Name: Valerie Solomon
Occupation: Stay at Home Mom/part time personal trainer/part time entrepreneur/Creator of Busy Mom Gets Fit
With four kids and a husband deployed to Afghanistan, Val knew she would need to find a way to keep her mind and body busy. "One of the hardest things about being an Army wife is to learn to do things to make every day count, even while you are wishing days away during the deployments."
It was a pleasure interviewing Val and finding out how she became the fit and confident woman you see pictured here, how she manages her busy life, and how her family benefits from her commitment to health and fitness. She has a lot of wisdom to share... enjoy!
You were an athlete as a teenager and athletic as a young adult… how did that change when you started having kids?
I was a competitive swimmer as a teenager. I had muscle then, but I really did not appreciate it. I didn’t really want to be different. I remember being excited that my thighs got really thin a year or so after I stopped swimming and strength training. Hey, I looked like the magazine girls finally.
In my 20’s, I had 4 children. For the first 3 pregnancies, I just cut calories and did cardio to lose the baby weight. It worked, but each year that went by, I lost muscle also. I was left with a thin, size 2 body, WITH CELLULITE! Ahh! Skinny fat.
I finally decided to get back into strength training because I wanted a new hobby and I wanted to strive for a healthy athletic physique (get rid of cellulite!). I strength trained all through my 4th pregnancy. I gained about 25lbs. The pregnancy was a breeze, and I lost the weight really quickly. I attribute that to the healthy lifestyle and added muscle tone.
How and when did you get back into fitness as a mother?
In 2011, my husband was deployed for the entire year. I do not do well just sitting by and wishing days away. I decided to set some big HEALTHY goals for that year. I researched how to feed my family healthier, became a certified personal trainer, and I competed in my first Figure competition (just 13 months after baby #4 was born).
I fell in love with competing. I am not a very competitive person (with other people at least) but I love having a big goal that pushes me everyday at the gym and at home in the kitchen. I think the science of our bodies is so interesting. It is really amazing what our bodies can do with the right nourishment. I love that competing gives you a deadline to work towards. I also love that most of the women at fitness competitions are mothers and are in their 30s and 40s. Age and children are not an excuse. I love being around women that know that. …and I love the bling.
What are the most challenging things about sticking to a fitness routine with four kids? How do you overcome these challenges?
I guess the biggest challenge I have has is FOOD! I made a lot of mistakes with what I fed my kids for years, so now I am trying to undo that. They still want their chips and candy! I just take it slow, and over time they have developed and been interested in eating healthy as well. For my competition diet plan, I just plan ahead which eliminates chances of messing up. As far as my fitness routine goes, I just do not let skipping it be an option. I love it, I crave it, and taking care of myself for a little bit most days of the week makes me a better mom.
How has being an army wife shaped your life in terms of your fitness goals?
Bring an Army wife kind of pushed me into fitness. I think a lot of Army wives (and probably moms in general) feel like they give/sacrifice a lot and don't have much that they do for themselves. Fitness is a way to have a little time for yourself that gives back to your family also.
What does your husband think of your devotion to fitness? How does he show his support?
My husband and I have been together since I was the muscular 16 year old. He loved that I was fit then. He hinted a lot during the years that I didn’t work out that he wished I would. So, he was super pumped when I jumped back into it. Now he asks me for workout and diet tips. He loves the lifestyle as well, so it works out great. He is gone a lot, so we do a lot of phone talking. Fitness has given us something to talk about when there is not much else. Ha “So what did you do for leg day?!”
What is the most rewarding aspect of personal training others?
Most of my personal training clients are women similar to me… busy moms. I love spending that little bit of time with them each day teaching them how to get strong. It’s very rewarding so see their excitement over the progress and the confidence they gain.
What is the most rewarding aspect of training yourself?
The biggest rewards from training hard are the confidence I have gained. Feeling like an athlete again is priceless. I still learn new things about how hard I can push myself and my mental and physical strength all the time.
How does your family as a whole benefit from you pursuing your fitness goals?
Hopefully I have made healthy eating and exercise just seem normal for my kids. I also hope that they will learn from me (and my husband…he’s a determined fit guy!) that it is ok to go after big goals at any stage in their life. It’s ok to do things that some consider crazy or different. Be you and use your talents to help others.
What is your response to someone who says “I don’t have time to eat healthy and exercise!” ?
You can’t afford not to. There is so much research out there that shows the effects of unhealthy eating and a sedentary lifestyle. Somebody has got to make the change in each family. The mom is a pretty good place to start.
What advice do you have for someone who is trying to fit a fitness routine into their busy life?
My advice is to start small. Pick a few days a week that you can 30min of any type of cardio that you will enjoy and strength train 2 days (maybe an upper body day and a lower body day). You will find that you feel so much better on the days that you exercise. I’ve written a few articles about this. Basically, you have to decide for yourself that you are going to make it work. I could list all of the times you could fit it in (instead of sitting at kid’s soccer practice, or instead of watching TV), but ultimately you have to decide to stop making excuses for yourself and do the work. I always say, “I am the same amount of exhausted at night whether or not I worked out.” So, I might as well make the healthy choice.
As our Fashlete of the Month Val will be receiving a customized sterling silver charm of her choice. Val chose the word "empower"... a perfect choice for someone who has empowered herself, her family, and so many other women through her personal training services and website.
Be sure to check out Val's website, BusyMomGetsFit.com for more workout tips, diet advice, and lots of motivation.