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East County Friday, Jun. 21, 2019 1 month ago

Picture of Health: Wendy Abner

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The East County resident cycles through a healthy life.
by: Ryan Kohn Sports Reporter

Wendy Abner travels more on two wheels than she does on four.

Almost, anyway.

The 52-year-old East County resident thrives on her bike. Abner cycles everywhere she can, not just to stay in shape — though that is part of it — but because it makes her happy, and being happy with your exercise routine, she said, makes all the difference.

She rides locally, but also loves to travel outside Florida. Her favorite spots are in Georgia, participating in the Six Gap North Georgia race though the peaks and valleys of the Appalachian Trail, and in North Carolina, riding through the Blue Ridge mountains near Greenville. Those, she said, are her “epic trips.” She needs them to get her mountain fix. Abner, who was born at Andrews Air Force Base in Prince George’s County, Md., and grew up in Virginia, was disappointed in the lack of mountains when she moved to the area in 2004. The closest she can get in-state is driving to the St. Leo/San Antonio area, and even that isn’t the same.

The trade-offs of living in paradise make it worth it, however.

All in all, Abner rides 500–700 miles a month, she said. She is part of multiple cycling groups, including Gulf Coast Velo Cycling Club, where she is on the board of directors. It is a group for amateur cyclists in Manatee, Sarasota and Charlotte counties that advocates for safe, enjoyable riding. The group hosted the “Tour de Femme,” a women’s only charity ride, in April, and is planning on making it an annual event.

Abner, who works as a real estate investor and entrepreneur, has four children ranging from 15 to 23. She works from home and still found it difficult to find time to exercise in the years following childbirth. As for women with office jobs: “I don’t know how they do it,” she said.

She does, however, have advice for any moms looking to find time for themselves. Getting a jogging stroller or finding the right care program — if you can afford it — can do wonders, even if for an hour a day. Or, find a bootcamp or small group that is open to children. Abner attends Lakewood Ranch’s F5 Community Bootcamp, one such option, for strength training twice a week, offsetting the cardio she gets from cycling.

Wendy Abner cycles in the Tour de Femme in April. Courtesy photo.

“Be open to trying new things,” Abner said. “Find something that brings you joy. Fitness should be for more than just weight. Don’t do it if it’s not for you.”

She is also on an eating program, Healthy Living, that has her eating at regular intervals throughout the day. The program eliminates salt and sugar as much as possible and focuses on protein consumption. Cutting salt in particular was tough for Abner, since she was used to eating it in almost every processed food. Over time, she has come to not miss it, saying her taste buds have changed. She started the program in October, skeptical it would work, but lost 20 pounds in the first four weeks.

Abner knows people who have had struggles with health, leading to problems later in life or, in the worst cases, early death. She uses that as motivation.

“I am not going in that wheelchair,” Abner said. “That’s not me. Some things you can’t prevent, but everything I can do to prevent it, I will.

“You only get one chance at health.”

I’m the sports reporter for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. I was born and raised in Olney, MD. My biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. My strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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