Starting Something New…or Trying

I’m a college gal. I love to eat, sleep, talk, explore, learn, and (above all) live.

I emphasize “live” because I am so much more alive now than I was when I started college three years ago. Three years ago, I was waning off of my high school days, when I depended entirely on sports practices and pasta to get me through.

I love sports, dancing, and gymnastics and growing up, I never stopped moving. In high school, I loved coming home with the post-practice or post-game high feeling like I just took on the world. I’m 5’4” and weighed 103 pounds entering college. I was 18, moody, and definitely immature.

I started college and lived across the street from the gym, literally. My window’s scenic view was of the treadmills on the third floor. I wish I could tell you that I had a routine and went to the gym to make progress. To be honest, I only went to the gym a couple of times all year to “workout” and a few other times for intramural volleyball games. My “workout” wasn’t the most effective thing in the world. I think I benched once in the weight room and I ran around the indoor track a couple of times (and I hate running so you know that didn’t last very long). But beyond that, what was I doing? Nothing.

I was going to the gym because I didn’t know what to do without sports practices and when I got to the gym, I really didn’t know what to do.

I joined the Club Sailing Team during my fall semester, too. Surprisingly, I did this having never sailed before. This was my opportunity to meet new people and learn a new sport – I love a new challenge. Sailing is a sport, but a very different one from the ones I was used to, where I was doing long distance running or sprints.

I gained ten pounds my freshman year with no routine or good habits. For me, the freshman 15 was a real thing, even if it wasn’t the full 15. It’s not that I felt uncomfortable at the gym or that I had no desire to be in good shape. I just didn’t know what I was doing.

Sailing in one of my first regattas for the sailing team!

Sailing in one of my first regattas for the sailing team!

My Cancer-Free, Ass-Kicking Best Friend… and Personal Trainer

My sophomore year, I chose to live with random roommates. One of these roommates, Gabbi, became my best friend. She was a brave, smart, bubbly girl who changed my life.

Before we moved in to our on-campus apartment, she disclosed to me that she would be missing the first couple days of school because she needed to go to the hospital for her very last round of chemo. Gabbi survived Ewing’s Sarcoma and lived to inspire every person she has ever met. Sure, she had her extremely unfortunate happenings and not everything is perfect, but damn, did she make the best of everything – to me, that’s what it means to have it all.

I learned and developed more positive habits simply from spending time around her. I learned to listen more. I learned to respond not in a quick and thoughtless way, but in a gentle and caring way. I learned to clean up after myself, how to dress well, and most importantly, how to take care of myself. This was a girl who played field hockey for years, was more fit than most girls our age, was driven and determined to conquer everything (including cancer), and started going back to the gym as soon as the doctors finally let her do even the littlest of things.

My fitness story starts here – the cold walks through the fall air at night to get to the gym because Gabbi was going and if she could do it, I was damn well more than able to do it too. She loved a good workout and I loved the post-workout high that followed. I learned to appreciate yogurt and granola, home cooking, and being some of the last people at the gym – but hey, we did it anyway. My eating got better, my attitude got better, my mind got better and I was growing.

My fitness journey started because I was fortunate enough to have a mentor and motivator living with me and dismissing all of my excuses. She didn’t pressure or force me to go. If I made an excuse, she would just say, “Okay, I’ll see you later then” and walk out the door. I decided I didn’t want to be left behind. I didn’t want to not be the best version of myself. 

By the end of sophomore year, I had gained seven more pounds and the scale didn’t matter to me anymore. It still doesn’t, because I know I am strong and capable and those numbers reflected back at me do not define me.

It's so important to be surrounded by good people who lift you up and push you to be your best. Thanks, Gabbi! XO

It’s so important to be surrounded by good people who lift you up and push you to be your best. Thanks, Gabbi! XO

Getting in the Groove

My third year of college, I started working at a spin studio, Cyc Fitness, got hooked on it, and incorporated strength training. I worked at the spin studio at least three days a week and was spinning around four times per week – now that provides a damn good post-workout high. Between spin workouts, I would use Kayla Itsines BBG guides periodically, but never fully committed to completing the program.

During the spring semester of my third year, I studied abroad in Barcelona and joined a gym. I would go for a run once in a while, but the gym was located between my school and my apartment, so I had no excuse to skip it everyday. I completed Kayla Itsines BBG program in May for the first time and it felt amazing!

Now, I know I’m only one workout away from a good mood everyday. I feed off the post-workout high on many days. Being back on campus this semester, my routines vary based on my schedule, classes, activities, etc. But I make time for myself because exercise is equally important to me as everything else in my routine.

"Working out" is actually fun!

“Working out” is actually fun!

So, Here I Am

And so now, looking back on that whirlwind of sophomore year and trying to explain it to you – it starts with a thank you to Gabbi, for being my rock. I want to translate this experience into a relatable story because not everyone has a best friend who kicks cancer’s ass and yours in the same year.

The biggest lesson I want you to take away is that I learned I can’t be someone else, but more importantly, that I shouldn’t want to be. I am comfortable and confident wearing my skin everyday. People are meant to motivate and inspire you. Women encourage, support, and challenge each other. Women look each other in the eyes, fearless and inspired.

I learned that the change starts with you. One million people can tell you how to fix something, but it will never start until you want to change it. And your reason for change should be for you because other things may come and go, but you will still be standing. So when you start your fitness journey or need help continuing, know that there is no high so good as the one you feel at the end of a workout, nothing cleaner than the freshness of supplying yourself with the goodness of food and exercise, and no feeling so good as the end of the day when you feel alive.

And so my question to the readers is: what makes YOU come alive?

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#StrongIsTheNewSkinny

#StrongIsTheNewSkinny

 

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