Sharon and I immediately connected when we shared stories of growing up on all things Latino, our expat experiences, and raising all boys. Her story needs no introduction. Sharon is one of the strongest women I know. Not only because of her physical strength but because of what she has been able to do mentally. Our minds need training too and Sharon is an example of someone who won’t give up despite of heartache and broken bones…Thank you, Sharon for sharing such a personal story. xoxo
When did you decide to change your life and live it to its full potential? What happened that made you say, “Today is the day?”
I have to say that I always did…especially after my 30’s when we became expats and were stationed in different countries temporarily. You make the most out of your years there and of the time with the people you meet. You’re constantly thrown out of your comfort zone, facing new challenges…and you have to be capable of starting from scratch each time. Expat life makes you very aware of ‘limited’ time and teaches you how to make the best and get the most out of that time.
At least for me.
But I took it to the ‘extreme’ right before turning 40. I hit an emotional low in my life after moving from Sydney, Australia to Augusta, Georgia. My husband’s job brought us to the US. I never wanted to leave Oz. After more than 4 years, it had become home. I loved the lifestyle (outdoors!!) and had many wonderful friends there.
We arrived on a mid October day and I think for months after there were many tears, I was feeling low, spent days and days in my bath robe and I basically just spiraled downwards emotionally.
I couldn’t connect with anything. I just wanted to go back.
Just a little over a year after, on January 1st (the one day we all make our NY resolutions), I told my husband that this no longer could go on. It was also the year I would turn 40 and I wanted to mark it in some way. If I couldn’t go back to Sydney, then in some other way. I wanted something completely different and something I’d never done before.
So I decided to complete a half Ironman. Why? Because it scared me.
It seemed impossible and at the time I didn’t care much for cardio work. Give me weights any time, any day…but cardio…not so much.
I bought a book, signed up for several events spread throughout the year: a Sprint distance, Olympic distance, a Mudrun and the half Iron distance at the back end of the year that was close to my birthday. I looked at Youtube videos and taught myself how to do freestyle swimming and at the same time had to conquer my fear of murky open water and ocean swims.
All these events gave me something else to focus on, I was learning new things while enjoying the outdoors at the same time. Taking this challenge, learning, and meeting new people along the way was a major turnaround for me. I was slowly becoming my ‘happy’ self again.
What does your typical workout entail?
In the colder months I like to do more cardio/ strength indoors (d&i Fitness!). Dumbells, kettlebells, battleropes etc. As soon as the weather gets a bit milder, I like to run 2-3 days a week, bike twice a week and continue my strength classes at least 2-3 days a week. It depends if I signed up for a race or not.
I love to balance it out.
How do you make time for training?
I schedule it as an appointment. If possible, I never schedule anything between 8-10 am so I can get my workout in. Whatever else I plan, I try to plan around my workouts.
We all wake up feeling unmotivated once in a while. How do you get through a tough day?
If I had a few training days back to back, I give in and do whatever it is I feel like doing. It’s good to listen to your body. We all need a break sometimes and it’s best to do something different. It helps you return strong.
On tough days, when I really do need to go work out (like when preparing for an event) I usually schedule something with a friend. Whether it’s a run or a ride. This holds me accountable.
How many children do you have and do they “work out” with you?
I have 2 boys. 15 and 11.
My oldest is a year-round competitive swimmer and runs cross country and track. He was born athletic. We really never had to encourage him to do anything. He’s always been active and is already talking about one day doing an Ultraman.
My youngest has found a passion for basketball. He needs a little more encouragement in other areas. We encourage him to run at least two 5k’s a year by picking fun races like the Color Run or any local events which he can do with his friends. We try to go out for long hikes on a regular basis. Great quality family time while staying active! Now in the summer, he likes to bike next to me as I do my runs.
Tell us about a challenge you overcame during the process of ‘changing your life once and for all.’
As I was preparing for a 70.3 Ironman on August of 2014, I had a major road bike accident. I broke my scapula, collarbone, a few ribs, lost some back teeth, suffered a bad concussion, short term memory loss, and had deep abrasion wounds on my entire right side of the body.
I underwent surgery and physical therapy and was told it would take me at least a year, to ease into lifting, biking and swimming again. I will never ever take brushing my hair, my teeth or being able to just move around normally for granted! I worked VERY hard to get my range of motion and strength back. I signed up for an half Ironman 10 months out, despite the doctors advise to start with a shorter distance- forcing myself to face the bike again. My first ride in April was much harder and scarier than I expected. I was terrified. But I gave myself 3 shots. If I was still as terrified after 3 attempts, I would pull out of the race.
I’m proud to say that I did the race and I finished. Not fast, not in the same confident way as before, but I finished and that’s all I could ask for.
As I was preparing for this event, I lost my brother and his family who tragically died in a plane crash. Once again preparing for this distance had become my outlet. Getting out there on the bike… my runs and swims was all very hard, but always a great distraction.
Being active is just free therapy. We hear this a lot, but it was very true in my case. Very therapeutic and healing.
What’s a typical dinner for you?
I was raised in South America, on a whole lot of white rice, some protein, gravy and lots of spices! ☺’ Since moving to the US we only eat organic meat, milk, fruit and veggies and my husband and I try to stay away from simple carbs.
Dinner is always 2 servings of vegetables, a carb for my boys, and protein. I still cook with the spices and herbs from my home country but skip the rice. On the weekends, we might indulge on some rice, roti, breads or pastas.
How do you manage cravings and social situations that entail lots of food and drinks on your “no” list?
I guess I’m ‘lucky’ as I cannot digest alcohol very well. So 1 glass of wine with a maximum of 2 is it for me.
It always helps to eat a small healthy meal at home with lots of water and never walk in anywhere on an empty stomach if you know there will be ‘bad’ foods. I will have a bite or might try something. I feel that completely depriving yourself from everything, will always fire back. It’s all about balance.
It’s also good to remind yourself how bad you always feel after over indulging!
Images: CR Photography
NJ friends, we have a Pure Barre Short Hills and Red Bank GIVEAWAY going on now!