Photography

Interview : Danielle Gantt Trygstad, Certified Health Coach, The DB Influence

Danielle Gantt Trygstad, The DB Influence

Reading this interview again as I prep to post it seriously makes me want to open my window and say, “HEY! HEY! Everyone!! Listen to what she has to say!”

I love working with Danielle. She’s not just a health coach, but someone who has pulled herself out of a tough spot and now works everyday to help others do the same.

She’s an inspiration and I love her words. Read this interview and remember, anything is possible.

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- Tell us about yourself. Who you are, where you're from and what you do!


Who am I, hmmmm?! Haha! Well, I'm lots of things to lots of people. First of all I am 39 years young (almost 40 in July, eeeekkkk) and a mama to 3 incredible humans who are my absolute everything!! I became a mom at the young age of 17 and have been devoted to my children, and motherhood, for basically as long as I can remember. I was born in Mpls, although we never stayed in one place for very long (like a year tops!). I have moved so much in my life that I don't really know where I grew up, I just say MN for the most part, although I have lived in New Jersey and Philadelphia, as well. From about 6th grade on I lived in the south metro and called Eagan, home. My upbringing was dysfunctional to say the least, and left many voids in my story. But it was also filled with love and laughter and good moments, too!

Being a single mom has been challenging, as you can imagine, and it has definitely shaped me into the woman I am today. I always say, my kids and I have done a lot of growing up together. I have always done it on my own, without a partner or father to help support me or the kids, so making sure I hustled to provide for them was my top priority. Needless to say it's not always been easy and putting myself first has never been an option but, I always made sure my kids were taken care of, loved and given the best life possible. I think about my circumstances back then, and the choices I made, and I think I did pretty damn good! There were surely many different paths I could have chosen, and I'm happy to say I'm proud of the ones did. All I ever wanted for my kids was better than what I had and better than what I could give them back then...it's one of the reason's I have always worked so hard in life!

About 5 years ago I met my best friend (and now husband) while working together at a family practice clinic in the south metro. He came into my life with 3 incredible children of his own, kids that I am lucky enough to be a bonus mom to. We have a big blended family and are trying to navigate that dynamic as best we can! As you can imagine it's not always easy, but it sure is a beautiful thing to be apart of. We purchased a home in Eagan almost two years ago, and half the brood is with us 100% of the time...and the other half on alternating weekends and one evening a week. To say we are busy would be an understatement! Haha!

I have gone to a lot of schooling and college in my life...I was a licensed cosmetologist for 12 years, took courses to become a railroad conductor, pre-reqs for nursing and have been a certified medical assistant for the past 15 years. Most recently however I got my certification as a health coach, and it's what fills my life with passion and purpose. My husband and I are partners of a private practice clinic in Richfield-he is a family practice physician and I’m his CMA. We absolutely love working as a team and feel very blessed to be able to do what we love, together. It's been wonderful since becoming a health coach being able to incorporate nutrition and disease prevention into our practice. We are working to reverse disease and obesity one day at a time. The results are remarkable, and humbling!

- How did you get your start as a Health Coach?

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For the past 12 years I have suffered, quite significantly, from IBS-d (chronic diarrhea), pancreatitis, gastrointestinal issues and terrible gerd. I also developed high blood pressure in 2017 that I had started taking meds for, and my depression and anxiety started to get out of control, as well. Like I previously mentioned I was a young mom, and I think from about the time I as 20 years old I have struggled with my weight, never understanding how to fuel my body properly or even how to go about navigating that process on my own. All of these things ultimately resulted in me having a very unhealthy relationship with food. Couple that with multiple medical problems, depression/anxiety and you have a recipe for disaster. I had previously tried MANY different weight loss programs, medications, work out plans, trainers and even some other nonconventional tactics that never brought upon results, and if anything, resulted in me gaining more weight than what I may have started out at.

In Sept 2018 I was introduced to a healthy lifestyle program, that unbeknownst to me at the time, would ultimately change the course of my health and my life! Since starting that program 8 months ago I have lost a total of 50lbs, am IBS-D symptom free, off all blood pressure meds, depression meds, anxiety meds, heartburn and GERD meds and feel like I have been given a fresh shot at life! I am learning how to fuel my body properly, and my families...I have tons of energy, more patience, sleep amazing, and am actually learning what it means to love oneself...which is something I don't think I've ever done before. I am, for the first time in my life, putting Danielle first...and understanding that is OK!!!

This program very seriously saved my life....and I am so passionate about it, and everything it stands for, that I got my certification as a health coach so I can help guide others on their very own healthy lifestyle journey, and hopefully be a part of someone else's transformation much like my own! I was never raised going to church or having a very solid relationship with God, but what I can tell you is this, I really feel that something greater than me lead me to this program and it was 100% meant for me in every way! I have never felt closer to God or the Holy Spirit in all my life! It's actually kinda strange to be honest, but I like it! And I feel like all the hell I have been through in my life, wasn't for nothing! I have, for as long as I can remember, been on a search for happiness...belonging, purpose. Well I have finally found it! I have purpose in everything I do now...and a calling to help others in anyway I can. Including me. :)

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- What is the best part about running your own business?

