Member Spotlight – Kathy Kalinowski

Congratulations to JCF Rockstar, Kathy K!!!

I’ve been on a mission of self-discovery ever since 8th grade when a friend asked me to go on a “diet” with her. Now mind you, we were both slender at the time, but it was a discovery project that didn’t turn out very well for me as I began making food the center-of-my-life. I still remember my various resource books that listed the calorie content of every food, keeping a food journal and trying to get to that “illustrious” 1000- calorie daily target. This began a wicked relationship with food that was dotted with binges, causing me to gain quite a bit of weight during my high school years. Although I was an avid tennis player, I chose work over sports at the age of 16, which mostly took away from my sense of self.

I settled into life after college with marriage and children, which created my new center-of-life. Nutrition became a game to see how fast I could get meals done and over with, albeit prepping and cooking at home. Sports and recreation were very important for my young family, so we all gravitated towards moving and competing. As my kids were entering adulthood, somehow they all became great foodies and cooks – so our family time was, and continues to be, highlighted by all of us meal prepping together and me learning so much from them. I remember the day in 2014 when my son shared his best breakfast bowl with me, packed full of rice, greens, veggies and hot sauce – that was the end of my cereal-breakfast mentality!

And so it began, my quest for nutrition truths…

Regarding fitness, I dabbled in running and some 10K races in college and came back to it upon moving to NJ in 1997 when a neighbor was looking for a running partner. This led to a great friendship and completion of the 1998 Philadelphia Marathon. As family and work commitments increased, I made very little effort for running and fitness until I came upon a rowing program that had been developing within a mile from me. I prioritized me again and joined this amazing team in 2009 – now my new center-of-life. Rowing was the most athletically challenging experience of my life with high-intensity workouts, mentally challenging races, and 5:30 am practices. I didn’t want to ever give up my newfound social rowing-community, but some tough choices led me to Jersey City in 2015 where I was about to discover another gem.

I came upon JCF at the All About Downtown Street Fair in Sep 2016 where they were promoting a 6-Week Challenge. As I was dabbling in nutrition “truths” and missing out on a socially centered fitness regimen, I was intrigued by this combo nutrition-fitness challenge and knew I had hit the lottery! I was immediately hooked with the coaching staff and the variety of workouts that were offered at the sessions. Every day was so new and refreshing that I detailed all aspects of the program to my family and friends. The Challenge became a very significant milestone for my unfolding nutrition journey.

And that “grocery store tour” hosted by Coach Daris was the best – such a dose of reality and insight into the shopping experience. The concept of “macros” really helped me focus on food content and the inner workings of carbs, fats, and proteins. I dutifully tracked my daily meals on the My Fitness Pal app in order to hit my macro targets. I officially joined JCF after this Challenge because my nutrition-seeking needs were being met and my mind and body were equally satisfied and challenged. And, alas, I had found my new center-of-life.

As I entered the new challenges in 2017, my nutrition was leaning more towards Whole-Food-Plant-Based (WFPB), mostly due to books such as, “Eat To Live” by Joel Fuhrman, M.D. and “How Not To Die” by Michael Greger, M.D. and I started creating foods that I showcased via my #FOODLAB. I took a break from the challenges in 2018 while I continued to focus on WFPB eating and I’m proud to say that I am hooked! I can honestly say that I am addicted to greens!! JCF has been pivotal for me in my quest for ongoing nutrition discoveries and has enabled me to be more self-aware of environmental sustainability through my personal good choices. It feels great to report that I’ve become a compulsory food composter, as I give back to the soil all day, every day!

When a community works out together, they generally develop some social ties, but JCF enhances our social connectedness through a variety of annual events such as social outings, fitness challenges, and fund-raising. This social circle has truly added happiness and meaning to my life here in Jersey City! I applaud the social-mindedness of JCF through their giving-back mentality for the local community, particularly with the annual breast-cancer survivor awareness fundraiser.

I also picked up running again with the JCF Running Crew. We’ve had a great time with our no-pressure mentality of running and participating in local running events. It feels great to infuse our JCF fitness goals into an outside activity and continue to improve on both side-by-side. We support each other’s individual goals and honor all of our accomplishments. We hope to keep growing with members of our JCF Fit Crew!

I look forward to ongoing growth and discoveries for our JCF community and myself, and how we can influence our society with best practices in nutrition and fitness. These are lofty goals, but I believe JCF’s amazing members and coaches can make this happen.

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