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New Chamber CEO Balancing Lifestyle with New Responsibilities

As a personal trainer, I probably won’t have the opportunity to experience all the challenges that many of my clients are faced with on a daily basis. However, Nicki Anderson now has! Anderson was the founder and owner of Reality Fitness in downtown Naperville for 20 years. During that time, she became a popular speaker on fitness and overall health and wellness. She also was the writer of this column, and wrote for other local and national fitness publications. Anderson won numerous awards both locally and nationally. She knew her stuff and was successful at helping others realize their health and wellness goals. Anderson sold her business two years ago to my husband and me. She spent the next year and a half working alongside her husband in his business and doing consulting work with other businesses as well as continuing her writing. In January, she became president and CEO of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce. It appears to be the position that all of her previous experiences prepared her for. Anderson loves the opportunity to be an advocate for local businesses as well as working nationally on legislation of interest to small businesses and chamber members. I had the chance to catch up with Anderson recently to find out how her new position has changed her life, and what she is learning about maintaining her health and wellness with the new stresses and commitments of her job. Anderson is at work most days by 7:15 a.m., and her day ends between 6 and 8 p.m. “I was very regimented with my food and workouts before this position,” Anderson said. “I cooked 90 percent of our meals and got in a workout at least five days per week. Aside from simply adapting to a new position and the mental challenges that go along with that, my lifestyle has shifted. “I have to get up around 4:45 (a.m.) if I want to get a solid workout in and make it to work by 7 or so. I’m eating out a lot; so even though I eat salad or fish or vegetarian-based meals, there are still things in those foods that would not be in home-cooked meals. I drink as much water as I can. I have to pick up some nights when I get home late, and I’m only getting in about three to four workouts a week.” She has opted to workout two mornings a week and then gets in a run on Saturday and a walk on Sunday. “I definitely feel my body is shifting a bit,” Anderson says when asked about her physical changes. “I find myself a bit more tired if I haven’t practiced good judgment with food choices. Although I never eat any fried or processed foods, there is a big difference between the food you make at home and the food you get when you eat out. My body had a hard time adjusting to it.” There is always food at the chamber, so she has adopted the habit of bringing her own lunch and snack each day, and now that the weather is nice, she can sneak in a little extra exercise by walking to and from work each day. Her water consumption is also a priority. She recognized that because she loves tea, she was drinking more tea than water, so she limits herself to two teas a day and then gets in at least 48 ounces of water during the day. With spring, Anderson’s garden is producing kale and strawberries for her smoothies each morning. “Nothing tastes better,” Anderson says. “It is interesting how our eating changes season to season. The winter definitely is tougher for staying on top of fitness and good food.” She had gotten away from eating fruit in the winter but is loving all the little “goodies” that she is harvesting from her garden. “You have to cut yourself some slack but not to the point of excuses,” she says. “It’s way too easy to say, ‘I’m just working too late, or I have to have drinks with my clients, or eat what they’re eating.’ That’s not true.” A healthy lifestyle requires some work, but with a little planning and desire, balancing a busy work life with living a healthy life is certainly a possibility. By the way, with all of her new responsibilities, Anderson still finds time for family and friends, and will begin training in July for the Naperville half marathon in November. I guess it is possible to have it all! Carla Linder-Mayer grew up in Naperville. She and her husband, Mark, have been married since 1977 and raised their three children here. She owns Reality Fitness, 39 ½ W. Jefferson Ave. in Naperville. Contact her at 630-357-7087.

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