In my second interview of the MoPro series on healthy and productive mobile professionals, road warriors and business travelers, I chose Christine Wodke. I found Christine in the Executive Athletes group and was super-impressed by her story. She has Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, something I had never even heard of. After watching a YouTube video describing the disease, I knew I had to contact her.
Marcey – What is Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT)?
Christine – Charcot-Marie-Tooth or CMT, is named after the three doctors that first described the condition in 1894. It is an inherited peripheral neuropathy. That means the sheath of the nerves in the lower arms and legs is deteriorating. The nerve signals have trouble traveling the length of the nerve. This leads to muscle atrophy, muscle weakness, tripping, foot drop, difficulty walking, fatigue, chronically cold hands and feet, difficulty regulating body temperature, difficulty sleeping, issues with fine motor skills like handwriting, and opening jars. Many people with CMT wear braces to walk. It is slowly progressive and affects about 155,000 Americans or about as many people who have Multiple Sclerosis. CMT is a condition I share with my sister, dad, aunt and two nieces. There is no treatment and no cure. Although it affects almost as many Americans as MS, few have heard of it.
Marcey – What is Team CMT?
Christine – When I was diagnosed in 2010, I realized how lucky I was to be running. Someone with CMT running, especially long distance, is a bit rare. I set the goal to run the Boston Marathon. To get ready I was running in a series of 10K races sponsored by the Racers Against Childhood Cancer (RACC). They have a team that wears uniforms. Many of the really good local runners also wear uniforms because they are sponsored by local running stores. I never thought I was good enough to be one of those runners wearing a uniform.
I was out on the course running the race and I passed one of the RACC runners in his gold and black uniform. As I passed him I thought “he is just a guy in a shirt, we can be guys in shirts”. So the idea of Team CMT was born. You do not have to be the fastest runner to make a difference. We started with 3 members in Brown Deer Wisconsin in 2011. We have grown to 149 members in 27 states and six countries. People with CMT were once told not to exercise because it would accelerate their condition. We have about 2 dozen athletes affected by CMT on the team. Four of them have done the Iron Man triathlon distance. Five have qualified for the Boston Marathon and two of us will be racing in Boston this year. The thinking about exercise has now changed and those with CMT are advised to exercise. I think Team CMT has had a hand in changing that.
Marcey – What is your day job?
Christine – My title is Business Process and Performance Manager. I work for We Energies in Milwaukee where I am in charge of procedures for our Power Generation side of the business. I started with the company as a Technical Trainer 15 years ago, then became a supervisor in our dispatch center where I was in charge of training and procedures. I have a background in both engineering and organizational development/adult learning.
Marcey – How often do you travel for business?
Christine – I travel to our local facilities every week. I only do overnight travel about a half dozen times a year, but travel frequently for races for my charity work.
Marcey – What do you do to stay healthy when you travel?
Christine – When I do an overnight trip I always make sure the hotel has a fitness center and if possible, a pool. If there are local biking or running trails I book my stay close to those. I keep up my exercise routine. As a triathlete, I train by swimming, running, biking and lifting weights. My training does not stop when I go on the road.
Marcey – What do you find the hardest part about staying healthy when you travel?
Christine – The hardest part is eating healthy because I have to eat out. It is easy to get into the mindset of being lax in my diet because I am away from home. When traveling I have a lot less control over what I eat. I plan ahead of time what I should eat and pick a restaurant. I will plan on having a salad for dinner and pick a place to eat based on that. Sometimes instead of going to a sit down restaurant I will go to a place like Wendy’s because they have great salad choices.
Marcey – What is your most productive behavior? What do you think makes you better able to Work Well so you can Play More?
Christine – Planning and being focused. I am a big list maker and goal setter. Having a list of tasks I need to do helps keep me focused and on track. I get done what I need to get done, so I am not working a lot of overtime.
Marcey – What do you struggle with in terms of productivity?
Christine – Fatigue is a big issue with CMT. Often there are sleep issues as well. I am always tired and sometimes I struggle just to get through the day. That is really tough when I have to deliver a training class all day.
Marcey – What is your favorite app?
Christine -Does a Kindle count as an app? I have started getting cookbooks as e-books on my Kindle. I have been getting cookbooks with healthy recipes like the Runner’s World cookbook. I just got several on cooking with Quinoa. I love having these on the Kindle because when I am waiting to get my car serviced or at the doctor’s office I can be looking at recipes and planning what healthy things I am going to make to eat.
Marcey -What do you do at home to help your business travels go smoother?
Christine -Last year I got a GPS for my car. I had never had one before and spent lots of time getting lost. It is stressful to travel somewhere new and have to go to a meeting. Sometimes time is tight and there is no time for driving around. Having the GPS saves me time and stress.
Marcey –What do you do for fun?
Christine -I cook, garden, make jewelry, and write a blog. I also love the outdoors, hiking, kayaking and biking in the summer. In the winter, skiing.
Marcey –Who do you look up to? Who is your hero?
Christine -I don’t know if I would call him a hero, more like a mentor or big brother. My friend and author Jon Helminiak. He is a world traveler, author and consultant. He is also an avid outdoor adventurer. I model my writing style after his. When I have a question about writing, travel or the outdoors, Jon is my go to guy.
Marcey – What would you consider your greatest indulgence?
Christine – My biggest indulgence is massage, however it’s hard to fit them in with work and training. It feels so good and is good for me as an athlete.
Thanks for the interview Christine! For more information on Christine Wodke, please visit her website Run4CMT.