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21 Mothers Bring Light into the Wellness World

These inspirational teachers, writers, athletes, and yogis pay tribute to their mothers and the wise teachings they were given along the way.

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For many of us, our first verbal expression is something to the effect of “Mamaaaaa!” She brings us into the world, and as we grow, the special bond we have with her, regardless of whether she is in our life or not, supportive or not, is constantly growing with us. In most mythical and mystical traditions, there is strong emphasis on the divine feminine or primordial mother. Collectively we think of this powerful force, be it Shakti, Mary, or the Shekhinah, as the source of our creativity and life-force: the comforting energy that nurtures us along our path. According to yoga master Sharath Jois, our mothers are our first gurus, the ones who literally give us life and usher us into this world. If our mother is our first teacher, she is constantly a source for learning as we grow. Whether we reject her desires or embrace them, we can always return to her as a mirror for understanding ourselves.

Here, we’ve talked to people who inspire us in the world of health and wellness—our teachers, colleagues, and friends—in order to honor their mothers and ours through recollections of lessons learned over the years. Read on as we pay tribute to these most amazing women who have shaped not only the worlds of these powerful people, but our worlds as well, with their wisdom, beauty, laughter, and energy.

Dana Flynn, Yoga Teacher, Co-Founder of Laughing Lotus
Margo Flynn, Her Mother

“OMG! My mom Margo was my Brownie leader, volunteered at the library, and always threw the best parties for any and every cause. Her involvement in the community was a complete turn on for me. It got me really participating in this ‘all in’ kind of way that creates family and togetherness! She always said if you have one good friend, you are lucky and blessed,” Flynn reminisces. “[My mom] created something from nothing each and every day. Sewing my dresses, decorating my room, crafting fun colorful projects that made me feel alive, and loved…through her being, she showed me that magic is REAL. She’s my SHERO!!”

Margo Flynn recalls, “Dana was always kind, loving, and respectful toward her aunts and grandmothers, especially as they got older. Even from a young age, she was so aware of their heart and what they were going through. Everyone always felt so supported and loved by Dana and her generosity. She has that extraordinary gift where you feel like you have known her forever. She’s always been my #1 cheerleader and I am thrilled to be her MOMMA!”

Mallika Chopra, Author, Founder of Intent.com
Rita Chopra, Her Mother 

Mallika with her daughters, Tara and Leela

“My mom has always served her children, her family, and her community selflessly,” says Chopra. “Through her example, I learned what it means to love without expectations. She is an example of living with intent—of giving to others and improving the lives of those around her by her daily actions.The most important lesson I have learned from my mother is to always be proud of who I am. My mother never apologized for ‘just being a mom.’ She showed me that it was truly an honor to play this role.”

Adam Bornstein, Fitness Writer, Founder of Born Fitness
Sandra Bornstein, His Mother

“I grew up with a selfless mother,” says Bornstein. “Everything my mom did was never about her, but instead about her four children. We were loved unconditionally and always told to chase whatever we wanted. It’s that same mentality I take towards health and fitness. I think we all need to love who we are and what we want to achieve. At the same time, I don’t see limits when I see people. I see those that just need some encouragement, a path, and a realistic timeline. Any goal is possible, but some journey’s just take longer than others.” Bornstein’s mom taught the fitness icon not to compare himself to others. “Growing up, whenever I didn’t do well—in sports, in school—I’d always say something like, “Well Bobby didn’t do well either.” My mom (and dad) were great at reminding me that it’s not about other people, but rather the effort that I put in. It’s been my driving force in life: focus on what I control and don’t worry about everything else.”

Sandra Bornstein recalls how caring Adam was towards his younger brothers, relishing the opportunity to be a “big brother.” She goes on to say, “I am exceptionally proud of all of Adam’s accomplishments in the health and fitness industry. By using his background knowledge and people skills, Adam has successfully inspired people around the world to pursue a healthier lifestyle. His interactions via social media and in person have enabled a wide variety of people to make educated choices. Without a strong work ethic, Adam’s positive contributions would not be possible.”

