Today’s guest is Leah Coutts.

Research shows that your genetics load the gun, but it is your lifestyle that pulls the trigger. Despite this being the case, so many people continue to self-sabotage their health and longevity and according to this week’s guest, Leah Coutts, if you don’t fully believe that you are worthy, you will self-sabotage your health and wellbeing, whether you want to or not. Today, we welcome Leah who is currently a Senior Lecturer in the Research Department at Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University, as well as a health and fitness coach, a bodybuilding and prep coach, a posing coach, a pro bodybuilder and owner of Soulful Vegan Fitness, a health and lifestyle business!

Leah shares her incredible journey into the health and lifestyle industry that began when she was misdiagnosed by her doctors as a child and was inspired even further when she was again facing another misdiagnosis as a teenager. Leah defied all the limitations that were placed upon her by the medical profession at the time with sheer determination. This led her to succeed in areas of her life that were deemed impossible.

Based on her own experiences with the medical profession, along with other life events, it has become Leah’s mission to empower others to make positive changes in their lives and to guide them to develop a mindset of not accepting other’s limitations. Leah is truly inspirational as she offers so many great pieces of advice in this episode. There truly is so much to unpack in today’s episode.

Find Leah online – Health and Fitness Coaching – Bodybuilding and Competition Coaching

Instagram: @leahmarie_figurepro

In this episode

05:09 — A Calling to Fitness and Academia

14:01 — Pushing Through What Genes Dictates

17:39 — Deconditioning the Preconditioned

22:50 — To Be Empowered Is to Be the Best Self

38:23 — Breaking Society’s Dictation Towards Body Image

40:16 — Listening to the Voice of the Mind and Body

49:07 — The Meaning Behind Soulful Vegan Fitness

54:02 — Catering Towards a Personalized Fitness

59:46 — History’s Narration That Needs To Be Fixed

01:02:17 — The Habit of Being Purposeful for the Morrow

01:07:11 — The Great Purpose of Leah


Dr Marisa Lee Naismith is excited to announce the release of her new book “Singing Contemporary Commercial Music Styles: A Pedagogical Framework” published by Compton Publications UK. Marisa offers this book as a starting point and as CCM markets continue to evolve, she encourages that we, as a voice community, continue to evolve, debate and communally add to this framework.



Visit the A Voice and Beyond Youtube channel to watch back the video replay of this guest interview or to see my welcome video.

Episode Transcription

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  00:05

It’s Marisa Lee here. And I’m so excited to be sharing today solo round episode with you. Whether you’re a member of the voice community, or beyond your voice is your unique gift. And my mission, which has been inspired by my own personal and professional journey is to empower you to share your gift with others. Now is the time for you to discover your voice in life, develop a positive mindset, and become the best and most authentic version of yourself to create greater impact. Ultimately, you can take charge, and you can become the director of your own life. It’s time for you to live your best live. It’s time now, for A Voice and Beyond. So, without further ado, let’s go to today’s episode.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  01:15

Research shows that your genetics loads the gun but it is your lifestyle that pulls the trigger. Despite this being the case so many people continue to neglect their health and longevity. And according to this week’s guest, Dr. Leah Coutts. If you don’t fully believe that you are worthy, you will self-sabotage your health and well being whether you want to or not. Today we welcome Leah who is currently a senior lecturer in the Research Department of Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University, as well as a health and fitness coach, a bodybuilding and prep coach, a posing coach, a pro bodybuilder, and owner of Soulful Vegan Fitness, a health and lifestyle business. Leah shares her incredible journey into the health and lifestyle industry that began when she was misdiagnosed by her doctors as a child and was inspired even further to follow her passion. When she was again facing another misdiagnosis as a teenager, Leah defied all the limitations that were placed upon her by the medical profession at the time with sheer determination. This led her to succeed in areas of her life that were deemed impossible. Based on her own experiences, her medical history as well as other life events. It has become Leah’s mission to empower others to make positive changes in their lives, and to guide them to develop a mindset of not accepting others limitations. Leah is truly inspirational as she offers so many great pieces of advice in this episode, there truly is so much to unpack in today’s show. So without further ado, let’s go to today’s episode.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  03:34

Welcome to a Voice and Beyond Leah Coutts. How are you?

Leah Coutts  03:40

I’m good. Thanks for is that how are you?

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  03:42

I’m really good. And it’s really fun seeing you over screen instead of walking around the corridors of the conservatory. We are work colleagues that we don’t work in the same department. But our paths have crossed many a time. And it’s really strange that with work colleagues, the stories that they have to share, if only you take that time to maybe get to know people around you and we had a brief encounter in a lunch room a few weeks ago where we started talking and the next thing I was like Leah I have to get you on my podcast. You have so much to share that’s of interest to our listeners. But I will give a little bit of a an intro here. You are a senior lecturer at Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University based in the Research Department. Yeah, a health and fitness coach, a body building and prep coach, opposing coach and a pro bodybuilder. See I had no so many things. So you have a really busy mind. and are really an active body at the same time. But I want to know, where does all this begin? What came first here and walk? How did you embark on this journey of academia and then going into bodybuilding?

Leah Coutts  05:14

You know, it’s interesting, the first thing that comes to mind is a memory I have when I was eight years old, and I was in the backyard of my best friend’s house at the time. And we were making up aerobics routines to Michael Jackson. That was like my earliest fitness memory that I have when I was eight years old. And around that same time, I also started learning keyboard. So I think that they’ve both been in my life probably happened very similar times. But there’s always been a tension for me between my pull towards music and my pull towards fitness. And I know that as we talk through a little bit of my story, some injuries and things will come out it was it’s almost like music has always been there for me, my heart and my soul, and my depth of my being has been in fitness, but it hasn’t always loved me back. So musics been there as like the rock and fitness has been the one that’s really stolen my heart.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  06:17

So you’ve had kind of like a little bit of an inner conflict between the mind and the body going on.

Leah Coutts  06:23

That’s so true. And the best thing about my research journey is I’ve found a way I found interests that really connect with both, which sounds really strange. But as you know, as well, in the music research field, there’s so much sport science, so much sports psychology, so much educational psychology and just human behavior. There’s being explored in the music realm. And so I found my in to be able to explore everything that I’m interested in, within music that connects back to fitness.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  06:56

Well, I think we need to start with your backstory, which you’ve shared with me, as to what started this journey of because you firmly believe that we shouldn’t be placing limitations on ourselves. And you’ve had a lot of limitations that you’ve had to confront, and work your way through. So let’s start with some of those. And going back to when you were a child. 

