#MakingTime: A Day in the Life of a Journalist and Women's Health and Fitness Advocate
Photo courtesy of Emily Kumler Kaplan
Women can do anything — but not everything. As the largest online career community for women, we at Fairygodboss realize that balance is a myth, and that picking what to prioritize when everything feels important on a day-to-day basis isn't always easy. In the #MakingTime series, women share with us how, for one day, they chose to spend their most precious resource: time.
A note from Emily:Documenting my day has been more of a lesson in vulnerability than I would have ever guessed. We place so much pressure on ourselves to fit in, perform and achieve that when I broke down my day moment-by-moment, I was confronted with my own insecurities: what if this isn’t enough? What if a reader thinks I’m not spending enough time with my kids? What if they think I look ugly in the morning before I put makeup on? I don’t think of myself as an insecure person, but chronically my day made the deep-rooted concern rise up: am I good enough?
I’m trying. But the truth is, I’m figuring a lot of this out as I go. My mother stayed home with four children and volunteered constantly, but she wasn’t paid for her work. I don’t have a model for a what motherhood looks like with an ambitious career. I spend a lot of my time reading and interpreting research on women’s health and I’ve realized there are some things the research cannot tell us. There are some answers we will only find by looking inwards. Women are amazingly wonderful and diverse, I don’t believe there is an exact model we should follow, instead I’d like to celebrate the ability to be flexible, to adapt as necessary when the circumstances chance, opportunities arise, and new information influences us. Here is my day, I hope it helps you think about yours in an honest and helpful way.
My alarm goes off I immediately check emails, look at my schedule, respond to urgent issues that came up since bedtime, scroll through Instagram to see what everyone is up to, there is a great community of women’s health experts I follow and I love starting my day with them.
Dress for workout, plan outfits for later. I sometimes change my clothes four times a day!
I have little altars all over my house and in my offices. They hold special objects that bring me joy. Every morning I spend about 3 minutes standing in front of the one in my closet. I think of all the things I’m grateful for and hold a few stones or artifacts in my hands and set an intention for the day. Today my intention is: Listen carefully, the seasons are changing and in moments of transition we often find pieces of our lives we’ve neglected and are ready to bring forth and others that no longer serve us that we can release. Today I want to listen and absorb the information I need and discard that which is noise.
(Above, one of my altars, everything has a meaning and items have come from all over the world. There is a lot of variety, from an ancient Roman coin with Marcus Aurelius’ face, a couple mini Lakota pottery pieces, an Egyptian Horace, a baby slipper to a photo of my husband grabbing my boob under Tower Bridge in London on our honeymoon, and much more).
Breakfast: I made this beautiful frittata last night. Frittata’s are super easy to make and delicious warm or cold. I thought we’d have it for breakfast… My kids had other plans they wanted oatmeal.
As I pack school snacks for the kids’ day, I mentally go through my own day. I often have notes on guests I will be interviewing later in the day on the kitchen counter, so while I’m spinning around filling lunch boxes I can also go through bits of background and think of questions I’m eager to ask. Today, I’m going to be working on an episode for my podcast, Empowered Health with Emily Kumler, on mammography that is very complex. I used to be scared of statistics, but I now understand they are the only way to know if research is valid or if the results have been amplified. There is such gross manipulation of the statistics which often leads to overblown findings in peer-review medical publications and it is my job to parse that out so my listeners can understand how the researchers came to their conclusions and then my primarily female audience can make the right choices for their bodies.
Back to snack packing: We try to avoid sugar in the foods we eat at home, so I need extra time to pack snacks because the easiest snacks for kids are often the ones packed with sugar and crap. I love thermos containers because I can send my kids to school with warm food like leftovers from the previous night’s dinner.
Kids are picked up by the carpool, everyone gets a kiss and a high five and warm snack and they’re off.
Now I have 10 mins to clean everything up before I need to dive into my work day.
Once that’s done, I head to my home office. This is where we tape the Empowered Health podcast and it’s where I write. I freelance for newspapers and magazines and regularly write a column for Boston Magazine. Over the summer I wrote two business advice books, out summer of 2020 for Harper Collins, so this office was my command central. We call it “the hut.”
Today, I’m reviewing a statistical model we created looking at the efficacy of mammography. This is a controversial topic. Many are saying mammography has led to an overdiagnosis of breast cancer that would never kill women. We are living through a time when we have many options to intervene and sometimes those choices lead to more harm than good. But as a woman in my forties I’m very aware of how scary cancer is and how omnipresent it seems. I want to cover this topic thoughtfully, so I need to be extremely well prepared for the interviews.
I'm prepping for Empowered Health podcast interviews, reading background notes, reviewing studies and adding more questions to my sheet.
I work on my Boston Magazine Column on the newly categorized stage before Peri Menopause called the “late reproductive phase,” where hormones start to fluctuate but periods are still regular—most doctors don’t know about this stage and women are routinely asked about periods as a sign of changes, which is not entirely accurate.
I drive to CrossFit Launchpad for my workout. While I own Prime Fitness and Nutrition, which has three locations in my backyard, but I workout at a CrossFit box because my workouts are me time. If I workout at Prime I’m constantly thinking about work, talking to members and that prevents me from work as hard as I can on my own health.
