Friend Feature Friday – LeAnn Thongvanh

10628033_1036328106431596_2865436686909295708_nI’m excited to announce a very special friend this week – my sister, LeAnn Thongvanh!  She is my first friend and my very best friend.  This is a special week to introduce her as well, LeAnn and her daughters are visiting us in Florida on Spring Break.  We’ve been having a super fun week carting around five girls (three of mine, two of hers) to all of the tourist hotspots – and enjoying our share of girl drama as well!  Forgoing toddler naps, “mandating” the pre-teen to hang out with family instead of friends, lucky leprechaun scavenger hunts, picking up rental cars and borrowing strollers… all included in this week of craziness & fun.  I’m so proud of my sister and her accomplishments – all while being an awesome mom and thriving business owner.  Please read on to learn how LeAnn persevered to accomplish her goals as a new mom, and continues to be a good role model for her daughters.  I know you’ll love learning about her awesome business as well, and how to make meal time easier at your house.17264542_10211742489332872_443287839961997297_n

  1. Tell us about a time in your life when things were not easy for you.  How did this point in your life shape who you are today?

One of the biggest crossroads that I’ve had to deal with was shortly after my first baby, Elise, was born.  I had a great opportunity to go from a full time teacher to a co-teacher so that I would be able to work a flexible schedule- working 2 or 3 full days a week.  Sounds perfect, right?!?  Well it was an amazing get up but I soon found that working part time as a teacher was just as busy as teaching full time. Trying to fit a full time job into part time hours (and pay)and figuring out how to take care of a little one at home was quite the task. On top of that, I was still getting used to married life (Elise came just about 9 months later) AND I was getting my Masters in science education. Lots of new to juggle.  So when it came time to register for the spring semester, I was ready to throw in the towel. I was about half way done with my coursework but knowing how tough it was to juggle work, a baby, a house, and school it made my head spin.  My husband was supportive of whatever decision I wanted to make but encouraged me to think about the long term and how glad I would be when it was all over and I had the degree.  So I decided to keep going- just for another semester- and see how it went. And I made it through.  And again when the next semester rolled around I debated AGAIN.  And really all the way to the end of my degree I struggled to continue. I knew things would be so much easier I just stopped. But deep inside I knew that being able to complete my long term goals was more important than short term comfort. Having a full plate is something that I am used to-I’ve been busy with jobs, sports, and other commitments since early high school.  And there is usually always a make it or break it moment that I run into. The choice to continue AND FINISH my masters showed me that no matter how daunting the task and how new the challenges, I can make it through. I’ve found this very comforting in that I havent *yet* found myself as crazy busy as I was during those first few months of being a new mom (before I finished my degree I had my second girl, Maggie, oh and I started a new business as well!). Even when I think my life is too much to handle I think back to those grad school/baby years and know that this too shall pass and that I can make it work!

  1.  What is one thing you would want others to know about why you persevered? What did you learn along the way?148656_469246963388_3956254_n

One of the biggest reasons that I wanted to finish my degree is because I didnt want to tell Elise and Maggie that the reason I didnt finish my degree was because of them. I didnt want them to think that because I became a mom I had to give up the goals I had for myself. I wanted to show them that you can have it all if you are willing to put in the work.  I am a big proponent of life balance- there is time for everything that YOU make a priority.  I knew that I wanted to be a good mom, a good teacher, a good student, AND a sane person so I knew I needed the help of others to make that happen. When I knew I had to get work done I worked with my husband so that I could be unavailable. Whether it was a block of time late at night or in the middle of the weekend- I forgot everything else and just did the work that I needed to do.  I think that is key- you HAVE to schedule the time to work towards your goal. So now that my Masters is finished, I’m on to another venture as a business owner and I’m so proud to be showing my girls that, again, with hard work goals can be attained!

