Suffering from significant stress for over a decade, this 51-year-old super mom successfully used fitness to save her health—and future
Makeup by Monica Kalra
Hair by Laura Christine Clark
Life presents us with a range of experiences, both positive and negative. It’s in the moments of adversity that we have a choice: we can either let the tough times define us, or use them as stepping stones towards our true potential. “Discussing my journey for this cover story, I realized how much I’ve overcome that I almost forgot about,” says Lisa Peterson. “Things I rarely talk about and no longer define me. They feel like they belong to another person in another lifetime. But they are relevant today because of how they shaped and inspired me to show up in the world and help other women. Because in helping other women—moms especially—I serve their children who deserve a whole, healthy and fulfilled mother.” Body transformation coach, personal trainer and 200-hour certified yoga teacher Lisa lives and breathes fitness—and has her whole adult life, although she did not see it growing up. Lisa recalls the women in her family suffering from joint pain, excess weight, and metabolic diseases and did not want this to be her fate.
"Because in helping other women—moms especially—I serve their
children who deserve a whole, healthy and fulfilled mother.”
So her passion with fitness began as a teen following magazine workouts, then training with body builder friends in college, and followed her through corporate life as a CPA during which she also became yoga certified. “Fitness feels like home—like a soulmate I’ve sometimes taken for granted, or lost touch with through some difficult times, but is always there for me as the friend that welcomes me back with open arms,” says Lisa. She even trained through her pregnancies, but after having children Lisa was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease (Hashimoto’s thyroid disease). A few years later, at the age of 39, she also went into premature ovarian failure/ premature menopause. Because of the alarming array of symptoms and her young age, she sought help from various providers who couldn’t give her answers and brushed off her complaints. Some offered anti-depressants or birth control pills. Finally seeing a functional doctor for hormone testing, he wrote the order but asked with a smirk, “Why, is that what your friends are doing these days?” This began the answer-seeking period of her life. “During my health crisis years, I was so anxious and scared, feeling I’d lost control over my own body. It saddened me,” she shares. “My kids were so young—my oldest in second grade—and I was completely preoccupied with my hormones and restoring my health.” Lisa says, “Hindsight is 20-20. I can see now how my body crashed and didn’t have the ability to produce hormones, hair or energy to play with my kids after all the stresses of the previous 10 years. Graduate school, infertility, and divorce in my 20s, followed by multiple moves, intense corporate life, new marriage, three births in four years plus three years of breastfeeding, surgery... then over-exercising and under-eating to get back in shape.
"Like so many women, I started my fitness journey to change something I disliked about my body. Now I have such an appreciation for my health and energy levels—I appreciate it and want to protect it. I approach fitness as a tool for resilience, longevity, mental and metabolic health, and hope to teach it as such.”
It was just too much.” Despite obstacles, Lisa took it all as learning opportunities and found the lesson. “Like so many women, I started my fitness journey to change something I disliked about my body. Now I have such an appreciation for my health and energy levels—I appreciate it and want to protect it,” she explains. “I approach fitness as a tool for resilience, longevity, mental and metabolic health, and hope to teach it as such. Yes, there are aesthetic benefits. I want to look good as long as I can. But I no longer break myself down for aesthetics. I focus on building with no timeline—this is a forever race…” Lisa now feels a responsibility to influence other women through modeling a healthy lifestyle. “Sharing my story and what I’ve learned along the way to restore my vitality, I hope to be a beacon of hope for women struggling with midlife changes,” she says. “I’ve had women younger than me become clients, saying they want to age like me. I’ve had women tell me they got their thyroid or hormones checked, got a mammogram, started lifting, eating more protein or walking because of something I shared. Real positive changes! To me that’s everything. This impact inspires me to keep going, because it gives purpose to my struggles—to help other women struggle less—and become their best healthiest selves.” Her take away message: “You are worth prioritizing. And it’s never too late, and you’re never too old to make a change, to feel amazing in your body, love what you see in the mirror, improve your health or come back to fitness. I’m living proof it is 100% possible.”
Get STRONG(er) with Lisa Peterson