The founder of Mama Bear Domain, Kelly Hater, is not your average mom. She is a mom warrior. Her mantra, “Stop Existing, Start Living,” sheds light on how she overcame her struggles in motherhood, fitness, loss from suicide, miscarriage, and postpartum depression. Her 15+ years as an entrepreneur helped her take back her own life after grappling with tragedy. She is devoting her passion for fitness, health, and wellness to being a life coach for moms. Kelly’s services through Mama Bear Domain aim to help moms at the root of mom guilt discover grace so that they can prosper as a mom and a woman. She offers accountability, structure, expertise, and, most importantly, empathy to moms from all walks of life. Mama Bear Domain’s approach is one of a kind as this potent formula Kelly created first to help herself is getting known worldwide. Kelly gets her clients out of their comfort zone to embrace the fears holding them back from self-actualization.
“Stop Existing, Start Living.”
Kelly calls Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, home. Her husband, Nate, adore her, and they have two beautiful, flourishing children, Jaxon, 5, and Annabelle, 2. She and her husband “walk the walk,” as they say, by hitting their backyard studio gym together in the mornings before the sun is even thinking about rising. They enjoy a hard-earned retreat space on her weekends in rural Kentucky that she fondly refers to as “The Camp.”
Kelly initially went to school to become a radiologist. She quickly knew that she needed a more social career and switched her focus to athletic training. When she realized that athletic training patients could avoid injury with a stronger fitness base, she knew Health Promotion specialized in Exercise Science was the perfect fit for her. It helps that she possesses her parents' best personality traits, such as spatial reasoning and entrepreneurial spirit from her dad and interpersonal skills from her mom.
The rest is history, as they say. Kelly completed her B.S. in Health Promotion from The University of Cincinnati and started her own business as a Certified National Strength and Conditioning Association Personal Trainer. For the past 15 years, Kelly has helped dozens of clients achieve their health and fitness goals. Not only has she helped others achieve their fitness goals, but she is a decorated bodybuilding champion. Her titles include but are not limited to 2nd place Jr. Nationals Figure Championship 2012 and 4th place NPC USA Figure Bodybuilding 2012 appearances and a top 10 finish in 2017 NPC National Bikini Championships just 14 weeks post miscarriage.
“I have a team of support.”
While personal training and competing in bodybuilding afforded its rewards, being a mother has proven superior to Kelly. Her transition to motherhood was not without its struggles. Kelly’s fitness foundation gave her the confidence she needed to get back on track after several traumatic events took her down a dark path. Kelly knows firsthand how difficult and alone a mom can feel. This is exactly why Kelly is devoting her passion for fitness, health, and wellness to coaching other moms. Kelly said, “I have a team of support, Nate, Jaxon, my mom, and my mother-in-law, the list continues. Yet the transformation of the pain I was experiencing needed to come from within.” Kelly researched for more “mom help” while looking for a method to overcome these struggles. There was nothing that fit her needs. With her mindset, she created a formula based on her knowledge and life experiences to tackle the mom problems she was facing.
The formula was so potent. She designed a program to help other moms. Using wellness and self-awareness to build true self-actualization. Kelly’s clients no longer let mom guilt, mom burnout, and self-loss steal their identity.
“I was very coachable at a young age.”
Kelly, 35 years, has always had a natural talent in the sports and fitness world. She has always enjoyed learning new skills and the physical and mental challenges presented by sport. Her coaches loved that she was so coachable. Kelly recalls being made the slap hitter on her softball team because she was the only one who could adapt to hit both right and left-handed. Kelly recalls many great coaches in her life, but her all-time favorite coach was her dad. He was Kelly’s biggest fan. He championed her entrepreneurial spirit and was her business mentor. He was an entrepreneur himself and helped her start her first LLC that is still operating today. Kelly was the sole breadwinner for several years, while her husband completed his education in nursing. Sadly in 2014, her father committed suicide—striking Kelly and her family with unspeakable grief. Waves of anger, sadness, despair flooded her thoughts for quite some time. Kelly says she still carries the grief with her today, especially when she craves her dad’s entrepreneurial insight and wisdom. Nate has not wavered in his support of Kelly through this loss. No doubt this tragedy folded a new level of devotion into their marriage.
