Fittest Executive Checkup with Jason Jensen

Thirty top-level professionals are competing in the first annual Fittest Executive Challenge, presented by In Business magazine. Who will earn the healthiest marks? Find out at the In Business Expo & Conference on Oct. 17.

This week, IB checks in with Jason Jensen, GM-Canada and VP-New Market Development, Parts Now.

Category: Fittest Executive – Men Under 50

For me, staying fit is certainly a goal that grew out of necessity. While I have always been blessed with good genetics that have kept me thin, that alone did not help to combat the stressors of work and work-related travel. Ten years ago, my wife, Julie, recognized that my low energy levels and increased crankiness were a result of my work life and that these stressors needed to be offset by getting in shape.

Julie was already involved with a running group that ran at 5:45 in the morning three times a week. Seeing her coming back in the morning with that "runner's high" of energy (no need for coffee!) was enough to convince me to do the same. Running and the improvements to my well-being, attitude, and energy levels grew exponentially to the point that two years later I completed my first full marathon. One other great benefit has been the alone time I get with Julie when we run together. For us, 45 minutes of alone time is normally hard to find, but it is easy to have when you are running together.

I am definitely a goal-driven person. If I don't have a race coming up, it is harder for me to stay consistently motivated. The key that I have found is to have races planned year-round. I start the year on Jan. 1 with the five-mile New Year's Day Dash with my 12-year-old son (a tradition that is now three years old and I hope can last for a long time) and subsequently compete in at least another four running races throughout the year, focusing on half marathons and shorter. I also enjoy running in places I visit on business. For example, I have done Vegas in the middle of July, Toronto's lakefront during the summer, foothills in California, and Montreal in mid-winter. There is no better way to explore a city!

Two years ago, I expanded my exercise activities to include core strengthening and flexibility classes twice a week. These classes, which are led by Steve Myrland, are fondly known as Morning Moving Mayhem. And last year I took up road biking, again nudged by my wife, Julie, who had been road biking for eight years already.
Today, my fitness regimen consists of two to three runs a week of four to five miles, but the weekend run can stretch to 10 to 12 miles if I have a half marathon coming up. I also do the two Morning Moving Mayhem classes. And in the summer, on a weekly basis, I try to get in at least 50 miles of biking.

The biggest challenge for me is getting exercise in the schedule. This can be quite the challenge with my work and travel schedule, my wife's work and exercise schedule, and with four boys between the ages of 5 and 15, and all of their activities. Julie and I have figured out that the only consistent time there is to exercise is before work and school. This means starting our running, biking, or exercising workouts by 6 a.m. In the summer that works great – it is light by then and, considering the heat this year, it is about the only time you can exercise outside! In the winter, though, it is very dark, making it a bit harder to get started on a run or go to a workout, but I would take running outside in the middle of February over a run on a treadmill any day!

I haven't had much of a problem getting motivated for the Fittest Executive Challenge. In the end, it is another race, another contest, so that is motivation enough for me. But knowing that part of the evaluation is body fat measures and BMI, I do have to admit that I have cut down on late-night snacking (my favorite is a bowl of Quaker granola before bed). Eliminating snacks and making a concerted effort to bike to work at least once a week has definitely helped.

Meet all of the competitors here, then vote for your favorite to win the “Readers’ Choice” awards on Twitter @ibmadison #FittestExec.


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