In each Power Couple Profile you will meet a couple that inspires us to grow stronger together. Our goal is to learn from these incredible people and share their unique stories and experiences with our readers. If you know a power couple we should connect with, don’t hesitate to drop us a line!
I met Steph of Stupid Easy Paleo fame while filming a video for her supplement sponsor, PurePharma. I was immediately drawn to her because she was living life on her own terms, having left behind a secure career as a high school teacher to pursue her dreams of working for herself. Recently her husband also left his full-time job, and now they are working together and kicking ass!
Names: Steph Gaudreau & Craig “Z” Zielinski
Ages: 37 & 38, respectively
Location: San Diego CA
Steph: Holistic nutritionist, author, and weightlifting coach
Z: Web developer and weightlifting coach
Dated (long distance with Steph in San Diego and Z in Scotland) for one and a half years, and now married for two and a half years.
How did you meet?
Twitter! I was doing CrossFit Endurance training at the time and so was he. I wrote a blog post about a race I’d just done and it got retweeted. He started following me and we bantered back and forth for a couple years. Then, in 2012, we began talking more online and eventually in real life. I flew to Scotland to meet him and the rest is history.
What makes you a Powr Cupl?
We both have similar values…eating healthy, lifting heavy, and work that’s grounded in helping others live their best life.
What is your love language? Give an example of how your partner expresses that to you.
We aren’t big gift givers or anything like that. To us, the best love language is being close to each other and enjoying the experiences of our lives together. We each challenge the other to be our best self.
How do you hope to inspire other couples?
It really breaks my heart when we hear that couples do things like go to separate gyms to escape each other or couldn’t possibly work together because they’d end up divorced. We know every couple is different, but being able to live, work, and play together while creating the life we want is hugely gratifying. And, it can be done successfully if you’re willing to really partner together.
What was the lowest point in your relationship and how did you overcome the difficult times?
For sure it was living on two separate continents for over a year and a half. Only being able to see each other every few months was really hard, but we always made sure we planned our next visit so we had something to look forward to. Long distance relationships are not easy, but we did everything we could to make it work despite an 8-hour time difference.
What is the best investment you have made in your relationship?
A green card. (Kidding!) It’s really just putting each other first and making that commitment to show up for each other every day.
What is the key to a strong and successful relationship?
Just a Cupl More…
As two people who have multiple income streams and don’t stick to a typical 9-5 job, give us a quick run down of how you currently designed your lifestyle…
It kind of depends what kind of projects are in the mix. There’s always the day-to-day maintenance that goes into an online business, the content creation, etc. But sometimes Z will be doing a big website build or I’m building an online course so those projects have precedence.
Usually we each make our own breakfast because I’m awake and working before Z. We have a pretty good workflow on any normal day, trying to break work into 90-minute chunks with 30-minute breaks in between. We have set training times (usually around noon, four days a week) so that helps to chop up the workday, too. Then we’ll come home, eat lunch, and get back to work for a few hours before breaking for dinner. Three times a week we both coach weightlifting at CrossFit Fortius which we sometimes do together or separately. Even though we don’t have a 9-5, we find we work best with structures, even though they can be flexible.
How important is it as a couple to have the freedom and flexibility of self-employment?
It’s hugely important for us. Z worked for a tech company for eight years and finally quit in March of 2016. The amount of flexibility we each have to work on projects together is so clutch. Aside from building sites (he built both of mine), he helps me with software and hardware issues, custom coding, etc. To be able to ask a techy question to someone sitting across the dining room table in real time is huge. I’ve learned a TON of tech stuff on my own, but some issues are beyond my scope, so having Z to help is a huge relief.
We both hate the idea of punching a clock for someone else, so even when things have been hard, we love the freedom that self-employment has given us to pursue what we are most passionate about.
Explain ways you two help each other with your businesses…
Z helps me with all sorts of stuff, not just tech or site maintenance. I always joke he’s the ideas guy and I’m the implementer / workhorse. Very often he helps me brainstorm or even straight up gives me ideas. Sometimes I do that for him, though I’m far less creative that way. We almost always run ideas past each other because we value each other’s opinions and points of view. He wrote most of the weightlifting programming for my Harder to Kill Challenge, so often we collaborate on projects, too. And frequently, I answer nutrition questions and other nerdy stuff for him since I majored in biology and taught high school science for 12 years before working for myself.
Does tension ever arise from running a business (and a photo studio) out of your home?
Sometimes we bump into each other, but even in a small space, we work really well together. Z has a collapsible / portable standing desk (oristand.co) that he uses and it can be moved or taken down at a moment’s notice if I need to shoot photos. I have a permanent standing desk I use most of the time, though if I’m writing I tend to work on my laptop at the coffee table. (We sold our couch so we have lots of comfy cushions and a big area to stretch out on.)
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Love mornings like this! Shooting the latest collaboration recipe between @meljoulwan and me for @paleomagazine. You'll have to wait until the August issue to check this one out 😉 But our latest collaboration is out this week in the newest issue: BBQ Pork and Hawaiian Cole Slaw!
When it comes to weightlifting, do you two enjoy training together?
Love it! I know a lot of couples that want separate gym time or hate training together, but that’s not us. We’ve trained together since day one.
Does Z like coaching Steph? And does Steph like to get coached by Z? Explain that dynamic between you two…
Z says yes, he likes coaching me. When I asked him why, he said that it’s because he’s confident in his abilities and knows I’m getting good coaching from him. And he says that I’m really coachable so that helps.
I do love it when he coaches me because he doesn’t BS me, and I know that his technical eye is solid, especially when it comes to squatting. I trust him implicitly, which is huge.
We train at the same time, but even though we’re usually doing different programming on different days, we support each other and give each other coaching cues and feedback.
Can you give our readers some tips on how to successfully work as a couple that does business together?
You honestly have to have good collaborative skills and also learn to not take things personally…if your partner doesn’t like your business idea, it can be hard not to make it about you as a person, so having boundaries helps.