Friday, December 18

My Story.... From The Beginning

beachbody coach transformation

I've tried to figure out how to write this so many times. How do you summarize the various facets of your life experience into one nice little story? Intro paragraph, narrative, closing. I've written it out, or at least parts of it in various ways. And how much of our stories do we ever really tell?

But as 2015 comes to a close, and as I stand on the starting line to what I envision being one of the biggest years of my life... I want us all to start on the same page.

I'm ending this, my 2nd full year as a coach ranked #35 in the company. A company with more than 400,000 coaches. I get to do this as my career now. I doubled, nearly tripled our household income from before and retired myself and my husband from our previous jobs. But you might not know any of that about me or how I got to this point. Did you know I've actually blogged since 2007?!

I have. Crazy huh? No, you won't see it in the archives here. This blog has actually been a lot of blogs. It was called Miss Marie for a long time. I forget what my first name was and there's been random name changes over the years. (Shoutout to my 20SomethingBlogger friends!) It's been Life as an Artistpreneur for a long time. And in that time I've changed the format of this blog more times than any blogger should. I blogged for Disney Baby for a long time too, chronicling my first year of parenting. And I forget that not everyone here has read all those stories, even though I've written them, so you might not know as much about me as I think you do. Let's change that now...

I want to share more with you. To pull down the pretenses of a blog. To strip it down to what I originally loved so much about blogging. Instead of blogging for numbers, instead of trying to curate magazine-worthy content, to just share from my heart. Isn't that what we love about blogs? That they allow us to peek into the lives of people we would never normally get to know? I do.

So you know where I am now. But do you know where I came from to get here?

It's been a wild ride. When I graduated college I never saw myself as a future health and wellness coach. I wanted to be a musician, although I'm mediocre at music. After a short-lived marriage ended in a messy divorce and the loss of my job, my apartment, my musical dreams, and pretty much all of the people I considered friends, I found myself in the ashes of my life faced with no options but to start over.

I had this burning desire to prove myself, to show everyone that I wasn't just a failure. It was almost manic, it drove me so hard. So I dove headfirst into a new endeavor... photography. In the midst of a crumbling economy and recession I decided to start a photography business. And it ended up being a great decision. It was one of those pivotal decisions that changed the trajectory of my life. That business was my baby, and I nurtured it and poured my blood, sweat, and tears into it. I hustled. I learned. I grew.

I learned so much in my 8 years of being a self-employed professional photographer. A few years in I eloped with my soulmate and together we built a business that allowed us to have amazing experiences and adventures together. From being published in national magazines, to being flown all over the US and Europe, to teaching...  I learned how to wear a lot of hats, how to figure it out, how to stay ahead of the curve, how to be responsible for my own success or failure, how to work harder than I ever thought possible, and most of all, how to be in business for myself. I learned what I liked about being a self-employed artist, and what I didn't like.

being goofy at a photography conference (left) | 7 months pregnant (right)

6 years into my career as a full time photographer, we started our family. We had no idea what to expect but we made plans to make it work no matter what. My pregnancy was textbook. Our son came 3 weeks early and was born at home, in our bedroom after 7 hours of unmedicated labor. Choosing to go that route was one of the most formative experiences of my life. I am now 100% confident that I can do the hardest of things. It was the most empowering (and at the same time all-consuming) experiences. I discovered that when I felt like I have nothing left to give, I could summon the strength to push through. And the biggest lesson I learned from it was that in so much of life, the only way out, is through. Whether we may like it or not.

After our son was born was when my life started to take a turn I didn't expect. Life with a new baby did not end up being what I expected it to be. We struggled. I didn't know it until 10 months later but I suffered with post-partum depression. (A poem I wrote about it was published here.) I had a hard time feeling attached in the way I anticipated. I was exhausted all the time. My body didn't go back the way I thought it would. Our marriage struggled. We were not connected. We were not finding our groove. When the fog began to lift 10 months later, the damage had been done and we had to figure out how to move forward despite the pain of what we had been through.

(Looking back at photos from that time I feel so sad, and guilty. I wonder what those first 10 months would have been like for me and for our little man if I had not suffered with PPD. Did he notice that I was distant? Did he lack in some way? Could I have been a better mom? Questions that won't ever have answers and a sadness I'll always carry in some way but that makes me soooooo grateful for our bond now,  fierce like fire and deeper than the oceans.)

After my son's first birthday I started to feel hopeless. I had gained 60 pounds during my pregnancy and had only lost a handful of them off my small, 5'2 frame. I was forgetful. I was achy. I was beyond exhausted all the time no matter how much I slept. My body felt weak and weary from all the excess weight. I was trying all the standard weight loss methods and nothing was working. I would run. I would live on salads and coffee. I would do barre classes. I tried it all. After over a year of struggle, our photography business had lost some serious momentum. We had steady work, but we had to work harder to maintain it. And with the low barrier to entry in the industry our competition was growing faster than we could keep up. I was drained, a bit defeated, and daunted. Finally, I decided to visit an integrative doctor to see if I was just crazy and lazy or if possibly, there could be something deeper happening under the surface.

