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 Kelsey Coughlin.
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?
Hi! I'm Kelsey Coughlin and the creator and owner of the brand “Healthy Kelsey”. I'm a college senior and I'm majoring in Television Entertainment and Communications with a minor in Nutrition. Fitness and health has become a major part of my life throughout college and it’s the first thing I've ever felt truly passionate about.
Where does your motivation come from?
I'm a huge believer that people should be their own motivation. I've wasted a great deal of time disliking myself and comparing myself to others. Through this I've learned that if I want something, only I have the power to achieve it. Nobody can want it for you; you have to want it for yourself.
As you decided to make a career out of your passion - what were your biggest stumbling blocks along the way?
Just like life, success is not a linear path. It took me awhile to realize that it’s okay to fall down, as long as you get back up. Being a college student, I found it difficult (and still do) to balance my fitness/health goals with my career goals. Unlike most people in the health/fitness industry, my personal and professional ambitions are mutually exclusive. They are two very different parts of me that coexist to make me the person I am today.
What’s your perspective on the importance of self-care?
When I first became serious about my health I thought I was unstoppable. I thought I could push harder and last longer, but what I was really doing was neglecting my health. I found something I loved and I thought I needed to go to extremes to prove to myself that I was passionate about it. This cycle left me exhausted and honestly, a little sad.
Only when I started to find the balance between my social, professional, and fitness goals was when I realized I was actually taking care of myself. I was listening to my body when it wanted rest from the gym, I was giving myself diet breaks when I felt I getting burnt-out, and most importantly I looked at who I was in that moment I decided that was enough. I have goals to better myself, but hating who I am in the present moment is no way to reach those goals. I admire myself for who I was, who I am, and who I'm going to be.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions about women lifting weight?
There is this huge misconception that women will become bulky and unfeminine if they start lifting weights. Females simply do not naturally have the amount of testosterone needed to build that level of muscle. Women often want that “toned” look, and that’s just what lifting weights can do for them!
Many young women who want to lose weight believe that not eating is the way to do it, without realising 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?
Smaller and thinner does not automatically equal healthier or happier. As a society, we need to stop glorifying certain body structures. We need to promote that everybody is beautiful. I see nothing wrong with self-improvement as long as it’s about personal growth and it’s done in a healthy way.
What are the most unexpected lessons you’ve learned on your health and fitness journey this far?
My very first health goal was to lose 25 lbs and I thought as soon as I did that I would be forever content. What I actually learned was that losing weight did not solve my problems, nor did it make me any more or less happy than I was beforehand. Thinner was not synonymous with happier. I unexpectedly learned that a truly healthy and happy lifestyle has no deadline. I learned I could set health and fitness goals, but that the overall outcome needed to be everlasting.
What do you do to maintain balance in your life?
Reaching and maintain balance is something that I'm consistently working towards. Something that has been working for me lately is to ask myself, “Do you really want this?” If the answer is “yes” then I do it. For example, sometimes I would rather go out with my friends than go to the gym. Or perhaps I'd rather go out for ice cream with my family than worry about the calories involved.
If it’s something I honestly want, then I go for it! I'm not just going to eat a cookie because it happens to be in front of me. If it’s my favorite cookie and I'm hungry, I'll eat it. Balance to me is the power to say “yes” just as much as it’s the power to say “no”.
How do you stay productive?
If something is truly important to me, I will make time for it. If I don’t get something done it’s because I did not prioritize it in my life. I make time for the things that matter and I forget about the things that don’t. Sure, that might sound selfish but I've learned is that sometimes being selfish is okay.
If you could only choose one thing, what would you tell your younger self?
Whatever you do, do it with all your heart. Forget what other people think and just go at it full force. Embrace it, hug it, love it, and just be passionate about it. Mediocre is no good.
Can you give a breakdown of your current diet, training and supplementation regimen and the thinking behind it?
My health journey has been through many different stages. Currently, I am following a paleo diet with strength training sessions five times a week and two cardio sessions. For my cardio, I run and do interval sprints on the treadmill or I'll walk on the Stairmaster.
Going into 2017, what are your biggest life goals?
I'm slowly starting to figure out the difference between who I want to be and who everyone else wants me to be. I've learned that I need to be comfortable being uncomfortable. The year 2017 will bring a lot of uncertainty and difficulty, but I'm on a strong path of learning who I am and what I want.
As I prepare for graduation I plan to embrace this time in my life where my only obligations are to learn and to work. I want to learn a lot, learn often, and learn with a reckless mind. I want to put my whole heart into everything I do.
Where can people go to learn more about you online?