As part of my new web series, The Role Model In You, here is my most recent interview. The Role Model In You series discusses how individuals were influenced as a child to lead a healthy lifestyle. It covers who influenced these individuals, the changes they made in their life to be healthy, and the message they would like to convey to the youth of today. Our guests include doctors, soccer stars, Super Bowl champions, NBA players, Olympic gold medalist, entrepreneurs, celebrities, and just regular people looking to share their story. I hope you enjoy it!
1. Your name, title, and age? What do you do (or did you do) for a living?
Laura Williams, M.S.Ed., Founder/CEO of GirlsGoneSporty, 30 years old; Currently I manage and run the GirlsGoneSporty website, dedicated to helping women and teens pursue an active, healthy lifestyle. In addition to my work on GirlsGoneSporty, I’m a freelance writer and editor. Prior to taking the leap to self-employment I managed fitness and recreation centers for eight years.
2. Who was the person that inspired you as a child to eat healthy and stay fit? What was their relationship to you?
I was lucky to have parents that valued fitness, sports and healthy eating. By prioritizing a healthy lifestyle, they set a solid example for us kids. Later in life, after high school, I stopped exercising and was eating poorly. It was right around then that I met my husband, and he held fitness and nutrition in such high esteem, that it reiterated the good habits I acquired growing up and helped me get back on track.
3. What did they do to inspire you?
I remember my dad challenging me when I was only about six years old to see how fast I could run a mile, promising me $20.00 the first time I could run it under eight minutes. It took years for me to reach that goal, but I finally did.
All of us kids were encouraged to play sports, and by default, we were served healthy meals at home. My dad was always running, cycling and trying new activities like windsurfing, which was such a good example for us to see. Similarly, my mom’s walks and swims were such a priority to her that it was clear that no matter what else was going on in our lives, our own health should always be important.
That kind of early influence helped significantly once I was old enough to make my own food and lifestyle decisions. But, that doesn’t mean I didn’t “fall off the wagon” of healthy living. When I graduated high school, I was done playing competitive sports and I started taking advantage of the freedom to eat what I wanted. I put on some weight and wasn’t feeling happy, but didn’t really have the motivation to start up my own workout plan. It was then that I met my to-be husband, and his internal motivation inspired me. Seeing him hit the gym, track and field (he was a D1 baseball player) gave me the inspiration I needed to start exercising and eating right again.
4. How did their lesson change your life?
Not only did the inspiration of my parents and husband make me a healthier, happier person, it also changed the course of my career. After discovering my personal motivation and love for fitness, I decided to pursue a career in the field. I received my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in exercise and sport science and managed fitness, aquatics and recreation centers for eight years. Now my passion is sharing my knowledge and voice with other women who enjoy living the active, sporty life. Everything I do found its foundation in the inspiration I received from my parents and husband.
5. Do you convey their message to kids in your life presently?
I’m not currently around kids that much, although when I was working in fitness and recreation management, I regularly helped coach youth basketball teams and swim lessons, which was an extension of the things my parents did for me. But, my entire life’s work is a reflection of what my parents instilled in me and how they helped shape my life. Every time I write an article on healthy lifestyle choices for women and teens, it’s in part because of the inspiration they gave me to pursue an active, healthy lifestyle myself.
6. What would be your main message to children today to lead healthy lifestyles?
Find an activity that you love, and pursue it wholeheartedly. Just because your friends are playing soccer or running track, doesn’t mean that that’s the right choice for you. Experiment – take a hike, get your parents to take you to a rock climbing gym, go kayaking as a family. When you find something that makes you smile, stick with it! And, always remember that food is fuel. Healthy foods may not have the same draw as fast food hamburgers and candy, but they taste delicious in their own way, so don’t be afraid to test them out. Just remember – try to appreciate them for their own flavors and textures, rather than comparing them to other foods.
7. Do you have a web site you would like to promote….web address only?