70 pound weight loss transformationin the midst of a struggle I didn't even understand (left) | my before and after 70 pound weight loss (right)

My symptoms were so scattered: brain fog, unexplained weight gain, inability to lose weight, memory problems, extreme fatigue, pain in my joints, anxiety, the blues.... I sat in the waiting room TERRIFIED that the doctor was going to come back in with my test results and tell me I was crazy. I feared that she would tell me to suck it up, to stop being lazy, to just deal with it and stop being a baby. Because that is how I felt the world was looking at me. People would say things like, "well that's just how all new moms feel" or "that's just mom-brain, get used to it," and I felt so hopeless because if this was just how my life had to be from that point on, then how was that a life to be excited about? Tears welled up in my eyes as the doctor walked in the door.

And in a moment I will remember for the rest of my life she looked into my eyes with so much empathy and said, "Honey, with results like this, I don't know how you've been doing even HALF of what you've been doing." And I crumpled into a mess of emotions. I found out that I was suffering from something called Hashimotos. It had affected my liver, my cholesterol, the amount of antibodies in my blood (basically my body was in constant fight mode), my iron, my vitamin D, and my thyroid levels. And that explained why my symptoms were so all over the board. Because this disease causes a strange domino effect throughout multiple systems in the body.

My prescription was to drastically change my lifestyle in the hopes that I could avoid having to go on medication. For months I tried and struggled. I saw small amounts of weight come off but never made any serious progress. Then I noticed people talking about Beachbody on Facebook and a friend in real life started having some legit results with a program called T25. I started doing my research.

In a long story that I will surely tell in more detail later I stumbled upon the Facebook page of the number one coach in the company and asked her what this whole deal was. (I can't believe she actually messaged me back!) I saw you could be a coach and make money and you could do that at the same time of trying the programs for yourself. I don't remember what exactly called to me from the beginning. I think it was the fact that any extra income we could bring in was good, also I'm competitive and I like anything that challenges me to climb the ladder to success. And I thought that being a coach would force me to stay accountable to the workouts. It would be too embarrassing for me to tell everyone I was a coach and then never lose the weight. So I went all in.

This time, it wasn't a manic desire to prove myself to those that had seen me fall, but rather this deep sense of knowing that it was now or never. I was fighting for my own life, my own health, my family, and our future. I knew that this was my ticket to change it all, forever. I just knew. And again, I was driven...

At that time, I was still working full time at our photography business, was a stay-at-home (work-from-home) mom, and blogged freelance for Disney which took a shocking amount of time. If anyone says they are too busy to be successful at coaching, let me challenge you because I was definitely too busy. Working all during the week and then shooting on weekends and fitting in my workouts and new healthy habits in the cracks in between.

I loved that I could control my income from the start. I knew that if I wanted to make a certain amount of money in a month that I had to help a certain amount of people with their health goals, it was simple to reverse engineer. I was rewarded based on how many people I could genuinely help. Quickly coaching began to supplement our income.

summit beachbody successphotos from my first year as a coach, when I started coming into my own and feeling confident again

And at some point, I fell head over heels in love. With this opportunity, with myself, with my life. In the midst of my first 2 years I lost 70 pounds, grew a six figure income, then eventually replaced our household income. I improved myself with personal development and the positive changes I was making in myself rippled into my family. I slowly and steadily grew my base of people I was helping and started to mentor people who also wanted to learn how to make coaching work in their life. And once I had a taste, I knew there was nowhere for me to go but to the top.

I've never looked back. Yes I had some ups and downs. I've had major successes and some big time shortcomings. I've learned, I've taken all the lessons that my photography business taught me and used them to help me be a better coach and mentor. I realized I could merge all my passions and fill the gaps of what photography could never fully fill. I stumbled into my dream career never having even known before that, that it even existed at all as an option!

I've had to find my way, find my voice, start from scratch, rebuild, try new things, make it work, find new balance, and work on my weaknesses...

But coaching has transformed me as a person and my life. My marriage is stronger than ever. I feel confident and strong and capable and UN-STUCK. I feel fulfilled knowing that the work I do does not only support my family financially but it also helps people to dramatically improve their situations as well and that fills my heart more than I can explain.

beachbody coach success photos of me and my husband now. happier, healthier, more free than ever! 

So here I am, poised on the beginning of a new year. A year full of so much promise and opportunity. A year that I know will be a year that we remember forever. And I can't help but laugh a bit when I look back on the unlikely success story I have been. I never saw it coming, but nothing could have been more perfect in my life. Who would have thought that the mess of a girl who had ruined and rebuilt her life, then got knocked back down again, who was 200 pounds and sick... who would have guessed that she would become a health and wellness coach, that she would find her way, help others do the same, and lead a top ranked team for the company that helped her break free? But here we are... and I want to take as many people to the top with me as possible. I've found my passion and my purpose. And if my past has taught me anything, it's that no matter what comes, I can continue to build and re-build stronger than ever.

Come what may, I've found my way.

Watch my 70 pound weight loss story below. 

Beachbody does not guarantee any level of success or income from the Team Beachbody Coach Opportunity. Each Coach’s income depends on his or her own efforts, diligence, and skill. For more information see the Beachbody Statement of Independent Coach Earnings
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