Fittest Execs: Female Over 45 winner, Amy Downs

Prior to Jan. 19, 2009, Downs was not exactly a regular at the gym. She weighed 250 pounds, having already lost 100 pounds, but still there was work to do. Once at the gym, things didn’t go so well at first.

“I remember trying not to look in the mirror at myself, and they had mirrors everywhere, it seemed,” she says. “I got on the elliptical, and after 10 minutes, I couldn’t do any more, so I pretended something was wrong with the machine and went over to a treadmill and just walked. I continued every day just walking until I felt strong enough to try the elliptical again.”

Today, it’s a totally different story. “Five years later, my inner athlete has been unleashed,” she says.

Downs spends hours in the gym each morning Monday through Friday, four hours outside running from January to May and 10 hours outside on a bicycle from May to September.

She lost all the weight and kept it off by sticking to a strenuous yet enjoyable workout routine.

“I start my day off at 5 a.m. with 30 minutes of cardio at the gym, usually on the spin bike or treadmill,” she says. “Then I do a workout with weights for another 30 minutes. Each day, I alternate muscle groups.”

Her routine begins again after work and on weekends.

“I will run, ride my bicycle or swim,” she says. “On the weekends, I will do one long run between 8-10 miles or a long bike ride of up to 100 miles.”

While her initial motivation was to lose weight, these days, its about pushing her fitness goals and achieving new benchmarks.

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone who doesn’t work out but wants to start? Figure out the best time of day for you that you can commit uninterrupted to work out. Even if you have to get up earlier, find a time that you can dedicate and put it on your calendar. If you just plan to work out but don’t designate a time, you will find other things creep in and steal that time away from you. Next, find an activity that seems fun. If you liked riding a bike as a kid, then think about riding a bike now. Or if you enjoy dancing, then maybe a dance class or Zumba class would work for you. Start with something you halfway enjoy and you are more likely to stick with it.

Once working out is part of your life, you will naturally start discovering new and different activities to keep it fresh and exciting. Going to the gym shouldn’t be drudgery or you won’t stick to it.

What is your guilty pleasure? After a long bike ride, my husband and I love to go for a burger or pizza and maybe some cobbler with ice cream afterward! Hey, you can’t be perfect all the time!

Runner-Up

 

Carol Alexander, 48

RETIREMENT INVESTMENT ADVISORS

EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT

Fitness
has always been a part of Alexander’s life. As a youth, she swam,
played soccer and participated in gymnastics. Her parents encouraged
physical fitness, a passion she carried into adulthood.

Depending
on her commitments each week, she works out about four times for a
total of five to seven hours each week. That routine can take place
inside the walls of the YMCA or out in nature.

“I
exercise at the YMCA’s Downtown, Midtown and North Side branches and
walk in our neighborhood and at Lake Hefner,” she says. “My husband
enjoys what he calls ‘destination walking,’ so we sometimes walk a
couple of miles to dinner with the boys.”

At
the YMCA, she does cardio, strength and toning classes and boot camp.
She also finds time to hit the elliptical machines and the treadmill.

“I attend classes when my schedule permits but also enjoy working out alone when a class isn’t available,” she says.

What
keeps her motivated? “I try to beat my previous fitness assessment
results,” she says. “I also utilize a Fitbit, which reminds me of daily
fitness goals.”

As with any fitness-minded individual, Alexander keeps a close eye on what she eats and drinks.

“I
focus on eating fruits and vegetables and drinking water,” she says.
“Over the last couple of years, I’ve dramatically reduced my consumption
of soft drinks.”

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