“I’m more than postpartum depression.”
Motherhood looks natural for Kelly. She glows when she talks about her children. Even when describing her restless nights and bathroom battles with her daughter, she has a smile the size of Texas on her face. Kelly said, “Annabelle is my mini.” Her son, Jaxon, 5, sees the world in 3 dimensions and can build lego sets like no one's business. Kelly describes Jaxon as a calming presence in her life. Sadly, in her second pregnancy, Kelly experienced a miscarriage. She decided to compete in a bikini- bodybuilding competition to have something to look forward to after experiencing loss from her miscarriage. Her top 10 finish at the National Championship gave her the positive mindset she needed to try pregnancy again. With God’s grace, in 2017, she was blessed with a daughter, Annabelle. Annabelle’s birth was stressful, Kelly recalls. When it came time to hold Annabelle in her postoperative state, Kelly could not bring herself to feel joy. She remembers vividly giving a fake smile in the photo of herself holding Annabelle at the hospital.
“I think my dad’s suicide saved me from taking my own life during my postpartum depression.”
After returning home, things did not improve much. She continued to be overwhelmed. She felt guilt, lack of interest in life, and self-loss. She found it difficult to concentrate, and she even had thoughts of harming herself. Kelly knew the severity of her feelings from her experience surviving her dad’s suicide. She and Nate recognized that this was not the ordinary “baby blues.” It was something more grave. The “baby blues” and “postpartum depression” (PPD) are not interchangeable. Baby blues are a normal hormonal adjustment period after birth that usually resolves naturally within 3 weeks postpartum. After these feelings didn’t go away by Kelly’s 6-week postpartum appointment, she sought help from her obstetrician. She describes her admission of her depression to her doctor as a huge weight being lifted from her shoulders. She went through a full diagnosis and treatment care plan for PPD. Her recovery took over a year to come full circle. Kelly attributes her life today to her father. She says, “I think my dad’s suicide saved me from taking my own life during my postpartum depression.” And Kelly is not alone in her postpartum struggle. Approximately 21% of women experience major or minor depression following childbirth. (Wisner KL, Sit DKY, McShea MC, et al. JAMA Psychiatry 2013). Kelly’s medical care has been critical to her success in overcoming the PPD. One of the things the psychiatrist coached her to do that has helped is journaling. As an Ode to her late father, Kelly decided to journal in an online blog format. She felt as though others might be able to benefit from her experience. It turns out Kelly was right. Many moms could relate to her stories, and they even reached out to her for fellowship and support. By sharing her story, Kelly could most naturally support other moms who were also experiencing stressful motherhood. With each story shared, Kelly became more committed to helping other moms. This is how she discovered that her true passion is to help moms stop merely existing and start living a meaningful multi-dimensional life again. She narrowed her entrepreneurial efforts into what is now Mama Bear Domain, where she offers life coaching services for moms that aim to help them overcome motherhood complexities. Along with an eBook: Mom, Open your Eyes to Self-Awareness.
“I looked at my current situation and turned it into opportunity.”
Living through a worldwide pandemic has been eye-opening to Kelly. Of course, like many others in the fitness industry, she reports income loss, and some clients have not been able to maintain their regular work sessions with her though it is not because of anything that’s been within Kelly’s control. It has most definitely changed her daily operations to include various safety procedures. “For safety reasons, I had to stop all onsite fitness training with my clients, and many went virtual. I took on virtual preschool at home like most parents out there did during the stay at home orders. That was tough, and I prefer not to do virtual school.” By the way, she sends kudos to all the homeschooling families out there. From another perspective, though, it has afforded Kelly’s time. Time is a priceless gift, and Kelly took the opportunity to put some of it towards reflecting on her business goals. In doing so, she realized that risks in business could bring opportunities for the future. So this year, for the first time since her dad passed, she decided to expand her business. You can tell by the huge smile on her face during this interview that she is thinking about how proud her dad would be of her taking the risk to invest in a business expansion. Surely he is smiling down at her today even as this article is published.
