The Most Important Thing I Learned from My Mom

May 12, 2017

Trust me, I know. Exercise is hard. Doing new things for the first time is hard. Getting back into a workout routine after injury or child birth is hard. Eating clean when all you want to do is devour the whole {effing} chocolate cake is hard. Rebuilding a running base, getting stronger, doing challenging things … it’s all hard.

But don’t give up on yourself too quickly.

This week, I went to a new strength training class that alternated rounds of tabata (20 seconds of exercise, 10 seconds of rest) with running. It was a fantastic workout. It was also hard. My heart rate was up. My arms were shaking. Certain exercises felt like the longest 20 seconds of my life. But it’s the hard stuff we do that makes us better.

At least that’s what my mom taught me.

First Mother's Day on
My mom and me in 2014 in Utah

From a young age, my parents instilled a confidence in me that was grounded in consistently striving to do the right thing. Doing the right thing is often not the most popular, easiest or desirable choice, but it’s always the best one. Whether it’s for something big like a major school project, work decision or family priority … or something small like choosing not to give up in a workout, my mom taught me that hard work and sacrifice say something about who we are. Even when no one else is looking or no one even cares, doing the right thing matters.

During my new workout this week, I thought about my mom.

Everyone around me was giving up. People stopped running five to 10 yards before the finish point. People quit their exercise three seconds early rather than finishing the full time. With big sighs, everyone was giving up. It’s easy to give up. It’s easy to cut corners. But the only person you’re giving up on and short-changing is yourself. So I made sure I got in all the work I came for: I hustled to and from stations. I ran through the finish line. I kept going until the clock said zero. Because my mom taught me not to give up on myself … whether we’re talking about lifting weights or living life.

I don’t think anything can make you appreciate the incredible greatness of your mother than becoming a mom yourself. On January 9 this year, I joined the incredible club of being a mom. It is hands-down the best thing that has ever happened to me. My heart grew one million times its original size, and the love and happiness in my life quadrupled. But on January 9 and all the days since, my appreciation and love for my own mom has grown more than I thought was even possible. She has taught me the most important lessons about what really matters, and she is the one who has taught me what it means to love unconditionally and to be loved unconditionally. She has taught me what doing the right thing is about.

My mom has also proven that even when we do give up or give in, it’s never too late to give it our all.

Just before my mom turned 60, she started running. She has completed nearly a dozen half marathons and goes to Orangetheory two to three times per week, often at 5 a.m. before work. She struggles with motivation. She has often struggled with healthy eating. She’d be the first to tell you she has yo-yoed back and forth with weight and discipline more times than she’d care to admit. It’s real life. And yet, she isn’t giving up. She has lost 15 pounds (and counting) this year and runs with a running group most weekends. My dear friends at Brooks Running gave me one of the greatest gifts ever, allowing me to outfit my mom from head-to-toe at no cost in new gear to celebrate her amazing-ness. My mom said she’s never owned anything this nice.

My mom wearing her new Brooks gear: Distance Running Short Sleeve Shirt, Go-To Capris and Ravenna 8 shoes
First mother's day on

As I begin to raise my own daughter, I already talk to her about doing the right thing (yes, I realize she can’t understand a word I’m saying yet). I know there will be so many hard conversations through the years about making the right choices. {Lord, please let her make better choices than I did during my teenage years!} But I know my mom’s voice will always be in my head helping me do the right thing as a mom and empowering her to do the right thing as a daughter.

First mother's day on
My mom with Baby rUnladylike the day she was born
first mother's day on
My mom with Baby rUnladylike earlier this month

As we celebrate Mother’s Day this year, I’m grateful to my mom for helping encourage and guide me to do the right thing, even in the face of adversity. That’s one of the greatest gifts she could give me and an important one I will pass on. In running and in life, we are what we repeatedly do. Thank you, mom, for being the greatest role model for me. I’ll keep trying to do the right thing and make you proud.

How are you celebrating Mother’s Day this year? What’s the most important lesson you learned from your mom?


Amanda N

Beautiful post! I have learned so many great things from my mother including never giving up, being a hard worker, and already being there to help those in need. She embodies so many great qualities that I hope I pass on to my two girls!

Happy first Mother’s Day!

Gabrielle from Austria

Dear Jesica!

What a wonderful post for Mother’s Day!
Your mom is truly inspiring.
I’ve learned a lot from my mom . The most important lesson is to tolerate pain, unease and how to respond to life’s curveballs.
Now she is very weak, she is living in an old people’s home and has to be in a wheel chair.
But still she gets up every single day, holds herself on a railing and goes on shaky legs for a few meters or as far as possible. She doesn’t give up.
She can do hard things and so can I, so can we all.
Happy first Mother’s Day!


First of all i would like to say Love you, i really became very happy by just watching this post because there is someone who is sharing a genuine information which connects to a mother. I always do exercise in the morning and my mom do not teach me but i am going to advise your tips to my mom for sure.
And every day is a Mother’s Day for me.