Ok, when you read this addition of my 52 Inspirational Women blog you might totally think I am a stalker because I adore this girl so much! BUT in my defense, once you finish reading I’m sure you’ll feel the same way! :)
When Shelley and I got on the phone to do this interview I felt such a connection! She is the girl I would have been friends with in high school and we would make sure to schedule weekly calls to catch up throughout life. She has the biggest heart, she’s full of life, and she somehow makes Netflix sound like the coolest thing on the planet.
Shelley lives in Logan, UT where she teaches Reformer Pilates, runs the business side of a gym called Sports Academy as the Director of Programing, AND is in the process of getting her personal training certificate. All the while she is raising a beautiful family of FIVE and still manages to have the most incredible marriage and life. Her children range in age from 15, 13, 10, 4, and 1.5 years old! I mean, you get why I admire this woman right! She’s incredible!
So this is Shelley now, but her story didn’t start out like this. At 18 Shelley got married and had her first baby by 20. As a result, she wasn’t able to attend college which became a sore spot in her life. It was a source of comparison for many years and a deep frustration for her. In 2009 she divorced and got remarried to her high school sweetheart. “I never knew how good marriage could be” she said as she talked about finding true happiness with her husband. Outside the gym, her family is her biggest passion. Right now her two older boys have started a “Kicks and Tricks” class in which they’re literally doing flips off the walls! And Shelley is keeping up! Whatever they’re doing she’s doing and I loved that about her! When she’s not doing kick flips off the walls with her kids she is incredibly down to earth. She loves to read, the theater, and of course Netflix…specifically Revenge!
Fitness kind of fell into her lap after her 3rd baby. He was a year and half and she was really struggling with her self esteem. “I felt like I still looked pregnant” she said referring back to the times when she looked in the mirror and felt totally unworthy. I appreciated how real she was talking about the struggles of the way her body changed after children. She still wanted to feel like her old self but struggled. Her desire to feel good again all started when she attended a group fitness class!
She started taking group fitness classes and was blown away at how amazing the instructors were. “They made a huge effort to get to know me and I felt great about myself for the first time in so long.” Shelley didn’t have a set number on the scale she had to reach or a pants size…for her, the biggest struggle she had to over come was the emotional side of fitness. She needed to feel like herself again. Her sense of self worth didn’t match up to the person she knew she cold be. On top of it all, not being able to go to college was like a pebble in her shoe. It frustrated her that she didn’t have this as a part of her life so instead of going back to school and fuel by the inspiration of the teachers in her classes, she started getting her certificates in fitness!
“I have worked on my self worth so much with having a daughter. I realized I had to be a woman with confidence in order for her to see what healthy looks like.” Shelley has devoted herself to being an example of health, self love and kindness so that her daughter grows up with an example to mimic. “You never know who is watching and I have the opportunity to do so much good.”
While I don’t have children yet, I related to Shelley on such an emotional level. I know the deep sad feelings of “unworthiness.” For many years of my anorexia I was so hungry that my brain was functioning at a slower pace. I remember that horrible feeling of watching other people reach the goals that I had set for myself while I fell short. I too had to put serious work into healing myself from the inside out in order to live into the life I always dreamed for myself. Shelley had to look inside herself and acknowledge that while she’s not where she wanted to be now, she did have the will, the gumption, and the grace to create the life she had always wanted. And it looks like she has :)
I look at Shelley as an example of what I want to be like as a mom. She’s a mother first, she’s created a life and a home filled with warmth, comfort and tremendous love, and she sets an example of how to treat YOURSELF kindly. She’s also devoted to learning, growing and pushing herself to be better every day. She took a frustration and feeling of “unworthiness” and turned it around. She decided to combine her desire for schooling with her new love of fitness.
Now she works with people one-on-one and helps them connect their emotional well being with their physical being. “My heart soars when I see them grow” she said as she talks about people trying something for the first time, struggling, but figuring it out and watching them glow with happiness!
I asked her what struggles she had to overcome in her own fitness journey? She needed to focus on change from the inside out. One thing that was missing was nutrition. After her 5th child she started researching more about healthy foods and started fine tuning her nutrition. She literally started her transformation form the inside out! Now all she wants to do is help other people with their nutrition. She knows that she had to understand it in order to make a difference. “ I had to feel what they are going through.” I so admire that she just figures things out! If she doesn’t know how to do something she doesn’t wallow in self pity. She sucks it up, digs in, and does her homework.
I love that Shelley is incredibly real. She is a total example of health and entrepreneurship yet she is just like you and me and still struggles with insecurities. When I asked her what she still struggles with she talked about what your body goes through after 5 children! And one of those things is stretch marks. “I hate that I’m not proud of it, but I don’t like it!” For the longest time she compared herself to everyone around her and that created a lot of insecurities: “Am I smart enough, good enough,” but now that she’s getting older those things seem to fade. “One of the best things about getting older is confidence” she said as she talks about coming into her own and not caring about the little things so much. Yes, the stretch marks are annoying but she knows they do not define her and she is an incredibly strong and capable woman. One who can and will help many people! “I wish I could bottle that feeling and share it with my 20 year old self!” I feel the same! I wish I could have shouted “STOP COMPARING!!!!” to my younger self.
I asked her to describe her dream life and all that it would look like! “It’s hard to say I would want anything different than what it is” she said talking about how grateful she is for her husband, her kids and all of the life lessons she’s learned. It all comes down to the experiences of life for Shelley. Not once did she mention a bigger house, fancier car, or lavish vacations. For her, her dream life would be an amplified continuation of now! “My kids would be good people in this world.” And that to me sums up the heart and soul of Shelley. She is an example of that good and I have no doubt her children will be incredible reflections of her!
Before we hung up I asked what 3 tips she would like to share with you and what one piece of advice she would give to the person who is just getting started on their fitness/health journey.
- “Find an affirmation that you live by and give your life a purpose!” She shared with me one tiny thing she did with her kids when she was single and that was creating a family motto. Together they decided they were going to “be awesome and kind and grateful.” She falls back on that motto with all her decisions and is constantly motivated to do better after saying it!
- Really look at your nutrition if you want to achieve the long term. Invest the time to learn about it, enlist help, and do whatever you can to know your nutrition. All her life if she didn’t know what to do she figured it out. She invested the time to learn and it has paid off!
- Choose to be happy where you are at! Wherever you are on your journey you can CHOOSE to be happy. It took her a while to realize she had a choice. But when she did that moment was so freeing!
And finally for the person who is just getting started just know it’s the little things that matter. It won’t be a quick fix and you’re done! It’s a lifestyle things. “It HAS to be a lifestyle!” she said referring to adding things into your day that truly fit. “There is a time and place for a detox but little changes create big results!” Don’t think you have to do everything all at once. Take the time, invest in yourself, and take it day by day.
What I truly admire about Shelley is her unwavering authenticity. She’s struggled and found her way through it. She’s felt down and unworthy, and dug deep to find her purpose. She wasn’t emotionally where she wanted to be in life but knew she had to fight for it so she could be an example to her daughter. Shelley’s life hasn’t been handed to her on silver platter. She’s been courageous, diligent, and gracious as she’s discovered herself, her passions and created her dream life.
I am so proud to call Shelley my friend and I encourage you to learn from her and stay inspired to forge ahead in creating YOUR dream life. No matter what the circumstances, how unworthy you feel, know that you are WORTHY! Be “Awesome and Kind and Grateful” and the rest will fall into place!
Thank you for taking the time to engage in my 5th 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 Shelley on Instagram @shelley_dawson