When it comes to column writers, personality is everything. If you spend time around Addie Graffin, it doesn’t take long to find out she has plenty of it. The 38-year-old who lives in Platteville, Wis., wears many hats. She is a stay-at-home mom to two sets of twins, ages 3 and 5; a wife; a foodie; and a health and fitness enthusiast. She has a way with words, having been published on the popular ScaryMommy.com, where she shared her struggles with infertility. She also shares her musings on her blog, HealthyHairdresserAddie.com, where she spills on everything from parenthood to marriage, food and her inspiring healthy transformation, with a bold honesty and a touch of humor. You can read Graffin’s debut column for Her magazine on page 34. But with a good story to boot, we also believed an appropriate introduction was an order.
Name: Addie Graffin.
Where you’re from: Platteville, Wis.
Family: Husband, Kevin; and two sets of twins — Keith and Duke, 5; and May and Beau, 3. Also, two dogs, seven chickens and one bunny.
Tell readers a little about your life before you began your blog. How would you describe it?
I was a salon owner in Madison, Wis., up until I became pregnant with my first set of twins. Life for me, as I knew it, just kind of stopped. I was working so hard every day on my business. Then, all of a sudden, in a blink, I was a stay at home momma. I never had a vision to be home. I wanted to work. I liked working. I loved running the business and making others feel good and look good. It was my jam for as long as I can remember. Between doing that and teaching fitness classes, I was always set out to be with people and make them feel good. Helping them helped me.
Then, I was home. Isolated from others. I was busy and loving on my babies, but I was lonely and missed people. Not long after the first set of twins was born, we found out that another set was on the way. I literally had four kids in two years.
I felt happy and blessed to be able to stay home with these littles, but part of me felt empty and like something was missing. People would tell me all the time how unique my story was, and so I just kind of started documenting about it. I started a little blog on my own. No plan in mind. Nothing really intended. It just helped me.
I would write about some of my past struggles, my feeling lonely struggles, my weight struggles, having two sets of twins struggles, marriage struggles and much more. I would share some of them to Facebook and Instagram with my friends on occasion, and I think they were all quite shocked at my honesty. It healed me, though.
This made me feel like I was a part of the outside world that I missed dearly but also was home with the four most important beings in my life, too. I was able to fix that lonely feeling while being able to watch my kids grow.
Tell us a little about your health and fitness journey. What made you decide it was time to put a greater emphasis on this in your life? How did you do it?
I started getting into fitness in my mid 20s, when I became a group fitness instructor. But I was very insecure. I always carried an extra 15 pounds and just never felt confident being in the front of the room. I honestly became an instructor to save money on gym memberships. I didn’t expect it to become such a big part of my life.
I was a fake fitness instructor, though. I would be there and present in class. Workout super hard and motivate the heck out of everyone. Then, I would go home and just binge eat like crazy. I was a big drinker and a smoker. I felt like such a liar all the time. I loved being with my class, but the faking it made me so uncomfortable and created such anxiety.
Sure, I would have my moments where I could drop the 15 pounds, but I was either starving or living on Diet Coke, or worse, trying the latest fad. I was never authentic.
Then, I became a mom, and it all changed. I gained 85 pounds with the first set of twins. That is almost 100 pounds! It was crazy, and I was so uncomfortable. Not normal pregnancy uncomfortable: I could not breath. I was trying to do my best for the babies, so I totally quit working out and just laid around and ate for almost the entire pregnancy. I was not doing any good at all to them or myself.
After they arrived, I made a commitment to myself and to them to get healthy for real. Not to fit into skinny jeans, not for an upcoming event, not to impress anyone. I wanted to get healthy to live for them to teach them health.
I started working out again at home and experimented with healthier cooking. I started watching my portions and using weekends for fun activities, like hiking instead of drinking. It took me more than a year, but I lost the baby weight, plus 15 pounds — only to get pregnant again. But the second time, I gained less weight, worked out up to 36 weeks pregnant, and my delivery and recovery were amazing. I fed my body for fuel and it felt good.
What made you decide to share your journey?
I wanted to share with women like me: Women who felt alone or like they couldn’t do it. I wanted to show not just women but everyone that you can start over. You can change your habits. You can become better with one choice at a time. Tiny changes can and will lead to big changes in the end.
I wanted people to look at me and not think I have always had my stuff together. I wanted them to know I have been at all-time lows, but I got out of it. I got unstuck, and so can they. I wanted to inspire people who have these same feelings to know that it is normal and OK to feel that way sometimes. It is OK to struggle. We all do. Fake makes me uncomfortable and created so much anxiety for me. Now, that I can live authentically, I want others to realize they can, too, and the anxiety can go away. Just be yourself. It feels so good. And the great news is if you want to change, you can.
For those who haven’t checked it out, what are some of the things your blog features?
I talk a lot about healthy eating and share a ton of recipes. I create recipes almost daily and make my family be my testers. The good ones go live in the blog for other’s to see and learn. You can cook good food for your family that can taste amazing, too.
I talk a lot about my battles with food, anxiety, infertility and just being a mom and women in today’s world. I also share workouts and other healthful tips.
Have you been surprised by the amount of followers and feedback you’ve received?
I am, and I am so grateful. At first, when I started the blog, it was like crickets for a long time. I was like, “Is anyone listening?” I wanted to quit on several occasions, but then, I would get a little nugget of hope from a follower that I helped them in some way. Then, I would just keep pressing on. Knowing that if I helped one person, it was worth it.
The tone of your blog is refreshingly real and honest. What made you decide to go about it in that way?
Being fake makes me so uncomfortable. I have the most awful poker face. I can’t lie. My face gives it up. I lived so many years as a fake trying to be something I wasn’t. It is so freeing to be real because when you are real, you find other people who are like you, and that is such a gift and can be really hard to find — especially if you’re a stay-at-home mom who barely gets out to meet new people. My outing is a trip to the grocery store without kids — literally the best.
What made you passionate about trying to instill this idea of health, fitness and wellness in others?
I want other’s to know that anyone can do this. That you can have fun moving your body, and you can love the taste of healthy food. You don’t have to feel deprived.
I also am passionate about teaching kids about health. I never want kids to go through struggles with food like I did. It was my best friend for many years, and if I can change one child’s life, then my job was worth it. I want to teach them that food is for fuel, not for comfort. It is to help our bodies be active and live life. I want kids to have fun getting outside and learning about earth and nature. I want them to grow up with respect for themselves, their bodies and for others.
How has this changed your life? What have been the positive impacts, and how do you hope this continues to resonate with others?
To be held accountable to others helps me so much. I used to be this “quitter”, if you will. I would start and stop and start and stop so many things, mainly with diets. Sticking with something has felt so amazing, and when I know my readers are waiting to hear from me, it not only helps them, but it helps me stay with it, too.
This has turned my life around in so many aspects. When you start to just stick with something, it can trickle down on so many aspects of your life, from health to fitness to finances, jobs and family. The advantages of not quitting are endless, and this blog has taught me that.
I hope other’s will see my journey and think, “I can do that.” Trust me, if this girl can change her life around, anyone can. I want them to know that they are never alone in this world that can let us down so much. I want readers to realize that none of us are perfect, none of us have it all together, and that is OK. Once you stop comparing your life, stop trying to live for someone else and start realizing that you’re great, you will start to see amazing things happen in your life. Small steps, one foot in front of the other.
My motto since Day One is, “We Rise by Lifting Others,” and I will stand by that forever. I know one person can help one person who can help one person and that, in the end, it will make this world a better place for all of us.
Megan Gloss writes for the Telegraph Herald.