L’Officiel Arabia: When and how did you get into competitive fitness?
Maya Nassar: I was never into fitness and discovered this lifestyle after gaining a lot of weight. I had reached rock bottom and was fed up with feeling overweight, unhealthy and having no self confidence. This is when I started going to the gym and changed my diet. After reaching a healthy weight, I asked myself, what now? I did not want to stop there and wanted to keep on challenging myself to get fitter and reach more goals. This is when I heard about fitness modeling and decided I wanted to get into the best shape of my life and stand on stage. I wanted to go from being way too insecure to walk on the beach to showing off my hard work in a competition.
LOA: Who has inspired you the most in your career?
MN: I read a book by a bodybuilder named Tom Venuto called Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle. This book trained my mindset to commit to a healthy lifestyle and this is what helped me reach all my fitness goals. I would say this author inspired me the most because it gave me the motivation and that push to keep going and never give up. My family and my children also inspire me to keep setting goals and to be successful. I would like to show my children that you can be a mom and have a career at the same time. At the moment I have a gym with three branches and also an online e-shop.
LOA: How has your Lebanese lineage influenced your life?
MN: Getting into international competitions has been challenging as a Lebanese as these competitions do not exist yet in Lebanon. I have had to figure things out by myself and get myself out there internationally. This challenge has only helped me to become more determined. At the same time, I represented Lebanon on an international level when I participated in these competitions. It was definitely an honor to say that I will represent Lebanon and more importantly, raise awareness about these competitions in Lebanon. Unfortunately many people believe women who compete in fitness modeling are bodybuilders with huge muscles and biceps, and this is not true. Most women who compete are natural, toned and very feminine. A woman can only become masculine if she is on steroids.
LOA: What is your message to women out there who want to pursue competitive fitness as a profession?
MN: My message to them is to never give up and keep pushing hard. It is very challenging and competitive, but if you want to be successful, then you need to keep putting yourself out there and learning from your mistakes. The first time I competed I did not win anything. I did not give up. Instead, I worked hard and learned from my mistakes. I came back one year later and ended up winning first place. My motto is: a loser is a winner who tried one more time.
LOA: You are the first pregnant model to be on the cover of L'Officiel Arabia, tell us how was your experience?
MN: This is definitely an honor for me and an experience to be remembered. I always try to empower pregnant women to be healthy, strong and fit during their pregnancies. I encourage them to exercise and not to be afraid to workout. I gave birth to four babies, and with each, I exercised right until delivery. I hope this new cover will also raise more awareness about my online holistic program called X Y Pregnancy for pregnant women. It is the first and only program for pregnant women in the Middle East and it is also fully endorsed by a doctor. I worked on it for the last two years and hope it will help other pregnant women to love their pregnancy journey. This is also my last pregnancy and makes a great memory.
LOA: Tell us more about your career growth?
MN: My business started as an online blog called Start Living Right. I used to write articles about health and fitness to help others who were struggling to lose weight, the same way I had struggled with my weight. My website was very well received, and eventually I launched a mobile application of my website with more features. It has diet plans, workout programs, healthy recipes, plus more and its all for free. I received emails and messages from people in Lebanon and the Middle East asking for a physical location where I could help them in person. This is when I opened the first branch of my gym in Lebanon. After a year, I opened a second branch and will open the third branch in May. I also launched an online e-shop to sell online coaching, consultations and inspiring e-books. Last year, I also launched my online holistic program XY Pregnancy. My career is all about helping people to become healthier and happier and this is why I love my work. I also was the first female in the Middle East to be endorsed by an Arab government to represent Lebanon on an international level and this helped me gain a lot of credibility and media attention which boosted my career.
LOA: What next for Maya?
MN: I just gave birth to my fourth baby so I will be focusing on my family as a mom of four kids. I will also work hard on the new branch of my gym and will keep trying to grow my brand as much as possible. My goal is to open a branch of Start Living Right in the UAE. We have many online clients in the UAE and hopefully one day we will be able to work with them in person. In addition to this, I would like to work on losing the pregnancy weight and competing again one more time. I love fitness modeling competitions and believe that you are never too late to do them. I would love to compete as a mom of four and empower others moms to lose their weight and get their bodies back.