  1.  What is one goal you have, either personal or business, for 2017?  What keeps you motivated to reach this goal?

With lots of irons in the fire, I’ve found that the key for me to feeling successful is to start each day fresh.  I’ve read the book Miracle Mornings and have been motivated to implement this practice into my life. I ended 2016 on a high note- I was very successful at getting up and working out in the morning as well as implementing some reading, writing, and planning into my morning routine.  For 2017, I wanted to continue this practice to make it ‘just what I did’ instead of something that I had to work to do.  I’m not there yet. However, everyday that I do get up and feel that calm that starts my day, it gives me more motivation to continue the next day. I love being able to catch up on life, catch up with work, or just get some ME time during this morning session.  This calm start to the day helps to make the rest of my day more successful and I am pumped to continue.

  1.  What is your name and occupation?  Where can we find out more information about you? (Website, blog, social media)

16864284_1382626721801731_2885644658235581526_nLeAnn Thongvanh – Meal Planning Coach with Wildtree

Wildtree’s mission is to make a difference in our world-one
meal at a time. We offer meal solutions for even the busiest families with our Make Fresh, Make Fast, and Make Ahead options.  Our products are the cleanest around- we are certified organic, certified gluten-free, peanut free, GMO free, with no artificial colors, dyes, preservatives, additives or MSG. I am here to provide you with meals that your family will love that you can get on the table in minutes.  With sugar and sodium levels that are 2, 3, even 4x less than grocery store brands, you can make big improvements in your family’s health with simple pantry swaps. How can I help you answer the question “What’s for dinner?!?!”


Is meal planning a challenge for your family?  What have you tried that works for you?  Do you plan meals ahead or just wing it every night??

Princesses, Planks and 4am

Just as Princess Merida professes in Brave, I truly believe we all have to create our own destiny, not wait for it to knock on our door. I have had a string of awesome opportunities (some mentioned in my recent blog post) in the past few weeks… all centered around these same basic principles: fitness, friends, family, fun.  Although it sometimes seems that I am being pulled in a million different directions, it truly is just one direction.  Whether it is a single client or friend, a class full of people, a virtual group, or my family – helping people discover their drive, move their bodies, feel good and share that feeling is what I love to do and what I do best.

16998167_10211593332724050_8337108618579068431_nAbout a week ago I had a “magical” day at Disney with my oldest daughter, Grace.  No, it wasn’t in Cinderella’s castle sipping tea – it involved getting a 11 year old tween out of bed at 4am and waiting for the start of the Disney Princess 5K in EPCOT with 1000s of our closest friends.  This idea started last summer when Grace decided to make a Bucket List board – she cut out pictures from magazines and printed out things from online that she wanted to do by the end of the summer.  We did a few of her ideas, kept us busy in the summer, mostly involving getting ice cream and going to the park.  However, one thing she wanted to do was a Disney 5K.  It got me thinking if we were going to do a Disney race, we should make it a fundraising effort.  One organization that I am passionate about is the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.  I’ve gotten to know more about this organization over the past two years, as my efforts a “Recess Mom” have ramped up.  (More to come in future blogs about the lack of recess and our efforts to restore it for elementary students in Florida…)  The Alliance for a Healthier Generation aims to create healthy changes that build upon one another and create a system, a nation, that makes the healthy choice the easy choice.  They provide in-school and community programming, research and support to aid in creating healthy environments everywhere that children learn, live & play.  We were happy to raise over $1000 and awareness about this awesome organization.

This blog is all about how “It’s Not Supposed to be Easy”.  The idea came from a combination of my experiences as a fitness trainer and my experiences as a mom.  16939418_10211550701378293_5881711709402689338_nEspecially now that I am the mom of two tweens, 9 and 11 year old girls, the drama has stepped up and EVERY task just seems impossible to them.  I feel it is my duty to instill in them the values that YES – tasks may seem hard, challenging, even impossible… but you must push through this uncomfortable period and figure out a way to the other side.  Homework may be hard, relationships with new friends may be challenging, waking up at 4am to do a 5K may seem impossible – but let’s put it in perspective.  We can do this, let’s put one foot in front of the other and get it done.  So, that’s what we did that fateful Friday morning of the Disney Princess 5K.  We got out the door and to the start line of the race.  Now, I loosely call this a race – it was an untimed 50 minute jaunt through EPCOT complete with plenty of picture stops along the way.  I was so glad that we could do this together, just the two of us.  Plus we knocked an item off her Bucket List, which she mentioned several times throughout the day 🙂  With three kiddos at three different developmental stages, it is tough to really tune into what they are saying and needing from me each day.  It was a great day to connect and enjoy time with each other.


