IN THE SOLUTION
Lawyers and Fitness

By Andrea Goldman

We all know that exercise is good for you. It helps maintain cardiovascular health, burns calories, and reduces stress. We all have made our New Year’s resolutions and long since broken them. However, there are many attorneys who do manage to exercise on a regular basis.How do busy lawyers with thriving practices find the time to exercise?  I hope that presenting a few of their stories will encourage you to embark on an exercise regimen of your own. Keep in mind that all of the lawyers interviewed for this article are over the age of 40.

First, the facts: Exercise really is important for your health. Dr. Bess Marcus, professor of psychiatry and human behavior and director of the Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine at the Miriam Hospital and Brown Medical School, tell us that most people who are inactive do believe that exercise is important. When asked why they do not exercise, the majority say it is due to lack of time. Marcus points out, however, that putting in a half-hour of exercise gives back more than that in terms of increased energy.

There are two sets of guidelines for minimum health. The current belief is that adults should accumulate at least 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity, such as brisk walking, most days (five) of the week. This should be done in a minimum of ten-minute increments. Older guidelines that call for at least three days per week of at least 20 minutes of vigorous, continuous activity, such as jogging and running, still apply. For weight loss, the requirements are much more demanding: One has to do moderate or vigorous exercise for 60 minutes a day, at least five days per week. It is also necessary to change one’s diet in conjunction with the exercise.

Kimberly Winter is a partner in the law firm of White, Freeman & Winter, LLP, in Weston, Massachusetts. She focuses on medical law. Winter is the busiest attorney I know. Her involvement in the legal arena in Massachusetts is more than impressive. At the Massachusetts Bar Association, Winter is on the Executive Management Board and in the House of Delegates, the Health Law Section Council (ex-officio as immediate past chair), Lawyer Referral Service Governing Council, and Lawyers in Transition Committee. She is also on the Massachusetts Association of Trial Attorneys (MATA) Board of Governors, co-chair of the Medical Negligence Committee, and co-chair of the State Legislative Committee. In July, Winter became secretary of MATA. At the Women’s Bar Association (WBA), Winter is co-chair of the Employment Issues Commission and on the WBA Board. Outside of work, Winter serves on the board of directors of a youth services organization called Leaders of Tomorrow and is co-coach of her second-grader’s girls soccer team. Finally, she is on the finance committee for two political candidates.

Winter exercises regularly. She runs six to seven times per week and lifts weights about three times a week. She exercises in the morning and says it is a “compulsion at this point, but I also love it.” Winter has been very consistent about exercising since high school. In order to keep up with her exercise, she says, “I beg, borrow, and steal time from everything else I have to do. I have been known to run in hotel hallways. I run in snow, ice, etc., and ran all the way through pregnancy as well.”

David W. White Jr. is president of the Massachusetts Bar Association. He is a partner in the law firm of Breakstone, White & Gluck, P.C. His firm had the largest medical malpractice settlement in Massachusetts history and is known for several high-profile cases. When asked about exercise, White responded, “This depends primarily on the season and on whether any events are coming up.” On average, he exercises three times per week. When training for the Pan Mass Challenge bike-a-thon, he will ride five to six times and up to 200 miles per week. White goes to the gym in the months between November and April, and he tries to get in at least two weekday mornings for about an hour and one major round of two hours or more on the weekends. He tries to go hiking as often as possible, which has worked out to 15 to 20 new mountains per year over the last few years. White also walks at least two miles every day to and from the train station and to go to meetings. More specifically, White says,

My cycling goal for this year is the Pan Mass Challenge in early August. I plan to complete the 83-mile ride in less than five hours, including stops. I have also set a goal of climbing all of the 115 4,000-foot mountains in New York and New England. When I started this goal in 2004, I already had about 30 under my belt from years past. I am now at 81. The total number of mountains climbed in the last three years is over 50, however, because there have been some repeats along the way. I hope to finish this challenge in 2008. Hiking includes a fair amount of winter hiking and snow shoeing as well. I hope to climb Mt. Rainier in Washington next summer and someday to get to the top of Denali in Alaska.

