Healthy attitude about fitness inspires teaching career

Subject: Kristin Stehly

Age: 41

Residence: Escondido

As a kid growing up in Escondido, Stehly played soccer and did gymnastics, hiked with her parents and enjoyed exercise and the positives that came from it.

“I always was into fitness,” she says. “I knew I wanted to teach P.E. and teach fitness classes and be in front of people. Even in the seventh and eighth grade, I would get up in the morning and lift weights. It was a priority of mine. I was never the best athlete, but I always wanted to be healthy.”

She stayed active throughout high school (doing varsity gymnastics four years, and soccer) and college and even while pregnant with twin boys. After they were born — and she took some time off from her 17-year teaching career — she started running.

“It was the easiest thing to do when they were in the stroller,” she says of her boys, now 8. “Just put them in and go.”

In January of 2011, she ran her first marathon in Carlsbad. Then came 32 more. Running became her passion.

“You just kind of fall in love,” she says. “It’s so painful and you’re running and you’re like, ‘I’m never doing this again,’ and then you cross the finish line and you’re like, ‘When am I going to sign up for the next one?’”

But running took its toll. As a girl, Stehly had Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, in which she didn’t get proper blood flow to one hip, causing damage to the bone. She had to have surgery and was in a brace for a year. Because one leg is slightly longer than the other, all those running miles caused hip dysplasia in the previously damaged hip and a stress fracture in her other hip.

So, Stehly has sworn off long-distance running for now, and now does a variety of workouts.

As an eighth-grade physical education instructor at Valley Center Middle School, Stehly also can do what she dreamed of doing as a kid, helping others be active through her instruction and by serving as an example of adult fitness.

She says she sometimes stumbles in the healthy-eating department, but exercise always has been a part of her life and always will.

“The activity has always been there,” she says. “It’s kind of instilled, part of my routine.”

Exercise regimen

Stehly now takes short runs with her dog or on the treadmill and does a variety of workouts, before or after she teaches P.E. She’s an instructor for spin and strength-training classes (while working out as group leader) three to four times per week and signs up for fitness boot camps and HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts. She’s probably getting more intense and more full-body workouts now than when she was focused on running. She’s also on her feet at school all day, demonstrating exercises and moving with her students.

Marathon moments

She not only was prolific as a marathoner, but produced good times, too. Her personal record was 3:17:43 at the Big Sur International Marathon, six days after completing the Boston Marathon as part of the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge.

Motivation

Aside from her love of activity and how it makes her feel healthy and strong, she wants to be a good example to her sons and students. Though some of her students aren’t crazy about P.E., she tries to get them to understand that they don’t have to be terrific athletes. They just need to find exercises they enjoy that help keep them healthy.

“I just try to inspire them to be healthier and make better choices,” she says.

Nutrition

Stehly has tried a variety of diets but never stuck with one. She’s decided to simply eat sensibly, focusing on fresh ingredients, fruits and vegetables while avoiding artificial ingredients.

“No rules, just do what’s good,” she says.

She has a weakness for chocolate and pizza and will splurge at times. “It’s not a big deal,” she says. “It’s good to treat yourself once in a while and enjoy it and not feel bad about it.”

Finding balance

In recent years she’s sought more balance, with fewer rules about how much she must exercise or what she can eat.

“Find out what works for you and do the best you can every day,” she says. “Be the best person you can every day.”

Williams is a San Diego freelance writer.

Copyright © 2018, Pacific San Diego
76°