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Home / Health / GGS Spotlight: Ashley-Drake Estes – Girls Gone Strong

GGS Spotlight: Ashley-Drake Estes – Girls Gone Strong

Name: Ashley-Drake Estes
Age: 31
Location: Portland, OR

What does being a Girl Gone Strong imply to you?
It means exuding power in my general being: thoughts, physique, soul, and spirit. It means having the braveness and style to rise above any troublesome state of affairs, and mirror, study, and develop from the expertise.

It means nurturing the notion of sisterhood. It means not censoring myself or apologizing out of worry of how others may understand me. It is the liberty to talk up and defend, struggle for what’s proper, and empower others within the course of.

How lengthy have you ever been power coaching, and the way did you get began?
I first started within the fall of 2012. I used to be so intimidated the primary time I walked as much as a squat rack on the health club at my graduate faculty in New York (the place I’m initially from). I didn’t see any women utilizing the weights — the weights have been dominated by males. I keep in mind wanting round and seeing women occupying the elliptical machines.

Fortunately, there was one man there, who labored on the health club, who took me beneath his wing and taught me some fundamentals, following a Rippetoe protocol. Despite receiving unsolicited recommendation from a few of the guys, and a few unlucky bullying, I stored coming again. I used to be amazed that my physique was far stronger than I ever realized. From there, I used to be hooked. I principally dabbled in deadlifts, squats, and bench presses.

In the summer time of 2013, I flew out to Portland for the summer time to coach at a health club owned by a coach I labored with. I spent your complete summer time coaching significantly. While I actually didn’t lean out (which was certainly one of my objectives on the time), I gained 13 kilos of muscle and felt like a complete beast in one of the simplest ways attainable! When I returned residence to New York and began my semester, I observed that I felt exhausted on a regular basis, and was quickly gaining weight regardless of following a Paleo/Primal template.

After a really irritating yr of feeling sick and run into the bottom, my practical drugs physician, Dr. Christa Whiteman, recognized me with Phase three Adrenal Fatigue (HPA-Axis Dysregulation) from overtraining and being in a continuing state of Ketosis, and PCOS. Finally I had a solution as to why I used to be gaining weight, and feeling always drained, depressed, and unmotivated. This was additionally very arduous mentally and emotionally for me to simply accept.

To prime it off, a pair months after being recognized, I broke my backbone in three locations from a horseback driving accident at my job. There was a lot stress on my physique, and trauma, that I hit a low. Because of my diagnoses and spinal fractures, I used to be beneath strict orders to cease understanding and heal, as a result of it will have been utterly counterproductive to my health and health objectives. I actually needed to cease and rehabilitate. Again, this was very onerous and it took a whole lot of interpersonal work to simply accept this course of and permit my physique to do its factor.

Fast ahead to January 2017. I lastly healed my adrenals sufficient and felt prepared to start out lifting once more. But, I had spent a pair years out of the sport, and I used to be scared to start out again. I used to be nervous that I’d injure myself, or scared that I’d really feel too intimidated to start out over. I used to be frightened about how others at a fitness center may decide my now greater measurement. Dr. Whiteman heard a few fantastic power and conditioning health club close to me in Portland. After performing some analysis, she advised me that this fitness center appeared like the right spot for me to get again into lifting. That’s once I joined POINT Gym & Kitchen.

I used to be instantly greeted with open arms and welcomed into their group. I actually related with the members and the fantastic house owners and coaches, Kimberly and Melissa. They are complete robust badass women who encourage, encourage, and settle for me as I’m. They additionally modify parts of the category in order that I really feel profitable in my exercises as I transition again into this way of life. As a reasonably new transplant to Portland, being a member at POINT has additionally helped me combine into my group right here and meet like-minded people who’re captivated with health and wellness.

Due to a demanding work schedule, I’ve needed to take a break from POINT, however hope to return quickly. For the final a number of months, I’ve been answerable for my very own programming, mixing in parts of Rippetoe’s Starting Strength, and Jen Sinkler’s Lift Weights Faster. It’s good to really feel assured once more within the health club that I can piece collectively my very own program based mostly on how I’m feeling that day or relying on what my objectives are. When I can slot in a exercise, I additionally give attention to what feels good and enjoyable within the second. I’m having fun with discovering methods to include motion into my every day life, even within the office.

