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Episode #44

Balance as a Pro Surfer

with Brisa Hennessy

13 Apr, 2021 · Surfing

Brisa Hennessy, Professional Surfer of the World Surf League and VIS League™ Member, shares her experience growing up surfing including her holistic approach to sport and life as she continually seeks to balance mind, body and nutrition.

Transcript

Stef:

Welcome to the Voice in Sport Podcast. I'm your host, Stef Strack, the founder of Voice in Sport as an athlete professional and mom, I have spent the last 20 years advocating for women and innovating across the sports industry. Now I want to bring more visibility to female athletes and elevate their voice at Voice in Sport.

We share untold stories from female athletes to inspire us all, to keep playing and change more than just the game.

Today's guest is Brisa Hennessy. Brisa is a professional surfer competing in the WSL and a visit league member on the Voice in Sport platform. Brisa spent the first nine years of her life growing up off the grid in Costa Rica right next to the ocean before her family moved to Oahu, Hawaii.

At just 19 years old, Brisa qualified for the world surf league championship tour spending all of 2019, traveling the world and competing on tour.

Brisa also qualified to represent Costa Rica at the Tokyo Olympic games and spent 2020 quarantined and trained in Namotu Fiji. During her time in Fiji, she worked on finding balance and reconnecting to one of her passions cooking. And in today's episode, we dive into the importance of body, mind, and nutrition.

We discussed the holistic approach she has to competing at an elite level, and how recently with her time away from sport, how she is focused on finding balance while still identifying as an elite competitor. We dive into how finding balance can be hard and how it can also be one of the most beautiful things when you do find it.

Brisa, thank you so much for joining the Voice in Sport podcast.

Brisa:

Thanks Stef. This is a complete honor. I think what you're doing in Voice in Sport is amazing. And  I'm just honored to be here. 

Stef:

Excited to have you. I mean, you're currently competing on the world surf league and you're headed to the Olympics in Tokyo 2021, which was 2020, but now 2021.

So we're so excited to have you, you're our first surfer. I'm a huge fan of this sport.  I admire so much what you do. So I want to kind of take it back to  where it all started. And I think for you, it's so interesting because you spent your first nine years of your life growing up off the grid in Costa Rica, right next to the ocean.

You had a father who was a fisherman, a mom who was a cook, and you grew this passion for the ocean all through your life. And you had this amazing upbringing. So I want to kind of go back to those early years before you even knew that you were going to be a professional surfer. And just talk about how you got into the sport and what that upbringing in Costa Rica, what foundation that set for you as an athlete.

Brisa:

Okay, so we're going way back. So my parents, I think on their first date, my dad was like, I want to move to Costa Rica. Like the fishing's awesome. The surfing's awesome. And I want to start this life that is very unconventional and very off the grid. So he, he took my mom with him and they drove down to Costa Rica, found this perfect little point break, 

and they decided that they wanted to live there. Completely off the grid though. I guess jungle, everywhere, monkeys, every animal you can think of. And I ended up being born there, raised there for nine years of my life. And it was honestly the best upbringing I think I could have. Ever thought of, I mean, definitely very unconventional, very bizarre, but I had this new perspective of living as simply as possible and just trying to connect more with others and mother nature.

And that's kind of where I found my love for first surfing, just being a complete water baby. I practically was born into the ocean and my parents actually ran a surf school there as well. So I was, I think I was destined to just be in the ocean and to be a surfer, but to just serve with my parents. I think that was the greatest thrill for sure. 

Stef:

With COVID-19 and all of us stuck in our houses, we have a new appreciation for the outdoors and for nature, and it's so important for your mental health. And so we're going to get into that today and how you've used resources in sports psychology to up your game.

But just the fact that you kind of grew up in that environment, I feel like gave you an edge and gave you not just an edge in surfing, but an edge in life. So I want to talk about just what that meant, like how did growing up in Costa Rica, always in the water kind of getting out daily, how did that influence your views?

Brisa:

I think it has influenced the way I see life in so many ways. so we lived in a house with no electricity. There was no telephones. My parents had to drive to town to send an email and our house was completely open. So we weren't. Immersed in nature. And we would occasionally fine, you know, a snake on our dining room table or, a monkey on the couch.

