Oh my goodness you guys, this month has been big. I feel like I say that every month...well I guess that’s part of the entrepreneur rollercoaster. It’s a constant crazy ride of self-discovery and endless epiphanies and breakthroughs! There are still rocky moments and stomach twisting free-falls but I’m finally getting to a place where I’m STARTING to gradually release my perfectionism, break free from the self doubt and workaholism that have been paralyzing me and controlling me for years, and take the tiny step of blind faith off the cliff. I'm TRUSTING MYSELF and my journey. A little bit more every day.
This past week was a big inner turning point. I had a chance to meet the Tone It Up girls, Karena and Katrina, the two fitness and lifestyle gurus who sparked my entire health and fitness journey back when I was in my quarter life crisis and trying to find my feet after a lifetime in the academic rat race. They inspired me to take the first step on a journey that's led me to meeting some of my best friends, quitting my job and launching my own coaching business, discovering myself, my potential, and my dreams that I kept buried so deep for decades because I didn't know they were an option.
Getting to meet these women in person gave me a fresh perspective on just how far I've come.
The thing is, I was never afraid of failure when I quit my job and decided to go for broke with my coaching business, because I knew it was the right decision. I know that I can work hard and make things happen. The scary part for me has been learning how to trust myself, to accept that I AM HERE for a bigger purpose that's beyond my own comprehension, and I’m good enough to make my dreams happen. My entire life I’ve been hustling and struggling and striving to make it to the “next step.” Get an internship, get straight A’s, find a full time job, “make it.” What I’ve been learning is that I can stop striving and just surrender to where I am, because I’m here. I can’t even put it into words, but it’s been really hard for me to trust that I’m enough, that I can do this, I don’t have to lose weight or earn a certain amount of money or achieve XYZ in order to be recognized as successful.
I am officially declaring that I am DONE with fear and self-doubt. I'm done with perfectionism.
I'm going to embrace the mess and revel in it, because I don't know if I'll ever feel like I "know what I'm doing." I'm learning. I'm a work in progress. And that's ok!
I’m finally growing into myself and becoming the woman I always wanted to be.
I want to share a little more about my “Tone It Up story” because my heart has been SO FULL all week, not just from meeting Karena and Katrina in real life but from spending more time hanging out with the community of Tone It Up girls here in Chicago. This is a topic that’s really really hard for me to write about because it’s extremely personal, and it’s hard for me to open up and get vulnerable...but at the same time I NEED to share it. So I’m sitting my butt down on this rainy gloomy Monday morning and I’m going to let it all out :)
I wrote Part One of my Tone It Up story last year, and it's time for an update!
Where my “Tone It Up Journey” Began
I first discovered Karena and Katrina of Tone It Up in 2012, a huge transitional year. I was 25, it was a year since I’d graduated with my masters’ degree, and I was unemployed, planning our fall wedding, living in the Quad Cities with Ben in my uncle’s vacant condo he kindly let us crash at while we figured things out. It was a rough year, but also a fun and exciting one. I spent my time that spring-into-summer substitute teaching, painting our wedding invitations, half-heartedly applying and interviewing for environmental jobs, going out with my girlfriends, running, and doing workout circuits in the living room to keep my mood up! It was a fun time, but very insecure and up in the air. Ben was interviewing for teaching positions, I had no clue where my own career path was headed and felt completely overwhelmed most of the time, but at least we were together.
I subscribed to Self magazine and fell in love with their Drop 10 Challenge, featuring these two gorgeous trainers, Karena and Katrina. They lived in California, had Barbie bodies, ran a health and fitness business together called Tone It Up, and exuded this carefree and happy energy. I started following their blog and workouts because I liked (and desperately needed) the positive “love your body” vibe they reflected.
Fast forward a year to the summer of 2013, Ben and I had moved to Chicago, I was still struggling to find a full time job and my path in the real world. We finally got iPhones (seriously felt like the last of our generation haha) and I started an Instagram account and started stalking “TIU girls” through the TIU community there. (Anyone who is participating in one of their seasonal fitness challenges, or is a member of their nutrition plan can connect by using hashtags #tiuteam), and watched them post pictures of their food and workouts for accountability check ins.
