time that the semester was ending and i had a little bit more time on my hands and i kind of revisited that idea and talked with one of my teammates about it we went for a walk and i was like you know what i think it would be cool if i started a podcast and she was basically like you should go for it you’d be awesome at that and i was thinking to myself well there are literally zero barriers of entry to starting a podcast because you can just start it with your phone on voice memos upload it to a free hosting site and boom it’s on spotify and apple podcast and people can listen to it anywhere what’s going on what’s going on what’s going on ballers welcome to another episode of the beyond the ball podcast i’m your host jonathan jones and as you know uh the premise of this show is we focus on stories strategies and successes ultimately to help student athletes succeed beyond their degree so if you have not connected with us i would encourage you all to make sure you subscribe on our youtube channel you can just type in jonathanjonesspeaks and then the podcast will come up there and then also we started the instagram page back up so you can go to beyond the ball podcast on instagram and find us there but without further ado i’m excited um for today’s guest and uh after just just spending some time just just chatting with this young lady just offline and and then now here we are doing the interview i’m excited for it for selfish reasons because i told her you know just with seeing some of the stuff that she’s been able to do and just seeing how innovative she’s been we’re gonna go ahead and dive in okay and and today’s guest she’s a uf gymnast okay okay she’s a foodie as well as a podcast host welcome to the beyond the ball podcast the one and only leah clapper leah how are you doing i’m doing great thank you so much for having me today definitely definitely glad to have you on uh the show now lee i know i didn’t hit it all so please just just take a moment and just introduce yourself uh and just give the audience just a snapshot of who you are yeah of course so my name is leah clapper as you know i’m a gymnast at university of florida i just finished up my junior year so it’s crazy but i guess i’m a rising senior and i have majored in advertising the past three years i’m actually graduating in a couple weeks which is really exciting but i’ll be back next year for a master’s program and outside of school and outside of gymnastics i like to take on personal projects i’ve always been really ambitious so back in 2018 i started my own food blog i actually started it with my sister lily who’s also a gymnast she’s amazing just a little side note but it’s been really fun um taking on that project for the past couple of years it’s called zest and finesse and on the vlog i share all sorts of recipes i mostly focus on healthy recipes and also baking so there’s some fun baking things normal cookies and cakes and brownies and things like that but also a lot of it has a little bit of a healthier spin on it and getting all those nutrients to fuel up especially as an athlete so i like to say i my goal is to inspire people to fuel up with delicious and nutritious food alongside me so it’s been a lot of fun learning so so much from that journey and from connecting with an audience to you know even hard skills like food photography and building a website so it’s really been amazing and i just love that i’m able to create recipes in the kitchen because that is a very calming thing for me i love cooking in the kitchen and then being able to share those things because it’s fun to share the wealth and let people enjoy the same recipes that i’ve come up with so it’s been super fun creative outlet for me i love experimenting with content and all sorts of different recipes so that is one of my main things outside of the gym it’s called zest and finesse by the way you can find it at zestinfiness.
com and follow me on instagram at zestin finesse all spelled out and then also i launched my own podcast back in december of 2020 so i’ve been doing it for about six months now which is crazy because i feel like i just started but it’s a little bit of a brand extension so it’s called zest and progress and on the podcast i like to uncover athlete stories of resilience energy and self-confidence so i’ve had an amazing time a bunch of amazing conversations a lot of my teammates have been on the podcast along with a few other people so i hope to bring inspiration to listeners and just a place to connect and get motivated and feel like you’re part of an athletic but also just really positive community so that has been another learning experience it’s been a ton of fun and i’m super excited that it introduced me to jonathan so i’m really excited to be here today what’s going on family i hope you’re enjoying the episode so far as you know i love podcasting all right and i want to give you the opportunity to love podcasting too all right i want you to go to five days to podcast.
