Ms. Kichline is responsible for a county west of Philadelphia that’s almost as large as Rhode Island. “I might get asked to attend a breakfast on the border of Maryland and then speak at a lunch near Lancaster County,” she says of the job she’s held since 2014. After six months on the job Ms. Kichline was feeling anything but the model of wellness.
Her dedicated yoga practice fell to the wayside as classes overlapped with evening work events and the combination of extensive driving and large meals started to take a toll. “The constant eating and lack of exercise was zapping my energy,” she says. She’d just turned 47 and was also struggling with perimenopause.
Ms. Kichline lifts weights during a group fitness class at Purenergy studio. Photo: Ryan Collerd for The Wall Street Journal
Despite not being a morning person, she found a gym near her home in Berwyn, Pa., that offered early classes. At the time, her children, now 20 and 17, were old enough that she could leave them sleeping and get back in time to wake them up for school. “The first few months felt like I was in a constant state of jet lag,” she says. “It was like resetting my biological clock to wake at 5 a.m. and go to bed by 9:30 p.m. But you adjust. It sounds ridiculous, but I have more energy waking up that early.”
Ms. Kichline, 52, also got extra disciplined about her eating habits, avoiding bread and dessert. “There’s almost always chicken breast,” she says. “In fact, I keep a running tally of which restaurants have the best chicken.”
In a profession where she’s in high demand, she’s learned to prioritize her own well-being. “When you’re working in the public sector, it’s your job to say yes,” she says. “But to be my most effective, that means taking time for myself, too.”
The gym near Ms. Kichline’s home offers boot camp, spin, boxing, barre and more, so she started to mix up her old routine of running, weights and yoga. “As I get older, I realize I need variety not just to prevent boredom, but in order to recover,” she says. “If I just run long distance every day, I feel it in my knees, or if I just lift weights it strains my joints.”
Two to three mornings a week she takes a high-intensity interval training class that combines rowing, running, kettlebells and TRX exercises. “I feel like I get the most bang for my buck with that workout,” she says. Twice a week she joins a weight-training class and occasionally she attends spin.
“I thought I would hate group-fitness classes,” she confides. “But those early-morning classes feel like a family. Everyone knows you got up very early and are there to focus. We don’t talk a whole lot, but it feels supportive.”
Once a week she attends a vinyasa yoga class. She keeps a foam roller by the TV in her living room and a strap for stretching is always in the car.
On days she can’t make it to the gym, she makes a point of taking the six flights of stairs to her office and walking her two dogs.
Ms. Kichline says cross-training with boot camp-style workouts have helped prevent boredom and injuries. Photo: Ryan Collerd for The Wall Street Journal
When Ms. Kichline can control her meals, she eats a Mediterranean-inspired diet of fish and vegetables. Mornings begin with a cup of English breakfast tea and a green protein smoothie. She’s given up sandwiches.
“At events, I just eat the protein and vegetables off the bread,” she says. But she’s not carb-free. “I snack on popcorn and my husband is an amazing cook, so if he makes spaghetti and clams, I’m enjoying it.” On Sundays, the family makes a big pot of food, like turkey chili or chicken soup, which can be used for leftovers. She says avoiding cocktails at events is easy. “All I have to say is, ‘I’m an elected official and I have to drive. I’m sure you understand,’ ” she says.
The Gear & Cost
Ms. Kichline pays $145 a month for her annual membership at Purenergy Studio, which includes unlimited classes. She has a pair of Asics Gel-Nimbus 21 running sneakers ($150) and Asics Gel-Quantum 180 TR cross trainers ($120), as well as a pair of Shimano RP2 bike shoes ($90). She shops sales for Lululemon , Under Armour , Nike and Athleta apparel. She wears a Schosche Rhythm+ heart rate monitor ($80). She spent around $20 for her foam roller.
“My guilty pleasure is classic rock,” she says. “When ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ comes on, it really gets my blood rolling when I’m running.”
Ms. Kichline rows during a high-intensity interval training class at Purenergy. She says the workout is a one-two punch of strength and cardio. Photo: Ryan Collerd for The Wall Street Journal
Don’t Just Sit There
We all know long periods of sitting are detrimental to our health. According to a 2015 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine prolonged sedentary periods increased the risk for cancer and cardiovascular disease and almost doubled the risk of diabetes, regardless of physical activity.
“You really need to make an effort to counteract the effects of sitting for eight hours a day,” says Donald Hensrud, director of the Healthy Living Program at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “Just being active won’t cut it. You need to dedicate about an hour of exercise a day.”
Dr. Hensrud says those who log hours behind the wheel have it tougher than desk jockeys. “You can’t just stand up from driving,” he says. He suggests trying to break up long drives with stops to stretch and walk around and using red lights as a chance to do twists or upper-body stretches. Having proper posture in the car or having your driver’s seat ergonomically analyzed can help prevent aches. Parking farther away to get in extra steps also helps.
Diets can also fall victim to drive-through window meals. Dr. Hensrud suggests always having a healthy, filling breakfast like egg whites or peanut butter and toast before a long morning commute. He always keeps nutritious snacks like nuts and fruit handy for long drives to prevent having to scavenge for food.
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