Name: Dana Gigler
Location: Vancouver, WA
How did you find out about Girls Gone Strong?
I’ve been following GGS for a couple of years, so I’m not sure exactly how I learned about it other than internet surfing for good information about training and nutrition for the average everyday busy woman who wants to live her best life.
What does being a Girl Gone Strong mean to you?
For me, being a Girl Gone Strong is the ultimate in personal autonomy. It is about being strong in all aspects of my life: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Over the past year or so, I have learned so much from GGS about how to eat, lift, and move my body in a way that help me to create the strongest and best version of myself. Being physically strong enough to carry the dog food through the big-box store, or help a friend move a piano—or even carry my husband piggyback for several blocks through town just for fun!—has helped me to appreciate my body for so much more than how it looks. I appreciate my body for what it does and how it helps me both, create and fully experience the life that I want on my terms.
Being a GGS also means using mental strength to continue to pursue my goals (in the gym and in the rest of my life) even through myriad failures. Lifting weights has given me a safe place to fail and to keep pursuing my goals with a smart and measured plan. When you fail that lift, there is no real consequence. You just evaluate and modify your plan, and try again next time. I carry this approach over in just about any area of my life, and the results are astounding.
Being a Girl Gone Strong is about creating every aspect of your life and your body with the thoughts that you think, the things you give your energy to, the food you eat, the way you move, the way you rest, and the manner in which you honor yourself and those around you.
What do you do?
I am a municipal lawyer.
What else do you do?
I love to spend my free time going to Portland Timbers games, reading books, walking my dogs, hiking up mountains, crafting irreverent needlework, experimenting in the kitchen, and savoring strong coffee.
How were you introduced to strength training, and how long have you been training?
I was introduced to strength training at Crossfit Fort Vancouver in 2010. When I walked in the door I couldn’t lift an empty bar over my head. I developed a love for the barbell there, for sure. However, when I changed jobs in 2014, the location and schedule just didn’t work for me anymore. Are You Training Hard And Not Seeing Results? I found a small gym near work and started doing more traditional ‘weight-room’ training on my own. I trained without good direction for a while and found GGS in 2015, which gave me a very smart and intentional plan and helped me achieve astounding results.
It changes. Right now I’m working hard on the big three: squat, deadlift, and bench press, and I’m really enjoying trying to fine-tune those movements.
Top three things you must have with you at the gym or in your gym bag:
- A camera to record my lifts so that I can review the video to try to figure out what’s working and what isn’t.
- My planned workout (on paper) and a pen to record what I actually accomplished. I then record it in a journal later so I can go back and see how far I’ve come.
- Clips to keep the hair out of my face, and dry shampoo.
Do you prefer to train alone or with others? Why?
I prefer to train with others.
There is nothing like a quality community to keep you motivated and accountable, and with whom you can share your victories and defeats.
Currently, my lifting buddies are the other regulars at my gym who train roughly at the same time of day. None of us are working on the same goals, but we have formed our own little community there.
Best compliment you’ve received lately:
It was actually a question. My friend asked, “Are you available on Saturday to help me move a piano?!”
Most recent compliment you gave someone:
Look at those glutes. They’re like Christmas hams!
Favorite way to treat yourself:
Quiet Saturday morning cappuccinos are one of my favorite things, and I look forward to them every week. I also love any excuse to buy myself new crazy printed leggings. I especially love Daub and Design leggings.
Three words that best describe you:
Curious. Powerful. Reliable.
Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal (thank you, Jen Comas, for that recommendation!) and Come As you Are by Emily Nagoski.
What inspires and motivates you?
I’m motived by the beautiful mundane. In 2012, my extraordinary husband faced health challenges that brought him within inches of his life. We spent most of 2012 trying to keep him alive and bring him back to something that even resembled health and vitality. Having spent months navigating the uncertainties of life and death, I’m now motivated by husband hugs, puppy cuddles, belly laughs, and the ability to live, love, think, feel, and move in this world with my loved ones for as long as possible—and as fully as possible.
Describe a typical day in your life:
Really pretty mundane. I wake up at 6:00 am, spend some quality time with my pups, brew a nice strong coffee, pack up the food that I prepped the night before and go to work. I eat some of that food about an hour before I go to the gym on my lunch break. I love this time! I usually lift about four days a week, and doing it on the lunch hour is the perfect way to clear my brain and restart for the second half of the day. I eat some protein and veggies at my desk after I work out (I know—not ideal, but if I’m not 100% mindful, I am at least slow about it). I finish up work at 5:00 and get home about 6:00 and eat dinner. Leftovers. I eat leftovers pretty much all the time. On weekends I cook up a bunch of protein, a bunch of vegetable, and some healthy carbs, and then mix and match them through the week. After dinner, I usually do the same stuff as everyone else: dishes, laundry, dog walks, hang out with the hubs, etc. I prepare my food for the next day at night so that I don’t have to do much in the morning besides put it in a bag to carry with me.
