I’ve always said that I LOVE what I do! There are so many reasons behind my passion towards strength and conditioning and being a coach, but one thing I adore is the opportunity to meet great people, who empower my passion, keep me motivated and serve me as an example! Today I have the honor to introduce you Molly Galbraith! She is an amazing woman and an amazing coach! Everybody who has the opportunity to meet her, will tell you that his/her life has been touched and changed forever! She has the ability to wake up the motivation and the drive that have been sleeping deep inside of you. She has the power to inspire you to be more, to want more and to achieve more! Chack out what Molly had to share with us, but before that let’s wish her a Happy Birthday!
Ines Subashka: Thank you for accepting the offer for an interview. I really like what you do, and it is a pleasure for me, to introduce you to my readers! Would you tell us a little bit more about yourself.
Molly Galbraith: Ines, thank YOU for having me! I know you have interviewed some really great people on your site that I admire very much, so I am honored you asked to interview me!
Long story short, I was a competitive gymnast and cheerleader growing up and I got away with my horrible eating habits for almost 10 years because of my constant activity. My weight fluctuated quite a bit after that and I ended up quite heavy and quite miserable in 2004 at age 19. I got very frustrated with myself at that point. I was working 2 jobs, taking 18 hours in school, had a lot of friends, a great social life and to be honest, I was really kicking butt in every aspect of my life except my health and physique.
The reason this frustrated me so much is because the two things you have control of in your life are: what you eat and what you do with your body. You can’t always have control over your boss or your family or your teacher or your friends, but you can absolutely take control of your nutrition and exercise. At that point I decided to get a trainer and start working out and cleaning up my diet.
Of course, at the time that meant going from McDonald’s 3 times a day to turkey sandwiches and Gatorade, so it wasn’t ideal but I tried. Over the next year I absolutely fell in love with training and nutrition and started reading everything I could get my hands on as well as spending as much time as possible around people who also felt passionately about those subjects.
Fast forward to 2012 and I am co-owner of Red Point Fitness , an online nutrition and training company, co-owner of J&M Strength and Conditioning, a studio gym where we offer private, semi-private and group personal training classes, and a co-founder of Girls Gone Strong, THE Women’s Fitness Authority! So yeah…I’d say that sums it up!
IS: I know that you have an undergraduate degree in Finance and Marketing. I myself also have a degree in Marketing, but I’ve taken a whole different direction with personal training and lifting weights. What made you want to pursue a career in strength and conditioning? How did everything start?
MG: It’s funny, I have always loved Math, English and Business, and Science was never a class I enjoyed. When I started college I was majoring in Economics and minoring in German. Over the next few years I changed majors a few times and ended up with a Double major in Finance and Marketing and a minor in Communications. It was the middle of my junior year of college when I decided I wanted to make a change and I wasted to take control of my body.
As soon as I started learning about nutrition and training I was hooked. Since I was so far into my other major, I decided to finish with the business degree and I actually went on to get my MBA (Masters of Business Administration) because it was something I knew I wanted. I finished at the top of my MBA class in 11 months at age 22.
In my spare time, I was a sponge… learning anything and everything I could about the human body. I spent time with trainers, powerlifters, bodybuilders, figure competitors, nutrition coaches, massage therapists and more. I wanted to understand how the body worked from many different perspectives. In 2006, I started working on Red Point Fitness with my boyfriend Saxon. Several years before, he had the idea to write a software program that would “dummy-proof” the process of building nutrition and training programs. It took almost 2 years, but in April of 2008, we launched www.redpointfitness.com and since then we have helped thousands of people build customized nutrition and training programs to help them reach their goals.
Then in 2010, my friend Jim Laird asked me to help him with his group personal training classes. Everything spiraled from there, we became business partners, and in September we will be moving into a 7,500 square ft. facility where we will be offering private, semi-private, and group personal training.
In 2011 I was lucky enough to be introduced to 6 other amazing women and we formed Girls Gone Strong, which is quickly becoming the go-to resource for women who want solid nutrition and training information. We are THE authority on women’s fitness issues! But more about that later…
So there you have it! My fitness journey so far in a nutshell.
IS: I am familiar with your fitness and fat loss journey, but could you share your experience. Have you always tried to get fit the right and healthy weight, or have you gone to some extremes?
MG: When I originally started out on my fitness journey, it was all about fat loss. My boyfriend at the time (now my ex) was doing my nutrition programming and it was a “relatively healthy” plan. Looking back I needed more variety in my foods and I wasn’t eating enough fat and carbs in my diet, but overall it was much better than what I had been eating (fast food, soda, candy, etc.).
Later on in my journey, I started competing in both figure and powerlifting. Once I decided to compete in figure, I did have to do some more extreme dieting, but at the time I was still convinced that what I was doing was healthy. Looking back, I realize that it wasn’t. My calories were too low overall and I was doing way too much cardio. The extreme dieting combined with the stress of starting a new business was too much for me and in 2009 I ended up so exhausted that I could hardly get out of bed. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and Adrenal Dysfunction. Basically, my overall stress load was too high, and my recovery was too low and I was physically bankrupt. (Read more about that here )
Now I follow a much more moderate nutrition, training, and cardio program, and I feel much better.
