We had the good fortune of connecting with Alyson Sheppard and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Alyson, what role has risk played in your life or career?
The word “Risk” has changed drastically throughout my life and career. Risk was always something I did which created tension, with the perception that it was something ‘bad’. I took “risks” that would not benefit my current situation because I didn’t know how to take control of the tension. “Risk” has a bad connotation to it, unless we completely change our perspective and trajectory of our goals and mentality. I learned this through many situations and seasons of my life.

As an Exercise Physiologist, we constantly talk about growth and optimizing your potential. How do we grow? How do muscles grow? How to get better? Structural tension created by risk.

Now, “risk” is an exciting word that is followed by ‘potential’ and ‘growth’. Changing my mindset to taking risks on myself, my business and my health all boils down to what my target and goal is. We take risks in life, personal and professional, which leads us to an opportunity of tension that ultimately leads to growth.

I found this over many situations through my career starting with a decision to take a risk and move across the country (from Ohio to Texas) for an unpaid internship that led to a full time job opportunity. I took a risk on myself to create structural tension (leaving my comfort zone), to open up an entirely new world of possibilities and opportunities.

I then became complacent in this position for around 6 years. Complacency and ‘comfort zones’ are a dangerous place to be. I learned this when my position was eliminated and I was left with no job, no income, no vision on what I wanted to do, no goal and no idea what my next move was. A feeling that your comfortable life just got flipped upside down.

After spinning my wheels for about a year, not being in a great mental state from losing my job and my father unexpectedly, I took another risk on myself and moved across the country (from Texas to Connecticut) for 1 year to be around close friends for my mental health and re-navigate my goals and targets for what I truly wanted personally and professionally.

At this point, my story, at age 29, had taken so many twists and turns, risks and comfort zones, that I was realizing RISK was not a bad thing. RISK was starting to be the thing that was leading me to finding my true goals, desires and successes. I spend many months revamping how I perceived risk, structural tension and present circumstances.

I started feeling empowered, motivated and encouraged by the steps I had taken and experiences I had gone through. Empowered enough to finally take the leap and start my own business with the vision I had for many years, and move myself back to Texas and start over. I spent time pouring love and attention into relationships I let slide due to my ‘comfort zone’ and I spent time just diving into business and learning/continuing to learn what I have to do to allow for continued growth and success. Here’s the ironic thing, everything you learn about comes to the conclusion of taking risks on YOU, investing in YOU and created the TENSION to help YOU grow. The moment I opened my arms and mind to this, is the moment I allowed so much growth to happen which has led to helping so many others realize this same thing.

I started my business in 2019, then COVID hit and almost shut my whole business down. Instead of throwing in the towel, I took a risk on an opportunity to add a line of business to what I currently had. This risk has helped me grow beyond what I ever expected and has been the one thing that kept my Business alive.

None of this would have been possible if I didn’t take a risk to create structural tension to ALLOW myself an opportunity to grow.

We have to change our mindset of ‘risk’ being a bad word.

RISK is the opportunity that can positively open more doors to your life than you ever imagined. You just have to make the decision on how you perceive this.

I had to learn things weren’t happening “TO” me. Things are happening “FOR” me, and I have to be open to taking some risks to take myself and my business to the next level.

I continue to take risks daily, some small and some large. The key is remembering to ALWAYS find something to learn and grow from. Don’t look at the negative, FIND THE POSITIVE and the RISK will present the opportunity for the reward you have been working for.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Optimize Performance is extremely unique in the fact that we are able to work with athletes and individuals world-wide. We are excited to provide metabolic testing that is utilized on the professional stage, to individuals who may not be at that caliber of racing yet, or even if they just want to go enjoy exercise and not race. Anyone running a 5k fun run to a 100 mile trail race or trying to qualify for the IRONMAN Worlds.

The health coaching aspect is all virtual as well. Fine tuning healthy habits not solely focused on food is key to longevity in our overall health.

We don’t have to be in a lab or in-person, we can work 100% remotely. This sets us apart because it allows athletes to have data that is gold-standard and reliable to what their training and racing will entail. The true environment and their equipment. Science evolves, so should we.

It was not easy getting to where I am with my business, and it is still continuing to grow. I always thought I would be working in a weightroom as a Strength & Conditioning Coach, but life had a different trajectory for me. I fought it for a long time, but have realized to take the ride and risks as presented with a positive outlook.

I found my passion when I moved to Texas from Ohio and worked as lead Human Performance Specialist working with Endurance Athletes and individuals returning from injury. When my position was eliminated, after a couple years of ‘unknown’ and just spinning my wheels, I realized my vision was just that, MY vision. Each time I allowed someone to help, they tried changing the entire plan. This is when I knew, at age 30, I needed to take the reigns, take a giant risk, and start my own business to fulfill what I truly wanted. With the help of friends, guidance of mentors and constant learning, I have slowly built my business beyond what I expected and am seeing continued growth in many areas, not just one.

I have learned not to reject opportunities, but to explore them. The challenges I’ve had in my career have made me stop and think about how to perceive them. There are always opportunities to see where you can grow if you open your mind to the structural tension brought out by friction and challenges.

Optimize Performance isn’t just built on my vision anymore. It started with my vision but has transformed to guiding others and presenting them with solutions on how to Optimize their health, performance and overall goals in training and racing. Being able to provide individuals with the tools that can push them beyond their competition, save time and money is crucial and essential to our vision. Continued growth through the years will always allow us to successfully guide others to their goals and targets.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Being from Ohio and moving to Texas, one of the first things I’d have my friends and family do when they visit would be to get get some delicious Tex-Mex and BBQ. One of my favorites is going over to The Rustic and grabbing some brunch while listening to live music. This is always a crowd pleaser. What I have learned about Houston after living here is to never underestimate a great brunch spot or live music location. Being able to go for a walk or bike ride through the Heights is fun while you can check out some local shops and nice patios. Heading up to Buff Brew at sunset and seeing the Houston Skyline while having some delicious food and local beer is crowd pleaser for all that have come to visit. Always trying to find new places to go and experience is a blast, and that is something about Houston that I love, there is always something new to check out!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I am so grateful and thankful for all of the individuals who have helped and continue to help support and guide me through my career. I am continuing to grow through the love and support of my close friends, family and mentors. From my family supporting me through my moves from Ohio, Texas and Connecticut, to my best friend and her wife opening their home to me for an entire year while I needed to navigate my mental and emotional health and re-center my vision for my future. The mentors I have that spend hours with me listening and guiding me to continued growth are undeniably making marks on more individuals than just their clients. These all are genuine people that have hearts made to love and care. There are so many people who could have said “why do you keep making mistakes?”, but instead, they said “how can we help, what do you need” along with “here’s some advice and here’s how you can try navigating these business decisions”. These are the people you surround yourself with for support and growth. There are always hard conversations that need to be had, but I’m so grateful for the group of people who continue to provide me space to grow, space to learn and space to heal.

Website: www.optimize-performance.com

Instagram: @optimizeperformance1

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alyson-sheppard/

Twitter: @optimizeperform

Facebook: @optimizeperformance1

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqVFbbNpUS_mC_9puoWnntw

Other: Personal Instagram : @shepp05

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