Girl Hero Khara
Girl Hero Khara has an infectious positive attitude. By day, she teaches early childhood special education (birth-5 year olds) and loves helping families build their capacity to help their little ones be successful. She says, “Itâ€™s a super stressful and emotional job; Iâ€™ve become pretty attached to some kiddos and itâ€™s helped me be able to see the big picture, keep a positive attitude at all times, and celebrate even the tiniest amounts of progress.” By night, Khara is a certified HKC kettlebell instructor who is working towards earning her RKC certification next month! She blogs over at Beautifully Resilient.
Khara has struggled with her weight most of her life. She has lost 30 lbs since March and says, “Although Iâ€™ve trained with kettlebells pretty seriously for over one year, I didnâ€™t lose any weight until I changed my nutrition. I did completely transform the shape of my body though – it surprises me how much of my body weight is lean mass these days.”
Khara loves to read/research and is a total computer junkie. She loves to swimming, running outside, and (attempting to) playing golf with her husband of two years.
How does your lifestyle today compare with your lifestyle a few years ago?
To be honest, I donâ€™t feel like the same person. I donâ€™t think the same way, I donâ€™t value the same things, my priorities have shifted and everything has changed. Iâ€™ve fought a long, hard battle with emotional and binge eating. Food was my comfort and what I turned to when the emotional stuff got to be too much. I was the girl stuffing her face with McDonalds in the car and hiding the evidence before I got home and then eating a home cooked meal on top of that!
I am so happy to say that chapter of my life is in the past. Iâ€™m in a much happier and healthier place now where food is still enjoyed but mostly regarded as fuel. I really have been focusing on the relationship I have with myself â€“ learning to love me and celebrate my strengths and find value in what I used to see as flaws. I fell in love with training with kettlebells â€“ I love the people I train with, what it does to my mood, I love what itâ€™s done to completely transform my shape! In fact, I like the activity so much that I often struggle to accept a day of rest!
Reading your blog, it sounds like you used to really struggle with self-confidence. How did you combat those feelings?
This has been the biggest battle for me. Girls can be vicious and I grew up overweight. I quickly discovered that by putting myself down, I beat others to the punch. It was a defense mechanism. It took a long time through high school and college until I began to truly love and accept myself. Iâ€™ve learned a very valuable lesson about surrounding myself with positive people. Iâ€™m always searching for online communities that foster positive thinking; I read motivating books and blogs, I download and listen to podcasts that build me up, and I make my own mind-movies to keep me motivated and working toward my goals. I control my thoughts and what enters my mind and I know how powerful the mind is. Iâ€™ve learned to replace all of my disordered thinking with positive affirmations and I sort of learned to fake it until I believed it, but it worked. Blogging and writing has helped combat my insecurities and negative thinking as well â€“ I know I am not alone in my battles with self acceptance, so hopefully my words can inspire someone else too!
Did you workout before you found kettlebells? How did you discover kettlebells? What other fitness tool do you enjoy?
To be honest, I didnâ€™t like working out at all before kettlebells. I wanted so badly to be a runner because of the lean physique that most runners seemed to have. I tried doing the couch to 5k program several times but I could never stick with it, especially on a treadmill. I still run occasionally, but itâ€™s always outside and usually by the lake â€“ I like to have some scenery to keep my mind off of the running!
As far as finding kettlebell, I reached a high weight and was frustrated and knew I needed to do something about it. I blindly searched online for boot camps in the Omaha area and randomly found a kettlebell studio near my house! I had high expectations. I had been let down too many times by trainers who couldnâ€™t remember my name, didnâ€™t take an interest in my personal goals and failed to listen to me to help me achieve them. I needed someone who knew what they were talking about and who would believe me when I said I was in pain! So, I checked out their website and credentials, read up on kettlebells, read their instructor reviews on Dragon Door, saw their youtube videos, etc. before I made the commitment. Iâ€™m pretty thorough! Itâ€™s been a running joke that as a teacher, that I know how to do my homework.
You love your trainers and say, â€œyou wouldnâ€™t let go (of them) for the worldâ€! They sound like special people. Tell us about them and how they have helped you?
