My new exercise assignment came via email. I reviewed the new material from my fitness coach. Only 5 days of cardio this week…I wonder why she cut me back? The 5 days of strength training had a lot of focus on my glutes. I guess, I need to gain some muscle and lose fat? I laced up my tennis shoes and looked at my self in the mirror. My reflection looking back at me didn’t look happy. What was I doing to myself?
Exercise has always been a big part of my life. Early on, my family spent most Sundays going on a 4 mile walk around Lake Scranton. To this day, I still love to walk MARK AND I TAKE THE GIRLS OUT FOR A WALK AROUND THE NEIGHBORHOOD MULTIPLE TIMES A WEEK.
But Exercise took on a new meaning though in high school, when unhealthy exercise behaviors started. I was bigger than all of my friends. I did not embrace the fact that I was an athlete. Nonetheless, I was on a mission to lose 20 pounds. To this day, I have no idea where the number 20 came from. I did lose those 20 pounds but gained a whole lot of other issues.
I was exercising so much that I believed that this was the only way that I could maintain my 20-pound weight loss. I developed acne and my period stopped. I would wake up early so that I could get my 5 mile walk in for the day; I was only a senior in high school. Exercise became unhealthy and started to interfere with fun activities that I should have been enjoying.
I was recruited to play college softball, and I attended on scholarship. My softball game had changed with the weight loss; I was not the power hitter I once was. Unhappy, lonely, and hungry I started my college career. I gained back 20 pounds plus an additional 15 despite intense daily physical activity. My confidence was damaged.
My trend was to gain and lose 20 pounds per year for my entire college experience. I had my summer weight loss protocol down pat. As soon as I would get home, it would all begin. I knew exactly how long it would take to reach my goal and I had to start immediately. I followed a version of the zone diet and my exercise would include cardio and strength training. I never focused on how I felt. I didn’t care if I was overtraining. I had a goal.
Looking back on this experience, I want to love myself even more. Why did I punish myself instead for so long? Instead of enjoying my late teens and early 20s, I became hypercritical of my body and developed unhealthy exercise habits. Exercise was to obtain an external result. Period.
I have some good news. I was able to remedy all of this. My relationship with myself is strong, I have self confidence like never before, and I use exercise to feel good. I no longer view exercise as a way to change the look of my body, I use it as a way to move and feel alive. I want to enhance my health and mood not burn calories and get more well defined shoulders.
My new view on exercise opened the door to new possibilities. I get more sleep because the alarm is not set for 430am to get my cardio in before I attend CrossFit. I have taken up new hobbies like playing the piano and writing this blog because of my extra time. I discovered Barre which I love because of the mind body connection it gives me. I can miss a day or week without feeling guilty which comes in very handy when I am on vacation. Most importantly, when I look in the mirror I can see the self love flooding through my automatic smile.