Yes, Mommy Can: Pushing Her Limits

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A life coach, entrepreneur, and mother of two, Jackie Caniza has always been a highly active person. In high school, she was not only a part of the track team and the basketball team, she was also a member of the pep squad. In college, she joined the pioneering group which got into dragon boat racing, and she has been into the sport ever since. “It's the best team sport ever,” says Jackie. In basketball, there's always that star player which you can count on to deliver the points during crunch time. In dragon boat, there's not one superstar; each and every person needs to be a rock star!

She says, “You can't say, I will win this for us. How? By yourself? You have to be in constant synch, working together. There is no room for any kind of different movements. You have to progress together. I love the whole team spirit of it. All the sports I do now have an element of social interaction in them. I can't do sports by myself. I'm not that good at it.”

Jackie may think that she's not that good, but she certainly knows how to challenge her comfort zone and go beyond her boundaries.

About two years ago, Jackie and her teammates got into obstacle course racing (OCR). Apart from covering a specific distance, the race calls for participants to negotiate monkey bars, climb over walls and barbed wires, and lift heavy objects, among other things. Think of a tamer version of American Ninja Warrior. Since Jackie travels to Boston every so often as part of her professional training, a friend had the idea of asking her to join the Spartan Race, which happens to be the world's best obstacle race last November 2015 in Fenway Stadium.

Jackie readily agreed. Not only would she have the chance to test her chops at the historic Fenway Stadium, she surmised that it would also be a lot of fun.

Unlike more competitive sports where people were concerned about finishing first or besting their times, OCR had a convivial community atmosphere. People were helping each other finish the course, which had different 20 obstacles. It was an achievement, Jackie says, just to finish.

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“It gave me a sense of fulfillment and fun. And the preparation and training is part of the fun,” she says.

Unfortunately, while training for an OCR race in Singapore, Jackie incurred a shoulder injury. She says, “It's a frozen shoulder. It gets triggered by an injury. In my case, it was years of overuse.”

She adds, “You have to listen to your body. When your body is sending you signals, you have to pay attention. You can't pretend it's not there. I know so many athletes who push themselves and pretend that it doesn't exist. 'The pain is not there.' 'I just need to work that out.' 'I don't believe in that.' There's a point where you can probably do that but you know when your body is saying too much. That's what this said to me.”

However, Jackie knew she still needed something to keep her game. She says, “Without a goal, I have a tendency to slack. I need something to look forward to in order to keep myself training.”

She started running with her teammates, who coaxed her to go for longer and longer distances. At first, she ran for 10 kilometers, and she was surprised when she didn't feel at all exhausted. When she passed the 11km mark, her teammates said she was ready for a marathon. And they all signed up for The Bull Runner marathon next year.

But as passionate as Jackie is about her athletic pursuits, she is even fiercer about family, which is her topmost priority. One of the reasons why Jackie decided to establish her own business was that wanted to have more control over how she managed her time.

She says, “I figured that if I'm doing something on my own, then it's on my own terms. What I do with my time are things that I decide to do. For example, if my kids are on semestral break and we decide for us to travel, then I don't have to worry about asking permission from the office. It's the flexibility, although I've probably never worked harder my whole life. But I've also never been happier.”

Today, Jackie has more time with her husband and her children. She takes breakfast and dinner with her children, has cheese and wine dates with her husband, and supports her daughters in all their endeavors. But by first being passionate about her personal pursuits, Jackie hopes she makes for a good example for her daughters so that they are inspired to push their limits, too.