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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, January 26, 2006

Loving the outdoors, finding fitness in nature

By Michael Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

Jill Sarchet, of Kane'ohe, hikes at Maunawili Falls on the Windward side. Sarchet makes fitness a priority by hiking, kayaking, yoga and pilates.

REBECCA BREYER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Workout habits: Rides health rider twice a week, hikes or kayaks on weekends, yoga and pilates as time allows.

Why I started working out: "I was always a skinny, active person, but then I moved here, got married, settled down, and my metabolism slowed."

Good and bad foods: On her best behavior, Sarchet will eat a lot of vegetables and limit her carbohydrates. Her weakness is pizza.

Biggest motivator: "Just feeling good. Staying in shape makes a huge difference in your energy and self-confidence. You have the energy to enjoy life."

Advice for people in the same boat: "Start early and find an activity that you enjoy. Then stick with it."

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Jill Sarchet, of Kane'ohe, grew up in Colorado where hiking in the Rockies was a regular family activity. Staying in shape increases energy and self-confidence, she says, which enables you to enjoy life more.

REBECCA BREYER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Age: 27

Occupation: High school biology teacher

Home: Kane'ohe

Height: 5 feet 8

Weight: 120

Stays in shape by: Hiking, yoga, pilates, kayaking, weightlifting, home health rider machine.

Sports fantasy: None

Interesting fact: Once worked as the conductor of the Stingray Ballet at Sea Life Park

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Whether it was hiking with her mother along the wind-blown peaks of the Rocky Mountains as a child or jostling with the tall trees of the lane as a high school basketball center, Jill Sarchet always found that energy spent equals energy gained for the future.

These days, Sarchet is dealing with wildlife of a different kind as a biology teacher at Damien School. But while the 27-year-old transplanted Colorado native now finds it harder to make time for all of her exercise wants she's also a student at the University of Hawai'i she still makes the most of her surroundings, whether it's exploring O'ahu's myriad trails, kayaking at Kane'ohe Bay or simply riding her exercise bike at home.

"My mom was a major hiker," Sarchet says. "When I was growing up, we'd hike the Rockies. We'd hike the national parks. I've always liked the outdoors."

No surprise then that Sarchet decided to major in field biology at the University of Northern Colorado.

At a Sierra Club meeting, Sarchet found inspiration in a woman who had done whale research in Hawai'i. A role model, if ever there was one.

"She was living my dream," Sarchet says.

It wasn't long before Sarchet herself would make the move to Hawai'i. As a UH student, she worked an unpaid internship at a dolphin research facility. After that, she decided to dip her toes in the fine arts as only a biology major could.

Landing a job at Sea Life Park, Sarchet brought her knowledge and love of animals to the facilities Stingray Encounter Program as the leader of the Stingray Ballet, swimming among stingrays and displaying them for amazed patrons.

"I absolutely loved it," Sarchet says. "I love interacting with animals on a daily basis. Stingrays have a bad reputation that's undeserved."

So, too, at times, do Hawai'i students. In her first year at Damien, Sarchet has found teaching what she loves a challenge with sweet rewards. If only it didn't cut into her workout time so much.

Sarchet teaches five classes a day and attends her own advanced college classes two nights a week.

She does what she can to stay in shape during the school year by working out on her fitness rider and doing yoga and pilates.

Weekends are when she is able to really stretch out. Depending on their mood, Sarchet and her husband Dylan ("Sage") will either take to a trail (they are waiting for the Ha'iku Stairs to re-open) or drag the kayak out for an afternoon of high-aerobic paddling in Kane'ohe or Kailua.

Sarchet says she tried to eat well heavy on the vegetables, light on the carbs but it's difficult not reaching for the fast, processed food when time is tight, as it always seems to be.

Sarchet says she was always skinny growing up. She absorbed her share of pounding as an undersized center in her basketball days. But staying in shape and keeping the weight off has become more difficult as her lifestyle has changed and she's gotten older, she says.

All the more reason, she says, to keep going. "Exercising gives you more energy to do things."

Reach Michael Tsai at mtsai@honoluluadvertiser.com.