Introduction to Fit Family Focus

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Greetings! I’m Erica. I’m a wife, mother, and M.D.. However, the most important roles in my life revolve around my family. My husband, JR, and I met in high school. We became best friends, and our love and friendship has continued to grow since that time. We went on to have four children: 2 boys and 2 girls, ages 3-13 right now. I work full time as an anesthesiologist. In addition, I am working on building a health coaching business centered around helping families to live a simple healthy lifestyle. My husband has a financial coaching business with a focus on teaching habits to help individuals and families reach a state of financial well-being. He is also a real estate agent. We have been blessed with a hearty desire to aid and support others in ways that we can. We decided that a blog is a great way to share our experiences, knowledge, and advice that we’ve learned along our journey into a healthier lifestyle. When I say healthy, I am referring to both physical health and financial health. We feel these are two aspects of family life many people value but also may have some struggles. It is challenging to juggle all that life throws your way, and we’re not immune. Please do not think we have it “all figured out.” We’ve made mistakes (some we’re still fixing). We’re okay with all of that. Those things are what make us all human. What we share in our blog is a collection of things we do, things we’ve tried, and ideas we have based on experiences. 

About the Crew: Our Family

I am the oldest of four children and naturally grew into a helper. Through love, patience, and faith, my parents have helped shape the person I am today.  My mom is literally one of the strongest people I know and is married to one of the best men I’ve ever met in my life. My parents taught me perseverance. Despite, your circumstances, you control how you come out in the end. I’ve always been very driven and goal-oriented, and I owe developing those attributes to them. Once I get something I’m my head, I’m full steam ahead on how to accomplish it. With that, starting a business has been an exciting challenge for me. With college, medical school, and residency, it’s more simple in the way the goal is accomplished. The goal is clear, and “here’s” what you need to do and learn in order to attain that goal. Boom, done, and now I’m an anesthesiologist. I’m being sarcastic. It definitely was not that easy, but I thought I’d be dramatic for effect. However, starting a business is not so cut and dry, making the process fun and terrifying all that the same time.  Since deciding to have a family, I’ve wanted a big one. I grew up in a big family and always thought it was fun. My family keeps me going and inspires me for sure. Aside from family time, I also enjoy reading, projects around the house like organizing (the end product is what is satisfying), and creative outlets like listening to music (can’t sing), dancing (not anything fancy, just letting my hair down at home), and the occasional craft opportunity.

My husband is truly an amazing man. We met as teenagers, and together we did a lot of growing up. I am so happy with the man he has become. He has grown into one of the most kind-hearted, loving, and giving individuals I know. He is so outgoing. He can sit next to a complete stranger, and within minutes develop a relationship. He is really good at connecting and understanding people. It’s pretty cool, really. With that, he knows someone EVERYWHERE we go. JR is literally one of the most chill people I know. It is really difficult to bother him. We were young, only twenty-one years old, when we had our first child. JR worked at a bank to help provide for our growing family and attended college while I was in medical school and residency. He has a mind for numbers and obtained a business degree in finance. He obtained his realtor’s license a short time later. He loves anything sports-related. I do mean anything, especially basketball. He will watch sports at any level. Seriously, one Father’s Day he went to a gym and watched basketball tournaments all day long. He was stoked. He’s a big family man and puts great effort towards being the best husband and father he can be.

Now for the rest of the household, our four children and puppy, Diego, round out the bunch. It is amazing how four people, who come from the same parents, can be so different. Our oldest son is thirteen, he is a sweetheart, goofball, who is very academically inclined and a perfectionist to a fault. We’re working on it, however. Our oldest daughter is very strong, kind-hearted, and would probably stay a kid for as long as you let her. Don’t worry we’re not rushing her. She is athletic, and although, she is not one to get excited about school, she works hard at it. Things do not always come so easy to her, but she doesn’t give up. Our youngest daughter is like joy in the form of a person. She is full of energy and love. She loves anything creative and artistic. Right now, singing, dancing, and really any sort of performance are right up her alley. Then there’s our youngest son. Poor guy gets misunderstood and left out being that his brother is ten years older than him and sometimes the girls just want to have girl-time. They are all working on it. He is a ball of energy with a sweet smile and a loving hug. He enjoys doing what preschool-aged boys like to do: running, playing with anything with wheels or that roars, staying out of hot lava, and building forts. We do our best, just like most parents do. We raise our children to develop relationships with God, to be kind and empathetic towards others, and share what blessings they have. I may be a little biased, or a lot, but I think, so far, they are shaping out to be pretty cool people.

