November Athlete Spotlight: Kasia Kowalczuk

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Tell us something about your life outside of CrossFit (career, family, hobbies, etc).

I’m a critical care nurse. I work in the Neuro/Trauma ICU at St. Mary’s.  I have two German Shepherds, Abbey and Charlie.  I have an older sister and my niece and nephew are my whole world.  Photography is also a passion of mine.  I mostly do photo shoots for my friends of their newborns and children.  A newer hobby of mine is traveling.  I’ve been able to travel to a bunch of cool places this year and hope to do a lot more traveling in the future.

My favorite book or movie:

I’m a total Harry Potter nerd.  The Hunger Games trilogy is also another favorite.  The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein is a great read and made me cry my eyes out.  “To live every day as if it had been stolen from death, that is how I would like to live. To feel the joy of life, as Eve felt the joy of life. To separate oneself from the burden, the angst, the anguish that we all encounter every day. To say I am alive, I am wonderful, I am. I am. That is something to aspire to.”

As far as movies, Tommy Boy, Friends with Benefits (mainly because I’m in love with Justin Timberlake and have a girl crush on Mila Kunis), The Dark Knight, etc. I’m more of a TV show junkie though, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, Grey’s Anatomy, How to Get Away with Murder, etc.

My favorite local restaurant:

Vecchia Osteria!!! Also, Pat’s Colonial Kitchen…I would eat breakfast there every day if I could.

Tell us something that we don’t know or would be surprised to learn about you:

My mom was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis a few months after I was born.  She was only 28 at the time.  She was always stubborn as hell and refused to let her illness defeat her.  I can remember her saying that she refused to be restricted to a wheelchair and she definitely pushed herself to her limits, probably using a cane and walker longer than she should have.  She is now completely bed bound. Even though she has every reason to be mad at the world, she still refuses to feel sorry for herself.  I have never heard her once complain and she’s generally upbeat and positive. She is my hero and the main reason for fitness being a huge part of my life. You just never know what cards you will be dealt tomorrow.

How I was introduced to CrossFit:

Some of my coworkers were looking at Crossfit Newtown’s website and wanted to try it out.  I remember the exact video I watched, “What is Crossfit?”.  At first I said no, but then changed my mind at the last minute.

My fitness routine before CrossFit:  

It was pretty much non-existent. I played sports my whole life so I was always pretty fit.  After college, I went to LA Fitness and tried Zumba. Nothing ever stuck.

My thoughts after my first CrossFit workout:  

It completely kicked my ass and I instantaneously fell in love. I couldn’t even run a 400m without stopping.

My proudest CrossFit accomplishment is:  

My proudest moment was at last year’s Holiday Hopper.  I went into the Championship WOD in 5th place with a 2 minute time penalty. I ended up coming in 2nd place which was such an awesome feeling. I have also medaled in 6 out of 7 Olympic Weightlifting competitions. I’m always proud of any new PR or getting a new skill.

My favorite WOD is:  

Isabel

My Favorite Lift is:  

Snatch, but the clean is a close 2nd.

My next goal is:  

Muscle-ups!!!

How has CrossFit affected your life outside of the gym?

Working as a nurse, I had a grueling night shift schedule and was constantly getting sick. Pretty much every year since I started crossfit in 2012, I had to take a brief hiatus from crossfit for a few months at a time.  Being sick, lacking energy and motivation, it was always a struggle to come back and starting completely over again. The last time, I had taken off almost 5 months in 2014, after an ankle injury and then illness. I came back in January 2015 and I’ve been back ever since! I had gained a lot of weight during my absence from crossfit and I was having a difficult time losing it. Last summer, I began my journey to become a fit. I started with a 24 Day challenge from Advocare. I lost about 20lbs and then reached a plateau. Which is when I started Flexible Dieting and I have made a complete transformation since then. Overall, I’m a lot healthier, stronger and I’m definitely in better shape now than I ever was before.  I’ve learned never to sell myself short because I am capable of doing a lot more things than I ever thought I could do.  I’ve gained a lot of confidence since I started and have reached the point where I could care less what others think of me.

What I love most about CrossFit Newtown:  

It has one of the most supportive environments. It’s always a great feeling when you hit a PR and your coaches and friends are just as excited as you are!!!! Everyone is so encouraging and wants to see you get better.  I have met some of the most amazing and inspirational people I have ever known.  I love my Crossfit Newtown family!!!

What advice I would give to someone just joining CrossFit Newtown:  

I always tell people to give it a solid 3 months before you decide if you love it or hate it. Also, don’t ever get discouraged.  You’re going to have your strengths and weaknesses.  Somedays you finish at the top, other days you finish dead last.  Believe me, I know!!!!!! One day, your weaknesses will become strengths, and that will be an amazing feeling.

Also, one of the most important things I would say is to be coachable. We are fortunate to have some of the best coaches at our gym who are very knowledgeable and want to see you get better. Don’t be that guy that thinks he knows everything and gets mad if you get corrected because your form sucks.

Do you have any diet/nutritional advice?

I have literally tried every diet under the sun. You just have to find what works for you. I’ve had the most results with Flexible Dieting, following macros. It’s the least restrictive and has given me the most success!

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