In February 2018, I self-published my first book, Run My World: How I Empowered Myself Through Fitness. It would not have been possible without the support of incredible friends, mentors, and role models, and now I’m highlighting some of the amazing people in my life that run their worlds.
Empowered (wo)men empower (wo)men, so now I’m raising a glass to some of the best people I know. I’m so grateful to share their stories — I promise you’ll be even more inspired to run your world!
Mary’s note: I met Hanna (pronounced hAH-nuh — get it right, get it tight unlike I first did) as a fellow aSweatLife ambassador, and after being around her for one workout, I wanted to be her friend. She exuberates positive energy, but she always keeps it real with you. She’s hilarious, sweet, and oh, so genuine. When she’s not on social media sharing fitness events or polling her followers on her shopping finds (seriously, everyone needs to follow her because she has the best Stories), she’s also a brilliant consultant in tech. She runs her world with the biggest smile on her face, and I love her for that!
Elk Grove Village, IL
In one sentence, what does it mean for you to run your world?
Running my world means my days are full of things that reflect my priorities and values.
Acknowledge Your Past: What’s one lesson from your past that has really influenced your life?
I am a pediatric cancer survivor. I went through chemo, radiation, had to be homeschooled for a while, and was teased a lot about whether I was a boy or a girl because I had no hair. That experience taught me that sometimes people are just mean and controlling your reaction is critical. Even as a child, I made the choice to surround myself with nice and positive people and also to just ignore mean comments.
I always remind myself that I don’t NEED to hang out with anyone, especially not people that don’t treat me with kindness and bring joy to my life. One of my favorite quotations that I think really grasps this concept is from The Minimalists: “You can’t change the people around you, but you can change the people around you.”
Find Your Fit: What are your favorite ways to move and exercise? How did you find your fit?
I am a “jack of all trades, master of none” when it comes to fitness. I have run marathons, completed obstacle course races, and even a checked a few triathlons off my list. I’m not really great at any of them, but I get enjoyment out of trying new things and am proud of what my body can do. My favorite studios that I always go back to are SWEAT and Hardpressed. I have never done the same workout twice at either, so they feed my hunger for variety while making me feel at home.
Fuel Your Body: What is your favorite meal to fuel your body? What is your favorite meal to fuel your soul? Have you had any struggles with your relationship with food? How do you try to fight/challenge the cultural standards around dieting and disordered eating?
My view on food is to be mindful without being obsessive. I’m a numbers person. I know that if I get an app to track calories, I will stumble into an obsession and start competing with myself to get lower and lower. Then when I ‘fail’ one day, I’ll go buy a dozen donuts and eat them all. That’s a fact and a vicious cycle. Instead, I focus on understanding what kinds of patterns make me feel good or bad. For example, I know that if I eat takeout with my husband from Paul’s Noodles (two chicken pad thais, one crab rangoon and then a coupon for free spring rolls – jus’ sayin!), I will enjoy the food and our little tradition. I also know that if I drink more than three alcoholic drinks, I’ll definitely say something inappropriate and then be a bit regretful. You have to figure out what scenarios work and don’t work for you. It’s a bit of trial by fire.
My favorite meal to fuel is two sunny side up eggs on toast with ketchup. I love eating it at any hour, any day.
My favorite meals to fuel my soul are things I grew up with, like cucumber salad, braunschweiger sandwhiches, lox and bagels, or kielbasa and sauerkraut.
Practice Mindfulness: Do you meditate? If so, how? How do you try to be mindful on a daily/weekly/monthly basis?
I recently looked at my phone usage after @livebetterco mentioned it in one of their weekly newsletter. The results were insane! I was spending 13 hours a week on Instagram! HOW?! I started wondering, “Does the content I want to consume and create really take 13 hours?” The answer was a hard NO! As a result of these ever so terrifying findings, I set two new goals: 1. Lock my phone in my drawer at work until lunchtime 2. Do not use while watching “our shows” with my husband.
Another way I practice mindfulness is through minimalism. It allows me to spend more time on things that matter to me. I consume less clothing because I have essentially a capsule closet, I aim to create zero food waste by generally planning our meals and being creative with leftovers, and I reduce plastic usage by using glass pyrex, stasher bags, and lush bar shampoo. All of these things allow me to use my brain power and energy on things that fuel my life instead of spending 30 minutes deciding what to wear or what to make for dinner.
HIIT vs. LISS: Tell us about your work-life “balance.” How do you manage planning/productivity while being a straight up hustler?
Work-life balance has always confused me because I visualize a scale with only 2 things. Work and Life. We are more than that. We are friends, athletes, hobbyists, activists and to just lump all of that together as “life” doesn’t seem to give credit where it’s due! For me, I have a list of priorities. There are needs, wants, and likes. I know I need to go to work M-F, I need to see my niece every week, I need to call my dad every day, I want to work out 3-4 times a week, I want to see my friends at least once a week, I like to go to the farmers market for fresh dairy, and so on. I take the time to plot needs and wants first and then anything else that comes up fits in around it. It’s my implementation of the rock, pebbles, and sand story. If something isn’t important, don’t let it consume your time.
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone: What have you done in 2018 that is most out of your comfort zone? What is something you really want in 2018 that you’re a little scared to do? Tell us a travel experience that pushed you out of your comfort zone. Where do
In 2018 I went on a couples trip to Park City, Utah. I had only ever snowboarded a handful of times before then, and although I had all the right attire, this was not a scenario that I could fake it ‘til I made it. It was the first time in a long time that I actually felt scared and uneasy to try something new. I fell HARD off of the chairlift several times, but with the encouragement from our friends, I kept trying. By the end of the trip I was so happy I didn’t let a few stumbles up front stop me from enjoying the week. The coolest feeling at the end to look up the mountain and be like “yepppp I snowboarded that!”
Shine On: What accomplishment makes you most proud? What’s a big, hairy audacious goal (BHAG) that you’ve been contemplating and want to speak into existence?
Growing up I always wanted to be a homeowner before I turned 25 – where I picked that age from I’m not sure, but the day literally before my 25th birthday I closed on my first condo! I had to borrow some money from my sister and sell a bunch of things, but it was worth it! I felt like it was my first big money move as an independent woman living in the big city!
A BHAG I’ve been thinking about and am now speaking (typing?) into existence for the first time is to run my first half marathon as Hanna Cetkovic (married last name). I haven’t run a half in six years and it was my favorite distance. The community and camaraderie in the running world are amazing!