Saturday, July 30, 2011

My fitness and health evolution

Can't sleep and have never written about how I got where I am, health and fitness wise.  Thought it would be fun to revisit the journey to becoming a fitness instructor and caring about my health.  I'll start with high school because I really can't remember enough details before then.

I was always fairly active, though other than playing T-ball in kindergarten and being in a park district girls' basketball league in 5th and 6th grade, I have never been athletic or particularly into organized sports.  Lucky for me, running around with my friends was enough to keep me at a healthy weight even though my eating habits were pretty bad.  I never really thought about it at the time, but a hot dog and candy bar hardly makes for a well-balanced lunch.  My dad usually prepared dinner, and he did a good job making sure we had a vegetable each night, but looking back we definitely ate a lot of quickly prepared processed foods.  I think it's safe to say that nutrition wasn't such a popular news subject back then and what is considered a healthy diet has changed, so with the time and information at hand, I think we did OK with those family meals.

Always having been a picky eater, moving into the college dorms and eating at the cafeteria, gave me free reign to only chose foods I knew I liked.  I remember eating some fresh fruits and veggies, but we also had a soft serve ice cream machine as well as candy "mix-ins" and blender to make our own shakes in the cafeteria.  Delicious, yes.  Nutritious, no.  My friends and I didn't have a car on campus that year in the dorms so we had to walk everywhere and we made a habit of going out dancing several (probably too many) nights each week.  Although I didn't do any formal exercise, getting around campus kept me active.  I was able to avoid the dreaded freshman 15, but I can see a little fullness in my cheeks and midsection if I look back at pictures.  I don't think I weighed myself back then other than visits to the doctor, so I can't be sure about specific weight changes.

I think it was the summer after freshman year of college that I first tried out a Tae-Bo video (yes, VHS).  You know, Billy Blanks and his crew.  My step mom had been using them and I started doing them sporadically.  I didn't know anything about creating a fitness plan or being consistent with workouts.  I bought some Tae-Bo videos of my own and brought them back to campus with me.  I continued to exercise with the videos every so often, but my eating was still not good.  Living in an apartment led to a lot of Hamburger Helper (EW!!!) and eating out.  And I should also mention the late-night fast food stops on the way home from the bars.  Nothing better than some fried cheese sticks to help stave off a hang over!

Cut to life after college.  Living back with my dad and sister and driving over an hour to and from work each day didn't do much for my nutrition.  But the office I worked in had a gym in the basement and I started making a habit of using the elliptical or treadmill over lunch.  I found that I enjoyed sweating it out and burning off some stress with exercise.  After about 2 years, I returned to college for graduate school and that's when I really started to get into the whole fitness thing.

I started taking group fitness classes at campus recreation and took a strong liking to a Pilates class and a kickboxing class that had a dancey flavor to it.  I also began to educate myself a little about nutrition and made a real effort to improve.  After graduation, I needed a way to keep working out at home.  I found some workouts through a company called Beachbody.  The first ones I bought were "Slim in 6" and "10 Minute Trainer".  This put me on the email list for the company and soon I got an email about a new program called Turbo Jam.  It looked a lot like the class I had been taking on campus that I loved so much.  I got it as soon as it came out and shortly after found out that it was the at-home version of the class I had taken AND that I could train to be an instructor myself.  When a training came to our town, I signed up right away.  Meanwhile, I had also started taking classes in nutrition at the local community college.  I found that these 2 areas, especially when tied together, were really exciting to me.  Nutrition and fitness combined can do so much for a person's health and really change lives!

A couple months after the certification, I started teaching Turbo Kick and haven't stopped (except for maternity leave!).  I became certified to teach PiYo as well and love how it balances my Turbo workouts.  I also completed a year of classes at the community college to prepare for the NSCA Certified Personal Trainer exam.  That additional education has been very helpful in my group classes.  While I enjoy working with people individually, the logistics of setting regular training hours at a gym has proven difficult with current family responsibilities, but I do plan to pursue working as a trainer in the future.

I've been able to extend my reach as a fitness and nutrition enthusiast by becoming a Team Beachbody Coach about a year ago.  I help people reach their fitness goals by recommending products that I have used and believe in.  Shakeology is one of the products that I share with anyone who will listen!  It has truly made a difference in my nutrition.  By the time I found Shakeology, my eating habits had finally improved to a level where I could say I ate pretty well most of the time.  Veggies and fruits as well as whole grains had become staples.  But once I tried Shakeology, I was hooked!  Not only does it taste like a chocolate milkshake (even better with my favorite addition - peanut butter), I felt better every day that I drank it.  I started to notice that if I skipped a day, I would feel more tired and generally not as good.  Also, "nutritional indiscretions", as I call them, would leave me feeling physically ill.  My body became accustomed to good nutrition and would tell me when that's not what I put in.

So that's pretty much where I'm at now.  Still plugging away with 6-7 fitness classes each week until the baby belly will no longer allow for such free movement and doing my best to eat well every day while indulging these nagging pizza and cookie cravings as responsibly as possible.  Realistically, my schedule won't be likely to permit teaching 7 fitness class per week after Baby X arrives, but I will definitely be finding ways to keep up my fitness routine between teaching classes and home workouts.  I'll be on the look out for accountability partners to keep me on track, so if you want to join me to stay (or get!) healthy and fit, let me know!

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