Name: Steph Gaudreau
Location: San Diego
What does being a Girl Gone Strong mean to you?
It means owning our strength—physical, mental, emotional and spiritual—and embracing our unlimited potential. In a world where the fitness industry is all about getting women to trim down, tone up, and basically become smaller versions of ourselves, being a Girl Gone Strong means quite the opposite. It’s all about challenging ourselves to grow, get stronger, and rise above without apologizing or making excuses for our goals and desires. Being a Girl Gone Strong means changing the conversation about what women are capable of achieving.
How did you get introduced to strength training, and how long have you been training?
I dabbled in the gym when I was in my early 20s but it was more bodybuilding and less about getting as strong as I could. I liked throwing weights around, but a couple years after that, I started racing mountain bikes and stopped going to the gym. In 2010, a friend dared me to try a CrossFit workout in my garage, and I was hooked.
From there, I started training in CrossFit and stepped away from riding bikes because I was burned out. Once I started to get strong it was so transformative for me mentally and physically, that I haven’t looked back. For the last two years, I’ve been focusing exclusively on Olympic weightlifting, though I do throw in a random CrossFit workout now and then to mix it up.
What does a sample workout look like for you?
Usually, most days follow this pattern: Do a dynamic warm-up then work on technique with something like snatch or clean & jerk. I follow that with something strength-based—usually front or back squats—and finish with some kind of accessory work. That might be something like pressing work, pull-ups, dips, core work, Romanian deadlifts, etc. At the end, I try to do 15-20 minutes of stretching. I do this 3 to 4 times a week. It might not seem like a lot, but it’s really effective, and sometimes I need the extra recovery time.
Back squats…all day, every day.
Most memorable PR:
Earlier this summer, I cleaned 96kg (211 pounds). In that moment, I got the feeling that 100kg was within reach. It’s sort of a milestone number!
Top 5 songs on your training playlist:
- Lean On by Major Lazer
- Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin
- Fuel by Metallica
- Out of Exile by Audioslave
- Rusty Cage by Soundgarden
Top 3 things you must have with you at the gym or in your gym bag:
My Oly shoes, some chalk, and a foam roller.
Do you prefer to train alone or with others? Why?
I love lifting with others. We may not be doing the same lifts or percentages, but there’s always a feeling of sharing in ‘the struggle’ and a common bond that holds us together. When the platforms are full, it’s impossible not to feed off everyone’s energy!
Best compliment you’ve received lately:
The feedback I’ve been getting about my podcast, Harder to Kill Radio, seriously makes my day. People have really been enjoying it, and that makes me excited because I’m introducing my listeners to the people that inspire me on a daily basis. It’s this really rad full-circle effect.
Most recent compliment you gave someone else:
Today at the gym, I told one of my athletes that they worked hard. Sometimes weightlifting is really frustrating and being strong is so relative. Acknowledging people for their hard work is much more powerful.
Most embarrassing gym moment:
When I first started to lift, I was back squatting and started to lose my balance forward. The barbell went right over my head. Luckily, I got my neck and head out of the way, but I was so mortified.
A good medium-rare grass-fed steak, roasted sweet potato with a nob of Kerrygold butter, and some veggies. Really simple.
Favorite way to treat yourself:
Sitting down with some tea and reading a good book. That, or binge-watching Game of Thrones.
“Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body.” ― Seneca
Recently, The Village Effect or The Talent Code.
What inspires and motivates you?
Honestly, it’s the people around me, the friends and family I’ve surrounded myself with. They inspire me daily and motivate me to work hard and do my best. I learned a long time ago that it’s not worth having people around you who bring you down. You’re not obligated to get dragged down by relationships that don’t serve you anymore. One of the marks of maturity, to me, is making the tough decisions that help you craft the life you envision for yourself.
What do you do?
I’m in charge of StupidEasyPaleo.com where I do a variety of things! I’m a Certified Holistic Nutrition Practitioner, an author with a couple best-selling books, a podcaster, and a food photographer. I’m also a USAW weightlifting coach, so you could say that I wear several hats. Prior to my career shift a couple years ago, I had been a high school chemistry and biology teacher for twelve years.
What else do you do?
I just started beekeeping earlier this year, which is a totally fascinating hobby, and I do a little bit of gardening in our small urban yard. Beyond that, I spend a little bit of time almost daily at the gym whether it’s training or coaching. And I’m a total homebody, though I love taking big trips abroad.
What does a typical day look like for you, from waking up to bedtime?
Usually I’m up by 6:30, and I jump on the computer to do some work after pouring myself some coffee (iced, preferably). I’m most productive in the morning, and we’re three hours behind the east coast, so I’ve always got a bunch of emails to take care of. After working for a couple hours, I have breakfast, continue working, and then around 11:30 I head to the gym to train. Usually I get home around 2 pm and have some lunch, then I take care of housekeeping stuff like dishes or grocery shopping. I’ll do a little bit more work mid-afternoon, then make dinner and relax. Normally it’s lights out by 10 pm!
Your next training goal:
I plan to compete at Master’s Nationals for weightlifting in Spring 2016. Other than that, I’d love to qualify for the American Open again!
What are you most grateful for?
It sounds simple, but I have a great life. There’s nothing I’m lacking. I’m fortunate to have a roof over my head, a loving husband, the cutest cat ever, an incredibly supportive family, an amazing gym in which to coach and train… my life is awesome. I often reflect on the fact that not everyone born into this world is as fortunate, and it makes me so grateful for what I have.
What life accomplishment are you most proud of?
Quitting my job and following my heart.
Three words that best describe you:
Hard-working. Caring. Persistent.
Tell us about a time when you overcame fear or self-doubt.
Definitely when I left my career in education to pursue my own business. I’d had my blog for a couple years, and it was growing. I couldn’t put the amount of effort into it that I wanted to while working full-time at my other job, so in June of 2013 I applied for a one-year leave of absence from my school district.
In that year, I made huge improvements to my website, wrote my first ebook (The Paleo Athlete), started doing nutrition seminars around the country, and secured my first print book contract. When I left the classroom I didn’t have a detailed plan other than to work really hard and pursue the things that made me happy. In June of 2014, a year later, I formally resigned from my teaching job. Here I am, two and a half years later, with a thriving business.
I won’t say it’s always been easy but it’s been incredibly rewarding to work for myself and create the things I’m excited about helping people with. I was so scared at the time, but I kept taking action despite my fears, and it all worked out.
What’s the coolest “side effect” you’ve noticed from strength training?
Without a doubt, confidence in all areas of my life.
How has lifting weights changed your life?
I used to obsess about my weight, and I never felt small or thin enough. I had this thing where every morning, I’d weigh myself and then pinch the inner part of my thigh to see if my legs were any skinnier. Focusing on my appearance was so destructive to my confidence and self-worth because I was just never “good enough.”
When I started lifting, I became more concerned with my progress and my strength. I started appreciating my body for what it could do, not just how it looked. When my focus shifted to my ability and not my aesthetics, my entire world changed. It was crazy how much energy I was burning through daily worrying about how I could get thinner and smaller, and how disempowered I was.
I look back on myself even five years ago and think about how different I was, and I’m so glad strength training came into my life.
What do you want to say to other women who might be nervous to start strength training?
Find a gym and a coach you with whom feel comfortable, a place where safety and smart progression are emphasized and where your unique goals and challenges are taken into account.
Stop worrying about getting bulky! As a female you have to train using very specific techniques to get bulky. If you want to burn fat and look awesome, start lifting “heavy” weights. Focus on your performance and the body you want will come. It takes time and effort but it’ll be so worth it!