Ahh yes, they are special people. Mark and Nikki Snow are the most down to earth people youâ€™ll ever meet who met all of my expectations, plus some! They have a genuine desire to help others and are truly skilled at running individualized workouts, even with 15 clients in the session. Mark has an extensive background in sports medicine and functional movement as an athletic trainer and has a huge arsenal of corrective exercises to help his clients move better and pain free. Nikkiâ€™s bubbly personality, athletic past, and super strong technique make her able to relate to anyone who walks in the door – everyone aspires to be like Nikki, myself included! Combined, they pack a punch that is unstoppable â€“ their sense of humor keeps everyone entertained and laughing, they have created a team atmosphere with their clients â€“ everyone cheers each other on and we have this huge built in support group of like-minded people. Mark and Nikki each bring something so unique to the table, which is why I think their business has grown so much in the short amount of time theyâ€™ve been operating.
You are currently training for the RKC. Exciting! When and where is it? What made you want to do the RKC and how is it going?
I am currently training for the RKC in San Diego in August and am so nervous! Iâ€™ve always had a desire to work in the fitness industry, but havenâ€™t been able to find a niche. I worked at a gym that specialized in rehabilitation had an outpatient physical therapy clinic on site. I loved seeing the clients who were recently released from rehab trying to rebuild their bodies. If I wasnâ€™t already 3/4 finished with college, I wouldâ€™ve switched my major right then to athletic training or physical therapy. In fact, the thought still crosses my mind, but has always been regarded as a pipe dream. After all, youâ€™ve got to look the part first, right?
I had a very challenging start to 2011 where I suffered a miscarriage. After a few days of utter sadness and a level of depression Iâ€™ve never experienced before, I recognized that I needed to do something to take my mind off of what happened. I allowed myself to grieve, but decided right then and there that I was going after my pipe dream. I wanted to be an instructor and I committed to the Hardstyle Kettlebell Certification (which was six weeks away!). It was hard work, but I put everything I had into training and it paid off. On April 30th I got my instructor certification. :-)
Needless to say, I had the itch and signed up for the Russian Kettlebell Challenge (RKC) right away. I was making huge changes, dropping weight and finding myself loving and appreciating myself for the first time ever. Training continues to go well â€“ I am very proud of my strength and skills â€“ I just need to work on my mental game now and not allow myself to be intimidated!
What is your current training regimen?
I go to kettlebell bootcamp class 3-4 days per week and do a program called Enter the Kettlebell (ETK) 3 days as well. I take one day a week to rest. We have class for 4-5 weeks straight and then take a week off to recover.
ETK involves a lot of cleaning, pressing, swinging and snatching. I throw in some squats for good measure and have started focusing on training double bells as well. :-)
Do you follow a specific way of eating? What does a typical day of food look like for you?
Yes! I typically follow a nutritional program called Precision Nutrition by Dr. John Berardi. The program has me eating five-six small meals per day. I eat veggies with all of my meals and most of my carbs come from those veggies. I have to earn starchy carbs and I eat them after my workouts. Please realize that Iâ€™m only 90% compliant, so I do get to enjoy some of my most favorite foods too!
A typical days looks like this:
Breakfast- Green Shake: Spinach, water, protein powder, 1/2 cup pineapple, greens + supplement
Snack- Cucumber salad (chopped cucumbers, non fat greek yogurt, apple cider vinegar), 1 serving of almonds
Lunch â€“ Spinach salad with fajita chicken meat, salsa, black beans, peppers, tomatoes, and side of cottage cheese
Snack- Post workout shake
Dinner- Turkey filet, asparagus, sweet potato
What motivates you?
Seeing others make progress. I love going to the gym just to see everyone and you can often find me hanging out after my session to watch and sometimes assist other classesâ€“ I love the energy at the gym and I love to watch my trainers in action as I always learn something new that I can apply as a new instructor. I feel as if Iâ€™m missing out when Iâ€™m not there and they surely keep me accountable on facebook if I ever miss a session! I love being able to give back to others â€“ I used to be a really private person but have found I really enjoy sharing my story in hopes that it sparks someone else to make positive changes and go after their dreams.
And just for fun, what cartoon character do you most relate to?
Lisa Simpson! Iâ€™m focused on my goals and tend to wear my heart on my sleeve. I have been known to rebel against social norms and am often an idealist. J I played the clarinet for 13 years, taught myself to play the piano by ear, and I have sometimes felt like the geeky overachiever!
Thank you so much for sharing your story Khara. You are beautifully resilient and most definitely a Girl Hero!
Hugs and High Fives,
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