Saturday, June 4, 2016

Why I Love Location Independence

My friend interviewed me this week for her new e-book that she is releasing soon about location independent careers! Here were my responses to the interview about the freedom of location that coaching has given me!

Short Bio:
My name is Aleena Rooyakker and I’m an online health and fitness coach!  I run a relationship marketing business helping people all across the country make healthy lifestyle changes!  I get to chat with others about their fitness goals, match them up with a workout program and meal plan that is best suited for them and what they are looking to accomplish, and then I provide them with the support and accountability they need to be successful!  I also help other women launch and grow their own successful online coaching businesses!  You can learn more me about what coaching is all about at!  

1) What was your main motivation for pursuing location independence?  I chose my path with online health and fitness coaching not only for the freedom of time and money that it could provide for our family, but also for the location independence factor.
My husband and I have immediate family members sprinkled all across the US and three children from Ethiopia, so traveling to spend time with the people we love is a key priority for us.  Within the structure of a traditional job, however, vacation time is limited so I was motivated to create an opportunity for myself where I could travel for any given amount of time throughout the year without requesting time off or losing income!  I’m not tied to a desk or an office, so I can literally work anywhere in the world with a wifi that’s freedom!  

2) Describe what a typical workday looks like for you.  How many hours a week do you work, on average?I’m a total schedule girl!  If it’s not on my calendar, it’s probably not happening and having a strict daily routine has definitely been crucial to growing my business!  

Monday through Friday my alarm clock rings bright and early at 4:30am and I get dressed and head to my basement to get my workout in first thing in the morning!  I love that exercising is actually a business building activity for me now because it definitely makes me more motivated to make it happen!  Showering and getting ready for the day happens next, but I also pair this time with Personal Development which gives me a good hour to listen to a podcast and feed my mind with great information to kick-start my day!  From 6:30 am to noon is when I work my business and this time is split between conference calls with my coaches, developing team trainings, creating content, posting on my blog and social media, running my online accountability groups, and growing my network.  Depending on the day, I will often spend more time in the afternoon working on additional projects for my business as well, and two nights a week I have an hour blocked off in the evening for team calls.  On average, I’m spending between 5-6 hours per day growing my business.

This is how my business operates today now that coaching is my full-time career!  However, when I was working a full-time day job and side hustling to get my business off the ground, my schedule was obviously quite different than it is now!  In the beginning, I would wake up early and put in an hour and half of work before I left the house for my job, and then I’d work my business during my breaks and lunch hour throughout the day.  When I got home, I was having dinner and spending a little time with my husband and then I would stay up late and grind out another 2-3 hours of work before bed!  It was exhausting, but now that I have the freedom to create my own hours, I can look back on that experience and tell you that every bit of sacrifice was totally worth it!  

3) How long did it take before you earned your first dollar? Before you felt financially stable?  I earned my very first dollar in my business the first week I got started as a coach!  I remember it being so exciting because I was working on my own terms right from home and it was my first glimpse of hope that I could really make this online business work for me!  At that point, being a brand new coach, I had a lot of doubts in myself and what I could accomplish so seeing that immediate paycheck, even though it was so small, was super encouraging!  

It took a solid year before I felt financially stable enough to quit my full-time job and make fitness coaching my only source of income!  In the beginning, I was putting in so much time and effort with such little reward, but I knew if I was consistent and kept with it that it would pay off...and it did! 

4) What's one unexpected thing you've learned while pursuing a location independent lifestyle?I am both totally amazed and equally saddened by how many people want the freedom that this lifestyle brings but they are too afraid of what people will think of them or that they won’t be successful to actually give themselves a chance as an entrepreneur!  Anyone can do this!  I see fear holding people back every single day, and it’s typically disguised as some kind of excuse such as “I just don’t have time for something like that” or “I could never do what they do.”  Everything you want is on the other side fear, so get out there and create the life you dream of!

5) If someone wanted to follow a path similar to yours, what are some of the first steps they could take to get started today?My biggest piece of advice is to just GO FOR IT!  There is no better time to start than right now! Every expert was once a beginner, so don’t question yourself and your abilities--you can do this!  If you have a desire in your heart for something more and a passion to live a healthy lifestyle, online health and fitness coaching is your avenue to success!

One of my greatest passions in the work that I do is helping other women pursue the freedoms that I have found by helping them launch and grow their own online coaching businesses!  If online health and fitness coaching is something that interests you, I urge you to take the leap and chat with me today by filling out this short connection form HERE.  