Motivating Life Experiences

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We were living the typical busy family lifestyle and loving the everyday hustle and bustle, and, as if all in one day, life changed for us. It was late summer in the year 2017, when life started to change. My oldest daughter started experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms like abdominal pain, constipation, and occasional diarrhea. She would casually tell us about her symptoms, then we would all move on to the next thing. I just took it as your typical kid bellyache. You know the one where you tell them “you shouldn’t have eaten that” or “you should try to poop.”  That is until one day while we’re all sitting at the dinner table, she tells me she’s been having blood in her poop. For anyone with kids, you understand that talks about poop, vomit, and any other bodily excrement is not off limits at the dinner table. Nonetheless, when she told me that, I knew something else was up. We got her in to see her doctor and start the evaluation process. After the results of a blood test, it was determined that she needed to see a specialist, a gastroenterologist (a doctor that specializes in the digestive tract). It took sooo long to find out what was going on. After weeks, we found out that our seven year-old daughter has Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory disorder, meaning that one’s immune system is acting inappropriately. With Crohn’s, the immune system thinks it needs to activate anywhere along the digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus. However, people with Crohn’s can have inflammatory issues in other areas of the body as well. Scientists are not sure about the exact cause of Crohn’s disease; however, the general consensus is that it is due in part to a genetic susceptibility as well as environmental factors. I remember I was at work and sitting in a hospital atrium when I received the news of her diagnosis. I felt powerless. I knew what that diagnosis meant for my daughter. For the rest of her life, she would have this illness to consider. Nevertheless, we are not ones to sit around and feel sorry for ourselves, and we do not allow our children to do so either. We always encourage them to get up, keep going, and find the positive. She is a strong little girl, who pushes through with a smile on her face most days even though she’s been in some level of pain for the past three years. My husband and I are both very proud of the strength and courage she portrays on a daily basis. When she was diagnosed, I felt so out of control. I like to fix things, and I couldn’t fix this. Then, I took a deep breath and collected myself. I am not big on taking medications. So much so that pretty much the only time we take medications is for occasional fevers, headaches and seasonal allergies when warranted. With her diagnosis, we were made to feel as if we had to commit our daughter to a lifetime of medication. That didn’t sit well with me. I started educating myself and developed an interest in diet-related health. My eyes were opened to the effects diet can have on Crohn’s disease and several other chronic diseases, especially those deemed preventable. I made the commitment to change my family’s lifestyle, but not without frustration and countless hours trying to figure out how and what to implement. I had moments where I understood why people gave up when trying to live a healthy lifestyle. There is so much information. Trying to decipher it all and to decide what is best for you and your family is a daunting task. Once I was able to uncover what is at the core of a healthy lifestyle, I decided that I wanted to help others skip all the drama of figuring it out. I want to help people get right to work on how to best implement the basic principles of a healthy lifestyle in their households. With that, I started Fitward.

As far as JR’s inspiration behind starting his business, he had several memorable experiences during his time working at the bank. He developed relationships with countless people and listened to their stories, to their frustrations, to their struggles, and to their dreams. These people weren’t asking for anything extraordinary, just what most of us want: to have financial security and freedom. However, many people he encountered felt like this was not an attainable or realistic goal for them. He felt differently, and he knew he could help. With his strong desire, he directed his talents to helping others understand and improve their finances. He dove in head first to further his understanding of personal finance. He used our experiences with money, his love for numbers, and his desire to see others succeed as fuel to start his business. We have made financial mistakes and learned some things, perhaps several lessons, the hard way. His belief was people are not being adequately educated on how to handle money. It is not necessarily taught in school. It is a skill you develop by doing. He helps people understand where they are financially, how they arrived at that point, and what the necessary steps are to reach their financial goals. He has learned so much along the way in experiences and formal education that he is excited to share with others. He started Prep Financial.

What’s To Come

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You will learn more about our family, our experiences with Crohn’s disease, and basic principles with simple guidance for achieving health and financial wellness as you follow along in our blog. Usually the blogs will be written from my perspective but will include JR’s input. Establishing healthy and practical tactics in building and maintaining your household’s wellness is a key to creating a less stressful and happier household. Getting organized and efficient is a significant part of attaining these goals. Knowing how you spend your money and how you invest your time in your family’s physical well-being helps to open your eyes to the present and clarify your goals for the future. All of this is a process. It takes time and patience. One has to move at a pace that is comfortable and make changes that are sustainable. We plan to post a new blog once a week for now centered on finance, physical health, and/or our personal journey to improve both. We are both very down to earth people and would love to engage in dialog with any reader who has questions or comments. We look forward developing lasting relationships with our readers and helping you along your journey as well. 

With Love,

JR & Erica

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