Hi there! I’m Ali — a wife & mom, photographer and gluten-free foodie. Lot’s of things, really. But never did I expect to add fitness enthusiast or runner to that list!

At 41 weeks pregnant I was diagnosed with macrosomia, the doctor claiming that our baby would be born ranging anywhere from 9 to 13 pounds. Since I was 5 feet tall, gained over 45 pounds with pregnancy, and was nearing 40 years old, everyone from my trusted team of midwives to friends and family members became very frightened with this news, including myself. I quickly lost trust in my plan of delivering naturally and drug-free, which I had so thoughtfully prepared for. Two days after the doctor gave me this diagnosis I was scheduled to deliver, and we had a beautiful, healthy, almost 10 pound baby boy via c-section. I spent three excrutiating days in the hospital with pain so intense I lost consciousness multiple times simply while holding my day-old child in my arms. I had trouble connecting with my son and enjoying those first moments with him. Months followed and I still needed help getting out of bed — physically and mentally.

After the cloud lifted I was determined to regain the strength that was taken from me that day in the hospital. Little did I know I would need a lot of help to do so. Learning how to work out, to run, to do anything physical was agonizing. Knowing where to start, what to do or how to do it was overwhelming.

Thankfully someone reached out to me and showed me that I didn’t have to do it alone. Because of that, almost a year later, I lost all the baby weight and more (over 50 pounds!), ran my first marathon, and learned how to fuel my body through food. But most importantly, I now look at my scar with pride knowing that while it wasn’t my choice, it is the thing that allowed me to discover how strong of a person I can be — for myself and for my family. I have found a community of support that allows me to set goals I never thought were achievable, which in turn helps me choose happiness daily.

I live in a beautiful, sustainably-focused community in Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia, across the street from an organic farm, with my husband, two year old son and rescue-pup. I spend many days running the dirt roads training for races, visiting the farm animals along the way, with the ultimate goal of filling my heart and mind with gratitude.

My hope is that by sharing my personal fitness journey — the struggles, the outtakes, as well as tips and ideas I’ve found along the way — you will connect with something inside yourself to help you on your way to chasing your happy, whatever that may be.

What does “chase your happy” mean? I came upon this saying during one of my long training runs. It occurred to me that for the first time I was finally allowing myself to go after big goals, and truly to dream again. I have found that as new moms, we quickly take on many roles & tasks that remove us from ourselves, our desires and our needs. Through running and focusing on my fitness journey, I’m allowing myself the space to explore the things that make me personally happy, beyond motherhood.

Why subscribe? What will you be blogging about? I’ll be writing about my personal journey with fitness and running, how to take small steps that make big a difference in your wellness, what coaching-life is all about, my attempts at creating gluten-free recipes, and a peek into my daily life as a wife, mom and photographer.

What do you REALLY do for a living? I am a coach through Beachbody, which to me, is really like being your biggest cheerleader. I also am a photographer by trade, focusing on food and lifestyle editorial work. I spend most days working on my health and fitness goals, sharing and photographing my journey (which includes lot of beautiful food), while teaching others how to create new healthy habits and personal goals for themselves. I also mentor others who want to build their own coaching business.

Did you seriously run a marathon? How did you do it? I sure did! I started my journey with running only 18 months ago (6 months after my son was born), never having run more than a mile before that. Over time I began to love the sport of running so I signed up for a few races. I started by being “dared” to run a Ragnar, which was my first real race and relay. I have since run two Ragnars, a handful of 5 and 10ks, 2 half marathons and just completed 26.2 at the 2016 Run Disney Marathon. None of this happened overnight, it was an uphill battle and I learned a lot along the way. Mainly I discovered that running required being healthy from the inside out — and I needed to make some nutritional changes and take on some cross-training if I wanted to enjoy it! Specifically, I started out by learning how to fuel my body through food (thank you 21 Day Fix!), drinking a superfood protein smoothie daily (Shakeology), and working out at least 5 days a week. My favorite cross-training programs are 21 Day Fix & 21 Day Fix Extreme (I lost the last 7 pounds of baby weight in 21 days doing this!), PiYo (helped with stretching those tight hamstrings after long runs), and T25 (helped my core get stronger so I could get faster). I am currently training with Hammer & Chisel so that I can get stronger in my weakest areas, my glutes and hamstrings, and I am confident this program will help keep me running pain-free. Most importantly, to accomplish any of this I knew I needed to train my mind and become a more positive thinker to go the distance of a marathon, which is where my accountability group comes into play. I couldn’t have completed any of these programs without this support — I call it the game-changer, the secret-sauce, the bees to my knees! I now lead these groups that I fell in love with so that I can help others learn how to create really big goals (like completing a marathon, losing that last 10/30/50 pounds of baby weight, creating better habits in the kitchen) and crush them. Learn more here!

How old are you? Never ask that. I kid, I kid. I’m proud to say I’m 40, the healthiest I’ve ever been and on the path to getting even stronger.

How long have you been coaching? I signed up as a coach in April 2015.

Wait, so you make money coaching? Like, an income? I was surprised to learn this too when I signed up! I really just wanted to share my love (really, shout from the rooftops) of what I found was working for me. Then I found out I can do that AND make a living. It’s an awesome win-win. And while I’m not a huge fan of talking about dollars, I am a huge fan of being transparent. Currently, coaching supports me and my family in more ways than one.

Can I use one of your photos I found on your site? I love sharing content and ideas, and I’m happy for you to share any of my stories you find here on your Facebook page, but please, credit me as the author. Same thing goes for Pinterest or Instagram! Just remember, the content I create is all copyrighted by me (unless otherwise specified) and reposting them as your own is in violation of copyright. But I know you know this.