Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A More Natural Lifestyle : Exercise

Growing up, I was a dancer. A ballerina. Not to be confused with a performer "on the pole". Not that there's anything wrong with that. I actually performed ballet, tap, jazz, and lyrical which required me to attend classes or rehearsals almost 40 hours a week by the time I hit high school. I began ballet at age 2 when my mother was looking for a way to socialize me. What can I say - I was terribly shy.

I continued dancing throughout the entirety of my childhood. My high school years consisted of me going to school, going to dance, and going to work. I don't remember most of the stories people talk about from high school, but I can still remember choreography from dances that I performed during that time period. While my school friends were attending parties, I was training. I LOVED it. Every second of it.

I received a scholarship to study dance at the University of Alabama, and even had the amazing luck to work as a counselor to the American Ballet Theatre summer intensive for three summers at Alabama. That meant that I got to take class FOR FREE from some of the greatest ballerinas from one of the greatest companies IN THE WORLD.

Can you say Heaven? I knew you could.

I spent five years in God's country {The University of Alabama, for those of you unaware} and took class after class, spent free time in rehearsals, and put on several performances each semester.

All of that information was actually coming to a point, I promise. During all of this time that I spent in rigorous training, I was able to eat anything and everything that I wanted. It didn't matter if I ate an entire bag of chips with three burgers and a milkshake to wash it down. I wasn't gaining an ounce because I was so active.

Me, in Europe, with a flat belly no matter how much I ate. How I miss those days.

Once college ended, however, things changed. I had sustained several injuries during my years that squashed my hopes of performing with a company. I actually had to get a real job to pay for bills. Being an adult sucks sometimes. I did get several jobs teaching children dance, but anyone with performance experience will tell that it just isn't the same! I was already starting to see the effects of my eating habits, but I was still able to curb my weight a little - or so I thought. It's funny how quietly that monster called "belly fat" creeps in and takes over.

When I got pregnant with Canon all bets were off. I quit teaching dance so that I could have more time with both of my boys. I didn't have any real pregnancy food cravings, but I definitely took advantage of eating whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. After having Canon, I ate so much ice cream and milk to help with my milk supply that I should have been able to feed an entire orphanage of babies. FYI : it didn't work. I couldn't produce enough milk to sustain my child, but I definitely produced enough fat to warrant a new wardrobe.

Fun fact : trying to find a picture of myself from the time we had Canon until now was extremely difficult. I did find some that were from the bust up or some where I was hiding behind a person or thing. Not the same.

Fast forward to December 2013. You remember when I said a light bulb moment happened to me where I realized that I was completely neglecting myself? Thankfully, one of the areas that I immediately saw health and exercise. I mean, how could I not? I felt absolutely horrible about myself every single time I looked in the mirror. Or wore clothes. Or didn't wear clothes. Basically any time that I was conscious I was utterly self-conscious. Yet until that one moment, I couldn't bring myself to do anything about it.

From that moment, I decided to make a change. There were absolutely no excuses for letting myself go any longer with that feeling of self-loathing. Remember, I had just been laid off from work so I had more time during the day for experimenting with this new-found enlightenment. I began preparing foods that were much healthier. I quit buying pre-cooked-then-frozen meals altogether. Bonus perk was saving money in that respect! I began drinking a lot of water and stopped snacking in bed at night.

And finally in March, I began exercising again. I ran across an ad for DailyBurn while watching streaming tv one night. They offered a free month of service to determine if it was something I was interested in. I figured that I could check it out for free and then ditch when I didn't like it.

Boy, was I wrong. I LOVED it! I started out with the True Beginner series which is for individuals who really want to start out simply and work their way into a more serious routine. Don't get me wrong. I was sweatin' to the oldies sweating my behind off from day one. There were days for cardio, core, and strength training. And everything in between. ALL FROM THE COMFORT OF MY LIVING ROOM. Translation : I could look a fool and no one would be the wiser. I could work my booty off, literally, without feeling like people were staring and judging. Brilliant.

Now, let me just say for the record, that at this point I began to hate Craig. You see, he runs. He loves running and it took him about 2.3 hours for the pounds to start shedding. I could actually see it happen as we watched a movie.

Hahahahahaha, who am I kidding?! I don't remember the last movie we watched!

Anyway, I would see him run, then eat the healthy meals that I cooked for dinner, and simply shed the weight. Simple, right?

Wrong. My weight didn't start coming off until I had been exercising heavily for about two months and practically starving myself in the process. Ok so not exactly, but it felt like it since I had been eating so poorly before.

When we moved to Georgia, our lifestyle changed on a family level. We were still exercising individually, but we also began hiking every weekend and swimming in lakes and rivers. Good for body and soul.

I was finally losing some pounds and starting to feel a little better about myself. And then, something happened. I woke up one morning with the most horrific lower back pain. I could barely move at a snail's pace, much less kick butt in cardio.

So I took a break from exercise. And then I started to feel flubbery again. I decided that I had to do something, even if it was minimal movement. So, I decided to try out yoga. It has really helped to loosen my back. The really cool thing? There is also a full yoga track you can follow on DailyBurn that is taught by world renowned yogi Briohny Smyth. She is ridiculous. Just check this out.

Like I said, ridiculous. 
Anyway, this new exercise routine has really awakened something in me. I have decided that I really love yoga. Although it is so completely different from dance, my ballet training helps me with a lot of the poses and movements. I feel strong and confident, even when I am falling out of a balance. I have even begun to think that I would like to become certified to teach yoga one day, though I know that is a long-term goal. I have a long way to go, grasshopper.

So far in my journey, I have lost 13 pounds. Not only has Craig noticed a difference, but I have too. As we all know, we are our own most critical judge so that is really saying something! 
I still have a ways to go {how the heck do you get rid of belly fat for real?!}, but I am so happy with my results so far. 
If you are interested in getting healthy and exercising at your own pace, in your own home, then I urge you to try DailyBurn. For the record, no. I have not been compensated for this post. They don't know me from Adamette. It is just something that has really worked for me and my schedule.
So there is my exercise regimen these days. Just one step in my goal towards a more natural lifestyle.

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