6) Any final pieces of advice? (optional): As I reflect on how this business has changed my life, I can tell you that being location independent is a total game-changer and absolutely one of the greatest blessings that coaching has given me!  

Just to give you an example, life threw a lot my way at the beginning of this year (death in the family, another family member who was very sick, a couple of vacations, etc), and within just a five month period between January and May I had taken six weeks of “vacation time” away from home!  I live in Wisconsin but during that time I was in Washington State, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Minnesota, Florida, Bahamas, and Jamaica! Never once did I have to stress or worry about having someone cover me at work, or losing income, or asking a boss for more time off!  Being my own boss and being able to work from anywhere allowed me to be there for my family when they needed me most, enjoy some international travel with my spouse, and make a living all at the same time!  

It’s a FREEDOM worth working hard for, I can promise you that!

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Friday, June 3, 2016

Actually...You CAN Afford It!

Over the past year and a half since I started coaching, I have realized just how many people in our country don't take their health seriously.  And honestly, I get it!  It's so easy to think that we are doing just fine until something happens to us, right? It's kind of that "out of sight, out of mind" idea.  We can visually see when we are overweight or obese, but what so many people don't realize (or choose to be oblivious about), is that our health goes so far beyond just what we see in the mirror every day!  

Each one of us, no matter how much we weigh, is sending messages to our body about how to operate with every bite we take and every exercise we choose to do (or not to do!).   

Our choices are information!  

Will you tell your body to store fat, or burn fat?

Will your next meal deliver the message to turn on cancer fighting cells, or turn them off?

Are you going to raise your cholesterol, or lower it?  And how about your blood pressure?!

Are you starting to understand just how powerful our everyday choices are?  

If you're like me, you weren't raised to think like this, so it's going to take some solid effort to retrain your mind about the importance of our fitness and nutrition.  And that's what I help people do!  It's my mission to show you the VALUE of your health so that you can see why it's important for you to invest in it!

When I'm chatting with people who are interested in joining a fitness and nutrition accountability group with me, I learn what they want to accomplish and then I help them choose the best program that can get them to their goals.  All of the programs I support people through include both the fitness and nutrition components, because as we discussed above, both are vital to our overall health.  

Here's where it gets SO hard for me though...people want to make a change, they want to lose weight, they want to find their confidence again, they want to love their body, they want to be a good example for their family, and they want to get healthy. Except the problem is, they don't. All of the tools and the support they need to do that are right in front of them, however when they learn that they have to spend money on this, they run for the hills saying they can't afford it!!

I ran a fun little experiment with you guys yesterday and I asked you to tell me at least one thing that you have spent $140+ on (the same price of a life-changing fitness and nutrition program), and this is just some of the things you told me...

I think this speaks for itself.  If your health is a priority for you, you'll make sacrifices in other areas of your life to afford something like this.  We spend money on what's important to us...simple as that!  It's all a matter of priorities!  

Our fitness and nutrition is not an expense you guys, it's an investment!  You're either going to pay now and live a healthier, happier life OR you are going to pay infinitely more later with all of your medical bills!  

Honestly, you can't afford not to do this!

Join a fitness accountability group with me today and take control of your health!  Apply HERE!!!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Real Life Marriage

Someone told me the other day that she appreciated how honest I was about marriage and how I'm not afraid to say that the highs also come with the lows.  She asked me, "How do you make your marriage work?"  My answer was simple, we recognize that marriage is not about being happy all the time, but rather it's about commitment and giving 100% even when it feels like your spouse is giving 0%.

Society sets an unrealistic expectation for what marriage is suppose to be and it totally sets us up for failure! Just take a look at the divorce rates these days, it's out of control (yes, there are a handful of rightly justified divorces happening and that's not what I'm talking about here, but for the most part, I believe it's mainly a misunderstanding of what marriage actually is in the first place)! And if we aren't careful, we contribute to this problem rather than being a part of the solution. Let me explain...

We all like to look like we have it all together, don't we?  We don't like when other people see our struggles or our flaws because it makes us feel inferior, and judged, and less-than. Vulnerability is a scary thing!  We want to fit into that perfect mold that society created where our houses are always clean, our marriages are always blissful and romantic, and we always make parenting look fun and easy.

You fight in the car all the way to church and then as soon as you set foot outside you put smiles on your faces and act as though everything is perfect.  Sound familiar? We are guilty of this!  You feel like your marriage is crumbling and yet when your friends ask how you are doing, you tell them that everything is going great!  You post photos on Facebook and Instagram that show nothing but your best moments; your I talking to you?!

