Welcome to THE BALANCE PROJECT: a series of relevant and refreshingly candid interviews featuring inspiring and accomplished women talking about balance. I’ve always been curious—and maybe a little obsessed—about how women I admire manage the tragically glorified “doing it all” craze. So I asked them. As I suspected, no one really does “it all.” Everyone’s making sacrifices somewhere. And that should make us feel a little better. I hope the conversation will be steered toward that reality rather than toward the flawed and dangerous assumption that we should try—or even want to try—to perfectly do “it all.”
2015 brings new changes to The Balance Project! First, my second book, THE BALANCE PROJECT: A NOVEL, will be published in April. It’s women’s fiction and it was inspired by these interviews. More about that here. Second, in preparation for the launch and because these interviews have received such tremendous response, I will publish new interviews two or three times per week, not just on Fridays. Thank you for your continued support!
No. 43: Christianne Phillips, Fitness Consultant and Writer
Where I live: Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NYC
Job: Fitness Consultant, Music Producer, Master Instructor, Fitness/Fashion/Food Writer, Flywheel Instructor
Kids: Identical twin boys, age 7
Is the job you have now the same one you had before kids? If not, how and why did you change directions?
This is a great question for me. Before having my boys, I was a freelance event producer with a degree from Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. It was very exciting and busy. I traveled constantly all over the country and really loved it. I thrived on the energy, but it was definitely all-consuming. I produced my last show when I was 5 months pregnant with my boys. I returned home and promptly went into preterm labor at week 25. After multiple hospitalizations, bed rest, and lots of drugs to keep those lil’ guys in, eventually my water broke and they came out early at 30 weeks.
After 1 1/2 years, when I could eventually come up for air and see clearly (!), I realized I needed some more balance in my life (aka work!) but I would not return to a profession that would take too much away from my family. Additionally, if I was going to do anything, I knew it had to be a massive passion of mine, which is fitness and health. I started teaching group fitness classes, that led to creating and starting cycle studios in DC and NYC, which led to developing my skills at this intersection of music/fitness/health so that I could land where I am now. I’m in a place that allows me to bring it together: my love of fitness, music, food, writing, mentoring, teaching, producing, and overall health. Crazy that I’ve managed to fold it all into one life!
Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
It absolutely is realistic AND attainable!! It is a mind set that doesn’t really have anything to do with “having.” It’s the decision to be happy with what you have at any stage of life and not let what you don’t or want to have take away from that. I feel that I “have it all” because I am able to work and maintain a healthy and happy family. Goal setting is wonderful, but it must start from a confident and secure place or else we set ourselves up for failure. Are there professional and personal goals that I have yet to reach? Of course! But that certainly doesn’t take anything away from the “ALL” that is my life at this very moment.
What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
UGH, letting go of the need to finish everything perfectly. I have to learn how to be okay with a job that is just not going to get done or will not be 100% amazing. I like things neat, cleaned up, completed, and stellar. Sometimes… no, MOST of the time, that doesn’t happen. It drives me crazy.
What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
I’ve recently made some professional and schedule decisions that allow me to be with my boys after school every single afternoon. Perfect timing now that they have TONS of homework!! I attempt to fit in everything else both during school hours and after bed time. I honestly feel like I missed all of their first grade year (last year) because of the focus and energy I poured into my job. I’ve definitely gotten better at not only giving them my time, but mentally giving them my ATTENTION when we are together. I feel SO much better about that. It actually makes me want to cry with gratitude right now.
What was the best advice you ever heard on balance…
From a mentor/co-worker? When you are finished with your work, write down everything that you still have on your plate on a piece of paper, fold it up, and put it away until the next morning. Decide to leave it behind and focus on your home.
From your mother? Actually from my mother-in-law, when the babies were born she said, “Make sure you feed yourself first, then the babies!” I thought she was crazy. Then I realized how physically demanding it was to breastfeed and wrangle two babies. She knows me well because I get upset and have low blood sugar issues when hungry, so “permission” to take care of myself first in this respect was really good for me to hear!
From your kids? “Your girlfriends are coming over, you’ll need some Rose wine.”
