By Kim Buddington
To all my dairy loving, hardworking farm gals out there…are you working on a health and fitness goal or two this year? Or maybe you were, and then a certain global crisis struck and threw you off? (Stress eating anyone??? Ugh, guilty! ;/ 😉 It’s no secret that the web is teeming with diet plans, exercise programs, recipe ideas, and much more. Social media channels are crowded with fitness “influencers,” which many of us look to for ideas and motivation to keep moving towards our goals.
I’m not going to lie; you could call me a typical 25-year-old in this regard. I’ll admit to doing my share of scrolling and YouTube watching for content in this department. Keep in mind that I do generally take what people say with a grain of salt, as many of these content creators have limited education or credentials in the health and nutrition field, to begin with.
But either way, as someone involved in animal agriculture and the dairy industry specifically, I found the amount of dairy bashing and misinformation out there to be disheartening. I couldn’t relate to these individuals and their way of life much at all. I thought to myself, “There have to be people out there promoting healthy, balanced lifestyles that include dairy products, right?” So I did some more digging and got a little more specific with my keywords.
I wasn’t disappointed, as one day, I came across Emily Shaw and her Dairy Girl Fitness Facebook group. Today I have the privilege of introducing her here to all of you!
Emily Shaw of Bell, Florida, is a NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) certified online personal trainer. In addition, she also earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Agribusiness Management with a specialization in Dairy Science from Penn State University. Dairy cattle have been an intrinsic part of her life from a young age.
“We grew up raising dairy show heifers (Holsteins) at our house, and were heavily involved in 4-H, FFA, and Junior Holstein Association,” Shaw says. “We were involved with showing, judging, dairy bowl, dairy jeopardy, you name it!”
When not in the barn or out showing, she remained very active and dedicated much of her time to sports. Softball, basketball, and dance were just a few of the athletic activities that Shaw loved to participate in as a youth.
“I’ve always had a high interest in dairy promotion and marketing,” Shaw explains. “But after graduating from college in 2017, I wasn’t able to find a job within that field. SO the idea of creating an Instagram page that allowed me to promote the dairy industry and products popped into my head.”
This Instagram account would be special, though, as Shaw specifically wanted to meld the things she is most passionate about- the advocacy for dairy consumption with fitness and health. She also lamented the amount of negative press that dairy gets across social media, especially from many of those who currently represent the fitness industry.
So she put herself out there as a fearless AGvocate, bringing Dairy Girl Fitness to life! As a fitness coach, Shaw is all about aiding women in the achievement of their goals to promote and sustain good health.
“I want to help women feel strong, confident, and healthy, and let them know that they deserve to feel that way,” Shaw states. “My goal is to show women it is not selfish to prioritize your health, and you don’t have to do it in a restrictive, unsustainable way.”
Utilizing technology, such as phone apps, Shaw works individually with each of her Dairy Girl Fitness clients. She helps them navigate through custom nutrition plans and exercise routines, as well as cultivating the right mindset for success.
On the Instagram page, Shaw is always posting awesome content. You’ll find photos (yes, plenty of them also feature cows :), workouts to try, mouth-watering recipes that include dairy products, general inspiration, dairy farming facts, and more. In the Facebook group, you can mingle with like-minded girls, and share your inspirations, victories, and struggles. It’s a very uplifting and relatable community to join.
Like every other figure on social media that tackles the task of standing up for dairy and animal agriculture, Shaw has experienced negative feedback from those who have different viewpoints. But interestingly enough, Shaw actually welcomes these interactions. Why? Because every comment made on Instagram- good or bad- helps increase the reach of what she posted. In turn, more people have the opportunity to learn about the goodness of dairy from her content as it becomes more popular.
Shaw also knows who her target audience is. “Those people that take the time to comment nasty things on a post of a stranger are not our target audience,” she explains. “Our target audience is people who want to make healthy choices for themselves, their families, and the environment, but maybe feel unsure with all of the information out there. We have to realize that most people just want to learn and understand the truth, and we have to continue showing up to allow them to see that.”
Does Emily Shaw of Dairy Girl Fitness sound like the personal trainer you’ve been looking for? If you’d like to explore the options of working one on one with her, you’re welcome to touch base with her directly via her Instagram, the Facebook group, or simply shoot her an email!
Maybe you’re not in the market to work with a coach, but you do want to improve your fitness level and feel your best. Perhaps the demands of farm and family life make you feel like you’ll never be able to get there. Well, …you’re in luck. Shaw still has some valuable advice to give you.
“Everyone is busy! You may not always have time, but you have to make time for what’s important to you,” Shaw says. “And this doesn’t mean it has to be 5-6 workouts a week, and everything looks perfect and spot-on right away! You have to start with small, realistic goals that you know you can achieve without feeling overwhelmed.”
She emphasizes that any little positive change you can make, will accumulate over time and give you a strong base to build on. If, say, two quick workouts per week and adding a few more nutrient-dense foods to your shopping list are what you can handle as you get started (or re-started), that’s great! It gets the ball rolling in the right direction, and you can always keep growing with baby steps and sustainable new measures.
Shaw also makes another crucial point, one that I think all busy women in agriculture especially need to hear.
“YOU CAN NOT POUR FROM AN EMPTY CUP! It is not selfish to take care of your health and happiness,” she stresses. “When you feel healthy, confident, and energized, you can then show up as your best self for others in your life.”
So go do something today that benefits your physical and mental health. And the good news, ladies? It ought to be fairly clear by this point…but you don’t have to sacrifice all your favorite dairy delights to succeed! Shaw certainly doesn’t. After accomplishing a tough workout, she can often be found enjoying some REAL chocolate milk to help restore and refuel!
“Never feel like you have to fit a mold to be successful,” Shaw adds. “AND just because you may not be at the end destination of your health and fitness journey, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t appreciate and be proud of your body. The journey is what will teach you how to love your body and treat it the way it deserves.”
Take care of yourselves, folks! Especially in the trying times that we currently find ourselves, don’t forget to take the practical steps needed to show yourself love and grace. Let’s raise a glass of our favorite REAL milk to our dairy farmers, and a healthy, stronger tomorrow for everyone.