This summer, I travelled out west to beautiful British Columbia. During this trip, I met some interesting people, learned the lifestyle, and got to do some preceptorship work with some of the best naturopathic doctors in the country. While I was in the vibrant city of Vancouver, I fell in love with the healthy and laid-back lifestyle! Vancouver is filled with luscious nature, gorgeous views and the people are just be as fantastic! I am so excited to have had the chance to interview one of the coolest ladies in Van City… The Real Housewives of Vancouver star and Canadian Popstar, Mary Zilba!
JAMIE: You haven’t always lived in British Columbia, when did you move here and what was the transition like?
MARY: No, I haven’t. I’m actually an American born and raised in Ohio. I moved from Los Angeles to Vancouver back in 1994 after meeting my husband at a business lunch while he was in LA for work. The transition was a bit difficult for me mainly because I didn’t know a soul here and really missed my friends and work in LA. It took me a few years to adjust and due to my music career and becoming a mother, I was lucky to meet some wonderful friends.
JAMIE: Whenever I am in Vancouver, I notice how active, relaxed and happy the locals are! Why do you think Vancouver is rated one of the healthiest cities in the world to live according to CNN and TIME magazine?
MARY: Wow…I hadn’t heard that, but am certainly not surprised. I think people in Vancouver are very active and healthy here because of our amazing natural resources which somewhat play a large role in people getting outside and taking advantage of the huge variety of activities indicative of this coast. The mountains, the ocean, the beaches and the culture all are representative of a healthy fit lifestyle.
JAMIE: What is your favourite part of Vancouver?
MARY: That is a tough question! I love so much about Vancouver! I guess for me it’s the scenery. I grew up in Ohio with a cornfield behind our house and although that has its beauty, I feel lucky every day to wake up and look out my window and see snow-capped mountains, ships moored in the bay, a glistening ocean, and a futuristic city. I post so many scenery pics on my social media because I just find it so stunning.
JAMIE: There seems to be a naturopathic doctor on every corner in British Columbia. Have you or your family experienced alternative/naturopathic medicine?
MARY: I see a naturopath every once in a while for bio identical hormone therapy, massage and nutrition.
JAMIE: You’ve always been so fit… what is your favourite workout and how often are you in the gym?
MARY: Thank you! I have never been a workout-aholic and quite honestly get bored with routine, so I always mix it up. I have always been a fairly little person, so I have to be aware of keeping weight on rather than off. My favourite work out is yoga and I try to do it at least 3 times a week if I can and the other times I can be seen walking up 37 flights of stairs in my apartment or doing squats and lunges in front of my tv. I am also fortunate that my building has a gym, so when the feeling strikes for a run on the treadmill, I simply hit our gym.
JAMIE: What is your diet like?
MARY: I have always been somewhat of a healthy eater. I am super fortunate that I don’t like sweets (that includes chocolate), so I am a savoury lover. I am a huge “salad-aholic” and love any kind of soups which I make a lot for my boys. I also, haven’t eaten red meat since I was 14 years old and very rarely eat any meat of any kind. Give me a garden and I will graze!
JAMIE: What is your favourite cheat food?
MARY: My fave cheat food is probably potato chips! More precisely, the salt & vinegar kind.
JAMIE: You have one of those flat tummies that every woman wants! What is your trick to be able to rock a crop top like you do?
MARY: Ha! You’re too kind! I wish I could tell you that it’s from my regiment of 1000 sit-ups a day, but honestly it is quite genetic. I still have to work at it a bit, but I thank my parents for that one.
JAMIE: You are known for your reign as Miss Ohio! What does beauty mean to you?
MARY: Beauty for me has really changed throughout the years. When I was younger I bought all the fashion beauty magazines religiously and was always up on trends etc, but now I feel that beauty truly exudes from the inside out. I have known many beautiful women that have spiteful, mean insides which to me spoils the entire package.
JAMIE: From your Instagram page (@maryzilba), it seems like you’re having a great summer in Vancouver and always cruising around on a boat. What are your favourite Canadian summer activities?
