How I Arrived Here…
To give you a more complete view of my journey, I will take you back to my childhood… starting at the beginning.
I was named after Buddy Holly and JOI is my middle name spelled with an “i”. My parents just knew I would bring great JOY into their lives but I was also unique so my Mom wanted this to be demonstrated in the way my name was spelled.
I grew up in small town in Northwest Indiana. My mom owned and operated her own dog business right from home…grooming, boarding, breeding dogs. I did not realize it until several years later, but this was my first experience with what it was like to be an entrepreneur. I learned a lot about hard work and responsibility as I helped my mom but I also saw first hand that running your own business was full of sacrifices, long hours and most of the time down right miserable.
I knew this was not the path I wanted to follow so after high school the logical choice was to go to college, earn my degree and get a good “job”.
I was actually the first person in my family to go to college… and seriously had zero idea of what I wanted for my future. I even remember asking my Mom what I should tell people when they asked me why I was going. We decided on the simple, smiling reply of…. “To be a success.” And that was me. Always happy, always laughing and always optimistic.
I finished my undergraduate degree at Indiana University yet still didn’t have my heart set on any particular career.
I knew I enjoyed working with kids after a couple babysitting gigs, so I moved to Louisville, Kentucky. I began working part-time at Seven Counties with children who had behavioral disorders while waiting tables at Macaroni Grill in the evenings. I did this for almost two years before I decided I needed a new direction, one that did not leave me so emotionally drained, one that was more positive and uplifting.
That’s the first time I made a firm decision in the direction I wanted to go with my life. I graduated from the University of Louisville and earned my Master of Arts in Teaching just two years later.
I taught 4th grade for a year before I moved to Boston with my (then) husband so he could pursue his graduate degree. On top of this big move, I was 8 months pregnant with my first son, Tyler and my parents were going through a divorce.
About three months after Tyler was born, I interviewed and was hired as a nanny.
It was the perfect fit as I could earn a little extra income while still spending my time with Tyler and I was having fun being a Mom …a job I was able to continue when we moved yet again… this time to Lexington, Kentucky a year later.
It was after this move that I started to have more clarity and questioned my lowered level of happiness. I began to make decisions about what I wanted out of my life instead of simply drifting, just waiting to see what fate had in store for me.
Shortly thereafter, I filed for divorce and moved back to Louisville with Tyler as this is where I had friends and last knew as my home. During this difficult transition, I was able to continue my nanny position working closely with a Mom who had 5 children 5 and under, set of twins and a newborn so I saw firsthand a totally different side of the struggle for a busy Mom.
About that time I became super interested in taking better care of myself… I did not know what or how… I just knew my energy was majorly lacking, it was difficult to be upbeat and positive …and I sure did not feel comfortable in my own skin. So I started out with the step that many busy moms in this situation take … get a gym membership!
This is the part where I clarify that fitness and being ‘fit’ has not always been a part of me and what I do.
Tyler was just about 3 years old at the time and I quickly figured out that I had a lot to learn in regards to working out and getting results… but I was determined for at the very least knew I felt better when I was exercising (even when I was doing it all wrong).
In the process, I met and started dating my (now) husband, Patrick. From day one he saw something in me I could not.
I was curious about why I was struggling with self-esteem and confidence for I was naturally a bubbly, happy and optimistic person.. I was motivated to make some improvements in all areas of my life so what did I do? I started reading!
I would frequent the self-help section of the bookstore in search of answers. One book in particular caused quite a shift… a book by Dr. Phil of all people. Life Strategies and it’s handy ‘Life Laws’ bookmark became my guide. My biggest breakthrough was law #2 ‘You Can Create Your Own Experience’. Taking personal responsibility for the outcomes in my life was an eye opener.
My nanny job in Louisville sadly came to an end as this amazing family moved. However, this transition turned out to be a good one for it opened up the opportunity for me to pursue a career in fitness.
As I did, I discovered my passion, strength training!
I felt the best I ever had as I upleveled my own health and fitness, I began making better choices on how I spent my time and I finally felt in control of the direction of my life.
I earned my personal training certification and it was time to get to work. What better place than Patrick’s personal training company!
This gym was located about 45 minutes outside of Louisville, so Tyler and I made the move. We settled in, Tyler started pre-school and my new, exciting career was taking off. Over that same period, Patrick and I tied the knot!
Working as a personal trainer was like a dream come true.