My first 13.1 – the Women’s Running Half in November 2010

The rest of the day after the 5K was also magical and fun – and included another amazing opportunity.  I found out in early February of this year that I was chosen to be a Skirt Sports Pro Ambassador, and was so excited!  Skirt Sports is an awesome company which introduced the running skirt to the market over 10 years ago.  The founder of Skirt Sports, Nicole DeBoom, is actually a childhood hero of mine – she grew up in the same town as I did, Downers Grove, IL.  She was a few years older than me, but I knew her from her name being up on the swimming record boards and her pictures and awards in the high school trophy cases.  In a town that did not necessarily have a swimming legacy, she was the local phenom.  Flash forward to 2010 when I became the local team leader for a running group in St Petersburg, FL called IRunMommies and I was able to meet Nicole.  Our IRunMommies uniforms were custom made for us by Skirt Sports, and this was my first “run in” with the brand.  Nicole was in town that year with the company for the Women’s Running Half Marathon Expo and I was excited just to say hi and that I was also from Downers Grove.  She was so genuine and kind, a true Midwestern gal 🙂  I couldn’t help but fall in love with Skirt Sports, and I recruited all my mommy runner friends to learn to love to run in SKIRT as well!


Another flash forward to 2017, a few years of running under my belt (in Skirt Sports, of 16939508_1895643830716558_5952122831447664567_ncourse!), added another baby to the mix, sold my fitness business after ten years – and what was next?  The opportunity came about to apply for the Ambassador program and I jumped on that chance.  After I made the cut, Skirt Sports announced a new #REALwomenmove Challenge launching this year.  It would include free training plans, exclusive product lines, video support, partner discounts, and a supportive Facebook group.  Sounds like it fits right in with my “fitness, friends, family, fun” mantra!  I reached out to Nicole, and she was looking for a fitness expert to submit weekly Facebook Live videos.  Done and done.

Grace was my (begrudged) videographer for a fun & fast five minute fit tip at noon on the day of that Disney Princess 5K.  We enjoyed the morning walking around Disney Springs, Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 12.49.43 PMhad a quick lunch at Planet Hollywood and grabbed a shady spot perfect for planks.  I wanted to share my video here, but since the #REALwomenmove Challenge is a private Facebook group, the gods of Facebook won’t let me share.  Here is a screenshot so you can see me in all my barefoot fitness glory, of course in Skirt Sports Lotta Breeze Capris!  The Challenge group is a FREE group, you just need to click HERE to go to the Skirt Sports website and a link will be emailed to you.  I hope you will join us and, of course, check out a quick workout with me each Friday – but also gain a supportive group of women from all over the country training for everything from a 5K to an Olympic distance triathlon.

This was a quick weekend full of challenges, not taking the easy way out, inspiring others and FUN.  I’m looking forward to my next Friday Five Minute Fit Tip, I hope you will join our group of 800+ women and give me suggestions for what exercises you would like me to incorporate.

Have you done a race or fitness inspired event with your family?  Was it something you wanted to do or something the kids wanted to do?  How do you make fitness a priority for your family?


