Wednesday, July 1, 2015

My Fitness Journey

I first published this article at Strong Is Our Sexy, and since July marks the anniversary of when my journey began, I thought I'd share it on the blog as well. This is one of those get-down-and-dirty personal post where I spend 80% of the writing time enthusiastic...and the other 20% questioning my insanity.

But this story is important to me, and if I'm lucky, maybe it'll even inspire someone during their own journey. 
There is a time period in my life I deem “The Dark Ages”. Prime pubescent years between the ages of 10 and 15 where braces, horrible hair styles, a chubby figure, and unfortunate makeup decisions make me cringe whenever pictures happen to surface. While most kids hung all of their yearbook portraits up at their high school graduation party...I hid mine under the bed.

The refusal of letting anyone view photos during these said  “dark ages”, sort of became a running joke in my family. And although I can laugh about it now, those moments planted a seed that would soon grown into many years of feeling "just ok” about my appearance and self-worth.

So why then am I broadcasting this incredibly private (and uber embarrassing) part of my life on the interweb?????

Well as they say; without the past, there is no future.

Growing up, I always considered myself a “bigger” girl. Compared to the rest of my grade there were thinner girls, and then there were heavier girls, so I was somewhere in the middle. I was active enough for my weight to remain consistent, but running was NOT in my vocabulary, and the closest thing I came to sport-ing was being on the bowling team.
High School 
Fast forward to college, and that small amount of activity pretty much diminished to non-existent. Having to prepare my own meals lead to A LOT of pasta dinners, frozen chicken nuggets, processed cereal bars for breakfast, and late night ice cream runs just for the hell of it. Not to mention the beauty of drinking before noon without judgement and ending the night with drunk food!
Oh memories.
College 2008 - 2011
Pssh yeah memories, all my waste remembers is getting bigger.
Those years I became the heaviest I’ve ever been. I knew it too, I just didn’t know what to do about it. I’d walk for 15 minutes on the treadmill, lift some weights, and then compensate my “good behavior” with an extra helping of bread at dinner.

Then on the day I graduated from college, my boyfriend of 7 years proposed.

At this time I’d like to pause the story for a hot second, and talk about that wonderful boyfriend (now husband). You did read correctly, we have been together since Sophomore year in high school. And through all those years of any extra weight gain, he was by my side. Never judging, always there to see the beauty, and loving me more than I loved myself most days. Looking back, I think I used him as an excuse. Why put in the extra effort to change myself when I have this incredible guy who loves me the way I am?
After he popped the question, this is what flashed through my mind;
First thought: “I’m getting married!!!!”
Second thought: “There is no WAY I’m going to walk down the aisle looking like this.”
The only problem was I was clueless how to change my behavior on my own, every method I tried in the past gave no results. I needed guidance, I needed a plan.

In July of 2011 I landed a real-world job, moved to Cincinnati, and used my first paycheck to join Weight Watchers. That moment was a key stepping stone to my journey towards a healthy lifestyle, and I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without the program.

Now this isn’t an advertising plug for Weight Watchers, but for me, it just made sense. Tracking what I ate and giving points to food, helped me realize I could be satisfied with the suggested portion size. I didn’t want to eat more, because then I would use up my points quicker. Exercise also became more of a priority, because after a workout I would gain activity points, which then I could later eat.
May 2011 - October 2011
For the first time in my life, after attempting to be proactive about my weight, I was actually seeing results.

This. Was. HUGE!

My thought process about food had completely shifted. No longer did I mindlessly eat whatever was around, I made conscious decisions about the food I put into my body. The amount of fruits and vegetables I consumed skyrocketed, protein and lean meats were always in my fridge, and I constantly measured my portions sizes while cooking.

By March of 2012, I had lost almost 20 lbs and was feeling great. That was when I stumbled upon a Groupon for pole fitness at Bella Forza Fitness. After the first class I was completely hooked. Not only were the pole classes a blast, I loved the other workouts the gym offered as well. BFF very quickly became my second home, and from that moment on not only was I losing weight, but I was gaining muscle as well.
2012 - Present!
My fitness journey has been just that, a JOURNEY. There have been challenges, plateaus, setbacks, and a couple intense discoveries of self-love and acceptance. I had to face the fact that I am a woman built with curves, and although my thighs are big they are STRONG. My butt sticks out a little more, but that’s from all the squats I do. My arms may be thick, but that’s because my biceps are no joke. Strong is MY SEXY. Living an active lifestyle, and having a healthy and toned figure has become much more important to me than the number on the scale.

This summer will mark 4 years since my first Weight Watchers meeting, and I can confidently say I’ve LOST the weight and have no intention of finding it again. That confidence comes from having a fantastic support system, and staying true to myself. If you’d have asked “Beth circa 2010” if she could ever see herself as a pole-fitness instructor, she would’ve laughed in your face. But now I can’t even fathom going back to my old habits, it’s truly been a lifestyle change.

Life is a marathon, not a sprint.

But had I known that hiding inside of this girl...
I would’ve started a LOT sooner!

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