Category: Working In Working Out Stories

Working In Working Out is our way of sharing insightful, inspiring and unique stories about the everyday challenges of working in working out for everyone to enjoy.

Working In Working Out

Wrapping a mountain of presents. Remembering the cookies for the class holiday party. Finding a gift for our favorite running buddy. With so much to do this time of year, sometimes we have trouble working in working out. So, we turn to you, our clever customers, for advice! What’s your favorite way to fit a workout into your holiday routine?

Take our poll, then share more of your ideas in the comments below!



Get on The Bus

Faith Nelson gets up before 5am to drive a school bus for special needs high school students. She’s also the single mom of three kids of her own. “I’m a deeply curious person,” she says, “attempting to live my life in a way that leaves no room for regret.”

That sort of courage didn’t always apply to physical feats. “I was as far from athletic as you could get as a kid. I had asthma and it made me nervous about running around too much.” It wasn’t until she was twenty-one and pregnant with her second child that Faith started learning the value of exercise. She’d decided on a natural childbirth, and all the books she read stressed the importance of being fit and flexible. Out came the yoga videos, and long, fast-paced walks.

“Childbirth this time was so different. I felt incredibly strong when it was over. Something inside of me clicked and I realized that I was physically capable of so much more than I’d thought.” She took up running.

Fast-forward a dozen years to last October, when Faith ran her first half marathon. Although a foot injury has her sidelined, she plans to start training for a full marathon soon. Her usual regimen is to run three times a week (two to five miles), plus two or three days of yoga, and two of strength training. That’s a lot for many of us, but how does she pull it off?

“It can be very hard,” Faith says. “Taking advantage of lunch breaks can be a great way to get in a workout. But sometimes it’s just a matter of running out the door before I have a chance to think about it too much.” She also makes exercise a family affair: “A lot of the time I can drag one or two of them down to the beach. They’ll roller-skate or ride their scooter while I run.” Walking is always a plus: “Moving is so important and there are opportunities all throughout the day to do that.”

None of which would work without the right attitude. “I used to think I was supposed to have a strict schedule, but one thing I’ve learned as a single mother is that real life just doesn’t work that way. When it matters, you find a way. And on the flip side, when life gets ahead of you and you miss a week, you shrug it off and start over again.”

And the result? “I’ve learned to appreciate the journey as opposed to ‘results.’ Running has changed me in such fundamental ways. It has taught me the beauty of the process.” Still, some results are undeniable. “It feels good to think about how I went from a kid who couldn’t even run a mile to a thirty-three-year-old, single, working mother of three who has run thirteen. I’m the strongest and healthiest I’ve ever been, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.”



Home: Long Beach, CA
Occupation: School Bus Driver
Education: Some college, Psychology Major
Partner: Single
Children: Three, ages 16, 12, and 8
Age: 33
Height: 5’2’’
Weight: 115
Sports, past and present: Running, swimming.
Athletic accomplishments: Half marathon.
Little known fact about you: I can stand on my hands and do backbends pretty well.
Environmentally incorrect preference: I take too long in the shower.
Guilty pleasure: Coffee overload on the weekends.
Most embarrassing moment: Never.
Greatest triumph: Every day that I can be true to myself and love the people in my life with everything I’ve got is a triumph.
Favorite thing to do when not working or working out: Relaxing with my family and friends.

Moment of Inspiration: Warming up at the starting line with thousands of people at my first half marathon. I felt so connected to them. I saw our diversity, and I realized we’re all on our own personal journey. It was beautiful.

Favorite Quote: “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” —Anais Nin


Before my injury: Two or three, three-mile runs during the week, and a longer five-mile run on the weekend. Two or three days of yoga. Two days of strength training. Whenever I could fit it in.





The Right Excuses

“You get what you give,” is Kelly Newell’s life philosophy. “I strive to put out positive energy to my work, my family, my friends, and strangers. I hope that folks will feel better about themselves having interacted with me.”

As Director of Conference Management at Washington State University, Kelly interacts with a lot of fortunate folks. She’s also working on her Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration…and referees volleyball for USAV and Pac-10 competitions. But her top priority is spending time with her twin four year olds and husband.

“For most people in my situation, working out would be the last thing on their list.” But Kelly knows that fitness makes the rest possible. “You have to make excuses why you CAN fit in a workout, not why you CAN’T. For instance saying ‘Well, I have 45 minutes between my meeting and my class tonight—I’ll run over to the stadium and do stairs for 30 minutes and still have time to change’ instead of  ‘Well, I only have 45 minutes. That’s hardly enough time to break a sweat, so I’ll just hang out and surf Facebook.’ It’s all about the message you give yourself.”

Start small and use whatever “free” time you have, Kelly advises. “I wasn’t always fit. I started by walking twenty minutes at lunch time.” She eventually realized. “I’m never busy at 5:30 am—so there are no excuses at that hour. And it starts a day of great habits: biking to work, walking to the store with the kids instead of driving, and so on.”

