Note from Molly: This spotlight is particularly near and dear to my heart because it’s my cousin Kate! Not only is Kate incredibly strong inside and out, but she’s brilliant, kind, and absolutely hysterical. I hope you enjoy her as much as I do!
Name: Kate Galbraith
Location: Chicago, Illinois
What does being a Girl Gone Strong mean to you?
Getting out there and giving it your best. Regardless of the activity, Girls Gone Strong enjoy pushing their limits and seek to get better everyday. I’m lucky to have one of the original “Girls Gone Strong” as my cousin (Molly), and from her example, I’ve learned that being a GGS also means to help to pick other women up and inspire them.
How long have you been training?
I got serious about strength training about 2.5 years ago. I was always active growing up, I played every sport imaginable and was a competitive volleyball player through high school. In college and afterwards, I sought out other ways to stay active—I did a couple of shorter races and half-marathons, I dabbled in weights at the gym—but wasn’t in good shape until I found Crossfit.
How did you get introduced to strength training?
I was introduced to strength training totally by accident–I had run to my dentist appointment, and on the way out, I passed Division Street Crossfit. I knew that I was bored with running, wasn’t making any progress at the gym, and needed a new challenge. At the time, I was finishing my second year of law school and stressed out, so the idea of having someone tell me exactly what I needed to do to get back in shape was really appealing. I took the free trial class on April 20, 2013, and I’ve been a regular at DSCF ever since. Fun fact: I won a t-shirt for “best attendance” for the month of October 2014. I felt like a total nerd, but for the last couple years, the gym really has been a home away from home for me!
What does a sample workout look like for you?
Since I do Crossfit, it varies from day to day. Ideally for me, it’s a longer strength session followed by a shorter workout.
Squats! Back squat (PR-280 pounds), front squat (PR-240 pounds), overhead squat (PR-195 pounds)—I love them all!
Most memorable PR:
When I was studying for the bar exam, I PR’ed my snatch by 10 pounds. I think the stress gave me an extra boost!
Top 5 songs on your training playlist:
It’s been so long since I’ve listened to my own music in the gym. My favorite mornings are when it’s: rap, Girl Talk, or the “Ladies Lifting” playlist. My least favorite is metal—I can’t stand it.
Top 3 things you must have with you at the gym/in your gym bag:
I’m not an equipment kind of gal, but I love Nike MetCon shoes, lululemon “energy” sports bras, and a good old-fashioned “pre-wrap” headband to keep my hair out of my face.
Do you prefer to train alone or with a training partner? Why?
Training partner all the way! My favorite training partner, Jen, and I met because we started at the same time and both needed a “little extra help” with our technique—aka, we had no clue what we were doing. I’m not kidding, JJ (the owner/head coach at DSCF) had us both using PVC pipes as barbells for a solid month or so. We motivated each other to just keep showing up, try a little bit more weight, and not take it too seriously. Having a partner made me feel less intimidated at first, and now I like to partner with newer people or people I don’t know so well. It’s a good way to get to know new people, and to help them start to push their limits.
Most hilarious pick-up line you’ve heard at the gym:
Oh man, I haven’t heard a good one in awhile—most people are wise enough to save them for the post-lifting happy hour though.
Most embarrassing gym moment:
Ha, this month? I do goofy things at the gym all the time. I recently dropped into a new gym, and fell off the pull-up bar onto my butt in the middle of the workout. People stopped their workouts and asked if I was okay…nothing hurt but my pride!
I eat pretty boring during the week, so on the weekends I look forward to trying new restaurants and foods. Right now, I’m loving scallops and pork belly. I also have a ridiculous sweet tooth, so I will always eat any kind of treats.
Favorite way to treat yourself:
Sleeping. During the week, I work out at 6am, so on Sundays, I love to leave my pjs on and lounge around in bed. I also have a reputation for going to bed ridiculously early.
My motto is “Buy the ticket, take the ride,” which I take to mean, if you’re going to do something, really commit to it, and see where it leads you.
