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NBA Champion on Breaking barriers & changing your inner dialogue

Good as Gold's Podcast EP08

*Trigger warning: mental health, domestic violence and eating disorders

Mariah Jean is a NBA double pro athlete who is breaking the stigma of the way female coaches are perceived in the fitness industry. She runs Mariah Jean Fit which is an online program that supports people to become the best version of themselves through nutrition and fitness, and is fully booked. Gold’s Gym Australia has just launched season 2 of the Good as Gold’s podcast, and in our first episode Mariah shares her inspirational story of overcoming multiple challenges in her life, and how exercise and nutrition shaped her into the successful athlete and businesswoman she is today. 

In 2019 Mariah competed in her first bodybuilding competition.

“When they announced my name, even for the novice win because I won my novice division first, I honestly, genuinely was like, what? me? and I just cried. I’m not a crier. I’m not an emotional person. I’m really tough and really resilient, and I just lost my sh*t.. So that was fun. And then I think that was the moment where I was like, oh, I’m good at this, you know? When I won the overall, that was also very unexpected.”

She had been training for 7 years, but didn’t previously take the leap to compete. 

“I had a very strict upbringing and I came from a really humble background. We were broke growing up, but I really worked my ass off in my academia to try and prove to myself, I guess, and to my family that I was that I was worthy. I think getting to my early twenties, I wanted to be something that was far above and beyond my physique, so I avoided it for so long. I avoided my passion for so long because I was worried about the way that people would perceive me as a woman and as, you know, my level of intelligence and everything like that.”

Mariah attributes her resilience and stoicism to that upbringing, with a number of challenges thrown her way on top of the money issues. 

“I got bullied really badly in primary school. So I had a disease that rotted my teeth away, my baby teeth, and yeah, imagine being a kid with like completely brown rotten teeth and people just didn’t want to sit with me and they didn’t want to be friends with me like I was a loner.”

“Across the period of from age 15 to 20 and even actually more recently, last year, I lost around seven friends to suicide.”

“So there was a lot and then getting into the DV relationship at 20 and and that was being kicked, punched, thrown down the stairs, cheated on hundreds of times…”

“I hit rock bottom at 20 years old, when I was diagnosed with anorexia and bulimia and I had two suicide attempts within the space of a year.”

Mariah also has an immune condition, and was on chemotherapy drugs at the age of 16. 

“I went through three bouts of chemotherapy and I dipped out of that because that was when my life turned around. I realised I’ve got to do something else that isn’t chemo, it’s exercise and  nutrition. I went behind my doctor’s back and I haven’t. I haven’t looked back since then.”

Last year, Mariah entered her second comp show – the NBA nationals. She walked away with: 

  • Figure National Overall Champion.
  • Figure Pro Card Winner.
  • Figure International National Overall Champion.
  • Figure International Pro Card Winner.
  • Under 30’s Overall Figure Winner.
  • Open Tall Overall Figure Winner.
  • Open Tall Overall Figure International Winner.

Mariah is a fully ‘natural’ athlete, meaning she doesn’t use any substances and is tested regularly to ensure this is always the case. To take out these recent titles – she even coached herself! 

“I decided that prepping myself would be the perfect example of executing my own work, reaching my own protocol…I would say that it was the single most challenging experience I’ve ever had, but also the single most rewarding experience.”

This is just a small snippet of the amazing chat Cal and Em had with Mariah, who also shared her biggest piece of advice…

“It’s knowing that you don’t actually have to be brilliant at anything. You don’t have to be skilled, you don’t have to come from a brilliant upbringing. You don’t even have to have the best start. You just have to start. You have to start with your internal dialog. So the way you speak to yourself, you’ve got to catch yourself you’ve got to smack yourself in the face and say, no, no, I’m not going to I’m not going to say that to myself. I’m not going  to choose that path, I’m the only person who can save me.”

To listen to the full chat and hear Mariah’s journey from her childhood to pro athlete and extremely successful coach, subscribe or follow us on Youtube, Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

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