Read part 2 here
I’m so excited to bring you all part 1 of what’s going to be a 3 or 4 part series in which I interview some exceptionally strong, fit and talented women all around the world. These women all have extremely diverse professions, interests and talents and but regardless of their differences, they all have one thing in common: They love to lift and to live a healthy, fit lifestyle. (Incidentally, they also ALL love ice cream!)
So without too much further fluff, I am starting off with a BANG. Here are the first 3 awesome ladies I had the honour of interviewing: Alanna Casey (Air force officer, AMAZINGLY STRONG powerlifter/strongwoman champion, and LBEB sponsored athlete), Joy Victoria (personal trainer, no-nonsense smart-yet-super-chic online fitness persona), and Rachael Keilin (trauma surgeon, cosmetic and weightloss surgeon, and a tiny BADASS olympic weightlifter).
-Profession: Air Force Officer
-Favourite sport: Stongwoman
-Have you competed or do you compete in any sport?: Leading up to college I had competed at an elite level in soccer and a decent level in tennis. I currently compete in both strongwoman and powerlifting.
-What would you say is your all-time favourite exercise?: Log clean and press and deadlifts
-Chocolate or ice-cream?: Chocolate! Although double fudge chocolate brownies with vanilla ice cream is my all-time favorite desert.
-What are 3 clothing staples in your wardrobe that you can’t live without?: My bandanas for sure! I started wearing bandanas when I train to keep my hair out of my face and they are awesome I wear them all the time now. I have about 8 different t-shirts from Lift Big Eat Big, and I love all of them. They are fun and witty.
-What is your particular niche in the fitness industry if you have one?: I seem to be doing pretty well in the sport of strongwoman. I’ve won the Arnold Strongwoman Fitness Championship Middleweights in 2013 and 2014. I won World’s Most Powerful Woman (under 65kg) in 2013, in Glasgow, Scotland.
-What makes you different to others out there?: I am as honest as possible and I am willing to promote other deserving athletes as well as myself. I have a few sponsors but, I have also turned some down. I refuse to promote any brand or product that I don’t believe in. I speak my mind and I am as authentic as possible even when in the “public eye.”
-If you are not working in the fitness industry, what makes you unique in your particular field?: I win, a lot.
-What’s a mistake you made early on, in relation to yourself and your own fitness journey and how you have grown from that experience?: I used to overtrain and be overly restrictive with my dieting. I would train 6-7 times a week and sometimes twice a day. I have since learned that is way too much. I now train 4 times a week for about 2 hours. I also learned that I cannot be obsessively restrictive about my diet. I must make healthy decisions on a consistent basis but, I can also make “unhealthy” decisions on occasion and that is okay. I have much more balance in my life now.
-Would you describe yourself as more “creative” or more “practical”? I am very practical. I think very logically.
-Fitness related pet peeves?: When people do not re-rack their weights. No one in the gym is better than anyone else. Put your weights away.
-What do you do outside of work for fun? What’s your favourite hobby? (Don’t hold back here; tell us what it REALLY is): I like riding my motorcycle and drinking beer. I really enjoy trying different types of beer. I also like spending time with my family. I don’t get to see them much…I haven’t seen my family in over two years as I use my work leave for my competitions. This year I made the decision to use a week of my leave to see my family. It means that ultimately I will not be able to compete in Scotland again this coming year to defend my title as the World’s Most Powerful Woman (65kg class). But, I am okay with that.
-Tell me about your own exercise and training?: I train for strongwoman. I create my own programming and keep powerlifting at the center of my training. Monday is squat day, Tuesday is bench day, Thursday is deadlift day and, Saturday is overhead and strongwoman event day.
What are your short-term and long-term goals?: I am currently making new goals. I have already proven myself best in the world in the middleweight strongwoman class; twice over at that. I currently am switching gears to MMA. I want to put 100% effort into it and see if I have any potential for greatness in that sport. If it turns out I don’t I know that I can get back into powerlifting and strongwoman at any time. I am young, not yet 25, so I have many many years of competitive athletics in me.
-What piece of advice would you offer to other people who are struggling to stay on track with their fitness/diet program?: Do not allow one mistake, or slip up to define you. If you have a bad day and fall off your diet put that day behind you. Move forward and make healthy choices the next day. If you have a day at the gym, put that day behind you. No one can be 100% every single day. You WILL have bad days. Minimize your bad days by recovering quickly from them. Figuring out how to manipulate your body to perform or look the way you want it to is full of trial and error. The error will happen, it is unavoidable. But “error” alone does not mean you are a failure. Keep trying, keep learning, and keep growing.
