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Zash Snack’s founder and CEO, Ashley Whitman, has a passion for health and wellness after years of being bullied in school for being overweight. She was further challenged to make new friends due to her difficult upbringing and transferring to over a dozen schools. During her late teens, she was rear ended by a drunk driver who totaled her car, which aggravated her scoliosis and resulted in chronic back pain. Though surgery was suggested, Ashley shied away having witnessed her mother go through three failed back surgeries which led to an opiate addiction and an ultimate fatal overdose. While Ashley was living with her grandmother on a farm she learned how to cook and bake delicious homemade food. Despite all the challenges faced, she chose a starkly different path, graduated with high honors, and became certified in health and nutrition which led to daily exercise, a healthy diet and clean living. This inspired Ashley to create delicious, delectable snacks that look tantalizing and are incredibly healthy! At the age of 28 Ashley’s life changed when she met Zach. They shared the same passion for health and wellness while eating creatively. With inspiration from others to create a snack company they decided to start their journey and pursue their passions together.
I’ll never forget a few things in my life that shaped my desire to change my feeling of wanting something more. It all started when I was incredibly young on a bus ride home from school with my little brother. When we got off the bus the neighborhood bully decided that my brother was the next victim in his insecure quest to feel strong. He challenged my brother first and then his friend decided if one is great than two is better. He challenged us both to a fight and when we refused, he slapped my brother across the back of the head. My brother did not fight back and sadly neither did I. I remember the day like it was yesterday and I still get that sick feeling as I transcribe this sad but shaping chapter in what started the fire that still lights my passion to fight for what is right no matter what. As I stood there paralyzed by weakness all I can remember was a couple of unfulfilling emotions experienced. First, the thought of what if I lose this fight was stronger than the chance of taking a risk and standing up for my brother. Secondly was that voice of my mother who although means well, should not talk my subconscious out of standing up for self-worth and dignity. As my brother and I walked away to the gawking of the goons we communicated without saying a word. We communicated without even realizing it until decades later that “never again” will we be humiliated by bullies and our own self-imposed limitations. That night and for years after I would do 100 pushups and 100 sit-ups every night. I saw and heard that bullies face with each grueling rep. I now thank that bully because without him I do not know if my journey for physical strength to help me build mental strength may have never been created. I often tell people when they ask me how do you stay so motivated all the time? I always respond by saying because I get upset when I am not being my best. If I could give anyone advice it would be this. Get a little mad at something you do not like about yourself or your past. When you clearly have defined your “bully” use this to change your body, job, relationship, and overall daily attitude. Don’t let anyone or anything take your personal power away. This is the one thing God gave you that you can control everyday not matter your age or your circumstances.
Growing up my dad had a problem with Alcohol. It was not really the quantity that was the problem, but more the way it changed his personality. My dad was and is an amazing man. But he never learned how to talk about stress and insecurity in his life. He would squash it down until the cap on the bottle opened and released the negative energy that had built like steam engine in the locomotive. It affected his marriage, his relationship with his kids and his overall sense of peace in life. I remember so clearly thinking I will never allow myself to be like that. I will choose to find a way no matter the battle or effort to change the things I do not like or love about myself. I will never rely on alcohol or any drug to dull the pain and anxiety that being alive most certainly will bring all of us. I will let the people in my life know how much I love them every single day. I will not have anything in life other than total passion for my significant other and people I love.
So how does this all relate to Zash and where I am now?
It is a perfection culmination and reflection of each step I have learned and fought for along the way.
1. Being healthy and feeling strong are only as good as what you put in your mouth daily. You could go to the gym every day and still not like the person looking back at you. I’ll never forget the day I decided to make a true change in what and how I ate. I was competing in a CrossFit tournament. I was training 5x a week and very skilled and a top performer in the desert at the time. I was going into the finals and all the other competitors took off their shirts for the final workout. I was insecure about taking mine off because I was not shredded and was insecure about not looking amazing in front of the crowd. The morale of this story is you can be strong, fast, agile but if you do not love the skin, you are in none of it will lead to self-love. Without self-love you cannot love anyone or anything which as you can imagine is a problem. I am proud to say at 45 years old and 11% bodyfat I am so happy I made the choice to choose fun nutrition as a way of life. I love looking the in the mirror without my shirt now, but more importantly I love myself which has really set my heart, soul, and mind free.
2. Running a business takes strength, self-confidence, and passion. When I decided to start this business with the love of my life, I knew it would not be easy. It challenged my insecurities, controlling nature and appreciation of downtime. I knew in my heart that the key to a successful and fulfilling life is that feeling that you gave it all. You dug deep when you were tired because you knew this was what god put you on earth for. Our passion is to show people that loving yourself starts with consistently doing something you enjoy, find fulfilling, and can make the uncomfortable more comfortable. Our snacks are designed to make you full and enjoy the god gift of food! Learning how to make food work for you and not against you has been such an unbelievable blessing for me.
3. Being able to collaborate with your best friend and love of your life is such a blessing. I know my life of searching unsuccessfully for passion in a relationship led me to Ashley and Zash. This takes you to my story earlier about my dad and the separation he created in his relationship. I learned that passion and joy is having no barriers between your personal goals created by your significant other. Instead, an enthusiastic relationship is strengthened by commonality and passion for unity in the same mission and desires in life. Zash is truly a reflection of the passion we bring out in one another. I do not say this to boast or brag but to assure you that this company is legitimate. This company has 2 hearts and 2 souls beating together to be successful in helping others find their passion, peace, and perfect balance.