Sam Gwazdauskas is a firm believer in being active to feel good, not to look good. Having been on all sides of the fitness spectrum, from a competing bodybuilder to now being a self-love advocate. She created The Sam Plan to promote living a healthy life without sacrifice and coaches others to do the same. We dove into her philosophies on sustainable fitness, self-care in the digital age and the importance of nutrition.

As a former bodybuilder, how does your lifestyle differ now?
I no longer train or eat to look a certain way. Instead, both are facilitated by how I want to feel. I no longer have anxiety over eating a burger or force-feed myself at the end of a day to hit my macros – I have much more flexibility and joy around food and exercise as it is part of my life, not my entire life.

At what point did your approach change in your health journey?
About a year ago, I had a big reality check. I realized that the life I was living was dictated by aesthetic goals, and that did not vibe well with my larger desire to enjoy life and achieve fulfilment. I was neglecting my mental and physical health as well as my social life and relationships as a result of being, so body focused. It was scary to deviate from what had become comfortable and controlled – but I started asking myself, “what do I want” rather than “what should I be doing to stay thin”.

What was the most significant driving point in creating The Sam Plan? And what can people expect from your coaching?
Ultimately – to help people. The amount of empowerment, confidence, and self-love that has occurred during my journey is what I hope to help others achieve! Teaching from my mistakes as well as my triumphs.

You’ve previously spoken about building a lifestyle and mentality that is sustainable – what are the fundamentals of that?
In general, I think we all require different levels of balance in every area of life, and that will continue to change over time. For me, that’s avoiding being hyper-focus on one area like nutrition, training, social life, family, work, etc. and neglecting the others. There has to be a balance among all areas of fulfilment, that’s sustainability.

ABOUT A YEAR AGO, I HAD A BIG REALITY CHECK. I REALIZED THAT THE LIFE I WAS LIVING WAS DICTATED BY AESTHETIC GOALS, AND THAT DID NOT VIBE WILL WITH MY LARGER DESIRE TO ENJOY LIFE AND ACHIEVE FULFILMENT

What are some everyday things people often get wrong when it comes to nutrition?
I think everyone has fear foods and distorted thoughts about food and what is “right” and what is “wrong”. There are truths in everything in the right context, but that black and white thinking can create misconceptions in the field of nutrition and fitness. What is best in either is what works for you and only you. A concept each person must invest in to truly know how to live their life optimally.

On Instagram, you dive into the mental health aspect of embracing your body, what’s been the best self-care practice you’ve implemented?
Something I think people often overlook is how hard it can be to provide content on a visual platform — always wanting to put your best foot or angle forward and show the world the best photo out of 100. That’s pressure! The best thing I did for myself in the past year is to post the “less perfect” version of myself. I no longer worry about if someone saw me in person if they’d think I was a fraud or “less attractive”. I no longer hide my insecurities – it’s helped me accept my body for what it and what it allows me to do.

I THINK EVERYONE HAS FEAR FOODS AND DISTORTED THOUGHTS ABOUT FOOD AND WHAT IS “RIGHT” AND WHAT IS ”WRONG”. THERE ARE TRUTHS IN EVERYTHING IN THE RIGHT CONTEXT, BUT THAT BLACK AND WHITE THINKING CAN CREATE MISCONCEPTIONS IN THE FIELD OF NUTRITION AND FITNESS.

Where’s your sweat session happy place- indoors or outdoors?
Best case scenario: an outdoor weight room!

How do you keep a balanced, active day-to-day lifestyle?
I focus on what I can control. I schedule my days hour to hour with not just work but with self-care time. Not every day is “balanced”, but for the most part, I fill my cup before I start to fill others. My morning routine plays a big role in that — allowing me to feel grounded and ready for the day.

What does the term ‘everyday athlete’ mean to you and how does it resonate with you?
We all have an image of what an athlete “looks” like. They’re the first place, top of the podium people. Unfortunately, that’s an image formulated by media and not reality. It’s something that made me feel inferior for most of my life. Being an “everyday athlete” means you can be a badass in the fitness space at any size, shape, etc. Just because you’re not first does not mean you’re last or any less of an athlete.

Photos by: Sarah Ellen

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