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Most weekdays, the alarm clock sounds by 6 a.m. for Trish Lipani, a 34-year-old child psychologist based in New York City. Before she heads off to Columbia University Medical Center, where her hours are filled with diagnostic interviews and psychiatric evaluations of children, Lipani hits the gym for weight lifting and MTS resistance band training. On days when she's not strength training, she runs around the Central Park reservoir or takes a Pilates class.
How does Lipani, a former collegiate runner, maintain her ambitious exercise routine? It helps that her husband, Tommy Sheehan, is the director of strength and conditioning for varsity athletics at Columbia University. But it's not just her family's commitment to fitness that keeps Lipani going. She tells FitnessMagazine.com that she's motivated by several other factors: the promise of better health, a reduction of stress, and (never to be discounted) the lure of Sunday brunch.
Partner up: "On Tuesdays and Thursdays I have two workout partners I meet at the gym before work. With my schedule I have to start about 30 minutes before them, but just knowing that they're coming really motivates me to get up and get started."
Banding together: "On the weekends I make exercise part of socializing. My husband Tommy and I work out with another couple on Sundays, lifting weights and doing band-resistance training. It's super motivating, because we really focus while we're working out, and then we go to brunch to catch up."
Pro-health, anti-stress: "Stress relief is the most motivating thing for me. I'm more patient with parents and I handle interruptions better on days when I've worked out. I also think about my heart -- there's heart disease in my family, and I focus on being healthier throughout my childbearing years and beyond."
Preventing back pain: "Keeping my back healthy is another really big motivator. About once a year I've had some kind of stress-related shoulder issue or back issue. Preventing that is definitely what motivates me to do the bands and free weights. I'd rather go for a bike ride some days, but I know that as much as I keep that [strength training] up, I can avoid the chiropractor."
On her plate: "I'm not strict, but I try to eat healthily. My diet probably includes too many nutrition bars and too few fresh vegetables. We're big supporters of [grocery delivery service] FreshDirect. We like to eat freshly prepared desserts but we almost never eat store-bought cookies. Something from the bakery tastes so much better than Oreo cookies, which are not worth the calories."
Java jolt: "In the morning, I sometimes have a few sips of a bottled Starbucks frappuccino to get me going. During the day, I snack on Zone bars and drink tea."
No regrets: "Some days I don't want to wake up, but I just remind myself that I never regret having worked out in the morning. You know how sometimes you regret having that extra drink on Wednesday night? You never regret doing an extra set or pushing yourself to get out of bed and go to the gym."
Originally published on FitnessMagazine.com, June 2007.