Daphne Zhang is a life-changing trainer and coach, currently the California’s Strongest Woman, and one of the top powerlifters in the world.
Her mission is to ignite the fire in others to grow into the strongest version of themselves mentally and physically.
Daphne was once 200 lbs and has gone through many of life’s obstacles like depression, low self-esteem, alcohol and drug addiction, and overall feeling hopelessness.
After deciding to take responsibility for her health and live life according to her and only her, she was able to lose 60 pounds within her first year through the “traditional” way - eating in moderation through flexible dieting, lifting weights, and doing cardio. Her journey did not stop there - she started competing in powerlifting and is currently one of the strongest female lifters in the world.
After making an impact on the fitness world, Daphne has grown into not just a fitness educator and influencer, but she also shares her experiences and life lessons hoping it will inspire others as well. With more than 10 years of experience in teaching various subjects and working with some of the greatest coaches, reading books, and attending many seminars; she has made lifting and reaching your fitness goals into a very fun and simplistic way to understand. Her philosophy as a coach is to get her clients to “Look good, Be strong, and Become Mentally Unstoppable.”
“Look good, Be strong, and Become Mentally Unstoppable.”
The Early Stages
I come from a family of Chinese immigrants.
My parents came to the U.S. with only $5. I was always the skinny, little girl out of my family.
My family would constantly tell me to keep eating because I was so tiny. At school, I envied kids that had McDonald's because my family couldn’t afford to eat out. Being the spoiled grandpa’s little girl, my grandpa finally bought me a Happy Meal. It was one of the happiest moments in my life.
In the Asian culture, we celebrate everything with food and pot luck - and I really do mean EVERYTHING! Moving forward, I started to gain weight. I stayed home, played a lot of video games with my brother and cousins, watched a lot of TV - a very sedentary lifestyle.
In fifth grade, I was considered “overweight” based on the BMI Chart that my doctor had on the wall. We had a physical education test in school as well. The teacher had a scale in the front of the room and everyone lined up to get weighed. She announced everyone’s weight out loud besides mine and another “fat kid”. She whispered my weight in my ears. “One hundred and Eleven pounds.” (which to me on this very day, wasn’t even heavy.) I know it was probably out of respect, but she treated me different.
Not to mention on top of everything, my mom would always try to compare me with her friends’ kids and saying so and so can do this, why couldn’t I do the same. I felt mentally defeated and scarred for decades. My heart has been broken many times in my early ages of life. In middle school, I honestly thought there was something wrong with me. “I wasn’t pretty enough like the other girls. I wasn’t skinny enough. I wasn’t rich enough. I’m not smart enough. I’m just not good enough.”
I was always the friend who puts other people first.
I care about other people more than I cared about myself. Fast forward in high school, when I thought I found “the one”, “my soul mate”; he passed away in a car accident.
A drunk driver was texting and took his life away. (so while you are still reading, please don’t drink and drive, or text and drive.) Anyways, I held those poisonous emotions in and it eventually ate me.
My parents were too busy working to notice, plus I never liked talking to them about my feelings because I didn’t feel safe telling them anything. My friends were too busy with their own relationships to care about me.
Everything I mentioned at first, eventually broke me. I was diagnosed with depression and I was prescribed anti-depressant pills. It became toxic with my mind and I didn’t have control over anything. I felt numb emotionally and physically, put on a fake smile on every single day, ate large amounts of food hoping to find answers, cried myself to sleep every night praying for a miracle to happen but not taking any action, smoked a lot cigarettes, drank lots of alcohol and prescription pain killers hoping the pain would go away. I was then 200 lbs, depressed, hopeless, and defeated. It soon became very overwhelming for me and I attempted to kill myself, twice.
The Breakthrough Moment
Thankfully my attempts of suicide weren’t successful and I resumed to living the same miserable life. But one day, things just clicked for me. One day, I finally said enough was enough. “I’m sick and tired of this shit.
I’m sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.” I reached out to a friend for help. He taught me the basics of how to lift weights and how to diet. I’ve tried a lot of unhealthy fad diets in the past and none of them worked. This time, I told myself, “This time is going to be different. This time, I’m going all the way.”
I vowed to myself, “My story is still being written and one day I’m going to tell it to the world. I hereby promise that I will become a success story.” And from then on, I never looked back.
On April 21, 2012, was my first legit workout, my first time eating right, my first time feeling hopeful in my entire life, my first time feeling that I can actually DO it, my first time doing something for ME.
Don’t get me wrong, the first workout was hard, I couldn’t do the “basic stuff” like push ups or hold a plank for longer than 10 seconds; but I survived it, and that made me believe in myself and the journey to become great for the very first time. Weeks passed by, I was walking home from school, prepared my meals, carried my water bottle, feeling more hopeful, and I stuck to the plan.
At the time, I was working 2 part time jobs as a math tutor for middle school kids and a dim sum waitress, taking 16-18 units in school, and was the VP and Chair of Finance for my business fraternity and had to host a lot of fundraising events. Fitness soon became therapy for me. My “friends” and family were laughing at me, they told me I couldn’t do it, they tried to break me, they tried to sabotage me. I didn’t care. I kept going. There were many many days where I didn’t feel motivated, but I showed up anyways, every single day.
This Was For Me And Only Me.
Fast forward a year later, I was still going at it and didn’t stop, I lost 60 lbs and had a complete wardrobe makeover. Newfound Confidence. Energy. Power. Strength. Nothing can stop me.
I wanted more and just absolutely LOVE lifting weights, getting stronger, pushing my mind and body to do scary things that I never imagined possible. Like pull ups, chin ups, and lifting over REALLY heavy things. And more importantly, working on the days I don’t want to work, and doing the things I suck at rather the things I’m good at. I signed up for my first powerlifting meet and I completely fell in love with the sport and community.
Immediately after that, I dropped out of college as a Business Finance & Accounting major, pretty much left everything behind, and became a certified personal trainer. Fitness has changed my life completely. It saved me. It gave me confidence to do EVERYTHING that I do now. It has taught me patience, that education is important, discipline, spirituality and feeling “zen”, and becoming fearless. I want to do the same for others. I want to change other people’s lives as well.
Where I Am Now
I am now currently one of the strongest women in the world.
I am internationally ranked in the powerlifting community. I recently just started competing in Strongman. I am still at a healthy bodyweight and body fat percentage. I left the commercial gym as a trainer, and started my own business as a personal trainer and coach, but I get to do things MY way, the way I want it to.
I train clients 1-on-1 in person in the powerlifting gym I work out at in San Francisco. I train clients from all over the world through the internet. I also sell online programs for the people who have financial problems. I post as many content as I can online to help people reach their fitness goals and become more confident to do whatever it is that they desire. My goal is to help even more people with weight loss, building more muscle, getting super strong, increasing energy, feeling more confident, and becoming the greatest version of themselves.