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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An Appreciation Piece

This little blog is about health and wellness among other silly topics. I focus on the health aspect a ton, especially in regards to eating and exercising, but I think it’s time to talk a little bit more about wellness. This topic is so broad because it ranges from mental and intellectual strength, as well as the things you like to do and the people in which you spend time. Wellness, among other more complicated factors, equates to happiness.

My family is a huge contributor to that happiness, from childhood to now. I’ve been writing snippets of my weight loss journey into book form, but sometimes I find myself drifting into more of a memoir, thinking back on my childhood.

I’m lucky because I am so close to much of my family, especially my parents, sister, brother, and now brother-in-law. There are three other people who have made such an important impact on my life and since this blog shares so much of my story, I’d like to share a little bit about them.

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My Auntie Bea, Uncle Peter, and cousin Maura have been there for me and my siblings every single step of the way, from the big occasions like graduations and weddings, to the smaller daily events, such as picking us up from school, going to the movies, or just hanging out at the house talking and playing games.

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Summers always include visiting them at their summer home- days spent at the beach, trips to The Christmas Tree Shoppe, cookouts in the backyard, cocktail hours, long-lasting card games, and trips to Dairy Queen to end the night. Vacations are always that more special, from Disney World and Storyland, to London and Oxford (we might have gotten a little fancier as we get older).

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Holidays are special for what they mean, but also the traditions we’ve built together. Movies with my Auntie Bea the day before Thanksgiving, a more intimate dinner together before the rest of the family comes over for dessert, lunch on Christmas Eve, and cheesy potatoes and games on Christmas.

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My siblings and I have dragged them to dance recitals, cheerleading competitions, and hockey games, but I don’t think they see it as being dragged- and I think that proves just how much love is there. We’ve had casual take-out dinners or fancy meals in the private rooms and laughed just as hard no matter where we were.

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There are so many memories that we’ve made together and so much of that has made me into the person I am today. It is their presence, love, and support that has given me strength. Not everyone gets a BB & the P with M, and my siblings and I, we’re the lucky ones because we do.

 

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As a whole, we don’t get to choose who we are related to, but through a million and one lifetimes, I would choose them. And I hope they know that.

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Happy Birthday, Dad!

Happy birthday to my dad!

He’s a man of few words, so I will try to do the same.

Over the years, he’s held my hand through everything.

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Shown up to every cheerleading competition, played with Barbies, and sat in princess duck boats.

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Supported and pushed me when I needed it.

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Makes me laugh the hardest and has been the most solid, stable person in my life.

Love you, dad! I hope you have a great day!

Humbled by Fame: A How-To Guide

Whoa. This weekend has been so much fun and it has everything to do with my mild internet fame. My mom and I want to thank everyone for reading and sharing and for the overwhelming support of my latest post, which you can read here if you have no idea what I’m talking about: http://givememycrownalready.com/2015/09/19/dear-joy-behar-a-thank-you-from-a-nurses-child/.

Nurses are awesome, especially my mom and I’m so happy that so many are agreeing!

Here’s all of the wonderful things that have happened to me since I experienced the instant rush of success:

  1. I was offered my own TV show deal
  2. Chris Evans proposed
  3. Amy Poehler and I are best friends
  4. I lost 30 pounds by increasing my daily calorie allowance
  5. I made delicious pumpkin waffles

Okay, so only one of those things happened. Any guesses as to which??

Yes! You are exactly right. We’ll be married next summer and all of you are invited!

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Psh, wishful thinking. Plus, that ring would have been a whole lot bigger had it been real. Reality is more like:

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Still pretty delicious.

This weekend was fun with or without Chris Evans. On Friday, I got my day started with a dumbbell strength workout, worked, then headed to my aunt and cousin’s nail party. I got some Jamberry’s picked out based solely on my mom’s choosing all of the holiday options they have available. They were cute though so I won’t complain.

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Clearly I’ve mastered the pout.

On Saturday, I worked through the morning, but ate this yummy oatmeal to fuel me through it.

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After helping cover up the pool for the season- it’s now fall!- I had this for lunch. I’m big on waffles and eggs these days and I don’t care for which meal I eat them!

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I wrote my now famous blog post, then met my friend Katie in the city. We went to a Greek festival for dinner and ate yummy gyros and baklava before meeting another friend at a Gatsby-type themed bar.

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Sunday morning started with some grocery shopping. My mom and I met my Aunt Stacy and cousin Erin for lunch. Blackened salmon salad for the win!

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After, we all scooted over for a Paint Nite afternoon. I can totally see why people love painting, and I also love to draw, but I never know what to create without someone telling and showing me how. I have a lot to work on when it comes to painting, but I don’t think it looks half bad.

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Glowing from our newfound fame.

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It was so beautiful out yesterday and by the time I got home, my legs were itching for a run outside! I headed down to the track to run on a consistent flat surface and I felt s-t-r-o-n-g. The intention was to go 4 miles, but by the time I reached my third, I knew I was in a good place, so I kept pushing. By the end, I got to 6.4 miles (had I realized at that point I was .1 away from 6.5, I would have gone for it, but oh well). I think I honestly could have run longer had it not been dark out, but also my legs were chafing! I can’t wait to run with pants on instead of shorts because it soothes things so much better!

I watched bits and pieces of the Emmys. My goal is to one day host and I think I could do a better job than Andy Samberg who felt choppy. I suspect we got spoiled by Amy Poehler and Tina Fey so many times. Maybe within the next few years, I’ll be receiving an award for my own show and hosting, and you can say you knew me when!