My name is Danielle, and I want you to know that my fitness journey is still in progress.
My Dad taught me the basics such as bicep curls, tricep extensions, and lunges to get me started. They were easy-to-follow moves, and I continued to do them.
I began to get bored with my routine and I asked my mom to take me to her gym. I tagged along one day and did one of the workouts she was learning from her personal trainer. The workout kicked my BUTT.
Funny thing is, I’m seriously not exaggerating when I say that: I ended up passing out at the gym. And nearly dying. Okay, that part’s a bit dramatic. But it was frightening; my eyes rolled back, my lips turned blue, and I distinctly remember my hearing fading.
At this point, I realized how important eating enough and staying hydrated were. We went in the morning, so I hadn’t felt hungry beforehand and I generally didn’t drink very much water. That was definitely a wake-up call to the nutritional aspect of fitness.
Up until my senior year of high school, I had just tried to figure out the basics. But then, I wanted to be pushed, so I took a weightlifting class. That’s when my love for fitness really took off. As much I loved learning the new lifts, I also learned about other important aspects of training such as how long each rep should be, the correct form for each movement, and about what it meant to believe in and push yourself.
Not in just the physical sense, but also mentally. High school is filled with immature, like-minded beings who only have one image of what beauty is, so people said a lot of hurtful things. Most of them would claim to be joking, but words hurt.
Along with taking this class, I began to kick box in my local area. This team was incredible. The encouragement and determination of the other members was so inspiring. Everyday after school, I would have dance practice and then I would head to train with them. Even though I had no free time, I was happier than ever and loved spending my days active and on-the-go.
The stress I put on myself became emotionally, mentally, and physically straining. The stress became apparent and my optimism quickly turned into constant crying, calling my parents two or three times a week because all I could manage to feel was hopeless and tired.
Weight (and muscle) slowly slid away because the stress would sit in my stomach, not allowing me to get a full meal down. My hours of sleep became smaller and smaller because I would try to fit too much done in to too little of time. A never ending cycle was established resulting in me being absolutely drained all the time. With my lack of sleep, energy, and food, there was no way I was making it to the gym.
Even though I looked relatively strong, I was weak.
I was not healthy.
So for my health, I ended up transferring to a school closer to home, and so far it has been the best decision. I have found a balance between school, my friends, getting my workouts in, and extracurriculars. I am involved in the Dance Company at my school, work out regularly, and have recently joined the Women’s Lacrosse Team, along with my participation in clubs, studying, etc.
My (incomplete) fitness journey has been a whirlwind, but it’s made me who I am today. Fitness goes beyond the aesthetic of one’s body. It is something that you do because you love it and you love yourself. It helps you gain an appreciation for yourself that you never had before. You can squat 250 lbs? Heck, then you can do anything!
The encouragement I get from my friends, family, and people I don’t even know has been tremendous. Every insult that has ever been said to me, has only made me try ever harder because I am a strong, independent woman and I love what I do. Some days are harder than others, but you keep on going.
Fitness has truly taught me to love myself — no matter what comes my way.
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