Strong Women

Macaroni Beauty

By Emma Proctor-Gaccione May 19, 2017

I began this month's article like the last few.  I reached out to a a few ladies whom I thought would be great to interview for athletic beauty advice. I initially asked them to provide me with makeup and hair tips to share with my readers. I was perplexed when the response I received was a bit tepid.  After some soul searching I realized I was approaching this all wrong. (Not surprising given how very unathletic I am!)  I wanted to celebrate the allurement and fabulousness of these strong women whom I admired so much but I was attempting to fit what I appreciate about them into my definition of what beauty meant.  Their stories and willingness to be so open have inspired me more than they can know!

I’m sure you’ll feel the same.

I've always been a secret fan of Sky Bruce.  Somehow she manages to maintain an extremely successful real estate business while coaching soccer and writing a very informative parenting soccer blog!   ( Skye says, “I never “decided” to be an athlete…I’ve always played and competed in sports. After competing professionally and spending years and years in top physical form through college and into my early 30’s, my biggest challenge has been how I now consistently feel unfit as I work to balance my family and work responsibilities and my aging body, changing metabolism and crazy schedule. I ran a marathon on my (now 16) year old daughter’s first birthday, but never seemed to get back into that top physical form after my son (now 13) was born.  I walk a lot, do hot yoga a couple of times a week, love my road bike (I participated in a 100 mile ride twice last summer with friends) and usually hit the gym once or twice a week.  I try to keep things in perspective, and model a healthy lifestyle for my children by having organic, healthy and clean food choices available for them, having them being active, and by going out of my way to make sure they know I don’t work out because I want to lose weight -but because I know it leads to me feeling strong, confident, capable, helps me sleep better and is full of health benefits.
My family has a history of cancer and that has been a big part of my move to eating clean food. The biggest motivation to working out is because it makes me feel closer to myself, is a reminder, in all the chaos of work and family – that behind all those responsibilities - is a strong, confident and capable person who finds tremendous joy and satisfaction in pushing myself physically.”

My dear friend Liz Kiniry has always been someone i’ve really looked up to.  She created the wildly popular all natural CHACE chia bars which also gave you superpowers if you were working out or participating in a sports event.  She now works to help new businesses like hers get started.  There are so many intricacies and laws to know,  especially in the food & packaging industry and her knowledge is vital to making the infrastructure sound and transition to profitability quicker!  And she has three children. And she is super athletic! I mean….!
What inspired you?  As a child I was a health nut because it interested me and I played sports because it was fun and I was able to surround myself with friends all the time. As an adult, I have seen my elderly father struggle with his health due to a sedentary lifestyle and poor diet, while my mother, the picture of health in her late 70’s, is taking kickboxing and body pump classes at the gym and eats a mostly healthy diet with a lot of vitamin supplements. I would say they both inspire me in different ways.
Who in particular if there was someone?  With my day-to-day fitness and health goals, I am inspired by my amazing, athletic friends with whom I have surrounded myself.
What do you want or try to teach your kids about fitness especially your daughters?  I never use the word skinny but instead fit. I teach my kids, daughters and son, that you exercise because it makes you feel good and will make you healthier.
How do you maintain healthy outlook with ensuring they don’t get too caught up with body image?  Simple. We talk about making healthy choices and never use the word fat. We discuss how diet and exercise make you feel, not look. My husband and I both exercise a lot and have many friends who are equally fit. We all look different because we’re built differently.
What motivates you to keep going?  I keep going because I like the way healthy feels.

