#LETSCHAT: Meet Joanne Encarnacion of @GoFitJo

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Last Fall I introduced a series of interviews called #LETSCHAT with the amazing women that inspire me. This weekly series is based on incredible, strong and empowering individuals that inspire me through health and wellness. They are people that have made an impact on my life, big and small, that motivate me to be a better version of me, and I hope they can inspire you as well. Happy Sunday, friends!! Have you been enjoying this series as much as I have? Each week, I've been shining the spotlight on someone that we all love in the health and wellness community or someone that we might not know too much about. This week I'm bringing you an interview with someone you have to follow ASAP if you don't already do!

Meet Joanne "Jo" Encarnacion of @GoFitJo! I'm slightly biased to loving all things Jo partially because she's from my home area (heyyy, Bay Area!) and is bold enough to rock blue hair (she makes me miss mine!), but also because she is is a real inspiration and role model. She is the embodiment of all things women should be: smart, strong, loving, bad-ass, an unshakable go-getter.

When I first connected with Jo on Instagram last Fall, I was impressed by her, and her feed. Jo keeps it real 100% with sharing her health journey through inspiring posts and images. She is very much an inspiration to me and role model. I feel so lucky to have been able to connect with Jo, and I hope she sparks some inspiration in you!

So, let's get started...

VF: TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF: WHAT DO YOU DO, LOCATION, HOBBIES...

JE: Some days I wonder if the question should be “what don’t you do?” hahaha. My name is Joanne Encarnacion, I’m a wife, a mother hustler to two beautiful young queens, and holistic health advocate fighting to change the conversation we have around the two-dimensional perspective we have on health and fitness. I’m a certified holistic health and nutrition coach based, and the founder of GOFITJO, a lifestyle, and fitness blog. My hobbies include wine tasting, hanging with my daughters, and spending Sunday nights watching all our favorite shows with my husband. We’re professional photographers so at one point photography was a hobby, but we’re so grateful we’ve been able to turn it into a business over the past 8 years.

VF: WHAT GOT YOU INTO HEALTH + FITNESS?

JE: Depression got me into health and fitness. On paper, I had it all. I was married, two healthy and growing kids, and a career that was flourishing. There was nothing I could’ve complained about because ultimately my life was blessed. Over 4 years ago I was really depressed and for the 2nd time in my life, suicidal thoughts were present during this time. It was dark and it was really bad. There were moments where I remember hanging with my family, watching my two daughters laugh and play and their genuine joy couldn’t connect to my heart. My depression got so bad that I distanced myself from my husband without realizing that the way I was feeling about my out of shape body was pushing away the things I loved. It wasn’t until I was getting ready for a day out with the family. My eldest daughter, who was 9 at the time, looked at me as we both were getting ready in her room and she said “Mom, you’re so beautiful.” I quickly turned and said, “No. I’m fat and ugly,” in the same tone us grown women do this with our girlfriends while trying on clothes in the dressing room. The look on her face was one I’ll never forget. It was as if I ripped out the truth she knew about the one woman she truly looked up to become in this world. Me. It was that moment that I realized I was depressed because of the woman I was becoming. I was out of shape and unable to run after my kids at the park and I was only 29. It was a feeling I never thought I would allow myself to get to, but one that was becoming my reality. Two weeks after that I decided it was time to get my life together so that I can start living a happier and healthier life.

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VF: WHAT IS YOUR FITNESS SECRET?

JE: I really don’t know if I have one.

VF: WHAT IS YOUR MANTRA/WORDS TO LIVE BY?

JE: “Better than yesterday, stronger for tomorrow.” It’s a reminder to always aim for progress and not perfection.

VF: I'M INSPIRED BY YOU AND YOUR JOURNEY. YOU ARE VERY REAL ABOUT IT, WHICH IS WHAT I LOVE ABOUT YOU. WHAT OR WHO INSPIRES YOU?

JE: I truly find inspiration everywhere I go. But today when I was at the gym, I took a quick look around me and there was no sight of people who looked like fitness models. There were people in their late 50s and 60s who I see every morning I’m at the gym working on their health, smiling, and sweating at the same time. There was a couple who were both clearly over 300lbs fighting hard to get back in shape so that they could live a long life together. That sight to me was so inspiring because here we are in our youths trying to get the perfect body and for them, they are just trying to stay or redefine healthily. It seriously was a beautiful thing.

VF: BEING A MOM, DO YOU FIND IT HARD TO FIND BALANCE AND TIME TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF? WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER MOMS?

JE: YES! It is really hard at times to remember to put yourself before others so that you can serve them to the best of your own capacity. But then I remember what they tell you on an airplane about your oxygen mask, “Put it on first before helping others.” It’s that simple act of being able to say “my personal needs matter” that can be a challenge to actually put into action, but it’s so vital. For all you mothers and women out there I think it’s important to remember that balance looks completely different on others and what looks like balance to you, may not the be the same as others.

VF: ON INSTAGRAM AND ON YOUR BLOG, YOU SHARE MANY EMPOWERING POSTS. WHAT PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUR FORMER SELF BEFORE STARTING YOUR FITNESS JOURNEY IN 2013?

JE: Looking back at all now, I would tell her, “You are going to change. Embrace it. Own it! You’ve worked too hard to remain the same, so when others or even if your old critical self-starts to whisper words of self-doubt, be kind to them and tell them to hush…”

VF: TELL US YOUR MOST PERFECT DAY. HOW WOULD YOU SPEND IT? WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

JE: My most perfect day would be to wake up at 5AM (I know I sound like a masochist), get my workout in, head home after grabbing a coffee or a grocery run, back at my desk by 9AM and barrel through some work. Then end my day at 4PM, dinner starts at 5:30PM, and the kids head to bed with zero complaints, fighting, and back talking. I’m in bed by 9PM ready to relive it all over again, free of SNAFUs. All of this would also need to take place in an island home.

VF: OK, NOW, WHAT IS YOUR DAY REALLY LIKE?

JE: Well...I wake up around 6:30AM/7AM. My kids are up so I’m often derailed by their morning antics. I head to the gym by about 8:30/9am, done by around 10/11AM, and starting my day just before lunch. By the time the kids get home, I’m still buried with studying or work so I’ve gotta juggle all the interruptions on top of all of the other things that are happening in my day. Dinner isn’t until 6:30/7PM and everyone is still winging it in my house doing their best to end the day their way. I’m in bed by midnight, unable to get enough recovery for an early morning workout and last one on the morning struggle bus. Listing it all out it sounds like a nightmare, but TBH it’s just comedy to me because it's real, it’s my life and I love the messiness of it all.

VF: WHAT IS YOUR RECIPE FOR A HAPPY, HEALTHY LIFE?

JE: My recipe is simply to embrace that balance is a fluid motion in my life. I will never equally balance it all out and never be able to put full whole hearted attention into everything at once, and that is OK! I’ve learned to see the collateral beauty in it all and just have come to understanding that in order to live a happy and healthy life I have to make it that way, each and every day.

VF: FINISH THESE STATEMENTS:

"EVERYTHING TASTES BETTER WITH A LITTLE…" JE: Wine.

“THE ONE THING THAT I CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT IS…" JE: Music.

“MY GUILTY PLEASURE IS…" JE: Lindsay Lohan movies.

VF: “MY FAVORITE GO-TO FOOD IS…”

JE: Pepperoni Pizza

VF: WHERE CAN WE FOLLOW YOU?

JE: All things social: GOFITJO // www.gofitjo.com