And I'm serious though, just some crazy stuff. I think just because of that, our life was an adventure, you know, we had no idea what, tomorrow brought  and we were just trying to be in the present moment as much as possible. And I think that that is what we all need, you know, to be in this moment.

Especially now more than ever. 

Stef:

I completely agree. I remember in college, I actually was a division one athlete, and I remember reading this book of like the power of now, and it's such an old book now, but I remember being like, okay, how do I stay in the moment? Because I was always just  reaching for the next goal and then the next goal and the next goal.

And so what I love about what you just said is so important to embrace and celebrate. the journey. And we're going to talk a little bit about your journey today and just how you did that along the way. And with this mindset and the values that you had growing up in the ocean, how that influenced you.

At a certain point, you must have said, you know what? I don't want to just do this for fun. I want to compete.

So can you remember that moment and did you shift what you focus on at that time, where that transition was?

Brisa:

 I went from wanting to compete and finding that love for it. But I ended up moving to Hawaii when I was nine years old. And. My uncle, Greg actually was a professional surfer at the time. And I mean, I was a little kid, so I think seeing trophies  kind of got me a little motivated.

And then I decided to go to my first surf contest and I think I kind of eased into it. I definitely looked up to all the girls that were in my division and the other divisions I was like, I want to do this. Like one day I want to be like them. It was really cool to see that community in Hawaii and to see all the incredible surfers coming from there and being brought up there cause it's a beautiful surf community.

So I think originally though, my competitiveness comes from my survival mode in Costa Rica. I mean, I was dealing with some Jaguars, a whole bunch of crazy things. So I always had it in me. I love to compete. I find that that moment when you're under pressure and you're able to kind of calm the mind and get in the zone is such a beautiful thing.

And I, I always strive for that. So I think that's when I wanted to compete.  

Stef:

Well, I think what you said is so important because when you see other women competing in the sport, there's something that's sparked not to say that we don't. When we see a guy competing, like I grew up watching Michael Jordan,  I wanted to get out there, but when you see the women competing , when I saw the women won the world cup in 1999, I was in California at the Rose bowl.

I was like, wow, I want this. And I think that is so important to have access to role models. And that's why we're so excited to have you as part of our VIS League as one of our mentors on the platform, because when you see it, you believe it. And I think it's an important part of your journey. It sounds like as well, you know, not to mention, it's nice to see those metals on the wall or in a room of your uncles.

My father was an Olympic ski racer, so I definitely had that opportunity, my family too, but not all girls have that, but you did have that sort of built in support system. You had a dad who was your coach. You had an uncle who was a professional. So , how was that in terms of your development?

How important was it to have your dad as a coach growing up? 

Brisa:

I honestly have to say a strong support system is everything. I think the moment before I qualified, I, closed my eyes and I just thought about all the people that have come into my life that were here for a reason, a season or even forever.

And it truly means the world.  That's why I'm here today is because although the love and the support I get from the people around me, but my dad and my mom has been such a big influence in my life. My dad, he always had  this connection with the ocean that has always inspired me.

He always, when we were surfing together, he, he saw waves coming in before anyone could. just surfing together with him and my mom. we had the most amazing times. That's kind of like the memories that always I think, think about. But yeah, he was definitely a big, mentor growing up and finding, you know, my career, my journey and.

There's just too many people to actually name that has been a part of my journey. Like I said, so definitely dad, a big shout out to you. Thank you for helping me try to find that intuition as a surfer and, and my mom too, she has an intuition as well. 

Stef:

 It's one of those, the things that I admire so much about the sport, because you never know what the waves is going to be like coming in.

You know, you go out there, you have no idea. It's not like ski racing where there's like a set course and you get to check it out. You're you're like getting into the water and you never know what's going to come and it's all it is heavily on your intuition. And so I do another reason why I think surfers have this amazing sort of, aura of themselves when they're like off, off of the water because they have this sense of like, okay, what's coming.

So, for the athletes that are listening that are not surfers. Can you kind of bring us into your world and explain to us, like, how, how do you like really kind of think about this wave that's coming towards you? How do you know where to position yourself? And is there any lessons that you can like pass on to other athletes in a different sport for those skills that you think you're picking up as a surfer?