com i want to teach you for free how you can get a podcast up and running from idea all the way up until launch all right so go to five days to podcast. com completely free enjoy the episode i’ll see you inside definitely definitely yeah i mean you said so there there’s so many points that you hit on that that i want to i want to uh definitely follow up with and and and for one it would be um let’s just go at zest and finesse really quick and i i want you to talk about like how did you come up with this concept because i saw that you know you’ve been a vegetarian since you were six right okay yes okay how does how does that happen leah how does one become a vegetarian at the age of six well it’s a little bit funny i just have never really enjoyed the texture of meat it was always a texture thing for me and i just never really enjoyed it so much my family didn’t eat a ton of meat nobody else in my family was a vegetarian at that point but i just didn’t like it too much and then one christmas i think i was in first grade and my grandparents came over and my dad cooked something that was just really gross looking to me i feel like it might have been chopped liver i’m not really sure but it was totally rare and it was dripping red and i just remember sitting at the table on christmas being like this is what meat is that looks disgusting and my stubborn little six-year-old self was like i’m never eating meat again and i told that to my mom and you know that came true because i wouldn’t eat it after that um so it’s been it’s been a while it’s been almost 15 years that i’ve been a vegetarian but i over time really started learning more about nutrition and the environmental benefits of being a vegetarian and how to make it work as an athlete and actually be a very healthy lifestyle so i feel really good about being a vegetarian now and i just don’t honestly have any desire to eat any meat but it’s one thing that i don’t like to push on other people because i know everybody has their own relationship with food and their own likes and dislikes in the kitchen and i know so many people that absolutely love me and if it’s something that makes you happy and makes you feel good then i don’t want to tell you to be a vegetarian so all of the recipes on my food blog are vegetarian but that’s just because that’s what i make in the kitchen so for people that are plant-based or wanting to go plant-based i would say i’d love if you check out my vlog because everything in there doesn’t have meat but it is it’s interesting for me i mean people are always surprised when i say i’ve been a vegetarian since i’ve been six but it’s a little bit of a fun fact i guess um yeah i mean because when i when i was reading i was like wait how is that possible but then just like you said if you know even as being a child because you know during during that time we’re brutally honest and during that time that’s just like we let people know how we feel and luckily your mom was there to hear you and then you know she helped you through that journey so i think that’s um not only amazing but also i’m curious just to hear from you because i’ve i’ve been wanting to make this switch right i’ve been wanting to include more more veggies into my lifestyle and even been thinking about uh having a vegan lifestyle but does it what what are some of the benefits okay can you just help like does it give you more energy is that a myth or help help me out help me out lia you know i personally feel that i’m a super energized person it’s hard for me to compare because i don’t remember when it was really like eating meat when i was really little but i’ve heard so many stories of people saying that it changed their life and it changed their diet and they absolutely love being a vegetarian or a vegan or whatever it is and i’ve also heard people saying oh yeah it was cool but you know i miss eating meat and i’ve done a lot of research into it recently it’s hard because there’s so much research out there that is a little bit biased and it does seem like overall um the research is saying that being a vegetarian or honestly not being completely a vegetarian or a vegan but eating a mostly plant-based diet like 90 plant-based is amazing for your health in the long term so it does promote longevity from what i understand but the research is always updating itself and you really do want to inform yourself but be sure that you’re looking at reputable sources and there are so many people to talk to about that from dietitians and experts in the field so i’m not an expert but i know my own personal story and i do know that there is a ton of amazing recipes out there that are completely plant-based and it’s been definitely a trend in later years that there are more vegans and plant-based well that’s the same thing i mean they’re synonyms being vegan and being plant-based means the same thing but there are so many plant-based recipes out there and what i would say if you’re interested in eating less meat or eating more of a plant-based diet i would say start slowly and maybe even just aim to get one meal a day that’s completely plant-based and figure out what you like and start substituting things in like instead of eating chicken in a stir-fry maybe try tofu and just start ex um start experimenting with those vegan proteins and those vegan foods and more veggies and things like that um because it’s fun and trying new foods can be awesome and just finding out what you like but maybe not forcing it on yourself too fast because it is a huge change