Leah Coutts  07:23

Sure. So when I was 13, I’d had some pains, aches in my bodies that led to some investigations and tests. And I was diagnosed with having scoliosis. So I had a curvature in my spine, it showed up on the X-rays. And the specialists at the time said my growth plates have fused, which is good news, because I’ve stopped growing. If I hadn’t stopped growing at 13, they would have put me in a back brace to try and correct this curvature of my spine. What we didn’t know at the time is I didn’t have scoliosis. So that was a misdiagnosis that kind of put a full stop to my journey for a little while and that it’s not gonna get worse, but it’s not going to get any better. So like there’s nothing we can do, go do some swimming to strengthen your shoulders was the what was the outcome of that because I had a lot of neck and shoulder pain. But what it actually was, which we learned much, much later was I have hyper mobile joints, so I pop in and out very easily. Oh, and because of that, I can’t hold my body in space as someone normally would, which means my joints were out of alignment, which poured my spine into an S so it wasn’t structural. It was a mechanical flaw in my joints. So that was kind of where it started. When I was at the Conservatorium I did pipe organ, and that was my first instrument in first year.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  08:44

I didn’t know that. I didn’t know that pipe organ. Yeah, okay.

Leah Coutts  08:49

Pipe organ is my instrument.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  08:53

Did not know. 

Leah Coutts  08:54

Yeah. And one morning I was on the way to uni to practice because I had to be at the Conservatorium to practice on I didn’t have a pipe organ at home, funnily enough, and by the time I got to uni, I’d lost movement in my arm. And I thought, I just slept funny on my neck. And I was like, okay, this is just a tweak my neck, it’ll write itself. And it actually took six months for me to gain movement in my arm, and I had all the tests you could, I was told, we can’t find anything wrong with you, you may never move your arm again. So at this point, I was 17, 18. I’d been in the gym for a couple of years at this point, like I’d fallen in love with fitness at that point. And it was me as a 17, 18 year old not being able to play music and not being able to go to the gym and being told this might be your life. So.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  09:43

What a terrible. It was six months. Yeah, what a terrible terrible thing to be told at that age. 

Leah Coutts  09:48

It was six months until like, again regained whatever loss of movement, there was no explanation. It was one of those things and meanwhile, so I got back to the gym. I did I was doing kick boxing, I tore a ligament in my hip took me back to the doctors and they basically said, you’re gonna need two hip replacements by the time you’re 40. And like my body is just not designed for this stuff. I’m 40 next year, and I have two healthy hips. So it was another thing of saying you are not designed to do what you need to do. A couple of years later, I was a salsa dancer, I was performing teaching. And every time I danced, I’d lose movement in my arm. So long story short, it was a recurring theme of losing movement in my arm, I had surgery to correct it, the surgery didn’t work. And the surgeon said the staples are in place. It’s not surgical see a physio. So I hadn’t eight years of physios not being able to fix me, this tension between I’m hurting, if I move, I’m hurting. If I don’t move, no one can fix me, I’m just gonna go keep smashing myself at the gym, I’m gonna go rock climbing, I’m gonna go dancing, I was in my 20s and admittedly doing pretty stupid. But when no one can help you. And you have this inner just passion. Like, you know, my mental health plummeted, because I just everything I loved kept being taken away from me, and no one could help me. And then when I was 29, a surgeon said to me, this is your shoulder and I can fix you. And I said, I’ve heard for eight years, it’s not my shoulder. And it was and I’d had the wrong surgery done when I was 21. So that was eight years of a whole lot. I have to admit, it’s only been. And we can talk through how this happened. It’s only been the last two years, I found gratitude instead of resentment. But there was a whole lot of resentment for a long time of what was it felt like it was taken from me, even though people did their best, even though it was what science and Surgical Science knew at the time. But it took two more surgeries to fix my shoulder. And by that time, I’d learned so much wrong muscle patenting, like the chronic pain I had from when I was 13 to I would say, three, four years ago. Like that, that stays with you that gets programmed into your body. Yep. And how, yeah, it’s a long journey to work through that and to accept and work through it. You know, at any one point, I just think back and go, I must be so stubborn. But thank goodness I am. Yes. You know?

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  12:27

Yes. Because a lot of other people would not have been as as what’s the word like, trying to push against it and work against it. And, and probably would have taken up knitting.

Leah Coutts  12:39

That’s right. You know, yeah, just the thing that I look back on. And say, there’s so many people who said to me, why do you need to be fit. And then it was actually I went round my parents once and my brother went to give me a hug. And my dad told me off because I didn’t hug him back. And I said to my dad, I can’t it hurts. And my dad was like, oh, this is not about you wanting a six pack. This is something this is actually bigger than so everyone just thought oh, Leah just wants to be in the gym. She’s just being stupid, hurting herself. It took me to not be able to hug my brother, for people to go, oh, this is actually impacting day to day living on every level.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  13:19

Yeah, I think I asked you this question before when when we had a chat, because it’s like the Louise Hay book, that when you’re suffering a certain injury, it’s relating to some situation, or some mindset that you’re in at that moment of time. And I use the example of one of my students that she had chronic tonsillitis. And one day I asked her, was there something that she wasn’t saying? Or did she feel that someone wasn’t listening to her voice? And it turned out that she did have a situation going on that was rather traumatic. Do you ever feel that some of that injury and some of that pain or on some of those issues that you were suffering physically? Was there something else going on in your life at that time? Have you ever thought about that, that may have caused that or even some form of self-sabotage?

Leah Coutts  14:20

It’s interesting, because I think this comes down to your motivations as to why you want something. And this has shifted a lot for me through my journey, but growing up as we all likely do, majority of us do. I had a very standard Western diet. You know, I had parents who I’m fortunate, I shouldn’t say as everyone I have parents who love me provided for me, so I had quite a safe safe childhood in a lot of ways, but food was like mom loved with food. So she was a feeder. And then through my teenage years, my mom actually was was really sick and through my mom’s illnesses, so she has bipolar and she had on lot of comorbidities that go with that, including being morbidly obese. And one day my mom said to me, “This is hereditary, and you’ve got a four in 10 chance of also getting bipolar.” And at the time, I was like, Why? Why tell me something that is so disempowered? I felt so disempowered at the time. It’s like, what am I meant to do with that? I felt like there’s a loaded gun, right? Let’s see, like Russian roulette. And then a few months later, she said, I got it wrong, you have a seven and 10 chance of getting it. So this took me down the hold on hold on, what can I do? What, what can I do to gain control of my future? And I discovered the research around epigenetics. And the idea of your genetics loads the gun, but your lifestyle pulls the trigger, you know, so maybe there’s a genetic distribution? Yes, but it’s up to me whether those genes are expressed or not. And what is the way to counter those genes, health and fitness. So part of my reason for getting into health and fitness was to it felt like I was potentially running away from the illnesses that my mum was experiencing. And of course, growing up or being in my 20s, with a mom with bipolar has a whole lot of other family dynamics and challenges and traumas that we go through. Yeah, and I think fitness was an escape, as well as a coping mechanism as well as a, “I don’t want to be that.” And you know, I say that from a place of love. My mom knows this. But it’s yeah, it was a really challenging time of not wanting to have the illnesses that are in your family. So every time I injured myself, in my mind, I’m like, but I can’t not do it, because otherwise I will become ill in all these other ways. But I was running so far the other direction for a long time, that wasn’t healthy either. So yes, I had many injuries, misdiagnosis, I also likely caused a lot of physical harm myself, because of how obsessed I became about it. Yes, I admit, in my 20s, I was probably unhealthily obsessed with using fitness as a tool to not deal with life. You know.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  17:18

And when you had these injuries, during your studies at the Conservatorium, obviously had to give up the pipe organ. Is that when you went into research?

