The road to being fit
This is not a weight-loss story, but one about how I got off my lazy ass and decided to get fit, to be healthy in an attempt to live longer for me and my family. I know, it sounds a bit cliché as I type it, but it is the truth. At 34 years old, I am finally realizing I better take care of myself if I want to hang around for awhile and enjoy the ride. For a little background, I was always a string bean growing up, called “too skinny” my classmates and often made fun of. I know, poor me. It even got to the point when I was 15 that my mom took me to the family doctor to see what was wrong with me since I hadn’t gotten my period yet. The doctor suggested I start drinking weight-gain shakes, you know – the ones body builders drink – and I swear within a matter of weeks, my first period came. That is so weird now that I think of it, but it is the god’s honest truth. Looking back, I wish I had appreciated my body as a teenager instead of trying to hide behind too-big Champion sweatshirts. My body finally came into itself when I was in college, filling out in all the right places, and no longer being hidden by sweatshirts. But again, I did not appreciate it; I still thought I was too skinny.
As for exercise? It just was never a part of my life. Nobody in my immediate family was active, nobody ran, played tennis or even golf. I wasn’t involved in any sports during school, unless you consider cheerleading for the wrestling team in 7th and 8th grade a sport. I went to overnight camp for 6 years and always hated anything sports-related. My favorite activity was arts & crafts, sitting and gluing popsicle sticks together. I hate to admit it, but I was the stereotypical girl who ran away from the ball in volleyball or softball, always the one last picked for the team for this exact reason.
Fast forward to 2004, I was 30 and pregnant with my first son. I gained 55 pounds. Stretch marks spread from my butt to my thighs; my belly was a sight to see.
During my pregnancy I continued to eat whatever I wanted (and maybe more than I should have) but I never had to think about calories or fat grams before, it never affected my weight. After I gave birth, and lost most of the weight, things just weren’t the same. I didn’t work out though, I just complained that my thighs and butt were jiggly and my old jeans didn’t fit. I bought a fancy jogging stroller – spending that much money would mean I had to actually use it, right? Well I don’t know about you, but walking up hills pushing that thing is no easy task, especially for someone who did not exercise regularly. Two years later, I got pregnant with my 2nd son and this time only gained 45 pounds.
I didn’t look as big as the first time, but once again, my lower half took a toll.
Mother’s Day, 2007: I received a membership to the local gym as a gift. I wanted this, I wanted to lose the jiggle when I walked, and I wanted to fit back into my size 4 jeans. My husband was an avid biker, snowboarder, surfer, you name it – he was into it. I’m not saying he pressured me into working out, but I know he wanted me to be fit; he knew how good it felt! So off I went to the gym, a few times a week at first, even meeting with a trainer to set up a personalized program. I weighed in at 135 pounds, which is fine, but I could barely run on the treadmill for ten minutes without feeling like I was going to die. My presence at the gym became less and less, due to laziness and lack of motivation. Even though I couldn’t fit into my old clothes, I just reverted back to my lazy self. Plus I was busy with 2 little boys, who had time to go to the gym? I know, they have a daycare at the gym, but with naps, and the weather, it just wasn’t working (more excuses). I would see the monthly charge on the credit card bill and just ignore it, thinking “I’ll go back soon.” I never got it in my head that this had to be a part of my life, not just a stage.
May 2008: My brother in law and sister in law come to visit us for a long weekend. My sister in law is very active: biking, running, skiing, tennis. She was going out for a run and I thought hey – I’ll go along with her! I didn’t make it more than 2 blocks running with her before I had to stop and walk, watching her continue to run ahead. I pushed myself, she was inspiring me by being so far ahead of me, and I couldn’t even see her anymore! I began making deals with myself in my head: ok, make it that next mailbox and then you can take a walk break. No – up this hill and around the corner, I bet she is already home! I don’t know why, but this one morning changed everything for me. I started going back to the gym, meeting again with the trainer. I was running on the treadmill and taking classes. I loved it! It felt so good to stick with it this time, not giving in to my laziness or using excuses. Another reason became apparent: I am being a positive role model to my sons. One day I couldn’t make it to the gym; the baby had a cold and could not attend the daycare, so I put on a workout show from On Demand. My then 3 year old stood next to me, copying my moves, even lying down on the floor to do sit-ups. This was the ultimate proof that my actions directly affect my children. I can show my kids how important exercise is and teach them that being active makes you feel good.
Present day: We moved to Melbourne Australia in September of 2008 and the first thing I did was join a gym. I started taking boxing and spin classes, running 5k around the lake, and sticking to my goal of working out 3 times a week. My biggest success to date? I ran my first race ever, a 5k for breast cancer on December 7, 2008. I ran along with 1500 other women, not knowing anyone, and it felt so damn good. I had the biggest smile on my face as I crossed the finish line, and a feeling of accomplishment I have never had before.
I plan on doing more events like that, with the hopes of one day even doing a full marathon. I am still at the point where I cannot even imagine running for that long, but I know if I put my mind to it – I can do anything.
– article by Danielle, who can be found online at her personal blog.