Elise's cuties and workout buddies!

Meet Elise Harriger, our Mom of the Month!

I’m really honored and think it’s hilarious that I’d be up for any mom-related honor. I’m still very much a work-in-progress mom!

I grew up in Amarillo and came to the big city for college. I loved Austin the minute I laid my eyes on it, and I still do! My hubbie and I are serious Longhorns—we went to UT for undergrad, grad school, and law school (so they have all our money).

I’m an immigration attorney at Casa Marianella, a homeless shelter and resource center for immigrants. My practice focuses on humanitarian forms of immigration relief. I represent victims of persecution, crime, and trafficking. My clients are from traditionally marginalized groups—women, LGBTQ folks, indigenous, low caste or tribe members.

Now my mama story: My husband and I had been married nearly 12 years and were both practicing attorneys when we had our twins. Pre-kids, we had things pretty perfect—thought we had marriage figured out, went out with friends and on date nights whenever we wanted, used extra money to travel to exotic places. You get the picture. When we found out we were having twins, I knew it would be a significant undertaking—I thought like adding a major task to our lives. What I didn’t realize was that it would be more like flushing our old lives down the toilet!

We brought our first preemie baby home from the NICU and thought we were going to die. I told the NICU nurses that we couldn’t handle the second one, but they didn’t listen, so next thing I knew, we had two perfect, miniature dictators in our house. The first few months felt like living in a war zone. My husband and I became shift workers who passed in the night. Then things got worse. His paternity leave was over, and he left me alone with them. I had very little help and was still trying to work. The twins’ naps rarely overlapped, but any time they did, I’d sprint to my home office and work as fast as I could.

One day I realized that if I put them in the stroller around naptime, I could get them to pass out simultaneously. That became our new regime. I’d strap them in, and I’d traverse the neighborhood like a mad woman and make calls to clients, the court, and other attorneys. My definition of professional behavior had changed a bit!

On our walks, I started seeing a group of women and babies in the park exercising together. One of my girlfriends had told me about FIT4MOM, so I thought that might be what it was. Finally, I decided I might as well join if I was going to be in the park with them at the same time, and I could still work on the walk to and from. BEST MOM DECISION EVER.

FIT4MOM quickly became a staple of our weekly routine. When my kids started daycare, we kept attending FIT4MOM classes. We’ve now been participating for almost two years. I can’t overstate how important it has been to all of us. It kept me close to sane, provided us with structure, helped us meet a group of awesome moms and kids, and kept my body strong enough to handle two rowdy toddlers.

Now my kids ask to go “work out with Ms. Sammie” all the time. They love it. And what’s not to love? I push them all over the park while they carb load, sing songs, and giggle.

I think our time with FIT4MOM will have long-lasting effects on my family. My kids will no doubt look back on our “work outs with Ms. Sammie” and have fond memories of our quality time together. I also hope that, by watching and participating in a regular fitness routine, this will be the first step toward their making lifelong commitments to health. I also love the messages of body positivity and female strength that my kids encounter at FIT4MOM.

I feel very grateful to have stumbled upon the FIT4MOM community. This mommin’ thing hasn’t been easy, but I’ve had my friends at FIT4MOM to help me along the way.