Humans of LoLo – Coaches edition: Renee Pullen

Sep 12, 2019

Introducing our newest Personal Trainer on Team LoLo!

One day this random Aussie girl walked in through our days and into our lives. She fit in right away and we promise you will love her positive vibes and commitment to your health! Here’s what Renée has to say:

Hi I‘m Renée! I’m a West Aussie girl who lives for travel, human connection, eating dessert for dinner, and getting people strong – inside and out!

What started your fitness journey?

I was dating this guy, Joel (now my husband), who was totally into fitness. I on the other hand, had never been to the gym! 

My health had never been a high priority. I wanted to change that after travelling for a year (during which time I fed my body not much more than pasta and chorizo and wine). I followed an ebook all about size portions and cardio, and believed being on the ‘boys’ side of the gym was going to turn me into Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

One time on the leg press (with no weights), Joel told me to just push up and I couldn’t. No matter how hard I tried. Him training me was either going to make or break us (laughs).

I started to feel really strong and confident as my body started to change. Joel wanted to do a bodybuilding competition, so I decided to do it with him!

When we were 4 weeks out, he had to pull out of the competition. I was originally only doing it for him, but I was committed now, so decided to do it anyway. I won my first show! I thought, dang I’m pretty good at this. I got invited to nationals, which I ended up winning, walking away from my first season with my pro card! I went from an amateur to my pro card pretty quickly. Joel was a bit jealous that I’d stolen his thunder, winning my pro card when it wasn’t even my idea to compete (laughs).

It’s in my personality to take on new things and challenges. I wanted to see what I could achieve and what kind of growth was possible. Since then, I’ve competed a few times, learning something new about myself each time.

Victoria-BC-CrossFit-Gym-Coach

What have you learned from competing?

During my first bodybuilding competition, I developed an unhealthy relationship with my body and fixated a lot of my self worth around a number on the scale. I had this newly acclaimed ‘pro title’ and felt like I needed to look shredded year-round or I’d be seen as a failure.

I look back on photos from that time and it shows me how much work I needed to do on myself mentally. There was a part of myself that I needed to heal. Noticing that my self worth had become attached to the way I looked versus how strong I was, I set about shifting my focus from aesthetic to performance goals. From here I really focused on my strength training and got into the sport of powerlifting. I learned to appreciate my body for it’s strength and what it does for me.

I won my first powerlifting competition, which only left me wanting to push myself more. I wanted to put myself to the test, I felt that I had overcome the vanity of the sport with a healthier relationship with myself. So I decided to see if I could do another bodybuilding competition from a more scientific intriguing approach.

I competed in my first pro-level bodybuilding competition in Melbourne and Bali. I remember not even actually noticing that I was lean. It’s difficult to explain. I was in a good place with myself and didn’t judge my post comp weight. Although I was conscious about what I was eating, but I did struggle with binge eating afterwards. 

I worked on a part of my struggle each competition. The first one was my body image, I was controlled by my fitness pal.  The second time around I focused on the eating afterwards. I needed to teach myself how to feed myself again and not be so strict. Now I feel like I’m in a position that if I compete again, have I done the work to make myself feel like I’m not controlled by the body image or especially food.

Victoria-BC-CrossFit-Gym-Coach

What is the happiest moment of your life?

I have lots, oh gosh. I’m just going to pick a random one. It was driving out of Perth, in our van that we just built, knowing that we are going to put this van on a boat and move to Canada. Joel and I, with our dogs in our car with our life in Canada awaiting us. 

My heart felt full because I had married and travelled with this person who I’m about to expand my life with, and to live my best life. 

I had felt like we made it. All of the weird and wonderful things that we’ve done have amounted to this wonderful experience of creating a life together that fell together so we can be the best versions of ourselves. 

What is the saddest moment of your life?

Just after my last bodybuilding comp, My dad was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. He went through that week by himself because he didn’t tell me since I was competing.

I thought he was going to die. When someone says stage 4, you think the worst. He is my best friend in the whole world. Having that feeling that you don’t know if your dad is going to stay, I have never felt anything like that. 

We were going to move to Canada at that time, but we cancelled so I could spend all my time with him and I thought that was going to be my life, staying in Perth.

Fortunately, he had chemotherapy and got through it. 

He’d set himself a goal of “FAFF” – Fit as F*#k at Fifty and he trained all through chemo in his garage. Because I trained, he trained. It’s a bond that we share and I believe his strength got him through the cancer. 

After that, Canada kept coming up. One day, I was going to tell my dad what was on my mind. I felt afraid about it. After I told him how I felt he asked “do you want my opinion?” I reluctantly listened to what he had to say and he said “pack your bags and get the f#&! out of here”. I was so surprised and stoked. He has always been supportive of what direction we wanted for ourselves. 

Victoria-BC-CrossFit-Gym-Coach

Who is the most influential person in your life?

My dad. He’s taught me to be open minded, adventurous and an accepting, loving, empathetic human.  I love these qualities about myself, but I’m also describing my dad. 

What are you most afraid of right now?

(After a time) I don’t know, I think one is being able to make this work. Maybe my dreams not coming true, but I know those are coming through. 

I’m quite optimistic, so I don’t spend a lot of time in fear. 

What are you most excited about right now?

I’m most excited to be here. From a life perspective, it’s like a feeling I struggle to describe. 

Seven years ago, we ate pad Thai with this couple we became friends with in Thailand. They invited us to their wedding in Port Renfrew. 

When I came over to Canada for the first time three years ago, I felt like I left a part of me behind here. 

Now I’m exploring this girl who strives to connect with people and who is adventurous. I get to live my passion and in my downtime I get to live a minimalist life and disconnect from the big city world and focus on what is important with sharing, relationships and being authentic. 

The West Coast gives me that opportunity to feel grateful and to be that person all the time. 

The best part of my life are the things I say yes to. 

Victoria-BC-CrossFit-Gym-Coach

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