Find Your Fitness

When it comes to fitness, I've been pretty active my whole life. I took dance classes starting in elementary school and eventually taught all kinds of dance in high school. Tap and hip hop were my two favorites and I loved practicing all day, everyday. I was homeschooled during this time and was able to rearrange my schoolwork schedule in order to be at the studio multiple days per week. This meant a lot of eating dinner at 10pm alone at our kitchen table while studying for my geography exam, but it was worth it because I lived and breathed dance.

To keep up with my crazy dance class and teaching schedule (most weeks I would take and teach around 10 classes with many of them back to back to back), I started running as a way to build endurance. Eventually, I switched from dance to long-distance running because I found that I loved that even more.

Running was definitely my "me-time" and after a few months of pounding out miles on my parents' treadmill, it got easier and more enjoyable. During this time I also worked out with my dad at our local Life Time Fitness. We'd head to the gym often later in the evenings and do our own separate workouts. I used to just use the cardio machines, but after awhile, I found myself getting bored with just those so I started playing around in the weight room while I waited for my dad to finish up his workout. 

Post college, I started taking running more seriously and eventually did some local races like a 5k and a half-marathon. It was through the half-marathon that I realized I loved running, but not necessarily races -- too many people and I tend to psych myself out and run too fast rather than pacing myself like i did on my solo training runs.

After the half marathon, I felt a little burned out from training, so I switched to strength-training.

I met with a personal trainer at my local gym and he gave me some tips and tricks for following a more consistent weight lifting program. I really enjoyed this new type of workout and stuck with weight lifting as my main workout for the next five years. 

I started gaining muscle and obtained a lean body composition -- I loved setting challenges for myself and increasing the weights I was lifting.

Two years ago, I started working with a nutritionist and coach -- it was then that I decided to toy with the idea of competing in a bikini competition. The structure and rigidity worked really well for my type-A personality until it eventually took a toll on my body.

I was lean and in the best shape of my life, but my body was NOT happy on the inside. I kept pushing through -- thinking that my body would eventually calm down, but things only got worse and my coach expressed concern that my body wasn't responding as well as it should be despite my near-perfect diet and training schedule.

My hands and feet were constantly soaking with sweat, I was experiencing hot flashes daily, my period was all over the place, and I had horrible insomnia, among other symptoms.

I was going through a really stressful stage of life, and that coupled with a low-carb, 7-days a week training program caused my hormones to go crazy. After a month of contemplation, I finally emailed my coach and told him I needed to listen to my body and take a break.

It was during this crazy competition prep that I lost my love for fitness -- it started feeling more like a job than a hobby that I enjoyed. I switched from being at the gym 7 days a week at 5am to not lifting more than a couple times a week.

I lost a lot of my hard-earned muscle, but it felt so good to be able to go out with my friends, eat at family dinners, and run errands for the day without packing my cooler full of weighed protein, veggies, carbs, and fats. I still eat a clean diet, but it's not nearly as rigid as before.

Over the course of the next few months, I started incorporating more walks into my life as a way to give my mind and body a break so that my hormones could balance out (more on this topic another day). I tried lifting a few weeks here and there, but I felt like my passion for strength training just wasn't there anymore. Andy suggested picking up running again, so as of June of this year, I'm back to that three days a week. 

Will I ever prep for a bikini competition again? Probably not, but I do know that I will eventually be back to the weight room. One of my favorite quotes is something along the lines of "not every hobby needs to become a career." There is such truth in that and something that I need to remind myself because I'm such a passionate and driven person.

The point is, just because you love something at one point in your life, doesn't mean you have to stick with it forever -- some things are only meant to be with us for a season or two. And who knows, maybe it will come back to you later in life like running did for me.

Not going to lie though, I still miss my crazy biceps from my lean machine days, but ice cream sure does taste good on a regular basis! ;)

What's your favorite way to stay fit?
Favorite workout song of the moment?