It’s one of those things that either makes you all excited inside, or makes you cringe up into a small ball.
Believe it or not, My 19-year-old self used to think running was the worst thing that could happen to me. I used to look at runners I would pass on the roads and think to myself, “that looks so hard, why would I want to do that?”
I used to dread lacing up my running shoes and almost be on the verge of crying to get myself out the door because I had eaten some pizza that day and needed to “burn it off”.
Weight wasn’t an issue for me. The number on the scale meant nothing to me, so why run? Why did I have to workout when I didn’t enjoy it?
4 years later, I look back and cannot believe I actually thought that way. Now, I simply cannot LIVE without my morning runs, healthy foods and workout routines.
But, its important to note that this change did not occur over night.
During college, I learnt that it was normal to eat or drink anything I wanted. Only going to the gym once in a blue moon to walk off last night’s hangover. To me, that is what I thought everyone was doing. Little did I know, I was actually self-harming my own body living this way.
During my 3rd year of University, I studied abroad in Australia for a year.
This was the experience I needed to realize not everyone lives the “college lifestyle”. I only hung out with people who partied, drank, & socialized during my three years at school. I never surrounded myself with active people who actually took care of their bodies.
Almost everyone I met studying abroad, was some form of an athlete. And all I had to offer was that I used to play doubles on the tennis team in high school. I felt unhealthy and ultimately, uneducated.
I noticed runners who looked like me, run by the beach every time I would go to lay down and get some sun after classes.
I will never forget the day when I laid there and said to myself, “I want to move here and I want to be like them,” as I watched a group of girls run by.
I will never forget it. That was the day when I realized how badly I’ve been treating my body for the last 4 years. As if my body would be okay after all those nights of endless shots and greasy pizza nights at 2am.
Ultimately, I thought my body was invincible and that nothing could happen to it.
That was until I met my current partner and love of my life, while studying abroad.
It is the strangest feeling when you meet someone that you didn’t think you needed to meet, but I did need someone like him. Out of nowhere, he made me feel so alive and loved.
Whether it was fate or coincidental, I’m not sure, but it definitely made me believe in something. He showed me how fun it was to be active, and introduced me to his athletic friends and lifestyles. It was as if I became a part of something I was only dreaming about on the beach just a few months before. My dream reality was happening right before my eyes.
He was a professional triathlete, who decided to take a break and study at University, where we met. He introduced me to a life I had no idea about. He talked about the races he competed in, the ones he’s competed with around the world, and the current training he does. I was in utter disbelief. I thought, “How did I get to meet someone like this? Why me?”
To me, the super-talented athletes we see on TV, for example: during the Olympics, were GODS! I looked up to them as if they had a form of superpowers. I idolized them, because they had the goals and motivation to work towards something they loved.
The reason I idolized them was because they were doing something that I felt was impossible, but in reality, I just didn’t know anything about health & fitness. I didn’t even know where to begin.
But getting to know an athlete, I’ve learnt a lot about health and fitness;
I’ve learnt that the swimmers you see competing on the Olympics are normal human beings, who choose to commit to their goals, small or big. I’ve learnt that it is a CHOICE to live a healthy, fit life. At the end of the day, you make the decisions on how active or healthy you are going to be.
I’ve learnt to love running by educating myself on the sport. I began to read about the known successors in the field and their stories, and where they came from. Knowing that every successful person, had to begin somewhere.
I then began to make better choices with my food and minimize my alcohol and processed food consumption. In just over 8 months, I dropped 20 pounds, mindlessly. I was doing things for fun with my partner: running, biking, exploring new beaches, exploring new countries, meeting new friends, and competing in races. Things I never saw myself doing beforehand.
In just 2 years, I started my running journey with a 5k race that I could barely finish, to successfully completing a half marathon in 2 and half hours without stopping.
During those two years, I learnt how GOOD running and being active made me feel. I am now living where I once dreamt of living, and completing goals I only dreamt of completing.
As with any new endeavor, it requires those first few months of adapting, but once you get past the stigma in your mind and get comfortable with being uncomfortable, you begin to notice changes happening within your mind and body.
Even changes in your life will occur. It’s more than just physical fitness and healthy eating. You begin to question who you surround yourself with, ensuring you live a healthy work/life balance, and only maintaining healthy relationships. These things all add up to a healthy lifestyle.
Looking back to your previous lifestyle becomes completely out of the question. It makes me wonder what would my life have been like if I were active sooner? What could I have achieved if I would have disciplined myself earlier on?
At the end of the day, the change comes from the willingness within. It comes from learning how to love your body and yourself, and giving yourself what you deserve: health & happiness.