After a while I was tired of sitting on the sidelines, so I took the plunge and became an “official” TIU member by purchasing their Nutrition Plan. I wasn’t sure if it was actually worth $150 since I already had a general idea of how to eat healthy, but I knew I was feeling off and I needed to take ownership of my confidence and life, so I decided to make the investment and officially join the TIU Community!
(Aww my first official check-in! Thank God my iPhone photography skills have improved...still using the same iPhone 4 though. Proof that you have to start somewhere. Also I'm so grateful I don't have to work summer weekends anymore!)
I set up a private account on Instagram exclusively for my Tone It Up checkins, kept it a secret from all my friends and family because I wasn't comfortable opening up my personal life (oh how far I've come), started working out first thing in the morning everyday (the "bootycall" in TIU lingo), and felt super awkward and weird sharing pictures of my food and workout selfies. I distinctly remember the first time I took a picture of my dinner to post it on Instagram...Ben thought I was crazy. Well, I’ve been taking pictures of my food every day ever since, and the rest is history. After a few months I transitioned my secret TIU account into a lifestyle account and embraced that health and fitness are now extremely important parts of who I am!
My first winter as a “TIU girl” I made friends with a small group of women who also live here in Chicago. We'd meet up for dinner and end up drinking wine and talking for hours and hours because we all just clicked with each other. These girls helped me survive the hardest winter of my life. One of them, Deidre, was a new Beachbody coach back then and told me about the business opportunity of coaching. I blew her off for a couple months because I wasn’t sure if it was really for me, but I was loving Instagram SO MUCH and creating an amazing following of other women. I was going through a rough time personally, but by sharing my daily struggles, victories, and commitment to positivity, was actually having an influence on other women.
Deidre eventually told me look...you are already spending hours on social media, why don’t you start marketing yourself and take this to the next level? I’ve had an entrepreneurial spirit my whole life (since I sold my drawings for 25 cents in 3rd grade), I always knew I was cut out to do something different, to make a bigger impact in the world, but I didn’t know how and didn’t believe in myself. I had a really strong gut feeling that this was the right decision, so I said yes and became a Beachbody coach. Well THAT decision set off a chain reaction of events and self discovery that has led me to today...it all started with Tone It Up.
The real value, the LIFE CHANGING part, comes in taking the chance to commit to yourself, invest in your health and wellness, and be brave enough to open up and share your journey with others. Once you start treating your body with respect and fueling it with healthy foods instead of tearing yourself down with diets and restrictive plans, once you start working out for fun because it makes you feel happy instead of slaving away at the gym to burn calories...once you start treating your body with love and respect, everything else in life starts to click. You’ll become more confident and driven in all aspects of your life, and you’ll discover a side of yourself that you never knew existed.
This side of yourself is who you really are! Alive, vibrant, energetic, enthusiastic, and full of love and light.
I’ve made so many incredible friendships from connecting with other TIU girls on Instagram, which is funny to explain to people. It's kind of like online dating for girlfriends haha. When I meet another TIU girl, we instantly have chemistry. I think it’s because in the relative security of our private little fitness accounts we feel comfortable opening ourselves up and sharing who we really are, flaws, fears, struggles and all.
The TIU community has embraced me, given me an outlet to shine, helped me learn how to love myself and then pass it on to help other women live happier and healthier lives from the inside out. I've found my path, my purpose, I'm literally able to chase my dreams as a creative entrepreneur and life coach because of the women I've met.
As an adult, it's so hard to meet girlfriends who you instantly click with, who understand you completely and share your hopes and dreams and lift you up to push your limits and meet your highest potential in every aspect of life. A friend like that is one in a million, and through TIU I've met dozens of them. Grateful, overwhelmed, I've never been happier to be me or more excited to see what's in store for the future!
I've gained a sense of purpose, friendships, and inner and outer strength that I never knew I had. I'm creating my own coaching team (mainly of other TIU girls), a tribe built on the values of love, inspiration, positivity, authenticity, and joy. I've been able to quit my job, dream bigger, create freedom, and pay it forward to inspire other women to believe in themselves too.
The road to discovering myself has been long, hard, full of ruts, mountains (literally), sweat and tears, but I never gave up and this is just the beginning. We all start somewhere. You just have to decide that you're worth it, and do it for YOU.