A few years ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dawna Stone for my company (Growing Bolder):
I interviewed Dawna over email, and I thought some of her insights on balancing a hectic life and keeping her health and wellness toward the top of the to-do list would resonate with all of you. I also have two copies of her book to give away (scroll down for details!) so let me know what you think!
Dawna Stone is a health, fitness, and wellness expert. Her new book, Healthy You!: 14 Days to Quick and Permanent Weight Loss and a Healthier, Happier You is available on Amazon.com (http://amzn.to/19zDjd1) To find out more about Dawna or to view her Healthy Living videos, tips and recipes, go to dawnastone.com
An American Council on Exercise (ACE) certified Health Coach, Stone has contributed health and wellness articles to numerous newspapers and magazines. She earned her bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley, and her master’s degree from UCLA. An avid runner and Ironman triathlete, she lives in St. Petersburg, Florida with her husband, 6-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son.
KATY: I love the title of your book and program — but “healthy” means so many different things to people and I think the idea of healthy being a black or white thing (you are or you aren’t) can be overwhelming. How do you define “healthy” and what do you want to teach others about the word?
DAWNA: For me, “healthy” means being in the best possible health at this stage in my life. Being healthy is about feeling good and having enough energy to run after my two children (ages 4 and 6). Eating a wholesome, clean diet most of the time and incorporating exercise into my day are the two things that have the most positive impact on my health.
Healthy means different things to different people. For my dad “healthy” might have an entirely different meaning. He has been obese for years. He has diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and COPD. I put him on the Healthy You! program and he lost 50 pounds and cut his insulin in half. Healthy for my dad simply means slowing down disease progression and being able to get back to enjoying life.
My goal with Healthy You! is to get people thinking about how what they eat can affect their overall health. The Healthy You! program can help people:
- lose weight quickly and easily
- increase their energy
- sleep better
- reduce stress and anxiety
- alleviate cravings and mood swings
- look and feel younger
- I want to live the healthiest life possible and that’s why I follow the Healthy You! program
KATY: You’re a mom. An entrepreneur. An athlete. It’s a cliche to ask how you do it all…but how do you do it all? Are there rules that you have for yourself (if the kids are sick, you’re home no matter what; in bed by 9 p.m.; five cups of coffee a day) that some of my readers might relate to or find useful in their own busy lives?
DAWNA: People often look at me and think “wow she does it all” but like most women, I don’t always find it easy to juggle a full time job, two young kids, exercise, sleep, a spouse, etc. Work-life balance can be tricky. Here are a few tips that have helped me over the years:
- Focus: I try and treat each thing in my life as the most important at that time. For example, if I have a work project, I found that giving the project 100% of my attention will enable me to get it done not only quicker but also better. When I’m with my kids, I try to focus 100% of my attention on them and push work and other responsibilities out of my mind (not always easy). The focus is what allows me to continue to do things well even when my plate seems to be overflowing.
- Quality over quantity: I know we’ve all heard this one before, but it’s really helped me balance my life. Instead of feeling guilty about being a working mom, I started focusing on spending quality time with my kids. We take weekend or day trips. My husband and I take them on “date nights” and treat it as a special occasion. My husband will fish with our 4-year-old son and my 6-year-old daughter and I will paint our nails. The quality of the time we spend together makes up for the fact that I have a full time job and can’t be with them every hour of every day.
- Morning Workouts: I found over the years that in order to fit exercise into my busy schedule, I had to work out first thing in the morning. This “rule” is still the best way for me to get in a workout. If I wait until after work, something always comes up.
KATY: What can you share about the challenges you’ve overcome in life? Celebrating success is obviously more fun, but I think it’s how we all face down obstacles and come out on the other side that can really be inspirational. What’s the hardest thing you faced in life?
DAWNA: Most of the challenges where I’ve learned the most about myself and what I’m capable of have been in sports.
My most challenging event was the 1999 Hawaii Ironman World Championships—a race consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run. It was my best race but not for reasons you would expect. I don’t remember the finish, I don’t remember my husband walking me to the medical tent and I don’t remember leaving the medical tent.
