Illustrating yet again that the world is small, I recently made the acquaintance of one Courtney Klop, with whom I not only share a number of friends, but who is also a health and fitness expert and enthusiast who had recently returned to the U.S. following a lengthy jaunt to southern, Spanish-speaking climes. So it seemed like a perfect opportunity for another interview.
Courtney runs the online coaching program Health for Happiness. In her own words:
“I have so many interests in this life, but my top passions lie in a holistic blend of fitness, food, yoga, roller skating & travel. I believe in natural health & loving yourself. I grew up in a farm town about an hour north of Seattle raised on white bread, meat, & potatoes. I have quite a variety of tools in my belt, including an AOS in Culinary Arts, my CPT via NASM & my 200hr YTT. I’ve come a long way in life, I’ve learned so much, & I will always be learning, growing, & sharing with everyone around me. Healthy living is a lifestyle, a habit you must patiently cultivate. There’s no secret: it may not be easy, but it will absolutely be worth it. You can count on me to help guide & inspire your journey, so we can ride this roller coaster of life together!”
So without further ado…
Can you tell us a little bit about Health for Happiness?
Heath for Happiness is the business I started in 2014 when I decided I wanted to travel the world & be an online personal trainer. That transformed quite a bit with my travels/life experiences & in just two years I have transitioned my business title to Online Wellness Lifestyle Coach. My passion, that lies within my business, is helping people live truly happy & healthy lives. I want to show & teach people how to tune in to their bodies & communicate effectively with the world around them so they can feel comfortable in the skin they are in. There is no right/wrong, no judgement, just the underlying belief that we all deserve to live a life that we love & that true happiness starts from taking care of yourself first.
What are the biggest challenges you faced when launching you business?
I think the biggest challenge has been sticking to it.
For me, I never really had a thought like, “Do you want to open your own business?” I just kind of knew that I didn’t want to work for anyone else & I wanted to set my own hours. Plus, when I decided to go traveling I really wanted to still work, which is when I launched my online biz. It certainly takes a lot of freaking work & sacrifice to get your own biz up & going at all, let alone off the ground. For the all the reasons I just mentioned, it can make it insanely challenging to stick to it and show up every single day. It can be easy to lose sight of what you want & start doing other things, because perhaps you don’t feel like things are working or just aren’t picking up.
However, in launching your own business I think it’s important to remember that nothing is going to happen over night, nothing may even happen in the first year – or couple years!! You must find a deep passionate reason to keep going. For me, it’s the overwhelming joy & gratitude I feel everyday in helping people change their lives for the better.
How did your journey into health and fitness start?
Oh my, where to start with my journey….I did not grow up around sports, fitness, or anything really of the like. In fact, in high school I wore sweat pants most days & was convinced I could get through life without fitness. So funny to think back on!
Instead of university, I attended school for culinary arts in 2009 & gained probably 20 pounds, therefore I would say my journey really started with weight loss in 2011 after I graduated & was working in the industry for about a year. I had just turned 21 & wasn’t feeling happy with myself. I worked diligently to lose ~15 pounds over that summer & wanted to show others that they could do it too.
I applied for a 6-month personal training school that Fall & was graduated by March 2012. I got more into the food, & what I would call the actual health side of things, in 2012 when I started seeing a naturopath due to a prolonged shoulder injury & a co-worker turned me onto the Whole30. This quickly developed into healing my body with food, & then kind of turned into this whole self love, loving life & loving others type thang. Like an unfolding, I guess you could say.
Come June 2014 I dropped everything to follow my heart & go travel, that’s when I really started getting back into my yoga practice & completed my YTT in March 2015 in Costa Rica. Then I came home in April because I was running out of money. Unsure what to do with myself & my at the time not-so-thriving business, I came across this amazing opportunity where I could help others both physically & financially, while working on myself at the same time. So this year has been full throttle business mode, I’m working diligently on that while still saving to travel more. Ultimate goal is still travel often & work from anywhere 🙂
Do you have any specific health or fitness goals that you’re working toward at the moment?
Each month I like to take some time to reflect & change up my routine/goals, while sticking to a well-rounded approach. In September I am giving full focus to my yoga practice as the fitness side of things, as yoga is sure to help me tune in to myself, find my breath, practice some meditation, & really slow down in our very fast paced world -which I think is very important! I am also working on getting on top of my food intake. I need to be eating more throughout the day & being consistent in meal planning/prepping. Not so coincidentally, these are also what we’re working on this month in my Online Wellness Group.
How does a person go about building a healthier lifestyle? What are a few of the first steps?
I think the very first step in building a healthier lifestyle for yourself is realizing that you aren’t comfortable where you are in your life at this very moment & knowing that you are ready & willing to make a change. To know that it may not be easy, but you’re going to do it anyway, because it will be worth it in the end. Whatever the reason may be, there is a reason why you want to even start building a healthier lifestyle in the first place. I believe you need to get real with yourself & dig deep to find a real reason WHY. These reasons vary from person to person, they get extremely personal, but one ultimate reason that I like to point out to people is to feel comfortable in your own skin & live an authentic life.
