Sophie Gray isn’t what you would call a typical 20-year-old. Few can boast a successful business so early in their lives.
Born and raised in St. Albert, and now living just across the dividing line in Edmonton, she’s garnered widespread acclaim for her whole-lifestyle wellness program Way of Gray.
“First and foremost the Way of Gray is about sustainability,” she said. “It’s about making exercise and eating well accessible for everyone, from all walks of life.”
And in the two years since she launched the collection of e-books, based in part on her postings to the social-media site Instagram, Gray has attracted hundreds of thousands of followers and has begun getting gigs speaking about her philosophy, including last Saturday at the Shine Festival in St. Albert.
Food and exercise are topics she has spent many years contemplating, beginning as a kid in a household she described as “very Scottish,” which she said means food was always a very strong motivator.
“I remember my mom couldn’t get me to go shopping with her unless she promised to take me for lunch first,” Gray said.
As a young teenager she got into the modelling world, and quickly realized the relaxed and passionate attitude towards food she had in her home life didn’t necessarily translate into the world of modelling.
The modelling industry is in many ways infamous in terms of prescribing a very specific body type and measurements for young models seeking success, and those don’t always match up with the overall health of a 16-year-old girl.
“I was once told to not exercise, because I’d gain muscle,” she said.
This attitude, for Gray, came with a diet that involved some harsh restrictions and questionable choices. She would eat a 60-calorie pudding cup thinking she was doing something good for herself.
“I would restrict during the day then at night I would stuff my face because I was starving, obviously,” she said. “It was mentally just not sustainable. I couldn’t keep up with that.”
These experiences contributed to Gray rethinking her attitude towards diet and fitness, and she decided to make a change. Rather than consider what she’s eating at each meal, or counting calories in any given day, she takes a holistic approach and looks at her overall lifestyle.
Instead of riding the stationary bike for endless hours, she does short bursts of high-intensity interval training, which she said has proven benefits to keep metabolism high for a day after a workout.
On the diet side of things, she doesn’t worry too much about sticking to a diet in a particular day. Instead, she eats the foods she wants to eat in moderation and tries to make healthy choices about them.
“It’s about balance,” Gray said. “I like pizza so I eat pizza, but I don’t eat it every day.”
Considering the success of her Way of Gray website and e-books, this philosophy resonates with many others as well. Since she first published the e-books in 2013, her social media following has grown from 19,000 to 260,000.
On top of that, she’s been able to translate it into a full-time income and is planning bigger and better things. This week she’s in Los Angeles to film a new set of videos for a 12-week exercise program.
The thing Gray emphasizes again and again, however, is that there is no big change to make to have a healthier lifestyle; rather it’s the decisions we make day to day that will get us on the right path.
“If you wake up and decide later on that day you want to change your lifestyle around, you can do it that second. Stop waiting for next Monday,” she said. “Next Monday never comes.”