up the macros / ingredients in advance. First Watch is amazing for this, because they have an interactive menu where you can add and subtract foods and even cooking oils! We like being able to track our macros so having a ‘live’ menu online is the easiest way for us to be healthy when eating in a restaurant.
What treats do you splurge on?
Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food and carrot cake. I don’t like having to pick just one.
Las but not least…where will you be this pride season?
Going to hit Tampa pride this weekend, hopefully St. Pete Pride next, and then Miami, too, if we can swing it! We’ll see what the summer and fall bring.