Back in high school I was always in great shape. I ran Cross Country and Track & Field, which really helped me to stay active (obviously). Once I went off to college though, fitness and exercise took a backseat. I'd be lying if I said that schoolwork took priority, but my focus was definitely not on exercise.
Exercise and health continued to take a backseat when I entered the working world. Not only was working full time stressful, but I was involved in a long distance relationship, so oftentimes I would make excuses that I had to get home to talk to D or other things like that.
In 2006 a few of my family members signed up for a half marathon and I decided that I wanted to run it. I went to the gym every day after work and ran for an hour on the treadmill. I didn't use a training plan, I didn't have any idea what I was doing. I ran my first half marathon, The Rock 'n' Roll Phoenix Half in January 2007 finishing with a time of 2:12.
I stopped running. I didn't workout at all again for a long, long time. Life got crazy.
In April of 2007 I changed jobs, then in May D and I got engaged. I spent a lot of time traveling to see him and in December we went to the courthouse and got married. Our big church wedding was planned for May 2008, and instead of exercising to lose weight for the wedding I just cut back on my eating habits. I was never unhealthy, but I managed to lose about 20 pounds.
I moved to Ft. Benning in April of 2008 and a month later we got married. One month after our wedding D deployed for 10 months. Instead of using my free time to get in shape and be healthy, I found myself eating unhealthy foods and drinking alcohol. Nothing to the point of weight gain, I actually lost a little weight.
Once D got home from Iraq, we came down on order and moved across the country. We found out we were pregnant with AJ the day after moving into our new house. Since I was already in the habit of not exercising, it wasn't a stretch for me to continue my sedentary lifestyle while pregnant. I didn't gain an insane amount of weight, but I wasn't as healthy as I know I could have been.
Somewhere during those two years I realized that my body was different. I didn't have the same activity level as I did in high school, and I enjoy cooking and eating too much to not be active. I wasn't happy with the way I looked and I knew something needed to change. But what? Its very daunting to go from zero to sixty without help. Working out seems so challenging when you're out of shape.
It was while I was pregnant that I knew I wanted to change my lifestyle. I wasn't about to start a new workout regime while pregnant, but as soon as I was cleared by my doctor to start exercising after AJ was born, I got started. I signed up for my second half marathon. I started by walking with AJ in her jogging stroller and eventually I was running 20-23 miles per week. In November 2010, 8 months after giving birth to my daughter, I ran my second half marathon, The Rock 'n' Roll San Antonio Half, finishing with a time of 2:05.
It hasn't been perfect, heck, there have probably been more days that I sit around than days that I exercise, but its a work in progress. I'm currently at the beginning of a long training program for my first full marathon. Am I scared? Hell yeah! Am I excited? Yep! Am I always motivated to run? No way.
I guess my point is, just because it seems intimidating doesn't mean you can't do it. You should try it! The worst thing that will happen is you decide its not for you. (I can tell you, I'm not a Zumba, Jazzercise, etc. type of person. That type of exercise wouldn't work for me. That is okay.) There are lots of tools out there to help novice athletes. I used the Couch 2 5K program to get in shape for my marathon training program.
My main goal in all of this is not to become a great runner (although I would love to improve my pace). I really don't even care about having a great body (although that would be awesome, too). I really want to set a good example for AJ. I want her to realize that even though its hard work, and sometimes I'm not in the mood, I exercise. I want her to realize that just because its been a few weeks or months since I last worked out, I can always start over. There is nothing wrong with taking some time off. That is the beauty of physical fitness, you get out of it what you put into it. You can decide to be a better you, any time you want.
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