People 18 October 2018
Sometimes life throws unexpected difficulties at you and you just have to face it head-on. That's exactly what Rachel Brenke did. Brenke is a mother of 5, a cancer survivor, a successful entrepreneur, and an athlete. All at the same time. She has faced difficult adversities in her life but she chose to face those demons.
She focused on positivity and has overcome a great deal because of her positive outlook. Her battles have led her to achieve great health and fitness goals. Brenke was awarded a slot to compete in the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, Hawaii October 13. All of her adversities have allowed her to be who she is now.
Brenke trains 6 days a week. She gets up early before her kids are up to begin her day. “I do my long runs and biking during the week so I have the weekend for my family," she says. Her training is broken up into 3 days with two training slots consisting of a 100-mile bike ride, followed by an 18-mile run. Being a mother it's hard to find the time, but Brenke makes time doing what she loves, “I maximize my schedule, I put family commitments on my calendar first then training. On some days training has to be done at night but for the most part, it is concrete in my schedule."
Rachel Brenke prepares for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.
Thursdays and Fridays are her long training days, Saturday is her rest day and Sunday is her light training day. She says consistency is the key to her training. “Training for an Ironman or any race is a big commitment and requires a lot of focus to do it," Brenke says.
However, training for the Ironman is not the only thing she does, she juggles being a mom, entrepreneur, and athlete. “It has changed my life and has given me a great lifestyle."
"Quit focusing on the numbers. Focus on being remarkable? and the numbers will follow."
Brenke started her journey to entrepreneurship at the age of 20 when she had her oldest son, now 13 years old. She told herself if she made it through she didn't want to be away from him. “I didn't want to work a 9-5 job and stick him in daycare all the time. I also didn't want to be working for someone else. They would be pocketing all the dreams and goals." Though Brenke was in the corporeal world for a while, she didn't enjoy it. She knew it wasn't meant for her, she pulled through it because she knew she had to do it and so, this led to her being her own boss. Now, she has been working for herself for 13 years. Brenke owns a law firm, runs an online website, makes podcasts, and has written a couple books. Because Brenke is her own boss and is busy taking on all her businesses, she said the key to balancing her work is not to balance but to juggle. “For me, it's all about making choices that I want to make, you have to be committed, your family has to be committed, and at times, I'm not able to do it all."
ADVERSITIES & POSITIVITY
Brenke has faced hurdles on her way to success. From her mental battle with deep depression and her fight against cancer to her physical battle with training. Brenke said she overcame her adversities by have a positive mentality. Brenke looks at all these adversities as preparing her for a positive mindset. “ It prepared me for doing something like this, it's all about how much can you take on to stay in a positive light." Brenke believes it's all about focusing on staying positive and being very disciplined. Brenke also tries to find positivity by keeping busy. “I'm somebody that thrives on a busy schedule, but on negative days I just try to be more focused."
Brenke has learned many lessons along the way, be it entrepreneurship or training for the Ironman Championship, she says it all goes hand in hand. “You have an end goal in mind. Developing a plan and trusting that plan. It's easy to give up, especially for me with my training. It's easy to let doubt creep in when you get tired and fear that you're going to fail." Brenke said this is the same worry with entrepreneurship “You just need to tell yourself to focus. This is just temporary emotions, don't make decisions based on this. It's also surrounding yourself with people who will step in to talk you up on these hard times."
Her journey has led her to where she is today. Brenke said it didn't just happen overnight. All in the face of her mental and physical adversities, she has become a successful business owner and has led her to great opportunities. “I have been on this entrepreneurship journey for 13 years now, I didn't set all this up at one time, the same thing for the Ironman, I didn't just decide I'm going to do the Ironman, there is a lot of training and hours and steps that go into the process."
Brenke offers advice to anyone who is wanting to achieve a goal but may be hesitant, “You just have to be yourself, be authentic and just don't be afraid to go for it." Brenke is an example that you can do anything you set your mind to.
“It's all about making a choice and sticking to it, even when you're tired, or you don't want to get out of bed or run another step, you just gotta do it because, in the end, it will all be worth it."
3 Min Read
With a lack of certainty surrounding the future, being and feeling healthy may help bring the security that you need during these unpredictable times.
When it comes to your health, there is a direct relationship between nutrition and physical activity that play an enormous part in physical, mental, and social well-being. As COVID-19 continues to impact almost every aspect of our lives, the uncertainty of the future may seem looming. Sometimes improvisation is necessary, and understanding how to stay healthy and fit can significantly help you manage your well-being during these times.
