GOFITJO has nothing to hide when it comes to defining natural health
Once a bodybuilder, Joanne Encarnacion talks about why she started to look at health and nutrition differently and made a switch to natural in her family home.
Joanne Encarnacion is the creator of GOFITJO: a health coaching practice that delivers no-nonsense advice on how to achieve the life you want, with a healthy side of love and compassion. Her journey of overcoming health and wellness challenges to become a bodybuilder has given her a unique perspective on the importance of what we put in—and on—our body. Her holistic philosophy on health includes choosing natural for her home and family, and maintaining a balanced approach to diet and exercise. Here’s her thoughts on maintaining a ‘nothing to hide’ lifestyle.
Tell us about GOFITJO and your philosophy on health.
GOFITJO is a health and wellness brand dedicated to empowering women to live happier and healthier lives by redefining health on their own terms. As an integrative health coach, my job is to help modern-day soul seekers establish and maintain a healthy, sustainable lifestyle.
My philosophy on health is that it's more than how you fuel your body and exercise. Your overall health is a culmination of the relationships we foster, how fulfilled we are in our careers, your spirituality, how we move, and our nutrition.
In the past, you went from not feeling fit to competing in bodybuilding competitions. What sparked the transition?
My fitness journey started when I was at a point in my life where I was in a constant state of depression and anxiety. On paper, I had it all: I had a great career with a role at one of the fastest growing startup companies in the SF Bay Area; I was married to an incredibly supportive, loving husband, we were raising two beautiful daughters, and we owned a wedding photography business that continues to sustain to this day.
I realized that what I hadn’t established was ways of taking care of my health, my self-care, and my overworked mind and body. So, I went all-out in my quest for health. I hired a trainer, changed the way I ate and shifted my exercise commitment from 0 days to 5-6 days a week. It was a bit aggressive, but that’s how I am, and it’s what I needed at that time. Exercise and healthy eating had never been a part of my life.
After only 12 weeks of training, I was so surprised by what I had accomplished that my next thought was, “what’s next?” My trainer planted a seed in my mind about competing and I thought, “why not?” I hadn’t been able to lose the weight I had gained from my pregnancies and decided to give bodybuilding competitions a shot. I wanted the challenge and I wanted to see if I had the determination, focus, and drive to stick to the training and diet, which I did!
While you were exercising every day and a competitive bodybuilder, what was your definition of ‘health’?
At that time, my definition of health was all about what you put into your body and how you exercise. They were the cornerstones of my health, but what I didn’t realize was how much tunnel vision I had. Because I was putting so much work into my fitness I was seeing results, but I was also living a very restricted lifestyle by constantly counting macros and calories and choosing my gym life over my social life.
How has your perspective on health changed between then and now?
Over time, I came to view my health holistically, but I had to learn the hard way. There was a point where competition training was coming before anything else, and my husband started calling me out on how much time I was spending at the gym, training, practicing or meal prepping.
I took a step back from the rigid ways I had been viewing health and started to see a much bigger picture. I started to follow the philosophy that health was not only how I moved and fueled my body, it was everything that fueled my life off my plate, too: my career, my relationships with my friends and family, and my spirituality.
What does it mean when you say “you can’t count nature”?
I love this image, because we can all see that nature doesn’t come with a macro or calorie count written right on it. When we only look at macros and calories, we’re not actually looking at the quality of the food we’re choosing, because quality can’t be measured in calories.
Food that can be labeled “healthy” based on lower calories doesn’t always mean it is good for you. For example, sometimes food is filled with chemicals so that it can be made with reduced fat. Even after my bodybuilding career, I still meal prep, but I rarely measure things out and I’m much more flexible with not only what I eat, but how I eat.
Why do you think choosing natural ingredients for our bodies is important?
If you think about the human body, it hasn’t really evolved much in the last 100 years, but our food has. It’s mass-produced, sometimes filled with chemicals, and even “organic” labels aren’t truly as healthy as we would hope them to be. Natural food made with simple, natural ingredients can be broken down by our bodies much easier because it’s made from nature.
How does choosing natural extend to other areas of your health and wellness routines?
As a family we’ve become more conscious of what we put into our bodies and surround ourselves with. We moved into an incredible mid-century home where the architecture was inspired by the idea of the outdoors integrating with a modern interior.
Something about moving into this space has enabled us to become more conscious. We started to look into furniture that was sourced from natural, sustainable materials; our cleaning supplies are transitioning more natural options, and we’ve become more conscious about what we put onto our bodies as far as skincare and wellness.
My house has Saje products in nearly every room except my husband’s office. (He still hasn’t decided which one he wants).