Name: Ashley Beaver
Occupation: CrossFit Coach and Creator of Livin Paleo Cuisine
At what point does a hobby become a passion? And at what point does a passion become worth pursuing full time? Making a living doing something you love sounds pretty ideal, right? Once you find success, people will remark on how "lucky" you are. Ashley Beaver knows first hand that pursuing a passion is not about luck. It takes sacrifice, unwavering dedication, and the strength to carry on even in the face of failure... again and again.
"I've found something I'm extremely passionate about, but it wasn't easy to leave certain aspects of my life to pursue this 100%. It's easy to doubt yourself, or to settle into something that's easy. But in the end I don't think what's easy makes you happy. I may struggle now, but I know down the road, wherever it may lead, I'll be happy that I took a chance to do what I love."
Ashley is on the brink of taking her love for CrossFit and paleo cooking to the next level by making a career out of what started as hobbies. With a strong Instagram following, and a 4th place team finish at the Northern California CrossFit Regional competition, Ashley is off to a great start already. In our interview, Ashley fills us in on her evolution as an athlete/chef, why these two "hobbies" are so important to her, and her plans for the future.
Ashley, how and when did you first become interested in the paleo diet?
I first heard about the paleo diet about five and half years ago when I first got involved with crossfit. I’ve always been pretty healthy and concerned with eating things that fuel my body, but it wasn’t until about two years ago when I decided to give paleo a real go that I found out how beneficial the diet was to my training and overall health.
Like a lot of people, going paleo can seem difficult, but that’s mostly because we’re so attached to things like cereal and bread and pasta. As the diet has become more and more popular, the amount of resources has grown tremendously, and in my opinion, it’s one of the easiest diets to follow.
Photos of some of Ashley's paleo creations.
How did you evolve into the "paleo expert" that you are today?
Although the resources of paleo recipes are extensive now, I felt there was a lack of them when I first started eating paleo. I wanted to learn more, and I wanted to experiment with recipes. I wanted an easy, healthy and appetizing diet. I wanted to make this a lifestyle. So I started experimenting with recipes, and I started sharing them online. My culinary skills are pretty basic, but I think that’s where my following grew from. I’m busy and I don’t have a lot of time to cook, but having healthy meals is extremely important.
I take recipes and make them paleo, and I come up with things that can be prepared quickly and with minimal ingredients. This has helped me turn this diet into a lifestyle, and I hope that it can do the same for others.
What started out as a simple hobby for teaching myself how to cook healthy meals has turned into something that I’m able to share with the world.
What do you believe are the primary benefits of following a strict paleo diet (and how strict are you)?
Paleo is a great diet for athletes and CrossFitters who don’t want to focus on counting calories or measuring food. Although you can improve your performance by measuring your food, which is why a lot of CrossFitters also incorporate the Zone diet, the Paleo diet provides a more simplistic solution to eating healthy.
There are so many options, and whole foods just make you feel a lot better. Most CrossFitters find that when they start eating Paleo their training improves, they lean out, and they feel a lot healthier in general.
You can also eat a lot more on the Paleo diet because you’re eating quality foods and you’ll need a lot more food for the energy you’re putting out in your workouts. If I find I need more energy I tend to add additional fat to my diet and it helps a lot.
I’m fairly strict, but I can’t say I’m 100% paleo. I love sweets, I drink whey protein, and I supplement with bars occasionally. I think with any diet, if you’re going to make it a lifestyle you have to be flexible. I also find it’s fairly easy to eat out paleo, but on occasion if there’s something I want to enjoy while I’m out with my friends that isn’t paleo, then I’ll enjoy it.
How and when did you first become interested in CrossFit?
I started CrossFit a little over 5 years ago. I grew up doing competitive gymnastics and cheerleading and during college I started seeing a personal trainer, Gabe Subry. I enjoyed training with him and the others who came in; it was constantly varied and always kicked my butt. After college I moved away and found a CrossFit gym, Gabe had told me to seek one out, and I instantly fell in love. Everyone I met was so friendly and I thrived on the competition. It made it exciting.
I moved around a few times for my job, and my CrossFit training wasn’t very consistent. I was mostly doing it to stay in shape and to have fun while I was doing it. In 2011 my best friend and I decided to leave our jobs and move to Australia. I was nervous, but it turned out to be one of the best life decisions I’ve ever made. I ended up working and living there for two years, upon which I started taking my CrossFit training more seriously.
How did you evolve into the competitive CrossFit athlete that you are today?
I competed in the open for the first time in 2012 in Australia and shocked myself with a fairly decent performance. I didn’t qualify for regionals, but I did better than I expected. I think it was at that point when I decided I had a shot at being a competitive athlete in this sport if I trained properly. I think it was also at that point which my job became extra stressful and I realized I didn’t have the amount of time I really needed to train. Also, a year and a half into my Australian adventure my dad was in a horrible farming accident that almost took his life.
I struggled a bit after that, being so far away, so at the end of 2012 I moved back home to be with my family. At this point I was jobless and had plenty of time to train. So I went to see my old coach Gabe who now owned CrossFit 209 sport and started training every day. It was so much fun. They then asked me to compete on their regional team. I really had no idea what to expect, but I was excited. It also didn’t take me long to realize that I wanted to make a career out of this.
I completed my level 1 course and got hired by CrossFit Pleasanton shortly after. Last year I also began training at WarriorZ CrossFit with some friends and had a great time competing at regionals on team Caffeine and Kilos with them this year. It’s been an amazing experience to say the least.
Are you, or do you plan to be, a career athlete and/or food blogger? What are long term goals in each of these aspects of your life?
I’m really excited for the future. I’ve been a full time coach for the past year, but I’ve decided to take some time off to train full time and work on my blog. CrossFit has done so much for me. It’s my life now – my work, my hobby, my passion. I have so many amazing coaches, teammates, athletes, mentors, friends and cheerleaders in my life because of CrossFit and I’m really excited about turning it into my career.
Through my blog I’m excited to help and inspire people to get healthier and stronger each and every day. I’m certainly blessed to be making a career for myself out of two things I’m extremely passionate about.
We are so proud to welcome Ashley to the Fashletics family. As our June Fashlete of the Month, Ashley is receiving a customized sterling silver "Pep Talk" charm inscribed with her personal mantra "Pursue Your Passion". Ashley's pursuit has, and will continue to lead her down a challenging and rewarding road.
Be sure to check out Ashley's blog - Livin Paleo Cuisine - which is full of simple and delicious paleo recipes. You can also follow her on Instagram (@livinpaleo) for more food and fitness inspiration.
Photo Credit: Everett Rosette @paleofatkid