Rachel brings business to fitness and fitness to professionals
Rachel went into accounting simply just to improve her skills in math with the goal to eventually run her own business. In tandem, she starting powerlifting after being inspired from seeing others doing it on Instagram! Now she’s helping those in the office who want to set time aside in their busy lives for the gym.
In this episode, Rachel and I discuss how being an accountant helped shape her discipline towards power lifting and how the comfort of being able to open up about yourself to co-workers can be affected by the culture of your office.
Rachel is currently a partner of Accodex Partners accounting technology firm. She is also the co-founder of Strongstyle Athletics, an online coaching service to help people reach their goals in strength training and powerlifting.
Rachel received a B.S. in business administration from California State University-East Bay.
• How Rachel placed first at her first powerlifting competition
• How macros work in counting calories
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Other pictures of Rachel powerlifting
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Hello. This is John Garrett. Welcome to Episode 159 of the Green Apple Podcast where each Wednesday I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby or a passion or an interest outside of work. They’re basically shattering what people think of as the stereotype making them stand out like a green apple in a boring stereotypical red apple world. I’m always so fascinated how we usually try to stand out by talking about our technical expertise. I’m here to shine a light each week on someone who understands that expertise isn’t always earned in degrees and certifications. Sometimes it’s our experiences from our passions outside of work that will make us better at your job but only if we share them.
Really quickly, I’m doing some research. It’s a super short one-minute anonymous survey about corporate culture and how the Green Apple message might apply in your world. So if you’ve got just 60 seconds, please head to greenapplepodcast.com. Click that big green button there. Answer a few quick questions. Again, it’s totally anonymous. I really appreciate the help for the book that I’m writing that will be out early part of next year.
Thanks so much to everyone for subscribing to the shows. You don’t miss any of the cool guests like this week’s Rachel Bitz. She’s a partner with Accodex Partners which is headquartered in Australia, but she lives in the Bay area. Rachel, thanks so much for taking time to be with me today on the Green Apple Podcast.
John: I’m so excited to have you on and have a little bit of fun. We chatted last week on the phone. I was like, yeah, this is going to be really cool. I like to start out with my 17 rapid-fire questions. I mixed them up every episode. Some are the same; some are different. But before I get on a plane and fly out and powerlift with you — that’s going to take a while because I need some help — I have my 17 rapid-fire questions to get to know Rachel a little better. I’m going to fire this thing up here. We’ll get started here right at the gate. I’ll ask you I think an easy one. Favorite color?
John: Red, okay. How about a least favorite color?
John: Gray, okay, that’s a solid answer. The color of weights. That’s interesting. How about do you have a favorite food?
Rachel: Deep-dish pepperoni pizza.
John: Oh, wow, yeah. That’s a solid answer right there. Solid answer. Would you say more diamonds or pearls?
John: Okay. All right, all right, all right. How about more Sudoku or crossword puzzle?
John: Okay, all right. Yeah. How about as an accountant, I have to ask, do you have a favorite number?
John: Seven. Is there a reason why?
Rachel: It’s when I was born. I was born on the seventh.
Rachel: Yeah, that’s why it’s always a lucky number to me.
John: No, it’s by far the most popular answer on this segment, so I was just curious. Would you say more Star Wars or Star Trek?
Rachel: Star Wars.
John: Star Wars. Okay, all right. When it comes to computer, more of a PC or a Mac?
Rachel: PC. I’m a simple person.
John: You know what? I think that PC is where it’s at. I think Mac is more simple.
John: They don’t even have a mouse. I mean it’s like one button. Yeah, they’re shady. Do you have a favorite ice cream flavor?
Rachel: Strawberry shortcake — or no, strawberry cheesecake.
John: Strawberry cheesecake, there you go.
John: All right, that works. How about more pens or pencils?
Rachel: I would say pencils.
John: Okay, all right. How about do you have a favorite band or musician?
Rachel: I would say Chris Cornell.
John: Oh, wow, nice. Good answer. Here we go. When it comes to financials, more of a balance sheet or income statement?
