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Meet Amy Van Liew of Be Healthy Enough in Escondido

Today we’d like to introduce you to Amy Van Liew.

Amy, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Re-Engineering the Engineer!
How I used my problem solving skills to find what I was meant to do at age 50.

“Amy, you are really good at math and science you should become an engineer.”

That’s what I heard throughout the end of my high school years. Yes I did excel in math and science but I wasn’t passionate about it. At that age I was passionate about how I looked and what people thought of me – as with most teenage girls. I was the first child and influenced heavily by my Dad, the engineer/scientist. With his help I got first place in my Junior High Science Fair, learned to change the oil in my own car and was encouraged to be independent and solve my own problems. But an engineer? It just wasn’t me but then again I really didn’t know what else I would do and the job would pay pretty well, right? When I dig deep I know that the real reason I became an engineer was to make my Dad proud – yes every girl has “Daddy” issues.

My first year at Cal State Fullerton was an eye opener. I got a C in a class – oh no. And even with a ton of studying got the lowest score of the class on one of my first physics test. That had never happened to me before – I was always the top student. My first electrical engineering lab I shocked the shit out of myself and cried all the way home – what the hell was I doing? But, when I set my mind to something there is no turning back. Failure is not an option for me.

During my college years, away from home with a lot of stress I gained not just the “Freshman 15 pounds”, I put on 30 pounds! I was an over achiever! I was always thin so didn’t have any tools to deal with it. This is where my passion or rather obsession with health and fitness started to blossom. One of my classes at Cal State was weight training. He had us log our weight, track our fitness and calories. This is where I learned to dig into data to figure out how I could lose weight – I loved it. I often think back to that class and wondered what would have happened if I had changed majors from engineering to kinesiology or anatomy.

My last semester I started the job hunting process. I had worked the last 3 years at Rockwell International (where my Dad worked of course) as an Intern. While their full time job offer was good, I wanted to be in San Diego, closer to my fiancé Ed. Funny how we make choices sometimes. I, of course, set my sights on the best company to work for at the time, HEWLETT-PACKARD. I got a phone interview AND an on-site interview! The onsite interview was 8 hours long, meeting every hour with brilliant engineers. I felt good with some and completely stupid with others. That night I think I ate an entire gallon of ice cream. In my gut I knew I wasn’t the smartest candidate but I just kept calling them and bugging them (my tenacity at play) and finally I GOT THE JOB.

My 26 years at HP were absolutely incredible. I learned so much and met the most amazing people that I still call close friends. We worked our asses off but the company rewarded you and made you feel valuable. I spent most of my career in the Ink Jet print cartridge world working in R&D, Quality, Manufacturing as both and engineer and manager. I have my name on 3 patents and won the HP Technical Women’s Leadership award for my leadership in transferring an Ink Jet production line from San Diego to Singapore. That had to be the project I am most proud of and where I REALLY honed my problem solving skills.

Throughout my time at HP my passion for health and fitness flourished. The first week of my job I started running at lunch with some new friends. I attended all of the group fitness classes I could at the on-site gym. I loved it so much I took a course to get certified in group exercise and taught classes for the last 8 years of my time there, at lunch, for FREE!

In the summer of 2012 I got the chance to solve one of the biggest problems of my life. Do I take a very generous early retirement package and leave HP? HP was my family. My husband had worked there with me for 20 years, all my friends were there, and it was the only job I knew. I could have stayed but something in my gut told me it was time to make a change. With the support of my amazing husband, the book by Jack Canfield called “Success Principles, How to get from where you are to where you want to be” and the help of a therapist, I took the leap and set out to follow my passion – Health and Fitness.

The week after I left HP I started a yearlong course at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. Over the years I have tried every diet known to man. I did the low fat diet, counted calories, fasted, detoxed, cut out sugar, gave up wine, you name it. The course was a way to further educate myself about nutrition and I got the opportunity to learn from some amazing experts. On one of our regular morning walks with our dogs I was telling Ed about what I was learning; everyone one is different, what works for one person may not work for another and diets just don’t work. This is when I had my “Aha” moment. Being fanatical doesn’t work. You get to your goals, are exhausted, hurt and starving and in a few months you get right back on the roller coaster. What you need to do is EAT REAL FOOD that makes YOU feel good, not someone’s crazy diet. You need to get off the couch and MOVE EVERYDAY, but you don’t have to run 10 miles. The best part is that it’s OK to SPLURGE every once in a while and not beat yourself up about it. In other words Be Healthy…Enough.

This concept really hit home for many of the people in my social groups and inner circle. Most are over 50 and just frustrated with trying to figure out the confusion of healthy eating and exercise.

In January of 2014 I got my first personal training client – my friend from the neighborhood, Rhonda Hayes Curtis. Author of the book “Love at the Last Minute”. And shortly after that I started teaching a class in my neighbor Denise’s basement.

By sharing my new business with friends through social media, webinars, presentations, workshops, newsletters and writing an article for our local newspaper I have had over 40 personal training clients and teach 5 group classes in my fabulous new studio that used to be part of our garage. Some of my clients have been with me for over 3 years.

Every day I just pinch myself that I am doing what I love to do. I absolutely love my work days. I get paid to exercise, I am helping people feel GOOD, I get to stay at home with my cute doggies and kitties and I get to keep learning and growing so I can find ways to help clients solve their health challenges and become healthy…enough.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
When I first started my company Be Healthy Enough I wanted to help everyone meet their fitness goals. Of course these goals all seemed focused on losing weight or fixing their flabby arms. Oh I can do that, I thought! As most of my client were over 50, reality of this age group bopped me on the head when we started to exercise the way I thought we should. EVERY SINGLE ONE of the clients I saw had some sort of pain pop up. I dreaded the word “ow” or “that hurts”. But this was real and I had to face it. How can you exercise when you are in pain?