We cling so tightly to that image (even when we don't realize it) that we end up setting that unrealistic standard for the people around us.  We accentuate the highs and eliminate the lows as we share our lives with others.  And what happens when we do this?  They see our stories and they THINK the grass is greener on the other side.  If they knew the whole story...they'd know better!

I love my husband so much and if I could go back in time, I would choose him all over again. But love is a choice, not a feeling! It's rare that we go a full day without arguing about something!  We are opposites in so many ways--if I say up, he'll say down.  If he says go, I'll say stop.  We are wired very differently! Living together peacefully is hard most days (I'm a difficult person to deal with sometimes!!  ...don't tell Patrick I said that though, I hate to admit when he's right! LOL)! We are both super stubborn and some days we straight up do NOT like each other,  and yet other days we have a ton of fun and we get along great!  I drive him crazy with my messy car and my overly-optimistic outlook on things which, to him, comes across like I don't care and I'm being unrealistic.  He drives me crazy when he puts the dirty dishes in the sink rather than the empty dishwasher and when his realistic approach to life comes across to me as negative and pessimistic. But here's the thing...what we focus on, expands!

Did you get that?!  What we FOCUS ON, EXPANDS!

There are so many things I love about Patrick, but if I choose to stay focused on the negatives, those are the things that will continue to grow in our relationship.  If I'm looking for a fight, I will surely find one.  If I'm looking for love, or grace, or kindness, I will find that as well.  It's my choice!  I am 100% responsible for the quality of my marriage.  If I don't give 100% effort with 0% expectation of any return, then I am setting my relationship up for failure.  And the same goes for you!  Divorce is often split 50-50, but not marriage.  Marriage HAS to be 100-0. YOU are 100% responsible for your life, your relationships, and everything you do!  Marriage isn't about things being "fair" (as much as we wish it were!), it's not about always feeling happy, and it's certainly not about trying to change your spouse into the perfect person!  Marriage is about giving everything you've got...100%!  We have the choice of how we will act, what we will do and not do, and how we will respond to what is done to us!  THIS is what people need to know about marriage!

It's crazy how much relationships morph over time! In the beginning phases, you can't get enough of your significant other and everything they say and do is perfect and loveable and you are constantly HAPPY.  As your relationship grows, you start to notice more and more differences, little things they say or do start to drive you nuts, and arguments start to pop up and disrupt your constant state of bliss.  This is NORMAL!  Dating is often about the feeling of love, marriage is about the commitment of choosing love. Two imperfect people can't make a perfect relationship!

Do I love putting myself out there and sharing with the world what goes on behind the scenes in our home?  Not's much more comfortable to be honest to put up my wall and only show you all of the good stuff that I want you to see.  However, I am called for something more (and so are you!).  I am intentional about sharing REAL life with you because it's not fair that the world sugar-coats marriage and makes us think it should always feel like a fairy tale.  Society tells you that there is something WRONG with your marriage just because it's HARD!  ...I want to deliver a different message!

Marriage is TOUGH!  It can be exhausting sometimes and it's humbling to say the very least.  We have to learn to say "I'm sorry", and mean it, even when we feel like our spouse was more at-fault than we were.  We have to learn genuine forgiveness...the kind that doesn't hold a grudge and pull out past experiences in our daily arguments. We have to extend grace to our partner when we really don't feel like it.  We have to OWN 100% responsibility over the quality of our marriage, regardless of our spouse or our circumstances.

When we learn how do this, we experience the true JOYS of marriage!  It's hard, but it's SO worth it!  A difficult marriage can also be a beautiful, perfectly-imperfect, FUN, joy-filled marriage!!  The love we develop through the hard times and our unending commitment to one another will be deeper and more fulfilling than we can ever imagine it could be!

I challenge you to do 2 things with me today:

1) Take COMPLETE responsibility for your relationship.  Make the mindset shift and start focusing on what YOU can do rather than what you wish your spouse would do!

2) Stop editing your love story!  Be open and real about the highs AND the lows (and don't misunderstand what I'm saying here...this is not permission to start throwing your spouse under the bus and talking poorly about them to your friends, or sharing confidential information about your relationship with the world!  This is your opportunity to to be honest in admitting that your marriage isn't perfect!)  Every single marriage is hard, and no matter how much we think we know about another couple, we only see a fraction of the real relationship, so don't compare your real life situations with the facade that others put up.  Humble yourself in order to share hope with others!  

