For as long as I can remember I’ve hated exercise.
Like really, really hated it.
In elementary school I would intentionally wear the wrong shoes on PE day in hopes it would give me an out. In junior high, running the mile was the worst day of my teenage life and in high school and I almost didn’t graduate because I didn’t have my 1/2 PE credit completed, so I had to bowl like, 20 games in the matter of a few days (13 years later I still loathe bowling).
I think it also needs to be said that I got the first half of that PE credit by being softball manager…anything to get out of physical activity.
As an adult, I’ve tried almost every exercise program out there only to give it up after a few tries. I was too sore after a workout, too tired, too lazy or just not in the right mindset to make my health a priority. It took a major health scare to get me to take my health seriously.
I’ve also struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember. I remember sitting at the dinner table in my childhood home and feeling bad about my tummy hanging over my pants. I only lived in that home until I was 9. It’s been a lifelong battle for me.
In fact, I didn’t reach a “healthy weight” until recently at 32 years old.
In November 2019, I made the decision to have bariatric surgery. It was the only solution to a debilitating brain disease and an opportunity to get a handle on my weight. I had no way of knowing it would light a spark in me that I didn’t know was there.
I became an exercise lover.
Shortly after my surgery, in January 2020, I took a barre class for the third time (my first two attempts were pre-surgery, mid-health crisis and yep, hated both classes with every fiber of my being) and found myself wanting more.
I found something in that barre class that I didn’t find anywhere else: understanding.
Barre met me where I was. I was encouraged to modify movements to fit my needs, not shamed. I was told to takes breaks and “come back stronger” instead of feeling guilty for needing to catch my breath.
We start each class slow and end with shavasana (a yoga pose and relaxation period at the end of each class) which gave me something to look forward to. I got few minutes to unwind and get myself in the right mindset to conquer the rest of the day.
Sure, there were moments where I hated it and couldn’t wait for class to end. The short intervals of each movement or position made getting through an entire class doable.
I challenged myself to one month. 30 days of doing this. I paid upfront so I would stick to it and scheduled my classes ahead of time to hold myself accountable.
And I kept going.
In February, I bought a 12 month membership and haven’t looked back.
In April, when the world shut down and I was shut in, virtual barre classes got me through this time. I would find a space in my tiny condo, sometimes outside on the balcony and gave myself that 45 minutes for me. Sometimes I had tiny humans on my side, but getting them involved was fun. They got to see their mom prioritizing her health and being an example of something good.
I powered through the summer and did classes outside in the heat.
I don’t remember exactly when it happened, but at some point I began to crave the movement. I needed it.
I also didn’t even know who I was anymore.
I think my family was more surprised than me, knowing all too well how much I’ve struggled with being active my whole life.
By August 8th, I hit my 100th class. 200 some days into the year and I had spent half of them exercising.
This November I crossed something off my bucket list and hiked to the top of Camelback Mountain. I freaking hiked, in 40 degree weather before the sun came up.
I’m actually still in shock about that accomplishment.
And for the big one, on New Year’s Eve, I completed my 200th class. Then I got the big idea to hit 500 total classes by 12/31/2021, so that is my mountain this year. 300 classes.
My body is forever changed. Yes, I had major surgery that prompted a significant weight loss, but I put in the work to show up and workout. I think a common misconception about weight loss surgery is that the weight just comes off. In a sense, it does, but after a period of time your body adjusts to your new way of eating and if the necessary lifestyle changes aren’t made, you will regain.
And that scares me.
It’s a good fear, though. It keeps me accountable and moving forward. It helps me make better decisions when it comes to food. It gets me out of bed and to those 6AM barre classes I’ve come to love so much.
Surgery has helped me, but it’s just a tool. A tool I’m forever thankful for. It saved my life.
Barre has also taught me to make my mental well-being a priority. I didn’t realize how depressed I was until I became a little more self-aware and began to fill my cup first.
I designate time for myself almost everyday to get my mind right, move my body and surround myself with like-minded people who encourage me to take deep breaths and be more intentional in my movements.
This has not only made me physically stronger, but mentally as well. I’ve realized who and what I want in my life. I’ve taken control and there’s no better feeling after years of feeling like you were spiraling.
Has barre solved every problem in my life? Absolutely not. It has given me the tools to better deal with the life struggles we all face.
It’s also helped me create a body and mind that is able to be there for my kids. I am healthy and I am strong. My kids will hopefully learn from my habits and make similar choices early on in life.
If you’re feeling stuck or like you want to try a new form of exercise, I highly recommend trying out a barre class. There are many local studios that offer some variation of the practice. I love Vibe Barre in Mesa and the community of women that offer support and build one another up both inside and outside the studio. They also offer childcare which is a necessity for most moms.
Find somewhere that offers you more than just exercise. You need to find a place that supports you and allows you to come as you are, not as they or you think you need to be.
I think the most important part of my journey has been finding the ability within to encourage and push myself to keep going, even when I didn’t want to.
I never in a million years would have thought I would use my activewear for actual physical activity.
We all have to start somewhere and finding the place that allows you to start, grow and prosper is key. If you’re looking for where to begin, start with our 2021 EVM Strong Like a Mother Guide.