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No Excuse Mom | October 19, 2019

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Hilary Downey: Prep and Pep

Hilary Downey: Prep and Pep
Maria Kang
  • On October 10, 2017

 Hilary Downey of Conway, Arkansas is a 27-year old wife and mom to two boys, Tom(4) and Ben (2). She has been with No Excuse Mom since it was an itty bitty online group of 400 members (today we have 65,000!) She first found the group when her first child was a newborn baby. Having gained 65lbs she had low energy and wanted to get active again.

“I’ve never been overly healthy in my adult life. In college, I smoked a pack a day, lived off of energy drinks, and ate only fast food. Exercise wasn’t in my vocabulary and I was completely sedentary. When I became pregnant with my first child I had to give up my bad habits, so I traded them for something I was allowed to have – food. I took “eating for two” very literally, remained sedentary, and gained an unnecessary 65 pounds. After my son was born, I knew I had to make a change. I mentioned to someone close to me that I was planning on starting exercise and cleaning up my diet. Their words stick with me to this day. “I just want you to know, so you don’t get your hopes up, your body will never be the same. You will always carry a little extra weight now that you’ve had children. That’s just the way it is. You will have a ‘mom’ body now.” I know this person’s heart and that they had good intentions, but all I felt in that moment was doom. Was I stuck with my new body? Would I always feel tired and have low energy? Was this really my fate? I couldn’t believe that. That’s when I started digging around on Facebook and found the No Excuse Mom group. A quick scroll through the page and I saw women from all different walks of life, at all different stages in their journey, and they were making it happen. I was flooded with progress pictures, testimonies to being able to run with their children and not feel tired, recipes for cooking healthy meals that the whole family enjoyed, and so much more. I had hope. And I knew wishing and hoping wasn’t going to get me anywhere, so I got started right then and there.

I started small. I downloaded a food tracking app, used a calculator to determine how many calories I needed to lose 1-2 pounds a week, and started logging my food. I slowly cleaned up my diet, cooking homemade meals with fresh food, and always taking the approach of having treats in moderation. With exercise, I started with just putting my baby in the stroller and going for walks. During his nap time, I would do home exercise videos. If he woke up, I let him watch me and I would incorporate him into my workout. Eventually I got a jogging stroller and walking turned to running. I convinced my husband to let me build a home gym in the garage and I started my first weight training program and absolutely fell in love. I ran a few 5ks, set new PR’s lifting weights, and over the course of a year, lost all of my baby weight. When I found out I was pregnant with my second, I knew I had to do it right this time. I asked my doctor if I could keep lifting weights and he gave me the okay. I continued to eat mostly healthy while enjoying treats, lifting weights and running through my entire pregnancy, and kept my weight gain to a healthy 30 pounds. After my second was born, I started the process all over again. But this time was different, because now I had people coming to me for advice and this changed my life most of all.

I will never forget the first time someone told me I had inspired them to change their life. I was walking to my mailbox and my neighbor who lived a few houses down was jogging past me in the rain. She stopped and said “I just have to tell you, I see you lifting weights in your garage and running with your baby in the stroller and it motivated me to start running last month. I even have a progress picture!” And she showed it to me. I was completely shocked. I had never even had a conversation with this woman! How could I have inspired her? I was so proud of how hard I had worked and it felt good to see my progress, but nothing in the world compared to the feeling of knowing I had helped someone else change their life. That feeling stuck with me forever. More women started to come to me for advice and I felt honored to share my knowledge with them. In a world full of quick-fixes and bad information, I hoped to be a light into good, solid, scientific information that focused on habits and behavior change that would lead to lasting results.

I spent countless hours in my journey reading scientific literature regarding nutrition and exercise, listening to podcasts from the best in the fitness industry, and studying how to coach women to change their lives for the better. I had built a following on Snapchat (HilaryHogs) by sharing my recipes, tips for meal prepping, fitness information, and tidbits of motivation and pep talks, but I still just saw it as a hobby. I hit a crossroads last year when I had started back to college to finish my Psychology degree and I had decided to become a teacher. It wasn’t my dream career, but it made the most sense for me and my family. I spent many nights tossing and turning, wondering if I was doing the right thing. A series of signs showing me I needed to take the plunge and my mom’s wise words, “If you do what you truly love, you will never work a day in your life” landed me in my advisor’s office and I knew what I had to do. I made the plans to finish my psychology degree while starting my second degree in Dietetics/Nutrition.

