Theresa Jenn Lopetrone: On Living Life Beyond The Gym & The Inside Out of Fitness
I put my story out here because I know that there’s somebody out there speaking negatively to themselves. I want to let people know that it’s possible. It took me ten years to get my body into the best shape that it could be in partnership with my mind. – Theresa Lopetrone
You may have already spotted Theresa Lopetrone gracing the cover of your favorite health and fitness magazine or in the buzz of professional WBFF athletes today. On the side of being a professional athlete and occasional cover model, Theresa holds down a full-time career. She stands apart from her competitors in many ways–particularly in the classroom, where she teaches special education.
Fresh out of university and in her early twenties, Theresa came to the realization that she didn’t have to live the rest of her life in the shoes of a heavyset, pasta eating Italian. Shortly after, in 2008, Theresa arrived in Vancouver after having traveled and lived in South East Asia for two years. Her newfound love for fitness was merely reinforced by her new city’s active lifestyle. In fact, Vancouver struck a different cord entirely with the fitness guru trapped inside of her, and Theresa rejigged her fitness routine.
“A sixty-five year old is riding his bike somewhere, someone who is twenty is running in the rain. You can’t avoid health and fitness if you’re living in this city.”
Although she had always enjoyed getting her sweat on, Theresa had never been someone who was excited to jump out of bed and lift. Regardless, feeling inspired by her new city’s active lifestyle, Theresa joined a local gym and made her way through their list of fitness classes, retaking the classes that she enjoyed most. And through the trial and error of the second phase of her relationship with fitness, Theresa fell in love with cross-fit style training.
“It was the hardest thirty minutes that I’d ever [spent at the gym].” Recalls Theresa. “I could get a good sweat on but was not something that would be so painful that I would have to be there for an hour and a half, because even if I could find the time, it was not my choice to be in the gym for that amount of time.”
After a year of consistently committing time to her new side-hobby, Theresa started seeing changes; lines and muscles developing in her body.
“I realized I’m not destined to be this pasta eating Italian woman for the rest of my life, never having any definition.”
Intrigued by her possible potential in this newfound world of fitness to her, Theresa started researching the competitive fitness industry. Months later, she chose a coach and signed up.
Competing in The Fitness Industry
Competition escalated quickly, and in two years Theresa’s drive to accomplish a goal morphed into an unrealistic battle for perfection–against herself. This had damaging effects on her body, and her life outside of the gym.
“I was in a state of mind where nothing was perfect–nothing looked good enough or was good enough because I didn’t look the way that I looked on stage at my first show.”
“In the first two years I did three shows and by my last show my body said, ‘Nope. We’re not going to do this.’ It started creating complications and I wasn’t getting the results that I should have been from what I was doing.”
Theresa cautions individuals’ eagerness to follow and support those who are unrealistically stage ripped all year around–a dangerous advertised aspiration, thanks to social media. Along with these social media celebrities’ following, the false hope empowering their lifestyle to the masses is also growing.
“When we look that way, that is the least healthy shape we’re in.” Theresa admits. This extremely shredded and leaned down physique sought after for a show is accompanied by physical weakness, caused by a lack of nutrients to obtain a low percentage of body fat. This is all done for the sake of gaining the praise of judges, she explains.
“My mind is not sound when I’m dieting, restricting, calculating. I still work through my own stuff, I always will. I think that its an impossibility for someone to always feel perfect.”
Theresa quickly realized the dangers of chasing physical perfection so closely. Most importantly, she realized the happiness that was missing from that version of life.
“It didn’t bring my mind, body and spirit in harmony. I don’t want to look back at my life and go, ‘wow I had great abs, and all I did was compete’.”
Theresa followed through on her last show in 2013 and quit that competitive sector of her life. What she learned from her bejeweled bikini lead her to the creation of her own social media campaign, “#LiveLifeProject”, a reminder to live life to the fullest every day, especially on weekends. Do yourself a favor–check out the hashtag on Instagram.
“A reminder to myself to do the things that I talk about doing because, ultimately, the reality is that I don’t know if I’m going to live until eighty-six, or fifty-six.”
Theresa had fully realized the various forms wherein her very own happiness stemmed.
“Yes I wanted to be healthy, yes I liked being fit, but not at the expense of bringing down social experiences, travel, dinner with my husband or birthday celebrations. I didn’t want fitness to determine the rest of my life.”
A scheduled life in one place was not something that could ever fulfill all of Theresa’s passions, she realized. One of these passions remains to be traveling. Loving the unknown in her visits to cities and countries she’s never been before, that yearning for adventure plays a role in her well-rounded, dynamic life today.
The Entanglement of Love and Perfection
Through the sharing of countless physical transformation stories via social media, a common impression is that those exterior transformations consistently lead to a greater sense of self–a new found happiness. So, why is it that we so commonly view loving oneself as being seemingly (hopelessly) linked to physical perfection?
“A common misconception is that if you gain a certain amount of weight, or gain a certain amount of muscle you will automatically love yourself and be happy. That is completely wrong because it so much more than the physical.” Theresa responds.
Furthermore, she cautions that some people will get to that physique that they’ve always wanted and realize that they still feel empty inside–that that emptiness is connected to something greater that they have been maybe avoiding, or compartmentalizing Theresa says, for years.
“It’s inside out. If there are things going on on the inside, you have to work on the mindset. You have to work on your own personal self talk. It’s hard because it’s you against you–if you have this consistent behavior of being negative, you have to catch yourself and correct yourself and do it all over again. It’s like you’re coaching yourself, and it doesn’t matter if you have a coach or not.”
Theresa reiterates the message with which she encourages her students.
“It’s okay to make mistakes–failing, eating that whole pizza or whole cake is not the be all end all. It happened and you have to go ‘what happened here?'”
Instead of bashing yourself after making a mistake, Theresa encourages that you simply ask yourself: ‘what lead me to this point?’ But most importantly, in all aspects of life be kind to yourself. “If you wouldn’t say it to your best friend, your neighbor or your husband or wife, then why are you saying it to the most important person?”
Finally, Theresa emphasizes the power in accepting imperfections. A superwoman to us, she tells us of the days she held on to her own notion of perfect, only to repetitively disappoint herself. “…maybe it’s you being the perfect super hero in a day where you’re trying to do twenty-five things that you listed.” That’s not reality every day, she cautions.
“I used to be really caught up in if I didn’t get everything accomplished that I wanted to in a day, then it would all be worth nothing. To look at something that way is really wasteful. And its not being kind to yourself. You can have the most incredible body in the world, but if you’re not happy on the inside then who cares what you’re walking around with.”
Lastly, Theresa reminds us that there is always something to work on. If you figure out one thing, there’s probably another million things that you could work on–”look for growth, not perfection.”
Role Model Rendez-Vous is a weekly series about the women whose stories we expect will empower your lives as much as they inspire ours as a brand, and as individuals like you.