“Real Women, Real Work” is a Darling series about everyday women who work in various fields including business, entertainment, science and education. We want to get to know the WHY behind their WHAT and get an inside look into different industries.
Rachel Johnson set out to live a healthier life all while juggling a full-time job as a corporate lawyer, starting her own businesses and being a mother to two. She is a woman who does it all. Her secrets for building a life she loves—keeping it real, staying healthy and helping others make small, steady changes along the way.
Founder of ah.mi, a health and wellness company that encourages people to get healthy alongside their friends, Rachel is on a mission to make it easier for busy people to get healthy. Her company speaks to the everyday woman who wants to get healthy and doesn’t know where to start or who is just too busy. Impressively, ah.mi is Rachel’s second company.
Darling got to chat with Rachel about why she founded two companies, how she balances all of the things and how other people can live a healthier, more sustainable life.
What did you want to be when you grow up?
I never really knew what I wanted to be when I was growing up. I started college thinking I would do physical therapy (although I absolutely despised chemistry and math). Unsurprisingly, I realized quickly I didn’t want to do anything in the medical field. Next, psychology seemed like a solid major because there were a lot of online classes, which meant I could easily manage my part-time jobs as a legal assistant during the day and at a college bar a few nights a week.
By now, one thing I was sure of was that I loved being in charge of my own schedule and having independence. After working for a few lawyers, I was intrigued that they could set their own hours and build the life they wanted on their own terms.
That’s when I decided. I didn’t know what exactly I would do as a lawyer, but I pursued that path. I’m very happy I did! Today, I am the co-founder and managing partner at J&O Law and the founder of the health and wellness company ah.mi.
What inspired the idea to launch your second company ah.mi?
I was at a point in my life where I wanted to get healthy. I was so over feeling constantly exhausted and having no energy. I wanted to live a healthier life, and I knew all my friends felt the same.
So a few friends of mine and I committed to living healthier for three months. We used a group chat to hold us accountable, and we all felt and saw huge changes after three months. During that time, we focused on three things—greens, water and being constantly active. I realized this was an experience that was so helpful and could be easily replicated for any friend group or life stage.
That group chat is how ah.mi was born! It made all the difference in the world to make that commitment with my friends, and there was no company out there that was focused on getting healthy with that specificity. Plus, I wanted a fresh and elevated brand that felt welcoming and made getting healthy feel less intimidating. Hence, the company name ah.mi, a play on a French word for “friend!”
There was no company out there that was focused on getting healthy with that specificity.
Today, we’re a health and wellness company obsessed with sustainable healthy living. Our mission is to help people live healthier lifestyles by learning how to develop healthy micro-habits that add up to big changes—alongside their friends. Whether it’s our digital membership or seasonal offerings, we have options for every lifestyle!
How do you juggle being an entrepreneur, lawyer, mother and all the things?
My calendar is everything! I just started intuitive scheduling (a productivity method developed by my mindset coach Antoinette Beauchamp). With her method, I schedule breaks throughout my day to get into my flow with work and get all the things done (while focusing a lot on the things that made me feel good)! This method has hugely helped me find balance in all areas of my life.
I block my mornings off to spend with kids, and I always take one of them to school. I love doing the drop-off and the conversations we have on the way. Having this morning routine is something I am so thankful for, and I make sure no work calls are scheduled before 10 a.m. On the weekends, I love a good afternoon nap and watching mindless TV. (Pro tip: My husband and I switch off afternoon naps so we can both get them in!)
As for making room for ah.mi, this is a passion-driven side hustle with only three seasonal offerings. This is very intentional, and we are embracing growing slow and steady. Between each of our seasonal offerings, the team and I have downtime to think about new ideas, new recipes and improve our offerings.
As for making room for ah.mi, this is a passion-driven side hustle.
ah.mi focuses a ton on getting healthy with your friends. Why is friendship such a critical piece?
Because friends just get you. They also know how to make you laugh and not take yourself too seriously. Getting healthy and changing how you are living your life is not easy, and having that support just makes the experience so much better and more sustainable. Plus, seeing your friends get up early and prioritizing the things that make them feel good too is really encouraging!
What are some small and steady changes people can start today to live a healthier lifestyle?
Greens. Water. Move. Repeat. Adding these three micro-habits to my everyday routine instantly makes me feel so much better, and it’s what we focus on at ah.mi. Some days, it doesn’t happen, but I try for consistency and focus on just those three things more often than not.
- Drink 90 ounces of water each day.
Most people live their life dehydrated and can instantly feel the difference once they up their water intake. Most importantly, they feel more energized and less foggy. It’s really incredible what proper hydration can do!
- Eat 2-3 cups of greens per day.
At ah.mi, we’re all about encouraging our members to eat whole foods (aka cut out the processed stuff). Having an Italian dinner? Make it a habit of getting a side salad to go with your pasta. At Saturday brunch? Ask for spinach in your eggs. It doesn’t have to be extreme. Aim for those little changes that can also be sustainable, so you can still eat (and enjoy!) the foods you love.
- Be active at least three times a week.
We intentionally use the word “active” because a full 60-minute workout multiple times a week may not be realistic for most people. Aim for consistency, and try not to go two days in a row without doing any activity. (Even a 20-minute walk while on a work conference call counts!)
You offer a ton of great nutritional information on ah.mi, what’s your personal go-to advice or recipe?
Tori Jensen is our amazing registered dietitian who provides all the amazing nutrition information to our members. It is so amazing having her as a resource because there is so much out there that can be overwhelming. We aren’t selling any one product or pushing a certain lifestyle on anyone. Tori’s focus is on eating whole foods most of the time (and fruits and veggies as often as you can).
I was never a cook and having healthy recipes that I can whip up after a long day was so key. The internet was filled with recipes, but it was a constant Google search whenever I had the energy to cook. All our recipes are ah.mi-approved, meaning six or fewer ingredients and something you can cook after a crazy day. You can sign up for our ah.mi newsletter here to get access to our recipes!
What’s something you’re excited about that’s coming up for ah.mi people should know?
I can’t wait for our four-week New Year Revive! It’s a part of our seasonal offerings. Everyone wants to start the new year fresh. For the program, we will have a four-week menu with new healthy ah.mi recipes, four weekly challenges for friends to do together, goal setting chats with other experts and so much more! It starts Monday, Jan. 4, 2021!
What advice would you give to women who want to get healthy but don’t know where to start?
If you want to see big changes, you need to be really committed and disciplined. For me, it took three months of dedication, focusing on eating healthy and being active to finally feel big changes. I would say that, after one year of living that ah.mi life, I felt totally different and aligned to a healthier lifestyle. You have to want it and be committed. There is no product, program or magic pill that will make it happen for you (and it definitely doesn’t happen overnight).
You have to want it and be committed. There is no product, program or magic pill that will make it happen.
I would find that one person who wants to do it with you or is already living a healthy life to be your support system. It can be a family member, friend or even an acquaintance. Some groups in ah.mi are strangers who get matched with each other! If your friends want to do something together or want that extra push, then I would check out ah.mi.
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your younger self?
Take care of yourself! I was probably so frickin’ dehydrated throughout college and law school. I don’t even know how I had any energy to actually focus and study. Drinking water all day long makes such a huge difference. Until I was 35, I don’t think I ever lived a truly healthy lifestyle because I didn’t make it a priority.
I would always focus for a few months but then, I’d go back into a rut of not taking care of myself. Taking care of yourself is something you need to prioritize at all stages of your life. Once you start feeling good, then everything else flows. Work is more enjoyable, you have so much energy and you are an overall happier person! I’m only pissed it took me 35 years to figure this out.