I was always an athletic person, even when I was really little. I think my mother enrolled me in gymnastics because I had boundless energy and needed to put it somewhere. I don’t think she expected me to be training six days a week when I was eight years old, but I loved to move, and I didn’t think of it as work. Through grade school and high school I played field hockey and lacrosse and also joined the swim team to “stay in shape in the off-season,” and still never thought of any of it as work. I loved playing sports and ended up with the Gym Geek of the Year when I graduated from high school (a $50 scholarship, woo hoo!).
When I got to college, though, I had a little too much fun. During my senior year, I thought it was super cool that I drank every night my second semester (which is not cool, by the way). And during my first job as an assistant stock broker, my colleagues and I also thought it was super cool that we drank and ate at really nice restaurants every night. The thing was, I never thought about what I was eating since I had always burned calories like a haystack. I lived in this “it can’t happen to me” world. But it did happen to me. I’m 5’2” on a tall day, and I was wearing a size 6. I wasn’t really fat, per se, but I felt puffy, out of shape, and lethargic.
At that time, I was sharing a 400 square foot apartment in New York City, working twelve hour days on a trading floor where my breakfast, lunch, and occasionally dinner were brought to my desk, since god forbid you leave your four screens unattended! I got restless and knew I needed to get outdoors, so one day, instead of doing my normal retail therapy, I decided to walk through the park, just the small loop (1.7mi) for exercise. I got my sneakers on, which I think at that time were about 3 years old and the only pair I owned, and walked to the park. When I got there I saw everyone running. I decided that if they could run, I could run. It was a lot easier than I had expected it to be, and it was refreshing to sweat again, to move again, to feel air, and to not have a ceiling over my head. I ran the loop and then decided to go a little further, and naturally got lost (yes, I know it’s a loop but I have a TERRIBLE sense of direction!).
At that point, I vowed to myself that I was going to make this a priority and to be honest, it wasn’t because I wanted to lose weight. Don’t get me wrong, losing weight was an awesome side effect, but it wasn’t the objective. I loved the way it made me feel, the peace and solitary thinking I experienced, the places it took me, and the exhaustion I felt. All those benefits strengthened my resolve to run, and to keep running. It wasn’t work. It was fun, and necessary for getting my life back.
And now I can’t stop….