Friend Feature Friday – Paige Michaelis

headshotAs I begin this blogging adventure, one of my main objectives was to bring together some of the amazing people I know to also share their journeys and lessons learned along the way.  Fridays will be my “Friend Feature” day each week, and I am happy to introduce my friend Paige Michaelis as our first guest this week!  I have known Paige since way back when we were in the Sweet PEAS Moms Group together, our oldest daughters are the same age.  We shared the trials and tribulations of being new moms, and through the years also shared the journey of being “mom-prenuers”.  We partnered together when I owned Baby Boot Camp and we cross promoted each other’s businesses.  I admire Paige for her persistence and entrepreneurial spirit.  She took an idea and passion and turned it into a business and a way to help others.  I was so sad to have her leave sunny St Petersburg last year on a new adventure to Denver, Colorado.  She is resuming her mission of bringing peaceful parenting to families in her new hometown, as well as continuing as a parenting expert in the Tampa Bay area.  Check out her story!


Paige facilitating a “parenting party” at my home with moms from my Baby Boot Camp class in 2012.  Evidently I thought something was pretty entertaining!

  1. Tell us about a time in your life when things were not easy for you.  How did this point in your life shape who you are today?  “One such situation that is coming to mind is when I first began my new business as a parenting educator and coach.  I did a good amount of training to begin this new venture but when the time came to “show my stuff” I literally began to panic.  I remember the first “parenting party” that i had scheduled.  It was an hour and a half class and I literally cried as the time to do it came looming towards me.  Yes, cried.  I told my husband, “i can’t do it”, “I don’t know enough”, “I’m not good enough”, “I’m not a social worker/teacher/PhD, etc., etc.”  I came up with every excuse in the book as to why I couldn’t do it.  My husband then asked me a very poignant question, “ would you feel better if you just didn’t do it or would you feel worse?”  I thought for a moment on all the other past experiences I had had where I had given up or been too scared to follow through.  Those experiences where I really wished I hadn’t given up.  Those things such as going to work at the PGA golf tournament at Pebble Beach, or moving to Australia for a few months or staying in a job that I liked but left for one reason or another, and I realized that I would feel worse for sure.  At that moment I had to figure out a way to get out of my own way and preserve through this uncomfortable old school, old brain bull crap that was holding me back.  I had to learn to sit with this shit and push myself forward.  And guess what?  I did.  I should say I have made huge strides in overcoming this crazy negative programming and have continued to push myself to do things that scare the crap out of me.  Just last week I did my very first webinar for over 40 people, and I was nervous!  But I pushed through.  So that moment in my kitchen before presenting to those 8 parents has helped me grow and gave me that “aha” moment I needed to make a change.”
  1. What is one thing you would want others to know about why you persevered? What did you learn along the way?  “I preserved because I was tired of being a victim and not getting the things I wanted for myself.  Those things aren’t material things, but are things like self confidence, pride, less fear, less caring what people think of me and being a good role model for my kids. I learned and continue to learn a ton along the way.  Life is about stretching ourselves, learning and having fun.  I have learned that I am good enough.  Not perfect, but good enough.  I learned that I like myself when I am being truly myself (even though sometimes others don’t, and I am learning to make that ok.)  I have learned that I can’t help everyone, that people have to help themselves, and I have learned that the greatest gift that I can give my girls is that of a strong female figure.”
  1. What is one goal you have, either personal or business, for 2017?  What keeps you motivated to reach this goal?  “Ha ha, funny you should ask.  My BFF asked me this too, and, after reading the book, The Year of Yes, I knew my “goal” was to be brave and say yes. If I had been asked 4 months ago to do a webinar for 40 people I would have said hell no.  But since I set my goal for 2017 to be brave I knew I had to do it.  This year I am waiting for opportunities to say yes even if they scare me and require me to do a lot of deep breathing and meditating and working out in order to get through it!    I am motivated to this because I have to.  I am tired of being envious of others’ who are doing things I want to do.  I am just going to do them too!
  1. What is your name and occupation?  Where can we find out more information 1minute-mommy-logo-tmabout you? (Website, blog, social media) Paige Michaelis, Parenting Coach & Educator.  Website:  Facebook:

I love this infographic from Paige’s 1MinuteMommy Facebook page illustrating how to help our children focus on the positive things in life.

What are you going to say YES to this year?  Have you read any books recently that have inspired you to make a change?  What is next on your motivational and inspirational reading list??