Nothing inspires us more than amazing women doing amazing things. So many of them have inspiring stories, awesome achievements and great deeds that go unnoticed. If you were caught up in the craziness of 2016, here are some names you might have missed.
Stephanie Paz is first generation American in New York and certified teacher of Unnata® Aerial Yoga - traditional yoga with an aerial twist. This year alone, she has taught over 200 classes and in November brought the Veterans Yoga Project to her studio where she held classes to raise money for veterans’ access to yoga for healing. Her charity work doesn’t end there, though: She also holds donation-based yoga for her neighbors and friends, collecting money for 2006 Nobel Peace Prize-winning Grameen Bank, which provides financial resources to the rural poor in Bangladesh with a special emphasis on helping women. We hope to see her bringing more joy, art, yoga, service and healing to others in the new year!
This year at the Rio Olympics, the U.S. women won a whopping 27 of 46 gold medals and left the boys in the dust when it came to bringing home the glory. But just how much did they dominate? Let’s put it this way: If the U.S. were divided into two countries, one male and the other female, those 27 golds for the women would tie them with Britain for most of any country, put them one ahead of China, and far ahead of the American men and everyone else. Talk about girl power!
Among all the amazing victories from U.S. women, this hollywood-worthy story seems to have slipped through the cracks. This year, Houry Gebeshian became the first female gymnast to represent Armenia at the Olympic Games, had the best meet of her life, performed a never-before-seen uneven bars mount that she invented, and had it named after her. And that’s not all — she did all of this at the age of 27 (seven years older than the average Olympic gymnast at Rio) after coming out of a three-year retirement while working full time as a physician’s assistant. Amazing.
After struggling with an eating disorder for 8 years, Sohee Lee discovered weightlifting and fell in love. The creator of the eat. live. thrive. movement then shipped off to Stanford, where she intended to study sports medicine but discovered that fitness was her true calling. She graduated in 2012, worked for a few prestigious training and fitness facilities all over the country, and now you can find her in Phoenix, AZ, self-employed and kicking butt.
Bizzie Gold is the successful serial entrepreneur behind Buti Inc., the parent company of her 5 global brands, including Buti Yoga. Buti Yoga, in Gold’s words, takes yoga to another level, embracing yoga as a personal practice and adding a twist that integrates tribal dancing and plyometrics into the practice for a fun, invigorating and empowering take on the yoga we know and love. From her intense drive and fun sense of humor, you would never guess that she has been through some difficult hardships, including a lupus diagnosis and the scary but miraculous birth of a child who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Luckily, none of that has stopped her from success - she’s now a trainer to celebs like Julia Roberts and Jennifer Love-Hewitt!
Shelah Marie is the founder of Curvy. Curly. Conscious., a movement that hosts events designed to nurture every aspect of healing and cultivate beauty from the inside out. Said events focus on promoting self-love, personal development, meditation and physical wellness, with the ultimate goal of providing individuals with the tools and resources to be able to live a more elevated life. Marie also devotes Sunday nights to a live Periscope “Soul Study” broadcast, where she interactively engages and guides her fan base through an array of self-love and meditation techniques.
Chef Babette’s personal journey to health began after years of suffering from digestive issues, asthma and skin disorders, but you’d never know that now. There’s a reason that Chef Babette looks so amazing at 65 years old — she’s been a vegan and raw food chef for over two decades. She is also the co-founder of the Love Ur Age Project, which is intended to expose health and wellness to individuals that might not know much about it because of environmental and economic barriers. This year she debuted her podcast “How I’m Livin’ with Chef Babbette,” a must-listen for a healthier lifestyle.
Joy Millner and Gabrielle Cole are the dynamic duo that started The Fit and Food Connection in St. Louis, MO to allow people in need access to fitness and nutrition opportunities. The organization provides assistance to bring food and fitness together with group and individual fitness classes, nutrition programs, emergency groceries, food pantry and community gardening opportunities — all completely free of charge. They believe that the connection of food provision, lifestyle programming, coaching and education is a dynamic solution to address general poverty's impact on health. You go girls!
Liana Werner Gray is an Australian pageant queen who loves acting and promoting a healthy lifestyle. Her journey to success began at age 21 when she was able to cure herself of many negative health conditions (including a pre-cancerous tumor) through embracing a natural lifestyle, which inspired her to begin her successful career as a public speaker. She is the founder of The Earth Diet, which is dedicated to helping people find the recipes that work for them. If you want to find out what recipes work for you, pick up her book 10 Minute Recipes, loaded with 100 recipes for every diet, from meat eater to raw vegan.
In March 2016, Zumba Instructor Olga Lucia Duran joined forces with her fellow instructors to bring the joy of movement and education to the communities of Colombia, where she provided free Zumba Kids and Aqua Zumba classes to children and their families. Duran and her team aimed to make an impact by improving the lives of children and supporting local charity orgs like Save the Children and the Pies Descalzos Foundation. When asked about her mission, Duran said, “Our vision is to improve the quality of life of many children via solid non-profit organizations. We can provide education and tools for a better future, shelter family together, water, recreation, food and health. What many have (taken) for granted as human rights.”
Kristina Carrillo-Bucaram is the founder of the largest raw, organic produce co-operative in the U.S., Rawfully Organic, which feeds hundreds of families each week and focuses on the benefits of eating diets high in raw fruits and veggies while making it affordable. Her inspiration to eat fully raw herself came after she was able to rid herself of hyperglycemia at the age of 18 by eating nothing but a low-fat raw vegan diet consisting solely of fresh fruits and vegetables with a few nuts and seeds. In January of 2016 she released her first book, The Fully Raw Diet, where she provides a raw diet plan, a fitness plan, recipes and more.
Karolina Palmer is the founder and chocolatier behind Freaky Health Chocolate. These magical chocolate bars are made with heirloom cacao, adaptogenic herbs and superfoods, and sweetened with mulberries. After working as a holistic private chef she was inspired to create a sugar-free chocolate that tastes amazing, is naturally sweetened, and has herbs for immunity, beauty and energy. This year she launched her first collection of functional flavors as well as a collaborative bar with NYC beauty emporium CAP Beauty.
Originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, Mary Helen Bowers trained at Manhattan’s prestigious School of American Ballet before being invited to join with the New York City Ballet at age 16. After dancing there for a decade, this ballerina-turned-personal trainer founded Ballet Beautiful, a workout program that mixes the athleticism and grace of classical ballet with targeted exercises and stretches that sculpt a dancer’s toned, lean physique. Still wondering if she’s the real deal? Bowers has trained Victoria’s Secret Angels, supermodels, and A-list celebrities — including Natalie Portman for her Academy Award-winning role in Black Swan.
2016 was a big year for this celebrity nutritionist, who is the go-to for Drew Barrymore, Kerry Washington, Channing Tatum, Reese Witherspoon and many others. In September, she published a book, Radical Beauty, with world-renowned public speaker and alternative medicine advocate Deepak Chopra. The book provides an exciting and practical program to help transform you from the inside out, offering practical tips, tools, innovative routines, and foods that will allow you to achieve your highest potential of beauty and health.
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