Welcome back to the Self Care Journey Series! This is a series where real women get to tell their inspiring stories of prioritizing self care in their lives. Want to be featured? Click Here to get the specs or reach out to email@example.com for more information.
Today's journey is an incredibly moving tale from a long time friend of mine, Ashley Main. Ashley is one of the most genuine and inspiring people I know and I am so honored to share her story with you!
Ashley, we've been friends for so long and you've always been such a naturally inspiring person. But especially lately, you've been up to some amazing things that have been really special to see you experience! First, can you tell our readers a little about yourself?
HI! I’m Ashley. Radio DJ by day, wannabe fitness guru by night. I wouldn’t consider myself a ‘morning person,’ but I do get to wake up my community each and every weekday. I’ve been in radio for 16 years, getting my start in my hometown of Aberdeen, Washington. I moved to Central Point, Oregon in January of 2015 to pursue my dreams of being a Program Director and morning show co-host for a country radio station in Medford.
I gotta say - it's been so neat to watch (or hear!) your radio career really take off over the years. But you recently had a pretty major shift, is that right?
After just shy of 6 years, I found myself second guessing my career choice. Not because I wanted out of radio, but because of my situation – partially due to the pandemic, partially due to not being treated fairly (ladies stand up for yourself!!).
Long story short, I left that job and not even a week later, had a conversation with a locally owned cluster about launching a brand-new station playing ALL country music. Not just the current trends, but the legends and roots of the genre as well. As luck would have it, my co-host and I both made the move and are extremely stoked to be where we are doing what we’re doing. We both feel as though we were put on this earth do exactly this. It should also be noted that once I’m done with mornings, I slide into the Top 40/Hot AC station where I get to do a throwback hour playing all of the songs of my youth. It’s literally my favorite hour of the day.
"I wouldn’t consider myself a ‘morning person,’ but I do get to wake up my community each and every weekday."
That is a testament to your talent that such an opportunity was created for you! Where can our readers listen to you online?
What about outside of your time on the airwaves?
Outside of radio, I’m a dog mama to my rescue pup Max (Jack Russel) and Marty McFly (Corgi). Growing up, I always through I’d have ALL of the babies. Guess I just didn’t realize they’d be the furry kind. (to be honest, I’m TOTALLY okay with this) I *am* a step mom – but my hubby’s 2 kids are grown.
My husband and I met after I didn’t shave my legs for month while raising money for my favorite cause, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. We’ve been together for 5 years, married for 3 – even getting engaged just 6 months into our relationship.
Over the last several months, you've been on quite the self care journey. Tell us what inspired this journey.
My journey started after I underwent breast reduction surgery in the summer of 2019. Growing up, I let my physical appearance dictate what I did or did not do. Let’s be honest, having a large chest is extremely cumbersome and makes things more difficult. Running was completely out of the question, as were most contact sports. I was the furthest thing from an athlete and stuck to playing golf.
Once I had recovered from surgery, I joined a local gym and started going to Zumba classes (which are SUPER fun if you’ve never tried them). While in the gym, I found myself sticking to cardio machines because I literally had no idea what to do with all the fancy looking weights and equipment. I tried branching out a few times but got worried someone would see me and be like “that girl has no idea what she’s doing.” One day, I was out on a walk with a buddy and I got the thought of “hmmm, I wonder if I can actually run?” I didn’t even know the first thing about running as every time I’d done it before, it hurt.
I was about two months post-op and just started jogging down the street. I made it about a block before stopping so my friend could catch up and I was like “That didn’t even hurt!” From there, I made it a point to actually start running. I pushed myself to try and go a little further every time. Before I knew it, I was running miles at a time – doing it every day and falling in love with it.
There’s something so awesome about throwing in my airpods and hitting the pavement as the sun is coming up. Something I truly miss with this current injury. I am very hopeful that by late spring I’ll be hitting the pavement once again. *fingers crossed*
"I made it a point to actually start running. I pushed myself to try and go a little further every time. Before I knew it, I was running miles at a time – doing it every day and falling in love with it."
That's really powerful that you were able to recognize other realities for yourself after years of feeling limited. I think a lot of us get limitations engrained in us for various reasons and we don't always realize there ARE other options - I really love that you had the realization that things could be different for you after your surgery and you pushed past that initial assumption that you could only use cardio machines or that you just weren't a runner.
Let's talk about that injury you mentioned though - because that has been a fairly recent development for you that has really impacted your self care story.
My story is one that is currently still on going. I’m a firm believer in trusting the process – even when I get a little frustrated. When reached out to about sharing my story for this blog I was super excited. I still am, to be honest. I enjoy talking about things that I love, who doesn’t? However, I recently ended up with yet another injury that put my mental health in a bit of a tailspin – aside from a physical limitation.
