Mary Luciano's Personal Biography
Mary has been inspired by the field of natural health and fitness for as long as she can remember. This has led her to study natural health, nutrition, fitness and more recently, raw and living foods.
In her early 20’s, Mary started to experiment with the vegetarian diet. As she continued with her athletic endeavors, she began to understand and believe that muscles needed protein to help grow so she started to reintroduce lean meats and fish back into her diet. In her quest for optimal health and weight maintenance, she tried to follow the advice of her nutritionists and trainers by eating meat every couple of hours. Problem was - meat never really appealed to her.
Like many serious athletes Mary suffered from chronic injuries, mostly strains and sprains. These often became an obstacle to her training and exercise regime and she would need to stop all physical activity to focus on only rehab exercises. In an effort to truly understand her body, she sought out the opinion of a Sports Doctor who determined that Mary was susceptible to injury because of a slight autoimmune disorder which caused her connective tissues to easily strain. This diagnosis threw her for a loop as she was always eating healthy and taking care of her body. Mary could not understand why this was happening and continued to search for answers.
In 2002, while attending a wonderful health show in Toronto, she heard a lecture about the raw food lifestyle. Mary was fascinated with this idea and began to research the healing wonders of raw and living food. She couldn’t soak enough in and attended any food demonstrations, workshops and lectures from experts in the field that she could find.
Mary’s intrigue about raw and living food and the vegan lifestyle piqued and in 2004, she visited the Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach, Florida. She continues to learn extensively about this form of nutrition through various raw food programs and current, on-going health research that focuses on the healing benefits of raw and living foods.
Mary has overcome her chronic sports injuries and autoimmune disorder by implementing a diet that concentrates on raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. This has not only allowed her to get back to a training regime that she loves but even allowed her to go on to train competitively.It took a lot of commitment to stay true to her new way of eating. She met with much criticism and controversy from those around her, including her own trainer. Her eating regimen was a running joke between her and her trainer — “while I persuaded him to drink my wheatgrass, he tried to convince me to add a little bit of meat back into my diet. But I was committed to proving that I could do this.”
In June 2008, Mary entered her first fitness bikini competition and placed 3rd in the Masters division. In 2009, she decided to give it one more try and entered the Figure category. This division had different requirements and Mary needed to put on more muscle. “Now, I am always up for a challenge when someone tells me that I can’t build muscle on a vegan, let alone a raw diet (or as my friend and trainer Andre calls it, a “hippie diet).” So she set out to beat that challenge and prove the benefits of the raw, vegan diet. Not only did Mary gain muscle, but in November 2009, she placed 2nd at the International Drug Free Association Novice Figure, short division in Toronto, Ontario. That’s one up from her last year’s finish, and she did it on a raw, vegan diet to boot!
In 2010, Mary entered her third competition with the Ontario Physique Association, placing 4th in the Women’s Open Division and 3rd in the Women’s Master Division. These accomplishments sent her on to compete at the Provincial level where she placed 5th in the Women’s Master Division. This showing qualified Mary to compete at the Canadian Body Building Federation National Championships.
Mary’s diet is anywhere from 80 to 100% raw – the exception being some steamed vegetables and whole grains. To help build muscle, Mary prefers Wheatgrass, E3Live, Sunwarrior and Hemp Protein. She also enjoys lots of leafy greens and tons of sprouts, many of which she grows seed in her own home.
Mary is a promoter and firm believer of natural health and continues to be a raw and living food enthusiast; she enjoys sharing her knowledge and is committed to helping individuals make healthier lifestyle choices. She is a contributing writer for international fitness magazine ExtraFit with her own column where she writes about raw food and healthy living.
Mary holds a Master of Science in Education and is Head of Family Studies for the York Region District School Board. Mary is also a Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Spinning Instructor and holds a Fitness and Lifestyle Management Certification. She previously served as Fitness Director at the elite Sports Clubs of Canada and is a Living on Live Food Level 1 Chef.
Aside from Mary’s recent fitness achievements, she also has many other athletic accomplishments including completion of the Toronto Marathon (1998), Niagara and Barrie Duathalon (2000) and the Subaru Adventure Race (2001).