Volunteer of the Month

In Gear Career is able to provide our services because of wonderful Military Spouses who understand what it means  to serve.  Many people contribute to our collective success, but this month we would like to recognize Kelly Schwark for her work photographing Military Spouses for our website.  She graciously spent an afternoon with the Spouses from the West Point Local Chapter to capture them in professional settings.  She then edited and donated all of the photos for use on this site.  Many of the photos you see on this site are real Military Spouses in  action.  In addition, each Spouse photographed received a free professional head shot.

Kelly became an Army wife in 2001 and has been enjoying how her roles as artist, mother and wife always blur together and often overlap…  she loves that!  The military lifestyle taught her to strive to capture the emotion and sentiment in the moment; to appreciate every second that we are blessed to have on this earth.  Please check out her work http://kellyschwark.zenfolio.com.

In Gear Career Partners with eMentor

We are pleased to announce that In Gear Career is actively partnering with Millitary Spouse Business Alliance Partner – MilSpouse eMentor to help our members get the support they need.  In addition to finding mentors in your Community of Practice, you can enroll in the eMentor program to find professionals who have volunteered to help you.

The program allows you to enroll as a mentor and/or as a protégé.  As a protégé, you can view mentors’ profiles and select someone you identify with based on industry, skill sets, life stage, etc.  Once you have identified a mentor, you send them a request and begin a relationship through the online portal.  How the relationship develops is up to the pair, but will typically be a 20-30 min commitment each month.

In addition to being user-friendly, one of the aspects that we really like about the program is that it connects you not only with other successful military spouses, but also with corporate professionals – enabling you to expand your professional network.

You can sign up for the eMentor program on their website: www.milspousementor.org

Stay tuned as we collaborate to bring you a great program!

Work Life Balance…What’s your reality?

Posted by Elizabeth Gorkowski

Are you a working military spouse just dreaming of work life balance?  For just $9.99 a month this dream can be yours!  Ahhh if only it was that easy. How is a working military spouse supposed to fit in all of the demands placed on them, work, eat, perhaps raise children, sleep and find precious minutes for themselves?

This morning my alarm went off at 5:30, I greeted the yet to be seen sun with a P90x workout,  jumped in the shower, made lunches for the kids, dressed all three of them (ages 5, 3.5 and 1.5) for picture day at school and somehow arrived at school by 8am.  I worked on rewriting necessary policies for M.O.M. FIT to continue its growth; attended a luncheon for Americans Working Around the Globe (I am almost positive I brushed my hair), sprinted to the park  to run a M.O.M. FIT class and at 2:15 picked the kids up.  We returned home for snacks and an awesome hour of tag, soccer, jump rope and sprints in the backyard.  (Oh yes I said sprints, that way I can get my “speed” workouts in).  We showered, ate dinner, dressed for bed and I high fived the babysitter on the way out to attend a coffee for RHHT.  It was of course everyone’s lucky night that it was karaoke coffee and I love Bon Jovi.  At 9:45 I hugged my friend Morgan and thanked her for watching the children, laid out their clothes for school, sat down to work on my white paper for MOM FIT and at midnight went to sleep.  Perhaps outsiders who don’t know me might think this was a day of pure insanity but for me it is a perfect example of work life balance.

My balance did not arrive without a lot of planning, effort and the shocking realization that I simply can’t do it all.  As a military spouse it becomes far too easy for our lives to be pushed to the back burner as we attempt to cram our own dreams and goals into a life that is already packed with moves, work, family obligations and no luxury of extended family support.  Sometime during the fall of 2010 I realized I had too many extraneous factors pulling me in a hundred different directions and that the one item I had always cherished, working out daily sometimes twice a day was no longer a part of my life and it was making me a miserable person.  Exercise is my drug of happiness, nothing makes me feel better then a workout and the benefits are numerous.   I decided at that point to make a list of my top priorities and that they would be non negotiable  1)MY FAMILY  2) Fitness  3) M.O.M. FIT  4)Learning to say “let me check my calendar” and then had to actually make it happen!

I have a wonderful family but three girls under the age of 5 can easily steamroll out of control and my husband and I decided upon arrival in Germany (which was the 5th move for my 4.5 year old daughter) school and daycare options would be the best solution to set me on a path to being a better mother, spouse and owner of M.O.M. FIT . Their attendance allows me to put quality hours in on the continuous development of M.O.M FIT  and more importantly provides them with quality mom/daughter time when they  aren’t in school. I quickly realized I had too many friends where I was the primary giver using up a lot of my time and energy.  I decided to cut ties with many so called friends and it was shockingly easy.  I started adding fitness hours to my daily calendar, worked hard to build workouts that didn’t require me to go to the gym and slowly regained myself one step at a time.  I also learned to add the magical phrase “let me check my calendar and get back to you” before saying yes to any requests.