Leah Coutts  17:29

Yeah, so I majored in music, literature and pedagogy. So for those who are unfamiliar with that term, so the art and science of teaching, yep. And I started teaching piano. So I was self taught piano, I started teaching piano, even if I had to do it one handed sometimes because I was in a sling or couldn’t function. And the one thing I noticed was adults, especially a very challenging to teach. And because they’ll start something, and they have in their mind that I’m either musical, or I’m not, or I don’t want to look like a fool, or I can’t allow myself to express myself adults can be if they’re new to anything creative, very rigid, very operating from a place of I don’t feel safe. So there’s a lot of ego associated with with it, which is hard to kind of crap through. So then they end up saying, Oh, well, I’m not musical, and they stop. So I was up against this a lot. And then while I was researching my honors, I was crippled with perfectionism myself. So to the point of being grounded on the floor for hours with panic attacks and not functioning. And this was maybe associated with injuries, you know, maybe associated with that. But there’s, I think that most of us in our lives somewhere in some shape or form, when that there was criteria to our worthiness, you know, learned that in order to be worthy of love, affection, a place in the world being seen being heard being respected. There’s this certain criteria we need to meet. And for me.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  19:08

Sorry, do you mean there has to be conditions? It can’t be unconditioned. 

Leah Coutts  19:10

Yeah. Yeah. So for me that was straight A student your parents love you, you know sevens that uni use your parents love you. So when it got to honors which in Australia, you get first class, second class, third class, I was crippled by I don’t know what happens if I don’t get first class honors. Oh my gosh. And it was this anxiety spiral. But I am a high achiever. I got sevens and I connected anxiety with high achievement. So when I was working with a psychologist who was trying to take away my anxiety, and I thought she was taking away my success, because I connected those two things. Ah, so that was a whole other thing. Isn’t it? It’s messed up. But honestly, it is within us in. I think there’s so many different versions of that same story. And I think if all of us speak it out loud, we can see how messed up that is. So you know, teaching adults a skill that want to, but they’re so scared of failing or not expressing themselves. Or maybe they’re scared to express themselves that that’s where the self-sabotage cycle kinda kicks in. Yeah. And so my research was about how do we transform mindsets, so we can behave in a way that supports us? Really, my goal was really to keep adults at the piano. And what I realized was the way we communicate the way that we first and foremost appreciate we have a human being in front of us, it’s not a pair of hands at the instrument. It’s not you know, just like if you’re in the gym, it’s not a body with muscles is actually there’s a human being with values, belief systems, maybe traumatic things, maybe cycles of self-sabotage, if we don’t take that whole thing into consideration, then people are just going to walk away from their dreams. And that just that just breaks my heart.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  21:11

Yes, yes, no. And that relates also to in the singing voice community. And I know that a lot of singers, I call us, we’re a very special breed. Because we spend so much time in our own heads. We’re constantly criticizing ourselves, when we’re listening out for all those imperfections, we don’t give ourselves enough credit for the things that we do correctly. So I totally get I have students that you I can see them when they’re singing, all they’re doing is just listening to themselves. They’re not, they’re not telling the story of what they’re or conveying an emotion because they’re so caught up in their own minds. And there’s a lot of talk now within our community about creating safe spaces for our students, where they can come in, and they can be curious, and they can explore and they can be vulnerable without feeling all those things. So it is very relevant what you’re talking about. And when I looked through, you have so many peer reviewed journal articles that have been published, I didn’t look like there are about 30 of them. And I don’t know could be more I’m not really sure. But there are a lot.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  22:30

But I kept seeing the words empowering, and not having limitations. So how do you cheat that?

Leah Coutts  22:39

Yeah, do you know the one thing that I think empowering is a word that is often overused, and I’m starting to move away from that word, I just haven’t found a good replacement. Because I can’t do anything to empower someone else. I’m not doing something to them, I’m creating a space where they step into it themselves. So I don’t like the word tip, either, because it means that I do something, and it automatically happens for you. So you know that language has its limitations, of course, pun intended, but for me, it’s about for me, it’s about what is your why. So you know, I mentioned in my 20s, I was running away from becoming ill or, and I myself worth got attached to “Yes, my uni grades, but my six pack,” you know, I was my self identity was I have to show that I am this healthy person because I am not going to be sick, you know. And it was not a healthy way of looking at it. But my reasoning was because I didn’t want to be something or because I felt I had to be a certain way for other people to love me. I had something to prove, in a way. And then in my 30s, as I recovered from all of my injuries, and I worked with exercise physiologist and my current sports cairo and I understood pain in relation to the body and I’d done my PhD on mindsets. And I understood psychology and I started down my spiritual path of life, I really got into Eastern philosophies and Buddhism and I think all of these things combined to go “What is my why?” like, I know I’m compelled, I know there’s this like pool from inside of me that I have to pursue my bodybuilding dreams. Yes. One reason is I was told you’ll never do a pull up again. You’ll never squat again, give up your bodybuilding dream, you’re never going to be able to compete. So I feel like part of me, part of the motivation was “How dare you place limitations on what I’m capable of?” And then that’s not enough. Because that’s still an external thing. That’s still I need to prove something because of something else someone thinks of me. So that’s not enough. And part of me was like, if you’re already worthy, what would you do? If you are already worthy? It’s kind of like one of those things if money is no object, what would you do with your life? But really, if you were already fully worthy of full embodiment of who you are, what would you want to do? I would be in the gym, I would be on the bodybuilding stage, I would be expressing myself through my fitness journey, and I would be helping others to find their full expression of themselves, whatever that looks like for them. Yeah, and that’s exactly what I’m already with my life, which is amazing.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  25:25

Yes. So to me, it sounds like when you’re empowering others, it is empowerment seems to be connected to authenticity, and someone being their most authentic self. 

Leah Coutts  25:40

Yeah. Because if you don’t fully believe, like subconsciously, or consciously, if you don’t believe you’re worthy of what you want, you’re going to self-sabotage, whether you realize it or not, you know, you’ll get close to your goal, or you’ll even achieve it, and then you’ll move away from it again. And we see that in health and fitness all the time, yo-yo dieting, you know, and all those things. It’s like, what is your why? What’s your North Star? You know, that’s kind of that guiding light of who you really want to become in this life? Yeah.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  26:11

Sounds like you’re you’re very defiant.

