By Kate Horney
Kate: Can you give us a little background on yourself? How did you get into the fitness industry?
Erika: I am a very proud wife to a US Marine, a mom to 10-month old (Emma), a registered nurse, and fitness enthusiast. I hold bachelor’s degrees in both business administration and nursing. In my nursing career, I worked in the intensive care and emergency settings.
I took time off from nursing when I was pregnant and knew I wanted to stay home with my baby for at least the first year of her life. At the time, I was very interested in health and fitness but saw it as more of an interest for me rather than a career.
Once I had Emma and was introduced to BeyondFit Mom, specifically the Beyond Baby program, I realized that may not be the case. I have found that I love staying home with my child and watching her grow and develop. I also love fitness, health, and wellness, and sharing my knowledge with anyone who will listen. I wanted to find a balance between family and career as well as utilizing the training I already have as an RN. I have found a mentor in Kate and decided to pursue my personal training certification—hoping to go from fitness enthusiast to a member of the fitness industry.
I see a need in the industry for people to help women, mothers, and military wives/mothers and I want to help fill that gap. I am excited about this new transition in life and where it will take me.
Kate: Where do your priorities lie now? Family? Training? Both? Other? How has your focus changed over time?
Erika: My priorities are simple and unchanging: Faith, Family, Career. This is one area that I will not compromise and I feel strongly that once you do, it’s all over. I am blessed beyond measure because of a wonderful God who deserves all my praise. He is the reason I have a beautiful marriage, family, and opportunity in life.
Without Him, I am nothing and I have nothing. I believe whole heartedly that the changes taking place in my life right now are because of Him and He is going to make great things happen for me and put me where I need to be and when. I look forward to the people I get to touch through the opportunities He provides.
I think much like any wife or mother can attest, when you get married and start a family of your own, your focus becomes much less about you and much more about others. I have made many career sacrifices for my husband, his career, our daughter, and her well-being. Sacrifices that I would not change if I ever had the chance.
I found that I transitioned from being focused solely on my career and where I was going to being focused on my family and what was best for all of us, not just myself. This meant putting my nursing career on hold, but at the same time, presented a new career possibility that shows much promise and will allow me to have the best of both worlds by providing a balance between being a stay at home mom and a working mom.
Kate: You have obviously made fitness a priority even in your busy schedule. Was there a moment of definition where you consciously decided to go for it or was it more of a passive thing? In other words, did you make a concerted effort or did you just get lucky?
Erika: If it were as easy as being lucky, we’d all do it, right? Every day is a concerted effort for me to live a healthy lifestyle. Granted, the more you do things and make them routine, the easier it becomes. But you still have to make that choice every. single. day. It is easy to say “not today” or “maybe later” or listen to the list of excuses in your head but I also know how much better I feel when I push through those thoughts to make healthy choices. Nothing feels better to me than starting my day with a great workout. It’s a decision I have to make as soon as I wake up, but it fuels my day in the best way.
Kate: You have had a lot of success in staying fit while being a busy mom, especially in terms of doing what many moms have not been able to do: create your life so that health and fitness is sustainable and can fit into your limited time schedule. How would you advise the busy mom who wants to leverage their time better? What’s the first step?
Erika: The first step is simply: Do Something! It doesn’t have to be something major like run a marathon or hike the tallest mountain. It can be a small change because small changes add up to big change. And when you are looking to sustain changes for a lifestyle, smaller is better because it allows you to adjust slowly and adopt new practices into your life that you will keep versus big changes that seem too daunting to sustain.
Do something you didn’t do yesterday—walk farther than usual, take stairs instead of an elevator, etc—and set an attainable goal for yourself. Lofty goals are great and we need them to challenge ourselves and maintain motivation. However, when you are first starting out, they can leave you discouraged when you don’t meet them. Attainable goals prove that you CAN do it and WILL do it as long as you put in the time, commitment, and effort.
