Success comes in many forms. One person’s first step toward their goal might be step four to another. One person’s primary goal might be something another person inadvertently achieves as a secondary side effect. The people I’ve coached work in very different fields and have every kind of goal you could imagine for their personal lives and careers. But all of them share one desire: to become more resilient to stress. The real people featured in these success stories made two simple commitments over the course of sixty days. First, they worked out five times each week, using Hit the Deck for at least four of those. They averaged fifteen to thirty-five minutes of training per day. Second, they stepped back, evaluated their eating patterns, then made one or two small changes in line with the nutritional advice featured in The Resiliency rEvolution. For instance, they decided to eat breakfast every day or schedule a lunchtime “meeting”—complete with alarms and reminders—so they couldn’t forget to eat lunch or schedule over it. These are real people who joined the rEvolution and have shared their struggles and triumphs with me. They show just a few of the many ways we can build resilience and reclaim time and energy from stress. I hope you find their stories an inspiration to reach your own goals!
“My biggest source of stress?” Scott laughs. “Selling on 100 percent commission. The challenge can be energizing, but the pressure is immense.”
At thirty-seven years old, Scott is married and has two daughters, ages one and three. As an outside sales representative selling hotel supplies, he travels every week and feels a lot of pressure to find new business accounts while providing high-quality service to his current customer base.
“My wife and I both work full-time, but we agreed early on that we would make the kids a priority,” he says. However, he admits their work-life balance comes at the expense of time for him and his wife to focus on their relationship. “We have a lot of fun together, and I wish we could make date nights happen more often—who doesn’t want that?”
Around the house, days often start with frustration and low-grade anxiety. Scott realizes there’s more yelling and hustle than he would like as he and his wife get the girls ready to go.
Like many high-powered business travelers, Scott finds it hard to stick to a rigid plan for food and exercise. “I’ll be the first to admit that my eating habits are not the greatest,” he says. “I got a gym membership, which was great, but I would spend two hours there one day and then not have a chance to get back for a week. It was too expensive to maintain when I’m in another state twenty days a month.”
Life on the road also means eating out the vast majority of the time: entertaining clients, hitting the drive-through between meetings, or grabbing fast food at an airport.
He has a hard time falling asleep and typically feels listless and tired in the morning. “I started getting these headaches from the stress,” he says, “almost every day, like clockwork. That’s the point where I thought, this isn’t working, I need to fix this.”
After sixty days of resiliency training with Hit the Deck and changing his eating patterns, Scott finds himself falling asleep more easily and sleeping more soundly. The headaches have disappeared, and he feels more focused at work and at home—able to deal with stress more productively than ever.
While still traveling more days than not each month, Scott uses Hit the Deck to stay active on his own schedule, without the expensive gym membership or relying on hotel gyms that lack the right equipment. He has lost more than ten pounds of fat.
Most importantly, he faces each day with renewed energy. “The energy is the best part,” he says. “I don’t find myself wishing that the girls would fall asleep so that our quality time could be a nap.”
Scott after Sixty Days of Resiliency Training
• 40 percent decrease in perceived stress
• 32 percent increase in energy
• 20 percent improvement in quality of sleep
• 40 percent improvement in ability to fall asleep
• Lost 11.1 pounds (4.6 percent) of body fat
• Lost 5.75 inches
When Lori decided to start resiliency training, she was forty-five years old and the mother of three kids (ages ten, sixteen, and seventeen). She owned a small business requiring a few hours of face-to-face client time each week.
Her husband had recently been laid off, and both of them were hunting for full-time work while managing the kids’ busy schedules. During that time, her father’s health began declining, and he had moved into a nursing home. Lori took responsibility for his care and visited as often as she could. He died a few months after her husband lost his job.
“Wow,” she says, “now that I look back, it was a time with a lot of changes in my life, but it didn’t seem that stressful as I was going through it.”
Lori recalls having trouble sleeping and never feeling rested during that time. Tempers frayed as both she and her husband followed lead after lead, but never got employers to bite. Leaning increasingly on her business for income while taking care of the kids—who often needed to be in three different places at the same time—she frequently delayed or skipped meals to make more time. “I was going way too long without eating,” she says, “but I didn’t realize it.”
She also felt physically weak and she tired easily, something she thought she just had to accept as part of getting older.
After sixty days of resiliency training, Lori says, “I feel like I’m twenty-five again. I’ve got more energy to do more, and I want to do more too.”
She falls more easily into a deep, sound sleep and wakes up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day. “Simply shifting when and how I ate made such a big difference. It was thinking about food in a whole new way, as fuel for my body.” She has lost body fat, gained muscle, and best of all, she says, “I feel strong again!”