When you realize you want to make a change & you know why, I think it’s important to find at least one like-minded individual to help you on your journey. Perhaps this is a workout buddy, someone you can check in with, someone with similar goals as you, or just someone who you can tell your struggles to. Accountability is key in success. I don’t know specific statistics, but I think it’s safe to say most people fail to reach their goals because they didn’t have a support system. They didn’t have someone to remind them WHY they got started. Surprisingly, or not, it’s easy to lose sight of that.
Once you know you want to get started, why you are doing this, & who is going to help you on your way, then you just have to start doing something! It could be fitness based, it could be focused on your diet – whatever you decide to do, plan, make realistic goals, & track your progress along the way!
What do you think is the biggest challenge that stands in the way of health, and how can it be overcome?
I think the biggest challenge that stands in the way of health is the relationship with food we have as a whole nation/society. I don’t feel like we have properly grounded traditions centered around food, our portions are out of control, & we have the mainstream media constantly changing its mind, telling us what to eat & what not to eat. It’s confusing as heck! To overcome this, I recommend that you slow down & take a deep breath first.
Chances are if you are over the age of 16 you do have a decent idea of what eating healthy or eating to nourish your body actually looks like/means. You know pizza, fast food, soda pop, candy – all that stuff is not good for you. Whether you know the extent of it or not doesn’t really matter, it’s just about starting somewhere. Use your body as it’s own science experiment. Cut out soda for a month & notice how you feel when you start to drink it again. Do the same with all the other foods in your diet. Start asking yourself questions & tuning in – How do you feel when you’re finished eating? How do you feel an hour later? How is your mood affected? Do you feel tired & run down or energetic & uplifted?
Focusing on food is freaky to people. We have tons of totally bizarre very deep wired triggers around food in our brains. It’s admittedly a very hard habit to change & will most likely be a life long journey. Overcome it with your mindset. Perhaps you’ve heard one of my favorite sayings – whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.
What are a few things a person can do to experience a higher level of happiness quickly?
If you’re looking for serious change, then right off the bat I suggest tuning in to the voice in your head & paying attention to how you talk to yourself. We are our own worst critics, however we do not deserve to be talked to by ourselves in a manner that we would never talk to anyone else that we care about. You spend all day, every day with yourself. Treat yourself like your own best friend. Be understand, be kind & considerate, give yourself a compliment from time to time.
Others tips…Try to just be yourself. Accept who you are & love that person. You don’t need other people’s approval or judgement, so stop seeking it & stop judging yourself & other people. Doing that, though it is also a practice, is the most freeing thing I have ever done for myself. Of course there is finding what feels good & tapping into that regularly. What makes you laugh? What music makes you want to dance? Where do you like to go outside that makes you smile?
What is your definition of a nutritious diet?
My definition of a nutritious diet would have to be primarily eating only foods that nourish your body. Real, whole, non-processed foods that come from nature. These come from the earth & are not altered or changed by man. They don’t typically have ingredients; they are the ingredients. Might sound easy enough, however this is actually incredibly challenging when you factor in how our modern day food is designed to keep us wanting more, whereas real, whole foods make you feel full & satisfied.
Working out at home vs. working out in the gym – what’s your opinion?
I used to be a gym only lover – I worked out & worked at the gym. The atmosphere motivated me, it was a kind of zen space, I found inspiration, felt a part of a community & met some incredible people. I never thought I would transition to only working out at home, working online, & loving every minute of it, but that is where I am today! I think it’s important to find what works for you, what you like, & always leave yourself open to the ability to surprise yourself & try new things.
What kind of equipment or gear do you recommend for someone who is new to working out? How about someone who is more seasoned?
To someone who is new to working out I really do not believe that you need any equipment. I think its important to start with what you have & that is your body weight. Using your body is an incredibly effective way to build the foundation you need for success when it comes to health/fitness. It will help set you up to getting in tune with your body more, learn what you can/can’t do right now, & most importantly prevent injuries.
As you get more seasoned with fitness it really comes to personal preference. I think a good couple items to have as you move up on your goals would be a stability ball, maybe a light & medium dumbbell set (easily found at your local thrift shop), perhaps a yoga mat & some bands too.
Do you foresee any changes happening in the health and fitness industry, or in the way people think about and pursue health in general?
The health & fitness industry is ever changing, with that as well as previously mentioned, our mainstream society is always jumping on “the next hottest thing” which tends to change the way people think about & pursue health. There’s something new everyday if you are looking for it. However, I do feel as though there is a shift in the air these days & I can only hope that we continue to tune in & find what works for each of us as individuals & move forward in the pursuit of living our own long, happy, & healthy lives, together.
What’s your #1 health tip?
If I could give you just one single tip – drink lots of water every single day.
If I could give you one more tip – laugh often & laugh fully, from your belly, with joy & never lose the ability to laugh at yourself!