The flexibility...being a busy mama I can virtually take my health coaching business with me anywhere I go! I am able to attend sporting events, choir concerts, parties, etc and never have to worry about missing out because of work. I have also travelled multiple times over the past 6 months and my clients never feel my absence. I am always a call or text away. Additionally I feel incredibly blessed to able to incorporate my health coaching into our medical practice...I love that my husband is 100% on board and supportive of the program and endorses it's nutrition, methods and models wholeheartedly.

- What is the greatest challenge that you face?

Feeling like I'm reaching people, without feeling like I'm selling something or being too forward. I have such a passion about what I do, and the amazing nutrition we have to offer, that I could quite literally shout about it from the rooftops... I know what we have to offer could help just about everyone. Whether you have 10 pounds to lose or 210, this program offers the best nutrition and education that I've ever seen! At times I feel like I'm not reaching anyone, or that I'm 'stuck'...maybe my attempts go unnoticed or I'm not presenting this gift in the right way or platform...but then I just pray and project that positive energy into the universe and wa-lah....it's what comes right back to me full circle. It's funny how life works that way...you get what you give...and your life, quite literally, is what you make of it! Energy is a huge thing to me and has a major impact in all I do. All I want to do is to be able to support my clients and love them as best I can, in whatever way they need me.

- When things get tough, where do you find inspiration to keep moving forward?

My kids! They are my world! They push me to be a better mom and human being...We have been together through it all! They have been my life-raft when, at times, I have quite literally been drowning. I always want to be an example for who they can look up to, and admire! I want them to be proud of me and know that I always did my best.

My husband! He is my rock and without him I would not be as incredible :) haha! He is totally the mac to my cheese! It's not always been easy with us, but what relationship is? I think for the first time I understand what it means to fight for what I have...I will never give up on us, even when times get rough. It's absolutely not an option. We are very different, but so much alike, as well! He lifts me up, encourages me and pushes me to keep going. He has held my hand through some pretty awful times, listened to me share my fears and held me while I cried. He has reassured me that with him, there is nothing to fear and he will be my rock through every good time and bad. He makes me feel safe and complete. And I am beyond blessed to have him in my life.

I also find a ton of inspiration in my clients...they are strong and hopeful and want a better way for their future. To be able to be a part of their journey is humbling and fulfilling and totally inspirational! I have felt so often like I have been on this quest for happiness, fulfillment....a purpose. And I can 100% say that I have found it with this business and the joy of health coaching. I am a tour guide to health, offering tips and tricks and words of wisdom and hope through the experiences I've gone through in my life. It's one of the most rewarding jobs I've ever had! I have made some life-long friends, thanks to this program, and I really do feel blessed to have these incredible folks in my life.

Not long before I started this program I remember feeling very low, almost to the point of feeling like I didn't know if I wanted to carry on. I was sick and sad and felt defeated. I recall feeling like I wanted to go to the hospital several times in 2017 and 2018 because the thoughts I was having were unsafe...more fleeting than anything, but scary all the same. Since adopting these new healthy habits, it's also taught me many healthy things about mental health, and my outlook on life and the future, as well.

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- Who is someone you admire the most and why?

I really admire my daughter Isabelle. She is 19 and concurring the world! She is everything I wanted to be a that age! Young, smart, beautiful and full of life! Isabelle has determination and drive like I've never seen, and does it all without complaint. This girl is a force to be reckoned with. lol She just finished her first year of college with good grades, and did it all while working two jobs and maintaining her social life. She is incredibly independent and has a great head on her shoulders. She inspires me every day to do better and strive for more! And that's exactly what I plan to do :) She is everything this world needs in our future generation! We need more Izzy's. :)))

- Tell us about your vision for the future? GO BIG, we want to root you on!

I have a vision to reach over 10,000 people by this time next year! I want to help reverse the obesity epidemic and start introducing people to a different way of living...and actually be a part of seeing them LIVE!! Food has a hold over too many folks and it's scary! My goal is to reach as many lives as I can through our healthy lifestyle program, and lead my clients to coaching others like I am! Anyone can do this...you just have to love people! The education this company offers and the team coaching approach is like none other! I feel so lucky to work with so many amazing 'world changers', and I truly desire to be one of them! Everyone deserves the gifts this program has to offer...whether it's simply to get healthy and live a more fulfilled life, or if its to do that AND coach others to health and earn a living, we offer it all!!