Although it took a year, Lori’s husband has finally landed a new job, and everyday stress has declined to more manageable levels. But that doesn’t mean Lori will cut back on her resiliency-building habits. “I’ve made a life change,” she says, “and resiliency training is a necessary part of my day now. It’s something I’ll do forever.”
Lori after Sixty Days of Resiliency Training
• 50 percent decrease in perceived stress
• 31 percent increase in energy
• 60 percent improvement in quality of sleep
• 60 percent improvement in ability to fall asleep
• Lost 14 pounds (5.8 percent) of body fat
• Gained 6 pounds of muscle
• Lost 5.25 inches
When major companies have an IT project too ambitious to handle in-house, they call Erin, the manager of a growing team of technology consultants. She explains, “Every day and every client is different. We are often brought in to help with projects that companies can’t take on themselves, and they want them done quickly.” Erin typically works fifty hours or more per week, not including a commute of one to two hours. Her responsibilities include hiring, firing, and professional development, as well as client communication and project management.
At thirty-five years old, Erin is married and has two children, ages one and three. Her husband’s job is also demanding, and both of them struggle at times to recover from work stress and reset for quality family time. “We are both very busy with work,” she says. “With a job that requires many hours, and then a long commute, then we come home to play with our kids . . . it’s tough to get it all in.”
With her work commitments, she finds herself eating out for one or more meals each day—sometimes all three—and she knows she doesn’t always make sensible choices from the menu. The intense schedule and frequent high-energy engagements with clients leave her feeling exhausted. She has little time for physical exercise.
With no two days the same, and every hour at the gym one less to spend with her family, Erin takes to Hit the Deck right off the bat. “It’s something quick,” she says, “and I have no excuse not to do it.” The super-flexible workout guidelines—with no need for equipment or even gym clothes in a pinch—make it ideal not only for fitting exercise into her day, but also for recovering from individual stress events as they occur.
After sixty days of resiliency training, Erin notices a significant improvement in sleep quality and feels more energetic during the day.
By paying more attention to eating regularly, she has cut down her midday cravings for sweets and dropped almost ten pounds of body fat— weight that had frustrated her since her last pregnancy.
She reports the strongest improvement in perceived stress, noting that she feels less anxiety and is less distracted by stress during work. It gives her better resources for supporting her team and meeting customers’ high expectations.
Erin after Sixty Days of Resiliency Training
• 25 percent decrease in perceived stress
• 19 percent increase in energy
• 10 percent improvement in quality of sleep
• Lost 9.7 pounds (4 percent) of body fat
• Gained 1.7 pounds of muscle
• Lost 5 inches
At forty-one years old, Paul realizes his persistent insomnia and increasing pain-management issues are a crucial wake-up call. As the vice president of human resources for a global financial services company, he leads business-partner teams on major projects in addition to directing employee relations and HR compliance. “It’s intense,” he explains. “There are multiple, competing priorities in employee relations, and lots of travel.
The 24/7 nature of the job means there’s trouble with life-work balance. A lot of the work stress comes home.” Paul’s husband is extremely supportive of his career, but at times that makes it too easy for Paul to work long hours without a break. Paul realizes stress is taking over his life.
He’s unhappy with his health and eating habits, and he worries it’s getting too easy to unwind with a few cocktails. He has tried a variety of fitness programs, but finds it hard to stick to a diet and exercise regime while traveling constantly. When he’s home, it’s easier to choose TV time on the couch with his husband or to go out to a nice restaurant as an antidote to stress, rather than exercise.
However, he says, “PowerHouse gave me an excellent and easy way to incorporate movement into my life, no matter where in the world I might be.” Because Hit the Deck simplifies exercise choices and fits any amount of time, he sticks to it at home and away.
He has also started thinking about food ahead of time in order to make sensible, manageable changes in his eating habits. Compared to other programs, he says, “This works well for balance, for long-term change management, and for overall wellness. It’s a holistic approach that is easy to follow.” Paul makes accountability a major part of his plan and requests extra coaching via phone when he needs encouragement.
After sixty days of resiliency training, Paul has lost a few pounds. He’s also seen dramatic improvements in ease and quality of sleep, which helps him feel more energetic each day. He describes these improvements as “life-changing.” He feels less anxiety about job demands and his capacity to handle challenges, leaving him free to do his best work. And more and more, he’s able to leave work at work, bringing new balance between nutrition, movement, rest, and relationships into his life.
