Rachel Johnson: “Drink water all day long”

Pay attention to the things that really make you happy. Over the past few years, I have really focused on spending more time doing the things that really make me happy. Sometimes it’s cooking dinner with a nice glass of wine, picking my daughter up from school and getting ice cream, or a 30-minute run […]

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Pay attention to the things that really make you happy. Over the past few years, I have really focused on spending more time doing the things that really make me happy. Sometimes it’s cooking dinner with a nice glass of wine, picking my daughter up from school and getting ice cream, or a 30-minute run in the morning with a good podcast. I’ve realized that the little things really make me the happiest, and they are all actual things I can easily incorporate more into my life.

As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rachel Johnson.

As the founder of ah.mi, Rachel brings the big ideas. And together with the ah.mi dream team, they make the magic come to life. Her journey to living a healthier life is super relatable because like most of us, focusing on her diet and fitness isn’t her full-time job (she’s a corporate lawyer and mom to two little ones). Rachel is constantly switching up her work outs, but lately has been loving hot yoga and running. Learn more about Rachel: https://www.ahmihealth.com/about

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

I am the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of J&O Law, and a health and wellness newbie. A year and a half ago, I found myself on a cycle of being glued to my desk all day answering emails, ordering UberEats way too often, and striving to make an hour-long workout class once or twice a week, but never consistently being active. In January 2018, I committed to change the way I was living and really get healthy — not just a quick fix before a big trip where I would fall into a slump again, but to consistently start living a healthy life. Because friends make everything more fun, I also got a group of my best friends to commit with me.

After three months, I realized there was something to this “get healthy with friends” idea because we all felt and saw huge changes. From there, ah.mi was born! ah.mi is an innovative health and wellness company focused on helping you create sustainable healthy habits with the help of your friends. From seasonal offerings to a digital membership, we have options for everyone and every lifestyle. Our registered dietitian and team of real busy women are always on a mission to make getting healthy easier for everyone.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

Before I launched ah.mi, I was looking for a company to help me get healthy, and that really spoke to me, but I found nothing. The biggest takeaway from that search was that I wanted to build a company I wanted to be a part of, and something my friends would be proud to be part of too. I knew then that I wanted to create a fresh and elevated brand, and when building the company, I would always ask myself questions like: would you want to receive this email? Or could I actually make this recipe after a long day at work?

I learned early on that every company pivots, and you can truly grow a lot from feedback. Our members at ah.mi are very clear on what works and what doesn’t, and that means we’ve made a lot of pivots and changes along the way. I now embrace change as a leader because I know it is only making us better. Because of those changes, we have three seasonal offerings, and I know each one will be better than the last. We are truly in growth mode, and (although it isn’t a surprise to most), the most valuable feedback still comes from my Mom. She is 69 and has fully embraced the ah.mi lifestyle 🙂

Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

We encourage friends to start a text group to update and motivate each other while doing ah.mi together. Early on, the ah.mi team was in every single friend text group — obviously, that is not sustainable or scalable! I quickly realized that friends wanted to do ah.mi with each other, and they didn’t really want (or need) an outsider in their text group. If you want a 1:1 health coach or registered dietitian, companies out there offer that, but it wasn’t us or who we wanted to be. The purpose of ah.mi is to get healthy with your friends and have fun with it.

Although it was intense being in all those text groups, we got to see how different groups of friends used and benefited from our programs. In a sense, it was our high-touch beta test that gave us some of the most valuable market insights. We learned so much about what works, what doesn’t, and what our members really wanted from those first groups. I don’t think we would’ve been where we are today if it wasn’t for those beta test groups.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

ah.mi is not just me, and I am so lucky to have an amazing team behind me helping build the ah.mi brand. Our Registered Dietitian, Tori Jensen, is incredible and makes all of her nutritional wisdom approachable and “digestible” for our members. And, since I knew early on branding was going to be so important, I found Robyn Davies, our amazing Creative Director — she has worked with Rent the Runway, Red Bull Media House, and has been integral to building our brand and our messaging. Two of my friends, Lisa and Nichole, are also working on ah.mi and helping get our seasonal offerings off the ground. I am incredibly thankful for the ah.mi team every single day, and for what we’ve collectively learned along the way.

Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

For most of us, health and wellness is not our full-time job. We can’t devote hours each week to shop for food, meal prep, and get in hour-long workouts. My biggest focus is to show busy people, like myself and everyone on our team, that small, consistent changes can make a huge difference. At ah.mi, we focus on three main things: greens, water, and movement. Because, the truth is, being healthy does not have to take up your entire life, and you don’t need to order crazy products or spend insane amounts of money on a quick-fix. The key is a long-term and sustainable solution, which is what we focus on. I hope our message can make it feel achievable to actually live a healthy life because our health is truly so important to our overall well-being!

Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.

  1. Get sleep. I try to go to bed around 10pm every single night. I am 100x more productive with a good night’s rest (and a much happier person)!
  2. Drink water all day long. If you aren’t drinking water all day long, you’re probably not drinking enough. I have warm lemon water at my desk all day. Being properly hydrated makes me feel more clear-headed and energized, and it makes a huge difference. If you don’t have time to pick up new wellness habits, I would say this is the best and easiest place to start!
  3. Pay attention to the things that really make you happy. Over the past few years, I have really focused on spending more time doing the things that really make me happy. Sometimes it’s cooking dinner with a nice glass of wine, picking my daughter up from school and getting ice cream, or a 30-minute run in the morning with a good podcast. I’ve realized that the little things really make me the happiest, and they are all actual things I can easily incorporate more into my life.
  4. Forget the hour-long workout class. If you have time to do an hour-long workout multiple times a week, then more power to you. I know that consistent and hour-long workouts seem impossible for most of us. My tip? Try shorter workouts that are convenient for you, and you can do it on your own time. Skip the Zoom video calls when you can, and use a dial-in so you can use an hour-long conference call as an excuse to walk outside during the day.
  5. Prioritize friends. My friends and I have been texting for two years now about how we keep it healthy. It’s not every day, and sometimes it’s not even every week, but we have that support system and encouragement. I find it so motivating when you have even one person that you are sharing easy healthy recipes with, the latest product you found, or just someone to turn to when you feel like crap on a bad day.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I hope I am starting that movement with ah.mi — a movement of leveraging friendship and connection to live healthier and more sustainable lives. Some people need a boost to do that, and that’s why I created this company, but I also think that if people could find that one support person to be there for them to encourage a healthier lifestyle, I feel like it makes all the difference in the world. After all, we all need encouragement and thrive with accountability.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

  1. Take it slow and steady. I keep going back to this, but I truly believe in “pausing” and really thinking about your offerings and how you can make it better — that’s what will really help you grow in a meaningful way.
  2. Forget the noise. The health and wellness space has many players, and you can always look at what other people are doing to compare. But, to be different, you have to forget the noise and build the company you and your community would actually want to be a part of. And only you can build that!
  3. Run your own Instagram. In the beginning, we were really focused on Instagram. Yes, it did help build that brand awareness, but to make it really authentic and speak to your audience, you need to be the one doing the captions and stories. There is no other way around it if you want it to be genuine. Post and do stories when it feels right to you. Post content while it’s fresh, don’t wait for the right moment, or wait until later on to post the amazing content you have, or it may never end up out there.
  4. Learn to say no. I always welcome introductions to new brands or products. Still, unless our members are obsessed with a product or it’s organically something I think our members would love, I won’t waste my or my team’s energy on it. Always be kind when getting connected and feel free to have an exploratory conversation, but don’t focus all your energy if you feel like it will be a distraction to building your dream product.
  5. Slide into DMs. On the flip side, I am the queen of reaching out to people, whether it’s via LinkedIn or Instagram. How has it worked for me? ah.mi ended up partnering with Peloton because of it! The way I see it, what do you have to lose by reaching out? Even the big guys want to support early-stage companies if they believe in the mission.

Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

Mental Health. Especially being in the legal profession, I know that mental health is so important and is something that is always discussed because of how high pressure and demanding the profession can be. I 100% tie my physical health and wellbeing to my mental health — and I think it’s an important thing to consider no matter what type of company you’re running.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

You can follow us at @ahmi.health on Instagram for nutrition tips, recipes, healthy living tips and so much more!

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