IS: Have you ever had problems with disordered eating and how did you manage to fight it? A lot of women are struggling with body image issues and I feel that sharing our own experience could really help them find the right path!
MG: Absolutely! For as long as I can remember I have had a bit of an obsession with food. When I was very little, my parents were strict and hardly ever let us have junk food. In fact, my oldest sister didn’t taste processed sugar until she was 3! My parents divorced when I was almost 5 and when I was around 7, my Mom went back to law school full time as a single Mom with 3 little girls. As you can imagine she didn’t really have the time or energy to monitor what we ate closely.
In fact, she would sit in her car and study and send us in to the grocery store with a list and let us buy the groceries (we were 12, 10 and 7 years old) and we bought as much junk as we could get away with. We also started cooking for ourselves more as my Mom was super busy with school…so that meant a lot of macaroni, cream of mushroom soup, mashed potatoes, and plenty of processed snacks and chips that required little to no cooking. I was super active doing competitive gymnastics 9-16 hours a week at the time and I was actually quite thin, so my weight was never an issue. For years I would have 2-3 grilled cheese sandwiches on white bread with a coke before practice and a double cheeseburger meal with fries and a coke after practice…yuck!
These awful habits continued through my teenage years and by the time I was 14, my diet consisted of a TON of fast food, ramen noodles, cherry coke, cheesy baked potatoes, chicken flavored rice, and pizza. I was still out-training my bad diet (something that can only be done by teenagers and the genetic elite) and it wasn’t until I quit cheerleading that I gained a bit of weight. Over the next 5 years my weight fluctuated significantly and I wore everything from a size 6 to a size 12 (I am 5’10.5”). Finally in 2004 I decided I wanted to get a grip on my health and my body and began a super strict eating regimen.
Over the last 7-8 years I have done everything from 900-1000 calorie “figure competitor” diets like I discussed above, to eating 2400-3200 calories a day, but one thing remains the same…I LOVE FOOD! I think about it constantly! When do I get to eat next? What am I going to eat tonight? What am I going to eat tomorrow? When do I get to go out to eat next? When is what’s-her-name’s wedding? I wonder what kind of food they are going to have there? Ooh I can’t wait for Christmas…I get Mom’s French toast! And on and on and on.
This might sound familiar or it might sound silly, but this is not an exaggeration in the slightest. I think some people are just more inclined to like food, care about food, and think about food more often than others. I have been this way for as long as I can remember and no matter what I do (i.e. follow a plan, not follow a plan, eat a lot of food, eat less food, eat 100% unprocessed food, eat 100% junk) I find myself constantly excited about food. I contrast this with someone like my sister or my stepdad…two people who actually FORGET TO EAT on a regular basis?!?! (I can’t imagine that EVER happening to me!) And based on lots of observations I have found that for some people food is a really big deal and for some people it’s something they rarely think about.
While I have a hard time imagining a time where I will ever not think about food often or not care much about food, I have been able to get my food obsession under control for the most part. The best thing I have found for myself is to simply really enjoy the healthy food that I am eating. I spend a lot of time and energy making my meals absolutely delicious so that I can look forward to my healthful eating almost as much as I look forward to my treats or “off-plan” meals.
And speaking of “off-plan” meals, I try to follow a 90/10 rule so that 90% of my meals are planned, healthy meals and 10% of them are less-than-healthy meals so I can still enjoy myself. I also keep almost all of my starchy or sugary carbs for after my weight training workouts as they are less likely to be stored as fat if eaten at that time. Also, if I find myself off-plan for more than a couple of days I don’t get discouraged or beat myself up. I hop right back on plan and go back to eating foods that make me feel good and look good. Like I said above, I am not sure I will ever be someone who has a completely “normal” relationship with food, but using the tips I listed I have found ways to control my eating and not let my eating control me. Hopefully some of you can identify with my story and you find my advice helpful for getting your eating habits under control.
IS: I know that you work with Mike Robertson. I follow yours, as well as his work and I really admire both of you! How did you start working with him and has your point of view and strength training philosophy changed in some way?
MG: I started working with Mike in January of 2010, several months after my last powerlifting meet. My lifts had stalled and my motivation was in the toilet. I knew if I wanted to improve and get stronger, I would have to get back to the basics and fix my weaknesses. Rumor had it that Mike was “The Man” when it came to helping people do that, so I went up for an assessment and found out that I was a complete disaster. Tilted pelvis, weak glutes and hamstrings, weak anterior core, stiff hip flexors and spinal erectors, weak lower traps, tilted scapulae…the whole nine yards. I’ve been working with him for almost 3 years now and it’s been an amazing learning experience. Not only have I gotten stronger, but my clients have benefited as well.
It’s been a complete overhaul to my training methods really.
To be honest, my training mentor and business partner Jim Laird is an absolutely brilliant trainer who had crazy success with his clients before we ever started incorporating what we learned from Mike, but once we “Mike Robertson-ized” our training methods, the results have been that much better. The biggest thing we both took away from working with him would have to be: understanding how the body is supposed to move.
