What motivates you to stay healthy?
My 13-year old son - setting a good example for him as he's a sports fanatic and loves to play! I can almost keep up with him (ha!)
Fitness was a huge, integral part of my recovery from PTSD and continues to be a pillar foundation of my mental and physical health. Fitness allows me to feel strong, be engaged, confident, connected, grounded, vulnerable... with everyone ranging from myself, my family and framily, to people I just share a smile with.
What is your occupation? What inspired you to pick this profession?
I want to soak in everything life has to offer. My degree is in Theatre-sound design, was a 'guide touristique' (tour guide) to Quebec City and Washington DC, worked for IBM and the IT department of the BC Attorney General, and started two businesses - but my favourite job ever is being a Mom. For the last three years I've been business coaching, and now am branching off to life coach, starting Alison Smith Coaching & Consulting this past year. The website is currently being built, so please visit my Facebook page or follow me on Instagram for now :)
I've been a coach in different forms my whole life, from swimming and lifeguarding, to motorcycle track riding and racing, to just plain helping others become happier humans. Just like exceptional writers are exceptional readers, exceptional coaches are exceptional learners of the human condition in their field. There is no greater pleasure than meeting someone 'where they're at', connecting on their level, then seeing them 'try on' a tool I suggest and make it their own, then reap the results by 'owning it' - and see them fly. In seeing that, I get to fly a little too ;)
What is something that you have done recently to help others?
I am a connection maven, so I spend a lot of time connecting people to either other people or processes or places. For the last six years, I've been volunteering as the Chair of the Friends of Crystal Pool, representing the user groups of the facility and helping connect user, municipal, and neighbourhood groups to information and resources about the new wellness facility being built in Victoria - there's a lot of misinformation out there.
Swimming and fitness centres are such an integral part of the health of our community - and essential for people like seniors, children and teens, and special needs. It's not just physical, it's social and emotional. Creating a healthy environment to connect all those aspects together creates a foundation of a healthy community. That health and energy reverberates back out into the community - it's such a cool symbiotic energy!!
Can you tell us a little bit about your athletic background/what sports or type of fitness you do?
Early on I played soccer and ran track & field, did dance, I was co-captain of the tennis team, captain of the cheerleading squad - but I've always excelled at being a water baby - I LOVE water, the way it moves and the effect it has on the brain and body. Pools, beaches, waterfronts - I even was a canoeing instructor at one point! I taught swimming since I was 16 and aquafit since I was 19.
I was road racing motorcycles for a couple years, then started doing Crossfit to gain more strength for racing and LOVE lifting!! Sumo deadlifts are my favourite :D I even developed a year's worth of WODs for the water so I can get the best of both worlds. Tho right now I'm really enjoying being the coach-ee!
How did you get into motorcycle racing?
I was coaching at track days in the U.S. and knew racing would push my limits to the next level, so I thought 'I'll do one, maybe two race weekends to push my limits', but then did one weekend and was hooked - even after my bike's engine blew up. I ended up winning 2nd place in the Novice Championship that year, and just kept going... Racing's brought me to another level on so many levels, precision training on and off the track, logistics and family organizational planning, marketing & promotion, budgeting, communication, and especially decision making. You learn racing how to evaluate situations and make decisions between .1-.3 seconds, with precision. It's a fascinating experience that reverberates into the rest of my life.
Do you have a life-changing experience related to your athletic background/experience that shaped your future self or future direction?
In 2012 my sister died from suicide and three months later I was held up at gunpoint at the bank I worked at. I was slammed with PTSD and anxiety, and knew if I didn't take action I would fall into the pit of depression I suffered from before my son was born. I worked with my 'ground support team': my family doc, my homeopathic doctor, a wonderful psychologist specializing in trauma, my acupuncturist/yoga studio, and a helluva workout schedule in the pool. I leaned on supportive extended family and framily, I didn't hesitate to ask for help from them when I needed to. I was committed to avoiding pharmaceuticals as although they have their place, I prefer eating and living clean. Some injuries we recover from are internal, tho we still have scars. I'm proud of mine, I can talk about it - not everyone can.
I vehemently believe most people can move through mental health challenges using fitness, food, and framily (family+friends). How can we know what our baseline health is if we are covering it with processed food and medication? Once we know what that baseline is, we can put in new practices, continue to tweak our fitness routine and diet (because it's a lifetime 'practice'), get help from a 'ground support team' like a counsellor or personal trainer or other professional, and create a lifetime foundation practice for living. Then we adjust as needed, including medical intervention when needed - but only if necessary.