Time management will always be an issue for me. I’m hoping others out there will sympathize when I say I live in a world where I need at least 36 hours in a day. It seems every week brings with it a new challenge and time becomes an even more precious commodity than it was the week, even the day, prior.
For that reason, exercise for me has to be quick and efficient. This is why I love the methods of BeyondFit. I am not spinning my wheels for hours on an elliptical or treadmill. I’m not bored with cardio and disappointed with lack of results. I give all I have for 20 minutes, three times a week. I see results, I feel results, and nothing beats the day you get to increase your weights!
I would also suggest to busy moms to find a program that you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy what you are doing, you are never going to want to do it. If you aren’t doing it, then you will never see results. That seems like a pretty simple concept when, in reality, it’s not. A health and fitness journey is a personal, one of a kind experience.
What works for some, may not work for you. There are many programs that are highly advertised and have many followers. However, just because your friend is all about something, it does not mean you will be. Take some time to find what will peak your interest. It’s much more fun that way! You are also more likely to stick with it.
Kate: What about moms who say they cannot achieve their goals because they don’t have time?
Erika: You have time! I promise you do and it doesn’t have to come from your family or sleep time either. I say this as someone who has a 10 month old, is studying for my personal training certification, and preparing for an out of state move in less than two weeks. It can be done and you have the time! Take inventory of your day and find some place you can chisel out 20 or 30 minutes. It could be time from watching television, browsing Facebook, or that time sucker Pinterest (Don’t hate me or throw anything at your computer screen. I love these two as much as the next girl but let’s be honest here, they are time killers!).
Take that time from somewhere and give it to yourself. You deserve it! I also like to use an example when talking about this that I think hits home with most moms. Think about being on an airplane and the pre-flight emergency instructions that advise to put your oxygen mask on before helping others. The same goes for your health and fitness, moms! You cannot help your families when you are sick, tired, or simply not feeling your best.
You have to take care of yourself first in order to take care of others. It can be as little as 20 minutes a day that you devote to yourself and your health and by doing so, you find that you can better take care of your families. And you are passing your healthy habits on as well.
Kate: What is the ONE thing these moms can start on today that will not overwhelm them?
Erika: Do one thing you didn’t do yesterday. Make a small change that will lead to bigger changes. Take the stairs if you are used to an elevator, replace one soda a day with water, try a new veggie, identify an unhealthy snack or side to replace with a veggie, instead of observing your kids play, join them! One of my favorites is to take a walk. You don’t have to make it a race. It can be leisurely. Enjoy yourself, stroll, take in the sights, just keep moving!
Kate: For moms who are frequently exhausted and worn out by the end of the day, how would you advise they manage their schedules/energy/time so that they have the energy and motivation to start on the path towards reaching their goals?
Erika: I can speak from experience on this one because I feel like I have a point in my day where I must have my workout completed by or it will not happen that day. I’m sure I’m not alone here. By late afternoon, I’m on my way to exhausted and still have to prep dinner and get the baby fed, bathed, and in bed before I can even think about slowing down. It’s a busy few hours and when everything is finished, I do not have the energy for a workout.
I have found that early morning workouts or nap time workouts are the best for me in this situation. I would much rather wake up before the baby does to get my workout completed. It allows me to get to bed earlier at night and gets my day off to a great start. On days when this doesn’t happen, I fit it into nap time so that I still have it finished before the witching hour starts (for me, that’s usually around 5pm).
Kate: How do you personally channel your energy and get focused on your goals? In other words, how do you manage “everyday stuff” getting in the way? Any hard & fast rules?
Erika: My only hard standing rule is to give myself some grace! The one thing you can always plan for is that something will come up when you least expect it and interfere with your plans. I feel wrong for giving advice here because every day stuff seems to always get in my way! I can say that I live by a to-do list. I have to write everything down and have a calendar, meal planner, and fitness journal to help me prioritize what needs to be done. Every morning I like to make a list for the day and prioritize it so that I know where I should focus my energy for that day.
