Laying it all out in today’s post – taking you through my fitness story and why I’m committing to a healthier, more well-balanced life going into my 30's.
I grew up as an athlete, playing a few core sports throughout middle school and high school. When I was 9, I started what would turn into a 10-year run with gymnastics, which was a huge part of my life growing up.
I enjoyed being active; it was kind of just what was engrained in me, but by the time high school hit, I cared way more about my friends than I did about having to show up for cross country practice and run 6 miles in the middle of winter.
My mom always cooked for us, so we ate generally healthy. To be honest though, I was blessed with those good genes of being able to whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Call it an active lifestyle, or good genes, or a fast metabolism, but I didn’t even start thinking about health, fitness and body image until college.
I went into Freshman year worried about the “Freshman 15”, because I thought I was supposed to be worried about the Freshman 15. You would think that would have logically rang a bell in my head to make my health a priority, but those grilled cheese sandwiches and french fries from the caf were just too damn good.
Nonetheless, I made it through 4 years unscathed, having only visited the gym a handful of times. fitness story
By this point, I was getting cocky – I mean, here are all of these girls worrying about what they were eating and getting that workout in, and I was concerned about the fact that I’d just ran out of bagel bites and fried potstickers.
Around the time I finished grad school, I met Joe, and my routine started to change. When he moved in, we adulted hard – cooked every night, got gym memberships, and both started to take better care of ourselves.
Then – everything changed. fitness story
Upon finishing grad school, I started teaching full-time, which meant a much stricter and more regimented schedule and…more stress. Lots more stress.
While I loved my job, I always felt like my work was never done. I’d come home from work around 5:30, give myself an hour to get settled, cook dinner, etc., and plop myself on the couch grading papers and creating lesson plans until 10pm, only to do it all over again the next day. fitness story
I felt suffocated at the time. In hindsight though, it was my first few years of teaching, of course it was going to be hard.
I was young (25) and didn’t really know how to navigate life. So I stopped going to the gym, the serotonin stopped pumping, and the crippling anxiety came at me full speed.
My Experience with Anxiety
Let’s backpedal a few years…
I guess I was always a ‘worrier’ in some ways; I definitely think things through and imagine worst case scenarios more than I used to, but it wasn’t until my sophomore year of college when I had my first major surge of anxiety (hello, panic attack – would like to NOT die to today please and thank you).
Naturally, I had NO idea what was happening to me and I was terrified to say the least. I couldn’t eat; couldn’t sleep; couldn’t sit through a class without staring at the clock and hoping it to be over; hated going out in public; the thought of a crowded place or having to wait on a line was terrifying; couldn’t bear to feel the slightest bit hungry because then I would definitely faint (all in my head).
It lit-er-ally hit me like a ton of bricks; something I had never experienced before and was seemingly snowballing into how I was going to have to live for the rest of my life (for those of you who’ve dealt with anxiety, you know there’s no talking you off the ledge when you’re in the midst of it). fitness story
After a semester on medical leave and some cognitive behavioral therapy, it eventually subsided (as it always does) and I felt great. Life was back to normal.
Until it wasn’t.
Flash forward back to that second year of teaching, one morning standing in my classroom having just dropped my kids off at morning special, and just like that, that crippling anxiety came back once again.
It had been 5 years since I experienced any form of anxiety past the typical, run-of-the-mill everyday stressors, and I would be damned if it came back again because I had worked my butt off to put together the pieces and go ‘back to normal’.
Funny thing about anxiety though – it doesn’t really care.
So there I was back at square one, although this time, I had a much more serious responsibility with a full time job teaching third grade.
As the weeks passed, one thing piled on top of another and I came to a point where I felt like I couldn’t physically get out of bed and get through my day – I didn’t want to because I knew what was coming. Compare it to living a bad nightmare over and over again, week after week. fitness story
So I made the decision to head back to New York to my doctor and do the one thing I always said I never wanted to do – start an anti-anxiety medication.
That Time I Blinked and Had a New Body
Here’s where this connects to my fitness story; I remember sitting in my doctor’s office, worrying about making this decision but knowing it was the right thing for me to do during this rough patch of my life. I didn’t want to ask the question about side affects but I did – and of course, got the one answer I wasn’t too thrilled about. “You’re on such a low dose, honestly Danielle, but there can be some minor side affects with this medication, the most common being weight gain from increased appetite.”
UGH. No more bagel bites?!?!?!?!?
Long story short, a few weeks into the medication I had made it through my second rough patch with the help of a small dose of an SSRI and felt totally like myself again. Weeks turned into months which turned into a year, my laissez-fair attitude about sticking to the non-active routine remained intact and like magic, I had a new body, 15 lbs. heavier.
UGH. Literally UGH.
I felt like all of this time had passed and I wound up in someone else’s body – I mean, to be honest, I still feel like that now (I’m just a little bit more used to it).
From 28-30, I loved to hate: my sweet tooth; pasta and pizza; all-things carbs; the list goes on. The issue, though, was that I was STILL eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, complaining about my butt not fitting into my jeans and not doing anything about it.
Then one day, something just kind of clicked. This is silly, but I always, always promised myself that I wouldn’t grow up to be one of those women who says, “Oh my gosh, you should have seen what great shape I was in when I was your age!” That has always bugged me, and I was totally heading in that direction.
Fast Foward to Now...
My happiness and feeling good, above all, is what matters most, but I’ve also committed to showing up for myself.
Of course, I still love my carbs (but in moderation), and I’ve come to realize how much better I feel when I’m living a healthier lifestyle.
My fave tooth (the sweet one) is still there…I mean, sorry, but that’s never going away.
And no, I don’t love working, out, but I like it and feel very balanced and at ease when it’s a regular part of my schedule.
So that’s my story and that’s where I’m at! I plan to share more health and fitness as a part of my lifestyle content throughout the year, but if you have anything specific you want to hear about, let me know!
Where are you in your fitness journey? Are you in the kick-starting phase like I am? Have you been at it for a while? Are you just now thinking about how to begin? Would love to hear your stories in the comments below.