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Meet the HCuO Team: Alexa Naccarato

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Ottawa chapter.

Name: Alexa Naccarato

Program & Year: Communications, 3rd year

Hometown: Ottawa, Ontario

Position: Senior Editor – Writing Team 

HCuO: Describe how you became involved in HCuO.
Alexa Naccarato: I heard about HCuO in my first year of university through a good friend of mine, Lynn Chalati, who was the Editor-in-Chief of HCuO last year. She knew I was passionate about health and fitness, and how I had expressed my love to help young women and men live healthier lives. I applied to be a health writer last year, and the rest is history!

Her Campus uOttawa: What led you to choose your program of study?
AN: I chose Communications (Comms) for its practicality and demand. Growing up, I was passionate about writing, current events, psychology, and art, and Comms encompasses all of these areas and more. The topics covered in Comms are so current and creative. I’m always kept on my toes!

HCuO: Where is your favourite study spot?
AN: My bed- comfort is key!

HCuO: What advice do you wish you had received in your first year of university?
AN: Study smarter, read more and stay up-to-date on what’s going on around you. Also, it’s encouraged to be different, otherwise you’ll never reach your full potential.

HCuO: What are your hobbies?
AN: Working out of all kinds: weight lifting, sprinting, swimming, hiking, etc. I also enjoy cooking with friends and family, as well as reading EVERYTHING.

HCuO: What led you to become so passionate about health and fitness?
AN: I was extremely self-conscious of my body when I was younger. I tried countless diets to lose my “chubbiness” and would frequently go for runs, even though I hated running. After years of low self-esteem and being more heavy-set, I went to the gym one day with my older brother, who showed me how to perform certain moves. I was very insecure in the gym when I first started out, but by mid-workout, my endorphins were through-the-roof, and I loved the feeling of working hard physically. I only did squats and abs when I first started working out, and then when I came to university, I started training all parts of my body: chest, back, arms, and shoulders, along with legs and abs. I noticed a ton of improvement in my shape and size as soon as I started training my entire body, and after I developed a cleaner approach to my diet. 

Even though the goal originally was to change myself physically, I fell in love with the feeling of knowing I was doing something amazing for my body, my mind and spirit. It’s a lifestyle that doesn’t advocate starving myself to look good, or promoting unhealthy habits. It wasn’t something any of the girls my age were doing at the time, which motivated me even more, because it was different. Now, I’m proud to be a part of a community that welcomes newcomers and regulars because the objective is to promote long-term health, not competition or bad energy. I want to help others achieve their fitness goals and share my knowledge and experience for others who are striving to look and feel their best.

HCuO: What advice do you have for women who are afraid or hesitant to start weight lifting?
AN: When I first started weight lifting, I thought that using weights would make me look bulky or manly, which is a HUGE misconception many women still have today. Believe me, that won’t happen to a natural female athlete. The female hormone complex (predominantly the presence of oestrogen) prohibits our bodies from developing in the way that a man’s body would develop with weight training. If anything, weight lifting has enhanced and developed my curves, and has leaned me out (as muscle is more dense, and takes up less space on the body than fat). Every body is different, and some muscle groups will naturally grow bigger than others, but I promise you, you will NOT look “manly” from weight training. The only way that you can achieve the bulky look is by eating in excess.

Also, start small. Don’t look at what weights the other girls in the gym are using. Just focus on yourself. Strength is developed over time, so don’t rush this process, otherwise you’ll injure yourself. Any weight that you use will challenge your body and, in fact, bodyweight exercises are extremely effective. Bodyweight squats, lunges, tricep dips, chin-ups and push-ups are functional movements that increase your overall strength and will change your physique. I would master these bodyweight movements before getting into weight lifting, that way you will have a better understanding of the movement once you add more weight.

HCuO: Do you have a favourite memory from your university experience so far?
AN: When my boyfriend (who I had just met at the time) took me to Father’s and Son’s for the first time last year where we ordered F&S burgers and curly fries – he’s a keeper!


Sources: Photos provided by Alexa Naccarato 


Rebecca is a fourth year student at the University of Ottawa studying Biomedical Science with a minor in business.