if you’re going from eating meat at most meals to eating completely plant-based i would say take it slow and figure out what you like and there are so many amazing food bloggers out there and so many recipe creators you can find all sorts of stuff online on instagram on food blogs on pinterest so do some searching and it can really be a be a fun process but i do know a lot of people that have made the switch and really enjoy it yeah i mean i was you already answered my next question before i was gonna ask i was gonna ask you where do you find these innovative ideas because as i was looking at your as i was looking at your website the zest and finesse site i was going down on the right inside and you know i saw like the chocolate cake balls and and i saw like the other restaurant like oh my goodness this looks so good and i was gonna ask you like where do you find the inspiration like some of these are you pulling from pinterest or are you just with you having the experiences that you’ve had since you know six are you just creating some things on your own yeah so i do create some things that are just completely out of the blue that i just think of and i’m like you know what i’m gonna try this sometimes it’s just total flop a lot of times it actually turns out better than i expect but that is rare most of the time i get inspiration from other foodies out there so i follow so many food accounts on my zest and finesse instagram and on tick tock and it’s just really easy to come across other recipes from whatever comes up on my feed based on the algorithm for me but i like to scroll through and if i see something then i’m like oh that looks kind of good i’ll kind of make a mental note or i’ll save it and sometimes i like to try other people’s recipes but most of the time i’ll notice one thing about the recipe like oh they put blueberries in that that’s kind of interesting and it’ll just kind of get my mind reeling and i’ll come up with something that’s completely different but the idea came from somebody else’s recipe or same thing with foods at restaurants sometimes i’ll order something at a restaurant that like wow that was really cool i kind of want to try and copy cat this and of course i have no clue what are in the ingredients or what they put in the dish but i try to think of those flavors and maybe make something similar in my kitchen and usually it ends up completely different but also delicious so that’s another source of inspiration for me and then lately i’ve been doing a little thing i might do a little series where i’ve been taking my favorite snacks or store-bought foods that i’ve had in the past and trying to make them healthier in my own kitchen or create something similar so far i’ve tried to make this soft fake cinnamon oat bar and i ended up with this cinnamon rounds recipe that was like a dinner roll that was cinnamon raisin and everything just kind of goes in a different direction but i love discovering new things in the kitchen for sure yeah i love that i love that so now we’re going we’re going to take a take a slight pivot and and i want to i want to now find out just how did you decide that that it was time for you to start a podcast and then where did this idea even come from yes so last year i really started getting into podcasts especially during quarantine so my mom introduced me to a couple thank you mom but i really started listening to a few podcasts and really enjoying just the medium because i could listen while i was eating or listen while i was going for a walk and it’s such a passive listening experience that you can multitask as opposed to watching something but you can just be constantly learning which i love because i love learning new things and i slowly started to find more podcasts that i really enjoyed and especially when i finally was able to come back to campus after a quarantine was over i found myself sitting at my apartment alone a lot and listening to podcasts so i would say now i listen to at least 10 episodes a week because while i’m eating lunch eating dinner um going for a walk anything like that so sometimes even driving and i just was finding i was getting a lot of value out of listening to podcasts so i’d say i’m an avid podcast listener now yeah i had to name it but um i really enjoyed learning stuff and getting motivated so i would say educational and inspirational podcasts are my favorite but there came a time last fall where i was like you know what i’ve heard a lot of podcasts and i think i can do one myself i think i would be good at this and i just kind of put that in the back of my mind because i really honestly felt like why not do one and it came time that the semester was ending and i had a little bit more time on my hands and i kind of revisited that idea and talked with one of my teammates about it we went for a walk i was like you know what i think it would be cool if i started a podcast and she was basically like you should go for it you’d be awesome at that and i was thinking to myself well there are literally zero barriers of entry to starting a podcast because you can just start it with your phone on voice memos upload it to a free hosting site and boom it’s on spotify and apple podcast and people can listen to it anywhere and i