You only live once!

You only live once!

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You only live once!

The Mayo Clinic reminds us that a healthy lifestyle is essential to coping with stress and achieving work-life balance.

For some, a hike, gym workout or round of golf is ideal. Others may push a little further and compete in marathons, bike races or whitewater kayaking. And then there are those who go to the extreme.

Nancy Cronin, a claims specialist with employee benefits provider Unum, was overweight and needed to make a lifestyle change when she got involved in boot camps, started running, and lost about 70 pounds. But the Worcester, Mass., resident wanted more.

“Now I do Spartan races on courses that can be 8-miles long with 25 obstacles, like rope climb, barbed wire crawl, monkey net and fire jump,” she said. “It’s a huge adrenaline rush and physically exhausting, but not allowing my mind to give into the pain and be overcome by the challenge is why I do them.”

Paul Hailey, head of information technology production services for Unum UK, goes up against natural elements – wind and water – to kite surf at high speeds. It’s not for the faint of heart.

“It’s not a sport you want to do on your own; you want people around you who can help if you get into trouble,” he said.

Boston-based sales account executive Doug Frantzen faces extremes like running with the bulls in Spain and scaling some of the world’s tallest peaks.

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“I’ve climbed mountains all over the world, but the most challenging was climbing the 14,600-foot Matterhorn,” Frantzen said. “At its base, there’s a little graveyard for climbers who’ve died on the mountain. I remember my palms sweating and thinking, what have I gotten myself into?”

Andrew Boisvert gets a thrill out of heights, too – falling from them. With more than 1,800 skydiving jumps under his belt, he still gets an adrenaline rush.

“My favorite jump was out of a hot air balloon,” said Boisvert, an information technology manager with Unum in Portland, Maine. “I climbed up on the basket and fell out backwards. It’s the closest I’ve felt to truly flying. Everything was so quiet.”

As the reigning defensive player of the year and a member of the 2015 WFA National Championship team, Tia Watkins relieves stress by lowering the boom on opposing running backs in professional women’s football.

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“I’m all smiles and pleasant in the office, but when I’m on the field, I’m known for laying people out,” said Watkins, sales coordinator for Unum in Washington, D.C. “During the preseason, I injured my thumb and had to have surgery to repair damage to my ligaments and tendons, but I came to work the next day and started the season two months later. Push the excuses to the side and you will find you can achieve anything you put your mind to.”

Skydiving, mountaineering or other extreme sports may not be how you achieve work-life balance. The important thing is to find an activity you enjoy, any activity, and set time aside to do it.

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