Her goal is to inspire women in their 30s, women who feel like they have plateaued in their current experience, and to encourage the drive to pursue their dreams. She believes that everyone has days where they will feel unequivocally themselves and some days where we won’t feel quite as good.
Her name is Nena Kay and as she puts it, “My belief is that wellness – physical, mental and emotional – and looking good are linked together. Feeling good about yourself makes you a happier, a more secure and stronger person.”
She hopes to inspire her audience to keep trying new things, enjoy their lives and “all the wonder that is out there for us”
Sometimes life can be very hard: Nena grew up during wartime in Serbia, with shortages and rationing being just a few of the bleak realities of living in a country stuck in conflict.
But Nena doesn’t believe in letting yourself be defined by just one thing or just a single period of your life. To Nena, “There is so much beauty in art, architecture, food, travel, people and fashion,” she says. “Grab your life and enjoy it.”
“For me fashion is more than pretty clothes: it’s the individual statement of your style, your personality. It’s another way to feel good about yourself and know what makes you – YOU.”
Nena made the move to Malta just under 10 years ago with her sister Suzana, and while the girls do live here full-time, they do work with a global audience that stretches across 161k followers in all far corners of the world.
Nena and her husband had known each other before moving to Malta but after reconnecting through the move they naturally fell into each other’s lives
“When you are young, things are just easier more simple,” Nena explains “as you get older, you notice things change. You need to educate yourself more on what suits your body.”
For Nena, being a food lover (especially when it comes to wine and cheese) was important to understand when it was the right time to “pull a break” but still enjoy the delicious foods around her. Acknowledging a potential weakness before it rears its head and adapting to it is a key survival factor for Nena in both her career and her daily life.
“A lot of it comes from genetics, everyone is unique. Our bodies react to food differently – I’m naturally skinny but it doesn’t mean that I can eat whatever I want. I try to be on the healthier side as much as possible.”
Nena uses the YouTube channel Fitness Blender to plan her workouts and she highly recommends you check it out – it’s free and they have different levels of workouts for anyone to follow at their own pace.
Not every exercise is suitable for everyone, and again this falls into the hands of how kind evolution has been to your genetic makeup. But Nena’s favourite methods for keeping fit are anything that works her upper body and routines like kickboxing as well as HIIT (high-intensity interval training, a cardiovascular exercise strategy that alternates short periods of intense exercise with less intense recovery periods – basically until you’re too exhausted to continue).
Yoga is also something Nena enjoys practicing
Three years ago, Nena met local instructor Debbie who introduced her to yoga as a concept and all the different ways meditating and breathing exercises can help.
“I had learned that just with a proper breathing technique and the right mindset, you could change how your day would turn out.”
Of course, Nena admits to having the occasional “lazy day” in which case her workout regime will sometimes drop to 3 days a week instead but she’ll always try and schedule her day off on Sunday to allow her the opportunity to enjoy a cheeky cheat meal.
“We all have cravings and sometime’s it impossible not to indulge when you have a busy social life; family gatherings and time out with friends are not the place for stressing about your calorie intake but you can always make a conscious effort to avoid ‘heavy’ foods and drinks.”
Nena loves to switch her cocktails for a gin & tonic or soda, citing the syrups and flavourings as well as extra toppings on foods (like melted cheese.. holy raclette bacon) as what add to the calorie tally.
Nena grew up in a surrounding that depended heavily on breads and greasy foods and because of this had to make an active effort to rid herself slowly of the excess
Since moving to Malta, she has grown accustomed to the Mediterranean diet and fallen in love with the local cuisines largely thanks to the benefits of seafood so abundant on the island. She has also gained the understanding that while many try and fail to maintain one for various reasons, it is possible to balance your nutritional intake while on a plant-based diet – as she puts it: “Not everything revolves around meat.”
When asking Nena what she would recommend for anyone looking to start their own journey towards a healthier lifestyle, she confessed a few of her own tricks of the trade
“When I want to step up my game I’ll go lower on the carbs. Using the app, My Fitness Pal allows me to create and track all my meals to see how far or close I am to my goals.”
“It depends what you really want to achieve. The bottom line is: it all comes down to a ‘calories in versus calories out’ tug of war and no matter how hard you work out, you will never win against a diet that doesn’t support your regime.”
Nena sees it more about the quality of your training and discipline rather than a high quantity of workouts coupled with an almost obsessive approach to the foods you eat. Consistency is key.
“Every woman should also know that once you cut out carbs you will probably lose your curves, so there is a fine balance.”
Trying to realise what you want to achieve is the best way to start switching up your lifestyle and for the most of us there is a desire to be the best and healthiest version of ourselves that isn’t always consciously understood. Your subconscious might send signals to the frontal lobe but we then perceive these as stressors like anxiety, dysmorphia and compulsivity.
Nena knows that the hardest part of it all is just starting but it’s also the easiest way to get things into gear.
“Don’t do it next Monday or wait until the next month to roll over, do it straight away! Once you get the ball rolling and see the first results, everything gets much easier and your motivation will grow.”
Nena went through a very stressful time some years ago, with a lot of things on her mind she found no time to motivate herself and continue working out. Being stuck in a rut for near on 4 months, it definitely took its toll on things around her.
“Again, you should always treat your body and your mind in the best possible way and always strive to be the best version of yourself.”