For Tara MacDonald, it’s always been about living her best life. This 46-year-old Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, native and owner of Plus Fitness with Tara knows one thing for sure: being a certified personal trainer has not only opened the door to her wellness journey but has provided the opportunity to help others. Tara has faced a few hurdles – professionally and personally – but she never gave up.
Tara knows how important it is to not allow negative thoughts to hijack your life’s journey. “You can’t let those thoughts get into the driver’s seat. It’s like a tornado. It’ll just get bigger and bigger.”
“I want my clients to embrace a healthy love of themselves.”
“I know some plus-sized people don’t even look in mirrors because they can’t stand the sight of themselves. You need to find that one thing that you like about yourself. It could be your eyes, your eyebrows – it can be anything. You have to self-talk yourself into a loving relationship with your own body, and the negative chatter will disappear over time. Anything is better than being in the eye of a storm.”
You could say Tara has lived through that storm.
“I was 125 pounds in high school, size 11 and still I hated myself, but I couldn’t harness that negative self-talk.” But Tara’s relationship with health and wellness hit another roadblock. “In junior high school, I remember gasping for breath trying to complete the 10 laps required for the Canada Fitness Test. Luckily it only happened once a year, but it established my relationship with fitness as being hard. It was diagnosed as an exercise-induced asthma attack, but it went undiagnosed for a long time.”
Even though Tara continued to be active throughout high school and into university playing rugby and other sports, the negative self-talk, body shaming and unhealthy eating habits caught up with her and. started to impact her weight. Driven in her quest to help people and determined to make changes, she started a non-profit for plus-size women called NSFIT4u. Little did she know that experience would begin her journey towards building her wellness toolbox and her passion for helping others.
A self-confessed entrepreneur, Tara threw herself into her career. Once she graduated from Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, she did a six-year stint in Toronto working in sales and marketing. She then returned to Nova Scotia to study marketing and management at Mount Saint Vincent.
But burning the candle at both ends was catching up.
“In the year 2000, I noticed my weight started to increase. In about a year, I gained over 100 pounds, tipping the scale to over 300 pounds. I finally sought out the expertise of an endocrinologist. Diagnosis — I had a growth on my pituitary gland that created a hormone imbalance. And due to the wait time to see the specialist there wasn’t much they could do.”
The writing was on the wall.
“Dad died of a heart attack at 62. My grandfather at 67. There were heart attacks, strokes and cancer on my mother’s side. I had to fess up and take care of myself. I mean, you can’t be a wellness coach and not take your own advice.”
Then the sudden death of Tara’s aunt, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer, was the wake-up call.
It was a huge motivator. Tara also acknowledged that some of her business ventures did not make her happy. They added to her stress and anxiety, and her cortisol levels went through the roof.
It was time for Tara to use what she had learned from the Co-Active Training Institute (formerly the Coaches Training Institute) that everyone is continually moving on a journey of transformation.
For Tara – it was time to let go of the baggage and put herself first.
What sets Tara apart is the Plus in Plus Fitness with Tara. Her experiences have provided her the tools needed to help her clients take that first step on their journey. Along with being a Certified Personal Trainer, she’s also a Reiki Master Teacher, Yoga Instructor RYT-200, Healthy Eating and Weight Loss Coach, Beachbody Coach and she has a nutrition certification with 2B Mindset Nutrition. She’s also a Certified Chopra Center Instructor in Primordial Sound Meditation. And to round things off, she’s a Personal Coach who’s not afraid to help her clients envision the infinite possibilities in living a healthier lifestyle. And she’s not done.
“Success stories only happen if you start somewhere. I’m already a success because I’ve lost 5 pounds.”
“I’m now under 300 pounds, I’m really enjoying my body — everything about it. And I’ve stopped worrying about what other people think. What brings me joy is seeing people overcome their challenges and feel comfortable in their skin.”
Tara defines herself as a change agent. “Yes, I’m a curvy, fun, body-positive coach and personal trainer. I’ve reinvented myself several times while continually upgrading my skills. Some may say I thrive on breaking down barriers. I may not fit the mold of a lithe and sculpted personal trainer — but my journey proves that life challenges don’t have to be barriers. It’s about having the right tools you need to be a rock star in fitness. I want my clients to embrace a healthy love of themselves.”
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