My dream is to be able to be a health coach fulltime and travel the world teaching others about health and wellness, and the way food should be used as fuel, all while being enjoyable. Our bodies need nutrition, not calories.

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Podcast you can't get enough of:

Never listened to one (insert shocked face here) lol

Top 5 songs you keep on repeat:

PYT-MJ, Valerie-Amy Winehouse, Waiting for a Star to Fall-Boy Meets Girl, Gold-Kiiara, True Colors- Michelle Chamuel (from The Voice), Juicy-The Notorious B.I.G., Into the Mystic-Van Morrison, Man in the Mirror-James Morrison,

Your favorite social media platform:

I probably use Facebook the most and then Instagram. I wish I was more tech savvy...I think I need an assistant! haha

How do you fuel for the day?

With amazing nutrition from our company and a mix of healthy proteins, low glycemic veggies, healthy fats, and a positive attitude!! Oh and, LOTS of H20!!!

Final words of wisdom to other's out there building their business and brand? Floor is yours:

Don't give up!! There are going to be times of massive growth and success, and there will be times of wondering if what you're doing is worth it? Consistency is key. Being teachable, coachable and open to doing it a different way, are all things that you must be open to !! This is with all areas of your life...life is about growth. We all have the opportunity to grow...do better than the day before...We are in control of our actions and reactions to every thing...we are never stuck, just be willing to look for that available door to go through...sometimes in the most inconspicuous places.

Discover more about Danielle and The DB Influence

Instagram: theDBInfluence

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If you’d like to talk about booking a photo session, shoot me a message. I’d love to discuss all options and ideas with you!

And lastly, if you know someone who would enjoy reading what Danielle has to say, pass it on & share! I appreciate the support more than you know!

Interview : Brittany Morris, Upscale Wedding Planning + Event Design | Bella Mystique

Brittany Morris, Bella Mystique

Let’s just say that Brittany and I go way back.
I’m talking like waaaay back. (Think gangly pre-teens braiding each other’s hair discussing all things boy).
And now here we are, 20 years later — creatives, mothers and big time dreamers.

It had been way too long since we’d last seen each other when I showed up to a wedding she was coordinating lugging my camera.
I desperately tried to keep up with her that day, soaking in as much as I could. What an experience.

Brittany is just one of those people that truly inspires you to your core and honestly, she always has been. What a gift she is to anyone that is lucky enough to work with her.

Tell us about yourself. Who you are, where you’re from and what you do!

I’m a creative and a proud momma of three (6,4,1) little souls. People always say you’re not just a “wife”, “mom”, “business owner”, or “gymnastics coach”, you’re Brittany.
I know.. but I am all those things.
Every aspect of my life molds me into exactly who I am and inspires me to be who I want to be. I’m addicted to stand up comedy, I’ve lived in almost every suburb in the Twin Cities and spent half of my life growing up in northern Minnesota on the Iron Range.
When I’m not being creative, and that could be anything from my kids school projects to redecorating my house to planning weddings and events, I love to catch up with my three sisters, travel with husband and be anywhere with a skyline or water view.
I love to read inspiring books and quotes and still on the hunt for a good Cabernet.

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How did you get your start as an event planner? What brought you to this work?

I’d have to say it just hit one day. It may have been a combination of me trying to find my way through the world and series of events. I started my college career with a degree in architectural drafting and design. I realized I didn’t want to wait 10 years to own my own architecture firm, so I went back to school for graphic design.
I planned my own wedding, which knowing what I know now, I would have done it totally different.
At first I wanted to focus on graphic arts and just do invitations for weddings. But curiosity took over and pushed me even further.
I’ve always enjoyed hosting events. Whether that was birthdays, BBQs or my favorite being Halloween. I was always going above and beyond for my guests. My friends know any event that I throw is going to be, in their words, “extra AF”.
Then it clicked.
I started Bella Mystique with $50 in my bank account and out of the closet in my bedroom. I made all of my marketing materials and offered my services for $250 and unlimited time. I look back on that now and think, “Yikes!” But I was so eager to learn and grow I took on anything.
Fast forward 7 years and here I am, still standing.

What is the best part about running your own business?

Being on my time. Having small children makes it difficult to work a traditional job. But with owning my own business, not only do I get to choose when I want to work, I also get to choose who I get to work with. And it’s something that belongs entirely to me. I take full responsibility of what this business is and what it can become and also hopefully, leave this behind for my kids to take over one day if they ever wanted.

What is the greatest challenge you face?

To piggyback off the last question, like a famous Spider-Man quote, “With great power comes great responsibility.” What that means to me, with owning your own business, you wear all the hats. You are the accountant, the lawyer, the market researcher, the branding manager, social media, you are client relations and human services.
When people call, they get you every single time. So even though it looks all glitzy glam with the title of owning your own wedding planning business, there are a lot of legal and administrative tasks that you are responsible for.
It can sometimes be difficult finding a healthy work/life balance.

