My Journey to Becoming an Athlete: Part 1 - My Story

It is now 2012. It is a time for resolutions. Some of them are attainable and healthy. Some of them are unattainable. We have to be careful and wise when we make these resolutions.

Anyhow, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to post more on this blog. I have been a little bit of hit and miss. I need to change that. I am also changing the theme of my blog and will be focusing a little more on my personal experience as well as reviewing activities in the Chicagoland suburbs.

In order to start this theme, I would like to spend the first few entries of 2012 focused on my personal journey on how I eventually became physically active and what lessons that I have picked up along the way.  I am still amazed on how far that I have come and I know that I still have to go.

My journey started over 10 years ago in April 2002 after the birth of my daughter. I had been dealing with gestational diabetes during most of the pregnancy. In fact, I had to go through two 3-hour Glucose Tolerance Tests just to make sure. I was on insulin and pills to deal with it. I also was on a strict diet to monitor my carb intake. When I went to my post-partum visit with the Nurse Practitioner at my Endocrinologist’s office, I was given the biggest wake-up call ever.

Lose the weight or you will be on insulin for the rest of your life.

HELLO! This completely made me more aware of what I needed to. I didn’t want to keep giving myself insulin injections in my stomach anymore. I couldn’t see myself doing them for the rest of my life. I decided to make a change and lose the weight.

I made a decision after the appointment that I would go on Weight Watchers starting next week. Well, my body had other plans and I was forced to delay this start by two weeks because I had to have emergency surgery to remove my gallbladder THREE weeks after my C-sections (and I was starting to feel better too! D’oh!)

I went to my first WW meeting on May 6, 2002. I was about to get my 2nd worst wake-up call that I needed to take better care of myself and take care of charge my weight. I had my first weigh-in. I almost held my breath when I saw the numbers.

194.6 lbs!!

I just wanted to cry right there in front of the WW meeting leader. How the HELL did I allow myself to get this big?! I was devastated, angry, and humiliated at the same time.

It was that moment where I determined myself to make a positive change in my life. I was never going to allow myself to get that big ever again.

And I did. By January 2003, I was able to lose a total 50 lbs. while on WW. During the process, I made some major life changes as well that were very difficult to go through.  I was able to gain emotional and psychological strength during the process.

I had another major life change that became a turning point in my life. In May 2005, I lost my father after his 9-month battle with leukemia after he developed complications to the disease. I had to find a way to deal with his loss and do something positive at the same time. I ended up going with Team in Training and completed my first marathon in January 2006. It was not pretty, but I FINISHED. I ended up walk/running the marathon instead of running it.

This experience ended up being not the first experience with Team in Training. I started running again in March 2006 and was determined to get faster. I ended up working on my base training while running some really run races during the summer of 2006. I found out that I was slowly getting faster and faster. In fact, I found that when I re-joined my Team in Training colleagues that I could run with them without struggling. I ended up completing my first HM in January 2007 with the remnants of a major ankle sprain that I suffered at a 5 mile trail race that took place at an apple orchard (and vow NEVER do again!)

Unfortunately, the weight didn’t always stay off. I found myself over the years gaining and losing weight - roughly 10-15 lbs. of it. Most of the time I gained the weight when I was placed on activity restrictions after a running injury and turned to another evil vice – FOOD! I can publicly admit that I LOVE sweets. Plus I am at times an emotional eater and eat when I upset.

This ended when I started to take full control of my diet and exercise after dealing with TWO – not one – knee surgeries about four months apart in 2011. I was completely frustrated that I could not do much in terms of exercise. I felt that I was so limited. I was mentally stuck and going completely batty. So I decided to start work on my upper body strength and toning while I was still waiting for my legs and lower body to be cleared for vigorous.

During the process, my husband and I switched gyms to Fitness Formula Clubs where they had the ActivTrax system.  It was the BEST decision that we made. The system has helped me to challenge myself more and I have seen the results of my hard work pay off. I am starting to see muscle tone in places that I never thought I would see it. I also have been working with my husband to clean up our diets and remove 95% processed foods.

I am currently a running coach with Team in Training – a charity organization that’s still true to my heart. I love working all of the runners seeing everyone being able to complete their races. I am also finishing up my Master’s degree in Sport Psychology this June.

That’s my story.

NEXT TIME: Part 2 – The lessons that I have learned from my personal experience.

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    Greetings, Chicago Suburbanites! Welcome to Active Suburbia! My name is Denise, but I am known as Firefly, Red, and "Hey there". I will be your tour guide to everything active within the Chicago suburbs. In this blog, I will be your guide to places within the Chicagoland Suburbs that will help lead a more active lifestyle and a lot of fun too. In fact, studies have shown that reading this blog will bring a smile on your face, a spring in your step, and burn those last nasty 5 lbs that you can't get off. (Ok, everything's true except for the last one that hasn't been proved.....YET, but I am determined to make it true.) Here's a short introduction about myself: I am a very active person. You can say that I have endurance, determination, grit, and hard work in my bones. I enjoy running and cycling. I have completed a couple of marathons, half-marathons, 5K's, etc in my running career. I also enjoy trying most things active and willing to explore if I have to. I enjoy checking out the trails near me and doing a lot of running. I also completed my 1st Century ride last September and loved every minute of it. I am also a suburbanite living in the awesome suburb of Berwyn. I am a suburban girl at heart and love every minute of it. I originally grew up in the frozen tundra of the Twin Cities. I am also a die-hard sports fan and enjoy the competitive nature of it. I love baseball, college and professional football, and even hockey. I love cheering for my Twins, Vikings, Golden Gophers, and Avalanche (LONG story - trust me!). I am always interested in finding more fun places within the Chicago suburbs. If you know of a gem, shoot me an e-mail at activesuburbia@gmail.com. You can also follow me on Twitter too.

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