I’ve been talking about health and fitness on here more frequently, but I thought maybe it was time to really give you guys the 411 on my story and where I’m at in my journey (it never really ends, does it?). This one’s a little more serious, and kind of long, so bear with me.
I guess we should start at the beginning, since that’s really where all stories start.
I was never an active kid. My parents will tell you how much I hated going outdoors. You literally had to drag me to the park. When we had to run the mile in gym class, I’d walk a fourth of it and call it quits. I remember running track in 5th and 6th grade. They had to let everyone on the team, but I got relegated to things that involved throwing a ball (I can’t even remember what it’s called right now). I was on a relay team once, but they were smart enough to never let that happen again. I couldn’t keep up during practice, I sucked at the meets, and I made zero effort to improve myself outside of that.
High school wasn’t any better. My gym teachers gave me an A for the day so long as I tried everything once. So I’d hit a ball or kick something, then sit on the bleachers the rest of the day. (Except for badminton days — I was actually good at that!) I wasn’t coordinated (or tall) enough for basketball, volleyball terrified me (and once gave me a black eye), and I didn’t have the endurance for soccer. Me + physical activity = never gonna happen.
I stopped getting my period in high school. Disconcerting, but I hated doctors, so I just decided to keep that little fact a secret. WedMD assured me I wasn’t dying, so there was that. But I watched all of my weight settle in my gut. I wasn’t happy with the way I looked, and the few times I made the effort to fix it never lasted longer than a week. I wanted immediate results, and I wasn’t getting them. So I gave up. And kept gaining weight.
College was a turning point for me. I had access to a gym and actually tried to go when I had a spare moment. (Looking back, I’m really impressed with my time management! I feel like I couldn’t pull those kinds of hours anymore, haha.) I started running, even though I could barely make it 10 minutes before I felt like I was gonna pass out. Watching my roommates train for a marathon kept me motivated.
But the weight wasn’t going away. So I finally decided to talk to my doctor about it. And you know what happened? Someone was finally able to give me an answer. I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome my junior year of college, and while it was nice to know that I wasn’t 100% at fault for my weight gain, I had no idea where to go from there. PCOS messes with your hormone levels and insulin resistance, so they put me on medications to help manage my symptoms, but they just made me sick. I was miserable and I literally felt like shit.
Then I moved to New York. I was suddenly walking everywhere, and a few pounds came off without me really trying. Satisfaction! Then, from 2012-2013 I watched my sister lose an obscene amount of weight and it really pushed me to get myself on track. I religiously went to the gym three times a week, took up running, and was actually able to make it 5-6 miles before I wanted to keel over. I was eating a low GI diet and lost between 20-30 pounds. More satisfaction!
Then 2014 hit. My 25th year was by and large the most difficult year of my life. I was depressed. I cried literally every day. I didn’t know a person even had that much liquid in their body! It’s like it never stopped. I felt so lost, so trapped within myself, and lost all motivation. I stopped exercising, I ate like crap, and stayed as far away from people as I could. I didn’t want to be near me — how could I ask anyone else to? To this day I still can’t pinpoint exactly what made me so miserable. I think it was a combination of things from every aspect of my life that all built up into one giant shitstorm that refused to go away.
After close to six months of that, I randomly woke up one day and decided enough was enough. Nothing was going to get better if I didn’t make the effort. I remember it was a Saturday. I crawled out of bed, put on my running shoes, and made myself run a mile. I sat down on a bench in front of the Hudson River and cried. But that time it wasn’t because I was miserable. I felt better for the first time in months, if only infinitesimally. I’d done something. I’d taken that step.
The holidays hit soon after that, and we all know what that’s like, so exercise and eating well weren’t priorities. But I was happier. I was trying. One of the new girls at work kept talking about spinning, and while stuck in the Toronto airport for 10 hours, I did some research. I read numerous testimonials from women with PCOS who’d taken up spin and managed to finally lose all that excess weight. I came back from my London vacation ready to hit the ground running.
I took my first class at Flywheel on January 10th and I was hooked. I’d tried a bunch of different fitness classes (God bless New York and its crazy fitness scene), but hated each and every one. I felt like people were judging me, that they knew before we even started that I wouldn’t be able to keep up. Spin was different. With the lights off, people weren’t staring at me. They were too focused on their own ride to worry about mine. And sure, the first couple times were rough (my ass hurt for days after that first class), but the more I went, the easier it got. I didn’t have to stop in the middle of a song, and I didn’t have to lower my resistance in order to keep up. I watched my numbers steadily increase for two months before finally biting the bullet and buying a membership.
I can honestly say that spinning has been my saving grace. I go 6-7 days a week now. I’m at the studio before the sun’s even up. And I like it. I like getting my workout in before other people are even awake. Those endorphins keep me in a good mood at work, when last year I would’ve wanted to punch someone by 10AM. Things don’t bother me as much as they used to. My stress level has gone WAY down.
And guess what? So has my weight. Those ladies were right — for some people, spinning is magic. It certainly is mine. I’ve gone down two pant sizes since January. My arms don’t jiggle. My endurance is better than it ever was. My confidence has skyrocketed. And I’m genuinely happy. While I am in no way close to my fitness goals, I’ve been thriving off the results I have seen. Smaller pant sizes. Clothes that no longer fit. Having more energy. Being a generally happier person. I’m trying really hard to stay positive in all aspects of my life. There have been a handful of people who’ve been my cheerleaders throughout this process, and I couldn’t have done it without them. The friends and community I’ve gained through fitness has been life-changing.
All this is to say that, basically, you can do anything you put your mind to. I know it’s been said a million times in a million different ways, but there’s a reason for that. When I found out I had PCOS, I never thought I’d be able to get it under control. I also never thought I’d be able to run a mile, let alone have the confidence to sign up for a 10 mile race. If you’d told me a year ago that I’d turn into a spinning fanatic, I’d have called you crazy.
But things change. People change. I did, and I believe in all of you too. For those of you who are struggling right now, know that there’s hope. For the people already in it, keep it up! I’ll meet you on the other side!
Tons of love from me to you,