There are two things you should know about me: one) I love food and two)…sorry I got distracted by the idea of food that I don’t remember the other thing. When I was growing up, I was lucky enough to have one of those metabolisms that always kept my eating habits in check. Between playing sports all year round in high school and being so busy with practice, rehearsals and more, I could afford to eat like crap. I’ll spare you the gluttonous details, but let’s just say there were several days a week where a lot of us piled into a car, grabbed Big Macs and headed back for our second round of practice or rehearsals.
Because I had that bounce-back-metabolism, I never really had discovered the ‘art’ that is physical fitness. Tennis, softball and track kept me in shape throughout high school, but even in college I attended minimal workout classes (and seriously, they had so many great FREE ones that I’m sure I would have loved). I ate like I had always eaten (frequently + always with a side of fries) and found my love for craft beer. When I met my husband, we were in our early twenties, falling in love and spending the majority of our time in taprooms, snuggled in a booth at a restaurant, or eating take-out on the couch. And let me tell you, it was a BEAUTIFUL time in my life – but I started noticing that foods + beverages began to stick to me in places they hadn’t always before. Even looking back at the photos of our engagement party, I get embarrassed with the kind of shape I was in, and for not realizing it at the time. I advocate fully for the idea that beauty truly comes from within, but I, like any other woman I’ve ever met, also wants to feel good when I take photos, or show up at work events, or meet new people.
This realization lead to my husband and I going on an intense ‘diet’ and workout plan six months before our wedding to lose weight for our big day. We were running a 5k every morning, and I honestly, sadly, was barely eating at all. I was living on salads and a glass or two of red wine to help fill my stomach in the evenings. I felt happy when I looked in the mirror, but my body was sad. And of course, this strategy did get me some version of the result I was chasing. But although I love looking back at our wedding and honeymoon photos and love feeling ‘skinny’ in them, this part of my ‘fitness’ journey wasn’t fitness at all – it was unhealthy eating habits, obsessing about my weight and a dangerous lack of self-confidence.
I weighed 102 lbs. at my wedding, probably the thinnest I have been since age 15. Obviously, this insane dieting and running every single day was not going to be feasible to continue to live a healthy, energetic, positive life. When we got back from the honeymoon, we gorged on foods that we had skipped out on leading up to the wedding. We stopped running, we drifted back to our evening routines of show-watching and take-out-eating. I was in desperate need of finding something that worked for me that would be consistent, effective, and an addition to my lifestyle rather than constant peaks and valleys.
Around this time, a girlfriend of mine reached out as a new coach for an online workout program. And yes, it was Beachbody and yes, this is the fitness routine that literally changed by life – but no I’m not selling it, and I am not even advocating for this specific program. What I am saying is this is the program that came into my life, worked for me, changed my habits, and has stuck with me ever since. My husband and I (yes, I had a workout buddy, this is so crucial, I think – it’s so much easier to make a lifestyle change when you have a buddy!) began with a 60-day program that was 30-45 minute workouts per day with a meal plan to go along with it. We did not miss a day of the program due to a helpful accountability group, stuck pretty closely to the meal program (yes, those containers you see everywhere!) and truly had some killer results. I had honestly never worked out with weights before (as a 25-year-old woman!) and this was an incredible addition to my fitness lifestyle. I didn’t have to run every day, and there was a variety of options I could go with. My workouts were at home, we could do them at 5:00 AM so my husband could get to work on time, and I had a helpful, easy-to-follow eating program that would help me stick to my goals. Since then, I’ve been a believer in the BB programs. They worked for me, gave me an achievable, helpful, educational way to get to know more about working out, more about my body, and more about fitness + health. And yes, I have always had such a loving relationship with food, meaning I LOVE to eat it – all kinds, all hours of the day. That will never change, so I love that having a constant fitness routine in my life allows me to continue to get the burger, beer + fries (all the fries) when I want to, and learn to go for the veggies at least a few days out of the week. My love of food is not something I am ever willing to compromise, and I love the ‘happy-medium’ state that I have found throughout this journey.
I’m not here to convince you to workout for an hour a day, or to cook at home and find joy in healthy recipes, or to find a workout buddy to sweat, commiserate and laugh with. And while I’m SUCH a fan now of all of those things, I’m saying that there’s something out there for everyone that can be such a powerful positive lifestyle change. My workouts now keep me sane, they allow me to eat French fries and drink beer (which believe me I do my fair share of!), they allow me to feel strong and fit and feel good (most days) when I throw on my jeans. I encourage you to take time to find something that will disrupt your routine for the better, and add in a piece of self-care that will enrich your life for the better. Maybe it’s yoga, or the 30-minute spin class with the girls, but whatever it is: find it, do it, and make time for it. Those thirty to sixty minutes each day for me has truly changed my life in the best way.
What we put on social media is not always what’s going on behind the scenes. Being active is something I’ve loved all my life, but getting in shape and learning to work out and eat healthy specifically for my physical, emotional and mental wellbeing has been much more of a struggle. I’ve shed tears over photos taken of me, jumped for joy when I saw the scale move just a little, felt so happy when I ate a big delicious meal and also felt sad and disappointed in myself, too. I’m learning to be proud of the body I have, and also enjoy the life that I live and the food that I eat without feeling too guilty and wanting to go to the gym right after a meal. I still battle with the image in the mirror before putting on clothes, and honestly, it’s hard not to in a world full of Instagram models flooding our screens. It’s a constant dialogue in my head, a constant fight to stay body-positive and I know I am not alone. But what I want to express out of all this is the idea that we should all be a little nicer to ourselves, more forgiving, more positive. Find something that is good for us, makes us feel good, and make it part of our self-care routine. You cannot pour from an empty cup, and my new-found friend ‘fitness’ helps me carve out some time where I can refill, refuel and feel better. I know it’s not easy – but the more we talk about fighting the good fight together, and sharing our journeys with each other, the less often we’ll feel alone.
PS: I have a variety of wonderful humans in my life who are coaches, strength trainers, etc. If you’re looking for something to add to your life, let me know and I’m happy to connect you with one of my #kickass #fitnessjunkie friends!