Our bodies are meant to move. I know this all too well. If I sit around and miss a few workouts without increasing my steps during the day, I feel it. I can feel my anxiety increase and my energy and emotional control decrease. It hasn’t always been this way, but the past two and a half years have shown me what I need to do to be the best version of myself.
I know about fitness, about health, and why we need to take care of our bodies. I am an Athletic Trainer and studied how the body moves and works in undergrad. I also have a Masters degree in Physiology, so I know how this all works and why it’s important. But I’ve always felt some slight embarrassment because my knowledge and my actions have never quite lined up. At least until the last few years. In undergrad I tried to eat right, but exercise was never a priority and my health and weight showed that. Once I graduated, I joined a gym and started exercising and eating better, and I began to lose weight. Slowly, but steadily. I started counting calories, running more, and making consistent efforts in the kitchen to try new, whole foods and move away from fast and processed foods. Fast forward two years to my time at NCSU. I regularly went to the gym, started really going after weight lifting with the encouragement of my gym partner, and met with a nutritionist on campus. Even though the weight loss eventually plateaued, I could feel myself still changing. My focus was less about the number on the scale (I’ve known mentally not to trust that number, but emotionally it has taken a lot more time) and more on what my body could do. I wanted to be able to hold a plank for 3 minutes- check; I wanted to do a pull up (still working on this); I wanted to be able to do a handstand- check; I wanted to be able to run a 5k- check; I wanted to be able to squat over 150 and leg press over 500- check; I wanted to be able to bench 100 (also still working on this) So I started boxing, continued to lift, and started taking certain foods out of my diet.
The more I focused on what I could do and how I felt, the better I could listen to my body. I could tell if I ate certain foods, that I didn’t feel right. I could tell if I didn’t exercise, my anxiety increased and my self confidence decreased. I could tell that my body craved moving, and when I listened, I felt great.
And yet, through this entire process of learning how to be the best version of myself physically, I’ve also learned the importance of understanding the rest of my wellness wheel. I’ll write more about this later, but we are more than our physical bodies, so while it is important to take care of it, we also need to take care of our mind, spirit, and soul.
My health and fitness journey is far from over. There are still more goals I want to reach- I will be able to hold a handstand for more than a few seconds soon- and so many more sports and activities I want to try. But it is a journey, and there are good days and bad days. And it’s learning to accept ourselves as we are with the knowledge of who we want to be. We need goals and routines, but we also need to listen to our bodies. If they say rest, rest. If they say move more, get out there and move. We are meant to me in motion, always progressing and always moving forward.