DJ Girl 6 is an international performer and a pioneer in the video DJ movement. Her career started at age 15, and she quickly gained both the respect and accolades among peers, celebrities, club owners and the music scene as a top female DJ. She is also the first commercial video remixer in the industry. Among her many awards and recognitions, DJ Girl 6 won the first video remixer spot on Crooklyn Clan, a New York based hip-hop and mash-up production team. More information on her career, accomplishments and a sample of her craft can be found here.
What was the "ah-ha moment" that made you start taking your health seriously?
There were a series of “ah-ha” moments that made me take my health seriously. Fitness and being healthy is a process. One of my more significant “ah-ha” moments was reading all the birth and death certificates from my family showing what each person died of and at what age. In order to obtain dual citizenship, I had to provide documentation all the way back to my great-great grandfather. In that process, I learned that many people in my family died of congestive heart failure (heart attack). That was a wake-up call as genetics are touted as the largest indicator of one’s health in the future. With that in mind, I did research about how to avoid a similar fate, since my life clearly depended upon it.
Once I hit my 20s, I realized a lot of my friends were having heart attacks as early as 35 and even dying as a result. I also deduced that their deaths were a direct result of their lifestyle. If I can avoid a premature death, why not? I think I realized then and there that the correlation between my actions and my longevity was serious.
News is also an ongoing reality check for me. At least once a week I hear both good and bad stories about developments in modern medicine that keep me in check. Everything from how diet and exercise can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s to how the failure to eat right and exercise is linked to everything from Type II diabetes to cancer. Who wants to give themselves insulin shots or be unable to converse with relatives? Not me!
Do you have a secret habit that is part of your healthy lifestyle?
Stay educated! The most important thing to learn is "What am I eating!" Knowing both what’s in the products I eat and how it affects my body is crucial. For example, I can eat “low-calorie” foods, but its effect on my body can make me hungrier — that’s all bad! Another example is how some people eat chicken but do not understand the effect the growth hormones and antibiotics can have on your body. I’ve read and seen everything from “Skinny Bitch” to “Food Inc.” and make it a habit to stay on top of new revelations in the health and dietary world because it’s always changing. New information is constantly streaming in. My habit is to stay in the “know” and respond accordingly!
Another reason staying educated helps me stay fit is because the more I know about products and the negative effects of not exercising, the more I’m motivated to stay on the right path. If you don’t feel like staying healthy, pick up a health and fitness magazine and remind yourself as to why you are making these sacrifices. Sometimes articles about certain foods gross me out so bad that I don’t even want to eat them anymore. Hey, it works!
If you could permanently get rid of one bad habit, what would it be?
I really hate to say this but ... Starbucks. I love their coffee! Unfortunately, a little too much. I’m from Seattle, and their coffee reminds me of cold winter nights or studying late and hanging out at the 24-hour Starbucks. There is a Starbucks on every corner now, so I’m always tempted to pop in for another caramel macchiato — but it has the same calories as a dessert! I’ve gotten better and only get a light soy java chip frappuccino about once every two weeks. When I lived in Seattle, I had a caramel macchiato at least once a day. It's so bad! They have some healthy options and excellent nutritional information booklets to help keep you on the right track, so use it!
If you could get a free pass forever with one bad habit, what would it be?
Sugar!! I’m a girl who loves chocolate and all things sweet. I also come from a nice Italian family that knows how to cook. It’s hard to say no to authentic homemade cannolis, especially when it’s mine. I’m blessed to have a multi-cultural background, but the downfall is that Italians traditionally peer-pressure you to eat. “Mangia! Mangia!” is frequently heard around all social gatherings. It doesn’t bother me until the sweets start circling the table; then I get weak at the knees. Who can turn down real pizzells, farfellette, stella doro or lemon ricotta cheese cake?! OK, I’m hungry now — off to read more fitness articles!
What is your greatest health achievement or milestone?
Going vegan cold turkey! I worked for an artist that suddenly became vegan and required everyone on the premises to refrain from bringing any animal products to work. When you are working 9 a.m. to 5 a.m., there is absolutely no opportunity for you to eat anything but vegan. He also provided an education as to why vegan was a better option health-wise and for religious reasons (for him). Honestly, for the first three weeks my bones ached; it felt like toxins were coming out of my skin, and I had no energy and was facing some serious withdrawal symptoms. Afterward, I realized that some of the foods I was consuming had some serious addictive properties. When I was done, I lost 15 lbs. and felt lighter physically and sharper mentally. It’s been about six years since then, and I cannot imagine going through that again. It took a lot of (forced) discipline and made me realize I was eating a lot of crap that I previously was not cognizant of. I never want to go through that again, so I stay vegan and write recipes for people who like amazing food without the animal products. I pride myself on not being an annoying vegan. It’s not for everyone, and I still cook meat for my family as it’s tough to convince old-school Italians that meat and cheese probably aren’t the best thing for your heart or biochemistry. It’s also important to remember how different American meat and cheese are from European foods. America has drastically industrialized food; therefore, there are many more chemicals in our food compared to the food in Europe. Even milk is pasteurized in a manner that is counterintuitive for nutrition, but because it’s accomplished faster it is selected over optimum nutritional value.
