The Fitness Struggles Of A Former Athlete
I’ve never really shared my fitness journey before. Most likely because no one thinks that former athletes have fitness struggles worth sharing. I’ll be the first to tell you that we struggle just as bad, if not more, as anyone looking to lose weight, remain fit and/or eat healthy. The reason is because we KNOW what it’s like to be in tip top shape and the fact that we’re no longer, physically, there bothers us to our core (literally and figuratively).
My fitness journey started when I decided to join the cross-country team my freshman year at my all-girls Catholic high school located in a suburb just outside of Chicago. I quit within the first week. I couldn’t keep up. It seemed these girls had been running their whole lives. Apparently, I had also mistaken cross-country for track and field. I had never run longer than half a city block when I was racing anyone who challenged me (especially the boys). But in cross-country, races were miles long and that was much longer than I was prepared for.
So, like I said, I quit.
It wasn’t until my sophomore year that I decided to join cross-country and track & field again and stuck with running the second time around. Countless races and first-place medals later, I was offered a scholarship to run at the collegiate level as a sprinter on a track & field team. I did well in college earning myself 6 All-American titles and helping to lead my team to conference wins. No one wins like that without being in some of the best shape of their life, right?
It has been just over a decade since I ran my last competitive race. It was in May 2007 on a track in Raleigh, North Carolina for the National Championships that my coach reminded me, with tears in his eyes, that I had run my last race. Maybe it was from relief or the realization that I wouldn’t be running for a team anymore or exhaustion from the weekend of races or a hodge-podge of all related emotions, I broke down into tears. It was over.
After my last race, I took off a year from outrageous circuits, running long miles in the wee hours of the morning, strength training by lifting weights, doing “monsters” (where you run up to 20 200m sprints at top speed with only 1 minute in between) or anything that required me to move faster than a strut. It has been a struggle ever since then to get to a place where I truly feel in shape, to MY fullest potential. The key word here is “my.”
Granted, I “look” fit to most people because I happen to be within the size and weight range pleasing to society. But your personal health and fitness journey is not about society’s standards. It’s about your own.
A year after I had eaten like a growing teenage boy with no exercising to speak of and got to the biggest size I had experienced at that time (I gained 40 lbs), I decided to pick up exercising again by doing yoga and Zumba. Those are great for maintaining and sweating but not so great for extreme fitness goals.
This is why I created the #CinchedWaistChallenge and why, this year, I’m adding a meal plan inspired by the Whole30 program (also, with a grocery shopping list). I want people to feel free to share any part of their journey, not just the most accepted stories, but all stories. It is a challenge to inspire you to try out all different kinds of workouts to see what works best for your body type and your own goals. It was created to challenge you to pick up habits to achieve your fitness goals. Our greatest achievements happen BECAUSE of our struggles, no matter how common or uncommon.
If you would like to join the (free!) 30-day challenge, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so that I can add you to the list. It starts August 14th, 2017.