**And just remember, the grass is not greener on the other's greener where YOU WATER IT!

Friday, May 27, 2016

7 Tips for Eating Healthy At Restaurants

When I first started taking my healthy lifestyle seriously, I really struggled with knowing how to stay on track with my nutrition when we were at a restaurant.  My husband and I love to try out new restaurants (and return often to our favorites!) and it's truly a hobby of ours to dine out!  Though we have cut way back on how often we go out to eat, we have since learned how to choose healthy options so that we can still enjoy a meal out from time-to-time without being derailed from our goals.

Here are my top 7 tips for Healthy Restaurant Eating:

1) Split a meal with another person and/or have your server box up at least half of your food before they even bring it to you so that you're not tempted to eat more than you should.  American portion sizes are out of control and most restaurants give you 3-4 times the amount of food that you need for a satisfying meal! Get it out of sight, out of mind and then take your leftovers home for the next day!

2) Always ask for the dressing on the side!  Salads may seem like your healthiest option when you're out to eat, but this is truly not always the case!  Most salad dressings are extremely high in both fat and calories! Restaurants also tend to use way more dressing than is needed, so by requesting it on the side, you can dip your fork into the dressing before each bite to add the flavor without overdoing it. Opt for olive oil and vinegar when available, and avoid creamy salad dressings (such as ranch and bleu cheese) at all costs!

3) Stick with grilled/boiled/or baked protein--preferably chicken or fish.  Avoid breading and marinades and opt for fresh squeezed lemon and/or herbs for seasoning instead!

4) Skip the freebie!  Many restaurants will bring you chips and salsa or a bread basket before your meal, but ask your server not to bring any to your table.  Again, this is additional, unnecessary carbs and if it's not there, you won't eat it!  If you are out to eat with other people who may want the chips/bread/etc, chew a piece of gum until your meal arrives so that you are less tempted to indulge.

5) Ask for fruit or veggies as your side.  These options are often available even when they aren't listed on the menu and they are a much healthier alternative to fries, potatoes, pasta salad, etc.  If they are not able to accommodate you, simply ask that they don't include a side with your meal.

6) Drink at least one full glass of water before your meal arrives.  This is important!  So many times our bodies feel hungry, but it's actually a sign that we're dehydrated and need more water.  This should be something you also do at home, not just when you're out to eat.  Drinking water before your meal will help fill you up and eat less once your food arrives.

7) Check out the menu before you go.  This is especially helpful when you are dining out with other people.  Take a peak at the menu and decide what your healthiest options will be so that you aren't pressured for time in making your decision and end up going with something you will later regret.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

My Home Workout Transformation

“No thank you, those home workouts don’t really work.”

Wait, WHAT did she just say?!

Okay....if I’m being honest, those were MY OWN words when I first came across an opportunity to purchase a home workout program!!! I’m a bit embarrassed, I must admit...but I did NOT believe in “this” kind of thing!

I was use to spending an 1.5+ hours at the gym each day without even getting great results. 30 minutes? In my basement? You’re kidding, right?? I thought this was the biggest load of crap!

And then I started seeing transformation, after transformation, after transformation, after transformation of people legitimately getting FIT right at home. And since I actually knew some of the people whose before and after photos I started seeing, I knew this was the real deal and not just a bunch of photo-shopped results! Slowly my eyes were opened to what eventually changed my whole life!

Before I started my first at home workout program, I was:
*clueless about good nutrition
*addicted to food
*chronically tired

After doing a lot of research and deciding that maybe I was wrong afterall, and that maybe these “at home workout programs” were worth trying out, I finally said yes and committed to making a change for myself. I was sick and tired of always being sick and tired--I was ready to get healthy!

My first program came with a meal plan that taught me which types of foods I should be eating every day to reach my goals, and I started to really focus on and dial in my nutrition. And I was busy, but I knew that ANYONE could make a half an hour available in their day to exercise. And so I did. One day at a time. One exercise at a time. Take a look at my picture below and you tell me…did it work?!

Once I got past my preconceived ideas about working out at home, I was able to:
*gain incredible confidence
*get in the best shape of my life
*find my motivation
*overcome my food addiction
*gain energy and strength

It’s not that I couldn’t get these same results at the gym, it’s that I didn’t have the SUPPORT that I needed when I was doing my workouts on own that thwarted my efforts. What I’ve found is that accountability is the KEY FACTOR in sticking to any kind of workout/meal’s the difference between calling it quits when things get hard and pushing through with no excuses until you find your results!

