Motivating Women…Part 1: Push

Posted by on Feb 13, 2012 in aging, exercise, Inspiration | 9 comments


It’s no secret that an important trend on Flashfree has been physical activity and healthy habits. Some of that is personal:  I am an exercise junkie and I believe (and studies continue to demonstrate) that it physical activity is an important key to emotional and overall wellbeing. It has also been shown to  improve your sex life  and help preserve bone density as you grow older, especially if you are a woman. Moreover, it takes two — diet AND exercise — to insure that your metabolism keeps pace with the rest of your life. Sure, you’ve heard it all before. And I can hear you telling yourself that you really try to get to the gym or out for a walk but somehow [fill in the blank] keeps getting in the way.

Psssst. Hey you! I want to share a gift with you:

Motivating women

All three  of these women are in their 40s, which I love because it helps me practice what I preach — that the future, your future  — is now. It’s going to creep up on you before you know it and suddenly, those 40s turn into 50s and the bones are getting brittler and the metabolism is slowing, fat is redistributing into areas that you never knew existed and somehow, maintaining what you have is a lot more difficult. Throw in hormonal havoc and wow! Trust me on this one; I’m living it. And if you are in your 30s and happen upon this post (and this series), please read it. Yes, you – 30 something year-old – because if you need some motivation, if you waiting for that push, I’ve got it for you.

I’ve known Shonali Burke for several years now. She’s a powerhouse in business and a gorgeous woman inside and out. I started seeing posts on Facebook that she was bootcamping (my word, not hers’) and I took note because this beautiful woman was shining in ways that I had not observed previously. An anomaly? Apparently not, because several other gorgeous, talented powerhouse women were likewise, taking on the world (and their bodies) one day at a time, including my friends Kami Watson Huyse and Julie Pippert.

So I approached them, wondering why this trend appeared to be taking hold, especially among women of a certain age group.  And I believe that what they shared with me may help you to step back and try. Or try again.



Kami says that while she used to be in great shape, having three kids and starting a business meant putting her own needs aside, “after a particularly hectic and stressful 2011,” She explains, “I decided it was time to make the time. Plus, I was starting to notice other signs of decline, a knee that hurts most of the time, a back that went out twice last year, and general levels of stress that topped my normal manic pace.” Never one to go down without a fight, Shonali shares that “as I grew older, the pounds crept on and I fell into the mindset of ‘well, this is just part of growing older,’ and accepted it, though I didn’t really like the way I looked or felt inside.” She adds that she noticed a friend’s Facebook post about starting a new regimen and figured “why not me too?” “Why not,” she says, adding that she’s “spent the last several years focusing on the health and wellbeing of various family members and not [her] own; it’s time to make my health a priority.”

Stress and babies and weight are fantastic motivators. So is life. Julie also explains that she “lost her health in a big way” as the result of a complicated pregnancy and an illness, started having thyroid issues, lost her home base and her ability to work and her health. Coupled with the loss of a friend to cancer, she says that “my mortality hit me like a ton of bricks” and that “I wanted my health, my energy, my figure and my self-respect back. I wanted to live and have a good quality of life.”


Giving that body the boot

Can accountability help? It appears that it can. And so can convenience.  Shonali works out twice a week with Maryland-based trainer Grant Hill who practices “bootcamp inspired personal training” and says that her husband recently joined her.” She explains “what I particularly love about Grant’s approach is that he comes to my neighborhood and we work out at a local nearby park. I just LOVE this,” she exclaims, “it’s great to exercise outdoors, even in the cold, rain and snow.” Each session lasts 45 to 50 minutes and entails total body conditioning circuits. And when she doesn’t work out with Grant, she says that she either goes for an hour-long walk in her neighborhood, incorporating lunges into her walks, or uses an elliptical at home for at least 25 to 30 minutes. Kami says that she’s also enrolled in a Boot Camp program, and will be participating it in everyday. “I knew [that] I needed accountability, and since I have been in the habit of exercise before (she ran marathons in her 20s and 30s), I know it takes getting into that groove.”

However, if boot camp isn’t your thing, perhaps an individualized program (with a little help from an at-home trainer) resonates better. Julie says that she started with walking, especially when she moved from New England (where she says she just naturally moved more) to Texas (where, for landscape and weather changes) meant that she had to be more deliberate in her efforts. Eventually, she added jogging, hand weights and other ‘switch ups,’ and when she felt she had hit the wall, got busier and found herself bored with her routine, she “started doing Denise Austin Wake Up and Go workouts.” Compared to walking and jogging, she’s “noticing much better results, adding that “overall, my energy is up so I’m likely to jump up to do something than feel too tired to move.”


