Tales of my Fitness Past – Part 4

I’m continuing to layout the story of my life, as it pertains to fitness, body issues and happiness.  It’s really helping me process what went on.  You guys out there are actually reading this, which is awesome!  If you know me, I hope you get a kick out of all the old photos.

In my early 20’s, I had graduated college, gotten fit, acquired and left my first big job, and then, shortly after Y2K (remember that whole mess?) moved with my good friend to my state’s largest city to pursue my dreams of becoming a professional floozy.  No, not really.  We moved to the Big City because we wanted more than what our Small City had to offer.

Looking back on this time, I was actually doing pretty okay.  I got a membership at a local gym and had a couple of gym buddies.  We’d hold each other accountable.  As for training, I was pretty much going on my own.  The free personal training they offered was a JOKE, but I knew enough to be dangerous by this point.  Working out was a big part of my social life.  I made casual friends there, spent time talking out the day’s problems with my girlfriends on the elliptical.  I even dated a guy who went to the same gym, we’d have dates there, trying to beat each other on the treadmill.  The evening on September 11 when the world was going to hell?  I was on the cardio deck, watching the closed captioned news.

Yes, these photos are from house parties. But, they really show how happy I was. On one side was a former mortal enemy, on the other, a dear friend from when I was a teen.

My love of Step Aerobics was hit hard though when I took classes there.  I could keep up with classes at the other gyms I had been to, multiple instructors, but at this place, the choreography was too much.  I ended up finding a new group fitness passion.  Yoga!  I took a class at a school that tended toward the Hatha/Iyengar style and it fit me perfectly.  When I practiced yoga I felt amazing.  I was happier, more peaceful, and I called a truce with the war on my body without realizing it.  Plus, one day I went to shave my legs in the shower and felt my calves.  OMG.  Ripped!  Yoga taught me how to breathe my way out of anxiety, which came in handy for my 45 min commute on a neglected stretch of highway in a snow storm.

Professionally, I went from SUPER temp, to landing pretty much my dream job as a scientist, to being a graduate student.  I had a great group of friends.  A core part of my college group was in the Big City with me, I could count on many others to pass through a couple times a year to catch up, and I made a lot of new friends.  We walked the 3 and a half mile loop near where I lived, hiked, and we DANCED.  I was out dancing nearly every weekend.  Drinking was usually included, but everything was more controlled than it had been.  One of my favorite memories was getting ready at my place with my pack of girlfriends, parking the car in the garage across from the bar district, taking off our coats and mittens, running as fast as possible into the bars wearing little thin shirts, and boots with insane heels.

My diet was fairly decent.  When we started out, my roommate and I were the original 2 Broke Girls.  We’d frequent restaurants with “college night” specials, even if when we were out of school.  Good thing our IDs didn’t expire.  We cooked a lot at home.  I don’t think I ever drank soda, and if I ate dessert, it was usually an insanely special occasion.  We just couldn’t afford it.  I got used to cooking for 1 more often, and I learned to like eating lots of fish.  I frequented the public market for produce and even if I wasn’t “by the book” I was still more or less on “The Zone.”  I even stopped drinking entirely from Jan 1 2000-May 5 2000.  Cinco de Mayo broke my will.

OMG, this is proof I used to have a waist. We wore leis because every February I’d throw a tropical themed party to distract us from how freaking cold and miserable we were.

As for my mood?  There were ups and downs.  The breakup from my treadmill opponent boyfriend hit me pretty hard, but I threw myself in to my social life to make up for it, and started seeing a professional to work through it the right way.

Looking back, maybe I wasn’t in as ass kicking shape as I was after college, but I was in a smaller size.  Fitness and friends were the biggest part of my life.  I was professionally happy and didn’t really care about adding anything else to the equation.  And do you know what happened then?

I met my future husband.

(This isn’t the end by a long-shot.  I have a lot more to say!)

Tales of my Fitness Past – Part 3

Continuing on my journey to write about my fitness past to have a better fitness future.

Oh college.  I loved college.  I was a serious kid who got to college and became an immature adult.  I didn’t gain the Freshman 15.  I lost about 30 lb.  How?  Being pretty stressed about the transition and having to eat at the dining commons.  Ugh.

This is Fall of Freshman year. I cut out the guy I used to play tennis with. I’m bending at the waist very oddly.

However, the weight loss stopped and reversed itself quickly when I started underage drinking.  Fitness in college was sporadic.  I did like to dance at parties and later the one dance club in the area.  My former roommate got me to go to the university’s gym with her a few times for some weight lifting.  I played intramural mixed doubles tennis with a guy I wanted to date.  We actually did really well and it was nice to be able to show off what I could do on the court.

Sophomore year, my job in a call center definitely wasn’t enough activity over the summer.