I absolutely loved training every day, waking every morning with excitement for my day to begin… there was only one problem, my waiting list was quickly filling up. Once the word got out that I too was a Mom and had reshaped my body through strength training, the requests from fellow, gym-going Moms were practically non-stop. Despite my efforts to offer small group sessions to better leverage my time, I only had so many hours in the day to train.
That’s what initially prompted me to go online…which was way back in 2007!
One of my goals was to spend more time at home with Tyler. While the newfound success was wonderful, I was not thrilled about Tyler spending a great deal of time at the gym… so much time that the bus was scheduled to pick him up and drop him off there. I was 100% certain this was not the direction I wanted to continue. It reminded me of the struggles and sacrifices my own mom made to run her business. This was a deal breaker for me so something had to change.
The next leg of my journey was revealed as a result of attending a fitness conference with our personal training team. I was absolutely awestruck by the fitness professionals who were doing what they loved with the freedom to create programs, to connect with more people and the flexibility to design their schedules … and do it all online. I was instantly inspired to do the same!
After asking dozens of questions from those I met and researching what it would take to make it happen, I spent the next 5 months packaging up everything I was doing to train and empower Moms in the gym every day.
My hope of pursuing this new adventure was fueled by Patrick. I was able to see first hand how being an entrepreneur, while yes takes hard work and sacrifice, can also be positive! The ability to create, nurture, serve, and lead can be incredibly rewarding.
On November 6, 2007, I launched my very first product, FITYUMMYMUMMY with the guidance and support of my husband and colleague, Craig Ballantyne. The launch was an amazing success! Even more amazing was the continued response from Moms… Moms from around the World!
At the time FYM was launched, I also created a small google group where Moms could meet and I could more effectively offer accountability, support, and encouragement. Little did I know that this online community was the start of what has now become the heart and soul of who we are today.
Within the first two years, I had an established a thriving membership site – ClubFYM, and was offering a dozen online fitness products. The business was doing great.
Here’s where it gets interesting.
I started to notice that the part of my business I enjoyed the most was not at all what I was known for … which was the FYM workouts. It was in the relationships! I experienced a deeper sense of joy and fulfillment when I was connecting, guiding and coaching Moms through the process of making simple improvements to achieve better results… not just in how they looked, but how they felt about themselves and the ability to manage their time. Not to mention the success stories shared were more powerful than ever.
“It all started with Periscope. As I tuned in, I realized I really needed to do something more than what I had been doing, just getting by. Holly, I really love how “real” you are about everything. I took the plunge and joined in the next challenge…. as I did I not only realized that starting is always hard but I am that perfectionist that never gets anything done because it is hard or I made a mistake or screwed it up somehow. I made a decision that day. I no longer wanted to be that ‘downer’ instead I wanted to be a lifter of myself and others. I wanted to bring more joy into my life, my family’s life and those around me.“
“Changing those aspects of yourself that you don’t like is never easy. But wouldn’t it be great to find a coach that really cares and has heaps of simple strategies that really work, as well as a bunch of ladies to support, befriend and have fun with getting through the good and the bad times? I do. That’s why I’ve stayed with the club, through the thick and thin (literally!) more than 7 years. We always have room for growth and improvement, and the club provides a beautiful space to do that. Come and find out for yourself! “
“I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders when Holly first talked about goals setting…. How goals are demotivating! I have never thought of that, but it is so true! What a freedom to think of starting a challenge that will not be about body fat loss to me! I am truly focusing on mindset. I will think of how I am nourishing my mind, body & soul with the food I eat, the workouts I do, the time I spend with others and the thoughts I think in my head. Is it nourishing me in a positive, uplifting way? This is what I will continually ask myself. This challenge is going to beautiful for me! I will learn to let go of the ‘have to’ mentality and truly live stress-free when it comes to my body shaping goals! Thanks Holly for constantly saying what we need to hear and showing us how you are on this journey too! As the quote says… “It’s not about perfect, it’s about effort. When you bring that effort every day that’s where transformation happens.”
I knew this was an area that I had to explore.
October, 2010 I had my 2nd son, Alexander. This inspired me to demonstrate what it takes to get an even better body after having a baby and I would have new photos to help spruce up my websites, so I set the date for a 40th Birthday Photo Shoot. I had a good 11 months to work and prep.
It was fun to share the process through social media, boost credibility and help debunk the myths about post-baby bounce back. By August I was pretty lean and hired a coach to get me even leaner to look ‘my best’ for the photo shoot. Hindsight is 20/20, right?
