Title: National Account Manager/Beach Body Coach @ “Like the Lettuce”
With over 2,700 followers on her Facebook account “Like the Lettuce,” (also known as her – $40,000 a yr “side business”) Maria Romaine Brace is the epitome of hard work and dedication paying off. She’s as known for her kindness and generosity, as she is for her drive and consistency. If Maria sets a goal, it’s going to get done. Get ready to learn from an incredible female BOSS.
Interview: In those moments in your life where you were not feeling good about yourself – how did you pick yourself back up?
I had three knee surgeries before I was 18 yrs old, and before that my life revolved around being an athlete and playing soccer. I had started to gain weight, and it was starting to become a bigger struggle. I would try to lose the weight and end up yo-yo dieting. It wasn’t until later (in life) that I started really digging in to research on my family history, my own body, and the health industry as a whole that I felt like I started to make real progress.
Health and happiness were always top goals in my life.
When I was in the initial stages of my building my business (Like the Lettuce), I knew that I was passionate about health and wellness, but I hadn’t really figured out what it all meant to me. More than anything, I knew that I wanted to help others with something that I personally had success with.
My breakthrough didn’t come until after I hit rock bottom in college. I had been struggling with weight for a while. When I went away to school I gained a lot more, and I stopped working out all together – which was very unlike me. I was also in a relationship that was very unhealthy; I abandoned all of my friends and felt like they had abandoned me.
I turned my back on things that are now huge priorities in my life.
In my senior year of college, I made a vow to prioritize myself and to never-ever let myself get to that point again.
Q: What did that low point feel like to you?
Well, physically I was at my heaviest weight and didn’t feel at home in my body. I had mono. I was getting staff infections. My body was responding in ways that I now see as a result of being super inflamed.
In my personal life, I wasn’t talking to any of my friends and tried to keep the details (of how I was feeling) from my family, but they could tell something was going on.
Surprisingly, even during this (low) point in my life I still managed get a workout in once a week teaching a fitness class.
The commitment to show up (for others) and teach kept me moving.
It’s challenging to think back to that time in my life because I really try to keep a positive outlook and be a positive person, but I can see now that the way my life felt, the way I felt – it could have been close to something like depression. Thankfully, my grades didn’t drop, and I was able to keep moving forward in other areas of my life. I’d say that time felt more like I was living in preservation mode. I was just trying to survive.
In many ways I’m thankful for that experience because it was the physical symptoms on the outside that helped me recognize something bigger was going on inside of me.
Something clicked when I graduated college. I was ready to kick ass and take my life back. Before then, it felt like “failure to launch.” Before my knee surgeries, my identity had been being a soccer player, but I never felt like I was able to realize my full potential in the sport.
Q: I love that something shifted in you when you graduated. It makes me think back to some of the low points in my life. What I tend to do is compare myself to when I felt better. Then, I immediately get stuck in the “how”. “How did I lose my way?” “How will I ever get back there?” How did you inch your way back from your lowest point to, “I’m ready to kick ass again”?
I think shedding toxic relationships was a BIG factor. I felt like a doormat. I was a pleaser, who would take on other people’s judgments of me as my truth, which made it really challenging to separate my own thoughts and feelings from people that I wanted to like me. When I graduated, getting distance from the college environment helped me begin to see things more clearly.
Getting my job at Angie’s List that was also a big turning point for me. I wasn’t sure it was the right move at first because, at the time, it was such a small company. The position I applied for, and ultimately got, was a temporary position.
It was just me and three other guys.
I got hired for a job that was intended as an experiment. Looking back, I really think my drive, coupled with the leadership in the company, helped me turn a four-person team to a fifty-person department.
This may have been my youth, but there was also something about ‘going against the guys’ that gave me that little extra drive.
I finally had a place to channel power that had always been inside me, and it was reflecting in my numbers. In a way, it was like I had evidence, not just an inner knowingness that I was capable of doing what I set my mind to. I always knew on some level I was a capable person, but I didn’t have the evidence. This was a turning point for me in other areas of my life as well.
*Stay tuned for Part 2 of Maria’s interview.
Pearl of wisdom: What you put in you get out.
Winning Fact: (At Angie’s List) I got hired for a job that was intended as an experiment. Looking back, I really think my drive, coupled with the leadership in the company, helped me turn a four-person team to a fifty-person department.
Golden Rules: Commit to yourself. Show up.
They say: “Maria brings energy, encouragement, and most importantly, happiness to all of her fitness classes and coaching! Her commitment to ensuring everyone, no matter their level, gets a great workout is clear, and is hard to resist. Whether it’s turbo kick, cycling, or size, she lets her classes know that she understands the challenges in getting to the gym and working out, and she encourages everyone to give it their best–and have fun.” – Laura Kennedy
*Want to see Maria in action, click here.