WHAT WAS YOUR TRIGGER OR TURNING POINT THAT MADE YOU CHOOSE FITNESS AND/OR A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE? HOW DID THAT PROCESS GET YOU WHERE YOU ARE TODAY? WHAT OR WHO HAS HAD THE MOST INFLUENCE ON YOUR FITNESS LIFE?
Some of you already know that I used to be a very unhealthy person. I used to smoke, drink and live off of kraft dinner and boxes of cookies. I was luckily never overweight, but I was the definition of skinny fat.
In 2004, my father who has chronic lung disease and a number of other chronic ailments was told that he was very close to being put on oxygen. The idea of my father carrying around an oxygen tank just horrified me. I couldn’t imagine him lugging an oxygen tank while he worked in the garden or going fishing.
At the same time, I was in my second year of Multimedia Production at our local community college. Summer was about to start and I was thinking about how much I would have to work to be able to afford my next year’s tuition. It was around this time that I realized the reason why I was in financial turmoil. My financial disaster was direct result of the fact that I smoked cigarettes. To my surprise, I calculated the cost of my smoking habit and realized that every year I had smoked my tuition’s worth of cigarettes. I was disgusted that the only reason why I couldn’t afford school, and the reason why I was having to work fulltime while going to school fulltime was because I smoked my tuition away.
I quit immediately.
Quitting smoking to this day was one of the hardest things I have ever done and the best decision I’ve ever made. In order to be successful, I knew I had to replace my bad habit (smoking) with habits that would help me avoid the chronic diseases I saw my father struggle with, so I decided to start exercising. It started with drop in aerobics classes and then eventually it developed into an obsession with the treadmill. I grew to love running and was addicted to pushing myself to run faster and longer.
At the time a friend of my husband encouraged me to enter a local race and I was hooked. I spent the next three years running 5-6 days a week.
One day a sign at the gym for Team Diabetes Canada enticed me into fundraising and running a marathon on behalf of the Canadian Diabetes Association. What seemed impossible and scary became one of the best experiences of my life. I did something I never thought I could do with a group of other enthusiastic motivating people and I fundraised $6,100 for the Canadian Diabetes Association.
This moment changed my life. Shortly after running that first marathon a position for a Team Diabetes Coordinator came up in the city of Thunder Bay. I applied for the position and got it! My life officially became about running and it was fantastic! I ran 3 more marathons, taped a national commercial for Team Diabetes, helped 20 people a year fundraise and prepare to run their first marathon. Sounds like a dream come true and it was. But sadly over time my body got beat up. I continued to push through injury and run marathons, but eventually by body started to hurt while I was running and also when I wasn’t running. Having spend thousands of dollars on physio, I had over-trained to the point where I had to give up running and let my body heal. In fact I was so filled with inflammation I had to give up all the activities I had learned to love and I didn’t know what to do with myself.
Honestly I spent a summer pouting, eating and feeling sorry for myself. I was so upset about not being able to run, upset about not being able to enjoy running with my friends and not really knowing what was next for me.
But eventually I got sick of myself and my extra fluff (I felt like crap and laying around doing nothing wasn’t going to make things any better) I signed up for dance classes. I knew if I was going to get fit again, I was going to have to find an activity to love. But eventually that dance class just wasn’t enough, I wanted to dance better, be stronger and regain my endurance. During my running streak I worked out at a local gym, which was a local sponsor for Team Diabetes. I had a membership there, but just played around with the weights and used the cardio equipment. I never thought of lifting heavy and the gym owner told me to stop wasting my time running and start bodybuilding, I just laughed at him, but now that I was no longer able to run like I did before I had a different perspective.
I went directly to Dave (the gym owner) and ask him to show me how to lift weights. I showed him a picture from an Oxygen magazine and said, I want muscles like this! The rest is history! After 6 months of lifting heavy, I wanted to compete. For me competing was exactly the challenged I needed in my lift to replace the empty void of the marathon.
Now 1.5 years later. I’m finally training for my first competition. There are many people that have influenced me along the way, but first an foremost, my number 1 motivator has always been myself. It’s always me who wants to go big or go home. It’s me who drags my ass to the gym even when I don’t want to go and it’s me that is going to make this competition be my best, because I am the one who will do the work. But, I’m not going to take all the credit. I have Dave (my gym owner) to thank for being patient with me and teaching a girl who once couldn’t lunch properly how to train and have good form. I have to thank all the people that workout at my gym who have spotted me or tutored me. I have my friends and family to thank for being a sounding board and putting up with my crazy health priorities and most importantly I have my Bobettes, my online group of fitness friends who I learn from and enjoy the friendship of everyday!