My sophomore year of college, I gained 25 pounds (a solid Wisconsin winter coat!). At the time, I placed blame on the freshly baked pastries in the sorority house kitchen and the two-mile trek to the gym in frigid temperatures—seriously, it was a -20 degree walk to workout! But, let’s get real for a sec. There was more to it than chocolate chip cookies.
Looking back, my sophomore year in college was a huge turning point. For the first time in my adult life, I was lost and uncomfortable in my own skin. I lived in a house with 30 women on a campus with 40,000 people, yet I felt very alone. I can’t say I know what triggered the emotions, but I can tell you what helped: food and hours of cardio. Yes I know that combination sounds a bit odd. After all, didn’t I gain weight?!
The truth is, you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. I overrate and dragged myself to the gym for hours on end to burn calories. I skipped social opportunities, woke up extra early to run on Game Day (I was usually cheered on by other students pre-gaming), and pre-planned by class schedule to ensure I had enough workout time in the mornings. This wasn’t a healthy routine. It was only later through counseling I learned I had exercise bulimia, a lesser known eating disorder.
Why would I share this story? I think it’s important for you to see that even I have struggled to find “balance.” At one point in my life, fitness was a form of punishment. But today, fitness has become an avenue for strength, empowerment, community, and self-love. Connecting with others through a shared passion for sweat brings me such joy, and I have met incredible people (including my husband).
In 2007, I decided to run the Chicago Marathon. Instead of letting exercise own me, I would own it. Training for 26.2 miles was a huge undertaking, and for the first time that year, I had a healthy achievable goal. I remember long runs along Lake Shore Path in Madison, as well as discovering a foam roller for the first time. I also remember race day. My mom flew all the way to Chicago to cheer me on. I’ve never felt so proud.
Training for a marathon was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. Through running I rediscovered my love for fitness. I lost weight (the healthy way) and worked everyday towards a goal. I joined a community of runners offering training tips, support, and camaraderie. My mindset shifted, and suddenly exercise become something I wanted to do versus something I had to do.
My road to a healthy mind and body took time, and it’s a work in progress everyday. My goal is to motivate and inspire you to live a happy and healthy life. Exercise is simply one way to make that happen. I am here to be your training buddy, support system, and friend. Always remember that everyone (even me) is at a different stage in their health and fitness journey, and you are NOT alone.
Today I encourage you to write down 5 goals for the remainder of the year. Some ideas: run a 5k, walk the dog every morning, try a yoga class, etc. Create a vision that is going to make you want to jump out of bed in the morning. Big or small let’s tackle these goals together!
Now…let’s get started.