Tip 1: Communicate with your current wellness providers and set a plan
Gyms, group fitness studios, trainers, and professionals can help you to lay out a plan that will either keep you on track through all of the changes and restrictions or help you to get back on the ball so that all of your health objectives are met.
Most facilities and providers are setting plans to provide for their clients and customers to accommodate the unpredictable future. The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C. An enormous amount is on the table for this coming fall and winter; if your gym closes again, what is your plan? If outdoor exercising is not an option due to the weather, what is your plan? Leaving things to chance will significantly increase your chances of falling off of your regimen and will make consistency a big problem.
The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C.
Tip 2: Stay active for both mental and physical health benefits
The rise of stress and anxiety as a result of the uncertainty around COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way. Staying active by exercising helps alleviate stress by releasing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins in your brain. In turn, these released chemicals can help improve your mood and even reduce risk of depression and cognitive decline. Additionally, physical activity can help boost your immune system and provide long term health benefits.
With the new work-from-home norm, it can be easy to bypass how much time you are spending sedentary. Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity. Struggling to find ways to stay active? Start simple with activities like going for a walk outside, doing a few reps in exchange for extra Netflix time, or even setting an alarm to move during your workday.
Tip 3: Start slow and strong
If you, like many others during the pandemic shift, have taken some time off of your normal fitness routine, don't push yourself to dive in head first, as this may lead to burnout, injury, and soreness. Plan to start at 50 percent of the volume and intensity of prior workouts when you return to the gym. Inactivity eats away at muscle mass, so rather than focusing on cardio, head to the weights or resistance bands and work on rebuilding your strength.
Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity.
Tip 4: If your gym is open, prepare to sanitize
In a study published earlier this year, researchers found drug-resistant bacteria, the flu virus, and other pathogens on about 25 percent of the surfaces they tested in multiple athletic training facilities. Even with heightened gym cleaning procedures in place for many facilities, if you are returning to the gym, ensuring that you disinfect any surfaces before and after using them is key.
When spraying disinfectant, wait a few minutes to kill the germs before wiping down the equipment. Also, don't forget to wash your hands frequently. In an enclosed space where many people are breathing heavier than usual, this can allow for a possible increase in virus droplets, so make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Staying in the know and preparing for new gym policies will make it easy to return to these types of facilities as protocols and mutual respect can be agreed upon.
Tip 5: Have a good routine that extends outside of just your fitness
From work to working out, many routines have faltered during the COVID pandemic. If getting back into the routine seems daunting, investing in a new exercise machine, trainer, or small gadget can help to motivate you. Whether it's a larger investment such as a Peloton, a smaller device such as a Fitbit, or simply a great trainer, something new and fresh is always a great stimulus and motivator.
Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine.
Just because you are working from home with a computer available 24/7 doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your entire day to work. Setting work hours, just as you would in the office, can help you to stay focused and productive.
A good night's sleep is also integral to obtaining and maintaining a healthy and effective routine. Adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for their best health and wellbeing, so prioritizing your sleep schedule can drastically improve your day and is an important factor to staying healthy. Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine. This can help the rest of your day feel normal while the uncertainty of working from home continues.
Tip 6: Focus on food and nutrition
In addition to having a well-rounded daily routine, eating at scheduled times throughout the day can help decrease poor food choices and unhealthy cravings. Understanding the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy can help you stay more alert, but they do vary from person to person. If you are unsure of your suggested nutritional intake, check out a nutrition calculator.
If you are someone that prefers smaller meals and more snacks throughout the day, make sure you have plenty of healthy options, like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins available (an apple a day keeps the hospital away). While you may spend most of your time from home, meal prepping and planning can make your day flow easier without having to take a break to make an entire meal in the middle of your work day. Most importantly, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
Tip 7: Don't forget about your mental health
While focusing on daily habits and routines to improve your physical health is important, it is also a great time to turn inward and check in with yourself. Perhaps your anxiety has increased and it's impacting your work or day-to-day life. Determining the cause and taking proactive steps toward mitigating these occurrences are important.
For example, with the increase in handwashing, this can also be a great time to practice mini meditation sessions by focusing on taking deep breaths. This can reduce anxiety and even lower your blood pressure. Keeping a journal and writing out your daily thoughts or worries can also help manage stress during unpredictable times, too.
While the future of COVI9-19 and our lives may be unpredictable, you can manage your personal uncertainties by focusing on improving the lifestyle factors you can control—from staying active to having a routine and focusing on your mental health—to make sure that you emerge from this pandemic as your same old self or maybe even better.