Where I started
I grew up in Idaho in a suburban neighborhood where children roller bladed, rode bikes, and shot out old barn windows with BB guns. I was an average kid who played soccer, studied, and danced. As a dancer, I always felt self-conscious about my body. Growing to 5’7” by the time I was 14, I was one of the “bigger” girls in all my school and dance classes. I distinctly remember one of my instructors complaining that my body was “too big” for ballet. I also remember feeling insecure that my body was heavier than someone else's expectations of me. I never felt okay with it. For some reason, I thought smaller was better. Since my genetics left me with a curvy body, dominant thighs, and a natural C-cup, I knew I would never win this battle.
For years, I trained using Pilates, body weight exercises, and lot and LOTS of cardio, thinking all these exercises would shrink those areas I didn’t want to be big. While these helped my skills as a dancer, they did little for my body composition. I would see the boys head to the weight room to lift and a part of me was very intrigued by what they were doing. I wanted to be in there too. I wanted to be strong. Something in me said, “You could do that.” but I denied it for too many years.
After high school, my dance career took a halt and the pounds quickly packed on. After my first year of college, I was weighing more than I ever had.
I packed on the typical "freshman 15" plus some. During this time, I met and married my husband. You know what they say,
First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage.
Being a new mom at 23, fitness and health weren't a priority. I was busy learning to be a mom, wife and hell, even a grown-up! I would occasionally do a random bout of exercise, but it was never consistent. I grew to resent exercise because my years of efforts did little to nothing to improve my body. I began to hate it and always felt I was spinning my wheels without ever seeing any real improvement (can I get a "amen" up in here?). Add to this the “mommy guilt” I felt for taking time for myself (Oh girl. You know what I'm talkin' about.), I literally saw no point of exercise or fitness. Fast forward 8 years and two additional children and I became a completely different picture of health.
Weighing in at 176 pounds, 30% body fat, and not recognizing myself in the mirror, I assumed I was destined to be the typical “mom” – a woman who used to be thin, but sacrificed her body for the sake of her children and was now stuck with the aftermath. This was the lot I’d been given. Virtually every woman I knew was in this boat, so why not me?
Simple. I was on the wrong damn boat!.
At age 30 (after our third), a light bulb turned on, and I realized that in order to be the mom and wife my family deserved, I had to be proud of myself. It was possible to accomplish this without compromising what was most important, but I had to be patient and stay focused on my goal.
How I got here
Having energy to raise three children, have a career, and manage a household was nearly impossible when I was overweight and unhealthy. Now, for the first time in my life, I feel like I can do it. Prior to this, something always got pushed to the back burner because there weren't enough hours in the day or energy in my body. I needed a reality check. I had made excuses for who I had become and why. It was easier than taking ownership.
One day, at 1:00 am while nursing a 3 month-old and searching the internet, I found a world of fit, healthy moms who challenged my idea of motherhood. They were mothers with 1, 2, 3, even 5 children. They had career accolades and healthy marriages. They were who I wanted to be but who I thought I never could become. I found reasons to dislike them simply because I wanted to be them. You know, that petty, bitchy shit. It was a coping mechanism that allowed me to justify who I was—out of shape, unhappy, and jealous.
This was the beginning of a war against my former self. I was done feeling less than, feeling lethargic, having lost my zest for life. I wanted to live a life of vitality; I wanted to feel confident in my own skin.
I knew my commitment to my family. I knew I would always work at being a good mother and wife. Couldn't I be fit and healthy at the same time? I just had to figure out how.
The first step was to clean out the unhealthy food in our kitchen. There was no more bingeing, junk food, or feeling miserable. I had a real, honest conversation with myself – a “Come to Jesus" meeting - and it was the first of many to come. I wrote down some goals and made a plan how to reach them.
I then did the worst thing ever. I took the dreaded "before" photos and then stared at them. For HOURS. I hated what I saw. I started chiseling away with a nutrition and training plan. As I changed externally, I discovered new motivation. New muscles showed themselves, my clothes fit differently, and I found new power. It pushed me to keep going and turned into a habit that I loved. I immersed myself in everything fitness and nutrition.
I fell in love with this so much that I enrolled in a graduate program in Exercise Science with a fitness and nutrition emphasis. This eventually led to my major career change from being a teacher to an Exercise Physiologist, college instructor, blogger and author.
What I learned
I realized something important – I was wrong. I was wrong all those years about blaming my genetics and placing the idea of health and fitness beyond my control. I was wrong about thinking my value was associated with my appearance. I was wrong thinking it was not possible for me to be who I wanted. I was wrong thinking I had to settle.
Life feels different now. My children are excited and happy that mom plays with them instead of watching on the sidelines. I have a stronger sense of who I am and what I can achieve. Marriage and sex are better. I have clarity in my life and I have stopped worrying about what others think or how to please them. I truly feel like I am in alignment with who I was created to be, not just settling for the person I had become.
You can find this person too. They are in there. You just have to cut through the bullshit.
It's time to be real.