This title just seems so cliché. I used to roll my eyes when people would talk about their “Fitness Journey” like it was some grand expedition they had set out on with a map and a clear goal at the end. But, the longer I work on different fitness and health goals, and the more I change and adjust my nutrition/workouts/goals I realize it really is a journey. And, maybe there is a better word for it to make it sound less hokey, but for now, the word “journey” does seem to fit whatever grand expedition I am on in terms of accomplishing something worthwhile with my health and fitness endeavors.
The first time I ever really became conscious of overall health as it relates to exercise and eating habits was when I began swimming in high school. I remember Coach Shalley lecturing all the girls on needing to eat right at home in order to perform better in the pool (cue the swim team sleepovers where we’d eat a dozen cookies each). Overall though, when I was in season I tried to get some veggies in, drink water, and stay relatively conscious of what I was putting in my body. Off-season though, anything was fair game. I’d gain a few pounds (I never weighed myself, but my clothes would get more snug), and then I’d hop back in the pool September to February and after swimming for 5 hours a day, 6 days a week, I’d quickly fit into my clothes and go on my merry way.
Senior year, I decided to quit swimming in order to focus on Forensics more. I went from exercising excessively, to not at all. I also continued to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Quiktrip slushies were a must for Forensics practice after school, and a 10 inch pizza followed every shift I worked at my mom’s restaurant. Needless to say, I packed on the pounds real quick. Here is a comparison from my junior prom to senior prom:
This cycle of bad food+minimal exercise continued into my freshman year of college, and really kept going until I was halfway through my sophomore year. I remember freshman year being SO excited because I lost 9 pounts eating Lean Cuisine and doing the elliptical at 24 Hour Fitness. I portioned out 3 Lean Cuisines per day, and stuck to it for about 3 weeks. Needless to say, that didn’t last long.
My sophomore year of college my mom had begun seeing a personal trainer at 24 Hour Fitness. She was starting to do some private training, and my mom encouraged me to come join her for a couple of sessions. We did bodyweight and light weight workouts at her house, and I was floored at how out of shape I had become. I remember doing 5 pound shoulder raises and barely being able to raise my arms the next day. After one session of body weight squats and some exercise ball ab work, I actually got so dizzy my trainer made me eat an apple and sit down for a good 15-20 minutes before she would let me drive home. It was humbling and hard to swallow. After being an athlete all through high school, maxing out on most of the fitness tests in gym class, and being overall “in shape”, I was so angry at myself for having let all of that go so easily.
I decided I needed a goal. Something to focus on and work towards. I also needed guidance. I had always been told what to do and how to workout by my swim coaches, and outside of the pool I was essentially lost. I had barely ever lifted weights, and I had no idea how to write a program for myself. My mom and I decided to jump in and do a bikini competition together. We knew nothing (and I mean NOTHING) about what we were getting ourselves into, but we were ready to do whatever it took to achieve our goal.
We had a meal plan, a workout plan, and weekly meetings with our coach. We got our training for a STEAL thanks to working with our trainer outside of a gym, which made everything possible since I was a broke college student at the time. I packed my meals everywhere I went from November-March. I had one cheat meal per week, and spent 90+ minutes at the gym 6 days a week (at the end I was doing 60-90 minuts of cardio some days).
I stepped on stage at about 127 pounds. I had lost THIRTY pounds over 5 months. This is a very healthy time frame to lose that much. However, I was starving. I was deprived. I was eating chicken, tilapia, egg whites, and asparagus. That’s it. I was strung out on fat burners and coffee (I remember debating taking a sleeping pill the last few weeks because I would lay down at night and just be awake). I had taken 4 diuretic pills a day the last week, and still I looked fluffy as hell. I wasn’t ripped, I didn’t have abs like the other competitors. I was proud of myself, yes. But I wasn’t confident. And I was hungry. And I was tired. And I did not want to worry about eating healthy or working out again for a very, very long time.
Because this story is so long, I’ll be breaking it into several parts. I think this is a good stopping place for now ❤ I’ll have the next post up by Monday! Please leave feedback if you have questions, or if you enjoy these types of posts!