On the regular, Game Ready Fitness will be doing an Athlete Feature. We are going to start with the Owners of the business so that you can get to know them a little better and have a couple of people to throw some hate at as you’re sweating out your workout. We will be asking each feature athlete about their routines and nutrition and explore how it resonates through their lives.
Our Athlete this month is one of the Co-Owners of Game Ready Fitness, Mary. (Intro written by a friend…) Mary is a die-hard Friend, Wife, Sister, Aunt and Daughter (and dog mom) whose own battles with image, GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) and autoimmune diabetes have led her to her ultimate path of fulfillment — helping/training others. A perfect example of her heart is her shaved head which she shaved as a fundraiser when her niece was diagnosed with cancer. Prior to that, I knew her with long, gorgeous black hair that went down to the middle of her back. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who cares more and isn’t afraid to tell you you’re beautiful; because lifting up other strong women is something she embodies. She has an innate ability to connect with people and remind them of their own self-worth too. Thanks for asking me to write this, Mar.
Give us a little background about yourself…
I grew up playing sports, participated in all things music and was an all-around active kid. I was never the most gifted at anything but I was raised to work hard and play my heart out. I was the only girl on my youth baseball team and competed in the state tournament which would have led to the little league World Series…we missed by one game. In High School I played softball (because I wasn’t allowed to tryout for the baseball team) until I
switched to Track my last two years, Basketball and Soccer. I played Soccer in college and played in some leagues after. When my husband and I moved to Denver I ran into CrossFit and eventually started training others. I originally had no intentions on getting involved with training others but having played sports competitively at a high level, I have come to find that my passion is sharing my experience to hopefully set other youth up for success. And that is basically how Game Ready started. CJ and I were training some youth separately and recognized that we share the same goals and passion, so we decided to put our heads together and run with it. As we brainstormed more about our business we decided to open it up for web-based training and here we are.
What is your profession?
I’m a trainer for adult CrossFit classes as well as Youth Sports Performance and Corporate Wellness. I have a background in exercise science in undergrad along with my business undergrad and masters in HR. Working with high-potential young athletes has been a joy. We have an impressive group of teenagers who train with us that are so supple, haven’t developed egos yet and have incredible work ethics. I could not be more excited to see where their prowess takes each one of them in the future.
My full time gig is as an analyst for a Fortune 500 company. I’ve been with them for 10 years now and have held a number of different positions. At one point in time I had 23 people reporting to me which was a really insane time in my life. Then (in the same year I got married) I took on a new and stressful role, my 18month old niece was diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer and we moved across the country (NY to CO) away from all family, friends and community. They say you’re only capable of handling one major life event at a time…as I think back on it, while it almost broke me, I’m glad I took the risks that I did…and I’m happy to be where I am right now doing some of the things I’m passionate about. These experiences led me to better understand how to take care of myself and how to keep my head. My analyst job pays the bills but my Coaching/Trainer jobs fuel my heart.
What do you do to stay fit?
I mostly swim, CrossFit and follow a personalized strength program from another Coach but living in Colorado I do try, and continue to be more diligent, about using my fitness to enjoy the outdoors. Swimming keeps my head clear and is way more low impact than other alternatives. I’ve also found that it keeps my shoulders healthy and my knees less achy. I try to stay as active as possible. It’s so easy to get into a mundane routine and call it life but I have a bucket list a mile long. My perfect world would be living on a boat near a beach or in a fully self sustaining house with a lot of freedom to travel and experience different cultures.
What does fitness mean in your profession?
For me it’s about getting out and away from my work station. As an analyst, it’s easy to get really deep into what I’m working on and lose track of time, space, and meals. I’m fortunate to work from home though, so even though I spend a lot of time on a computer (more now with the Game Ready blog) I can stand or take micro breaks during the day. Whenever I can I will also workout in the lunchtime hour which forces me to move and reminds me to eat. I also have a dog who is diligent about reminding me that the outdoors are a happy place. And I live in Lululemon clothes…I think that speaks for itself.
For the Youth Sports Performance business, my fitness is everything. I’m constantly demonstrating and moving with our athletes and am on my feet for long periods of time so I have to be able to handle that physical stress. Being sore isn’t an excuse to demonstrate and give the kids the best example possible.
Do you eat a certain way or follow a particular nutrition plan?
