Wellness is such a buzz word these days. Taking care of yourself needs to be a top priority. I know that you may feel stressed and overwhelmed with work, family, friends, or other commitments, but at the end of the day, your health should be your most prized commodity.
My theory is that an individual's personal wellness must be a top priority in order to achieve one's major corporate goals. Not only do I teach this method, but I live it too. Every. Single. Day.
I make a conscious effort to prioritize my health and well-being in my daily life. As a competitive athlete and avid runner dedicated to a strict fitness and nutrition regimen, I participate in ongoing marathons and IRONMAN 70.3 competitions across the globe. And of course, when I am not competing, I spend my time training and fueling myself for the next race. Following this routine has strengthened and nourished my body and mind in numerous ways and I reap the benefits of it every day. Over the next few months, I will embark on several major races. In September, I will be running a Marathon in Capetown, South Africa. Then in October, I am going back for my second year running 55 Miles through the Serengeti in Africa. This time I will bring along a mentee, friend, and Olympian, Veronica Day. Last year when I did this run, it was one of the most incredible and life changing experiences that I have ever had. Speaking with the young girls there was eye opening and I learned just as much from them as I hope they did from me. Embracing the open terrain and being with my thoughts as I ran was incredible. The self reflection and how I was able to push my body to the edge with such a strenuous run is something that I had trained for so year after year.
To keep the momentum going, in November I will be running in the TCS New York City Marathon. And then in December, I will be completing an IRONMAN 70.3 in Cartagena, Colombia. I did not always compete in these types of races, however, I worked up to it through rigorous training sessions. I was sure to put my health and wellness as a major priority. I needed to. With all of the travel and stress of managing a global team, wellness needed to take precedence. The emails can wait, your health cannot. Something very serious to consider.
Being conscious of my health not only benefits my body and mind, but my corporate life as well. I have completed many races this year – all of which helped me stay focused in my personal life and in the office. Following a schedule and setting goals when training and competing fosters an organized and centered mind when I am at work. I can focus on what I want to execute and achieve. The cadence of training is very similar to the way that I operate in the corporate landscape.
Similarly, I attribute many of my most prized leadership qualities, including motivation, perseverance and a stellar ability to navigate the daily struggle of balance, to an active and healthy lifestyle that is the impetus for day-to-day accomplishments. I first learned how to motivate myself to prioritize my well-being and how to persevere when training becomes a challenge. I worked to find a balance that fit my lifestyle. Then I was able to transfer those skills that I learned to helping others. After all, if you cannot take care of yourself, you cannot take care of your team.
These are just a few of the reasons why I choose to make my health and well-being a top priority. Now the question is how do I balance this choice alongside corporate ambition? How do I find the time and motivation? One way that I am able to do both is that I actually do much of my business strategizing while working out. I am able to let my mind think about business while my body focuses on my wellness. It also helps that training gives me a sense of fulfillment. I want to exercise because I like the way I feel afterwards and I am happy with what I accomplished. This translates to the business side of things as well, the sense of completion.
Schedule your fitness into your calendar. If it's on the calendar it is real.
Set goals. Reward yourself when you make progress, whether it's with a new outfit, new running shoes, or a pedicure that you have been dying to have. Treat yourself.
Make time to move. Choose a fitness goal and obtain it. Whether it be running a 5K or a marathon. Every time you train you will become stronger.
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Sometimes it takes falling to rock bottom in order to be built back up again. I learned this many years ago when the life I'd carefully built for myself and my family suddenly changed. But in those times, you learn to lean on those who love you – a friend, family member or someone who can relate to what you've been through. I was lucky enough to have two incredible women help me through one of my lowest moments. They taught me to love myself and inspired me to pass on their lessons each day.
In 2010, I was a wife, a mother of 3, and had filtered in and out of jobs depending on what my family needed from me. At different points in my career, I've worked in the corporate world, been a stay-at-home mom, and even started my own daycare center. Fitness has always been a part of my life, but at that point being a mom was my main priority. Then, life threw a curveball. My husband and I separated, leading to a very difficult divorce.
These were difficult times. I lost myself in the uncertainty of my future and the stress that comes with a divorce and found myself battling anorexia. Over a matter of months, I lost 40 lbs. and felt surrounded by darkness. I was no longer participating in my health and all efforts to stay active came to a halt. I didn't want to leave my home, I didn't' want to talk to people, and I really did not want to see men. Seeing my struggles, first my sister and then a friend, approached me and invited me to visit the gym.
After months of avoiding it, my sister started taking me to the gym right before closing when it wasn't too busy. We started slow, on the elliptical or the treadmill. This routine got me out of the house and slowly we worked to regain my strength and my self-esteem. When my sister moved away, my good friend and personal trainer started working out with me one-on-one early in the morning, taking time out of her busy schedule to keep me on track toward living a healthy life once again. Even when I didn't want to leave the house, she would encourage me to push myself and I knew I didn't want to let her down. She helped me every step of the way. My sister and my friend brought fitness back into my everyday routine. They saved my life.
I began to rely on fitness, as well as faith, to help me feel like myself again. My friend has since moved away, but, these two women made me feel loved, confident and strong with their empowerment and commitment to me. They made such an incredible impact on me; I knew I needed to pay it forward. I wanted to have the same impact on women in my community. I started by doing little things, like running with a woman who just had a baby to keep her inspired and let her know she's not alone. I made sure not to skip my regular runs, just in case there was a woman watching who needed the inspiration to keep going. These small steps of paying it forward helped me find purpose and belonging. This gave me a new mentality that put me on a path to the opportunity of a lifetime – opening a women's only kickboxing gym, 30 Minute Hit.
About four years ago, I was officially an empty nester. It was time to get myself out of the house too and find what I was truly passionate about, which is easier said than done. Sitting behind a desk, in a cubicle, simply didn't cut it. It was hard to go from an active and chaotic schedule to a very slow paced, uneventful work week. I felt sluggish. Even when I moved to another company where I got to plan events and travel, it was enjoyable, but not fulfilling. I wanted to be a source of comfort to those struggling, as my sister and dear friend had been to me. I wanted to impact others in a way that couldn't be done from behind a desk.
When I heard about 30 Minute Hit, I was nervous to take the leap. But the more I learned about the concept, the more I knew it was the perfect fit for me. Opening my own gym where women can come to let go of their struggles, rely on one another and meet new people is the best way for me to pass on the lessons I learned during my darkest times.
Kickboxing is empowering in itself. Add to it a high energy, female-only environment, and you have yourself a powerhouse! The 30 Minute Hit concept is franchised all over North America, acting as a source of release for women who are just trying to get through their day. I see women of all ages come into my gym, kick the heck out of a punching bag and leave with a smile on their face, often times alongside a new friend. 30 Minute Hit offers a convenient schedule for all women, from busy moms to working women, to students and senior citizens. A schedule-free model allows members to come in whenever they have a free half hour to dedicate to themselves. Offering certified training in kickboxing and a safe environment to let go, 30 Minute Hit is the place for women empowerment and personal growth.
Through my journey, I have learned that everyone is going through something – everyone is on their own path. My motivating factor is knowing that I can touch people's lives everyday just by creating the space for encouragement and community. It's so easy to show people you care. That's the type of environment my team, clients and myself have worked hard to create at our 30 Minute Hit location.
Fitness saved my life. If it weren't for the empowering women who stepped up and brought fitness back into my life, I wouldn't be standing – in the door of my own business – today. The perfect example of women empowering women – the foundation to invincibility.