Looking back on his progress, Paul remains dedicated to his life changes. “I will not let anything get in the way of me being the best and healthiest me I can be. I am forty-one-years old, and I plan on living at least another forty-one years. I need to make sure that my body is cared for to last, that my mind is focused and happy, and that I have peace and balance overall in life.”
Paul after Sixty Days of Resiliency Training
• 44 percent decrease in perceived stress
• 50 percent increase in energy
• 40 percent improvement in quality of sleep
• 30 percent improvement in ability to fall asleep
• Lost 5 pounds (2 percent) of body fat
As the associate director of a nonprofit caring for people with life-threatening illnesses, Amy manages more than two hundred volunteers, coordinates fundraising efforts, and oversees daily operations at a facility scheduling more than nine thousand client appointments each year.
At thirty-three years old, she works each day with patients and their families as they face intense physical and emotional stress. “Staying focused on fundraising or administrative goals while also maintaining a spirit of compassion and presence for any client who needs a tender connection is challenging,” she says. “Keeping the emotions and stress of work at work and not bringing it home is hugely challenging. . . . There’s a lot of grief as clients die and relationships end. I feel the temptation to shut off and not connect, but I know that’s not how I want to do this job.”
Her husband works nights, so her evenings belong to their energetic three-year-old daughter. “When I get home from a long day, it’s all on me—meals, cleanup, bedtime routine . . . I often feel like I have two full-time jobs.” She struggles to make time for self-care, and me-time often cuts into sleep-time, leaving her exhausted after late nights and early mornings.
Her busy schedule and her desire to shed some weight combine to make it easy for her to skip meals during the day and then go out for a single big meal after work, thinking it’s the best strategy.
Amy embraces resiliency training as part of a commitment to self-care—seeking a way to release stress in a healthy way, rather than waiting for it to build to the point of an inescapable and painful meltdown.
Hit the Deck removes the pressure to pick the “right” exercise for workouts; it’s easy to simply pull a card and get moving. “Everything you need is in your body—that was a very powerful insight,” she says. “You do it for you when you need it, on your own timeline.” She adds, “My body went from parts—I don’t like this part, I don’t like that part—to a whole package.”
After sixty days of training, Amy is sleeping better and feeling far less vulnerable to the emotional highs and lows at work. She feels better able to connect with her daughter during their evenings together, without feeling overwhelmed or frustrated about her spouse being unavailable to help. “This process has brought out this strong and powerful me that’s always been in there,” she says. “I’m me in my body, and I’m my best self.”
Amy after Sixty Days of Resiliency Training
• 20 percent decrease in perceived stress
• 25 percent increase in energy
• 30 percent improvement in quality of sleep
• 30 percent improvement in ability to fall asleep
• Lost 6.7 pounds (2.8 percent) of body fat
• Gained 0.7 pounds of muscle
Before Tracey stepped into a new role as her company’s executive director of global business planning, she understood that the many challenges ahead, though exciting, had the potential to raise the stress in her life to dangerous levels.
At forty-years old, she was making great strides in her career, but her personal life seemed to be in constant chaos. She had just returned from a leave of absence to treat her bipolar disorder. During the leave, she had also separated from her husband and begun painful negotiations over custody of her two-year-old daughter. “I knew it was going to be hard, and it was,” she says of facing the challenges. “Learning a new role in the company, putting on my game face when I really didn’t feel well, mending relationships I had bruised before I stepped back to recover. I had a lot of trouble focusing, and I worried a lot about keeping my job.”
Although Tracey felt the leave of absence had improved her mental health, she knew she had to keep herself on track. She was smoking every day and drinking every night, and she had gained about twenty pounds. She remembers, “I needed time and space to figure myself out, and I wasn’t feeling good about myself at all.”
Her new job had a steep learning curve and required intense, constant communication between departments on high-profile, companywide initiatives. On evenings and weekends, she struggled to keep up energy and focus during her only shared time with her daughter. Complicating this stressful period was the fact that her own support system had been badly strained. She recalls, “I lost a lot of people during this time that I thought were my friends, and dealing with that along with mending relationships with my family—it was a really difficult time for me.”
Tracey learns about PowerHouse through a company program and decides to make resiliency one of her goals. She likes the flexibility of Hit the Deck workouts and soon finds it easy to fit in fifteen minutes in the morning and another fifteen in the evening, even if her schedule is packed. “I especially liked that the exercises were accessible, and if I couldn’t do one initially, I could switch out the cards and work up to those I wasn’t able to do,” she says. With no need for a gym, special equipment, or even good weather, she finds the time commitment very reasonable.
