This interview is part of the Real Talk Real Women interview series, where we bring you the life-changing, heart-warming and inspirational stories behind the most successful women in health and fitness. Make sure to follow us on Instagram for the latest interviews! For this installment, we are joined by the lovely, multi-talented Christine Hronec.
Let’s start off with a general introduction. How would you describe yourself, what are you all about and how did you get involved in health and fitness?
I'm an author, engineer, nutrition scientist, and bikini fitness competitor. I have a B.S and M.S. in Chemical and Biological Engineering from Drexel University, and got my start at Fortune 100 Company DuPont as a chemical engineer for 6 years before branching out as an entrepreneur with small and mid-size start-up companies in the biotech and nutraceutical industries.
I am an owning partner of Private Label MGN, a dietary supplement manufacturing company, and the founder and CEO of Gauge Girl Training, an online nutrition and fitness coaching service. I consider myself to be very type A overachiever. I've always been interested in fitness as I used to run track, cross country, and a marathon runner in my early to mid 20's.
However it wasn't until I was about 28 that I became interested in health and fitness. I found that no matter how many miles I would run, I STILL could not get abs, and this frustrated me to no end. It wasn't until I picked up weight training and used my knowledge of science to figure out how to eat properly that I finally began to see changes in my physique.
As the food scientist for a dietary supplement manufacturer, I began to "drink the koolaid" and began to actually use the products that I produced and formulated on a daily basis. Once I started to see results, I became addicted and started doing NPC Bikini competitions. I found my true joy in helping others realize their health and fitness goals and I started Gauge Girl Training in late 2012 to coach women online. Since then, my online coaching business has grown over 3000% and I have a full time team helping me make science accessible for real people who are sick and tired of quick fixes and are ready to commit to a real lifestyle change.
Where does your motivation come from?
My motivation comes from within. Originally, I have to say that it first stemmed from a desire to please my parents. I'm half filipino, and anyone with an asian mother understands that the standards for excellence are far above and beyond anything that any of my friends parents expected of them growing up. However it made me who I am today. I was always expected to do my best, and lived with a lot of pressure as an only child of an asian mother where something like an A minus simply wasn't acceptable in my household.
As I matured and got to college, it was no longer about pleasing my parents but about proving to myself that I could do whatever I put my mind to. I can count the number of parties I went to in college on one hand, and while most people will call me a nerd or a dork, I simply don't care. I knew what I wanted for myself. I knew that studying Chemical Engineering was going to be a challenge. I didn't want to wake up and look at myself and my grades and say, you know, if I just stayed after class and asked my questions, or if I only did the extra reading, or if I only did the bonus problems, then I might have done better.
I wanted to know how good I truly was so I left zero excuses for myself and did everything humanly possible to make sure I would do well. My talent isn't "talent," my true talent is my discipline. I am that person that is willing to take my mediocre talent and work harder than anyone else would even dare to, and that’s why I am successful. Most people never exercise their resources or are willing to do the most basic things that don't require athletic or intellectual ability. It frustrates me to no end when I see people with the most amazing, God given talents and abilities, just waste them because they were too lazy to apply themselves. I believe the future belongs to those who are brave enough to believe in themselves and apply themselves to their goals.
As you decided to make a career out of your passion - what were your biggest stumbling blocks along the way?
The biggest stumbling blocks for me was letting other people in. As an only child, and "over-achiever," I am very competitive by nature, which is a good thing, but it has its cons when you are trying to grow a business. I used to think I could do everything myself and I didn't need anyone to help me and that is just complete foolishness.
Alone you can go fast, but together you can go far. It wasn't until I allowed myself hire a team that I was able to expand my reach, improve my quality of life, and think more clearly and strategically because I had the support to delegate time consuming tasks. In addition to letting other people in, my other stumbling block was taking on too much, getting too excited, and again, trying to do it all. I realized that I can do everything that I set my mind to but that doesn't mean it all needs to get done, right this second. Being patient with my goals and allowing things to unfold with time as I pursue the bigger goals was a huge lesson that I am still working on.
What’s your perspective on the importance of self-care?
