Dempsey Marks was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She went to Chatsworth Hills Academy followed by Chaminade College prep schools. Chaminade had excellent academic and sports programs and had a significant role in her love of athletics. Her parents were great role models. They lived and preached a healthy lifestyle which had the most impact. For college, she went to Loyola Marymount University, and though Dempsey elected not to participate in sports, she took her passion in another direction and worked as a personal trainer. She majored in English, minored in Film and Television and completed their certificate of journalism program. Her experience at Loyola took her to the next level and helped prepare for her fitness website (DempseyFit.com). She met Olivia Weinstein, one summer during my college years, who has partnered on the website with her providing recipes, diet, and nutrition segments. Our partnership and friendship has been a crucial element in her life and the website.
You describe yourself as an adrenaline junkie, runner, yogi, and a triathlete. Have you always been as active as you are now? What and/or inspired your decision to live a healthy and fit lifestyle?
I grew up in an incredibly active family. My dad is a lifelong runner and continues to run 20-25 miles a week at the age of 71! And my mom played two sports in college. Fitness was never an obligation, it was a way of life for me growing up. I played softball from the age of 5 all the way through high school. My parents were both involved in coaching my teams and we spent a lot of time at the ball field. I also played competitive volleyball. By the time I reached high school, I was at team practices from 4 p.m. to as late as 10 at night and my weekends were spent traveling to tournaments all across southern California. I loved being active and I loved competition so dedicating all of my time to sports was natural for me.
One of the most major influences in my career pursuit was a diagnosis of gastroparesis from a virus that I contracted when I was a senior in high school. I woke up one night with severe stomach pain and nausea. I went from being an active, happy, vibrant teenager to so weak I was unable to get out of bed in the morning. My stomach was essentially paralyzed, unable to digest solid food. I went to specialists around the country and even traveled to Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic. Ultimately, fitness is what helped heal me mentally and physically. I wanted to share it with other people. So I got my personal trainer certification and worked as a personal trainer through college. Now my goal is to help as many people as I can find health and fitness in the hopes of it changing their lives.
As a runner and triathlete, what has been some of your favorite runs you have completed and participated in and why?
My first ever race was the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco. It was definitely one of my favorites because it is symbolic of accomplishing something that I didn’t think was possible. Plus, the crowds, the energy, and the city are all amazing. And who wouldn’t love a firefighter in a tuxedo presenting a Tiffany’s necklace at the finish line! I also have really enjoyed the Disney races I’ve competed in because it combines athleticism with fun. I did the Disney Princess Half Marathon in Orlando and it was a blast. I love races with a theme (keeps it light-hearted and fun) and in the Disney Princess Half there were Disney characters along the course cheering you on and runners dressed in full-on princess costumes! It reminds you that running doesn’t always have to be super competitive.
When you attended Loyola Marymount University, you had the opportunity to be a personal trainer at the recreation center. Can you tell us about how your experience was and did any of your clients influence you in regards to your own health and fitness?
My role as a trainer at LMU had a major impact on me and the direction I would eventually take my career. They have a fantastic recreation facility and program. I was able to work with a variety of clients from students to professors to alumni. There was a range of ability from recreational to competitive. And perhaps most rewarding for me was educating clients about health and fitness as a way of life.
With living a healthy and fit lifestyle, we’re curious, what does your daily diet look like? Are there any foods that you completely avoid or at least try to?
I aim to eat around 2000 to 3000 calories per day depending on how much I’m training. Because of my stomach condition (which can be still be irritated), I try to eat 6-8 small meals, rather than 3 big meals. I eat a lot of fruits, veggies, lean protein, and whole grains. I don’t believe in completely avoiding any foods—I love food too much to do that! Everything in moderation!! But there are definitely foods that I try to avoid for health reasons or because of my stomach condition. I generally try to stay away from fried foods and soda. Also, I’ve realized that my stomach has a hard time processing animal protein—so I try to avoid red meat and even chicken. My biggest strategy is to listen to what my body craves and pay attention to how it reacts to different foods.
What does your daily workout routine usually consist of? (Please include a few details – training split, sets/reps, exercises, types of cardio, etc.) When you train for a triathlon, are your workouts different or the same as your usual workouts?
