Nona Diaries is a series featuring some inspirational women and their period stories. Today’s feature is about Vanessa Budihardja-Barus, aka @chillibean.
Vanessa is an expert on wellness and fitness based in Bali, Indonesia. She has over 10+ years of experience in corporate communications, digital marketing, project management and health and wellness.
Before jumping into her passion full time in health and wellness as a personal trainer, functional strength and mobility coach in 2016, Vanessa spent years working in corporate - from banking public relations to lifestyle tech startups. In 2015, she co-founded one of Indonesia’s first healthy food delivery service in Jakarta, Püra Vïda - now operating in Hong Kong. Vanessa also represented Indonesia as a Nike+ Training trainer from 2014 - 2019.
Vanessa moved to Bali in 2018 to be closer to nature and to deepen her connection to herself and her environment. In 2019, she joined wellness company Chōsen Experiences as Operations Manager.
Vanessa now enjoys a minimal waste lifestyle dedicated to cultivating meaningful experiences, her athletic pursuits, and advocating women's health and environmental sustainability.
Let's start with your name!
Vanessa Budihardja-Barus from @chillibean
Tell us a bit about your career journey and how you got into the wellness industry.
I fell in love with weight training in the middle of a corporate career, and found that teaching brought me more joy than my day job. At around the same time, I was selected by Nike Indonesia to represent them as a Nike Training Club trainer. With the incredible training opportunities they provided over the years, it was clear to me that fitness and wellness is my calling. So I decided to leave corporate to pursue that full time, and found myself living in Bali not long after so I can deepen my studies on wellness.
What do you like most about it?
Watching my clients change their behaviors for the better is so rewarding. For example, seeing someone do a military push up for the first time and the smile on their face after doing it!
How has your fitness journey changed your life?
In every way. After knowing how to train myself and my clients, I became more curious about nutrition. After nutrition, I became curious about wellness (sleep, recovery, etc.). Then I became curious about mindfulness (breathwork, meditation, self-healing, etc.). Then I became curious about the connection between the self, others and the environment. It’s a slippery slope!
What are your favorite ways to work out?
Weight training and surfing!
Do you have a typical fitness routine every week? Or how is your philosophy when it comes to fitness routines?
Depends on what goals I have at each given moment of my life. Its always changing. 5 years ago it was performance - lifting the heaviest weights I can with olympic weightlifting. Before my current pregnancy its more functional bodybuilding and fun - hence surfing and a different kind of weight training. Now in the middle of my pregnancy its low-medium intensity strength and conditioning along with swim training and long walks on the beach. Fitness is a lifestyle that I really enjoy. The key is to find something that you love, and be open with the flexibility that life demands from you.
What is your food philosophy like?
I count my macros, as it really works for me. I work with a professional nutrition coach to figure out my daily caloric needs, as well as carbs/fat/protein/fiber targets to hit daily. And yes, I am still counting macros during pregnancy as it is now adjusted to a prenatal program.
I’ve quit coffee as I have found breaking free from it makes my life so much better! No dependency on a beverage to get my day going, no crashes, no difficulty falling asleep, and just better health overall!
In general, I eat real, whole foods. I stay away from too much processed foods and sugar. I enjoy the things I like, but in moderation. I eat a lot of veggies and fruits and lean proteins.
What’s a typical day of eating like for you?
- Breakfast: fruits/granola, 4 eggs, sautéed greens/salad, matcha
- Lunch: basmati rice, sautéed greens, organic free range chicken, fruit
- Snack: chicken bone broth, chia seed pudding topped with almond butter
- Dinner: pizza/pasta or noodles/nasi padang/lentil soup/lamb kebab, chocolate cake
Describe your period in 3 emojis.
What feelings do you have towards your period?
Happy and at peace! Because when it arrives on time, then my plumbing is working properly.
Do you get any womanly intuition or signs when your period is coming?
All the time! Breast tenderness, and being more pissy at my husband haha.
Are there any habits that you incorporate into your lifestyle to honor your period?
My periods are now plastic free! Menstrual cups are my friend.
What’s a period myth that you believed as a kid that you now think is ridiculous?
Not so much a myth, but a realization. I can’t believe I used to walk around hiding my tampons/pads under my arm whenever I needed to change my period product in the past. Like I’m ashamed to carry them. Like, why? Periods are totally normal, and women shouldn't feel ashamed for carrying their menstrual hygiene items in public!
If you could give your younger self advice when you first got your period, what would you say?
Congrats Babe! You are a freaking goddess! You have crossed the threshold of being a woman! Don't be afraid, what you are going through is normal, and even very sacred. Be proud of your period!