August Rule Your Nation Awards

Welcome to our next round of Rule Your Nation Awards! Today we have a special treat. I’ve interviewed some people who live incredible lives. One is a fitness model and boxer, among other things.  Another is a professional basketball player. We also have two trained fighters who practice Muay Thai and 52 Blocks. Finally, we have a lifestyle coach and former NCAA Tournament contender. Every single person here who took time out of their busy schedules to speak to me has an awesome story worth sharing.  They exemplify this blog’s motto by ruling their respective nations in ways that bring them joy and fulfillment, and it was an honor meeting them.  Let’s get started with our first recipient.

Jessica Meyer


Tell us about yourself.

[I]aspire to inspire [by]motivating others to be their best by being my best. [I am a] nutrition and wellness coach and personal trainer, WBFF Pro Diva Fitness Model, amateur boxer, obstacle racer & fitness enthusiast. I’m constantly raising the bar in each challenge, pushing clients to do the same [and] showing[ing] through example you can be [and]do anything you choose if you work hard [and] believe in yourself. No matter the challenges, fear or struggles, I get to wake up every day knowing I am changing lives and that is what life is all about! I have used being an athlete and fitness and achievements as my platform to send my messages to the world. Helping others, from the inside out, through proper nutrition is [my] passion. It creates more benefit than reaching a weight goal. It’s about energy and zest for life, living a long life of happiness and health. Positive body image is [my] other passion, promoting self love in a world full of negative images and comparison. I live for the next challenge ahead, generally it is athletically related and continues to grow more intense with each undertaking. There is a constant drive within that pushes me to do and be more and I believe that I can, aspiring to inspire and motivating others to be their best, by being my best, along the way. Competing as a WBFF Pro, as well as every other athletic competition I put in front of me, not only provides me the opportunity for physical and mental growth each stage, a me-versus-me competition, but a space to promote and market my brand, me. Living and breathing what I speak and what I work to teach, leading by example and always bringing my best is of utmost importance as I continue to be a better me than yesterday.


Where did you grow up, go to school, etc.?

I was born in Indiana but lived in Colorado most of my life, moving quite a bit as a child and teenager and attending several schools including two high schools. [I learned]independence and self sufficiency at a young age.  I started working at fourteen and quickly realized I wasn’t willing to settle in any position and was always striving for more and was driven to learn and be my best in order to climb the ladder of success.  After graduating high school at Ponderosa in Parker, CO, I attended Community College of Denver on [a] scholarship where I received an Associate of Arts degree. Fast forwarding to recent times, I left a 12 1/2 year management career for a local title company in October [of] 2013 to pursue my passion in coaching others in positive body image, proper nutrition, overall wellness and overcoming life obstacles. I returned to school for a full degree in Human Nutrition, started my own coaching business, and started my life over; leaving my job and stable income behind. I believe that if I follow my heart, everything will work out.


Were you an athlete growing up, and did you ever dream of being an athlete?

