“I always tell people listen to your body. Your body will tell you everything you need to know,” says Maisha Wynn, author, lifestyle specialist, vegan, and founder of Live to Wynn. As an entrepreneur, a motivational speaker, and an advocate for good nutrition, Wynn has made a name for herself nationally and garnered praise from places like Whole Foods Market and Essence magazine. But her inspirational lifestyle did not develop overnight.
Wynn grew up in a family troubled by obesity. An emotional eater, Wynn says she “would always eat” to cope with stress. In fact, it wasn’t until her beloved mother passed from stomach cancer that Wynn finally began to take her health seriously. “Losing my mother was like a wake-up call,” she says.
Adopting healthier habits was not a quick process for Wynn, who started slow and encourages others to do the same. In 2011, Wynn reached out to a friend who was a trainer and began an exercise regime that consisted of once-a-week and later twice-a-week sessions. Eight years in, Wynn now works out six times per week.
A visit to her physician, who diagnosed her with a brain aneurysm, put things further into perspective. “My physician said, ‘Hey Maisha, based on your family history, your mother being on 15 different meds before making her transition, [and] because she passed away from stomach cancer, as well as a multitude of other health issues, […] you really need to look at a plant-based lifestyle,’” Wynn remembers. She went “cold turkey” immediately, cutting out all animal products from her diet.
Material items are replaceable, but you are not.
“It’s not a diet. It’s not something I’m doing to look good for the summer. This is a way I live every day,” says Wynn. Her everyday favorites include healthy portions of vegetables like broccoli, kale, and spinach, as well as fruits packed with antioxidants like blueberries and strawberries. To make other foods more palatable, Wynn has leaned into her love of seasonings, which she says makes everything—from veggies and soups to the slabs of meat she’s now cut out of her life—taste better. “At the end of the day, if I put a piece of chicken in front of someone or a piece of steak, and there wasn’t any seasoning, would it still be enjoyable?” she asks. “No; it’s the seasonings you love.”
Besides helping her drop more than 120 pounds, Wynn also credits veganism for teaching her to be kinder to other people. “I’m more empathetic and compassionate, not only to myself, but to others,” she says.
That compassion has translated to her business, Live to Wynn, her book, “The Wynning Way,” and her other pursuits. Number one on her list of goals to help others is to teach the value in loving oneself. “We, as women, we’re always looking for others to celebrate us. We’re looking for others to pour into us. But at the end of the day, self-love and self-awareness and kindness to your health begins with you,” Wynn says. “Material items are replaceable, but you are not.”
Up next for Wynn is a busy few months. As well as returning to the annual Taste of Chicago food festival for live cooking demos, Wynn will also start a lifestyle series in the Gold Coast and embark on a weeklong culinary tour as part of World Vegan Month in November. World domination is sure to come next. Until then, Wynn will continue to share her message with people interested in making significant changes in their lives. “What I have learned is that we find our greatest strength in our lowest point in life,” Wynn offers. “It’s in the midst of our darkness where we actually find our power.”