Alpha Female Friday – Lauren Roberts

Every Friday I am going to feature a woman that I adore. They exude all the qualities of an Alpha Female and I want to dig into their lives to get some nuggets of knowledge to help us all live happier, healthier lives balancing life & work.

Definition of an Alpha Female

An Alpha Female is a powerful and assertive woman. Her confidence is due to being an intelligent and intellectual problem-solver. Being an Alpha Female is a State of Mind based on choosing ambition and being proud of it. She strives for a happy and healthy work/life harmony.

She is the brightest star in her constellation.  When an Alpha Female stays true to their authentic selves and their missions they shine.  An Alpha Female puts herself first because she deserves self-care and love. She knows that work/life harmony is found by staying true to your priorities and what makes you happy. She is never complacent about striving for better and nurtures relationships with all the people in her life.

Meet Lauren Roberts!

Lauren Roberts is an endurance sport and outdoors enthusiast, distance runner, and Owner/Head Physiotherapist at The Running Physio in Toronto. She is passionate about redefining exercise as a medium to connect with our feelings and emotions and values the empowerment that movement can provide people. A hard worker but a firm believer in balance, Lauren values the simple things in life like good food, drink, and quality time with friends and her two dogs, Brick and Floyd. You can learn more about her physiotherapy business on her Running Physio Facebook page, and follow her running blog, Instagram, and Twitter.

What do you think of the definition and how are you an Alpha Female?

If you’d asked me a few years ago what it would have meant to be an AF, I would have said that would be all about taking on as much as possible, all the time, completing them all to 100%, in all aspects of life. Now, today, I would say that within the definition is also the idea that I am able to identify the things that I’m naturally really great at and focus my energy on using these abilities in their best light. I love leading groups – one of my favourite things to do are injury prevention talks to running groups because it allows my public speaking ability to shine and also allows me to share good, sound knowledge with others which is very energizing for both the group and myself.

I think the skillfulness aspect of being an Alpha female comes in when you can identify what your flaws and weaker characteristics are. I’m at a really cool place in life now where rather than seeking ways to…”fix” a lot of the things that have caused me pain, suffering, and anxiety in the past, I’ve learned how to own them. This was a really hard thing for me to do as a person who prefers being in control. But it’s really, really empowering when you can say, “Yep, I’m doing the thing again where I get fixated on completing a single task for a ridiculous amount of time, my bad!” And to take things to the next level, “Can you help me with this?” To accept that we are not robots and that we have our imperfections and vulnerabilities is what connects us as human beings.

When we don’t have to expend so much energy trying to be what we think others want us to be, we can stay true to our own values with ease and steadiness. We can allow the dust and noise to clear around us and create our own paths unwaveringly with confidence. For me, one of my life purposes is to inspire others to do things that they have doubt around, and one really cool effect of having a strong path of your own is that inspiration follows naturally and organically. It’s as if the less you try, the better you become.

What are you most passionate about?

My answer is super lame. I am very passionate about life in moderation. One of my biggest peeves with lifestyle information and media is the idea that there exists a single fix for any problem that usually has the promise of happiness or betterness if you do more or less of Thing X. Such as, “eat or avoid this magic food and you’ll be happier” ….”do this single exercise for a six-pack”. In my physiotherapy world, I see loads of frustrating hard lines that drive me crazy; the one that takes the cake as the most frustrating being “running is bad for you”. As humans, we love seeking answers to problems, and our lazy brains, of course, prefer the simplest, easiest, and most efficient solution. The problem is, we are so complex and so dynamic that there is rarely such thing as a single fix for everything, and pursuing these various tight and rigid lifestyles with all sorts of rules leaves us feeling empty, frustrated, and guilty. Barring specific health concerns, if you go out for dinner, have the dessert or share with a friend! If you want to stay up late with friends and have some wine, do it! Sometimes I’ve just really gotta crush a hamburger…and sometimes two. I love the occasional indulge in excess. It allows me perspective on life. What are we doing here if we deny ourselves these pleasures or associate them with guilt? These types of events keep my other, more regular days in check – I don’t feel overtrained because I’ve allowed myself adequate rest days. I don’t feel frustrated eating a salad because I had three burgers on the weekend. I don’t feel that I have to control every single thing in my life, and again this allows me to put more energy into better places.

What does work/life harmony look like for you?

The media portrays the work/life balance very poorly to me. It’s so extreme. On one hand, there’s a big push that “more is better”. We are bombarded by inspirational quotes promising more efficiency if you’re up at 5 am bolded quotes of having to work harder, better, faster in order to be successful. On the flip side, another prominent theme is glorifying the idea that we are lazy sloths who plant ourselves in front of Netflix for hours on end. So it is really, really hard to know what a balance may look like or feel like to you. As a person, I fall into the first category – growing up my family called me Hurricane Lauren. I don’t know when to stop at rest. But I know that if I’ve seen a lot of patients in a day, or if I haven’t slept well the night before from staying up too late trying to get work done, that I cannot perform to my best the next day. But it’s really hard. It’s counterintuitive. Isn’t more, better? If I stay up just another hour aren’t I being more effective? No. If I go and read a book for half an hour and get a good sleep, tomorrow I’ll be able to return to those projects with a clearer head. Or I’ll be able to push myself a little harder in a tempo run. For me, maintaining this has really become a priority because without being mindful of where I’m focusing my energy I’ll tend to slip back into “More is Better” mode. On the other hand, downtime, family time, and friends time feel so good that it’s a constant reminder to me of what it’s really all about. And that feels great.