Leah Coutts  26:15


Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  26:16

And I say that, because if someone tells me, I can’t do something, I have to prove you wrong. And most of my life, I grew up being told, Oh, you’ll never be, you’ll never amount to anything. You’re not very smart. So I have. So I have a PhD and a book now academic textbook that actually sits in university libraries. And, you know, like I’ve had, I’ve been told so many different things. And I’ve always had to go, “No, I’m going to prove you wrong.” And here’s the proof and shut that whether some…

Leah Coutts  26:54

Do you know what’s interesting though? Maybe it’s also because the one thing my parents have always said to me is you can do whatever you want, like so I had that story really imprinted on me from as long as I can remember it, is you can do whatever you put your mind to. So maybe when other people say you can’t, I’m like, Well, hold on, that goes against this like cork that I was given as a kid.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  27:19

Yes. Well, that’s really, yeah, that. But in my case, I’ve also told that so there must be some kind of inner instinct or survival mechanism that triggers within me. Who knows, maybe we need to do a past life regression here to find out what’s going on. Maybe I was a female warrior, or a male warrior, who knows. But anyway, we get here.

Leah Coutts  27:45

If we get rid of what western society imposes on us, we all have who we authentically are. And if we allow the baggage of society’s voice to be silenced, we hear loudly who we are and what we can do. And you have that in, you know, clearly and so strongly as do I. And I don’t know that. I don’t know that that yet is what others always have. And that’s one thing that I’m really passionate about, like helping others to go, Well, what is the noise? And what happens when that noise goes away? What’s left and what like, how do we care for that? And that can be a really unsafe place. Because if you’ve never allowed yourself to be that authentic, vulnerable being, that can be a scary place to be, right?

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  28:32

Yes. And there are so many words that come to mind that stop us, and you’ve used a couple of them. One was perfectionism, that idea of having to be perfect. And I learned from a coach a Brendon Burchard, who is a high performance coach who works with a lot of CEOs of Fortune 500 company, directors and, and Olympic athletes, Oprah Winfrey. And he said something that really changed my point of view on this and, and when it comes to perfecting something, you actually have to be doing it, you can’t perfect something that you’re not doing. And I went well that that puts a whole different spin on this whole perfectionism idea be and trying to be perfect, because if you’re not actually doing the thing that you’re wanting to perfect, well then you’re not it’s never gonna be perfect.

Leah Coutts  29:31

But really like so perfectionism is really as an if I can call it an affliction. Like I think that I’m a recovering perfectionist. I think it’s always a like a practice. Now that is part of me to move beyond it. The really the affliction of perfectionism is where you can’t take action because you have this unrealistic expectation of what it needs to be before you present it to the world. Right? So it’s interesting you in order to get better at something, yes, you need to take action. And perfectionism stops you being able to even do that, because you’re so worried your self-worth is attached to the end product. And that’s the check that you’re saying my worth is attached to the is attached to my achievements, like I had to do so much work to go. I am not my PhD. I am not my publications, I am not my six pack. I am not the title, you know, like what I’ve achieved in the athletic world. I am not those things. I’ve achieved those things. I’ve done those things, but my self-worth is okay. Even if all that gets taken away. That’s…

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  30:39

Yes, yeah, this is really cool. Because I consider myself to be a high achiever, because I set high standards for everything that I do. I don’t, I’m not well, I can be a perfectionist, but it doesn’t stop me from taking those steps forward to actually achieving the end goal that I’m needing to achieve. I always figureit out. And I back myself by saying, “No, I can do it because I’m a hard worker.” So the stories I’m telling myself, I am a hard worker. So therefore, I will always achieve what I need to achieve. And I will get there, I will always get there. The stories that I tell myself.

Leah Coutts  31:27

I love that. I mean, really, the only thing that stops you from progressing is if you stop. Like if you give up there is no chance of like, that’s the only way to not moving forward. I love it. I love that working. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  31:42

Yeah, you know, and I kind of get addicted to the feeling of achievement as well. And I know like you you’ve stepped into bodybuilding. Is there an addiction there where is it that okay, maybe you know, this perfectionism comes into it a little bit, not in terms of that it stops you, but are you aiming to have that perfect look, and when you hit your goals, is there a little bit of a an adrenaline rush or that feeling that you get addicted to every time you hit that next step that you’re moving towards? 

Leah Coutts  32:20

So I’m definitely not perfectionist anymore, especially when it comes to fitness. But I will say there’s an interesting tension around competitiveness and being focused on the process, you know, so any sport just like learning any new skill of music included, it’s always the focus on the process that you want fall in love with the process, not the outcome or…

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  32:44

 I love processes. I love a good process. 

Leah Coutts  32:49

Bodybuilding is a very close sport, you know, so I competed at the start of this year. The next time I’m on stage is October next year, it’s a very slow sport. So if you’re only chasing those adrenaline pumped moments, you’re gonna hate the journey. Right? But saying that, so yeah, I’ve accepted, I’ve always said I’m not competitive, I just have to be the best. So I kind of accepted, that means I’m competitive.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  33:16

That’s a contradiction in itself. 

Leah Coutts  33:19

What I meant was, I don’t want to squash other people to achieve. But if there’s something for the taking, you better watch out because it’s mine. And one of my one of my mottos that got me through my prep was, what would a pro bodybuilder do right now go and do that. That was my, you know, when you’re extremely depleted when you get to such low body fat percentages that are not healthy. So I’m talking about the sport of competitive bodybuilding that is not healthy and sustainable.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  33:49

So what is that lowest body fat you’ve gotten down to? Because I know basically what a woman needs? Yeah.

Leah Coutts  33:57

Healthy, healthy. Yeah, healthy ranges are 20% Plus, athletic usually sits in the realm of like the 17 to 20, bodybuilders or below 15. And by some measurements, I was under 10%. I don’t think I actually was by DEXA scans. I think I was about 13%. So you know, there’s always a degree of error. But the main thing is when you’re, when you don’t have the necessary body fat on your body. Yes, aesthetically, it’s amazing. But you don’t have the fat to support your hormones. You can’t sleep, you can’t think straight. You walk into a room and you go, why am I here now? Someone says can you go into the kitchen and get me some things? I can’t get off the chair right now like, so. There’s a lot in the sport. And I must say, I geek out on self-imposed suffering. I love putting my back against the wall and seeing what I’m made of. So I achieved… 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  34:53

Spent your life doing that. You’ve been conditioned. You’ve had a life’s worth of conditioning. Yeah, that Leah.

Leah Coutts  35:01

And I absolutely, yeah, I love it. So I think being on stage is amazing. Love performing, you know, put me it sounds terrible, but put me in a little bikini and heels and get me posing on stage and I’m completely in my element. But that is such a small part of the sport. I had such an amazing season and successes. So I still have this thing in my mind of I can achieve anything I put my mind to, because I did. You know, my first my first season, I became full time pro, I won a National Pro show and an international pro show. So I kind of my first season I’ve achieved so much, which I’m very grateful for. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  35:43

That is amazing. Yeah. Congratulations. That’s so cool. So does that mean when you’re pro that you’re being paid, or you’re being sponsored? Or you win money? 