Brisa:

Yeah, This is hard to describe, honestly, it's, it's so unique in its own way and to describe it... Wow. I would have to think about that because I think as surfers, we're so lucky and any other sport, it's almost like  when you first get on a bike, it doesn't really come naturally.

And then when you're riding a bike, it's just like second nature. You're like, what. , I don't even have to think about riding this bike. So when I'm in the ocean I think those moments when I lose that I definitely forget my intuition and that's, that's the times where I get in my mind and I am like, priestly, you need to snap out of it.

And you know, when the wave is coming, you know where to be. And, but going back to surfing and describing that, I would have to say it relies so heavily on mother nature. And so there's so many variables, you know, so many variables that you can't really pinpoint and control and We need to tune into what you can control yourself.

And yeah, just being in the lineup, you were definitely having to connect with mother nature on this other level. And when you do that  it's this crazy thing. you can definitely feel it and you can feel the flow , you're riding the wave.

And I think that goes into the next question you said of how I think surfers see life is, you're trying to ride this wave of life and if you fight the flow it doesn't really end up well, you know, and you need to connect with others. I feel like we're here for connection and we need to connect with mother nature.

We need to connect within ourselves. We need to connect with others. And I think that's the journey. We're all in, you know, this is the journey and we can't fight the journey and we need to be in the present moment. 

Stef:

 It's such an interesting juxtaposition because that is what's going to make you a great surfer yet. It's very opposite of what feels like a sports performance athlete heading out onto the field. So it's a little weird to kind of just be like, okay, just go with the flow. but I feel like a lot of athletes can learn from surfers. So I want to hear from you, what do you think other athletes can learn from surfers?

Brisa:

That's in honor of a statement itself, I mean, I learned so much from other athletes, but I am completely honored, I would say, , I think, we just, we really need to tune into. Our intuition, you know, our sense of self, of being aware of our surroundings and being aware of everything, but distracted by nothing, I think is the biggest key.

Stef:

There's a lot of different things in there, but connection, you know, finding, finding why you love what you're doing and connecting with your sport and connecting with mother nature and yourself ultimately that helps you, let go of some of those things that you can't control. And, and every athlete, regardless of sport, I feel like is in that battle of okay, what can I control and what can I not control? And if you can almost take the learnings that you guys have from, from surfing into other sports and sort of be able to get to that place where you're just like, all right, I'm going to go with it. I have to use my intuition and all of that hard work to get to this position that I am in, in the water is going to pay off. It's I feel like it's something that you can learn. I personally, I'm not as mere of a good surfer as you, but I love the sport because it sort of brings that feeling  of nature and intuition, as soon as you get in the water. And I just wonder, is that just because I'm not a professional surfer is that the same vibe that you have when you hop into the water and you're like heading out to the lineup in a WSL comp?

Brisa:

No, I don't think it's just you. First of all, I do have to mention water is a negative ion, which does not make sense because negative ions are actually a positive in our life. And so I think that's a big key of just being in the ocean. You just. feel rejuvenated, you feel like this new person.

But I do actually have to say as well is one thing that I find that I connect with the ocean in so many ways is that  it's always changing. And we as humans life in general the only thing we can count on is change. And so , it's always has a different emotion.

Every time I see the ocean, it looks different, it's angry sometimes, sometimes it's absolutely beautiful and you can find that within yourself. so I try to tune into that, you know the ocean is just like us and we are always going to change and we always are going to evolve and we need to embrace that.

Stef:

I love that. And we all have a lot of work to do too, because  recent estimates show that by 2030,  90% of the world's reefs are going to be threatened by global warming and acidification. So it's super concerning and you're, in it every day. 

Do you visibly see these changes?

Brisa:

 That's such an important point that we need to talk about more. The ocean is massive and the world is huge as well, but it's definitely something I actually see a lot.

I mean, I was living in Namotu and it's in the middle of nowhere. We're completely isolated yet the reefs are damaged at the moment, you know, and there is. Trash that randomly starts washing up on the beach and we are completely nowhere. And you just think about where does that trash come and you know, how can we make a difference?