Kerri Walsh Jennings, Three-Time Olympic Gold Medalist and Bronze Medalist, Beach Volleyball Player
Margie Walsh, Her Mother

“My mom has led by example her entire life, especially when it comes to her children,” says Walsh Jennings. “She lives a life centered around her faith, her family, hard work, and love. These pillars have always served as the foundation of our family upon which we were taught to be good people, to always have faith in ourselves and others and to serve ourselves, our family, and our community with humility and gratitude. For my mother, wellness comes from living a life well lived and from the constancy of her faith. She knows what her priorities are, she is diligent and generous in all she does and in doing so, she has shown me that living by example is a great way to inspire. Wellness has always been body, mind, and spirit in our family!” Walsh says she always has her mother’s voice in her head, “cheering me on, reminding me to smile, and reminding me that great things come from hard work and trying times.”

As it pertains to Kerri’s work, Margie Walsh expresses pride in “her being so passionate and relentless in her quest to be the very best. She believes in herself and her teammate, April. Kerri is almost never satisfied, she always believes she and April can be better. Kerri is a really good teammate, a goal setter and a BIG dreamer. I think those qualities are contagious and make those around her better. Kerri is a really good role model. She is a doer. She shows in her work ethic that if you have passion and work really, really hard, you can achieve great things. Kerri is always strengthening her mind, body, and spirit to accomplish her goals. She may stumble at times but she uses these moments to motivate her to work harder and smarter to achieve her dreams. Kerri is gracious, humble and thankful with her success. She is so proud to represent the U.S.A.!”

Allie Burdick, Health and Fitness Blogger at VITA—Train for Life
Andrea Capo, Her Mother

“My mother was overweight almost her entire life. I grew-up watching her ‘Sweat to the Oldies’ with Richard Simmons and do endless side leg lifts with Jane Fonda, as she watched them on a VHS tape and struggled to keep pace from our living room,” says Burdick. “Sometimes she was successful in her weight-loss quest, and even once shed almost 100 pounds before slowly and inevitably gaining it all back. I observed, but was not truly aware. In 1989, as a 12-year-old eighth grader, I listened to my dad’s words in disbelief; “Mom has cancer. Ovarian cancer. But, she’s going to be okay.” She wasn’t. Five years later, and just before my 18th birthday, she died.”

“You may think it’s sad, even tragic, and it is but I consider myself lucky. I’m lucky because my mother was a fiercely strong, opinionated, and smart woman. Before she died she taught me how to be the same. Because of her and what she went though, I am the epitome of health. I became a personal trainer and fitness instructor. I owned my own studio while I raced marathons, triathlons, duathlons and countless other races, and gave myself the power to help women and men like her, become truly healthy. I had the courage to pursue all of my dreams—not some, but all of them. I was blessed with twin boys, one of whom I think was sent directly from her to show me what growing up with a mini-me is really all about, and love you can not even conceive of until you are a parent.”

“There’s not a day that goes by when I don’t want her back. I miss my mom horribly and sometimes break down just from seeing a mother and daughter together at the mall. But, 20 years after her death, she still influences my choices and drives me to fully realize all my potentials. I owe her that much.”

Kara Goucher, Elite Marathoner, Two-Time Olympian
Pat Wheeler, Her Mother

Goucher recalls that her mom has always helped others, volunteering for MADD (Mother’s Against Drunk Driving) when she was a kid. “My mom has always had so much compassion for others who are struggling and has always helped those that need it. She has inspired me to help others as well. Although I don’t have the same skill set as my mother, I do know that I can help improve others’ lives by encouraging them to take better care of themselves and by discovering running. I love helping others find that they are stronger than they ever thought possible, and that is exactly what my mom does as well,” she says. “When I had bad races and felt like I let my entire country down, my mom would always point to the positives—that I tried my best, that I am more than a runner, that the sun would rise again tomorrow. My mom has always taught me to look for the positive things in my life, and it has profoundly affected the way I view the world.”

“Even as a child,” says Wheeler, “Kara was always kind to other kids and thoughtful of others. She never wanted to hurt anyone’s feelings. She was concerned about how they felt, what they might be going through, and what they might need. She would do little things to help others when often they didn’t know it was her.” Wheeler is so proud of her daughter. “Her dedication, determination, and ability to never give up. She is humble and honest and not afraid to let people know her strengths, weaknesses, and what she feels. She is able to see the big picture and have the patience to do what she needs to do to reach big goals. She enjoys sharing her love of running with others. She is grateful for what she has. She focusses on staying positive. She never hesitates to reach out to others who may need help or support. She is a true role model.”

