Growing up in a religiously conservative family with a limited environment, Lori Harder broke through and eventually changed her surroundings. She joins Tanya Memme on today’s podcast to share that story. A leading expert in fitness and transformational work, Lori explains how you can define yourself as an authority in your field and start teaching your peers. Know what it truly means to build a connection with the people in your environment and the vital role that vulnerability plays in the process. In addition to those, Lori also gives a sneak peek on the different events she has and how they can affect your life and develop you as an individual.
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Why Extending A Helping Hand Needs To Start From Yourself With Lori Harder
In this episode, we have Lori Harder. She is back to the EverTalk TV studios. I’m excited. This time, you’re on Life Masters.
I am excited.
I hunted you down on Instagram and our mutual friend Michelle Sorro referred you. It’s great to have you here. You do everything. You’re a podcaster. Your podcast is Earn Your Happy. It’s amazing. You have tons and tons of followers and listeners. You’re also into the fitness and health world. You’re an author and your book is A Tribe Called Bliss. We were talking about the journey that was for you. It’s phenomenal. Because you’re on Life Masters, I want to know how did all of this begin for you. I know it was a whole journey of how you got to where you are now.
I’m from a small town in Michigan. Most people don’t even know that Upper Michigan exists. For me, I grew up in a household that always struggled with their weight. I heard my whole life that we had bad genetics. That was the family mantra, “We have bad genetics. You’re going to be fat.” That word was used all the time because everyone was heavy and overweight. In my teenage years, my sister, she was about four years older than me and she had started working out when she was a teenager. I was watching her workout and I decided to join her.
There were some different things along the way that I didn’t even realize I had. I was an anxious kid. I would get nervous. I was pretty shy. When I started working out with her and I noticed that on the days I would work out I felt better. I was correlating it in my head but didn’t understand what was happening. When I was fourteen years old, because I was also in a restrictive religion, I was only allowed to hang out with people in my religion, and it was a small congregation in Upper Michigan. Your environment goes from small to tiny. It was the only perspective I was getting.
What religion was that?
I was Jehovah’s Witness. The only perspectives I was getting were from my family and from the church that I was in. When I was fourteen, I ended up going to a friend’s house since I could only hang out with people in that religion. She was in a congregation, three hours away from me, and my parents were like, “We’re going to drive you. Since it’s so far, you can stay the week.” I got there and it was 7:00 at night. I’m like, “When is snack time? When do we get the ice cream and snacks?” She’s like, “We don’t do that.” I’m like, “You’ve got to be kidding me. Where are the snacks?” I would sit with three bowls of ice cream or chips and this was our nightly routine. We watch TV together, and we eat all night long like slow braising. I stayed a week there. No snacks at night, but she offered me an apple. I was appalled so I was like, “That’s a diet.”
You were fourteen at this point?
Yes. It’s a different family. My eyes are starting to open. They eat three square meals a day but great food. I had been trying to lose weight for years and I wasn’t able to do it even with all the working out. I went home and I lost five pounds. My clothes were super loose and I didn’t even think about it. I started thinking, “How did this happen?” I wasn’t snacking all the time.
You started educating yourself and learning more too.If you want to change, you have to change your environment. A lot of times that also means the people in your environment. Click To Tweet
It was the first moment that I was like, “It’s not my genetics.” For me at fourteen, that was one of the biggest eye-openers. Maybe these beliefs that I’m surrounded in is my environment. That’s where a lot of what we do has come from. Your environment is stronger than your willpower. If you want to change, you have to change your environment and a lot of times that also means the people in your environment because the people pretty much make up your environment.
That’s true. The habits that you create and you bring on their habits too.
I was transforming my life and myself. I was like, “I could do this for other people.” I was homeschooled through high school so I had all those stories in my head of, “I’m not smart enough. I’m not good enough. What can I do?” I was like, “I know how to transform my own body so let’s see if I can do this for other people.” In my mid-twenties, I ended up doing personal training. I opened a gym and started doing fitness competitions because back then, the dream was if I want to do fitness, what’s the big dream?
