This interview is part of the Real Talk Real Women interview series, where we bring you the life-changing, heart-warming and inspirational stories behind the most successful women in health and fitness. Make sure to follow us on Instagram for the latest interviews! For this installment, we are joined by Danielle Pascente.
How would you describe yourself, what are you all about and how did you get involved in health and fitness?
I’m a personal trainer/sports model/health & fitness entrepreneur in Los Angeles. I’ve been in the business for about 8 years now and am absolutely in LOVE with it. I’m so passionate about health & wellness.
I grew up an athlete and played a variety of sports through the years. I think fitness is just something that will always be a big part of my life. I recently launched the first of my online training programs aimed at empowering women to live a fit and healthy lifestyle. My goal with the programs was to be able to reach more people than just those I train in Los Angeles.
I’ve created workouts for people to do on the go, with little to no equipment. I named my programs “Kick-Ass Training” because they will kick your ass but you will see results. And who doesn’t like feeling like a total badass when they workout?
Where does your motivation come from?
I think most of my motivation comes from the fact that I am able. There are so many people who are unable to do the things I get to do everyday. Moving my body is such a gift and I know it makes me feel better both physically and mentally.
I’m always motivated to just do my best (which some days isn’t always 100%). My motivation definitely shifts from time to time, but I always try to have perspective and take advantage of my abled body because it is so strong and incredible! I just want to live a long and healthy life. That in itself is motivation!
As you decided to make a career out of your passion - what were your biggest stumbling blocks along the way?
Oh man. That’s a loaded question. I would say rejection is the hardest part about what I do. Being told no a million times over for every 1 yes. As a sports model, it’s the constant of having your body picked apart and/or just not being the “right” person for the job. You have to have thick skin in this industry but that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard at times.
In regards to my career as a trainer, it’s fairly similar. You are always trying to get to the top or be a recognized face in the industry and it’s a constant grind. You have to reinvent yourself, get creative, and stand out!
I think the biggest stumbling block is just getting in my own head. Am I good enough? Do I have what it takes? What does this person have that I don’t have? I questioned myself a lot, especially at the beginning of my career.
In my early 20’s, I was much less confident than I am now. With years of experience now in the industry, I have learned to just OWN exactly who I am. I know my worth. I’m confident in my abilities. I know how genuinely hard I work and if somebody doesn’t want to be a part of it, then I’m cool with just letting it go.
I also value myself much more now then I did early in my career. I’ve learned to say no to opportunities that aren’t serving me in a positive manner (even if someone makes it sound like the next best/biggest thing).
What’s your perspective on the importance of self-care?
I think it’s important to feel good and take care of yourself first and foremost. For me, if I don’t take care of me first…..I can’t be my best for others. Whether it’s in business or personal relationships. I notice when I take care of myself, I am the best version of myself.
That means I’m getting my workouts in. I’m fueling my body with healthy food. I’m getting an ample amount of sleep. I’m taking at least a day to recover and rest. I used to be guilty of people pleasing. I would take care of everyone else first before me. It lead to a lot of anxiety and feeling like I didn’t have time to do the things that made me happy. Making that shift in my life was a huge game changer.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions about women lifting weight?
The biggest misconception is “I’ll get bulky if I lift weights.” This could not be further from the truth. Lifting weights will not make someone bulky by itself. There are many factors that play into getting bulky. Lifting weights burns fat so this is a great way to tap into those fat stores.
You can pretty much double if not triple your calorie burn by lifting weights as opposed to steady-state cardio. As women age too, it’s very important to continue lifting to support your bones/joints. The perks are that you will build lean muscle mass (bonus: probably dropping a pant/dress size too).
It’s an old way of thinking and the biggest misconception in my opinion. Lift weights! I promise you will not get bulky.
Many young women who want to lose weight believe that not eating is the way to do it, without realizing the consequences of that kind of behavior.
Why do you think this is and what’s your perspective on educating society on healthy nutrition habits?
