Meet our January “MFS Fit Babe” Guest Editor: Shan Cooper !

featured MFS Fit Babe Spotlight
Written by Shan Cooper

MFS Fit Babe Spotlight: fit girl interview with Shan CooperIt’s that time of the month to introduce you all to our January MFS Fit Babe! Woot woot! A big welcome to the lovely Shan Cooper, food-lover, health/wellness blogger and founder of My Food Religion, I absolutely love Shan’s sound & empowering approach to fitness & nutrition! Let’s get to know this month’s fit chick:

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how your fitness journey began…
I am a food, health & wellness blogger that loves sharing my ‘real food’ philosophy & passion for living a healthy, active life. Food is the centerpiece of my wellness.

fit girl interview with Shan CooperI also do in-home cooking classes & meal prep, facilitate women’s wellness workshops, am a wellness coach, consult to Primal Pantry (Brisbane’s first 100% paleo cafe), and am in the process of developing an ebook with a close friend that will incorporate food, fitness & mindset!

My fitness journey began when I was a child, I was always very active & participated in any sport I could.

I was a chronic over-trainer in my teenage years & early 20’s teaching kickboxing classes, participating in any group fitness class I could & endurance running, training often for up to 4hrs a day.

I did my personal training course & I slowly but surely wore my body down and ended up with constant injuries. Over the past 5 years I have learnt moderation & balance when it comes to nutrition & training & have a much healthier & happier body for it.  I love a bit of self-experimentation and even the occasional bio-hack, I believes that the ‘n=1’ experiment on yourself is the best way to find out what works for you in nutrition & fitness.

What works for you today might not work in 6 months so you need to keep trying different things and really get in tune with your own body.

What is your training philosophy like and how does your workout program look like?
My training philosophy now is to workout smarter not longer & I have come to the realization that more is not always better, sometimes it’s just more.

My typical workout week incorporates:

  • 2 heavy lifting days,
  • a HIIT session like sprints and a metabolic conditioning session that would be no longer than 25mins,
  • I try and incorporate a yoga or mobility session as well.

fit girl interview with Shan Cooper 04

What are your beliefs about nutrition? Can you give us an example of what your daily diet looks like?
I believe that you cannot out-train a bad diet. I don’t believe in ‘dieting’ and I follow a paleo template in my own life because it is something that resonates with me & is something that I find very easy to maintain as a lifestyle. I think that we should all just eat real food not ‘food-like products’ that come out of packages. You actually are what you eat & what we consume becomes the building blocks of every cell in our body.

We cannot expect to perform our best mentally or physically if we are not providing our body with the best fuel.

A typical day for me would be:

  • 2-3 eggs for breakfast with some greens (spinach, zucchini, broccoli) sautéed in coconut oil & a green smoothie.
  • Lunch is a big salad with some tinned salmon or leftover meat from the night before with a good dose of olive oil or dinner leftover.
  • Dinner is normally fish, chicken or lamb with some sort of veggies or salad depending on the weather/season and what recipes I am creating for the blog.

I love going to the markets every weekend so I tend to buy whatever is in season & plentiful & create something with that. I love slow cooked meats & anything with coconut. I have a weakness for homemade dark chocolate and usually have a stash in the freezer for when my sweet tooth takes hold.

How do you stay focused, disciplined and committed to your fit and healthy lifestyle?
I make sure that the things I do are a part of my lifestyle so it just becomes ‘normal’ to incorporate them into my daily life.

I choose things I like doing so that exercise is not a chore. I try to ‘play’ sometimes & not always have a structured workout.

Trav and I will sometimes go to the park & practice handstands or play handball!

fit girl interview with Shan Cooper 05I move every day, even when I am tired or sore from a workout I will still get up every morning & walk the dog… Usually it is the getting up that is the hardest part but it helps to have an enormous 70kg Great Dane standing over your bed looking at you as a motivator. If I am having a week that I am feeling a bit less motivated I will make sure I plan my workouts with a friend to keep
me committed. If I am feeling a bit tired & run down I do try & listen to my body & just incorporate more yoga & walks instead.

