Name: Stephanie Rose Zoccatelli
Location: Denver, CO
What does being a Girl Gone Strong mean to you?
Being a Girl Gone Strong means being strong not only in the gym, but in all aspects of life. It means being strong physically and mentally, and having the courage to stand up for our beliefs, even when failure is a possibility.
How long have you been training?
I’ve been strength training for the past 5 1/2 years!
How did you get introduced to strength training?
One of my uncles is a natural bodybuilder, so I think that at first I was unconsciously introduced to that world when I saw him compete.
On a more experiential level, about 5 ½ years ago I realized that I had gained weight during my senior year in high school. I started running and eventually went to the gym with my aunt, where she showed me some basic strength training exercises. From there, I was hooked! I remember being able to feel and see my biceps and hamstrings and wondering where they had been this whole time.
What does a sample workout look like for you?
The goal of my current program is increasing my aerobic capacity and overall strength. I currently have two strength training sessions a week, one run, two swims, one tempo sprint session, one hike, and one day of active recovery.
Here’s an example from my first week of training in this program:
Week 1, Strength 1 Workout:
Dynamic warm-up= ~10 minutes, which currently includes: 10-yard inchworms, 30-yard bear crawls, 15-yard spidermans, 8 goblet squats, 6 medicine ball slams, 5 box/broad jumps, and 5 minutes on the rower/skierg/airdyne (50 seconds easy pace and 10 second sprint).
- A1. Deep squat breathing 6×5
- A2. Hip lift (aka hip thrusters) 6×5
- A3. Alternating dumbbell bench press 6×5 (each side)
- A4. Dumbbell split stance row 6×5 (each side)
- B1. Reverse lunges 3×6 (each side)
- B2. Lateral lunges 3×6 (each side)
- B3. Face pulls 3×10 (cable attachment)
- B4. Band pull-aparts 3 x10 (resistance bands)
- B5. Miyagis 3x100seconds (split the 100 seconds up over the course of the 3 sets)
**The goal during these workouts is to keep my heart rate in an aerobic zone throughout the session while still maintaining quality movement, therefore there is very minimal rest (e.g. 20 seconds at the end of each round).
Here’s a fun video Stephanie put together from another one of her training sessions (in it she also shares some of her thoughts and a peek at life with her family and friends):
Deadlift! And snatches, too.
Most memorable PR:
Earlier this year I was having a “bad day” and was feeling quite overwhelmed and heartbroken after discovering that I did not place for a Dietetic Internship (DI); which was something that I had worked hard for during the past 4 years in college. So I decided to go on a walk to clear my head and try to shift my mindset and perspective on it.
Well, the walk wasn’t cutting it. I walked past the weight room and started heading back home…but something (probably having made working out a habit) was telling me to go lift. After about 5 minutes in the bathroom talking my self into and out of lifting, I went to the weight room and decided that since I wasn’t feeling very strong emotionally, I at least wanted to feel strong in another domain. So I put 205 pounds on the bar and deadlifted it for multiple singles. I felt so empowered.
What mattered most wasn’t even reaching this goal of breaking the 200’s (which I had been chasing for quite a while); instead it was the fact that I found the strength to pick my self back up after having fallen hard. Picking up a heavy load was a metaphor for picking myself up in life and realizing that I can choose how to react to different situations, always look for the good, and rise strong no matter how many times I may fall flat on my face.
Top 5 songs on your training playlist:
- Pyramid –DVBBS
- This Is Dirty -DVBBS
- Bad –David Guetta
- What I Live For –Rob Bailey and the Hustle Standard
- Beast -Rob Bailey and the Hustle Standard
Top 3 things you must have with you at the gym/in your gym bag:
My notebook/training journal, iPod, and ice-cold water.
Do you prefer to train alone or with a training partner? Why?
In the past I’ve preferred to train alone, as I didn’t know anyone who had the same or similar interests and knowledge base. That made it particularly hard when I was on a strict time limit. During my current internship, however, I am really enjoying being surrounded by like-minded individuals who are also there to train hard. It’s incredibly motivating to see people push past their mental barriers and work consistently towards their goals.
Best compliment you’ve received lately (it could be about anything, not necessarily fitness/gym/appearance related!):
My 8-year-old cousin Jeremiah told his friend, “You know, my cousin is strong! She can lift 100 pounds!” I loved it so much because it reminded me that strength is all relative (to him 100 pounds is a huge deal, while for me it may just be my warm-up depending on the exercise). It also reminded me that I always have little eyes watching me and what I do.
Most recent compliment you gave someone else:
Now that I think about it, I guess I’m not one to give a lot of compliments, mainly because I like them to really have meaning. However, recently I told one of my close friends that I really appreciated her for showing up authentically in her life and for “allowing” me to do the same.
Most embarrassing gym moment:
Definitely farting during a Pilates class. What can I say, it definitely gets your insides moving!
Breakfast: steel cut oats, banana, blueberries, and peanut butter. With a side of coffee with whole milk and sugar.
