Who the hell trades in a successful career with shows like American Idol and The Voice to start a business with no previous business experience? Meet 28-year-old, Los Angeles resident, Ellen Jaworski who went from slowly killing herself at a career she’d sacrificed everything to build, to traveling across the country – and the globe – pursuing a new career and life-long dream. This is her story.
Tell me three things I should know about you:
1) I believe in working hard to earn what you get. And, for better or worse, I put 100% of myself into anything I undertake .
2) I believe that everyone deserves to live a healthy strong life, and I’ve made it my mission to show people how to do that, even when life gets hectic and out of hand.
What’s Triple Peak Paleo (TPP)?
Triple Peak Paleo started as an Instagram account – a creative outlet to share my love of paleo cooking. Two years later, after the LIF coaching program, it has evolved into my health coaching practice.
It’s true what they say about LA: it’s full of beautiful people. Working right alongside cover models, it was hard not to compare myself and feel less than adequate. My body shame started me on a quest to lose weight, and in this area of my life, my determination to succeed went into overdrive. Though I wasn’t able control the demands of work, I knew I could have full control over my body. After 2 years of calorie counting, regimented exercise, and restriction, I crushed my goal weight, but I still wasn’t happy. It was then the Paleo diet came into my life and all of a sudden I understood what “health and wellness” truly was. It helped me completely transform how I ate, moved, thought, felt, lived, slept, moved and sparked a passion that has permeated every level of my life.
My mission with Triple Peak Paleo as a health coach is to help busy professionals who are feeling depleted and exhausted reclaim their energy and find balance in life with nutrition, movement, and mindset so they can rise to the top and live life to the fullest! Right now, I work 1-on-1 with clients, but plan to soon move into leading group wellness retreats, combining my deep passions for both wellness and travel. I’m also very active on both my Instagram account and blog, triplepeakpaleo.com, sharing daily tips and tricks to make healthy living easier for busy people (like I was as an art director)!
“Growing up, I assumed life was pretty straightforward:
go to college, get a job in what you studied, be successful, and be happy.”
TPP is a brand new venture for you, what did you do before?
I was born and raised in beautiful Vermont where I was taught to put my 100% effort into anything I did. I learned to value hard work and to hunger for succeed in everything I undertook.
In college I pursued a self-designed Bachelor of the Arts degree in Design for TV and Theater. I spent 4 years soaking up every bit of knowledge I could, getting up at the crack of dawn to set the lighting for the morning talk show, spending my weekends freezing in the chilly Boston winter air so I could learn how to dress a film set, all the while working three on-campus jobs so I could both learn and earn a paycheck… I was all in.
After college I moved to Los Angeles to become an art director – an art director turns the production designer’s set design from an idea into a reality. Again, I dug in, taking every entry level job that came my way until I finally got my lucky break as the art department coordinator for the singing competition show, The X Factor.
Within 5 years, between a mix of the right opportunities and busting my ass, hard work paid off and I became a union art director, which had been one of my big goals upon graduating college. Right before Triple Peak Paleo, I was working in Hollywood for shows like American Idol and The Voice.
Sounds like an exciting job, why change careers?
Growing up, I assumed life was pretty straightforward: go to college, get a job in what you studied, be successful, and be happy. My dad had done it, working for the state of Vermont for 35 years of his life, so shouldn’t I be able to? And starting with The X Factor my career blossomed. I was taken under the wing of a talented art director, who became my full-time boss, mentor, and friend. Under his guidance, I learned a tremendous amount, and quickly rose in my career.
But as I took on more responsibilities, the pressure increased, the work hours became longer, the budgets became lower, and the expectations so high that on every show, it felt as if we were killing ourselves just to get the job done. And it wasn’t just one show, it was every show. Weeks became months, which became years of 12+ hours work days, of mind-blogging last minute requests, of feeling like the product we were delivering was never good enough, that we were always in trouble with our clients, despite giving it everything we had. That atmosphere of near-failure, like we were always hanging on by a thread, was exhausting. It got to the point where my happiest moment on a show was when I was leaving the studio for the final time.
I want to be clear: I do like art directing. I enjoy the challenge of figuring out how to bring sketch on a piece of paper to life. I thrive when having to think quick and be resourceful when the odds are against me. I love the thrill of working towards a deadline (and there’s hardly more pressing a deadline than a countdown clock for a live TV show!). And I love that the work I do can awe and inspire an audience. What I don’t like is the cloud of politics and games that suffocates this work.
Is that why you finally hired a coach?
I hit a point where I was feeling hopeless. I knew I needed to make a change, but I didn’t know how to. I was afraid. I knew I needed support if I was going to make this leap. On paper, my art direction career was amazing – the paycheck, the recognition, the opportunities, but the stress, pressure, and unrealistic expectations had me in tears almost daily.