Rachel: Balance sheet.
John: Balance sheet, whatever. Oh, this one’s very important actually. Toilet paper, roll over or under?
John: Over. Okay, all right. I tell people there isn’t a wrong answer, but on that one there probably is a wrong answer.
John: Okay. We got four more, four more.
John: More of an early bird or a night owl?
Rachel: Early bird always.
John: Okay, all right. How about do you have a favorite actor or actress?
Rachel: I would say, hmm, JLo.
John: JLo, okay. There you go. That works. Not your favorite musician but favorite actress, got it, okay. When it comes to reading, do you prefer Kindle or real books?
Rachel: I prefer those e-books, the Kindle.
John: Yeah, yeah, the e-books, because then you can fly with like 20 books in your bag.
Rachel: Yeah, or those audio books are great too.
John: Oh, yeah. Audible, yeah, that’s great out there. Yeah, yeah. All right, the last one I’ll ask you, the favorite thing you own or the favorite thing you have?
Rachel: The favorite thing I have is a jade bracelet that my grandmother passed down to me. I had it like since forever. It just holds a lot of sentimental value, and it’s just good luck because it’s part of my Asian heritage.
John: That’s awesome. You’re very cool. Well, you passed so we’ll keep going here. No, I’m just kidding. Of course, you passed. One more question and it’s something that I like to ask people. What made you want to get into accounting to begin with?
Rachel: I wanted to get better at numbers actually.
John: Oh, really?
John: You weren’t very good at math?
John: You were like, “I’m going to jump in all in.”
Rachel: I absolutely hated math in high school. Yup.
Rachel: So when I got in to college, I was like, that’s it. I’m going to start off at the most basic math class and work my way up to calculus, and that’s what I did. That’s when I got really good at math where I want to start having ideas to run my own business someday. That’s where I am today.
John: Right, right. You realized that accounting is where it’s at. You’re going to need to know that language anyway. That’s awesome. Very cool. All right. The powerlifting I think is so cool. I mean, really cool, and you’re competitive powerlifting. You’re not just at the gym doing it for fun. You’re competing as well which is really fantastic. When did that start?
Rachel: When I got into powerlifting, it’s funny, I didn’t start automatically lifting the weights. I actually wanted to start losing weight first, because in high school, I didn’t really have good eating habits. I was a cheerleader in high school, but we didn’t really take advantage of the weight room. We mainly ran and stuff. But when I got into college, that’s when I started to lose weight just running a lot. I just started running a lot, and then I slowly got into messing with weights.
Then Instagram came up in 2013, and that’s when I noticed that, oh, wow, I see these girls lifting these heavyweights. It looked pretty cool. I wanted to give that a try, see that they were competing in this work called powerlifting. What they do is compete in the squat, bench, and deadlift. They just looked so badass to me, and I wanted to be that. That’s when I looked up some programs online. There’s a lot of free powerlifting programs online. I started seeing results from that. That’s what gotten me into it.
John: That’s really cool. Now, you have your own social media videos. You’ve now created your own stuff. I would imagine the pictures and things like that that you have out there that now you’re inspiring others in the same way that these other people did. That’s really neat.
Rachel: It’s funny because after I got into powerlifting, I got a lot of questions from my friends and other people at gym. “How do you do this? How do you lift so much weight when you look so tiny?”
John: Right. I’m very angry like rar!
Rachel: Yeah. My coworkers, they said, “Hey, you don’t look like you lift. You really lift that much? Nuh-uh, you’re kidding me, right?”
Rachel: I’m like, “No, I squat over 200 pounds on my back. I can lift over 292 pounds for my deadlift. For bench, I can press over 140 pounds.”
Rachel: They have to double look at me, look at me twice because I look so small. I helped a lot of my friends along the way that I was forced to turn my passion into a side business. I’m also a coach. I also do coaching for powerlifting. I even help professionals that have a busy life. They still have but when I worked the 9-to-5 life, I established a program to help them. It’s called Nine-to-Shape.
John: Oh, nice.
Rachel: That’s what I have got going on.