Although this blog and these posts are about fitness, it wouldn’t be right to not address the stuff that was going on in my head.  I continued to struggle on and off with depression.  Fitness was part of the cure, but getting out there and starting was the hard part.  I kept working in the spring and summer at my mom’s greenhouse off and on.  I even took an additional summer job in conservation biology because the field component would be physical. It wasn’t enough.  But my emotional issues were big.  To compensate, I ate out a lot, drank, and paid for eating out and drinking with my credit card.  I was circling downward.

Junior Year. I always say I look better front on that from the side, but here’s the side view.

Before my senior year, I began the most significant relationship with a guy that I had up until that point.  It was wonderful for me, and terrible at the same time.  He appreciated my body and for the first time that I can remember, from his influence, I gave up a little of the loathing that I let seethe within me about how I looked.  Unfortunately I hung too much of my own perceived worth on to what he thought of me.  The relationship was not going to end up in the direction I wanted it to.  I was looking for things he either couldn’t or didn’t want to give.  But, I hung on, despite the fact that I knew all this down deep.  I held out hope that things would change, and if I was better, if I was prettier, if I was thinner, I would get the happy ending I wanted.  I didn’t.  Things between us went from combustible to nuclear, and I was alone, left feeling like I wasn’t good enough.  I obviously wasn’t good enough for him.  I wasn’t pretty enough, I was too fat, and everything about me was just wrong.  And it was all my fault.  If I could be different, I could be happy.  These thoughts were just too much to deal with.

Not surprisingly, I ended that year at my heaviest.  My self hatred was deep, and I took it out on myself in so many unhealthy ways.  While I never feel that I had bulimia, I did force myself to vomit.  Somehow I felt better by purging.  In general, I was taking my self loathing to as much of a physical materialization as I could stand.  I know it could have been much worse, but it was bad enough for me.

Senior Year, right before graduation. I told you I had a drinking problem. Why was I drinking such crap?

After graduation I started working with my mom by day, and then spending my evenings being a professional drinker.  And I mean, every evening.  It was really ridiculous.  It is not good to be that much of a regular at a bar that the staff and other patrons save you bar stools.  (Some good came from this – my friend and drinking companion met her husband from our season as floozies. And they have 2 awesome boys that I am a proud Auntie to.)

Sometime in the late summer, another friend and I decided to get serious about fitness.  We joined a gym and got a trainer to show us around.  We held each other accountable, and we tried everything we could.  Weight training, spin class, lap swimming, cardio, we signed up.  Amazingly, we were even able to go separately.  The gym had a cool little community.  If I went alone during the morning, I’d sit on a stationary bike near some older men who watched the stock market on the television and tried to teach me about finance.  They front desk workers knew us and made sure that they told us they were glad we were there every time.  Still, I had some rough spots. I managed to fall off a stationary bike once (the seat pin wasn’t in all the way) get a death glare from another patron, but I still worked out beside him anyway.  Too much strain weight lifting sent me to the ER once.  In essence I made the equivalent of cracking my knuckles, but in my cervical vertebrae.

I fell in love.  With Step Class.  I made a good friend in the instructor and went to her class faithfully.  Step just was something I embraced entirely.  I came home feeling exhausted and accomplished.  By Fall I was really on my way.  I saw numbers sliding off the scale, and I saw changes in my self.  I got a new trainer, who was really frenetic, and someone convinced me that a 3 hour cardio and weight training session was a good idea.  As December approached, I was feeling awesome.  My workouts were on point, I was a devotee of the Zone diet, and I was fearless.  I booked a trip to San Francisco to job hunt.

An after-college photo.

The job hunt didn’t work out as well as I had hoped, but I did have a full-time job offer wait for me when I got home.  I struggled on whether or not to take it because I knew it would probably lead me back in to my depression and  bad habits.  I accepted the position.  It was 1 and 1/2 hours from home, at a world renowned lab that happened to be on a island that was a tourist destination.  I moved at the start of Winter when nearly the whole town was boarded up closed.  For a girl who thrived on being in the middle of things, this was not the best choice in starting my career.

I joined a gym that was off-island.  It was a 30 min drive to get there.  But I made a great effort to do it.  I tried embracing island life.  I trained, I took classes, and in the summer, I hiked.  I’m not the most outdoorsy person, so this was a pretty big deal.  The job, the island, were just not a good fit for me.  After nearly one year, I was back at home, back to my old gym, trying to get back to the fit,  fearless girl I had been the year before.

Another post-college shot. I went to a formal as an alum, but was in the smallest size dress I have ever worn as an adult.

A friend and I moved on to the largest city in our state. My career was not skyrocketing, in fact I was long term temping, but I joined a gym there. I made a couple of new friends to go to the gym with. My eating patterns were much better since I live with my good friend and didn’t always have to cook and eat alone.