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Conversations with the Inspiring Valerie Villarreal

Today we’d like to introduce you to Valerie Villarreal.

Valerie, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I am a fitness and fashion enthusiast and blogger in Houston, TX. I am also a fitness coach and mom of 4 and am passionate about showing others how to make fitness an important part of their lifestyle. I am a runner and triathlete, competing in my first half Ironman triathlon distance this year and with hopes to complete a full Ironman in the next year or so (yikes!). I share insights into my endurance and strength training as well as nutrition and overall wellness tips on my social media pages.

That is not what I have always been, however. I was born and raised in sunny Miami, Florida and moved to Houston in 1993 where I continued my Finance degree and graduated from the University of Houston (Go Coogs!). I have 18 years of experience as a Tax professional in the Oil and Gas industry and also have co-owned small businesses with my husband while taking some time off with the birth of our first two children in the early 2000s.

My relationship with fitness had always been fickle and I never quite committed to sticking with any kind of regimen for very long. My only motivating times to stick with a plan was after my first two kids were born but as soon as I returned to a close to the prebaby body, I let it go again. I knew that I was not doing things correctly but I didn’t feel I had the time to make it a permanent priority. When my next two children came around a decade later, I knew that I needed to invest into fitness throughout my pregnancy so that it would be easier to bounce back afterwards. I documented some of it for fun on my personal Instagram account for extra motivation.

During those two pregnancies, I taught myself how to swim laps. It was always a difficult and scary thing for me to conceive but getting in the pool each day and asking the Master Swim coach questions while she ran her class was so very valuable! I made the time to get to the gym in the evenings and weekends and started joining Yoga challenges on Instagram that the whole family would join in at home. We had so much fun with it!

I tried to keep up with my fitness by signing up for small races throughout the years (not in the busy season!) and managed to complete a few sprint triathlons. They were terrifying and incredibly difficult! It was obvious to me that with proper training and nutrition, those events would be much more enjoyable!

In the Fall of 2015, overwhelmed with trying to balance it all, I put all thoughts of fitness on a shelf to focus on my family. What I didn’t realize then was that I took out the one thing that I needed most. I was not the most pleasant to be around then and I felt horrible! I had little energy, was moody and physically felt it difficult to move around to do the simplest of tasks.

On January 1, 2016, my super supportive and patient husband took me… no, DRAGGED me to the Memorial Park loop. He actually expected me to run it in freezing cold weather! We did it but it wasn’t pretty and I complained 100% of the time. The next day, he took me to the school track and made me run and actually lunge and squat across the field. The nerve! He did this for a few days until we all had to go back to work. I figured that was the end of that but I thought I’d make him proud and get back to it on my own. My office had a gym and I started to actually USE it! I packed my meals and gym bag every day and worked out a way to get down there someway, somehow each day. Even if it meant 20 minutes on the bike or treadmill or to lift a few weights. I even began streaming online workouts to follow and would bring my laptop down to the office gym with me.

All the while, I had started a new Instagram account @fullhouseofroyals to document my fitness journey but this time to keep myself accountable each and every day. I wasn’t training for a race or for a challenge this time. This time my goal was to make fitness part of my lifestyle and to be “fit for life.” I learned very quickly that I was not the only one on a similar fitness journey and though I scrolled for workout ideas in my feed for inspiration and motivation, I was providing the same motivation for others!

In early 2018, I hung up my ten key for good and built/launched my website and a new blog. I have done it all on my own and boy what a learning curve! It’s a work in progress without a doubt.

I now coach groups through fitness programs and provide them with nutritional tips. I am able to train properly for endurance races and am also home for the first time to watch the kiddos get off the bus and participate in field trips. My number one job!

By the way, if you’re wondering where the handle came from, House of Royals is the English translation for our last name: Villarreal and Full? Well, we have a full house!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Juggling time amongst building a business and brand while raising a family and continuing to help others can, at times, be overwhelming. I am still learning each day but I have found that reaching out for help is quite valuable. Whether it’s to start or maintain your fitness journey or start a business, there are always others who have traveled the same road and are willing to offer advice and tips to set you on your way.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into House of Royals Fitness story. Tell us more about it.
My focus is to continue to motivate and inspire others to make fitness a part of their lifestyle. Whether it’s helping them with simple at-home exercises or with meal prep tips to showing them different group fitness workouts around town that they may not have heard of to incorporating healthy mindfulness while traveling. There is a common misconception that exercise can be boring. With that mindset, it makes jump starting a fitness journey quite difficult. Houston is full of fun and innovative fitness studios and gyms and I like to go out and try different workouts and report back through my blog and social media. Whether it’s pilates, yoga, dance, boxing or doing a workout video at home with my kids jumping around in the background or taking workouts outdoors to parks and trails, many people don’t realize how many ways there is to get in shape and feel strong. If it’s fun it is more likely to motivate you to keep coming back for more!

Do you have any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general? What has worked well for you?
As a confessed introvert, networking has always been a difficult thing. However, when you are doing something that you love, it becomes easier to reach out and connect with people and groups that are like minded. I joined the Houston Latina Bloggers group earlier this year and it has opened so many doors in my new venture. The group is comprised of many creative, talented and empowering women who are so eager to help you grow along side them. Already, there are have been collaborative opportunities and meetups and they inspire and motivate me daily.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Fame Parties (Family Photo), Scott Flathouse Photos (Race Photo)

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