John: Yeah, very cool. Very cool. Do you have any more rewarding experiences from the powerlifting, any of the competitions that stand out or cool story like that?
Rachel: Yes. I just did nationals in Las Vegas at the Golden Nugget Casino. That was a good way to start off my season with that meet. Now, I’m prepping for Drug-Tested Worlds in Las Vegas in November. I’m going for some really high numbers there like big PRs. PR stands for personal records.
John: Yeah, yeah. That’s fantastic. Very cool. That’s not your first time competing.
Rachel: Oh, no. This is my eighth meet I did.
John: Yeah. That’s really cool. Where was the first one? Just curious.
Rachel: The first one was in 2016, May, at a gym called Old Skool Iron in Vacaville. I actually placed first at my first meet which was crazy.
John: That’s how easy this is. Everyone can do it.
Rachel: Yeah, anyone, yes.
John: No, I’m just kidding. No, not at all.
Rachel: Yes, you could do it too.
John: Not at all. Not at all. Even in the women’s division, I am getting last in all of them. I’m like, yes.
Rachel: No, not even.
John: Well, no, you know what I need to sign up for is from Nine-to-Shape. That’s what I need to do. That’s what I need.
John: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Then I have to buy all new suits because they don’t fit anymore.
Rachel: I know. I know exactly. It’s kind of funny because when I did my first meet, I was in the middle of busy season at the CPA firm. So it’s really hard to make sure to get all those gym sessions in because of your practice sessions for the meet. I made sure I got everyone in even though I had to work later, tried my best to do that. I feel like working in public accounting and industry accounting has helped me so much with my powerlifting because it’s just made me more disciplined at what I do because I was doing two hard things at the same time.
Rachel: It just made me a more driven person to do things. I’m not scared to do things. I’m always open to trying out new things.
Rachel: It was really great. I’m really thankful for all the experience I got from working in the public and private sector of accounting.
John: Yeah, for sure. I think it’s great how you’re able to recognize that becoming more disciplined, more driven, not scared to try new things. Would you say that even when you were in public, was there a skill that you were able to take from powerlifting that made you better at your job?
Rachel: Yeah. The feeling when you’re grinding for really tough rep but you don’t want to do it, you know it’s easy to give up but you want to go for it because you want to get the rep in. I feel like doing that exercise helps me get through the workday even though it’s really challenging. I remember during busy seasons, I had so much tax returns to do. Yes, they are such a struggle to go through because everyone is different. It’s like a book. Everybody is individual. I feel like that feeling carries over to what I did in public. It just made it more easy to get through.
John: Right, right, just that mental toughness. When you’re lifting, I would imagine, people had told me anyway because people are going to look at my picture and be like, “What does he know about lifting?” And who knows? You’re doing the same thing. It’s a routine. It’s not necessarily fun, but the reward is there at the end. It’s a very similar process and a similar mental state, especially during busy season in a tax department that you’re doing reps.
Rachel: Right, exactly.
John: That’s pretty much what you’re doing. It’s exactly the same thing. That’s a neat parallel I never even thought of before. Yeah, wow. You clearly talked about this at work. As you mentioned, people would look at you twice and would be like, “There’s no way you lift that much.” You’re like, “Well, I’ll have to make videos.” How does that conversation come up? because I’m sure there is a lot of people that are listening that have a passion, and maybe it’s powerlifting and they’re like, “That has nothing to do with accounting, so why I should talk about it?”
Rachel: Well, it’s kind of funny because I always hear my coworkers just complain about “I don’t have much time. I wish I can make it to the gym.” They want to improve their health. They want to have more time to get to the gym. I’m just always attracted to those conversations. I always find my way just talking to everybody in the office about fitness. Also, I carry like a food scout to work, so everybody knows that I’m like kind of crazy.
John: Oh, okay.
Rachel: Yeah. But not too crazy, but they know that, wow, she’s disciplined. She knows what she’s doing. Then that’s how the conversations would naturally come up because I kind of start it.
