Monday, May 6, 2013

Get happy: Q+A with Sharon

This is the first of the Get Happy Series!

Today I am excited to bring you some wisdom from Sharon. She ran the DC Nike Women’s Half with me last weekend & motivated me to push through the SHAPE challenge- which she won by the way.

gethappyUnder the guise of writing a blog post Winking smile I got to ask her some very personal questions about fitness in dental school and staying healthy even when school gets crazy. We chatted walking back from a delicious Russian Easter brunch courtesy of our classmate Tanya.

First, as a HPSP recipient in the Air Force, are you required to be fit? Are there any special fitness requirements as an HPSP scholar? (Sharon went to the Air Force Academy but for those who didn’t, they will be attending Officer Basic Training camp this summer.)

You have to run two miles under a certain time period. And something like 42 push-up’s in a minute and certain waist measurements… They are realistic and possible goals.

Let’s talk priorities. How do you prioritize fitness while in dental school? Is fitness a big priority in your life among other priorities? (Ahem- sleeping and movies and cupcakes?)

I actually enjoy going to the gym! If I am sitting all day in class or studying, I can’t focus as well. This year I also started studying at the gym on the elliptical or on the bike, so I could multitask and study at the gym. You really have to enjoy it- it shouldn’t be something you feel you have to do.

Me-Jackie-Sharon at the Nike Expo in DC (photo from Jackie)yeslejackiesharon

Tell me a little bit more about the role fitness plays in your life.

It’s a big part of my life! It’s important that that I can take care of myself. When that guy was in my face, I knew that if something were to happen that I could handle it- and I felt confident I could. (A little background on this- Sharon and I had a scary-strange interaction with a crazy person this weekend.)

At our final fitness assessment, I asked what the record-high of push-ups for girls was. The guy said 45 and I told him I expected it to be higher! And then I did my push-up’s. (Sharon did 75 push-ups in a row without stopping… I squeaked- more on this squeak! squeak! coming later- at sixteen and barely made it up on the last one.)

Can you give practical healthy tips for people like me who have every intention but don’t make it out to the gym sometimes? Or even for people who haven’t made fitness a top priority on their life?

Find a gym buddy! Bring a buddy for that extra motivation. Don’t be intimidated and don’t think of it as competition. See that it’s good for you. Make plans with to work out with someone and keep it! Even if it’s something as small as texting someone to say, “I’m going to the gym”, have someone keep you accountable. Find the right person who’ll make you come out and go to the gym.

It’s hard for me to not see it as competition. I like to run alone but every time I run with someone else I’m glad I did. But I need to work on that. I also want to start working out in the mornings but I never make get out of my bed in time. Any tips?

I actually have a routine every morning: 75 jumping jacks, 20 air squats, and 10 push-up’s every morning to get my day started. Two-minutes then your stomach is growling and you’re ready for breakfast.

That sounds great. It’s realistic and I can do that in my apartment. Let’s talk life after SHAPE challenge: what specific lifestyle changes have you made you’ll continue throughout?

A change in attitude. For example, when people asked what I was eating I used to see it as competition, like they’re keeping tabs on what I’m eating. Now I take it as a compliment! That people see me as a model for healthy eating and working out, people seeing something they like in me and trying to copy that, is great.

Find Sharon & me listening intently at the herb healthy eating workshop from our SHAPE challenge (Photo from Penn GAPSA):


I also don’t buy sugary things. I’ll buy fruits instead and eat them when I’m hungry. I eat something like four bananas and three apples- I still have to work on proportions but it is much better than eating Skittles! I also drink a lot of water. I’ll first drink half of my 32 ounce Nalgene bottle when I’m hungry. I like to flavor my water which makes me drink So. Much. Water.

What fitness goals are you working on now?

I signed up for the Philadelphia Marathon this November! I want to qualify for the Boston Marathon (For our age it is 3:35 for those 26.2 miles). There is also a certain type of pull-up where you do another push-up on the bar after a pull up: I want to be able to do it!

I love that her fitness goals are performance-based. And having a conversation about health deeper than just numbers or times was great.

I’m working through some personal health challenges right now and talking to someone like Sharon who’s figured out what works for her is inspiring and motivating. Plus she gave me practical tips I can incorporate into my life. Anyone want to be my gym/accountability buddy?


  1. Haha. This is great. The fluidity in the Q&A is much like a conversation between two friends, and not between an interview and interviewee.

    1. I transcribed our interview and LOLed at some of the silly things I/she said. Interviews don't have to be so nerve-wrecking. ;)