... my journey from ballerina to triathlete

Friday, March 15, 2013

Swimming Through the Tides of Change

In my years of working out, there has been one thing that has been my most consistent kryptonite: change.

The first time I dropped 20 lbs
Although I am hesitant to admit it, I tend to go through ups and downs in my exercise consistency. I can easily name the periods in my life when I was in optimal shape -- the spring and summer of my sophomore year of college, the winter and spring of my senior year of college, early 2010, summer of 2012 and, happily, now. In between, my fitness level has ranged from casually in shape to tragically pathetic.

I blame this partially on my eating habits growing up. We didn't eat junk food, but we didn't eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables either. Meals usually consisted of a lot of starchy foods and a meager veggie side, some of which, like corn, also count as a starch according to the eating methodology I learned when I decided I wanted to change my physique. Instead of gaining the infamous "freshman 15," I lost it. Deciding that I wanted to chase my goal of being a ballerina, (something that had never come to fruition before, largely because of my body type) motivated me to go the extra mile and get down to my lowest weight ever. I did this not by starving myself but by eating an extremely balanced diet and spending 2 hours per day at the gym in addition to my ballet schedule.

Back at 135 lbs
When I ended up back in school, my hectic schedule and free for all of a diet landed me back at about 135 pounds, a little heavy on my 5'4" frame.  This cycle repeated itself a few more times -- getting into great shape, trimming down, then dealing with some sort of change (sometimes a schedule change, oftentimes a move) and falling off the wagon, every year or so. At my bottom weight, I feel strong and energetic while at my top weight I feel lethargic and tired. I can only go so long before I realize I need to check myself. My workouts and eating habits followed an all-or-nothing pattern, and so I yo-yo'd, back and forth, back and forth.

So how does this all relate to my triathlon training?

I am about to make a major move. It is odd to think that I am moving across ocean but not changing states, but such is the case in Hawaii. I have gotten so comfortable with my training here: my 3.5 mile 35 minute runs from my house to Kapiolani park, my 9-12 mile rides through Kahala and up and over Diamond Head, and my swims at Ala Moana Park down four buoys and back. I am in a rhythm, in a pattern -- one that is about to be upset as I pack up my belongings and send them across the sea yet again, and I find myself worrying that as has become my tendency, I will allow the change to derail the progress I have made.

Will I be able to fit in my workouts while shipping my belongings, my cat, and my car? How difficult will it be to find new running and biking routes that make sense with my new location and cover the minutes outlined in my training plan? Where does one do ocean swim workouts on the Big Island? Am I going to get swept away by huge waves trying to swim in unprotected waters? I will be continuing my work as a copy editor and contributing writer, but without my colleagues at Hawaii Sport Magazine surrounding me will my running motivation stay strong?

My nervousness is mostly caused by knowledge of my past. I have been working on dismantling my all-or-nothing philosophy and replacing it with one based on the some-is-better-than-none concept with moderate success, but I know that it will take a new kind of focus and dedication to truly leave my former pattern behind.

As I sifted through these thoughts today, questioning myself, my strength, my knowledge, and practical questions like workout location near my new home, I brewed myself a cup of tea. As I brought the steaming cup to my lips, my eyes settled on the Yogi Tea message attached to the teabag.

And then I realized ...
I am stronger now. I am a constantly evolving person, and I now know enough about myself to know that I can figure out how to do this. I am moving to a beautiful place surrounded by nature with a view of the ocean where I know I will grow and continue to learn about how much my mind and body can strengthen, grow, and improve. I am in touch with my body, and I know that if I cannot complete an entire long workout, I have the willpower to do whatever I can as best I can. As long as I face this change with confidence, excitement, and strength, my plans will never be derailed -- I can only grow.

Me now - fit, full of energy, and HAPPY!

I look forward to my new surroundings, a new and beautiful place to train, and a new and vibrant group of athletes from whom I have much to learn. Time to start swimming!

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