Melisa R. Burton, R.D., The Valentine RD
Michele Burton, Her Stepmother

“My mother is still alive but we have had a very distant relationship for most of my life. My mother is deep in the throes of mental illness but also in very deep denial,” says Burton. “As a very young child, I hated that my mother was the parent who believed in all things ‘natural’ when it came to food. Few children in the 1970’s enjoyed wheat bread, carob, and having a sugar restriction imposed upon them. I never thought that the childhood thread of nutrition would become my passion (and second career undertaken at the age of 30 after 10 years in marketing).”

“Although the seed of the importance of wellness may have been inadvertently planted by my biological mother, it was the loss of my stepmother, Michele, at age 16 that may have had the greatest impact on me. Michele was my true mother figure growing up. Michele was overweight for most of her life and she was very self-conscious about it. My stepmother was a force to be reckoned with in most aspects of her life but her self-image and relationship with food was definitely not a positive one. Michele’s weight kept her from regular check-ups with her doctor. Only once was she taken to the hospital (due to back pain) where she was diagnosed with a very advanced form of cancer. She died three weeks after diagnosis at 36 years old. Michele was the most important mother figure I had in my life. She and my father raised me when my mother was unable and I still feel her loss deeply. When I became a parent at age 37, I named my child after Michele. It still seems so strange that I became a parent at an age older than when my stepmother had died. Having been a parent for the last eight years, I’ve only felt more gratitude and love toward a woman who has not my mother but loved me like one.”

Sharon Gannon, Founder of the Jivamukti Yoga Method
Evlyn Gannon, Her Mother

“My mom believed in living for the moment,” recalls Gannon. “She did not invest much in the future. I learned from her not to procrastinate, not to put things off. I can feel her influence in my own feeling of urgency when it comes to helping others. I try to offer my services in whatever capacity I have and not wait for a time when I will have more time or more ideas or money. Instead, I tend to move forward and do whatever I can now.” Gannon says her mother taught her “to be optimistic. Have faith in the goodness of life and remember that everything changes—difficulties are only temporary—it is best to let them go and not hold on to them.”

Alison Overholt, Editor-in-Chief of ESPNW and ESPN The Magazine (the first female to head a major sports magazine)
Monette Overholt, Her Mother

“My mom struggled with her own health and wellness throughout her life, and watching that struggle was a defining part of my childhood,” says Overholt. “It was hard to see her go through these cycles with her weight and her confidence. At the same time, she was such a huge sports fan—she loved the Red Sox more than anything, was a massive basketball fan, and loved to play tennis when I was little. Over time, as she struggled with her health, she stopped playing. Watching her miss out on chances to play the sports she loved—even as she was instilling that same love of sports in me—is something I’ve never forgotten. It has made me want to maintain my own fitness so I have the energy I need to have adventures of my own, and adventures with my family. And it has made me passionate about finding ways to engage women about sports and active living, and to find and share really useful and accurate information about wellness and healthy lifestyle choices.”

“My mom was the strongest person I’ve ever met. And she always encouraged me to be strong. I think I was—sometimes to her chagrin! We had epic clashes over the years, two big personalities, battling it out. But in the end, she always said, ‘Ali, you will be anything you want to be.’ I used to think that was a cliché, but now I think there are far too many girls who have never heard those words, from their moms or anyone else. And I think everyone should hear them.”

Elena Brower, Yoga Teacher, Author of The Art of Attention
Judi Brower, Her Mother


Elena Brower speaks about her mom with big love, “Her formidable experience of evolving her lymphoma into a healthy body was a privilege to witness. It taught me how to help myself so I could help others. It got me to quit using substances as a way to numb my own discomfort and begin to address myself with respect so I could be a relevant guide for my students. She always taught me: Do your best, and don’t worry what other people might think.”

Judi Brower remembers her daughter always being empathetic from a young age, “Elena was always kind with others whether it was an animal, another child, or an elderly person. I am proud of Elena as a giving human being. She has been able to touch so many people in a positive fashion and enhance their lives. Most of all, I am proud that Elena has found her happy place and shares it with so many others.”

