Balancing Life and Fitness: Five Stories of Successful Women

We talk about balance a lot here at Outdoor Athlete—general physical fitness and yoga to name a few—but what about balancing your life? Between work, community, and family commitments, it can be difficult to establish a balance that doesn’t wear you down and burn you out. So how can a busy person fit in the time to regularly exercise as well? It may not be as difficult as you think.

We have had the opportunity to speak with several outdoor athletes from around the state of Michigan who also balance a busy lifestyle of their own—whether it be work, family, or any other commitments they face. Their stories are textbook examples of how ordinary people can be as committed to their fitness goals as they are with the rest of their lives. Some of these athletes race professionally, while others most enjoy the camaraderie of running in a group of close friends—whatever their preference and whatever their story, these athletes made it work.

So don’t be afraid to lace up those running shoes again, or dust off that exercise bike. Set aside a small chunk of time a couple of times every week—and perhaps most importantly—set a goal. That goal could be anything from a certain number of workouts per week to health improvement, but whatever you choose, push yourself. The grinds of everyday living do not have to stop you from achieving physical fitness and finding the balance in your life.

Heather Durocher, Traverse City

Freelance Writer, Runner

Heather Durocher began running after a group of friends encouraged her to take up the sport. She has not looked back—Heather now works as a freelance writer in the Traverse City area, and runs her own Michigan running blog, Her favorite post-run meal at the moment is an egg white scramble, with veggies, meat, and beans. Don’t forget the Vulcan salt—it makes the meal, she says.

Balancing Commitments and Training

Heather’s biggest commitments in her life are her three children, whose schedules are always changing. She fits in the time to run, but Heather says her training schedule “changes every season.”

Passing on Wisdom for Finding that Balance

Through her blog and parental guidance, Heather has passed along many important tips for staying active. She believes in modeling a healthy lifestyle for those around her, and most of all encourages the people in her life to “find something that provides a healthy outlet.”

Staying Motivated When the Going Gets Tough

“Being connected to other runners is huge,” Heather says. “Keep in touch with bloggers or girlfriends and ask how each other are doing.” On a more personal level, Heather mentions signing up for races, and motivational quotes help keep her motivated as well.  Her favorite motivational quote? “Never regret going for a run.”

Michelle Jarrett, South Lyon

Stay-at-home mom, Triathlete

Michelle Jarrett completed her first triathlon in 1992, and entered Ironmans in both 2003 and 2004. In the meantime, Michelle has held full-time jobs while still training and competing in multisport events, and more recently has dedicated her life to writing and raising her children. Her favorite post-training meal: frozen Coca-Cola.

Balancing Commitments and Training

Michelle emphasizes the need to prioritize your days to reach a good balance. “You have to be less selfish on one side, and more in another way of thinking. In the morning, I would love to run, but my kids need me to be there for breakfast. But you also have to be selfish enough to say ‘I need 30 minutes’ later in the day.”

Passing on Wisdom for Finding that Balance

Child or adult, Michelle understands that there will be challenges. “Having a full-time job, training in itself is a part-time job of 20-25 hours a week.” Her best piece of advice: “Balance is the biggest thing. Do everything in moderation.”

Staying Motivated When the Going Gets Tough

“It is the best stress management technique that I know,” Michelle says. “If it means enough to you, you’re going to do it. It has to mean enough to you to make the time to get out there and do something.”

Marianne Johnson, Birmingham

CRM Strategist, Big Communications/Meredith Health, Triathlete

Marianne Johnson is a recent addition to the triathlon scene. Her marketing career has kept her busy this year, but she has still completed three triathlons in 2012 and does not want to stop there. Marianne hopes to conquer an Olympic-distance tri, and may attempt a half-Ironman in her future. Her favorite post-training meal: “I go with chocolate milk, scramblers, or some type of protein I can grab and go like string cheese.”

