4| Liz McDonough: letting go of perfection and feeling all the feelings (even the crappy ones)

Liz McDonough embodies positive energy and the ability to get things done—especially hard things. Born and raised in upstate New York’s breathtaking Adirondack mountains, her surroundings cultivated her love for the outdoors from a young age. 

After earning a bachelor’s in ceramic engineering and an MBA, she became certified in personal training, health coaching, TRX training, and Training for Warriors. She is the single mom of two amazing boys and loves anything the involves being outdoors; her favorite sports are biking (road and mountain), running, hiking, climbing, skiing, and snowshoeing. Liz’s passions are exercise, outdoors, adventure travel/sports with her boys, healthy cooking/baking, family, and reading.  Among her many athletic achievements are six marathon finishes (including Boston), one Ironman (Lake Placid), placing third in the 2019 Sea to Summit race, and racing road bikes as a Cat 1 cyclist. 

In this interview, we went deep and had a blast. I’ve known Liz since 2006; we met through triathlon and quickly became training buddies, logging tons of miles on the bike and many yards in the pool getting ready for Ironman Lake Placid. Even though we’ve been friends for years, I got to learn more about her during our chat, it was so much fun to go really deep with her. I felt really energized after our chat and I hope you feel the same way after you listen! 


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elizabeth.defrancomcdonough

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/lizmcdonough75    http://www.instagram.com/sketch__factor 

LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/elizabeth-mcdonough-20490229/

Show Notes

*Trigger warning* pregnancy loss

In this episode we talk about:

  • Using endurance sports for validation… and why it never really works
  • Taking a more minimalist approach to training/fitness
  • Divorce; We really get into the challenges, triumphs and lessons Liz experienced when she and her ex-husband split up; at that point, she had a toddler and was four months pregnant. We also talk about how she got her through the early days when her kids were tiny, she was working full-time, and adjusting to her new life. 
  • Spirituality 
  • The power of exercise and nature
  • Swimming as therapy 
  • Mom guilt 
  • Liz’s advice to other women going through a divorce
  • Energy healing work
  • Letting yourself feel your feelings (even when it’s not all “good vibes”!) 
  • On not being heard in the workplace
  • Can acknowledging impostor syndrome be a form of gaslighting? 
  • The challenges and joys of co-parenting with her ex-husband
  • The freedom that comes with letting go of a lie
  • Asking for help 
  • How having pneumonia changed her life (for the better). 
  • Self-care (and self-love… sounds cheesy but SO NECESSARY)
  • Letting go of perfectionism 


“[I realized] I didn’t have to prove my self-worth by accomplishing something in a race.” -LM

“I… could be healthier and more fit doing less and taking days off.” -LM

On discovering her husband was having an affair while she was pregnant: “It was pretty mind-blowing” -LM

“Church or no church, I believe the universe has a power over us and I believe things happen for a reason.” -LM

“Let yourself feel the feelings.” -LM

“Every day is not going to be a good day and it’s okay to say, ‘It’s not a good day.’” -LM

Links/ Resources 

Dani Shapiro’s Family Secrets podcast 

How the Rhetoric of Imposter Syndrome is Used to Gaslight Women in Tech (this was the article I referenced that I said I thought I’d seen in Harvard Business Review. I actually read it on Model View Culture. h/t Elisa Hebert, who posted this on LinkedIn, where I saw it originally. )

Cathy Heller’s Don’t Keep Your Day Job podcast 

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

The Go Giver  by Bob Burg

Sea to Summit race 

Nathan hydration vest 

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