The smile is the first thing you notice. It’s the kind of smile that makes you feel like you’ve meet her before, even when you know you haven’t. Then the eyes try to take over. Between the two they battle for control of your attention. One speaks of warmth and friendliness. The other is telling you that there is so much more to this young woman than you can see at first glance. You can almost sense her waiting to speak. When you’ve done as much as Caithleen Heffernan has, where do you even begin when it’s time to introduce yourself? How do you share all of your accomplishments in a way that doesn’t seem like bragging or doesn’t overwhelm who you really are? That’s where the smile comes in. It disarms you. It keeps you from judging too quickly or assuming what she must be like. But it’s not a strategy, it’s very real. And that’s why it works so well. That’s why it leaves you open to learning the whole story, not just skipping to the end.
Caithleen Heffernan is the perfect mix of the girl next door and Supergirl. She is as mild mannered and unassuming as anyone you’ll ever meet. However, to accomplish all the things that she has by this point in her life must have taken a superhuman effort, if not super powers. Caithleen is the author of The Bikini Model Cookbook. She is also a professional jet pilot. As if that weren’t enough, she’s a gourmet fitness chef, a professional fitness bikini competitor and a professional fitness model. Her social media presence and following is tremendous as she instructs and encourages thousands of women in matters of fitness and nutrition.
It’s easy to see in her modeling pictures how fit she is. It’s not as easy to see that her fitness is part of a well rounded lifestyle. That she is a modern, confident women who seeks to better herself and won’t accept the limitations that others might place on her. But her confidence isn’t born from feeling that she is better than anyone else. It’s a confidence that comes from feeling that it’s perfectly okay to be yourself.
So how does a young women from Corner Brook, Newfoundland wind up becoming a corporate jet pilot? “Since I was a child I loved traveling and flying to different places,” says Caithleen. “I started flying when I was 21 years old. I had already gone to university and college for various programs I was testing out. I had a girlfriend who was getting her license and it hadn’t occurred to me that I could get my pilots license in the city I lived in.”
“I began my training at the same time I was going to school for nursing, which I was not really suited for, mostly because I feel sick when I see sick people or hurting people or blood. I decided to pursue a career in aviation instead. I love to travel and I am a bit of a hobo so I pick up and go on a moments notice, no problem. I enjoy the lifestyle of a pilot, it suits me.”
Caithleen now has well over 4000 hours flying jets. “I love the take off the most after I haven’t flown in a while or I’ve just come back from vacation,” she says. “It’s exciting, I feel like a kid and I do feel really lucky. I miss it actually when I take time off. Jets are the top of the line airplanes and the distances you can go and speeds are higher and faster than piston or turbine engines.”
As much as she enjoys being a pilot, it is cooking that is her real passion. Caithleen found a way to combine her love of fitness and her culinary skills to the best advantage. Her Bikini Model Cookbook and accompanying blogs, cooking videos and website enjoy incredible popularity. “I actually really just love to cook,” says Caithleen. “I’ve been cooking since I was a child and I’m always creating new recipes. A friend a long time ago suggested I write a cookbook because he’d tried my recipes and thought that I had some talent. It wasn’t anything that had crossed my mind before. Over the years my life changed significantly and even the types of foods I eat changed, but wanting great tasting food never went away.”
Nutrition as we know is a huge part of fitness. As Caithleen became more serious in her fitness pursuits, her passion for nutrition continued to evolve. Everyone wanted to know how she ate to look so good, to be a successful bikini model and competitor. Almost out of necessity, The Bikini Model Cookbook was born. “While writing a book was definitely hard work, the cooking was easy and the eating even easier. The hard part for me was writing it out after I’d eaten a recipe months earlier. I’d generally remake it and then I’m inspired to write about it because then I’m excited again. I find myself often running up the stairs to my computer with a flying leap if I find a winner!”
