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Wednesday
Sep082010

Attitude, perception and resilience. More about what I do and who I really am.

What do you do, exactly?

Because I am a Kinesiologist, people probably have a completely unrealistic idea of who I am, what I do, how often I exercise, and whether I eat chocolate.  Let me tell you about the real Sarah Wright.

I spent the first five years after high school at Simon Fraser University, where I had a dream of one day having an office at a local medical office and giving exercise advice to people with diabetes and people that just needed that extra kick start.  Amazingly enough, I’m not too far from that dream.  After finishing my undergrad, I did some travelling and stumbled upon the ACSM exercise specialist certification, which was being offered in Calgary.  It is viewed as the gold standard in cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation, so I convinced my husband that we should move there.  I have spent the last five years working in the health system with chronic conditions, learning that it is a really tough job motivating people to exercise, but that if you care enough, if you help them believe in themselves and stay realistic, if you find something that fits their lifestyle, schedule and social setting, and if you give them the right tools and knowledge, they can succeed –it will stick and their life will be forever changed.

People ask me about whether I like my job I tell people that I absolutely love my job. 

People probably think that kinesiologists would only like to work with athletes or people who have motivation oozing out of them.  I find it far more rewarding to help John Doe get back to a regular exercise program, even if his arthritis flares up and we have to start from scratch again.  I would much rather take someone one step back and two steps forward, even if it might take a bit more time.  By changing the focus to day by day and week by week instead of instantly/everything/now, we’ll get there.  I think this world of instant everything is giving us a very backwards view of our bodies – they need time to adapt and we only get one, so we need to take care of it and do things right.  I want to be able to run and jump and keep up with my children and grandchildren, and I’m sure I’m not the only one in the world with this goal.  Health truly is the greatest wealth we can wish for.  I'm ready when you are.

So, what does Sarah do for exercise?

I have always lived an active life, and have always had a goal to be active and exercise regularly.  I did alpine skiing, dance, volleyball and competitive waterskiing as a kid.  In university, I focused on running, masters swimming and weight training.  As a working adult, I ran regularly with my husband, did hiking, biking, snowshoeing, weight training, hot yoga, and completed a few sprint triathlons.  Then we decided to have children.  We were very blessed and got pregnant.   Before our 12 week ultrasound we went for a 45 minute snowshoe while we were outdoor camping and I couldn’t understand why I was so winded.  We found out the next day that we were having twins.  We spent 1.5 years in Calgary with them, and when the opportunity presented itself, decided to move home to Campbell River to give them the lifestyle we had growing up. 

Now, three years after getting pregnant, I can finally say that I “exercise regularly.”  I honestly believe that it takes every mom a different amount of time to find herself again, after you give up your body, your sleep, your wardrobe, sometimes your brain, and for some of us, your dietary habits, your interests and some of the things that really define you.  Through all of that, none of us would trade it for the world.  As a mom of twins, I feel extra pressure to spend as much time with my kids as possible; this will be the only time I get to experience them being two years old and discovering the world for the first time - together!  Therefore, my exercise schedule over the past two years has depended on the boys, and my husband, and whatever else has been going on.  Jogging with the chariot, biking with the chariot, and exercise videos during nap time, or triathlon training 3 nights per week after the boys went to bed.  It has been a multitasking fiasco, really.

I knew that I was a happier person, felt stronger and had more self confidence, and reiterated to clients that you are a better mom when you take time to yourself, but really wasn’t practising what I was preaching.  I knew that when you do it right, it really does feel amazing and our bodies are meant to move.  Maybe my excuse was pure exhaustion, or that I knew the path to find myself, but it was being overgrown with cloth diapers, homemade baby food, packing lunches, or folding four loads of laundry at once.  I knew that my husband looking after the boys so that I could exercise was important for me and also for him to have time on his own with the boys.  But other things have taken priority.  The more I put everyone else first, the more I was losing a little part of myself.  I don’t want to be the mom that discovers herself after the nest is empty; I want my kids to know that I have my own interests, goals and career.  I am truly able to focus on them with far greater intensity when I’ve had some time to myself. 

So when a friend asked to train for a 10 km trail run, I was all for it.  My whole world has turned around.  I only have to plan for four days a week – that’s 60 minutes of activity four days a week – 240 minutes of 10,080 minutes in a week.  I am not a triathlete and I am not doing yoga four times a week, like I was at some other point in my life, but I’m doing as much as my life can handle for now, and feeling better every day because of it.  More will come as my schedule and motivation allows, and that is okay. 

Why am I telling you this?  Because I want you to know who I am, that I don’t always spring out of bed with my running shoes on, and that I know it’s hard.  Unfortunately, our world is not a physically challenging one anymore, so we have to do something about it on our own and schedule it in, just like booking a dentist appointment or watching our favourite TV show.  You need to be ready to commit to you for the long term, and I can help you down the path.  Some days it’s all about ignoring all the reasons why not, and just doing it.  It’s all about your attitude, perception and resilience.



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