It definitely affected me a lot when I was there because you really want to try to do as much as you can. I think the biggest thing that we can all do is the little steps of change throughout your own everyday life. You know, there's little things that actually make a huge difference that we take for granted.

And it's, simple as reusable grocery bags or not buying plastic water bottles, just those little changes. And if everyone does it, I think it could really change the world. 

Stef:

Well, I agree one hundred percent. And we did a little bit of advocating around this concern  during the last election, because it's so important and we all have a part to play.

So I want to talk about how you grew up training, because I also think that there's this idea, Oh, you fall into surfing and it comes natural to some people and not natural to others, but there's a lot of training that goes into becoming the top female athletes in the surf league.

So let's talk about your time growing up in Oahu. And I want you to walk us through a little bit what that was like, because in 2014 you won the under 18 us national championships at age 14, which is pretty incredible. So talk to us about your training. What was your daily life like at that age?

Brisa:

So, as I mentioned, I think Hawaii kind of kick-started my, I guess, starting competitions And I honestly was not very good in the beginning at all. I was the one that was going straight and everyone else was doing turns and killing it. And so that was one thing I needed to embrace.

 I kinda didn't have a complete headstart. And that was totally okay. I mean, I, found the love for it and I think that's what helped me through the journey of that. I ended up getting a little better here and there. I got a coach who really helped me with the foundation of my surfing and that was, everything.

Mechanics and surfing is something that's very overlooked and you need to have really good mechanics when you surf. So yeah. Can hail heart was was a massive help in my life. And I started doing little local contests and then I ended up qualifying for States. winning States and we were very confused on what that meant, but I guess I was going to nationals.

So we went to nationals. We had no idea what we were doing. Cold water for me and the best kids in the world. And so that was a huge shock to see this insane story. I mean, community that I had no idea was, was even a thing. So to see the best surfers in the world I ended up making the final, I think I got third place and I was, I left nationals feeling very inspired.

So then I ended up going to nationals, I think. Wow.  Seven more years after that? ]. And I want a couple of titles, but the experience alone , was pretty, pretty insane. 

Stef:

During that time you had a few different coaches first, your dad was your coach.You eventually had another coach Glenn Hall. So tell us a little bit about the importance of coaching and how do you find a great coach in surfing?

Brisa:

I think a coach is different for everyone. It kind of depends on what your coaching style is And I've worked with some amazing coaches in my life. Glen hall, he takes this approach of, of a more. I think mental the mental side and  just finding your passion again, really focusing on why you're loving the sport. Why does it make you happy and really tuning into that?  I mean, it's, it's very cliche, but when I'm having the most fun and I'm really enjoying why I'm doing this is when I do my best. And so that's been a game changer for me because micro as I call him he's helped me find that, you know? And so I'm very lucky, 

Stef:

 it's so important for your success to have somebody who believes in you, but also somebody who understands that it's more than physical. It's also mental. So you spent 2019,  competing in the circuit.  What was that experience like to travel all of the world like that at such a young age and compete at the highest level.

Brisa:

So I do actually have to mention as well after I lived in Hawaii for 10 years my parents  decided that we were just going to be houses, nomads, and live out of a suitcase and travel around the world because that's kind of how. it made sense. Just being a professional surfer, you're pretty much going right the next contest after the next contest and the next contest. So my rookie year, we didn't have a house and it was completely fleet nonstop, going to new destinations and trying to experience new cultures and experience being a rookie.And that was definitely challenging in so many different ways. But traveling around the world is okay. I feel like a big part in competitive surfing, and I absolutely love it because you make new connections, you experience different things, you meet new people. And I'm really grateful for that.

Stef:

when you see different cultures too, it has that same sort of impact on your life. And  I want to talk a little bit about in 2019, when you got on the circuit, you have a new coach, you also decided to start seeing a sports psychologist and start thinking about mental performance and surfing. Can you tell us about that decision and how that changed your performance? Did it help? Did you feel like you moved up in the ranks? did it just give you peace of mind? Tell us a little bit about that journey for  yourself.

