Readiness to change is a heightened awareness that persistently taps on our shoulder propelling us to do things differently. Little by little it builds inside us until the timing is right for us to act.

I’d like to introduce Gina. She embraced her readiness to change and along the way discovered an amazing hidden talent.

Tell us about your days growing up.

I remember my dad raising my brother, sister and I with the belief that if you want something – go get it. We spent most of our time playing outside, which was great because I had a ton of energy. I’d hang out a lot with my brother and his friends. Sometimes they’d say, “You can’t do that.”  And I would say, “Oh, yes I can.” That’s pretty much how I live my life now and I still have a lot of energy!

What do you do now to stay active?

For the last four years I’ve been paddling outrigger canoes and racing stand-up paddle boards. Since I was young, I’ve played sports, but I discovered I am naturally good at paddling.

How did you get involved in outrigger canoes?

I knew I wasn’t getting any younger. I was over 30 and weighed about 160lbs – 30lbs more than I wanted to be. At that point I started to realize I needed to work out and change my lifestyle.

I took a team outrigger class sponsored by the local city college. I really liked it. It was so fun. Eventually, the coach of a rival team –The Santa Barbara Outrigger Canoe Club, recruited me to join them. It was motivating to see these women paddlers of all ages in incredible shape. My family always had health issues. I knew I didn’t want that. Rather, I wanted to be like my coach, who at 60 is in awesome shape. It was the kick in the pants I needed to get myself healthy. It changed my life.

How did you get started with stand up paddle boards?

One of my outrigger friends got a board and asked if I would join her. I wanted something to cross train. After a while, I decided to try a race and I placed first! I tried it again and got another first place! I thought, “This is fun! It’s kind of nice to be winning.” Now, I race in the amateur division. I am a team rider and a brand ambassador for Starboard International.gina

Describe your typical day.

In the morning I go for a hike or paddle 6 miles. I work during the day as a massage therapist and then do another paddle later in the day. I do some form of exercise twice a day.

How would you describe yourself as an eater?

Everyday is different and depends on my workout. Usually I eat 4x a day. I don’t like to tell myself I can’t eat something. I don’t consume alcohol. I keep my sugar down. I know my body and what it needs. I basically eat a lean diet. There is a saying – eat like a paddler. I have to eat enough for the calories I burn. Off-season I tone down the amount of food I consume.

What tools do you use in your active lifestyle?

I use a heart rate monitor, bands for stretching and a lacrosse ball for working on tight areas. I also use a foam roller daily.

Please share your advice for embracing an active lifestyle.

What works for me is not putting limits on myself. I try not to say, ”No, I can’t do this or that.”

One goal I have this year is 7-pullups. Last year it was 5 pull-ups. I want to be leaner and stronger and do more things … like now I can climb up a rope in one minute. I like seeing what I can do.

When I started to paddle – I said to myself, “you are getting fat.” I needed something to help me workout. I started setting small goals. Ask yourself, “What motivates you?” You never know unless you try. Set small goals for yourself. When you reach them, see what next step you can take. Put yourself out there and see what happens. Now go out and try it!

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