I am seriously privileged to work out with some amazing women. Last Friday morning, during the stretch after a workout, I had a very sweaty conversation with one such amazing woman. She told me how much she was enjoying the blog. (As have many others; I am truly grateful for all the positive feedback and honored that so many folks are reading. THANK YOU!)
But she did tell me one other thing (well, actually two…) She said she didn’t like the name of the blog, and that she thought I was way too hard on myself.
Okay, okay. I plead guilty to beating myself up on a regular basis.
Just to be clear, I am creating a sort of semi-humorous self-deprecating persona on this blog. But, to be even clearer, that’s pretty much who I am. I make jokes–often at my own expense–when I am nervous or out of my comfort zone. (Sometimes it’s just because I’m hilarious, but you get the idea.) As for the name, “Fit Fat Girl” is kinda catchy, and it will transition perfectly into “Fit (Formerly) Fat Girl” at some point in the future.
But overall, yeah, this friend is right. I am definitely my own worst critic. In my own mind, much of the time I’m not smart enough, strong enough, funny enough, cool enough, ANYTHING enough.
I do have my moments when I realize I am all those things, but they are precarious moments for sure, and they can be blown over by the slightest wind. Or even a tiny hiccup.
Take today, for instance. I just came off a truly amazing weekend. I watched people I love absolutely CRUSH the Fugitive Mud Run. (Completing a mud run was not my goal this year–I just don’t feel like I can afford to split my focus; I have to be 100% focused on my body transformation goals. Next year, watch out, mud runs!)
Afterward, we celebrated with a legit scheduled cheat meal, and then on Sunday we spent more time with great people. Oh, and I worked out about a million times. Five tough workouts in a row is no joke, but I finished it strong this morning. And all week, I’ve been getting such awesome feedback on the blog. I felt EVERYTHING enough, and more.
I let one comment from one person knock me down. Well, maybe two comments from two people. No need to get into the deets, but basically I had my efforts ignored by one person and sort of belittled by another. Aaaaaaand, despite dozens of compliments and empowering moments in the last week, I have been completely deflated, miserable, self-loathing, throw-myself-a-pity-party discouraged. Lame. I am so freakin lame.
Why am I lame? Because: I. LET. THIS. HAPPEN.
Yes, I know you’re all hearing Eleanor Roosevelt in your heads along with me. (Aren’t you? Am I the only one who hears her?)
The point is, whether you can hear Eleanor in your head or not, whether the two people noted above were uncool or not, this is MY fault. My deal. My hangup. I let it get to me; I allowed myself to be made to feel less than I am. Shame on me.
That shit’s gonna stop.
So these are now new goals for me: to be kinder to myself. To try to focus more on how far I’ve come instead of how far I still have to go. To surround myself with people who build me up, and tune out those who might be insensitive, thoughtless, or looking to cut me down.
Don’t get me wrong–I still plan to kick my own ass on a regular basis. There will be no getting complacent over here, and that’s the flip side of being too hard on myself…the good that comes of being my own worst critic: I keep pushing. I keep working. I always look for the next challenge, the next goal, the next step forward. How much better can I be? How much faster can I go? How much more can I lift? How much more can I give?
So even though I’m discouraged TODAY, even though I let stupid crap get to me TODAY, I’m still moving forward. Tomorrow is a new day, and I will wake up and be awesome. Like, Chewbacca on the drums awesome.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget the first time I saw Christa. To set the appropriate context, you should know that it was May 2010, and I was over 250 lbs –at my heaviest and my unhappiest, knowing I had to make changes but having no idea where to start or how to find something I could stick with. After hearing about Tuff Girl Fitness “boot camps” from a friend who was already taking them, I had set up my first complimentary class. I drove to East Rock Park, where classes used to be held in the old days, and sat in my car for over 10 minutes trying to work up the courage to get out. I was terrified.
When I finally did start making my way to the class, I immediately picked Christa out. She was wearing a sweet pair of Top Gun-ish aviator sunglasses, and I was totally intimidated, not gonna lie. But as soon as she saw me, her face opened up into a huge warm smile, and she came right over to me. “You must be Stephanie! I’m Christa. I’m so glad you’re here!” While I can’t say this welcome put me completely at ease (since I was still crapping myself about the workout) it lessened my anxiety and reassured me I was in the right place.
I feel like this first meeting perfectly demonstrates who Christa is. She can seem intimidating–she is, after all, a determined, driven, totally kickass strong woman who will stop at nothing to achieve her goals–but she is also a warm, compassionate person and a fierce advocate for and supporter of the women she trains. It is my privilege to share her badass story with you.