Shane Barnard, Founder of Urbankick
Pat Ness, Her Mother

Barnard recalls that her mother led a life in which helping people was the norm. “She was a counselor for persons with developmental disabilities, a social worker with the state of Washington, and an animal lover, advocate, and supporter. Watching her devote her life to helping others shaped my values about what is truly important. It was never about her or her success, rather how she could assist others to find their success. I always knew I wanted to work with people in a capacity to help them overcome obstacles, whatever those challenges may be.” The biggest lesson she learned, then, was “to be empathetic, compassionate, and work hard. If we can relate to others and begin to understand where they come from, we are better suited to assist. I also saw my mom work very hard and never take anything for granted. This work ethic fuels me today along with the appreciation that I am so lucky to have a career that I love.”

Ness remembers that “Shane was always a helpful little girl, especially when I would bring home some of the adults with developmental disabilities from the group home where I worked during shut-down periods. Shane always played with and helped them around the house during their stays. Ness is proud of her daughter, and “her ability to be independent and seek opportunities. She moved out state, studied dance, finished college and worked to help reunify families as a social worker, then graduated from law school to become an attorney for foster children in San Francisco. She never stopped seeking new challenges to become who she wanted to be all the while helping, advocating, and educating others to be their best selves.”

Sophie Jaffe, Raw Food Nutritionist, Founder of Philosophie
Phillis Aaronson, Her Mother


“My mother had stage-four breast cancer six years ago, and during that time, I was along her side for all of her treatments, her hair loss, and her extreme pain,” Jaffe shares. “To endure such a troubling period, she used a mixture of Western and Eastern modalities of healing. She is now on the other side, almost 10 years of being cancer-free, and healthier than ever.” Jaffe says her mother’s experience helped inspire her superfood product line. “My Cacao Magic blend contains the Chinese medicinal mushroom reishi, which has been used for thousands of years for anti-cancer and immunity-boosting benefits.”

Aaronson says her daughter has always exhibited “the desire and drive to help others, and always goes out of her way to help anyone in need. She’s been an ear for anyone in pain and has a strong sense of empathy that she’s been following her whole life. When she was choosing an academic path, she immediately gravitated towards psychology as a means to hone that particular gift and learn how to forge a path to mental wellness … [Sophie] has the ability to truly listen to the needs of others and learn how to help keep them engaged in a life of well-being. I’m sure I speak for many when I reflect back on the good she’s done for so many people she’s encountered in her life.”

Marion Berrian Roaman, Co-Founder of Peloton Cycle
Marion Williams, Her Mother

“As a child, I watched my mother go through some very difficult times. Somehow through those trying times she created an amazing support group of friends an confidantes. Those people became like a second family to us. From a very early age, I learned the power of community,” says Marion Berrian Roaman. “I saw how one person helping another, then helping someone else, and so on was a beautiful thing—a positive, at times life-changing, domino effect. I have taken this ingrained sense of community and brought it into the group exercise space. There is no way I would have trusted my instincts in all of this if it weren’t for my firsthand experiences watching my mom grow her community.” Most of all, says Roaman, her mother taught her “to never give up. No matter what.”

Williams proudly says of her daughter, “Marion has always been a great communicator and a people person—even before she knew how to talk! Once on the way off a transatlantic flight with baby Marion, who was three months old, passengers came up to me and told me how much they had enjoyed meeting my daughter. She didn’t know words yet but as they passed is in the aisle Marion would nod her head look them in the eye and babble knowingly with people. Marion has genuinely always loved people.” Williams says, “That she has combined her love of cycling and her incredible energy with her extraordinary communication skills and love of people makes me a very proud mom.”

Jasmine Tarkeshi, Co-Founder of Laughing Lotus
Alice Tarkeshi, Her Mother

“My mother has lived a life of service,” says Jasmine Tarkeshi, “Whether it was service to our family when we were kids or to her teacher Chogyam Trungpa and Shambhala Sangha or the countless jobs she had as a recreational therapist working with the most underserved populations including homeless women, people with schizophrenia, autistic children, people living with AIDS, and countless others cast aside, she has devoted her life to helping others.” Tarkeshi recalls that her mother “was known as sort of a miracle-worker, reaching and touching those who were considered a lost cause. This planted a seed in me as a teenager, that everyone, including me, could be awakened to the light within through compassion and action. At 75 and retired, she still serves tirelessly including her devoted care to my daughter, her granddaughter, Indigo. It’s truly humbling and inspiring.”

