There are plenty of inspirational/influential people to learn from/criticise/muse over on social media, but few interest me as much as Robin Arzon (@robinnyc on Instagram). A former lawyer who used to work 80 hour weeks, Robin is now a kickass self-described street athlete who makes running 50 miles seem easier than spotting fillers on a Kardashian, holds 90s hip hop-themed spin classes - oh and she also happens to be a Type 1 Diabetic. All of the above was what prompted me to contact her on her email address to arrange an interview - anyone who knows me knows that I love people and their stories; yes, over the past 10 years or so I've interviewed the famous and reviewed some of the most luxurious products/spas on the planet, but they pale into blah land when it comes to a real life story.
Unfortunately, being Robin, I was told that she would be mega busy until July. So, this week, upon the BF's suggestion that I check out Rich Roll's podcasts (Rich is an ultra athlete and plant based living advocate), I stumbled upon one he had done back in April with Robin. So this blog is pretty much my take on that podcast, bearing in mind that your take might be decidedly different from mine. (Don't get me wrong; I didn't set out to listen so I could re-shape their conversation into a blog - I wanted to put down into words the effects that that conversation had on me, in order to keep it in my head for longer!)
If you want to skip straight to the interview part of the podcast, head to the 12 minute marker. This podcast is actually a follow-up to a previous one - which I will be searching for later.
From her first words, you can tell Robin doesn't mess around. She says that the day of the podcast is her first rest day in three months. Not three weeks, three MONTHS. Bearing in mind that the day before she ran 22 miles. (Knowing that I am within that camp that believes rest days are essential, anyone that goes way beyond this gains my ultimate respect.) Robin and Rich discuss their fave cycling routes around NYC and it's almost tempting for someone as ludicrously clumsy as me to go spend a crazy amount on a bike. Almost.
But then they go on to discussing social media. Let's be honest; if Robin wasn't on Instagram or Twitter, I might not have found her. But find her I did, and I, like many people, including Robin herself, now find it so easy to get sucked into posting images and comments about experiences, while still in that experience. Rich says that it's a great idea to take your social media platforms off your phone for a month, and straight away I was like, 'well no, that would be impossible' - mostly because some of my clients rely on me for social media support. He asks Robin how she straddles keeping her audience up with what she's doing, versus not telling them every single thing that she's done that day. She quotes writer Susan Sontag, back in the 1960s: 'today everything exists to end in a photograph,' which is kind of crazy given the decade that those words were said in, and the world we now live in.
She goes on to admit that social media fuels her business and that she enjoys the connections she can make with people across the globe and how posting can motivate people to move, and take action. But she also says that sometimes she questions the immediate urge to document a moment, and whether it leaves our experiences as fragments, rather than complete moments.
While no-one can really give us a solution that fits our individual needs, we don't have to tell everyone everything, says Robin.
The conversation turns to the world of triathlons, and they discuss how anyone thinking about going for a triathlon or getting into some serious cycling might be a little intimidated by its clique-y vibe, so it's refreshing when Robin admits that the community can at times be 'hardcore and a little bit douche-y.' There's a whole other world of gear and tech that can no doubt be overwhelming, and not only on your pocket. Describing herself as a new amateur athlete in this area, Robin compares it to running, where we are all pretty much equal, in the sense that all we need to get going is a pair of trainers. As the two discuss their various sporting achievements, you completely forget that Robin lives with Type 1 Diabetes.
She touches on how she monitors her blood sugars while she runs/cycles, and shares that even her mother, who has Multiple Sclerosis, runs six miles a day - a fact that kind of makes me mad as someone who listens to the frequent excuses of others around me. I want to grab people and say 'just think how different your life will be in the future if you do this now.' But I don't, because I can't; it's their choice. Robin says she was diagnosed February last year, and believes she is currently in the best shape of her life. As an athlete, Robin says her diagnosis has made her more aware of how her body works, and how food affects it. She says having diabetes is like being on a tightrope, and that she must consider how food will affect her 15, 30 or 90 minutes before she takes a spin class. She describes then as micro decisions that occur 24 hours a day, something I personally know I would not be so great at, but then I don't have to be.
Robin goes on to share how she felt on the day of her diagnosis, and it's a pretty short read. In a nutshell, she is told of her diagnosis, and within seconds she asks, 'how can I run a 100 mile race?'
We are all different people, but I know I would hope, if I received any similar diagnosis, that I would approach it with the same 'let's get back to business' attitude as Robin. There's no pity party here; it's more, 'okay, this is what I'm dealing with, what can I do to make my life better on a daily basis?' Like I said earlier, there are people in my life, who I love, that aren't even sick, yet indulge in regular states of of severe self pity. Don't get me wrong, I am no angel, and I like my 'duvet days' as much as anyone, but more and more, I would rather remind myself of the alternative and its potential. By never even trying to do epic sh*t (and by this I mean something that is epic to YOU - it doesn't necessarily have to mean running 100 miles) I feel like you're saying, 'I'm cool with my average life.' And I can't do that.
One last refreshing snippet; Robin talks about how she basically made her own career; she was working 80 hours a week, and when she decided that she needed something more, she carved out a 10 minute window each week, in which she would send out emails to people she admired and ask them what their days entailed. I absolutely love this idea; it's like, no matter how little time you have, if you make a small effort every single day, it will have an effect. Consistency is something that comes up a lot in this interview. The fact of just doing something also comes up, as in, not thinking about doing something - and feeling so pleased with yourself - but actually making that call, signing up for that course, writing those 1,000 words... My fave quote from Robin is: 'if you plant a million seeds, something's gonna sprout.' No-one's telling you you have to do just one thing and that has to work and if it doesn't work you will die; you have the freedom, right now, to plant as many seeds in as many places as you like.
You don't need me to give you a blow by blow account of how the rest of the almost two hour long podcast goes; these are the parts that stood out to me. For now, this podcast will have to do, but I'm hoping I can bring you an interview with Robin as soon as she takes a breather from running the world.
To listen, scroll down to number 15 on Rich Roll's complete list of podcasts: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-rich-roll-podcast/id582272991?mt=2.
To find out more about Rich, visit richroll.com. To keep up with all things Robin, check out robinarzon.com