Name: Jennifer Silverman
Profession: Corporate Wellness Consultant
How did you get started? When I was 25 years old, I decided to go to grad school. I wanted to do something I was passionate about – something meaningful, like my Mother, who is a Nurse Practitioner of Oncology. So, I enrolled in the Health Promotion Management Program at American University. Two years later, I had a Master’s degree with a certificate in Nutrition Education. I worked full-time while I was in school, placing nurses at hospitals and other healthcare facilities. In my experience, I discovered the U.S. doesn’t have a healthcare system – we have a ‘sick care’ system. I wanted to change that.
As graduation was nearing, I decided corporate wellness allowed me the unique opportunity to impact behaviors. After all, we spend a lot of time at work, well over forty hours a week. Why not help companies and organizations encourage their employees to engage in healthy behavior? Here I am. I travel a good amount, making a case for why eating healthy and exercising regularly will not only impact our health care costs, but improve our workforce morale and productivity. I preach to my clients, if we take the time to invest in our people, and ourselves, not only will we combat obesity but we’ll empower people to take ownership of their health and well-being. There’s nothing more powerful than watching people make positive changes, whether it’s quitting smoking, losing weight, or running their first 5K, etc. My career and the people I interact with inspire me every day.
What's an average day like? I wake up at 6 a.m.. I make my coffee and check my work email for 30 to 45 minutes... Around 6:45am my son typically wakes up. My husband is also out the door around this time... I always exercise between 8/8:30am and 9:15/9:30am. It’s one of my favorite times of the day. I can focus on me – not my clients, not my son, or my husband. It’s my hour to be somewhat selfish, and I savor it.
After my workout, I have a quick shower and get back to work. Generally, I have 3 or 4 client calls during the day. During these discussions I share recommendations for wellness program planning or build a case for why healthy employees are happier and more productive. I don’t go out to lunch. I’d rather take that extra time in the morning. At 5pm, Max’s nanny leaves and I spend quality time being his mommy. We both love being outside, so we explore different parks in the city, search for puppies to play with and throw balls around. Max has a ton of energy! At 6:30/6:45pm we go inside so I can feed Max dinner, bath him and get him ready for bed. He goes to sleep around 7:30pm usually. That’s when I get back to work.
What is your current fitness routine? I workout Monday through Friday either at Tone House (2 to 3 days a week) or at Equinox. Tone House is the hardest workout I’ve ever done and the most humbling. I’ve been going regularly for over a year and there are still many days when I struggle. It’s very intense and a total body workout. Luckily, I’m surrounded by people who always inspire me to push myself more and never give up. On the days I got to Equinox, I climb the StairMaster for 30-60 minutes. Then I spend at least 15 minutes stretching. Every so often, I get on the treadmill and run or jog on an incline, or I makeup a sprint routine.
If I have time, I work out one day over the weekend. Otherwise, I am with my family. My husband is also super active (neither of us are very good at doing nothing) so we walk up to Central Park, or down to TriBeCa. We walk along the west side highway or the east river. Even in the rain and the cold, we’re always happier when we’re outside and we spend our weekends exploring the city as a family.
During your pregnancy what was your fitness routine? When I was pregnant I had much more time to exercise. I could do 60-90 minutes of cardio a day, 7 days a week. I ran or jogged in the morning and then did yoga at night. I jogged 3 miles the day I delivered Max. I was so accustomed to exercising, although I went slower (my sprints were more like jogs), staying active kept me sane and happy throughout the pregnancy.
During my first trimester I was still able to sprint on an 8.0. By my third trimester, I was sprinting at 5.5. I wanted to have a healthy pregnancy, and a healthy baby. On the days I was tired, I simply walked outside or on the treadmill on a 10.0 incline. I felt better when I was on my feet. Sitting was uncomfortable and lying down was unrealistic. Fortunately, I didn’t have morning sickness or joint pain. That said, my acid reflux was awful!
I jogged three miles the day I delivered Max
What was the biggest obstacle you encountered getting back into your fitness routine post-baby? The biggest obstacle for me was comparing myself to other women. I had the energy and the motivation to run but my body was still healing and I had to take a month off, post-baby to recover. I would go outside or to the gym and see women pushing themselves harder, running faster and longer and I beat myself up because I couldn’t keep up with them. It was very hard on me mentally. I had to remind myself that I had to put in the time and start building up my endurance and my strength. Essentially, I had to walk before I could run. I had to heal. And most importantly, I had to be a good mommy, work full time and find the time.
How do you find time to balance a family, career, and staying healthy? I was lucky. My husband understood how important it was for me to get back into my fitness routine, so he respected my decision to have our nanny come earlier each day so that I could work out. Plus, I knew how to eat properly because of my education. I am also very self-aware. I knew I wanted to go back to work full-time because I enjoyed working. My biggest role model, my mother, is the breadwinner in my family and she’s the hardest working woman I know. She works long days at the hospital and still finds time to prepare healthy meals and exercise. If she can do it, so can I. I believe that if something is important to you, you find time for it. If it’s not, you make excuses.
The U.S. is one of three countries in the world that does not guarantee paid maternity leave. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act qualified employees are allowed 12 weeks of unpaid leave, which most find not adequate enough when transitioning into motherhood. What are your views on this matter?
This is a tough question. I was in a unique situation where going back to work didn’t mean leaving my baby every day. I work from home mostly so I was lucky. I could take a break and steal quality time with Max whenever I wanted. Moreover, my employer allowed me to cut back on traveling after I became a mother. I returned to work after 3 months.
What advice do you have for moms-to-be and new moms that you wish you would have known regarding a fitness regimen and overall health and wellness? Listen to your doctor, but also listen to yourself. Take advice from other mothers (if you choose) but don’t compare yourself to them. Remember that our bodies are all so different, as are our pregnancies.
Also, remember that this is not the time to be vain or selfish. You will lose the body you spent countless days, years and months building after you deliver. Pregnancy is a time in your life when you’re looking out for more than just you. You’re growing a tiny human inside of you. Every morsel of food you ingest, the amount of sleep you allow yourself, and so forth, impacts your baby.
Be thoughtful. There are a lot of things in life we can’t control, but this is one of those things we can choose to do the right way.