Since starting The Barbell Press, I’ve had the unique opportunity to interview many of the athletes I’ve admired. I’ve been excited about each of them, but talking with Adee Zukier was something else. I might be a bit of a fan girl.
Back when I first made the transition from CrossFitter to Olympic Weightlifter, I discovered Adee on Instagram and was floored that a woman my size (63kg) was throwing up weight like she was. Despite being older than her, I wanted to be just like Adee when I grew up.
Adee is not only a weightlifter, she’s also an incredible business woman who owns and operates Working Against Gravity- a nutritional consulting company that helps those who are looking to change their body composition.
Much of her inspiration in creating WAG draws on her own experience at an overweight teenager. Fifty pounds overweight and self-conscious about it, Adee was headed towards unhappiness before her mother intervened and took her to a nutritionist who taught her about healthy eating. She explains, “I learned how to transform my relationship with food and how to make food work for me verses getting caught in that loop of, ‘I’m feeling insecure. Food’s gonna make me feel better so I’m gonna just keep eating and then later, keep feeling insecure.'”
It’s a mentality that Adee admits is hard to break, but it’s how forth coming she’s been about the struggle that makes her so relatable to her clients who call themselves “Team Wag”. In their private Facebook group, she shares, “The first 16 years of my life, food was my source of coping; it still is my first choice. That habit is instinctual to me and takes real practice to overcome.” Suddenly, she’s not just a nutrition coach telling people what to eat, she’s a real person who is leading by example and proving that while temptations exist, success is a state of mine.
In fact, she doesn’t really tell people what to eat at all. Her intro email to clients explains, “What we do is teach you how to make the foods you WANT to eat fit into the boundaries that we provide. This is not a diet where you lose weight quickly and then gain it all back and more. We teach a way to look at food differently and learn that you can eat what you want without going on a total binge!” The “boundaries” she refers to is the macro breakdown that a client is given each week. This tells them how much protein, carbs, fat, and fiber they should be eating based upon their current body composition, their progress, and their goals.
Her program has been so successful in helping clients reach their goals that she has a wait list of nearly 2,300 people. While some might jump to take on as many clients as possible, Adee is patiently growing her brand, putting new coaches through a mentorship program to ensure that they are properly trained. She says, “I don’t want to grow too fast and sacrifice quality. Our coaches take a lot of care in working with the clients. I don’t want to sacrifice that to get some more members in just to make money. That’s not what this is about.”
Instead, her mission is to help her clients be the best versions of themselves that they can be.
Always one to lead by example, Adee also works to be her best self. A large part of this includes training for weightlifting. She says, “I train in weightlifting because I love it. I want to get better at it. I do it to be healthy and to feel good about myself.”
Her focus on sport has shifted since she started WAG in September of 2014. At that time, her life was dedicated strictly to training and maintaining her nutrition so that she could be a more competitive lifter. But now, with a business to run and living life on the road (which’s she’s done for 2 years now), she trains for different reasons. She remarks,”I still train. Definitely. I still make it a point to get into the gym. It’s therapy for me. It’s something I feel I have to do to stay sane.”
Understanding the load Adee is juggling, her coach Aimee Everett of Catalyst Athletics takes the reigns when it comes to planning her training sessions. When they are together, Aimee will let Adee know what lifts she will be working on but prescribes her load and volume during the actual session. For instance, a few weeks ago, Aimee asked Adee to snatch 75kg in training which is “the number” Adee mentally struggled with. Each time Adee put the bar down, Aimee instructed her to do it again until she had snatched 75kg 12 times. Without the time to think, Adee rose to the challenge and Aimee showed her that 75 is not a number to fear.
Their relationship is unique. Whereas Aimee coaches Adee in her lifts, Adee coaches Aimee on her nutrition. Aimee shares, “Our relationship is honest, pure, raw, irreplaceable and beautiful. Through a lot of hard work mentally and physically, it has been so exciting to see her grow in to a confident, sassy, and fierce athlete.”
Her ferocity as an athlete is clear- She took the Bronze medal for the 63kg class at the Canadian Senior Championships this past May snatching 78 and clean and jerking 93 for a total of 171.
But even with a National medal in her hands, Adee maintains that her biggest passion is her business as it’s “totally about other people and creating value for them.” It’s success, she says, “is mind-blowing to me. I’m still in shock every day.”
But her success isn’t shocking at all. It’s rooted in her authenticity and her capacity to move others.
In regards to a recent seminar where she was asked to speak, she tells her clients about her inner fears, “I created a story in my head that I wasn’t good enough to be standing there in front of all those people talking about something I struggle with. That story is not real- we all create stories like that in our heads… In that moment of being hard on myself, I thought of all you and what I would tell you. I sat down, focused on my breath, focused on the sensations in my feet, navel, solar plexus, throat, eyebrows, and above my head- one after another and repeated the series.”
“I challenge you all to do the same,” she continues, “If you are feeling shame, insecurity, guilt, or sadness, take a moment and breathe. Remember that the story you are creating in your head is one you invented and not real. You have the strength to turn anything around and succeed.”