Christa is a dedicated mom to two adorable girls: Liv, 3 years, and Lea, 14 months. She and her husband Mike are co-owners of Bodyology Fitness Studio in Hamden, CT. Bodyology is the home of Tuff Girl Fitness (Christa’s original classes for women only) and Bodyology Co-Ed Group Performance Training. Although she has always been fit and committed to living healthfully, Christa recently undertook a no-excuses journey to earn her best body and has reached a level of fitness awesomeness that most women would call “impossible.” But that’s Christa for you–tell her it’s impossible and she’ll work her ass off to prove you wrong.
What Makes Her a Badass
This is sort of ridiculous when it comes to Christa, because everything about her screams “badass.” She pretty much defines the term as I perceive it. In fact, so overwhelming is her badassery that I have to split it up into several different categories.
Christa credits much of her determination to her high school basketball coach. He was the first person who really pushed her beyond her limits, who broke her down and then built her back up again. Ever since then, she’s been through many different levels of fitness, pushing herself to get faster, get stronger. She was an avid runner in her 20’s, often running 6+ miles almost daily.
While she was always “fit,” Christa wasn’t getting the results she wanted. Over the years, she refined her training, gradually moving away from running and into High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and lifting progressively heavier weights. She got real with herself about her food and eating habits, and committed to eating clean and cutting the crap. Over the 2+ years that I’ve known and trained with her, she’s continued to tweak her eating habits to best fuel her body, build serious muscle, and lean up.
Have a look at this progression, and notice that in none of these photos would you say Christa was heavy or out of shape, but DAMN! You can definitely see the amazing results in physique that come from dedication to clean eating and training hard:
And here’s what Christa looks like now, after a year of focused dedication to hard work and clean eating, 95% of the time:
I know exactly what you’re thinking, and “Holy Shit!” about sums it up. Christa set a goal, worked her ass off, and crushed it.
Some idiot doctor told Christa she would never be tough enough to have an unmedicated vaginal delivery. (Pause for laughter. Seriously. What a moron.) As with all her other goals and decisions, Christa knew what she wanted to do, and opposition that she faced only strengthened her resolve.
She gave birth to her daughter Liv in January of 2009, an unmedicated water birth. Just over two years later, little Lea was born the same way:
After Lea was born, Christa set out to prove that having a baby (or two) doesn’t mean a woman has lost her ability to have an amazing body and, most especially, cut up abs. And as much as I love words, I’m going to let these photos speak for themselves:
And, the finished product:
Beyond her dedication to being a role model of healthy, fit living for her 2 daughters, Christa has just about perfected the art of the work/family balance. She created the life and livelihood she dreamed of so she could be be there for her children and not have to compromise her family OR her passion for training. And speaking of her as a trainer…
Badass Business Owner
Badasses are huge risk-takers. They know that unless they’re willing to put faith in their awesomeness and make some scary leaps, they’ll never get the huge rewards, and instead will end up living humdrum mediocre lives. Unless you’ve been asleep for the last 900 or so words, you know that’s not how Christa rolls.
She started out as an Occupational Therapist, helping kids with varied issues and disabilities rehabilitate. When the bureaucracy of the job began to get in the way of her actually helping kids, Christa left. She worked in pharmaceutical sales next–a job that she hated, but it paid good money so she stuck it out for awhile. This is where she met her husband, Mike.
Christa was always training clients on the side, doing in-home boot camps on nights and weekends, driving all over hell and creation because her clients were so widely dispersed throughout Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts. That all changed when Liv was born, and she left her job in pharma for good.
In May 2009, Christa took a leap and started Tuff Girl Fitness with just 5 clients who met up in the park. Her plan was to grow the business over time, and eventually get her own studio once her kids were in school. You know what they say about the best laid plans…
What happened next was truly amazing, and I credit Christa’s passion, dedication, and hard work 100%. Her business exploded, pretty much all through word-of-mouth. When I started with her in May 2010, I’d say there were maybe 30-50 women attending classes regularly…I don’t know, maybe it was closer to 100 at that point? I’m not sure. (Stop badgering me about it! You know I’m not good with numbers!!!) She added a few more classes. They got more crowded as more and more women kept showing up at the park to work their asses off with Christa.
In early November 2010, with Liv not quite 2 years old and Christa just a few months pregnant with Lea, Bodyology Fitness Studio–home of Tuff Girl Fitness–opened.
I just want to make sure you caught that: Christa opened her own fitness home for a huge group of clients that she attracted with her passion and awesomeness, all while she had a toddler at home AND was pregnant with another baby. A. MAZ. ING.
The cycle continued. More classes added, followed by a part time trainer, the also-awesome Karin Christley. Annnnnnd, more growth. Classes got fuller and fuller as the word continued to spread about the fitness family Christa had created.
Just before Lea was born in the spring of 2011, Christa and Mike took a SERIOUS leap, the one that completely awes and inspires me. Mike left his secure, very-well-paying, benefitted job in medical sales to come on board full time at Bodyology as well. (And Mike is pretty awesome, too…check it out:)
Now, they had a family business that they were putting everything into. Is the idea of both earning spouses walking away from steady paychecks and benefits as terrifying to any of you as it is to me? Terrifying! REALLY!