-Can you give us your daily philosophy that you aim to live by every day?: When I see something I want, or that I want to be I think, “Why not?” I truly have the attitude that I can be anything that I want to be, I can attain anything I desire. Whether or not I get what I desire depends on how much effort, sacrifice, and commitment I put into consistent and continuous action. However, my philosophy is that I can achieve anything that I desire. My desire must be strong, it must be fierce, overwhelming, and unsurrendering but, nothing is unattainable.
-You're awesome! Where can we find and follow you on social media??:
-Profession: Personal Trainer
-Favorite sport: I would have to say MMA, since that is what I follow the most.
-Have you competed or do you compete in any sport?: I competed in Powerlifting twice, and that’s it! I wanted to play sports in high school, but moved high schools too frequently and never got the chance. My first Kettlebell competition is coming up soon.
-What would you say is your all-time favourite exercise?: Squats! All kinds and every kind. I think it is a very natural and essential movement pattern to train in some form and has a wide-range of benefits for people of all shapes, sizes and abilities.
-Chocolate or ice-cream?: Ice cream for sure. One of my favorite carb sources. 1 part ice cream, nutella and peanut butter. Try it.
-What are 3 clothing staples in your wardrobe that you can’t live without?: Leggings (lululemon or another brand), Lululemon sports bras and colorful tight tank tops.
-What is your particular niche in the fitness industry if you have one? What makes you different to other fitness experts out there?: I think my niche is promoting strength, movement and setting an example as a woman and Mom who prioritizes health and fitness while having kids, full work schedule etc. I like being a positive example for other women. Showing them it can be done and that there is always a way to start and get the changes you want. I also feel my niche is helping contribute to the spread of good quality information on health and fitness and being a resource for others on the internet and social media.
-What’s a mistake you made early on, either in relation to yourself and your own fitness journey (or in relation to training clients if you are a trainer) and how you have grown from that experience?: Wow, I made a lot of mistakes hahaha. But if you never fail, you never improve. I think the most important thing I would do differently is learning how to think critically right off the bat. I wouldn’t remove any of my mistakes trying fads, or going to certain extremes etc, because that all stemmed from not knowing how to evaluate information correctly and critically and having a familiarity with the scientific process. This is a skill to learn and practice. It doesn’t just “happen”, which is why very intelligent people can succumb to the same mental short-cuts and biases. I think this is the starting point for anyone that wants to learn or change something in any area of knowledge! Which is why I think it is important to have fitness professionals who uphold that standard rigorously.
-Would you describe yourself as more “creative” or more “practical”?: Practical for sure. I borrow a lot of creativity from others. I like plans, schedules, to do lists, rules, and parameters. That can be useful for sure, but has to be paired with an openness to learning new things, not getting stuck in a rut and getting out of your comfort zone! For me this is paramount. I think most of us can sympathize with the temptation to feel like we have finally “solved” something, or know something, but that can lead to us building blinders, and being resistant to growth. Keep putting yourself out there and you will never get bored or lose your enthusiasm for learning. Sorry for the motivational rant.
-Fitness related pet peeves?: Speaking in absolutes, fear-mongering and insisting on dogmatic principles. If there is one thing I have learned in becoming a trainer (and becoming a better one over time) is that the phrase “it depends” is very important. Context is important. Theory is nothing without application.
-What do you do outside of work for fun? What’s your favourite hobby? (Don’t hold back here; tell us what it REALLY is): It’s reading. I swear to God! When I was delving into my self-education and really trying to read/learn as much as possible I tried to give up my pleasure/fiction reading so I could focus on as much “work” reading as possible. And I got really sad. I was losing my joy of reading and ease at which I could do it. So of course I realized that it wasn’t very balanced to cut out something that helped me relax and that I really enjoyed. I love reading fantasy fiction, sci-fi, historical romance, and even poetry. Lifting for as long as I want is my other hobby, hahah. This summer I think I will take up rollerblading again, as that is another hobby I used to love and that I let go of for a few years.
-Tell me about your own exercise and training? What are your short-term and long-term goals?: Short-term is to compete in Kettlebell Sport, so I am focusing on my technique and endurance with that. Long-term goals are that I would really like to master some advanced bodyweight moves, and of course stay injury-free through it all.
-What piece of advice would you offer to other people who are struggling to stay on track with their fitness/diet program?: Bite off what’s easy first, and build on that. Don’t put the cart before the horse and overcomplicate your life. A plan is not a plan if you can’t stick to it. For those who have never built the habit of exercise this is very important as well. If you don’t find some kind of pleasure in what you do, you won’t keep doing it, so pick something you like first. Do something you like and can stick to and this will get the ball of motivation moving in the right direction. For diet, keep plugging away at the basics and be honest with yourself. There’s a reason people argue against extremes. Some people can go that route and get results, but for the overwhelming majority (including me), you can’t just try to force your body into doing what you want. You gotta trick it here and there at first. Shift the trend. That’s where honesty comes in. Be honest about your good and bad habits and your strengths and weakness, so you can have a realistic and effective plan of action.