Leah Coutts  35:55

You compete for money in the future, especially on the international stage, which I’ll be doing next year, it helps with gaining sponsorship. Sponsorship is so much more now? Like, it’s about your following and your, you know, your reach and all those things and working on those things. But they’re the I guess it’s not a sport that makes much money, but it gives you the experience to then like as a contract coach, you know, as a pro athlete, it kind of gives you that authority in the field, I suppose. But I wouldn’t say back to your question. Sorry about peak moments, every single period, there’s new challenges like this challenges around being that lean, there’s also challenges going the other way, like I am the heaviest I’ve ever been now, which is amazing, because it means I’m putting on more muscle which I need for my sport. But you have to be uncomfortable with being a healthy body, it sounds silly, be uncomfortable with being healthy. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  36:52

But the challenge I see in that is you’re dealing with a changing body all the time. So you’re you’re having these fluctuations, and they’re not instant, obviously they’re gradual. But you have to feel very confident within your own skin, to be able to look in the mirror and see like, this is the heaviest I’ve ever been. And this is what I look like today. And in a few months time, you’re as lean as down to that 13% body fat index, you know, it’s like you have to be, I don’t know, you have to have a really good frame of mind around around the image. 

Leah Coutts  37:38

You really do. And the more I talk to people and listen to other podcasts in the field of bodybuilding, if you’re not in a place where you have that inherent worthiness and safety within yourself, this sport is not psychologically safe. You know, if I competed when I wanted to in my 20s, it would have been the worst thing for me. But right now, I can look at myself 11 kilos heavier than I was on stage and go, I look healthy. I look fit. I look athletic. And I actually I’m enjoying this process. This is part of the sport, too. It’s not just the stage lean photos. This is the sport and I have to learn to love that as well, you know?

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  38:21

So in your 20s, did you have a body image?

Leah Coutts  38:24

Yeah, if I didn’t have a six pack, I thought I wasn’t worthy of anything. But it’s interesting, because then I think I shared with you I’d be in a relationship and people would or the guy would say, I’m not feminine, because I’m not soft enough, just because I had a six pack. And then I was in a relationship with an ex bodybuilder and I’d be injured. And I wouldn’t have definition. And I wasn’t sexy because I wasn’t hard enough. And so I just ended up confused. Like how am I allowed to look in order to be loved? was was what I couldn’t figure out because I couldn’t be who I wanted to be as an athlete. But even when I could have had people saying I shouldn’t look like that. And even now, you know, I’ve been told straight to my face. I could never date someone who looks like you. Like I don’t think I look. I don’t think I look so weird.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  39:15

You don’t look weird. Not at all. But the thing is, I think people have always associated that look with men. Probably, you know, the sport has or has pretty much. I know it is women in the sport, obviously, that it’s a male dominated sport.

Leah Coutts  39:37

I think historically and it’s also historically and also nowadays, a lot of the sport is enhanced, meaning there’s performance enhancing drugs, there’s steroid. There’s all those things that enhance your ability to put on muscle. I’m a natural athlete, so that’s definitely not me. And when you look at the women in the enhanced side of things, yes, they are unnaturally large because they’re not naturally large, they’re enhanced. They’re taking supplement, you know, things that look like that. But nowadays, interestingly, the women’s categories are exploding far more than the men’s. And it’s really exciting to see.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  40:16

So you’ve talked about the we’ve talked about the mental state of mind and body image. But what about the physical side? I mean, obviously, you’ve got to do some heavy lifting. Does it ever get too much? Or where you think I cannot possibly do another rep. And when that happens? How do you push through that that pain barrier or that threshold to get to the other side?

Leah Coutts  40:40

There’s two different components. One is understanding, when is your body that saying I’m not recovering, and when it’s your mind that saying, I don’t want to, and when I kept breaking in my 20s, it was always my mind would never give up. So I would push until my body broke. So I finally learned that line. But now it’s like, recovery is so important. If you if your performance in the gym starts to go down, you talk to your coach, and they’re like, okay, it’s time for D load, it’s time for a Recovery Week, it’s time to lessen, recover, so we can go again. So there’s cycles in the sport, that are really important. Otherwise you do you just burn out, you increase your risk of injury, and it’s not sustainable. So the cycles you go through make it a sustainable sport when done right. And which is why it’s so important. And the mental side, you remind yourself of your why you put on some motivation music, you think about the competitors who are out repping you and you’re like, you know what, I want it more than them.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  41:40

Yeah, you, we talked about you being competitive before. And look, you know, we we just, were talking about a being a male orientated industry. What about the male count your male, the other competitors? And your coaches? Like how have has your treatment in the industry? Or in that, in that competition arena? Being mind to you?

Leah Coutts  42:10

In a lot of ways yes. And in some ways, no. So I think in any competitive sport, there’s always going to be some levels of toxicity to be mindful of just to start on a positive note. The other competitors are amazing, like, we know what you go through to get on stage. And we all have a personal journey of overcoming something, whether it’s hospitalization, injuries, mom with three kids, you know, there’s always a really amazing transfer. Between the competitors, we all really support each other cheer each other on. Like, it’s an amazing experience. There’s a lot of stories around coaches that aren’t great. And I had a coach say to me, once you’re not ready for the stage, literally two seconds before I went onstage for the first time ever. He basically said, You’re not ready, you shouldn’t be here. And then he said, “You’re against an egg.” 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  43:07

Why would he do that? What’s the point of that?

Leah Coutts  43:09

I don’t know except his own. I don’t know, toxic masculinity issues. I don’t know. But I my first and I won that show. And so I qualified for nationals. And it was interstate and he didn’t travel with me, I went down with my mom. And I sent him a video, a check in video the night before my competition. And his only reply was, let’s hope you look better tomorrow. Like, like I have a PhD and how to treat humans when it comes to coaching. And this is not it like you don’t even need a PhD at it to know that is not good treatment. But if I was any. No. Imagine if I was a 20 year old hearing this from a male in his 40s who that power dynamic relationship. And luckily for me, a colleague and fellow coach stepped in and he’s now not only my coach, he’s now my business partner. So, you know, there’s, there’s beautiful people, I think you just have to… It’s worth changing coaches until you find that relationship. You know what it’s like with singing, you know, what is it when you have is that connection and trust, you’re talking about safety?