It was Miss Fitness or Miss USA Fitness or to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
That was it. It was either to compete, covers, or be Jillian Michaels. Those were my three. I want it to be any of those things and I went for it. That was a long journey for me in and of itself. A lot of girls who went for it, if they were competing, they did well the first year. For me, I didn’t do well for the first three years. It wasn’t until the third year and some things mentally shifted for me that I had started winning competitions.
What was it that shifted mentally for you?
In the first three years, I never even let myself think of winning because it was about me getting over my fear of being in front of people. I was having bad panic attacks again and being in front of people was making my anxiety come back. After three years, I allowed myself to start thinking and visualizing myself winning. Also, I was teaching people how to go onstage. Back in my studio, people were like, “You compete. Can you help me with my stage presence?” The more that I helped people, the more I was learning. Sometimes when we teach, that’s how we ingrain it into ourselves. Like they say, if you want to learn something, learn it but then teach it so then you’re learning it even more. It was the best thing I’ve ever done in my life.
I love this. That was the shift. It was a mind shift. It was you saying to yourself and allowing yourself to envision you winning. You believe in manifestation. I know that every April you put on a massive women’s event. What are the activities? How would you describe one of your women’s events that you put on? April’s the big one, but you have small ones throughout the year as well.
It’s a self-development, empowerment connection event. I speak and I have speakers who come in, but they’re doing a lot of work on their own. They’ll be doing a lot of meditation, visualization, journaling, and connection. After they answer some questions in the workbook, they’re going to now go connect with people. I forced them to connect. We laugh and joke about it like, “Why is this the hardest thing is connecting and sharing ourselves and being vulnerable?” I take a good couple of hours to create a safe enough space where they feel like they can connect and where they understand why no vulnerability means no real connection.
Do you find that different ages have a different effect? When it comes to a connection, Millennials now say they have a harder time connecting than people in my generation. Is that true? Are you finding that?
It’s as hard but the problem is wearing a different mask in a different form. I do think it’s as hard because what we do in our generation is we can isolate ourselves. We tell ourselves a story or we can do the same things. We tell ourselves that everybody already has their friends, that we’re a burden, or whatever that is. It’s easy once you have your life to stay in that and to isolate even more or stick with the things that you know which we know that if we don’t change our environment in some way, we’re not going to change.
I know that you have an interesting journey with your incredible husband, Chris, who does these massive entrepreneurial masterminds here in LA, and you guys traveled with them as well. You were talking to me a little bit about how we would have never gotten to where we are now if we didn’t experience this. Tell me about that journey. I want to know when you first met, and how long did that happen in your journey together.
We met when I was almost 21. We’ve been together for a couple of years. We met in a gym which was funny because this was a small town. I moved back in with my parents after being out on my own for a while. That was torturous. I moved back to this tiny town that I did not want to be in. He meets me at the peak of me not wanting to be in this particular town.
An attractive woman too.
Two people came up to me before that and I’m in the twilight zone. That had not happened ever before. Poor Chris was the third person after this guy. Before he was like, “I’m Jake,” and it was Jake written all over his arm. Chris came up and I was like, “I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m not interested.” That had never happened. I was like, “What is happening?” It took six months for us to connect but once we did and after we spent one day together, we were like best friends after that.
You were young when you met. You go on this journey together and you guys end up getting married. Your engagement ring is absolutely phenomenally gorgeous. I know that there’s a whole story behind all that.
He was in mortgage and finance at that time. Even when I met him, he was super motivated and a major go-getter. He flew up through the ranks in that particular bank. It was the biggest bank in the world.
He’s always been around money and he knows how to make money.
