Danika brysha is a curve model with IMG Models, Food + wellness personality, and the Founder + CEO of Model Meals, a healthy meal delivery business.
Danika found her own natural healing by adopting a wellness-minded approach to life and personal growth. A recovered bulimic, binge eater, and Food/sugar addict, Danika turned her worst enemy (food) into her most powerful medicine. Fed up with the effects that prescription pills, heavy drinking, and processed foods were having on herself and the people she loved, she was committed to finding a better solution to being her absolute best.
While living in NYC and working as a plus-size model, Danika embarked on the Whole30 challenge during her first month as a resident in the big apple, and her life was forever transformed. She emerged from the challenge 15 pounds lighter, off her ADHD meds, with glowing skin, and with more mental clarity and energy than she’d ever felt in her life. She thought, if she could change her experience of life this much in just 30 days, what else could she do?
She embarked on a year of monthly challenges. Adding something new each month and keeping the new habits from the months before. From journaling, to fitness, to meditation, she saw her life completely transform in front of her eyes.
Danika continued to fight her lifetime pattern of binge eating, and after an 8000-calorie binge on “good” foods like apples, eggs, almond butter, and the like, she had an epiphany. It wasn’t about the food. The food was just the band-aid. Her preferred way of numbing the things she didn’t want to feel.
But the food was still quite important. Because when she ate foods that caused inflammation in her body (hint: dairy, sugar, grains, processed or artificial foods) she found her brain fogged and attention span depleted. Without the right fuel in her physical body, she had no way of creating the awareness around the deeper internal issues. And they needed attention.
Danika became committed to her self-care. She knew that if she could take care of herself physically (clean eating, healthy movement, meditation, sleep), then she would have the energy and clarity she needed to really tackle a lifetime of food and body issues. Armed with her new 100% natural superpowers, she became committed to doing the inner work.
Danika began attending meetings with others who struggled with food addiction. Food was a challenge because it wasn’t just something she could quit. She had to eat. She learned in this program that she needed to just eliminate her drug foods (sugar and anything sweet was #1 for her) and that she could just take her recovery one day at a time. When lumped together, a series of happy days would eventually create a happy life.
That was it. A great life is just a series of great days which is just a series of great hours and moments. Creating a great day for herself was MUCH more manageable than the overwhelming concept of creating a great life. And so she created a tool to help her create great days.
She started monitoring her daily habits and behaviors on something she coined her “Daily Self-Care Checklist”. "Avoided sugar. Check. Meditated. Check. Kept her environment clean. Check. Learned something new. Check. Sober from all alcohol, drugs, pills. Check." She started writing three things she was grateful for. Three affirmations. A daily biography of herself in her dream life. A journal entry from her future to get herself feeling how that life would feel. Knowing that our thoughts shape our reality, she used this checklist as a way to get them down on paper. And slowly, she watched her life transform.
But after a few months of this new lifestyle and self-care routine, she ran into a problem. She’d lost 30lbs and nearly all of her plus-size modeling jobs. She was stuck in the middle where there wasn’t much work for her. She was months late on her rent and quickly accumulating debt. She had to think quickly.
Doing something she was passionate about was a non-negotiable for her. She knew that the secret to an additional stream of income had to be hidden in what she was already doing when her hours were her own, and so she did a daily inventory. every 5 minutes, she wrote down how she spent her time. She was cooking, sharing recipes, hosting healthy dinner parties, answering emails from others who wanted to transform the way they ate. And so she had an idea.
In her tiny 5ft by 3ft West Village apartment kitchen,with zero culinary training, business school, or even a dishwasher, she began cooking the same healthy meals she’d been feeding herself, and delivering them by foot and subway to friends around NYC. She called it Model Meals, playing on the fact that it had completely transformed the way she looked, but more importantly, because she wanted to serve as a role MODEL for others to live their own best lives. The “model” referred to the recipes she shared and the YouTube videos she created to educate others on how to create this life for themselves.
As her year long stint in NYC came to a close, Danika made the decision to shut down Model Meals on the east coast and move back to her hometown of Newport Beach, CA and into her parents’ garage. She knew that living there would allow her to pay off her debt and build Model Meals in the right way. In August of 2015, Danika teamed up with two business partners to launch Model Meals in California. They now serve thousands of healthy pre-made organic meals to Southern California residents from San Diego all the way up to Santa Barbara, and are quickly expanding.
Danika believes that in order to heal an unhealthy relationship with food, you must look at not just WHAT you’re eating, but HOW and WHY. She speaks openly about her addiction struggles and swears that the food THEY serve at Model Meals is what has supported her recovery and the much harder work of reprogramming the management of her emotions. Danika refrains completely from sugar, gluten, dairy, and alcohol. She teaches that food is only a small part of the weight loss equation, but still an important one. She believes in eliminating your drug 100% and in the peace of mind that automating her food through Model Meals has given her. She no longer spends her days thinking about her next meal or exerting endless willpower just to get through the day. You can find recipes, videos, and more information on Model Meals at www.modelmeals.com and on Instagram @modelmealskitchen
Danika signed with her new modeling agency, IMG Models, in 2015, and with their support has rebuilt her modeling career in a way that she can work at whatever size she feels healthiest. You can see Danika modeling for clients like Benefit Cosmetics, Old Navy, Macy’s, and more. A naturally curvy woman, Danika feels grateful to serve as a body positive advocate and to be the type of model she so desperately needed to see while she was growing up.
Danika hosts wellness retreats and regularly speaks at women’s empowerment and networking events. Check her Events page to see a full list of her upcoming events. She offers one-on-one coaching via skype or in-person for those local to Southern California. She specializes in helping those who deal with food struggles and for those looking to find their passion and create a career out of it. See her booking page for more information.
You can find Danika on YouTube (or on the videos tab here) discussing topics like My Trader Joe’s Shopping List, 5 Ways I Practice Self-Care Daily, and Navigating the Dating Scene when You’re on a Libation Vacation. Danika is a “Tastemaker” for Tastemade, a Two-time contestant on The Food Network’s Chopped, and regularly shares daily tips and tricks for a more healthy and mindful life on her instagram account @danikabrysha and on her Snapchat: danikabrysha
Danika’s ultimate goal in life is to help others achieve their highest level of happiness. To help them find what their unique contribution is to this world, and to start living it. She has a deep passion for those who struggle with food and body issues and hopes that sharing her story can give relief to others who may feel defeated or alone.