Share with us a time when work/life balance was out of wack? What was your aha moment that taught you it was ok to take care of yourself first?

I competed quite competitively in the triathlon world for about 4 years. In 2015, I qualified for the 70.3 (Half Ironman) World Championships which took place in Austria in September. My day to day life included 40 hours of work, 18-22 hours of hard training, eating, and sleeping. Not to mention the “life admin” tasks like food prep, groceries, laundry, and of course trying to spend time with my boyfriend, now husband. It. Was. Insane. I remember feeling so sad and frustrated; wasn’t this what I wanted? Wasn’t this the goal I had set for myself? Why was I so depressed and tired and unmotivated? I realized I missed my friends, I missed having a casual visit with my friends and family on Sunday afternoons in the summer – instead, I was always out for 4-hour bike rides and runs. Fortunately, my partner did these with me – if it weren’t for him I’m not sure how I would have done it. I remember one specific ride which was insanely hard as it was a ridiculously windy day; we had left from my in-laws’ place, and upon returning back I collapsed on the lawn in tears. I raced in Austria, and predictably it didn’t go all that well. After that, I decided that I needed a real break from the sport. During this time, I started to realize that perhaps I was so intent on competing because there were lots of other parts of me that I was unhappy with and it was easier to let the “work hard” part of me take over. Triathlon had become a big part of my identity and so I had to do a lot of painful self-research to be ok with myself if I wasn’t winning races. With the help of a sports psychologist, I realized that I had made the assumption that being good at triathlon and winning would equal happiness when in fact, I had that equation totally backwards. Happy athletes are the real winners, in more ways than one. I haven’t gone back to triathlon, and I’ve actually been way happier and had MUCH more energy to pursue other interests and projects as well as have more time for the real things that matter like family and friends. Don’t get me wrong – I love competing – so I keep that part of life active but just with a single sport of running rather than three. Hah!

How do you nourish yourself?

As much as I love hamburgers, I actually really prefer to eat well and eat a lot. I don’t exercise any food restrictions – I give my body what I feel it needs. With a lot of high-volume training, I need loads of quality carbs and protein. I find I don’t have time to do a lot of advanced food prep but I subscribe to a local fruit and veggie bin that comes weekly and I go to a butcher weekly to buy all of my various proteins. My husband is a cyclist so the amount of food that we consume weekly is probably equivalent to a family of four. I take no shame in the amount of food I eat because we make mostly everything from scratch, and I also really enjoy cooking! I also try my best to maintain a simple meditation practice most days of the week to help my brain stay calm and clear. I had a tough time with this a couple years ago because I felt that I was really bad at it, but truthfully that’s because it was something that I needed to learn how to do!

What is your weekly fitness routine like?

I am training for a few marathons including an unsupported trail marathon this summer and I’ve been upping my competitive run game this year and an en route to race Boston in 2018. I work with a coach who provides me with a weekly schedule that we adjust depending on how

I’m feeling. I am also a part of a Toronto Racing Team BlackToe. It’s important that this schedule not is too rigid to me and leaves room for adjustment as needed. I run five times per week which includes two hard tempo runs, one long Sunday often through trails or with my group, one hill run, and one recovery run. I try to do a few days of strength training or yoga in there too in order to maintain flexibility and range of motion outside of the restriction of running. I’m fortunate in my job that I get to move with people every day – so I’ll often sneak in some exercises while working with my patients. It is a lot of time but it’s really important to me and so planning into my week is really a no-brainer.

What are your daily habits for winding down at night and reducing stress?

This is hard for me, especially if I’ve had a late-night run workout that leaves me feeling super pumped-up and over-stimulated. I’ve recently made the switch back to paper books so that I don’t have blue light from my Ipad. I also turn my cell phone on Flight Mode after 10 pm. I love reading and have a real guilty pleasure for young adult fantasy fiction, haha! Usually, I have a bedtime tea and do some reading and a good cuddle with my six-year-old bulldog, Brick. Pets are amazing for unwinding and being a lazy bulldog he is the king of cuddles.

What are some pain points of being an Alpha Female that you have to problem solve for? 

One problem that I have to actively manage is that because I feel that I invest a lot of energy into helping people, I often feel let down if I don’t feel the same amount of respect reciprocally from someone else. I often feel frustrated with patients at work if they don’t do the exercises I have taught them because I have specifically given those exercises to them with thought, logic, and energy behind them. But you know what, that’s ok. It’s not my role to save the world one person at a time. All I can do is my very best, and I can also realize that everyone else as their own life, their own schedules and families and friends, and their own personal issues that they are working through. It doesn’t mean I’ll stop setting high expectations for people; it just means that I realized that we are all doing the very best that we can.

What is your definition of happiness?

Happiness to me means choices. Happiness means having space throughout the day to make decisions based on how you’re feeling. It means allowing yourself enough sleep and time to prepare meals and then sharing them with people who you care about and love. It means not drowning half-heartedly in self-imposed commitments but excelling in the ones that you’ve made. It means using your body in a variety of ways; redefining exercise to mean less about the aesthetic of how you look and making it more about valuing yourself and connecting to your feelings. It means admitting when you’re wrong and being open to new ideas. Realizing that what works for you may not work for someone else. It’s about being open with others, acknowledging our individual struggles, and using these as a way to foster connection. Happiness also means a really, really good hamburger that is medium rare and with extra pickles.

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