I have always liked being active. Whether it was playing sports with my brother or playing tag around the neighborhood, I was that girl that always had to be running.
I played soccer starting in fourth grade, starting with the coed park district team, then for a club team. I made my high school soccer team, but had a pretty bad experience. My freshman coach played me every game before suddenly benching me because he said I lacked confidence. Denying me the chance to play certainly didn’t give me confidence. I quit playing soccer during my junior year to focus on horseback riding, which has always been a passion of mine.
This was really the beginning of my health and fitness journey. Once soccer ended I realized what fitness actually meant to me. I never had to think about working out in the past, but I realized fitness was part of my identity.
I started to do a lot of interval training on the track. Then, I started running around the block. Before I knew it, I was running 3 miles, then 6 miles, then a half marathon. I always wanted to do more.
I felt like I could work out all day. Running replaces my stress and anxiety with excitement and motivation. I have run two half marathons, and am currently training for a triathlon.
My friend introduced me to a blogger, Cassey Ho, of Blogilates. Cassey advocates developing strength, not getting skinny, which helped me see working out from a different angle. Her videos were very challenging to me. When I started doing them, I was unable to do a single push up. This gave me more goals to work toward.
I also started to make healthier food choices. I chose salads over sandwiches, raw almonds over Wheat Thins, and fruit over cookies. I changed my diet slowly to find what felt best for me. First, I cut out all refined carbs, sugars, butter, and hydrogenated oils because I researched healthy eating tips. Then, I cut out red meat because I had read it has high saturated fats. During my senior year of high school, I cut out all meat. I felt confident, happy, and energetic. I felt great!
Things really changed during my sophomore year of college. I started taking a new medication that made me gain a lot of weight. Additionally, I started to eat a lot of cheese and sugar, and I would go out to eat more than once a week. My late night snacks were buffalo chicken dip and cookies. I began to eat fast food. I figured I had gained so much weight that there was no turning back, so I just kept eating.
In the winter, I put on a skirt I bought at the beginning of the semester and couldn’t button it. I had never felt so self-conscious. I stopped wanting to go out, I wouldn’t go shopping, I wasn’t motivated to workout, and I just felt like I was in a hole.
This past summer I decided to go on a vegan, whole food diet to reset my body and get back to my healthy habits. I trained for another half marathon and managed to beat my PR. Also, I started an Instagram blog, @beYOUtifullyhealthy, where I share all my meals. The community there helps keep me accountable.
Now, my skin is clearer, I am more confident and energized, and I have no cravings for junk food. This isn’t a diet, but a lifestyle. I find peace through working out. When I am stressed, I go for a run. When I am tense, upset, or unmotivated, I practice yoga. When I am jittery or inspired, I do strength exercises. I truly love being active.
It took me a while to find my healthy lifestyle. I went through a lot of ups and downs to get to where I am today in my health and fitness journey – it all comes with motivation and patience.
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