The positive effects began to snowball. “My drive and determination pushed me to do more. Those walks turned into short jogs, which led to longer runs.” She did some short, local races followed by a half marathon. Within a year, she was training for her first marathon. Then came duathlons, triathlons, four Ironman competitions, and a “zillion” other long-distance races.

“It was an evolution from walker to runner to triathlete to distance athlete and it took years of persistence and drive, and LOVE,” says Kelly. “I hope that folks will see that anything is possible if you put your mind to it—I NEVER thought I could complete an Ironman, and I did it by focusing on one day at a time! So can you!”


Home: Pullman, Washington

Occupation: Director of Conference Management

Education: Masters of Higher Education Administration, pursuing a Ph.D in Higher Education and Cultural Studies.

Partner: Most supportive husband/father in the world – Scott.

Children: Taylor and Reed—4 yr old twin boys.

Age: 38

Height: 5’3”

Weight: 129

Sports, past and present: Triathlon, Golf, Volleyball, Running, Biking, Bowling, Rollerblading

Athletic accomplishments: 4 Ironman Triathlons, 2 adventure races, 4 STP bike rides (one day)

Little known fact about you: I know the words to nearly every John Denver song ever recorded.

Environmentally incorrect preference: Long, hot shower after a long, hot run.

Guilty pleasure: Reality TV—Specifically dancing shows.

Most embarrassing moment: I embarrass myself a lot. All the time. A favorite was at my first Marathon when I was suffering from “race tummy” and needed a port a potty really badly but the lines for all of them were so long! I was wandering around looking for more when I turned a corner and saw a bank of port-o-lets with no line and someone was coming out at that moment so in I ran! What luck! A few minutes later I came out to see the tremendous line that I hadn’t seen (and cut in front of) just a little ways back from the doors of the potties. Whoops!

Greatest triumph: Every day I balance my boys, my husband, my school work, and my job… Every day I rejoice a little at the end of the day when I haven’t let any of them down.

Favorite thing to do when not working or working out: Eating out with friends.

Moment of Inspiration: Seeing Dick and Ricky Hoyt finish Ironman—gave me motivation to sign up! If he can do it, with his son no less, then I have no excuses!

Favorite Quote:“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard, is what makes it great!” Jimmy Dugan —A League of Their Own.


3+ days per week at the gym or running in the morning, 3+ days per week biking/hiking/rollerblading – whatever I can do to MOVE!


High Priority

Pat Seitz is serious about working in her workout. She has to be. This single mother of two teenagers spends nine hours a day as a career counselor and doesn’t have much time to fool around. And her current situation is even an improvement over the past, when her schedule also included younger children, attending college, and caring for her chronically ill ex-husband. “Exercise has been my glue, mentally and physically, and I have fit it in under all circumstances and times of day because it is a PRIORITY.”

Pat keeps that commitment interesting by participating in at least one organized marathon or bike race per year. “So I have a goal in mind,” she says, “I don’t need motivation, it’s just fun to be part of the organized event.” She also claims she doesn’t need to train…well, not exactly:

“I don’t ‘train’ really, I just do. For example, I had never run a full thirteen miles before making the decision, two weeks before the event, to participate in the Brooksie Way Half Marathon. I just added a mile or two every time I went out to run. I decided I would run it again the next year and spent the year between maintaining thirteen-mile runs. My goal was to run the marathon comfortably, not necessarily to make ‘time.’ Being able to run it comfortably was my success.”

Of course, Pat can “just do” things like marathons on, or The Iceman Cometh Mountain Bike Challenge of 2010, because she squeezes a regular fitness regimen into her life. “My goal is three to five workout sessions per week. I cross-train to prevent boredom and injury, but I always run.” Her current routine includes riding her bike to work, jumping rope, running two or three times a week (with one or two of those being a half marathon), and swimming. “I’ve also been known to run up and down the stairs from basement to family room while watching a television show.”

“My children come first and exercise second, but both are prioritized. I’ve always told my children ‘I’m going running now and will come back a much better momma.’ We must take care of our own minds and bodies in order to give a bit of our best to others.” One way to do this is by “setting reasonable goals. And once those goals are reached, you set new ones.” Another is being ready to use any available moment. Whether she starts exercising after her kids are in bed or pounds up and down her workplace’s basement stairs during lunch breaks, Pat knows that “working out gives me strength and endurance to conduct my daily activities and play the way I like. I can share this strength and confidence with my friends, co-workers, students, and clients.”

“Yup,” she concludes, “strong and confident is how I feel and how I see myself.”