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  44:20

 Yes. And it’s also like even having life coaches and business coaches, there are people that you resonate with and people that you don’t resonate with. And funnily enough, I had an amazing life coach, and she was a Brendon Burchard life coach, and she was a bodybuilder, ex bodybuilder, ex police officer, and she was perfect for me, because she was a buck kicker. And that’s obviously the kind of person that I need in my life. Someone who’s really disciplined and has, you know, this must be done. Yes, you know, I’m really, I really, I’m really responsive to that. But it’s through this journey that you’ve been on talking about limitations. And, you know, we’ve talked about some of those limitations that you’ve been through physically as a bodybuilder, that that the pains that you’ve suffered, you’ve enjoyed growing up. And now that you’re at this stage of life, and you look back, were there people that tried to stop you other than your coach, were there other people that tried to silence you, or stop you from embarking on the journey that you wanted to go on in life

Leah Coutts  45:41

After… So through my 20s, that was obviously medical professionals who couldn’t fix me and I think, I think a lot of medical professionals just want to keep you safe and wrap you up in cotton wool and go if you just sit on the couch, you’re not going to break, you’re not gonna live, but you’re not going to break. So apart from that, I think I’ve been really fortunate to have, like I said, really supportive parents, really supportive friends, I think those who have witnessed my journey, have actually gone Ah, this is always this is so obvious that Leah would do something crazy like this.” You know, always like, like I said, it’s always been that tension between fitness and music. And I think a few people have gone Leah bounces around a lot. Like she was a salsa dancer. Then she was teaching piano and she’s teaching Zumba. And now she’s doing personal training. Now she’s gone back to piano, she’s done a PhD. But like, to me, they all combine. And I think now, the people in my life, it just kind of makes sense that everything I’ve done has prepared me to be exactly where I am. So I think I’m fortunate in that way.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  46:48

Yeah. Do you have people say to you, Wow, you’re so busy. But for you, it’s just like, nah, this is just my life.

Leah Coutts  46:55

You know, I think every week my mom says, I’m worried that you’re burning out and I say to her, if I had space in my life, I would just fill it with something. That’s just what I do. Like I’m, I mean, no place. I don’t have children, I can be a little bit selfish with how I use my time. And I feel like if that’s allowing me to do coaching as well, that’s not selfish, like yes, the bodybuilding sport, fine is a very self indulgent sport, but who you become through that means you can be of service to others. So I’m also questioning and pushing back when I get told it’s such a selfish thought. I’ve changed because of it. And I’m a better human to others because of it. So, you know, is that really selfish?

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  47:44

No, no, except when it comes to meal times. Day to the bodybuilder one set, all I remember was that we were sitting down eating 20 times. And it was always a protein. Oh gotta have my protein. And what have you learned about yourself? Through this process of bodybuilding?

Leah Coutts  48:08

I think it’s been a playground for me building myself up as who I am. So I mentioned before a little bit of like, oh, I hinted at, like, the spirituality side, the Buddhist side. And the there’s real tensions, right? There’s this I have goals, which is future oriented, but idea of being present and being in the moment, and it feels like they’re there. It’s a paradox. How can you be competitive while being present? And I’ve learned how well they go together through this journey and how it’s when you let go and you accept what is the you actually make decisions that’s going to serve your future self. That may not sound too tangible and bodybuilding? But that’s.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  48:57

No, no, I right. Yeah, no, but I 100% get it. Yeah. 100%. I understand where you’re coming from. So what was the inspiration then for Soulful Vegan Fitness, your business? Tell us about that business?

Leah Coutts  49:16

Yeah. So it’s interesting because I’m vegan. And being in the sport of bodybuilding, being vegan is quite interesting, because people think it can’t be done. Like how can you be fit and healthy when you don’t eat animal products? And I think it’s becoming more normalized. That you know, plant based living is actually healthy. But I think, so to me, fitness is about three different things. There’s understanding nutrition, how do you feel your body? How are you actually giving your body what it needs in order to function optimally? Then there’s the fitness side, which is, you know, how do we move our bodies. Are we maintaining our strength? Are we supporting good bone health? Are we sleeping well and recovering well and doing all those things? But then the soulful part is the what is your why? And who are you actually underneath all that baggage? How is what you’re fueling your body with and how you’re moving your body? How is that helping you to become the more authentic you that’s just waiting to come out. So being vegan as well, that obviously is the clientele that I work with most I understand that lifestyle, but ethics align, that’s where I’m most comfortable, but I feel a lot of the fitness industry is you need to look a certain way, because you’re not good enough how you are. That’s that’s the rhetoric, yes, it’s fitness, you are not worthy unless you look like X Y Z. And it’s so wrong. And I’m saying that as a bodybuilder, like, it’s not about what you’re the sport of bodybuilding isn’t even about what you look like, you know, it’s who you become through that journey. And so, I struggle even on my website, like if I think about writing, “looking better”, I’m like, but who’s to say how they want to look, I don’t want to say, but looking better is what sells? You know, do you want to lose body fat? Come work with me? I’m. Yes. I’m more. How do you want to feel? Let’s do that.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  51:08

Yes, that’s a really good way of putting it because then if you’re putting down that you’re helping people achieve a certain body image, then you’re going to attract a certain clientele as well, that probably won’t stick with it.

Leah Coutts  51:23

Yeah. And it’s perpetuating things that just hurt hurt my heart, whereas the physical transformation comes, it’s a byproduct of your activities, you know? Yes. And what continues with like motivating you on the activities is what are the values that you’re expressing? You know, people say to me, is it hard being vegan? I’m like, no, because I don’t see animals as food. It’s like literally that simple. I have such a core value, that if they’re a living being they don’t belong in my stomach, it’s not even a question of motivation. It’s just not as a non issue.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  51:56

So is that why you became vegan?

Leah Coutts  51:59

Yeah, actually.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  52:00

How long have you been vegan?

Leah Coutts  52:02

I went vegan, the month after I submitted my PhD. Because I needed something to, like, put into my brain. And I’d stopped research, stop researching. And I read a book by Peter Singer called The Most Good You Can Do, and it was actually on Effective Altruism. It wasn’t even on animal rights. Only it was just on how do you effectively do the most good in the world. And there was a chapter on animal ethics. And it was like, instant, instant instant switch for me from then. But what started it. I grew up in England, right? When I was eight, I went on a school excursion to a sheep farm. And I loved animals, loved animals, and I wanted to be a vet, as you do when you’re a kid and you love animals. I want to be a vet, not good with blood, but I wanted to be a vet and they said, “Who here wants to go to the slaughterhouse?” Now I was eight, there was no parental consent. My mom had I asked Mom, she didn’t even remember this happened, but no one had ever asked her. And it was kind of a biology lesson. Like, let’s see the organs. And anyway, traumatized me as a kid. So I think it took me until I was 13 when I was allowed to become vegetarian didn’t really badly because nobody knew how to be vegetarian. Well back then, and I became really unhealthy. So I went back to eating meat, I was bullied for being vegetarian, didn’t know how to eat. I was living off cereal, you know, was not looking after myself. And yes, went back to eating meat. And so when I read this book of Peter Singers, it was like a smack in the face like you were right when you’re a teenager, and you were bullied out of your values. And I felt so much guilt and so much shame and so much anger. Because what I knew to be true, I had had kind of socialized out of me. So, so yeah, I became vegan overnight, and that was six years, six and a half years ago. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  54:01

Okay. So, with your business, you describe this as more than just an online fitness program. It’s a holistic wellness program that supports women to create a sustainable, healthy lifestyle that enables them to achieve their fitness goals, while developing their inner confidence and vitality. So who is your typical client? And what kinds of things do you do when you’re working with your clients? 

