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How Several High-profile Women Stick with Their Workout Plans

By Ericka Kostka
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Think you're alone dealing with unexpected meetings, dinner dates, or sprained ankles cutting into your workout time? We've found that life sometimes intrudes on even the most dedicated exercisers' plans.

But take heart: Even high-profile, time-crunched women have found ways to outwit the obstacles and stick with the program.

For Michelle Akers, member of the 1999 U.S. Women’s World Cup championship soccer team, injuries through the years have prompted her to get creative in her regimen. She takes time to let her body heal when necessary, but stresses that there’s always something you can do to keep active.

Even while sidelined, she maintains fitness on a stationary bike, in the pool, or with weights. When she’s training hard, she gives her body and mind needed rest.

“I take a full day off from soccer each week," she says. "Instead, I walk or take a slow, relaxing jog, get a massage, and stretch.”

For Akers, staying motivated through setbacks is a matter of choosing activities she loves. The champion athlete loves to mountain-climb, hike, water ski, snow ski, ride horses, and swim.

“It’s important to look forward to whatever activity you participate in,” she explains. “It can’t be something you dread, or you won’t stick with it.”

Model and new mom Cindy Crawford knows something about having her schedule upended.

“Since having my son, I find I have a lot less time to work out, and it’s nearly impossible to do it at a scheduled time,” she says.

Crawford’s plan to return to work within months made getting fit a professional necessity. With little time during the countdown to cameras, Crawford says, “I learned to squeeze it in whenever I had a few minutes.”

Besides walking at an incline on her treadmill at home, Crawford developed exercise routines to fit whatever blocks of time she had.

“There’s a 10-minute one, a 20-minute one, and a 35-minute one. I do them when I can.” And she’s continued to walk outside, a habit she developed while pregnant. “My prenatal yoga teacher encouraged us to walk up to five miles a day. I only made it that far once, but I did walk two to three miles a couple times a week.” And now? “I do those same walks with my little guy in a sling.”

Covering NFL, NBA, and WNBA games, NBC sportscaster Hannah Storm is a woman in the spotlight. Between breaking new ground for women in the still-imbalanced world of professional sports and raising two young daughters with her sportscaster husband, Storm works to make fitness a priority.

“There’s always so much to do that there’s a temptation not to exercise,” she says. “Luckily, my husband is committed to exercise, and we often work out together, which helps.”

Besides partnering up, Storm finds scheduling workouts helps keep her on track. “I often exercise when my children are napping in the afternoon. That way, it’s an appointment like any other I’m committed to keeping.”

Many women dream of starting a business, but when it happens, every spare moment is often the capital that keeps it going. But for Candice Carpenter, co-founder and CEO of iVillage, even bi-coastal travel is not an excuse to skip her exercise routine.

“It’s more difficult to find the time than it is the motivation,” she says. Besides hitting the stationary bike three times a week in the early mornings, she enjoys bike riding outside as often as possible on weekends. And when traveling, it’s still part of the plan.

“Whenever I’m out in Silicon Valley, I drive to a great running hill behind Stanford. I change in the car, run for 45 minutes, change back, and resume my day.”

As for vacations, they’re both a reward and a chance to live the active lifestyle that’s so vital to Carpenter. “I often plan vacations where I can go heli-skiing or mountain biking.”

You might think making a living as a fitness expert is a fail-safe defense against the slumps and pitfalls the rest of us face. But video and television star Denise Austin admits that fitness is something even she has to work on.

With 35 pounds to lose after each baby, the mother of two young daughters “walked everywhere with the baby jogger.” Making exercise dates with friends keeps it fun and helps Austin make sure the workouts happen.

“Every Sunday, I call my walking friends to figure out what days work for us. Then before the week even starts, I have a week’s worth of dates I have to keep.”

There are days, she says, that full-time work and family responsibilities make skipping exercise a temptation. And there are days she gives her body the rest she believes everyone needs. “I’m not a fanatic. I listen to my body and take days off.”

So what would this professional motivator say to those of us who’ve taken rest days a bit too much to heart, turning them into rest weeks or rest months?

“Take it 30 minutes at a time. Out of your 16 waking hours, a half-hour walk is only 3 percent of your time. When you think of it that way, it seems doable.”

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