You know, I think the media plays a huge role in healthy and unhealthy ways to do things. Unfortunately the media is only getting more prevalent and is delivered in SO, SO many forms. I call it “over information.” People are receiving so much information on what they should do to lose weight. Try this diet. Try that diet. Try this program. Try that program. This is the best way to lose weight. You should be doing cardio. You should do this cleanse. You shouldn’t eat this food, etc, etc…..the list goes on and on.
My response to this is to try and learn what works best for you personally. You will never have the same response to a diet or a workout regiment that someone else did. So even though Beyonce swears by the master cleanse…..that may not work for you!
Not eating can actually be extremely harmful to your body in the long run. So even if it sounds like a good idea to do a 7 day fast in order to lose weight…..it’s just not a practical and balanced way to do it.
My perspective is to do things in balance and moderation. This will lead to longer and more sustainable results. The more extreme the approach, the less likely a client is to stick to it. Putting your body into a state of starvation can wreak havoc on your adrenals and metabolism.
I always say to young women, don’t try to look like someone. Instead, try to feel a certain way. What feels good to you? Does it feel good to drink a smoothie everyday? Then do it! Does it feel good to workout 4 days a week? Then do it! Just be honest with yourself and what feels good to you when it comes to fitness and nutrition. Your body is super smart and has a way of telling you how it’s feeling. Listen to it!
What are the most unexpected lessons you’ve learned on your health and fitness journey this far?
I think the most unexpected lessons have had to do with nutrition in particular. As an athlete my whole childhood/teen years I honestly just ate whatever I wanted. Nutrition wasn’t nearly as important then as it is now. I’ve learned much better ways to fuel my body for performance (things I really wish I would have known as a young athlete). I’ve also just learned to be in tune with my body. I think as I age, I’m noticing more challenges and changes in my body. I don’t want to be a victim to aging so I’m adamant about taking better care of myself now more than ever.
That means, taking more recovery days and listening to my body. I’ve also struggled a great deal with some digestion issues, which has been difficult at times. I’m hopeful I will find answers someday but in the meantime I’m diligent in my efforts to minimize my stomach issues.
The one downside to being super healthy is that over time your body adapts to the healthy nutritional habits. It makes it hard for me to put other non healthy foods into my body without feeling it big time. I do feel like that’s become way more sensitive over the course of my fitness journey - so this would be my biggest unexpected hurdle.
How important have the people around you been when it comes to your success?
HUGE! The saying is so true…..surround yourself with people who are going to lift you higher! I’ve had truly amazing mentors in my career that have helped me to get to where I’m at. I’ve had supportive family and friends that understand the journey.
I’ve also had an equal amount of toxic relationships or people who have brought me down. What I say to these people is you don’t need them. As harsh as that sounds, it’s been big for me. Letting go of relationships that don’t serve you is HUGE. It can be difficult at times because some have genuinely been friends at one point or another.
At the end of the day, if you don’t feel lifted or good when you are around someone….it’s probably something that has to go in order to progress.
What do you do to maintain balance in your life?
I try to keep just 1 day to myself per week. Sometimes I don’t have a full day to really unwind but even taking a couple hours to myself helps me to recharge. I think it’s easy to just go go go, especially in this particular industry. At the end of the day, I’m totally human too. I enjoy spending quality time with my family and husband.
I enjoy totally lazy days, and eating yummy foods. I don’t deprive myself of those things. I believe in indulging when I want. I don’t save it up for a holiday or weekend….I just listen to my body and what it wants. Some days it’s crushing a workout and eating totally healthy. Other days, I’ll be lucky to get a quick walk or yoga class in and eat like complete trash haha. It’s all about balance.
Sometimes I need a break too, so I try to plan weekend vacations about once every 3 months. This just really helps me to recharge and get my creative process flowing again when it comes to business and marketing my online programs.
How do you stay productive?
Very similar answer to the one above. I really try to think of life like a calendar. You definitely have to put in the work, but you’ll have holidays and long weekends to look forward to and recharge! I know for me, there are certain “push” periods where it will be busy. Because I know this going into it, I can have my mind right.
Getting the mind right is my ultimate key to staying productive. I’ve created a habit every Sunday (been doing this for years), where I take about an hour to form a to-do list for the week. I have a pretty detailed planner so this is where I write everything down. I highlight the important to-do’s for the week. I star some of the optional things that don’t necessarily need to get done but bonus if they did.
