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How She Does It - Lija Wilson

Kate Middleton

Posted on June 13 2018

In our 'How She Does It' series we interview women about how they incorporate active and healthy habits into their lives. We believe there is no one-size-fits-all approach to health and fitness, so we aim to capture the variety of ways women choose to be active to give you ideas and inspiration on how to live your best active life.

Tell us about yourself 

Hi, my name is Lija Wilson, 42. I'm a co-founder and joint CEO of Puffling. I live in Palm Beach, Sydney and I'm married to Johnny with two sons, Jack (5) and Harry (3.5). I love hanging out with the boys and doing anything involving water – ocean swimming, stand up paddle, kayaking, attempting to surf. I also love to cook and read, anything from fiction to self-help and motivational books to autobiographies.

What does active living mean to you? 

Active living is a lifestyle choice and as a family, we work our weekends around as much outdoor and physical activity as possible. It’s great for our minds and clearing our heads from the busy week, resetting, reconnecting and also just burning and creating energy. It’s very restorative. Even my son Jack, who has just turned 5, will ask often to do something like a walk on the rocks or a jump in the ocean or go for a run in the sand hills after daycare to ‘clear his head’ – his words !

What do you like to do to stay active?

We’ve been living on Sydney’s northern beaches for around 18 months after a 5 year stint in Melbourne, so our lifestyle has changed quite a lot. We have always loved getting out and doing things on the weekends, but now, we pretty much try not to leave the postcode from Friday until Sunday and spend as much time outside as we can.
I’ve always loved to exercise and try different things but about a year ago, I signed up to Cross Fit on Avalon Beach as did my husband, Johnny. We absolutely love it and were hooked straight away. I get up at 5:30 as many days as feasible to make the 6am class as the sun rises on the beach and try and race down for a swim in the ocean afterwards.
We love taking the stand up paddle board or kayaks out on Pittwater and do this all year round. The boys also love doing the walk up to the lighthouse at Barrenjoey Headland which is pretty spectacular.
We were away for a big chuck of the summer months this year, but I love ocean swimming and will usually sign up for as many races as I can over summer. I haven’t conquered the Palm to Whale Beach swim, it’s on the 2019 list.

What is your definition of healthy?

Obviously, eating the right foods, choosing the right sources of energy and drinking heaps of water are key and really help to set the right tone for a healthy lifestyle. After kids and starting a business and unfortunately getting older, sleep is definitely something that is paramount for good health. I do however find it hard to squeeze in everything. I try to get in enough sleep to ensure I feel well rested the next day with a clear head and a body equipped to fight off sickness which inevitably circles constantly with two little ones in daycare but it usually turns into me medicating with too much coffee! Life is so hectic for us all these days so I’m also really conscious of how a calm and strong mind feeds into your overall health, something I’ve only really grasped pretty recently. I try to meditate, but am pretty rubbish at it and find it hard to get more than 15 mins in. 

Have you always been active and healthy?

Yes, I loved sport when I was younger and have always been active. I wish I still played competitive sport but these days, I just fit in what I can with the schedule of my family, life and work.

What is your daily or weekly routine?

Our lives are all about the shared google calendar, it’s pretty crazy in the juggle most weeks and Johnny travels interstate for at least 2 trips a month so we have to set out our weekly routine to manage.
I always get my exercise done before the household stirs. I always cook and pre food Sunday afternoons. The week is a combination of pick ups and drop offs and city commute or work from home slots and juggling any after work commitments so we try to keep the weekends pretty unstructured and fit in as much time together as we can.

What daily habits keep you fit and healthy?

Exercise is and has always been key for me mentally and physically, it sets me up for the day, gives me an hour of head clearing and I always sleep better too. I try to do a quick meditation at night during the week just to get away from checking phone or email last thing in the day ( if I haven’t passed out on the lounge ). Good food, plenty of water, always a concoction in the nutri bullet in the mornings packed with whatever goodness I can cram in for one serve.

What is your best active living hack?

I wish I had more time to walk instead of cab or drive, it’s the simplest one but definitely just getting more steps into your day changes your energy levels as well as sneaking in a calorie burn. I try and work from home a couple of days a week and it’s not a hack as such but I always keep a swimming costume and pair of goggles in the car, sometimes you just need to grab any window you can to be active – no matter how short.

Favourite healthy meal?

I love fresh fish on the BBQ with lashings of lemon and I also really love soups and salads. I got a Thermomix a few years ago when the kids were younger and it’s made life so much easier, it does the best soups in literally no time and without much prep.

What health craze are you guilty of loving?

Apple cider vinegar. I take a splash in warm water first thing and I’m quite addicted to it now.

What challenges do you need to overcome in order to achieve healthy and active living?

Like a lot of people with businesses and young families, time is the greatest challenge. For food choices, prep and planning ahead is everything for us. For being active generally, now the boys are at an age where we can do things together, our activities and time on the weekend focuses on being out doing things and mixing it up – bush walks, stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, swims, setting up some stations and running around kicking balls in the park, getting them on their scooters, just being outside and doing things together.

What is the best 'side-effect' of staying healthy and active?

Your mind – the focus and energy you have when you’re active.

What (or who) inspires or motivates you?

The couple that ran the Cross Fit at Avalon are amazing. I just love them. Maree had a baby about 6 months ago but was so active right through her pregnancy with weights, cross fit and even swimming laps in the ocean through winter right until the end – same after the baby was born, she just eased into it in her own way and was smashing workouts within months. She’s unbelievably fit and inspiring, as is her husband, Brent.

How do you overcome negative thoughts? 

Often with difficulty !
Sometimes they are way too persistent so it’s about challenging yourself to flip the thought and find a focus point that draws your attention and fears or anger or doubts into another stream. I find writing down negative thoughts and counteracting problems on paper also helps me.

How do you practice self care?

I know when I need more time out or to slow down or to try and simplify life so I’m good at the awareness but not always great at the action to support it. I just try to keep up my exercise regime when I’m in a stressed or tough place, I never feel like it prior but it is the best medicine.

How do you manage days or periods where you are not as motivated? 

Some days, you need to give yourself a talking to and just get into it and stop making excuses or procrastinating. Other times I think it’s totally acceptable to just opt out, give yourself a break and check out – whether it’s to sleep in, take a week off exercise, indulge in a night out or whatever. Give yourself permission and a deadline, then it’s back again to structure and discipline.

What do you do to treat yourself?

Wine and coffee and when I’m really exhausted I pull a super early night to catch up – like in bed by 8:30pm, these days that feels like such a luxury.

Top 3 songs on your workout playlist? 

If I'm walking I'm listening to Cat Power or Jasmine Thompson. If I'm running I'm listening to Drake.

What are your top 3 Instagram/Facebook accounts that you follow? 

Grace Papers, Gysea_Lust and all my girlfriends

Love Lija as much as we do? You can connect with her via...

FB: @pufflingjobs

Insta : @pufflingpairs