Since then, I’ve started my own small business coaching fabulous women on their nutrition and eating habits and am now going through the certification to become a Certified Personal Trainer. I’ve taken on an internship and when I wrap up my degree I will be applying for my Dietetic Internship to become a Registered Dietitian. There is nothing in the world like the feeling of helping other women discover their potential and showing them that diet and exercise does not have to be miserable.  At 27, I am starting my dream career, I have found balance between being a mom and wife and making time for myself, and I have a healthy relationship with food and exercise. I am in the best shape of my life, stronger and healthier than ever, and I wear a smaller jean size than I did in high school. They were right. My body has never been the same since having children. I never will have my old body back. But, I don’t want it. I am proud of my new “mom body.”

My best tip to others is to use a habit-based approach and write down weekly goals to keep yourself accountable. A total overhaul of your diet and lifestyle can be overwhelming and cause you to give up before you ever even started. Start small with 1-2 habits at a time, such as having a serving of vegetables with 2 meals a day or cutting your sugary beverage amount in half. Write down your habits/goals at the beginning of each week and check in with them every few days. At the end of the week, reflect back on how you did, what made you successful or what stood in your way, what you can do better next time, etc. Make sure you are setting SMART goals – meaning your goals are Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Time-based. Once you’ve mastered a habit, move onto a new habit and let your habits build. This may not mean fast results, but it will ensure results that last.”

Keep following her journey here:

Facebook: Hilary Downey
Facebook Group: Prep & Pep
Snapchat: HilaryHogs


  1. Taylor Farber

    I love all your platforms of social media. In a world where everyone is on social media it’s good to have someone always there in your face telling you that YOU CAN do it! You have never once been judgmental or acted like you get tired of my million questions! Heck if it wasn’t for you I’d never descovered IIFYM. Thank you for all you’ve done and all you will continue to do ☺️

  2. Madie Gatlin

    I follow Hillary journey! Her meal preps and recipes have helped me make healthier meals for my family. I also chose better snacks, based off of ideas she shares!

  3. Amanda Heimbach

    Love following her! Such a great inspiration! Such great support and tools to help on my journey!!

  4. Amanda Pope

    Your so inspiring ! I’m so excited to be on my journey with you helping me along the way.

  5. Angie Cook

    I love seeing Hillarys transformation and getting fitness tips from Her.. She has the knowledge and does the research to help other moms truly learn about diet and exercise. She’s been a blessing in my own personal fitness journey. I’m glad I found her on No Excise Moms page.

  6. Amanda Daniel

    I love seeing all your yummy recipes and enjoy following all of your posts! You motivate me to keep on track with your progress pics and posts every day

  7. Jen Longpre

    I follow Hilary and I find her advice so PRACTICAL. I love her recipes and I love seeing how she organizes her life to manage work/life/school. She gives real advice that is easy to follow and is based on science – no gimmicks and no sales pitches! 🙂 Thanks for being so real Hilary!

  8. Erika Dickerson

    From following Hilary on her social media accounts I quickly realized she’s the real deal and definitely practices what she preaches. I love that she promotes balance, steady progress, and nothing extreme. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us all!

  9. Sarah Tyson

    You have encouraged me to start my journey. I have been struggling for 8 years with my weight since I had my oldest child. You have showed my that it’s ok to start small and make slow progress or go all in and see faster progress but progress is progress. I will definitely keep following you for all of your encouraging words and tips on health and fitness. Thank you for all that you do on social media.

  10. Jacqui Donner

    You are doing amazing things! Keep it up!

  11. Krista

    I love your social media platforms. I will get on them sometimes just to see what you have posted. I find your posts very motivational and achievable!! Thank you for sharing your story!!!

  12. Anna Snodderly

    Hilary is AMAZING!!!! I’m a new mom (my baby girl just turned 1!), and finding Hilary has been the biggest blessing! I actually just found her a few weeks ago, and following her has already made a difference for me and my family. I had been following several other fitness/wellness trainers, and NO ONE is as real and genuine and helpful as Hilary. She even personally replied to a question I sent her on Snapchat seconds after sending it! I love how she takes you on such a personal journey throughout each and every day. I don’t need to follow anyone else because she covers everything. Thanks to Hilary, I believe in myself again. I can do this! 😄

  13. Beth

    Thanks to following Hillary on FB, I am now planning and meal prepping for a week at a time. I am also keeping a food journal! I get ideas from Hillary’s Prep & Pep posts. Last week she made zucchini boats and this week I did too. I also like that there are no ‘taboo’ foods and everything can be enjoyed in moderation. I am making small changes weekly and on weeks I am not successful, I repeat the goal. Thanks Hillary for taking me along for this ride!