Favorite way to treat yourself:
Share my thoughts with friends that think alike. Quoting Into The Wild, “Happiness is only true when it is shared.” Sharing my thoughts, regarding a great workout or epiphany that I have had, with people who reflect the same enthusiasm is so incredibly rewarding to me. It’s my favorite.
I have a few favorites:
“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” –Voltaire
“Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones.” –Thich Nhat Hanh
“I thought I was alone who suffered. I went on top of the house, and found every house on fire.” –Baba Farid
All of Brene’ Brown’s books: I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t), The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, and Rising Strong.
Her books have changed my life!
What inspires and motivates you?
A couple of years ago my biggest inspiration and motivation came from my goal of achieving a certain look. However, my inspiration now comes from realizing that how I live my life affects everyone around me. These days I draw motivation from the possibility of being able to inspire others through my actions. I think of Alice, my little 7-year-old cousin, and I want her to grow up desiring to be strong in all aspects of life. I want her to know that the world is at her fingertips and that her looks are not her biggest asset, but rather her heart and mind are. I want to be a permission bearer for others to show up authentically in their lives and be the writers of their own story, not characters playing out roles. We all hold the power to write our own scripts.
What do you do?
I graduated in May 2015 with a BA in Food/Nutrition/Dietetics and Exercise Science and am currently an Intern/Coaching Assistant at Ethos Colorado (a strength and conditioning gym in Arvada, CO), which is just so much fun! I get to be around hard-working people all day and learn from some of the best in the industry.
What else do you do?
I really enjoy reading all sorts of books (history, personal development, fiction, business, etc.), traveling, learning new things, and am currently rediscovering what it means for me to be active outside of the gym.
What does a typical day look like for you? (From waking up to bedtime)
5-5.40 am: wake up and have breakfast; write down my goals, values, and priorities for the day
5.50-11am: internship at Rogue (“work”)
11am-1pm: training, shower
1-4pm: lunch, read, study for CSCS exam, and maybe take the occasional nap
4-8pm: internship at Rogue (“work”)
8-9pm: dinner, read, get ready for the next day
**Times vary according to the day of the week and classes scheduled.
What’s the coolest “side effect” you’ve noticed from lifting heavy?
I’d have to say that it’s watching my strength slowly and gradually spill over to all aspects of life, including work, school, relationships, and so on.
Next training goal:
Right now my main goal is to increase my aerobic capacity (endurance) and muscular strength; which will take a couple of months. Once I get to a high enough aerobic base, I plan on dialing down the aerobic work and focusing more on my powerlifting and weightlifting goals. It might sound weird, but I really just want to experience and try out a bunch of different activities, ranging from triathlons to powerlifting competitions.
What are you most grateful for you in your life?
Love. I am so grateful for love! From people who are doing what they love and living their purpose, to the love and support that my family gives me. I love love. It really does make the world go around.
What life accomplishment are you most proud of thus far?
I’d have to say that I am most proud of a 70-mile bike ride I did back in 2011 and completing a Tough Mudder (2012).
Three words that best describe you:
Passionate, resilient, caring.
Tell us about a time when you faced fear or doubt, and how it turned out:
As I was casually scrolling through Facebook on a gloomy Saturday afternoon, I saw an ad for a Tough Mudder event and thought is looked like so much fun. But… certainly there was no way I could do that now, or any time soon, as I wasn’t strong and fit enough. I immediately filed it in my mental bucket-list, closed that tab, and went about my day as per usual.
About a month later I found myself looking at Tough Mudder videos again, and this little and subtle, yet powerful, thought popped up in my mind: “Why not?” So I signed up for it and a couple of months later was a Tough Mudder finisher. I sure was scared and even remember feeling so nervous on race day; butterflies were flying around like crazy in my stomach. I even kept delaying my start time until I basically had no choice but go, if not I wouldn’t have had enough time to get back for school the next day. I felt incredibly empowered throughout the race and at the end. I kept thinking, “I’m doing it!” Something that a few months back seemed so far away, scary, and uncertain was now being checked off my bucket list and it turns out it wasn’t so bad or hard after all!
How has lifting weights changed your life?
The biggest way that lifting weights has changed my life is through the effect that it has had on my mental strength and resiliency. Most of the time when I am lifting weights I really try to challenge my self and push past my mental barriers. Even if I find my self thinking: “This is too heavy, I can’t do it,” I try anyway because the weight room is one of those places where failure is welcome. Turns out, most of the time I was actually strong enough to do it. My mind was holding me back, not my body. That is the biggest take-away. How we think dictates everything! I now know how powerful my mind is, and I try to use it to my advantage to grow in all aspects of life.
What do you want to say to other women who might be nervous to start strength training?
Try it! Find a supportive and encouraging gym environment, sign up for a trial membership/session and see how it goes. If you don’t try, you’ll never know. It’s worth a shot. And most of the time that shot will lead to a healthier, happier, and more empowered you.
Also, it is super important to define your “why.” Why do you want to lift? Is it for a competition? To challenge your self? To promote better bone health? Whatever your why is, write it down and keep it at the forefront of your mind. It will, by far, be your greatest motivator, especially if it aligns with your values and priorities in life.