Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Carson City, Nevada and raised in the northern side of Lake Tahoe and Tahoe Vista until I was 12 years old, at which point we moved to a small town in Oregon called Junction City.
Did you play any sports growing up?
In Tahoe it was all about the outdoors. I did downhill skiing and cross-country skiing, but l also did a lot of ballet and jazz dance. When I moved to Oregon, it was more traditional ball sports. Junction City is a small town (3,500 population), and the entire town would often turn up to games on Friday nights, sort of like a Texas-under-the-lights feel. I played basketball, softball and volleyball.
After a year of school at UC Davis, I transferred to the University of Chicago. I passed on playing competitive sports because it was going to be a lot of travel. Instead, I played some intermural volleyball, and I worked out every day. I did some weightlifting, and I rowed a lot on the Concept 2 rower.
Where did you find yourself after graduating from Chicago?
After college, around 2005, I moved to Washington, D.C. I got into spinning and also ran a lot. I did a lot of cardio, but I always struggled with my weight. It would go up 10 pounds, down 10 pounds, up 20 pounds, down 10 pounds. This mostly had to do with my balance of diet and exercise. In my 20s, exercise became an exercise bulimia situation where I would punish myself. If I ate something I thought I shouldn’t have eaten, I would run. One day I ran 37 miles. I eventually saw a specialist to address this.
That was in my early 20s. In my later 20s, I took six years off of exercise. Each year I gained 10 pounds, eventually reaching 200 pounds in 2012. Part of the reason I took all that time off was because I was building a business, which became extremely successful. However, it came at a very big physical and emotional cost to me.
I’d like to continue chatting about your relationship with health & fitness if that’s ok. You recently posted on Instagram that you returned to your health journey in 2012. What happened in 2012?
I turned 30. This is life and you don’t get a second chance. I realized that I needed healthy habits and healthy people in my life. This was part self-realization, and part encouragement from a few close friends, and my sister. I was neurotically obsessed with my business, I wasn’t present with my friends and I was in a bad relationship.
I hired a professional coach to help me exit my business, which took about a year and a half to complete. During this time, I moved to LA, which I knew would be a healthier place for me. I hired a personal trainer who led me through cardio in the morning and weight training at night. I put myself on a heavy protein shake diet.
I did this for six months, as the plan was always to move to Miami to continue my health journey. I worked at a couple of start-ups and took it very easy. I had a Miami version of Kettlebell Kitchen for all my meals. This was what I call the vertical life chapter of my life: I lived on the 29th floor, worked out on the 7th floor and worked on the 5th floor. I initially lost 10 pounds in LA, and another 50 pounds in Miami because I improved my relationship with food, and I was exercising regularly.
When does the NYC chapter of your life begin?
I moved here in July 2014. I initially lived in SoHo where I also worked. It was a quiet neighborhood, but I lived above The Dutch, and their speaker was directly below my bed. A lot of bass. After a year, I moved to the East Village.
How does your health journey continue in NYC?
I was doing my own thing at Equinox. On the one hand it was very posh and nice, but on the other hand it was very lonely when you’re lifting as a woman. I called the lifting area “bro jungle” and the machine area “cardio farm” because it was rows and rows of women running. I was viewed as a foreign animal in bro jungle. I tried a few trainers, but I wasn’t impressed. I then got into Pilates, where I met a great coach who showed me some new exercises that I enjoyed. However, my relationship was food was still up and down.
When did CFER come into your life?
Toward the end of 2015. I had tried a couple CrossFit classes around the U.S. when visiting friends, and found it kind of fun. After sitting at the Wayland one day, and seeing some CFER folks running around, I decided to give it a go. During my first month, I recall everyone being very friendly. Some of the movements felt easy, while others required a lot of coordination. Pull-ups were very humbling, as I was using a lot bands. But I recall seeing Amy Fan doing pull-ups, which I thought was the coolest thing – that a girl can do pull-ups, and that many of them!
Do you have any advice for new CFER members?
Go light and get it right. Break down the movement technique, and don’t feel like you have to go heavy. Brute strength will only get you so far. I realized this after a while, and now I’m focused on movement virtuosity. I would encourage people to move with virtuosity first, and add weight later.
You began working with Kat Yiannakis on your nutrition in May of last year. What has that part of your health journey been like?
I’ve done every diet under the sun: Weight Watchers, Atkins, 17-Day Diet, The Plan, Volumetrics, South Beach, North Beach… haha there is no North Beach, but if there was, I would have tried it. Each time I did a diet cycle, I learned something new. I would achieve the diet, and then think I was done. It just wasn’t sustainable. What Kat has taught me is that this is not going to be a short sprint to a specific end date. This is your life, and you need a sustainable way to eat for the rest of your life. She has helped me reprogram myself away from a diet being a short-term thing.
She has also introduced me to something that I thought was bad, and that is carbohydrates. Carbs are the fuel I need to do my workouts. When I started CrossFit, my fat intake was very high and my carb intake was quite low. After I started CrossFit, I gained muscle, and bodyweight, but at the same time my energy was low. I was confused. Kat looked at my nutrition, and increased my carbs a lot, and reduced my fat. I was very hesitant at first because I was programmed socially and culturally to believe that carbs are bad. But then I started losing weight and inches, and it blew my mind! My focus is eating to perform, not eating to look a certain way, or fit into a dress. I want to eat the right foods so that I can perform at my peak in the gym. Kat has greatly helped me improve my body composition, performance in the gym and most importantly my relationship with food.