Right now I’m training for a half Ironman so all of my workouts are tailored towards that. My week looks something like this:
Monday- Long run (8-11 miles) + Yoga
Bike Trainer Workout (Intervals, Hills, Speed)
Wednesday- Swim Workout + Lift
Thursday- Long ride (30+ miles) + Transition Run
Friday- Swim Workout + Lift
Saturday- Speed-work Run (Intervals)
When I’m not training for triathlon, I have a totally different routine. I love running, so I try to run 4 days a week. I also incorporate a lot of hot yoga into my schedule—generally 3-4 classes a week. And I lift 3-4 times a week.
In addition to your diet and workouts, do you believe in supplements? If so, which kinds do you use and what results have these given you?
I try to get most of my vitamins and nutrients from my diet. I don’t think that supplements should be a substitute for a healthy diet and I try to avoid taking a ton of them. That being said, I do sometimes use protein powder in my smoothies to help my muscles recover. When I’m in heavy training for triathlon or doing a lot of cardio, I’ll take glucosamine for my joints. Besides that, I believe that you can get all of your dietary needs from a healthy diet!
We had the opportunity to work together in creating amazing photographs. How did you discover Natalie Minh Photography and came to the solution to work with us?
When I graduated from college in 2013, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life. Fitness had always been my passion, but I never thought that I could make a career out of it. I trained for a triathlon, raising money for charity the summer after I graduated and went into the fall in the best shape of my life. My mom actually suggested that I do a photoshoot. She saw all of the hard work that I put into my body and saw an opportunity for a possible career as a fitness model and public figure. So we went online and found Natalie Minh Photography and knew it was the right fit.
Can you please describe the development and production process of your photo shoot, with Natalie and the team? How was your overall experience?
Without Natalie, I wouldn’t be where I am today. The photo shoot was amazing. I was super hesitant and nervous going into it because I had no idea what to expect. Natalie made everything so easy and natural. She was able to relax me and make me feel comfortable. She has such a warm and embracing personality and I had an amazing day shooting with her. It was my first fitness shoot and the photos came out amazing. She is an expert at her craft.
Since then, I’ve continued to work with Natalie and her team. She designed and created my website, DempseyFit.com, and has advised me on career moves. I would be lost without her guidance and support. She has played a key role in launching my career and helping me realize that my dreams are possible.
When you aren’t running nor doing yoga, what other activities or events can we find you attending or doing?
I love just living an active life. I enjoy hiking, spending time outside, and going to the beach. I like trying new things—paddle-boarding, snorkeling, surfing, etc. I’m also always looking for a new adventure! I love to travel, explore, meet new people and have new experiences. Some people call me an energizer bunny because I’m constantly excited and enthusiastic. I’m also a huge sports fan, so I try to attend as many sporting events as I can! Love the spirit of competition!
What advice would you give someone who wants to transition their life towards a more healthy and fit lifestyle, but don’t know where to start?
Don’t be intimidated! Everyone starts somewhere and the hardest part is getting started. Once you get into a routine, healthy living becomes natural. I always tell beginners to start by simply moving more. Start and end your day with a 30 minute walk and try to avoid sitting for long periods of time.
There’s so many ways to get active. Take a fitness class at your gym (spin, kickboxing, bootcamp). Try out yoga at a studio (most studios offer good deals for beginners). Use the Couch to 5k program to start running. Talk to a personal trainer at your gym to learn proper form for lifting and weight training. I also have a bunch of simple workouts for beginners on my website, DempseyFit.com. Remember that everyone starts somewhere so don’t be embarrassed! It will only get easier!
I start the year with a goal list. That will include key competitions to participate in with an element to raise money for charity. I would like to connect with colleges and high schools to help students develop a healthy approach to life and stress. I’m also always looking for additional education to improve my skills for my clients. I hope to connect and help with more clients through the website. And if there is any time leftover, I will travel and report back on my website on good trails, courses, races and vacation locations!
Any shout outs?
First of all, I want to thank Natalie Minh for all of her help and guidance. I wouldn’t be where I am today without her! Thank you to my parents for believing in me and giving me the courage to pursue my dreams. Thank you to all the doctors who treated me in the midst of my illness. Thank you to my friends and family for supporting me. I also want to give a shout out to Team Challenge, an organization that supports the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. They helped train and prepare me for my first triathlon and are the reason that I fell in love with the sport!
Lastly, where can we find you on the Internet?