With not much knowledge or intimate understanding of pain, I did what I always do, research ways to solve the problem of helping clients with their pain? I started out investigating essential oils and signed up with DoTerra. Moving as far from the science world as I possibly could I took Reiki 1 and Reiki 2 Level training. Reiki is a healing technique based on the principle that the therapist can channel energy into the patient by means of touch, to activate the natural healing processes of the patient’s body and restore physical and emotional well-being. Getting more scientific I took a course about our connective tissue which is thought to be the root cause of many chronic pains. I have incorporated aspects of all of these modalities into my classes and one-on-one sessions and have seen some great progress. Next step is to complete a course I have been taking to become a Corrective Exercise Specialist.

In December I will be 55 and my next obstacle or challenge is to find ways to help more people without hurting myself. Today I offer personal training and group classes in and around my home in North County San Diego. Unfortunately, there is only one of me and so many more people left to help. Additionally, personal training can be cost prohibitive and group classes may be out of the question because of timing, location and ability. With the help of a marketing consultant I will be spending time researching and investigating ways to bring my passion and help to so many more.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Be Healthy Enough – what should we know?
Be Healthy Enough is a fitness and health coaching business. I meld my engineering and project management experience with my passion for health and fitness to find unique ways to enlighten, inspire and empower others to lead healthy, productive lives.

I specialize in customized personal training and also offer semi-private exercise sessions and group classes. My current age demographic is 50 and above. Most need my help to exercise because they have hurt knees, shoulders, back, etc. and don’t know what to do. I also provide information via workshops, webinars and blogs on topics such as nutrition, sleep, and stress reduction because we all know that being healthy is much more than just exercising regularly.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
This is a tough one. I have 4! My love of research, my problem solving skills, my caring and positive approach and my courage.

My research and problem solving skills have allowed me to provide alternative methods to help my client’s aches and pains instead of just popping a pill.

The feedback from clients is they appreciate my caring and positive nature. I can’t say it better than they did in 3 testimonials from YELP below:

“I have been training with Amy for three years. Being self-employed I wanted to stay close to home in Hidden Meadows and enjoy the company of other women before starting my work day. I love Amy’s classes! She is so organized, keeps the workouts changing and the music fun and we laugh a lot! She encourages me to push myself, but is also sensitive to individual limitations and recommends modifications as needed. Her caring and loving personality is the icing on the cake.” Marsha R

“I’ve been training with Amy for two years. With her gentle guidance, I’m stronger in my 60s than I was in my 50s. Amy’s a fantastic resource for those of us who live in and around Hidden Meadows. She’s smart, funny, down-to-earth and caring. Amy’s passionate about helping others attain their fitness and health goals, thereby enhancing every aspect of their lives. She’s been my cheerleader and coach, and now it’s my turn to say: YAY, AMY!” Debra B

“I started working with Amy about a year ago. I am 51 years old have had three spinal fusions and a knee rebuilt. I wanted to work on my core strength, get more flexible, and take some weight off in hopes it would reduce the chronic pain I was suffering with. I wasn’t getting the results I wanted at the gym because I kept getting injured working out on my own. Every time this happened it erased all the gains I had made.

Amy put together a custom plan for me that included weight lifting, stretching, core work, and diet. I feel like this has produced amazing results. I have not had an episode with my back in almost a year! The amount of weight I am lifting now has increased over 100%! I have lost 15 lbs. and my flexibility has improved a lot. Most of all I feel so much better about myself and my overall health!

I think Amy is a fantastic trainer and an even better person. I look forward to our early morning workouts because I know she will be positive, energetic and encouraging no matter where I am at on a given day. I feel better physically right now than I have in 30 years. She gets my highest recommendation!!” David H

Last but not least, the biggest quality or characteristic that has allowed me to be successful is my courage. I loved my job at HP. I was valued, worked with amazing people and made a great living but what has made me successful today is that I had the courage to walk away from it all. To walk away from the world I had known for 26 years. To walk away from my friends and family. To walk away from that 6 figure income! During that time of decision making and then having that decision sink in were some of the darkest times of my life. I was losing not only my financial security but my whole identity. My husband and I tried with no success to have children but even that loss did not compare to the loss I was feeling after leaving HP. My courage also gave me the strength to seek therapy to learn how to get through this very difficult time for me. I have always felt that the most challenging times of our lives are the ones that make us stronger and OMG am I not only stronger, I am healthier and happier than I have ever been in my whole life.

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

3 Comments

  1. Denise

    November 9, 2017 at 10:16 pm

    Amy, great article, I am so proud of where you are today! You have followed your dreams and meeting the goals you set for yourself. Such a great example!
    Many, many more years of being healthy enough to you and those you help along the way.
    Cheers,
    Denise

  2. Sue Martin

    November 11, 2017 at 4:23 am

    So very proud of Amy and her accomplishments to fulfill her dream and move on from corporate america to make real differences in people’s lives. Amy is the real deal. Congrats Amy, and thanks for making a difference in senior lives.

  3. Debra Lee Baldwin

    December 23, 2017 at 8:11 pm

    Amy combines gentleness and kindness with a sweet, friendly personality, a can-do attitude, an eagerness to help others, and a brilliant mind. I’m so grateful to know her and to benefit from her expertise!

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