“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” – Fred DeVito
Everyone’s body has a story. Written in scars, weight fluctuations, the tan glow in their skin, and so on. I think of our bodies like a front door – and as the saying goes, you don’t always know what happens behind closed doors.
Today, I decided to lay it all out there, be completely, 100% vulnerable with you and tell you why I got to where I am today and how. I am by no means perfect, I enjoy treat-yourself moments once and a while, and I am definitely still learning what foods my body best responds to. What that said, I hope you find my story relatable.
Growing up, I was never an “athlete” in the traditional, competitive sense, I was a dancer. I was a dancer who loved to dance with tons of passion and energy, so jazz and tap were my forte. Ballet, on the other hand, left me staring at myself in the mirror, fidgeting with the discomfort of tights digging into my baby fat. We all had that awkward 10-11 year old chubby year, right? Anyways, I was always hard on myself for not wanting to participate in soccer at recess, because I always felt like I would embarrass myself. I was much more comfortable on the stage.
In middle school and high school, I joined the cheerleading team. It was always sort of a dream of mine to be a football cheerleader, and it suited my bubbly, spirited attitude to a T. Within three months of practicing this sport, is when my first injury happened. First EVER, mind you. Our team would travel to gymnastics once a week, and each week I saw several teammates get closer and closer to the coveted back handspring. One particular week, I felt really lousy, and was hesitant to even go to tumbling practice. I sucked it up, I went, and I collapsed. I apologize if that sounds over dramatic, but sadly, that’s exactly what happened. I attempted a round-off back handspring with minimal support and even less confidence, and in a blink, my knee popped. Never needing surgery as it popped back into place, I limped with a swollen knee for months within the ceramic hallways of my high school. I opted out of dance, cheerleading, and needed another outlet. I started eating less healthy and becoming less active, felt the need to nap more regularly, and I wasn’t happy. This was probably the first true moment in my life that I understood what being unhealthy felt like.
Despite physical therapy, this injury happened again. I still hear the pop sound whenever I try to do any sort of adventurous gym-time activity (i.e. box jumps) or fling myself upside down (like handstands in yoga). I have an unfortunate fear of lack of control in my body that I can’t seem to shake as my knee pain tends to flare up every once and a while.
In college I hit what I used to call my “peak” of wellness. I made great friends, who became great influences on my health. I say health lightly here, as we managed to workout just as often as we went out (Balance is even more important in college, right? 😉 ) With milestones like spring break in our schedule, I had set goals for myself. Looking back on that chapter, I never went to any extremes, and based on my knowledge, practiced a diet and exercise that made sense. Over the summer, I had a trainer, so I knew what type of strength training I should incorporate. However, upon entering the fratty and sometimes smelly gym, it was rare that any females went into the bottommost level to lift weights; we were happiest doing cardio and abs. In terms of diet, I still enjoyed my cereal in the morning, but other than that I cut out most carbs (which at this point I just thought was rice, bread, etc.). Additionally, I would eat fairly light lunches. I would head to the local salad bar (I didn’t have a kitchen at this point, I was still in dorms) or eat a protein meal replacement bar + fruit for lunch. Looking back at the 20 year old version of myself, there is so much I wish I could teach her.
In my upperclassmen years of college, I experienced the best semester abroad in Florence, Italy. My friends and I would joke, if you don’t gain weight, you didn’t do it right. Funny enough, I would try to order the best choices on the menu, yet arrived back to America with both a heavier suitcase and physique (+8 lbs.). We somehow managed to find Skippy in Europe, so my excess drinking and spoonfuls of PB probably did the trick. No regrets, though.
Graduating college is always an obstacle in itself. The real world hits everyone VERY hard, but luckily, I had a mama for my first few adult months. This limited what otherwise would have been depressing binges. I was extremely unhappy during this adjustment period, but found yoga as my vice. Two years later, yoga continues to be my favorite medicine for stress and anxiety.
Moving to Chicago, and then eventually moving in with my boyfriend, resulted in a new level of comfort. I was happy, but I quickly became too comfortable. I would get home from work, see him on the couch, and didn’t want to work out. We would go to the movies all of the time, and I would load up on twizzlers and gummies (my weakness, in case you weren’t aware). Sometimes, these movie dates were after already-indulgent dinners. I was never truly unhappy with my body, but I was unhappy with how much it fluctuated. I felt like I may look good one morning, and completely bloated the next, which left me both confused and insecure. I KNEW I could improve myself, because I had been there before (see college “ideal” body above). I found that I needed to experience a bit of discomfort to make a change; this relates to both my personal life and my in-gym life. In other words, to see change, I had to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Instead of hopping on the elliptical for a half hour in the morning, I began to research some toning workouts. As I was already fairly familiar, it didn’t take long for me to stumble upon Tone It Up. After further research, I found my friend Alex, who I legitimately had to do a double take for. She looked AMAZING. Happy, glowing, toned, all of it. I was completely inspired by her journey. Shout out to you, @Fitlicity ;).
It wasn’t until I took my “before pictures” that I realized how badly it had gotten. Truly, I let myself go from just LIVING. I will never regret movie dates with my boyfriend, or celebrating the Cubs world series for a full week straight, but I wish I knew how to balance it all a bit better. I started familiarizing myself with the Tone It Up program. I wasn’t a nutrition plan member yet, but rather started with the workouts first. Logging into their daily workout page was the first thing I would do in the morning. I didn’t have all of the videos, or all of the equipment yet, but I did what I could, and I saw progress!
Welcome, @Morg_movesTIU. I joined Tone It Up with one goal: To literally, tone it up. I hesitantly joined Instagram, putting myself and my progress out into the ether for the world to judge. This hands down, turned into one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Naive and afraid that anyone I knew would somehow find this second account of mine, I kept my posts very minimal at first. I would login in the morning to see some of my favorite early risers grinding in the gym at 5AM, some even earlier. THAT instantly got me out of bed. On weekends, I wasn’t completely ready to give up my fun date nights quite yet. I still enjoyed some Sushi nights, but overall started to make better choices while dining out naturally (see previous post here).
The evolution of pushing myself into the uncomfortable unknown continued as I reached a moment of complete self-actualization. If I am so passionate about this, why am I not combining my passions of both writing and fitness in a blog? And so, Bun Undone was born. I aspired to be the relatable voice in the community, and while I was no expert, I aspired to gain much more knowledge along the way (via pop culture, books, and truly just exposure on social media). As I learned about sugar, new product innovations, and the idea of listening to your body intuitively, my strength simultaneously progressed with my mind. Similarly, with my new-found self awareness, I grew confidence.
We all have an idea of “health” in our heads that holds us back. We set standards for ourselves and focus on the past rather than projecting ourselves forward. As we age and adapt to life changes, our bodies must adapt too. It’s important to remember these simple truths as we set goals for ourselves. Rather than setting a goal like “I want my spring break body back,” I will say “nail that headstand” “obtain an unassisted pistol squat” or “start lifting with 12 lb. weights” for example. These goals are tangible, forward-thinking, and realistic, yet they push you into an uncomfortable zone.
Find your discomfort, as I am sure it will be different than mine. Along the way, you will learn so much more than you bargained for about your body and what it is capable of. By simply understanding yourself holistically, and seeing passed that scale, mirror, or Facebook picture, you will be a much healthier human, and your body will reflect that change as well. You are at the pinnacle of your very own body story, and only you can determine what the future looks like.
Thank you so much, Tone It Up, for providing me the tools to become my healthiest, happiest self. Transformations are so much more than external, and I look forward to continuing to write my story.