The Hawaii Ironman had been on my “bucket list” for years. When I was 12, my swim coach did the race and I remember thinking at that early age, that I too would do the race someday. It had been a goal of mine ever since.
On our way to the big island, my husband and I had a brief layover in Oahu. We decided to grab a quick bite to eat. I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich while we waited. I ate about half of it and realized the chicken was not cooked. So I stopped eating it and really didn’t think anything more about it. We flew into Kona right before dinnertime and by then I wasn’t feeling so great. I saw my coach and told him that my stomach was in knots and I felt sick, but he said I was just nervous, and that it was just excitement since it was my dream to be in Hawaii. I thought he might be right.
As it turned out, I woke up in the middle of the night throwing up blood. I had never been so sick. My husband rushed me to the hospital and I ended up having an extremely bad case of salmonella. After seven bags of IV fluid, both my husband and I were informed by the doctor that I could not do the race. It took me three days to stop throwing up even with the anti-nausea medication. The night before the race I could finally hold down some Gatorade and steamed rice.
I knew the doctor said I couldn’t race but on race day I decided to give it a try. I had only planned to do Ironman once and I didn’t want all the hard work and training I did go to waste.
Although I wasn’t feeling great, having been a competitive college swimmer, I had fairly good swim and even managed to come out of the water with most of the female pros. Everything changed when I got on the bike. Halfway through the 112-mile ride, I started throwing up again. Somehow I managed to finish the bike course and although my time was nowhere near what I had hoped it was still fairly good. I remember feeling so horrible that I couldn’t imagine running even 1 mile let alone 26.2! But I realized that even if I walked the entire marathon, I could make it under the cut-off time. I knew it wasn’t smart to keep going but everyone who knows me knows I don’t give up, even when I should.
Although I don’t remember crossing the finish line, I crossed it in fourteen and a half hours, easily beating the cutoff. In retrospect, it was probably one of the dumber things I’ve done but I’ve never been one to back down.
My Ironman race became one of my best and worst experiences at the same time. I didn’t have the race I always envisioned and I didn’t reach my goal time, but I learned more about myself and my abilities on the day than in any other challenge.
Whether in sports or business, I can look back to my Ironman experience and everything else seems easy in comparison. Now, whenever I have something difficult in my life happening, something that’s painful either in sports or outside of sports, I think back and say, “No way is this as painful as that day I was in Hawaii walking and running those twenty-six miles.” It makes everything to this day feel so much easier.
KATY: When I first met you, you had a new baby. Now you’re an experienced mom of two! What can you teach me and others who are just getting into the crazy but exciting life of being a parent?
DAWNA: Being a mom is the best and most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. Before I was a mom, I never understood when moms talked about unconditional love. But as soon as I had kids I understood it. The love you feel for your own child is overwhelming. I worry about them constantly and I want to always do the right thing but I’ve also realized that being a good mom includes making mistakes as well. I’m nowhere near perfect but as long as I try to be the best mom I can, that’s all I can ask of myself. With regard to helping others who have children or are planning to have a child, the number one thing I can share is (as mentioned in the question above) just make sure the time you spend with your kids is quality time. We are all so busy that we may not be able to spend every second with them but make the time you do spend with them special.
KATY: What’s the motto or mantra that you rely on to stay on track with your own healthy goals?
DAWNA: My mantra for staying on track with my own healthy goals is “moderation is key.” I don’t believe we should give up our favorite not-so-healthy treats. I eat really healthy and clean 80% of the time, which allows me to indulge in my favorite foods like chocolate, ice cream and pizza without gaining weight or feeling guilty or unhealthy. The same goes with exercise. Before becoming a parent, I use to beat myself up if I missed a workout. Now, there are times when I only workout 2 or 3 times a week rather than my usual 5 times. I no longer feel guilty about missing a workout, instead, I just make sure those 2 or 3 workouts are really high quality.
Two lucky winners (U.S. and Canada only) will each get a copy of Dawna’s “Healthy You!” book. To enter, follow the directions in the Rafflecopter widget below (only entries completed through that widget will count as entries.