John: You’re just doing your thing. Then if people are like, “Well, what’s the scale for it?” “Well, you asked me, so now I have to tell you.” There’s a lot of lip service that “Go to the gym,” and “I don’t have time.” You’re like, “Well, actually there is time right now.” They’re like, “Ah, go away, Rachel. We’re not happy.” Because you’re like, “No, you can do it. I did it.” That’s a cool inspiration for them to see. It’s just kind of an organic conversation that just comes up. It’s not like you’re going around asking everybody, “When did you go to the gym today?” It’s like, “Leave me alone, lady. You’re crazy.”
Rachel: Only because whenever I would walk by their desk, they would high five me because they went to the gym because I kind of convinced them. So it’s a good thing. I was really passionate about talking about it at work too. When I was supposed to be working, I’m mainly talking about going to the gym. It’s kind of funny.
John: Right, right, right. But you clearly got your work done. It’s one of those things where, you know, because I’m doing that research on the greenapplepodcast.com, and it’s a 60-second survey, super quick for people that want to do it, anonymous survey. But what are some reasons why you don’t talk about these things at work? They’re like, “Well, there isn’t charge code,” or “We don’t get paid to socialize.” It’s like, well, you kind of do. That’s how teams work is getting to know each other. You can take five or ten-minute break to talk about something if it’s a normal conversation. I don’t know why that would be a problem, especially when it benefits your career, which is really cool.
I guess one thing that I like to think about, because I get bored easily, is how much do you feel like it’s on an organization or on a firm to create that culture where it is okay for you to have side conversations about these interests outside of work, or how much is it on the individual to just create it on their own and maybe bring in a food scale and just talk about it? How much do you think it is on one or the other or right down the middle?
Rachel: I think it just really depends on the individual, like basically what surroundings the individual is in. I know for me, going into public accounting was my right-out-of-college job. It was hard to talk about that because of the billable hours thing. It was hard to show who I truly was because we were all so busy. It was hard to socialize. But until the end when I did the meet after busy season, then I had showed my true colors. I told everyone that I did a meet, and they’re happy.
Going into private, it was really easy to open up because everybody wants to try to eat healthy. They’re more about showing off their diets and stuff. It was just easy to talk about it there. I thought it was part to discuss my nutrition aspect because of the food scale thing. A lot of people don’t understand macros, like how they work in counting calories. That’s how you truly lose weight because you can’t just lose weight by just meal portions. If you want effectively lose weight, it’s by tracking your macros. That’s all it is.
John: Oh, wow, all right. How many macros are in ice cream? because I eat a lot of that.
Rachel: Well, I can break it down for you, John. Protein is four calories per gram. Fat is nine calories per gram. Carbs is about four calories per gram. Alcohol is about seven calories per gram.
John: Oh, wow!
Rachel: Yeah. So there’s actually a lot of calories in there.
John: That’s like up there with fat, wow.
Rachel: Yeah. I think it’s really important to just learn how to track, so you know what your body responds to and how effective your body feels on the amount of food you ate, the amount of calories you ate.
Rachel: I usually eat up about like 1,600 to 1,700 calories per day.
John: That’s a lot of alcohol.
Rachel: No, not alcohol.
John: No, I’m just kidding. That’s 200 drinks right there. That’s pretty impressive.
Rachel: It’s only because I’m actually a little allergic to it. I can only have one shot and I’m done.
John: Oh, okay, all right. No, I was just teasing you. That was pretty fun. You’re like, “No, no, no. You’re doing it all wrong.” I remember talking with somebody and they were like, “Yeah, you should have these many calories.” I was like, “I have that for breakfast. I got that…” They’re like, “No, no, that’s the max. That’s the top number.” I was like, “Oh, I thought you meant the minimum. All right, never mind.” I was like, that’s one Cinnabon, like we’re done.
Rachel: Oh, my God. I know. They’re so high in calories.
John: Every time I go through the airport, they suck me in. It’s like, “Oh, men, you guys are so good with the smells and everything.”
Rachel: Yeah, I know. They call it a sugar ball or something like that.
