Episode 165 with Danika Brysha
“What’s up everyone? Drew Manning here from Fit2Fat2Fit. You guys are listening to the Fit2Fat2Fit Experience Podcast and this is episode 165. Today’s guest is Danika Brysha. I was introduced to Danika through actually one of my employees, who went to one of her seminars. She was like, ‘You’ve got to get this girl on the Podcast!’ So we made it happen and I’m super excited to bring Danika on. For those of you who don’t know Danika Brysha, she is the co-founder of Model Meals, which is a healthy meal delivery service. She is also the founder of The Brunch Series, which is the one my employee went to, which is a women’s empowerment event that is currently on an eight month tour across the U.S. Both of these businesses are Danika’s way of giving back after her own personal transformation. For most of her life Danika suffered from an eating disorder that led to her some extremely dark places of self hatred and destructive habits. After hitting rock bottom mentally, emotionally, physically and financially, Danika was able to heal this self hatred and those destructive habits through a variety of tools that she is now able to share with thousands of women all over the country. Cooking healthy meals was a huge healing process for Danika. She began to cook meals for her friends out of her New York City apartment and then that little business has now turned into Model Meals, which delivers meals all across Southern California, Northern California, Phoenix and they continue to expand. It’s called Model Meals to help ‘model’, ‘quote-unquote’, model what healthier eating looks like and how healthy food can lead to healing in many different ways. She started The Brunch Series events to help coach and empower women to overcome their similar struggles. The Brunch Series event focuses on self care, including Danika’s self care checklist that she created, body positivity, finding your passion, food freedom and manifesting a life of your dreams. Danika has been selling out events all across the country throughout her 60 events on tour, with about 2000 women showing up in their local communities. What it doesn’t mention here is her story of being a plus size model. She lost that job because she lost weight as she started taking care of her health. So she has got a really interesting story about self care especially. I know a lot of women struggle with this. She is a great example of taking care of yourself and loving yourself and your body the way it is. We had a great conversation. You will definitely love this Podcast episode.
Drew: Hey, Danika! Welcome to the show! How are you?
Danika: I am great! How are you, Drew? Thanks for having me.
Drew: I am super excited to have you on. I was telling you before this that I have had some followers tell me I need to get you on. I’ve had some employees of mine that absolutely love you. So here we are today. Thank you so much for making time for this, because I know that you are a busy person, as many people are. But on top of that, you are kind of like a nomad. *laughing* You kind of travel.
Drew: How long have you been doing this RV life?
Danika: Yeah, so it was almost an accident. We were interested in the nomad lifestyle. My boyfriend and I have an event series that we do for women and it’s 7 1/2 months long. We took it on the road and we are on a tour. We have been on the road since April 1st. It’s now just about October, so we are almost done with our tour. But we love it. We actually love it so much that we are going to keep living in the bus and keep living this lifestyle. It’s fun!
Drew: *laughing* I love that. I love that and that’s where one of my employees first heard about you. She went to the conference, I think it was here in Salt Lake. She’s like, ‘You’ve got to have this lady on!’ I’m like, ‘Awesome! I’m going to go stalk her right now!’ *laughing* On social media of course!
Danika: *laughing* Salt Lake is amazing.
Drew:Yeah, Salt Lake is amazing. Where are you originally from?
Danika: Southern California, Orange County area. Newport Beach.
Drew: Yes, I love it. I used to live in Huntington Beach. Such a good place.
Danika: Oh, cool.
Drew: I love that area. Let’s kind of start from the beginning. I’d love to introduce you to my followers. For those that don’t know who you are, maybe just talk about from your perspective, hindsight is always 20/20, of what you went through that led you to where you are today.
Danika: Absolutely. I will try to keep this as concise as I can. *laughing*
Drew: *laughing* No worries!