Leah Coutts  54:30

Good question. So the majority tend to be those who have likely tried a lot of different things in the past have had a history of yo-yoing and not quite being able to get something to stick and let’s face it, that’s the majority of women nowadays, there’s people who are newly vegan or really wanting to try plant based but they don’t know how to because there’s so much misinformation in the fitness, in the food industry, period. There’s so much misinformation And so a lot of people who are confused, come to me as well. But really, they’re people who know that they want to feel better. Like, so many of my clients say, I’m starting to feel like me again. And I think that is the biggest compliment. I can hear that they’re feeling like themselves, you know? Yes. And I think it is, it’s about having, like, personalized nutrition, personalized fitness, but personalized “Who are you?” Like? What is what? How does this fit into your lifestyle? What do you need to work through? Like, what habits do you have? You know, why you have those habits? And like, you know, peeling back the layers, it’s that life coaching element that really, I guess, is the most fascinating part, but it’s the part that unlocks sustainability, you know, so we have deep dive conversations.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  55:52

 Yes. And have you had a particular client that you think, well, this person’s had the greatest transformation? Is there someone who comes to mind?

Leah Coutts  56:03

No, I have to say, I’m actually training my sister-in-law at the moment, she’ll probably get a kick out of being mentioned, actually.

Leah Coutts  56:10

And yeah, hi sister-in-law.

Leah Coutts  56:12

Hi Drew. So she is someone who has been in my life since we were 16. And through my fitness journey, it’s always been like, she doesn’t want to look like me. That’s fine. And then it became okay, I’m thinking about getting into some fitness because I’m like, sick of not feeling good in my body. And now she’s this gym rat. She’s lost, like, she’s always at the gym. She loves it. Her kids are getting into fitness. She’s lost over 13 kilos, but it’s not even… Amazing. It’s not even that it’s that she’s happier. You know, like, she can show me that she’s lost three clothes sizes, which is amazing. And she’s looking so much better. But it’s actually she’s feeling like, a nicer person to be around. Yeah. I like that. Yeah. Cuz she obviously she’s in my life, I see the transformation, like on a really minut detail, but I’m so proud of who she is, you know, who she’s allowed herself as she’s putting herself first.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  57:12

So what are the most common lifestyle and mindset challenges that a typical client comes to you with?

Leah Coutts  57:19

The biggest one is all or nothing thinking, like, I have to do everything? Or there’s no point in doing anything. Like I accidentally ate a cookie that wasn’t in my plan therefore I’m going to McDonald’s for dinner. You know, like it is that self-sabotaging behavior of I messed up once the whole day is a ride off. Oh, no. Now the whole weeks a ride off or treating food as punishment, like I over ate one day, therefore, I have to under eat the next day, really toxic, like really difficult pattern to get out of as well. The whole food is not the enemy, you know, and being on plan off plan. All it is, is understanding our life, you know? And what that can teach us and how do we learn from that? It’s just like making a mistake when we’re practicing music like, what do we learn from that? What do we do differently next time? How do we improve? So they’re the two main two main things.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  58:17

That’s interesting. This morning, when I was listening to a morning program, they were talking about the guy that wrote the five-two diet. Five-two diet. Yeah, he’s written a whole bunch of books on dieting, and he now has a book that kind of goes against all the other books, and it’s about doing one thing a day. Just making one change.

Leah Coutts  58:43

I’m glad to hear that because his other books. Yeah, not a fan. I, I just think when you have when you have such rigid rules, and it applies to that all or nothing thinking and when it’s not sustainable, you’re just encouraging a yo-yo lifestyle. It’s like Tony Ferguson and, and like shakes and all the rest of it, their business model is they need it to be unsustainable, because you need to be a repeat customer. You know, and you see people have amazing transformations. They don’t learn how to have sustainable eating habits, and they achieve their goal and they just go straight back to their old patterns, because that’s all they know, and they gain it all back and then some, you know. So I think one thing I’m really passionate about giving the tools about educating is not here’s the plan, and you have to follow the plan because that’s the only thing you know, I’m actually teaching the tools so they’re learning to it becomes a lifestyle.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  59:45

And you know, in today’s day and age, what are some of the limiting beliefs that you find women have about themselves or about themselves in relationships or in the workplace, so not about their body so much, but just about themselves and what their capabilities are.

Leah Coutts  1:00:06

It’s interesting. While I, while I think the thing that comes to mind is and I’m sure you know, this, men will put themselves up for promotion, even if they’re grossly under qualified, and a woman who is overqualified will decide that she’s not in the race and not even bother applying. You’ve heard?

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:00:26

Yes. Well, we work in higher education. We know I mean, the women that are around are so I’m sure they’ve, they’ve had to work so hard to be in the positions there. 

Leah Coutts  1:00:39

Yeah. No, that’s true. I think we are so used to just keeping ourselves small. You know? And I don’t know, to me, I think we’re very fortunate where we work. We have amazing women in leadership, and we have real samples. And in my experience, I’ve had a lot of support. So but yeah, usually, I think that we just decided we’re not good enough. Which is really sad. Yes that’s sad. And we’ve nailed back generations and generations. And I think that that just gets passed on, and it becomes part of the narrative that’s really difficult to rewrite. I think it’s happening. But we’re not. I mean, there’s still… Yes, it really scares me when we talk about inequality and music, for example, in some of the lectures I give, and there’s always some students who go hasn’t this been fixed already? Like they just because we talked about it, people think it’s been fixed. And that’s really not the case.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:01:40

No, there’s still gender bias out there. I’ve spoken to a lot of performers, that women are not being paid equally to men, it happens. Yes, it’s definitely it’s still happening in music, it still, women still have to prove themselves, they still have to look a certain way on stage, they still have to be younger than the men like women seem to have an expiry date more so than, than men do, or when you think about it, so there’s still a lot of bias around gender. And what’s the greatest thing that you believe that we can do for ourselves on a daily basis?

Leah Coutts  1:02:24

Do you know the number one, the number one habit I think that is the game changer is before you go to bed, set an intention for the next day. Because in the moment, we’re driven by emotion, do I feel like going to the gym? No, okay, I won’t go. Do I feel like eating that salad? Or, you know, that curry that I made? Or do I feel like this? So we’re very much going to be ruled by our emotions. But what I found is when you set an intention, you’ve decided a future action, and it will literally take the emotion out of it. So at this time of day, I’m going to do this, that time of day rolls around and you just find yourself do I mean, it’s a practice, but you just find yourself doing it. There’s no resistance. Because you decided the day before. That’s my biggest thing.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:03:13

Yeah, I do that on the weekend prior to the week ahead. Isn’t that weird? I fill out a whole scheduling every day, by the half hour, everything that I’m doing for the following week. And I schedule in when I’m going to the gym, and I schedule in when I’m going to do pilates and I actually physically go and book those classes. Yeah. So I set my intentions on the weekend. And then I look at them the night before. And then I look at in the morning of so I know exactly how my day is gonna roll. And there’s no arguing I don’t argue with my diary. Sometimes I will eliminate things though, because I can tend to over commit. And I feel that I’ve done that this week. But I’ve still gone ahead and done everything. I didn’t end up a rate getting rid of anything.

