Prelude: Journey To Living My Best Life
December 19, 2023

Hey there, lovely people!

Today, I want to take you on a little journey through my life, the ups, the downs, and the winding path that led me to where I am today. So, let's rewind the clock and dive right in.

For most of my life, body image wasn't something I struggled with. But if we backtrack to those wild high school years, you'd find a younger version of me battling some serious self-esteem demons. I was on the smaller side, no curves, no boobs – basically, I felt like I didn't fit in. I desperately wanted to belong, and self-love wasn't exactly my strong suit back then. Oh, and let's just say I wasn't exactly an angel when it came to the party lifestyle.

Thankfully, I had the world's most wonderful parents, friends with equally caring parents, and some rock-solid friendships to help steer me through those turbulent times. While my relationship with God wasn't a central part of my life at that point, I always knew He was there, loving me unconditionally.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, I believe it's essential to understand where I'm coming from and what has shaped me into the person I am today. Fast forward to college – cue the infamous "freshman 15." I was living the carefree life, indulging in all things college and not exactly winning any "Student of the Year" awards. College felt like a blur of downtown nightlife and still not quite loving myself. Those four years whizzed by, and I found myself at a crossroads. I was in a relationship and moved to Athens. I had to dive headfirst into adulting, not really knowing what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Finding my way wasn't a walk in the park!

At this point, I still hadn't given much thought to my overall fitness, and those stubborn 15 pounds from college decided to stick around. I kept enjoying life's little indulgences. I would go on walks with my roomates and occasionally play tennis with some friends, but nothing consistent.

Let's jump to 2011, the year I found my incredible husband, who loves me unconditionally. A year later, we welcomed our beautiful daughter into the world. Around this time, I began walking almost daily with my husband or friends, and I couldn't help but notice how much better I felt with some exercise in my routine.

As a family, we started looking for a church to call home. I felt a tug towards the church – a desire to get my daughter involved so she could build a strong faith foundation, just like I had as a kid. I am so thankful for my Memomma, taking us to church every Sunday. Those Sunday school lessons had clearly left a mark, and I wanted Jesus to be at the heart of our home.

Exercise remained mostly limited to walking until 2014 when our son came into our lives. I vividly remember sitting at home one day, feeling fed up with my current state. I thought, "Enough is enough!" So, I bought some Jillian Michaels workout DVDs, and from that moment, I was hooked. I admired her hardcore, badass approach to fitness. That 30 minutes or hour of exercise became my daily highlight, fitting it in whenever I could around the kids' schedules.

We had found our church home, and on those wonderful Wednesday nights, I'd pop the kids into choir or a playgroup and go for a walk with a friend. It was a breath of fresh air!

Somewhere along the way, my friend Emily invited me to the YMCA. I decided to give it a shot and instantly fell in love with the group fitness classes. The instructors were a blast, the time spent with my friends was priceless, and the childcare they provided was a game-changer for this mama. After some prayer and a little financial reshuffling, we became proud members of the YMCA!

The YMCA opened up a new world for me. I made amazing new friends and found myself there for as long as humanly possible. I felt great, like a true baddie! When the Fitness Director approached me about getting certified to teach classes, I wasn’t sure I would be good at it. But with encouraging family and friends by my side – I became a group fitness instructor at the YMCA! I ended up teaching spin classes and a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) class. All that teaching and playing with the kids helped me tone up and feel fantastic. It was like I'd found my calling, and it was invigorating!

Now, here's the kicker – it took me until the ripe age of 30 to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. But as they say, everything happens in God's time. I just had to listen and follow my heart, and I'm eternally grateful that I did.

Soon enough, I took on a job at another large gym in town. Some days, I'd be teaching for over two hours, and I was on cloud nine. Life was good, I was in the best shape of my life (so I thought) and felt on top of the world, then, well, you guessed it – COVID hit.

And that's where my story takes a pause. But fear not, the rest of the story is already posted! So, go check out blogs 1-3 for more adventures, life lessons, and maybe a few laughs along the way. After all, life's journey is all about the ups, the downs, and everything in between. 💪😊🌟