The Journey to Our Healthiest Selves - an Interview with Gabbi DosRamos
Updated: Feb 1, 2021
Health - while many of us immediately think salads, cardio, and dieting, Gabbi DosRamos, a 25-year-old with a passion for healthy living thinks otherwise. I got the chance to speak with Gabbi about overcoming her own health challenges, becoming a fitness instructor, and learning how to create a healthy mindset around food and her body.
Tell us a little about yourself (if you're comfortable, could you do a brief overview of your battle with cancer?)
I’m born and raised in MA, but most of my family lives in Venezuela, South America. Growing up, we were always travelling to visit family there, so when I got into Northeastern’s NUin program (spending freshman fall abroad), I knew I didn’t want to go to Europe or Australia, I wanted to go to Costa Rica. Before that, I was always active/a competitive athlete throughout all of middle and high school. I thought I would go abroad for the fall, but that I would definitely try out for a school or club team when I got back. However, when I returned, I was struggling with some health issues. No one could figure out what was going on, and I was constantly in and out of the hospital trying to get to the bottom of it.
In the middle of January, I woke up paralyzed from the waist down. My family and I were in complete shock, but we rushed to the ER and before I knew it, I was going under for emergency surgery to remove a tumor that was pressing against my spinal cord. From there, I was in intensive rehab to walk again followed by 9 months of chemotherapy for a cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma.
When I was fortunate enough to finish chemo, I knew that for my mental health, I needed to get back to school and back to having a social life. I’m very socially charged, so it wasn’t so much about getting back on track, as it was that I just needed to be in a more social environment versus staying home for another semester while all my friends went back to college. So, I went back to Northeastern with my wig and all. I was very lucky to finish my degree in a normal 5 years (Northeastern is a 5 year program) and enjoyed a lot of amazing abroad experiences during that time.
After 1.5 years in the marketing field, I realized that I wanted to do something with health and fitness. Aside from starting my fitness account and doing online personal training, I realized I wanted to explore a career in physical therapy. Right now, I’m taking classes to get myself on that track!
Have you always been into fitness?
Basically, yes! It has looked so different for me in all my stages of life. I went from only playing sports or running for exercise, to having my back surgery. After that surgery, my doctor warned me I couldn’t do anything high impact like running. I had literally no idea where to begin, so I would sit on the elliptical for 45 minutes to an hour 5 times a week. I couldn’t imagine doing that now just because I would get bored after 10 minutes, but I had no idea what else I could do.
Then I came across Kayla’s BBG guides (a classic) and did those for a while. Again, I can’t imagine doing that workout style now, but that’s where I started to shift away from the cardio machines.
Once I realized I absolutely could NOT do one more burpee, I started looking into some weight programs and cross training programs. That’s when I really found my style of working out. I got really into it and decided to get my personal trainer certification just so I could be more educated in what I was doing, and that led me to working as a 1:1 online trainer.
What made you want to pursue health/fitness as a career?
Because I grew up so active, it has always been such a huge part of my life. Even aside from working out, I love doing things in my free time that are more active. So, when I was working at my first job post grad I decided to get my personal trainer certification. Then I started exploring what personal training even was and the different ways people use their certification.
Around this time I also started my fitness page because I saw how much confusion and misinformation there was in the industry. I mean, it’s crazy that it’s 2020 and the average person has no idea where to begin with their health and wellness because we hear things like “carbs are horrible” and “you have to avoid them!” Oh wait, carbs are actually a very important source of energy and your body needs them..the list goes on and on.
So, the perfect storm happened where I made my fitness account and had a personal trainer certification. From there I decided to try online coaching part time, and I absolutely love it! I’m so glad I took the leap of faith and invested in myself, got my certification and created my fitness account.
What is your coaching style for your clients? How do you help them achieve their goals?
I love coaching my clients about moderation. We feel like we have to be so restrictive all the time, and when you’re constantly restricting, it’s just a matter of time before you flip and go to the other extreme. Rather than battling one extreme or another, I love coaching my clients to create realistic and sustainable habits.
