I remember the day like it was yesterday. I was 8 years old and my family went to watch my brothers play a recreational soccer game. A coach asked my dad if I wanted to play, so they threw me in from the sidelines. Somehow, I immediately scored, and it was at that moment I was hooked. I wanted to participate in every sport possible. This is where it all started and I will explain (as briefly as I can) my progression throughout the years with fitness and nutrition. I feel like this is important to clarify and write because I think my journey could be useful to others to understand, especially the importance that you cannot train or exercise the same way all the time, nor eat the same way all the time. Within these past 35+ years, my training and nutrition has consistently changed. These changes would occur based on what was occurring in my life (typically due to the nature of just aging) and would basically define how I would train. My nutrition has also evolved but based slightly on different factors (mainly cleaning it up and developing intolerances).
Obviously, I was an active child. I had a fast metabolism and was a skinny little athlete (I was actually made fun of and would make sure to pack 2 peanut butter sandwiches for lunch in an effort to put on weight). I was coordinated enough to play everything well, I struggled with speed, but still ran track and cross-country and was content as an “average” runner (6:17 mile PR by 8th grade). I eliminated running from my repertoire and stuck to softball and played field hockey for the first time my freshman year in High School. I hit puberty late in High School and grew to be 5’8 by the time I graduated, but also had a poor diet and gained about 30+ lbs before college. I was disgusted with myself and continued to try my best at staying active in college by participating in field hockey, lacrosse, and eventually running for the cross-country team. Dropped about 10-15 lbs which I maintained for a while. Still had an extremely poor diet, but used running as a way to balance my poor diet and heavy drinking. I became more competitive with my running and continued that path for the next 10 years or so. It wasn’t until after I had my 4th child that I realized that I needed to really take control of my diet and stop obsessing over long running sessions. I was in my mid-30s when it all seemed to really click and have such a better understanding of what works for me. I truly believe I have the ability to help anyone with their health and fitness goals no matter their goals as long as they are committed (there is no other way). This is not a one size fits all, there are so many factors you need to consider with your training and your diet. But below is a breakdown of “MY” Progression:
High School: Played Field Hockey and Softball all 4 years. I did nothing other than that. The girls were not allowed to use the school’s weight room, so I knew nothing about strength training. I grew about 6 inches and put on about 20 lbs.
Summer before College: Lived at the beach with my friends, was not active at all (expected to play Field Hockey my freshman year in College. Gained another 15 lbs that summer, and never showed up for pre-season training.
College: Freshman year I decided to play lacrosse (never played before). Basically by Spring, I knew I needed to get back into something, and
I was getting lazy. Trained with the team, loved playing sports again, and eventually played Field Hockey that following fall. School and (lack of) money got in the way, so I didn’t participate in anything until my last year in College. Since I didn’t have time to play Field hockey or Lacrosse, I ran on my own. Word got out about me (that I ran, not that I was any good, lol), and was asked to join the Cross-Country team. We weren’t very good, but it allowed me to shine as an athlete again. I really started to enjoy running again and it became my “thing”. I basically ran to burn calories and probably dropped another 5 lbs, even with my poor diet and heavy drinking.
After College: Entering the real world, my scheduled changed once again. I would get into the office really early, so that I could leave and head to the gym. I became obsessed with cardio and burning calories but would always finish my workouts with some light weights and ab work. I would spend about 2 hours at the gym. Diet remained the same. My running improved, but sort of remained steady. (Ran a 3:25 – marathon, 66min – 10 mile, sub 19:20 – 5K)
Fell in love, got married: Was fortunate to fall in love and marry someone who was very fit and active. Continued running (a lot) and eating the same way. I maintained my skinny fat physique. Probably didn’t lift anything over 15lbs., but started to work out in the early am before work and found that was the best way for me to stick with it.
Kids: Basically continued to stay active and always got my work out in at the crack of dawn (around 4:30am). I never wanted my training to interfere with raising my children. I was so obsessed with staying lean and I would run on average 10 miles a day (can’t believe how stupid that was).
1st child – ran throughout the entire pregnancy, lifted very light weights, put on 30lbs. Dropped the weight pretty easily after his birth, and ate a little bit better.
