Humans of LoLo: Kehly Stolz
For this week’s Humans of LoLo feature, we sat down with Kehly. If you have had the pleasure to get to know Kehly, you would instantly be struck by her genuine kindness, fun-loving nature, and her capacity for hard work. When she’s not working as a dental hygienist, she is in the gym training, at the pool swimming, all in preparation for her upcoming competitions at the Okanagan Valley Throwdown and the CanWest CrossFit Championship. Humans of LoLo: Kehly Stolz
Tell us about your fitness journey!
My mom grew up with horses, so she got me into horseback riding when I was a little girl. I got competitive and I was even showing in Vancouver, which continued until I was about 19 or so. To help with my horseback riding, I went to a gym a couple of days a week. It generally consisted of 45 minutes of cardio and core work. When I stopped competitive horseback riding, there was a huge hole in my life.
I began to go to the gym more, but as an adolescent girl it was geared towards losing weight. So again, I’d go to the gym, go on the elliptical or the treadmill for 45 minutes, do a bit of free weights and some core. While I started to enjoy fitness, there wasn’t anything in particular that I loved. I tried spin classes and I got into hot yoga for a while. Then I made a goal of running a half marathon. I did a running clinic through the Running Room, however, I ended up hurting my foot, so I did not do the half marathon. Besides, I did not like running at all—it was like torture to me! I pursued it mostly to be able to achieve a goal.
A friend of mine did competitive bodybuilding and I loved how she looked, so I decided to try it. I met with a trainer and we made a training and diet plan. It consisted of circuit training, lots and lots of cardio, and no heavy weights. I followed the program for 8 weeks until I started to notice the negative impact it had on me mentally. I developed issues with food and body image, so I made the decision to step out of that world.
How did you know to step out? What gave you the strength to do that?
From about 19 to 24, I struggled with an eating disorder in the form of restrictive eating. I wanted to be skinny, which actually was the reason why I got into running in the first place. At the time I had a counsellor and treatment for it.
Following such a strict meal plan [in preparation for a bodybuilding show] made me feel like I had control, but I was so hungry all the time that I would binge eat and then be in a depression for days afterwards. I’d think to myself, “Oh my goodness, what have I done?” I’d feel super sick and foggy. When I became aware of the pattern, I realized that that type of fitness wasn’t good for me. I am really thankful that I stopped bodybuilding, although I still have much respect for those who can do bodybuilding and do shows and not have it impact them mentally. For me it’s a dangerous world. Probably a lot of people have struggled with things like this, but just don’t talk about it much.
Someone from a local gym suggested that I try CrossFit. I was hesitant to try it at first because I didn’t get what it was about and to me it just seemed really expensive (laughs). As I started to learn more about the sport and the different movements I thought, “Yeah, I want to learn how to do this!” That’s what prompted me to go to On Ramp [a program at CrossFit Vic City that teaches the skills of CrossFit in a small group] and learn CrossFit. My first CrossFit class was in April 2017. Now, it’s the love of my life.
Tell us about one of your happiest moments.
I find it really hard to pinpoint one particular moment. A bunch of clichés come to mind, like “Oh, when I graduated from the Dental Hygiene program, I felt super happy.” But there have been moments in my life that I’ve just been walking down the street or driving my car and I get this overwhelming feeling of happiness because I just realize everything is good: my family is healthy, I’m healthy, I’m doing things that are in alignment with my goals, my relationships are good. I get such an overwhelming sense of joy that I can’t help but smile. Those are the happiest moments—when I’m able to reflect and see everything as a whole is really good.
Tell us about a sad moment in your life.
You know what, I have to give a similar answer for that. I’ve been super lucky in my life. There hasn’t been anything really terrible or sad that’s happened to me. But I think that some of the saddest times were when I was struggling with my eating disorder and engaging in things that were not healthy. I used to go out to party and drink a lot. It was more in the moments afterwards, when I would wake up really hungover or I recognized that I had done something that does not align with my goals, that made me sad. Bad events can happen, but if you’re rock solid in who you are then life’s going to carry on okay. Thinking of the times when I was not living in a way that’s true to who I am, that has always made me feel really sad.
Who is an influential person in your life?
My mom is my best friend! We do everything together and I hang out with her all the time. She is such a strong person and she always does the right thing. She’s a true mom – selfless and always putting others before herself. I admire that she is unapologetic in who she is. She does things that she believes are right and stands firm in her decisions.
If somebody doesn’t like me or if I’m sensing there’s an issue, I’m the kind of person who will kiss ass and try to comb the situation over. Whereas if my mom was having an issue with someone, she’d recognize that she didn’t do anything wrong and feel content with stepping back instead of bending over backwards and chasing people like I would. I admire that quality in her because it’s something I would like to work on (laughs). My mom’s a boss—I love her!
What else would you like to share?
Being in a community like LoLo, where everybody is just so friendly and open and embracing, is a real privilege. I think everybody in this community realizes how lucky we are. I really hope that everyone carries the kindness through to other parts of their lives, embracing people and making them feel welcome, because it just creates a better place for everyone to be. Sometimes it takes extra effort, but it does make everything all the more wonderful. I love that about being [at LoLo].
Also, to those who are walking in, if you’re intimidated or if you’re just beginning—everybody has been there. Just show up every day and put in the work. You will surpass your wildest dreams and break down any barriers, just by showing up. I could not do a pull-up when I started CrossFit. A 125lb deadlift felt like I was lifting the world. But I just kept showing up. I got bit by the [CrossFit] bug and I was determined that I was going to do those things. I worked hard and made it happen. I’m definitely not special. Everybody can do that.