Kalli Youngstrom Real Talk Real Women

Kalli Youngstrom: “Progress Isn’t Linear – You Are Never Done Learning About Yourself And Your Body”

This article was first seen on the Huffington Post. For this installment, we are joined by Kalli Youngstrom.

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 would describe myself as hardworking, passionate, dedicated and driven – almost to a fault. When I set a goal for myself there’s likely nothing and no one that will stop me from working as hard as I can to attain that goal, no matter how far out of reach it may seem. It’s easy for me to get tunnel vision when working towards a certain goal, but one goal that never changes for me, is to be the absolute best coach, mentor and role model to the women who surround me. I am all about strong women empowering strong women through health and fitness, something I strive for daily in business, fitness and life.

My progression into fitness was very natural, growing up as an athlete and competitive wrestler I eventually found bodybuilding after retiring from wrestling and started preparing for my first show almost immediately. After getting my psychology degree and transitioning to marketing I decided to get my personal training certificate to use on the side and began building my business.

Soon falling in love with fitness and knowing my passion was meant to be my profession after graduating. I went into psychology because I wanted to help people and connect 1 on 1 and I went into marketing because I wanted to be able to be more creative and share my ideas. For me fitness is the best of both worlds. I’m able to connect with my clients focus on their mental health as well as their physical health while using my brand as a creative outlet every day. Truly my dream job!

Where does your motivation come from?

The majority of my motivation is internal. I truly believe in the quote, “If you don’t believe in yourself no one else will” a lesson that’s taken me time to learn, but has been so valuable in propelling me forward in life and pushing me towards “scary” goals. My goal is to be a better version of myself every single day, I am constantly competing with myself to be the best.

Externally, I am motivated by the opportunity to be a potential role model for even one person daily. If I know I have the chance to inspire even one person through my actions and that someone is looking up to me, I know I will hold myself to the highest standard in everything I do. I am motivated by the chance to motivate others and I am motivated by those whose work ethic, drive and “realness” I admire.

As you decided to make a career out of your passion – what were your biggest stumbling blocks along the way?

Failure (or what I thought of as failure at the time, what I now consider lessons and opportunities) and naysayers (who I now consider motivators). The thing about setting scary goals and voicing them out loud, is that it opens the door for people who are too scared to even think about setting their own scary goals to try to bring you down.

It can be intimidating for others to see people strive towards success that they want, but are too fearful to try to achieve. It is easier for them to try to bring you down to maintain equilibrium and an even playing field. I’ve learned to embrace these people and thank them for motivating me to keep pushing and prove them wrong, whether it’s in relationships, business, or fitness, I love a challenge and there’s nothing more gratifying than proving someone wrong.

There are many times when working on winning my pro card, I questioned myself because of the opinions of others and the results I was getting. The year I won I hadn’t placed how I wanted at two (smaller) shows prior and even had a coach turn me down, telling me to wait another year to compete.

If I would have listened I wouldn’t have gone on to do the show where I won my pro card and who knows where I would be today. I’m grateful for that experience every day as it’s a constant reminder of why it’s me who needs to believe in me the most and what’s the worst that can happen if you try?

What’s your perspective on the importance of self-care?

Self-care, physically and mentally is crucial for being successful in business, fitness, relationships and in life! It can be easy to forget about mental and emotional health when discussing fitness, but I truly believe that it is just as important as physical health.

A healthy mind is the base for a health body and I am very passionate about approaching fitness in a holistic manner, ensuring mind and body are working together to optimize well-being. Looking good is one thing, but truly feeling good is another.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions about women lifting weight?

I’m sure we’ve all heard, “lifting makes you bulky,” but if only this were true, I would have a much easier time trying to put on muscle and gain the “bulk” I need in order to compete in bodybuilding. It’s a common misconception, and an unfortunate one, as aside from helping to build a great looking body (who doesn’t want a squat booty?) there are so many health benefits to weightlifting and resistance training, mentally and physically especially with women, who are prone to issues with bone density and muscle loss in aging.

Kalli Youngstrom Real Talk Real Women

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?

Currently social media plays a huge factor in this. I mean it when I say I’m grateful many of these platforms weren’t available when I was growing up, as it’s next to impossible for young women to set realistic expectations for their bodies when there is such an abundance of filtered/photoshopped/edited “fitness” photos online.

With the pressures put on them to achieve this look and being unaware that many of these images are often “doctored”, many young women control the one thing they understand effects the way they look and the one thing they can control which is their food intake. The more we educate young women about the benefits of proper nutrition, the long term effects of not fueling the body properly and the more we teach them how to build a strong and healthy body through proper nutrition and fitness, the less frequent I hope under-eating will become.

Education is crucial. From understanding what’s in your food to its effect on the body and how to perform physical activity and resistance training in the proper way. The younger we teach children and young adults these skills the more we can set them up for success in the future. I do everything I can to educate and preach fitness and nutrition daily, doing what I can to spread knowledge and hope to inspire the younger generation to choose a happy and healthy path.

What are the most unexpected lessons you’ve learned on your health and fitness journey this far?