White also does a little rock and ice climbing (“I’m not very good”) and some scuba diving (about five to ten dives per year for the last five years). He goes to the gym at 5:30 am during the week and in the afternoon on the weekends. White exercises in order to (“try to”) lose weight, to stay fit, and to reduce the stresses of daily life. White confesses that he is semi-consistent about exercising and often misses stretches around November and December. In response to how he makes time for exercise, White jokes, “I get on the scale. After the scale is done lecturing me, I put my exercise clothing on and go do something.” White reached his goal of dropping a size in the tuxedo department for his end-of-May wedding.

Sherri Bunick is a litigation attorney with two sons, ages 11 and 14. She exercises five days per week. In particular, Bunick does cardio (running, elliptical, stair-climber, or bike), 200 varied sit-ups, stretching, upper- and lower-body weights four times per week; yoga and tennis, once a week. If that is not enough, she just started to learn to play women’s hockey once a week.

Bunick is another early riser and exercises at 5:30 am. She exercises for fitness, weight loss, and stress reduction. She has been rigidly consistent about exercising for the past year and one-half and exercised regularly prior to having children. Bunick makes time for exercise by scheduling it before the day begins, and she also has a workout buddy. When asked if she networks as part of her exercise routine, Bunick replied emphatically, “No! This is ‘my time.’”

GPSolo’s own Martha Church has been exercising off and on for years. Currently she exercises five days a week at a 6:00 am “Boot Camp.” Church exercises to “keep down stress and reduce that spongy feeling.” When Boot Camp is in session, Church attends religiously. When asked how to make time for exercise, Church simply answers, “Set the alarm clock.”

Jonathan T. (“JT”) Mann is a true exercise fanatic. He is the principal in the firm Mann & Company, P.C., in Framingham, Massachusetts, where he runs a general corporate and commercial practice, with a focus on licensing and international business transactions. Mann recently started a new job at Tac Worldwide as corporate counsel and secretary. He is the membership director of the Stanford Club of New England and the secretary of the Sherborn Lions Club. He has two children, ages nine and 12.

Mann exercises every day. He does the following workouts in winter: indoor cycling on a bike trainer, elliptical, lap swimming (well, not this year, but most years), weight lifting, and core strengthening. In other seasons Mann does outdoor cycling, open water swimming, weight lifting, and core strengthening. His exercise routine begins at 6:15 am for 45 minutes during the week and at 7:00 am for an hour or two on the weekends. Mann walks for “only” 30 minutes or so a day on his office treadmill but is planning to make a few changes to his office setup so that he will be able to check e-mail while walking, with a goal of 2.5 hours a day. When asked why he exercises, Mann says, “I love it! It makes me feel good. Stress relief. I sleep better, and I just generally feel better when I exercise every day. I also like to compete in sprint distance triathlons, so I need to keep in shape.”

Mann has exercised since the fall of 1979 (albeit with some lapses for a few months here and there over the years) and has been quite consistent since early 2000. I should mention that Mann was a high school All-American middle-distance runner and his two national championships are both for the 800-meters distance. He was also an All-American in 2004 as a masters track runner when he ran the 800 meters in less than two minutes as a 38-year-old.

As a lawyer who has come to motherhood at midcareer and midlife, Maria DeLuzio is exhausted most of the time. She has a two-year-old and a four-year-old, having traveled to China twice in the last three years to collect her daughters. DeLuzio is a partner at Hiatt & Hoke, LLP, in Quincy, Massachusetts, where she practices employment and other civil litigation. She exercises three to five times a week (more in better weather when she walks with the kids and the dog). DeLuzio does the following exercise: walking, weight lifting (two to three times a week for 40 to 60 minutes), and Stairmaster. She also says, “I wear a pedometer and try to walk 10,000 steps a day.” DeLuzio exercises in the early morning and late afternoon.

