Love Letter to Exercise

It was the summer before my senior year of college and I had no idea what to pursue in my professional life, but I knew I did not want to present myself to the world in my current condition. I was obese, self-conscious, and overwhelmed. Rather than sink further into this black hole, I decided to pull myself out of it.

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After work, every afternoon, I put in 15 minutes on the clunky elliptical we had in the basement. I blasted music and endured it. As the days and weeks passed, I started putting on episodes of favorite shows, like Friends and Golden Girls, and worked until the end. It wasn’t long before I realized how much I enjoyed the effort, the slick sweat and short of breath feelings grew addictive.

I could go for an hour, playing with speeds and intensities. I was losing weight and I felt good about myself for the first time ever. I was in complete control, pushing my body to limits I thought I would forever detest. My body craved more. After my elliptical session, I would do sets of jumping jacks and started lifting the light weights we had lounging around. By the end of the summer, I was more determined than I had ever been in my life and I knew I would keep going once I was back in school.

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At my college, there were two gyms- one in the main building of campus and the other in the basement of a dorm. I loved both, they became safe spaces of comfort. Lifting weights awakened my body in new ways. I’d feel sore the next day, but it was a result of achievement rather than a painful deterrent. I had no knowledge about how to lift weights, no idea what exercise worked what muscle group, I just tried what I saw other people in the gym doing, or what I read about online.

In these days, I racked up one-two hours every day at the gym. It’s not what I recommend for everyone, nor something that is doable for busy people, but it was my saving grace. Gone was the anxious girl who ate her emotions. I found my strength.

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February of that year, I decided to tackle the treadmill. Growing up, I loved playing sports, but I hated to run. I started at 30 minutes, walking for 4 minutes and running for 1 minute in 5 minute increments. By Red Sox opening day that year, I took my runs to the outdoor track down the street and was running 3-4 miles at a time. I was a runner- and that is not something I offer lightly. To this day, I am not quick or smooth or a model of running perfection by any means, but I can run for miles and I will never forget what that means to the girl in the summer of 2011.

By graduation, approximately one year later, I was 100 pounds down, exercising six days a week and maintaining much healthier (and happier) eating habits. I was sad to be leaving school, but I was excited to see what the future held. That is not to say that I didn’t struggle after. I’m still confused as to what to do in my professional life in many ways, but that is the product of living.

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But this journey that I continue on, allowed me to be okay with putting myself out into the world, to experience and experiment. I tried several different jobs and trusted my instincts enough to walk away from something that wasn’t right for me. I studied to become a personal trainer and help others who struggle like me or just need a little guidance and push. I moved to Los Angeles to pursue my dreams and listened to my heart when I knew it was time to come home to my family.

My life is not perfect. I am not perfect. I eat too much, I have a lazy exercise day or choose to gasp- take two days off from the gym sometimes- but mostly, I’ve maintained these healthy habits. Eating is a large part of losing weight and maintaining a healthy life, but exercise was my gateway. Without it, I would not have the strength to endure, two of my favorite words.

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Exercise is my time. No matter what, I will always have that hour in my day that I take for myself. It doesn’t have to be a full hour, it doesn’t have to be a perfect mixture of cardio and strength training, and it doesn’t always have to be crushing and exhausting.

Embrace the messiness of fitness- the sweat, the confusion, the pain, the results. It does wondrous things for the body, physically and mentally.

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True Life: Sometimes I’m A Slob :(

Whoops! This posted before it was ready. This is what happens when I’m super organized and have it written and scheduled for the day ahead.

I want to first mention how sad I am to hear about Alan Rickman’s passing. I didn’t know David Bowie as much, but I know he was a fixture of so many people’s lives. With Alan Rickman, he brought a character to life so beloved in my memory, Snape, and my childhood, that I can’t help but mourn. RIP to the both of them.

I’m embarrassed to admit that my room is not the tidiest and coziest it can be. To the outside world, I am an organized person. I made two different versions of flashcards when studying for my test. I used to rewrite my notes from school. My calendar is in both written and wireless formats.

I just also have a terrible tendency to drop my clothes where they are, in part (and this sounds horrible, I know) because I have too many clothes filling my closet.

Listen. Okay. When I first got my office job over a year ago, I went ham at the store thinking I needed all of these clothes. And then I was making money to buy more clothes. And I wore such cute outfits (in my opinion) for the eight or so months I was working in the office.

