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The holistic health coach who’s proving you can be a mom *and* prioritize self care


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Welcome to Next Gen of Wellness, our spotlight of the nine up-and-coming icons you need to know about *right now*.  We’ve partnered with Quest Nutrition—makers of the craveable, high-protein, low net-carb Quest Bar—to showcase these icons’ mindfulness tips, nutrition advice, and routine-simplifying hacks. Below, GoFitJo blogger Joanne Encarnacion shares hers.

There’s a sign in Jo Encarnacion’s home office that reads: You are allowed to be messy and beautiful at the same time. In a nutshell, that sums up the holistic health and lifestyle coach’s in-person (and online) vibe.

The San Francisco-based blogger’s journey to find self-love was sparked by a conversation with her eldest daughter (more on that life-changing talk below). After her aha! moment, Encarnacion decided to restructure her life, making room for exercise, healthy eating, and loads of self-compassion.

Today, she’s made a business from sharing confidence-boosting wisdom and fitness advice, intel that’s applicable to both moms and non-moms alike. From working on her marriage to staying motivated to take on the gym, it’s all refreshingly honest—which is why she’s racked up nearly 80,000 followers (and sparks conversation worth hundreds of comments).

Keep reading to find out how Encarnacion makes wellness a priority—and the tiny habit that helps her stay in the present moment.

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Jo Encarnacion GoFitJo

How did you get into wellness?

It was July 2013 and I had been dealing with daily anxiety and depression for nearly 18 months. I hid it well, no one at work knew about it. I barely shared it with family and friends. The only people who were witnesses to my breakdowns were my husband and daughters.

One day, my eldest daughter and I were getting ready for a family outing, she looked at me and said, “Mom you’re so beautiful.” I quickly turned to her and said, “No, I’m not I’m ugly and fat” in the same manner you would say this to your girlfriends in a fitting room. The look on her face is one I’ll never forget, and it was in that moment I realized my low opinion about myself wasn’t modesty, it was a destructive path that led to my depression.

Exercise is optional, movement is essential. Our bodies are designed to move, our souls want to move, but it doesn’t require rigidity.

Two weeks later, I hired a trainer, started eating better, and what was a 12-week program turned into a lifestyle. Wellness and fitness was never a part of my upbringing. The last time I had any sort of regimen as far as fitness goes was back in high school. This entire concept of exercise and eating toward my goals was new and terrifying for me.

During this time, I was working at one of the fastest growing startups in the Bay Area called VSCO. I managed large teams and felt so fulfilled at the idea that I was cultivating empowered employees, but something inside me knew that wellness might and should be my next calling. In the fall of 2016, I left behind my 9-to-5, went to school for my health and nutrition coaching certification and here I am, a certified health and lifestyle coach empowering people to nourish their lives both on and off the plate.

What’s your overarching philosophy around fitness?

My philosophy around fitness is this: Exercise is optional, movement is essential. Our bodies are designed to move, our souls want to move, but it doesn’t require rigidity. So its simple just move in whatever way sets your soul on fire.

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Jo Encarnacion

What does a typical day look like for you?

My days are rarely the same, but they have a solid framework of a routine that consists of:

  • 6 a.m. Wake up and help get my kids ready for school
  • 6:30 a.m. Gym time
  • 8:30 a.m. Breakfast
  • 9 a.m. Chat with the hubs before we both begin work. We both work from home, which is one of the joys of both of us owning our own businesses and freelancing. But we’re always working, which I’m still trying to figure out if it’s a good or bad thing.
  • 11:30 a.m. Time to eat again. I personally perform better when I’m eating smaller meals throughout the day, so I’m eating all the time.
  • 12 p.m. Work non-stop until about 3 p.m.
  • 3:30 p.m. Both of my daughters are home from school, so I have to juggle work and homework with the kids.
  • 6 p.m. Dinner
  • 7 p.m. Unplugged hangout with the kids
  • 8:30 p.m.-Bedtime for Olivia/book/reading/tuck-ins
  • 10 p.m. I try to go to bed!

What are the wellness practices you incorporate into your daily life?

I try to be at the gym by 6:30 a.m. and I’ve been loving Alexia Clark’s workouts right now so I’ll follow her circuit exercises. They are a combination of weight training, functional-body movement, and mobility wrapped up into one efficient workout.

At the very core, I move my body four or five days a week and eat whole, nutritious, and simple meals—with the occasional charcuterie plate and wine. I also practice gratitude daily by journaling one thing I’m grateful for each day. It has become my act of self care and my way of connecting me to the present moment.

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Jo Encarnacion

What do you look for in a snack?

I’ve learned that I thrive best when I’m eating four or five small meals a day, which is what I love about Quest Bars. My favorite flavor is good old Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, and if you toss it into a toaster oven or microwave it tastes like a warm chocolate chip cookie.

What are a few of your favorite wellness essentials?

  • I’m obsessed with Saje Peppermint Halo Wand, I carry it with me wherever I go.
  • S’well bottles, I have two on my desk as I write all this.
  • My bullet journal to write down and jot the things I need to plan and the things that are in my heart.
  • Charcoal Toothpaste by Schmidt’s Naturals.
  • My Sonos on my desk because music is a huge part of what keeps me going through my day.
  • Gua Sha Rose Quartz facial tools with a facial oil.

What do you think the future holds for wellness as a movement?

I think we’ve been prioritizing wellness because we’ve begun to embrace the idea that our wellbeing is more than just what we put in our mouths and how we move our bodies. Our overall wellness is impacted by our careers, finances, home environment, mental health, emotional health, spirituality, social life, and the relationship we cultivate with movement. It’s truly a beautiful thing to start seeing people talk about their health holistically because we’re more than just our physical attributes.

We’re starting to see more conversations about finances and career impacting health and people truly embracing it rather than just eye-rolling at it. I also think we’ll start to see more people looking into ways to prevent disease in a holistic manner and finding ways to improve their lives as a whole.

In partnership with Quest Nutrition

Photos: Courtesy of GoFitJo

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