"I always think back to the quote, 'Be who you needed when you were younger.' When I'm feeling like I can't do it, I remember to be that person I'd want to look up to for advice."
ON GROWING UP IN THE GYM
My mom was a gym trainer, so I grew up going to work with her. It seemed like the gym was a part of everyone's lives. I just figured everybody went. I meet people now who don't go and I think, "Wait, what do you do?"
When I started lifting, I thought back to that time with her. Seeing my mom help people get strong. It made the idea of lifting on my own feel less foreign to me.
ON HER DECISION TO START LIFTING
I didn't start lifting until after college. I was a cheerleader in high school and I was always naturally small. I just recently found some 'before' pictures that I took of myself. I had no muscle.
In my case, I was starting from scratch, so I knew any muscle I was building would give me strength and more of a shape I wanted. The main intent was to be strong, but I also wanted to look stronger.
I remember I saw a video of Donny Shankle and Jon North snatching. I started to watch a bunch of BodyBuilding.com videos just to get familiar with the basics. When I was getting more into it, I needed to find a place where I could lift real weights. There was a CrossFit down the street from me, so I started there.
ON BEING INTIMIDATED IN THE GYM
I think girls are a little intimidated [of lifting] at first. I remember going into my gym and trying to squat the barbell for the first time and it was the most intimidating thing in the world. It was scary.
The most memorable moment was when I started working with the football team at Penn [editor's note: Steph interned with Penn's Strength and Conditioning coaches]. It can be intimidating at first, with 60 athletes watching and learning from you. But as I became more comfortable and confident in my voice, I couldn’t wait to get into that weight room and work with the athletes!
ON WOMEN AND OLYMPIC WEIGHT LIFTING
It's always been inspiring to see women lift. It's badass. And a lot of them don't look bulky or like what someone would assume. When I talk about it, I usually have to show people a video. They watch it and they're like, "Woah, what?" For me, not putting people in boxes is a huge thing.
ON GETTING THE COURAGE TO START LIFTING
There's a lot of resources out there. If you're doing something that requires a good amount of coordination or focus, I would definitely recommend having a trainer with you. But if you have to be alone, then I would make sure you're watching a video to get the basic movements down.
"I would also keep reminding yourself that even if you feel awkward, if you keep pushing through, eventually it won't be that way."
I always think back to the quote, "Be who you needed when you were younger." When I'm feeling like I can't do it, I remember to be that person I'd want to look up to for advice. It motivates you to be proud of yourself. I know it's tough, especially if you're overweight or afraid. If you let those thoughts run wild in your head, it can feel like it's never going to get easier. But it will and then you'll feel the pride of knowing you took that first step.
ON THE BIGGEST MISCONCEPTIONS AROUND LIFTING
I've heard so many women say that they don't want to get bulky. Women being scared to lift weights because they're scared of getting bigger. I heard it constantly growing up. And I know they don't mean it, but it's almost insulting for people who are muscular because they worked so hard to gain that muscle. Even if you tried to get bulky, you probably wouldn't be able to get that kind of size.
"I've even heard men say, 'I don't want you getting bulky.' I'm like dude, what are you talking about? You're not going to do one rep and blow up.
Don't be scared to be strong. If anything, I wish girls and parents of young girls understood that."
We can really get into how we listen to others. When girls hear their moms talking about their bodies, it can really mess with them. If your mom is constantly talking about her own body, that might be engrained into your subconscious without realizing it.
ON THE BIGGEST MISCONCEPTIONS AROUND DIET AND NUTRITION
The biggest thing I see is women comparing themselves to men. Dr. Stacy Sims says that, "Women are not small men." I've had wives come up to me because they are doing the keto diet with their husbands. "He looks great and he has all this energy, meanwhile, I'm over here struggling and I've cut myself down to 1,000 calories a day and I'm gaining weight and I can't sleep." You're thinking, holy shit, we really need to fix this. Our hormones and our bodies are so different. The way we need fuel corresponds to different things, like menstrual cycles. It makes me sad when I see women struggling when they don't have to be.
The other thing is that people need to eat more. Especially male athletes. They don't realize how much their bodies need food. It's really fascinating because for how much people push their bodies, a lot of people don't know how to fuel themselves.
Obviously, this depends on a lot of variables. Females who grow up playing sports but aren't really taught about nutrition might be practicing for two hours every night and then go home and eat some pizza. That's going to give you different results than the optimal nutrients. It's just that they aren't educated on what will really help their bodies. It takes a lot of education and knowledge.
ON BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR
Athlete's Kitchen [editor's note: Steph's health, wellness, sports, and nutrition company] started because I was doing a lot of writing and I needed a portfolio; it was a place to put my work. It was my own little baby that has grown into something awesome. Everyday I have new ideas and it's hard to contain them all. It's very much an entrepreneurial mindset.
"I've always hated the idea of putting a limit on yourself. What I'm realizing is that there are just no rules - you can really do whatever you want."
I'll have collagen or MCT Oil with my coffee. I'm a big fan of Earth Fed Muscle or Vital Proteins. I like to start off with lighter protein, to give me a nice 20g in my coffee. With the MCT Oil, I'll start off with no more than a teaspoon.
Then, I'll have a big glass of water with creatine. And right now, I take Vitamin D and Zinc.
I used to be big on the intra-workout and post-workout with a cup of orange juice and Vanilla Whey.
Now, I try to eat right after I lift. But if I'm short on protein from food, I'll have an EFM shake.
DEALER'S CHOICE QUESTION: IF YOU HAD TO GO ON A NEVER-ENDING ROAD TRIP, WHERE WOULD YOU WANT TO BE DRIVING THROUGH?
I've driven from Denver to Telluride. It's a 7-hour drive but I wanted to keep driving. It was unreal.