I am Stephanie. I'm 37 years old, with an amazing husband, Todd, and 2 awesome kids: Tyson, 6 and Vanessa, 3. My educational background is in the exercise field (I have a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and a master’s degree in exercise physiology), and I worked in fitness and corporate wellness before moving on to pharmaceutical research. I currently stay home full time with my kids, though, which is by far my most challenging and rewarding role. I usually spend my days coming to the MAC, driving to/from school and various kids’ play places with my daughter, walking our dog, Gemma, and typically ending the day playing either football or hockey with my son after school. You can also regularly catch me in the Starbucks drive through, as I have a strong love of coffee J.
What led you to join MAC?
My husband and I moved to Milford about 5 ½ years ago and we were looking for a gym close to home. We toured the MAC, and were both impressed by it. The staff were friendly, it was clean, and the equipment was kept up to date, which is not always the case with a privately owned fitness facility. We were also drawn to the MAC for their Keiser equipment, which is an awesome line not typically seen in other facilities (though it should be!).
Personal Success Story:
Exercise has been a big part of my life for the majority of my life. I played multiple sports in my youth, and unfortunately, started down the road of strict dieting at a young age. This resulted in a very disordered relationship with food and body image that I battled for many years. On top of all of this, my “workout” consisted of nothing but cardio for a good 10+ years, despite my education. All of the cardio, combined with a restrictive dieting mentality, resulted in a body that stayed the same year after year. I finally broke out of this cycle following the birth of my son and decided to give weight training a fair shot. I made it the focus of my workouts, supplemented with short, high intensity cardio sessions a couple times/week, and I lost an entire size the first month. I instantly began feeling stronger and leaner, and loved the sense of empowerment that it gave me—I was hooked!
Although my exercise routine was finally going in the right direction, I still struggled with finding a balance with food and body acceptance. Unfortunately, it took a traumatic event to finally begin the shift that I needed. My husband and I lost our 2nd baby in 2012 which completely rocked my world. It left me not only with grief for the loss of my baby, but also severe anxiety and panic attacks. In an effort to try to improve mentally, I leaned heavily on the power of prayer, and began a daily practice of reading positive affirmations, quotes and various resources related to self improvement and overcoming fears. I also focused on getting physically stronger in the gym and began lifting heavier weights. The combination not only eased my anxiety, but also helped shift my perception of my body in a positive direction. Physical strength directly correlated to mental strength for me. I was gaining a different type of confidence that I had never had before, and started to feel like I could accomplish anything!
Throughout this time I became pregnant again, and thankfully, had a healthy baby girl. I loved my baby, but was NOT loving my post-baby body. I had always wanted to do a photo shoot (it intrigued me and freaked me out equally!), so I decided to book one as extra motivation to focus on improving my physical shape. Because I had gone down the road of unhealthy eating practices in the past and wasn’t interested in going that way again, I enlisted the help of a local dietician who specializes in sports nutrition to help me with my diet and ensure I was eating adequate calories to support my workouts. I completed the photo shoot and felt amazing! As a result, I was honored to be asked to be featured in a few publications, which allowed me the opportunity to connect with other like-minded, supportive women. I discovered that this is one of my passions in life, so if you see me, please say hello!
Currently, my focus remains on strength first in the gym. Working on getting stronger (rather than skinnier) is much more fun to me, and a leaner body is just an added bonus. I also put daily effort into improving myself mentally and my overall sense of well being. I can immediately tell if I’m slipping in that area and not allowing time BY MYSELF (all moms know how important this is!) to de-stress and refocus my thoughts. Finding time for things that are stress relieving for me is something that I completely dismissed for so long, but have been immensely helpful both mentally and physically. My method of choice is listening to self improvement/positive mindset podcasts while walking my dog. I love the calming affect that it provides, as well as how much I’m learning about myself the more I listen. I have come such a long way in my overall health, and I love that it’s something that is basically limitless. I’m determined to consistently improve as a person, not only for my family, but for myself! The importance of this is truly immeasurable.
Words of Advice:
My best pieces of advice are:
1- If your goal is fat loss, ensure that strength training is the primary focus of your exercise routine. A common misconception (especially among women) is that you need to do more cardio to burn more calories, which will translate to fat loss. The truth is, the positive metabolic effect of added muscle will trump the temporary calorie burn from cardio EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. More muscle = increased metabolic rate = more calories burned at rest = more efficient road to fat loss. If you’re unsure how to properly strength train or are just intimidated, enlist the help of a personal trainer. Even just a few sessions with a trainer will be enough to teach you the basics and provide the confidence you’ll need to move forward on your own.
2- Pay attention not just on how you look, but also how you FEEL. It doesn’t matter what you see in the mirror if you feel awful most of the time and don’t have the energy to play with your kids or even get through the day. I learned this one the hard way. If you notice that you’re tired, moody, stressed out, dreading exercise, have high cravings, not sleeping well, etc. then evaluate if what you’re doing is actually working for you. There are many roads to fitness and health, but the key is finding the one that YOU feel best on (regardless of what anyone else says you SHOULD do).
3- Incorporating time to de-stress or do more restorative activities is key, and another thing I learned the hard way. Piling the stress of exercise (and dieting, if you’re also doing that) on top of stresses of daily life (work, family) without a consistent method of relief is a fast track to crashing. As I mentioned, my current favorite thing is leisure walking with my dog while listening to an inspirational or educational podcast. Highly recommend!