Name: Heather Griffiths
Location: Caledon, Ontario, Canada
How did you find out about Girls Gone Strong?
I was lucky to be following a few of the founding members just as they were forming Girls Gone Strong. It’s been pretty cool to see the momentum build from its infancy!
What does being a Girl Gone Strong mean to you?
Being a Girl Gone Strong is like finding my tribe. Finding women who not only think like me, but who also support my goals—and me personally—in a positive way is incredible. Women who aren’t afraid to have muscles and are happy to show them off. I have always known that I was strong but felt it was something that I should hide, not an asset that I should value.
What do you do?
I am self-employed, and I do a variety of consulting work in agriculture—a mix of quality assurance and data analysis. On the side, I am secretly hoping to do health and wellness coaching.I want to help others by sharing what I have learned.
Becoming healthy and taking care of myself has been a pretty profound change in my life.
What else do you do?
A few years ago, someone asked me this question and it blindsided me. I went to answer and I realized that had no answer. I suddenly realized that all I did was for my kids—my hobbies and interests had fallen away. Now I still prioritize my kids, but I take time for me. I love hiking on local trails and heading out on a canoe adventure. I am a gardener at heart and take pleasure in my vegetable garden as well as flower beds and my personal favourite, my blackberries. There is still quite a bit of work to do with my work:play ratio, but at least I am headed in the right direction—now just need to start making time to get back to creating art again.
How did you get introduced to strength training, and how long have you been training?
My first taste of strength training came about as a result of an knee injury (meniscus tear). I had to stop running, and I had to wait a long time to get an MRI, so I was looking for something that I could do for cardio at home that wouldn’t impact my knee. I found kettlebells and happily fell down the rabbit hole. Soon after, a squat rack moved into the basement to join my kettlebells. The more I learned about strength training, the more I realized I that this was something that I loved and could do! That was 2010, and I have just kept getting stronger since then.
Bulgarian Split Squat. It’s actually a love-hate relationship. They do amazing things for my knee stability, and I am always proud of them when I am done. But during the lift there is definitely some grumbling going on.
Top three things you must have with you at the gym or in your gym bag:
Water, chalk, some tunes.
Do you prefer to train alone or with others? Why?
I prefer to train alone for a couple reasons. First, I am very competitive, and I know that in a group setting I would subconsciously compete with others around me. Second, training time is my time, and I’ll take as much of that as I can get.
Best compliment you’ve received lately:
Someone recently told me that I was a really good parent. It’s not something that you hear very often from other people and it totally made my day. A little less recent, but something that has really stayed with me, happened a couple years ago when we moved. The movers were in the basement picking up my kettlebells, barbell, and squat rack and one of them commented to my husband that he had a pretty cool set-up.
He asked my husband how he liked training with kettlebells. My husband laughed and said, “Those are my wife’s!”
From that point onward they kept looking at me funny, and when I carried a box of weight plates upstairs to speed up the process, the look on their faces was priceless. I’ll take that as a compliment!
Most recent compliment you gave someone else:
A friend of mine recently became a yoga instructor and her classes always push me in unexpected ways. I love her classes and told her how amazing they are.
Favorite way to treat yourself:
Sitting down with a cup of coffee on the front porch with my hubby.
To change, you have to change.
Three words that best describe you:
Optimistic, Genuine, Supportive
The Harry Potter series… I’m just a big kid!
What inspires and motivates you?
Seeing changes happen in myself or in other people.
Describe a typical day in your life:
I usually am up around 6 a.m. and try and do my workout right away, as I find that if I wait to do it later, it might slip down the list of priorities. Then it’s time to make lunches, and once the kids are off, I head right into my home office. The kids are home usually by 3:30, and I turn into the mom/taxi driver. During these excursions, I usually try to take the dog for a walk on one of the local hiking trails while waiting for the kids. Going for hikes in the middle of my day really gives my brain a break and renews my energy for the rest of the day. From there, we head back home for dinner, which is usually something that I batch-cooked over the weekend. If I am lucky, then it might be a yoga night. If all goes as planned, I’m in bed by 10 p.m.
