By Anne Boys-Hope –
“Do not give me a bag of potato chips. I will eat the whole bag,” says Donna Davis, who laughs heartily as she rhymes off a list of her favourite treats: chocolate, coffee (she has a cup every morning, without milk), the occasional glass of wine, and yes—even potato chips.
A long-time vegan and accomplished athlete, Davis has learned that healthy living does not mean sacrificing small pleasures.
“You need a joie de vivre, you need to do things that make you happy,” she says.
This Westboro resident has deep roots in the community as a yoga instructor, running coach, and purveyor of delicious smoothies. You’ll see her running with her beloved dog Annie by her side, on Rogers TV in the series “Yoga for Runners” and teaching at Elation Yoga. Until recently, she owned the studio, but this January, she passed the torch to former student Dabrowka Farah.
Now she’s embarking on a new venture—a website to help people transition to a vegan diet. She’s still teaching yoga, but she’s excited to reach a wider audience.
“The reason I sold the studio was so that I could teach on a bigger plane, and that’s the online world,” explains Davis, who is a certified sports nutrition consultant. “I want to demystify vegan cooking and demystify the vegan kitchen.”
Ultimately, though, the change was motivated by the recent death of her best friend’s daughter to cancer.
“I realized how short life was, and in my heart, I said I’m going to let go of things that aren’t going to lift me up 100 per cent,” says Davis.
Here’s our list of five things you should know about Donna Davis:
1. She helped bring yoga to Westboro.
Davis has been teaching yoga here for 15 years, long before yoga studios were as common as coffee shops. She started by teaching yoga to runners, and then she offered “powerful women boot camp” classes in a shared space on Richmond Road. The classes were so popular that she opened up her own studio—one of the first in the neighbourhood—which she owned for seven years.
2. Her advice to achieving a healthier lifestyle is simple.
“Wherever you start, it’s going to be good…” says Davis. “If you embrace a little bit of exercise, get out and walk and notice your energy is increasing and you’re losing a little bit of weight, you won’t want to sabotage it by eating poorly.”
3. She says going vegan isn’t as hard as it looks.
Davis helped her 81-year-old mom go vegan, and now she is hoping to help others by offering online courses. “It’s a step-by-step process to energize your meals, your motivation and your mindset,” says Davis. She’s also writing a cookbook.
4. Her perfect day?
“At the cottage, on my paddleboard with Annie, a glass of wine, and Keith Urban on my earphones. How’s that?”
5. She’ll walk, run, bike to raise money for a good cause.
To date, she’s helped raise $50,000 for the Ottawa Hospital Foundation, and other local charities. This spring, she was part of the 200-member “Team Molly,” which raised over $50,000 for CHEO in honour of 12-year-old Molly Robillard, who passed away in October 2014 after a lengthy battle with cancer.
Read more “five things” profiles right here and learn about the people who make our community so great.