Danika: Most of my life, it was really centered around food and struggling to keep weight off and not feeling beautiful and having limited self worth. I started dieting pretty early and doing weight watchers and atkins and all that. I saw what happened when I lost a bunch of weight. I started getting respect from people. Things started changing and I got really addicted to that. So my life’s purpose for so long became weight loss. My passion and what I wanted to be when I grew up was a model. I thought that would be the coolest thing and that would bring me happiness. It was all about how can I lose weight so I can become a model. I struggled with that for most of my life and I was really bulimic. In high school I was throwing up 7 or 8 times a day and nobody knew. I was super alone and then I got into drugs and alcohol. Just really restrictive food behavior or I was binge eating thousands and thousands of calories. It was just a really negative food relationship. It took me quite some time and I finally got to the place where I started settling in my body a little bit. I’m a naturally bigger girl. I am about 5’10 and size like 12 or 14 for women, which is the average in America, but it falls into the plus size category if you are talking the fashion industry. I got settled in my body and I actually was approached by some agents while I was randomly at the bank. They asked me if I had ever thought about plus size modeling. I didn’t know it was something that I could do, but I ended up signing with them and started modeling for Target and Rue 21 and all these big brands. I always think it’s super interesting how that dream came true after I stopped trying to be something I wasn’t, you know? I wanted to be this thing my whole life and then I finally surrendered and let my life feel a little bit better, released control and that happened. You can interrupt me anytime, Drew!
Drew: Ok. *laughing* This is good, keep going! *laughing*
Danika: I started modeling and I was doing really well with that. I moved to New York City. It was a new city and I just decided I was in a new place and I had been partying a lot and just sort of feeling like I have a lot more potential and I’m not living at it, so what can I change? I found something called the Whole30, which I know you are familiar with. I found the Whole30 and I did it in January of 2014 and it totally transformed my life. I just really grew up on processed food. I never realized how powerful real food was. It really transformed my relationship with food as well. Because it gave me the mental clarity to actually look at the …. I changed what I was eating and that gave me the mental clarity to look at how and why I was eating. I changed that and I was so inspired by how much I could change in 30 days that I started adding new habits every month. So the next month I would journal every day and keep the habits from the month before. So, every month it was journaling and meditation, working out and doing all these different things. I had created all these new habits for myself. But by May, about five months after my first Whole30, I had lost about 30 or 40 pounds because I was being pretty extreme. I lost my full size, plus size modeling job. *chuckles* I went from making a lot of money to making nothing overnight.
Drew: *laughing* Wow.
Danika: I was living in the west village in New York and quickly had to find other ways to make money. I did a lot of little odd jobs. I got a job at a juice shop. I would dog sit and I would rent my place on AirBNB, but it wasn’t adding up. I thought to myself, well what if I could cook these meals that have had such an impact on my life, these Whole30 meals and I could deliver them to people in New York. I posted something on social media. I said ‘Hey, would anyone like a healthy private chef.’ And chef is like a really bold statement, Drew! I would not classify myself as that at the time.
Drew: Hmmm …. *chuckles*
Danika: I ended up calling it Model Meals and started my own little meal delivery business. So I did that for a few months in New York. I was having a great time. It was the first time I had really experienced living your passion, right? But the money wasn’t coming in to where I could support myself yet. So, I had to make the call to make the move home to Southern California and I moved into my parents garage. During that time, and by the way, I was 28. It was not my life plan by any means to live in my parents garage. I would live there for two years actually. But during that time, in the earlier days of it, I was really finding myself. Kind of reverting to old bad habits and really stressed out, especially financially. I had gotten about six figures in debt. I realized that my binge eating was getting really bad. So I might be eating super healthy stuff, but I was binging to the point that I was eating 6000-7000 calories in secret in my room. I realized that ok, if things are …. something needs to change here. What I did was I thought about what will it take me to get to the end of the day and not binge eat. What are the things that I do that help me to have a ‘quote-unquote’ sober day? I made a checklist and I wrote down when I sleep enough and when I work out and when I eat clean foods and when I journal or meditate. Usually those are the things and so I started checking them off every day. I called it my self care checklist. I started doing that and realizing that had a massive impact and that I was staying consistent. I realized I would go a week binge free and then a month and I realized I could change my habits. I started adding things to that. I would add affirmations. I would sit in my parents garage, six figures in debt, writing about how rich I was. I am rich! Money flows to me! I would write biographies of myself from the future. I would write what I would hope people would say about me in five years. Slowly but surely, I started seeing things change. I decided to relaunch my business and I rebuilt my modeling career. I ended up paying off all my debt and moved out into my own place. I met the love of my life. I really just used this sort of consistent daily self care. Nothing crazy, Drew, you know? Thirty minutes or an hour a day, but I really just changed my mind set and I changed how I was thinking in the morning. It’s really cool to sit here today and see that just …. I think it’s only been, I want to say 18 months, since I lived in my parents garage. It’s just insane to see how much things have changed. But what I was kind of alluding to in the beginning is my boyfriend and I, he’s been a chef for fifteen years. We started an event series called The Brunch Series for women all around self care, wellness and healthy habits, just kind of teaching what I taught myself. We decided to take it on tour. We got an RV and we sold most of our stuff. We have been living in a 30 foot bus with our 200 pound dog for the last four months. It’s just been a really rewarding experience. My business Model Meals runs itself back home, which has always been something important to me. So that’s been growing and we are going to open in Austin pretty soon. All this to say, the power of food first and then the power of consistent daily practice in a way that is not overwhelming or shameful has been so significantly impactful in my life. It’s pretty crazy to sit here and look at how that wasn’t super long ago.
