As a kid in a tiny town in Northern Illinois, I did a lot of running and bicycling because all of my friends from school were several miles away. Where I lived was considered the “boonies” so, to visit my friends, I’d hop on my bike and ride into town (about 5-7 miles, but it felt like 20+) and back, or I’d run and make my Mom pick me up from Grandma and Grandpa’s house. I was also active in school sports, namely basketball. I don’t know how many of you are familiar with basketball, but there’s a lot of sprinting that goes into the game, along with the dribbling and shooting of hoops!
Unfortunately, I was one of those kids that was easily influenced by others and by the time I was 18, I’d taken up the awful habit of smoking. It started out as it usually does; one here, another there as I was hanging out with my friends. Then eventually it developed into a habit. A nasty habit that I was not proud of and tried to break myself of at least a dozen times. Along with the smoking came the lack of willingness to do other physical activities, like running. By the time I was a Junior in college, I was smoking a pack-a-day and not really doing anything in terms of physical activity other than walking to and from classes, daily routine stuff, and working my full-time job.
Fast-forward to 2008. My long-time boyfriend (still happily un-married; another blog post at a future time) and I moved to the Eastern Shore of Virginia from Southern California. We went from the Mojave Desert to the beautiful green, surrounded-by-water Eastern Shore. It was like I belonged here! It reminded me of my childhood home in Northern Illinois; a small farming community where the majority of the people are very friendly and sociable, only this place is warmer and surrounded by salt-water as opposed to fresh-water. This new environment made me want to get out and explore! But I was so out of shape; I wasn’t overweight, I was just not very physically fit and was unmotivated. Cue the motivation.
In order to get my diet and nutrition on track, I signed up for Weight Watchers. I had a few pounds I could stand to lose, but I really wanted to learn how to 1) eat right and 2) control my portions. No matter what your opinions may be about Weight Watchers, it was great for me. It was step one to gaining control of my health. Not only did Weight Watchers teach me how to control what I eat, but the meetings and the other members were very supportive and helped provide me with the much-needed motivation I was looking for.
During the time I spent at Weight Watchers, I also started getting active again by walking. We live 1 mile from the water, so I’d leash up the dogs and we’d head down to the end of our neck and enjoy the beautiful view. The dogs could run off-leash and explore the shore so they were having a great time! I eventually started incorporating short bouts of running into my walks; I’d walk for 5 minutes then run for 30 seconds to a minute, and walk some more. I would often get short of breath because of the smoking. Stupid cigarettes. I wish I’d never started because quitting smoking is not easy!…
After numerous unsuccessful attempts at quitting smoking, I was finally successful in 2011! With the help of running and an electronic cigarette by blu, I was able to curb the addiction and then the habit. The more I ran, the more I wanted to run; the less I smoked, the more I was able to run. So, running kind of saved my life in a sense. And I’ve been keeping up with it ever since. I literally love to run.