  14. Enjonae

    I love the Prep and Pep FB page. Hilary shares so many recipes and yummy meals that are healthy. I also love how she shows that we don’t have to be perfect to be successful.

  15. Krystal Harris

    You really helped me figure out ways to help my kids eat more veggies and inspired me To be healthier for them. I tried the “choice” bar and my kids LOVED it. My son has been helping choose dinners and making really awesome choices. Tonight, example… I said do you want me to just grab you some sonic since it’s late? He said, no, I’ll go home and make a wrap with those retried beans. Winning!!!!! Love it!

  16. Evy

    I love seeing all of the posts in the Facebook group. The one tip that sticks out in my mind the most was to have one large bowl for garbage and scraps when meal prepping to save time. How have I never thought of that?! 🤷🏼‍♀️

  17. Jordan Carrier

    I love people like her who have made learning to change my lifestyle enjoyable. Having meal prep ideas, recipes, etc so accessible when first getting started makes it not such a daunting task. Plus getting to interact with people, ask questions and make friends

  18. Heather Patenaude Taillefer

    I follow her Facebook page Prep & Pep, she makes it seems possible and not overwhelming. Really loved your post this week of the ingredients before the meal and then what the meal looked like, that made me feel like I could do it too. Keep on inspiring and I hope one day I too will get there

  19. Sandy Romo

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE Hilary, her knowledgeable dedication. I look forward to seeing her posts daily. It has made a big difference in my daily life. She is truly going tk make a big impact in the world. So glad I met her online.

  20. Paige S

    Such an inspiration to all the food prep pics to your positive posts!💕

  21. Amanda Riechmann

    Hilary has inspired me to find balance in my life. I know how to loose weight but finding balance is hard for me. I followed her post for a while and then decided to hire her to help me. Hiring her was the best decision I have made. She is so easy to talk to and so informative and helpful. I love her group and all the recipes and tips she posts too.

  22. Lizz Lehmann

    I have gotten to watch Hilary on her journey and she is incredible! Her attitude and outlook have helped me where others haven’t. Her approach of “a little at a time” makes the changes needed managable. She is always positive and encouraging, the best cheerleader you’ll ever have (let’s be honest we all need one sometimes). Love her!

  23. Emily

    I am so extremely motivated by your social media posts. I’m lucjy enough to follow you on snap chat, the no excuse moms page and your personal page. I love seeing your recipes but also the tips you give! I look forward to your posts everyday!!! Such a big inspiration I hope I have the success you do! Like you said If you put in 100 you get those results that’s what I’m tryinh to do

  24. Emily

    I am so extremely motivated by your social media posts. I’m lucjy enough to follow you on snap chat, the no excuse moms page and your personal page. I love seeing your recipes but also the tips you give! I look forward to your posts everyday!!! Such a big inspiration I hope I have the success you do! Like you said If you put in 100 you get those results that’s what I’m g to do

  25. Shelby Pray

    Honestly I was feeling lost with all the information I’ve read,no lbs dropped in 4 months… found you and I’m down 3 lbs this week. You made it simple helped me realize I had all the tools I need already and basically just put the 💪🏼 Muscle back to my motivation. I realized I can do this with what I have at home right now. Thank you for your sweet inspiration! your a beautiful person.

  26. Jenn

    Just found your FB page and I’m so inspired by your journey! Love your meal ideas and will be trying some out. Zucchini lasagna is first on my list! Yummmm!!!

  27. Vanesa

    I love Hilary’s story, it always makes me realize how I can always make time for everything, I mean she is a mom of two boys, a wife, a student, and still has time to cook, clean, exercise, go to school, have girls night, hang out with her momma, go shopping, etc….. I’m a full time chiropractor technician and a wife (no kids yet) and it’s hard for me sometimes to prep my meals but looking at her snap story inspires me to do it, thanks Hilary for sharing your days with us, you are awesome!

  28. arrie

    Hillary always has amazing meal prep idea. im always looking for her post for new meal prep ideas! thank you Hillary, your such an inspiration!

