At four years old I stood, knees wobbling, at the top of a “blue square” trail on Mount Sunapee. If you’re not familiar with ski trail ratings, the blue square means “advanced intermediate”, a category that (at only four years old) I definitely did not fit into. Wide-eyed and probably ready to pee myself, I felt my dad grab hold on my waist as we started down the trail.
When I tell people this story, their immediate reaction usually goes something like this: “Wow, you must be really good at skiing then, right?”
Truthfully, I’ve never competed in ski races, worked as an instructor, or anything like that. What I did do though, was get out there on the slopes whenever I could and enjoyed the sport.
For me, fitness has never really been about competition. (Okay, except maybe when it comes to soccer, but other than that…) I’d rather focus on the enjoyment I get from being active and sharing that with others rather than on the competition. I grew up playing tennis, playing on my school’s soccer team, and eventually even joining both the track team and the golf team at my high school. Don’t get me wrong; I wasn’t a star athlete. I was only on the “varsity” golf team because there was no junior varsity team. But I didn’t let that stop me from getting out on the tee box and giving it my best shot.
Growing up in middle-of-nowhere New Hampshire, I spent most of my summers doing outdoor activities like biking, swimming and hiking. It wasn’t until I hit college that I started devoting time to actually going to a gym to workout. With a little help from my gym buddy and a whole lot of YouTube tutorial watching, I started learning how to use all those scary looking machines I never thought I would be strong enough to use. It was also around this time that I started using Pinterest, where there were hundreds of workout routines right at my fingertips. To me, that meant I didn’t have any more excuses. And once I had learned the basics, I was hooked. Working out became an integral part of my daily routine and I haven’t looked back since.
Being in college also meant I had to learn to be more conscious of the kinds of food I was putting into my body. Living at home, it was easy to eat healthy because my mom rarely bought junk food and was always cooking nutritious meals. And if she wasn’t cooking, I would try. In college, however, I was faced with the nightly decision of which flavor of ice cream I was going to eat. During my first two years in college, eating healthy became a challenge. I went back and forth between hardly eating two meals because I wanted to be skinny, to stress eating all of the snacks I could get my hands on in a matter of minutes. I figured that if I worked out enough, all of the stress eating wouldn’t affect me, but I was wrong. Eating all of that junk food slowed me down. I wouldn’t have the energy to workout and when I did, I felt like my body wasn’t making any progress. It wasn’t until last summer that I really figured out the right mindset to have about fitness.
When I moved back home for the summer, I found out that a juice bar had just opened up about 5 minutes from my house. Within a week of applying, I started training to work at said juice bar. It quickly and completely changed the way I thought about nutrition. One of my first tasks after joining the team was to take a ginger shot, which consisted of juiced ginger root, pineapple, and pear juice. I had never been a fan of ginger before and the first shot certainly didn’t change that. But the more I tried it and learned about all of its amazing health benefits, the more I loved drinking ginger shots. I went through the same process with things like wheatgrass shots and beet juice and eventually I couldn’t get enough of these natural and delicious concoctions.
Coming back to school this fall, I brought back all of the things I learned about nutrition while working at the juice bar. I chose foods based on how they made me feel, and in doing so felt much better about my choices. Having my own kitchen this year has also helped me develop better eating habits and improved my overall view of my personal fitness because I feel more in control. My fitness journey isn’t full of record-breaking races or MVP awards, but it is one that I’m proud of anyway. I’m passionate about striving for self-improvement and self confidence, and in sharing my journey as a Fit University ambassador I hope to encourage other students to embark on their own path to a fit and balanced lifestyle.