Brisa:

So I got my sports psychologist, actually met him on Namotu ironically. It's a very magical island, I got to meet really incredible people there. And I'm so lucky, but I met him and I started working with him and it was actually before I qualified. So it was a, Around  two years before I qualified for the qualifying series. And it's very challenging. The waves are tough, you're moving from place to place...just that whole mentality of like, am I going to qualify? is this the year? And yeah, so working with Mike and really trying to work inward to work on my sense of self and trusting the journey as much as I can, I think was the reason I qualified that year. And so he definitely helped me mentally so much as well, going into my rookie year, even though it was very challenging. And I honestly had so many moments where I lost touch of myself and the comparison to others. And he definitely helped me bring that back. But I think going into. What's going, going into my second year, which of course, 2020, it didn't really happen. I think I had this new mentality and just love for the sport because I had a lot of work that I needed to do inside and I still do. And so that's kind of been the journey for me at the moment. 

Stef:

I love that you did that because I think just trying to take that step and realizing, all right, like I might just need to change my mentality about something in order to overcome it versus physically working on your body, is so important. I mean, you need both to be an amazing athlete and bringing on Mike Duff and your success thereafter is a great example for young girls: don't be afraid to reach out. It's just like going to the weight room. you gotta work on your mental fitness too, and your mental game. So  what message would you send to girls who might be thinking, Oh, I can't go do that. People are gonna think I'm struggling. 

Brisa:

 That's, that's huge. I honestly can't emphasize it enough. I mean, your head is everything. It pretty much controls how you see life, how you perform. Yes, it's important to have a strong body and to go to the gym, but what's inside here is truly what matters and kind of what sets you up to, to your journey, your career, your outlook on life. And I feel like if you embrace that, it's, it's totally awesome. I'm so, so proud to say that I have a sports psychologist because he's helped me look at things that I always saw, but  brought the attention to, and it's been absolutely life-changing so I couldn't recommend it anything, 

Stef:

This is a big part of what we're trying to change at Voice in Sport is make it, one: accessible to  it's part of our training and we should all embrace it and be like, you know, part of what we should be talking about daily. So let's bring it back to your rookie season. What other advice would you have for other rookies out there ? 

Brisa:

Wow. So I think when I first qualified and it was the first contest, I was completely overwhelmed. You know, Carissa Moore was right next to me in the locker is, and Stephanie O'Mara was just down the hall with your heroes. And that was pretty insane. But I think it just goes back to not comparing yourself to others. It's such a massive thing. I felt that a lot when I was, when I was competing, you know, am I doing enough? What is she doing? I'm not doing that. And you really need to trust your talent. You need to trust your journey. I can't emphasize that enough because you are on this path for a reason and it is going to go your way. It's not going to go your way, but if you truly embrace that it's going to work out in some ways, you're going to learn something that you never thought you would, and wasting your energy on comparing yourself to others does not do any good. Just find that sense of self and you can do it. Totally.  

Stef:

It's hard to do that in the moment though,  you just need more people to say it and to not compare yourself, but in the moment it's hard . Is there  a go-to scene or something that you use to kind of go back to always when you find yourself in that state of comparison.

Brisa:

I think like the saying, I would say it's kind of funny, but Mike would always try to tell me mentally before I would go out or awareness is like, you're a 10, you know? And if you project that inward outward You're going to radiate that confidence, that good energy and vibes that you need. And not to say it like, you know, I'm a 10, like, I'm like the best in here. It's like, you know, I, I put in the hard work. I, I got myself here and I'm ready to be challenged and then I'm ready to fight. And earned to be here, 

Stef:

Learning that and embracing it as young female athletes is so important. Okay, so you get a sports psychologist you're working on your mental game. You qualify for the 20, 20, Olympics, and you're going to actually be representing Costa Rica. So you did grow up in Hawaii for part of your life. So tell us about that decision to represent Costa Rica. Was it a tough decision? How did you come to choose Costa Rica over the United States? 