literally have to spend zero dollars and i just really felt like why not do it there’s nothing to lose here so i committed i downloaded anchor so i could distribute my podcast and then i was like all right i gotta find a name and i kind of went through that process and again i mentioned my mom a few times already but she was great in helping me decide on a name and i every time i thought of something that i kind of thought emulated what i wanted my podcast to be about somebody already had a podcast that was titled that so i eventually came up with zest and progress because it rhymes with zest and finesse and it seems kind of like a brand extension which is cool because i already had zest and finesse going on and i felt like it would be uniquely me and of course nobody else has a podcast called zest and progress so we settled on that and it means zest as in a zest for life and then progress as in making progress so that is really what i wanted my podcast to be about and i started brainstorming and was like you know what i’m going to record an episode over winter break and i did i recorded a few and posted them and it was just such an exciting time and i was thinking you know why am i doing this because i feel like everything if you’re gonna take on a big prog project like that you have to have an intention behind it and i definitely found out what mine was but i had a few reasons why i wanted to start a podcast so these are things that have definitely pushed me to actually go for the idea one being that i feel like i have a mission to help people and i always want to serve a purpose and so i wanted to bring motivation to people especially young gymnasts i have a social media following full of gymnasts and things like that so or peop other athletes and stuff like that um and i wanted to bring motivation to them because i knew that i had this platform being on the gators gymnastics team and i wanted to use it to the best of my ability so that was region reason one the main why behind the podcast but then also i felt like it would be a great platform with name image like this legislation coming up very soon in that i could expand my own personal brand but also extend a platform for other people to grow on their own platforms as well so me interviewing another athlete that helps me and it helps them as well so i thought that might be mutually beneficial and it has been so far which has been really fun and then the third reason which is selfishly i get to have these amazing conversations with all these amazing people my teammates and so many other athletes out there have incredible stories and i wanted to be able to sit down and chat about it and be able to share that with other people as well so those are my three main reasons for starting the podcast but like i said at the beginning of the episode it’s been an amazing experience so far yeah yeah i mean i i i love just your your foresight just in you know with creating the podcast but then also just like you said having an intention behind it and having a purpose and then even having your you know your selfish reasons to get to have amazing conversations but also getting to share those with with the rest of the world i think that’s something that uh a lot more people should tap into especially a lot more student athletes especially you know with name image and likeness just coming right around the corner and all of that so thank you thank you for sharing that with us leah yeah of course yeah yeah definitely definitely thank you for sharing that so i don’t know why this question popped in my head but with you being a gymnast what goes through one’s head when you’re on when you’re when you’re on the balance beam because i because i know for you uh because i went back and watched you know i watched some of your clips and and then i also saw that you that you scored a perfect 10.
right so what goes what goes through one’s head when you’re on the balance beam and like just before you handle your business talk to me yeah so just hearing that i scored a perfect 10 is making me smile gigantically over here because that has been one of my life goals honestly ever since i was six or seven years old in gymnastics i wanted to be a college gymnast and someday i wanted to score a perfect time because i just thought that was absolutely amazing and i had big dreams so i thought that maybe i could do it by the time i’m 20 years old and i’m good at gymnastics at that point but that stayed a goal of mine through high school once i got here i was like okay this is my chance to get a perfect 10 because it’s really really really hard to do that in club gymnastics but by the time you get to college you’ve honed your skills your teens are really clean and i really just wanted to work toward that perfect score and now that i it actually happened i just can’t even believe it i watch that video of my video routine sometimes and i just overcome with joy because it’s just so cool and honestly i don’t think that was my best bean routine that i’ve done but maybe i deserved a 10 at another point and i didn’t get it so it’s all good but yeah as for your question there are different things that go through my head at different times that i’m on the beam like in practice it just feels so natural