Leah Coutts  1:04:10

 Thanks for not erasing.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:04:11

So what about I wouldn’t. Oh, my gosh, I’ve been looking forward to this. Or what about practices such as meditation, filling out a gratitude journal or journaling in general, things like that?

Leah Coutts  1:04:26

One of the biggest, it’s becoming a cliche, but it’s a great cliche, for a reason is the power of gratitude. You know, it’s not possible to feel grateful and angry or grateful and resentful at the same time. And I think that it helps us to become present. You know, like we live in our heads, we can live in our heads so much, whether it’s future or past. As soon as we’re grateful. We land. You know, I think meditation is a good one, like, meditation is misconstrued so much like so many people think it’s still just empty your mind. It’s not what meditation is about, right? It’s about not buying into the thoughts. It’s about witnessing the thoughts but just not entertaining them like they go. You know. And I think so many people said to me, I can’t meditate, because I can’t turn my mind off. And it just makes me really sad, because that’s not the point of meditation. Yeah, it’s about not buying into the stories that we’re hearing. Meditation for me is often just stopping and taking a few intentional breaths through the day, like I don’t sit and have a practice is actually built in to just moments in the day. For me, I have clients where it helps with winding down for bed, or it helps with getting ready for the day. And it can work differently for so many different people, depending on lifestyle and what you need, right?

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:05:52

Yeah, I have alarm triggers that go off during the day. And I have my three intentions, or I have three words that mean something to me, that when my alarm goes off, I repeat them to myself. So it’s a reminder. Yeah, it’s a reminder. To me, this is how I want to show up during the day. And am I actually showing up that way? Hmm, yeah, it drives my family insane. And every time and they all take the mickey out of me they all go. No, no one does. They don’t do what I do. I’m, I’m probably the most what people call woo-woo in my family. And by the way, I learned woo-woo when I first started this podcast, the very first guest that I interviewed use the word woo-woo when that was March last year, and I’ve heard it so many times since I’ve never heard it before. But, Okay, in wrapping up, what is your mission? Yearly? What do you think your greater purpose is?

Leah Coutts  1:07:10

Definitely the first thing that comes to mind is to help people connect with themselves. And the way that I do that is through their health and fitness journey. Because I think when you it’s a sign of self respect, like how do I look after my body? It’s the number one gratitude for being alive, if you ask me is respecting how we move and fuel our body. So to think about who you are underneath it all, underneath all the noise underneath all of the limiting beliefs, if you could get rid of all of those limitations. Who would you be? And be that person? 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:07:49

And by that we don’t mean occupation. No. Or what you do in life? 

Leah Coutts  1:07:54

No, not at all.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:07:55

Because that’s, you know, that’s really interesting. You ask someone well, you know, what do you do? Or who were you? And people say, Well, I, I’m a teacher. I’m an author. I’m a podcast host. No, but who are you really.

Leah Coutts  1:08:10

You know the question I love asking people especially like, if you first meet them, instead of saying, what do you do? What has brought you joy lately?

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:08:17

Oh, um, most people would be so confronted with that question, don’t ya?

Leah Coutts  1:08:22

Yeah, it disrupting question. Cuz what they’re expecting you to say, What do you do? Yeah, what’s brought you joy?

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:08:29

Yeah. Well, I tell you what, I should have asked that question to the lady that was coughing all over me on the train this afternoon. And if there’s one way to get rid of someone that you don’t know, just this. So what has brought you the greatest amount of choice? Most people would be, there’d be a lot of people that would feel confronted.

Leah Coutts  1:08:57

 Yeah. Because it’s really gets to a bit more of the who are you? Like that authentic you.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:09:02

Exactly. Yes, yes. And I made the comment that I made, because I totally get, and I think that’s a beautiful, beautiful question. But I just know sometimes when I’m having conversations with people, with a with so many people, you can only go so deep. Yeah. Yeah. I’ve been told by my family that I’m in. Because I think so deeply about things. And I’m not talking about my children. It’s like, sip my my brother and pot some of his family. They say, Oh, you’re so intense. Like some of your conversations are really deep. And I’m thinking well, I’m not very good at small anymore. Sorry. No, I can be whoever you want me to be. I can talk about anything you want me to talk about? But I’d rather anyway. So Leah, we’re going to share all your links with the listeners, they’re going to be in the show notes for this episode. And so what are you going to be up to next? Where do you see you’re heading?

Leah Coutts  1:10:21

So the bodyboarding plan is Natural Olympia in Vegas, that’s one of the largest natural stages competitions in the world. So that’s exciting. And I read the stage of just I’m really opening up my coaching services at this point to those who feel called to it of course, like I was saying, You need to work with coaches who resonate with you. And if that’s me, fabulous, if it’s not me, that’s also fabulous. But yeah, I’m really at the stage of just exploring who is that person? And come come find me because I’d love to, you know, work with them.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:10:59

Yes. Oh, that sounds amazing. And I’m so happy for you. And I’m, I’m really excited about all the work that you’re doing. I feel like we’re kindred spirits there with so many things that you were talking about. And I think we need to meet in the lunch room more often.

Leah Coutts  1:11:17

I was gonna say so much gratitude to you for allowing me this platform to share some of my story and insight. I really appreciate it.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:11:26

How about so much gratitude to the universe for bringing us into the lunch room because I wasn’t meant to be there. It was only that my train ran late that I ran late to a class that I was going to sit in on that I thought it was rude to interrupt the class that I decided to go and sit in the lunchroom which I never ever have ever sat in it. That’s the only way I’m going to let you go. You’ve been very generous with your time. And I’ll look forward to seeing you soon. And good luck with everything in the meantime, until I’m looking at you. I’ll see when I’m looking at you. Best wishes with everything.

Leah Coutts  1:12:11

Thank you. All right.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:12:12

 Thank you, Leah. Okay, bye. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:12:18

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of A Voice and Beyond. I hope you enjoyed it as now is an important time for you to invest in your own self-care, personal growth and education. Use every day as an opportunity to learn and to grow, so you can show up feeling empowered and ready to live your best life. If you know someone who will also be inspired by this episode, please be sure to copy and paste the link and share it with them. Or share it on social media and use the hashtag #AVoiceAndBeyond. I promise you I am committed to bringing you more inspiration and conversations just like this one every week. And if you’d like to help me, please rate and review this podcast and cheer me on by clicking the subscribe button on Apple Podcast right now. I would also love to know what it is that you most enjoyed about this episode and what was your biggest takeaway. Please take care and I look forward to your company next time on the next episode of A Voice and Beyond.

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