Body positivity is important for mental, physical, and emotional health — in fact, researchers think the struggle for a positive body image is why women tend to suffer from depression more than men.
That’s one reason Katrina Scott and Karena Dawn, the founders of the Tone It Up fitness community, were inspired to create a safe place for women to support each other’s pursuit of a healthier lifestyle. They recently discussed how a healthier life means a happier life.
What inspired you to dedicate your life and career to fitness and nutrition?
Karena: I ran my first half-marathon with my dad when I was 12 years old. During my teenage years, I went down a dark path — I didn’t treat my body with respect. I thought back to a time when I was truly happy and I realized it was running that half-marathon. I decided to run my first triathlon, started doing yoga and meditation, and became a certified personal trainer. From then on, I knew my purpose was to share the power of fitness to transform your life.
Katrina: I also discovered fitness as a young girl and it shaped my life. I was the heaviest girl in my elementary school class. Like a lot of kids, I was teased. My dad transformed our basement into a home gym. I fell in love with exercising, and this inspired me to go to college for health science and exercise physiology.
Why is it important to make exercise part of one’s routine from an early age?
Katrina: It is so empowering to take charge of your health and focus on you — no matter what else is going on at school and with your friends and family.
Karena: There’s a strong connection between physical fitness and mental health, so being active from a young age can help you cope with any stress, anxiety, or sadness that may come up.
How can families/friends motivate each other to get active?
Karena: Make your friends and family your accountability team. Invite a girlfriend to take a yoga class with you or ask your mom to go on a long walk. Having a community to support your health journey is so powerful — that’s why we created Tone It Up.
How can young women balance prioritizing exercise and maintaining realistic body goals?
Katrina: The most important thing to remember is that you are already beautiful and powerful exactly as you are. Exercise shouldn’t be about changing yourself. Find workouts that you love — whether that’s running, dance, weight training, or joining a sports team at school — and do it for you!
What advice do you have for creating a healthy diet that ensures you don’t miss out on key nutrients?
Karena: Eat lean, clean, and green — focus on whole, clean, and unprocessed foods like lean proteins, leafy greens, complex carbs, and healthy fats. Our philosophy is all about balance. That’s why our Tone It Up Nutrition Plan has healthy pancakes, muffins, tacos, cookies — anything you could ever want! We don’t believe in “cheat days.” It’s never cheating to enjoy your life.
How has working in this space impacted your own confidence and view of body positivity?
Katrina: Being part of a community of diverse, strong, powerful women has helped us find more confidence and empowerment. Everyone has days when they need an extra boost of motivation and that’s when we turn to our community. We’ve learned to treat ourselves with as much patience, love, and grace as we would another woman we love. We all deserve that!
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