I don’t limit myself in any way…I’m more consistent when I leave myself to be open to all options but I do a fair amount of food prep on Sundays so that I have things ready to go which makes my decision making process a lot simpler. Don’t get me wrong.. I love my occasional sweet and/or salty treat.
My general idea is to eat whole unprocessed foods and limit my sugar as much as possible. If I’m trying to gain muscle I tend to eat more protein and bump my carbs a bit to fuel my extra time under a heavy barbell…if I’m cutting fat I will drop my carbs a bit. I’ve tried a lot of different styles of eating (paleo, zone, macros, periodic fasting, ketogenic) and have always been an omnivore but I’ve always come back to my go-to meals that are made up of good, wholesome, fresh ingredients. Because I was still battling high blood pressure and an indescribable fatigue I sought the help of a nutritionist. Through additional blood work and some one on one discussion, we figured out that I was also suffering from pretty severe adrenal fatigue and the beginning stages of autoimmune diabetes (LADA). As a result, I’ve dabbled with the idea of a vegetarian or vegan diet to support my health but the hard part is it would be a big change for my husband too (not an excuse to try at some point but just haven’t set my mind to it yet).
My comfort foods tend to be cheeseburgers, pizza, tacos and donuts. And guacamole…I love avocados and guacamole.
What are your hobbies?
Hiking, backpacking, camping, fishing, skiing, beer tasting, traveling, swimming, wine tasting, cooking and music has always been a major part of my life. I was classically trained flute and alto sax player, taught myself a little guitar, sang, wrote and composed some music because I could and because I enjoyed it. I had a scholarship in High School to study sax at the great Eastman School of Music as well…like I said, super music nerd (in fact, we have a really impressive musician who has agreed to answer our questions for a future athlete feature so follow our instagram @gamereadyfit for future hints!) No matter what I’m doing I always go all-in… But I’m always striving to test my limits or live outside of what is comfortable and easy. It’s only when we’re up against our limits that we know what they truly are.
I’m really looking forward to some future backpacking trips to enjoy more of Colorado and use my fitness to take me places you can’t get to via plane or car. There are a few multi-day trips that I’ve been starting the pre-planning for. I’m also really fearful of cycling but want to do a triathlon someday so I need to get comfortable on a bike again.
Any advice you want to share with others?
Learn to appreciate what you CAN do and what you are capable of more than what you’d wish or would like. I try to meditate, live in the moment and/or spend time thinking on my experiences regularly so they don’t build up on me anymore. Loving myself has always been a battle. I’ve had a personal struggle with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and a lot of it came from not being able to appreciate myself. The panic attacks and lack of sleep were debilitating and crippled me for quite some time. Ultimately, the rat race is always going to be there…you have a choice to enjoy what’s important to you or get caught up in these odd socially acceptable standards. Probably my best advice though is don’t beat yourself down for the past or for an insecurity. Your only true job in life is to be your best YOU. As a coach and trainer, that’s what I look for in my athletes…for ways to help them unlock their full potential and provide them the comfort that whatever they give, as long as it’s their best effort, is exactly what I’m looking for.
When it comes to fitness and nutrition I try to be prepared when I can be and stay in a pretty consistent routine. It removes stress from my day when my meals are already semi-prepared on Sunday and I workout at the same time most days. Because I have genetic high blood pressure and am on the diabetic spectrum (LADA) it’s important for me to be prepared and have options to eat. My blood pressure is more under control now and I can delay the onset of diabetes with good consistent nutrition if I’m diligent. It’s not always pretty and it certainly isn’t perfect but it works for me. Moving/exercise is what’s more important for me. It is my safe/happy place at the gym and it’s my me time. I meditate as well. I practice observing a particular connection between impulses and emotions and how it relates to my actions. In doing so, I found out pretty quickly that I’m my own worst enemy and for a long time, was my own worst advocate. I feared the future, but I feared it mostly because I was afraid of failing. I found myself constantly caring for others first.. to the point of complete fatigue emotionally and eventually physically. At that point I didn’t have the capacity to understand my own emotions or evaluate my own self worth. With some help, I was able to start to navigate what I needed to do for me too. While it hasn’t changed what I try to be for those who are close to me and those I mentor, I try to practice the same kindness for myself. I can’t say I love me…but I can say I’m getting better at it.