This week we are high-fiving FiTONIC’s Athlete Spotlight: Alice Mroczkowski. Alice is an avid cyclist and stage zero breast cancer survivor who shares a remarkable story about a diagnosis that forever changed the way she looks at life. She talks about how she uses fitness to solve difficult problems and how her spin coach not only helped her with cycling but also gave her hope while undergoing a radical surgery. Alice has a powerful story of persistence, hope, and a passion for fitness that challenges us all to view life as the precious gift it is.
What is your fave way to train (running, yoga, CrossFit, weightlifting, dancing…)?
This is a difficult question since I do so many things: biking, swimming, yoga, hiking (the list goes on). But I guess if I had to narrow it down, my favorite form of exercise would be a badass spin class.
How did that become your thing?
Indoor cycling (aka spinning) became my thing in my 30’s. After a bad breakup with a runner, I didn't want to run anymore, so I sought a different form of exercise and found myself in a spin class. The right instructor, coupled with a killer playlist, can literally take you off the ground even though you’re on a stationary bike. In fact, I got so into it that I decided to become an instructor myself and got certified.
How has training physically changed you mentally or emotionally?
I don’t call them workouts; I call them thinkouts. Some of my best ideas have been conceived while exercising. It’s not only “my time” to burn off energy, but also to solve problems. I attribute this to the endorphins released in the brain during exercise. There really is something to that. Whenever I’m mentally blocked, working out usually solves it.
What is still hard for you about your training, fitness or nutrition?
Sometimes finding the time can be challenging. Over the years I’ve learned how to say “no” to people that would otherwise want that time. I liken exercise to putting the oxygen mask on yourself first. You can’t help anyone else until you do that. I think women are especially guilty of neglecting themselves because they’re busy being mothers, wives, friends, and caregivers in general. It’s okay to give yourself permission to put “you” first. That’s not selfish; it’s important. A strong body and mind need the right fuel and attention. Then we can be there more effectively for others.
What is the mantra in your head that you hear most often when you train?
A book that my mother used to read to me as a child called “The Little Engine That Could.” It’s about never giving up. No matter what your size or perceived ability, even the lil’ guy (or gal) can make it to the top!
What do you love most about your body?
Everything. This past year I was diagnosed with LCIS, lobular carcinoma in situ, which is considered stage zero breast cancer. I opted to undergo radical surgery, a double mastectomy, to head cancer off at the pass. Or, as I like to think of it, KO that mofo that was heading straight for me. If you had asked me this question a year ago, I might have focused on one part of my body. But after going through this health ordeal I am now humbled and grateful for every part of my body, and the fact that I’m alive.
If you have worked with a coach, what’s the most important lesson you learned from that person?
My cycling coach, Jonathan Carlucci, encouraged me to never give up and just keep believing. I was the caboose in his cycling mentorship training program at Equinox (literally the runt of the litter) and he motivated and encouraged me even when I felt like a hot mess and hopeless. His leadership was truly inspirational and transformative. Unfortunately, I got my health diagnosis shortly after completing his program, but what he doesn’t know is that the lessons of resilience I learned under him is what got me through the dark days that followed in the hospital.
What is your fave nutrition tip? Or if you have tried a FiTONIC product, how do you use it in your day?
When it comes to your health it’s not so much about working out; it’s about what you eat. I’m terrible in the morning and usually skip breakfast. My body just can’t handle food, especially before working out. I know this is bad, but solids don’t agree with me in the morning, so as a compromise I’ll make a shake with FiTONIC. This gives me the vitamins I need and is the best alternative, plus it tastes delicious.
If you could tell only one thing to every woman who is struggling in her fitness journey, what would that be?
Life is precious and unpredictable so be good to yourself. We encounter enough people along the way that put us down, so don’t be one of them. Raise your head high and give yourself props and encouragement each day. We all have good days and bad days, but every day is a gift so treat yourself kindly. There’s only one you.
What goal are you going to crush next??
My health diagnosis this past year was like a stick thrown in the wheel of my bike spokes. Last year my new year’s resolution was to become an indoor cycling instructor. That obviously didn't happen, but the beauty of surviving is that I can resolve to try again, which is exactly what I intend to do. I hope that I can take my experience and inspire others who are faced with health hurdles, not only overcome, but dominate. Life works in mysterious ways, but you have to be open to the mystery and embrace the hidden silver linings.
BIG thank you to Alice for being our FiTONIC’s Athlete Spotlight!
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