And that’s exactly what I provide for the people I work with! Not only do you get the home workout program and nutrition guide, but you have ME as your accountability coach to keep you on track and make sure that you actually achieve all of those big goals that you have!!

I could truly show you a thousand before and after photos of people who have rocked out their results using our programs in their own living rooms at home, but I’d MUCH RATHER show you YOUR OWN transformation!! 

Oh! And how could I forget to mention that you can take these workouts with you anywhere you go...we rocked out a couple of these workouts on the beach in Florida this past weekend! Making fitness FUN is so important!!

Did YOU use to be a skeptic of home workouts like I was?!

The Freedom Of Running a Business on Social Media!

Girl, can I ask you a question??

Tomorrow is Friday and I can already hear so many of you rejoicing about the upcoming weekend (especially since it's a long one for most of you!!)! How would your life be different if your work week was really no different than your weekends? What would that look like for you if you could have lunch with a friend or take a nap on any given day as you wish? How would you feel if you could volunteer in your child's classroom once a week or be able to stay home with your baby while still financially supporting your family? Would life be any different for you than it is now? 

Would it be better or worse?

How would your life be different if you got to decide when you went into work everyday?!
I LOVE getting to make my own work schedule and run my business on my own time! Some days I let myself sleep in, but most days I choose to wake up early, grab some fresh coffee, and get to work! Because I LOVE what I do and I'm excited every single day to help people build a body and a life they are proud of!! And because when your hard work translates into FREEDOM for you and your family, it's worth every second of it!!

If you aren't happy at your job, it's time you start working on you OWN DREAMS instead of building someone else's! Don't be fooled, there is NO opportunity out there where you can find great success without a LOT of hard work!! The difference, however, is that when you love what you do and you're working on your own terms, building your own dreams, the daily hustle is FUN!

Envision your life 2 years from now...if you're still doing what you're doing now, what would your life look like? Would you be HAPPY? Would you have the MONEY to do all of the things you want to do? Would you have the TIME to do all of the things you want to do? If you want something different, you have DO something different!!! And nobody can do it for ya girl, it's all YOU!!

Most people can't just quit their current jobs and start a new business from scratch simply because they aren't happy with what they're doing. We all have bills to pay, right?! However, ANYONE, no matter how busy they are, can start this business on the side and grow it until it replaces their full-time income and allows them to leave their current position and start living their dream life.

That's what I did!!! And that's what I'm here to help you do as well!!

I'm selecting 10 courageous, hard-working women to work with me one-on-one next month and learn how to grow your own health and fitness business from home on social media. You must commit to a Beachbody fitness program to work daily on your personal health journey, have BIG DREAMS and be willing to learn because I'm going to give you all of the tools and resources you will need to be successful, but YOU will have to do the work!!

APPLY HERE to join my GirlBoss Mentorship Program:…/barbelles-strength-dig…/

**Because there are always those crazy people out there looking to make great money without putting in any work, I have to mention that Beachbody does not guarantee any level of success or income! Each coach's income is dependent upon their level of effort, commitment, skill, and the work they put in!**

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Fun Home Workout Challenges

Looking for a fun way to get some exercise from home?!  Try these unique workout circuits below and get your sweat on!!

Have a penny or a quarter in your pocket?!  

Pull it out and get to work!! 

Let's hope your name isn't as long as mine!!  LOL

Like card games?!  This one will give you a good workout!

Ready to feel the BURN?!

12 Days of Christmas!!  

Do 3 sets of these!

Roll the Dice 25 times!  

You will do 10 sets of each exercise!

GAME DAY!!  No excuses for not getting your 

workout in when you can exercise during the game!!

Pick your category and work your 

way from the top to the bottom!

Another fun card game!

It's always fun to switch things up and add a little variety into our workouts, right?!  Tell me which one of these workouts is your favorite once you've tried them!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Is Hello Fresh a Good Investment?

Received my very first box of Hello Fresh today!!  

All of the food arrives together in one big, 

insulated box like this!

Pretty cool how they also included the ingredient list of everything included right here on the side of the box!

Everything is super organized!  They had a welcome packet, a little book with each of my recipe cards, and 3 boxes of ingredients (one box per recipe)!

Big ice packs help keep the food cold 

while it ships to your house!

There are 3 options when you sign up: The Classic, The Vegetarian, and The Family box.  I selected the vegetarian box for this shipment and this week the recipes I got were: Rigatoni Al Forno, Mediterranean Quinoa Bowl, and Sweet Potato Nicoise Salad!  