Does everything get marked off? Not always. Some days I have to add to the next day’s list but that’s where the need for grace comes in. My husband told me once that I had to realize that there is only so much I can do in a day and what doesn’t get done today will be there tomorrow. This is some of the best advice I have ever been given. I have to realize (as hard as it is sometimes) that I am only one person and I have limits to what I can do in a day’s time. All I can expect from myself is to manage the important stuff today and the rest will be okay until tomorrow.
Kate: Personally, what is most important to your well-being?
Erika: My faith and my relationship with God.
Kate: How do you maintain a positive outlook, or do you? Are there times of doubt, insecurity, fear, etc? How do you deal with them?
Erika: I can speak to this from a special place because maintaining a positive outlook is VERY hard for me. Every day for me is a struggle to be positive and happy because I struggle with postpartum depression and anxiety. I was diagnosed 6 weeks postpartum and I continue to struggle with it today at 10 months postpartum. It is hard! First, I had to realize that it wasn’t my fault. It was an imbalance in my body and I had to seek treatment for it from a doctor. I take medication daily but that doesn’t make everything perfect or take my struggle away. I have to fight hard to maintain a positive outlook and push out the fear, doubt, and insecurities that lie within me.
I do this with faith and prayer (A LOT of faith and prayer) and remembering to give myself grace. I also remind myself that I am blessed and capable to get through whatever struggle I am facing. I have never openly talked about my depression or anxiety, but I want moms who are reading this to know that if they are struggling with this, you are not alone in your struggle. I never thought it would happen to me, but it did. I do not understand why I experienced this but I am okay with that. I know that God ultimately has the understanding for why he put me here and while I’m in this place, I will do my best to learn from it.
It’s easy to feel that you are alone when you suffer from PPD. It’s something that isn’t spoken about or advertised openly because there is a stigma attached to it. For any mothers out there reading this, feeling like I’m describing you, and needing support, please feel free to contact me. I would love to help you find the resources you need to get back to feeling like yourself again.
Kate: What one piece of advice would you give to moms who want to take their fitness to the next level?
Erika: Challenge yourself! It is easy to become comfortable with your routine. My best advice is to challenge that by constantly forcing yourself out of your comfort zone. This could be changing your workout routine from the gym class you’ve taken every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for months to a class that is a completely different style with a different instructor and participants. Or, if you are strength training, changing from resistance based weights to free weights or exchanging those lighter, comfortable weights that allow you to do reps for days for some heavier ones that have you pushing to get half your usual amount in. Or for the bold at heart, sign yourself up for a fitness competition or race that you never thought you could do and bask in the glory of the finish line. It’s all possible. It simply requires you to challenge and push yourself to success. Do not accept mediocre, you are better than that!
Kate: What are your top 3 daily practices to stay focused, perform at a high level, and get stuff done?
1. Spend quality time with the Lord
2. Drink water, drink water, drink water!
3. Eat well
Kate: Anything else you would like to add? Anything you would like to promote?
Erika: Absolutely! As I mentioned in my introduction, I am just starting to find my place in the fitness industry and have found a mentor in Kate. She has provided a wonderful opportunity for me to get my feet wet as a coach through the program that I completed as a new mom myself, Beyond Baby.
This is a program that I adore and believe in 110%. I know how great it is because it worked for me and sparked the confidence to allow me to take a dream and make it into a reality. I know it will work for any mom out there who is ready to get her body back (better than ever, might I add) because I completed it and had success. I’m excited to coach them along a journey I know so well because I was there not so long ago myself.
For those who may not be familiar, the Beyond Baby program is a comprehensive 12-week program created by Kate Horney, the founder of BeyondFit Mom, specifically for moms who are seeking to regain their bodies after baby (regardless if that baby is 2 or 20!). The program is broken into three 4-week segments and focuses on fitness, nutrition, mindset, supplementation, and provides support untouched by any other program out there.