This column tells the stories of women whom I have coached to help them to achieve their athletic goals. Each story highlights a lesson learned.

Lisa’s story.

I first met Lisa about three years ago. She was, and still is, the owner of a consulting firm that works with high technology companies. She arrived saying she wanted to lose 15 pounds and she wanted an athletic goal but she didn’t really know what kind. She liked to hike, swim, play tennis, and ski. She identified herself as a “I am NOT a competitive woman type!”

We began by doing what anyone should do when thinking about adding an athletic goal into her schedule: we looked at what else was going on in her life. She was married with two children in high school. She worked full-time.

Then I asked her about her work hours. Her head dropped. Her shoulders schlumped.   “Probably about 55 to 60 hours a week,” she admitted.

For a woman without a family, those are long but manageable hours. But where does a woman with two children at home and a household to maintain find the time to add in an athletic goal above and beyond her workload?


“I’m thinking of training in the mornings at 5:00,” she said. She said she goes to bed anywhere between 11:30 and midnight.

And then she paused and said, “How am I going to do this all?”

Lisa was doing what many do before they take on an athletic goal: they confuse “wish” and “work.” Many people want to take on an athletic goal, if given a choice, but many don’t take enough time to prepare for a goal in the first place.

The Lesson

The first thing to do before you take on an athletic goal is to see whether you really have time for one. And if you don’t now, and a goal means a lot to you, look at your whole life – all your responsibilities, including those at work, at home, and in your community – and see what you can take out or cut down. Leave time for transitions and “down” time. If you have more than three obligations, it may well not be the right time.

Don’t just jump into an athletic goal. Prepare for it first.

Lisa returned a year later, ready to train. She cut down her work hours to 40 a week, began swimming, and completed a one-mile swim for breast cancer a year later.

Coach Cathy’s site is:


Getting In Shape: Lessons from MOVE! was last modified: by

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