I played sports in middle school and high school, trying everything from swimming to volleyball, basketball and track and found a love of gymnastics. [After] doing flips in the front yard as a child, this wasn’t a surprise. I was an active child and teenager, riding my bike, walking everywhere, lifting weights in the gym and practicing any sport. I was outside every day playing as a child and didn’t want to be in front of the TV. I loved being outdoors. It [gave] me a sense of control and freedom to be whatever I chose to be; to be whatever I worked for and committed myself to. I knew I could be anything.
When did you decide to become a fitness competitor and why?
[I was] always active and [raised] the bar in [the] events participate[d] in, [but] I found that I needed more. I was always in competition with myself, striving to be bigger, better, faster each time. Competing was a sport that I could do time and time again and work to be a better version of myself [every time]. Of course there is a competition factor involved, but my primary focus is on me being the best I can be in that moment. Everything else is icing on the cake. There is a large mental aspect involved in competing too. The journey to[the] stage reveals [your] character and your true self. I am drawn to those types of sports where the mental game is just as important, if not more, than the physical demand. Stepping on stage is also about showing others what is possible. Anything is possible, mind and body, if you so choose.
 What made you get into boxing?
As I mentioned, I am constantly striving for more, the next challenge, the next mental game to teach me strength and peel back the layers to learn more about me and strengthen [myself]. One of my strong suits is that I am tough. This can be both a gift and a hindrance in life, but in the sense of the sport, boxing requires a toughness that many other sports cannot duplicate. Boxing is the hardest sport, the hardest training and challenge I’ve ever done. As much work as it is, as draining both emotionally and physically that it is to push beyond your limits every day, [it still]  draws me back for more. It is hard. It doesn’t come naturally to me. There are days I don’t want to go to practice, it’s work, but that is where I learn the most about myself and see what I’m really made of. I will be back to train for my next fight in the next few months!
Is there anything that motivates you the most to get up and pursue your goals?
I am self motivated,[and that] is the primary piece of the puzzle. I knew at a young age that nothing would ever be given, that I would have to work for it and work hard. I knew that I wanted to be great, and that carries a different definition for everyone, but I wanted to make a difference. The second motivator for me is exactly that, I want to make a difference. I use my athletic platform to send my message to the world, or whoever is watching. You truly can be and do anything you want! I left a full career to pursue my passion, I have seen the bottom and am there currently.  After making these decisions it isn’t easy, but what holds true is that I believe in myself. I know that no matter how hard things get, I will survive and I will be successful and have a story to share with others to pursue their passions. When I’m lacking motivation I remember that all eyes are on me, I will not fail myself, and I will not fail others who want to make a positive change in their life because it is possible.

 When you think of the phrase “Rule Your Nation,” what comes to mind?

In the grand scheme, it means exactly how I choose to live my life. I rule my nation. I live my life the way I choose to, with no influence [from] others. I live outside of the box and am my own person. I make my own rules and walk to the beat of my own drum. This is where life really happens. Everyone should rule their nation. It would be a happier, less stressful place without a facade or fancy material things covering people up. It is all about who you are as a person that matters and when we can live free, with full expression and the way we choose, all of those other walls come down.

Anthony Johnson
 So what’s your story? Where did you grow up, go to school, etc.?
I am from Lake Wales, Florida [and] graduated from Lake Wales Senior High. [I] then went to college at Fairfield University where I got a degree in politics and played basketball [as a] four year starter.
Were you an athlete growing up, and did you ever dream of being a professional athlete?
I was more of just chill kid. but when [I] got to high school [I] started playing and taking sports very serious as a way to get out of [my hometown] and make something of myself[ because I] knew my mom wouldn’t be able to send me to college. Then as I started being more serious, I knew I could have a chance at playing professional if I worked hard. So [I focused on] making it.
When did you decide to seriously pursue basketball?
[In] 9th grade I got very serious about basketball.
 Is there any one play or basketball moment that you know you’ll never forget?
I have a [few] moments I will not forget. In my junior year [of] college, [I was told] I had blood clots in my lungs and would never be able to play basketball ever again, and earlier [that] season my cousin, [who] was like my brother and my other competitor/motivator, had died of cancer. But after that another moment would be when I first stepped back on the court my senior year [and won] athlete of the year that [season]. [Also,] signing my first professional contract.
What motivates you the most to get up and pursue your goals?
I’d say what motivates me would be my cousin who died because he was great in football, and we were suppose[d] to take over sports. He was my age and he was going to take over football, and I was going to take over in basketball. So every day I play for both of us. [I want to make] sure my future kids want for nothing, and show[[the kids in my city]that they can get out no matter what and can do anything.  Also, seeing  smiles on my family’s faces motivate[s] me to work harder.
When you think of the phrase “Rule Your Nation,” what comes to mind?

I think “Rule Your Nation” is great because it’s something I think I have lived by. Many people will always try and bring you down or detour you from your dream by telling you what you can’t do, but I always look at it different. I [believe] it’s possible, and I will do what it takes to make it happen. I think everyone needs that [belief] that they can definitely do it.

Samantha Abrams


Tell us your background. Where does your story start?

I had a very fortunate childhood in my eyes. It may not be the same sort of “fortunate” most people think of though. I was born in Van Nuys, California in 1991 (youngest of four children). A short few years later we lost our home to a terrible earthquake. My parents being the adventure seeking type, packed all of us kids into a motor home and took us on the trip across the country, in search of somewhere to raise a family. Long story short, we settled in Connecticut, where we have lived ever since.


