To celebrate women’s month, we’ll profile a different #strongwoman every week in August.
Maria Cupido is a Biogen athlete, a Sweat 1000 instructor, a SUP competitive athlete and most definitely a #strongwoman. We found out what inspires and motivates her to lead a healthy, fit life.
How did you discover your passion for fitness?
I have always been one for the outdoors and up for a challenge, but the desire to push on and be dedicated to a healthy lifestyle began when I started my surfing career when I was nine years old. That passion opened many doors for me, including the opportunity to start Stand up Paddling (SUP), which led to me becoming a sponsored athlete in my land and water sports.
Name some of your challenges and triumphs throughout your journey?
I’ve competed against very accomplished people and I’m constantly surrounded by those who had been in the game much longer than me, which means I’ve had to work twice as hard to catch up.
I have also suffered multiple injuries, which I initially viewed as set backs but actually led me to change my mentality and mindset towards fitness.
It’s a blessing to be able to compete and to train, and we need to always remind ourselves of that, especially when you train and compete at the level I do.
I once landed up in hospital with meningitis and that took me back to the start. Since then I’ve changed how I approach each training session. Rather than killing myself, I make sure I realise how blessed I am to have a healthy body, and to serve and fuel it rather than break it.
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Look into the mirror, that is your competition…it’s you against you, with your team supporting you! Be conscious of your blessings and appreciate the good. Don’t be afraid to put in the effort where due because it creates good habits and produces results! 💪🏼💦 Thank you: @pumasouthafrica @biogensa @sweat_1000 @bucfitnessclub for supporting me and helping me grow and challenge my limits 📸: @leafmagza
What are your views on exercise and nutrition as part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle?
Having a balanced lifestyle ought to be an everyday decision and takes discipline. It is important to implement healthy practises in your daily routine, not only for physical growth but mental too.
Giving your body nutrients that will fuel and sustain it is important for bodily functions and to boost your immune system, rather than eating for the sake of it, which can harm your body.
Living and eating consciously is how I live; eating and exercising for a purpose. To exercise is a blessing and helps to keep your brain and body sharp. It also releases stress in a healthy manner and allows your mind to push past its comfort zone, which can be used as a metaphor for life’s challenges and shifts our mentality in the process.
How do you find motivation and the energy to pursue your passions, your business and still stay active and healthy?
Motivation is a tricky concept. It can come in various means, however I am very focused on living a life to serve God and he is why I work hard. He blessed me with what I have and I am so grateful for each opportunity, which makes me want to succeed at everything I do. It’s very tough to balance life but the reminder that each moment is building me up for the next is what I keep in mind. While it may be tough now, I know that I am tougher. I just need to stay optimistic and ready to tackle each task with vigour so I can obtain what I want.
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Each day comes with challenges, obstacles and its fair share of moments you wish you could fast forward. One month in and you start to feel your body taking a toll. Trust me I am feeling it too. However I have to remind myself that this year is not a race but a long distance marathon. 🏃♀️ Focus on each step, one foot in front of the other: you will reach the finish line. #startstrong #finishevenstronger
Why do you think it is important to have balance?
Balance is something I have struggled to achieve because there is always something you give more attention to more than another areas. However, discernment in each task is important – having the discipline to dedicate a certain amount of time to each aspect of your life and prioritise appropriately.
Having discernment and discipline limits us from burning out. We have to remember to breathe and that life is not a sprint. Take it slow and steady and make time for each thing in life. It is a journey and we ought to enjoy every aspect of it.
Take us through a day in your life.
I wake up nice and early so I can do bible study and take my Biogen vitamins with my morning cup of coffee. Each day starts off with a SWEAT 1000 session to get my brain alert. I may teach after that, then get stuck into my 9-5 job. I end off my day with meetings and another training session and teaching session. I then enjoy a lovely evening with my man to reset and refuel for a new day. I balance out my day with outdoor and indoor activity to ensure I don’t become stagnant at home.
What does your diet look like?
My diet did not happen overnight. It took trial and error to achieve it. My diet consists of a minimal amount of lean meat and fish, and carbohydrates such as sweet potato and quinoa. I eat a large amount of vegetables and fruit. I do not consume any carbonated drinks, refined sugars, chips nor anything that my body cannot use as fuel. I am disciplined as to what I put in my body to make sure I function optimally.
What does your training look like? What kind of training do you believe in and why?
My training consists of a balance between strength and endurance, with a focus on HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training). This training style incorporates strength, endurance, stamina, and cardiovascular training at a high rate, which fluctuates my heart rate, pushes my limits and gets me competition ready.
I love being active and constantly alert. I train in order to stay physically and mentally fit. When training for SUP races, I simulate the way I race and the muscle groups that need to be strengthened.
