Hi! I’m Sara, and I’m on a journey. You might be on one too. Congratulations! I can’t wait to see where I end up, but here’s where I began…
I was an active kid, but aside from a couple of years of ballet lessons, I was never athletic. I stayed thin and willowy because I was born that way, and I moved constantly. Sometime in middle school, the weight just started to creep on. By the 8th grade, poor eating habits and way too much time in front of the television had left me truly overweight. I was miserable and uncomfortable, but didn’t really have any idea what to do about it. Then, one clear morning in early 1996, my father – then in his 40s – had a heart attack. He made a full recovery, but our family changed in that moment. With the help of a hospital dietitian, our family meals lightened up and we got active, taking long daily walks together. By the time I started high school, I was short and curvy, but no longer extremely heavy.
In high school and college, I became much more active. I performed in musical theater, and seemed to get a little slimmer and stronger with every dance rehearsal. But strange hours, takeout food, and stress caused me to pack on a lot more weight than I’d have liked in my early 20s. After a bad breakup, I joined a gym, got to know the trainer, and got serious about becoming healthy.
I managed to lose about 30 pounds and boost my energy in a way I hadn’t enjoyed in years. I felt great…so I stopped. Done, right? We’ve all done it. Oops. Slowly but surely, the weight returned, and this time it brought friends.
Time marched on. I worked two or three jobs, maintained multiple internships, had an active social life, traveled, moved, dated, got married…Whew! You know what I didn’t do? Exercise. Ever. I could probably count the number of workouts I completed in those years on one hand. I had a lot of fun, but I was back to feeling sluggish, unhealthy, and just plain sick.
Then, I had my own scary turning point. One Saturday night in January of 2010, my now-husband took me to dinner with some friends at a local gastropub. The meal was amazing. I remember it because it was the very last time that I ate a hamburger. Red meat, pork, dairy, fried food, ice cream – really anything fatty – had always made me feel a little sick. That cold January night, after a good meal and a good pint, I lay on the bathroom floor of our apartment thinking that I just might die. I had all of the symptoms of a violent flu, but much scarier than any flu I’d ever experienced. We nearly called 911 several times.
On Monday, I contacted our doctor, who sent me for more tests than I’d ever thought possible. Eventually, I was diagnosed with what is best described as a food allergy or sensitivity to the things I’ve mentioned and more. Now it was my turn to meet with a dietitian to learn how to live with my new limitations. Along with some solid advice on what I should and shouldn’t consume, she advised me to get moving. For a while, I did. I worked on learning to cook real food, I took weekly yoga classes and started to learn how to run safely and effectively. I started to regain my confidence and some of the precious energy I’d lost to all the years of long work hours, late nights of studying, and ill-advised dietary choices.
I was feeling pretty good about myself and the changes I’d made in my life in the spring of 2011 when I discovered that I was pregnant with my first baby. You can read that story here. The quick version is that I was ill and lethargic for most of the 36 weeks before my daughter was born on a beautiful day in March of 2012. A caesarian section and new motherhood left me feeling more tired than I’d ever imagined. Exercise became a thing of the past.
When my daughter was five months old, I returned to work, and we were back to being a family running on Chinese food, late nights, and caffeine. We moved several times, my job changed and my hours became more sporadic. In the spring of 2013, we made a family decision that I would stay home and raise our daughter for the foreseeable future. That huge choice to change our lives also became a massive step toward taking control of my health.
It took me a while to get the hang of being a stay at home mother. I was used to having somewhere to be every moment of every day. Now, I had to be there for my daughter. What did I want her to see when she looked at Mommy? Tired? Angry? Anxious? Unhealthy? Or healthy. Happy. Fun. I returned to cooking daily, and further educated myself of healthful cooking. I began to make a conscious effort to get moving, and reconnected with some old friends who had become parents as well, and made some new ones. I teamed up with a couple of like-minded ladies and began taking long walks that eventually turned into jogs at a local park. As long as I was engaged in conversation, I was perfectly happy to be out exercising no matter how sluggish I felt. Things were looking up, and they were about to get even better.
My real, “forever” journey began on a dirt path next to a lake in the spring of 2014. My lifelong friend, and now trainer and mentor, Katy Brown, had just move home from Japan and wanted to meet up to workout on Saturday mornings. I assumed from past experience that “workout” was code for “leave the kids with the husbands and go for coffee.” That sounded like an excellent use of our time! Upon arriving that first morning, I realized exactly how mistaken I’d been. We worked. We sweated. I accused her of trying to kill me. Slowly but surely, week by week, it got easier, or rather, I got stronger. As before, I tried never to cancel because the accountability to another person weighed heavily on me in the most positive way. It was like I was back to work. Every Saturday morning at 8am sharp, there we were.
And then there were more of us. Katy launched Crazy Fit Mama. We became a solid group with a shared purpose and a connection. Right about the time that I was truly getting my sneakers under me, I found out that I was pregnant for the second time. Again, you can read that story here. All you need to know is that the second time around went MUCH more smoothly. Why? Because I was fit, dedicated, and supported. Other than the “usual” discomfort, I breezed thought pregnancy #2 with good, clean food, safe and consistent workouts, and a sense of purpose. I needed, and still need, to be the mom that my kids deserve, and this time I knew how to make that happen. By the time my son was born in February of 2015, I was ready to get back to the task at hand.
Fast forward almost a year. I’m still a Crazy Fit Mama. I’m just way more fit. (Okay, probably a little more crazy too.) The support I’ve had from Katy, my family, friends, and workout partners has led me to make the choice to dedicate my personal and professional life to fitness; mine and yours. In January 2016, I officially because an ACE Certified Group Fitness Instructor. I also became a contributing writer to this website. As I learn and grow in my new profession and challenge myself physically and mentally, you’ll be hearing from me more often. As I said at the start, I’m on a journey. I can’t say where it’s going to lead, but I know that along the way, I hope to be an example for my children, friends, students, and community. Are you on a journey too? Let’s do this together.