TITIKAxME | Alex Russin
This March, TITIKAxME presents Build My Beautiful Body 2016 contest winner Alex Russin at The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery in Toronto. She crushed 20 pounds in only 8 weeks and embraced a new healthy lifestyle from then on. She is a strong and active Torontonian in love with physical activity and art; she is the perfect embodiment of the Titika Girl.
After a little stop at M.A.C on Queens with Victor for a perfect hint of makeup, we met with Alex at The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, in front of artist Latifa Echakhch's site-specific installation Cross Fade. Latifa Echakhch’s impressive sky falling apart is a reminder that sometimes things seem out of our control; yet we should never stop chasing our dreams, the eternal blue sky. We cannot change the past, but we can do our best to reach higher grounds in the present. It is a reminder of everything we have achieved so far and the perfect moment to capture and pause in.
Alex Russin before this summer, before the Build My Beautiful Body 2016 Challenge.
Alex Russin in front of Latifa Echakhch piece at The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery in Toronto this February 2017.
Learn more about Alex Russin's fascinating journey by reading her interview below:
T: What motivated you to change your lifestyle?
A.R: I have struggled with my weight for most of my life, and it got to the point where I was uncomfortable in my own skin. Just over 4-years ago, I signed up for a trial boot camp class with ‘Build My Body Beautiful’ (BMBB) but physically couldn’t do it. For the first time, I felt like my body failed my mind, and that was the day I decided I had to make a change.
T: How did you get to where you are now?
A.R: It’s been a bit of a journey, with lots of ups and downs. In the beginning, I worked out in my living room with DVDs, then started going to my condo gym, and once I had more confidence, I signed up for bootcamp classes.
T: You recently lost 20 pounds, how did you do it?
A.R: BMBB runs a Transformation Challenge twice a year - it’s a friendly competition among the women in the class to train hard and eat clean all together for a focused 8-week period to see who can make the biggest personal change. I signed up for the Fall Challenge - I did boot camp classes 3x/week and worked with BMBB’s Registered Dietitian, who created a personalized nutrition plan to suit my lifestyle. I also did a CYKL class on Saturday mornings, and threw in the odd Sunday workout on my own if I was feeling extra ambitious. After 8-weeks, I lost just over 20lbs, a total of 17 inches, and dropped almost 10% body fat.
T: Do you train alone, with a trainer, or a group now?
A.R: I have kept up with my ‘Challenge’ routine - training 3x/week with BMBB, Saturday CYKL classes, and Sunday workouts on my own.
T: What is your favourite physical activity now and why?
A.R: I really enjoy CYKL classes. When I first started going, one of the instructors told me it’s possible to get into a meditative state on the bikes. I didn’t believe her, and honestly thought she was crazy…until it actually happened. I usually get really bored with steady-state cardio, but these classes are always different, and while they can be super intense and challenging (especially the morning after a Friday night bootcamp class), they also leave you feeling surprisingly zen.
T: How did you change your nutrition?
A.R:Working with Aly, my Registered Dietitian, has been one of the greatest learning experiences of my life. Fad diets have never worked for me, and I always found it hard to stay on track. Learning how my body utilizes macronutrients has changed my relationship with food. I’ve learned that the best way to fuel my body and to stay satiated is to eat a high-protein diet. I also learned that I wasn’t eating enough; I now eat 6x a day and understand how my body processes carbs and fats, so I know the best times to eat them based on my day. Sunday meal-prep is the key, and also results in a much less stressful week. I also cut back on coffee, started drinking a lot of water throughout the day, and do my best to prioritize sleep.
T: What was the hardest challenge for you during that weight loss period?
A.R: The most difficult part of the 8-week Challenge was going out with friends. It was really hard to find restaurants that would accommodate strict meal plan requirements, and even harder to pass on after-work happy hour! I was lucky enough to have really supportive friends in-class and out - my best friend would even make me dinner according to my plan instead of going out.
T: What do you do now to stay at this weight?
A.R: After the challenge, I had finally reached the point where I no longer needed to focus on weight loss (for the first time in my life). I took some time off to enjoy Christmas holidays and got right back at it when I returned in January - my body was screaming for routine again. I continue to work with my Registered Dietitian and we have adjusted my meal plan to incorporate carb cycling. While I have lost more inches and body fat since the end of the challenge, I’m less focused on my weight, since I’m building more muscle mass. And, since my resting metabolism is much faster now, I have a lot more flexibility in what I can eat and can get away with straying from my plan a bit when I’m out with friends.. I’ve learned that it’s all about balance and if you’re going to go out and feast, you just get back on track the next day. It’s not all or nothing.
T: Now that you have reached your goal, what is your new goal?
A.R: Reaching my weight loss goal was a huge personal accomplishment for me. Now, I’m shifting my focus to toning-up more. I would like to do more heavy lifting and conquer my fear of the squat rack; I would also like to try hot yoga and maybe take up a kickboxing class, but there are only so many days in a week!
T: If someone is thinking of changing lifestyle, what would you advise?
A.R: I would say, first and foremost, find a community of people who share your mindset, motivate you to live a healthy lifestyle, and who will help you meet your goals. It takes some time and a lot of trial and error to find what works best for you, but I think half the battle is surrounding yourself with people who push you to be your best. I also encourage everyone to meet with a Registered Dietitian - they’re usually covered under most company benefit plans and it can make a world of difference. If there’s one thing I wish I had known (and accepted) sooner, it’s that you can’t out-train an unhealthy diet.
T:What is your secret indulgence?
A.R: Sushi - there’s just no denying it; and most recently, poke bowls at Calii Love. I’m also a sucker for carrot cake, but that one’s more difficult to justify!
Alex Russin wearing her favorite Titika Twilight Reflective Legging and Titika Tower Tank in front of Latifa Echakhch's Cross Fade at The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery.
Discover more about Latifa Echakhch's site-specific installation, Cross Fade:
Discover more exhibitions at The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery at:
Discover more FREE and ticketed public programs and events at The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery at:
T: How did you discover Titika?
A.R: A friend from my bootcamp class mentioned it and I stopped by the store the next time I was walking along Queen West.
T: If you could only take 3 Titika items with you on a workout adventure, which one would you take?
A.R: This outfit - Tower Tank, Twilight Reflective Leggings, and my gym bag!
Alex Russin on the Waterfront Trail in front of The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery in front of Lake Ontario.
T: What is your motto in life?
A.R: I don’t know if it’s a life motto - but I recently saw a card that read, “Nothing will work unless you do.” and it really resonated with me. I think you need to wholeheartedly apply yourself to anything you do if you expect to see results - that’s true in your relationships, career, health, etc.
T: What is your favourite quote?
A.R: “Whenever you find yourself doubting how far you can go, just remember how far you’ve come.”
T: Who inspires you?
The women I train with inspire me all the time. At the end of a stressful day at work, when you’re tired and feel like skipping class, it helps to know they’re all feeling the same way, but will still show up. Whether it’s pushing each other in-class or post-workout locker room talk, it’s inspiring to physically witness goals becoming reality and confidence crushing insecurities. I consider myself very fortunate to be part of a community of women who support and encourage each other the way we do, and who’ve ultimately inspired me get in the best shape of my life.
Alex Russin on the Waterfront Trail in front of The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery facing the sky and the Lake Ontario.