I'm honored to have Allie Marie Smith on the blog today for another edition of "Real Women. Real Balance." Allie is Founder and Director of Wonderfully Made, a non-profit ministry dedicated to inspiring young women to know their value and live outward-focused lives. She's an award-winning author of “HEAL: Healthy Eating & Abundant Living” and is also a professional speaker, certified-Spinning Instructor the creator of the Body Beautiful iPhone app “for true beauty and confidence.” Allie lives near Santa Barbara, California (my previous home) and is a true example of a real woman, seeking to live in a healthy, balanced way. I'm completely inspired by the way she has dedicated her life to help women live more freely and love themselves more fully.
First off, what inspired you to start Wonderfully Made?
I started Wonderfully Made my sophomore year of college after battling severe depression, poor body image, insecurity and witnessing so many of my close girlfriends go through similar issues such as such eating disorders, self-harm, promiscuity and drug and alcohol abuse.
What is your favorite post on the Wonderfully Made blog?
That’s a tough one! We’ve had so many great posts by incredible contributors over the years. If I had to narrow it down, I’d say one I enjoyed writing the most is "All Things Beautiful.”
As you know, The Balanced Life is all about empowering women to approach health & fitness with a balanced mindset. We're trying to rid the industry of guilt and "fat talk" what is one of the best ways that you've found to not fall victim to these messages?
While it’s never easy to live in a toxic culture that bombards us with images of gorgeous, scantily clad and photo-shopped women, I’ve come a long way on my journey towards freedom. I try focus on health and freedom and strive to be healthy, fit and free – rather than a certain size or shape. I choose to treasure my body for the amazing gift it is; for the fun activities it allows me to enjoy, the people it enables me to love, and the life I’m able to live.
What do you do when you're not working on Wonderfully Made projects?
One of my life mantras is “Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea and drink the wild air” (wise words by Ralph Waldo Emerson). I try to do that as much as possible with my husband or girlfriends. I surf at least once a week and when the waves are flat I’ll opt for stand up paddling, hiking or horse-backing riding. I also teach Spinning classes a few times a week and love antique shopping and spending time with my girlfriends.
With all that you do I have no doubt you're incredibly busy. So I'm curious, what does balance mean to you during your current season of life?
It means savoring the in-between-moments in life - like enjoying the walk to my mailbox rather than just grabbing the mail. I never feel guilty for having “me time." I hug often and try to have at least one good belly laugh a day.
Who/what inspires you?
Spending time outside in wide-open spaces, traveling, books, social entrepreneurs and innovators, artists and athletes. Also, each one of my mentors, role models and closest friends inspire me in a unique way. Collectively they are a constant source of inspiration.
What is your best tip for maintaining a healthy lifestyle (or mindset) in the midst of a busy, pressure-filled life?
Move your body creatively and regularly - discover the things that make you come alive and do them often. Also, never feel guilty for having “you time.”
What projects are you currently working on for Wonderfully Made?
Right now I’m busy expanding our “HerStory” film series and planning a big, fall conference for girls and young women. I’m also gearing up to promote our new small group study “Wonderfully Made: Becoming Who You Are in Christ” which releases next month!
Before I let you go, can you tell us more about the Body Beautiful iPhone App?
After getting my first iPhone a few years ago and seeing the need for an app that would inspire women and girls to have a more positive self-image, I decided to set out and create one. Body Beautiful is the only iPhone app for “true beauty and confidence” which features inspirational quotes, media articles, videos and tools.
(CLICK HERE to download the Body Beautiful app)
To read more about all that Allie has going on with Wonderfully Made and Body Beautiful be sure to visit her website. You can also connect with her on Twitter or Facebook for inspiring, positive conversation throughout the week. If you have question for Allie, feel free to post it in the comments below!