-Can you give us your daily philosophy that you aim to live by every day?: This is where I insert some wildly motivating quote eh……..And here it is: “If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating, as possibility!” ? Søren Kierkegaard. I read this quote years ago when I was 14 I think, and committed it to memory because I thought that it embodied the attitude I liked and wanted to live by. So, I would say that having a “passionate sense of the potential” is my philosophy for every day, and my conviction in keeping this attitude has only grown with the years.
-We hear you have a pretty rad website/online presence. Link us up!! :)
-Profession: Surgeon, double board certified in general surgery and trauma/critical care. Used to do mostly trauma surgery, but now concentrate primarily on cosmetic and weight loss surgery.
-Favourite sport: weightlifting!
-Have you competed or do you compete in any sport?: Olympic weightlifting
-What would you say is your all-time favourite exercise?: Snatch--hands down, bar none.
-Chocolate or ice-cream?: Both (cheesecake ice-cream with chocolate bits mixed in)
-What are 3 clothing staples in your wardrobe that you can’t live without?: Dansko clogs, my old pair of boyfriend-cut jeans with holes everywhere and Lancome Hypnose Drama mascara (yes, that’s a wardrobe staple lol)
-What is your particular niche in the fitness industry if you have one?: The only thing that makes me unique in the fitness industry is that I’m tiny and old but still dream of lifting big weights Although as a doctor, I do feel like I’m a little better trained at interpreting scientific papers and their data than some of the bros off the street.
-What makes you unique in your particular field?: There are only 1100 critical care boarded surgeons in the US and of those only a tiny handful are women. Trauma surgeons are supposed to be big, tough macho guys, not tiny, lipstick wearing women. I do have to step on a stool in the OR (which I bedazzled with flower stickers). And for all that I’m little and cute, I can silence a room in a heartbeat by screaming - loudly- “Shut the fuck up! The only one talking should be me and the person to whom I’m talking!” I was once the on-call trauma surgeon for the President of the USA.
-What’s a mistake you made early on, either in relation to yourself and your own fitness journey (or in relation to training clients if you are a trainer) and how you have grown from that experience?: I spent too many years spinning my wheels with lifting weights because I never set firm goals, just vague goals like, “I want to look better”. It wasn’t until I really focused on very specific goals - I want to snatch X, I want to squat Y - and then researched how to reach those goals - that I made any progress. Plus I feel like I’ve always mistaken hard effort for reaching maximum goals. By which I mean an intermediate weight can feel difficult but if you don’t push yourself past what feels difficult to test what you can really do then you’ll end up making no progress at all despite feeling like you’re putting in a lot of effort. My personal phrase said to myself often is, “stop being a candyass”.
-Would you describe yourself as more “creative” or more “practical”? Practical. I’m not sure I have a creative bone in my body.
-Fitness related pet peeves?: Putting down ANYONE’s efforts. I treat a lot of morbidly obese people. They may not look like fitness rockstars, but the fact that they’re there at all is an achievement and I applaud it. And don’t knock the “treadmill bunny” either. You never know where a person is on their journey.
-What do you do outside of work for fun? What’s your favourite hobby? (Don’t hold back here; tell us what it REALLY is!): I like to knit (dorky, I know) but my favorite hobby is going to electronic dance music festivals dressed in tiny and inappropriate costumes and dancing until dawn. Hence my nickname “Dr. Buttfloss”
-Tell me about your own exercise and training? What are your short-term and long-term goals?: I lift 4-5 times per week. I keep telling myself I need more endurance work but it doesn’t seem to happen. As an older lifter, I don’t have the recovery speed or capacity, so I focus on what’s most important to me, which is improving my oly lifts. I compete in the American Masters Nationals in April (Ed note: Since doing this interview, Rachael competed and SMOKED this, winning the National American Masters weightlifting championship 2014 ), hopefully World Masters Championships in September. My longest term goal (although I’ve only got 3 years to do it) is to break the US 53kg/45W records.
-What piece of advice would you offer to other people who are struggling to stay on track with their fitness/diet program?: I think it’s hard to focus on a vague far away long-term goal when that donut and that couch are sitting in front of you right now. Try to find a way to keep your goals up front and present in your mind to help you ward off the “fuck it” impulse to give in to not eating well or exercising. My personal trick is to keep my goal lifts as the wallpaper on my phone so that every time I pick up my phone to surf Facebook or check email, I have to remember what I’m doing all this and sacrificing for.
-Can you give us your daily philosophy that you aim to live by every day? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This has never, ever let me down.
-Holy shit! You are so freaking cool! Where can we follow you online?
Fitness and lifting:
Medical and professional:
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