Before, I would look at a client who might have poor form and I would notice their form but I would basically just tell them to fix it, like “drive your knees out!” or “chest up!”
Now, when I look at a client who might have poor form, I usually have a pretty good idea of WHY their form is suffering (e.g. tight/weak hips, weak glutes, weak anterior core, etc.). I can not only give them a regression of that exercise that will set them up for success, but I also know what other movements they need to be doing to correct the root problem.
We are also much stricter on form nowadays. Before working with Mike, if form got sloppy it wasn’t a huge deal as long as they weren’t doing anything especially dangerous.
Now, we recognize that when form gets sloppy, especially with sub-maximal weight, something is wrong. They may not be using the correct muscle groups to do the movement, or they might not have the proper mobility or stability to do the movement, etc. And again, we now have proper regressions and progressions that set our clients up for success.
We have also found ways to really give our clients a fantastic workout using relatively dummy-proof exercises. I think most trainers would be shocked at how easily a circuit of glute bridges, wall slides, and walk-outs can kick someone’s butt. So yeah – we have learned a ton from Mike over the last 2 ½ years and our philosophy/business is that much better for it!
IS: Would you tell us what your strength training program looks like? What about your nutrition?
MG: Like I mentioned, I’ve been working with Mike for almost 3 years now and the main focus has been on fixing my weaknesses and getting me stronger in general. I have been itching to do another Powerlifting meet, but several months ago I started having a bit of nagging back pain… so our current focus is getting that under control. Once we get that fixed, I would like to start training for a meet.
Currently I strength train 3-4 days a week. Normally my main movements would be back squats, deadlifts, and barbell bench press, but because of my back issues I am doing more offset goblet squats, single leg hip thrusts, pull throughs, and half-kneeling and tall-kneeling movements. I do conditioning work 2-3 days a week, and it ranges from 7-8 minutes of moderate prowler pushing without stopping to Tabata-style kettlebell swings, to battling rope intervals. I also try to walk as much as possible.
As for my nutrition, I am 100% gluten free all the time due to my autoimmune condition (there is a strong gluten/autoimmune link). For the last 2+ years I have followed the Modified Warrior Nutrition Program, where you fast for 12-16 hours, have two really small meals, train, and then feast at night. It’s super convenient and has worked really well for me so far. But I am constantly experimenting with, and tweaking my nutrition, so who knows what I will be doing next month! =)
IS: How did you come up with the idea of a personal website?
MG: It was a no-brainer for me. I constantly found myself putting these super-long Facebook status posts up with all kinds of nutrition/training advice, and I realized I needed a blog badly. Plus all of the other Girls Gone Strong had their own websites and I knew needed a place where I could just WRITE and share information. In addition to that… people get confused about what I do, since I have Red Point (online nutrition/training company), J&M Strength and Conditioning (brick-and-mortar gym), and Girls Gone Strong (online community of women sharing nutrition/training information and inspiration, with BIG things happening in the near future including more apparel, products, seminars, etc.). So hopefully that is cleared up on my website when people read the “Services” section!
IS: If you had to sum up your training philosophy in just one sentence, what would be it?
MG: Training smarter, not harder.
IS: You are part of the team of Girls Gone Strong. In your opinion what is the mission of the “movement” and how do you think you are gonna achieve it?
MG: Our mission is to inspire and empower women everywhere to get stronger mentally, physically, and emotionally through movement, specifically lifting heavy things. So many women are drawn to cardio, aerobics, Zumba, Pilates, and the like. Not that there is anything wrong with those things… but there is just something different about picking up something really heavy. Ask any woman who has gotten “into” lifting weights. It’s an incredibly different and unbelievable feeling to be able to pick something really heavy up off the floor. You feel like a total Goddess when you can do that!
We have SO MANY things in the works right now with GGS that my head is spinning. Without giving too much away, just know that our website is on its way. So is our apparel, and so are products, conferences/seminars, and much more. We just want to spread as much information as we can through any and every medium possible.
IS: How would you finish the sentence “I work out, because”?
MG: Not to be nit-picky but I would have to say I TRAIN, instead of work out. To me, “working out” implies haphazardly doing some active things with your body without much of a plan or purpose or progression. I might refer to “working out” occasionally or doing a “workout” but when I step back and think of what I do with my body, it’s not working out, it’s TRAINING and it’s training for LIFE!
It’s training because I love my body, not because I hate it. It’s training because I can, and others can’t, and I feel like it’s a way of honoring myself and them. It’s training because of what it’s done for my confidence and self-worth, and also what it’s done for my ass ;-). It’s training because I want to age gracefully so I can get up out of a chair easily when I am 80. It’s training because I do have a plan, and a purpose, and a progression, and a goal. It’s training because I push myself beyond what I ever thought was possible when I started this journey. It’s training because I want to inspire others to find the best version of themselves and their bodies.
THAT is why I TRAIN.
P.S. If you liked the interview with Molly, please help us spread the word about it and share it with your friends! I’d greatly appreciate it!