2nd child – ran until about 24 weeks (just couldn’t handle the pelvic pain), walked daily until delivery, lifting light weights. Gained 25 lbs, continued same routine.
3rd child – Same as 2nd, however, after her birth I eliminated some of the sugars in my diet and lost more than I gained.
4th child – same as 2nd and 3rd. Finally realizing the importance of diet (DUH!!!)
35 yrs old – Sick of being Skinny Fat, learned how to lift weights and slowly dropped some of my running. I realized that cardio was preventing me from building muscle and I really didn’t need to do much of it. This has continued for the next 10 years, depending on what my goals were.
If I was training for a marathon I would run 2-3 times a week making sure I got one long run in. I ran my last marathon in 2009 (3:09 PR), and probably won’t do another one. I am in my 40s now and I believe it is really important to train smart. We need to listen to our bodies, change things up, cross-train, do the things we love too. My goals have completely changed once again, as much as I love competing in a race, I want to do it pain-free and I know the only way to achieve that is mixing my training up.
Since 2009, I would change-up my routine every 1-3 months. If I am trying to put on mass, I would focus mainly on heavy weights, more calories. If my schedule is extremely busy, I would stick to 30-45 minute workouts doing only strength training. If it’s the summer and I want to trim down but not lose muscle mass, I will stick to metabolic conditioning workouts and lower calories/less carbs. When my mom was sick, my goal was to maintain and just do whatever I felt like doing. When I had abdominal surgery (umbilical hernia repair) this past December, I just made sure that I took more steps each day during my recovery and ate fewer calories,and tons of veggies.
When I was 37 years old, I was feeling extremely off. Stomach hurt all of the time and I started to get numbing pain in my hands and feet. After researching on the internet (dumb idea), I thought I had MS. After multiple GI and nerve tests, it was inconclusive. I took matters in my own hands, I changed my diet. My diet had become pretty clean, but I had to eliminate gluten and dairy to start feeling normal again. I try my best to stick to this diet, but now try to adjust my diet (like fitness) based on my goals. In the winter, I usually want to put on muscle mass, so I add extra carbs to my diet. When you train and eat this way, you also put on fat. So eventually I changed-up my diet again and lower my carbs. I don’t always do it this way, but I have in the past. As I have gotten older, I realize that I just can’t eat the same way anymore and I find that I am always eliminating certain foods from my diet because my body can’t tolerate them anymore. I also try my best to make sure I am eating 80-90% REAL food. I do my best to make almost everything I eat. I also rarely drink alcohol…probably a shock to those who knew me in college. I believe you can still have a cheat here and there (my remaining 10-20%) to keep sane and avoid binges.
Why I am telling you all this? It’s because somehow I have managed to stay committed to this lifestyle even with all the craziness that surrounds me. I feel so much better when I maintain this lifestyle, and that effects everyone around me (my husband and kids will attest to this). In addition, this has taught me that you CAN NOT train the same way and expect results, you CAN NOT eat the same way and expect fat to melt and disappear (not that it works that way).
I like to keep things interesting which helps me stay committed, so my current goals are to challenge myself (do things I normally wouldn’t do), to keep up with my active children (love playing outside with them), not obsess over the scale, and continue to find balance in my life. My workouts are generally moderate weights with some high impact (just bursts or sprints for cardio). I listen to my body and rest when I need it. Rest is so important,and recovery is needed so our muscles can repair and build. I love training this way, I might not get the fastest results this way, but it’s fun and I feel amazing when I am done. I am an ectomorph (I will explain body types in another post) and have a hard time putting on muscle, so typically less cardio works for me along with heavy weight training. I will go back to that type of training in the winter when my schedule calls for less time (and I can wear big sweater and elastic pants, lol) in my gym. I eat more fat (obsessed with coconut oil) than I used to, I find that carbs are necessary for my training, and I build my meals around protein. I consume on average 2K calories a day. I believe Food should be used as Medicine and I avoid taking prescription medication (I prefer a more natural approach to healing).
This ended up being longer than I intended. I feel it’s important for people to understand that everyone’s situation is different, obviously the best workout is the one you are doing, but if you are looking for results than change is needed (even the slightest changes will help you breakthrough a plateau). Please feel free to contact me if you need help with food and fitness! Stay tuned, I will be offering more services with training and nutrition.