Today I have a special treat and this interview is perfect timing for this season of the year. Read (when I am packing on the pounds from eating way too much mashed potatoes, and chili with cornbread drizzeled with honey). Fall is finally starting to feel like fall and the desire to wrap up and hibernate has been creeping in my bones for a few weeks now. When my favorite leggings started to feel a wee bit snug, I knew it was time to call on my personal fitness boss mama so she can whip my butt into shape going into the holidays. I want to introduce you to the efferverscent and joyful Ali Harper Wittorf. This girl has more happiness in her little pinky finger than most people will ever dream of. Her raw honesty gives me chills sometimes when she shares her struggles, triumphs, challenges and wins about everything from motherhood, fitness, running a business, mental clarity to just life in general. This gal is the real deal and I am so excited to share her story with you all on this post.
Tell us a little bit about your business.
I’m a lifestyle fitness coach and mentor, helping women choose wellness and nutrition programs that work with their busy schedules and lives. I lead online fitness accountability challenge groups for people who need support in reaching their health, weight loss and wellness goals. My goal is to help them have a transformation from the inside out, to become the strong, enabled woman they know they are. Another aspect of my job is that I mentor the women on my team by teaching them how to run their own coaching business, which I love!
To give you a little context about how this all came to be, after becoming a mom I went back to work as a full-time photographer when my son was just 4 months old. I traveled most weekends for my business, and being away from him was not only hard on me, it was hard our family as a whole, as my husband and I were never able to co-parent. During this time I was struggling with postpartum depression, dealing with pain and complications from an unplanned c-section, not able to lose the weight I had gained during pregnancy and simply having a difficult time navigating the world as an “older mom”. A friend of mine approached me about trying out an at-home workout program to help me on my journey, and it was at that moment my life and my family’s lives were forever changed. After completing the fitness program (called 21 Day Fix by Beachbody) and truly transforming myself, I took the plunge to become a coach so that I too, could empower women through nutrition and daily exercise.
What was the best moment in your career so far?
I have to say it happened while I was training for my first marathon last year. It was a long run, and I had a lot on my mind… I was truly worried about where I was going with my career, if I had done the right thing by leaving behind my wedding photography business. It was at that moment that I realized I never really did “leave” it, just as I never left my prior careers in design; everything that I had learned was still with me and could be applied to what I was doing now. There’s a quote that I had found that says,
“Find three hobbies you love: one that makes you money, one to keep you in shape, and one to be creative.” I kept coming back to that and realized that being a fitness coach offered me all of those things in one job.
I could still be creative and use my photography and marketing background as my differentiator. So as soon I as I walked in the door from my run, I went straight to the computer and bought the domain “Chase Your Happy”. It was at the moment my business truly took off because I simply let myself be myself.
What is your best tip for managing work and personal life?
Set your business hours. As a work-at-home-mom, I find that I have to squeeze in work hours in very odd times of the day and it’s easy to allow it to bleed into other areas such as family time.
I literally have a calendar printed out next to my computer that identifies hours for work, workouts, runs, family time and date nights.
It’s not always easy and I don’t always get it right, but if I didn’t have my hours mapped out I wouldn’t be present in any activity I do.
What is the hardest business lesson you ever learned?
To do things before I’m ready. There are so many moving parts in this business and I thought I could stop them, take a step back and perfect them. Sadly I missed out on so much the first 6 months in the business when I was doing it that way and I should have (and could have) just gone for it! I now realize that perfection doesn’t move the needle. Effort does.
What are three things every boss babe should have for success?
- A tribe and/or a mentor in your business. I would be lost without the incredible women on my team who not only inspire me, but who ask me the hard questions about where I want to take my business. A mentor will push you into uncomfortable places, which in turn will help you grow, and a tribe will be there to help lift you up along the way.
- An awesome task management system to get it all done! I’m personally loving Trello right now, because I can see the visual flow of my to-do list.
- Unfortunately, you’ll need a really thick skin.
I cannot tell you how many “no’s” I get on a daily basis, or friends who question what I’m doing… and that’s ok! I’ve learned that with every “no” or question, I get to dig a little deeper, which in turn builds my confidence.
What are some words you live by?
“Choose to be happy”. I actually had a giant poster created of this quote and hung it in the hallway. It is the first thing you see when you open the door to our home. My best friend lost her husband to cancer last year, and it was his wish to her and their two young sons. He lived his life — even through illness — in the most inspiring, loving and happiest of ways. I love seeing those words every day, and I try my hardest to choose happiness daily, no matter what cards life deals me.
What is the best advice anyone ever gave you?
“If you don’t enjoy the journey, it’s not worth doing.” My husband told me this many moons ago, and it has never left me. As a marathoner, I tend to focus on the end result. What I’ve come to realize is that all those training hours that I put into getting to the finish line are the moments that make getting the medal so worth it. It applies perfectly to work and life: the journey is what changes and defines you, not the reward.
What is something that you can do really well?
Does pour a stiff drink count? I’m also really good at hide and seek because I’m only 5 feet tall. Short person advantage for the win!
What is your guilty pleasure?
I cannot believe I’m telling you this, but I do play Candy Crush for about 10 minutes every night before I go to bed. It helps me shut down the to-do list in my mind.
Early riser or night owl?
Early riser. The alarm goes off at 5am every day to either start work or to go for a 3-4 miler. It’s my “me” time.
Coffee or tea?
Coffee with a splash of almond milk.
Go to cocktail?
I just started following Stephanie Rothstein (@stephrothstein) who is a professional runner for Oiselle, working towards Olympic goals while suffering from celiac disease. She also is a mom coming back to training after the birth of her second child. Her posts strike such a chord with me as a mom, and runner and a gluten-free “foodie”. She’s so candid about her body post birth as a woman and an athlete. It’s authentic, eye opening and incredible refreshing to see the other side of the story, the one that rarely gets told.
What advice would you want to give to a room full of women business owners?
Have you read the book “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek? Life changing.
Knowing your “why” – in all aspects of your life — is key. Your “why” is the thing that compels you to take all those small steps towards your goals. It’s your story… and your story is unique. People don’t want to know what you do, they want to know why you do it. So know your “why” and share it unapologetically.
Where can we find you?
Lot’s of places!
• Join my tribe on FB: facebook.com/coachaliwittorf
• Follow along on Instagram: @aliharper
• Peruse my blog for fitness and nutrition tips, recipes, and motivation: http://www.chaseyourhappy.com