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Fit for two: Execs embark on a shared fitness journey

Kristine Ashe shows off her Fittest Executive Challenge trophy next to IB Publisher Jon Konarske.

Kristine Ashe shows off her Fittest Executive Challenge trophy next to IB Publisher Jon Konarske.

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There was an extra person in Kristine and Paul Ashe’s relationship for a while, and neither of them was very happy about it. But they worked hard, and they’re both doing much better now.

No, it’s not what you think. Their marriage was just fine. But they did lose a lot of extra baggage, and now their prospects are brighter than they’ve ever been.

That’s because they found the time to work together, as an inseparable team, on a big project — her as a contestant in IB’s Fittest Executive Challenge and him as her fellow traveler and dogged supporter.

“We tease each other,” said Kristine Ashe. “We’ve lost a person between us. He’s lost almost 100 pounds, and I lost 40. It’s a great thing, and he feels great.”

“When you don’t feel good and you’re not taking care of yourself physically and aren’t eating right, you’re a little more lethargic. So my life has definitely improved, and my work too.” — Kristine Ashe

Actually, both of them are feeling great — or much better, at least, than they did when they took up the challenge back in the spring of this year.

Of course, it’s no surprise that they succeeded in accomplishing their goals once they set their minds on getting fit. Ashe, a vice president at Park Bank, recently took home the top prize in the Fittest Executive Challenge’s Most Improved Woman category. Meanwhile, her husband, the community meal director for Madison’s Luke House, was her constant companion on her fitness journey, and made her 4 a.m. wakeup calls just a bit easier to bear.

But as leaders in their respective workplaces, they both knew how to get motivated — and to chart a clear path toward success.

For Kristine, that simply meant applying the same skill set that has made her a successful executive to her fitness regimen.

“It’s kind of like an interesting work-flow and project management [task] — how do you go through these different steps to accomplish a goal?” said Ashe. “Looking at work, what the situation is, and trying to use all the resources, doing the research and being willing to work, and doing step-by-step work flow and analysis. Seeing what works and what doesn’t and trying again, and just being willing to work through a process. That’s helped, and I think it’s brainstorming with other people, those kinds of techniques. What are best practices? Developing steps that you can consistently use to improve a process.”

For Ashe, there wasn’t anything particularly magical or groundbreaking about her fitness regimen. Her research led her down some healthy paths — including portion control and a consistent exercise program (through Hybrid Fitness in Fitchburg) that incorporated circuit training. She also made it a point to drink more water and eat healthier foods, including more fruits and vegetables.

“I got a heart-rate monitor and I started determining [the number of calories burned] when you’re exercising, and when you look at how hard you work to get rid of calories and your own calorie intake, it really makes you think more about what you put in your mouth.”

You could say her personal fitness revolution has been a revelation of sorts in the workplace as well. Ashe says her new dedication has given her more energy and affected her in other ways.

“It’s definitely a stress reliever, and just gives you more focused attention to what needs to happen,” said Ashe. “I take a lot of pride in where I work, and I enjoy the people I work with, and it just makes my whole countenance happier, and I feel healthier, and I feel that I can [more easily] engage in conversation. It just helps me be present through different issues versus just being stressed out. When you don’t feel good and you’re not taking care of yourself physically and aren’t eating right, you’re a little more lethargic. So my life has definitely improved, and my work too.”

(Continued)

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