Her mom glows similarly. “Jasmine was born with healing hands and a natural empathy for living things—humans and animals and what grows on the earth. Her sympathetic heart combined with a natural, impressive practicality and fearless action showed itself in many instances when she was young, bringing a healing touch to me when I ached, solving problems in the running of the household, caring for animals, and helping to educate me in vegetarianism.” Alice Tarkeshi waxes pride about her daughter, “I am deeply proud of Jasmine’s ability to creatively, and with bright humor, bridge the wisdom and practices of the ancient past to this present world; she has her finger on the pulse of evolutionary energy, fueling her students with inspiration and courage to transform.”

Lodro Rinzler, Author, Meditation Teacher
Beth Rinzler, His Mother

Rinzler remembers his mom organizing meditations for the community when he was a kid. “She would open up our home to all sorts of people with the desire to help them by offering a space for them to relax into their innate wisdom. She never boasted about her credentials or held herself above them as I have seen other Buddhist teachers do (despite the fact that she has been teaching meditation since the early 70s). She met them where they were emotionally, welcoming them into her home, and gave them tools for working with their mind. I think seeing her offer herself and her resources wholeheartedly from such an early age molded me a great deal.” On her greatest lessons, Rinzler says, “She taught me that compassion means being on the same level as others, connecting to them from an empathetic, rather than sympathetic, point of view. She leads by example, offering her presence and heart to whomever she encounters.”

Beth Rinzler has early recollections of Lodro’s knack for healing others, “When he was three he climbed up onto his father’s psychiatrist chair, thoughtfully advised me as if he was in that role, and then at the end asked us how much money he should pay for the session. We knew then he was destined for the non-profit world. A few years later when Lodro was five, I remember his upset at the plight of the homeless. One man in particular lived on the steps of the bank two doors down from our apartment. One evening as we walked by, he asked the dreaded question: “Why, when we had so many rooms, couldn’t we take him home?” Sensing my discomfort, he did me a favor and we marched off to get the gentleman a pizza instead.” Beth Rinzler has much to be proud of, but she says, “What I am most proud of is how he has taken his life experience and his Buddhist practice to heart. He thinks a lot about how he can best benefit the most people and works hard to encourage others to do the same. He’s doing something awesome with his life.”

Candice Kumai, Clean Green Chef, Cookbook Author
Miho & George, Candice’s Parents



“I truly learn by example,” says Candice Kumai. “My mother and father are the most altruistic individuals I know. Major philanthropists at heart, they are huge contributors in education, public service, community volunteering, in the arts and wellness space. My mom is a Japanese school teacher who volunteers her extra time with school programs and Japanese community events, and she is a donor to several animal organizations. My father, after retiring from 35+ years of nuclear auditing and U.S. Navy service, volunteers at the Boys & Girls Club, at church, and at several food-service programs, feeding those in need … My heart cannot measure the amount of gratitude they have instilled in my sister and me. They are the most loving and giving individuals I know.”

Kumai goes on to credit her mother, Miho, as the reason she works so hard: She’s my “Japanese rock,” she says. “She is the reason why I became a creative artist. When I was just six or seven she even taught art classes out of our home in San Diego in addition to teaching Japanese at schools. I never forgot how to use my eyes, my hands, my heart because of her. I never loved math or science, but man, did I love arts, crafts, painting, watercolor, any crafty project I could get my hands on. She allowed me to be an artist, too!” Not only that, but Kumai’s love of cooking comes from her mother: “I watched her cook from scratch my whole life. She made every single one of my birthday cakes by hand, homemade breads, jams, sauces, soups, sushi, okonomiyaki, gyoza, every Japanese dish imaginable (and Polish dishes, for my Dad!) She was my Japanese Martha, she still is. She is my inspiration for all of my books. She is my heart.”

Candice’s parents wrote us together to exclaim their love for Kumai’s work in the world.”Well, we used to take our daughters to places that were of great interest, such as museums, churches, and natural wonders like the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, and Japan. They learned so much and learned to appreciated what we had; and from that they learned to help others. And of course their mother insisted that once a day we sat down as a family at the table, even just for a short time, to enjoy a meal.”

Gunnar Lovelace, Founder of Thrive Market
Adriana Goddard, His Mother

Gunnar Lovelace cites his mother as an inspiration for Thrive Market, an online retailer providing healthy foods at affordable prices. “As a child, I saw how hard my mom worked to make healthy choices and put organic, wholesome food on the table. She was a single mom, but later remarried a man who ran a health food buying club from an organic farm where we lived in Ojai, California. The buying club showed how healthy living can be accessed at much lower prices when people work together. For years, I’ve been interested in creating the 21st Century modern version of a health-food co-op online.” Additionally, says Lovelace, “My mom always taught me the importance of working hard for what you believe in. She is one of the most hardworking people I’ve ever met, and set an incredible example for me during my childhood. I draw upon that inspiration all the time as a founder and CEO of my own company. It’s incredibly hard work, but when I need a little motivation, I remember my mom and how hard she worked to provide the best life she could for me.”