Prime’s trainers and managers are the best in the business, but I need my workouts to be a time where I can focus in on my body and feel supported by coaches who do not think of me as their boss. I know that may sound strange to some, but it is what works best for me. I love CrossFit for my workouts and have done the level one training certification for doctors—even though I’m not a doctor, I was invited to participate—known as an MDL1, which was an incredible program that enhanced my understanding of constantly varied high intensity exercise in meaningful ways.
Stop By Prime Fitness and Nutrition Wayland.
At Prime we only work with women, many of whom come to us on meds, overweight and a little nervous about working out after years of being sedentary. Our members often arrive with joint issues and concerns, so we tailor everyone’s program to their individual needs and goals. Each Prime member establishes an internal physical goal i.e. weight loss, getting pre-baby body back, increasing muscle mass, running fasters, etc and an external goal i.e.: being able to go hiking with grandkids, running first marathon, getting through a divorce while still taking care of yourself, etc. We work with each of our members to get them the nutrition coaching, life coaching and physical workouts they need for their bodies and their goals. I designed a women’s health curriculum that informs our staff and members about diseases and illnesses that specifically impact women that we all need to know about. Our monthly curriculum gives our members the basics on the condition, the tests required to diagnose, the risk factors, the treatment options and ways to talk to your doctor if you have concerns. Every month is a new topic. We will be offering this same monthly curriculum to Empowered Health listeners starting in 2020, anyone interested can sign up for our newsletter at www.EmpoweredHealthShow.com.
My office is upstairs from the gym floor. This is where I do all the backend work. We are constantly in search of the very best health practitioners, so I interview candidates for trainer and manager positions constantly. There is a lot of turnover in the industry and I’m proud that our full-time staff has been with us for years. We only want the very best and it’s helpful to constantly interview to see who’s out there and where I might be able to put talented folks looking to work for us. Running these three locations with around 500+ members involves a lot of creative thinking. We are always trying to improve our programming and are constantly learning, so there really isn’t any down time, but there is a lot learning and growing, which I love.
Today I have a stack of resumes I’m reviewing and have bills to pay!
I'm back in the hut, for an Empowered Health podcast interview with Dr. Anthony Miller who conducted a 20-year study on the efficacy of mammography in Canada.
Today, I'm interviewing Jessica Nabongo for an Empowered Health episode on women and solo travel, Nabongo is the first African American woman to travel to every country in the world!
I sometimes have to go on TV so we have a mini studio set up in the hut, we just got new lights so I spent some time unpacking and setting them up. Here I am on Cheddar talking about the importance of Meghan Markle’s post-partum experience.
Quick run to the grocery store!
I have a call with my marketing consultant and Jill to talk about Black Friday promotions we're offering at Prime and plan some advertisements to run on Facebook. I review the lead flow and where we can improve. I took the call while grocery shopping. My marketing consultant was doing most of the talking, I needed to be on the call to ask questions and make a few suggestions, so I could multitask without problem.
I need to take a minute here and acknowledge all those who help me. There is no way I could do all of this on my own. Switching gears between topics is intense, today alone I had to be well informed on the stats and usages and controversy of mammograms and traveling as a woman alone all over the world. I also had to be organized to pay the bills and go through the bookkeeping at Prime. If I didn’t have Jill Webb to be my right hand in all of this, I wouldn’t get nearly so much done. I’m extremely lucky that she is so organized, methodical and responsible. I am also very grateful that she keeps my schedule in order and prioritized everything around the kids’ needs. If they don’t have school or they’re out early, I’m with them. Jill and I pack a ton into our days. Jill has constantly risen to the occasion and helped me tremendously.
My managers at each of the three Prime locations are also very independent. I have high expectations and little interest in micromanaging. That doesn’t work for everyone and when I hire people, I look for confidence, character and integrity because I know the individual must be able to roll on her own. The right managers love this. They’re often used to working in gyms where every move is dictated and monitored, at Prime I tell them it’s their house and they need to treat each member like a guest at their dinner party. Every member should have fun, learn new things, make new friends and look forward to coming back. But, that’s only part of the job, my managers are compassionate and dedicate to women’s health. They’re curious and want to learn more and they’re eager to help. This is a job that feeds a passion to help others. I am so proud of all the manager and the trainers who coach and encourage our members to do great things. Each Prime location is a little different, which makes each uniquely special. The teams and the members make the vibes, and each is a wonderful community of hard-working women and men dedicated to helping women lead their healthiest, happiest lives. Without all these wonderful coworkers who I can trust to do their jobs well, I would never be able to take calls in supermarkets, plan my schedule around my kids or do so many different things that I love and that are changing women’s lives for the better. I believe we are starting a revolution of women’s health that extends far beyond what we now consider normal.
The right medical and health care must to consider the whole women, not each of her parts. And that is the mission of Empowered Health and Prime, which starts with me and flows through all the people who work for me, all the members who work out and follow Prime’s programing and all the listeners of Empowered Health. Together we are changing the landscape for women.
I pick up kids at school. This is one of the long days for them, so they’re usually pretty tired when we finally get home!
Interested in contributing to Fairygodboss' #MakingTime series? Email [email protected] with "#MakingTime" in the subject line.