Growing up, I was a skinny- minny. I don’t remember my body since it did not concern me back then, but based on pictures of myself and what my parents have told me, I was always very small. I was fortunate to have a mother who can cook delicious meals, so almost everything I ate was homemade. I was also very fortunate to live on a farm with lots of space to run around, get my clothes dirty, and use my imagination. I think these two facts combined, as well as genetics, helped me stay small until puberty set in.
In ninth grade, my time was no longer spent outside running around, but rather inside at my computer reading about American Idol and Neopets. I would take the bus home from school and make myself at home by pouring my daily bowl of Lays Original chips, which I usually followed with another bowl once the first was finished. I don’t think my parents knew I was eating so much greasy food every day since they weren’t home and weren’t witnessing it. I quickly gained probably around 15 pounds, and due to the normal teenage self-esteem issues, I felt horrible about myself. I let my weight get the best of me that year and drowned myself in self-pity so that I did not do anything to get myself out of the rut.
In tenth grade, I joined the dance team, something I had wanted to do for years but was too scared to try. I did really well that year, moving up to varsity by the end of the season, and my self-esteem started looking up. I began eating a salad for lunch every day which, coupled with all of the exercise I was getting on the dance team, helped me lose the weight I had gained the year before.
I’m the one in the front, center.
My final two years of high school helped put me in a good position. During the dance season, I was burning calories like crazy. I could barely eat enough to maintain a healthy weight. After the season, however, I stopped exercising but continued to eat like I was still dancing three+ hours a day, which caused me to gain about five-ten pounds during the off-season. I loved to dance, but I hated any other kind of exercise. I told myself I would have to continue dancing after high school to stay in shape because there was no way I’d ever motivate myself to exercise.
When I got to college, my schedule never lined up with the dance club’s practices, so I was left to gain all my weight back from ninth grade (you know, the freshman fifteen?). The food choices were basically salads or fatty foods, and I got sick of salads, so of course I chose the fatty foods. Thankfully, I started college the last year my school required students to take a phy. ed. class. I chose step aerobics and fell in love. It was definitely not easy (I would be sweating like crazy afterwards), but it felt a lot like dancing again. Taking the class put me back on a healthy path.
The summer after my freshman year of college, I bought some inexpensive workout videos and got to work. My sophomore year of college was probably the healthiest year of my life. I had later classes (starting at 9 or 10 in the morning), so I would get up earlier than I normally would and would do either one of Jillian Michaels’ How to Win by Losing Complete Body Workouts (which were available to watch instantly on Netflix at the time) or I would do my monthly Body by Glamour workout. I ate incredibly healthy and was feeling great about myself.
I have been known to show off my buff (okay, pretty nonexistant) biceps from time to time.
I have continued working out with work out videos or doing strength moves using dumbbells ever since. Like I mentioned last week, Mr. Converse Sneakers and I are doing the Supreme 90 Day workout series.
It’s been a long journey to get to the point I am now, and I still have a long way to go. I don’t want to drop a lot of weight, but I would like to continue to build muscle so that I’m stronger and am better prepared for the changes age brings later in life. I also would like to eat even healthier. When I married Mr. CS, I also married a whole new diet that has been a lot different than my own. I will be writing about that in more detail soon.
When I talk with friends who do not work out, they seem to think I am either crazy or some super-human that has the ability to stick with a program. This is what I always tell them that is key to my philosophy about exercising:
- Exercise is not a fad. It is a lifestyle. If you want to be healthy, you have to commit to it for life. You cannot just workout for a while and stop because it will get you nowhere and you will have wasted your time.
- The health benefits far outweigh any outward appearance benefits. Sometimes I work out to look good, but normally I do it because I know it is what is best for my body. I feel better when I do it and I can tell when I haven’t exercised for a while. If a person exercises just to look good, they are likely to be let down because self-esteem issues come from within. Changing one’s appearance often won’t change the lifetime of self-esteem issues lurking within a person. This is something I still deal with.
- There are many ways to motivate yourself to get up and exercise. Having a workout partner has worked for me whenever I’m no longer able to motivate myself. Usually, just making it part of your daily routine is motivation enough – you will end up feeling guilty if you don’t do it.
- It’s really not that hard! Sure, the whole point of exercising is to strain your body so that it changes. However, I rarely work out for a whole hour, and usually my workouts are only 30-45 minutes, so this is not very much time to strain my body. It may suck while you are doing it, but it’s over quickly and then you can move on knowing you have changed your body and done something good for yourself. It’s totally worth it!
- You can find time for it. It’s crazy how we can find time for our priorities. Eating three meals a day is a priority for most people, and somehow, they find time to do it every day. Eating is something essential you need to live. Well, I think of exercising as something essential I need to live a long, healthy life, so I set it as a priority and somehow I find time to do it most days. I plan it in every day instead of saving it for when I have time, because I would never get it done then.
What about you – do you exercise regularly? What is your exercise philosophy?