Veganism inspired path to fitness


Subject: Marina Yanay-Triner

Age: 30

Residence: Mission Valley

As a kid, Yanay-Triner refused to run around outside with her friends.

“When I was little, I did nothing,” she says, laughing. “I hated moving. My parents will tell you, friends would want to play or something and I’d be like, ‘Let’s talk. I want to sit you down.’”

It wasn’t until she went to UCSD to study political science that she learned the joy of exercise via a roommate who was a marathoner. At 21, Yanay-Triner ran the Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon in San Diego, and in the years since she’s become an avid walker, practices yoga and recently discovered a passion for lifting weights, which she does five to six times per week.

It’s been a long journey from Kid Couch Potato to fit adult, one that includes discovering a vegan diet that makes her feel better than she ever has, and meditation to ease her mind. She was born in Ukraine, moved with her parents to Israel and then San Diego — where she went to middle school, high school and college — and then back to Israel, where she earned her master’s degree in political science and worked as a fundraiser for rape crisis centers in Jerusalem. Three years ago she returned to San Diego to be closer to her parents and launched a career as a food blogger and health coach.

Though exercise is a big part of what makes her feel good these days, she says it’s her relationship with food that is most important. She adopted a vegan diet seven years ago, inspired by her mother who had battled a debilitating bladder disease for many years. Nothing could alleviate the pain or cure it until she went on a long, water-only fast and switched to a raw vegan diet.

Yanay-Triner began eating the same way, and also saw benefits. She’d always had a weak immune system (which she attributes to being born near Chernobyl two years after the nuclear-reactor accident) and was often sick as a girl. When she was older, she suffered through intensely painful PMS. Since becoming vegan, those problems have disappeared. She’s rarely sick, and her energy level is sky high. Friends joke with her that she has to be moving from sunrise to sunset.

“It’s so weird. My dad always says, ‘How did this happen to you?’” she says.

Vegan diet

Her husband, Tomer, also is vegan. Yanay-Triner loves to freelance in the kitchen, making smoothie bowls for breakfast and eating lots of Buddha bowls (filled with fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, sauces and anything that strikes her fancy). She decided the raw vegan diet her mother followed (eating nothing that required cooking) wasn’t for her and now she eats a plant-based diet that incorporates whatever is fresh and available. In the years since adopting the diet, she’s dived into the science of plant-based eating. She touts the benefits of plants as natural anti-inflammatory foods, and turmeric specifically.


She lifts weights at a gym nearly every day while also training her parents. On no-lift days she does yoga. Almost every day she goes for long walks. “With weights it’s very high intensity for a short time, and then you have rest,” she says. “That’s perfect for my personality. I like intensity and challenging yourself, always trying to lift heavier and heavier. I feel the strongest I’ve ever been.”


The more she learned about healthy eating, the more she wanted to spread the word, so she abandoned her original goal of getting a Ph.D. in political science to start a food blog (Soul in the Raw) and become a health coach. She develops recipes for other companies, offers online classes and does one-on-one coaching.

It’s gone well after a rough start. “At first, I took it more as a hobby, because it was such a big passion of mine. I didn’t understand that, OK, this is a business,” she says. That meant paying attention to marketing, networking and generating revenue streams. Now she puts in some long hours but has flexibility and works from home.

A goal

Being healthy is the inspiration for her desire to help others.

“I know some people don’t even realize ... how good they can feel,” she says. “That makes me sad, and I want to change that.”

Williams is a San Diego freelance writer.