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This week, the Stronger U Member Spotlight is shining down on Kristen Velez, who is working with Coach Josette Curtis!

What’s your name? (First and last names, pretty please)

Kristen Velez

Tell us a little about you in 5 sentences or less. Where are you from? Are you a parent? What are your hobbies? Anything unique about your life that you want to share?

I live in Pine Bush, NY. I work full time as a sales manager, have a 3-year-old daughter, 5-month-old son and a crazy chihuahua- so my life is a little chaotic right now! I’ve been with my husband for 9 years-he’s been with me through thick and thin, literally lol. I love shopping at TJ Maxx so much that some of the staff greet me with a hug.

What led you to join Stronger U?

After having my daughter, my body changed drastically. I had joined CrossFit and the exercise helped, but I really needed to dial in my nutrition. I saw some really amazing transformations from some of my friends that had joined at the gym, and they encouraged me to try it. I started tracking right before I turned 33, and my friends in the program bought me cauliflower rice and protein powder for my birthday- the support is unreal!

What dieting experience have you had previous to Stronger U? Was there a reason you were or were not successful? Why did you stop?

I did weight watchers years ago- I was successful but it was easy to underestimate how many points you were actually eating and it encouraged eating things with more preservatives/artificial sweeteners etc.

It’s clear Stronger U worked for you. Why do you think Stronger U worked so well when other programs or diets may have not?

It’s a lifestyle, not a fad diet. Flexible eating is realistic and not restrictive. Some days I’m really hungry and I eat high volume- other days I eat smaller and save my numbers for a big ass cheeseburger. I make it fit, I almost always feel satisfied and I don’t feel guilty for eating something “bad” because I planned for it!

Can you give some insight into your eating habits BEFORE joining Stronger U?

Wine, Pasta, Cheese, Fruit & Bread were my 5 food groups

Now that you’ve joined Stronger U, how have your eating habits changed?

Stronger U has definitely taught me so much about nutrition and reading labels. I eat (and enjoy) a ton of vegetables and lean protein every day. I eat 3 decent sized meals a day and 2 snacks. I rarely drink wine or eat pasta. I don’t deprive myself, but some things are just not worth it (goodbye, sour patch kids!)

If you exercise or train for a sport, what does a typical week look like? Did Stronger U have any impact on your decision to start exercising or training for a sport?

I do CrossFit 4-5 times a week at 5:30 AM for almost 3 years now. Once I started counting macros — I saw a HUGE difference in my performance at the gym. My endurance increased and I was able to lift heavier, and overall I just felt more confident being there

How much weight did you lose with Stronger U?

34 pounds my first time around!! Maintained for a year, got pregnant and I’m down 27 lbs! 2 more lbs to go til my prebaby maintenance weight

How did your waist measurements change with Stronger U?

Major changes after baby #2!! In 17 weeks I lost 7″ off my waist

What were 3 major non-scale victories you experienced with Stronger U?

1. Becoming a better role model for my kids and leading a healthy life style. My 3 year old wants to eat what I’m eating and loves cheering me on during a workout

2. I had a way healthier pregnancy the 2nd time around because I was eating right and exercising. I had a quick delivery & recovery…and my snap back game is pretty strong right now

3. I stopped giving a sh*t about what everyone else thought about me. I don’t care if you think I’m weird for bringing my own food to the party. If my shirt lifts up while I’m working out and you see my stomach hanging out- enjoy the show! I have goals and I’m not going to let anyone’s judgy eyes stop me from doing my thing

Has your change in body weight or composition improved other areas of your life? If so, explain what areas and how.

For a lot of people (especially women), we are our own worst critic, constantly pointing out what we don’t like about ourselves. I realized when I was communicating with my coach (Josette- she’s fabulous and I am so glad we were put together) that I was doing a lot of negative self-talk, and when people would compliment me I would say “yeah well I still have a looooong way to go”. She challenged me to respond differently to myself and to others, saying “Thank you, I have been working really hard”, and allowing myself to feel proud of what I have already accomplished. It made a big difference in my attitude towards myself- as we’re always going to be a work in progress. There’s a great quote, not sure who said it (we can pretend it was me) “Be careful how you talk to yourself because you are listening”

Are there any tips or advice you’d give to new members of Stronger U to help them succeed early on?

Plan ahead, be consistent, be HONEST with your coach. Don’t compare yourself to others and trust the process. Sometimes it takes a while for that scale to go down- be patient, stay on track, and don’t give up! Sounds cliché, but if you put the work in, it will show

If someone is thinking about joining Stronger U, what would you tell them?

You would be so surprised what you can accomplish when you stop letting your fears hold you back. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how much you have to lose. Everyone starts somewhere, and you should start now!

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