Drew: Ok. *laughing* My mind is totally blown right now because you just went through everything so fast and this just happened within ten minutes. There are so many questions I have, Danika. Well the first question that comes to mind is going back in time to that girl that was bulimic, that was growing up trying to be somebody, knowing what you know now, if you were face to face with her, what would you say to her?
Danika: Oh gosh. I think that she is enough exactly as she is and really to encourage the fact that my differences, what felt like differences and what felt like flaws at the time, were actually things that would lead me to success. That’s one of the reasons I built the community that I have on social media is because I’ve gotten real about what I was struggling with. So, I think it’s you are enough. It’s you’re perfect exactly as you are. Also to feel my feelings, because I lived outside my body for a really long time. Feelings weren’t something that we really talked about a ton in my family. I was really quite closed off in that way. It was a lot later in life that I got clear on the fact that if I am willing to feel my feelings and I have a compass for which I can live my life and I know what to say yes and no to. I don’t follow all the ‘shoulds’. I don’t follow what I think I should do or what society tells me to do. I can actually tune into what feels good and guide myself from there.
Drew: I love that. That is beautiful because I think so many young women in our society struggle with self image, self worth and self love. They really don’t believe that they are good enough. In my opinion it has to do with people …. our society, our culture puts people down based on what their outside appearance looks like, right? We feel like our value and our worth to this world is, ‘Ok, I have to look a certain way so people will like me.’ Because like you mentioned, when you were losing weight, you started getting attention and people thought you looked so great. We look for that feedback loop from other people. If we are not getting feedback, like positive feedback from other people, we kind of feel like we are less than or our self worth is low. So for you, obviously if you could go back in time and tell yourself this, would you believe it? That is my first question. How do you battle the uphill battle of young women in our society that see T.V. shows and they see Instagram models and they see these people that they think they are supposed to be? What are some things that you do to help those women kind of change that and really believe that at a young age?
Danika: Yeah, that’s a great question. I actually think that social media can be a really powerful tool. When I was growing up, media was whatever the big corporations wanted to show us. It was T.V.. It was magazines, but I didn’t necessarily have the power to seek inspiration from people who inspired me, you know what I mean? If I didn’t have access to them, then I didn’t have that. I didn’t see anyone in the media who looked like me, so I thought there was one way to be and that was a size 0, which is equally beautiful, but not all of us are built like that. For me it’s all about how can I make myself the girl that I needed to see growing up. I think we have so much more control over it nowadays with social media. I think a lot of young girls are on social media, so I will get specific with that. That is how I changed my body image. I started following women who looked like me or who had the same ‘quote-unquote’ flaws as I did and were celebrating them as beautiful. The plus size modeling industry really transformed that for me because I saw these bigger women that were celebrating themselves. I recreated my normal, right? I was looking at what you consume, not just food or friendships or whatever, but I was looking at that media I was consuming and I started changing and recreating my normal. It’s interesting Drew, and I am sure you have insight on this, now that I have built a brand around sort of being body positive and that sort of thing, I was thinking about it today and I thought I think there is definitely a little bit of fear in me that says, ‘Well what if I continue down this journey of really feeling peaceful and really feeling in tune with my body and I naturally lose some weight, does that work against me?’ Right? Because now it’s like I am relatable. It’s an interesting journey and it’s not over by any means, because it’s sort of backwards now. I think a lot of people celebrate the normalcy, shall I say, of my body. *chuckles* But for me, it’s really not about weight loss at all. My affirmation that I live by is really, ‘I carry nothing that does not serve me physically, emotionally or spiritually.’ It’s really about how do I find lightness across my life and not carry anything that isn’t serving me. It’s been an interesting journey.
