The Wellness Spotlight Series highlights military spouses and their real world health and wellness journeys in a Facebook Live series. Below is an excerpt of Ashleigh’s feature.
Ashleigh is an active duty Navy officer, military spouse, and health coach for military women. She has a passion for helping fellow military women lose weight without spending hours at the gym or in the kitchen.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY AS A MILITARY SPOUSE.
My husband and I met through mutual friends when we were both stationed in Norfolk, VA. He immediately caught my interest when we started talking about Sci-Fi movies . . . we’re both huge nerds. After Norfolk, I left for the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, and he got stationed in San Diego. He proposed the first time he visited me in Monterey, and eight months later we were married at Lake Tahoe. We’ve been long-distance since and will hit our two-year wedding anniversary by the time we finally get to live together.
IF YOU ARE A HEALTH OR WELLNESS EXPERT, TELL US ABOUT IT AND HOW IT HAS IMPACTED YOUR WELLNESS JOURNEY.
My health and wellness journey started at the beginning of my military career. At 22, I was struggling with being overweight and battling depression. I knew I had to change, so I started making small healthier choices that built over time. I learned how to balance health with crazy military schedules and deployments, and even certified as a TurboKick Live instructor so I could teach classes on my second deployment. I started to realize that there was a huge need in the female military community for better health support. As military women, especially dual-military, we’re in a unique position where it feels like we have to handle everything in the home on top of doing our job and deploying. We struggle to care for ourselves, which is why I am so committed to serving this community. I help my clients take those small steps to finally lose that extra weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle. My vision is to create a ripple effect that actually prioritizes health in the military community.
Have you experienced any extreme highs or lows since becoming a military spouse?
My long-distance marriage as a military spouse has definitely been really difficult. I am an extrovert and my primary love language is physical affection, so not being able to see my husband has been a struggle. For me, it’s more difficult to feel emotionally connected when I can’t share a space with him. We’ve really had to work on our communication and have gotten creative in ways we show each other our love. I also cope by spending a lot of time with friends. I recently PCSed with my husband gone, so I’ve had to create a new friend group. It’s during these times that I am so grateful I’m a part of the military community because it’s a little easier to plug into after a move. Of course, with the current pandemic and social distancing, I have had to be very deliberate in maintaining my mental wellbeing. I make sure I exercise every day and have started virtual happy hours and game nights to stay connected to my friends. It’s a little embarrassing, but I even bought a “boyfriend pillow” because I missed and needed hugs so much.
I believe my highest moment is ahead of me when we finally get to live together. For me, that’s the last piece I need to feel my healthiest. In the last year, I have truly prioritized overall health by learning transcendental meditation, improving flexibility, and creating balance between work and home. I’m ready to have that mental and emotional piece in place by having my sweetie home too!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FORM OF SELF-CARE?
It’s hard to choose a favorite form of self-care, but one that I have been working on doing more is giving myself space to rest. I am extremely goal-oriented and organized, so it can be difficult to allow myself to slow down and breathe. I’ve started to schedule in rest (because if I don’t schedule it, it doesn’t happen) which has allowed me to mentally rejuvenate and feel better all around.
WHAT IS ONE PERSONAL HABIT THAT CONTRIBUTES TO YOUR SUCCESS?
One of my best healthy habits is daily movement. I listen to my body, so this doesn’t mean I do hard, intense workouts every day. However, I do make sure I do something to move daily. If it’s a rest day, I go for a walk, stretch, or roll my muscles. It helps me stabilize my mood, maintain good energy, and feel generally good in my body. Also, so many people believe that you have to spend hours in the gym to get healthy, but that’s really not true. Small habits done consistently can create huge change in your body.
IF YOU COULD SHARE A HEALTH AND WELLNESS RESOURCE WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
I have to shout out MWR Fitness classes on base. I feel like they’re often an overlooked resource, but I always love finding my favorite classes each new base I go to. Group fitness classes are one of my favorite ways to work out, and I really enjoy doing workouts that I would never do on my own. Plus, it helps me connect with other health-minded people in the community.
IF YOU COULD RECOMMEND ONE BOOK AND/OR PODCAST TO MILITARY SPOUSES, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
Start with Why by Simon Sinek. I truly believe having a vision for your life is the key to happiness. Regardless of whether you’re starting your health journey or a business, knowing your “Why” will anchor you to change habits and persevere when life gets difficult. Also, living in alignment with your “Why” is the path to fulfillment.
Ashleigh Magee is an active duty navy officer, military spouse, and health coach for military women. She serves as an Engineering Duty Officer at Port Hueneme, and her husband, Ryan, is an E-2D pilot, currently deployed to Qatar. Alongside her active service, her passion is helping fellow military women lose weight without spending hours at the gym or in the kitchen.