We are so proud of our friend Zanna van Dijk for launching her first book. We’ve watched her grow over the past few years and we had tears in our eyes listening to her speech at her book launch at the beginning of December. And just like old times, we sat down with her this week and asked her a few questions that we thought you might want to know about her, and what it’s like to write your very own BOOK!
Oh and just between you and us, to celebrate the launch we have an exciting collab going live in T minus 24 hours – can you guess from her selfies what it is?
Tell us where you came from & how you worked to where you are today?
I have come from a past where I didn’t care in the slightest about health. I studied speech science at university and spent my evenings eating pizza and partying with my friends. I wasn’t aware of the health implications of what I was doing. I soon became tired and unfocused. Then in my second year of university I found fitness. It become a hobby, then a passion and by the time I left uni it had become part of my job. I ended up leaving my speech and language therapist career path and moving into personal training and fitness blogging… as they say, the rest is history!
How did you turn your passion into a career?
At university I developed a following on social media related to fitness. I built this as a hobby first, but by the time I left uni I had 30,000 Instagram followers and I decided to do something with it. I made a blog, and a youtube channel, and put time into my content. I studied as a PT and moved to London to earn money and see where I could go with it. I ended up getting sucked into the whirlwind of the rapidly developing London fitness scene, and established my brand and #girlfgains off the back of it. It was a combination of hard work, and being in the right place at the right time.
It is an online community created by myself and my two besties Vic and Tally. It brings together women all over the world using the #girlgains hashtag across social media and the @thegirlgains accounts; as well as in person at events across the UK and also in Australia. There are ambassadors across the world from Dublin to Sydney who organise local events. These are based around our key principle of educating, empowering and inspiring women to be the best version of themselves, with a focus on self love, balance and a positive mindset.
How much do you workout to maintain that amazing bod of yours? What exercise(s) do you think work the best for you in terms of toning and keeping trim?
At the moment I don’t train very much, probably 3-4 times a week. Ideally I would train more but I am super busy right now! In terms of how I train, I lift weights mostly, focusing on heavy compound movements such as deadlifts, squat, overhead presses and pull ups. My cardio comes from f45 classes. If I am super tight on time though, I love running around battersea park.
What pieces of activewear do you live in during the day and which ones do you like to sweat in?
I live my whole life in Lorna Jane sports bras. They are my staple and I refuse to wear anyone elses! I always wear adidas trainers and hoodies; and then I like to mix up my tops and leggings. I adore L’URV as the cuts and prints are super flattering, but I am also a fan of VARLEY’s new collection.
What ingredients do you buy on your weekly shop?
I actually just did one, so this is great timing! I mostly buy vegetables on my weekly shop; lots of fresh greens and different colours and varieties of nutrient dense veggie goodies. I also get lots of fruit, nuts, natural yoghurt, almond milk, feta, grains and legumes. I get my meat and eggs from small local organic and free range farmers who take good care of their animals.
Do you have a staple meal that you eat everyday?
I eat “zoats” practically every single day, which is oats with grated courgette. I mix it with protein powder and top it with nut butter and fruit. It i super delicious, and tastes indulgent yet has a serving of greens! I have a recipe for them in my book, Strong.
Tell us about your love for treats – namely peanut butter
I bloody love treats. I don’t have any rules about them. I eat them as and when I want them; which can be every day. I just make sure I maintain a balance overall. My favourite things are chocolate (galaxy specifically), nut butter (cashew is best) and then anything salted caramel flavoured.
What are your thoughts on alcohol?
I drink it in moderation. Realistically I am not in a world surrounded by people who drink. None of my friends do, and my partner doesn’t, so I am not under pressure to consume alcohol. I realistically drink 3-4 times a year.
I don’t judge anyone else for their choice to drink, but I just encourage them to be aware of what they’re putting into their body; empty calories with no nutritional value. Alcohol can easily put you off track.
Grab a coffee with a friend… C Press on Fulham Road or Flour to the People in Battersea both do great coffee.
Go on a date… I love to get outdoors, my favourite dates are long walks out in Surrey.
Eat a healthy lunch… Beany Green do the best brunch and lunch!
Dine out for dinner… I am obsessed with Japanese food, so Zuma or Roka are my favourites!
Why should we order your book STRONG?
It is literally crammed with information. CRAMMED. It is long, thick and informative, yet accessible. You will learn so much from it, I have poured all my knowledge into its pages and I think every single person who reads it can gains so much. I really want people to finish it and feel empowered to look after their body and get stronger both mentally and physically. Plus… the workouts are fun and the recipes are damn delicious!
When you say “ditch the fad diets, step away from the treadmill; there’s another way to get results, and it’s all about balance”, is this speaking from experience? And how do you find the balance?
It is definitely speaking from experience. I have been unbalanced. I have bought into fad diets, cleanses and detoxes a long time ago. This industry is confusing, there are so many mixed messages and it can be tough to know what to actually do. Everyone talks about achieving a “balanced” lifestyle but no one knows what balance is. My aim with the book is to show people what balance actually means,and how they can achieve their own personal version of this elusive thing; and therefore get lasting health and happiness.
What is your favourite quote?
“If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face and you will always look lovely” – Roald Dahl.
I have this stuck on my wall. I believe that we can control our thoughts, our mindset and our attitude; and I always consciously try to think good thoughts and be the best person I can be.
Just in time for gift giving season, you can order a copy of her book here, and stay tuned for our exciting new. Here’s a hint #FOREVERSTRONG