“Gunnar was always a very easy child, and he was always fully cooperative,” says Goddard. “I remember one time when he was very little—younger than three years old. We went to the movies one afternoon, after the movie, a big crowd was trying to leave the theater, but couldn’t get the doors to open. When we got close to the door, Gunnar noticed a small lever on the side of the door and propped it up to open the doors so everyone could flow out easily. I remember being so amazed. He was so tiny, but he had observed what needed to be done and did it. And because he was brought up in an environment where we spoke Spanish, English, and French, he wasn’t very talkative yet. At least one hundred adults must have passed ahead of us and nobody noticed the solution.” Goddard says with pride, “He is also genuine, tender-hearted, and devoted to his family and friends. Gunnar always goes full blast with his passions and that’s so inspiring to me.”

Lunden Souza, C.P.T., Runtastic Fitness Coach
Martha Souza, Her Mother


“My mom has been helping people as long as I can remember. She is a hairstylist (aka a psychologist) and there are always people constantly telling me how awesome my mom is, [what] a good listener she is, and what great advice she always provides,” says Souza. “She always taught me that it never hurts to be nice and to listen to someone in need. She even taught me the ‘teflon pan method’ where you create an imaginary non-stick service as a shield around yourself that way you have the ability to listen to other people, connect, and make others feel appreciated and heard without letting their problems stick to you.” On the most important lesson her mother taught her, Souza says, “My mom is a beast! Growing up she would wake up at 3:30 a.m., make lunch for me, my brother, and my dad every single day for school, go to the gym and get her workout done, come home and prep dinner for the evening, go to work all day and then be home with us in the evening. The most important thing I have learned from her is that there is nothing that can’t be done with hard work.”

“Lunden was always really, really social,” says Martha Souza, who lives in Merced, California. “She loved to be around people and talk to literally everyone who would talk to her. At the local pool we would go to, she would often go hang out with the lifeguard and start braiding her hair, ask her about her job and her life and have full-on conversations with people constantly!” Souza is proud of her daughter for “following her dreams and passions. I think it’s incredible that out of whim she decided to move to Austria to make her presence bigger and better without really knowing for sure what would happen. She is never afraid to take a step out in faith and I admire her for not being scared—or at least never letting fear get in the way.”

Susan Guillory, Founder of Bread & Circus
Anne-Marie Harnett, Her Daughter

“My daughter has understood that the basis of healing work with others comes from self-knowledge,” says Guillory. “As a result, the example that she has set for her Polarity therapy and RYSE technique clients has permeated her work. For example, I have had numerous close friends tell me what fabulous sessions they have had with Anne-Marie but because my daughter adheres to very strict professional boundaries I never knew that these friends were seeing her. The largest gift that she is offering to the world is by using her deep spiritual understanding and pre-med degree to teach future healers privately and at a massage school. It is an honor and a gift to have one of my children share in so many lifestyle values.”

Harnett recalls her mother always putting others’ welfare first. “She taught me to pay attention to the subtle cues of body language and tone of voice in order to discern how someone was truly doing. She taught me to listen underneath. This has led me to a career in massage and healing work where I am listening deeply to what someone’s body is telling me. And reconnecting my clients to their innate, but often lost, ability to hear their own bodies.” The biggest lesson Guillroy passed down was “to love and honor the healing capacity of food. To cook consciously, imbibing the food with health and vitality. She taught me that what you’re thinking about and how you’re feeling, goes into the food while you’re cooking. So, when I cook for myself or when I give dinner parties, I purposely put good things into the food like love, connection, play, wonder. It’s fun, and it’s powerful!”

Jamie King, Co-Founder and President of FitApproach
Julie Wong, Her Mother

“My mom is amazing,” says King. “She was single for most of my childhood but never made me want for anything. I realize now just how much she did for us and just how incredibly strong she is—in fact, she is the most tireless, hardworking, generous, and compassionate person I know. She has always supported me through all of my different interests and activities and shown me that with a little hard work and dedication, anything is possible. I think she imparted on me not only an incredible work ethic but also a great deal of compassion and generosity. She shaped me into someone I am proud of, someone who cares for others and works hard to make sure others are cared for, whether it’s through my work with the Sweat Pink community, as a yoga and bootcamp instructor or my family.