If you had one extra hour in each day and you couldn’t work or be with your family, how would you spend that hour?
Definitely HOT YOGA.
What do you wish you’d known when you were 20?
I wish I had known it would be possible to find success following my TRUE passion in fitness and health and that my parents would still be proud of me even if I was not a doctor or lawyer.
What do you hope to know by time you’re 60?
What one part of your home life do you wish you could outsource?
Doing the dishes after using all of them in my hours spent cooking in the kitchen.
Whose job do you wish you had?
I’m really happy with my work, however, I think it would be so fabulous being a beauty writer and getting paid to play with products, get spa treatments, and visit make-up counters!
Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
My cleaning lady’s??
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.
What are you reading right now?
This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz.
Activity? Dancing inappropriately in all the wrong places (at a stoplight while jogging, in front of a non-dance class, in line at the supermarket, on the elliptical machine).
Food? Ben and Jerry’s ice cream with caramel sauce.
How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?
7-8 hours. This is super important to me.
What do you read every morning?
My music blogs, my emails, my boys’ Mandarin Chinese flash cards while we’re having breakfast.
Complete the following sentences:
I think I: have great eyebrows and incredible taste in music and fashion.
I wish I: could be easier on myself.
My kids: are miracles.
Do you have a personal motto or favorite saying?
With Christianne Phillips, what you see is what you get. Authentic, fun, motivating, and inspiring, Christianne brings an unparalleled passion to every facet of her life. Whether she’s creating programs and vetting instructors for a new studio, curating a playlist for an upscale hotel spa, counseling a client on lifestyle choices, or teaching fitness classes, Christianne draws on her varied background as a professional dancer, personal trainer, DJ, journalist, and chef to create engaging experiences that inspire people to go beyond their best. In 2006, Christianne gave birth to identical twin boys, making the role of “mother” her most physically demanding and spiritually fulfilling performance credit to date.
Find more about Christianne here:
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 1: Jessica Mindich, Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 2: Veronica Beard, Fashion Designer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 3: Emily Liebert, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 4: Lyss Stern, Mom-trepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 5: Lauren Slayton, Nutritionist
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 6: Elizabeth Moyer, Blogger
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 7: Annabel Monaghan, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 8: Holly Gordon, Director
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 9: Jill Salzman, Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 10: Jennifer Levinson, Jen’s List
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 11: Jenny Hutt, Media Personality
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 12: Angela Santomero, Kids’ Media Creator
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 13: Carola Donato, Yogi
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 14: Tiffany Washington, Pastry Designer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 15: Emily Giffin, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 16: Alana Sanko, Writer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 17: Cara Lemieux, Journalist
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 18: Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke, Authors
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 19: Nikki Mark, Author & Foundation Director
Shonda Rhimes on Doing It All
Indra Nooyi on Balance
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 21: Jill Bryan, Comedian
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 22: Cindy Callaghan, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 23: Stephanie Hirsch, Artist
My Times of India Interview on Work-Life Balance
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 24: Whitney Dineen, Author/Baker
AmEx’s Sobbott on Balance
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 25: J0-Laine Duke-Collins, Dessert Stylist
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 26: Whitney English, Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 27: Jennifer Gooch Hummer, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 28: Melissa Amster, Book Blogger
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 29: Nigel Marsh, Author and Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 30: DayNa Decker, Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 31: Amy Selling, Blogger
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 32: Heather Sonnenberg, Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 33: Allison Winn Scotch, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 34: Bibi Kasrai, Entrepreneur and Chef
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 35: Karen Sutton MD, Orthopaedic Surgeon
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 36: Samantha Ettus, Balance Expert, Author, TV/Radio Personality
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 37: Pam Yudko, Holistic Health and Transformational Coach
THE BALANCE PROJECT| No. 38: Nancy Huang, Nonprofit Outreach Director
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 39: Mary Laura Philpott, Writer, Editor and Illustrator
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 40: Towanda Long, Marketing Communications Specialist
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 41: Kristyn Kusek Lewis, Writer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 42: Tracy Pollan, Actor and Writer
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