Superwoman Areva Martin on Fitting in Fitness
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Known to audiences everywhere from her regular appearances on Good Morning America, Dr. Phil, Anderson Cooper 360, and other network and cable shows, Areva is a CNN contributor and a recurring co-host on the Emmy award-winning daytime syndicated talk show The Doctors. Areva is often referred to as America’s Advocate for her passionate and compelling commentary on legal, political, women’s, and celebrity issues. A multi-award winning Harvard-trained attorney, she is featured regularly on the pages of publications ranging from Redbook, Parenting, and Ebony to the LA Times for her advocacy empowering women and her unique take on pop culture and current events. The founder and Managing Partner of Los Angeles based civil rights law firm, Martin & Martin, LLP, she is also the founder of an autism non-profit, Special Needs Network, Inc. An author, blogger, and public speaker, Areva is an avid runner and fashionista.
What does a day in the life of Areva Martin look like?
A day in the life of Areva starts with me checking emails and social media accounts at 4:30 or 4:45 a.m., then a morning conversation with my husband around 5:00 a.m. After we catch up on all of the family news, breaking news, and work-related matters, I put on my running clothes and shoes and drive twenty minutes to meet my running partner for our 6:30 a.m. run at the historic Kenneth Hahn Park in Baldwin Hills, Los Angeles. Depending on the day, we do a four- to — five-mile run. After the run, we walk, stretch, and assess our run for about ten minutes, and then I head home. I hit the shower, then my computer again for more email and social media check-ins. Then it’s a round of calls to my offices and a check-in about media appearances for the day. Next, off to a studio for a show taping; meetings; home for family time; off to an evening event; then home for more work before settling down for the night.
Describe how you currently fit fitness into your busy days.
I start off my day with my run. I schedule the runs in my calendars like they are business meetings and plan my days around them. Unless it’s a real emergency, I don’t vary from my schedule. I also schedule out my run days a week in advance using my Outlook Calendar so my staff knows not to book any meetings during that time.
Throughout the day, I fit in movement by taking the stairs inside buildings, parking the farthest distance from where I’m going so as to walk, walking to meetings that are within a reasonable distance of my home/office, and taking advantage of any opportunity at events to dance and move.
Has fitness always been part of your routine?
Absolutely not. I came to fitness as an adult. I grew up in a neighborhood where boys were pushed to get involved in sports and athletics, but girls weren’t. I didn’t even start to think about working out until college, and then because I was forced to take swimming and squash classes for credit. After college, I pretty much did nothing, and then I started the yo-yoing and dieting and exercising for specific events, first my wedding, then certain charity events, etc. I was on a vicious cycle of losing weight and exercising for events, then after an event, going back to my usual inactive status and eating without thinking about healthy choices.
After my third child, I got serious and realized that I needed to incorporate fitness into my lifestyle and put a stop to my event-focused fitness routine. I was steady and consistent for about three years and then fell off the wagon again. I would go to the gym intermittently, but I continued to struggle with a regular fitness routine.
Then three years ago, a good friend who happens to be a marathoner agreed to start walking with me. I was fed up with chasing classes at my local gym and was ready for something new. She and I started walking, and eventually my walk turned into walk a block, run a block. Over time, I began to string blocks together, and before I knew it I was running a mile, then two, and I just keep going.
What I learned about myself and fitness is that even though I was exercising just for events, the fact that I did something was better than nothing. The key is to never give up on yourself and recognize that every time you do something, you are adding to your exercise stamina and improving your fitness.
How did adding fitness to your routine have a positive impact on your business and life — beyond just helping you look cute in your skinny jeans?
Running consistently has made me more confident in my professional and business life! I never thought that exercise could do anything other than help me fit into a size-6 dress, but running each additional mile gives me such a sense of accomplishment that it makes me believe that I can be equally successful in other endeavors. As someone who never considered myself athletic and definitely was never a runner, to think that I can run ten miles or finish a half-marathon gives me confidence that no mountain is too high to climb!
In addition, adding fitness to my routine has helped me manage stress and the inevitable disappointments in life. In the past, if something went wrong in my business or personal life, my inclination was to eat and worry! Now, when I am dealing with a stressful situation, I can’t wait to lace up and hit the streets. Running gives me time to decompress, gain perspective, pray, and plan my response.
Also, because I’m posting my runs and races on my social media pages, so many women friends and followers report how they also have been inspired to lose weight, walk, and run. In return, their stories have been a source of great inspiration for me. Knowing that I motivated them to change their lives motivates me to want to run harder, longer, and do more.
Do you always stick to your routine 100 percent of the time? How do you feel when you miss a day or two, and what do you do to get back on track?
Sticking to a routine is a challenge. Unavoidable work events, kids’ events, illnesses, and plain old fatigue cause me to miss days. When I do miss, I try to get back as soon as possible, and on days when I am not running, I try to be extra conscious of my eating to make sure that I am eating lots of vegetables, fruits, and making healthy choices. This allows me to feel like I am still in control of my fitness even if I miss a day or two. Getting back can sometimes be challenging, but again, I go to my calendar, and even if it means squeezing in a one- or two-mile run in the middle of the day, I do it because it helps me to stay in control.
The key is not forgoing your entire workout simply because you don’t have time for the whole thing. Doing something is better than doing nothing at all.
What advice do you have for other women who feel too busy to make fitness part of their lives?
Think about your fitness the same way that you think about your job. You would never blow off a meeting with a big client or your boss, so think of your fitness as a meeting with your biggest client (you) or your boss (you). When I started thinking of my fitness in these terms, instead of as an extracurricular activity that I could do or not do depending on how I felt, my consistency went up 100 percent! So when women tell me they don’t have time, I ask if they have time to meet with their biggest clients? And the answer is always: I make time.
My advice for women is to change the way you think about fitness. It’s not that thing you fit in if it’s convenient, or that thing you do with your girlfriends when you have time. Start to think about your fitness as the most important part of your job or career, and that without it your business or career fails! Schedule your fitness a week or two in advance, and then build your professional calendar around your fitness calendar instead of the other way around.
What action step do you DARE readers to take to start fitting fitness into their routines, no matter how busy they may be?
I dare readers to:
1. Start scheduling their workouts a week in advance.
2. Make their fitness appointment the first appointment of the day.
3. Schedule and keep four fitness appointments a week for two consecutive weeks.
Do you have a quote or mantra you live by?
My mantra is #livethesolution. This mantra is about taking control of my life. Rather than focusing on all that is wrong or incomplete, it forces me to focus on the solution and working on solving problems, knocking down obstacles, and moving closer to my goals!
Leave us with some added inspiration (doesn’t have to be related to fitness).
Anyone at any stage of their life can get fit, reach their goals, and have the life they want to live. As women, we often think we have to do it all as defined by society and others. I believe that we can have it all, but it needs to be the “all” that we define for ourselves.
Where I grew up, no one had high expectations for me or my peers. They didn’t even expect us to graduate from college. In fact, they predicted that we would deliver a baby before we graduated high school, be on drugs, or on government aid or at best, and stuck in dead-end jobs. With hard work, dedication, a rock-solid work ethic, prayer, and the help of lots of people in my community, I defied those odds.
So I know that doing the “impossible” is indeed “possible.” Whether it’s health, fitness, a new career, a healthy relationship, or your dream job, don’t be afraid to dream it, plan it, and work the plan.
Where can we find out more about you?
People can learn about my work by visiting my websites ArevaMartin.com and SpecialNeedsNetwork.org. I’m on the social sites: Twitter.com/ArevaMartin Instagram.com/ArevaMartin Pinterest.com/ArevaMartin Facebook.com/ArevaMartin