5 Years ago I felt exhausted all the time,
5 Years ago I poured all my time and energy into taking care of my family,
5 Years ago I did nothing for myself,
5 Years ago I was unhappy with my marriage, myself, and felt like my whole identity revolved around being a Mom.
5 Years ago is when I decided to take back control over my life. To makes changes. To be selfish for a change, and do what was right for me.
I asked for a divorce, and I started working out again. These decisions were pivotal in my life. This is when I started building back my health, my self identity, and my self confidence.
My earlier years
If I rewind for a moment, my fitness journey actually started back when I was a kid. I was always active growing up. I played outdoors all the time, just running and playing all day long. I loved sports and tried them all. I excelled the most at running and I competed all the way up to my University years in track-and-field and cross-country. My proudest moment in my running career was making it to Nationals in cross-country and breaking 20 mins on my 5km time.
Looking back, I now realize that being active was apart of who I was. It made me happy. The high you get from running, the constant challenge of pushing yourself harder than the day before. Realizing you are capable of so much more than you ever thought possible! Sports taught be so much about myself and my abilities. It taught me to respect my body, to care for it, and to work hard.
How I lost myself
I managed to stay active after my first baby. I was still in University and a single mother but I trained and went to the gym between classes. I was the best running shape of my life at that time and that was actually when I got my personal best 5km time at Nationals. I stayed fairly active until I had my second baby during my last year of Veterinary school.
I was now a single mother of 2, one being a newborn, and I had a year of clinicals to make it through before I graduated. So my workouts stopped. It took everything I had to just make it though that year and graduate.
Then I started my career as a Veterinarian, I got pregnant again, and I got married. For 7 years I was very inactive. I poured all my energy into my career and my family. I basically just gave up on myself. I believed that this was what my life was supposed to be like, that this was the reality of being an adult.
I still remember the moment when I realized I needed to change my life. I was going to a therapist at the time because I was not sure if I should leave my marriage. I was not happy, but did not want to break up our family or hurt my kids. I remember sitting there on our first session and trying to explain my life up until that point. He listened carefully and then said to me, "It sounds like you have been in the passenger seat of your life up until this point. The decisions you have made were because of things happening to you, not based on what direction you actually want your life to go in."
He was right! I was a passenger, not the driver. And this was my life. I needed to take back control of my own life!
I felt selfish at first
The decision to end my marriage was one of the toughest decisions I have ever made. I was terrified to hurt my children. I also felt selfish to want to take time out of my day to workout. Looking back I realize how silly that was. I am a better mother and all round human being because of fitness. I have more energy to do things with my kids, I can finally keep up with them! I can race them, pick them up, and teach them by example how to live a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.
I often think of the expression, "you cannot pour from an empty cup, take care of yourself first." You need to nurture yourself and your needs as well as theirs. This was the mistake I made, I focused solely on them and lost myself in the process.
How I started
I first started working out at home. My youngest was 2 at the time. I committed to 3 times a week and I aimed for 30-40 mins a workout. I started out with DVD's that I bought on Kijiji: Turbo Jam, Jillian Michael's, those sorts of things. For 6 months that is all I did. My workouts were short and often interrupted by my toddler, but I got them done.
I stuck to my goal of 3 times a week, and I noticed a big difference in my energy and even my strength even after a couple months.
In July, 2015 I joined the gym. When I decided to bite the bullet and pay for a gym membership I promised myself I would make it worth the money! So I upped my goal to working out 6 times a week. I have been doing this every since. I never broke that promise to myself, and I think that has been my key to success.
How it changed me
So much has changed between these two pictures! Physically it is easy to see the differences: I am stronger, I have more muscle and I have less fat.
But the changes go so much deeper than my physical appearance. I am mentally stronger, I am more confident, and I can truly say I have never felt more at home in my own body. I appreciate what it does for me, and I accept it for what it is: 23 lbs heavier, with varicose veins, stretch marks, loose skin and all! It has been through so much, yet still managed to come back stronger than ever! So it deserves kindness, love, and appreciation from me.
I have energy now! I used to think that I was old and just tired because of that....but I felt old because I stopped moving. We are meant to move!
And lastly, fitness has opened up a whole new chapter in my life. 2 years ago I decided to become a personal trainer so that I could help people get healthy and fit like I did. I want everyone to feel as good as I do! I created a program for people who were working out from home and trying to squeeze fitness into their busy lives. It has enables me to help people change their own lives! This whole new world of becoming an entrepreneur and coach has motivated me to continually step outside my own comfort zone and grow as a person. The community that I have met through this endeavour has also changed my life. I have met so many amazing and inspiring people, traveled, and made connections all over the world! And for all of this I am forever grateful.
My wish for you
If you are where I was 5 years ago I want you to know that taking that first step is soooooooo worth it! You do not have to set huge goals to be successful. In fact you will set yourself up for long term success if you start with smaller, more attainable goals first. Commit to a certain frequency of workouts. Be reasonalble and realistic. If you can only workout 3 times a week, that is ok. Set goals that you can crush and then be proud of yourself! Then make new goals, and repeat!
Also, be patient! Fitness and health is a marathon not a sprint. Consistency is always the best answer to seeing results.
Remember: You are 100% capable of changing your life, and you are 100% worth it!
Do you have a fitness story to share? How did you get back on track when life got in the way? Or are you just looking to start? Please feel free to share.