Progress isn’t linear and you are never done learning about yourself and your body. I consider myself as having done “fitness” for the last 5 years and within those 5 years there have been too many different peaks, valleys, and plateaus to count. Every time I hit a plateau it forces me to reassess, readjust, and learn what works best for me and my body. Fitness is a constant progression and that’s what makes it so exciting, you can always be better and learn more and I am so excited to keep learning every day.

What do you do to maintain balance in your life?

As an entrepreneur it can be extremely difficult to find “balance.” I love what I do and it can be hard for me to take time off because of it, but I’ve learned that if I don’t take some time to myself, I’ll burn out eventually. I try to schedule Sundays as my “me day,” where I stay away from e-mails and do my best to take the day off and reset.

This enables me to be a better coach for my clients and perform at my best throughout the week. I’ve also learned that sometimes balance means taking it easy on myself and not worrying that the house isn’t clean, the laundry isn’t done and that’s okay.

How do you stay productive?

Being an entrepreneur who works from home having a schedule is key to my productivity. I schedule my day like I would any work day and try to work within regular working hours so I can enjoy the evenings with my partner when he’s done with work. The demands of regular contest prep workouts, cardio and dieting often force me to work at maximum capacity in terms of productivity just so I can get everything done in the day.

Two of my other biggest productivity tips include sleep and the do not disturb setting on my phone. No matter how busy I am I try not to sacrifice sleep because I know it will lead to burnout, lower productivity and potentially sickness and injury in the long term. I try to get 6-8 hours of sleep no matter what (8 is preferred) and when I’m sleeping and working I put my phone on do not disturb so I can ensure I’m uninterrupted!

Kalli Youngstrom Real Talk Real Women

If you could only choose one thing, what would you tell your younger self?

The things that make you “weird” right now, are the things that are going to make you successful in the future. Growing up I was one of the only female wrestlers in my high school. I would get teased for being strong and “butch,” and for not partying like everyone else, but I was always focused on doing what was best for my body and what would make me the best athlete I could be. 7 years later and I am using my experiences to motivate other young girls and have the opportunity to live my passion daily.

Can you give a breakdown of your current diet, training and supplementation regimen and the thinking behind it?

After dieting for the figure stage for the past 11 months I have recently done a complete 180 on my diet to focus fully on health instead of fully on physique. Although as a competitor I always do my best to balance getting stage lean in the healthiest way, in order to be “stage lean” it can be hard on the body and often health can become second priority.

Now that I’m done competing for the year I am transitioning from a very structured meal plan where I would eat weighed/measured meals every few hours. I am currently eating more intuitively and fueling my body with healthy whole foods.

A general day in my diet/training/supplementation currently looks like this:

  • Wake up: BCAA’s, multi-vit, omega 3 and coffee
  • Breakfast: 2 whole large eggs, smoked salmon, and veggies cooked in coconut oil
  • Lunch: a giant salad with chicken, hardboiled egg, nuts/seeds and vinegar for dressing
  • Snack: raw nuts/seeds, fresh or dried (unsweetened) fruit
  • Pre-Workout: (before lifting) 1 scoop of vegan protein blended with frozen berries, ice, greens powder, and a collagen/gelatin blend for joint health
  • Post-Workout: protein and veggies- normally a higher fat content protein such as salmon, chicken thigh, beef, etc. (all healthy fats!)
  • Before bed: Something to cure my sweet tooth! Usually a chia pudding with cacao nibs and coconut along with a hot tea with cashew milk and stevia

I find I feel better on a low carb diet and currently my only carbs come from fruits and vegetables. I keep my carbs around my workout to help with energy and recovery.

I try to do yoga 1-2x a week, spin 1-2x a week, and when lifting I try to include a heavy compound or complex movement along with free weight and bodyweight exercises each workout.

A current training split might look something like this:

  • Monday – upper body (morning cardio, evening upper body workout)
  • Tuesday – lower body (no morning cardio, evening lower body workout and cardio – I prefer to do my cardio post-workout on leg days as I find I have more energy for weights!)
  • Wednesday – morning spin and evening yoga
  • Thursday – upper body
  • Friday – lower body
  • Saturday – full body workout
  • Sunday – spin and yoga

This is very different from what I do when I am preparing for a figure show or powerlifting competition, but is my current training and diet regimen to focus on fueling my body and focusing on health and functional training.

Going into 2017, what are your biggest life goals?

In 2017 I really want to focus on business. The past year was extremely competition focused for me, competing for the first year as an IFBB Pro and competing in World Powerlifting Championships after powerlifting for only 3 months, it’s been a whirlwind and my body is ready for a break.

I’m excited to use the time away from competition to continue to build my business, share everything I can about living a fit and healthy lifestyle and to focus on my health through more functional and dynamic training and yoga! (Yoga goal: headstands!)

Where can people go to learn more about you online?

You can stay up to date by following me on Instagram, Facebook or YouTube as well as my website.

Written by Miriam Khalladi

I guess you could call me the founder of "Real Talk. Real Women." - I'm on a mission to inspire women around the globe to live happier and healthier lives and do this by sharing the stories and life lessons of some of the most inspirational women on the planet!

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