He has always been good with it. He’s always been a numbers person. What ended up happening is this was about two years into our marriage but we had known each other for about five years at this point. 2007 and 2008 came and what ended up happening was his company started closing branches while he was operating quite a few branches in the Midwest. They were like, “You’ll still have your job.” From what we knew for at least another year, they said he had to go around and close down all of the branches. His job for a whole year was to go and lay people off.
He put on weight. He was depressed and was drinking all the time. He became a totally different person. What ended up happening at the end was like, “If you want to keep your job, we’re going to have to move you to Jersey.” I was like, “I’m not going to move to Jersey.” He was like, “I don’t want to move either.” We took a small severance package and we were like, “What are we going to do?” We were way in debt because he had been flying up in the ranks.
It happened gradually.
We lost our home and our cars. We were $300,000 in debt. In the Midwest, that’s like $1 million.If you really want to learn something, learn it, but then teach it. Click To Tweet
How does that happen?
You think it’s always going to be there. We were young and stupid. We lost everything and it was the best thing that has ever happened to us. During that, it was horrendous because his identity was wrapped up in what he was capable of earning like and money in the lifestyle. Somehow, I got into that as well so it just happens. It’s easy to do.
Until I lose it and changes everything.
That’s when we started taking walks, which is something that we do every single day. We take an hour’s walk every single day to connect. We’ve been doing this for a couple of years, but it started then because we needed to go, move, dream and be like, “What would we be doing if we could do anything?” Instead of starting to look at it as this is the worst thing that ever happened, we were like, “What if this was for us? What would we be doing?”
I love that you chose to stay in it with him. I know that many times it causes divorce, separation and it causes, “If I could have that lifestyle, I’m going.” There are all those things. What was it about you that you’re in love with?
We are super in love and he was also such a great partner. Even though we had hard times and there was a wild road that was like, “I did not sign up for this human.” I had the other version and now I have this version. He said many times when he’s felt that way about me. I realized that if it’s not this partner, you’re going to have the same problems with another partner. If you can’t get through these ones, if they’re not something where you’re in an abusive relationship, or you’re being treated a certain way, or you’re not aligned but our visions were still fairly aligned. I was like, “If I can’t get through with him, I’m not going to be able to get through with anyone else.” I have had a couple of relationships before him where I was like, “I’m the only variable that is in these relationships that is the same. I keep failing in this one spot so I need to push through this particular thing of staying.” We’ve learned how to fight which has been super important.
I love that you made that decision to stay. I’m guilty of this. Sometimes I think, “That person could be the one. What do I do now?” I’m like, “I can’t deal with this. I have to go.” There are many different ways in which we create our own chaos, but I love that you decided to stay. You’re like, “I’m going to go against all the other things that I would naturally do.” Look how it’s paid off for you. It’s amazing. The two of you have been through so much. You’re walking every day. You’ve got your vision, which is also important in a relationship that the two of you have the same goals and future together with how you see it.
We do that a lot. We try to come back every couple of months and do a date where we’re like, “What’s your vision? How can I support it? Where do we fit? What are we doing together? What are we doing separately?” It’s easy for a year to go by and be like, “Where are we at? What are we aiming towards?” If you don’t know your target, you’re never going to take the correct path. You’re going to be all over the place. It makes decision making so much easier when you’re like, “If it doesn’t align with the vision, I’m not going to do it.” Otherwise, as you know, you can start getting opportunities that can be great, but they can deter you from where you want to go.
You can wait and be like, “I’m not as fulfilled as I would like to be now.” What we ended up doing was because we needed to bring in the cash right away, I ended up opening a small gym. I had started training at an LA Fitness for six months. I went gung-ho to fill my schedule. I was working like a crazy woman and one of my clients who was there was a female chiropractor. She was 27 and opened her own studio. I would always share my vision and that’s one of the most important things I can ever tell people to do. Share your vision with everyone because someone is going to help you. You have to. It’s funny because I always picture God, universe, or whatever every day going, “Why didn’t they share it with this person I placed in their pathway?”
