She’s the picture of fitness and strength. Literally. All you have to do is scroll through her Instagram page and it’s clear that Sharon Bondurant offers plenty of fitspiration for her thousands of followers. She’s also helped thousands of people transform their career as the founder of two companies, The Finders and The Fit Professional, the latter which aims to help busy professionals get their business and health on track.
Sharon’s story is particularly remarkable because it wasn’t until she was in her 40s that she entered a new phase of her life and began bodybuilding. Not only did this self-described “shy self-conscious girl” find herself center stage at International Federation of Body Building & Fitness (IFBB) competitions, but she discovered a new lease on life. As she says, “People look for motivation and inspiration from others but they already have it within themselves. They just need to commit to something and not worry about the outcome.”
I connected with Sharon after she started following me on Instagram and saw my Homegirl Talk interview with fitness champ and life coach Lori Harder. One follow back and direct message later, here we are with our own Homegirl Talk interview.
In 1998, you started a technical recruiting firm now called The Finders from the floor of your spare bedroom. You had just given birth to your first son and wanted to work from home so you could spend time with him. How difficult was it to find balance as a working mom? How do you find it now?
Finding that balance is always a challenge and struggle for parents. It actually wasn’t as hard to find balance when I first started The Finders as it was as my kids got older. I think this stems from having absolute clarity on what I needed to do in order to keep a roof over my son’s head. I had just given up a $100K job that I loved and needed to make up that income somehow. Or I would need to leave him and go back to work in an office.
I didn’t have an extensive business plan. There were no telecommuting options back then, let alone a cell phone or the internet! So I did the work. I made the cold calls. I got hung up on, but I was persistent, consistent and did not give up. The reward was huge. I was able to make my own hours, be in control of my income and be there for my son. I think the key is how much imbalance in the beginning is worth the end game? I used that same balance method as they got older.
Unfortunately, I went through a divorce when my kids were three and seven years old. My ex-husband and I shared joint custody, so I was determined to focus on my kids when I had them. I was there for them every day when they came home on the bus and I walked them to the bus each morning. That was a non-negotiable for me. If I was going to be able to do that, I wanted my team to be able to do that, too. So I created a culture in my office that promoted flexibility. When I didn’t have my sons, I worked longer. I still instill this routine even though my kids are now 16 and 20.
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I woke up grateful for so many things this morning! Some of the top things included: 1. To be home in AZ. I loved being in Kauai, but there is no place like home. 2. My boys and my fiancé! Even though we were on vacation, we had some moments that tested us, scared us, or frustrated us. I may share more later, but i think all of it made us better in some way. 3. Time! For me, money is just a tool that can be used to create joy and time with and for the people I care about and love. 4. My workout this morning with @_patrickthomas and the rest of the ladies at Glute Camp. After a bit of jet lag, alcoholic beverages, yummy food, and sun this past week, it felt great to get my workout in! Happy Saturday! #gluteworkout #bestlife #balance #bikinipro #ifbbpro #girlswithmuscle #fitover40 #fitlife #fitmom #family #fitfam #vacation #kauai #beach
Fast forward to today and you’re a successful entrepreneur (mompreneur!) who also runs The Fit Professional, which offers tips, tools and resources for a fit mind, body and business. When it comes to fitness, most of us are so overworked that exercise is the last thing we want to do. But you say fitness can transform your business. How so?
It is SO true! I keep a mental bullseye always top of mind. In the middle are my boys, my fiance and myself. I believe you have to take care of yourself in order to help others, so I need to be healthy, full of energy and my mind needs to be right in order to serve my loved ones, my staff, my company and make the biggest impact while I am here on Earth.
When I started competing, it first took my mind then my body to an entirely different level. I learned I could dream big and accomplish way more than I gave myself credit for. It taught me that I was mentally and physically stronger than I thought. It really is more of a mind shift that happens before the body changes.
However, we can only see the outside, so that is what gets measured and talked about. I took those supercharged skills I learned in fitness and applied it to my business. I had a renewed sense of confidence, so I took bigger risks in my business, I was more decisive in my goals and my decisions. Also, since I was training so much, I got out of the way and let my leaders do what they do best. My business increased by 500% over five years, and we landed on the Inc 5000 two years in a row!
How can we find the energy to get moving in the first place?
When it comes to get going, I created a formula called CPA: Commit, Plan and Act. I am currently writing my second ebook about it. People look for motivation and inspiration from others but they already have it within themselves.
You need to commit to something—anything—and not worry about the outcome. You need to commit to not quitting. You then need a consistent plan and act on it. I always compare working out to brushing your teeth. You would not say that you don’t have time to brush your teeth, would you? Hopefully not!
Just commit to not going to sleep until you do your small daily act, even if it’s a 10-minute walk with your dog or 10 push-ups.
You talk about your transformation after the age of 41, a time when despite working a lot you felt stagnant and as though you were on auto-pilot. What triggered you to alter your lifestyle?
I was really thinking about what I wanted and how to get out of my rut. I was saying no to a lot of opportunities out of fear or the desire to stay comfortable. I started thinking what would happen if I started saying yes?
My trainer approached me the next day and asked if I had ever considered doing a bodybuilding show. I hadn’t because I didn’t think I could muster the discipline or commitment, and I was very shy and self-conscious about my body (and still am). But I decided to say yes that day!
Why bodybuilding? Wasn’t it enough to be fit?