Brisa:

I have to say that both Costa Rica and Hawaii have affected my life in so many ways, especially as a competitor and surfing and Hawaii’s community and the people and the support is beautiful. And I owe so much to them and them in my heart, , I feel like I am the surfer of the world. And I think that's what kind of brought me to the decision because I ended up leaving Hawaii. Like I mentioned, I was living out of a suitcase. Didn't have a place to really call home, whatever that may be to me. And it just kind of brought me back to my roots, you know, where did I find my love for surfing? Where, where did I grow up and have this new perspective of life and you know, find my foundation. And Costa Rica has been that for me in so many ways, even the Hawaii to Costa Rica has changed my life. And I, I want to represent them with my whole heart and I can't wait for that opportunity, but. I represent, hopefully, I mean, not the world, but I think I represent a lot of people hopefully. And yeah, I'm excited for the opportunity. I'm very honored. 

Stef:

That's incredible. I get a lot of the things that you are passionate about do represent things across the world and it goes beyond citizenship  but that's super exciting that you're going to be representing Costa Rica and the up and coming Olympics. And I'm so excited to watch you. I think it's going to be so cool to have the sport in the Olympics now. And so at the beginning of 2020,  COVID started ramping up right in your family, decided to go to Fiji so tell us about what that did for your preparation for the Olympics. Why did you choose to go there and how has that helped you get ready? 

Brisa:

So it was crazy, I think I was competing in Australia when the pandemic kind of became a reality. And my dad was like, we need to get into Fiji. I feel like it's the safest place we can be. And that's what we did. We got on a flight, we got to Fiji and it was bizarre because I just said my goodbyes to them that I wasn't going to see them for a whole year. Cause I was just going to be traveling. But there I was and I was going to be there, little did I know for nine months of 2020 and I can't tell you enough how much I needed that for my mind, for my body to find my love for surfing again, and to have this break of. Not having to compete and to just enjoy being in the ocean again and enjoy my sport that you kind of forget, you know, when you're in the thick of things and you're going and going and going. And when do you, when do you take this break that you need so much? And so I was stuck on this little Island. It takes five minutes to walk around. So it is, I guess, the epitome of me of isolation. And yeah, we were there with just my mom and my dad, two lifeguards and I think four Fijians. And we all just were family. You know, we were there, we had this opportunity to surf every day, which I'm so, so grateful for and really just disconnected, but connect in so many ways. So I got to cook more and I got to just meet new people , even though it was definitely a very challenging year. So I have to say, I'm grateful for that.

Stef:

As athletes, we're in the zone all the time, super competitive, trying to plot our goal. We go through the next goal, we go to the next goal and then all of a sudden you realize, wow, this has become my life. And what else have I been working on? And I think that it's just such an important part of like, what's happened over the last year. Is it sort of take a step back, whether you're a pro athlete or you're in college or high school sports and just stepping back and be like, okay, wow. What else in my life is important to me and where am I putting my energy and my self-worth. And I think that is something that a lot of our girls in the Voice in Sport community have struggled with because sport has been their life and then it's taken away by this pandemic and they're stuck there thinking, who else am I? And so I think it's just such an important thing to talk about, is it, it is something that everybody goes through transitioning from one thing to the next. And so how do you embrace that moment of disconnecting and trying to figure out, who else am I beyond sport? How did you embrace that? How would you encourage girls to approach this moment right now that a lot of us are still in, to disconnect and then connect to something beyond sport.  

Brisa:

So I think the biggest thing I would say is. it's embracing this part of your path and journey and outside of sport, you need to find who you are as a human being. And I think finding that balance is actually one of the most beautiful things, because you are this unique, incredible human being, and you are this unique, incredible athlete. And you need to take that opportunity to find yourself , when you don't have that. I definitely have moments when I was on the Island and I wanted to compete so bad because I thought that's what defined me in so many ways. It actually helped me break through and it helped me. Evolve in my sport and to love my sport and appreciate my sport in a different way. So really try to take this moment. This is an incredible opportunity that it's kind of once in a lifetime, obviously, but it's hard  but it's a really good time to figure out who you are.

Stef:

A little bit of what I want to talk about here at the end of our conversation is one of your passions. And so I'm assuming that some of this time when you're in Fiji that you dove into your passions too. And one of those passions I know is about cooking your mom's a cook. You're super passionate about it. You have your own YouTube channel. Everybody should check out, which is beautiful. So talk to us a little bit about  you tapping into this love of cooking over the last nine months and how that has impacted you?