When and why did you join Strongest You Coaching? What helped you make the decision to join?I started July 2015 and finished up April 2016. At the time I joined, I knew I needed something different. I was so sure that I was doing everything “right”, but I just wasn’t getting the results that I wanted. I was on the verge of hiring a trainer who was going to have me do a three-day coconut oil ‘cleanse’ that entailed eating only coconut oil for three days and then gradually adding in real food. I mean, crazy! It was either that, or make the commitment to a comprehensive and sane program that would address food, movement, and most importantly for me, mindset. I knew I needed help with mindset, and that was the piece I was most excited about. Other programs didn’t address that piece, and I wasn’t sure I could trust them. I knew that “coconut oil guy” wasn’t likely to help with my mindset. GGS was clearly aligned with my values, so I made the investment in myself, and my results were phenomenal.
What has been your biggest challenge in the Strongest You Coaching program?
Probably my own ego. I had to frequently remind myself that my own methods had not gotten me where I wanted to be. This mess I was in… I created that. So, whenever I felt resistance to something, I told myself to listen to the professionals and just try what was being suggested. I could always go back to my old ways if it didn’t work out. I had to learn to be humble and to go back to the basics. Turns out, the basics work. I also had to learn that killing myself in the gym wasn’t actually doing me any good. I had to learn to do less and to let my body recover.
What has been your biggest success in the Strongest You Coaching program?
Physical success—OMG, PULL-UPS! When I was started strength training in 2010, I never thought I would do a pull-up. I eventually learned to do kipping pull-ups, using momentum to get over the bar. But surely I wouldn’t do real pull-ups? I spent four or five years trying to get pulls-ups (longer than I spent earning my law degree), and I never got one. Then, four months into Strongest you, with coaching and programming by the lovely Jen Comas, I got my first unassisted chin-up! Another month later, I got my first pull-up. A few months later, I had three. A month after that, I did five.
Mental success—I finally learned to love and appreciate all that my body does for me. It is literally the vehicle that carries me through the world and allows me to have a human experience: to pet my dogs, hug my husband, climb mountains, perform complex legal analysis, cook and taste delicious food, assimilate nutrients, deadlift 245 pounds, or move a piano for a friend. Most interestingly, as my relationship with my body evolved, its appearance changed along with it. I love science and love to know why and how things work, and this is something that I may never be able to understand.
My body absolutely transformed during this program, but I’m confident that the physical transformation would not have happened without the mental and emotional transformation first.
What do you like best about the Strongest You Coaching community?
The women in this community are the kindest, warmest, most open and supporting women I’ve ever met. Every single one is holding space for the success of every other woman here, and knows that the success of others does not detract from her own. She sees that in fact, the success of others lifts everyone, including and especially her.
What was a “BIG” goal you wanted to achieve by the end of Strongest You Coaching?
Pull-ups. Mission accomplished.
What is the habit you’re currently working on most?
Whenever I find myself slipping into old habits, I go back to slowing down and being more mindful with my eating. I was sooooo resistant to this at first, but I’ve come to believe that it is the cornerstone of a healthy and positive relationship with food. It’s not about sitting on a meditation pillow with a zen bubbling water feature nearby, burning patchouli incense, and listening yoga music. Instead, it just means turning off the TV, chewing your food, tasting it, noticing the texture, taking pauses between bites, and paying attention to how your body actually feels when you eat.
How has Strongest You Coaching changed your life?
This program has completely changed my relationship with food, with movement, with my body, and with my thoughts. I am no longer killing myself in the gym, and I have learned how to use movement and food to enhance my life rather than to dole out some sort of masochistic punishment for not being “good enough.” I look forward to my time in the gym, and nothing stands in my way—except fatigue, because that is my body telling me to recover, and I freakin’ listen to her, because she’s a terrible liar.
What would you tell a woman who’s nervous about joining Strongest You Coaching?
Make the investment in yourself. You are worth it. You deserve it. This is a safe place to learn, to fail, to try again, and to grow stronger in all ways. Do it and take it seriously. Do every single piece to the best of your ability—because you will get out of it exactly what you put into it. Pay special attention to the pieces that you are resistant to. These will end up being some of your biggest teachers.
Feeling inspired by Dana?
In our Strongest You Coaching program, we help women just like you reach their health, physique, and mindset goals. Strongest You Coaching is about more than just training and nutrition. It’s about changing your self-talk and inner dialogue, learning to let fitness enhance your life instead of rule your life, and finally healing your relationship with food and your body, all with the help of your Girls Gone Strong Coach, and your fellow Strongest You Coaching group.
Strongest You Coaching is a 9-month online group coaching program that gives you tools to succeed and puts the power to make lasting changes in your hands. We teach you how to finally eat and exercise in a way that you love so you can sustain it forever.
We only open up this program 2-3 times a year and it always sells out fast. If you’re interested, make sure you grab your spot now!