This shows you how all of the ingredients are packed!  They give you the exact measurements of what you need so that everything is simple, healthy, and super convenient!  This is especially great when you're using "specialty" type ingredients that you don't use often because nothing goes to waste!  You use everything you are given!  The ingredients below are for the Mediterranean Quinoa Salad :)

Each of the recipes come together in a little book that you can save so that you can recreate these meals again another time!

The recipes walk you through step-by-step instructions that include pictures! They make it super simple for even the most "beginner" cooks!

Ingredients for my Sweet Potato Salad!

And for the Rigatoni Al Forno!

I jumped right in and prepared my first meal!  I decided to start with the Rigatoni--below is the eggplant that I cut up, ready to go in the oven!

Start to finish this recipe took me about 30 minutes! 

Soo...I'm following the 21 Day Fix meal plan, can I still eat this?!  Yes, I will definitely be indulging!  This is 100% homemade with healthy ingredients!  When I make this on my own next time, however, I will certainly substitute whole-wheat pasta noodles and homemade whole-wheat bread crumbs.  The biggest factor here is just going to be portion control!

I got out my yellow container and measured out 2 portions of the pasta (for me, I try to stick to 2 servings of carbs per day, following the 21 Day Fix plan).    

Ready to know what COMPLETELY SHOCKED me about my Hello Fresh order???  I was concerned about the price and whether or not it was going to be worth the money or not!  I ordered the smallest box, which was 3 meals, each for 2 people.  See the pasta photo above?  Look at how much was left after I plated my lunch today!! I continued to portion out what was left to put in the refrigerator for the rest of the week, and I seriously got FIVE meals out of this!!!  This one recipe was supposedly 2 servings, but if you're like me and you're following a healthy, portion-controlled meal plan, you will get WAY more than they say you are getting for what you pay!!  

Now, not only do I have lunch for the rest of the week ahead, but I still have two more boxes of deliciousness to prepare as well!!  If the other two recipes portion out the same way, this one small order of Hello Fresh will have given me 15 meals!!!

I should also mention how TASTY the Rigatoni Al Forno turned out!!  It included eggplant, garlic, onion, basil, fresh Mozzarella, tomatoes, Parmesan and bread crumbs!  It truly did taste so FRESH, I'm already looking forward to lunch tomorrow!!

So will I order Hello Fresh weekly?  No, I won't.  Believe it or not I actually love to grocery shop and this really isn't the most budget-savvy way to go, even though you get WAY WAY more than I expected for what you pay and I do think it's a good deal for the service that's provided!!  However, I will most certainly be ordering these on occasion when I know I have a busy week ahead or when we plan to have guests over!!  

Hello Fresh is coming highly recommended from me--I've loved every bit of this experience so far!  Can't wait to hear about your own experiences if you give this a try at home!

No More Competition! We are Better Together!

I feel like there is some sort of weird, secret competition within the fitness realm that needs to be discussed and eliminated. I’m talking about the judgement, both spoken and silent, between different groups of people who are all striving for a healthier lifestyle.

We’ve got:
*The gym-rats
*The running enthusiasts 

*The cross-fit athletes

*The home-workout fanatics

*The yoga lovers

And the list could go on and on, right?!

Here’s my question...why do people feel like they need to go all-in and sell out to one particular group? I mean, it seems to me like there is some unspoken animosity between the people who pursue fitness in these different ways!

“I would love to do an accountability group with you but I actually go to a gym!”
“I don’t do home-workouts, I do crossfit”
“I would love to become a coach but I’m just a total gym rat!”

These are all phrases that I have heard on many occasions from many different people! Why do the ways in which we get healthy have to be mutually exclusive? Why do so many people think that they can’t belong to a gym if they are an online health and fitness coach or that they can’t benefit from doing a workout from home if they do crossfit?


Whether you’re an avid runner, a spin instructor, a personal trainer, or a swimmer...I admire your drive to be healthy and I’m inspired by your pursuit of fitness. Can we be friends?? Can we support one another rather than compete? Can we blend together more to make the world a better place rather than widening the divide between us and communicating to those around us that “our way is the only way to optimal fitness”?

Yes, I’m an online fitness coach and I support people like you through home workout programs that I am crazy passionate about (because they work!!), BUT I also believe in many other fitness-focused ways of becoming a better you!

So, from one health-fanatic to another, keep ROCKING your active lifestyle--you’re so inspirational to the world. heart emoticon And, if you were looking for it, here’s your permission to break away from that one specific group and create your own hodge podge of workouts and nutrition to find a unique combination that works best for YOU!!

