TSC: Who are you? Name? Age? Where do you live? Married/kids? Occupation?
JK: I’m Jess Kraiza, age 26. I’m from Granby, Connecticut but recently moved out to Castle Rock, Colorado 2 months ago! Not married, no kids. I am an Health & Wellness Advisor/Independent Distributor for Advocare
TSC: When did fitness first become a part of your life? Have you always been an athlete? Did you start working out as an adult? Did you workout earlier in life and start up again? If so, what and why?
JK: I’ve definitely been an athlete my entire life. My dad had a basketball in my hands by the age of 4 & had me involved in every single sport possible. A lot of people that remember me from my younger years, I was a little jock/tom boy growing up. My mom couldn’t get me to take off my long knee length basketball shorts & jerseys until I got into probably about high school. My world revolved around basketball until I hit college, where I started to get into running for stress relief to deal with some challenges that occurred in my life and to lose some weight. The college I went to had a relatively new track program, of which some of my friends kept encouraging me to join. Because of my athleticism, positive attitude & the coach’s kind heart, he let me walk on. Little does this coach know that he forever changed my life in more ways than words do justice. I always excelled in every other sport I participated in leading my teams & the sport of running caused me a LOT of initial frustration & discouragement as I finished almost last in every single meet that first season. He threw me into the long distance group (because I couldn’t sprint to save my life at the time). I fell in love with the people on the team & the long distance group (all of which also ran on the cross country team). The season ended & the entire group talked about excited they were for cross country in the fall. I, being a competitor with myself, immediately asked the coach if there was any way I could run XC with his group in the Fall. The RWU Cross Country team was a 12 or 13 time conference championship team & VERY competitive, he told me I would need to try out & work really hard this summer to meet the time criteria for the 2 miles on the track. If I passed the time & could keep up with the team during the try outs, he told me I was in. (In the back of my head, he basically gave me the impression I didn’t have a strong chance of getting on with how slow I was. He was so nice about it, but he later on told me how he never would have expected the following season to go as it did. I love proving people wrong!)
I left his office fired up & made a decision that day that I was going to work harder than I ever had that entire summer training, and I was not only going to make the cross country team, but I was going to be a top runner and prove to myself that I could do absolutely ANYTHING I put my mind to. With a decided heart, I spent the entire summer working my butt off. I followed a strict plan the coach gave all his runners, I had it up on my Fridge next to all my goals & kept my eyes on that piece of paper every day. Anyone that lives in the town of Granby, Connecticut would remember the summers seeing me running 6 miles one way from North Granby to the YMCA in downtown Granby & back, almost every single day. I would have tons of people messaging me daily telling me they saw me running when they left for work, and saw me running on their way home from work LOL.
After months of determination, I came back in the fall 15 pounds less, an entire new mindset, crushed the 2 mile try out time & went on to place in the top 3 on the team for almost every single race the entire season. This began my addiction to running & proving to myself I could have, be or do anything in this life. “Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out if it what you put into it.”—I then went on to run my first full Marathon, the Boston Marathon, my junior year of college, which spiraled into a whole new world of becoming obsessive with feeling unstoppable. It was never about a speed, but about putting one foot in front of the other & gaining strength with each step. I went on to run 6 full marathons in 3 years, and 25 half marathons, 14 of which were in the year of 2014. To think, I had never run more than 2 miles in my entire life until my sophomore year of college. With that being said, I have lived by setting goals, by not believing in limits, and used exercise to build not just physical strength, but mental strength. I’ll be the first to admit I’m crazy and a bit of an extremist, but my motto has continued & will always be that I would rather be crazy than boring & we only get one shot at this thing called life, and for me, exercise & daily challenges with myself will forever be a part of my personality & who I am. My years of running lead me to lots of obstacle courses, Tough Mudders, Bone Frog Challenges, spin classes, body pump, Spartans, I’ve dabbled in some Crossfit, different types of lifting and recently over the past few months gotten really hooked to strength & conditioning type workouts.
Athletics, running clubs, obstacle course runs, multiple gyms & endless teams, have lead me to meet some of the most amazing & inspiring people that have become forever friends. When you constantly surround yourself with like minded people who lift you up, I have learned that you cannot fail unless you quit on yourself.
TSC: What is your current workout routine? How many days a week/hours a day do you workout? What types of workouts do you do? All one type or switch it up?
JK: I currently do a lot of strength and conditioning/high intensity interval Ttraining/body weight type workouts. With occasional sporadic long runs. I also am soaking up as much as the State of Colorado has to offer me with finding new places to hike my dog every week! I think its important to always have fun with exercise! A few months before I moved out to Colorado, a friend I really hit it off with that I met through the Bonefrog Challenge (an obstacle course race), introduced me to a primarily Law Enforcement/Military gym in Canton, Connecticut (SPD Factory), that really introduced me to a new style of training that pushed me to new limits, both mentally & physically. He created a program for me when I left based off my goals & knowing how I like to train, that I’ve followed pretty religiously since I have been out here. Lots of mobility, yet the toughest workouts I’ve ever done that have helped me crush my goals of being the leanest & strongest possible. The gym owner, Rob English is amazing at what he does in helping people get what they want out of their health/fitness journey.
I definitely switch it up as much as possible & I rarely say no to trying a new physical challenge or workout—I have learned with most bodies & mine especially, the more variety the stronger & leaner I get! AND the more fun I have! I workout 6 days per week, I always take one rest day of which I still walk my dog on & to keep my legs moving. Hours per day vary on the workout and my schedule.