Then, spoiler alert!, I quit that office job to start working in a gym that requires a somewhat bland uniform of black pants and a white or black shirt underneath a work-mandated jacket. Now I only wear a handful of the clothes in my closet along with exercise outfits and I won’t complain, especially if that’s really the only complaint I can offer, but my closet is kind of a sad place right now. All of those pretty and fancy clothes (so many dresses) just sitting there. So yeah, sometimes the not so pretty and fancy, but very well-worn clothes get tossed to the ground when I come home.

I’m sure one day I will find cause to wear them again, which is why I’m holding onto them, but I have donated certain items I won’t wear. So, in conclusion, this was a long-winded way of telling you that I need to do some organizing in my life.

It’s been a strange sort-of six months (seems longer and not long at all somehow), what with studying and passing my Personal Training test and now transitioning into that career, while figuring out where and who I want to be (but isn’t that just life?) Since graduating from college, I’ve found my life to flash in a series of unsettling moments and constant changes, but I know this is not a bad thing. It’s just a different thing, less comfortable. But when I feel a little (note, a lot) insecure about the happenings of my life and I allow the little details that I can control slip, I start to feel much more hectic than I should.

Long story short, I’ve got to pick up those damn pants and clean out my closets (I know, I’m the worst), and straighten myself out. Scary, fun, amazing, challenging, difficult, and inspiring things are happening, if only I keep a clear mind, heart, and soul.

You’re “welcome” for the rant, but I think most people just come to see the food.

We’ll start with last night’s dinner. Chicken cacciatore with whole wheat pasta, peppers, zucchini noodles, and asparagus. So.Tasty.

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We move onto this morning’s breakfast of this Champion. I can call myself a Champion sometimes because if not, who else would?

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The workout of the day will consist of Zumba taught by a friend! Followed up with some kickass kettlebell training I’ve strung together.

Happy and healthy living! Don’t be a slob (like me)!

If I Showed You My Flaws, If I Couldn’t Be Strong…

Last night, I had to run on the treadmill. I suppose I could have waited until the sun went down, but there was a Yoga class I wanted to attend and I love Yoga best after a strong run. The treadmill actually wasn’t all that bad and I kept a steady pace for 15 minutes, walked for 5 minutes on a high incline, ran for another 15 minutes at a slightly faster clip, walked for 5 minutes on a high incline, then ran for 10 minutes at an even faster pace. This kept things from growing boring along with a fun playlist. Currently, I am obsessed with R. City’s song with Adam Levine, Locked Away. I cooled down for a two minute walk before hopping off and heading down to Yoga.

I got home to find my brother and his girlfriend had made dinner. I guess Jimmy and Cait had tried coconut shrimp out at a restaurant and they wanted to recreate the meal. I was a little suspicious when they kept asking me about how to cook the shrimp, and I was working out during the preparation stages, but the end product was delicious. Anything with coconut is delicious. I paired my shrimp with a cup of pasta that looks overflowing on my plate and broccoli and peppers.

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I woke up this morning with a hankering for some pancakes. They were thick and fluffy and delicious with some peanut butter and jelly on top! There’s also nothing quite like summer fruit, especially of the berry variety.

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As I’m reflecting back past my California vacation (I miss it!), I’m realizing that my meals haven’t been as healthy as usual and I’m not feeling my regular strong and happy self. I know this tends to happen to me when I lose a sense of regular routine, which is already a product of summer. It’s been an odd summer with leaving my job and starting a new one that doesn’t have a 9-5 schedule (and believe me, I’m not complaining- to say that I made the right choice is an understatement), heading out for vacation, and trying to form a new schedule. Plus, the need for ice cream all the time is real 24/7.

It doesn’t help that my brain tends to want to write late at night when I know I should be in bed, but I also don’t want to break my flow. I think I just need to learn to live with a bit more flexibility and gain control not through relying on structure and routine, but on myself to be able to adapt to changes better. There are so many factors I will never be able to control, but the way I eat and take care of my body is definitely my own prerogative. Let’s take it one meal at a time, listen to my body’s signals, and how I feel after I eat.