What does your typical exercise seem like?
A mix of heavy compound lifts, accent work, and metabolic conditioning thrown in. I really like difficult my thoughts and physique and seeing how I can overcome my very own limitations.

I can’t inform you what number of occasions I’ve stated “I didn’t think I could do that!” on the finish of a exercise.

But right here I’m, persistently stunned by my power, drive, and newfound talents.

Favorite carry:
My favourite carry is certainly the deadlift. There’s simply one thing actually empowering about choosing one thing actually, actually, actually heavy up off the bottom!

Most memorable PR:
This occurred on the 2017 Women’s Strength & Empowerment Weekend y’all hosted in Seattle. I used to be having my photograph taken by the photographer and posed with the bar doing 65-pound deadlifts. But then, I made a decision to attempt a clear and press with that weight. Typically at my fitness center, I’d carried out this carry with 45 kilos, however I figured, why not give it a go? Before I knew it, I had the bar locked in place above my head. It was easy and I couldn’t consider it. I used to be smiling ear-to-ear and felt so pleased with myself!

There have been some women current cheering me on and this actually made me really feel supported in that second. I used to be joyful I used to be capable of share this with others. When I returned to my fitness center a few days later, I informed my coaches about my victory however conveyed that I assumed it may need been a fluke. To my shock, the exercise for that day included clear and presses. By the top of the exercise, I not solely was capable of replicate my 65-pound PR from Seattle, however I efficiently carried out the carry 25 occasions! I assume it’s not my one rep max!

Top 6 songs in your coaching playlist:

  • Borne on the FM Waves of the Heart by Against Me!
  • Chandelier by Sia
  • Winter Sound by Of Monsters and Men
  • Funeral by Band of Horses
  • Emergency by Paramore, and one bonus monitor:
  • Music Box by Thrice

Top three issues you should have on the health club or in your fitness center bag:
Headphones, an RxBar, and water.

Do you favor to coach alone or with others? Why?
I undoubtedly favor to coach with others as a result of I really like the social, communal facet of it. Humans are designed to be social creatures and whereas we will clearly do absolutely anything on our personal, being a part of a group working collectively, and sharing in actions advantages our general health in invaluable methods! I like being a part of a tribe.

Most embarrassing fitness center second:
About ten years in the past, again in New York, I used to work out at a type of 24-hour gyms at odd hours of the night time (as a result of I used to be in all probability taking Hydroxycut and couldn’t ever get my coronary heart fee low sufficient to sleep…Oh, Ashley!) John Basedow, the man behind “Fitness Made Simple” and the eight-pack abs commercials would all the time exercise concurrently me. One time, whereas on the elliptical, I faked a sneeze hoping that he would reply and we might strike up a dialog, as a result of I figured, if we’re the one two individuals understanding at 2 a.m., we’d as properly be associates! Well, after perhaps ten pretend sneezes, not solely did he not speak to me, however he moved away from me onto a unique cardio machine, as properly. I assume it simply wasn’t within the playing cards for us to be associates!

What do you do?
I’m a board-licensed and licensed Neurologic Music Therapist. I work at a personal follow in Portland referred to as Earthtones Northwest, the place I present music remedy for adults with numerous developmental and neurological disabilities. I additionally am the CEO and Cofounder of Sing Out! International, a music remedy nonprofit group dedicated to serving communities all over the world which were affected by trauma. Last yr, I spent a few months dwelling and dealing in northern Uganda at a secondary faculty and vocational middle for former youngster troopers, abductees, and orphans of the Lord’s Resistance Army, referred to as Hope North.

I carried out a six-week music remedy program that addressed the next objectives: to extend self-expression, to offer constructive coping expertise, to lower stress response, and to foster connectedness to the group and surrounding villages. These objectives have been obtained via totally different music remedy teams I co-facilitated, similar to Group Drumming, Group Singing, Improvisation, Songwriting, and Music & Relaxation. This work could be very pricey to my coronary heart.

Not solely was it Sing Out! International’s first challenge, however my life has perpetually been modified since assembly my college students. Their tales are awe-inspiring and they’re my household. I converse to my college students each day, because of social media, they usually maintain me up to date about how the music remedy program goes now that I’m again within the states.  I actually love listening to from them and I miss them very a lot. Within the sector of music remedy, I additionally current my medical work at conferences on the nationwide and international scale, and am engaged on my first publication, as nicely. I really like what I do.

