Growing up, I never played sports. I didn’t do much exercise except for occasional dance numbers in musical theatre. I loved bread and pasta and potato chips. I remember having spaghetti and meatballs for dinner as a kid and we would always have a side of bread and butter. Sometimes my dad would make a spaghetti sandwich and put the pasta in a folded piece of bread. It was delicious – and at the time it was probably the only way to get us kids to eat – but looking back, I realize that I never really had a healthy relationship with food.
When I had my own car towards the end of high school, I used to stop at a gas station on the way home from school and buy a bag of potato chips, then eat the whole bag (I’m talking family sized, sometimes party sized) while watching a Charmed rerun marathon on TV. This was long before the term “binge-watching” was coined.
About halfway through college, my bad habits started catching up with me. I started noticing the changes in my body, and I didn't like it. But I wasn't ready yet to really change my lifestyle. One summer, I spent an hour every day on the elliptical in my parents’ basement. I lost 20lbs! But I gained it all back when I went back to campus that fall. By the time I graduated, I was well over 150lbs.
Post college, I worked the closing shift at Panera. They always had leftover food and one of the managers let us take whatever we wanted. I was also working at an after-school program, where I snacked on whatever the kids were eating. But I wasn’t running around outside all day playing like the kids. I wasn't really exercising at all. By December 2013 I weighed in at 175lbs.
That’s when we decided to move to Virginia. My boyfriend was going back to school, and I wasn’t having any luck finding a job, so why not? We moved down a week before Christmas, driving a U-Haul through a snowstorm as it made it’s way up I-95.
That year, I made a New Year’s Resolution to “get healthy.” I was specific in my wording. This wasn’t just to lose weight or get fit, rather to get healthier – a small, yet important distinction. I joined a gym that happened to be right across from where I found a job, and made some incredible coworker friends that helped motivate me to go to classes and workout with them. I went to Zumba, yoga, boot-camp, body pump, and eventually I started making up workouts with my friends. And I started recording everything I ate in a little notebook. The change was gradual, slow, but noticeable.
A few months later, my sister told me about a little gadget she got through work. It clipped to her hip and tracked her steps and calories burned, and even had a little app that you could log your food in. Now remember, this was early 2014. That little device was called a FitBit, and it changed my life.
My sister couldn’t stop raving about it, and it wasn’t that much money for the zip ($60 I think) so I figured I’d try it out. I got the zip and replaced my notebook with the app. I logged every single thing I ate. I was religious about it. Even one Hershey kiss would get logged.
I continued to go to the gym, and I made sure I got my 10,000 steps a day, which often included adding a walk or jog to my gym workout. Logging my food and tracking my calories helped me make better food choices. I started meal prepping and was strict about portion control. Over the course of a year, I lost just over 50lbs.
In August 2015, I moved back to Massachusetts. Without a gym nearby, I found myself losing motivation for exercising. I walked, tried to run, and did some at-home workouts, but it wasn’t the same as the gym. I wanted the experience I had found in group classes, the positive community environment I had come to know and love. That’s when I decided to become an instructor. I got certified to Turbokick Live. I started teaching classes, and I did my best to recreate the sense of community that was so important to me on my weight loss journey.
Today, I teach 3 classes a week. I'm now also certified in PiYo, a pilates-yoga mix, and I'm studying to become a certified personal trainer. I love walking and hiking and being in nature, and I hope to get back into running soon. I also do at-home-yoga through the YouTube channel Yoga With Adriene. I have found a love exercise that I never could have imagined when I was younger, and my only hope is that I can share that love with others.
In addition to finding exercise, I also decided to become a vegetarian, which has opened me up to a whole new world of food and nutrition. But as healthy and fit as I might seem, I still find myself struggling with eating habits and body image like anyone else. This blog is not meant to be a guide to weight loss or getting fit. This is my story of finding balance, somewhere between the burpees and the burritos.