When did you join Strongest You Coaching?
Why did you decide to join and what helped you make the decision to join? I had participated in other excellent coaching programs but my body wasn’t responding to what I had been doing before. I felt that Strongest You would help me fine-tune some of the changes that I had made, as it seemed a new approach was required to help combat some of the hormonal issue that I was having. The body-positive approach appealed to me. I liked that some of the coaches had had hormone issues of their own, and they knew where I was coming from. I knew, from the materials that GGS produced, that it would be a solid program, and having access to a coach on a personal level was what I was looking for.
What has been your biggest challenge in the Strongest You Coaching program?
My biggest challenge has always been making the actual change or knowing what to change. It’s easy to say, “Well, I do this, this, and this right, so why is it working?” but not actually make a change. I really needed help with what to change and then ideas on how to implement that change.
What has been your biggest success in the Strongest You Coaching program?
My biggest success has been how I look at my body and how I think about my body. I didn’t realize just how negatively I thought about my physical body. Using the mantras in Strongest You seemed crazy at first but it actually worked. I didn’t believe that practicing saying nice things to myself would actually start to feel natural.
My other huge success is that I’ve literally run out of weights—I have to go shopping for more weight for my deadlift!
What do you like best about the Strongest You Coaching community?
It’s truly an open and accepting community. People are working on the similar issues and if they are not they can give their own experiences on how they navigate challenges. No question is silly and working in a team really helped inspire me and motivate me.
What “BIG” goal did you want to achieve by the end of Strongest You Coaching?
If you had asked me this question a couple years ago, I would have answered, “To be able to wear a bikini with confidence.” (And yes, I know that at any point I can wear a bikini!). Now, it’s really about feeling good and being able to do the things I want to do. The previous year I had some serious iron issues, and on our big canoe trip I could barely keep up. On one particular climb, I remember thinking that I might pass out. When my friend asked if I could take a turn carrying the canoe, I had to say no. Having to say that I couldn’t do something killed me, and I felt like I had let myself down.
My big goal this summer was to be able to portage the canoe myself. I not only portaged the canoe for many kilometers, I did it over rough terrain, multiple times.
I was really proud that I had been able to meet the challenge.
What is the habit you’re currently working on most?
Having a home office right next to the kitchen means that snacking is a serious issue for me. It’s very convenient for me to snack when I am not actually hungry. I constantly need to work on listening for hunger cues and not reaching for a snack because I am bored or stressed.
How has Strongest You Coaching changed your life?
It’s going to be hard to put it into words all the ways that Strongest You changed my life. I came into Strongest You feeling like my body had failed. I had reached a certain level of fitness before and then boom, my body had let me down. Now I respect my body and all the amazing things it can do. I don’t walk by a mirror and judge my appearance. Somehow my narrative about my body had gone sideways, and I had even come to negative conclusions about what others must think about my body. Strongest You really helped me reset my thinking and realize what I was doing.
As well, I think Strongest You has helped me reach a balance between recovery and working hard. I now listen better to what my body is telling me. I recognize when outside stresses could impact my performance and know when to dial it back or dial it up.
When I initially started with Strongest You, I thought it was going to be about getting strong physically, but really it’s as much about getting mentally strong.
What would you tell a woman who’s nervous about joining Strongest You Coaching?
When I was trying to decide whether or not to sign up for Strongest You, I contacted them. I asked all the questions I could think of. The coaches at Strongest You are really in this to work with you and help you reach your goals. They will be as hands-on or hands-off as you want, but I would recommend reaching out as much as you need to. The interaction with the rest of the people in the group is so helpful and being able to not only talk to your coach, but also hear others’ questions and concerns is beyond helpful. The individualized training programs are great, but really it’s the mindset component that is going to take you to the next level.
If you’re inspired by Heather’s story, read on to learn more about—and join!—our community of strong, supportive women…