Sharing the Spark. An Interview with Julie Stubblefield from SparkFit.

Each month for 2013,  I am planning to have an interview on Zen Barbell with some one who I feel really embodies both the Zen (mindfulness and self acceptance and awareness) and the Barbell (in some way loves to move and challenge their body regularly) in their lifes and actions.

I could not be more excited that my friend Julie Stubblefield, owner of SparkFit agreed to be my first interview for this site and for 2013!!  Julie has completely transformed her life in so many dimensions – as you will read below.  I often refer to her as my friend ON FIRE because her passion and energy for life and for helping others is breath taking. Get ready to be inspired!!

Tell us a little about you, Julie.

Hi, Kara! Thank you for the opportunity to share information with your readers! After losing 70 pounds, I made it my mission to be an expert on fat loss and share that knowledge with as many people as possible. I’ve also been working with teens to help them learn how to fuel their bodies properly to not only perform better on the field and in the classroom but also to give them tools to avoid adult obesity.

Julie - Before she found her spark
Julie – Before she found her spark


Julie - Hot Mama.
Julie – Hot Mama.









As you know, Zen Barbell is about finding the right mind set and lifting heavy weights. So I want to ask you about both of those things.

Do you think women are encouraged not to lift heavy? if so, why? Do you lift heavy weights in your own work out? How do you coach your clients around this?

I think there is mixed information about women lifting heavy weights. The popular media tends to lean toward women lifting lighter weights and performing more repetitions. There is the notion that women can only lift lighter weights because of genetics or because lifting heavier weights will immediately land them on stage in a physique competition. With what I’ve experienced personally and what I’ve witnessed with my clients, it couldn’t be further from the truth! Women MUST lift heavy weights to get lean!

 I do lift heavy weights…every time I work out. I spend 3-4 days a week on big compound movements with heavy weights (dumbbells between 20 and 40lbs and barbells with more weight). Lifting heavy allows me to challenge my body in a way that builds a better muscle mass (which burns more calories when I’m resting) and also to keep fat away (by getting breathless frequently in my workout).

 My clients are sometimes intimidated when they see the heavier weights in my studio. We start off slowly and a little lighter to build confidence and correct any issues with form. Once they feel more comfortable, we increase weights regularly (but safely) to keep their bodies challenged and in fat-burning mode. One of my favorite quotes from a client is this. “I NEVER would have picked up heavy weights on my own. Thank you for putting them in my hands, for coaching me through, and for helping me get leaner, stronger, and more confident!” It just doesn’t get any better than that.

Can you share a bit on your thoughts on mindfulness in life and in training?

Mindfulness is what I consider being present, and it really has the opportunity to take anything to the next level, whether you are lifting weights, spending time with your family/friends, or cleaning house. When I’m lifting, I’m all there. I’m not thinking about what I need to do when I get home or who I need to call later in the day. I’m thinking about the muscles I’m using, the feeling of getting sweaty, the breeze from the fans on my neck, the sound of the music in my ears. When I’m spending time with my family, I do my best to be fully present. Admittedly, this one takes a little more practice with life’s many distractions. I do my best to fully focus on conversations with my kids and husband. I listen to what they say, feel their emotions of whatever they are sharing with me, and engage with them. Even when I’m folding laundry or doing dishes, I’m truly thinking about just that. I used to get aggravated or distressed by the sheer volume of dishes and laundry that a family of four (that includes 2 growing boys) can generate. The bottom line is that the dishes and laundry will always be there. I could either be frazzled every single time I had to take care of the chores, or I could do it with mindfulness, presence, gratitude. Sure, laundry and dishes are not my favorite things to do. But, I’m thankful to have a family to dirty them. Thinking of it that way makes it a lot easier to tackle them!

 If I want to lose weight and get healthier, why does it matter if I am motivating myself from a negative vs a positive place?

 I’m so glad you asked this because it’s near and dear to my heart! There are two approaches to change: punishment vs. self-love.

With the first approach, we tend to punish ourselves for not going to the gym or not following our meal plan, etc. Since we punish ourselves for not doing what we think we should do, we then feel the need to reward ourselves for when we do follow through. It’s a vicious cycle, and our brains are constantly in one mode or the other. I rode that roller coaster for YEARS! I completely let my mood be determined by how I felt about my performance in life. Should I feel like celebrating or should I feel bad about something? Even when I was celebrating, I assumed something was “right around the corner” to punish myself with yet again. It was a never-ending battle and it was hard on my psyche.

Now I take a different approach; it’s one of self-love, and, yes, it sounds a little “out there”. This is definitely not easy at first and takes practice. I’ve decided to make an effort every day to love where I am at that moment. So I overslept and didn’t get to the gym this morning. In the “old days”, I would have mentally punished myself and would have felt bad about myself a good portion of the day. Today, I decided I must have needed the sleep, so I’m doing the best I can with what I have today. I’ll make sure I go to bed a little earlier tonight so I can get up on time tomorrow. Last week, as I was trying to make dinner for everyone, it was a total flop. It tasted absolutely awful (even to me). Instead of being mad, ordering a pizza, and letting it ruin my evening, I turned it around. We had the good old standby of breakfast for dinner, and we had a good laugh about it. I was doing the best I could. There was nothing to punish myself for. I was mindful of the situation, appreciated that I did my best, laughed hysterically about how awful it was, and was able to fully let it go. Is this always easy to do? No. I still find myself in the midst of a frustrating situation and wanting to punish myself for not doing what I think I should. But the more I remind myself to operate out of place of self-love, the easier it gets.

Any tips for the really busy women out there who want to make a move to be healthier in life but feel overwhelmed by even starting?

This one is juicy! Believe it or not, don’t change everything at one time, because that’s just overwhelming! Take a look at your current lifestyle. What are things you would like to implement to get healthier? Some ideas are to walk each day, increase water intake, increase lean protein, increase veggies and fruits, decreased processed foods, lift heavy things repeatedly, make 15-30 minutes to fully unwind. Pick ONE thing and do it for a week. At the end of that week, if this change feels like it’s part of your daily routine, then select a new one to work on. Keep working down your list as each one gets easier and easier to do. You’ll find that it’s not nearly as difficult as you think if you break it down into smaller parts. It’s not a race to get healthy. You don’t have to do it all today. Make small incremental changes in a way that will allow you to continue with those changes forever! And if you have a day that you don’t hit all those lifestyle changes, love yourself anyway and do the best you can in that very moment. You know those days will come up anyway, so you might as well expect them!

Thank you so much for sharing, Julie! I know my readers will be just as inspired by you as I am!!

You can find Julie Stubblefield at and her SparkFit fan page is  If you have teens (ages 11-18) and would like a free plan that outlines nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle changes for field and classroom performance, check out her site at and the fan page at

If you want to learn more about loving who you are and getting peace with your body but aren’t sure how to do that, let Zen Barbell help you! Check out the 30 Days to Stop Hating Your Body program here.