I schedule my workouts and write little positive reminders to myself. This has been a game changer for keeping me on track and being productive!
Can you give a breakdown of your current diet, training and supplementation regimen and the thinking behind it?
Here is a detailed version of a day in the life of my diet:
Pre - breakfast
Warm water with lemon taken with probiotic. Black coffee with splash of vanilla almond milk & cinnamon. Protein oatmeal (my go to breakfast) - organic rolled oats heated with almond milk. Add 1 scoop favorite protein powder (I like Vega). Add 1 tbsp favorite nut butter (I like Justin's). The nut butter just melts into the oatmeal and it’s seriously HEAVENLY!
If I’m hungry between breakfast/lunch which usually isn’t the case, but if I am - I’ll have a banana or handful of almonds/nuts.
Typically consists of grilled chicken or egg white omelettes with lots of greens/veggies. I also love huge greens salads with quinoa and some sort protein. I’m a firm believer in trying to get protein in with each meal. I personally don’t like fish or red meat so I’m mostly eating chicken/ground turkey/eggs.
If I’m hungry between lunch/dinner i’ll usually have one of my favorite bars. I love Lara Bar and Kind because the ingredients are good! Not a lot of extra junk inside. I also love Think Thin if you are needing some extra protein and a more filling bar!
The exact same thing I have for lunch. The only difference would be that I might sauté veggies or make it a hot meal. Grilled asparagus in olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. Sometimes I’ll sauté a bunch of stuff in a pan and it turns out like stir fry. I might add a sweet potato if I need some extra carbs or had a tough training day
I have the biggest sweet tooth so I actually need to have something sweet every single day. I don’t cut out full food groups - I think it’s ok to have good ingredient desserts in moderation. Of course if you are the type to crush the whole bag or carton or whatever in one sitting - then maybe this rule isn’t going to work for you. Sometimes I’ll have a couple of rice cakes with Justin's nut butter and dark chocolate chips. I also love boom chicka pop (so addicting). and lastly, Halo Top ice cream birthday cake flavor (salivating as I write this). These are my go to desserts.
In regards to my workouts, I actually think the easiest way to answer this question is to say, go to my Instagram! I post my workouts there almost every other day. These workouts are typically what I do as well. I love high intensity interval style training. I also launched a treadmill training program and a 6 week circuit style training program in January and I’ve been loving mixing these workouts in daily. Sometimes I will do a treadmill training workout paired with a HIIT circuit from my program.
I will always aim for 10-20 mins of cardio either before or after my workout (depends on my mood). I love running and I love the stair master. There’s just no better feeling after doing either of those for that extra burn. I will sometimes do a split routine like lower body one day and upper body the next. I’m constantly changing it up though. If I find a workout I really like, I will do that more often than others.
I take a lot of classes in my area. I enjoy spinning, yoga, and bootcamp type classes. I definitely have my favorite studios I go to when I don’t feel like coming up with my own workout! This is one thing I love about living in Los Angeles. You can always find a really solid class to go to.
Name 3 things people don’t know about you.
- I’m afraid of dogs.
- I have a fear of flying.
- I can’t stand Kombucha drank.
If you could only choose one thing, what would you tell your younger self?
It only gets better with time.
What are your biggest life goals?
I want to continue growing my online programs and my biggest goal would be to reach the masses. I want my programs to be wildly successful and reach millions of people! I want to continue being a recognized face in the health/fitness industry for being authentic and relatable.
I know it can sometimes be hard to relate to many of these people on social media (bloggers, trainers, fitness personalities). I just want people to know I’m human too and we can all be a support system for one another.
My next big goal is to buy a home and start having a family. I just got married a year and half ago so my husband and I would love to be more settled someplace and hopefully having little ones in the next few years God willing.
I feel like I’m on the right path to truly doing something I’m passionate about everyday. That was always a massive goal for me after college. I just want to keep that pace going and enjoy the ride.
Where can people go to learn more about you online?
Stay tuned for the next interview of Real Talk Real Women!