Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Radical Woman Q & A with Stephanie Cedeno

Today’s Radical Women Q& A is with Stephanie Cedeno. Stephanie and I have more in common than our first names. Like me Stephanie is healthier at 30 then she has ever been, even as a kid. Like me she has never been physically active before, but now can’t stay away from her local CrossFit affiliate. Like me she got healthier and lost weight when she changed her perspective on herself and her life.

Q. On your blog you describe the old Stephanie with these words: “CHRONIC PAIN CAUSED BY BIRTH DEFECT. OVERWEIGHT. LOW SELF-ESTEEM. DEPRESSED. ANXIOUS. POOR BODY IMAGE. HABITUAL NEGATIVE THINKER.” Considering that starting point, how were you ever able to start something like Crossfit? What motivated you to start? What motivates you to continue?

A. Prior to joining CrossFit Ignite in Westwood, NJ (www.crossfitignite.com), I had lost a significant amount of weight cutting out carbs and sugar and going to the gym to take spinning classes, boot camp, and kickboxing. I have always been the type to get bored on a treadmill or step aerobics, because I have the attention span of a gnat and I’m extremely fickle. I had also resolved in my mind that because I had scoliosis and a history of a brain malformation that I would never ever be able to do anything too tough, so never in a million years did I think that I could do anything like CrossFit.

My sister showed me a video of what this CrossFit was about and I promised her that I would visit with her but with extreme reluctance since I didn’t want to look foolish and to have to make excuses because of my medical issues. Needless to say, I went, and my first Workout of the Day: Fight Gone Bad. The coach modified it to my level and I did it and immediately fell in love with this thing called “CrossFit”. I felt strong and accomplished when I finished that WOD, and I returned the next day and the day after that, and so forth.

The community I met at CrossFit was unlike any other “gym” situation I had encountered. What has continued to motivate me other than my CrossFit family is the transformation that has occurred in my mind and with my physical body. I have strength now that I never thought I could have especially since I couldn’t lift anything heavier than 15 lbs. without being in pain and discomfort. Every WOD is a challenge for me, and I conquer it rep by rep, but the greatest thing is finishing it, no matter how difficult and downright brutal it is. There is no such thing as quitting in CrossFit, and that is the motivation that I thrive off of!

Q. You also love YOGA…tell me why?

Yoga has been life-changing, and not only because of the flexibility that results, but more so the powerful interconnectedness of the body, mind, and the breath that develops with practice. If all three of these elements are in sync, one can do just about anything, which is a truth that I have carried into my CrossFitting as well. The poses are empowering and beautiful. The fluidity of Vinyasa (or poses that flow from one to another in conjunction with the breath) teach me to be present, to connect with my body, and to never rush into any pose without breathing into it.

Yoga and CrossFit are important partners, elements of the Yin and the Yang that are contrary yet powerful forces if complimenting one another. These are my two loves. They each help me be better with the other and tap into different parts of who I am. After a few days of difficult WODS, there is nothing more soothing than detoxifying your body and stretching tight muscles through yoga.

Q. What role has self love and acceptance played into your transformation?

A. My transformation first had to begin with my mind before it could become physical. The seeds of self-love were cultivated the moment I stopped hating my body and instead began to honor it by being grateful that it was functioning and providing me with life, with breath, with movement. When I began to honor my body and remove the focus off of trying to be “skinny” by societal standards, I found myself wanting nothing more than to nourish myself with nutritional and clean foods, become active to keep it healthy and strong, and end any abusive and self-deprecating habits that were destroying it. Self-Love and acceptance began the day I acknowledged that my body was indeed a gift of life.

Stephanie's not only full of grace..she's full of beast!

Q. What are your philosophies on food an eating?

A. Mindfulness. Be aware of your intentions before eating. Are you eating because you are hungry or because you are responding to stress, anxiety, or feelings that you are trying to bury, to avoid, and to numb. Take a few deep breaths before putting food in your mouth and be mindful of your intentions. Being present when one eats allows for true intentions and feelings to be brought to consciousness.

Q. I think Crossfit is super Empowering for women because of the strength component…which seems to run opposed to women’s fitness in general in our society…Do you think CrossFit offers something unique for women?

A. As a woman, CrossFit offers me the chance to step out of the box of societal expectations and allows me to utilize that inner and mental force that both men and woman both possess alike. When we are in our CrossFit garages, we are all equals and our challenges are our WODS. CrossFit does offer a wonderful opportunity for women to focus on getting strong and becoming athletic as opposed to this notion of just being skinny.

Q. What would you say to someone who says “I’m too weak or not in shape enough to try CrossFit?”

A. Don’t be afraid of CrossFit. Your coach will scale the exercises to your level and you will begin to improve with dedication and persistence. My coach scaled my exercises in the beginning but then began to challenge me when he felt that I was ready. I loved that he believes in me and that helps me push beyond the limits.

Q. If you could talk to your self at age 20, what would you say?

A. You are going to go through some rough shit and this will help you become the person you are at 30. You will experience challenges, difficulties, but you will come out stronger and wiser because of it all.

Q. How are you radical?

A. Anyone who does CrossFit is a radical. This isn’t your ordinary fitness regimen or treadmill infested gym, this is something that attracts those that are non-conformists and need to switch it up every day and feel challenged.

The New Stephanie
Q. What message would you like to share with all women?

A. CrossFit has empowered me and has helped me become a stronger and more assertive woman. Step outside your limits, do what you are most afraid of, and you’ll see yourself rise from that fear and conquer just about anything that comes your way.

You can read more about the details of Stephanie’s story on Uncommon Wellness, as well as follow her Tumblr blog at stephyfullofgrace.tumblr.com.

Stephanie, thanks so much for taking the time to do this Q&A with me! Keep on having the courage to be radical…so that one day radical won’t be so radical anymore!!


"‎I am willing to put myself through anything; temporary pain or discomfort means nothing to me as long as I can see that the experience will take me to a new level. I am interested in the unknown, and the only path to the unknown is through breaking barriers, an often painful process."

-Diane Nyad



I have always hated grammar. Each time it came up in the English curriculum, I whined and complained. The result? I don’t know where to put a comma, to, save, my, life. Truth is I hated it because I sucked at it. If I had stopped complaining and actually learned it, it would have become easy and in turn I’d have no reason to hate it. In the gym there are lots of things I’m not good at, one thing being running. I could complain about it whenever there is a workout that includes the running. Whine to the others in the class about how much I hate it during the warm up. Avoid it at all costs. But where would that get me…hating running and not being good at it. Or I can be like Nike and just do it. Accept the suck and run. Run to my best ability in every opportunity that arises in life and in workouts. It will inevitably get easier and I will get better…if I embrace it…rather than try to bitch it to death. So if you see me running past you…gasping for breath….wave hi. :-)

I have signed up to be apart of the 5ton5K next month…a workout that will be comprised of 5k of running broken up by 5 tons of lifting and throwing. I admit extracurricular competitions are becoming a bit addicting!


fiteffy said...

Wow! I think I've found my Crossfit/yogi/major weight loss soul mate! Thank you so much for sharing your story...

Unknown said...

This just goes to show what a good, healthy lifestyle can do for anyone. With the right diet, enough exercise, then maybe throw in some chiro sessions and anyone will feel a lot younger than they really are.

Emma Foirer said...

It definitely helps for someone who's aiming to get healthier if they change their outlook on life. A more positive output leads to an easier path to health.