You could be annoyed with my forty year old friend Dinah looking like a teenager if she wasn’t just so darn sweet and relatable!  Oh and she’s a nurse!  Dinah’s journey has been fascinating to watch.  Dinah says, “I have only been running/exercising for about 4 years.  Prior to that, I was a pretty slovenly couch potato! I must emphasize that I now absolutely love running and working out and feel like my day is not complete unless I do so.  It started when Scott (my husband) bought p90x videos. I laughed but I did them.  Every day.  And I started to notice a change.  I felt better. My clothes felt better.  I felt in a much better place physically and mentally than I had in years.  Then my neighbor started running and I thought I would give it a shot.  I fell in love! I've never been very athletic but this was something that I could do and come to find out, I was fairly good at it.  I started running races and sometimes even placing (for my age group :).  It was so nice to do something for myself and it really boosted my confidence.  I think when people see that I run marathons they think that I must be super healthy, but I'm not.  I love good beer, and have a whole laundry list of unhealthy habits.  But, I am trying.  Just like every other aspect of my life (parenting, marriage, home management, friendships, etc.), it is a work in progress!
I try to make sure my kids do some type of physical activity on a weekly basis.  Both of my parents passed away from congestive heart failure so that definitely inspires me to keep moving and be more healthy.  
My major motivator in staying active and trying to be more healthy is the way that it makes me feel.  I've been that soft, squishy couch potato not that long ago and I hated the way that felt.  I love feeling strong and try to emphasize to my kids that strong is a good way to be.  I see a lot of folks my age and even younger who lack energy and often ask how I have so much of it.  I really think it is through exercise (and maybe a little caffeine!ha!).
I have always been a bit of a feminist and love Katherine Switzer's story.  Meeting and running with her was one of the highlights of my life.  Not only is she an amazing athlete, but such an inspiration to all women and little girls.  You really can do whatever you want.  I hope to pass that onto my children, especially my daughter.  
My biggest advice for anyone who wants to start running/exercising is to join a local running club. Richmond Road Runners and Sportsbackers are incredible. They are so welcoming to all ages, sizes, paces.  You don't have to be fast or super fit.  

I can’t put into words how thankful I am to gorgeous Russian beauty Julia Goodman.  She came into my life and offered to help with my busy Facebook community group (WBSGS) when I was REALLY in over my head.   Julia says “I had my first hot yoga class November 17, 2013 to be exact.  Being 209 pounds at that time (this was a lot even for me with my height) and with blood pressure numbers that were worrying my doctor, I wanted to challenge myself so I will get more disciplined and get healthier. I heard that hot yoga is really hard, so I said – lets try it! I kept coming back, even I knew I was not doing half of the poses right. I did my best though and I just knew it made me feel good. As my practice continued, I started feeling the change inside of me, although losing pounds was a bonus! 50 so far – I went from size 14 to 6. Since I practiced 5 times a week, I started to feel all other benefits of yoga that stem from body and mind connection - stress relief and improved focus, increased energy levels and this powerful feeling of well being. The philosophical and spiritual aspect of yoga practice is so powerful. It changed my life and changed the way I feel about myself. Yoga teaches me patience, to find comfort in discomfort, overcome the limitations of my mind and get over my mental barriers. Yoga has helped me to find internal balance and this is what is the most important. After each practice I feel an amazing sense of accomplishment and confidence because it challenges me to push through the mental and physical resistance, gives me a feeling of personal strength and peacefulness. 

Dr. Tina Ressler looks like a glamour girl but instead she “just” a busy mother of two who’s also a Dentist and partner at a booming practice! (