Numerous volunteer requests always fall at the feet of military spouses with little acknowledgement of the outside job many spouses are already balancing as a military spouse and perhaps parent.  Spouses are part of a culture where expectations exceed the normal standard and if you don’t make your time a priority no one will do it for you.  I have now cut my volunteer time to only saying yes to INGEAR,  Americans Working Around the Globe and coaching high school basketball. Nothing else provides me with the sense of fulfillment and satisfaction like those organizations, which allows me to justify taking time and energy away from my family.

For years coaching basketball was my life and passion but 5 moves in 4.5 years quickly put a 12 year career to a screeching halt.  I was fortunate enough to take advantage of the MYCAA benefit offered to spouses and obtain my personal trainer certification and begin the development of M.O.M. FIT.  Our mission at M.O.M. FIT is to improve the wellness, overall health and fitness levels of military spouses through a supportive team environment.  Daily we make in home visits for individual workouts, meet at parks across Germany for boot camps and stroller fitness, teach families how to meal plan, educate them on nutrition, teach goal setting and most importantly build the TEAM concept so spouses always have a support system in their lives.

Today was a balanced work life day for me; there are days work garners more hours, the family receives less attention and vice versa.  Take a moment and share with us the way you find balance in your day, you just might help another spouse achieve their pursuit of balance. There is no perfect in the pursuit of work life balance and I have come to the realization that as long as the good days far outweigh the bad days then my balance is successful.

Liz Gorkowski , a military spouse with  15 years in the fitness industry has mentored Olympic, professional, collegiate, All Army Team and military spouse athletes.  Liz is an ACE certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor and former college basketball coach. She is the owner of the Fit Group which is home to M.O.M. FIT where WE ARE CHANGING LIVES ONE WORKOUT AT A TIME! Like the Fit Group today on Facebook at The FIT Group or visit our website at www.the-fit-group.com.  If you would like a M.O.M. FIT chapter on your post please send all requests to thefitgroup11@googlemail.com

Health Coaching – Versatile, rewarding and mobile!

Posted by Jolie McShane

Moving around the country..wait..moving around the world?  How does a military spouse find sources of income when they are constantly uprooted?  As a Certified Health Coach I can recommend my own profession as an option, specifically for those of us with a passion for nutrition.  Once we become parents, we better understand the importance of food and nutrition.  A sick child will bring out the “Mother Bear” in every one of us and we become advocates for our children’s wellbeing.  This is what happened to me and many of my colleagues in this industry.  My youngest was born with total body coverage of eczema, so severe he never should have survived.  The top 6 local medical doctors all prescribed steroids, a remedy that only covered up the underlying problem.  Years later and many doctors, alternative care professionals and research I finally found the source of his problem and was able to heal him.  He is now eczema and asthma free, living a mostly normal life.  I wanted to share my expertise but needed some sort of credentials or certification.  This is when I found a new profession called health coaching.  Once one completes the training, miracles happen.  Your diet is dramatically changed and nagging health issues are addressed and reduced.  For some, their weight issues are under control, for many, women’s issues in general are placated.  Other health coaches combine fitness certification along with the health coaching, offering fitness and nutritional counseling.  Health Coaching is an amazing profession that allows each coach to uncover their own hidden specialties in order to help those around them.

Health coach training is available via the internet; there is no need to ever attend any onsite classes.  Upon your completion of this 12-month course, you are certified through the State University of New York (SUNY) with 40 college credits.  The cost is between $4,000-$5,000 depending on when you register and how it is paid.  Materials are provided digitally, printed or online.  A mentor checks in with you for one hour a month.  The ability to listen to the lectures on your time, as many times as you want is perfect for the military spouse on the move.  Each week requires between 2-6 hours of study, depending on the subject matter.

No matter where you reside, you will have a huge community of internet and (if stateside) local health coaches where you share ideas, workshops and business tips.  Your coaching can be conducted via the medium of your choice.  Some coaches have business models where webinars are their sole source of income, while others coach over the phone or in person.  Hourly rates are set by the coach and range from $50 – 250 per hour.  Work as little or as much as you want.

There are many options for health coach certification.  The school I attended fit my needs and nutrition interests.  The added benefit was their “Fast Track” program which concentrated on the business aspect of health coaching.  This option is provided free of charge.  In addition, the school offers website design and hosting, all at no additional cost.

My website is www.healthmaniacs.net, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition can be found at www.integrativenutrition.com.  Referrals to the school are also a small source of income, ranging between $300 – $500 per registered student.

This profession is not for everyone, but certainly satisfying for those who wish to help others.  The education is based on the concept of food = medicine, no scientific modeling or chemistry required.