According to Wong, Jamie has always had a penchant for helping others. “She is also incredibly determined and won’t give up until the job is done. A great example of this was when she taught her cousin how to dive. They were on the swim team together and Jamie noticed during swim practice that Alyse couldn’t dive into the pool. Jamie couldn’t let it go and after practice invited Alyse over for diving lessons. I remember watching them from the kitchen window and seeing Jamie’s determination to teach her how to dive. No matter what, she didn’t (and wouldn’t) give up and made sure that before they got out of the pool that afternoon, she had a diver on her hands. I think she doesn’t like anyone to feel like they can’t do something—she always wants everyone to be as great as she knows they can be. I’m so proud to see my daughter inspiring and helping others live more active and healthy lives; she was born for the role she is playing and I couldn’t be more proud or feel more lucky to have her in my life.”

Meaghan Murphy, Executive Editor, Good Housekeeping
Kathy Buchan, Her Mother

“I’m a fitness fanatic,” says Murphy. “My motto: You’re one workout away from a good mood. I get that love of and need for movement from my mom. The woman is a firecracker, a real-deal Energizer Bunny. Sometimes I feel like my childhood was just one big living room dance party set to Richard Simmons’s playlist. But the thing is, although we were often sweating to the oldies or popping in a Jazzercize or Jane Fonda VHS, it wasn’t exercise. And it never occurred to me that the 5K we trained for and ran as a neighborhood was a workout or that soccer practice was actually good for me. It was just fun. Mom taught me that a workout doesn’t need to feel like work. You can put the fun in fitness and still reap the body benefits! I wake up every morning at 5:03 a.m. excited to play because that’s what exercise has always been to me thanks to my Mom. And I hope to give that gift to my three children…but maybe with Pitbull as the DJ.”

Buchan is equally proud of her daughter. She says, “Meag was always a selfless people-person who tended to the needs of others before herself. As the oldest of three she was a little mother handing over the last freeze pop to her siblings and not worrying if there were more to be had. So it was not surprising to me when she volunteered at the New Brunswick Soup Kitchen or an Asbury Park Homeless Shelter fearlessly taking some challenging young men on Ferry rides to New York City Yankees games. As a Horatio Alger Scholar she spoke from the heart about eating disorders in the Washington D.C. area and helped countless young women see their true self worth. I am proud of my clone, a true Energizer Bunny with an amazing work ethic, buoyant enthusiasm and creativity, and her ability to inspire those around her to become more than they ever believed they could.”

Rachelle Tratt, Yoga Teacher, Founder of The Neshama Project
Nicole, Her Mother

“My mom, Nicole, inspires the very core of who I am, what I stand for, and is the foundation to my work in the world,” says Tratt. “When I was nine years old, she passed away, very suddenly and tragically, and this event completely changed the course of my life; directing me on a lifelong adventure to learning about her, a day-to-day desire to live my life to the fullest, and a forever journey of healing my own mind, body, and heart.”

After her mother’s passing, Tratt spent time in many parts of the world, including Israel where her parents first met. After years of teaching yoga, she created The Neshama Project, a spiritual jewelry and lifestyle brand that supports charitable causes. The “N” in the word Neshama, which means “soul” in Hebrew, is in honor of Tratt’s mother, Nicole. “During the nine years that I spent with my mom, she taught me many valuable lessons of life and family,” says Tratt. “At a young age, I was taught that the essence of a good deed is when someone performs acts of kindness without the need for praise in return—well, this right here, was what my mom was all about. A humble heart, a kind soul, an incredibly talented artist, with the ability to make everyone around her laugh, and who was constantly putting others way before herself.”

In a dedication she shared with Sonima, Tratt writes, “Everything that I do is for you, mom. Every day, I choose to celebrate life, to breathe, to heal, to dance through the ebb and flow of it all, to say YES to adventures, to stumble, to pick myself right back up, to fall in love, to cry, to believe, to get lost, to have faith, to feel you in nature, to see you in shavasana, to live a life that you never had the opportunity to, and to live a life that would make you so very proud.”

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