My story with health and fitness has been an odd one. There have been moments where I have been super disciplined and regimented, becoming religious in my approaches to food- declaring eating out at certain establishments as “poison to my body” to the moments where I operated to the opposite wanting to eat everything in sight. I’ve never been a binge eater or one to try the latest dieting program, but have struggled with wanting to workout, stay in shape, and love my body right where it is at. In this post of Getting Real, I’m going to share a bit of my fitness and wellness story.
Keep reading for some honest thoughts on health and fitness!
In the beginning….(or the teenage years)
When I was a teenager I lived under an incredible amount of stress. From extracurriculars to intensive course work, and some unforeseeable life circumstances, I was a little ball of anxiety, bouncing from one thing to the next, plowing through work, wanting to excel and achieve far above my peers (we were all goal-setters, in a college-prep setting, and had dreams of attending top universities in the nation). After a while, this took a huge toll on my body. The lack of sleep, coping with loads of work, and falling short of others expectations, left me with health diagnosis after health diagnosis, looking at the walls of doctor’s office and hospital waiting rooms. During this time, I learned that my body couldn’t process certain kinds of food and my diet became far more clean than that of most teenagers. I was going need to find some coping mechanisms and change my lifestyle, FAST. Unfortunately, I didn’t listen to my body as much as I should have and in the subsequent years found myself receiving more diagnosi than I could imagine. My first wake up call was when I was falsely diagnosed with mononucleosis. However, my mono led into lingering symptoms and chronic fatigue syndrome. I didn’t know why, but as a junior in high school I was exhausted, all of the time. One of the doctor’s solutions, a strong fitness regimen to rebuild my stamina and eat 6 small meals a day. I began working out with a personal trainer 3xs a week. This was the first time I became acquainted with a gym, found friends to go work out with, and really did enjoy the way I felt after a good workout.
The college years…
During college, I wish I could say that I learned to listen to my body better. I did find some ways to relax and refresh myself, but in the midst of 19+ credit hours a semester, life still moved at an incredibly fast pace. My eating was under control, but remained limited to what I could eat in the school cafeteria. I found myself in a mundane daily routine salads and sandwiches, knowing those were the only fresh food items available. I found friends that loved being active and so my workouts were more natural in occurrence. They typically looked like weekends spent hiking and backpacking, walking all over campus, and carrying groceries up the three flights of stairs to my apartment. (Does that count as a workout? Yes I carried all the groceries in one trip on both arms. Feel the burn, right?)
Post grad life….
After graduation I entered a job where I sat at a desk all day and worked 70-80 hours a week. With this crazy of a schedule and lunch meetings, living in Texas (where most things are fried and less than healthy), I found that my body was needing a boost unlike before. I began working out with a student, doing yoga, and purchasing food only on the perimeter of the grocery store. The best part? I noticed when giving sermons and using my hands to make points, my arms weren’t flabby but firm. Always good.
Hello mid-to-late twenties.
When I moved back to Kentucky, I found myself in a community where people loved fitness. I mean they loved it. Cycling 30 miles on the weekend was a normal occurrence for them, as was running 4 miles in 90 degrees at 100% humidity. I was realizing I was really, really out of shape. During this time I would try to get in shape and keep up, but it felt like I just wasn’t matching up. As soon as I would increase my mileage, they were increasing their mileage and time. I would go through seasons of frustration, begin to workout by myself, and then just lose motivation.
Then something changed.
I realized I was the only one who was going to take charge of my health and my fitness. My weight hadn’t fluctuated that much since college, but I knew that I wanted to be at my best health. My food began to look a lot more seasonal, fresh, and colorful. Lean proteins and high fiber food was combined with smoothies, egg whites, and veggies. Quinoa became a quick and easy favorite meal. When it was too hot outside, I would head to the gym or turn on a workout video. During the summer, when I wanted to be in the water I would head to the pool and do laps. Since moving to California, I’ve become a regular runner. I once thought the monotony of running was lame and boring. (I didn’t realize the joy of runner’s high yet) Around here I am often asked, “Why do you run?” Here’s my response. Why do I run? I don’t run for the miles. I don’t run to improve my time. I run because it’s the time I get to be outside, where my heart feels the most free, and I get to clear my head. As the pavement of the running path transitions and I hit the gravel, I know that I was made for this. It is the space where I’m no longer thinking about tasks, schedules, or deadlines, but instead as I track miles, my headspace frees up, the happiness within my soul bubbles up, and I take in the beauty around me. I see fields of grass, rabbits, squirrels, and sparrows. As I look into the distance, surrounded by clouds and the mountains I know that I’m living the adventure I’ve always wanted. As I lean and press in, the miles go by, time is suspended, and it is just me and the open trail.
Looking for some running essentials? Below are my top picks as you hit the trail.
What are some of your fitness tips and tricks? Any good motivators? Pre or post workout routines?