 Where did you go to school and work before becoming a fighter?

I graduated from Manchester High School. I have attended only a handful of college courses to be honest. I have been very fortunate to land and successfully occupy positions in the fitness industry that many others with college degrees got turned down for. It truly comes down to passion and knowledge.


Were you an athlete growing up, and did you ever dream of becoming a Muay Thai Fighter?

Growing up I was definitely an athlete. I was not into martial arts, but I always kept myself busy. Most of my childhood was spent horseback riding. I used to ride competitively all over the country. At the peak of my young career I received 2 National Top Ten placements in my divisions. As I got older, I began having interest in weight training and fitness as a whole. I can not say that I had dreams of being A Muay Thai Fighter, but I did always see myself involved in fitness in some way shape or form. Muay Thai just so happened to find me.

What inspired you to get in the ring?

Thanks to my boyfriend, I began Muay Thai as a workout, something to change up my routine of lifting weights. I never thought I would end up stepping inside a ring. After a few short months of training I decided I would take a fight. I was continuously inspired by my boyfriend, my trainers, and my team mates. They poured their heart and soul into training and becoming better, and it was contagious!! I knew I had the ability to push myself, the competitive nature to never quit, and the best support system to lean on.


 Is there anything that motivates you the most to get up and pursue your goals?

For a long time I went through the motions of training, lifting weights, working, sleeping, and doing it all over again. I was doing it all, but I wasn’t motivated.One day I opened my eyes and looked around me. I was surrounded by people who were amazing. I look one direction and see a friend learning how to walk again after a terrible accident. I look another direction and see someone fighting and winning a belt that they worked tirelessly for. Then I saw all the potential in myself, and made the decision to never stop pushing. All my friends that get up in the morning with a great attitude and fight to achieve their goals against all odds, they’re my motivation. Once I made that internal decision, my goals have seemed closer every single day.

When you think of the phrase “Rule Your Nation,” what comes to mind?

“Rule Your Nation.” That phrase brings feelings of pride and inner strength to mind. To rule your own nation is to rule your own life. Any person who rules their own life is someone who can stand tall and strong through the most difficult of times.

Lyte Burly


Where did you grow up and go to school?

[I grew up in ]Far Rockaway Queens. Later I went to Girard college in Philadelphia, but the streets of Queens is where I first [saw] 52 blocks in action.


 Which forms of martial arts have you mastered?

52 Blocks,Tai Chi, Boxing,Hsing I ,Pa-kua, Wing Chun, some [Muay Thai], and [Brazilian Jiu Jitsu].


Tell us about the history of the Art of 52 Blocks. How did it originate?

52 Blocks is [an] art crafted by old school black boxers[ like]Jack Johnson who fought on the [Chitlin’] Circuit. Techniques[were] passed down from fighter to fighter, each maybe adding their own thing, [until] it eventually became a favorite system among street fighters.


What made you decide to focus on the Art of 52?

I was always drawn to 52  Blocks since I was young, but it was my teacher who told me to put a DVD out on 52 Blocks.


What motivates you the most to do what you do?

The pursuit of excellence in the martial arts[motivated me], but now it has changed[into a] responsibility. I now have to further the 52 Blocks movement [and] share the information.


When you think of the phrase “Rule Your Nation,” what comes to mind?

Master yourself.

