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GGS Spotlight: Laura Franklin

Name: Laura Franklin
Age: 30
Location: Davidson, NC

What does being a Girl Gone Strong mean to you?
It’s about finding and embracing your power in whatever form it comes. It is about owning your space and being comfortable in your skin. It’s having the courage to take on new challenges and get outside of your own box. It is nothing more and nothing less than fully embracing yourself and your potential.

How long have you been strength training, and how did you get started?
I’ve always enjoyed the notion of being “strong”. I worked with a catering company from the time I was 14 until well into my mid-20s and I loved being able to pick up the heavy stuff without assistance. We had some basic exercise and strength training equipment at my house growing up, I occasionally frequented a gym in high school and college, I did lots of at-home workout programs. But I didn’t find my groove with strength training until after my daughter was born. I found myself in a CrossFit style gym in early 2015 and signed up for their intro course. Why not, right? Had to get that pre-baby bod back after all… (I was serious about this then, I’m sarcastic about it now.)

I loved it, but what I loved most were the strength components — not so much the mayhem of the day’s WOD and sprinting all over the place. It was fun, but only fun in a group. However, me and the barbell? Yes, please!

What does your typical workout look like?
Whatever my SYC coach, Jen Comas, has programmed for me that day! Ha!

I like some variety and, like everyone, I have my favorite exercises. It usually goes something like this:

  • Brief warm up (really brief if I’m in a hurry)
  • A few sets of a bigger lift or two (deadlift, squats, bench press)
  • Lighter or bodyweight sets with more variety (push ups, pull ups, core work)
  • Cooldown (yoga and stretching)

The days vary too, so one day would be more upper body focused, then lower body, and then total. SYC programming covers it all!

Favorite lift:
Oooh, that’s a close tie between deadlift and bench press! I feel like a badass deadlifting and once I started pulling numbers over 200, my personal badassery increased even more. When I started lifting in 2015, my three-rep max was only 160 pounds so hooray for improvements!

The bench press and I have a more tumultuous relationship. I love the way that lift feels, but it’s one of my weakest ones, so every time the weight increases just a little bit I do a happy dance. Breaking three digits was an awesome accomplishment and yet there are still days I can’t quite do it.

Most memorable PR:
Breaking 200 pounds on my deadlift. It had been a goal for me since my first deadlift. I just wanted to crack 200 pounds and I pulled over 215! Utter badassery.

Do you prefer to train alone or with others? Why?
Alone. Having a spotter from time to time would be nice but generally I just want to turn up the music and go. I don’t get much time to myself each day but my gym time is mine.

Must haves when working out?

  • Hair bands, clips, some way of getting all this hair off of my back and out of my face.
  • Music — my Pandora “gym” station is a finely tuned combination of hip hop, pop, and punk.
  • Water — hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
  • I also have to modify a fair amount in the gym so my trusty braces, bands, etc. to get the job done.

Most memorable compliment you’ve received lately:
I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on my hair lately. I’ve been dabbling with adding blues and purples to my usually dirty blonde mane. I can’t say that any have been particularly memorable. The most memorable compliment I have ever received though was back in college. I was working in a restaurant and had someone tell me that I looked like Lindsay Lohan but a “not cracked out version”. I’m actually still not convinced this was a compliment…

Most recent compliment you gave someone else:
I had lunch with a colleague today who had recently added me on Facebook. Her profile picture is this amazing shot of her doing the tree pose on an actual mountain cliff. She looked so peaceful and strong. Just gorgeous.

Favorite meal:
Sushi. Give me all the sushi. I also have a favorite Japanese hibachi steakhouse that I frequent once a year for my birthday with the yummiest noodles. Top that off with some fudgy brownies or other chocolate deliciousness and I’m a happy woman.

Favorite way to treat yourself:
A massage. Taking myself to a movie. Some quality relaxation time with just me. And in the immortal words of Donna Meagle and Tom Haverford — treat yo’ self!

Favorite quote:
No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her own body. — Margaret Sanger

Do or do not. There is no try. — Yoda

Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light. — Albus Dumbledore

Favorite book:
I am a big nerd. Big. I wrote my Master’s Thesis on the Harry Potter series so I’ll easily dub that my all time favorite book series.