Katie (Lead Planner) and Brittany (Owner) of Bella Mystique

Katie (Lead Planner) and Brittany (Owner) of Bella Mystique

When things get tough, where do you find inspiration to keep moving forward?

There are a few things that I do when I lose that creative spark. And it happens! More often than you think.
What I usually do though, is I take a mental break.
I clean out my office, my closet, my car, anywhere in my every day that has some form of clutter and try to refresh. I may put a little bit more of my energy and focus into my kids or traveling. I take a step back but not too long because then it’s hard to get back into it. But... enough.
Then, I see a client or I do a final venue walk-through and usually those butterflies come back. That ‘this is the reason why am doing this’ feeling comes back.

Who is someone you admire the most and why?

My husband. He’s always asking me questions and getting on my ass and pushing me to think. He’s such a hard worker. He constantly has a book in his hands because he wants to learn more, grow more and be better and that inspires me to do the same. He never makes excuses and he shows up Every. Single. Day.
Two of my favorite quotes he has ever told me are, “Be so positive that negative people can’t stand to be around you.” And “The difference between who you are now and who you are 10 years from now are the books you’ve read and the people you’ve met.”

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Tell us about the future of Bella Mystique — what’s your vision? GO BIG, we want to root you on!

I’d love to open my own venue someday. Now, I’m still digging into all of what actually that entails to see if I would truly enjoy it. But right now, doing more event design and hopefully opening a venue are my goals.

Podcast you can’t get enough of:

Let’s be real. The only thing coming out of my speakers right now comes from a Disney soundtrack or audible.

Top 5 songs you keep on repeat:

I Was Here by Beyonce
PYT by Michael Jackson
Ocean Drive by Duke Dumont
There’s Nothing Holding Me Back by Shawn Mendes
Tennessee Whiskey by Chris Stapleton

Your favorite social media platform:

Instagram

How do you fuel for the day?

Coffee. A plan. And more coffee.

Final words of wisdom to other’s out there building their business and brand? Floor is yours:

If you are a creative of any sort, a solid read would be The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.
Also, Have your own vision of success. What does that look like to you?
Is it just making sure you’re in the black every year at tax time? Or having 10 employees? Or making a certain design? Whatever it is, make sure it’s true to you and ignore what everyone else is doing. Because at the end of the day you’re not doing it for them.
Don’t think for a moment because the clients aren’t pouring in and you’re not flooded with emails that you’re not talented and you’re not successful.
I can’t begin to believe enough that you get what you put in yet there is no race to “success”. Don’t be afraid of people that are smarter than you, because you can learn something.
And the only way to conquer fear is by action. Stay curious.

If you enjoyed this interview be sure to sign up for my newsletter where I send out monthly-ish musings of everything I love and people I find interesting!

Do you know another trail blazing woman in the Twin Cities? I’d love to hear about them and possibly get them on the other side of my lens. Shoot me a message and let me know where I can find them!

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Discover more about Brittany and Bella Mystique:
Web: Bella Mystique | Instagram: @bellamystique | Facebook: Bella Mystique

2018 in 36 photos // A Year of Change

… And exhale.

We made it through 2018.

There were times it felt like we’d never get through the year.

My pregnancy felt long.

The move felt, at times, impossible.

We started in Hawaii and spent a couple months in Arizona before finally landing back home in Minnesota.

I think we’ll talk about 2018 a lot as the years go by and it’s hard to believe it’s already a memory. I know for sure 2019 will be a bit more low key and I welcome that.

You know I’ll be here, documenting along the way.

Here’s a photo recap of 2018, choosing only three photos from each month. I completed my first 365 project and I couldn’t be more grateful for the year I chose to do so. I can’t wait to hold that book in my hands.

Many blessings my friends,

Elyse’

JANUARY

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FEBRUARY

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MARCH

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APRIL

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MAY

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JUNE

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JULY

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AUGUST

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SEPTEMBER

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OCTOBER

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NOVEMBER

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DECEMBER

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What It Takes | Story of an Ironman

It starts with a decision. You make a commitment to yourself backed with discipline, determination and grit.

For the past two years, my husband Tom has trained at an Ironman level. Not only have I seen him at the finish line wrapped in glory, lights and a cheering crowd but I've also seen him in the trenches. The grueling hours, weekly sacrifice and that early morning wake up 6 days a week.

I'm excited to share a sliver of his story with you. This is what it takes.

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When I got the final assignment for my Visual Storytelling class at the Define School, Tom came to mind right away. He does this day after day and I wanted to help him see it from an outside perspective.

I'm so proud of him and he truly inspires me to do what it takes to make my dreams come true.

Anything is possible if you're willing to put in the work.

Lots of love and Aloha,

Elyse'