In June 2015, I received an e-mail about Healthworks’ promotion for returning members– it said I could join without an enrollment fee and could workout in July for free. I figured the promotion was basically begging me to get back to the gym and back in shape, so I took the lead and signed up. It wasn’t until later in July that I signed up for my small group training class and my first group class- Gentle Yoga with Leah! Prior to July, my physical fitness level was close to non-existent; I was struggling with an uptick in some anxiety and depression, something that’s been part of my life on-and-off since middle school, and I was all too willing to turn to my typical emotional crutch: comfort food and staying home. The funny thing was, though, as much as I felt like those things made me feel better, they provided only temporary relief, ultimately harmful me more than anything and making me feel worse once again. This was the vicious cycle I had been on for far too long, laying the ground work for almost 20 years of weight issues, emotional eating, and unhappiness.
For whatever reason, I decided to sign up for yoga on July 26th– maybe as a subconscious acknowledgement that I needed to make a change, or maybe because I just thought that I needed to try something and gentle yoga seemed like something I could do. Thankfully, fortunately, finally… I was right!
That class kicked off a complete 180-degree change for my life physically and emotionally. I became a daily attendee at the gym, trying new classes, creating a regular schedule and routine for myself, and discovering a new found love for distance running. Eventually, I found that I had not only developed a healthy and powerful habit but was truly enjoying myself- both inside and outside of the gym. I felt better physically, I loved doing all of the different activities, and for the first time in a long while, I felt good emotionally. So good, in fact, that this shift radiated outside of me and people began to compliment me, not just on the physical transformation, but on the happiness that they could see in me. When I struggled through my life with weight issues, I had always convinced myself that happiness was just on the other side of being skinny and all that mattered was how other people saw me physically. I learned fairly quickly, though, that having someone identify an emotional happiness within me and recognizing a new smile on my face was so much better (although being physically fit certainly wasn’t bad either!). I found myself on a new, more positive cycle- one fueled by caring for myself physically and feeding off of positive feedback. And when I had difficult days (because who doesn’t) I did healthy, active things to make myself feel better, and I reminded myself of the mantra I was learning in my yoga classes: “We’re not here forever,” and at the end of something hard, something that we kindly propelled ourselves through, we can smile and say “we made it.”
As an added bonus to this transition, I found that I truly enjoyed running, not just as a way to stay active and torch some calories, but as a healthy hobby and personal challenge. I started off slow (very slow) and short, but kept at it, increasing my speed, mileage, and knowledge. I started taking Brianne’s running workshops and enrolled in 5K and 10K races to get my feet wet. Now, 60 pounds later, I can officially say I’ve completed my first half-marathon in New Orleans and fully intend to complete 26.2 in the very near future!!
At the end of the day, I credit so much of this journey to Healthworks. The club provides so many great opportunities- from group classes, team training, workshops, tutorials, and independent training to a positive, healthy, female-powered environment that motivates me every day. For that, and for my continued journey on this wonderful path with Healthworks, I am eternally grateful!