Paula Fasseas – Chicago Magazine

AAn animal lover from an early age, Paula Fasseas dreamed of becoming a veterinarian. Instead, she studied business administration, honing the skills that helped her found PAWS Chicago 25 years ago. Through its murder-free adoption shelters and sliding-scale sterilization clinics, the nonprofit is leading a movement that has reduced Chicago’s euthanasia rate by 91% since 1997.

The PAWS Executive Chair lives on the Gold Coast with her 4-year-old terrier mix, MB It has been a year of heartbreak for Fasseas, who lost her mother, husband and 19-year-old dog, all within a time of six months. “What really helps me through this time,” she says, “is the fitness and wellness part of life, staying busy and being grateful instead of focusing on the sad parts.”

Photo: Getty Images

How do you start your day?

“I’ve always been in the morning. I wake up between 4 and 5 in the morning, I need that quiet time. I do intermittent fasting four or five days a week, so I have calories in just six hours. It’s great for my blood sugar. I’m a big foodie and used to wake up thinking about coconut cream pie, but now I don’t have those cravings. So I get up, have my black coffee and take Monsieur B for a walk.

What is your exercise routine?

“I do strength training and stretching at home with my trainer, and I do three to five miles on my elliptical. I also have an inversion table, which stretches your back and your body. I stay on it for three to five minutes every day. It strengthens your spine and allows fluid to enter your discs. I’ve always exercised, but stepped it up after I turned 60. I feel fitter and more agile than ever. I never could have done a split in high school, but now I can!

How do pets fit into your wellness philosophy?

“An amazing thing about dogs and cats: they keep you in the present. When you play with an animal, you are in the moment, you laugh with it. I’ve noticed this year, especially during a sad time in my life, being in the present is so much better than thinking about the past or worrying about the future.

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