This week we are high-fiving FiTONIC’s Athlete Spotlight: Zina Bougri. Zina is passionate about rock climbing and backcountry skiing. She shares with us about her father’s role in getting her involved in climbing and how she uses athletics to cope with PTSD. We love Zina’s thin-mint nutrition tip and her overall encouragement about not being hard on yourself when you don’t reach your goals.
What is your fave way to train (running, yoga, CrossFit, weightlifting, dancing…)?
I love running and hiking, but my true passions are rock climbing and backcountry skiing. For me, there’s truly nothing like the feeling of being on top of a mountain.
How did that become your thing?
I grew up ski racing, so I’ve always had a love for the mountains. Transitioning from racing to backcountry touring was a natural evolution for me when I moved to Utah six years ago. When it comes to climbing though, my dad was really influential in getting me to push myself outside of my comfort zone. He would always take me on hikes and scrambles as a kid, and that led to us tackling even bigger objectives — we summitted Mt. Rainier together in 2014, which was an amazing experience to share. I had climbed in the gym a fair bit throughout high school, but when I moved to Utah and started climbing outdoors, I was hooked. Six years later, it’s still my favorite thing in the world.
How has training physically changed you mentally or emotionally?
Training my body has done wonders for my mind. I have PTSD, which means I constantly deal with a lot of muscle pain, anxiety, and bouts of depression. Training breathes new life into my aching muscles and helps me slow down my racing mind, which helps me live a happier, healthier life. I’ve also noticed that the more I train, the more confident I feel.
What is still hard for you about your training, fitness or nutrition?
I don’t eat meat for environmental reasons, and I discovered that I’m lactose intolerant earlier this year. Though I’m not technically vegan (I still eat eggs, goat cheese, and seafood on occasion), it’s definitely difficult to make sure I’m getting the right amount of nutrients and protein on a daily basis. I went to a nutritionist for a few months this summer to work on that and it’s been a huge help, but I’m still figuring out what works for my body and what doesn’t.
What is the mantra in your head that you hear most often when you train?
“You can do anything for ___ minutes.” I tore a ligament in my finger at the beginning of the summer, which forced me to take 10 weeks off from climbing. During that time, I picked up running to take my mind off the fact that I couldn’t be doing what I love most. I’ve found it’s — in large part — a mental game, so I’m constantly reminding myself that I can do it. After all, you can do anything for 5 minutes, right?
What do you love most about your body?
I love my tattoos. I know that’s not really fitness or nutrition related, but it’s true. They each tell a story and reflect who I am and what I find valuable in life, which I think is pretty neat.
If you have worked with a coach, what’s the most important lesson you learned from that person?
My nutritionist always told me to not beat myself up if things don’t go as planned, and I think that’s an incredibly important lesson. If you beat yourself up because you cheated on your diet over the weekend or didn’t run as many miles as you were hoping to last week, then you start to foster a negative attitude which can then make you less likely to achieve your current goals. Whenever I slip up or don’t perform my best, I try to figure out why and fix it for next time, but I don’t dwell on it too much anymore. Negative energy is wasted energy, right?
What is your fave nutrition tip?
I have a crazy sweet tooth, and every now and then I get a crazy craving for salty stuff, too. To combat these cravings, I make sure to always have healthy alternatives at home. Lately, I’ve been really digging Terra chips and Power Crunch protein bars (pro tip: if you keep the chocolate mint flavor bars in the freezer, they taste just like Thin Mints!).
If you could tell only one thing to every woman who is struggling in her fitness journey, what would that be?
Every little bit counts, so just keep going. We all have bad days (or weeks), but all that matters is that we get back on track after them. Even if that means going for a walk instead of a run, or doing fewer reps in the gym because you’re just not feeling great that day. Any movement is better than none at all :)
What goal are you going to crush next??
My boyfriend and I are planning a climbing trip to El Potrero Chico, Mexico, over New Years. It’s basically a limestone sport-climbing paradise, and there’s a 23-pitch route called Timewave Zero that I’ve been dreaming about for years now...so I’m pretty stoked to cross that one off my bucket list!
BIG thank you to Zina for being our FiTONIC’s Athlete Spotlight!
You can connect with her at:
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