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GGS Spotlight: Dr. Meryl Alappattu

Name: Meryl Alappattu
Age: 35
Location: Gainesville, FL

What does it mean to you to be part of the GGS Community? 
It means a lot to be part of an organization aimed at uplifting and encouraging women to be strong, confident, and embrace who they are, and who they want to be.

As a physical therapist, it’s refreshing to step outside that bubble and interact with fitness professionals and others who work with women in the health and wellness world. It’s also pretty cool that so many individuals who are not healthcare providers or health and fitness professionals are part of the GGS community.

I think we have a lot to learn from the clients and patients with whom we interact, and I have valued hearing their stories and perspectives through the different GGS groups with which I’m involved.

How long have you been strength training, and how did you get started?
I have been strength training since high school with organized sports but really only started lifting heavy weights a couple of years ago.

What does your typical workout look like?
It depends. If I’m doing weights, it’s some combination of deadlifts, squats, chin ups, push ups, rowing, military press, dips, bicep curls. It’s a mostly-structured program, I promise. I also like to spin and run with my friends. Saturday morning runs followed by coffee at one of our local shops is one of my favorite traditions with my friends!

Favorite lift:
My favorite lift would the deadlift because I’ve really enjoyed challenging myself over the last two years.

Most memorable PR:
A 205-pound deadlift.

Top 5 songs on your training playlist: 
I don’t have a training playlist but I’m partial to Pandora’s 90s hip hop station when I’m training alone.

Top 3 things you must have at the gym or in your gym bag:
Nothing. Am I missing out on something? Let me know, people!

Do you prefer to train alone or with others? Why?
I like to train with others because it helps to keep me accountable. If I am alone, I do require headphones.

Most embarrassing gym moment:
I haven’t had one yet. It’s only a matter of time I suppose.

Most memorable compliment you’ve received lately:
I ran into someone I haven’t seen in a long time and she told me how much she enjoyed the podcast I did with Clinical Athlete about incontinence in athletes.

Most recent compliment you gave someone else:
I told my husband he did a nice job with the leaf blower. Yard work is not really his forte. Ha!

Favorite meal:
Anything my mom makes. She cooks the best Indian food.

Favorite quote: 

“When you know better, do better.” — Maya Angelou

Favorite book:
Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese.

What do you do? 
I’m a physical therapist and a researcher. I’m also a reviewer for the CPPC and GGS-1 certifications. You may have also seen me (and my very active hands!) in the videos promoting these certifications.

What else do you do?
I just bought a house, so I have been having a fun time decorating and gardening. I like to wander around TJ Maxx for long periods of time. I really want to learn how to play the guitar. When I was in second grade, I signed up for band and selected the guitar but it wasn’t available at my school, so I was stuck with the clarinet. Imagine how good I would be at guitar now. So that is the next hobby I am taking up!

Describe a typical day in your life:
On weekdays, I wake up, walk the dogs, hit the gym, go sit in front of my computer at work deciding which paper or grant or study protocol I need to devote my attention to that day. In the Fall semester, I teach on Monday mornings. When I’m not in my office, I like to wander to the hospital coffee stand for a latte and I also like to roam around my department and chit chat with with my colleagues. Weekends begin with dog walking and working out with friends, yard work, shopping, catching up on work, or catching up on Bravo.

Your next training goal:
A 215-pound deadlift.

For what are you most grateful?
I don’t think I can pick one thing.

I know that I’ve been fortunate in my life and I appreciate and value the people and experiences that have been part of it and I look forward to what the future holds.

I’m grateful to even be able to have that positive outlook.

Of what life accomplishment do you feel most proud?
Being a dog mom to my chocolate lab and pitbull.

Which three words best describe you?
Honest. Sarcastic. Strong.

Tell us about a time when you overcame fear or self-doubt.
I crossed a water stream at a waterfall in Waterton Lakes, Canada, to try and get a great picture. I ended up slipping and fell into the water! It wasn’t streaming fast, but I would have gotten cut up and bruised if I didn’t get further up on the dry rocks. So I straddled that rock and pulled my body weight up it because I couldn’t use my legs to help since the ground was full of wet, slippery rocks! I was hard as hell but I got up the rock and thought to myself: Finally after all these years those damn chin-ups have come in handy!

What’s the coolest “side effect” you’ve experienced from strength training?
I don’t know if it’s a side effect of strength training but I like knowing that I can hang my own artwork and paintings, put together and move moderately heavy furniture, and in general just be handy around the house! I babysat my 3.5 year and and 1.5 year old nieces for a week last month who insisted that I hold them….at the same time. They are not light and I definitely used that as part of my strength training for the week! Hats off to the moms who are wrangling little ones full time!

What do you want to say to other women who might be nervous or hesitant about strength training?
If this is the first time you’re embarking on strength training, find a friend or colleague with whom you feel comfortable and can have fun, and find a trainer who can work with the both of you. I know having a trainer helps keep you accountable but if you have a buddy with whom you actually want to spend time to increase that accountability, even better!

There are so many benefits to strength training, especially as we get older, so there’s no time like the present to start!

You can connect with Meryl on Instagram and Twitter.

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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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