Note from Molly: This spotlight is especially close to my heart. Kaniah is my cousin, and over the last several years I've watched her work extremely hard raising her beautiful family while being a successful, kick-ass attorney, and she has done an incredible job. It's been especially fun to watch her fall in love with strength training and watch her body transform. I am so proud of her hard work, and so honored to feature her today.
Name: Kaniah Whitehorn Konkoly-Thege
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
What does being a GGS mean to you?
That’s a good question. When I was first asked to do this, I immediately thought, “but I’m not a Girl Gone Strong” – I’ve got a belly that jiggles, thighs that rub together and I certainly don’t look like a Fitspo girls, so how could I be a GGS? Then, I remembered what being a GGS is all about – celebrating strength, health, fitness, nutrition and well-being – and I thought, wait a minute, that IS me.
Growing up, I was always very active – I loved swimming, biking and horseback riding. As I got older, I incorporated running, hiking and tennis into my workout regime. Then I had kids. I gained 60lbs during my pregnancy and after giving birth, I became overwhelmed by the stress of working full-time and caring for a baby. At the same time my husband lost his job and ended up being a stay-at-home dad for about six months. During this time, I completely stopped exercising and my diet became a mix of fast food and whatever was on sale. I kept the baby weight on for almost five years.
Then, about a year and a half ago, I decided I’d had enough. I was sick of my lethargy, but more importantly, I was worried about the effect my weight would have on my two girls. One day, my oldest daughter (then four years old), asked me if eating crackers would make her fat. She said a friend at preschool said eating crackers would make girls fat. I was horrified! Both of my children are slim and at a healthy weight. Plus, they love vegetables and fruits. I realized then just how important it is for me to set the right example for my girls to follow.
I was afraid that if they only saw their mother as fat, they wouldn’t believe me when I talked to them about health, exercise and nutrition.
I began a couch to 5K running program and by the fall of 2012, I was running about 15 to 20 miles a week. I had lost about 25 pounds, but was not satisfied with my progress. Then, around Thanksgiving, I found CrossFit and my whole world changed.
I have been doing CrossFit for about a year now. Within several months of doing CrossFit, I lost another 20 pounds, but more importantly, I dropped from a size 14 to a size 8. CrossFit has completely changed my idea of what beauty, strength and athleticism is.
Now, a year later, I rarely step on the scale and don’t worry about my calories. Instead, I focus on nourishing my body regularly. Most importantly, both my girls regularly tell their friends about their “strong mommy.” They think being strong is beautiful (it is) and they love to show off their muscles. They’re also beginning to think about how food makes them feel.
How long have you been training?
I have been doing heavy lifting for about a year. Before children, I would use the weight machines in the weight room, but had no real clue what I was doing. Except for my five year hiatus (see above), I’ve running, swimming and biking for about twelve years.
It’s a tie between back squat (PR 190 pounds) and deadlift (PR 205 pounds).
I love lifting heavy weights – it kind of makes me feel like a super hero.
Most memorable PR:
My most memorable PR was when I miscalculated my old back squat PR (I thought it was 165) and I moved up to 185. After my workout, I realized my old PR was 150. Had I remembered that, I probably wouldn’t have tried to increase my PR by 35 pounds.
Top 5 songs on your training playlist:
Is it wrong that I’d rather share my weight then my playlist? As a former college DJ, I’m embarrassed to admit I have several annoying, Top 40 pop songs rotating on my current playlist. However, my top faves are probably:
Top 3 things you must have with you at the gym/in your gym bag:
I go straight to work after working out so my gym bag resembles Mary Poppin’s purse – it’s huge and has almost everything in it. That said, I can’t live without: athletic tape, my weight belt and a jump rope. I suppose work clothes would help, but between work clothes and athletic tape, I’d probably choose athletic tape.
Most hilarious pick-up line you’ve heard at the gym:
I really can’t think of any…I’m pretty oblivious to what’s going on around me when I’m working out.
Favorite post workout meal:
Anything with bacon!
Favorite way to treat yourself:
As a mother of two young children, it’s hard to find a lot of “me” time, but I always make time for a long, hot bath and a “healthy” glass of red wine.
“The difference between a goal and a dream is a deadline.” - Steve Smith
“It is not only what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable.” - Moliere.
To Kill a Mocking Bird
What inspires and motivates you?
My daughters. I want them to grow up in a world where they feel valued for what they do with their lives, not what they look like.
What does a typical day look like for you? (From waking up to bedtime)
5am: Wake up, throw on workout clothes, go downstairs, make/drink coffee while I pack breakfast and lunch for myself and my husband, along with lunches for my children. Walk the dog. Meditate for 5 minutes.
5:45am: Leave the house; drive to CrossFit (I only stuck this in because I am extremely proud of how much I can accomplish in 45 minutes…sadly, some days, it’s the most productive part of my day).
6:00am-7:00am: CrossFit workout (I usually go 4 days a week. If I don’t go to CrossFit, then I run during this time). I love this time!
7:30am: Arrive at work (I’m an attorney for a government agency, so my work day varies widely…some days I sit in client meetings, others, I spend the entire day researching and writing pleadings and briefs. Occasionally, I am in court for some reason or another, but usually, I’m sitting most of the day).
12:00-12:30 or so: Lunch time. I usually eat while I work (I know, it’s not healthy, but I don’t like lunch meals anyway…don’t ask, I just don’t generally like lunch food). Anyway, lately, I’ve been trying to use this time to relax/de-stress either through yoga and meditation, but some days I go for a short 2-3 mile run, depending on what the CrossFit WOD was.
5:00pm: Leave work. Pick up my children/run them to whatever activity they are doing that day.
5:30pm: Go home, walk the dog, make dinner
6:30pm: Husband gets home (from CrossFit). We eat dinner (much of this time is spent trying to convince my children to take more than 3 bites of whatever it is we are eating). After dinner, help children practice piano; give them a bath.
7:30-8:00pm: Bed time for the children
8:00-9:30pm: Do laundry, pack gym bag, watch TV. Go to bed.
What’s the coolest “side effect” you’ve noticed from lifting heavy?
Hmmm, the best side effect is how my perception of my own body has changed. I never liked my big arms or thick legs; now I marvel at their power. I may not be completely ripped (I’m not paleo and I believe wine is a food group), but for the first time in my life, I take pride in the way I look.
Next training goal:
I have sooo many goals. I love goals…they make me feel happy and optimistic! I have my eye on competing in a local CrossFit competition in 2014, so right now, I’m working on my snatch and double-unders.
Three words that best describe you?
Optimistic, happy, successful
What do you want to say to other women who might be nervous to start lifting heavy?
I think the scariest thing about starting heavy lifting is walking into the gym. I think it can be very intimidating to watch someone do heavy lifting for the first time. When I first walked into my CrossFit gym, I wanted to turn around and leave. It looks like a big garage with giant weights and lots of beautiful, sweaty people. Then, I watched this adorably small woman do (what I later learned to be) a squat snatch and I was hooked. I don’t really know what it was about her, but I thought to myself, if she can do this, so can I. Before I saw her, I thought you had to be some huge body builder to do heavy lifting.
The thing about heavy lifting, once you learn how, anyone can do it!
You may not ever hit huge numbers, but you will see a huge improvement with your body. That said, it is critical to learn technique. Make sure you find a gym/fitness coach/personal trainer who knows what they are doing and who really pays attention to how you do a movement.
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