DeLuzio exercises for general good health, stress reduction, and to maintain low weight as middle age encroaches. She has been exercising her whole life and has been very consistent about it. When asked how she makes time for exercise, she states, “It has become a huge challenge. I have made a mental shift that having babysitting so I can exercise is fine. I also find ways to incorporate my kids—the stroller, weight lifting in their playroom as I supervise play.” DeLuzio has done some networking as a result of exercising and has received one referral through an exercise class.

Joyce Davis practices workers’ compensation and disability law in Newton, Massachusetts. She exercises about three to four times per week. Davis says,

Right now, I’m working on the Body for Life program, which calls for three weight training sessions and three aerobic sessions per week. My problem is that I find it hard to get to the gym that often, so I either double up on the training (i.e., do both weight and aerobic in the same workout) or fall behind. In good weather, I bike, walk, and canoe. For aerobics at the gym, I jog or walk up inclines. . . . Even though I have much more flexibility in my schedule and work fewer hours than when I was at a firm, I actually exercise less. I think that’s because I’m responsible for my practice and other people’s lives; I am more likely to put my work needs ahead of my personal needs for health and fun.

Davis finds exercising later in the day difficult. Her ideal is to work at home for a few hours and then go to the gym. If she goes directly to the office, she winds up not exercising. “At this point, it’s like brushing my teeth; I just do it. I use exercise for weight control, muscle building (one hopes), and stress relief. For me, it’s also very social. I have a lot of friends at my health club (and even met my partner there). Professionally, too, I can network easily without trying.”

Davis has been exercising “forever.” She states, “I almost never skip a whole week, although I may not make my goal some weeks. Then, I get into ‘deficit exercise’ when I count some sessions in the following week as belonging to the week before and try to make it up at the end of the second week. This usually means I run in ‘deficit’ mode, but it keeps me somewhat honest. I actually look at my schedule and think about when I will exercise. Sometimes, I’ll get up early to make sure I can get a session in.”

Dr. Bess Marcus, the fitness expert, offers the following tips to help someone start and continue with an exercise program: In order to make a habit change, keep track of what you are doing. Make plans and a commitment. Set reasonable short-term goals and set the bar low. Exceeding your goal will boost your confidence. You can have a long-term goal as well, such as getting back to running three times per week. The more specific the goals, the better. Social support also helps (particularly for women). A workout buddy, someone to support you or make it so you can exercise, can be extremely useful.

Marcus says we are often hard on ourselves if we do not do what we set out to do. So, reward yourself for following through, mark successes, praise yourself. She also suggests thinking out of the box. While on the road, walk as much as you can if you are unable to take classes. Be creative. Encourage your colleagues to go on walking meetings with you. Multitask—spend quality time with your significant other and/or kids while being active at the same time. Play tag, shoot baskets, cycle, swim, walk, dance, or whatever will be fun for you. Walk through the week and look for pockets of time on the weekend to do another activity that you enjoy. If you have a bad day or week, acknowledge it and then move on from there.

Exercise lowers stress, decreases anxiety and depression, reduces negative mood, enhances positive mood, and decreases the likelihood of developing depression and diabetes. It can decrease high blood pressure and even helps people quit smoking. Marcus says that it can be a gateway to changing other health habits as well. Marcus also stresses the importance of finding an activity that you like to do, or at least one that you don’t hate—this dramatically increases the likelihood that you will stick with it.

What about the author? I exercise every day for anywhere from 35 to 90 minutes. I ride the stationary bike, swim, use the arc trainer, do Pilates, lift weights, and do crunches and stretching. I do not fit exercise into my workday; I fit work into my exercise routine! Unlike most of the respondents, I either exercise first thing in the morning (not early) or at lunch time (which is frequently at 4:00 pm). I have been exercising consistently, with time off for morning sickness and an auto accident, since I was 14.

So, how about you? Start slow, but make a resolution to begin exercising tomorrow. And if you are ever in the Boston area, give me a call—we’ll go for a walk!

Andrea Goldman is a litigator, arbitrator, and mediator in Newton, Massachusetts, focusing on construction, contractor/homeowner, business, and real estate law. She is fluent in Spanish and French and has served international clients in their native language. Her website is www.andreagoldmanlaw.com, and she may be reached at 617/467-3072.

Copyright 2007

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