i’ve been standing on that four inch plank of wood for 18 years at this point so it just is really second nature for me it’s almost like walking in the ground but there are times when it is nerve-wracking that’s for sure when you’re trying to learn a new skill or something still scare me if i’m being completely honest it’s you know the fear goes away after some time but it’s always a little bit a little bit freaky because it is a little bit of a crazy event it’s four feet in the air it’s four inches wide so just thinking about that makes my brain go a little wacky so i try not to think about that a lot but out of meat the mentality can be very different than in practice so in practice we do tons and tons and tons of repetitions and i’ve probably made at least 100 beam routines in practice before we even get to our first competition but then of course once you’re on on the floor saluting to the judge and you’re about to mount at that first meet it’s just so much emotion and so much energy and you just want to hit your routine so badly that it’s definitely a nerve-wracking moment but over time i learned to handle that a lot better and i usually well i try to always sometimes i get a little outside of my brain but i have words that i say throughout my routine to myself so i might say one two three breathe and show that’s just an example but coaches talk about mental choreography just like the physical choreography we’re doing on the beam so a lot of gymnasts will have a routine of words that they say in their head during the routine so i use that trick a lot and it really helps so that i can transfer exactly what i’m doing in practice while i’m saying my words in the gym to what i’m doing at a competition because when i say those things in my head my body knows what to do and that’s just one way of keeping me normal because yes there’s more pressure at a competition but your gymnastics doesn’t have to change in the least you’re literally trying to do the exact same thing that you do every day even though it seems so much harder because you’re on a big stage in front of a ton of people so that’s a little bit of what goes through my head but i try to stay calm another trick that i do is to smile before my beam routine and even when i’m on the beam sometimes because my coach told me one time that it actually changes the chemistry in your brain so ever since i was seven or eight years old i tried to smile sometimes on the beam because it really takes away just a little bit of that fear and gives you a little bit of a boost of confidence which can only help in making a great routine wow wow that’s pretty that’s pretty good leah that’s pretty good i never the mental choreography wow mental choreography and smiling yes so those are two things that are very much responsible for success at meets for me wow wow wow man i’ve i’ve enjoyed this and that was that was so good that was so good right there all right wow okay okay so i want to i want to ask you this question before we get ready to dive into the two-minute drill but if there was if there was one person right living or dead and you had the opportunity to sit sit down with them one individual uh you know pick their brain have a dinner have a conversation who would that person be for you oh my goodness i think this is so funny because i literally recorded a podcast episode for my podcast yesterday and i asked my guest that same exact question and i was thinking that she had such an amazing answer but if somebody asked me this question i wouldn’t know what to say because there are so many amazing people out there and i love to get inspiration from all sorts of different people so i think i’m gonna go a completely different route and say that if i got to sit down and talk to something for a dinner i would talk to an animal i’m not even like a pet person or really an animal person but i would love to know kind of what’s going on in the dog’s head or something like that i think that would that would answer a lot of random questions i guess so i don’t know i think that would be interesting but honestly there are so many people out there that i would love to talk to and you know hope they do but i can’t pick one understood i mean that i mean that that even in itself is a good answer i think that’s a good answer because i i’m always curious like why why is the dog so happy to see this individual and how do you even know that this individual is your owner like there’s just so many that that can go so many different ways so thank you for it thank you for sharing that one yeah yeah yeah yeah so now we’re gonna we’re gonna dive into the to the two-minute drill to two-minute drill and everybody out there if you have not followed leah as of yet make sure to follow her follow her follow her um on twitter leah clapper on instagram at leah clapper5 okay the number five and two minute drill for those of y’all this is the first time watching the two minute drill is where we’re going to go through some rapid fire questions and just have a little bit of fun so leah are you ready i am ready all right and here we go favorite food superfood salad brownies or oatmeal okay okay and what’s the last book you read make noise it’s actually a podcasting book that i’m reading for a podcasting