My Relationship with Fitness

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I assume I'm not alone in admitting that I have a somewhat complicated relationship with fitness. I grew up as an athlete, often times jumping between two different sports in any given day, and thrived in team-based, competitive environments. But that all changed when I got to college and it's been something I've struggled with since.

When I was a freshman at Scripps, any semblance of structure that I'd had up until that point changed drastically. In high school, I knew what to expect each day. Classes ended at the same time, followed by sports practice (either track, soccer, or basketball), dinner, and then onto my homework. As a creature of habit, this sort of regimented schedule worked for me. I never had to think about staying fit because I simply showed up to practice each day where a coach would tell me what to do and I'd follow his or her instructions. And I loved it. Before I went away to school, I didn't realize how much I'd relied on that structure and how difficult it was to find that kind of discipline on my own.

I ended up gaining a lot of weight my freshman year, thanks to my newly sedentary lifestyle paired with dessert after every meal. Frozen yogurt after breakfast? Sure thing! A handful of just-out-of-the-oven cookies after lunch? Yes, please! I basically had no willpower when it came to my food consumption and since I also wasn't exercising, by the end of my first semester, I literally couldn't fit into any of my pants.* By the time my sophomore year rolled around though, I was ready to make some changes. I started joining my friends at the gym, all of us lined up, pumping away furiously on our ellipticals. It was something I looked forward to and since I had enough free time between classes, I always made it a priority. 

When I graduated from college and started working a full-time job, I understood the importance of maintaining some level of fitness. But since my friends no longer could go to the gym with me at any time of the day, I found group classes to be the next best thing. I lived by the Crunch Gym on Sunset at the time, and would set my alarm for 5:52 a.m. so that I could wake up, throw my clothes on, and run across the street in order to make the 6 a.m. class five mornings a week. That worked for quite some time until I moved in with G and cancelled my gym membership since it was too long a drive.

Since then, my exercise habits have been sporadic at best. I'll have spurts where I'll work out consistently for months at a time - a Zumba class, bootcamp, group hip hop, or even going for quick runs. But nothing sticks. I'm impressively good at coming up with excuses - whether I get bored, injured, or come up with enough schedule conflicts. The truth is: I don't make the time. For a while after Sloan was born, I made it a priority for us to go for a walk each morning after she had her breakfast. That was the daily activity I got until recently. Once she started eating real food, those meals became extraordinarily drawn out - two scrambled eggs can take her twenty minutes to eat. That's followed by a painfully sluggish intake of yogurt with blueberries and finally some Cheerios (that she simultaneously eats and tosses around the kitchen). By the end of Sloan's morning feast, it's usually close to the time I have to get to work, so I opt for a quick cup of coffee instead of a walk. I figure that it's more important for her to have a well-rounded breakfast than for me to force her to quickly consume her food so that I can get some exercise.

I've gotten a lot of questions about my exercise routine over the years and it's something I've never known quite how to address. I have a naturally athletic build, no thanks to anything I'm doing now (though Sloan is a pretty hefty baby to cart around), but rather from years of intense sports. Not too long ago, perhaps in order to encourage myself to find some sort of fitness regimen, I mentioned on the blog about how I'd be sharing how I got back into shape after having a baby. That never happened - because I didn't figure anything out.

Some days I get really down on myself since I'm not as active as I'd like to be. As a business owner, wife, and mother, I realize the importance of making time for myself (not just everything around me) and making my health a priority. I want to be one of those people that has "their thing" - like my mom, who goes for hour-long runs four days a week, my friends who are fiercely dedicated to their yoga practices, or G, who's recently fallen in love with cycling.

I struggle with the fact that a lot of my identity used to be so closely tied to being an athlete and now I consider it a success when I climb a flight of stairs without becoming winded. But with everything I do, I try to look at where I am currently as just a stage in my life. Things will shift over time and eventually, I'm confident I'll feel that pull towards being active and the addictive endorphin rush that accompanies it.

*Luckily, this didn't bum me out at all. I was so blissfully unaware and happy that I simply blamed the fact that none of my clothes fit on the older washing machines and driers in the dorm's basement.

Do you struggle with making physical activity a regular thing? Have you found "your thing?"