But Christa’s doubts were few and far between. As she told me, she was never afraid of failure; that wasn’t even an option. She was afraid she wouldn’t be able to balance her passion for training and empowering women with her role as mom; she didn’t want her kids to lose out if her attention was divided. Her other fear was that, in trying to accommodate the overwhelming growth of the business, they would have to compromise the integrity of their program.
I’m here to tell you that her fear was completely baseless. She and Mike–and Karin, who came on full time in June to accommodate ever MORE growth–are all conscientious and relentless trainers, completely focused on driving each of us to give our best and nothing less in a safe and motivating environment. Just look at how badass they all are:
I can only imagine how amazing it is for Christa to see what she has grown from her own hard work and passion, to know that she has not only taken huge risks for huge professional payoffs, but that she has also done it in such a way that doesn’t compromise her family or her integrity. Talk about inspiring.
IN HER OWN WORDS
What have been your biggest challenges along the way?
The challenge for me has always been finding time for myself and my family. The lines were becoming really blurred for awhile, so I had to work to set some clear boundaries between work and home life. For example, I won’t answer emails after 2pm on a Saturday. Saturday afternoon, and through the day Sunday is our time for our family. I want to be there 100% with my family, just like I’m there 100% with my classes, with my own training–with whatever I’m doing!–and setting those kinds of boundaries lets me do that.
What are your proudest moments?
“[As a Mom], my proudest moments were the birth of my two daughters, and having a natural and unmedicated birth for both of them. I am also extremely proud that I am raising respectful, kind, polite kids.
[As a trainer], I receive 3-4 emails a week from women thanking me for helping them, and these are all proud moments. Sometimes, it’s as simple as doing a box jump or a deadlift–an exercise they were afraid of–and my encouragement helped them do it. But it goes beyond that…I am so proud to empower women with fitness. I’ve had clients who have found the courage to leave abusive relationships because of the empowerment they felt during our workouts, and I am so proud and so honored to be a part of that moment when women conquer things they are afraid of and overcome their challenges.”
What advice would you give to all of us on a fitness (or other) journey into badassery?
“Hard work pays off. If you’re not willing to work, don’t expect to get it. The best things in life take time and patience. All of my accomplishments didn’t happen overnight; I saw every day as an opportunity for growth and used it to get to where I am. You’re stronger than you think you are, and you don’t know what you’re capable of until you put yourself out there and go after what you really want.”
With this long of a post, there’s really only one thing left to say: Christa Doran is a total BADASS, and I am so lucky to have been able to share her story with you.
So, I’m going to start this whole new section on the blog, “Profiles in Badassery.” And I talk about peeps who are “badass” all the time throughout the blog (in case you haven’t noticed).
You probably have your own idea of what defines a badass, but so do I, and I wanted to make sure that you knew exactly what I was talking about when I call someone a badass–because it’s really one of the highest compliments I can give. And it’s what I aspire to be.
Steph’s Components of Badassery
A badass sets goals that seem impossible–or are at least seriously challenging–and then proceeds to crush them at every turn. No excuse gets in the way, because excuses are recognized for what they are (e.g., total bullshit) and then flushed down the toilet.
Badasses may stumble along the way, or even fall flat on their faces. They don’t let it stop them. Ever.
Takeaway tip for being a badass: It’s going to be hard, maybe close to impossible. You’re going to want to give up. DO IT ANYWAY.
Badasses are afraid, but they never let it stop them. No risk is too great, no obstacle too large or scary to stand between a badass and his/her goals. A badass looks fear in the face, acknowledges its presence, and then says, “Suck it, fear!” (Maybe not out loud…but you get the point.)
Takeaway tip for being a badass: It’s going to be scary. You may want to crap yourself. DO IT ANYWAY.
3. Hard Work and Perseverance (aka Hard Work…again and again and again and again and again and again…)
Badasses don’t dick around. They don’t flit about, wondering when their ship will come in. They build the damned ship themselves, even if it takes years.
You won’t hear a badass calling a leisurely stroll around the track a “workout,” or blaming “bad genes” for their obesity.
A badass takes responsibility for mistakes, then puts in the work needed to get the job done. Over and over and over. Even when there are challenges, badasses keep working. Even when they are tired, badasses keep working. Even when no one else is doing it, badasses keep working. Even when it gets harder when they think it should be getting easier, badasses keep working.
Takeaway tip for being a badass: It’s going to take a lot of work over a long period of time. You’re going to get tired, and you might want to make excuses so you can stop working. DO IT ANYWAY.
Do you know someone who is a total badass by my definition? (Maybe it’s you!)
Shoot me an email at email@example.com and tell me about them. Maybe I’ll feature them!