I’m going to be honest about everything here. I am not a blogger, I don’t feel that I am entertaining enough, and I’m certainly not a fitness and health expert. This may be in part why I’m here. For the past 10 years I have always had a future goal to attain, or more of what I would call: something hanging over my head. For me, this was education. Growing up I had no idea that I would go to college. It wasn’t until Junior year in high school after a fight with my dad over my grades that I had even begun to think about it. And as selfish as it was, I remember the exact phrase that pushed me into thinking about it “if you go to college, I’ll buy you a car”. Ha! Whatever it takes I guess, right? I know that’s a ridiculous thing to motivate me, but in all honesty, it may have saved me. From then on out I began to really try at school so that I could get better grades. Previous to this I was getting C’s and B’s and I would often get in trouble for talking in class and I really could care less about studying for tests. Something happened to me that year in high school. I remember the first time I actually started to do well. I had a math test in Trigonometry (I always hated math), and I had been meeting with my teacher for help and had vowed to myself that I would stop talking to my friends in class and pay attention to this teacher, who was so eager to help. I was one of the last students finished with the exam, but when I got it back I had a 93, unheard of for me in math… especially with the difficult material we had just covered. This pushed me even further. I began to appreciate math, because there is always an answer to every problem- you just need to acquire the tools to figure it out. I began staying after school to get extra help, and I actually began to enjoy getting the grades I was getting. I was driven to succeed in my other classes as well. I was on the honor roll for the last two years of high school. Something had changed in me.
I began college in 2002 at Rider University in New Jersey. The first year in, I asked my dad about that car he had promised. His response: “if you go to UNH I will co-sign for a car”. What???!! What kind of college student makes payments on a car? I was in no place for that. Regardless, after several discussions and some serious thought, I transferred to the University of New Hampshire in the Fall of 2003. This was another one of my “best decisions ever”.
From the beginning to end of my undergraduate career, I was stressed out. Because school had become so important to me and I was so obsessed with getting A’s and B’s, this was my only focus. I gained weight, my face was always broken out, and my eating habits were terrible. Aside from having moved from home for the first time in my life and having endless amounts of junkfood available just a walk away in the dining hall, keeping up with homework was a major stress in my life. For some odd reason I have always had it in my head that as long as I have work to do for school, I can’t do anything else to enjoy myself. I have never really been able to get over this. Because of this, I have never been able to start a healthy routine of eating right and working out, and actually maintain it.
In 2007, a year after college ended, I started working in Boston, MA. Shortly after, I started taking classes toward a Master’s in Biotechnology. In the beginning, I simply wanted to take advantage of the tuition reimbursement offered by my employer. I had no intentions of graduating with a Master’s, in fact, I had no intentions of staying on Boston for longer than 2 years. 5 years later, I am graduating with a Master’s in Biotechnology. Funny how life turns out. I wasn’t sure I would make it this far because I had not one ounce of desire to complete a thesis, a requirement for completing the program. But I had come as far as completing all the courses, and this was one less thing to do. In my mind, the sooner I completed the thesis, the sooner I could move to California- a long term goal that I have had since I moved to Boston (hence only wanting to be here 2 years). Well, here I am, thesis just completed, graduation scheduled May 24th. Ta-da! I never in my life imagined this. EVER.
The feeling of just having completed the last portion of school I ever plan to take has left me surprisingly nostalgic. I had this feeling when I graduated from UNH. Its a strange feeling that you never really expect. No doubt I feel relieved, but on some level I felt like my goals have all been achieved. My long term goals still include moving to California, staying for a few years, and moving back east and starting a family. But at the moment, I have nothing hanging over my head. Nothing that relies on the other people for help or a grade.
Throughout my life I have always wanted to be really fit and strong, but have never committed to doing anything about it because I was always so busy with school and “didn’t have time” to focus on it. I would start working out to Jillian Michaels, or something I found on demand; or I would work out in my basement doing circuit training workouts that I had made up from looking around online… but I had trouble maintaining this. I remember things such as getting sick, or going on vacation interrupting my momentum, and I would give up the workouts. And they would stop.
Finishing my thesis left me feeling minutely sad, relieved, excited, and anxious about the next chapter of my life all at the same time. I have made the decision to use these feelings to empower myself in formulating my next goal: I want to be as healthy and fit as I can possibly be, and I want to maintain this for life. I want to do this to feel strong and like I am taking advantage of every last second that life has to offer, because you never know what can happen. I consider myself a realist, many consider me a pessimist but it doesn’t matter to me, because I know myself better! As a realist, I have motivated myself to begin this new journey by the simple fact that I CAN. Accidents happen, people lose their ability to walk, talk, move, breath on their own, feed themselves, or even live, in one instant. You never know when your life could completely change. I have thought about this many times. If something like this ever happened to me, how would I feel? In all honesty, I would feel like I didn’t take advantage of what I had. I didn’t take advantage of this wonderful body, air and life that God has offered me. This alone provides a lot of motivation to succeed in my goal.
