When motivation wavers, sometimes the inspiration we need can come straight from our favorite blogs — following the authors’ lives like others might follow a reality show, hitting refresh waiting for the next installment. And yet, it can be easy to forget these digital personalities are actual human beings — ones who created their sites as a way to put their passion out there or to help them on their fitness journey. Most didn’t realize the influence they’d have on other’s lives and how their stories would gain such a following. From finishing half-Ironmans to creating thriving online businesses, these writers set out on simple journeys to health but ending up surprising themselves and inspiring thousands, one word at a time.
Need Blogger Inspiration? Click This Way
Half Ironman, Fully Awesome
Blog: Weight Off My Shoulders
Dani Holmes-Kirk started her site in 2011 after suffering a back injury, as an outlet for her frustrations with depression and weight loss. “Thankfully, I woke up one morning and decided I was truly worth it,” she says. In 2009, when her weight topped the scales at 217, the Bostonian joined Weight Watchers and by 2012 she reached her goal of 153 pounds.
Along the way, she became hooked on running, and she’s now run 26 half-marathons, six full marathons, and five triathlons — including a half-Ironman. The now-athlete also changed her career, transitioning from working in sports public relations to working for the company that helped change her life, Weight Watchers. “I never in a million years thought I’d be where I am today, but all the struggles were worth it,” she says, “and I’ve had the honor of sharing it all on my blog.”
Blog: Choosing Raw
Blogger Gena Hamshaw is a clinical nutritionist and food blogger who’s going back to school to become a Registered Dietitian. But she didn’t always have a healthy a relationship with food. The now-vegan struggled with eating disorders as a teenager and through college. Hamshaw discovered a plant-based diet worked best for her over the course of her recovery.
In 2009, she started Choosing Raw to document her raw food and veganism journey, and its intersection with eating disorders, starting the popular Green Recovery series. A recognized voice in the vegan community, Hamshaw can now add published author to her accomplishments. Her first cookbook, Choosing Raw: Making Raw Foods Part of the Way You Eat, which debuted last year, explains why veganism works for her and provides more than 100 delicious recipes.
Did It Her Way
Blog: Roni’s Weigh
Maryland native Roni Noone is a one-woman fitness media empire who’s paved the way for the current generation of bloggers. In 2005, she started Roni’s Weigh to document her weight-loss endeavors. “It started to become a complete outlet for me,” she writes on her site, “it was my shoulder to cry on, my friend to high five, and my coach to report to.”
The site became so successful that she was able to leave her full-time job as a web development professor to devote all of her energy to her portfolio of blogs. Yes, one wasn’t enough! She runs Roni’s Weigh, her food blog Green Lite Bites and Blog to Lose, a weight loss forum with more than 6,000 members. Need more inspiration? In 2010, she created Fitbloggin’, a summit for like-minded bloggers to learn from each other. Look out for her first book, What You Can, When You Can, which debuts later this year.
Music to Our Ears
Blog: Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss
She just wanted to keep her mother happy, but Erika Nicole Kendall’s story turned into so much more. A former online marketing and web design entrepreneur, Kendall’s weight climbed to a point where her mother was concerned about her health. Kendall began her blog to chronicle her incredible 160-pound weight loss.
The web design firm she’d been running fell by the wayside as people responded enthusiastically to her writing, and she built a social media following large enough to allow her to run the site full-time. “The moment I made my entire month’s rent on e-books alone, I realized this might be a profitable full-time endeavor,” she says. The Brooklyn transplant eventually became certified as a personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine, runs a “Clean Eating Boot Camp” on her site and has even competed in a bikini competition! She’s regularly called on as an expert speaker on fitness, weight loss and blogging at events like BlogHer, Fitbloggin’ and Black Girls Run Sweat With Your Sole.
“Honestly, none of this was even remotely fathomable for me,” she says. “Had I not gone this route, I’d be a Ph.D. in music history somewhere begging a University to deem me worthy. Instead, I live in New York with a healthy and happy family, a great community, and a bright future.”
Going the Distance
Blog: No Meat Athlete
If you’re a runner, you’re bound to have seen t-shirts with running carrots on them along with the No Meat Athlete logo. You can thank Matt Frazier for those! He started his site as a resource for vegetarian endurance athletes when he decided to give up meat and attempt to qualify for the Boston Marathon. At the time, he was a grad student studying applied mathematics and wasn’t able to find much on the subject of endurance training as a vegetarian. His ah-ha moment came when he realized he didn’t want to endure a stressful job-application process just to work for someone else. And so Frazier channeled his efforts into turning his site into something profitable that would allow him to work from anywhere. He now blogs full-time, thanks to that little running carrot logo and his digital training programs.
Will Run for Hugs
Blog: Katy Widrick
Television producer Katy Widrick started her site (originally called Silly Tater Tot) in 2007 as she was in the midst of a career change, transitioning from working in broadcast news to working for a startup where she’d be doing storytelling through online video. Nervous she’d lose touch with the news, the 34-year old started her blog to put her own commentary on current events. At the same time, she was trying to lose 40 pounds and began incorporating posts about weight loss and fitness, as it was foremost on her mind.
She credits blogging with giving her both the inspiration and accountability to accomplish what she never dreamed possible before: running several half-marathons and becoming certified to be a group fitness instructor. For her first half-marathon, she found local running partners through their blogs and trained with them to prep for race day. Plus, expecting to see them at the big event meant there was no way she could back out. “I knew they’d be there waiting to give me a hug, and so I had to show up!” she says.
RELATED: The 50 Best Half-Marathons in the U.S.
Hungry for More
Blog: Hungry Runner Girl
Suffering from an IT band injury from running, Janae Jacobs began her blogging journey in 2010 as a way to channel her creative energy while she was sidelined. Readers immediately connected to her down-to-earth writing style and before she knew it, the grade-school teacher and spin instructor was able to turn her hobby into a career as she and her husband moved from Utah to San Francisco, CA.
When her daughter was just a year old, Jacobs began going through a painful divorce that she shared publicly on her site. As she opened up about her struggles, comments from readers who were or had been in her shoes came pouring in, uniting a community through her site.
RELATED: The 20 Most Inspiring Runners in the U.S.
Pop It Like It’s Hot
What started with designing her own yoga bag — because she couldn’t find one to fit her own needs — turned into her own online fitness empire. Cassey Ho was a senior at Whittier College, when her creation became a hit. The Pilates instructor quit her corporate fashion retail job to focus on her fitness business full-time.
In 2009, she uploaded her first Pilates video to YouTube and hasn’t looked back since. More than 1.8 million subscribers and 165 million views later, the entrepreneur now has her own iPhone app and has turned her Pop Pilates into a group exercise program anyone can get certified in as an instructor. “My job is my passion and my passion is my job,” Ho writes on her site. “I feel so lucky to be able to encourage you to eat healthier, train harder, and live happier lives by doing what I enjoy.”
Stuck on This
Blog: PB Fingers
In 2009, Julie Fagan was working a desk job as an editor and content manager. She decided to start Peanut Butter Fingers as a light-hearted way to share her love of healthy food and fitness — her two personal passions — with family and friends. Two years later, she found that her readership was large enough for her blog to sustain her full-time and she quit her job. In 2012, she continued following her dreams becoming a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor.
“Had it not been for the blog, I don’t think I ever would’ve pursued personal training or teaching group exercise,” says Fagan. “Fitness has always been an interest of mine, but writing about fitness every day on my blog really made me want to live and breathe my passion — both on the Internet and off.”