Drew: That’s beautiful and thank you for saying that. I think it’s really interesting. I love seeing people like you that are helping to change people’s perception of what health and fitness is. We are …. Our society is so results based and focused. We focus on the results only and we think we are a success or failure based on our results. Rather than develop a healthy habit and let the results take care of themselves over time. Whether you are skinny or overweight, just focus on becoming a better version of yourself, but learn to love yourself now where you are at.
I think that’s the hard part for people sometimes, their perception of health and fitness is I have to look this way to be healthy. When in reality your version of healthy looks different on your body than my version of healthy. I think that’s what’s hard for people, but I love that you are a voice for this and a face for this. Like you said, if you did lose weight, would you lose followers? Maybe, perhaps, but that’s not your issues. That is their own issue that they are dealing with thinking, ‘Oh she’s skinny now. Now she doesn’t understand me.’ It’s not about the outward appearance. That’s the problem with our health and fitness game because it is so outwardly focused.
Drew: So, I love that. Go ahead.
Danika: I am sorry Drew. I was having this conversation actually with my boyfriend because one of my good friends is a plus size model. She is a bigger girl. She was recently on the cover of Cosmo. She falls into a different category probably of plus size. She is a lot bigger. He asked this question and she gets a lot of people saying is this promoting obesity, right? What I said is that that thing that happens is health looks very different at every different size. Maybe it’s healthy and maybe it’s not. But making positive changes for your health, has to come from self love. It has to come from a place of I deserve to feel good. I deserve to improve myself. So if a girl who looks like her sees her on the magazine cover and starts by just feeling ok because she looks that way or she carries however many extra pounds. She says, ‘Oh, I am enough’ because she is enough, then she will start cultivating that self respect and that self awareness that makes her want to just consistently want to get better. And getting better doesn’t necessarily mean losing weight, it can mean a lot of different things for a lot of different people. But I do think it starts from self love.
Drew: I love that and that is one thing that is really hard to convince someone of, that they are worthy to be …. they are worthy to love themselves. That’s what is really hard. Kind of going back to your story, I have so many questions because we covered so much in such a short period of time. *chuckles* Let’s talk about the Whole30. How did you come upon the Whole 30? Obviously shout out to Melissa Hartwig, who is a good mutual friend of ours. She is awesome. She has changed so many people’s lives. What gravitated you towards that? The next question I have after that is once you started losing weight on the Whole30, what was your mindset when you lost your plus size modeling job because you were kind of focusing on your health? I am curious about that.
Danika: Yeah, that’s a great question. I still to this day have no idea how I found the Whole30. It’s like ….
Danika: It’s a mystery of my life because it has been so impactful. My business is 100% Whole 30. It’s just what I believe in. I do not know how I found it but the reason that I chose to do it, is because i wanted to do a month sober. I realized that alcohol wasn’t serving me. That was the one thing that was really holding me back from a lot of things that I wanted to do. I figured …. What I told myself is if I am going to be sober and boring, I thought I would be very boring! If I am going to be sober and boring, I might as well do a food thing. So, I found Whole30 and did it, which was incredible. I went into it for weight loss. I will be completely honest. I went into it for weight loss and I came out of it with so much more than that. I couldn’t believe it. It’s like someone took Drano and dumped it into my brain and my life became clear. My brain started to work, you know? I didn’t know …. you get so used to your fog. I lived in a brain fog my whole life and had no idea. As I continued to do it and lost weight and realized, wow, my clients aren’t booking me anymore. It’s overnight. It’s not like you have any warning. No one has commitments to you to model, so it’s a very overnight thing where you realize you are not working anymore. That was really frustrating, because it was sort of this perspective of do I keep weight on and make a great paycheck or do I continue following what makes me feel good, but it’s very unknown and it puts me in a very vulnerable spot, especially financially. I did obviously follow that. I just followed what felt good in my body. I couldn’t do the shaping of the …. manipulating of my weight any more. I just wanted my body to be whatever it ended up being. That was a beautiful thing. I will say I am lucky now because I signed with any agency called IMG Models and they are really about building brands based on whatever size you are, whoever you are. It’s a lot more about the person other than just being a coat hanger, right? That’s been great, but at the time it was really frustrating. It was really emotional and so stressful. When you are stressed …. financial stress is really, really heavy. Or at least it was for me. For anyone going through that, please know that there is hope and it’s ok to be really upset about it, because it is hard!