TSC: How do your prioritize fitness and wellness in your (busy) life?
JK: Exercise is my therapy, so it’s one of the first things on my planner each week. I really believe an individual has to make a decision that it’s a way of life, not just something temporary in order to maintain it long term. It’s been my way of life for so many years, I couldn’t imagine life any other way. I live by my passion planner calendar, do a lot of color coding around my work & family schedule, and decide to make time for it each day. Fitness is also a big principle/value of mine that is a non-negotiable that has been instilled since I was a kid. By making it a value, it’s easy to prioritize it. On days I don’t feel like it, or don’t have the time, my mindset is: no excuses, we always find time for what’s important to us and something is ALWAYS better than nothing, even if it’s doing a 15 minute workout on the floor in my living room at 8 pm, or walking my dog & doing jump squats and lunges the entire time at lunch- I make time for it, because my goals are important.
“Many things aren’t equal, but everyone gets the same 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. we make time for what we TRULY want.”- Plastered on my fridge!
TSC: Why is working out/fitness important to you and your lifestyle?
JK: The best project anyone could ever work on is themselves. I believe endorphins make people HAPPY! (I sound like Reese Witherspoon from Legally Blonde HA, but it’s TRUE!) I thrive off endorphins and my mood is ALWAYS so much greater when I am happy, healthy and active! I think I answered this question in a lot of my responses above, but I really live by/believe that fitness is about so much more than “just” exercise. It’s a catalyst for positive changes & it affects every aspect of my life, mind body and soul! Working out and fitness have forever changed my mindset, and instilled a work ethic in me that carries into all areas of my life. My mindset is that exercise is really a celebration of what my body is capable of & can do and it’s a way of life for me. I think it all ties into what you feed your body, what you feed your mind, and the people you surround yourself with. My greatest friendships & mentors have come from making the personal commitment to myself, to be the best me possible.
TSC: What other aspects of healthy living do your incorporate in your life? Wellness? Sleep routines? Meal prep? Favorite healthy places to eat out/recipes readers should try?
JK: I am so grateful that I found a career opportunity that has allowed for me to tie my passion and values of health and wellness, in the hopes of inspiring and teaching as many people as possible how to live a health lifestyle & love themselves. I learned the hard way after several years of trying to out train a “bad” diet, the importance of nutrition, sleep & supplementation, as well as BALANCE!
I meal Prep every Sunday night and Wednesday night for the most part. When you prepare, you CANNOT FAIL! I really believe after helping a lot of people too, it’s very difficult to succeed without preparation. Food Prep has been a game changer for me. A friend of mine introduced me to Advocare (a health & wellness company that has forever changed my life, mentally, physically and financially) almost 3 years ago, of which I really learned how to fuel my body correctly, and met a LOT of very experienced people I am grateful to call my friends today that have taught me what to eat, when to eat, and how to eat based off my personal goals. I eat 5-6 smaller meals per day( protein, carb, veggie, fats, fruits) a gallon of water per day, & I take somewhere around 7-8 Advocare energy/workout recovery/wellness supplements daily (varies depending on my workouts and day!)
Nutrition= 80%, Exercise=20%!
I’ve also really learned the importance of wellness and sleep. I believe mindset plays just as big of a role as nutrition & exercise. Whether you think you can or you can’t, you are right. Stress and lack off keep can cause our bodies to be all over the place no matter how great we are eating & exercising. Some things that have really helped me is learning what brings me the most peace, and eliminating all negative people in my life. After all, we become the average of the 5 people we surround ourselves the most with! When we have positive happy people in our lives, we feel better, we look better, we sleep better & we love ourselves more. By stepping outside my comfort zone in meeting new people, their positivity fuels my brain too! Books, writing down positive affirmations, eliminating all negative “fat” talk, blogs like TSC, and podcasts have been a game changer for my overall wellness mindset too!
My favorite healthy places to eat out and/or when I am on the go:
-#1 Chipotle (I LOVE MEXICAN FOOD, I actually can’t get enough of it! ): you can pick your protein (I get chicken), sautéed onions/peppers, lettuce, brown rice, salsa & guac on the side! #Balance
-#2 Subway: Can’t fail when you are in a rush, stopping to get a 6 inch turkey & veggie on whole wheat, or one of their chop chop salads!
Favorite Recipes: Add me on Facebook: Jess Kraiza, I have an entire recipe page full of my favorites that help me survive through every sort of craving possible!
TSC: If you could share one thing with readers of The Sweat Chronicles what would it be?
JK: Fear will either create you or destroy you. Start small, focus on one day at a time, commit to long term health, no quick fixes and decide that you are worth being the BEST, healthiest version of you. If you feel stuck, ask for help. Join a new gym, find a new running or hiking group. Just decide. Write down your goals. Put them on your fridge or mirror. Start telling yourself you can. Not maybe or waiting for the perfect day & make a plan. When you plan, you can't fail & lastly, pick your friends wisely. Who you surround yourself with, is who you become & if people give you a hard time for making healthy positive choices to better your life, I respectfully wouldn't surround myself with them anymore. True friends respect you no matter what & want the best for you.
I appreciate you so much for asking me to be a part of The Sweat Chronicles, you are amazing and it has allowed for me to reflect on where I started. We all start somewhere. When nothing changes, nothing changes. With the new year less than 30 days away, I encourage you all to think about where you are today, & where you want to be in one month. A lot can change in a short period of time if you dig deep, focus on what you can control (your effort, focus & discipline) & if want it to. 2017 can be your year if you decide you want it to be!