In accomplishing those little changes over time, and by fulfilling our commitments, we create self-confidence, learn how to learn, and learn to overcome failure - which is a natural part of life! You weren't born walking, right? That reduces stress, you start getting better sleep, quality fitness results, have more positive interactions in relationships. Most importantly these changes over time increase neuroplasticity - our brain's ability to learn and change - and our happiness hormones: endorphins, oxytocin, seratonin, and dopamine. Learning how our body and brain react to these four hormones, we can better understand what changes we need to make - thus we have the power! - to mentally and physically live, work and play happy!
What would you say to someone who is trying to start living a healthier lifestyle?
Change one big thing and one little thing for 4 weeks. i.e. Big thing = no bread/breaded food; little thing = write down three things you're grateful for when you wake up every day. Get the practice of these new changes down, then move on to the next big one/little one. The idea is to continue moving forward in a positive direction consistently. There will always be ups & downs - keep the upward trajectory.
I hate the phrase 'going on a diet'! We have ONE diet that lasts our entire life - change one thing about it for four weeks. Then another. Then another. Same thing for fitness. Pick a day and something you really love. Commit to that for 4 weeks, that's YOUR time - take it, you have permission to take care of yourself, carve out time for it. Then notice how you feel after 4 weeks of doing that - or not! No guilt - it's all about practice. Ask me if I could even do a headstand in yoga at first... it took me a year! I fell down, a lot, usually with a big thud in a quiet yoga studio. Humour is such a great part of living! Now that I have that 'practice' process, even all those Crossfit gymnastic skills I'm terrified of, I know I'll get there one day... ;D
What do you think the world needs most at this time in history?
Appreciation and gratitude for one another, meeting each other where we're at, in that moment. Every person is at a different stage for this moment or that. We can acknowledge that, bolstering each other up - not breaking each other down. If everyone encouraged each other in their 'learning moments', just think of the impact we can make with them, and the change we can make in the world. Pollyanna, maybe - but that's exactly who I am :) Polyanna Badass.
Do you set goals? Will you share those goals with us?
I set goals, yes! Big dreams chunked out in smaller goals. I'm not race training anymore, so I created a photography project I want to be in kickass shape for 3 months from now. Then I'll set another one!
I'm channelling my time and energy into my son's basketball focus, develop the new coaching business, and travel to spend more time with my parents & family over the next year. Several friends lost their parents in the last few years, and my nieces and nephews are growing up so fast! I'm so grateful for the time I get with them.
I am completely fired-up for coaching people to live happier by focusing on the brain, neuroplasticity and 'happiness hormones'. I'm doing more reading now than I did in university, and absolutely thriving on learning - about myself, my clients, and the human brain and our relationship with self.
Also I'm highly competitive, so now that I'm not racing I'm going to have to find an outlet for that!
What are 5 quick facts that your best friend would use to introduce you?
- Don't let that pretty face fool you - she's a big nerd, loves books, Star Wars and sci fi, philosophically deep and fascinated by human relations, and is curious about everything.
- Has a story for everything. Every. Freaking. Thing.
- She has tongue-in-cheek humour and is a face fart champion.
- Is highly loyal and diplomatic, sees the big picture in life and in the world
- She will challenge you, listen to you, then you feel awesome like you can do anything. You get a touch of the 'superhero energy' talking with her.
What is your favourite Fit Balm product, and why?
Hands down (no pun intended) the Hand Repair Balm! Even though I wear leather gloves motorcycle racing, I still get callouses - and even more now that I'm lifting weights. I keep one in my backpack, my purse, on my desk... Less or no peeling and keeps my hands soft!
Favourite… if you can list just one!
Podcast Channel: The Tim Ferris Show and Impact Theory w/ Tom Bilyeu
Book or Author: Fave author = Milan Kundera, Latest fave book = "Drive: the surprising truth about what motivates us" by Daniel Pink
Movie: Star Wars. All of them.... Well okay 'Return of the Jedi'. Anything Meryl Streep or Robin Williams, except 'Mamma Mia' and 'One Hour Photo'.
Snack Food: Darkest chocolate & natural crunchy peanut butter
Article of clothing: Lulu sweatpants
Quotes: "Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. God Himself is not secure, having given man dominion over His works! Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold. Faith alone defends. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. "
- Helen Keller
"We do not need to play small in the world. We do not need to cower or dim our light or to be afraid to rise and demand our worth....
We are here to burn. Fearlessly. Not to flicker in the background, but to rage and light up the sky. When our fire is turned up we will attract others whose energy is also endlessly flowing."
- Alex Myles
Athletes: Selena Williams and Ozzy Smith
Want to learn more about Alison? Check her out on social media!
Instagram: @coachalismithFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/supercoachalison/