Drew: Yeah. I love that. I think it’s interesting tying in the financial stress. There is a parallel between the financial, the physical and the spiritual sometimes of the lessons and the things we need to learn from these rock bottom moments sometimes, whether it’s financially or whether it’s physically or spiritually sometimes. It’s important for us to go through those and look at …. we have a choice when it comes to those moments where it’s like, ‘Ok, life is happening for me or is this happening to me.’ Like why me? Why did this have to happen and looking for people to blame, or ‘Hey, this is happening for me. What am I supposed to learn from this? How am I going to grow?’ I would love to jump into your mindset of when you hit rock bottom, whether that was financially or physically or emotionally. What caused you to do those visualizations of your future and writing those down? Where did those come from and what inspired that to help you create model meals?
Danika: Well I think that rock bottom, I can recall a few rock bottoms. One was when I was in New York City. I had rented my place on AirBNB so I was staying down the hall at a friends house while she was out of town for the weekend. I binge ate 8000 calories of Whole30 food. So that is like, so for those that don’t know, that’s apples, dates, eggs, carrots, almond butter. I remember that night, I forced myself to add it up because I was like that was a lot and this is …. it just clicked for me that it wasn’t about the food. When I was living in New York at the end of that time, I had gone to Overeaters Anonymous, which is an addiction program for people who use food as a drug. It was the first time I really realized that was it and that was the case for me. Actually my boyfriend is a recovered opiate and heroin addict and we both really align on the power of recovery and the power of addiction. I know that’s part of your story as well. But, I believe it is, right? I had got in that program and there was a spiritual component to it, which I was really not in to, but I listened and I stayed. I took that with me as I got …. later down the road as I developed sort of my own plan for what felt right for me. When I was living back in my parents garage and kind of came up with this check list, it came from the fact that I had read all these personal growth books. I had watched all these videos and I felt really inspired. I felt like I knew what I should do, but every time I closed the book, I would have motivation for a little bit of time and then it would wear off. It felt like there were all these things I knew I should do that would help me, they were floating sort of in the atmosphere around me and it was really hard to take a day and make sure I did all of the things amidst living and life as well and running a business. What I realized is how do I do a tiny little chunk of each of these things every single day? Because what I learned in Overeaters Anonymous was to just take life one day at a time and that a series of sober days equals a sober life, right? I thought about that with happiness as well. I thought if I can just create a happy day, what’s my formula for a happy day? And I line those up and I get a few of them in a row, it becomes a month, then it becomes a year, then it becomes a happy life. I just broke it down into the day, because that was the only thing that didn’t make me feel overwhelmed. I just wrote essentially my new prescription. I got off all the prescription pills I had taken before and I wrote my new prescription for a happy present life.
Drew: Wow. That is super relatable to so many people, because there are people that have read self help books and they are motivated and inspired momentarily, but then they think about the idea of change and everything, they don’t know what to do. The idea just seems so overwhelming to just do it all. I love how you break it down to …. oh what did you say? Happiness like for one day, like your happiness formula for just one day and focus on just that one day. Then you can have two days in a row or three days in row, or a week or a month. I think that is beautiful and so smart. I think so many people out there …. well like when it comes to fitness, when it comes to losing weight. When it comes to finances, or when it comes to spiritual development or emotional development, most of us, it’s not so much a lack of knowledge I think people struggle with. I think it’s mostly just the application of it, right? And staying consistent with it, I think that’s what most people struggle with. *laughing* I think it’s because it’s this all or nothing mentality of thinking you have to be perfect and do it all. Never touch sugar again or never make the same mistake again and that’s not reality. So just do your best for just one day and then develop those habits over the course of time to hopefully …. those healthy habits will stick with you.
