Mind over matter. If your mind isn’t in the right place, the rest really doesn’t matter. People tend to think that fitness is muscles over mind over matter. But the reality is, your body can handle nearly anything; it’s your mind you have to convince.
My journey into fitness didn’t just start a couple months ago, a year ago, or even a decade ago, but almost 15 years ago. As a 17-year-old, I struggled with maintaining a positive body image, as many teens do, and teetered on the verge of having a serious eating disorder for a little over a year. I was one of the fortunate few, who with the help of incredibly supportive parents, was able walk away largely unscathed, before any major emotional or physical damage had been done. But at just 95 pounds in my senior year of high school, I had a lot of work to do before I would truly find comfort in my own skin.
The next stage of my life (the college years), were dedicated to obsessive cardio exercise, 6-7 times a week. I would kill myself doing the elliptical machine or the stair stepper, trying to burn those extra 1000 calories, and sometimes would go back to the gym multiple times throughout the day to accomplish my goal or to “make-up” for poor eating decisions. I didn’t think I had a problem at all, but looking back, it’s obvious I still had a very unhealthy relationship with food and fitness.
The cardio fix continued through undergraduate school and into my graduate years while at the University of Nebraska. The next big milestone hit at age 26 when I found out I was pregnant with my first son, and went through the growing pains of, well…growing. The experience itself was magical; the weight gain (right around 32 pounds), however, was not, and I powered through some pretty extensive cardio sessions to make sure I ended up right back where I had started pre-pregnancy.
Two years post-baby is when the first big change to my fitness lifestyle started to happen. I was tired of my body the way it was. I was tired of my boring cardio routine (even if it did allow me to read every US Weekly, InStyle, and People magazine on the newsstands). I needed a change. I hired a trainer at a no-name gym who didn’t really know what he was doing, but neither did I, so it kind of worked out. He was an ex-army type and literally just put me through his bootcamp workouts. Sometimes he even did them with me. While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend getting a trainer as uneducated as this guy was, what he DID do was to light a fire within me, showing me that there were different ways to workout and to mold my body. From there I started to experiment with regular group fitness workouts and even did some good ‘ol P-90X when I couldn’t sneak away from the baby.
The real magic happened in 2014 though. I had moved to Arizona and was ready to really make a change in my fitness routine and decided to hire a serious trainer; one who put a quick stop to my cardio madness and told me to trust him, and to trust the process of adding weights in regularly to my routine. Trust is a really hard thing to do when you are used to “sweating” out your calories with intense cardio every day. But I stuck with it and started to really see results just a few months in as my waist shrunk, my arms and legs leaned out, and (small) muscles started to appear. Even more magical? My confidence started to creep back up to pre-baby levels… dare I even say, more so! My weight jumped 8 pounds over the course of that year, but it was 8 good (ok, great) pounds! My body fat was decreasing while my muscle composition was increasing. I had biceps for the first time in my life! And I was totally hooked.
Pregnancy #2 happened at age 32 and I used it as a stepping stone to really learn about the human body and what it is capable of, and pushed myself to remain physically fit and to continue exercising well into week 39 of that pregnancy. 2 weeks before giving birth I passed my certification test to become a Certified Personal Trainer (through the National Academy of Sports Medicine). I gained 20 pounds with that second pregnancy and truly enjoyed pushing my own limits and helping to educate others about the benefits of working out while pregnant. Now, two babies later, I have signed on with yet another new trainer, this one was with extensive experience in sculpting and transforming the female body, and in helping clients to get stage-ready for competition. Yes, I’ve decided to compete for the first time in my adult life!
Mind over matter, right? I’ve always seen the (very) tan girls on stage, in flashy bikinis, with their long hair and perfect make-up and absolutely envious muscles, and thought, wow, how lucky are they? And then I finally had an epiphany! What do they have that I don’t have? Why them? Why not me? Wait… what about me? If your mind can believe it, your body can achieve it. So, in a moment of intense courage for this once body-conscious, eating-disorder, obsessive calorie-counting girl, I told my trainer, let’s do this.
In less than 6 months I will take the stage for the first time, stepping COMPLETELY out of my comfort zone, to show my sons, my family, my friends, those who have always had my back, and most importantly, myself, that you can achieve anything you set your mind to.
And as is true of so many areas of my life, I want to share my journey, my missteps and my successes, so that others may learn, and hopefully find some inspiration along the way. I know we’re all busy, and fitting in working out can be difficult. And fitting in healthy eating can be even harder! But I promise you, I have the exact same struggles and I am no different than you. I just made this a priority in my life and I’m excited to share the lessons learned and tips and tricks to help you get in the best shape of your life too.
Stay tuned as we learn, grow, and get fit together.