Becoming an athlete.

I’ve been heavier. Thinner. In shape. Out of shape.

I’ve lost and gained weight. I’ve looked “great” and I’ve looked “unhealthy.” I’ve been a runner and ridden long distances on bikes. I’ve been a regular swimmer, hiker, tennis player and even completed a triathlon. But I’ve spent most of my life on the heavy side enamored with a life of no restrictions.

Diets and exercise routines don’t generally stick. Tell me I can’t have something and I am going to have two, just to prove to you I can. It’s sophomoric, but I’ve never pretended to be perfect and if you know me you know I wear my heart on my sleeve. But I’m also *always* trying to be better and trying to learn more about myself and what works for me.  

This summer I had a conversation with my dear friend Ileana about a fitness routine I was trying to kick off. I was doing an okay job walking, but I wasn’t able to stay motivated or keep things going. It seemed like my goal of running again was a long way away. I was frustrated. “You just have to find something you love that doesn’t feel like exercise,” she said.

It’s such an obvious statement. One I’ve heard many times before. But at that moment I actually heard, understood and was inspired by what she said.

So began my quest to figure out something I could do that I loved.

If you’ve ever been to the beach, the lake or the pool with me, you know that I LOVE WATER. I get in and I don’t get out. I love floating, bouncing around in waves and feeling weightless. Swimming hasn’t worked for me as a year-round hobby because I hate putting on a bathing suit in the winter. Is that a lame way to think? Yes, but as we’ve already established exercise hasn’t been my go to activity and putting on a bathing suit and getting wet when it is 30 degrees outside just doesn’t sound all that fun.

Then it hit me. I don’t have to be IN the water. I can be ON TOP OF IT. I could get all the benefits of the water without getting wet.

I decided this would be something I would try. Some friends came to visit for Labor Day and we had an extremely memorable day on the lake. With a lot of encouragement from those friends and the added pressure of announcing I was going to try water sports, I HAD to give it a go.

Ariel went kayaking with me the first time. While trying it out Toni, the person I was renting the kayak from, suggested I try paddle boarding. I fell off immediately, but was hooked.

So, I’ve done it. I’ve become a kayaker and a paddle boarder. I’m not on a diet or trying to exercise regularly, instead, I’m becoming an athlete. The good food and extra activity I’m doing is helping me become an athlete. I love it. And I post a lot of pictures on my Instagram account because the lake is just so damn beautiful. And serene. And close to my house. And I’ve made a great friend, Toni, who goes out with me any time I want to go. 

I. Love. It.

And since I’ve been at it, I’ve learned something so profound I made a graphic to remind me of the lesson I learned.

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PS, here are a few pictures from our kayak trip to the Butler Bridge today. (Click the images to see the slideshow.)

P.S. To participate in these hobbies in the winter I bought a wetsuit

P.P.S. And as a bonus, here are some photos of me as a kid going crazy in the water.