Danika: Absolutely. That’s what I see with the women who come to my Brunch Series, they are real women. They get up early and they have three kids. They work and they homeschool and they do all of these things. I really …. what I built into the self care checklist, it’s a 15 minute or 30 minute process. It’s not built on working out for an hour every day, sometimes you can, sure. The whole premise of it is you get to check the box even if just all you can do is stretch for 30 seconds today, that is healthy movement, right? If you can meditate for one minute, that’s checking the meditation box. So it’s really doable and it rewards you in a positive reward system, right? It’s reminding you …. it’s setting yourself up for success, making it nearly fail proof. Somedays you are going to `work out for 30 minutes or an hour and you are going to feel like a rock start. You know what? You are going to keep doing it because you feel good about the changes.
Drew: Hmm. What do you recommend when people have a bad day? What’s the thing you tell them to do next when they are doing good for five days and then, boom, something happens or life happens?
Danika: Yeah, that’s something I have been working on a lot this year with my coach is that gentleness and just being loving. But a lot of times nowadays I realize that what we have to do is we have to shift the thought process of my worth is equivalent to what I get done, or what I do. A lot of times I work with my coaching clients, I will help them change and work on affirmations that change how they think about their self worth. So if they can stop thinking of their self worth as being attached to what they accomplish or how they succeed, then it actually doesn’t bother them as much when they don’t get to everything on the checklist and they only get to a couple things. They can then focus more on celebrating the few things that did get done or even celebrating the fact that they listened to themselves and they needed a day in bed watching Netflix and eating junk food. *laughing* You know?
Drew: Yeah. I love that, the gentleness. I think that is really so important for so many people because even me, and probably you go through this too, just as a human being there are moments where you just do tie your self worth to how much you got accomplished that day. You are hard on yourself. Sometimes that is ok because I feel like the problem that people get stuck in is that balance of progressing forward, moving forward, getting better and doing better. Just being stuck with, ‘You know what, I didn’t do anything today and that is ok. I still love myself. I am not going to do anything tomorrow either.’ Find that balance, you know what I am saying? Of progressing forward, but loving who you are now. I think that’s a really delicate balance that takes time to develop. Let’s say you have a goal and you want to work toward that goal. There are going to be days where you don’t do so well and there are going to be days where you do better. That balance of, ‘Hey I am going to be gentle with myself when I do mess up, but I still have this goal. I am motivated to keep moving forward. Sometimes I need to recharge my batteries and sometimes I need to totally replace my batteries.’
Danika: Yeah, absolutely and adopting the knowledge that life has ups and downs. Emotions come and go, like this sort of waves of life. What it has allowed me to do is realize that when I have a down day or I have a week when I just don’t want to do anything, I realize that very soon it will go back up again. I think what happens is no matter how many times it happens, a lot of times we think that when we fall off, we are done. We are ruined! We have fallen off and we are never starting again. *chuckles*
Danika: So if you can just say, ‘Ok this is just the bottom on the hill and then I am going to go up. The energy is going to go up and the creativity and the productivity.’ I sort of started expecting those waves of life. That’s really helped me to find a little more peace in it.
Drew: I love that. One of my friends went to your Brunch Series recently and she absolutely loved it. Where did …. can you talk a little bit more about what the Brunch Series is and where people can learn more about it if they actually want to see you in person and what it entails?
Danika: Yeah. As I mentioned my boyfriend is a chef. He has been a chef for 15 years. One of the things when we started dating was really talking about our lifestyles aligning. One of the most important things for me was this freedom of time and location. As a chef, that doesn’t allow so much. When I fell in love with him, I realized well we have a similar lifestyle. So how do we build something that we can do together that gives us that freedom that we want, that gives us this nomadic lifestyle that excites us. How do we take what we are both good at and combine it into a way that we can make a living and we can do what we love. We decided, well let’s host events. I spoke at a lot of different events and I had this self care checklist that I really wanted to share with people. I saw so much benefit from the community I had found in the addiction programs and he had as well. So we thought, let’s invite people to our house in Southern California and see if anyone wants to come for a little brunch and we will talk about self care. We put in on Instagram in January and it sold out in six hours.
