Hey everyone! I am so excited to bring back my Finding Fitness series after missing last month! Let me introduce you to Shannon from Tough Mom Fitness. I love her story and her focus on showing a healthy lifestyle to her kids!
Background: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself? I help moms find their fabulous. With short, but efficient, workouts and practical nutrition advice I work with moms so they can reach their goals without sacrificing precious family time. I’m a personal trainer and I’m also certified as a health coach. I’m an aspiring entrepreneur working on starting up a 1-on-1 online coaching business along with partnerships in my local community. On the personal side of things, I was born and raised in western Massachusetts. I married a [now former] Marine and we’ve lived in all corners of the US over the course of the last 10 years. We’re currently living in a small town near Savannah, GA. We have 3 daughters under the age of 8 and a lazy rescue dog. I live for coffee & running and I have a serious sweet tooth. I love reading and being outdoors.
How did your fitness journey start? What motivated the change? Along with that, what has kept you interested? After my first daughter was born I found myself carrying 25 extra pounds. I went back and forth with diets and exercise but didn’t stick with anything long enough to see results. That same weight was hanging around after my second daughter was born. By the time she was 2.5 years old I’d had enough with what I saw in the mirror. My husband deployed and I got to work on loving myself and making changes. Of course, he came home from deployment and I got pregnant again! After she was born I got to work losing the baby weight as soon as I was cleared to do so. The biggest thing that keeps me motivated is the love I have for myself. I don’t ever want to be back in that unhealthy spot – not in my mind or in my body. My girls also keep me motivated because they all mimic everything I do. Finally, my desire to enjoy my future with my husband is another motivator.
What has been your biggest challenge in your fitness journey and how have you dealt with it? Three months after our 3rd daughter was born my husband deployed for about 7 months. I was working full time at a non-profit at the time and the kids were 3 months old, 3 years old, and 5 years old. I had to figure out how to reach my fitness goals when my life was in chaos. I did it though. I lost 30lbs through home workouts. I had to get up before the kids to get my workouts in (I still do!). I also learned the importance of meal prep so I could make sure that I was eating right.
Have you had any setbacks since starting your fitness journey? If so, how did you deal with them? We’ve moved 3 times in just over 2 years. Each move brings plenty of stress and I’m an emotional eater. With each of the moves I give myself the grace to do what I need to do in order to keep my sanity. Then I get right back on track as soon as I can. Usually I don’t stray far. At this point, eating well and working out are so engrained in my life that I can’t get off track for too long. But by allowing myself grace instead of beating myself up I’m in a much better place mentally.
What achievement are you the most proud of? Having the courage to step away from a job I was unhappy in and studying to become a certified personal trainer. That was 14 months ago and there’s no way I could have imagined that at this point we’d be living in another state and I’d be starting my own business. Many positive changes have come from that one decision. Oh wait, can I have 2? Back in November I ran a half marathon. By myself – not in a race – just to prove to myself that I could do it.
Outside of the physical, what have been some significant changes brought on by your fitness journey? The shift in my mindset. I’m happier now. I love myself now – flaws and all. I have more energy. I have a positive outlook on life. After going through the changes myself I now talk about the importance of mindset all the time.
What are you working towards now? What are your goals and dreams, fitness-wise? Right now I’m working on building my butt. It’s always been flat so I’m working on giving it some definition! Other than that I’d like to run a half marathon again, but this time in a real race.
What does a typical training week look like? I workout 6 days a week. Some days have more training than others. I do resistance/strength training 4 days a week. Usually 1 day focuses on my upper body, 1 day on my lower body, and 2 days on full body. Then 2 days a week I do HIIT workouts. Finally, I run 5 days a week. The mileage varies depending on if the older kids are in school or if they’re riding their bikes with me.
What does an average day of eating look like for you? I start the day with a full bottle of water after my workout. My breakfast is either overnight oats or eggs & veggies of some sort with coffee. I drink a protein shake around mid-morning because we’re usually on the go. Lunch is whatever I’ve prepped for the week. I try to keep it interesting so I change it weekly. In the afternoon I eat Greek yogurt and fruit with my coffee. Dinners vary but always contain a protein + starch + veggie.
Do you take any supplements? If so, could you tell us a little about what ones and why? If not, why not? I try to take supplements that add to or enhance what I eat, not replace it. With that said, I take the following supplements. Cranberry pills for recurring UTI issues. Probiotics for gut health. Biotin for hair, skin, and nails. Calcium because I don’t drink milk and want to be sure my intake is adequate.
What is your favorite exercise? Your least favorite? Running is my favorite by far. Least favorite would have to be balance exercises because I’m really not good at them.
What do you do if you find your motivation lacking? I remind myself of my “why” – the reason(s) that I’m doing this. I also look to see if I need to switch up my workouts due to boredom or my body adapting.
How do you balance fitness with work/life/social/etc? How do you “find the time” to workout? I workout in the morning before anyone else in my house is awake. This not only helps me fit it in, but it helps me start the day with a clear mind. My workouts only take 30 minutes so it’s really not that difficult to fit in. When I run it’s typically only for 30-45 minutes as well. That’s a total of an hour – totally doable. For me, if I’m not exercising and eating right then my life isn’t balanced. I’m a stay at home mom and I’m trying to start a business from home. I give of myself all day long so not taking time for myself isn’t an option.
What are your top 3 tips for someone just starting their fitness journey? I actually have a post that outlines the 5 Steps to Creating Healthy Habits. From this, my top 3 are:
- Focus on one change at a time. When we decide that it’s time to change we often want to go all in. That’s absolutely the wrong way to approach it. While it may work for a few weeks you’re really just setting yourself up for failure. Without easing into a new life you’re going to get overwhelmed and burn yourself out.
- At the end of each week take a look back at what you did. What worked? What didn’t? What should you keep doing and what should you stop? Did you stress-eat ice cream 3 times this week? Then you should probably find a way to combat stress that doesn’t involve food. By doing this weekly you’re able to stay on top of your habits.
- Give yourself a month. Changes don’t happen overnight. We live in a world where everyone wants results yesterday. There is no magic pill or shake to make the weight drop quickly and stay off. Losing weight, getting fit, changing your nutrition…it all takes time. This is supposed to be a lifestyle.
Anything else you want to share? I’m most active on Instagram and share a lot on Instagram Stories. I’ve recently started a group on Facebook for like-minded women to gather for support, accountability, and advice. I generally cater to moms but any woman is welcome to join us! We’re just getting started and building the group so if you’re interested you can request to join the Tough Mom Tribe.
Sara here again: Thank you Shannon for sharing your story! I hope you all found it as inspiring as I did!
Shannon Dombkowski helps moms find their fabulous. She’s a certified health coach, personal trainer, wellness educator, mom of 3 girls + one lazy dog, blogger and the girlboss behind Tough Mom Fitness. Her passion is helping moms adopt and sustain a healthy lifestyle by making time for moving and nourishing their bodies while improving their mindset. She shares her tips on her blog and various social media sites. You can follow along on her blog, Instagram, and Facebook.