What inspires and motivates you?
My daughter. She is an almost-3-year-old ball of energy, excitement, wonder, bluntness, curiosity, beauty, intelligence, humor, and goofiness. She has taught me to be better at going with the flow, to marvel in the face of beauty, and to just go for it if you see something you want.

I love my daughter and my husband, my little family, more than anything in the world. It is so important to me that I do what I can to be the best version of myself so that we are the best version of us.

What do you do?
Oh boy. A lot. And it’s changed so much very recently! I was recently given the opportunity to take my part-time position as the Girls Gone Strong Content Manager and turn it into a full-time role as the Content Project Manager! So thrilled to be making my home with GGS. I am an adjunct lecturer in the women’s and gender studies program at my University as well as the faculty supervisor for the program’s honor society. I sit on a couple boards — one as an advisor, the other as the Director of Communications and Marketing. I am also a public speaker and discuss gender, feminism, media, and reproductive justice. You could say that I stay busy!

Describe a typical day in your life:
We’ll assume I got a good night’s sleep so that would mean up at 5 AM to hit the gym (sometimes this happens after work if the sleep was in short supply). Workout, shower, and get ready for work all happen before it’s time to get the kiddo ready for daycare. We’re headed out by 7:15 AM and then do the work/daycare thing until 5 PM. Once we’re home it’s the nightly cook dinner, hang out with the family, kid in bed, sit (or fall asleep) on the couch and then repeat!

Your next training goal:
I have a couple: 2 unassisted, clean pull-ups and 30 push-ups without a set break. Halfway there on both!

For what are you most grateful?
So much! My husband — we’ve been together for 14 years this year and I don’t know what I’d do without him; he’s the peanut butter to my jelly. We’re so different in some ways which drives us crazy and so alike in so many others. My daughter, my little monster. My mother and sister for their unwavering love and support throughout my whole life. Most of my family for that matter by blood and marriage! My therapist and the fact that I sought therapy during one of the most difficult times in my life — something I highly recommend to all.

Which three words best describe you?
Strong. Stubborn. Beautiful.

What’s a risk you’ve taken recently, overcoming fear or self-doubt, and how did it turn out?
I had a minor surgery done in mid-August. I’ve had a fair amount of surgeries in my life. Nine of them before I was 10 years old. This surgery made number 12. I hate hospitals. I appreciate them and what they do but I hate being in them. The smells. The hospital gowns. The IVs. Yuck.

So the idea of going in for a not-mandatory-but-could-improve-quality-of-life surgery was a difficult notion for me to deal with. I spent the first week after scheduling it still half wondering if I’d go through with it. As for how it turned out, ask me in a couple months after I’m fully healed! For now, the surgeon seems to have done a great job and zero complications experienced.

What’s the coolest “side effect” you’ve experienced from strength training?
I had to buy all new pants. My thighs had outgrown all my pants, ha! So after buying pants large enough to fit my thighs, I then had to have all of them taken in around my waist. But hey, I got to go shopping. I also have muscle definition in my traps. At all times. Without flexing. It’s pretty cool.

How has lifting weights changed your life?
It’s increased my confidence both emotionally and physically. I am capable of things I honestly never thought I could be. I thought pull ups were out of my reach; they’re not. I saw a video of someone doing swiss ball pike ups and thought “Woah, I don’t know if I could do that!” I totally could. And did. On my first try! I second guess myself less and am more attuned with my body and my mind. Basically, I am woman hear me roar.

What do you want to say to other women who might be nervous or hesitant about strength training?
Try it. Just try it. You might not like it and that’s fine. But if you do? Well, welcome to the club and we’re so thrilled you’re here! There’s also nothing wrong with starting small. You pick up those 5 pound dumbbells and you rock the sh*t out of them!

When did you join Strongest You Coaching? Why did you decide to join and what helped you make the decision to join?
I joined SYC in January 2017. I had been interested for probably a year or more but had never reached out. It felt like it was out of my league and out of my budget. I was wrong on both accounts. I had struggled with body image for at least two thirds of my life. I went on my first diet when I was 11 or 12.

