Lessons From Steph Sanzo's Fitness Journey
No two women have the same relationship with training. Everyone’s journey is different. For me, it was about finding what made me feel strong — both inside and out — and working damn hard at it.
Powerbuilding has allowed me to push past limitations and reach my full potential. I now train harder than I ever have before.
5 Things I’ve learned on my fitness journey
From increasing my weights to reach peak performance to kick-starting a new chapter in my life, I approach everything with the same mindset: work hard and persevere and the results will follow.
Here are some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned along the way.
1. Healthy habits always beat quick fixes
Building muscle requires dedication and lots of discipline. It doesn’t happen overnight. I’ve spent years working hard so I can lift like I can today. But there have definitely been setbacks and weeks where I’ve felt like giving up.
Some days are harder than others, but the feeling of smashing my goals has got me through. Once I developed BUILD, my powerbuilding workout program, I made it an essential part of my life — and it’s amazing to see that other women have, too.
Shaping healthy habits is about more than hitting the gym every day. It’s about routine, consistency and thinking long term.
My goal is to be even stronger this time next year, and to have helped more women change their lives. I want women to feel powerful and accomplished. Persistence is important in all aspects of my life — and training is no different.
I set long-term lifting goals instead of opting for quick, aggressive workouts. Don’t get me wrong, I push myself hard. I’m just committed to gradual, sustainable growth.
Last year, I could deadlift 140kg. I told myself that in two years’ time, I‘d be able to deadlift 160kg, which felt impossible. A few weeks ago, I achieved my goal — it was such an empowering feeling.
My body weight hasn’t changed. I’ve just consistently gotten stronger. Stay committed. Set goals, and work towards them. You won’t regret it.
Working out is part of my everyday routine. As a mum of two, I don’t have a lot of free time. I hit the gym after I’ve dropped the kids off at school every weekday, focusing on a different part of my body in each powerbuilding workout.
I also train other women to smash their own goals. It’s amazing to see them gain physical strength, confidence and transform their lives for the better. It makes me so proud to be part of the community we're building. Together, we can achieve so much.
2. Fuel your body properly for training
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s to listen to your body and give it the right fuel to work hard. That means balancing fat, protein and carbs and sticking to an uncomplicated, realistic eating plan. It’s not about crazy fad diets. And it’s definitely not about starving yourself.
Food is fuel — nutrients to help you function your best. My diet is based on building muscle, not losing weight. Performance is always my priority. And if you’re doing BUILD, it should be yours too.
I can push harder and train for longer if I charge my body with the right food. My powerbuilding diet is made up of lean meat, vegetables and healthy fats. I’ve also introduced more carbohydrates, as they help me train harder. Like working out, it’s about discipline, and knowing what’s going to help you achieve your goals.
If you can make sustainable changes to your diet, you’re more likely to stick to it. Being part of an amazing community of women who share great recipes always helps, too.
I meal prep to stay on track. I plan and cook ahead to make sure I cover each food group every day. That being said, if I want chocolate — I’ll have chocolate.
Helping women stay on track with their diet is an important part of my training. Everyone has setbacks, but there’s always room to start over. Unhealthy weekend? Monday is a new day. Start fresh and set yourself up with a solid plan.
3. Find what drives you to show up
I’ve had to dig deep to become resilient in the face of tough times, and I’m prepared to put in the hard work. So, when it comes to my fitness journey, I’m driven by survival and I train to look after my mental health and to feel strong. I feel the positive effects of working out long after I leave the gym — both physically and mentally. But all women are driven by different things. I get that.
Find what inspires you to push harder. Whether it’s an awesome workout playlist or the feeling of seeing results, once you’ve found it you’ll work out like a boss.
I love creating training playlists. Those of you who’ve seen my Instagram will have a sense of what I like. It’s loud, fun and high energy. I’m definitely going through a hip-hop phase right now. Whatever your music taste, build a training playlist that keeps you engaged, energised and motivated.
There’s nothing more amazing for me than seeing women in my BUILD community smash their goals. I’m driven by other women’s success just as much as my own.
Surround yourself with a group of strong women who build each other up. Find your tribe. Stop making excuses and challenge each other to push harder, go further.
4. Inspire yourself with heroic role models
I want to be a Marvel superhero so bad. Having powerful role models who smash it every day helps me stay motivated — even if they are movie characters. I look to people who I admire to stay on track and learn from their challenges. People who pick themselves up when they’re struck down.
Find people who are resilient, work hard and do amazing things with their lives. But remember, everyone is human.
Role models don’t have to be people you want to look like. They should be people you want to be like. I don’t compare my appearance to other women anymore. It’s a waste of time. We all have different bodies and physiques. Everybody has their own strengths and weaknesses. Be confident. Focus on yourself. Work hard.
5. There’s no wrong time to start training
I started working out after I had my first child. I didn’t want to go anywhere near a gym before then. It’s easy to be intimidated by the weights section, especially as a woman. But I’m so passionate about the gym being a place for everyone.
As long as you’re willing to work hard and push yourself, you can get started with BUILD.
You don’t need to be sporty to lift. My powerbuilding journey started inside my own home, where I began to lift weights to lose weight after I had my second child.
My body type saw me gain muscle relatively quickly and I felt amazing. But nothing happened right away. After going through a tough time, a friend suggested that I join a gym and everything is history from there.
Keep learning and doing your best
My BUILD community is made up of all kinds of women, each with their own journey. I genuinely believe that if you’re willing to commit, you can do anything.
So, remember, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. And that’s exactly what I did.
What are some lessons you’ve learned? Share them in the comments below.
* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.