Coaching Gives Us GIRLFRIENDS

Strangers are just friends waiting to happen💗These girls are like my SISTERS!! 

We met online after each saying "yes" to becoming coach! We live in different states all across the country, yet we talk daily via social media and text--supporting, encouraging, and inspiring one another! We are in this business FOR ourself, but never BY ourself!!

My FAVORITE is when we get to come together and grow our friendship in person!! Not only did I meet my husband online, but being a coach has introduced me to some of the most amazing people in my life--all whom I've met on social media as well!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Ethiopian Adoption Journey: The First Day I Saw My Children

One year ago on this day, Patrick and I were about a year and a half into our adoption journey. We had applied, gone through our training, and completed the very in-depth process called our "home study" to adopt two children under the age of two years old from Ethiopia. We were preparing both our hearts and our home for babies!

And then on this day, May 19th, 2015 at 1:30 in the afternoon as I sat at my computer doing some work, God intervened and He showed me these three beautiful children via a post in our private Facebook group. Our agency had recently started working with a new orphanage and these kids needed a family, but didn't match the criteria listed in any of the adoptive parent's applications, including ours. It is rare that our agency posts pictures of waiting children, and in fact, I only remember them doing this one other time in the past two and a half years.

The post was a simple note to families asking if anyone knew of anyone who might be interested in adopting these 3 African siblings. There was absolutely no information given, not even which country they were from.

My heart began race and something deep inside me instantly felt the connection. Patrick was already amazingly on-board with the wild idea of adopting two children, I couldn't imagine him considering THREE. And we had been talking about babies for so long, there's hardly anything about our adoption that would be the same if we adopted older children instead. Not to mention the fact that girls are requested 3:1 in Ethiopia and since we were open to either gender, we were told it was most likely we would be adopting two little boys, so BABY BOYS were what we were ready for! And from a financial perspective...was I CRAZY? Three older kids?!

This post I saw of the kids was online for a total of 2 minutes before I emailed our agency asking for more information. The email I received back said "Yes, I can give you a little bit more information. If your friend would like any other information please have them reach out to me."

HAHA, my FRIEND?? Needless to say, our agency rep was quite surprised when I told her that I was inquiring on our own behalf (though I didn't mention that Patrick knew nothing about this yet!)!

I learned that the kids were from Gambella, Ethiopia and they were currently 3, 5, and 9 years old. And as I stared at their sweet photos, I sobbed and I prayed. All day I wrestled with God trying to figure out why I felt so strongly about these three kids who I had never met and why He would put them so strongly on my heart when I just KNEW that there was no way Patrick would go for this! And I just KNEW that there was no way we could afford this. And I just KNEW that it was unrealistic.

But I just KNEW that these were OUR KIDS!

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And when God wrecks your plans to implement a more beautiful, perfect story for your life, He also works out all of the wrinkles!!

When I shared with Patrick that night what I had learned about the siblings, he was immediately intrigued and excited to learn more! WHAAAAAT?!?!

And the finances?? God has faithfully showed up!

We spent a couple of weeks researching, learning, and praying over these kids and the idea of adopting them, and on June 4th, Patrick and I, with more joy in our hearts than we've ever felt before, officially accepted a referral to become their mom and dad!

Please continue to pray with us that we can complete this process soon and bring our precious children HOME!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

His Power in Our Weakness

Why do we magnify our mistakes and our failures and overlook our achievements and successes?

You are your own biggest critic, isn’t that the truth?! The shouting voices of shame and guilt in our minds are not from God! Be still and listen for the soft whisper of GRACE, and grab hold of that!

And let’s open our eyes and CELEBRATE the things, both big and small, that we are doing well! Life is HARD; it’s constantly throwing us around and beating us up!

So maybe you haven’t given your kids a bath in three or four days, but you’ve remembered to feed him and show her a whole lot of love!  Good job mama, give yourself some GRACE!

Maybe you ate a bunch of junk food over the weekend while you’re trying to lose weight, but you still managed to do your workouts and be a good example to your family of the importance of exercise! Way to go girlfriend, show yourself some GRACE!

Perhaps you were angry and have said some really hurtful things to your husband this week, but you spent time praying over your relationship and reading a book about how you can improve your marriage. That’s what I’m talking about!! Now go apologize and give yourself some GRACE!

It’s time to focus the positives within ourselves, and quit flooding them out with the negatives! And when we are weak, let God’s strength shine through you!

