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 six 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 five and a half 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?
Right now I’m in the midst of prepping for my first powerlifting meet, that I will participate in this coming October. The program I have written had a longer strength block (2 months) and then a 1 month peaking block. Below you can find my workouts for this first month of my strength block.
Deadlifts and Pull-Ups!
Most memorable PR:
In April of 2015, 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:
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. At work now, 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:
I’ve made a sincere effort over the past couple of months to praise people more. One of my newest and closest friends is so great at reminding me of what I’m good at it and I’m doing my best to do the same. Whenever we chat and we’re feeling anxious, I reminder her of her values, her purpose, and her amazing qualities that she has to share with the world. I’ve made a sincere effort over the past couple of months to praise people more. One of my newest and closest friends is so great at reminding me of what I’m good at it and I’m doing my best to do the same. Whenever we chat and we’re feeling anxious, I reminder her of her values, her purpose, and her amazing qualities that she has to share with the world.
Most embarrassing gym moment:
Definitely farting during a Pilates class. What can I say, it definitely gets your insides moving!
Breakfast: Full-fat Greek yogurt with fresh berries. So. Good.
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 a Strength & Conditioning Coach at Ethos Colorado (an athletic training center in Arvada, CO), which is just so much fun; as well as a part-time babysitter, and online coach for my own business. I love all of my jobs. Being a babysitter gives me a chance to practice being patient (lol) and actually taking time to play and have fun. Being a Strength Coach at Ethos and online coach are both incredible learning opportunities as well as extremely rewarding jobs.
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 by climbing and hiking.
What does a typical day look like for you? (From waking up to bedtime)
5-6:30am: wake up, drink water, make coffee, write my three pages for The Artist’s Way (a personal development course on rediscovering/recovering your creative self).
7-11am: babysit/coach (depending on the day).
11am-3pm: lunch, workout (takes about 1.5 hours), read, write, learn.
3-8pm: babysit/coach (depending on the day).
8-9pm: dinner, read, get ready for the next day, shower.
**Times vary according to the day of the week.
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:
My next goal is to go 9/9 at my first powerlifting meet in October. Going 9/9 means making each attempt for each lift. My goal with this first meet is to test the waters, write my own programming, and have fun with it!
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 when people give a fu*k.
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, completing a Tough Mudder (2012), and having the guts to move to Colorado (2015) not knowing anyone and having close to nothing.
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.
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