Getting To Know Meredith Atwood + Her Tips For Embracing A Healthy Lifestyle

We all get that feeling that there’s NEVER ANY TIME, right?

jessie spano theres never any time meme

You feel like you’re juggling everything life throws at you, afraid of something falling or breaking, just trying to stay afloat instead of managing it on your own terms. I’ve always found that the more I focus on overall wellness and being active, the better equipped I am to handle life. But what if you haven’t started that journey yet, or you’re unsure of how or what to do to move forward?

I was recently introduced (virtually!) to Meredith Atwood from Swim Bike Mom and was inspired by her journey from struggling mom of two kids, trying to advance her career while dealing with the added frustrations of a long commute (ugh, I will never forget those days of my 4 hours/day commute!) to confident triathlete who took charge of her life and ended up with a stronger sense of self.

meredith atwood swim bike mom

Her writing is engaging, insightful and relatable, and I can’t get enough of her storytelling. Like me, she writes a lot about fear, overcoming obstacles, and empowering ourselves and those around us.

I thought she’d be the perfect fit for a feature here on the blog and was thrilled when she agreed to do a mini interview. She has some great wisdom to share – enjoy!

Meredith, what was your “aha” moment for change? I’m often asked, “How did you get into triathlon?” or “What was the moment that everything changed for you? When you knew you wanted to change?” I had what I call “The Spark”…the thing that changed inside of me and how it happened. How I decided I would get off the couch and make a better life.

Was it easy? Did it happen instantaneously? Nope… But it did happen. And it continues each day.

This is how I started.  Pale, fat, tired…with two small babies, a rigorous legal career, and a marriage (barely hanging on) in tow. I was also pretty angry. The change came on September 11, 2009. I didn’t decide to take on triathlon until a year later…but that day was the beginning. This post is an edited part of my book about the two days that changed it all for me. It all started with cookies and a “lunch and learn” event.

meredith atwood swim bike mom

How do you overcome fear, both in athletics and life? Fear is such a MAJOR component of everything! Wow. And often in fitness, especially starting out. I think I have written on fear more than any topic. Some of the best advice I have learned recently came from Dr. Jeff Anders at a triathlon symposium, who discussed fear of open water swimming, and how to help athletes move past this very common, often seemingly insurmountable fear. He mentioned that one of the ways to get rid of fear is to “normalize it” —to discuss the truths, the facts and the realities of the situation. I have used this in several situations, including recently bringing home a pet lizard for our nine-year old son. But when one looks at the “facts” about a situation—not the “lies” and tales that our minds can spin—it helps with the fear. It allows us to normalize things. I think I subconsciously have used this along my fitness journey, long before Dr. Anders put it into words for me. For example, “I’m terrified of riding a bike.” Reality: “I’ll go to a grassy field and ride. That way if I fall down, it won’t hurt. And then I’ll go to a park where no one can see me.” Things like that – to take the edge off – really help.

You say you “lost your sense of self”…what steps did you take to go from that period of your life to now? I didn’t try and change everything. I just went to the gym. I started there. I made the decision that I was going to start and change, even though I had no idea what to do. I didn’t clean up my eating and nutrition until about a year ago, and even that is a work in progress. I think we start with what we CAN do, and then we are consistent with that.  Make small and sustainable changes, and go from there. Next, I think it’s very important to find a sport or an activity that you like – something that inspires you and you look forward to doing. For me, triathlon was so great because it was a massive challenge–and deep down, I needed a challenge. That was what I was missing.

What would you tell people who want to get healthy in the new year? I think first and foremost, we need to realize that health is not all about how we look. There are fantastically outwardly beautiful people who probably have rotten insides from the unhealthy lifestyle of cigarettes, too much coffee and no vegetables.  The most important thing is to do it to feel better. I had spent SO much time worrying about how “fat” I was or how “slow” I was, it never occurred to me just how badly I felt. When I focused on the right questions, I received better answers. For example, “will this food make me feel good today? Will I feel better when I have this smoothie instead of that muffin?”. Little changes like that make big differences with consistency.

Any other tips for embracing a healthy lifestyle (and sticking with it)? Yes! No more mean girls! And I don’t mean other people. I mean ourselves! We must be nicer to ourselves. Start with a kind word first thing in the morning, in the mirror: You are kind. You are a wonderful partner. You have drop-dead gorgeous eyes. Or, if you are really  “all in,” go as far to say:  You are awesome. Say something nice to yourself first thing and watch how that shapes your day.​ And why not, “you are awesome”??? Because you are. We ALL are.
meredith atwood swim bike mom

Meredith is the author of “Triathlon for the Every Woman,” a certified triathlon coach, an IRONMAN triathlete, and co-founder of Tri*Fe, a triathlon clothing line for women of all sizes. She is also the co-founder of Swim Bike Fuel, a revolutionary nutrition program for female athletes.

What’s your advice for people who want to get healthy?

I’m a writer currently living in New Jersey and blogging about running, fitness, wellness, and motivation. I want every reader to laugh and feel empowered, balanced, and motivated! Subscribe by email to get 1-2 newsletters a month with post updates, my favorite articles, running playlists and more!
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2 Comments

  1. January 6, 2017 / 3:49 pm

    i made the decision to start running 46 years ago, and started participating in triathlons 35 years ago. I am still doing both at 63. Raised my kid single-handedly, have (retiring soon!) a full time job with a caseload of up to 70 at times as a speech and language therapist, and am currently commenting almost 2 hours a day also (hour there and back)- I always managed to get in my runs, bikes, swims because I WANTED to and I LOVE all the sports. I have swum from Alcatraz 9 times, crossed the Grand Canyon (running) four times (one was a double), have participated in Ultras and all distances of triathlon. Slowest IM was 14:51 and planning on doing another one next year at 65, god willing. Mountain biking is my favorite thing to do currently. You only get one go-around, so why not just embrace the days you are given and find something fun to do? That’s all it is…pure fun!

    • January 11, 2017 / 9:09 pm

      Hi Cheryl! Thanks so much for the comment – wow! I’m impressed! So much hustle and dedication! I love your outlook about embracing each day. I want to know more…I’d love to do a similar feature on you, if you’re interested…let me know! :)

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