I have nothing “hanging over my head” that needs finishing, I am 27 years old and fortunately, perfectly healthy. Why am I not taking advantage and pushing my body to be the best that it can be, why am I not living my “Best Life”? I have seen what age, eating poorly, and constantly being stressed out can do to you, and am hereby vowing to myself that I am going to try as hard as I can to live a long, happy, and healthy life.
What I have tried
Historically, I have always begun dieting and fitness as a means to lose weight. However, I have found that once the weight is off, I get this new-found confidence that helps me put my guard down and I have trouble maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Right now, I am happy to say that I am very satisfied with my weight, and will not be disappointed if I gain weight in the form of muscle. My first “diet” started in college when my father and I decided to do the South Beach diet. I read the book in its entirety and was amazed at all the things I was putting into my body. I am not advocating a diet like this, but this was a great start for opening my eyes to the possibility that food could do a lot of harm to a person. The book was an easy read and really helped me to want to learn more about what I put in my body. When you are young, you eat what your mother gives you. When you move out of the house, its a whole new experience where you have the power to buy all those foods that your mother would never buy or let you have… its like Christmas! And its easy to take advantage of it, especially if you were never taught that some foods are really bad for you. Previous to reading the South Beach Diet book, I had no idea about any of the food that I was eating. So this was a really good stepping stone to get me informed. And I did lose my “freshmen 15” , so that was something. And although I gained some of it back after, I at least knew what I should be eating, even if I wasn’t always adhering to it.
A few years ago I also tried weight watchers, and this has actually worked. I lost 15 lbs, which was more than I wanted, but I knew that I was eating the right amount of food. I actually felt pretty good. And ironically I was able to see my muscles even though I hadn’t worked out in a long time! To boot, doing weight watchers gave me so much confidence and self control that I didn’t think I had. I was able to pass up the best of junk foods including chips, macaroni and cheese, Ben and Jerry’s, cheese, etc… when my loving boyfriend would be indulging late at night. I was happy that I could be comfortable in my body and still be eating things that brought me happiness. Which is also how I also learned that if eating a certain food gives you true enjoyment and satisfaction, then you should take your time, eat it, and enjoy every minute of it- but overindulging in it takes that away from you. I learned to appreciate the flavors of things I was eating, and when I eat something like Ben and Jerry’s, I try to take my time, enjoy it with a smile on my face, and save some for later!
While counting calories gave me an idea of the portion sizes I should eat, it wasn’t without flaws. There were definitely times when I would consume the right amount of calories, but I wouldn’t be eating the right foods. For example, if I wanted to indulge in Ben and Jerry’s, occasionally I would substitute it for dinner! Not always the best mentality, but sometimes we falter. Also, the weight I lost was not seen as a good thing to others. Unfortunately, at 115lbs being 5’3′ I also had people telling me I was too skinny, on a regular basis. I never thought I would be hurt by those words, and I know that people who feel bad about being overweight are probably ready to stab me right now- but I let these comments affect me, and they really bothered me, as much as I tried to ignore them. I started eating more junk food and indulging more and more. And I gained a few pounds back, but to be honest I am not worried about that at this point. Now I am more concerned that I get the right things in my body and that I become as strong and fit as I can be! I don’t care if I gain 15 lbs doing that- as long as its in the right manner (and its proportionate)!
Journey to Fit
I am going to blog about my journey to fit, in hopes of maintaining my motivation. I believe that being able to see where you began can give you an incredible amount of hope and confidence in getting where you are going. I have noticed this by looking back at journals I have kept, in which my ability to handle certain situations has improved incredibly, and I am able to give myself a pat on the back and be proud of how far I have come. I would like to feel this when looking back on my journey to fitness and health, and feel successful. I hope to achieve fitness, health, satisfaction, and the confidence that I can do anything that I want to do. I see so many examples of people doing things that make them so happy, and I find it easy to sit back and do things that are easy and comfortable. I want to be one of those people. And suddenly, over the past month or so, I have realized that its really not that hard. I admit that I don’t have any one passion in life and this has bothered me for some time now. But I am now accepting the fact that I can use this to my advantage and try everything I have ever wanted to try- in search of that passion. I have always wanted to feel fit and have a strong body, I have always wanted to be entertaining, I have always wanted to be able to talk louder (silly I know), I have always wanted to be a dancer, have a farm, do martial arts, live in a city, be an avid hiker, snowboard, live in another country, speak another language, have an amazing job, have children, buy a house, go skydiving, take a roadtrip, get crazy about yoga, etc… This list could go on. I am going to attempt to do all of these things because, well- WHY NOT?