I believe that health should never be neglected and that it should be given higher priority than vanity. It doesn't matter how good one looks if you are compromising your mental health and carrying obsessive, unhealthy habits. I've learned to prioritize rest, where I used to think I was invincible and could live off of 3-4 hours a night, when that’s just not true. I allow my body to rest more these days because I love my body, I choose to eat healthy, nutrient dense foods because it makes me feel good, I choose to exercise because it keeps my stress level down and keeps my body fit and strong. Falling into habits of neglect can happen from time to time, but I always remind myself why this is important to keep going strong.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions about women lifting weight?
So many women fear that muscles will make them look manly when it is the complete opposite. Females do not naturally have the hormones to support the type of muscle growth that men are able to achieve. Muscle mass allows women to carve out tight, lean, feminine physiques that not only look attractive, but also allow you to spend less time in the gym. Hours of cardio a day will not carve out a curvy physique, but eating properly and weight training will.
Many young women who want to lose weight believe that not eating is the way to do it, without realizing the consequences of that kind of behavior.
Why do you think this is and what’s your perspective on educating society on healthy nutrition habits?
This is the biggest misconception and the masses are grossly uneducated about how fat loss actually works. I explain this in extensive detail on my youtube channel- Gauge Girl Training where I get into the science of how this works and break it down for practical application. In a nutshell, eating below your basal metabolic rate will actually slow down your metabolism and prevent your body from dropping body fat.
The body is intelligent and if you push it into starvation mode, that body thinks, "I'm starving, I don't know when she is going to feed me again, I am going to hold only every ounce of bodyfat because I need to survive." This is not effective and I believe in educating the masses through my youtube channel where I give everyone access to these answers. I've had hundreds of clients utterly shocked at how much real food they are able to eat on their meal plan with me and see their body actually change shape. Ignorance isn't a solution, and once people realize that they aren't getting anywhere and are utterly miserable, that is when I can actually help someone.
What are the most unexpected lessons you’ve learned on your health and fitness journey this far?
That you can weigh more, and look better. As a teenager I used to associate beauty with a weight on the scale at a time when our culture idolized the physiques of Kate Moss and Gwyneth Paltrow. Knowing what I know now, that body type is not my body type. I currently weigh much more on the scale than I used to, yet still have a lean torso and fit physique.
I genuinely no longer care about the scale and have embraced the added curved and muscle that I was able to add to my physique, coupled with eating real food that makes me feel good and look good. It doesn't have to feel like a punishment for it to work. Once one realizes that this is a real lifestyle change and they can truly feel good about themselves and have a loving and nurturing relationship with food, that is when the breakthrough occurs and you will never be the same after that. However not all women come to this realization as quickly as I did, and it may take others more time to overcome years and years of disordered thinking and behaviors.
What do you do to maintain balance in your life?
I maintain balance by singing karaoke (my all time favorite pastime), reading (I love love love to read), playing with my dogs, traveling with my boyfriend, painting, and enjoying the little things in life.
How do you stay productive?
I plan ahead and write things down. However oddly enough, I don't know what it is, but wearing headphones always makes me 100x more productive. It gets me in the zone mentally. I have to turn my phone off or leave it in another room because it is too easy to get distracted with all the social media notifications.
If you could only choose one thing, what would you tell to your younger self?
You will survive. No matter what storm you think it hitting you, not matter how defeated you may feel right now, every storm passes and you will be ok.
Can you give a breakdown of your current diet and training regimen and the thinking behind it?
I am currently on a slow cut right now meaning I am not seeking to lose more than 1/2 lb of body fat per week in preparation for an upcoming photo shoot in the next few months. I am consuming between 1600-1900 calories per day based off of my training. I currently do cardio 4 times a week with 3 steady state cardio sessions and 1 HIIT cardio session and weight train 5 days with the current split: Back/Bi's, Chest/Tri's, Shoulder/Abs, Legs, Total Body bonus day.
Going into 2017, what are your biggest life goals?
I am launching my first published book in June of 2017. Bringing all of my knowledge on macros, food science, meal planning, and more into one comprehensive resource.