Brisa:

Yes. I'm definitely a crazy foodie cook, whatever you want to call it. I grew up in a family that just loved to cook and bring people together in that way. So I think that was just always in my heart and my soul. My grandma was an incredible cook and my other grandma was an amazing cook too. And my mom and my dad, I could just go on. So. I think I always have that in me. I just always wanted to feed people in a way, and I wanted to create new things and have this creative outlet. So I think just being on the Island, I've never had this opportunity , to be in the kitchen and to have all this time , to do something that I love so much. And I really embraced it and it made me so happy even though I had to cook three meals for nine months because there was no takeout, no anything. So there were definitely some moments of like, Oh, okay, I have to cook again. But no, I absolutely love it. And in the meantime of that, I actually was studying a holistic nutrition course, and my family also went plant-based during that time too. So it kind of connected me with food it's fuel. It's what makes our body, keep going. It heals our body. And so I wanted to tune into that connection of feeding people, nutritious food, but also having their souls happy, I guess. And so I really loved that time 

Stef:

I want to dive in a little bit to plant based diets, because it obviously has amazing benefits for the general public. We know some of this information, right? It reduces the risk of heart disease cancer. inflammation and it can protect the environment. And if you haven't learned about how meat can be one of the most carbon producing foods, you should definitely look into that.  Albeit I love plants and meat. I just want to record straight there. I also love the environment. So how do you balance all these things? When you're an athlete, that's trying to fuel yourself in the best way, the most sustainable way, but also ensure you're out there at the top of your game.

Brisa:

So I would say moderation is key and I think we all need to embrace that. Yes , it's definitely okay to have some  meat here and there and you just really need to tune into your body. What fuels your body? What makes you happy? What, what makes you perform at your best? And for me at the moment, This is what's making me go. And so I'm kind of harnessing that. But I think the biggest thing for me as an athlete is intuition again just like competing in sport. Intuition is massive, but really listening to your body and feeding it when it needs to be fed and giving the proper nutrients. So yeah, I would say moderation try to eat as much vegetables as possible.

I think veggies are the best thing in the world. The best thing for you and try to choose sustainable products. I think that's massive.  

Stef:

I love that you're passionate about this topic and I think it's so important. So I want to hear a couple  quick answers to this favorite pre-competition meal that you make for yourself.

Brisa:

It's a little weird, I would say in some ways, but I love to make cauliflower oats. First of all, cauliflowers are cruciferous vegetables. So. They're probably one of the  healthiest vegetables in the world. They have lots of anti-cancer properties. The list could go on, but I like to incorporate cruciferous vegetables, give me that extra pump with my oatmeal.

And I try to make carrot cake oatmeal as well. So I had some carrots in there, some raisins, some walnuts and a bunch of berries that's kind of go-to at the moment. My breakfast has changed all the time. And one thing I do, which is kind of bad, is I get obsessed with a breakfast and I eat it for like two months straight and then I can't even look at it. So try to switch it up. I recommend, but at the moment, it's some cauliflower 

Stef:

When you're thinking about your recovery, what is your go-to recovery meal?

Brisa:

I have to bring it back to Costa Rica. So my top favorite foods are sushi and gallo pinto, and they're literally tied. So I mean, sushi after surfing sounds incredible, but I need to get some more protein in there. So I definitely like rice and beans because that's a complete protein. And then I would have  some more cruciferous vegetables, some tofu and Some plantations, some caramelized plantings, because that is really good with Pinto. , a little odd, but I definitely have to represent my Costa Rican flag. That's my post-meal for sure. Sure. 

Stef:

Well, it all sounds amazing  one of the biggest things I heard from you today was home. Home for you is a bit of the world, you know, you're always traveling, you're traveling now in your sport, but also when you were younger, moving from Costa Rica to Hawaii, and then now your parents in Fiji. So how do you define home?