“Sports have always been a part of my life. I played basketball, softball and volleyball through high school.  I feel team sports are a very important way to learn how to deal with the bigger issues of life. They teach you how to win and more importantly, how to to deal with teammates (later coworkers) , how to lead (from captain to boss) , how to pick up a teammate that has a bad game (help kids deal with disappointment), how to set high goals (run faster, score more to getting the best grades, job possible). Team sports teach time management; practices and games mean less time to study so efficiency is important. The busy schedule also demands that players prioritize what is instead of staying up late with friends, choosing to stay home and rest up for the game. I suffered a back injury while playing bball my senior year of HS...the pain was excruciating but we were poor and my dad was dying so I never sought help.  Over the years my back would "go out" and ice and advil were my best friends. It wasn't until m y late 30s that I found a great physical therapist that got to the root of the problem (rotated hip) and I was able to fully exercise again. The years of pain made me realize the importance of a healthy body and that health is precious and a blessing not to be taken lightly.
I workout almost everyday now for many reasons. I have a very busy and stressful job that is both mentally and physically exhausting, an elderly mom with dementia, and 2 teenagers.  Getting even an hour in that helps me get the endorphins going, clears the cobwebs and is just for ME! I have a couple work out buddies and on some days after our workouts we do "stretch and bitch" ..often hilarious and always cathartic! AND way cheaper than therapy!
As a healthcare provider, I see medical histories every day...those alone can be motivators! The amount of meds people take and the conditions they have can often be improved or eliminated if they would just get moving and eat better. It is heartbreaking to see people self destruct when it is preventable. Nothing is worse than seeing a family in which the parents' poor choices continue on to the kids..
My father was overweight and died of colon cancer when he was 52 and I was 18 so that may have been a motivator. Also, knowing that my 83 year old mother walks 3 miles almost every day and wasn't on a single medication until she was 80 is reason enough for me to keep moving!
My home, family is FAR from perfect but we try to eat healthy and encourage the kids to do the same. You can't "put low octane fuel in a Ferrari " (my husband's quote) and expect it to perform. II want my daughter to eat what she wants and know that a cheat meal may need a bit more run around time but it's all about balance and health, not what the scale says. I let her know that I may not be the skinniest mom in the west end but I am a healthy version of MYSELF… For ladies that want to get more involved..start by walking and soon you will crave it.

While writing this story the 2017 Boston Marathon took place.  To put how “far we’ve come” into perspective, fifty years ago, twenty year old, Syracuse University student Katherine Switzer decided to run the marathon but there was only one major obstacle, women weren’t allowed!  Switzer balked at that idea and signed up using her initials “K.V.”.  Women did not participate in many professional sports back then and she was told that the distance was far too long for fragile women!  After completing the 26 mile training for the race, her college men's track coach fully supported her signing.  On race day she was told to wipe off her lipstick to be less conspicuous, but she refused.  During the race she was practically attacked by the race director trying to rip her number off and her boyfriend blocked him. Her initial confusion and reluctance to continue  turned into to a huge motivating anger.  She finished in four hours, twenty minutes and when she was disqualified, the amount of national reinforcement propelled her into celebrity status.  Switzer used that to become THE Pioneer to fight for women’s rights and gender equality in sports and soon thereafter women were allowed to run in the Boston Marathon and have been allowed in others since all over the  globe. Switzer completed her fortieth marathon and ninth time running the Boston marathon fifty years later at the age of seventy using the same number she originally used all those years ago!

“In America 40% of sportspeople are women, however only 6-8% of the total sports media coverage is devoted to them. And women-only sports stories add up to just 3.5%of all sports stories in the four major US newspapers.

According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, male athletes get $179 million more in athletic scholarships each year than females do. Additionally, collegiate institutions spend just 24% of their athletic operating budgets on female sports, as well as just 16% of recruiting budgets and 33% of scholarship budgets on female athletes.

What it boils down to is that we, collectively, men and women, need to do more about gender equality. We need to pave the way for or daughters, just as we do our sons. There should be no disparity in sports, nor in the workplace, nor in life. Women and men should be seen as, and treated as, equals in all respects. Gender should not be the thing that defines us or separates us from our fellow athletes.

We have come a long way but still have a “ways to go”

Let’s show our daughters that they can be whatever they want to be, and get paid well for it too!”

Emma is a mother of four kiddos, a teenager, all the way down to a two year old. She has her hands in many "pots" including running a huge successful community & philanthropy group (Wyndham Buy Sell) a special needs group (West End Special Kids) and various marketing events. Emma is a former NYC PR Publicist & Fashion Industry Diva turned Virginia replant and devoted stay at home wife & mother.