The journey has begun…

5 04 2010


Let me introduce myself. My name is Emily and I’m from the north shore of Massachusetts. I am an aspiring therapist and wellness enthusiast. I am in my first year of graduate school in a Counseling Psychology program and with semi-concentration in Holistic Counseling. While pursing my Master’s degree, I have also begun pursing a better sense of balance in my life. The previous four years of my life were spent as a undergrad in Boston, balancing a multitude of things including class, friends, working as Resident Assistant, interning, family, relationships, etc, etc, etc. These years took me on a roller coaster of my physical and mental wellness as well as discovering myself and my place in this world.

As you can guess from the title of this post, I am far from complete with this journey but I am aiming at enjoying every bit of the ride from here on in. The last two and a half years of my life I have learned how to work out and get my body in shape. It was difficult because I had always been an athlete and being on team sports had kept me fit and active. The first 2 1/2 years of undergrad I was lost and didn’t have an understanding how to work out or eat well. December of my junior year something finally clicked. It actually occurred after my first spinning class, the day after Christmas, with my mom. I looked in the mirror and was disappointed with what I saw, the “freshman 15” had gotten to me, and then some. But what was more motivational, was the post-workout high that I felt. Spinning made me feel alive, I had reconnected with my body and reminded of how strong is could be.

This feeling convinced me to sign up for a bi-weekly spin class at gym back at school. The class was invigorating and gave the me the push I needed to begin exercising regularly. There was also an announcement on campus about a yoga class, happening 2 mornings a week. I thought it sounded like something I would enjoy and decided to give it a go. So there it was, spinning and yoga twice a week, the fitness had begun! I was feeling good and soon noticing a little difference in the fit of my clothes (read: looser, roomier!) just in time for my spring break/course trip to Rome! I credit this trip for a great deal of the growth during this year in my life. Just signing up for the course and getting on the plane were huge steps for me in terms of my fears and anxiety. I’m a nervous flier and an even more nervous traveler; a part of myself that I find frustrating but also not defining characteristics. The trip did not come without its moments of nervousness, but it expanded my comfort zone and my idea of what I am capable of. The trip was a religious course on Religious Traditions of Rome, connecting me with the roots of the Roman Catholic faith that I have been raised in. Fit-wise, despite the daily sorbetto stops (did I mention that I am lactose-intolerant, yup, dairy free!) and pasta, I came home having lost a few more pounds. Walking countless miles around Rome made me appreciate being outdoors and my body’s ability to get me place I need to go!

The summer following this year of school I signed up for the gym and made spinning  classes my new best friend. I probably hit the gym 5 times a week and finally got past the need to have a buddy to make my workout happen. I was my own motivator and I loved it. By the end of the summer I starting to get in shape and finally seeing the light at the end of my freshman 15 tunnel. I had begun to see real changes, and not just on the scale but in other aspects of my life, too. My confidence level went WAYYY up! I had been someone of a shy person up until this point. Although I am extremely social with those that I know and am familiar with, I didn’t always put myself out there with new people before this point in my life. Something had changed though, and people were beginning to notice. I met my current boyfriend, Eric, this summer (although I had “known” him from work for almost a year), and I believe this confidence had some role in that.

As the fall approached and I faced my return to college life for one more year (school cafeteria, late night eating/drinking, separation from Eric) I found myself in a panic. How would I continue eating healthy and working out in that environment? I turned to my mom, admitting my fears and nervousness. She calmed my fears, explaining that the hard work I put in was proof that I could keep it up no matter what. I trusted her judgement and hoped I would continue to see results at school. To give myself a little help and assurance battling the college cafe, I enrolled in Weight Watchers online; a way to track and keep up with what I was eating.

As I said before, the year was a roller coaster. Being overly scheduled an perpetually busy I found myself obsessing with getting in my exercise and eating well. I found myself going to bed between 12-1:30 and up at 6:15 to hit the gym before class. I was obsessing about what I ate and scared to death of gaining weight. Not surprisingly, it got to be at an unhealthy point. I developed a bad relationship with the scale and an even worse one with food. I was  at the lowest weight I’d been at since before I can remember. Although I was “in shape” running 4 miles of intervals a day and lifting weights, I was by no means physically or mentally healthy.

After graduating and moving home I slowly gained back my sense of self. I stopped running incesantly and started to enjoy life a little more. I rediscovered my love of bike riding outdoors, without the crazy spin instructor and resistance knob. I let go of my crazy eating habits and regained a love of good, healthy goods; no measuring or calorie counting necessary.

At this point now I am trying to, like I said, find a balance. I still have my days where I worry about how I look or what I eat but I am not nearly where I was a year ago. I have gained about ten pounds since last year and I tell myself every day that I love my body no matter what.

My goal now is to do the thing I enjoy that keep me both healthy and happy. That means things like taking a long bike ride today, beginning a regular yoga practice, and taking walks on nice day with good friends or family. I am also trying to eat things that are more natural and less processed. I focus on having fruits and vegetables as the mainstay of each meal, as well as whole grains. I am finally easing up enough to allow fat back into my diet, I am in love with almond butter, avacado, and salmon 🙂 I am also trying to find that blissful connect between mind and body, this means reading and learning more about mindfulness, reiki, yoga, and meditation. I truly believe that most of the health problems we face are preventable through a wellness oriented lifestyle. I believe that this journey to my own wellness will be endlessly helpful when I begin working as a therapist some day (soon!).

Until then I am on this journey, and loving every moment including all of the bumps in the road. Life is meant to be lived and I plan on doing just that!




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