Brisa:

I was thinking about this a lot actually, because I was in Hawaii. And we were there for The most time that I've been there in a, quite a while, and I kind of felt this sadness because I felt like for the first time I, I didn't have my own plate and I, I I feel like I'm just constantly traveling and it's, it's, it's, it's exhausting sometimes. But then I looked at the people, all that are around me near and far, and the friends and the connections and the people that I meet. And that's exactly what I call home. And I'm really lucky to have such amazing people in my life that define me, that, that make me feel like I'm in a safe and special place. So yeah, I would have to say it's people. 

Stef:

This idea that home is the people you're with, I think is a really powerful statement, as you know, part of Voice in Sport is all about making sure we're preparing that next generation , and we're trying to change a lot of the unfortunate stats that we see within the sports industry for women and girls  . So our two final questions here for you have a lot to do with what we're trying to change for girls and women in sport. So what is one single piece of advice you would tell your younger self in sport?

Brisa:

I would have to say again to not compare yourself to others. the people around us, the people in sport and just human beings in general, we are so unique and incredible in so many different ways. And it's insane because we're all in this beautiful wild ride of life. And if you embrace that and really see that you're on this path for a reason you will find peace and happiness within that roller coaster of emotions. And I think I would say that to young Brisa. Embrace the journey, and you got this. 

Stef:

Love it. I am excited to see the world surf league female athletes  prize money equal to the men's, which I think is a great step forward for the world surf league. But, in general,  women's sports, unfortunately, is not yet quite equal to the men's equal pay , equal opportunity, equal media coverage. There's a lot to uncover here, but what is one thing that you would like to see changed for the future of women's sports?

Brisa:

First of all, I definitely have to shout out your company Stef. It's something that will make the biggest difference in women's sports and just connecting with others and knowing that you're not alone and fighting for equality is, is exactly what we need and the direction moving forward to have a voice I guess I would say more of the recognition and the platform to be able to openly express,  to show our talent.  But also just the opportunity to evolve and to be respected as a force in this industry. So I vouched for just being respected and being able to be recognized. 

Stef:

I love that you used the word force because VIS in Latin equals force. And that's why I named the company Voice in Sport: force, power. we've got a lot to do as a community. And I really believe it's a community that's going to drive things forward. So it's women like you it's girls like the girls, we have a voice in sports. So I'm really proud that you're part of our community and, and excited to see what you're going to do in Tokyo. You're going to have an amazing career and we're excited to continue to watch you surf. 

Brisa:

Thank you. I appreciate that so much. And that's an incredible fact. And another incredible fact is that women are a force. We are a force to be reckoned with and we need to uplift each other. We need to embrace the moments and yeah, you're not alone we're going to do incredible things and , I'm very honored to be an athlete, to be a female athlete. 

Stef:

Brisa thank you for being a guest on the voice in sport podcast today, and sharing your journey with us at Voice in Sport. It is our mission to bring more visibility to amazing women like Brisa and elevate their voice, her story, and her authentic journey is so incredible. And there's so much that we can learn from the surfers mentality.

And thank you so much for sharing your journey and experiences and today's episode your unique journey from living off the grid to spending time traveling the world is so inspiring. And today you reminded us that the ocean is always changing. And so are we as athletes, we must remember to embrace our journeys and embrace our evolution.

Of course doing this while also trying to compete is sometimes tough. And today's episode Brisa reminds us to find those passions outside of sport to celebrate ourselves, not just as athletes, but as humans.

You can follow Brisa on Instagram at Brisa Hennessy, and you can also find her on the Voice in Sport platform as a VIS league mentor.

And of course you can always find us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok @voiceinsport. Leave us a review, subscribe, share our podcast with your friends to show support. And if you are a girl or women in sport ages, 13 to 23, we'd love to have you join our VIS community. And when you sign up@voiceinsport.com, you will have access to our exclusive content.

Mentorship from amazing pro athletes like Brisa expert advice. And of course, a community that is advocating to drive change. If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to sign up for mentorship sessions with Brisa on voice in sport.com. We hope to see you next week at the voice in sport podcast.

Brisa Hennessy, Professional Surfer of the World Surf League and VIS League™ Member, shares her experience growing up surfing including her holistic approach to sport and life as she continually seeks to balance mind, body and nutrition.