Living the Joyful Life

With a passion for fitness and the power of nutrition, Joyanne Cooper is a three-time Masters CrossFit Games athlete, achieving a 5th place finish in July 2016. Based in Newmarket, Ontario, Joyanne’s fitness journey began in a globo gym at the age of 30; initially as a member playing squash and taking classes, and a few years later obtained various certifications to teach group fitness classes, pump and spin classes.

She learned of CrossFit in 2012, and after training for nearly a year began competing at local competitions; she earned her CrossFit Level 1 certification in 2013. Somewhere in there, she has also run two half marathons and completed a couple of adventure races! Joyanne holds a Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification and provides remote nutritional coaching through her business, The Joyful Life, using the ‘flexible dieting’ approach.

When did you know you wanted something different? I’m constantly looking for something different – something better, something more than yesterday, and variety. This probably explains my passion for CrossFit, and my lengthy list of health and fitness certifications I’ve obtained along the way.

What keeps you motivated? Constant progress and enjoying what I’m doing keeps me motivated. At (almost) 48 years old, I am stronger and fitter than any other time in my life. I wholeheartedly believe that we are naturally drawn to do things that challenge us and that we enjoy doing. No one enjoys being bored and stagnant. This combination of challenge plus enjoyment requires hard work and dedication, and we crave this for a sense of accomplishment and internal power.

How did you get started? I was a long time globo gym member, and then group fitness instructor. I became very bored with this, and frustrated with the monotony and not seeing any results. I had heard about CrossFit but didn’t know what it was, so I searched it on the internet in February 2012, learned there was a box less than 5km from my house, and scheduled my free intro session.

How has your life changed since you decided you wanted something different? CrossFit has given me so much; strength both mentally and physically, confidence to do things I never thought I could do, new and amazing friends and a sense of community both locally and globally, and the opportunity to compete at the highest level of a sport three years in a row.

Tell me about your nutrition. This is my favourite question. After my first time competing at the CrossFit Games in 2014, I knew I had some weaknesses and loop holes in my life that were holding me back from being the best version of me. I knew that nutrition should be more of a priority than I had been giving it, and started with the flexible dieting (macros) method and weighing and measuring my food. This was a game changer for me – my performance and energy during training sky rocketed, I felt recovered between workouts, I slept better and didn’t crave any foods, and as a bonus I developed a six pack and gained a whole lot of muscle and strength.

Especially for Masters athletes (over 40), whatever our sport, it is more important how we live our lives outside of training in the gym or in the pool or on our road bikes. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep, dialing into our nutrition, and achieving a good work/life balance has a greater impact on our progress than the hours we put into our fitness.

I believe in the nutrition side of things so strongly that I obtained my Precision Nutrition Level 1 certification, and am providing remote nutrition coaching services to others to improve their health, fitness and mindset around food.

What is your definition of old? I think we are as old as we feel. I’m 31 now.

What do you see yourself doing in 10 years? I see myself still living the dream…. lifting heavy sh*t, doing muscle ups and hand stand walking, and in the top 20 with my global peers. I will also have had a positive impact physically and mentally to over 1,000 people by helping them achieve their nutrition goals.

What do you do to stay Young? Most of my daily training partners are under 30 years old, so that helps a lot. I keep up with them for the most part, and forget that I’m almost double their age. I also think that if we are doing things we enjoy, like enjoying our work, time with friends and family, travel and vacations, etc…it gives us a sense of purpose and happiness and contentment – we can’t feel ‘old’ if we are enjoying our today’s and looking forward to our tomorrow’s.

My definition of “old” is when we feel we are at a dead end, non-productive, with limitations and no longer improving our mindset and our health. You know, that saying “it’s all downhill from here”; if you believe you get to a point in life where your life will never be as good as it was, then you’re on your way to becoming old.

How old would you be if you did not know how old you are? I’m 31. Fact. 😉

What were your parents doing when they were the age you are now? My father was working as an executive with a Japanese car company, and travelled a lot. My mom was a stay at home mom who was always available for us. Neither of my parents did a sport or worked out in or out of a gym; they were active by taking care of the home and yard.

Mark Twain wrote, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Most people eventually find out their “why” which answers why they are here. Do you know yours? If so, when did you discover it and how did that change your life? I’m told that I inspire people – inspire them to keep going, to keep improving, to believe in themselves. I love hearing this, and perhaps this is my ‘why’ in life. I’m still sorting this out.

What is next for you? To continue to help even more people become the best version of themselves through nutrition coaching, and CrossFit Games 2017!

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