The interesting thing is that I wasn’t really fit and never lifted weights much until I started training for my first competition. The reason I chose bodybuilding was it just happened to be the opportunity that came up first when I was looking for something to test all my fears. It hit everything. I used to quit easily and would always walk around with a towel around my waist at the pool.
Tell us about your “Booty Breakthrough Blueprint,” which you say is a fully tested, easy-to-follow, no-workout formula for a perfect booty.
When I stopped competing three years ago, I realized that you could still have a lean, toned body without having to spend hours in the gym. It all comes down to nutrition as well as working out. You need both. My ebook is about how to eat right, still have balance and look like you are training for a show when you aren’t.
You share inspirational quotes on your Instagram account. I really like the one you shared from Gandhi: The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. What’s the most common struggle people share with you?
I think a lot of women around my age are still trying to find themselves and find that passion or goal that will re-energize them. A lot them have done shows before and now feel aimless, or their kids are gone and they are still fairly young and looking for something to do that incorporates purpose. I get it. I’m also constantly trying to figure out who I am at every age. We all change—our goals, ambitions and needs change, sometimes daily. I think we are all a lot more similar than we think.
When it comes to your followers and clients, how are the challenges that women face different than those that men are facing?
You know, the interesting thing is that I think men feel the same way. They just express it differently and cover it up more.
You also post a lot of photos of your workouts and your physique, which is great because you earned it. What message are you sending with your images?
I hope that I am conveying that you can be almost 50 and still look great and accomplish everything that you want! I want people to know that you can be in control of your body and business. You have to work at it. You have to be consistent and you have to keep going.
I also want to convey that you can and should be confident in your own skin regardless of your age. That is not always an easy task. I struggle with this although many people looking at my photos, but not reading my posts, may not know. I think that is why bodybuilding was and is a challenge for me. I am still that shy self-conscious girl trying to overcome things.
Do you consider yourself part of the growing body positivity movement that promotes inclusion and acceptance of all body types?
Yes… but let me elaborate. I believe you should feel good in your body. You should have balance and be able to eat treats. However, I do think that there are a lot of people that are taking extremes with messages to ‘Eat what you want,’ ‘Eat those doughnuts anytime you want.’ I think there is a middle point.
People need to remember to eat healthy to nourish their body and take care of it with nutritious food and exercise. This is the only body you are going to have, so it is important to love it, but also take care of it by eating healthy food and getting the right amount of exercise.
You write a lot about macros. I thought it was just macrobiotics. Tell us about what it is and why you think it’s important.
Macros are basically the macronutrients that fuel your body. Even though the total calories one consumes plays a huge part in losing and gaining weight, it is also the percentages of your daily intake of protein, carbs and fats that influence body composition.
Depending on your body type, your age, your goals and genetics, you can alter your body composition by adjusting these three areas. What is really fantastic is that it is completely possible to maintain your same weight but go from flab to toned and fit by adjusting your macros and your workouts.
Progress pic..or rather maintenance pic. I have been in ‘balance mode’ for months and months and months (not even sure how long lol),and I have to say that I am loving it! It’s honestly the first time in my life that I don’t feel guilty if I eat a sweet or two or grab a handful of not so clean snacks. My body and mind have learned that balance is good and okay! It has almost been three years since my last competition! Time flies. Maintenance can be tricky and the key is to stay focused on your workouts and nutrition but give yourself flexibility. Still always have some small goal or some set point that when a particle piece of clothing feels tight (I currently use a pair of white shorts. If they get too tight, I tighten my food and cardio up). And, always keep progressing! Photos are good to take periodically too..same outfit, same time of day, same lighting. #ifbbpro #ifbbbikini #ifbbbikinipro #bikinipro #bikiniprep #balance #nutrition #abs #workout #inspo #fitover40 #fitfam #fitmom #girlsthatlift #womenshealth #iifym #flexibledieting #carbsareok #bikini #transformation
You’re very open about your age and how you navigate getting older. In one post you shared about your hair getting thinner as a result of competing and aging. Obviously, none of us can do anything about getting older, but do you ever worry that working out so much might adversely affect your health or actually accelerate the aging process?
If you are extreme and continually put pressure and restrictions on your body, yes, you will do damage. I saw that firsthand, which is why I decided to take a break from competing. It is all about balance. Working out and eating healthy have wonderful positive effects. You just need to not overdo it. Take a rest day. Enjoy a treat meal with no guilt. Stop doing crazy cardio. It will do your body wonders.
What do your kids think about their mom being a bikini-sporting woman with abs and glutes of steel?!
They are proud and always support me. 🙂 I want to show them you can accomplish anything, that you can be strong and do anything you set your mind to and work hard at!
When you’re not working out or running your businesses, what do you like to do to unwind and have fun?I
I love to enjoy coffee on the patio with my fiance. We love to watch and hear the birds in our backyard each morning. We have named the regulars–Larry the Cardinal and Ollie the Owl. It’s the little moments that I appreciate the most. I also love spending time with my boys, catching a great sunset, hiking and traveling.
What’s the one thing we need to know about feeling better in our bodies?
I think one of the most important things we should know is that we all feel the same way. We all compare, and we all wish for what we don’t have. It is human nature. I find writing down gratitude each day helps.
Sometimes what I am grateful for are very simple things, such as ‘I am grateful that I can get up and walk unassisted throughout my house.’ Some people don’t have that basic luxury. We need to be grateful for everything!
Any other advice you have for us regardless of where we are in our fitness journey?
It is NEVER too late to start! Start small, be consistent, keep going, don’t be attached to the outcome and don’t quit! You can achieve anything you set your mind to doing!
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