Kelly says that she does her best to practice what she teaches regularly. Kelly uses the 8 dimensions of health as a baseline when working with her clients. She preaches that one’s well-being cannot be fully balanced unless all 8 dimensions are being considered and addressed.
“I am constantly balancing my wellness dimensions.”
She recalls that two weeks into the stay-at-home orders from the governor's office, it was so obvious to her that her eight dimensions of health were out of balance. She needed to direct some attention to her environmental and occupational dimensions. And so, in true Kelly fashion, she did not hesitate to take action. Remember Kelly’s mantra, “Stop Existing, Start Living.” She truly lives and breaths this mantra every day. It is indeed inspiring.
Kelly recalls with a stern face, “We sacrificed for so many years to become financially free. We lived bare-bones for 5 years, counting every penny, and it paid off, literally. We successfully rid ourselves of $70,000 in student loans. We paid off our home mortgage in full, and we paid off all our car loan debt. It was a huge weight lifted from our shoulders.”
She said that in spending more time at home, it made us realize that we needed more adventure in our life while we were financially fit. She and Nate wanted something they could do together as a family. It took a financial risk, but they bought some land in northern Kentucky and have never looked back. It has been a blessing in their lives. Kelly says, “it’s called “The Camp.” It has become my ultimate zen space.” They’ve taken on some DIY remodeling of the manufactured house on the land, which has inspired Kelly. It’s obvious how she speaks about “The Camp” that she is proud of where her experience and ambition have taken her in her life. She is taking full advantage of all the opportunities, both good and bad, that life has to offer and not simply to exist anymore.
FAVORITE THING ABOUT BEING A MOM: My absolute favorite thing is to hear my kids giggle. The sound of them laughing gives me complete peace.
LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT BEING A MOM: I dislike the potty training experience.
BEST ADVICE FOR TANTRUMS: When your kids are having trouble controlling their emotions and you find yourself in the middle of a toddler tantrum, I get a favorite book and sit down on the floor near them and start reading a book out loud. Eventually, they stop crying, and they will come to sit with me and listen to the story. Through this approach, I hope it will teach my kids to use reading and journaling as a tool to sort out their feelings.
BEST ADVICE FOR SIBLING SQUABBLES: When my kids argue, I turn on music, and we have a dance party.
FAVORITE TIME OF DAY WITH YOUR KIDS: Bath time is and always has been my favorite time of day with my kids because I am less distracted. I’m a sucker for cuddles.
FAVORITE PAST TIME WITH YOUR KIDS: I love to play cards and legos with Jaxon, and I love to play dinosaurs color with Annabelle.
FAVORITE PAST TIME WITH YOUR HUSBAND: I love when we wake up early and hit our gym together. We give each other the extra push to be better. We truly feed on each other as we continue to grow.
Work with Kelly!
If you are struggling with mom guilt, mom burnout, feeling overwhelmed, or just plain aimless. “Stop Existing, Start Living.” Look no further; Kelly is the Mom Coach for you! You plus Kelly versus your “mom struggles.”
Please note: If you or someone you know have thoughts about hurting yourself, someone else, or a child or if you hear or see things that aren't there, get help right away.
● Go to the nearest emergency room.
● Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or reach them online.
● Contact the National Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the U.S., anytime, about any type of crisis.
For more information about Postpartum depression, please reference Postpartum Support International (PSI). It is a world-wide organization founded in 1987 that exists to provide support, reliable information, resources, and education for distress in pregnancy and postpartum. There are PSI coordinators and volunteers all over the world who help women, families, and providers find support and make connections. You can contact PSI at www.postpartum.net or by phone at 800.944.4PPD.