This is a picture of me during my first year of college. I need to go to my mom’s home to dig out something closer to my senior year so you can see the end result of four years of drinking, eating, and merriment. I decided to reflect back to my early 20′s days based on a comment from a friend. This dear friend was explaining why she was having such a difficult time getting motivated to work out. Then she said, “You wouldn’t understand because you are naturally fit. You have probably worked out your whole life!”. But, she was wrong. I didn’t embark on being fit until I was in my mid-20′s.
I figured it was the perfect opportunity to dig out a few of the skeletons in my closet and share some of my struggles with fitness. I have been lucky enough to not struggle too much with my weight, but I will say that when I graduated college, I weighed as much as I did when I gave birth to my oldest son Evan.
After college, I struggled to find a career. Somehow, I wound up getting a job at an investment firm. As is typical in the investment industry, this firm operated on an east coast schedule: my work day started at 5a.m. This meant I had to roll out of bed around 4a.m. to shower and commute to the office in time for the opening of the market. By the end of the day I was exhausted but empowered by the idea of finding a career and being able to support myself. When I got home, the last thing I wanted to do was go to the gym. In addition, I took on the goal of working toward my CFA designation- sort of like getting an advance degree in Finance without going to grad school. I had every excuse in the book for not finding time to take care of myself. I quickly slipped into a pattern of constantly feeling tired and stressed out.
One day I stepped on the scale and saw a number that made me pause for a moment. I didn’t like the path I was heading down. I vividly remember the day I decided to make a change. I wanted to become an athlete. I wanted to be known as someone who is committed to fitness, working out, embracing life, pushing my body to the limits kind of person.
I started by forcing myself to get on the treadmill after work for 5 minutes. “Just 5 minutes”, I would tell myself because 5 minutes is better than none. Once I got started, 5 minutes would turn into 10 because once I got going, I felt more in the mood. More often than not I would end up running for 30 minutes- even though I only had planned to do 5 or 10. Once I mastered the treadmill, I took up spinning and once I started to see myself as an athlete, I decided to run a marathon. This did not happen overnight. I estimate that I spent a good 2-3 years getting fit before I decided on the marathon. Ever since I completed the L.A. Marathon, I have considered myself and athlete.
After 3 pregnancies and countless sleepless nights I have been able to maintain the athlete inside of me. When I don’t feel like working out, I think of world class athletes who push their bodies to the limit regularly. I can’t imagine that they take a day off when they get their period or feel a bit tired.
I am an advocate of fitness because the benefits from taking care of yourself are countless:
- Endorphins help keep your spirits up
- Exercise boosts your immune system
- Your kids will learn to value their fitness
- Fitness will improve your self-confidence
The list goes on and on. It doesn’t matter what your fitness level is in the beginning. Start thinking like an athlete. Treat yourself like one too. Fuel your body with a balanced diet. Try not to make excuses for why you can’t take care of yourself. You are never to old to improve your health. Try it. You may surprise yourself.