2 Cor 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Paper-Pregnancy: The Journey of my Messy Heart

Wrestling our way through the emotions of this adoption is not easy.  I know that God is doing great things in and for us during this season of waiting and that we are called to praise Him in this deep valley.  Some days my eyes are fixed on Christ and I feel the incredible joy of His beautiful promises for us.  Other days, I try but my heart is focused only on what I can humanly understand, and all of that joy is clouded by my own tears of frustration, hopelessness, and anger towards the bureaucratic hoops that we are constantly having to jump through.  It doesn't seem fair and feels never-ending.

Then isn't fair.  I know that.  This is just how things are, why am I feeling sorry for myself?  I really should be more focused on our many blessings than on our trials.  

Do you see how this exhausting emotional roller coaster works?  My brain and my heart are constantly battling between my deep desire to know and glorify God through our journey and the pain that chips away at me every minute of every day that our kids are still in that orphanage and not here with us.  

Our three beautiful children have brought out an emotional side of me that never use to exist.  I don't often openly express these feelings, and in fact, I'm pretty darn good at keeping it all together in conversation.  Not even because I try to be, but somehow that's just natural for me. I will often say things like "yes, adoption is super hard, but the wait will make it that much sweeter when we do bring the kids home" or "we are soaking up our quiet time and enjoying our time just the two of us before things get crazy."  And these things that I say are some hidden part of my heart I really do believe them.  

When I am alone, however, my tears could probably fill the Mississippi. I cry when people have recently asked me how the process is going, and I cry when they forget to ask or avoid the adoption subject all-together.  After two and a half years of this process...I'm weary and I'm a big ol' mess.  And don't even get me started on all the weird things we do these days to try and feel close to our kids! It seems that every child we see, we discuss how old we think they are compared to G, A, and M. "Oh!  That boy looks about A's age!"  We're always asking other parents what their 4, 6, and 10 year old kids like to do and what their favorite things are to play with and what size shoes they wear. We've bought clothes in every size just to be sure we have something that will fit them when they first come home. Our date nights now are often watching kids movies on Netflix to filter through which ones we think will be best for them to see and which ones to avoid.  

We even toured the Children's Museum the other day and afterwards we went out to eat at a little African Cafe down the street. There was another adoptive family in there, a mom and her two young boys, both with their faces painted and I asked them if they painted their face at the museum.  The little one said "yes, were you there?", to which I responded "Yes, we were just over there!  We watched a bunch of kids get their faces painted!  Pretty cool!!"  Patrick nudged me and told me how creepy I sounded as we sat there, no kids in tow, saying that we had just been watching kids at the Children's Museum!  I agreed, that didn't come out as planned!  And we laughed...see?  There are some light-hearted moments thrown in here too!   

We are full of questions ourselves about why this process has to take so long and almost always without answers to give others when they ask for updates. 

I am, "paper-pregnant", as they call it in the adoption circles.  Except this pregnancy has no estimated end date.  Every holiday that passes, both American and Ethiopian, I pray that we won't miss another one as a family. Every birthday that goes by I cry that I missed another 365 days with our child. We have submitted full financial reports, mapped out emergency escape plans for our home, been through hours upon hours of official training, given access to all of our history and background checks, signed hundreds of papers, and sent in tens of thousands of dollars and we still don't have these sweet kids in our arms.  
And then I see their photos.  Every Friday I hit refresh on my email like a mad woman waiting for our weekly updates to come through.  I am beyond grateful to see their smiles and know that they are in good health for yet another week.  But I'm also sad. So, so sad to watch them growing up through photographs and being reminded that we are missing out on so much.  

Adoption is hard, and this is only our beginning.  So to my fellow adoptive moms going through this process, may I challenge you to consider this with me: it's both natural and even understandable to lose hope and feel pessimistic at times throughout this process.  However, what is natural and understandable is not always Godly, and we are always called to keep our eyes on Jesus and to be the LIGHT of the world--sharing with others the love, joy, and hope that is of His Kingdom.  May we give Him our best, even on our weakest days, and let His strength brilliantly fill in our gaps.  

I believe in a mighty God who moves mountains for His people.  I am thankful for a loving God who welcomes our tears, our questions, our fears, our frustrations, and our anxieties.  And His blessings are TRULY ABUNDANT amidst these difficult times. Let us continue to run into His arms, I have faith that He is working even when we don't see movement. 

Lord, write your promises on my heart so that in my times of great distress I can so strongly feel your presence and glorify you through our story.  And our kids, Lord Jesus, I pray that you keep them safe and healthy and always with HOPE.  Amen