This piece literally took weeks to write and I contemplated tossing it altogether, so please be kind and I hope you enjoy my personal transformation story. 🙂
I never considered myself an athlete growing up. In high school, I tried out for sports and just didn’t have the hand-eye (or foot-eye) coordination to make it on a team. My school had a required weight training class and I actually did very well! I started getting competitive with myself and other classmates, and I felt like a badass surprising people with my strength.
Once I got to college, I had busy class schedules and any time spent outside of class was spent studying or hanging out with friends (mainly eating late night pizza and drinking sugary drinks and beer). There was a gym on campus, but I was too shy to go. I had fallen out of practice and was intimidated by other athletes who actually knew what they were doing. So I never went. The only time I had a regular workout routine was during my walking and jogging course my senior year (lol).
Immediately after college, I worked in the service industry and worked long hours, ate very easy to acquire/unhealthy foods, and drank far too much. I had also broken up with my boyfriend of about four years, at which point I had “let myself go” and indulged in all the unhealthy habits to make myself feel better. Because of these habits, I was sick all the time and my immune system was shot.
I went to the doctor one day after a couple of weeks of being sick. It had been a while since my last visit. The doctor did their usual routine; check blood pressure, temperature, ask for any allergies and ailments, and of course, put me on the scale. I was just over 150lbs at 5’6″. My doctor told me I was borderline overweight for my height. She wasn’t trying to be mean, just telling the truth. This was a wake-up call. I had spent so many years neglecting my health, I didn’t realize the reason I felt tired and sick all the time was because I assumed I didn’t need to do anything to be happy and healthy.
I started going to the gym. It was a basic facility with assisted weight training machines and lots of treadmills and ellipticals. I was so scared going in that first day. I had no clue how to work the machines and felt stupid trying to figure it out, but I couldn’t let a little stage freight stop me. I started to build a routine, doing a mile on the treadmill followed by 10-15 minutes of strength training with the assisted weight machines. I stopped eating heavily fried foods and fast food. Over the next few weeks, I started seeing results and my confidence grew!
After a few months, I wanted to expand my workout routine with more free weights, particularly squat racks. I loved seeing the initial results, but I had plateaued and wanted to see more of my potential strength. I joined a gym with more equipment and also offered a range of strength training classes like HIIT, Body Pump, TRX, yoga and Fit Team classes. I knew I needed some professional help if I really wanted to expand my skills. For so long I thought I wasn’t a “class person” and preferred to do my own thing. I still deeply enjoy going solo and being a badass on my own (because meditation), but until I tried some fitness classes, I realized I was doing myself a disservice by not giving them a chance. I learned techniques, built friendships with trainers and classmates who then became family. I also enjoy a little competition too 😉
I lost about 30lbs through this journey. The scale however isn’t what I use as my success metric. After years of putting so much emphasis on a number, I realized that that too was unhealthy. So I don’t put myself on scales anymore. Getting stronger, honing skills creating a more healthy, balanced lifestyle is what is important. I’m happy with the body I’m in, and proud that I took action and kept at it. I love setting goals and breaking personal records. That is my success metric. The high school or college me would never have imagined becoming an athlete, let alone competing in strength competitions and pursuing a career in fitness. I share this story with you not to gloat, but to hopefully inspire anyone who might be in a similar place I was in years ago. Want to be healthier? Stronger? You can do this! You are your greatest obstacle and your greatest advocate. Know that I’m also rooting for you in your journey too!