I was introduced to sports at a very young age. A lot of my family members, especially my older brothers, were always athletic so it was only natural that I caught on too.

I was given my first pair of Jordan’s before I could even walk. Essentially, I was Sporty Spice: Baby Edition.

Some of my earliest memories are of attending my brothers’ high school sporting events when I was in pre-school, learning to throw a basketball in my driveway, and wheeling around my mini plastic set of golf clubs.

The majority of my physical activity as a youngin came from playing basketball and figure skating, both of which I started at age 4 and “retired” at 14. My skill level peaked probably around the ripe age of 12: super ripe. Entering my teens, I picked up field hockey and started to run track. I found love for all four of these sports– each one allowed me to meet amazing people and was an extracurricular that brought me a lot of joy.

However, with each sport there came a point where I found myself backing away. I would procrastinate at practicing for skating lessons, not want to leave the bench during a basketball game, and wince and immediately quit at every shin splint or cramp rather than learn to power through.

By no means was I a remarkable athlete, or even a really good one. Like I said, I peaked when I was 12. I always knew that I could physically have been better, but mentally I was holding back. Now I realize, several years later, that I had developed a fear of competition– not just among opponents, but among my own teammates and peers as well. I would constantly allow myself to plateau out of fear of a new and different challenge that might compare my ability to those around me.

During my junior year of high school, I got a concussion that lasted a darn long time. Before then, I had been looking at colleges, hanging out with friends, working, and dreaming about my future; and all of a sudden my life was put on hold. I actually wasn’t allowed to do anything. Almost two months of this had gone by, and as you can imagine, my life was feeling kind of depressing. Anxiously I waited for the doctor to give me the “OK” to go back to school (only part-time at first).

The one thing my body craved the most was exercise. Considering I had been forced to adapt to the lifestyle of a potato (and probably lost any muscle I had ever gained) it craved it with good reason. I anxiously awaited the day when I’d again be allowed to move.

For the first time in my life, I was excited to challenge my body. The challenges started small, but I was improving. The challenges didn’t scare me anymore. Gradually, my 10-minute walks on the treadmill turned to 50 minute walks, and eventually being able to run a mile again never felt so amazing.

It was like a light had switched on. I no longer was competing with anyone. Exercise had become about competing with myself, improving myself mentally and physically.

Which brings me to now: I’ve kept up this mentality through college, and I’ve found that it’s been the most important thing for my sanity.

I don’t play sports any more, but I workout about 5 or 6 times a week. My workout is like a little date with myself, where I can put in my headphones, put my phone on “do not disturb”, and just Do My Thang… like Miley Cyrus taught me. 

I’ve found that not only do I physically feel better after a workout but it’s also a weight off my shoulders and a pat on my back knowing that I tried to make myself a little better than the day before. I’m still no athlete or gym rat, and for some reason it takes me a long time to gain muscle. Some mornings I have abs (like a two-pack)… but like I said, only some mornings. But to me, that’s totally ok – I know I’m getting stronger and better each day. And I’m only competing against myself now; someone else’s six-pack doesn’t matter. 

Fitness shouldn’t be something to stress over; we have enough stress already within these short four years. We have to face so many mistakes and bumps in the road, and all the while strive to work towards our goals. It’s hard. We may all have different destinations once we receive our degrees, but in the meantime all we can do now is make ourselves a little better than we were the day before, thinking about where we want to be in the future.

I still have a lot to learn within these next two years, in school (because that’s really important, ya know?) and about myself. I’ve found that trying to live a fit lifestyle, finding and maintaining a balance has been a really strong foundation for me.

Fit University has the power to bring people together from all different backgrounds of health and fitness. You can be at any level of fitness and still find a home among the Fit U community. Finding a group of people that care about their well being as well as those around them is a rare occurrence. I look forward to what this year as to bring for both myself and Fit U!

This article was contributed by Michaela Carey. Michaela is a Fit University ambassador at the University of Connecticut. To learn more about her, check out her .