So hard to choose—I love to read! This year, I really liked True Story and Fates and Furies.
Best compliment you’ve received lately:
The other night, I had on a leather jacket, and a friend of a friend told me that I “looked like a superhero.” That one made me laugh—Swimmer’s Shoulders for the win! Seriously though, a friend recently thanked me for being a good friend to her while she was going through a tough time. That meant a lot to me, because I really value loyalty among the people that I’m close to, and strive to be someone that they can count on.
Most recent compliment you gave someone else:
After Thanksgiving, I complimented my sister on how good she seems to be doing. She’s recently made some big life changes, and it was awesome to see her feeling better about herself!
What inspires and motivates you?
In the gym, I’m constantly inspired by other people doing their best—whatever that means for them. Nothing makes me happier than watching a friend hit a PR, or seeing someone get a pull-up for the first time. I really like seeing people encourage each other, both inside and outside of the gym. To me, everything isn’t a competition, there are lots of ways that we can all be winners, and helping each other out on that road makes life more pleasant for everyone.
What do you do?
I’m Labor & Employment Relations Counsel for the Office of the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County. Super long title, I know. Basically, I practice HR law for court employees, assisting employees and managers with any work-related legal issues.
What else do you do?
This past year, I was super focused on reading (trying to finish 50 books before the end of the year—and I did it!) and trying new restaurants and cultural events. This year, I want to get back to traveling a lot (looking forward to going to New Orleans and the Dominican Republic so far) and scuba diving. I’m also always planning fun things with friends and family, and I am secretly a cat lady—I adopted two senior cats five years ago, Mimi is 10, and Talbot is 15.
What does a typical day look like for you from waking up to bedtime?
Alarm goes off at 5:30am, walk across the street for 6am Crossfit class at DSCF, get cleaned up, caffeinated, and at work by 8:30am. Do lawyer stuff until 4:30, then head home and chill out for a bit. Maybe meet up with friends, make dinner with my boyfriend, go for a walk in my neighborhood, etc. I like to get in bed early, so usually I’m in bed at 9:00 or so, reading.
What’s the coolest “side effect” you’ve noticed from lifting heavy?
Now, I think of “goal weight” in terms of the weight I can lift, not the weight of my body. Strength training has given me concrete goals, and lifting x amount of weight is more important to me than “fitting in my skinny jeans” or whatever. As a woman, I find it empowering to have the focus transferred to my strength, rather than how I look. Another awesome side effect is that everyday tasks are much easier—taking the steps, carrying my suitcase through the airport, and lugging groceries home are a breeze now.
Next training goal:
A 200-pound clean and jerk! It’s been my goal for a little while now, but I seem to have a serious mental block about crossing the threshold from 195 to 200. By early 2016, 200 will be mine!
What are you most grateful for you in your life?
Every day, I feel so grateful for my family and friends. I have the best support system, and really feel connected to the people in my life, despite some of them living far away.
What life accomplishment are you most proud of thus far?
I feel really proud of the life that I’ve created in Chicago—when I first moved here, I felt kind of lost, but now, six years in, I’ve got a job that I enjoy, an apartment that I love, an excellent support network of friends, a great boyfriend, and it really feels like ‘home’ to me.
Three words that best describe you:
Enthusiastic, organized, dependable.
How has lifting weights changed your life?
Lifting weights has changed my life in so many positive ways. Two huge impacts have been that it has given me an outlet for stress, and it has changed the way that I perceive my own body and strength. But probably the biggest change for me in the last two years is the impact that the community has had on my life. Crossfit has given me an awesome group of friends with similar interests, who hold me accountable for showing up every day. Also, I met my boyfriend through my gym, and it is wonderful to have a partner who supports and encourages me in all aspects of my life (not just in the gym ) and always give it my best.
What do you want to say to other women who might be nervous to start lifting heavy?
Don’t be afraid to try —it could be exactly what you’re looking for. Also, people aren’t watching you nearly as much as you think they are, they’re too focused on their own lifts.