Drew: Whoa! *laughing*
Danika: Yeah, so we were ‘Whoa!’ So we added two events in January and then we did six events in February. Five events in March and we were seeing people flying out every month or driving out. We just realized that wow, there is a need for this. So we saw it as a perfect opportunity to try out the nomadic lifestyle we wanted. We really just said, ‘Hey, does anyone want to host one of these events at their home in the next couple of months?’ We had 160 people submit their homes wanting to host this event for free. They get free tickets but that is really it! We thought, wow! So we plotted it out on the map and we decided ok this is the route we want to take and realized very quickly instead of being a two month tour, it was going to be an eight month tour to have any sense of self care involved in it and rest. So we plotted it out. The curriculum is really around, it’s a lot of stuff. It’s around creating like minded community. It’s around vulnerability and helping people to have a day where they can take their mask off and be real and not feel so alone with whatever they are going through. We talk about self worth. We talk about body positivity. It’s really built around educating them on the self care checklist and then doing a bunch of activities that fall in that checklist. I help them write their biography from the future. We play a dream like interview game where they close their eyes and answer questions as if they are living in that future. That really lights them up. I help them get clear on their passion and their purpose. A lot of that kind of thing and then my boyfriend handles all the food. So we have a big catered lunch and then like some breakfast stuff. They leave with some swag and they also join our private community and are connected with everyone in their local community. They meet up every so often then. So, it’s been a really cool way to connect people that might not otherwise get to meet each other.
Drew: Yeah. Wow. This sounds …. *laughing* It sounds like …. I know there is a lot more that goes into it other than just showing up. But your boyfriend, obviously shout out to him too, cooking for …. how many people show up for these events?
Danika: *laughing* Usually somewhere between 40 and 50 per event.
Drew: Yeah, that’s a lot of food. *laughing*
Danika: If he sees a guy …. like he never see’s men because they are women only, you know!
Drew: Oh, gotcha.
Danika: He’s on this tour with me and he gets so excited when he gets to talk to a dude, like a person’s husband or something.
Danika: It’s like all women.
Drew: Yeah, gotcha. So, it isn’t for women only, so couples can come, right?
Danika: I’ve done a co-ed event and we will do more co-ed events after the tour, but the tour is specifically for women. If I had a man reach out and was like, ‘I need to be here. This is my situation.’ I would be happy to talk to them and the group and make sure everyone was comfortable, but you know?
Danika: For the most part, it’s been women.
Drew: No, and I love that, because let’s be totally honest. One, it’s totally different from a physiological level, which is how society judges women. It’s 100% their friend. That’s why when I tell someone I did Fit2Fat2Fit people always ask me, ‘Oh were people mean to you? Did people treat you differently?’ I’m like, ‘Honestly for me, no one was really mean to me. I felt like they were judging me but it would be different if I were a woman and had gained that weight. I probably would have been treated differently or people would have looked at me differently. A husky guy is just treated differently in society. So I totally see the need for this for women. Super grateful that you do that, because I know it is impacting so many women’s lives. Where do you see this going, like with Model Meals and the Brunch Series? Are you just going to continue to do events or what’s next for you guys?
Danika: My mission is always sort of like the backbone of everything I do, It is I really just want to help people live happier, healthier, fuller lives. That is starting. I have a couple of business ideas that we are kind of getting off the ground and the self care space. Then continuing to expand Model Meals to make this food accessible to people and make it easy to eat clean. Then with the Brunch Series, we are going to take some time and space. I need a little bit of space to be introspective. I have learned a lot about myself on this tour. I realized I think …. I heard someone say something along the lines of the best CEO or business owner is the one who creates space for themselves to solve problems. If you are constantly going and you are constantly busy and you are on the hamster wheel, you don’t really grow, because you are not leaving space to be innovative and creative. I need to really give myself a little bit of that. I’m working on a book right now about the self care checklist and a few online courses and what not. So we are going to keep living the nomadic lifestyle. We absolutely love it. It’s like we love living in the bus. We love the freedom of being wherever we are. We probably would do more pop ups for sale events. We might do a series for men. People are like begging Billy for a Mindful Masculinity Series, something like that or something co-ed. We are not really sure. I think one of the big things I have learned is that what I love about life is the ability to be creative and take something from an idea and make it tangible. So what has been hard for me with the tour is I am locked into eight months of doing the same things. While I love doing it, I realized that one of those core values for me is that space to be creative and to create things and to build things. I think for us it’s really just allowing ourselves to free flow a little bit and make it a little less planned and just create whatever feels right in the moment.
