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Gratitude

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In order to make headway in the fitness industry, you are either selling your content/knowledge (as a trainer/expert) or you are selling your body (as a model), or if you are lucky enough, you can do both.  One huge obstacle for fitness experts is that information is everywhere.  Google “fat loss diet” and about 11 million results pop up in under 1 second.  With that said, fitness professionals who want to be successful know that they need to find a niche or a way of talking about fitness/fat loss that resonates.  We know that information is not transformation–you can have all the tools but without knowing how to use them, there is ultimately zero success in body change.  Metabolic Effect has done this successfully with the hormonal fat loss approach and the very effective rest-based training model. Truth be told, when JillFit launched I didn’t really know what I was going to talk about–I just knew I wanted to teach, learn and blog! :)

Now that JillFit has been around for about 6 months, I have recently taken time to reflect on how far we have come and where we are heading.  In just a few short months, JillFit has turned out thousands of diets, training plans and informational blogs.  It is such a source of happiness and reward for me, to see so many clients experiencing success, not only with their own personal physique goals, but many have truly “paid it forward” to others–clients, family members, spouses, friends, etc to get them involved in the lifestyle of fat loss too.  Personally, it is amazing to watch and nothing makes me feel more fulfilled on a professional level and more passionate on a personal level.

Furthermore, my reflection has ultimately brought me to a very grateful place, because I know that without the help, inspiration and mentorship I have been given from some key people in my past, I would not and could not feel nearly as satisfied and capable as I feel today.  I want to take a second to recognize and thank some people who have influenced me greatly on this journey, who have taught me, inspired me, believed in me and challenged me.  Many of them probably do not even know what an impact they had on me :) Here goes!

First and foremost, my parents who have been my biggest supporters from day 1, Mom, Paul and Dad. I cannot express the gratitude I feel for their love and guidance, not to mention the resources they provided me over the years, like a college education–and so much more!  I could not feel capable if it weren’t for them and their on-going support–my retired mom even works (for free!) for JillFit! How awesome is that!

Next up, my high school track coach, Rick Kates.  In high school, I ran track all 3 seasons (cross-country, indoor track and outdoor track) in Boston, MA where I am from.  Rick was such an important mentor for me because at an early age he believed in me and helped me to realize my athletic potential and really own it.  I won Athlete of the Year at my high school and I am sure Rick had no doubt I would end up in the fitness/sports/health field somehow!

I got my first job when I was 15 years old, as a nursery teacher IN A GYM just so I could get a free membership! Amy Webb owned the small Webb’s Pro Fitness and she gave me the job, encouraged me to learn about fitness and it was here that I fell in love with group exercise, something I would immerse myself in for the next 15 years.  I also credit Webbs with helping me put on about 10 lbs of lean muscle on each delt at 16 years old!

When I reached Wake Forest University at 18, I marched straight over to the fitness center and immediately signed up for the first-ever Instructor Training being held by the then-Fitness Coordinator, Marcille Sexton.  Marcille taught me how to teach classes–step, kick-boxing, toning, cycle, etc and eventually threw me into the personal training program as a trainer.  I am grateful for her guidance and for introducing me to something that really grounded me through my college years, teaching 5-6 classes a week for all 4 years.  My first love was step aerobics!

My first job out of college was as a Fitness Specialist with Corporate Fitness Works in downtown Washington, DC.  It was there where I met and worked with Tish Nordvall. At the time, I was a haughty/semi-rude 22 year old who thought I knew everything, embarrassing to admit.  I thought that if a guy talked to me he was obviously a jerk trying to get in my pants and I was selfishly selective to whom I gave attention.  As my new job required customer service skills, I watched how Tish interacted with anyone and everyone–she was sweet, loving and gave attention to all, indiscriminately.  This may sound like a small thing, but Tish showed me that everyone regardless of who they were deserved attention and to be treated with kindness. From Tish’s example, I learned to embrace and help anyone who asked me.  This was honestly one of the most important lessons I have learned in my life–every single person, regardless of their look, fitness level, background, socioeconomic status, etc, deserves to be treated with love, sweetness and kindness.  It is embarrassing to think that at one point I was not doing this, but I guess you don’t know what you don’t know. I am so so so grateful for this lesson and for Tish’s example.

My next job was back at Wake Forest when I was 23, as the next Fitness Coordinator, taking Marcille’s place (ironic, huh?). My new boss (and still current) was Max Floyd. Max has been a mentor for me for almost a decade now. On a professional level, he pushes me to realize my potential and always challenges me to do better and become more.  I am grateful for Max’s guidance over the years and for his constant encouragement and at times, tough love. The best mentors are the ones don’t just give you the answers but instead help you find them on your own. Max embodies this principle.

The very first fitness photo shoot I did was with the one-and-only fabulous Lisa Brewer immediately after my first show.  And though I had absolutely NO IDEA what I was doing, Lisa was the first (really credible) person who helped me feel like a real model. I am grateful because she believed in me, supported me and has been a good friend to me for the last 4 years, not to mention she helped me land 3 magazine covers!  All you future fitness models, check out my interview with Lisa on tomorrow’s blog! :)

Next up! I am so grateful to have my JillFit family along for this ride with me, my girls Jillian Teta, Tara Ballard, Emily Saunders, Kelley Vargo and Sara Baker.  They share my passion and love of fitness, nutrition and competition and they have been working unbelievably hard to help grow this little JillFit biz.  I love you girls and you inspire me everyday!!  I cannot thank you enough.

And finally, the best teacher I have ever had and continue to learn from every day is Jade Teta, my mentor, my teacher and my true love.  I met Jade when I was going through a rough time personally and Jade literally made me feel like I could do anything.  In the truest sense, he gave me wings.  Jade pulled me out from under the veil of who and what society said I needed to do or who I needed to be.  I loved fitness and was talented, yet at 24, I was headed back to school for physical therapy (a more mainstream “accepted” occupation), though my heart was not in it. Jade challenged me to pursue what I loved and allowed me be me, with zero expectations. He offered up a new way to look at relationships, which helped me mend some personal relationships with loved ones with which I was struggling, not to mention trained me 3x/week (for free! at 5am!) for my first figure competition, which I won.  Over the last 5 years, Jade has taught me so much–about myself, about business, about following your dreams, about love and about “owning my stuff” but most importantly, Jade has provided an inspirational example, as he is the most passionate individual I have ever met and simply will not stop until he has every person in the US doing Metabolic Effect! :) I respect him, love him and wake up everyday feeling lucky that we are on this crazy life journey together.

The end. Ahh, I love this blog!  And I am selfishly putting it up to share with you all lol! I am sorry if you were bored to death, I just think for me it is an important exercise to recognize and reflect on the people and experiences that have helped me grow, learn and ultimately have challenged me to be a more passionate, altruist person who can follow my dreams! A big THANK YOU!! :)

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