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Patient of the Month: Karissa Psathas

“I think that the combination of Cannabis and the gym, they saved me.”

Struggling with her mental health throughout her life, Karissa Psathas tried different medications to try and improve it – but nothing worked. After following a recommendation from her doctor to pick up a hobby, however, she found a new obsession: Olympic weightlifting.

Knowing that her physical health also had an effect on her mental health, she made it a goal to live a healthier lifestyle when she began her fitness journey in 2022. Since then, she’s lost 50 pounds. Karissa admits she has struggled with discipline in the past, but said a fitness journey is the most “popular” thing to try to bring consistency into your life. “I just wanted to prove to myself that I could do what I said I was going to do,” the 26-year-old Baltimore native said. 

Thankfully, Karissa has plenty of athletic experience from her youth to build off of. She took up gymnastics throughout middle school and into high school, where she also played field hockey.  These are foundational to her current weightlifting training – where she works out six days a week with full-body exercises incorporating Olympic lifts. While she credits her trainer for turning her on to the Olympic side of weightlifting, she said she ultimately took it up because it felt like more of a sport – motivating her to show up and compete.

Incorporating Cannabis into her workouts has been a journey – evolving from an “only after she’s been to the gym” option to pre-workout microdosing becoming an essential piece of her fitness puzzle. “I realized that when I would do it, I would hit personal records. I would be able to push harder,” said Karissa. “The mind-to-muscle connection that I would feel was insane versus when I didn’t take anything.”

Karissa explained that she specifically times out when she smokes or takes an edible, so that it will kick in at a certain point during a workout – almost always for her hardest movements like squats, deadlifts or Olympic lifts. “I like squatting 225 pounds easily when I smoke right before, and without it I can’t go past 185 pounds without feeling like I’m going to die,” she explained.

When it comes to strains, Green Crack is her sativa-dominant solution for perfect pre-workout vibes. “I dream about that strain,” said Karissa. “I’m not going to lie.” The indica-dominant hybrid Snoop Dogg OG serves as her preferred cultivar for winding down throughout the remainder of the day.

While Karissa stays plenty busy with her training, her mission to incorporate weed into working out goes far beyond her own fitness regimen. Her social media presence includes regular posting on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube, and she created an app called Strong Stoners featuring activities and monthly fitness challenges, as well as a fitness and Cannabis-themed clothing company called Budlifts.

“I think that the combination of Cannabis and the gym, they saved me,” said Karissa. “I was really struggling for so long and it wasn’t until I started pairing the two that I finally was able to find what works for me.” While a lot of the fitness influencers she has connected with do smoke Cannabis, they don’t incorporate it into their content like she does. “A lot of this I’m doing because I’m trying to stay true to myself … it’s worth it because I do think in the future, if I’m patient and keep doing what I’m doing, I’ll just be an OG.”


Photos by @b.u.wrld

This article was originally published in the May 2024 issue of Maryland Leaf.

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