Drew: Yeah, I love that. I think that’s really important. I think people listening out there, they want you to come to their city. They want you to impact their lives, but at the same time you have to, like you said either recharge or sometimes replace your batteries so that you are giving and you are pouring from a full cup when you do these events. Versus killing yourself, killing your health to serve others, that’s not the best approach for the long term, right?
Danika: Absolutely. I mean that’s the main thing I teach people. How about we precharge instead of always having to recharge. And how about we give the overflow of our cup to the people we love and our business and our ideas versus the backwash. So that is what this thing is. I will say I am really, really living by example. I really do practice what I preach. Self care is non-negotiable for me. It’s not an element I am perfect with by any means, but I really do …. I’ve experienced what this lifestyle feels like when I don’t practice it and realized the only way I can live the life that I have created for myself is if I am very on top of my self care. It’s the only way possible.
Drew: Yeah. We are coming up on time here, but really quick I wanted to ask you when it comes to the mental and emotional tips for a healthier lifestyle or just emotional health and spiritual health, because with physical health, there is a different approach whether you are Whole30, Paleo or vegan or vegetarian, whatever it is. The emotional tools to help someone live a better, healthier lifestyle that has made the most impact in your life, that for you are a part of maybe your morning routine or your daily happiness routine. What are like maybe three valuable top things for people?
Danika: Journaling was huge for me because it was a way that I could access a lot of sort of layered, hidden emotions that I didn’t know I felt. So that came out of that. Meditation again, allowed me to listen in. I think a lot of us spend a lot of time looking for answers outside of ourselves, when in reality they are all in there, we just don’t want to stick with that sometimes. So meditation obviously. Obviously I mentioned food and Whole30. Your physical body does have to run to a certain extent in a way that is clear so that you can do that deeper sort of work. And sleep, it sounds so simple! But sleep is so important. I used to operate on very limited sleep all the time. Last is manifesting, visualizing and changing how I think, that is like probably the most powerful thing I have changed in my life. It’s just getting clear on who I want to be. Living more intentionally and telling myself I am that woman every day. Deciding where I want to go instead of just letting the wind sort of push me around. That has been really powerful.
Drew: I love that. Really quick, journaling, how much do you journal about the present moment and where you are at versus journaling about the future and what you want to become?
Danika: I always say journaling is a tool. It serves the present moment. I don’t really use it as ‘today I did this and that and whatever’. I use it to get the feelings out. I sort of just journal and see whatever comes up and sometimes it helps me make sense of whatever is going on in my brain then. But I hardly ever go back and read the journals. I realized that and thought ok, the journaling is really about the present moment. I will use it to play and visualize maybe somewhere I want to be in five years and what I am doing and how much money I am making. I will play like that and journal. But sometimes I will just write down a question I have and see what comes up or comes out of my pen as the answer. It’s been a cool tool in that way.
Drew: Yeah. Ok, well Danica really quick, before you tell us where we can find you and stuff, what is your number one favorite thing about the RV lifestyle? *laughing*
Danika: Oh, good question. The minimalism that came with it. Just getting rid of all of our stuff. You think through every purchase you make because you don’t have anywhere to put it. You don’t have an address for Amazon Prime, so it’s harder to order things. So, it forced us to get rid of stuff and realize how much happier I am that way. Life is so much lighter. So that has been really cool.
Drew: That’s beautiful. Where can people go to find you, get ahold of you and find out more about The Brunch Series, Model Meals, social media websites and all of that?
Danika: My main platform is Instagram and it’s just my name DanikaBrysha. My website is the same, DanikaBrysha.com. On there you can find out about my Whole30 groups, my coaching programs, The Brunch Series, the self care checklist. Then for Model Meals, we serve the west coast and Arizona right now, but we are expanding. So that’s just ModelMeals.com then Model Meals on Instagram.
Drew: Sweet. Any chance it will come to Utah any time soon?
Danika: We are really trying to. We would love to. Denver and the Salt Lake area I think would do really well. Don’t worry!
Drew: Ok, well let me know when it is. And let me know when your book comes out. I would love to have you back on.
Danika: I absolutely will. Thank you Drew.
Drew: Ok, thanks Danika. We will talk to you soon.
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