I do know for this reason I used to be placed on Earth: to make use of my presents of music to assist others heal.

Most memorable praise you’ve acquired recently:
Chad Draizin, proprietor of Fifty Licks, one of the best ice cream in Portland, is a pal of mine and an enormous supporter of Sing Out! International and my work in Uganda. I noticed him final week on the grand opening of his second store and earlier than I might congratulate him, he stated, “You’re doing such amazing things and I want to support you. I want to donate more money to your organization.” This was actually significant to me as a result of not solely do I’ve the help of Chad, however I additionally really feel as if I’m gaining help in my new group in Portland.

Sometimes I get discouraged or really feel overwhelmed as a result of fundraising and operating a nonprofit is actually exhausting work. And whereas I’m so in love with the work I’m doing, it may be appear daunting at occasions. But each time I really feel that approach, these robust reminders pop into my life within the type of supportive compliments from colleagues, associates, or neighbors, and that ignites the hearth inside me and propels me ahead with a renewed power in the direction of my work.

Most current praise you gave another person:
I used to be going to Target, you recognize, to purchase one factor, which clearly didn’t find yourself occurring and I got here residence with two luggage of issues. Anyway, as I used to be strolling via the door, I noticed a pair of their early 20s in entrance of me. The lady was curvy and -sized, and I tapped her on the shoulder to say, “I just have to tell you, your shape is really beautiful and strong. I hope you always feel proud of your body.” Her have an effect on shifted, and her smile was so brilliant. Her eyes utterly lit up — so did her boyfriend’s. She thanked me however I merely advised her that I used to be being trustworthy together with her, and shared the hope that extra women would use their phrases to raise one another up, than tear each other down.

Favorite meal:
A grass-fed New York Strip steak, broccoli smothered in Kerrygold butter, and candy potatoes seasoned with sea salt and cumin. Absolutely my favourite meal, arms down!

Favorite method to deal with your self:
How to reply this query with out referencing Parks and Rec? Well, I’m an enormous proponent of self-care and I bask in it each day as a part of my apply. Within the final yr, I began going to an outside soaking pool that’s open to the general public in Portland. The area is actually pretty and I discover it to be a nurturing, all-inclusive place (like most of Portland!) Clothing within the soaking pool is non-compulsory, and at my first go to, on my 30th birthday, I made a decision I might go bare. I might absolutely embrace my physique and simply be myself. I made a decision that I didn’t care if others checked out me, or judged my physique, as a result of I knew I used to be there for myself, and no one else.

I can’t start to inform you what a liberating expertise this was for me. I by no means thought I might be capable of present up and take area on this capability. I felt validated and accepted (although I do know I didn’t want anybody’s validation or acceptance). What’s much more fascinating is as I walked from the place I hung my towel as much as the steps of the pool, I felt assured, lovely, robust, and proud to brazenly show my physique with out censoring any a part of me, or making an attempt to concede to anybody’s requirements of what my physique ought to appear to be. I’ve gone fairly a couple of occasions now, and each time I’m going, I’m not solely honoring my physique’s bodily must soak and really feel good, however I’m receiving tons of constructive power again by embracing my true self.

Favorite quote:
I used to be making an attempt to slender this right down to only one, however there was a 3-method tie, so right here they’re:

Everything was lovely and nothing harm. — Kurt Vonnegut

Life is a collection of calluses, that is simply one other layer. So construct ‘em up, tough it out, yeah, that’s your pores and skin, don’t let anybody underneath there. — The Goodlife

You’re already house the place you are feeling love. — The Head and the Heart

The final two are lyrics to songs. I can’t assist it; I’m a music therapist! I feel in music, principally.

Favorite guide:
I’ve to decide on only one? I might say my all time favourite is the Odyssey, however I haven’t learn it in 16 years. I ought to revisit this guide! I just lately learn Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, which was superb. I actually take pleasure in his writing. He is educating me to be unapologetic with regards to my values and moxie. Right now, I’m studying Wired to Eat, by my pricey pal Robb Wolf. His work is super and so essential. But most of all, I really like his coronary heart and keenness for serving to individuals reside their greatest lives by means of health and vitality.

