I don’t think I’ve ever written about my fitness journey all in one spot on the blog before, so I thought that I’d finally do it. I love hearing about how people decide to make healthy lifestyle changes, so I figure others do to.
Starting in my last year of university (back in 2005/2006), I decided that I wanted to start making some healthy changes. I wanted to be more active, make healthier food choices, and just improve my health in general.
I started by making small changes to my food. I decided to add a fruit or vegetable to all my meals. While it’s second nature to me now, back then it didn’t happen nearly as often as it should have. Salad was super easy to add to lunches and dinners. It was easy enough to grab a piece of fruit to go with my breakfast. It wasn’t a lot of extra work, but it made a big difference in how I felt.
Once I had a bit of momentum from eating more fruits and vegetables, I decided that I wanted to start working out at home. I was way too intimidated to go to a gym, so I did exercises that required minimal equipment, like push ups, squats, and crunches at home. Eventually I got a couple sets of dumbbells and did a bit of strength training even though I had no idea what I was doing.
As I got more comfortable with myself and being active, I decided to join my very first gym. The gym at the YWCA in the city I was going to school in was pretty small, but it was perfect for me because that mean that it was less intimidating. It was easier to walk in there when there were only a few other people working out, rather than a huge big box gym where there would be a hundred or more people.
When I went to the gym in the mornings right when it opened there were usually only a few other people there, which was perfect for me. I didn’t have to wait for equipment and it wasn’t as scary for me. I wasn’t as worried that people were going to wonder what I was doing there, working out when I had no idea what I was doing.
I didn’t feel judged at the YWCA, which was huge for me. I actually felt like I was a part of the community, in large part because of the wonderful trainer that worked there. She’d always say hi, make small talk with me, and introduce me to some of the other people working out. I’m so grateful that she took the time to be friendly to me and really make me feel like I belonged there.
I ended up working out at the gym pretty consistently that last year of university. I was at the gym 4 or 5 times per week doing cardio on the treadmill or bike.
After I graduated university in 2006 I decided to move back to Calgary and started tracking my food in a notebook. It made me much more accountable to myself to see everything that I had eaten written down in black and white.
It allowed me to see the patterns that I wouldn’t have been able to pick up on otherwise. I had a habit of mindlessly eating junk food in the evenings when I was on the couch watching TV. I would stress eat sweets when I was feeling anxious.
I also started figuring out what appropriate serving sizes were. I would eat 2 cookies instead of 5, a handful of chips instead of half a bag. It’s so easy to eat more than I meant to when I wasn’t paying attention.
As a result of being more aware of what I was eating, I started to lose weight. The changes that I was making were paying off and it kept me motivated to keep up my healthy lifestyle. Having practice making those healthy decisions made it easier and easier to to continue on with making good choices for myself. Seeing the numbers going down on the scale felt really good. I knew I was getting healthier.
Fast forward a few years and I discovered healthy living blogs in 2011. I felt like I had found my people. It was the same sense of community that I had felt in that small YWCA gym that I had gone to in university. Soon after I started this blog. Check out my very first blog post here!
Back in 2011 or 2012 I was going through a tough time. I had just broken up with someone, there was some family stuff going on that I was super stressed about, and life was just tough at that point. I had a friend who was just finishing up her yoga teacher training and she invited me to come to one of her practice classes. I had never stepped foot into a yoga studio, but I had done a yoga DVD about a million times that I had bought in university. Even though I was really nervous, I decided to go to support my friend.
I’m so glad that I ended up going because I ended up becoming intrigued by yoga. I went back to the Yoga Shala on Saturday afternoons for their karma classes. It fit into my budget and I started to really like the ashtanga style of yoga. I didn’t even realize that there were other kinds of yoga at that point – I thought that all yoga was ashtanga yoga.
I ended up practicing yoga a few times a week, both at the studio and at home. I learned more about yoga, tried out other studios, and really started to get that there was so much more to yoga than just the poses.
My interest in fitness and living a healthy lifestyle eventually led me to go back to school in 2015 to get a 2 year diploma in personal training at Mount Royal University (read about my program in this post), and then in March of 2019 complete a 200 hour yoga teacher certification at Passage Studios. You can find all my posts about yoga teacher training here.
I now eat healthy, though there are definitely treats on special occasions and when I’m out with friends or my boyfriend. I like to live by the 80/20 rule – I eat healthy 80% of time and treat myself 20% of the time. If I tried to eat 100% I know that it wouldn’t last long. Sometimes you just have to give in to that craving for a piece of cake or a big juicy burger.
I workout 4 or 5 times per week at the gym. It’s so different from when I started my fitness journey and I was too intimidated to go to the gym. I now feel very comfortable there and feel like I’m a part of the community. I also go to yoga 3 or 4 times per week, and while ashtanga is still my favorite, I’ve definitely embraced slower paced classes as well, such as yin and restorative.