Hey everyone! Happy Wednesday! I thought today I would blog about my fitness journey. This is a long one but bear with me as I add to this story in the future!
To those who haven’t known me for my whole life, or even most of it, it may come as a surprise that I was not always a fitness enthusiast. In fact, I hated gym class, was only a rec counselor at my summer camp to get a tan, and generally maintained an unhealthy lifestyle for many years. With the exception of competitive dance, which was a huge part of my life for 14 years (I started when I was 4 and dance was my “extracurricular activity” until I graduated high school), I was pretty sedentary and did not explore all the fitness options that are out there. Occasionally my friend Allyson and I would put on our soffee shorts (remember soffee shorts? Full disclosure: I still have several pairs) and sports bras and run around my neighborhood, but that was about it.
When I got to college, the first time that I did not have 20+ hours per week of intense dance classes and rehearsals, I was a little lost. Plus, let’s get real, unsupervised college eating is the MOST fun. I danced in a student run club a couple of times a week, and while the dancers were talented, the pressure for me to join them at “mixers” with fraternities just wasn’t my style, so I only danced for three semesters. I would occasionally hit the gym to get on the elliptical for 30 minutes, but that was about it. Couple that with my love of Chinese food, penny beers (yes, one beer cost one penny), and tons of iced coffee with cream and extra sugar and the college weight gain was real.
I saw graduate school as a chance to really reinvent myself, be confident, learn a lot, and gain tons of independence. I was living in my first apartment, got a kitten, and was ready to make some self-improvements. I registered for my first half marathon in February of 2012. I downloaded a training schedule from the internet and got to work. My cross training at the time was mainly the stationary bike or the elliptical, and I incorporated almost no strength training, whatsoever. I loved my first half marathon so much that I decided to complete the Cape Cod Half Marathon Trilogy for the year. I completed one race in May, and another in October. They were slow. They were difficult. But I was proud.
Since graduate school I have tried many new things in the workout world, from memberships at gyms, to yoga, pilates, HIIT, kickboxing and more. There was even a while when I wasn’t working out at all because I was in my car commuting for 3+ hours a day. Then, I started at my current job at a school in Manhattan – and reduced my daily commute by half. I was pumped to have time to exercise, but didn’t know where to start. So, I did what any totally sane, not crazy at all person would do: I registered for my first full marathon. Again, I downloaded a training schedule from the all-knowing Google and I stuck with it. I completed my first marathon in November of 2016 and I totally caught the bug. There is just something about the commitment that long distance running takes that I really love. I couldn’t skip workouts. I couldn’t eat junk. I couldn’t half-ass it or I could get hurt, or not finish. I started following running blogs, runner’s Instagram pages (one of whom is now my amazing, supportive, running coach), and picking the brain of my coworker, who just so happens to be an ultramarathoner. I completed my second full marathon in May of 2017 and my third exactly 13 days before my wedding in May of 2018.
I would supplement my running at a local gym with sessions on the elliptical or stationary bike, and the occasional weightlifting session with Brian. Then, one morning in the summer of 2017 at 4:45am, Brian and I showed up at our gym to find a sign on the door that it was closed. Just like that. #NYC I had my running, of course, but it was hot, humid, and I generally wasn’t loving it. We did some research on local gyms, and, having heard a lot about Crossfit, decided to head over for a trial class. WE LOVED IT! Our first class (something I’ll always remember) was 100 American kettlebell swings for time. I used the tiniest weight they had and I still felt like a total badass.
Brian and I went to our foundations classes together at our box to learn all of the basics and then jumped into 5:45am classes, which I’ve stuck with ever since. It’s funny to me to think back on my first few weeks at Crossfit, watching other people and copying what they were doing because I didn’t know the names of the moves, to now confidently using all of the equipment in the gym. With Crossfit, I saw results more significantly than I ever have before. And I don’t mean weight loss. I mean my muscles are actually toned, I’m stronger (in the most literal sense of the word and in the more figurative sense), and I’m a faster runner.
Basically, with the combination of long distance running, and the variety and community that Crossfit provides (plus the opportunity to see my handsome husband on a rowing machine on the reg #dibs), I’ve truly found a routine that works for me that I love and I haven’t looked back. Now, don’t get me wrong, am I always jumping out of bed in the morning fired up to lift heavy weights at 5:45am? Heck, no. But I am committed to what makes me feel good, even when, in the moment, it may be a pain to do it. There are so many things to use as excuses these days: work, family commitments, weddings, the financial cost of belonging to a good gym, etc., but I know that in the end I won’t regret spending my time, energy, and cash on my own health. What is your favorite workout and how do you stay motivated? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Photos by my mom, my husband, and @antlucicphotography