I was instantly put in a spot where I did not know what to do or how to do it. I’m currently receiving laser therapy twice a week. I ruptured my soleus and tore my gastrocnemius (calf muscle) and I'm progressing well.
I share all of this because it is real life. These things happen. While I had a little pity party, I found myself looking for new ways to move my body and get a workout in. It challenged my mind even harder and to know that this is just another one of life’s lessons. In the long run, I’ll be stronger having gone through this.
"I take an hour of every day for my mind and soul – which for me, is a workout of some kind. I enjoy hiking, biking, walking, lifting, really anything that involves me moving my body."
Resiliency is key to making it through those difficult and frustrating challenges or set backs. They can really test us, but you're right - we often come out stronger on the other end. What else have you learned about yourself over the last year?
Through this journey, I’ve learned so much about myself and what it takes for me to prioritize my health in ALL ways. I take an hour of every day for my mind and soul – which for me, is a workout of some kind. I enjoy hiking, biking, walking, lifting, really anything that involves me moving my body.
I also had to learn to not feel guilty for taking this time. Because when you set aside time for something else, you’re removing it from where ever it was. Work, kids, adult responsibilities, all of that. Let me tell you, it is MORE than okay to start making YOU a priority. I tell myself this every single day and I no longer feel guilty for it.
I *know* I need this time to be a better me. To be able to be a better wife, coworker, friend, and human – putting my own needs at the top of the list allows me to do all of those things with less anxiety and worry. Amazing how that works.
Amen! You said it so well. It may seem counterintuitive, but we cannot be our best for others if we aren't taking care of ourselves. The guilt around taking that time can be very real - and it can come from within us, or from external forces. Self care benefits everyone around us and we need to learn to protect that time. Has anything surprised you?
What surprises me the most is that I am constantly blown away by my own strength and ability. Our bodies are truly amazing.
Last fall, I even hiked a mountain that I have literally seen every day since I moved to Oregon. Not a day has passed by since that I don’t think “did that REALLY happen?!” There is NO way that I could have done that feat years ago. My goals are to be better than I was yesterday. To push myself out of the comfort zone and be proud of my accomplishments and failures. Those failures will eventually become accomplishments.
I’m also shocked over my drive and determination to continue educating myself in the kitchen. Which, is something that goes hand in hand with living a healthier lifestyle. I meal prep breakfast, lunch, and snacks for the entire week on Sundays. While it takes time, it’s something I’ve also made a priority and it’s helped keep me on track during the week.
AND, I’ve learned I love to cook. I’m always up for finding new healthy alternatives. I also enjoy learning what fuels my body best.
"Not a day has passed by since that I don’t think “did that REALLY happen?!”
Hiking a mountain is an awesome accomplishment! You're right - our bodies are amazing and we don't always give them credit for their capabilities, or give them the opportunity to shine by working them and fueling them properly. Any other goals on the horizon?
My goals moving forward are to become certified in personal training. The gym I have been going to over the last year, Ace Force One, is like personal training in a group setting. It’s given me strength mentally and physically. I’ve met what I call my ‘fit fam’ and we all encourage one another in our individual journeys.
The most fulfilling part of this experience is seeing other people reach their goals and be genuinely proud of themselves. On a selfish level, I also enjoy hearing from others that I’ve somehow helped them start their own process of living a healthier lifestyle. Its one of those gratifying feelings of knowing you’re doing good in this world.
"My goals moving forward are to become certified in personal training... The most fulfilling part of this experience is seeing other people reach their goals and be genuinely proud of themselves."
As a personal trainer, your combination of motivation, inspiration and grit would help many people on their own personal journeys. I can't wait to see all the lives you'll change when you accomplish that goal! Let's close out with some advice. What would you tell other women who want to embark on their own self care journey?
If I could give advice to someone else regarding self care, it would be to not feel guilty for taking that time for YOU. It’s really the best gift you can give yourself.
Also, grace. We should ALL allow for more grace. I struggle with this, but I know it’s necessary for healing, growth, and understanding. My favorite motto is, “you do you, boo.” Sounds so simple. But when you break it down, YOU should be doing you, for you. And whatever it is that YOU want to do, should be done without worry of judgement from others.
It’s okay to make yourself a priority and find what brings you the most joy and internal peace. Celebrate you micro wins. Gains are gains, my friend. Be your biggest champion and competitor. You are strong. You are beautiful. You are capable. You are worthy.
Inspiring words to end on! Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us, Ashley, and we look forward to seeing your accomplish all your self care goals!
Do you have a self care story to share? Click Here to download the specs, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.