Success for Life

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For Wendy Cecil, fitness and well-being are synonymous with success.

The discipline, confidence and can-do attitude earned through fitness, inspired her work life – from the days as a young professional, to the boardroom as VP of business development at Brookfield Asset Management, and today as Chancellor at Victoria University, a part of the University of Toronto.

“I’ll be 65 in November,” says Cecil. “I’ve been physically active for many years and for me it’s as much of a part of my life as brushing my teeth.”

There’s an inspired confidence when Cecil speaks. You can tell she really sees fitness as a fundamental pillar of a successful life.

“A generally good level of fitness leads to a happier frame of mind,” says Cecil. “I think that is integral to success in the business world, the academic world or wherever you find yourself.”

“…Habits begin as thin threads but over time they become steel chains and you want your habits to become good ones.”

Although Cecil grew up fairly active, her real love affair with an active lifestyle began while she was working as a young VP at Brascan.

As responsibility pressed down on her, Cecil took up marathon running, winning several and neatly arranging each trophy in her office to serve as inspiration and earn respect from her colleagues.

When times got tough or stress levels peaked, Cecil took a run or went to the gym.

“It was a positive outlet for stress,” she says. “It helps you to be more disciplined.”

Devon McGregor, a personal trainer and co-founder of Balance Fitness where Cecil works out, agrees, saying that fitness promotes both competence and confidence.

“It creates a great sense of awareness,” says the trainer. “Practice of fitness and health makes me understand who I am and what I do.”

McGregor doesn’t draw the line between high performance business people or athletes.

He points out that people have a tendency to compartmentalize professional life, health and social life when they should be seeing the symbiosis between them, a subject that Cecil recently raised in her most recent address to the students of Victoria University.

“I tell them habits begin as thin threads but over time they become steel chains and you want your habits to become good ones,” says Cecil. “I give them some basic rules to live: get enough sleep, eat enough healthy food every day and get some daily exercise. Establish those habits now and they will have the freshness of mind to develop their intellectual abilities and go forward as healthier people and flourish.”

She credits much of her success in life to the balance inspired by fitness.“You need a certain amount of energy to succeed and fitness is a part of that,” she adds. “It gives you energy to realize your dreams and your ambitions.”

By Andrew Seale

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