What is your biggest health hang-up in others?
It starts with focusing on being skinny versus being healthy which leads to fad/yo-yo dieting. Many of my friends just want to be skinny and deprive themselves of much needed nutrition. The end result is an adverse reaction from their bodies from rotting teeth and heart attacks to stubborn fat pockets because their body doesn’t trust when they are going to eat next so it holds on to the fat. I don’t mind making diet plans for people who are genuinely interested in bettering their health; however, if you are just going to focus on being skinny and not listen to my advice, then don’t ask. To me, nutrition and being healthy are paramount.
Run, walk, ride or swim?
I’m a total hypocrite in this department. I know that swimming is proven to be the best on your joints over time with cycling being a close second. However, I have a tendency to run in order to get my workouts over faster and because I don’t want to put my bleached, straightened hair into a pool full of chlorine. I shutter to think of what may happen to it! I’m already paying the price of my hypocrisy.
When I was about 19, I was in a horrible head-on collision with a truck where the dashboard of my car collapsed inward, separating my kneecap from my leg and separating my thigh and calf bones. After the accident, the orthopedic surgeon told me of the woes of running too much and how I will be prone to impact-related arthritis from the injury. To date, I still run but end up sore for days. I’m waiting for the day when my orthopedist approves a knee replacement surgery for me. For now I’m too young, as they only last about 10 years each and you can only have three surgeries.
If you were a fruit or vegetable, what kind would you be?
I’d say artichoke! They are have their own built-in defense mechanism (spikes), but once you get to their heart, you learn they are truly No. 1 on the food chain! With a calorie count ranging from 25 to 60 (no fat!), it’s hard to believe how many nutritional benefits come from such a great-tasting, low-calorie treat! Artichokes also rank as the No. 1 vegetable in antioxidant count. Who doesn’t want to be No. 1?
On average, one large artichoke contains only 25 calories, no fat and 170 milligrams of potassium, and is a good source of vitamin C, folate, magnesium and dietary fiber. Studies show that artichokes contain an unusual amount of antioxidants in the form of phytonutrients. Among the most powerful phytonutrients are cynarin and silymarin, which have strong positive effects on the liver. Some studies indicate that artichokes have been reputed to help cure liver diseases, liver cancer and even hangovers! Now that’s something every club-goer could use! Artichokes also contain 6 grams of dietary fiber and 4 grams of protein. I’d love to be No. 1 and the most well-rounded food in the grocery isle!
If you could superpower one of your five senses, what would it be and why?
That’s easy for me: my hearing. As a DJ, the most important sense for me is my ability to hear what song best compliments its surroundings. With super-hearing, that ability could only get better. Not to mention the ability to hear what everyone around you is saying. That’s sincerely priceless.
If you could break a world endurance record, what would it be?
The hypocrite in me says running. I love running and frequently get runner's high. Such a sensation is unparalleled by any foreign substance, including alcohol. If I’m going to break an endurance record, it may as well be one I enjoy and one that gives you a sensation of euphoria while doing it.
If you could tell one thing to your adolescent self, what would it be?
I would take the advice I give to my friends now, which is: Get healthy, not skinny. When I was an adolescent, I had a touch of anorexia with a side of body dysmorphia. I’m not afraid to talk about it now in hopes that those with similar struggles will take comfort in knowing they are not alone and that the cycle can be broken. Growing up, the images of women in the media did not conform to the adolescent body I saw in the mirror. Because my parents ate like typical Italians (meat, cheese, noodles), they could not relate to my desire to change my diet and/or become thinner. I felt isolated and took matters into my own hand, going days at a time eating less than 100 calories a day. Because of my struggle I was stricken with amenorrhea, anemia, headaches, moodiness, low blood pressure and dizzy spells. As an adult, I learned I am at risk of osteoporosis as well. Prolonged anorexia also causes heart failure, dental problems, loss of muscle tone, death and hairiness — eww! Fortunately, the staff at my school and my family intervened, but it’s a lifelong battle and you never look at yourself with accurate judgment after that. If I saw me at 12, I would simply say, “Be healthy, not skinny — and for god sakes get rid of that 90s hair!”