For example, I had one client recently who was struggling with food fear; specifically a fear of carbs. I challenged her to eat a food she fears every day to teach her that any one food isn’t going to make you gain weight. After doing this for a while, she told me she started challenging herself to have pasta once a week with a serving of veggies. This was just a small and attainable goal, however, I was so proud because that told me that not only was she learning how to approach change in a way that was sustainable, but it also told me her mindset around food was completely changing. She had realized that carbs weren’t the enemy and she could eat them when she wanted to. She was starting to take control of her life, because we HAVE to eat to survive.
Do you believe women can incorporate fitness into their lives without changing their lifestyle completely?
Absolutely! That’s why I love coaching moderation to my clients. The goals and habits you make should work with your life. If I have a client who is truly starting from the ground up, then the first few weeks we will probably just work on a daily walk and a healthy water intake. Once those become easy habits, then I’ll add that they should have fruit with their breakfast. Then we build slowly like that, so you aren’t completely changing your life, you’re just slowly adjusting it.
The act of completely changing your life is why we usually go from one extreme to another. Everyone, but specifically women, feel like the only way they can lose weight is by following a crazy intensive workout program or a detox diet. But after you do that for a few days or weeks, you’re exhausted, so you quit it all at once. That’s not sustainable and over the past few days or weeks, you didn’t address your mindset towards food or exercise, you just forced yourself to follow an unsustainable program.
What does "health" mean to you and has your definition of it changed over time? Can it differ from person to person?
I think health can look very different from person to person, but the core of it all is self care and self love. That’s something that I’m always hoping my clients learn by the time we finish working together. When you’re working on yourself from a place of love and saying you want to take care of yourself because you love yourself, it’s going to look completely different than when you’re working on yourself because you hate your thighs, your hips, or your love handles.
I think that the place it comes from matters so much because health is constantly changing in terms of what it means for YOU and what it means to you TODAY. For me, some days health means making myself workout when I don’t want to. Sometimes it means taking a rest day because I know I need it. Sometimes it means telling myself to stop being lazy and get x, y, and z done, while other days it means spending an entire day watching the whole Netflix library.
It has definitely changed over time for me personally. I do believe that in middle and high school we should be taught proper nutrition and wellness. I can’t think of many people that didn’t have a bad experience at some point growing up with body image or not knowing what they were supposed to do besides eat less. While my audience is definitely late teens to late thirties, I would love to be involved one day in helping schools build out a program like that.
What does your personal health/fitness routine look like?
My personal health/fitness routine involves intuitive eating, working out about 5x a week (doesn’t always happen), but more importantly being active as much as possible. I love things like walks, biking, hiking, skiing, etc. To me, working out is less important than getting outside and being active in life.
While we know physical health is important, what are some things you do to work on your mental health?
I love this question!! The past year I really wanted to work on having a routine that supports my mental health. People often think that focusing on mental health has to come after being in a dark place, and while it is amazing that people have these resources, you can choose to work on your mental health even while you’re perfectly fine.
I have really gotten into meditation and journaling this past year and it has been life changing for me. I don’t do it seriously and I am sure I’m doing it wrong half the time, but I still love it! And to repeat myself from the last question, getting outside is really important for my mental health.
How has social media played a role in women's view of health and fitness in your opinion?
Social media both in and out of the health/fitness world has been a blessing and a curse. One benefit is that we get to see women truly embrace so many different body types. We also get to see women lifting HEAVY weights, which used to be taboo, because everyone thought that would make them bulky. Also, the access to information is incredible. Just on social media you can get countless free workouts and recipes!
However, along with that, there’s also so much misinformation on social media. People constantly promote products or fitness routines just to make money. Also, the comparison...we spend all day comparing ourselves to someone from social media, even though what we see from social media is a tiny percentage of their life. You truly never know what anyone is going through, even if it seems like their whole life is on social media.