What is your biggest achievement when it comes to fitness so far?
I would say finally getting to a point where I am in tune enough with my body to understand when I need to stop, slow down or push harder. I used to have only 2 speeds, ON, which was excessive amounts of exercise, or completely OFF when I would not train at all. I never used to listen to my body if I was tired, run-down or injured, I would just keep pushing it further.

It feels like a great achievement to finally have a body that I am dialed into enough to know what it needs both nutritionally & fitness-wise.

fit girl interview with Shan Cooper 03

What are your current and future fitness related goals and projects?
I prefer to set goals as I think of them rather than set ‘New Years Resolutions’ for the sake of it. I like strength & fitness goals rather
than goals related to weight or body composition. I do want to start training with my partner Trav again and incorporate some more boxing back into my routine.

fit girl interview with Shan Cooper 02

One thing I have decided is that this year I would like to master the handstand push up, so far I have perfected the lowering part of the equation… And when I say ‘lowering’ I mean I can do a handstand against a wall then when I can’t hold myself anymore my head slams down to the floor & I pretend like I totally meant for that to happen at which point I cannot push myself back up
& at some point I slither back to the ground. It’s a work in progress.

Early this year (2014) a personal trainer friend of mine & I will be releasing an ebook incorporating fitness, food & mindset & we will be running a few more ‘Invincible Woman’ workshops on ‘Defeating Self Sabotage’ & ‘Goal Setting’ as well.

What advice would you give to people who are struggling in staying committed and reaching their fitness goals?
Identify the REAL reason you want to achieve those goals. Your goals MUST be more important to you than maintaining the status quo.

If you don’t get to the root of WHY you want to achieve that goal & focus on how you will FEEL if you do, as well as identifying the consequence of not achieving it, it will just become another New Years Resolution you never followed through with.

Apart from that, find something you like doing so that fitness becomes part of your life. Training with a friend or doing group fitness classes can be a great way to get started and develop some new habits.

What are your top 2 favorite exercises?

  • Burpees are an exercise I love to hate. I loathe them while they are happening but I love them once they are over.
  • Anything on gymnastic rings. I’m not very good at them but I find them really great fun!

Can you give us 3 Fun Facts about yourself?

  • I am terrified of heights & will only climb half way up in rope climbs
  • I love watching tragic TV shows like The Bachelor & Home & Away
  • I was born in Vanuatu and lived there until I was 4 years old

Stay tuned for next week’s Diet & Nutrition post by Shan Cooper!

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Shan Cooper

Shan Cooper

Shan Cooper. Aussie. Food, Health & Wellness blogger. Coconut lover. Wife to a wonderful man. Mother to an enormous dog. Wellness Coach. All round crazy chick. Join me for random ramblings & adventures of food, fitness & fun over at
Shan Cooper

Leave a Comment


  • Allison regarding your comment about Primal Pantry; while I was on holiday is Brisbane I had the most divine Paleo Orange flavored pancakes from The Primal Pantry, the place is great! I think it’s pretty rude and damaging to give a bad “review” to a place you’ve never tried.

    • Good thing I didn’t give it a review then 😉 I wasn’t trying to be rude with my comment, I truly hope it does better than I’ve heard. I didn’t want to go spend money on a place so iffy and I think its fine to say so when I used review sites (which is what they are for) and first-hand experiences from friends who didn’t have good ones! I’m glad you enjoyed what you got there and maybe if I visit Australia again in future I’ll give it a try.

  • I loved reading a bit of Shan’s story–makes me want to move back to Brisbane! I will say I hope the Primal Pantry fares better in its future though, it has very mixed reviews and we never went after hearing/reading a few (I don’t follow Paleo anyway but I always love a real food restaurant.)
    Anyway, the being in tune with one’s body really resonates with me because I am also feeling like I am finally getting to this point. Last week I really over-trained my legs on Monday and was sore until Saturday; so it was a good reminder to not push myself further than I need to. I love these posts 🙂

    • Thanks for the feedback on PP Allison, make sure you swing by next time you are in Brissie & give it a chance though, I am sure you will be pleased with the food 😉

      Listening to your body is so hard sometimes isn’t it! When your brain is screaming at you to train harder, longer, do more.

      Thanks for reading xx S