Home: Auburn Hills, Michigan
Occupation: College Career Counselor
Education: Associate Degree Dietetics, Bachelor Degree Human Resource Management
Partner:Tom Lining
Children: 19 year old daughter (Jaimie) and 16 year old son (Jake)
Age: 46 years
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 150#
Sports, past and present: Run, bike, swim, snowshoe, hiking
Athletic accomplishments: Finishing any organized event I’ve paid money to participate in is an athletic accomplishment!
Little known fact about you: I love to dress for, and attend formal events.  I LOVE evening gowns worn with beautiful high heeled shoes and salon styled up-swept hair!!
Guilty pleasure:Sitting on the couch in my pajamas drinking coffee and ignoring chores.
Most embarrassing moment: Hyperventilating while trying to give a presentation to a large group of cardiac patients; this was early in my clinical dietetics career.
Greatest triumph: Obviously the uneventful, natural birth of my two healthy and beautiful children.
Favorite thing to do when not working or working out: Working on home improvement projects around my home.  I take pleasure from enjoying the outcomes of my work.
Moment of Inspiration: Feeling my deceased mother with me when I gave birth to my daughter.
Favorite Quote: Just do IT.

3-5 x per week of different activities for 1-2 hours, if not longer depending on the activity.


The Doctor Is In

When her sister recommended that we interview Maria Chansky for this column, she told us: “Maria is a Superwoman in every sense of the word—strong, healthy, caring, intelligent, and committed to making the world a better place.” It turns out she wasn’t exaggerating.

A family physician in rural Colorado, Maria has spent time working with Maori patients in a New Zealand clinic and with underserved communities on the Navajo Nation. She’s volunteered in post-Katrina New Orleans and established a free clinic at her local soup kitchen. To top it off, this social justice warrior has recently both scaled Mt. Kilimanjaro and completed a master’s degree in medical anthropology.

Somehow, Maria manages to integrate everyday fitness and more challenging activities—including triathlons, backpacking in the Grand Canyon, and biking the 100-mile White Rim trail in Moab—into a life of ten-hour work days and volunteering.

“It can be difficult to work all day and then find the time and energy to exercise all night,” she says. In part, it requires knowing yourself. “I’m not much of a morning person, so it’s difficult for me to exercise in the morning.” So she’s developed an after-work regimen that combines fitness and family: “I’ll walk about 4 miles or bike 15 miles depending on how much time I have. On the weekends I try to do longer adventures, such as backpacking and taking longer mountain bike rides… My husband is very fit and active, so exercising together is a good way to motivate each other and also to spend quality time together.”

A little extra motivation never hurts “When I first started, it was extremely challenging to get through the lengthy workouts. I started to promise myself rewards such as new mountain biking shoes when I completed specific fitness goals.”

Maria has learned what many of us do: Ultimately, work and workout complement one another. “I find that keeping myself active and fit helps me be more productive and energized during the day… Working with underserved groups is extremely challenging and demanding. Personally, I find it critical to work out and take care of myself.” And Maria’s workouts benefit her patients in other ways as well. “Problems such as poor nutrition and inadequate physical activity are rampant among many underserved populations. I find it particularly important to try to be a good role model for these patients. I try to teach my patients about healthy nutrition and exercise. I find it’s easier to communicate with them and to successfully get the message across if I have personal stories to share.”

Impressed? Well, stay tuned. “Working In Working Out” will be interviewing Maria’s powerhouse sister in the near future.


Home: Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Occupation: Family Medicine Physician
Education: Harvard College BA, University of Massachusetts Medical School MD, Prescott College MA in Medical Anthropology
Partner: Russell Swank
Children: none
Age: 44
Height: 5’11”
Weight: can’t remember the last time I got on a scale
Sports, past and present: snowboarding, mountain biking, kayaking, hiking, rock climbing, backpacking, surfing, basketball, volleyball
Athletic accomplishments: completing triathlons, multiple backpacking trips through the Grand Canyon, completing the White Rim mountain biking trail about 7 times, reaching the top of Kilimanjaro, rafting and kayaking through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River, participating/placing in rock climbing competitions
Little known fact about you: My favorite food in the whole world is Ethiopian food. I’m also a colossal Star Trek and Star Wars geek, although most of my close friends have figured this out. My action figure collection is phenomenal.
Environmentally incorrect preference: I drive a Nissan Frontier pickup truck
Guilty pleasure: ice cream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream
Most embarrassing moment: I was on a three week long rafting/kayaking trip through the Grand Canyon as part of a wilderness medicine class for medical school. We were always fastidious in making sure that we cleaned up absolutely everything and left nothing behind. One day we were eating lunch on a pristine beach. I dropped a piece of lettuce. Figuring that it was biodegradable and that some animal might eat it, I kicked a bit of sand over it and went back to my sandwich. When I looked up, I realized that every other member of the group had seen me hide the lettuce! I leaned over and dug up the piece of lettuce and disposed of it properly.
Greatest triumph: Physically, reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro. Personally, managing to balance my work with my studies with my workouts with my relationships. Professionally, working with different populations of patients such as Maori, Navajo, homeless/indigent and trying to learn unique ways to reach different groups of patients.
Favorite thing to do when not working or working out: reading, playing guitar.
Moment of Inspiration: Every morning when I get out of bed…
Favorite Quote: “Long ago, two roads diverged into a forest. I took the path least traveled, and that has made all the difference.”

Varies wildly depending on the weather, my work hours, the time of year, personal preference. Generally 1-2 hours nightly, more on the weekend.