All our answers are around us. We have to open our mouths. I had said to her that I wanted to start my own gym and she’s like, “Here’s the deal. I have an unfinished basement where you can see the exposed beams. I trained down there for a year. It was exposed. I told everybody I was renovating. I had no intention or money to renovate.” I started my studio. She let me do it for training her for the first couple of months until I could pay her rent. It was the most amazing thing that ever happened. When I was doing that, something came into my space where I had a client who I realized quickly, I could train people all day but if I didn’t help them with nutrition, they weren’t getting any results.
Which is what you went through.
Exactly. I had a client who was doing network marketing, and I said no to her for six months. I watched her lose 90 pounds in front of my eyes. I was like, “I would love to take credit for this but none of my other clients are having this response.” It opened my eyes that there could be an easier way to help people. I ended up trying it and it changed my life. We got into network marketing. Chris said no to it for three months. He was like, “No way. I’m not doing this.” Your family leaves you if you do network marketing. People will hate you. Social media was a new way of doing network marketing so you didn’t have to bug your family. I started doing that and our first year we took off, we went all-in.
You and Chris did it together?
We ended up doing it together.
How did you end up that you do so much together?
I knew the business side. I was doing attraction marketing so I was putting myself out there and living a lifestyle that I thought people would want to live. I wasn’t even talking about the product. I was living the lifestyle and showing it. I needed him because I needed him to be a business coach for the people that were coming in. I knew how to attract. I knew how to build the dream, but I didn’t know how to teach them in business. I was like, “I need you.” He’s like, “Here’s the deal. If you can pay for the car payment, I’ll do it.” I paid for the car payment. He didn’t do it. He’s like, “If you can pay for the rent, I’ll do it.” I was paying for the car and the rent and he’s like, “We have something here.”
He tested you. You would make your own money enough to show him that you can make money.
When people are like, “What if my husband doesn’t support me?” I’m like, “Welcome to my world.” Be the light and show the way until it’s undeniable.
I love that he even said, “Do this and do that.” You did it and you’re like, “Done.” I know Chris puts on these incredible masterminds and you’re putting on your events and stuff. How did the idea first come about? Was it during one of your hour’s walks in the morning and you’re like, “This is what I want to do. I want to do masterminds?” You start off with coaching clients physically. He started off with coaching clients on how to make money. How did it all birth itself?
There were a couple of reasons why but for me, I was still getting major flare-ups and panic attacks. I knew that I wanted to be something in the forefront. We talked about that like a host or a fitness something like Jillian Michaels or whatever that was. I was like, “I’m never going to be able to do that if I can’t talk when I get in front of people.” I’d get super choked up, shaky, nervous, and I’d feel dizzy.
It makes sense because of your upbringing.Everyone can have someone to weather the tough times with; we just have to get out of our own way. Click To Tweet
I started going to personal development events. One of our friends was like, “You should try this event.” I’d never heard of anything like it before. I was like, “I will try anything at this point.” I went to the first one and it changed my life. I went to more and I was like, “I have to teach this.” That’s when I also started to realize I’m not getting as much as results as I want to get with these women because even though we’re doing nutrition and workouts, they’re not changing how they feel about themselves, or they’re life. That’s when I was like, “I want to do events.” I was transformed I was like, “That’s it. I’m going to do an event.” We put the money down and there was no looking back. We put the money down and I couldn’t breathe because I was like, “I have to fill it.” It’s important to hold yourself accountable.
You decided and did it. He was behind you the whole way.
When you’ve lost everything, there’s nothing to lose. You know there’s nothing to lose.
When you’ve lived your biggest fear, to begin with, it isn’t easy at all.
It was awesome. To be honest, we felt the burden of all of this stuff when we had everything and that we had gotten it being leveraged.
How does that feel for you, knowing that you have somebody to weather through the tough times? You guys have been through a lot together.