She also makes changes to her nutrition habits, despite some initial reluctance to tackle too much at once. She notes, “The changes were not that hard—they were very realistic, and I never cut out anything I loved. I never felt like there was something that I couldn’t have, which is how I like to live.”
After sixty days of resiliency training, Tracey feels her day-to-day stress levels have declined, a major relief. After months of restless sleep and insomnia, she is now sleeping soundly on a consistent basis, and she wakes with more energy for work and family.
She has lost over twelve pounds of body fat and replaced it with muscle, and she feels less need to rely on alcohol and nicotine to get through the day. As time passes, she integrates more elements of resiliency training into her daily habits.
With added resiliency, she has replaced feelings of distraction and lack of control with confidence that she can do her work well and still have time for herself and her daughter. “It was perfect for me in that difficult time,” she says. “It’s easy to follow, the time commitment is not unreasonable, and you see results!”
After Sixty Days of Resiliency Training
• 25 percent decrease in perceived stress
• 25 percent increase in energy
• 50 percent improvement in quality of sleep
• 10 percent improvement in ability to fall asleep
• Lost 12.7 pounds (5.8 percent) of body fat
At thirty-five years old, Meghan is vice president and managing director at a digital media company. “It’s an always-on industry,” she says, explaining her role in overseeing the planning and execution of web, mobile, and application development projects. “I’m pulled in multiple different directions every day.”
The constant stream of information from clients and team members demands an intense focus on communication and produces an extremely high volume of e-mail. Meghan feels constant pressure to hit short deadlines and meet customers’ high expectations.
A driven promoter, she loves her work and quickly became an expert in her field, pursuing side engagements as a blogger, author, and sought-after speaker. She flies nationwide for client meetings and speaking engagements a few times per month.
Meghan’s husband is an independent filmmaker, which requires frequent travel and long hours as well as weekend commitments. While they both set aside time for their two children, ages four and two, connections with family and friends are particularly important for Meghan. She makes it a priority to schedule dinners and attend events, both for herself and with the family.
In juggling her commitments to her work, her kids, her spouse, and herself, Meghan sacrifices sleep to get things done. “I’ve become a night owl, just to get it all in,” she admits.
In addition to getting very little rest, she struggles to find the energy—much less the time—to exercise. “I’m terrible about remembering to eat,” she says, noting that she doesn’t plan ahead for healthy meals during the week. “I’m constantly on, whether it’s work or family. I’ll forget to have lunch, and then I think I should grab a snack and get distracted from that too.”
While Meghan knows her life isn’t completely out of control, she does know she can’t keep up this pace forever.
Meghan starts resiliency training by using Hit the Deck because it’s easy to bring along on business trips and doesn’t require a gym. “I’m just not one of those people who likes to work out,” she says, “and the gym can be intimidating when you don’t know how to use the machines.”
After a few weeks of shutting her office door for five-minute workouts—“nobody even realized what I was doing!” she says—she finds herself fitting in more exercise than ever. The workouts are flexible, and the cards tell her exactly what to do and for how long. It allows her to make the most of her workout time. “No confusing diagrams, no waiting for equipment, no grubby locker room—perfect!” And when she uses the deck at home, her kids think it’s a fun game to play with her.
Meghan had thought changing her eating behaviors wouldn’t be a big deal. But making some simple changes, she says, “made a huge difference.” She explains, “Taking ten extra minutes to make eating a no-brainer later meant that I didn’t forget to eat or skip meals for work as often.” And again, her kids see what she’s doing, and they follow her example.
After sixty days of resiliency training, Meghan notes that she’s able to bounce back from stressful situations more quickly. “I’m on much more of an even keel emotionally, even on the craziest days,” she says.
While nothing has changed at work, she feels less stressed in her high-pressure role and less overwhelmed by challenges that pop up during the course of her day. “I spend less time stressing out and get more done during the day, so I can sleep better at night, so I get up feeling rested. Then I have more energy to get more done the next day—it’s a great cycle.”
As a side benefit, she has also lost a few pounds, exchanging body fat for muscle.
Meghan’s success shows how resiliency can make a difference. “I thought what I needed was more hours per day, and that’s impossible,” she says, laughing. “Now I’m spending less time on the stress that I don’t want and getting back more time for what I do want—my family, my career.”
Meghan after Sixty Days of Resiliency Training
• 10 percent decrease in perceived stress
• 19 percent increase in energy
• 10 percent improvement in quality of sleep
• Lost 5.8 pounds (3.1 percent) of body fat
• Gained 3.8 pounds of muscle
• Lost 3.25 inches