How Fitness Found Me:

I haven’t always been a marathon runner. In fact, I wasn’t even a regular runner until I was in my 20’s. I didn’t play any sports in school, my parents weren’t physically active, and there was no role model for me follow into a world of fitness. My journey into physical activity was about as organic as it gets – after my 15 year old heart was broken for the first time, I had an overwhelming urge to run away from everything. There was an anxious twitch that overtook my body and my agitation was directed out on a trail. So I ran for a bit, and I felt better. Like I might be able to wake up the next day and live a bit longer.

I remember the first morning I ran to my high school without stopping. It was just before it got too cold to run in Alaska. The total distance was probably about 2 miles and it was the first runner’s high I’d ever experienced. I felt like I could do anything! After my adolescent heart was crushed, I desperately needed to feel that power. I signed up for weight class in gym that year. I saw exercise as a way out of hurt and a way back to accepting myself in the face of rejection.

I continued to take gym every quarter for the rest of high school. Kickboxing, advanced weights, step class, and so on. I began using the family gym membership. I was enough of a regular that one of the group fitness instructors told me I was a “natural” and I should look into personal training.

And here I am.

I write this because some of you have never been “fit”. You may tell yourself that you aren’t good at it, it’s been too long, you are too old, you don’t belong. The only reason I never ran track in high school is because I told myself I wasn’t good enough. In order to even be good enough to make a high school team, I should have been running in junior high. Or elementary school. I told myself it was too late for me. I never even bothered to look into tryouts, because I “knew” I’d never make it and I didn’t want to face that rejection. At 16, I was a washout. Past my prime. Put me out to pasture!

I now see how ridiculous that is. I hope you do, too. We are only limited by the barriers we lock ourselves into. My last year in high school I volunteered at a hospital with dietitians to make sure nutrition was the right career choice for me and I met a woman in her 60’s doing her internship – she had decided in her late 50’s to make a career change. Whenever I tell myself it’s too late for me, I think of her.

It never has to be too late.

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