Matt Sipala is a young man on a mission.
Driven from his own childhood struggle with food and health, Matt has been on a journey that has led him to the benefits (mental and physical ) of eating plant-based. He is currently studying naturopathy and hopes to open a wellness centre of sorts upon completion. We chatted to him about his business and journey thus far.
A Vegan Chat With Matt Sipala
Tell us a little about you and your business
My business is called You4ia Health & Active Living which is a personal training and group training business, based on the word EUPHORIA meaning happiness or a state of excitement, and that’s exactly how I want my members to feel once they leave our sessions.
I aim to incorporate my experience battling an obese childhood into my teens, addiction with food and body image issues to promote a balanced lifestyle for my clients, where they can enjoy the simple things that life has to offer, all while working towards their goals.
I don’t want to be a quick fix for my members, I want to be their only fix!
Matt, you have been on a fitness journey yourself, how has diet and particularly a plant-based diet assisted you?
As I mentioned I was extremely overweight during my teenage years, I then went down the route that thousands of people do each year in order to lose weight and that’s fad dieting. A fad diet is an extreme diet promising fast results in a restrictive and unsustainable way.
Over the course of 5 years, I fluctuated with my weight until I found a process called ‘calorie counting’. You see calorie counting serves a purpose for athletes wanting to get a competitive edge or for beginners, helping them to understand the calories that are in certain foods, however only for short periods of time. I battled calorie counting for over 2 years which made me develop an unhealthy relationship with food alongside an extremely obsessive exercise regime.
It wasn’t until it was a usual Sunday afternoon (when I would do my meal preparation for the week), I had my scales out and weighing out all of my food for the week, and my partner reached over my shoulder and grabbed a piece of cucumber that I had just weighed out for my meals. I got upset at her for taking the cucumber that I had weighed and already logged into my food diary until she made me realise that I was weighing food that is made up of over 90% water! That’s when I knew it had gone too far. Immediately I stopped calory counting and coincidently at the same time, the cafe I worked at part-time just turned the shop completely vegan, I was intrigued and adopted that lifestyle instantly.
I’m not going to lie and say that the vegan lifestyle automatically cured my bad relationship with food, but it made me realise that I can eat an abundance of calorie-dense plant foods, feel nourished and not worry about my calorie intake for the day, as fruits and vegetables contain far fewer calories than foods from an animal-based diet.
Since then I have seen a number of improvements in my mental health, training performance, mental clarity, sleep, energy and overall feeling throughout the day.
Amazing Matt, that’s fantastic that the cafe’s choice had a ripple effect on you and now your clients!
People often don’t understand the connection between food & mental clarity/health, what is the most common gap in people (clients) thinking around this connection?
I just think that it is a lack of education. The media and big companies have very smart people behind the scenes making the real or truthful information very hard to find, so it’s not the consumers’ fault. On the opposite end of the spectrum, when I coach my clients around this topic, the results speak for themselves. They are instantly noticing their emotions and moods come from a direct reflection of what they have put in their mouth, ultimately changing their eating habits. The best scientific study is yourself and monitoring the effects food has on YOU.
Tell us about this podcast you host, why did you decide to start one?
So I started my podcast called ‘The weekly dose of You4ia podcast’ to help promote the effects that balance, sustainability, movement, plant-based nutrition, yoga, and meditation can have on someone’s life. The guests on the show share their various journeys and how all of the above has enabled them to conquer the world. the show is on iTunes, Spotify and my website – www.you4iahealth.com
Through your business and professional journey, what have you found is the best way to help people to live a more ‘plant-based or vegan diet?
I think education is key. giving people the power of option is the way forward for this movement. You think about it, if someone constantly is promoting something you don’t want to associate with, it will leave a sour taste in their mouth.
I think planting seeds of information over a period of time is a much more successful way of promoting people to eat more plants. Now that’s not disrespecting the activists that are fighting to promote an important message, I think there is a time and a place for that information.
Who inspired your journey? And who do you follow today?
I can’t narrow it down to one person who has inspired my journey as I’ve taken bits and pieces of information and inspiration from everyone I have connected with. If I had to highlight a few people it would be the owners of Particle Cafe Zac and my good mate Joel Kirkilis. I also owe a lot to my high school teacher Dale Sidebottom, that man has been a true inspiration and mentor for me in terms of starting my business, podcast and chaining my mindset. Although Dale doesn’t adopt a plant-based lifestyle, he is extremely intrigued by the way people can thrive from varied nutrition.
Where do you hope to be in 3-5 years with your work & podcast?
I hope to still be giving my members a euphoric feeling after sessions with You4ia.. haha.
In 5 years time I hope to have my naturopathy degree finished (currently studying) and have my holistic health complex open, consisting of a gym floor for PT and group classes, plant-based cafe, health food store, consultations with allied health professionals including massage, yoga, naturopathy, integrative medicine, nutrition, physiotherapy, psychology etc… I want my space to be a one-stop shop for everybody’s health needs, from the general check-up at the GP to rehab.
I also hope my podcast is still going strong interviewing amazing guests and giving them the opportunity to share their stories.
Matt, that sounds incredible, we can’t wait to see this come to fruition!
What’s your favourite vegan eatery in Melbourne?
Hard to chose but here is my top 4:
Vegan Cheat Meal / Favourite Dessert?
Ooo definitely a burger of some sort and 110% Goje frozen yoghurt.
Who should we interview next?
My good mates and power couple
Thank you so much for sharing, Matt! It sounds like your journey is just getting started! We look forward to following the journey with you and If you would like to follow Matt’s journey be sure to follow him HERE to do the same.