About 90% of the time, I love exercising. I know I’m a bit of a freak in that regard, but when I’m at the gym, I feel my most powerful, I get in my zone, and it heals me. It’s a hassle that when it comes to losing weight and living healthy, about 70% of it is all about what you eat. I love to eat and for the most part, I eat really well, but when I don’t, I can’t just fix it with exercise (at least not like when I first started to lose weight). This all goes to show that I really do need to get back into the kitchen and spend the time I need to create healthy, nutritious, filling meals.

Fall’s the perfect time for that! But don’t worry, there’s no need to wait.

Thank You For Reading (Please Don’t Leave Me)

Another day in snowy paradise. You know, maybe I’d let up on the snow a little if I thought this was a sign that Global Warming didn’t exist and that the world will be just fine, but Snowmaggedon is just another example of just how bad things are. Before we get too political, I’m just going to change the subject.

I realized I confused myself a little bit with postings these past few days. I want to remind you (and by you, I mean me) that when I recap my meals and workouts, I’m actually talking about the day before because I schedule my posts to go live in the mornings. Does that even make sense? Do you even care? I’m just going to keep on typing and if you chose to read, then I am forever grateful.

Oh! About that! Readership has gone WAY up this past month and I’d like to think it has a lot to do with what I consider to be way more interesting writing and perhaps insights, but actually I think it might be due to all the snow keeping people locked inside, bored, and then turning to me for some entertainment. I don’t care about your motivations but keep it up people because it makes this girl ver-ry happy! Note: My grandmother will always be my biggest fan. Even when I get to the stalker-level type fans.

But regardless, THANK YOU FOR READING please stay, don’t leave me I am humbled don’t even care if you like what you’re reading.

Sunday was an odd sort of collection of meals. I woke up indecisive and overwhelmed by the fact that I had a third day in which to carefully decide and deliver the breakfast of which I was about to devour. My tastebuds were torn and my mind indecisive, so I went with a combination platter. Starting with a crunchy apple I munched on as I played War of the Breakfasts, I toasted up two pieces of toast, smeared one of them with a tablespoon of Teddie peanut butter and the other with a little butter and a poached egg. Best of both worlds= a happy tummy! A little raspberry-blueberry sweetness rounded out my meal.

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Lunch came in two parts. The first, after grocery shopping, I went with a cheesestick and a couple of whole wheat crackers I just picked up for myself. It was light, but filling, and fueled me through the workout I already talked about. Whoopsie. The next part was post-workout and included a pear that wasn’t quite ready to be eaten as it still had too much crunch and not enough of the juicy goodness I enjoyed last week. I also toasted up a quick slice of toast and put a little almond butter on top.

I found some DE-LISH-OUSSS chicken meatballs in the grocery store today. They were teriyaki ginger and I threw them into a stir fry filled with tons of veggies, rice, and a little thai peanut sauce mix. It was such a great, healthy meal that satisfied these tastebuds. That’s all you can ask for!

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I haven’t had much time for cooking lately, so it was great to throw this together, even though it didn’t take much creative energy at all. The rest of my Monday was all about chopping up veggies and putting together healthy foods to make the rest of my week fun, delicious, and organized. Staying in control when you can, ahead of time, makes it easier to maintain some sense of control when things get hectic and your crazed mind wants to make that stop at a fast food restaurant. Unless, of course, fast food is your choice indulgence. Mine’s ice cream and that desire does not stop when there’s SEVEN FEET + OF SNOW ON THE GROUND AND ALL AROUND. Is it a sickness? Maybe, but it’s damn delicious.

I mentioned SNL40 in my post yesterday, but I don’t think I took enough time to talk about how friggin epic it was to see Amy, Tina, and Jane Curtin on the news desk together. They are three clever, sassy, brilliantly funny women who inspire me. Actually, I’m pretty lucky because I have a bunch of clever, sassy, brilliantly funny women AND men in my life who inspire me, but unfortunately, they’re not on TV so they’re useless to me I love them despite this flaw.

One final note, I was told (giving you fierce side-eye right now TWITTER) that the Backstreet Boys AND NSYNC were going to be making an appearance. I relayed this information to my sister who might be BSB’s biggest fan and she watched all 3.5 hours and then they didn’t show, thus prompting THIS exchange.

photoAre you happy Twitter? You were my FRIEND. I trusted you. And I am her MOH and I kind of lied. This could be worse than the time I ACCIDENTALLY spoiled the end of Sex and the City for her. We’ll get through it, but this probably means five more Backstreet Boys concerts in my lifetime.