Jenny Layton, Owner and Creator
I’ve known for years that one day I would teach and speak and inspire others…but there’s just been this one little problem: I had no idea what my message would be. This premonition has haunted me for twenty years, until one day last spring when I got the crazy idea to start a blog. The idea nagged at me until I finally took it seriously. And then I had a BIG dilemma.
There was only one thing I could possibly blog about, and to do it, I knew I’d have to own up to a few deep, dark secrets. After all, you can’t just talk the talk. People only listen to what someone has to say if they have actually walked the walk. And since the blog idea grew stronger and stronger, I knew I’d have to share my story. So here it is…no sugarcoating: I have struggled with body image issues, food addictions, and compulsive overeating since I was 12.
Early on, I tried to compensate for my binges with anorexia and bulimia, but I hated being hungry, and my stomach was too strong to throw up. Left to my own devices, I tried in vain to fix this problem. Then ignore it. Then control it. Then just live with it. None of it worked, and so my life rotated on an axis of what I looked like, what I ate (or didn’t eat) and how much I exercised.
That’s no way to live.
The pain caused by this obsession reached a pinnacle about 4 years ago. It was either sink or swim, and I found myself ready to do anything to change. I reached out for help, and thus began a journey much deeper and more rewarding than I had ever anticipated. Suddenly, my message to share with the world was clear:
You’re either running away from the hard things in life, or you are facing them. And even though it scares you to death to stick around, in the end it’s much more painful to run away. Ironically, I discovered that it wasn’t just the food issues I was struggling to overcome; it was life, in all of it’s messy, unpredictable imperfection, that I needed to learn how to really live. My most painful challenges have become a bridge to living life the way I’ve always wanted it to be.
Though there are still ups and downs, I love my life. And because I’ve learned how to navigate through life’s challenges and still live a life I love, my passion is to help other women realize that they can create a life they love too. It’s a shame to spend your life wishing you could have what you really want, because you can. You can have a great life! I call it Your Best Life, and there’s not a doubt in my mind that you can create it. My suffering forced me to face things about myself that weren’t pretty. And I’ve realized that while the circumstances vary from person to person, deep down everyone struggles with the same things. They want to know they matter. They want to feel peace in their lives. They want to have purpose. That is what living Your Best Life is all about. And you are entitled to all of these things. Yes. You!
This blog is a collection of all the tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way. I’ve dabbled in Professional Organizing. I’ve immersed myself in a healthy lifestyle, including nutrition and exercise. I’ve dedicated my life to raising a family. I want to share all of these things because they contribute to living Your Best Life. But in my heart of hearts, what I really want you to know is that when you are in those dark places in life, you’re not alone. I’ve been there, and I’ve seen the light. This blog is the first step in sharing that light with you.
I hope this blog can help you become a Happier Gal. Follow it, take advantage of the tips and programs, and share your experiences along the way. The time for Your Best Life is now, my friend! Because life is short, and you get one shot at it…so make it a happy one!
Wishing you Your Best Life,
Sarah Hogan Gowans, Blog Manager and Writer
I am Sarah. I am on a journey. The further I go along this path called life, the more I realize that there are a lot of people who are traveling with me. In fact, we are all traveling, each in our own way. One thing I have noticed is that even though there are so many differences between all of us, there is also a common thread that links us together. We are all here on this earth to become our best versions of ourselves. We have a great desire to leave our mark, make a difference, and help each other along the way.
I am so excited to join Jenny at The Happy Gal. I am passionate about living my best life, and sharing my life experiences with others, so that they can live their best lives. I am a wife, mother, certified foot zonologist, yogi, aspiring author, singer, outdoor lover, healthy eating fanatic, and book devourer.
I love studying the human body. I have spent countless hours and dollars taking seminars, classes, reading books, articles, and whatever else I can get my eyes and ears on. I love to take what I learn, and test it out in my own life, and my lucky kids usually get to join me. I have experimented with healthy cooking on my kids (I’ve improved a lot over the years, just ask them about my first attempts at whole grain pancakes), I’ve experimented with the power of positive thinking, exercise, music, you name it, I’ve probably tested it out!
Over the years, I’ve had life experiences that have forced me to get out of my comfort zone and do things I thought I wasn’t capable of doing. I’ve struggled with self doubt, guilt, and feeling that I just didn’t measure up. But when push came to shove, I noticed something. I always came out a little wiser, and a little stronger. I began to realize that I am good enough just the way I am. I began to be kinder in my thoughts to myself, and then that projected outward to my interactions with others. I began to learn that it’s okay to make mistakes, and that we are all doing the best we can.
I am looking forward to connecting with all of you, sharing our stories, and inspiring each other. This life is beautiful, and when we travel together, we travel stronger.
Suzanne Bagley, Fitness and Nutrition Expert
Sue Bagley has been working in the fitness and nutrition industry for 13 years. She started attending fitness classes in high school to stay in shape during the off season as a dancer. She fell in love with group fitness, the music and the camaraderie it created. This lead her to start teaching group fitness classes. Her certifications include AFAA (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America), yoga, cycling, Les Mills Body Step, Les Mills Body Jam, and Les Mills GRIT. She is also an Elite Body Jam Instructor for Les Mills. During 2012, Sue was diagnosed with Chrones disease and Ulcerative Colitis. This diagnosis inspired her to learn more about health and nutrition and how to heal and feed her body with the food she was eating. She then took her nutrition knowledge and love of group fitness and began conducting group training sessions for weight loss and overall health. She loves working with people and watching them become both physically and emotionally stronger! Currently, Sue teaches Body Jam, Body Step, GRIT, Barre, and cycling at Skills Fitness in Centerville and Gold’s Gym in Layton and Roy. She also teaches Dance at Luv2Dance Studio in Kaysville. She lives in Kaysville with her husband and four children.
You will love Sue’s fun Summer Towel Workout. Killer!
Sandrine Hudgens, Graphic Designer
I have been searching for light all my life. The light that will guide me through, the light that will brighten my life, the light that will shape who I am.
I grew up in Reunion Island (which is an overseas department of France in the Indian Ocean). I grew up speaking creole (dialect we speak on the island) and French. I was inspired to come to Utah 17 years ago and follow my heart in finding my life partner. I am married to the most wonderful man with whom I have 3 beautiful children. I love them to pieces. I love to spend time with them. They complete me in every way and are the light in my life.
I started out as an avid scrapbooker, then switched to digital scrapbooking. One day, a good friend of mine let me borrow her dslr camera and the rest, as they say, is history!
I have spent the last five years perfecting my craft and learning about light. Lighting is a key element in my photography. I absolutely love it! I will always have a light of some sort with me when I go out shooting.
I love designing cards, brochures and making albums. It is very therapeutic to me and I feel so blessed to have been introduced to Jenny Layton and for this wonderful opportunity to be part of her graphic designer team. I believe in Jenny and the work she is doing here with the Happy Gal blog. Being part of this team will change my life for the better. And I am so happy to be here.
Andrea Jones, Assistant Blog Manager
Hi I’m Andrea! I am a wife and mother of 4 boys that I love so much and I enjoy making memories with my family.
I often refer to my responsibilities as my “hats.” Although I wear several hats (often at the same time) I am blessed to wear a Happy Gal hat and be a part of this amazing team. I believe in the importance of having good friends and surrounding yourself with those that uplift and make you want to be a better person. I met Jenny over 3 years ago and am amazed each time I hear her speak or present to a group. She radiates peace and love and I know she is passionate about helping women become their best self.
I enjoy making time for scrapbooking, biking, and going to lunch with friends. Life really is about finding joy in the journey.