MARY: I have actually had one of the best summers in Vancouver I can remember. I usually head home to Ohio to visit my parents and family for a month or two, but because of work being so busy at the moment, I have been able to take advantage of a total Vancouver summer. Thankfully, I have some of the best friends on the planet and a few of them have summer toys, so boating has been extra special. I love to ride my bike on the seawall with my yorkie George in the basket, sit on a patio sipping a glass of chardonnay and love having friends over on my balcony for late night dinners.
JAMIE: What are your favourite ways to get active and outdoors during the Vancouver winters?
MARY: In all honesty it can be a difficult task in the winter’s for me to get outdoors, as I am not a lover of cold weather! I do however, love visiting Whistler and the other great mountains around here for snow shoeing.
JAMIE: Today, you have a successful production company called Lady Pants TV. You’re new culinary YouTube series, “Baked: Cooking with Mary Jane”, is all about cooking responsibly with marijuana! How often do you cook with cannabis and why do you think cooking with cannabis is beneficial?
MARY: I have always been a proponent of cannabis and its medicinal properties and although it currently is only “legal-ish”, I believe it is much the lesser evil than alcohol and certainly less dangerous than its counterpart of pharmaceuticals. Our show, “Baked” is an entertaining program that not only gives people great recipes, but does it in a educational way. If people are going to ingest cannabis, we feel its best to show them how to do it responsibly.
JAMIE: You always seem so calm even during the most dramatic episodes of Real Housewives of Vancouver! You were quoted saying, “I am 100 per cent proud of how I handled myself on that show.” How do you manage to keep so cool and collected in crazy environments?
MARY: Ha! Let me tell you, it wasn’t always easy!! I have feelings of anger and frustration just like everyone else, but I don’t feel its becoming for a women to be raunchy and crass. I have never lived my life like that and I certainly wasn’t going to start because I was cast on a show. I went into the show with the mindset of just being myself and not saying or doing anything that would embarrass myself or more importantly my 3 boys. After all, I am their role model and I take that very seriously. Our show was all 100% real and believe me, I was shocked at some of the behaviour of the women. I just believe that its best to always keep your dignity and take the high road.
JAMIE: One of your songs, “Hero”, reached #1 in the UK and you perform your music all over the world, once even at the Vatican! Is singing like therapy to you?
MARY: Singing and music is my passion. I have sang my entire life, so expressing myself through music has always be cathartic for me. I was so shocked when Hero when to #1 in the UK and I will always be so grateful. The Vatican on the other hand, was and probably will remain the greatest honour of my life. A memory I will cherish forever.
JAMIE: Do you get nervous about performing? What are your best tricks to calm your nerves before going on stage?
MARY: Yes, I always get a few butterflies before performing! I usually pace a lot beforehand and go through my lyrics in my head etc. It helps me to be alone and just kind of mediate.
JAMIE: You donated your earnings from “Hero” to charity for Tuberous Sclerosis, a genetic condition involving lesions of the skin and the central nervous system, tumour growth and seizures. How has this illness affected your family and what have you found are the main components for coping with a chronic illness in the family?
MARY: My middle son was affected my TS when he was a toddler and had been under medical care for about 10 years thereafter. I am a person that happens to be quite medically inclined, so for me it became an almost obession to help figure out the best way to help my son. I became immersed in medical terminology, treatments and TS research in an attempt to leave no stone unturned. I felt the more proactive I was, the better chances my son would have to recover. Happily he has been seizure free for over 7 years now.
JAMIE: Any hopes for us to see you in another season of Real Housewives of Vancouver?
MARY: The big question! Hmm…I would consider it with a different cast. There is always drama in life, but nasty, calculated behaviour that attempts to ruin others lives or hurt their families is not acceptable.
JAMIE: There is a new Real Housewives coming to Toronto… any tips for the new girls?
MARY: Nasty mean girls don’t usually win in the end. Be yourself and enjoy each other and the ride.
If you love Mary as much as I do, keep up with her at @maryzilba on Instagram and Twitter!