Balance Your Life

In my last post I spent a lot of time talking about my healthy eating goals.  Healthy eating goals are great to have and they sure make a good start to a healthier you but to live a more balanced life you should strive to be as active as possible.

Growing up I spent about 14-16 years playing fastpitch softball.  I can’t remember exactly how old I was when I started but I was 22 when I ended.  I had dedicated most of my life to becoming a pitcher and if I am allowed to brag for a minute, I was pretty decent.  I learned a lot of life lessons while out on the field.  Shared a lot of triumphs and tragedies with a lot of people.  I also had two shoulder surgeries, the second of which ended my competitive career.

After my second surgery, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out who I was.  My whole life I had defined myself as a pitcher and now that was really no longer a part of my life.  As a pitcher you tend to be faced with challenging situations from time to time so I figured that I needed to find some type of activity that would give me the same type of challenge that I faced as a pitcher.  So I began running.

Let me tell you growing up, I hated running.  Let me say that again, I HATED running.  So I thought, what better challenge than to overcome my hatred for the sport.  Well when I first started there still wasn’t much love for it.  It hurt, really bad.  I couldn’t breathe, my lungs burned, my hips hurt, my knees hurt, when I finished my “run” I wanted to throw up…the list goes on.  But for some reason I kept doing it, probably because I am a glutton for punishment.  So I did this for a while off and on but it never really got any easier in fact it actually led me to tendonitis in my left hip.  So I stopped and started riding a stationary bike.  This was a little better than running, although it did tend to make my butt really sore.  However, I found out that after a while my butt wasn’t as sore and it became really easy for me to ride for hours without even feeling like I was working out.  When I got to that point, I found I was really missing running and I decided to give it another go.  This time I was a bit smarter and religiously stretched after each run to prevent my muscles from tightening up AND I discovered Runner’s World (click here for a link to their site).

When I found runners world I decided that I wanted to run in a 5k.  By this point in my life, I had met my one of my very best friends, Alanna.  We were alike in so so so many ways.  We had survived A LOT of the same struggles in life and we instantly bonded on the first day that we met.  Coincidentally, that happened to be one of the hardest days of my life when I found out my very best friend, Jack

was killed by a pit bull belonging to my VERY irresponsible neighbors.  I’m going to go off on a little soap box here…if you have a dog that has a history of being violent towards other animals and people don’t try to rehab the dog by yourself, seek professional help.  And definitely don’t leave the dog out to roam around off leash without supervision.  Back to my story about Alanna.  I was somehow able to convince her that running in a 5k would be a great idea and that it would help us get into better shape.  So we started running together.  I found that I was really starting to enjoy running and to enjoy the way that I felt after running but it was still really hard and it didn’t seem to be getting any easier.  This led me to get discouraged and give it up after Alanna graduated and moved away.

At this point in my life, I had lost my Alanna (no we did not lose our friendship but we were no longer living in the same state, or even on the same side of the continent) and she had really inspired me to better myself so I was struggling again with my motivation until I met Ingrid.  Ingrid is another one of my very very dear friends who just so happened to LOVE running.  She can move her little leggies like none other!  She loves to run and loves to eat wonderful food and loves to have a plan!  She inspired me to start running again and she encouraged me to take things slow.  I had also been so very fortunate to meet my Geog friends who shared similar interests with eating healthy and being physically active and just living a balanced life.  I had tons of support from my friends and family and I began running again.  This time I started slow and it worked!  I guess it was this point in my life I really fell in love with running.  I carried this with me all the way until I got to Mississippi for graduate school when I hit another speed bump in life.

Life got pretty crazy stressful while I was working on my masters.  My life fell out of balance and I really started to let myself go.  One good thing did come out of that experience though and that was meeting my husband 🙂 .

After we left Mississippi we moved to Ohio so I could begin working on my Ph.D.  I knew I was in need for a major life change so I started WW.  I know I have talked about WW a couple times but the program goes beyond food and really helps you handle challenging situations in life.  I have learned a lot about myself since starting and I have really tried to use the lesson to balance my life out.  One of the things we talk about a lot is being physically active.  Being physically active to me when I started WW meant running.  This time I was determined I was going to do it and do it right.  I started with a couch to 5k type of program but it was one taken from Runner’s World.  I found a buddy to run with, my dear dear friend Amanda and my Jeffery and we began running.  We ran and we ran and we ran.  It was tough, really tough but we had each other there to get through it together.  I ran in my third 5k.  They say the third time is a charm and it sure was because it was the first one that I was able to run the entire 3.1 miles without stopping.

After that I felt like I could do anything, I started training for a half-marathon and my training got to a point where I could run for 8 miles straight without stopping.  I have since fallen and injured my knee, but we’ll get to that in a minute.  I remember the first day that Jeffery and I ran for 8 miles.  Don’t get me wrong it was hot and we were tired and sore but man after that run did I feel amazing.  I felt on top of the world and I felt like I could face any challenge put in front of me.  Never in my life had I thought that I would be able to run for 8 miles straight without stopping.  That’s when running became a part of me.  Since that point, I fell and hurt my knee but I have slowly been rehabbing it and I can say that I am able to run now for 3 miles with limited pain.  It’s a slow but steady road, and that is okay.

As a part of my rehab I started to explore other options for remaining physically active.  I started biking again, I started stretching a lot, I started Zumba, I started spinning, and I started Yoga.  I found exercise DVD’s that allow me to strength train and build/tone muscle.  But most of all I found that I really enjoy living an active lifestyle.  I have surrounded myself with people that feel the same way and I often look to them for support and encouragement when the going gets tough.  Being active provides challenges, confidence, it allows me to bond with friends, it provides numerous health benefits, it provides a way to relieve stress, all of which help bring balance to my life.

80% of the U.S. population does not meet the guidelines for being physically active.  Now, I’m not here to preach but any doctor will tell you that regardless of your state of health doing something is better than doing nothing.  This doesn’t mean go out and run a marathon if you just had open heart surgery, it means simply do something within your limits. Remember that no matter how slow you go, you are still going and you are still doing more than the people sitting at home on the couch.

My advice to you is to find something that you love to do and do it.  Do it with passion, tenacity, and reverence.  Do it for you.  You’ll soon find that it will get easier, I promise!

Stay active, my friends 🙂

Shley

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