Today’s Grunty Crush is Khaleeqa “Paparoxi” Rouse. I met her a couple of years ago through a mutual friend on Twitter after asking a fitness related question (to which she gave a helpful answer). We’ve kept in touch since then and she even created a mini documentary on me, as well as a moving photo collage of my wedding. She’s extremely talented, down-to-Earth and has an amazing sense of style. At first glance her killer style could throw you off from the fact that she is an experienced triathlete, but don’t let the smooth taste fool you!
Rouse, who is the executive director and founder of Paparoxi.com, was always active growing up but she got into a sedentary phase during a rough patch as an adult that kept her from being healthy and happy.
Eventually, she was over holding herself back, so she started a new fitness journey where she revamped her diet, got into extreme sports and started documenting it via her website where she explores fitness through faith, whole foods, and positive vibrations.
I caught up with her to chat about her fit life, her #5AMClub, and her passion for triathlons.
How did you embark on your current journey?
Fitness and being active has always been apart of my life. I grew up a girly tomboy wherever we would go my mom would dress us with incredible detail – super girly. I remember always having a change of sneakers or wearing shorts under my dress so I could race my friends, cousins or any other child that would be at family gatherings. In high school I was on the track team, swim team and volleyball team and I was varsity in all three.
My latest fitness journey and what inspired me to start Paparoxi was from a setback. I gained weight the end of my college career and into my young adult life and I endured the growing pains of being broke, overweight and ending a relationship. That is what prompted me to get back in shape and start a vehicle that would inspire other people to do the same.
Explain your journey of becoming a triathlete and what you learned about yourself.
I signed up for my first triathlon in 2010. I was going through a really rough patch in my life and I wanted to start doing the things I had always dreamed of doing. Since I was a child, I always wanted to do a triathlon, I remember watching Ironman Kona on TV dreaming of what it would be like to be there. My first triathlon was amazing, I had so much support from my family and I signed up to do the race with Team in Training so I had support from a team and a coach. I also raised money for Leukemia, everything surrounding my first triathlon was very special. That was the kickstart for my love of the sport and the community.
The biggest thing I learned about myself and continue to learn to this day is what discipline really means and how to take small steps everyday to realize a dream.
What’s your diet like and why does it work for you?
My diet is a bit harry right now, I am trying new things and working with a nutritionist. I use the word harry because I don’t have a title for what it is that I do, I just eat very simple foods. I try to eat things that are as close to nature as possible. A typical day includes tons of apples, bananas, avocado, quinoa, spinach, sweet potatoes, kale, coconut oil, salmon and whatever foods are in season. I really try to limit processed foods, high sugars and unhealthy fats.
Are there still habits from your past life that you struggle with? If so, how do you find balance?
Yes! I struggle with over eating. I always want more, and that is a problem even if it is healthy. I recognize that I over eat when I am not focused or stressed so I try to be aware of my emotions going into a meal. It is a hard balance because I am training now for an Ironman distance triathlon and I am hungry more often then usual but I have to still be cognizant of my portions, so working with a nutritionist has helped.
What is the 5 AM Club?
#5AMClub is something I started February 2013 in an effort to start my day off better. I wanted to combine my mornings of worship and Bible study with my love of fitness. So every morning I started sharing via Instagram an inspiring thought that God laid on my heart and whatever fitness or healthy routine I am doing. I use the tag #5AMclub to keep track of myself and other people who have joined. It really has changed my life for the better.
Why is it important for you to combine faith and fitness?
One of the things I noticed when I lost all the weight and became this ideal version of myself was that I was not satisfied. We all think that if we just get to a certain size, get that job, marry that person that everything is going to work itself out and the truth is it doesn’t. I found myself just wanting more, and never resting in being “good enough.” I know the hole I was trying to fill was a God sized hole in my heart, that no amount of exercise could fix. I had to find out the truth about God for myself and by accepting Jesus and letting his love take hold of my life my hole went away. I am not perfect, nor is my relationship with God but I have found peace. So that is why I share faith and fitness, because it is more than just looking good or being fit.
What can you do now that you never thought you could before you got super fit?
Last weekend I had to do a 4 hour bike and 8 mile run back to back and I just did it. Looking back to 2008, I couldn’t even run a mile without breaking out in a coughing fit and feeling as if I were going to vomit. So I really have come a long way. I don’t really think about it often because I am surrounded by people doing the same crazy weekend workouts; but it is incredible looking back to that time.
Share some of your plans and goals for the rest of the year.
This year I will be doing my first ultra distance or ironman distance triathlon. This includes a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run. So my life until July will revolve around this training. Through my training I am raising money for an organization called Rahab’s Robe that helps with the prevention and rehabilitation of women and children involved in human trafficking in India. I will be traveling to India in August to volunteer with this organization. I am looking forward to these experiences, its the ultimate combination of faith and fitness.
What advice do you have for women who want to get serious about their health?
My advice would be to just give yourself a chance. I think many women settle, thinking this is it, that life has no more to offer and this is just who I will be. However, I changed my whole life when I got tired of just settling for the hand that life had dealt. So if anyone reading this is truly tired of being unhealthy and broken than you have what it takes to turn your life around. Use that emotion to fight every day for who you want to be.
Fun Fact: “Paparoxi” got her name when she pledged Delta Sigma Theta.