I had taught all about the ridiculous standards that media holds women to and that we are all beautiful. I taught it; I believed it. But I couldn’t apply that to me and my life. I was unhappy and had been unhappy with my body for so long I couldn’t even guess. I was tired of being unhappy and something needed to change. I also refused to pass on my insecurities to my daughter. I will do everything I can to ensure she loves and accepts herself just as she is but how could I truly do that when I hadn’t accepted myself? Finally, I emailed Molly, our woman-in-charge, with some questions and here I am.

What has been your biggest challenge in the Strongest You Coaching program?
Getting over some of my mental roadblocks. SYC challenges the way you think or, most specifically, the way we’ve been trained to think. It forces you — if you let it — to get outside of your own head, your own way of doing things, and lean in to the discomfort. Doing the same thing over and over again is easy and comfortable. But doing the same thing over and over again won’t get you anywhere.

What has been your biggest success in the Strongest You Coaching program?
Unassisted pull up! This was something that, for the longest time, I didn’t think I would be able to do. But I did! Even more important than that is how I feel: I feel different; I know the way I think has changed and while I’ve got more work to do (and always will), I’m on a much, much better track now than I was before SYC.

What do you like best about the Strongest You Coaching community?
Find your tribe — Shannon L. Adler.

Not enough can be said about the importance of having a support system especially when venturing into new or challenging territory. With SYC and GGS, I have found my tribe. We share in each others’ challenges, successes, confusion. We swap favorite snack ideas, recipes. We offer tips on form if someone is having trouble with a new movement or lift. And I’m not even talking about the Coach herself. Your coach is always there to answer any (and ALL) of your questions. To help redirect you when your mind starts reverting to old and maybe unhealthy ways of thinking. This community can truly change your life.

What is your “BIG” goal you’d like to achieve by the end of Strongest You Coaching?
Wow! I want to look in a mirror and not focus on the parts of my body I’m less than happy with. I don’t want to look immediately at my stomach and wonder if I’d be happier if it were flatter or more defined. I’ve learned in SYC that I wouldn’t be happier because I’m still focusing my self-worth on a part of me and not the whole me. So I want to look at my traps, my biceps, my shoulders, my quads — all the areas at which I can look and see strength, power, and beauty. Because strong, powerful, and beautiful is what I am and who I aspire to be. Not a flatter stomach.

What is the habit you’re currently working on most?
Acceptance and fixing mindless bad behaviors. The acceptance piece is kind of obvious but the “behaviors” for me is referring to my more self-destructive tendencies. Particularly when self-care becomes self-comfort and then self-indulgence. Sometimes this is okay and I’m getting better and letting myself be comforted with chocolate every now and then. But it doesn’t need to be my go-to like it has been. It’s a process.

One of the “ah-ha” moments I had during SYC was during a group discussion about how hard it is to change some habits but, more importantly, why it’s so hard. Our bodies and our minds like routine and familiarity even when they’re not healthy. They want to fall back into the old rut because that doesn’t require work. Real change takes work, is uncomfortable, mentally tiring, and a bumpy process.

How has Strongest You Coaching changed your life?
It’s changing the way I think, or rather, it’s correcting the way I think. I’m more attuned to my mental, physical, and emotional needs. I’m learning to better prioritize what I need and want as well as what I’m willing to do to achieve those needs and wants. I’m becoming happier and more accepting of me as a whole individual. My worth is not the equivalent of a number on scale, whether I ate a brownie today, or deadlifted 220 pounds.

As someone who’s spent the majority of my life being unhappy and dissatisfied with my appearance, I finally feel like I’m on the right path and am learning that there’s not a damn thing wrong with me.

What would you tell a woman who’s nervous about joining Strongest You Coaching?
It is so worth it. Some of the topics are challenging. You will be pushed to confront challenges you’ve had, maybe all your life, but it is so important to be open to this discomfort. The more you can open yourself up to the process and the more honest you can be with yourself and the group, the more successful you will be. And it really is so worth it. This is an amazing opportunity to learn more about yourself and how to truly care for yourself than you may have ever thought possible.

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We want to welcome you to the community, and encourage you to:
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About The Author: GGS

Girls Gone Strong is a force to be reckoned with fighting back against the $64 billion-a-year weight loss industry telling us we should be less instead of more. We have come together to provide a common voice of body-positive, evidence-based information to help women reach their health and fitness goals, whatever they may be. Learn more about GGS here.

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