Looking Back…

November 1, 2010.

Just another day in the year, a day like any other day, right?

Not for me.

Today is MY anniversary. Not the anniversary of my first kiss, not the anniversary of my first date with so-and-so, not even my wedding anniversary. This particular anniversary is all mine, I earned it. Four years ago today, I walked into a real gym for the first time in my life, and did my first “workout”.

If someone would have walked up to me that day and said, “Laura, in four years from today you will have lost 190 pounds. You will work in a gym every day of the week teaching group exercise classes and you will absolutely love it! In addition to the classes you’ll teach, you will also be a certified personal trainer running your own business. By that time, you will have been featured on the news and have your own website that will be read by people all over the country and even the world. What do you think about that?”

First of all, I would have thought to myself that this poor soul was obviously one of two options, lost or psycho. I would have looked around for other people nearby because perhaps, it was a case of mistaken identity. Upon doing so and finding no one else around, I would have looked them straight in the eye and told them they were crazy and laughed as I walked away (to alert someone that this person who had approached me was indeed a loon, and had escaped from a nearby straight jacket somehow!)

That workout four years ago, changed my life for the better in so many ways. Was it that particular workout?  No, a one time 20 minute cardio session on the elliptical will not change your life. Was it that first scary step onto a path that terrified me, a path that felt so overwhelming that I wasn’t sure I could accomplish the goal I was setting out to accomplish in the first place? YES!!!

Sometimes it feels like it happened  just yesterday and then there are other times when it feels like it happened a lifetime ago. Either way, the experience is crystal clear in my memory. I remember climbing up on the elliptical and thinking okay, this is not so bad. As I started to pedal, the machine flashed at me to enter my weight for an accurate calorie burn. Enter my weight? Are you kidding me? Yeah right! I’m not entering my weight! There are people in this gym, and besides that, there are people on the machines both sides of me, what if someone sees? That would be so embarrassing! Uhhh, no. I’ll not be entering my weight, thank you very much! ‘ll just guess what my calorie burn is, thanks for the offer though!

It didn’t take long at all for the muscles in my legs  to start to burn. My heart rate skyrocketed in no time and I was out of breath in under a minute. There I was, on the machine thinking to myself  “I have 19 minutes to go? Oh my gosh. I can’t do this, it’s too hard!’ By the time I got to five minutes, my body was convinced  that I was a traitor!   My heart was pounding so loudly and quickly, begging me to stop so it could slow down again, it felt as though it was going to explode. My lungs were burning and screaming for air, something they just could not get enough of. My muscles threatened collapse more and more with each rotation of the pedals.

Combine all of the physiological stuff with the fact that I was surrounded by bodies, both male and female, that were so much healthier and better looking than my own, and to say that I was feeling pretty discouraged would be the understatement of the century. I’d heard of “runner’s high” and I found myself contemplating that phrase at the moment. I remember thinking that the reason they must call it runner’s high is because a person would have to be high in the first place (on some pretty good drugs too, might I add)  in order to put themselves through this thing called exercise! At that very moment, as my brain, my heart, my lungs, my muscles and what felt like my entire body was screaming at me, begging me to stop  and fighting against me more and more with every second, I was positive that exercise was going to KILL ME.

As I sit here typing this post and reliving that moment, I find myself shaking my head in disbelief! Today I could easily hop up on the elliptical and  pedal for hours, no problem! As I  look at how far I’ve come and the progress I’ve made, I am amazed at what I have accomplished! I’m not tooting my own horn, please don’t read that into my words. I am proud of  how far I have come, no  doubt about it, but I am not  arrogant. I want each person out there to have the same thing I have. I want each of us to have  quality of life.

The difference in the quality of life I have now versus the lack  in quality of life then, blows my mind. As I compare my two  “different lives”, I realize that  it is because of  what I have accomplished with my fitness goals, that I am a completely different person today. I’m not just talking about my  physical looks either, that one is pretty obvious!   Yes, I look  better and I am  much healthier, but there’s more to it than that. There has been a change in my attitude, my optimism, my outlook on life, as well as the way I handle situations that arise in everyday life  and challenges too.   I used to be afraid, shy, easily intimidated and manipulated as well. No more. I am not  a wallflower, graciously blending into the background. I am not anyone’s door mat. I am not intimidated. I am not afraid. I am strong. I am brave. I am confident. I can do it, bring it on.

Recently, I had the opportunity to take some training sessions with a man who talked briefly about the paths of life.   He said  there are only two paths in life, the hard path and the soft path. Most people take the soft path because it is comfortable. If you choose to walk the  soft path, you can expect a pretty uneventful experience. You will not come across anything that will make you feel too challenged. Nothing that will feel too difficult or hard. Nothing that would require you to get  too dirty and nothing that would make you feel  too uncomfortable. However, when you get to the end of the soft path, you’re not much stronger, wiser, braver or more self confident either.

On the other hand, there is the hard path. There is a reason that the hard path is named what it is! There’s no sugar coating, no creamy nougat center and there is no candy coating shell. It’s hard. It’s steep. It’s difficult. It’s rocky, bumpy and muddy all at the same time. And as if that’s not enough, there are huge obstacles placed in your way that you must  get around.  Giving up is not an option on the hard path. It is a path that requires motivation, dedication, hard work, sweat, sacrifice and perseverance to  follow, but if you follow where this path leads you, the rewards are amazing! At the end of the hard path lies a you that is self confident, strong, healthy, wise and happy, and that is just the beginning.

As we walk through life, we must choose one path or the other, that much is inevitable. What kind of you do you want to see in the mirror each day? The you that will be  the end result  of the soft path, or the you that will be carved and chiseled out by hard path? I urge each of you  to pick your path wisely, there is a lot at stake. Time will march on regardless of which path you choose to walk and the  decisions you make from that point on. Whether or not I had begun my journey back in 2006, I would still be here in 2010, albeit a different person altogether. I can tell you from  my heart and my own experiences, that  what you do today matters more than you could ever dream of in terms of the life you’ll live in each and every one of your tomorrows. The person that I am today, is a direct result of choices I made then. Apply your strengths to overcoming your weaknesses and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish!

To close, I would like to take this last paragraph to thank all of the people in my life who have helped me along the way, who have been there  for me in one way or another, as I  have achieved each of my goals. From my family, friends and loved ones to my mentors, teachers and advisers. You each know who you are, please allow me to publicly thank you for believing in me, supporting me and loving me. For giving me a portion of  your time, your patience and your heart. I am grateful for each and every one of you! I am a better person for knowing you, loving you and having you in my life. Thanks for everything! You rock!

Laura 🙂

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