Wellness IRL: Interview With Stephen


Today, I'm happy to introduce you to one of my good friends and this month's wellness inspiration, Stephen May! If I had to use one word to describe Stephen, I would choose determined. He is always looking for new ways to challenge himself and whether it's lacrosse or triathlons, he goes all out! Over this past year, he has been training for a half Ironman, which includes a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike ride, and then a 13.1 mile run... all in a row! Needless to say, these events are no joke and require some serious grit! The training alone requires as much time as a part-time job. While living a very full life with many responsibilities, Stephen was able to stick to his rigorous training schedule and cross the finish line with flying colors! I'm so excited for you guys to hear how he is able maintain motivation and push himself to reach his personal goals: 

What aspect of your personal wellness is going really well for you right now?

My personal fitness is going well for me right now. I am currently doing endurance training and focusing on triathlons. 

Finding balance in everyday life can be challenging, especially with a full time job, spending time with family & friends, and getting in all your training! What helps you stay focused?

One thing that helps me stay focused is having a detailed plan going into the week with a breakdown of each workout for each day of the week. Planning the week ahead of time allows me to find the space in my schedule to get my workouts/training in, and have balance with other areas of my life.

If you were to name an aspect of your wellness experience that has had the largest impact on your life, what would that be?

My faith has had the largest impact on my life. There have been key moments in my life when God has guided me, and looking back, those key moments have defined the man I am today. My faith gives me strength to take risks, be optimistic, and trust that I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

How do you find the time throughout your busy schedule to stay active and also decompress?

Staying active is a priority to me, but finding the time can be a challenging task. With a specific training schedule, I am able to carve out time in the day for certain training sessions. Whether that means waking up at 4:30am to swim or getting a 30min bike in on my lunch break, there are pockets in the day that I can take advantage of and get a workout in. Sunday afternoons are a time that my wife and I spend together and decompress. It is nice after a long week to talk and relax together. 

What is your favorite form of exercise?

I have a lot of favorite forms of exercise. I really enjoy challenging myself with new sports and training techniques that are high intensity. Swimming and biking are forms of exercise that I have recently started doing, and have really enjoyed. I also enjoy high intensity training and lifting weights.

When you’re feeling burned out or demotivated, what/who do you look to for inspiration?

When I am feeling burned out or demotivated I look to my wife for inspiration. She has the ability to put things into perspective and allow me to see the bigger picture. She has a calming approach to discussing why I may be feeling burned out, and what I can do to get back on track.

I hear you're quite the grill master. What is your favorite healthy meal?

I recently got a Big Green Egg grill and use it to cook as many things as I can think of. It has allowed me to expand the amount of healthy options that I can cook. One of my favorite dishes is grilled Mahi Mahi, grilled veggies, and quinoa. It is high in protein and replenishes the nutrients that I lose throughout the day in training. 

What is your go-to splurge?

When I decide to splurge, I tend to go for pancakes, waffles, pastries, donuts, etc. Pretty much any type of sweet breakfast treats. (I splurge more often than I probably should) 

What is the best piece of health/wellness advice you’ve received?

I have received so much health/wellness advice, read many articles, and talked to many health/wellness professionals that I am not sure I can narrow it down to just one piece of advice. However, there are common themes that I have seen and implemented into my own personal journey. One quote that I read recently, summed it up perfectly and inspired me: “No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which the body is capable.” - Socrates. This quote resonated with me and gave me a different perspective of training, fitness, and wellness. 

Any encouraging words for someone looking to improve their overall work-life balance?

Achieving work-life balance is something that can be done, but it is something that requires awareness and effort. From my experience, I have found that it is not something that happens overnight, but something that is ongoing. I would encourage anyone looking to improve their work-life balance to make a detailed plan for your day, week, or month (start small). Once you make the plan, carve out time to spend on your fitness/wellness. If you map out your day and make sure that the time is set for your own time, then it will be easier to remember to do it, and also will hold you accountable to doing it. One thing that I have done at work is to put everything that I do in a day on my calendar. Having blocks of time built into my day allows me to truly focus on the work that I am doing at that time. Once I complete that task, I go onto the next item. I have incorporated this with my fitness scheduling too. 

Describe your typical day-to-day routine.

  • Wakeup. 
  • Workout (Swim or bike).
  • Get coffee (most important part of the morning). 
  • Get ready for work. 
  • Go to work.
  • After work, usually hang out with Amy and Charlie (our dog). 
  • Have dinner. 
  • Go to bed. 

Describe what your “perfect” day would look like?

  • Wake up.
  • Meditate. 
  • Workout. 
  • Have a full breakfast with coffee.
  • After breakfast take a look at my planned day and prep for the day. 
  • Go to work.
  • After work, go on walk/run with Amy and Charlie. 
  • Grill out some dinner. 
  • Read and talk with Amy before bed.
  • Go to bed and get 8 full hours of amazing sleep. 

What goal are you most excited about right now?

I am coming off of completing my big goal for 2016, Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga. This was something that I signed up for last year, and have been training intensely for the past 6 months to complete. My goal was to finish the race to the best of my fitness ability. Right now, I am taking a breather, slowing training down a bit, and finding more balance with my overall wellness. I have poured so much into my fitness, that I have sacrificed attention to other areas of my wellness. My goal for the rest of the year is to focus on other areas of wellness and keep up my level of fitness. 

Any additional thoughts or advice: 

Patience: I have had many highs and lows in my personal wellness journey. It is something that is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It takes hard work and dedication, and it doesn’t happen overnight. I truly believe that anyone can achieve a high level and balance of wellness, with dedication, support system, and hard work. There will be peaks and valleys, which are part of the journey and will be what you look back on and appreciate when you achieve your wellness goals. Having patience and grace for yourself will allow for you to enjoy the journey. 

Beautiful advice and I couldn't agree more! I hope Stephen's story has inspired you to believe in yourself and try new challenges!

Remember, we're all on this journey together! Have a wonderful weekend!