Get into the groove

For each of these women, self realization and routines are rote and part and parcel of their lives. But they are also the motivators that have helped them push themselves to make a commitment towards healthier lifestyles. It’s strange how life sometimes delivers a message over and over again. But nothing changes until we are willing to listen and get into our grooves to create new patterns that work for us.

Change is never ‘one size fits all.’ The overriding theme in these changes however, is that it’s never too late to get back on the horse.

On Wednesday, I’ll share how physical activity coupled with dietary changes has led to some incredible personal outcomes.

Meanwhile, tell me what pushes you? Have you recently made similar changes in your life?





  1. 2-13-2012

    Liz, I loved reading about Kami’s and Julie’s journeys and can’t wait for Parts 2 & 3. And it gave me a big thrill that you wanted to talk to me for your blog… there’s another great outcome of bootcamping!

    This really resonated with me: “It’s strange how life sometimes delivers a message over and over again. But nothing changes until we are willing to listen and get into our grooves to create new patterns that work for us.”

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been disappointed, or felt that the same thing was happening to me over and over and over again. Particularly when I was younger, I’d feel really defeated and wonder what I done to “deserve” it. Then, one day, I realized that it was ME – that *I* wasn’t learning the lesson(s) I was supposed to from that particular incident/defeat. The moment I did, and changed my way of thinking/behavior, boom, the cycle would disappear.

    I still have these moments, but fortunately they are fewer and farther between. And you know what the greatest thing about starting down the road to wellness several months ago is? After many, many years, I’m actually enjoying exercising, so much so that I miss it if I don’t do it. But the biggest difference is that I feel much more empowered to take charge of my life. Amazing what a few burpees can do!

    • 2-13-2012

      Shonali – it is your transformation that immediately caught my eye and got me thinking that if you and your peers can do it, so can thousands of other women. Your story, along with Kami’s and Julie’s, resonates in a way that many women your age should find helpful. And I love that that ‘aha’ moment has truly changed your way of thinking…and being. I too, miss the workouts when I can’t fit them it. Looking forward to sharing more of you this week! 🙂

  2. 2-13-2012

    Liz, wow, this was a riveting read. I can’t wait for the rest! It was such an honor to be asked to share for this article, and I’m really interested in seeing three of us and our individual motivations and approaches side-by-side.

    When you wrote this, “It’s going to creep up on you before you know it and suddenly, those 40s turn into 50s and the bones are getting brittler and the metabolism is slowing, fat is redistributing into areas that you never knew existed and somehow, maintaining what you have is a lot more difficult. ” I shouted a big amen!

    My 20s were effortless, and my 30s were the “up and down pregnant and life change weight and big physical transition years.” The best piece of advice I ever got from a friend who had a couple of years on me was, “Get good health, diet and exercise, routines in place before 40.” I did achieve that, but I also found I had to keep tweaking that once I hit my 40s. As a result of good health choices, though, my entire life improved. Truth!

    So you nailed it with the benefits! Looking forward to the rest of the great insights.

    • 2-13-2012

      Thanks Julie! You truly are an inspiration and I hope that more women start paying attention, the earlier the better!

    • 2-13-2012

      Julie, my 20s were effortless too, which is why I think I never really bothered before. Then, in my 30s, it never got to the point where I didn’t feel like “me” inside. That happened in the last couple of years, and I’m just glad I caught it in time. Of course, I could be regretful that I didn’t start earlier (and I am) – but better late than never!

  3. 2-14-2012

    For me, exercise is a way of life, and the more I read about its relationship to the brain, the happier I am. Love the stories. It’s so hard to make changes, and all 3 women are probably inspiring others without even realizing it.

    • 2-14-2012

      It is for me too, Alexandra. I was conditioned early on about healthy eating and exercise so it’s in the DNA. But not everyone is. I love the stories too and they only get better as the week goes on. Stay tuned. And inspiration? My goodness! I imagine that there are a lot of women out there right now saying ‘yes, I can.’ Thanks for commenting!

  4. 2-20-2012

    I find that logging my workouts on is really helpful for tracking progress and for motivation. It is a real community of like-minded folks; all are there to encourage and people stop and drop you a note if they’ve noticed you haven’t worked out lately. At the end of the week you get a great report. At the end of the year, you get an even better one. There are many other e-tools out there and I’d recommended that to anyone.

    • 2-20-2012

      Thanks Heidi. It’s true that there is an entire ecommunity waiting to help if you don’t have at trainer or workout buddy closeby. Thanks for the tip!


  1. Motivating Women...Part 2: Be Yourself | FlashFree : Not Your Mama's Menopause - [...] Part 1 of this series, we discussed accountability and how answering to another person, e.g. a trainer, [...]
  2. #myBootcamp Update: Halfway There - [...] to read about their journeys and philosophies in greater depth. You can too: here’s Part 1, Part 2, and…

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *