I guess my “story” starts from a young age. I was a bonified tomboy being that I had 2 older brothers to help guide me. I shunned dresses and never owned a Barbie until I was in the 3rd grade. ( My BFF’s mom felt bad for me and bought me 2 for my birthday- I promptly cut their hair short and then completely off). I was shy, but never turned down the opportunity to run and play with my older brothers and their friends. We played pickle, baseball and tag-all.day.long. I must have been in 4th or 5th grade while playing baseball. I was running the bases and made it to home safely. My brothers friends said, “you’re pretty fast for running like a girl.” The nerve! I was actually mad. I think this whole time I thought I had them fooled-that I was in fact a boy!
I ran track and field from grade 7 up until I graduated high school. I was a sprinter and i was pretty fast ( for a girl!). I also did the long jump my Senior Year and did really well.
Fast forward to college - I enrolled in a class “weight lifting 101″ or something like that. I had never really lifted weights before and I was loving it. I soon started going to every group exercise class that I could, I utilized the free fitness center and became a vegetarian to support my vegetarian roommate. I was gaining muscle, losing fat and was feeling great. This story could go on and on, but to make it short - I was approached by the aerobics staff about teaching classes ( my shy self). I accepted, got certified and have been teaching since 1998!
It was also in college that I first saw Oxygen Magazine. One of the models in particular claimed to have my same stats– she was 5 feet and 5 inches tall and weighed 125 lbs. How come I did not look like her?? She had muscles and looked beautiful! I now had a new goal in my head. I wanted to acheive her look or something close to it. I knew it was not the “normal” look of a college student, but it was one that I wanted!
I picked up running (again)when Amara was about 8 months old to lose the lingering pounds from pregnancy and along the way I became addicted. I even ran the Chicago Marathon when she was about 1.5 years old. I never lost sight of My Dream Body though. I followed my dream and competed in a Figure Show ( still shy too!!). I had to learn to walk in 4 inch heels (anything over .5 inches is still a struggle for me). I got to put on loads of makeup and a tiny bikini. It was kind of fun getting all pretty (even though I looked like a hooker). I don’t do that enough- and it felt good.
To my COMPLETE surprise..I won! I swept the categories. It was CRAZY. Long story short (ha). I only compete in running races and duathlons at this time ( run/bike/run). I love to compete!
I grew up with a dad and brother who were really into sports. Fortunately, they were gracious enough to allow me to play with them. (Okay, truth be told, my brother had no choice.) While other girls were playing inside with dolls, I was in the driveway perfecting my jump shot. My dad instilled a great work ethic in me. I was expected to spend hours learning and practicing to be the best at whatever I did. I never felt like it came natural to me, so I always tried to work twice as hard as those I competed against.
I stayed active in sports through my college years (basketball, tennis, and Ultimate Frisbee). However, as I got older (although I refuse to age) and started a family, my desire to stay active, athletic, and competitive remained, but I wasn’t sure how to pursue it. I joined the gym, and my passion for fitness was truly ignited. (Whereas I was previously passionate about sports and head-to-head competition, I now found myself much more focused on health and wellness.)
I initially decided that if I was going to be in the gym as much as I was (pretty much five or six days a week), I might as well get paid for it. That’s when I pursued my first certification as a Spinning instructor. I had no idea at the time how much of an impact I would have on other people’s lives, motivating them and helping them to reach their goals. I quickly realized that this was something that I loved to do. I wanted to continue to learn as much as I could and felt a great deal of responsibility for those that I was helping and coaching. That fulfilled my need to be physically active, but it did not fulfill my desire for competition… so I joined a basketball league, then a softball league… and if that weren’t enough, I joined a running club and began running races! Much to my surprise, I became incredibly passionate about running and cycling. My spring, summer, and fall became a time to obsess about when I could race next. I just couldn’t get enough! Fortunately I have an incredibly patient husband and a loving family that put up with my fitness-related shenanigans (I won’t tell you what they think of all my other shenanigans!)
I hope that those who read this blog will find inspiration and motivation, not just from reading about successes, but seeing the reality of what it means to pursue good health and fitness in the midst of very full lives.