When training for triathlons, my sessions will be spread out throughout the day to accommodate the necessary aspects, namely swimming, cycling and running.
It’s important to train knowing your body and it’s limits but also to push past your comfort zone – it’s the only way to grow and keep moving forward to break our mental barriers while training, without breaking your body.
How do you stay mentally healthy and strong?
A huge factor of mental strength can be found in how we frame our minds and those who surround us. I like to remain optimistic and constantly try to shape my mind by changing the perspective I have to see if from a brighter view. But that isn’t always easy.
SWEAT 1000 and being a S1K trainer and competitive athlete has helped me look at situations differently. Training at the level I do and pushing my physical barriers has allowed me to push my mental barriers too. Instead of saying I can’t and that I’m not strong enough, I remember that in my training I once thought I couldn’t, yet I pushed my physical boundaries and thus can do the same with my mind.
What message do you aim to portray to your followers? How do you aim to inspire them?
It’s really difficult to be in the limelight in your career. I’m not saying I am famous, but in terms of the exposure I get, I constantly want those who follow and look at me to see a genuine, natural person who constantly tries to do her best.
I tell everyone that trying and pushing past your comfort zone is how you succeed. However, it’s okay to not always feel invincible and that we are only human. I, therefore, remain authentic on my social media to show people who I really am. That way everyone knows who they see on their screen is who they’ll see in person.
I am inspired when I see others encouraged and motivated to grow, when I see people challenging themselves and proud of how they have changed. I do not live my life to inspire, but rather to be the best version of myself. Hopefully, in that someone can look at me and smile. I am in the industry of changing lives and if I achieve that, I am happy and in turn makes me work even harder.
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As you live life and look at yourself in the mirror remind yourself of how beautiful you are, remind yourself that you were made by the king of the universe, he made you in his image and that should make you smile. I do not take away how much pressure the world puts on us to look a certain way and be a certain individual… it’s so difficult to not allow those pressures to affect you. I urge you to love yourself harder than that pressure- you are what’s in your heart, your outer beauty will fade – you makeup will wash off, your hair dye will wash out, what always remains is the beauty of your heart and as long as it beats- remember your body is a machine, work out because you love it, not because you hate it. Feed your body with nutrients, workout and keep it strong, surround yourself with people who build you to build up your soul, and laugh so much and always remember life is what you make it. So make it great 🤍🤍
Who or what inspires you?
Wow, what a question. I am going to go with my gut reaction to this: In my lifetime I have had many mentors and people who guided me to where I am.
I have received so much support along my journey, from when I started surfing at Surf Emporium, having Roxy and Wil Davis beside me, to Sweat 1000’s Andrew and Paul Rothschild guiding me, and Team Biogen, for which I am really thankful.
However, if we were to go with an individual over the past few years, it would be my boyfriend. And not for any cheesy reason. He constantly cheers me on, no matter the day, and always believes in me, while motivating me and showing me love and support and what it means to be tenacious. This inspires me to keep pushing, even when things gets tough.
What is your favourite #strongwoman quote?
“And one day she discovered that she was fierce, and strong, and full of fire, and that not even she could hold herself back because her passion burned brighter than her fears.” – Mark Anthony
Who inspires you to be a #strongwoman?
Every person I come into contact with. When I see people suffering or succeeding, it makes me work harder and know that I can be stronger, bolder and braver to help others in need and to grow to be as successful as those around me. Each individual impacts my life and has inspired me to grow as Maria, not for myself but for the world.
Do you have a #strongwoman moment to share with us?
It’s a victory I will never forget. I was racing in a SUP long-distance open ocean race in Hermanus, Cape Town at an event called “The Walker Bay Hi-Tec extreme”.
The conditions were particularly horrific on the day – the wind was gusting and the swell was massive. The ocean was choppy and just unpleasant. We raced a short technical route, where I placed 3rd, and then had the big challenge ahead of me.
I remember the fear I felt, yet I was excited to see how my body and mind could conquer this event. I paddled my heart out. My shoulders never felt that kind of burn before. I got to the final 500m of a 6km route in agony.
While I felt completely defeated, the crowd was cheering and my mind just said to me: “you are fitter, faster, stronger and tougher than these conditions, let’s paddle to that finish line and make yourself proud- YOU KNOW YOU CAN”. So I paddled deeper and faster, every stroke closer to the end. And I did it!
I threw my board and paddle on the shore, ran to the top of the hill and finished 2nd. It was my best place I ever achieved at that stage in my career. I will never forget how I pushed and reminded myself that I am strong and capable that day.
Author: Logan Leigh Rix
Logan blends her passion and profession by working as a digital and social media marketer and content creator in the fitness, health and wellness industry. She’s also a former Face of Fitness finalist and Fitness Magazine featured athlete.