My Journey to Healthy and Happy, Part 1

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As I sit in my apartment in Portland, roasting Kabocha squash and cooking quinoa, watching silly TV, and thinking about the details of the marathon I am running in 2 days, I can’t help but reflect on how much my life has changed in the last 4 years.

I had started my career in social work by working and volunteering throughout college and felt I was so lucky to have found a field of work I was passionate about.  What I wasn’t prepared for, however, was the emotional and physical toll I was putting on myself by simply doing too much for others.  I poured myself into my work and left little space for me.  On top of that, I was living in an expensive city and had to work two jobs after college to cover rent.  This left me a depressed, confused, and anxious young lady, not to mention the extra weight I had gained.  When Nick and I moved to Portland, we knew things had to be different in order for both of us to sustain our health and well-being while I attended graduate school for social work and public health.

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We took the opportunity of a new city and the unknown world we were entering to make some big life changes.  After a stressful couple of years, we took a step back and realized we had neglected ourselves, which greatly impacted our health and our relationship.  We had each put on at least 35 pounds and were no longer comfortable in our own skin.  We didn’t know that much about nutrition, but Nick had the Beachbody programs p90x and Insanity.  He did p90x for a while, got into the habit of exercising regularly and started to see some results.  He then started Insanity and I will never forget the day he told me I should start with p90x because he thought Insanity was too intense for me!  I’m the type of person who takes the doubts of others as motivation, so I immediately processed his advice as a challenge.

I started doing p90x work outs and slowly learning about purchasing whole foods and preparing food at home as much as possible.  At first the progress and my focus was slow.  By the summer of 2011, Nick and I were getting the hang of Portland life and I decided to go all in with my health and fitness.  I started Insanity and tried Shakeology for the first time.  I quickly realized how amazing I felt when I spent an hour a day doing something that was only for me.  Not only was I feeling stronger and so accomplished after each work out, but all those extra pounds I had acquired were coming off.  I replaced one meal a day with Shakeology and continued to learn about nutrition and clean eating.  I also started connecting with people who were also doing Beachbody programs and found myself as part of a community FULL of positive people who have the same passion for healthy and learning how to live their best life possible.

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As I continued through graduate school, I continued to incorporate exercise and healthy eating in my everyday life.  I’m not going to lie, it was tough.  I was working on two Master’s degrees, completing internships for school, AND working full time.  To fit this all in, I had work, school, or internships every day of the week.  There was a time when I would take a vacation day from work so I would get ONE day off in a month.  During my third and final year of grad school, I was working nights on top of completing school.  It was an absurd and unsustainable schedule, but I had to make it work.  In order to keep myself sane and healthy, I kept working out and learning about healthy eating and included those two things in my schedule just like I would a class or work.  I would find those couple of hours that were free each day to squeeze in a work out, cook, and pack meals to bring to work and school.  I kept at it because I could see and feel what exercise and healthy eating was doing not only for my body, but for my mind too!

Since the start of my journey to health and happiness, I have lost 35 pounds.  I have learned SO much about food and nutrition and I am no longer intimidated by farmer’s markets or the unfamiliar foods I may get in my CSA box.  I also don’t feel lost around a yoga mat, a set of dumbbells, or a stability ball.  I have run 8 half marathons and am a few days from completing my first full marathon.  I have been able to tackle longer and longer distances in my running because of the confidence that I have gained by completing work out programs like p90x and Insanity.  I have gained confidence in my body’s ability to endure and take great comfort in the community I have surrounded myself with that supports me wholeheartedly in reaching these goals.  I have literally watched muscles appear on my body.  This confidence transfers into other areas of my life as well, allowing me to feel more comfortable taking risks and making tough decisions at work.  Most importantly, I have learned how to balance my extremely hectic work life with time for myself.  I spend an hour every morning focusing on both my physical and mental strength and when I eat well, I know I am appreciating myself and my body.

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And I have done all of this from the comfort of my own home.  Nick and I now have an arsenal of work out programs and have been steadily building our home gym equipment, despite the tiny size of our apartment!  During the times when we were flat broke and could never have afforded gym memberships, having the option to purchase a complete work out program that we could use over and over again was amazing.  I still love working out at home.  My morning commute from bed to “the gym” is about 15 seconds, leaving zero room for excuses when I’m not feeling up for it.

What started as a challenge to complete that intense program from the infomercials has led to a whole new lifestyle for my partner and me.  We focus on our health, focus on time together and on creating balance between work and our other interests.  I am in a much better state of mind and can recognize when I need to take a break from the city or work life and get to the mountains.  It’s been a difficult, eye-opening, and rewarding journey that I still only see in the beginning stages.  I continue to strive to learn more, love more, and push myself farther.  Thank you to all of you who support me and join me in my journey to happy and healthy ❤

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