I remember walking into a big tech meeting for a TV show either on Black Friday or that weekend (either way, a holiday weekend I was working instead of spending with family) and two hours into that meeting, feeling hopeless, frustrated, and at my wit’s end, I pulled up the Life in Focus website and signed up for LIF 1:1.
Wow, wasn’t that hard? I mean you were really successful!
I’m incredibly independent and self sufficient, and I take a lot of pride in that, so it’s hard to me to admit that I need help. I was also hesitant to spend the money on a coaching program. After hitting that rock bottom of utter hopelessness and despair, I finally admitted to myself that I needed outside guidance. And I realized that didn’t make me weak – on the contrary – it made me strong.
We didn’t start off talking about shifting careers, when did you finally realize you couldn’t fall back in love with art directing?
When I came into this coaching program, I had already spent 2 unsuccessful years trying desperately to find a way to love my job, so I was ready to take action and move forward immediately.
I realized I needed to make a career change when I pictured what 30 more years of this life would look like. I saw someone who was miserable, stressed, angry, and mean. Someone who wasn’t healthy in body or soul. Someone who had spent 30 years settling, bowing to obligation and “shoulds” instead of standing up for herself and pursing happiness. I knew that was not the life I wanted for myself.
Let’s talk coaching, how did it work?
My first major insight was that I was, indeed, miserable. You validated how I was feeling, which was so liberating. For the first time, I felt like someone was finally listening to what I was saying and meeting me where I was.
With LIF, I learned to identify my values, or what brings me satisfaction and fulfillment, as a human being. While I’d had a sense of what was important to me, I finally got complete clarity, laser focusing in on what exactly I needed to feel happy in my life. It became immediately apparent that every aspect of my life – my community, self care, hobbies, family – was in line with my values EXCEPT my job.
I knew that if I continued the way I was going in my career, I would never be happy. That powerful epiphany gave me the courage and conviction I needed to make a drastic change: within six months I gave notice at my job as an art director and enrolled in a training program to become a certified health coach.
From there, it was our action plan that helped. You challenged me and gave me the push I needed to face my fears, anxiety, and self doubt and spring forward. You held me accountable every step of the way. With you guidance, I felt so supported, which gave me the courage I needed to take these vital next steps in my life.
” I wake up looking forward to each day instead of dreading it,
which comes with more creativity, more inspiration, and more zest for my life.
Who else did you work with and how did they help?
I immediately signed up for classes to receive my health coaching credential and learn how to run an online business. As I said earlier, when I decide to do something I give it my 100%, and a massive career shift was no exception. For my health coaching certification, I enrolled in the “Become a Health Coach” program through the Health Coach Institute.
To hone my online business and marketing skills, I signed up for Marie Forleo’s B-School through B-School affiliate Steph Gaudreau of Stupid Easy Paleo, who has become a mentor of sorts. Each of these programs have been monumental in my success so far. I’ve learned everything from coaching skills, to how to run a website, to marketing, to running a coaching business, and most importantly, all of this “stretch” has helped me to develop a stronger sense of confidence and self worth.
What advice can you share?
You don’t have to settle for mediocre. The choice to live extraordinary is in your hands. It’s yours to make. And there’s incredible support like the LIF coaching program, to help you navigate the uncertainty, fear, and thrill of taking such a leap! You only have one life – put yourself first and live it to the fullest!
How are you liking your Mondays now?
I feel amazing. I’m in control of my life. I left my full-time art directing job at the end of May, and in the beginning of June, took off on a 3 month road trip around the US and Canada, which has proved to be one of the most incredible experiences of my life (so far!). I’ve given myself to space I needed to relax, to be present, to soak up every moment that life has to offer, and I feel so rejuvenated because of that. It’s an experience that will influence every aspect of my life moving forward.
In the past 6 months since making the transition to pursue a new career in health coaching, a number of people have told me I look more relaxed and happy than they’ve ever seen me before. Even my former boss noted that I “light up” when I talk about health coaching. And I’ve noticed that I’ve belly-laughed more this summer than I have in the past 3 years! I wake up looking forward to each day instead of dreading it, which comes with more creativity, more inspiration, and more zest for my life.
Even though I’m still figuring out the nuts and bolts of my career as a globetrotting health coach, I’m living life in line with my values and on my own terms, which makes me feel like I’m being the best version of me!
Ellen Jaworski is a globetrotting health coach on a mission to make healthy living easier for busy people. As a former Hollywood art director working 12+ hour days, she felt mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted until she took control of her health. Using a holistic, real food approach Ellen doubled her energy, transformed her body, and changed her life. Now through her coaching practice and blog, Triple Peak Paleo, Ellen shares her unique approach as she travels the world, inspiring others with tips and tricks to being the healthiest version of you, wherever busy takes you!
She’s been featured as a guest blogger on Stupid Easy Paleo and a guest on the 30/30 Strong podcast.
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