Bright-eyed, blond and beautiful on the inside and out. That describes Sarah Schulze. I can hardly believe that it’s been over two years since this amazing woman walked into my gym and into my life. We’ve trained consistently during that time and she’s become not only one of my strongest and most committed clients (she can deadlift, back squat, front squat and hip thrust like a champ and is building up her pull ups now!) but also my friend, my spin sister and my yoga buddy.
Sarah embodies the fitness principle of balance. She is an avid spinner, has been known to run a half marathon, swims regularly, takes yoga weekly and resistance trains.
I love her story and her energy and I’m so glad she took the time to share it with us below. If you’ve ever felt external pressure regarding your fitness, hated the thought of going to the gym, struggled with getting enough protein and with sugar then you should certainly give it a read. And if you want to see the perfect deadlift, come lift with us!
Q: What does being fit and healthy mean to you and how does training fit into your life?
I used to define fit and healthy as a skinny size two. Over the years, I have thankfully come to my senses, and realized that this is not a realistic worldview. Now, being fit and healthy means diversifying workouts, so that I can train for a half marathon or do weights because I want to be able to do those things. I want my body to be able to get up and move around without pain, and I want to eat foods that don't make me feel ill. Training makes the rest of my life feel better because it allows me to get through the day with more energy, and it puts me in a mindset to make better choices. I love getting my workout in first thing because if I start out the day in a good mood, it makes the day so much better.
Q: Talk to us about your decision to go vegetarian and are there any challenges you face nutrition-wise? And if so, how are you overcoming them?
I started out as a vegetarian for the silliest reason. I was 10 and wanted to copy my sister, who couldn't have protein. I've stayed a vegetarian over the years because of a combination of animal rights and health reasons, but I never miss meat itself. Unfortunately, it is difficult to get sufficient protein, and most vegetarian proteins tend to be pretty starchy. My trick is to keep changing it up with new flavors I haven't considered before (it is pretty boring to just eat beans every day). For example, I've taken JJ's spin on a curry chicken salad and made it my own with tofu and egg whites. The combo of two proteins with the added curry spice makes the normally bland protein fun to eat, and filling.
Q: What's that one exercise that makes you feel powerful and strong? And what's one that maybe you're working to improve upon?
The exercise I enjoy the most is deadlifts. I've always enjoyed perfecting my technique and form, so when I can deadlift a lot of weight with controlled form, it feels great (and looks pretty good, if we happen to be in front of a mirror). The exercise I can definitely work on is controlled pull ups. After about two, I tend to just release my arms and hope that I land on the block. It's pretty much the opposite feeling of a deadlift.
Q: What's your overall long-term fitness and health goal?
Weight loss has always been my long term fitness goal, and has driven a lot of my workouts over the years. However, it is a lifetime task, because once you lose the weight, you still have to work to keep it off. It's hard to stay motivated when it seems like a constant battle. That is why I've really appreciated what they call "non-scale victories." It helps keep me connected to my goal when I can look in the mirror and see that my arms are more defined, or that my glutes are more toned now than they have ever been. Although I feel like I'm overall a pretty healthy eater, my main goal is to learn how to control my sweet treats, so that they can be a part of my life (but not run it).
Q: What advice would you have for someone struggling to get started on a fitness program?
For many years, I hated working out. Going to the gym felt like torture, and it's amazing to look back now and think that I would go months without any physical activity. What really helped me get motivated to go (to the point where now if I'm not active every day, I begin to get cranky), is coming to the realization that I wanted to change something about myself. There are a lot of people giving you their input, whether they are parents, friends, or even a mean spirited commentator. Once you stop listening to them and determine what you want out of your life, it's easier to define a way to get there. Your motivation to get to your own goal will help you stick with it, whether it's the gym, a class, or just walking, because you want it for you. If you are listening to someone else, you're doing it for them, and I'm always more likely to stick with something if I chose to do it for myself.