Holly McGrath


Tell us your background.
I grew up  in Naugatuck, Connecticut as a life-long athlete.  In high school I played soccer, basketball, softball and track.  Partying and sports were the main attractions in my hometown when I was younger.  I have two older brothers who stand at 6’2” who were tough on me in my athletic development.  I grew up playing with a six foot mentality [while] standing at 5’4”.  Following them around and competing with my brothers made me who I was in terms of heart and hustle as an athlete.
I went on to Assumption College in Worcester, MA to play soccer at a Division II Collegiate level.  We made two NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearances.  These were the glory days!  I wish I was more aware of the moments I [was] in when I [was] in them.  However, being an athlete in college was the best experience of my life.
As life developed after college, I went into the health and fitness field.  I wasn’t quite up to speed with living a completely healthy life, even though I was[healthy] most of the time.  I was still partying like I was in college.  After a few rough twists and turns I needed to make a change.  Thankfully  [I] mentally, emotionally and spiritually [grew] out of the partying lifestyle in my late [twenties].  This decision to change my life saved my life.  I can thank God for that!
After being in health and fitness for six years, three years ago I was catapulted into the Holistic outlook on life.  I was diagnosed with an Autoimmune Disease and did not want to succumb to the medical world.  I’ve always had a voice in my gut (intuition/God) that has directed me.  As I learned to listen to it, my life changed dramatically in the most positive ways. As a holistic oach, I help people manage the stress in their life (our #1 killer) through fitness, nutrition, energy healing (reiki) and lifestyle coaching, privately and online. My next step is to look into getting a Master’s in Acupuncture or Nutrition to continue to build a self reliant system while helping people get the care their body needs that isn’t offered in conventional medicine.
I’m convinced if I went on half the meds prescribed to me, it would have had a majorly detrimental effect on my life. This is my purpose, to show others the way to healing while I support and guide them along their own journey.
Did you ever dream of being an athlete?
I didn’t have much direction growing up.  In 5th grade, I wanted to become a pro basketball player!  Basketball for girls at that time still wasn’t mainstream until middle school when the UConn Women had Diana [Taurasi].  In college, I changed majors simply to acquire an easier path.  Graduating with lack of direction, I always felt in my core what I didn’t want, but I was never too sure what I did want to do.
What inspired you to become a lifestyle coach?
My own life struggle inspired me; being in pain for years with no one to show me the way out; enduring a lot of life events that have been challenging emotionally, mentally and physically.  [I know] there was a purpose for everything I went through, and that was to help others get through the stressors in their lives.
I lost 6 friends from the ages of 18-22 years old.  Following that, my step-father passed when I was 26 years old.  I was with him through his end stages of lung cancer.  It was somewhere after my 2nd or 3rd friend had passed that I knew there was a greater purpose for my life.  I knew what was happening around me and in my life,[and] that there was something bigger than me.
As time went on, there were plenty of times I had put my life in harm’s way.  By that time I had so many angels surrounding me, and after surviving those years there is no doubt God has a bigger purpose for me, and I believe that purpose is [to] help other[s] heal from their hurts.  It’s to help other[s] break through their mental and emotional blocks.
I’ve been on a 3.5 year journey, and knowing there is a better life on the other side has kept me pushing through the hardest of times.  Change is hard [and] painful, but it’s worth it!
 Is there anything that motivates you the most to get up and pursue your goals?
Deep down within me there is a voice that tells me to keep going against the grain.  A voice that tells me to pave my own way while helping as many people as possible.  That voice motivates me.  The fact that God saved my life countless times and I am still standing today motivates me.  My future family motivates me.  My nieces and nephew motivate me.  The desire to fulfill God’s will and purpose motivates me.
 Do you have any future plans or goals?
If I tell you then…you know the rest.
Joking.  My future plans are to become a self sufficient system for Wellness[ and] a professional and comforting spirit who people in need can come to for coaching, guidance, and tough love to make dramatic impacts in their lives; continuing to build my business and life while documenting the steps[ as well].  I aspire to become an author[ and help] people break barriers in their lives [by] sharing my experiences that will help others grow, learn, and not feel so alone in their journey.
When you think of the phrase “Rule Your Nation,” what comes to mind?
When I think of “Rule Your Nation”, “Master Yourself” comes to my mind.  There are so many outside factors that affect and condition us our whole lives. However, when it comes to making a change and creating the life you desire, mastering self mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally are the areas of your life you need to focus on [ in order to overcome] the things within that set you back.  It is a long process but the more self aware one is, the more you can create your toolbox to success through self mastery (future book)!  Taking this mastery and projecting it into the world, your family, your community, or your life embodies “Rule Your Nation.”

There you have it, folks. Rule Your Nation isn’t reserved for big movie stars or famous, multi-millionaire athletes. Every single person you meet has a story. Every person you meet is fighting a battle, and the fact that they have lived long enough to tell you about it, shows that they’re winning. These people are winning at life, and you can too.  Rule Your Nation, and it will prosper.  Until next time, be blessed and maintain your reign!
Rule well, my friends.

No Apologies,

G. Miller

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