I actually love every part written by Glennon Doyle (Carry On, Warrior, and Love Warrior). Reading her work makes me really feel validated in each expertise I’ve on this life. She is actually superb. Of course something written by Brené Brown, as nicely. I’m additionally studying Braving the Wilderness. Miranda July is one other favourite… It’s typical of me to be studying 94839 books directly.

What evokes and motivates you?
I really feel impressed and motivated by means of the testimonies of others who’ve overcome comparable challenges as me, whether or not they be health-related or not. Because I can relate so deeply, it’s as if they’re sharing their story instantly with me. For instance, on the Women’s Strength & Empowerment Weekend, I discovered myself continuously nodding alongside to each phrase Neghar Fonooni spoke throughout her presentation. Seriously, every thing she stated rang a bell with me. Being surrounded by women in all totally different walks of life, sporting totally different physique sizes, strengths, colours, types, is all eye opening and empowering.

I’m very impressed by people who maybe reside in marginalized communities or areas of the world, who’ve fought for social justice, and proceed to take action.

I acknowledge my very own privilege and I need to get up and be a part of the battle for equality, the Earth and its preservation, clear consuming water for all, refugees in search of a protected haven, and ending discrimination based mostly on race, sexual orientation, and gender expression.

What else do you do?
I wish to discover the Pacific Northwest and discover thrilling and delightful locations to hike to. I take pleasure in studying in espresso outlets and in search of out which one has one of the best do-it-yourself nut milk (spoiler alert: it’s Heart Roasters on Burnside, and it’s an walnut-cashew mix). I like actions resembling indoor mountaineering, stand-up paddle boarding, and swimming. I additionally actually love driving my bike. In reality, virtually two years in the past, I went on my first bike tour and rode 107 miles to the Oregon Coast (one thing I did with none coaching, too!). I additionally play on an indoor soccer league however have needed to sit out the previous few video games as a consequence of some muscle weak spot in my hip space. I’ll be again, although.

I really like getting misplaced in a bookstore and spending each final penny I’ve on a brand new ebook. I really like writing music, enjoying guitar and piano, and sharing my music at open mic nights (which I have to do extra of, truthfully). Karaoke won’t ever fail to be a enjoyable strategy to spend a Saturday night time. Perhaps my favourite factor to do is sit round a bonfire with buddies and keep up late speaking about love, life, and every part in between.

Describe a typical day in your life:
Coffee, work, take into consideration my subsequent profession transfer, house-cooked meal with associates and my associate, speak to my cat, sleep.

Your subsequent coaching aim:
I’ve so many! By the top of 2018, I want to:

  • Do a pushup with none modifications
  • Do 10 double-unders in a row (I’m at four now)
  • Deadlift 200 kilos as a 5 rep max (I’m at 165 kilos now)
  • Do a handstand
  • Do a cartwheel
  • Clean and press 100 kilos as a 1 rep max
  • And by the top of eternity, I would really like to have the ability to do an unassisted pull-up

For what are you most grateful?
Oh, this one is straightforward. My mother and father. They have guided and supported me every day I’ve been on this Earth. They love me so arduous, so deeply, and so selflessly. They have by no means wasted a chance to ensure I do know that I’m cared for, that I’m succesful and clever, and that I’m stronger than something which will current itself as a way to derail my success. Oh! And I’m additionally significantly grateful for a wonderfully functioning central nervous system. I can’t categorical how a lot gratitude I maintain in my coronary heart that once I broke my backbone, I didn’t turn into paralyzed, and didn’t have any everlasting injury or any lasting deficits whereas rehabilitating. I really feel as if it by no means occurred and I’m past fortunate for that.

Of what life accomplishment do you are feeling most proud?
I’m fortunate that I can consider many accomplishments I’m pleased with, however I don’t assume any of them would have been potential if I had not taken management of my health. I made the change to a Paleo way of life again in 2011, because of my good good friend Dain, and Sarah Fragoso of Everyday Paleo. Prior to this although, I used to be chronically sick. I used to be recognized with Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) a pair years earlier, and had different issues like eczema  I simply all the time felt sick. Not to say, I overexerted myself on the fitness center each day and spent hours on cardio machines praying for outcomes whereas I starved myself consuming processed meals that got here with factors hooked up to them. I used to be all the time ravenous and felt actually tousled relating to meals, too. After visiting Dain in Chico, California, he turned me onto Paleo and I made a decision to offer it a shot, and dive in headfirst.

