For this weeks edition of the Lunch Break Interview Series, I interviewed Evangeline Paulsen. A young woman who went to the same High School as me… I never had a chance to speak with her before this interview! I have been following Evangeline on instagram for quite some time now and I have loved every post that she has shared.
Evangeline was raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico but has since moved to Phoenix, Arizona. She is married to Jesse Paulsen and has the cutest, energy filled, Yorkie named Daisy. Jesse and Evangeline are expecting their first baby in February of 2019! They are excited for this next chapter and the joy that it will bring.
Evangeline loves to explore the outdoors, shoot her bow, go on hikes, workout, and travel the world to see new places. She grew up playing sports which lead to college softball for two years. When college ball came to an end, she wasn’t sure where to go from there. Sports was all she knew so she had a hard time adjusting to life afterwards.
She soon found a passion in the fitness industry and knew she wanted to help and inspire others.
Evangeline is currently in the process of becoming a certified personal trainer so she can help create workout plans for individuals to help them achieve their goals. She also plans to help women after postpartum get back to feeling healthy. Which I admire so much! I am currently pregnant with my third child and I know how hard the postpartum experience can be.
Evangeline works for a nutrition company, Wilderness Athlete, where she gets to help improve individuals overall foundational health and increase performance.
“Whether it’s wanting to get in shape for an individual goal or wanting to improve their overall well being by providing them with the top of the line products. Helping others is something I am extremely passionate about and It doesn’t matter if it is the beginning of your health and fitness journey or if it has already begun, it’s about the process and journey to get there.” -Evangeline
How do you keep Jesus in the center of your marriage and life?
Marriage is consistent work and it’s so easy to get off the path without having a good foundation and people in your circle that are going to encourage you and help better your marriage. A few things that helped us was finding a church and getting involved in a community. We have an amazing church family that is there to walk through life with us through ups and downs, encourage us, and hold us accountable. We also do this by having a marriage bible study once a month to get to connect with other married couples and experience life with one another. We have made friendships that will last a lifetime.
How did you find your passion through the fitness industry?
I found my passion in the fitness industry in 2012 after my career of softball was over. I had just found out that I got accepted to walk on to play ball at the University of New Mexico. I had dreamed of this day since I was a little girl. I then received another email stating I was deemed as a non-qualifier coming out of high school by the NCAA Clearinghouse and that I was supposed to receive an associates degree from my two-year college, therefore I would not be able to continue my dream of playing D-1 Softball. My heart was crushed.
I found myself in a period of my life where I was lost and wasn’t sure what my next steps were going to be. What felt like the end of the world was only the beginning of my journey. This was about the time I connected with my previous high school crush, Jesse Paulsen, who is now my husband. He took me to the gym a few times a week because I honestly did not know what I was doing. I would go straight to the treadmill because it was the only piece of equipment I was familiar with. I was intimidated by the gym atmosphere and my perception of the people who went there and felt like everyone was constantly watching me, judging me. I didn’t realize that everyone there was there for the same reason, to get better and live a healthier lifestyle. Once I started to see results I had become addicted to wanting to always improve and push myself past being comfortable. It had reminded me of those 5 am conditioning practices for softball.
I would go to the gym each week and would see these two girls training daily for this fitness competition and I knew at that moment that I wanted to work towards that goal. So I did it, in 2014 I did my first fitness competition and took first with the help of my coaches. It was one of the best moments knowing I accomplished something I was working towards. Although winning was a cherry on top, it was the process that I was proud of. All the hard work and sacrifices I had to make paid off.
My point is, I found my passion through the process and the journey. I had to through so many ups and downs but it is what ultimately what led me to the most wonderful life I have now. I was going off the plans I had for myself and not what God had planned for me which was far greater than anything I could have expected.
Congratulations on such a huge accomplishment! What was it like preparing for a fitness competition?
The prep was definitely challenging, not so much the working out but the diet. I had to make a lot of sacrifices to accomplish my goal. Things that I never thought I was capable of I pushed past that comfort and was so proud of the hard work and the journey to get where I was.
I was really shy growing up and never wore a swimsuit in front of people till I got to college so having to be on stage wearing practically nothing was terrifying. I almost wanted to pull out of the competition because I didn’t think I could be on stage in front of so many people. It was something that I had to work at and overcome that fear. There are always going to be challenges that are thrown at us and sometimes we have to learn to step out of our comfort zone in order to grow and have God work in us.