class that i’m in right now i know this was supposed to be a rapid fire question but thought i could explain that because it’s a coincidence but i’ve also read a lot of um romantic comedy fun books recently okay okay what’s your favorite podcast oh man there are many on my list so some of my favorites are on purpose with jay shetty meditative story um trained the nike podcast snacks daily which is a business news podcast science versus i always learn random stuff on that one and how to save a planet which is a climate change solutions podcast so i think i’m a little bit all over the place but i listen to those pretty regularly i love it i love it what’s your go-to streaming show of preference i’m thinking so i watched jane the virgin and that was hilarious that’s one of my favorites but i finished it and so now i’m done with it i uh um i really like friends that’s always just a lighthearted show to watch classic classic classic and then what what’s one tip that you want to leave for a student athlete oh man that’s a heavy question in a rapid fire well you could take it you could take your time on this one take your time on this one leah take your time okay okay honestly be yourself i think that’s just so important in life and just be authentic be you and that’s the way that you are going to feel most alive and feel most like yourself and that’s always a good thing so when you when you feel like you’re being yourself i think you can you can get more done and put more amazingness out into the world i love it i love it and bonus question bonus question who would you like to see me interview next on beyond the ball oh man hmm you know this is a legitimate suggestion megan skaggs my teammate would do amazing with this she’s she’s an amazing person so yeah and she’s got a she’s got a lot going on in terms of her her personal brand and she’s pretty cool okay okay there it is there it is now leah before i give you the chance to uh just you know let people know where they can find you follow and connect with you i just want to tell you something because i’ve gone through and like i told you i was listening to well i didn’t tell you but i listened to some of your your podcast uh episodes i was on the website and i think you do a phenomenal job just in really giving people their flowers like i’m not sure if anybody’s ever told you that but but you’re somebody that i can tell you really want to see people win and you really just encourage them and encourage them and you and you up people because i was listening to some of the episodes with some of you the ones with two of your teammates and and then i heard you just encouraging them and just saying well yeah you do this great and you do that great i was like wow she’s really serious about this encouragement so i just wanted to let you know that i’m not sure if anybody’s told you that lately i’m not sure if anybody gave you your flowers today but i want to give those to you i wish i had a flower somewhere thank you so much well i really appreciate that yeah yeah yeah yeah definitely definitely but now please let everybody know where they can find you follow you and connect with you please at this time miss leah yes absolutely so i would love for you to follow me on instagram at leahclapper5 my twitter is atleahclapper and you can follow my food blog at zest and finesse all spelled out lowercase on instagram if you’re gonna go to one place go to my leah clapper5 instagram and yeah that’d be awesome thank you so much and you can also find other things linked on my normal instagram as well so you’ll be able to get to my food blog hear podcast news and all that good stuff excellent excellent leah thank you so much for taking the time to share with us you know the the recipes and share with us you know your story and even your passion for podcasting like you’re a you’re an avid podcaster and podcast listener and i love it yeah i love it thank you yeah yeah yeah yeah so thank you so much for stopping by and thank you for uh just you know spending your afternoon with us absolutely i really appreciate it and i had so much fun glad to hear glad to hear glad to hear we will definitely stay connected yes for sure bye-bye bye-bye to all the ballers out there all the ballers i would encourage you all if you have not connected with leah as of yet i would encourage you just like she said go follow her on her platforms um because she’s doing amazing and phenomenal things right and i think that’s one thing that that’s really uh really amazing to see about young leaders who are when when people think of student athletes sometimes they might think of somebody who’s just an athlete or they’re just a student or they’re just those two things but leah really broke the ceiling on this one she really broke the ceiling on this one just showing us you know with her doing the food blogging also with her with the passion for podcasting and just really you know uh praising and loving people at a high level so connect with her and if you have not be sure to subscribe to our youtube channel right here right here right here if you’re watching the video uh but other than that until next time ballers uh i’m jonathan jones and this is beyond the ball where we help you succeed beyond your degree you.