I started my running journey when I was 25 years old. I had never adopted fitness as part of my lifestyle and had an extremely unhealthy relationship with food. After being married the previous year and being so ashamed of how I looked in my wedding photos, my self-esteem hit an all time low. The real kicker was when I was told by my doctor during my annual physical that I had high cholesterol. At the time, I had no idea what that meant or what factors were contributing to those numbers. I remember the lump in my throat and fighting back tears as she explained that my diet and lack of exercise were likely the culprits. The poor lifestyle choices that I was making were directly affecting my health.
It took another year of forcing myself to complete 5K's with friends, hating the sport, swearing I would never run again, then picking it back up- a vicious cycle over and over- to really give it an honest chance. Some additional health factors had required me to eliminate a lot of processed foods from my diet. I saw pretty immediate results and a direct correlation between what I ate and how I felt when I worked out. I finally felt ready to commit to running again. As someone who is extremely motivated by setting and accomplishing goals, I needed something in my life to work toward and somehow convinced my husband to train for and run a half marathon with me (the buddy system helps a lot!). As I continued to run and cross finish lines I cared less about the number on the scale and focused more on how my body felt and what I could do to improve my running performance (aka I used to think carbs were the enemy!).
I have crossed several finish lines since beginning this journey and my motivation has switched from aesthetic goals to performance based. It has done wonders for my self-esteem and mental game. It's shown me that I'm so much stronger than I ever believed. It's humbling, it's challenging and I've certainly not always loved it (there are still days that I downright hate it), but it helps you discover your full potential. You don't have to compete against anyone but yourself.
I continue to run now not only for my continued health and reaching personal goals, but to be a role model for my daughter, Stella. I owe so much of accepting myself and my body to running, which is something I wish I would have discovered a long time ago. I want to show her that her body is so much more than physical appearance. I want her to know the importance of balanced eating and movement in her overall health. Ultimately, I want her to set big, scary goals that scare her (running or otherwise), and for her to know that if she's willing to work hard and put in the effort she can do and be whatever she wants.