Say hello to Kristina, a 37-year old triathlete, reigning from Charlotte, North Carolina. Kristina has been training as an athlete for about 3 years. Her journey to living a healthy life started when she joined a local triathlon group (give it up “Tri It For Life“) that supports women of all shapes, sizes and ages.
Through this process she’s found a firey spirit and voice within her, that is relentless in telling her she can achieve whatever she wants. I think so too! And while she has already accomplished so much, she believes the best is yet to come. While only Kristina knows what’s on her bucket list (athletics or more), she continues to move forward, breaking new personal barriers as she is currently training for her the Love Run Half Marathon on March 29th, in Philadelphia, PA.
1. I’ve been following you on Twitter for a while, I love your handle name “The Contrary Athlete”. Tell us why you chose it, what does it mean to you? Why did you decide to blog?
I’ve come to the realization that there will always be a voice somewhere that tells you that you can’t do something. For too long I listened to those voices, and I wanted to break that cycle. It’s something that I fight with internally and work on EVERY day. So I wanted to share my journey. No matter what you’re going through in life, you’re never alone. This is why I do what I do.
2. I’m a firm believer that training (especially for an athletic race/event) is a more positive and productive experience than exercise, it’s gives me a greater purpose and pathway to leading a healthy life (rather than focusing on counting or burning calories and the number on the scale). What attracted you to athletics and eventually doing your first triathlon?
Initially at my lowest point in health, I was over 350lbs, and I knew that I was either going to stay that way, or as previously mentioned, I had the CHOICE to do something about it. I chose to start down a more healthy path. Instead of saying ‘I want to lose ‘X’ amount of weight’ I decided to choose racing and fitness based goals as a way to also try and make this journey fun and memorable. Yes it’s hard work, and yes I do want to lose weight, but I want to Be Happy and Be Healthy first and foremost.
3. Throughout your life, you’ve had many challenges. In fact, you list on your blog at least 16 different medical or health ailments that you have experienced at any given time in your life. How have you managed to stay positive through all of this and embrace the athletic lifestyle?
I’ve seen too many people give up, and I’ve seen what that can do to a person. Life has been given to us, and no matter what happens to us along the way, we get to choose who we become. I know what it’s like to be unhealthy and feel helpless when you think you’ve tried everything. You stop seeing the light in things. I’ve been there, and continue to fight every day, so I choose to give my light back to the world.
4. You mention on your blog that you have at least 8 food sensitivities. That’s quite a lot. Tell us how you eat for your health and for performance since you have 2 goals that need to be balanced at the same time.
I eat what’s referred to as a modified autoimmune diet (I have Hashimotos Thyroiditis, my primary challenge). It’s meant to allow your body time to heal, while identifying what foods trigger or aggravate your existing conditions. Taking the time to learn to listen to my body has been the key to being able to work out safely and efficiently this time around. My body works best on nutrient dense foods, and I eat several small meals throughout the day as opposed to the typical 3 square meals we’ve become accustomed to.
5. What’s your favourite meal / recipe?
I have this stuff called ‘coconut aminos’ and it basically tastes like soy sauce, but it’s made from fermented coconut….It’s AMAZING. I’ll use that to marinade meat…Bone In Pork Chops or Salmon are my favorite. I’ll enjoy that with a vegetable, and I’ve recently discovered that I can tolerate gluten free Quinoa, so I’ll have that on the side as well. It makes for a delicious and filling meal. Seriously though…those coconut aminos can make anything taste good!
6. Who has been your biggest supporter or influencer on this journey?
Most definitely my husband. He wakes up at ungodly hours to be at the finish line for me, helps take care of the house when I have nothing left in me, has stayed by my side for good and bad, and through it all has still been able to walk down his own path to health. He’s lost over 170lbs, and is a constant source of inspiration to me. Having a partner like him in my life makes me fight to be a better person.
7. In terms of fitness, health and athletics, what does success look like for you, does it have an end goal with a specific event, race etc?
Success for me isn’t about getting down to a certain size, or finishing a certain race. For me, it’s about breaking barriers, overcoming obstacles, and being accepted in an athletic community for who I am, and not for the shape I’m in. I want to be a positive role model for anyone who thinks they can’t do something.
8. Since becoming an athlete, what changes have you made in your life. How do you prioritize your time to fit things in?
In the beginning, it was all about that finish line. Get there at ANY cost. Now, my health is my number one priority. With autoimmune issues, there’s a fine line between pushing your limits, and doing damage to yourself. I work with what I’m able to do, I listen to my body, and I take it one day at a time.
9. What advice would you give to other plus size athletes who are just starting out? Things to do, things to avoid so others don’t have make the same mistake?
Surround yourself with people who will support you, and find what makes you happy. You may hate running, but may love the pool or bicycle. Find what fitness regimen brings you joy, and you will want to do it. If you don’t like it, you’re already setting yourself up for failure. Be Fit. Be Happy!
10. How can people continue to watch your journey unfold?
I can be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TheContraryAthlete or Twitter: @ContraryAthlete. I do blog at www.fitfatchick.blogspot.com, but there’s not much there right now. I’m working on ideas to reshape that and incorporate those into a website…so stay tuned!
Many thanks Kristina for all your time and sharing your story with us. We know you’ve inspired others today, not only in your athletic achievements, but how you’ve been balancing it out with food sensitivities (gluten being the most popular) and an auto immune dis-ease. Listening carefully to our body, to know when we need to ease up or can go full throttle, is a great takeaway lesson.
We are excited to continue to follow you along in your journey. Please continue to shine bright, making life memorable for YOU!
About the Author:
Krista is the Founder of Born to Reign Athletics, a blog and online portal dedicated to motivating, educating and celebrating plus size women who unleash their inner athlete as a means of living a healthy life. She is an award-winning multi-sport athlete in triathlon and indoor rowing, and is recognized as a global leader in plus size fitness and athletics.