John: Right. But that is interesting that contrast that you are bringing up about the public versus private. You’re so busy. There’s billable hours. There’s work to be done versus in industry, it’s a little bit more relaxed on that. Were there any places that had things like set things that would help people to share or encourage that, or was it more of just the overall culture was that way and you just fall in the line with how everyone else is?
Rachel: I just believe it’s really dependent on the culture of what the environment you’re in. That really plays a big role about if you want to open up or not. Like the CPA firm, I would have to wear suits and stuff. And then the public, I could wear casual clothes just as long as it looks nice, way more easier to open up there. I even sent out the link for my competition live, so they are all aware in the office.
John: Oh, nice.
Rachel: That was so funny.
John: Wow! That’s really cool though because now everybody knows who you are. Otherwise, you are just being another analyst or another accountant. Everyone knows who Rachel Bitz is. That’s the girl that’s doing the powerlifting. It’s like, wow. That’s really cool. The relationships that you’re able to build there and the fact that people cared enough to want to watch online is really neat. Like when I came out of school, we were wearing suits. I think even if people are wearing, you know, they have more formal wear, you could still have a personality even when you’re wearing that. But it does tend to go hand in hand with a culture that’s less caring about the people and more caring about the output. So many guests on here have said, if you take care of your people, then the output happens. It’s just that people are doing it upside down a little bit.
I guess, do you have any words of encouragement to anyone before we bring this in for a landing that is listening, and maybe they think that their thing doesn’t apply to what they should talk about at work?
Rachel: Honestly, the more transparent you are, the better you’ll be at what you’d like to do.
John: Oh, yeah.
John: Yeah. Because then it’s not as exhausting. Who did I tell that I powerlift and who didn’t I tell? Who is going to care, and who doesn’t care? It’s like, I’m telling everybody, if you care, you care and if you don’t, you don’t. I’m good with it because I’m doing this either way. I’ve got a competition to go train for. That’s great advice. Great advice.
It’s only fair, since I ran you through the ringer at the beginning with the 17 rapid-fire questions, to get to know me a little bit better if you had some rapid fire questions to shoot back. I figure I’d give you the opportunity to put me on the hot seat here. Here we go. Whenever you’re ready, shoot away.
Rachel: Sure. Who is your favorite superhero?
John: Oh, favorite superhero. That’s interesting. Wow. I didn’t really grow up like in comic books and stuff a whole lot, not a whole lot. But I guess, I don’t know. I mean, based on the movies recently, I guess Batman is pretty awesome.
Rachel: Yeah, there you go.
John: Because it’s also somewhat realistic. It’s not somebody that’s flying or shooting lasers out of their eyes or something. He’s just a guy who had a lot of money and has cool toys. That’s a pretty cool one.
Rachel: Then for the next one, what’s your favorite cartoon character?
John: Oh, favorite cartoon character. I would say growing up was definitely Tom and Jerry.
Rachel: Oh, yes.
John: That was my favorite cartoon growing up for sure. Then when I got a little bit older, Ren and Stimpy was pretty hilarious. Then South Park is also pretty amazing. That’s quite the gamut. I went from Tom and Jerry to South Park, so yeah. But that’s what I would say. I don’t know what that says about me. But really great questions, Rachel. Hopefully, we could still be friends after that. But cool. Well, thank you so much for taking time to be with me on the Green Apple Podcast.
Rachel: Thank you. I’ll be sure to keep you updated on my competition in November.
John: That was so great. I love what Rachel said, “The more transparent you are, the better you will be at what you like to do.” That’s so fantastic and so perfect. The hard part is the being transparent and realizing that your vulnerabilities might actually be your strengths because being transparent and sharing those vulnerabilities allows you to go and be better at what you like to do as Rachel said.
If you’d like to see some pictures of Rachel from her recent powerlifting competition or maybe connect with her own social media, be sure to go to greenapplepodcast.com. While you’re on the page, please click that big green button and do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture. Thanks again for subscribing to the show and for sharing this with your friends, so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread which is to go out and be a green apple.