I really enjoyed getting to know Stephanie and hearing her story. Stephanie is a fit mom of a 2 1/2 year old boy, she is married to her college sweetheart and runs boot camps and a virtual gym in Hawaii. She loves all things outdoor fitness: from snorkeling to fishing to just being in the ocean. She has found her identity as a woman who can be fierce AND a nurturing loving mother. For all those hopeful mothers out there, I hope Stephanie’s story gives you some comfort and direction on your health journey while trying to get pregnant.
When Stephanie first moved to Hawaii in 2008 she was not really concentrating on her health. However, when her and her husband started trying for a baby she was getting more and more frustrated that nothing was happening. When she went to her doctor for help she found out she had PCOS and was pre-diabetic. “In two words I was fat and sick” said Stephanie. Stephanie was put on several medications which left her feeling grosser and grosser. “Time was going by and I still didn’t have a baby” she said. That’s when she took matters into her own hands. She started doing research which lead to different alternatives from the medications she was on. She started eating more organic foods and doing acupuncture. “Looking back I was so uneducated” she shared as she said eating healthier meant only having ONE pizza pocket and ONE Dr. Pepper. “I was at ground zero and I had no idea what was going on with my body.”
Stephanie started following at home workout plans and tracking everything she ate. Her consistency paid off and she lost 70 pounds! “THAT WAS SO HARD!” she shared as she talked about how she did it all alone. When she looked back at her journey and how hard it was, how little fun she had and how she was all alone in the process she didn’t want that for other people who were going through the same thing. “I thought, I want to create a situation where people could go through that transformation and it NOT SUCK!” she shared.
Right around that time an instructor who she took many classes from asked her to teach classes with her. That was the same week she found out she was finally pregnant. During her pregnancy she gained back more weight than she wanted and 3 months after her son was born she started teaching again AND bought the business from the woman she started teaching with originally. “I had to start all over again” she said as she talked about being back at square one with her weight. But now it had new complications. “Now I felt all this pressure with a new business, I’m a new mom an I have all this weight...” she shared. But she made it work by treating herself like one of her clients. She was in the trenches with them which made it way more fun than the time before.
“It’s never going to be easy but if you can go through it with accountability and those who are going through the same thing” it makes it much more enjoyable. It completely changes the environment in which you are getting healthy and that is so important. That was 2 years ago. Now she is teaches classes 5 days a week and runs her virtual gym.
I asked her what specific struggles she had to overcome during her fitness journey. What I loved about her response was that she was honest about how the journey is never really over even when you reach your goals. Even after losing 70 pounds and finally fulfilling her dream of being a mom she was still working on her identity. “I think that for me in my personal situation it was all this doubt that came from the infertility. Now that I look back I can see how negative I let it affect me. I would say 'my body didn’t work right' to myself. I lost that feeling of 'I’m a woman.' I was so insecure in my womanhood. I started questioning everything about myself physically. As I was trying to target my PCOS symptoms I became obsessed and was too hard on myself. If I ate something bad and didn’t get pregnant I often said 'Shame on you' to myself . Lots of shame."
Even after becoming pregnant and having her son that insecurity transferred being a new mom. She wanted to be this fit bad ass but at the same time felt like she was supposed to be this quite nurturing mother. She struggled to find her identity again. "I'm just now feeling comfortable, confident and fierce. I can go and punch and kick and then come home and cuddle and snuggle my baby" she shared.
I asked Stephanie to share what she thought the three most challenging things are when it comes to healthy living. Guilt, noise and consistency was what she shared.
We all have those days where we eat to much or skip a workout. And we put a tremendous amount of guilt on ourselves as a result. We have to remember that is OK! "Not every day is going to be a green day" she shared (green meaning perfect red meaning the wheels totally came off). She reminds her clients and herself that it's about being accountable and being able to just pick up and move on. You didn’t undo everything!
There are so many competitive thoughts on fitness and nutrition swirling around us on a regular basis. I like to call this "noise" and almost across the board in every interview these women have mentioned this as a hurdle. Stephanie heard this noise A LOT! She had to learn how to listen to her body and find out what worked for HER body. Not the girl next to her in class, but HER unique body. She tracked and payed attention to her patterns. She focused and edited the noise around her!
And her last piece of the puzzle was consistency. She put herself in an environment where she had to stay accountable. "I also realized that the results are going to come way slower than you want them to, even if you’re 100% on it" she said. Her message is to simply stay in it! She tells her clients that it's like pumping a well. You’re pumping and pumping and you get frustrated and walk away when you don’t see the water. But it was so close! If you just kept going you would have water spilling over. We need to remind ourselves of this well and even if we don't see the water we have to keep pumping!
I asked Stephanie to share her top tips on how she lives her well balanced and fulfilled life. Here is what she had to say:
1. Tracking! Tracking is the big one for me. Whether that is your food or keeping a daily journal - some sort of record of your day, progress, goals.
2. Meditation or prayer, quite time, is very important. Having that be a consistent part of your day is critical. Be still.
3. One of my favorite habits I try to get all my clients to do is to write down 3 things at the end of your day that made you smile. These are daily habits that I do myself. Super small but when they are done daily over time, it builds confidence and consistency.
I am so grateful to have met Stephanie! She is truly a bad ass mother who is setting the pace and example for many future mothers out there. You keep rocking girl! I can't wait to see you leading retreats all over the world in remote paradises empowering women just like yourself!
Thank you for taking the time to engage in my 24th interview of inspiring women. Please feel free to share your comments, feelings and send this to a friend you think would benefit from reading this! If you want me to interview someone you find incredibly inspiring, I would be truly honored to meet them. This is a journey that has no parameters or rules. Let’s have fun with it and continue to spread the message of empowerment, love and kindness - to ourselves and others!
You can follow Stephanie on Instagram @WorkingOutInParadise