If the expression “beach bodies” conjures up images of sculpted, lithe physiques glistening in the sun, don’t chastise yourself. You are programmed to think that way; a lifetime of media-defined images is hard to ignore.

You probably also imagine a health and fitness coach to fit the mold of buff parts and toned muscles, too. Molds, however, can be broken and Tara MacDonald is determined to bust that one. She is on a very public journey toward a healthier self and, no stranger to entrepreneurism, she sees possibilities for making the journey a profitable one, financially as well as physically.

An important factor in having your own business is passion for what you do. Another is finding your market. Tara is passionate about getting in shape and, as a plus-size woman, she recognizes a plus- sized niche market she can tap into. If those of us who are average-sized are coyed by the nubile-looking, yoga-bodied instructors that urge us to push our bodies, what must it be like for those who have a very long way to go before ever being considered lithe or sculpted? Statistically, they are a large percentage of our North American population. In Nova Scotia alone, the rate of obesity doubled between 1987 and 1995.Tara is right about market potential, and she has first-hand knowledge of what is motivating that market.

Tara graduated with a degree in english literature from Trent university, then did a six year stint in Toronto working for a publishing house. She came back east to do Marketing and Management at Mount Saint Vincent. While at the Mount, she came to terms with the fact that she was gaining too much weight, too fast. As she says, “size 26 went by, and passed”. She needed to do something. She had been strong and active through high school, playing rugby and other sports. however, too many years sitting in front of a computer for work and school, combined with unhealthy eating habits, had caught up with her. Determined to make changes, she started a non-profit for plus-size women called NSFIT4u. She had a trainer design a program for them, and made it available for free.They worked out for 6 weeks.

When she graduated in 2006, she decided to go to banff to work for the summer because “everything was uphill”. She was 400lbs, and something had to give. The hills would force her activity level. It was while she was there that she came across the beach body® products. She and her friends were trying to get in better shape and saw the ads for the Turbo Jam® DVD on the Shopping Channel. She ordered the DVD and became a beach body® member.

Losing her dad to a heart attack that same year was the first serious wake-up call. She came back to Dartmouth to go to film school and to start her film production business, Charlie Mac Productions, named in his honour. Tara invested heavily in it over the first two years, and while getting the business off the ground, she continued to try to get herself grounded.Through a combination of personal trainers, workout DVDs and new approaches to nutrition, she dropped 115lbs. Charlie Mac was doing well. She teamed up with a l.A.-based producer with whom she had connected through linked In, and they specialized in film shorts- videos, trailers, ads. She also had a direct selling business on the side, representing a Canadian jewellery line called Fifth Avenue Collection, and used her income from sales to finance her love of travel.

She was still losing weight, albeit sporadically, but her energy was more focused on her business than on herself or her health. Then came another wake-up call. This time it was the death of a beloved aunt, whom she describes as having been “a rock”. her aunt had been primary caregiver for Tara’s grandmother, and had been devoted to her. Shortly after her grandmother passed away last year (at 102 years old),Tara’s aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had denied the symptoms, and not gone for care or investigations. That was october 2012. She died a month later.

This sudden death has been a huge motivator, not only for Tara but for many in her family, to be more proactive about their health.Tara had had her beach body® membership status for years when she discovered through her own coach that beach body® was bringing their direct selling business to Canada. She sold her Fifth Avenue stock, and signed on with beach body® .

So now Tara MacDonald is a beach body® coach. beach body® is responsible for products like P90X® , Shakeology® , and Turbo Jam® . In her role as a coach, she reps the products and helps to keep people on track with their fitness goals. beach body® uses a team and buddy support system that Tara finds tremendously helpful. buddies email each other daily and are accountable to each other.

She uses her website and blog, Facebook page and the beach body® coach site to reach clients. With the online buddy system, her clients can be anywhere. She knows that her market is with the plus-size men and women who find her approachable because of her own goals. The biggest obstacle her clients face is the same one many businesses face: not seeing instant results. but she advises “goals need to be measurable, there are always set backs. have a big vision goal.”

There are the nay-sayers. When people say “you’re overweight, how can you call yourself a beach body® coach?” she’s ready for it.“Success stories” she says,“only happen if you start somewhere. I’m already a success because I’ve lost 5 pounds.”

Last year Tara brought back NSFit4u, formalizing it with a board of directors and running a program through 360fit in Dartmouth. She hopes to keep it going. She still has Charlie Mac Productions but now has an employee run it. She says this is her “year to make it happen”.

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