So October 15th is Alexander’s first birthday. I was so consumed with the precision of the nutritional guidelines to prep me for photos (that were scheduled next week) I skipped eating cake. I also had a hard time when around my family to NOT talk about all prep, the work and the ways my body was had changed… I had trouble just being present.
The day of the photo shoot was a blast. I felt like a supermodel, my photographer was fabulous and I could NOT wait to post the final proofs for all the Moms to see.
The reviews were mixed. While some Moms were supportive and happy for me for reaching a personal goal still many expressed a different perspective. They shared what I secretly knew all along… that our community wasn’t about getting ‘bikini ready’ or any other popular ‘get a flawless body’ tag lines you see promoting fitness products. We were about so much more.
About a week later I broke my foot (first ever broken bone) and was forced to slow down… in life and in my business. I wanted to spend more time with both my boys and I needed the space to determine what my next step as a coach would be.
Then, in the Fall of 2013, I hit one of the roughest patches of my life. My business was doing ok, but my motivation to help it grow and evolve was just not there. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to change…but I knew that I was ready to approach things a bit differently than I had in the past.
Then, my sister Tammy was killed by a drunk driver. Honestly, it’s all a blur. I know I went into a shell and was no longer present. Not for my boys. Not for my husband. Not for my business. Not for myself. I simply wasn’t in a good place.
Finding Joi…And A New Path
After spending several years helping Moms deal with and manage their own struggles, it was time to face my own.
I made the decision to honor my sister’s life by implementing the very qualities that made her life so meaningful… being present, being kind and being grateful. I took it one day at a time. While some days were difficult, each day that I practiced and made this my focus, I felt so much better.
“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every single day.”
In the process of navigating grief and getting back to living and allowing myself to feel joy again, I started to develop my own strategies for managing life on a much deeper level… life mastery! When I discovered something that worked, I quickly shared it with the Moms I was coaching in our online community, The Club.
Not too long after I began working on my own personal development, this time much wiser. My husband sold his half of a business he’d spent the previous decade building and launched a new business of his own.
Seeing his professional reinvention was the final piece of the puzzle. If he could do it, I absolutely could do it too… just like before, but this time even better!
I was ready… more ready than ever to pursue what I knew was my true professional calling – coaching moms to bring the joy into each day as they make their way on the journey of life mastery.
I shared all of this with you today to help you see that the struggles you’ve encountered along your journey does not prevent you one bit from reaching your dreams and goals …rather when coupled with the right influences your journey can empower you to do what it takes to live the life you love!
“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
– George Bernard Shaw.
I say this with confidence as I’ve personally been able to re-design my life to enjoy what I call ‘Everyday Joi’…and I’ve done it in spite of having a no initial direction, relocating several times, a divorce, the death of my sister, a recurring lack of self-esteem and a number of struggles and obstacles that typically hold Moms back from pursuing more. Not you. Not anymore.
As I shared at the start, I’ve got your back.
Your journey can empower you to go confidently in the direction of your dreams so that you can live the life you’ve always imagined.
Challenges are what make life interesting, overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.
“I am a happier healthier me! I am more present with my kids. A happier mom equals happier kids which equal a happier life for everyone! We are all less stressed and that’s a huge relief. I am seeing the scale move now because of it I think and honestly I am not stepping on that scale hardly at all anymore because I don’t care. It’s about how I feel and not what a number says to define me. Holly you helped me push forward! I had so many aha moments listening to the periscopes and what the other ladies had to say. The accountability to show up!”
“I learned to measure my success by something that actually counts towards true change, not the scale. This was huge for me. Also, I am a program hopper due to not getting honest with myself. Honestly, the common denominator is me. There is no program out there that can fix what I won’t acknowledge. The challenge has helped me see that and ultimately to quit looking elsewhere for a quick fix. I have also truly appreciate the jedi mind tricks…LOL….so needed. That’s where the real battle is anyway. Thank you for all of your hard work and your heart. It is helping all of us more than you could even know.”
“I’ve learned so many things that enabled me to be proactive in my own well being, I now continue to truly grow. I have shifted my focus on progress in all areas of my life instead of just being fixated on a number on the scale. Most of all I am amazed by how much my mindset has changed and how this has brought so much JOY to the process!!!!! I can see myself through a different lens which has changed my life and welcomed me into the journey of beautiful PROGRESS, one that is not based on perfection but on perseverance.”