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 Ashley’s feature.
Ashley is a military spouse, mom to three girls, and a huge advocate for women’s health. She empowers women with vital resources, education, and tools on pelvic floor and core health.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY AS A MILITARY SPOUSE?
I have known my husband for 30 years. We met when I was seven and he was 10. Never would I think that four years after he left for the Army we would run into each other at a little Mexican restaurant in our hometown, Anderson, Indiana, and be married five months later. Fate brought us together that day, and this year we will celebrate 15 years of marriage.
I knew nothing about the military lifestyle and it was really hard for me in the beginning. We were so young and really learning things about one another along the way. I had never been away from home and shortly after moving to Ft. Bragg with my husband, we got orders to Germany. We would then spend the rest of my husband’s career going back and forth between Ft. Bragg and Germany. Since this had been the pattern every three years, we were shocked to get orders to Detroit, MI in 2015. Timing is everything and this duty station was exactly what we needed to prepare us for retirement and give us a feel for what civilian life might look like.
The military has taught me so much about myself and life. I will forever be grateful for the experiences we have had and all of the lessons and wonderful people we have met along the way. The military has been a huge part of our lives for a long time, and I plan to stay plugged into the community after retirement. I’ll just have to add “retired” military spouse to my title.
IF YOU ARE A HEALTH OR WELLNESS EXPERT, TELL US ABOUT IT AND HOW IT HAS IMPACTED YOUR WELLNESS JOURNEY.
I am a certified personal trainer with specialty certifications in pelvic floor and core health. I became a personal trainer because I loved working out and the way it made me feel. It became an outlet for me after we started to have kids, and was such a great stress reliever in this often unpredictable and stressful lifestyle. Deciding to specialize in pelvic floor and core health felt like a very natural step to me after suffering with pelvic floor dysfunction for six long years. I was told over and over again that my symptoms were normal and this was all a very normal phase of motherhood. When I finally found my answers to heal my body, I made it my mission to specialize in this area of women’s health to empower women with resources. Far too many women suffer with symptoms and I want to bring light to this area and hope to those who have bodies that don’t work right or feel good to them. I’m determined to normalize this taboo topic and be the conversation starter for things that are not always easy to speak up about.
WHAT WAS A LOW MOMENT WHEN YOUR HEALTH SUFFERED THE MOST AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME IT?
The military lifestyle is full of highs and lows. Lowest moments for me personally were the times I was dealing with postpartum depression. It was a time when I really needed my husband, but deployments or schooling always seemed to come after babies. The overwhelm of doing all of the things on top of struggling with my mental health and pelvic floor dysfunction. Unfortunately, this left me with feelings of resentment toward my husband. Our marriage is strong though and we always come out on the other side together. My husband’s duties have left me alone for more than half of our marriage and often during my darkest hours when I really needed to have solid support.
I would have never survived this life without my military sisters. They are what always got me through the hard times. Sometimes it was a simple phone call or sometimes it was them taking my kids so I could have time to reset. Having a community of people who truly understand your life is invaluable. One of the things I will miss most after retirement is the built-in community and easy friendships that are always waiting for you when you show up to your new duty station.
WHEN HAVE YOU FELT YOUR HEALTHIEST AND/OR BEEN AT YOUR HIGHEST MOMENT?
My highest moment was when I was finally able to get control of the way my body felt. I suffered with symptoms that affected my daily life for years. I never realized how bad it was until they were gone. It affected me both physically and mentally. Timing is everything. Right about the same time I found my answers was also a time that my husband’s work load drastically shifted. This allowed me the time and support I needed to get the schooling done that would later launch my business and passion to support women in a very important area of their health. Every single little detail completely made sense and I knew we were exactly where we were supposed to be. It was really amazing to look back and see how everything along our military journey had a purpose. Even the hard times!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FORM OF SELF-CARE?
My favorite form of self-care is working out. I love a nice long run or walk alone with my earbuds in. I love meeting friends for a workout class. My favorite is getting my girls involved and just moving! All of these things make me feel like the best version of myself. It’s important for me to make sure I’m carving out that time to incorporate self-care in my daily life.
WHAT IS ONE PERSONAL HABIT THAT CONTRIBUTES TO YOUR SUCCESS?
Getting up early every single day and having at least one cup of hot coffee all by myself. Starting my day off slowly and completely chaos free really sets the tone for the rest of the day. It’s one little part of the day when I feel like I’m in complete control with zero interruptions. It’s not always easy getting out of bed, but it’s always worth it to start my day off right!
IF YOU COULD SHARE A HEALTH AND WELLNESS RESOURCE WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
M.O.M.S. – Military Outreach MUTU System. This online program changed my life drastically. So much so that we launched an outreach program specific for military women. I know the daily struggles of this life and I want to make sure women have a resource and someone they can turn to when they have questions or need help.
IF YOU COULD RECOMMEND ONE BOOK OR PODCAST TO MILITARY SPOUSES, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
Below Your Belt – How to Be the Queen of Your Pelvic Region. I highly encourage all moms to buy and read this book with your daughters. I feel like a big reason we are in the situation we are with the statistics of women suffering with symptoms is because we are never taught these things. Nor do we talk about this area of our health. Let’s start empowering our younger girls with education and resources so they can all feel in control of their bodies during every phase of womanhood. When trying to learn something I find that reading a children’s book can be so helpful. This can be such overwhelming topic for so many that I always encourage to start with a simple read.
The Female Pelvis. I recommend this book because it was one of the first books I read when taking a course so I could specialize in this area. Another simple and quick read. I learned so much about my own body in this book and it was very helpful. Things I learned in this book were things I wish someone would have told me about a long time ago!
I also recommend the podcast: Dear MilFamily Podcast – Sheena Arting. This podcast brings light to a little bit of everything in this military life. Highly recommend everyone checks it out!
Ashley Gammon is the community manager for M.O.M.S. and the PR executive for MUTU USA. She has made it her mission to bring awareness of pelvic floor and core health to military spouses and female service members across the globe. Her personal journey with MUTU and healing her postpartum body inspired her to bring awareness to military communities. Ashley and her husband have three girls all named after presidents, Mckinley, Madison, and Monroe. Ashley and her family reside in Michigan in their “forever” home after retiring from the Army after 20 years in October 2019.