My Bio and Business
I graduated from the University of Illinois in 1998 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, after an initial major in Physiology/Pre-med. In 2000, I obtained Masters’ degrees in Social Work and Human Development & Family Studies (Marriage and Family Therapy dual degree program). In my first job out of graduate school, I worked as a Child and Family Therapist in a mental health center, before deciding to become a stay-at-home mom. This turned out to be a wise choice, as my oldest son was diagnosed with autism just before his third birthday. After finally settling into a life that included “all things autism” as well as having our second child, I began to get restless and decided to reinvent myself. After successfully losing 60 pounds, I became certified as a personal trainer in 2006 (through the American College of Sports Medicine) and started my business in January of 2007. It was a wonderful opportunity to blend my counseling experience with my new passion for health and fitness.
I am fortunate to have a gym in my home, which offers clients a private space to work on their goals. I still remember, over 10 years ago, being so turned off by the idea of going to a gym. Who wants to be reminded of how “not awesome” they are when they have a lot of weight to lose? I take a gentle individualized approach with an educational emphasis when working with clients. We all have different goals and unique strengths and limitations; the typical one-size-fits-all approach to both diet and exercise is outdated.
There are several things that I am passionate about in life: Jesus, my husband, my 3 boys, my loved ones, and women’s ministry. I don’t always juggle all of these things well, but my heart is in the right place most of the time!
I’ve been a Jesus follower for almost 20 years, but I can still remember what life was like before I really knew Him. I know what it’s like to want to be in control of every aspect of your life, and I also know how it feels to be a perfectionist. Add to this duo, the desire to please others and you have a lovely combo that is destined to be at the root of a mighty battle. It might have appeared that I had it all together on the outside, but inside I was insecure, critical, chasing the wrong things in life, and exhausted from all of the effort it took to be “me.” In true keeping with perfectionism, I thought that I could earn God’s favor. I kept putting God off until I felt that I was good enough to meet His standard. Naturally, the harder I tried, the more I failed, and the more I failed, the more I ran from God. But God is a pursuer; he doesn’t give up on us.
I got to a point where my will was completely broken and I was D-O-N-E. I made a plea to God that sounded something like this: I have tried to do things on my own and I’ve made a mess. Please take over. I can’t do it anymore and I need you, Jesus. I also asked Him to send a godly man into my life because I was tired of attracting (and being attracted to) the wrong kind of men. I began going to church again and taking small steps of faith. God responded and met me where I was. Soon after I prayed that prayer of desperation, I met and befriended a godly young man who would later become my husband. In my mind, this answer to prayer confirmed that God really had been listening. It gave me a glimmer of hope that my life could actually change.
As the years passed beyond that first experience with God, He has grown me and changed me for the better. I’m still a work in progress. I am by no means perfect, but I have more joy, peace, and purpose than I ever found during those years of trying to do it on my own. My old self has faded and I am less of an insecure, fearful, perfectionistic, control freak. That isn’t to say that I don’t have struggles. God and I have fought some mighty battles in recent years together, but I have emerged victorious, with purpose and a mission. That’s just plain cool. God has proven himself trustworthy and faithful time and time again. I can’t be silent about how good He has been to me and how much I love Him. I know that I will have future battles and struggles, but He will never leave my side. I can move ahead in confidence, knowing that the God of the universe is crazy about me and has my back.
I’m incredibly blessed to have a husband who loves the Lord and adores his wife. We have been married for 19 years and have 3 boys (8, 13, and 16). My oldest son was diagnosed with autism just before his 3rd birthday. I remember praying earnestly for God to heal him completely, but sometimes God says “no” because He has an adventure ahead that is worth jumping into. He knows that you will be forever changed and forever blessed on the other side of it all. I am grateful for such a gift. Without this experience, I wouldn’t have learned early on in my mothering journey how to completely trust God and to get out of my own way.
I love to spend time with family and friends. We are avid campers, but not the “rough it” kind. Give me a few of the comforts of home, namely a bed and a bathroom and a way to cook healthy food, and I’m good to go!
I love girl-time with my girlfriends, coffee with my bible study in the mornings, music, movies, dancing, chocolate, gelato, popcorn, laughing til I cry, and of course exercise. Lifting weights is my preferred activity, but I always love a new challenge.
I am passionate about encouraging women towards faith and in their faith. We all have struggles; no one has it all figured out, no matter how put together they may seem. In my 40+ years on this planet, I have learned one important lesson: everyone has their junk to deal with. Not one of us is exempt. But why are women so hard on each other? Why are we so competitive and threatened by other women? I simply want to shine light on the fact that we women need each other in this world. We need to encourage and support one another in a culture that tries to tell us how to have worth, value, and beauty. There is another way! I know that I haven’t had the struggles that I’ve had in vain. God wastes nothing, even the ugly stuff. He promises to use it for good, so I’m trusting that promise!