So a little background as to how I’ve arrived at a passion for fitness…….
As a kid I lived at the top of a hill. A series of very steep hills actually. Not so fun to ride a bike up. Not so fun to learn a stick shift on. But back in the day that’s all we had. Two legs and a bike. This made simple things like going on a hike in the mountains, really easy. Running, playing were never a challenge. We always led an active lifestyle…..camping, hiking, riding bikes etc. But as a kid I never really understood or had a strong appreciation for what that did for me. I just played!!
Food was never made an issue in our house. Sure, mom went on diets from time to time, but I don’t ever recall it being a major point of conflict in our home. We had balanced meals, we spoke about the importance of eating a fruit, veggie, starch, and protein. Food was eaten, appreciated and enjoyed. If we wanted ice cream….we ate it. If we wanted cookies…..we ate them. It was just food. No emphasis was ever put on it, except to appreciate it.
As I approached my high school years I joined my schools ski team, kept running up hills to train so I could hurdle myself down them. Then college came…….
The freshman 15 happened. Or was it 20? Either way…..it was weight gain. Just got out of sync with it all. Working, school, new relationship…..it happens, right? Soon I realized I was not pleased with the reflection staring back at me. So, I joined weight watchers with a friend of mine. I lost the weight and started exercising once again. If I found myself putting on a little extra weight, I would jump back on the weight watchers train, and get back on track. The only thing I wasn’t doing was keeping my exercise routine steady.
In 2000 I joined my local gym, started working with a trainer and started my fitness journey a new. I stuck with this off and on for another 6 yrs. Not really finding my way. I would go just to go….never fully grasping the appreciation for it. Just trying to maintain. Never took it serious. Ahhhh, the joys of being young!
Then in 2006 I found out I was pregnant with my first child. Vacation time, right? Hell ya!! I was doing nothing and eating whatever I wanted. It was glorious!! Until that is, after the baby came. Lucky for me she was an amazing baby. She slept well, loved the stroller, could go for long walks (hills included, as I live in a neighborhood filled with hills again) and I started taking Pilates classes. Pilates!! Its what ignited my love of the mind, body connection. I got it. I was like “Yes!! This is it! I get this!” My instructor encouraged me to get certified and teach, so that’s what I did!
By the time I was pregnant with my second child I was certified and teaching. I continued to teach and take classes all the way through my second pregnancy. I went on only a mini vacation this time. Why not? It worked before!! Again, it was all fun and games until the second baby arrived. That’s when I hit the “WTF just happened?” and life just kind of stopped. She was (and still is) a high need child. Not entirely a bad thing, but it makes getting out of the house all the more challenging. So the weight I put on with her, (although the same as my first pregnancy), was really difficult to come off. The time between her being born and getting pregnant with my third is such a complete blur…..I don’t even recall what I did to maintain myself!
Then with my third pregnancy, I knew I had to make some serious adjustments to my vacation mentality. I knew I came into this with added pounds, so I couldn’t go to Tahiti for 9 months and expect to walk out of it with a bikini ready body. So I watched what I ate. I went to the gym and I walked. Mostly, I just didn’t eat all the brownies. I ate one. Shocking….I know.
So with each of the girls I gained 40lbs, with my son I only gained 25lbs…….yep, I stayed present. My passport to fun had expired. But because I went in with added weight, I still had a bit of journey ahead of me. And this is where it all shifted for me.
Me in august of 2011 just before my son was born. I was just as happy then with my body as I am now. You can be happy with where you are, but also want to improve!
In 2012 Some girlfriends and I started our own Biggest Loser contest. We were all fans of the show. I LOVED Jillian Michaels no nonsense approach to weight loss and exercise. I’m kind of a no nonsense person myself, so I found inspiration in her story. We did our contest over the course of 17 weeks and we all saw progress. The biggest shift for me was when I started running. Self taught. No help. Just would pick spots and run to them. Soon the distances between those spots became further and further until I was literally running everywhere. Up hills, down hills, dirt trails and bike trails. I L.O.V.E.D it! (runners high is a real thing FYI) I used My Fitness Pal to track everything I ate, logged in every day for the entire 17 weeks and the weight just melted away. I didn’t stop. I ran almost every day for close to two years. After the contest, I continued to track my food and found ways to live a healthy balanced lifestyle. Once I found myself able to maintain my weight I eventually let go of logging my food. I ate a clean diet 80% of the time. Then would enjoy my wine, baked goods, etc. the other 20%. It worked…. I went from 154 to 128 in about 6 months time.
Then one day you look in the mirror, and you see your booty, and you’re like “ummmmm, is it me or does my ass look like a pancake?” No, it wasn’t just me…….it actually looked like a pancake. That wasn’t going to work for me. So I did some research and quickly learned I needed to put on muscle. Not just my booty, but everywhere. I was a flabby mess! Sure my legs were lean, but they certainly didn’t have the amount of muscle I wanted. My arms…..total chicken arms. That is not a bad thing! I was fine, I was healthy and all, but its just not where I wanted to be. Again, there was room for some improvement is all I’m saying. I hit the gym again, but this time with the goal to build muscle. I worked at it for the better part of a year and a half. Still wasn’t seeing the results I really wanted. I knew something was amiss. Was it diet? Was it how I was going about my workouts that was off? Was it both??? I knew I needed to find more answers.
Enter Jessie Hilgenberg, IFBB Pro…….BOOM! If you don’t already know her, do yourself a favor, grab your phone and google her as you read. NOW. Ok…..amazing right?!? Her physique is absolutely amazing. Beyond that, her approach to fitness and nutrition were exactly what I was looking for. Again, very direct no nonsense way of doing things. Very clear and precise. Oh…..and you get to eat. Like REALLY eat! I had already been accustomed to eating, not starving myself at all. But I realized, I was not eating enough calories, nor the proper balance of calories to build muscles the way I wanted. Its all about what goal you want, right? I purchased her Muscle Building program, its 14 weeks long. I started at 126ish and finished at 126……I gained muscle, but lost body fat, which is why my weight stayed exactly the same. After I completed that, I started her Bikini Body program which drastically changed my physique. It gave me back my booty!!! I was able to maintain my weight through the course of that program while putting on even more muscle! I was a lean. The leanest I have ever been, while eating the most I ever have while being on any program. FOOD!!!! Who knew right?
FIRST picture is February 2015, MIDDLE picture is May 2015, LAST picture is September 2015 after completing both programs.
I suppose that through my journey, I never lost sight of the importance of eating healthy or being active. I just maybe didn’t make it a priority. However, I never gave up. I kept looking, searching, finding new ways to get me to where I wanted to be. Here I am. I’m not here to stay in this spot forever. I still constantly look for new things. I try to incorporate Pilates, and yoga. Again, learning to balance life. I want to have wine. I want to eat what I bake. I also want to stay fit and healthy in the process. There are times where I’ve had to be 100% at reaching my goal. There are times where I’ve been 50/50 (or maybe 30/70) and now I’ve reached the 80/20. I’m on point 80% then enjoy, relax and taste life the other 20%. You have to keep trying. Find your goal. Search and be relentless in finding the path that works for you. Be 100% when you need to. Take the break when needed. Just don’t allow it to consume you. When tomorrow comes, its a new day. A chance to start again. Its a privilege and a gift.
I encourage you to start today. Don’t let the pain of fear stall you. Kick that shit into high gear and just walk up that hill. Run if you can. If you find yourself down today, stop. Just stop, put your hand to your chest. Feel that? That’s call opportunity. Run with it and make it stronger.