Stephanie’s Stronger U Story

Kenzie Faris
Community and Content Specialist

Member Spotlight

Tell us a little bit about yourself! 

I am 35 years old, and live outside Denver, Colorado. I am currently a full time PhD student, studying Counseling & Psychological Studies with an emphasis on Grief. I own a Private Practice in Denver, that specializes in supporting grief and trauma, in particular with children. In my free time, I love exploring with husband and two boxers. I love my local CrossFit Gym (Crossfit Thornton), even though after 5 years I barely remember all the moves!

What did your life look like before Stronger U?

I grew up in a family where weight was a constant conversation. My mom struggled with her weight, and relied on Weight Watchers when I was child. As a teenager, she under went Lap Band surgery ultimately losing the weight she desired. During this time I rowed for my high school in the light weight class. I was required to weigh under 130 lbs, and each week I ate the same food to ensure I could make weight on Saturday morning. Conversation around food felt critical at all times. My younger bother has Cystic Fibrosis (CF), and consistently struggled to gain weight. Our house was filled with high calorie high fat items, as well as healthier options… talk about confusing!

In 2016, my husband was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition that left him in a ton of pain, and our movement went from constantly active to grade A couch potatoes. In 2017, I joined the local Crossfit Gym in hopes to lose weight, and make friends. The demands of finishing graduate school, studying for licensure, became my priority over my eating habits. In 2018, I did a small weight loss challenge and lost 10 lbs. It wasn’t sustainable, and the limited food options were painful. After watching many members of Crossfit Thornton participate in Stronger U, I finally worked up the courage to sign up.

What does your life look like now? 

My life has completely changed since beginning Stronger U. The biggest change has been my confidence. Prior to Stronger U, it took a lot of convincing to step out of my comfort zone. I felt that even when I showed a brave face on the outside, I was terrified internally. Life felt like one long episode of a girl with imposter syndrome. I believe that my lifestyle is sensible and I try to live in moderation. I love my peloton (@thrpstselfcare), it carried me through the height of the pandemic. Currently 3-4 days a week, I set my alarm VERY early and attend CrossFit.

Had you told me, I’d lose almost 30 lbs, sustain it, and switch to 5 am CrossFit. I may have called you a liar! I am able to speak up, without apologizing. I have a way better work life balance too! On the weekends, I prioritize moving whether this be walking with a friend in the morning, riding my bike with my husband, hiking, or just being active with no time limit. This past summer, I craved weekly bike rides with my husband. I still am in awe that I clipped in on my bike and went for miles and miles!

One of the highlights was feeling confident enough to ride by bike 12 miles to brunch and eat breakfast in my spandex with friends! My day to day schedule is appointment only, and typically from 9-6 straight. I do a general meal plan on Sunday with my husband before we grocery shop. I get a late breakfast that varies (yogurt and berries, yogurt and granola, lavash and egg whites, egg whites, spinach, and bacon, and sometimes kodiak cakes made with ricotta if time permits!) a lot! For lunch I love a smoothie. This can be prepped in between one session, and blended in after another. I even splurged for a single cup ninja blender. I have one at my house, and one at my office. When in person, I prep the smoothie with LOTS of ice, ingredients, and then keep it in my fridge till I am hungry. Dinner is made by my husband most nights. We eat a lot of fish that he catches yearly (salmon, & halibut), and chicken.

This year I ventured into eating pork, and ground chicken. I save daily macros for a Yasso bar at night! My struggle tends to be the weekends. I have noticed the biggest change is it’s less of a go wild. I truly think about my order, and approach.

Where did you hear about Stronger U? 

Friends at Crossfit Thornton

Why do you think Stronger U worked so well for you compared to other programs or diets?

FLEXIBILITY!!!!

What was something you regularly ate while on Stronger U that people wouldn’t expect you to eat on a diet?

I love pretzel bun with ground chicken burger!!! We have found Banza to be a quick and easy launch to many recipes. The one grosses people out- is probably drinking egg whites often in my smoothies.

How much weight did you lose with Stronger U? 

I started at 198 and the lowest was 168.. I currently weigh between 171-173

Has Stronger U improved your overall quality of life?  

Stronger U has made me genuinely love myself. I most love that I am more likely to try something new than ever before.

If someone is thinking about joining Stronger U, what advice would you give them before beginning their journey?

Don’t wait! You have 25,000+ new friends who are cheering you on. You have a space in a community that is genuinely positive without feeling too intense.

Would you like to give a shoutout to your coach, SU staff member, or community member?

Can I have 3? I think my first shoutout would be to Desiree Gehrke. I always admired her skills at the gym. When I first saw the drastic changes she experienced from Stronger U, I wanted to try it. It truly gave me the confidence and push I needed. My second shoutout is to Julie Vieth Monzingo, we hold each other accountable and swap recipes and ideas. She also wakes up way too early and comes to Crossfit with me. My third shoutout is to Jodi, who has gracefully met where I am in life. Through the good times, the times of heartache and sorry, and many times when my plate is too full.

Any last thoughts? 

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. This experience has given me so much more energy to chase my passion and be present. My field never received training on what it would be like to work in a pandemic. I have watched it cripple my colleagues, and I feel like I’m on the top of my game.

Ready to start?

You've tried before, but this time you want real results without unrealistic restrictions.