Does nutrition affect physical fitness?
Absolutely, nutrition is just as important as physical fitness if not more. You can go to the gym 5 to 7 times a week but if you have poor eating habits you can gain all those calories and more back from what you lost at the gym and not see any results.
It is more sustainable to make a lifestyle change rather than sign up for the gym. I can’t explain how important it is to have balance and be aware of what we put in our bodies. What really works for me is planning out my meals beforehand and prepping for the week on the weekends. I try to make sure I am getting lean proteins, complex carbs, and greens at least 2 times a day. I eat pretty clean during the week but on weekends it’s okay to go out and enjoy a nice burger or some wine with my friends and husband.
Its all about balance.
Does it take discipline to eat clean and meal prep? Do you have any tips for someone who has never tried this before?
It definitely takes discipline, but also don’t be too hard on yourself because a lot of the time people will be overly obsessive and then will take a major step back and binge eat. I recommend trying to balance it out. What I find that helps is prepping on a day where you have a few hours to cook and pack your meals in containers or baggies that you can just grab and warm up throughout the week and on the weekends treat yourself to something that you enjoy. I recommend not going to the grocery store when you are hungry because then we tend to buy things we probably don’t need. The more prepared you are the easier it is. Again, its all about learning what works for you. Something that works for me may not work for you so its all about learning through the process.
What advice do you have for women and men who are not physically fit but are interested in starting?
The best advice I can give is to start off small. The way I learned when I started out was by making mistakes and learning through the process. Every one is different and has different body types so it is a learning process in what works best for you. It takes time so just remember to be patient because it doesn’t happen overnight. You can also sign up for any gym and get connected with a personal trainer. There are tons of personal trainers out there but you want to make sure you are going with someone that knows what they are doing. Lastly, remember to have fun. We all start somewhere and have the same goal of wanting to improve our fitness and health.
Do you have any advice for people who may be stuck between choosing their own path or following the path God is leading them to?
I recommend just praying about it and asking God to lay out the path that he has planned for you because his plan will always be far greater than the ones we have for our own. He will never fail us. He knows the desires of our hearts and will lead us in the right direction if we are constantly seeking in him and asking him for guidance.
Congratulations on your newest addition! Are you working out during your pregnancy?
I really thought I would be one of those pregnant gals that would be working out through my entire pregnancy and eating clean. Well, I was definitely wrong! I had to take a break from the gym during my first trimester and just listen to my body and rest. You never really understand or prepare yourself for the first trimester of pregnancy until you go through it. The exhaustion is real, you don’t really feel like yourself because your hormones are everywhere, you feel extremely bloated, and the foods you’re use to eating well are not so appealing anymore. There are many changes that your body has to go through and for me, the gym was not a priority at this point. I needed to make sure I am taking care of myself. Everyone is different and I know moms that were able to work out the first trimester and did not experience the morning sickness like I have had and that is okay.
Everyone’s journey is different and I am so blessed to be given this gift and I know eventually I will be able to get back in the gym when the time is right. This journey has taught me so much already and I’m learning to give my self-grace because the first trimester is really tough, but I know it will be worth every single struggle.
Your answer was so inspiring and encouraging! Has it been hard to listen to your body’s needs during this new pregnancy experience?
Pregnancy has probably been the most challenging thing I have had to go through as far as adjusting to this new season in my life. My whole life changed from the way I eat, dress, feel, and just emotionally and physically exhausting.
I was really hard on my self in the beginning and would not give my self enough grace for the fact that I am growing a little human and it takes a lot of work. I had to realize that I might not be able to do the things before and that is okay. It is just a different season and that God will get me through this and it will all be worth the struggles when we get to see and hold our sweet baby. I am continually learning more and more about my body and learning how to adjust to whatever will be thrown my way.
“[Don’t] give up on whatever your goals are. Change doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time and anything is possible if you put your mind to it and work hard. You’re the only one that can make the change. Don’t let fear be the reason to hold you back from making you better. Fear is a liar!!!” -Evangeline
I had a great time interviewing Evangeline. I too played sports my whole life and had a hard time adjusting once I couldn’t play as I had all the years prior. It’s great to hear how Evangeline tackled her struggle and moved forward with her journey! She is a great inspiration.