Meet Stephanie Huntsman: she’s completed 26 Tough Mudders (including two Toughests and two World’s Toughest Mudders), practices flying trapeze, and trains in everything from Crossfit to yoga to running.
Stephanie, 28, wasn’t always like this, though. In 2013, prior to her first Tough Mudder, Stephanie was both unhappy and unfit. “I was about to start graduate school,” she says, “and the job I had just left not only allowed a drink or two while one shift, but those who smoked received longer breaks, so I had taken that up as well.”
Within a few weeks, Stephanie would also be diagnosed with Celiac disease, preventing her from eating foods like pizza, bread and beers–formerly big staples in her daily life. “It was a bittersweet diagnosis,” she says.
While shifting her diet away from gluten-laden products that were making her sick, Stephanie took the chance to change her mindset. Rather than continue to wish for things, which is what she had done in the past when unhappy with an aspect of her life, she started to work for things.
Months later, after finishing up her Master’s degree at the University of Virginia, Stephanie signed up for her first Tough Mudder with the support of a fellow student. “I was working with the Track and Field team as an athletic trainer, and one of my graduating heptathletes asked if she could do it with me,” says Stephanie. “We held each other pretty accountable, stuck it out, and had a blast.” Along with the fun came a confidence boost, thanks to obstacles like Funky Monkey. “I’m sure the volunteers thought I was insane, given how loudly I cheered,” Stephanie explains about completing the obstacle.
Stephanie went on to finish two more Tough Mudders that year, and has only picked up speed since. “It’s been great to show up at a Tough Mudder in any city around the world and know that I will see people I’ve met on the course.”
When asked about the key to her transformation, Stephanie says consistency, along with not being afraid of failure. “Even the most seemingly perfect things go awry at times, and once you learned to accept that about your diet/fitness/goals, you’ll remove a massive stressor from your life.”
Stephanie keeps this in mind as she puts in her daily work, which looks a lot different than it once did. As she ramps back up from her off-season, her weekly workouts include 18-35 miles per week of running, 4-5 Crossfit WODs and bike rides to the gym, 3 lifting sessions, 3-5 yoga practices, weekly trapeze work, and daily mobility and kettlebell work. As for her diet, it tends to look like this:
06:30: NOW Foods Unflavored Organic Whey + Gluten Free Quick Oatmeal
06:45: Bike to Gym
07:15: NOW Foods Unflavored Organic Whey + Gluten Free Quick Oatmeal (during if weightlifting, afterwards if CrossFit)
08:30: Bike Home
09:00: Eggs, Kale/Spinach, Bell Pepper
11:00: Quinoa, Ground Turkey, Sweet Potato
14:00: Homemade Trail Mix
18:00: Quinoa, Salmon, Broccoli
22:00: Casein Protein “Pudding”
As for what the future holds, Stephanie predicts plenty more Tough Mudders. “I’m hoping to make it to each of the North American Toughest Mudders this year,” she says, in addition to another go at World’s Toughest Mudder next fall.