Balancing Commitments and Training

With such a busy work schedule, Marianne has had to find her balance and adjust her goals. “I did have the aspiration to do a longer race this year, but had to adjust my goals and make a commitment to finding time to do training.” Regardless of what time of day she ends up hitting the pool or a running trial, Marianne gives this suggestion: “Always keep a bag in the car.”

Passing on Wisdom for Finding that Balance

To find her balance, Marianne focuses more on the mental aspect of an active lifestyle. “Embrace this lifestyle…I’ve never felt better,” Marianne says. “Friends are talking about pre-diabetes, back pain, and I tell them to start swimming!”

Staying Motivated When the Going Gets Tough

Marianne credits her coaches, friends, and maintaining her overall health for keeping her motivated. “If you can find the camaraderie, that really helps,” Marianne says. “Lessons you get learning swimming, running, and biking are lessons you can carry on throughout life.”

Marie Morgan, Ann Arbor

Owner of PR Fitness, Runner

Marie Morgan began running 10-11 years ago to lose weight. After losing 50 pounds and appearing in Shape Magazine, Marie now runs to win, but most of all to have fun. She runs PR Fitness in Ann Arbor, which focuses on adding strength training to running. Her favorite post-training meal: “Anything that has salt in it—a turkey or veggie burger, or a tuna wrap and lime chips. I do like a good margarita after a marathon.”

Balancing Commitments and Training

Marie believes that selflessness plays a large part in the balance—especially as a personal trainer and running group leader. She realized the importance of placing the training needs of others in front of her own when she began PR Fitness, and has since started doing her long runs with her sister or on her own.

Passing on Wisdom for Finding that Balance

Above all, Marie stresses that fitness doesn’t just come from exercise. “It’s not a diet, or it’s not a workout. It’s a lifestyle,” Marie says. Positivity also goes a long way—“I don’t believe you have to go to a boot camp or be broken down. You need to have someone who believes in you.”

Staying Motivated When the Going Gets Tough

Goal-setting has been Marie’s biggest key to staying motivated. “I thrive in knowing that I have a race coming up,” says Marie. “If I have a busy day or not, I’m getting up at 5 a.m. to run. I’m not going to let my runs go when life gets in the way.”

Sheila Taormina, Livonia

Coach, Trainer, Author, Former Olympian, Triathlete, Pentathlete

(Interview conducted by Michelle Jarrett)

Sheila Taormina has done it all. She is the only woman to compete in three Olympic sports, and has won World Championships and an Olympic gold medal. Sheila now tours the country as a speaker and an author, emphasizing the keys to success both in sports and outside of sports. Her favorite post-training meal: “Horrible to say, but three days a week I ate either a hamburger or steak at the end of the day, and [a] chocolate shake (this was during my triathlon days).”

Balancing Commitments and Training

“I understand now how the mental exhaustion of going through a workday leads to physical fatigue,” Sheila notes. “And I’ve found that walking—just walking—is excellent. It gets you outside… and just gets you moving.” The takeaway message here: just get outside—doing something is better than doing nothing at all.

Passing on Wisdom for Finding that Balance

Through her Olympic training, Sheila learned most that you cannot do it alone—you need people to keep you going and support you. “People just need to do the best they can at balancing the important things in their lives—most people just can’t do it all despite what it looks like.”

Staying Motivated When the Going Gets Tough

Sheila stresses both mental strength and gaining perspective in staying motivated. “I just try to stay fit… I don’t keep my exercise equipment in a closet—I keep it out in plain sight,” Sheila says. “You don’t have to dedicate 45 minutes to something. Do little chunks. Go slowly, and sometimes you find that as you get into it, you start to enjoy it and you end up going for a little longer.”

One Response to “Balancing Life and Fitness: Five Stories of Successful Women”
  1. keriboyle says:

    Reblogged this on The Tri-ing Life and commented:
    Like this article from Outdoor Athlete Magazine!

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