I want it for everyone, and everyone can have it. We have to get out of our own way. I was in the way of that relationship so much because I didn’t know how to fight or talk. When I had tough conversations, I would leave. I would go for a drive. I would go sit in the car and I would be like, “I’m out of here.” I must have seen it growing up. I know I saw growing up so that’s how I dealt with everything. We were in a fight one time and he’s like, “If you leave, do not come back because we’re never getting to the other side of these fights.” I was like, “Really?” He told me I couldn’t do it so of course, I go and leave, but I pull my car to the end of the driveway and I stay there. I know he’s serious this time.
I gave myself enough time to go and be able to respond instead of reacting. He was watching the car at the end of the driveway. It was the moment of learning to remove yourself and go and talk through it so now every single day, the walk is our opportunity to be side by side bring something up. For some walks, it takes me 45 minutes before I even say something that’s been bothering me. We create a space where it’s like, “Can I say something that hurt me today that I don’t even think you were aware of?” We’re both open to being like, “I didn’t mean that.” Maybe a heated argument comes, but on the walk, we work through it.
What would you say now that you, as Lori Harder, are working on within yourself? I know that you’ve helped many people with what they’re working on but what is something that you’re working on now?
The transitions and not being attached to building an identity. It’s easy to write a book and feel you need to write another book. It’s easy to do an event and feel you need to do in another event. If I did nothing, could I still love me? If I did nothing, am I still a lovable person? Could I still sit with myself and be like, “This is fine?” In the beingness, that’s a journey and it’s probably going to be the journey for the rest of my life. Going from not doing anything and being homeschooled and not being seen for anything, it wasn’t a thing to go to college or be anything. I was going to go and talk about the Bible to people for the rest of my life. That is what I should be doing.
You were born and raised.
For me, I didn’t even have a vision of something else.
You had a massive self-identity shift.
I watched them come up always in your brain so no matter how much work you do, there’s always some more that you don’t even realize is there which is awesome. Otherwise, we’d be bored.
I can sit here for hours and talk to you, but I want to thank you for coming to the show.
Thank you for being an amazing host.
I’d love to have Chris on the show. Thank you.
He would love it.
Let’s have him on. We can have you both together. Either way, we can do both. How’s that?
That would be fun. I would love that.
If you could tell everybody where we can learn more about you and where we can hook you up on social media.
Thank you for an amazing episode of Life Masters. If you want to binge-watch all of the episodes, go to LifeMastersTV.com and make sure you check out EverTalkTV.com. It’s on Apple TV, Roku and iTunes. We are all over the place. Please subscribe to our show. We will see you next time.
- Lori Harder
- Instagram – Lori Harder
- Earn Your Happy
- A Tribe Called Bliss
- Jillian Michaels
- iTunes – Life Masters Podcast
- Michelle Sorro – Back ep
About Lori Harder
Lori Harder is a leading expert in the field of fitness, transformational work, mindfulness, and self-love. She has grown two multi-million dollar businesses as a successful entrepreneur and network marketing professional. She is also an author, cover model, and three-time fitness world champion, who offers a carefully curated set of practical tools to promote sustainable health, spiritual well-being, and financial freedom. Through her books, unique coaching methods, and programs, she has helped countless people connect with their soul, transform their bodies, empower their minds, gain financial independence, and fall in love with themselves and their lives.
Throughout her career, Lori has regularly appeared on the covers of and published articles for Oxygen Magazine, STRONG Fitness Magazine, Health & Fitness Magazine and Prosper Magazine. She has also been featured on NBC, Fox, and TLC networks.
Lori has also helped dozens of people reach six figure or more salaries through her network marketing business (Isagenix), and she has helped hundreds of others to start their own home-based business. Lori has taken her passion for human potential and created The Bliss Project, a women’s empowerment retreat, and the Bliss Habit online course that has thousands of women per year taking this breakthrough curriculum.