  29. Maricela Escareno

    What an inspiration!!! I love her!!! Like her I have two little ones, who are 4 & 3. I recently became a stay at home mom. I follow her because she is so knowledgeable, helpful, and a great source of information.

  30. Lucerito Amaya

    Love love love all social media’s I follow Hillary on. Keeps me motivated and inspired to be better and not just better in workouts but in life. She juggles a lot and still does it all. It has helped me so much following her.

  31. Lucerito Amaya

    Love love love all social media’s I follow Hilary on. Keeps me motivated and inspired to be better and not just better in workouts but in life. She juggles a lot and still does it all. It has helped me so much following her.

  32. Traci Palmer

    I love you, Hilary! I’m so glad that you started your Facebook group because I still don’t understand snap chat. I enjoy the meals you share because they help me plan better and give me new ideas. I love the motivational posts because they inspire me to get fit and take better care of myself. I like that you share your personal journey because I am your before and I want to achieve my after. I appreciate that you love your body for what is and what it once was. I am thankful for the time you take to share well-researched information.

  33. Rachael Brenneis

    I just recently started following you on Facebook. I need meal plan inspiration and am loving what I am seeing so far! Thank you for sharing your journey.

  34. Bridget Sweetser Shinn

    Yes, Hilary may be my daughter, but she’s my nutrition coach as well. After watching her amazing transformation, I tapped into her vast knowledge and experience following colon resection surgery. I knew to avoid a repeat of the issues that caused the surgery, I needed to make lifestyle changes. Losing weight and becoming more active were the two biggest changes I needed. She literally told me to put on my walking shoes and we headed out the door. I went from the couch to walking a few blocks to joining the gym where I work with a trainer twice a week lifting weights and where I hit Zumba classes two or three times a week. I also walk my neighborhood to prepare for the SIX 5Ks I’m walking in the next three months (three with Hilary). My diet has dramatically changed. I drank two or three Cokes a day, ate fast food, and slathered everything in butter and cheeee. Now, I look at my macros which Hilary set for me and decide what I can and can’t have! We set weekly goals and like her other clients, I get that Wednesday check in text asking how I’m doing! I’m down 88 lbs total and 23″ inches since the beginning of April. Thank you, Hilary. ♥️

  35. Leanne Urban

    I’ve been following your FB page and snap chat for about a month now. I LOVE recreating some of the meals that you make and you’ve given me some great ideas for lunches. You’re so positive in all your posts and I love that you love empowering other women. The biggest help that you’ve been is showing me that I’m not too busy to work out. That waa always my biggest excuse and watching you work, go to school, run a business and raise a family shows you’re never too busy for anything that you truly want to make time for.

  36. Alice Murphy

    I love following Hillary on Facebook and just discovered her blog on NEM. I like how she incorporates science with practically of feeding a family. She understands kids aren’t always going to like the heathy food you prepare but you keep trying. I also like how you include exercise into your routine. While what we put in our mouth and HOW much we put in our mouth, exercise is still important to build muscle, develop or maintain flexibility and release stress. She is a well rounded and inspiring mom.

  37. Jamie Morrow

    You have been an inspiration for me from the first time I saw you post on NEM. I’ve been quiet up until a couple of months ago. I have recently joined your coaching group and are more excited than ever to get started on my fitness journey again. This time focusing more on my health and the food I put in my body. With being a married woman with my husband over in Iraq for 4 to 5 months that at a time, 14 yr old daughter who plays volleyball all year round with lots of traveling, and working a full time job on my feet all day I need this. I am 3 years out from being 40 and I want/need to start now. Thank you for being an inspiration and friend even though we just met.

  38. Shelby Mathias

    I love following Hilary’s journey. I have been a part of NEM for a very long time as well. I started as a very underweight mom of 5, diagnoses clinically with an eating disorder. It had consumed every part of my life, but I was so sick and tired of being sick and tired. I had absolutely no energy to keep up with my kids and honestly thought my eating disorder would end my marriage because my husband refused to tolerate it anymore. I started looking for ways to get healthier, I found so much support online. Social media has been the main component on my healthy journey. I watch others journeys, see what they do, try it out. I’m now at a health weight, been symptom free for a little while, feeling very good, physically, emotionally and mentally. Without social media I’m not sure where I’d be right now ..

  39. Jacquelyn Mott

    I just recently started following Hilary on facebook and snapchat and Its helped so much with meal prepping/planning ideas and her advice helps to keep me focused on the bigger picture on trying days!

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