After one yr, I visited my Rheumatologist and he informed me that I had reversed RA and that Lupus was in remission. Since then, I’ve but to expertise a flare up of any sort, and I don’t take treatment in any respect! Aside from that, my eczema disappeared, my temper stabilized, and better of all? I’ve a wholesome, sustainable relationship with REAL meals. I’ve discovered what my physique likes and tolerates, and what doesn’t promote health. I’ve observed that I look, really feel, and carry out higher following this template. I make changes right here and there relying on my objectives, and I don’t deal with the best way I eat like several dogmatic routine on the market.

Because I gained management of my health, this freed up time and power to perform different objectives, reminiscent of graduating with a Master’s Degree and a GPA, beginning a nonprofit, lifting heavy issues, happening a motorcycle tour, touring to Africa and immersing myself within the tradition; you realize, all of the issues I couldn’t do whereas I used to be sick and obsessive about altering my aesthetics based mostly on the societal constructs portrayed closely by the media.

Which three phrases greatest describe you?
Resilient. Independent. Funny.

What’s a danger you’ve taken lately, and the way did it end up? 
Well, virtually two years in the past, I bought most of my belongings, packed up my automotive, and drove cross-nation from New York to Portland. I moved right here as a result of I liked spending time in Portland, and I discovered it essential (for me) to stay in a spot that aligned with my values and worldview. Portland was that place (, I actually like dwelling the place I can stroll right into a retailer and discover Paleo mayonnaise and grain-free tortillas with out having to get them organized on-line. I’m not even kidding!) Despite having spent a summer time right here, I actually didn’t make any connections or pals. I used to be principally ranging from scratch. I don’t assume I considered how onerous the transition can be, and the way lonely I might grow to be.

Slowly however certainly, Portland started to really feel like residence and I discovered myself assembly like-minded people and connecting with my group, and getting concerned in native tasks and such. The nostalgia for New York diminished as I embraced my new residence. I additionally discovered myself turning into extra snug doing issues alone, and exploring hidden gems Oregon has to supply. I made a decision to utterly personal this expertise. It isn’t all the time clean crusing, and I’ve hit a few big bumps within the street, however it’s all a part of my story. I plan to take it one-day-at-a-time and make the perfect of what’s round.

What’s the good “side effect” you’ve skilled from power coaching?
Other than carrying all my luggage from the automotive in a single journey with out struggling? I might say a rise in power all through my day and I actually take pleasure in watching my muscular tissues get greater and stronger!

How has lifting weights modified your life?
Lifting weights has offered me with extra confidence in and out. I really feel as if I can deal with robust parts in my life with the identical pressure I exploit to raise weights. It all carries over.

I really feel as if I’ve performed it protected in areas of my life, principally out of worry of failure or judgment. Not anymore.

I not let these maintain me again. I’ve discovered that I’m stronger than I assumed I used to be, I’m extra succesful than I assumed I used to be, and I’m worthy past all else. Worthy of health, success, group, love, security, rights, and a promising, fulfilled future.  In essence, lifting weights has taught me how you can give myself permission to stay and present up how I need to on this world.

What do you need to say to different women who may be nervous or hesitant about power coaching?
Just begin. You can do greater than you assume. You aren’t going to get cumbersome, until in fact that’s one among your objectives (during which case, that’s greater than high quality! Go for it!) I really feel as if many women are afraid to carry weights, or raise something above a 5-pound dumbbell out of worry of “looking manly” or “bulky” — this mind-set must cease.

Being robust shouldn’t be synonymous with one gender.

I hope that lifting turns into extra mainstream and normalized, since we’re genetically designed to carry heavy issues, play outdoors, climb, leap, squat, stroll endlessly. Another piece of recommendation: all the time take heed to your physique. When you could relaxation, do it. Resting doesn’t imply you’re weak, or that you simply gave up. It means you’re in tune together with your physique’s wants, and that may be a lovely relationship value savoring.

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