This month Fitness Journal introduces our new teen contributor Zoe Gibb, a 15-year-old Sacred Heart Girls’ College student. Like her mother, nutrition and natural health coach Deborah Murtagh; Zoe has a unique passion for food and healthy living.
A model with prestigious Clyne Model Management in Auckland, Zoe’s journey has been anything but straightforward.
She suffered severe bullying in her early school years, has some learning challenges to cope with and lived through the Christchurch earthquakes with her family who fled the city after the February quake, leaving behind her friends and the school she loved without getting a chance to say goodbye.
It is only a few years ago that Zoe was racing BMX bikes and training towards the World Champs, when she realised her legs were getting too long for the bike and she was head and shoulders above all the boys. After seeing a photo of herself which looked like she was just legs on a bike, she dropped out of BMX racing and went through a year or two of figuring out what to do next.
She was taller than all the boys in her class, and with crooked teeth which used to be very upsetting, she didn’t really like ‘girly stuff’, had some personal issues with her parents’ separation and struggled to find good friends who shared her quirkiness and desire for good clean fun. Eventually she bloomed from a tomboy (which she still is on the inside) into a near 6ft tall model.
“I never wanted to be a model, I hated all that girly stuff, but then I guess I grew a little older and that all changed. I decided to give modeling a try as it’s a great way to get to travel, and it’s my goal to travel the world.
“I put a photo of a model on a catwalk in the middle of my vision board and focused on it day and night. Three weeks later I went to the Taylor Swift concert with my family and as I was walking across the park in front of Vector Arena, I was talent scouted by Clyne. I really know that what we believe is possible, we can create. I’ve proven this to myself several times.”
What’s the biggest misconception other teens have about models?
“That we starve ourselves and that we get a lot of pressure to be skin and bones. Weight is a word never mentioned within the industry and my model friends and I face more social pressure from our own peers.
Coping with jealousy is extremely hard, but the truth is most models have faced severe bullying; models are usually the tallest kids in primary school and like all kids went through horrendous gawky periods while growing up.
Another misconception is that we just have to stand there and look pretty for the camera. While most of the time it is fun, it’s still very hard work physically. We are taught to treat our body as though we are elite athletes, just as someone training for an event eats well and takes good care of their body, we are the same. To make it internationally we need to be physically fit and sculpt our body to reach our potential.
What’s your exercise regime?
I do two intense 10 minute workouts each day, one first thing in the morning, and the other last thing before I get into bed. Some days I do an extra hour or two mix of abs, boxing and cardio. I love to skate board and I run a few kilometres on weekends. I’d love to get into kick boxing this year.
What about nutrition?
I eat a really clean diet of organic foods, as I’ve grown up in the kitchen with mum. We were drinking green smoothies 10 years ago, which is probably why my sisters and I have such clear skin.
I had so many food intolerances and stomach problems when I was younger that I have to keep my gluten and dairy intake really low. But I did grow up on raw milk, lard and all foods our great grandparents would have eaten. I spend three to five hours a week in the kitchen with mum cooking amazing foods from all around the world. We cook everything from scratch.
What are your goals?
This year I have NCEA and am doing music and drama as my options. I love creating digital music and would love to get into acting. I do a lot of filming with my mother for her online nutrition school and really enjoy teaching teens how to live a healthy life. Food and travel are my passions and my big goal is to eat my way around the world. Modelling can help me achieve that, but one day I’d very much like to own my own restaurant.
What do you hope to share in your monthly column?
I feel a need to help other girls and boys with whatever they are struggling with, such as body image, social bullying and trouble at home. I’ve gone through a lot in my life and experienced what can happen in these messed up years.
At the end of the day our moods and our emotional wellbeing come down to what we put into our body. I’d like to share easy tips and recipes on how to feed our body, our mind and our future.