The challenge for anyone who pursues multiple endeavors that require serious commitment is to not lose track of who they are behind what they’ve done. Caithleen has done a great job of staying grounded. She doesn’t give off the impression that anything she’s accomplished makes her better or more important than anyone else. She’s simply trying to do the best that she can. She uses her desire to help people as a motivating factor.
“I guess I see myself from the beginning, not who I am now,” Caithleen says. “I actually often forget all that I’ve accomplished as you put it. I find that journaling really helps to put and keep things in perspective. I think about my goals but I also like to take a backwards look and look at what I’ve achieved and what I’m really grateful for. When people didn’t believe in me I used it as motivation. I let my own doubts become a motivating factor. Don’t allow other’s negativity to effect your energy.”
“There were a lot of times when I didn’t feel positive about the future. I have had hard times. I’ve gained weight, been injured, been laid off, been dumped, and have had a long list of horrible things happen. But then when I pause and reflect through journaling and really talk it out to myself I see that God wouldn’t have put me here the way that I am and with these goals if I wasn’t meant to keep pushing through. Sometimes you just need to be grateful for what has happened and know …and I do know, more good things will come. And if they don’t then it’s just not the time yet and for good reason because something better is coming and have faith. Faith is so important and it changes and moves things.”
Caithleen is a very spiritual person who uses positive affirmation and prayer as tools for success. “You have to remember the good things in bad times. Look back on anything you did that was good or positive, no matter how small and use that to motivate you. Look back for hope.” Caithleen uses the things she has accomplished to help her believe in what she can still do. She is very aware of the influence she can have on others and she embraces the opportunity to be a role model or at the very least, a source of inspiration.
“We all affect each other in so many ways,” she says. “My parents have been really supportive and always encouraged me to follow my dreams and do good things for people. I am super blessed to have been born and raised by these two.”
“I worry about my clients, about the people that have bought my cookbook and about the whole world. I worry for us about the health industry, the food industry and what really is happening and what really is in our products. I know people don’t always like my selfies or how I promote myself but it does get views and I am trying to influence people in a positive way to make changes. I worry that they won’t see the truth.”
Even for someone as driven as Caithleen, success can still be elusive. What motivates her to eat well isn’t just looking good but feeling good. “It’s not a straight and easy line. I do try and stay positive. I think energy is very important and how we are feeling is very important. If you don’t feel good then your thoughts are making you feel this way. Nothing is beyond your control. Our thoughts control things and control our lives. I’m driven by the truth. I want to help people discover their potential and to lead healthier lifestyles. Eating healthy and natural foods makes me feel better and be more clear in my thinking. I really think that it makes a difference for me. I feel low in energy and foggy when I’m eating unhealthy and overly processed foods and especially artificial types of foods.”
But even Caithleen needs to unplug at times and control the pace of life. “I make time for me. I take time off from my phone, messages and people sometimes. I love to do yoga, I find it very relaxing. I really like the library too. I go there a lot on my days off, even just to read or journal. I often find myself looking at cookbooks though, it is sort of like work, but I find that to be relaxing. Actually, cooking is very relaxing for me. If I have a bad day I just stop everything and cook a huge feast. Meal prep done for the week! I really need my time at the gym. I workout probably 4-6 days a week depending on what’s coming up. I always feel good after a workout.”
Talking with Caithleen gives the impression that there’s more things she’s looking forward to doing. “I find that goal setting plus making time for my spiritual life really keeps me in balance through meditation and prayer. Pretty much everything I’m doing is fun for me. I’m just making sure to not over work. Being productive is great but feeling rested and in balance in the long run I will be more productive.”
While it would be easy for her to stop, look back, and feel pretty satisfied with what she’s done, that’s not the impression that you get speaking with Cathleen. Whether it’s up on stage, in front of the camera, in the kitchen, or soaring through the sky, Caithleen Heffernan’s incredible journey is still ongoing. Wherever it leads her, she’s inviting all of us to follow along.
(For more on Caithleen including more great shots from Terry Goodlad check out Issue 6 of Bellafit Magazine) Click Here