Nicole Finds her WHY
“Why?” [cue scrunched up face]
I am asked this question every single time I tell people the time of day I work out. Shout out to my 5:30 am sunrise squad! I am asked so often, that I started to have a negative association with the word in my head. It sparked opposition in me. I was tired of people asking me “why”! Do I really have to explain and defend my commitment. Why? Well, you know what? WHY THE HELL NOT?
One year ago my father passed away after four years battling cancer. This was a massive turning point. Before his death, I had an understanding of freedom as making whatever choices I wanted whenever I wanted. If I wanted extra pasta, I was eating extra pasta! I refused to be tied down to a diet. I chafed at being “that girl”, obsessed with the way her body looked. I was smart, confident and good at my job. Through the years, it had become a badge of honor of sorts, to “not care” about my body size or the lack of effort I put into it.
I was smart, confident and good at my job. I did important work everyday. I mean, I was keeping people alive, how could what I ate stack up to that? Then dad got sick. And I had even more of a reason. “Of course I can eat that, I’m sad. Dad is still sick, even if I eat that”. And of course, “why go exercise when it wont make a difference anyway?” Of course – these thoughts aren’t conscious. They’re subtle and they are sinister. They feel like bars on the windows. I may have thought this was freedom, but it was jail.
One of the trademarks of my family is yearly trips to Europe. Last year, dad passed in March & my brother and I took our family trip on our own to Spain in May. You will see there was not an immediate SHiFT for me. The same way those small negative and unhealthy thoughts slowly grew into action, so did the small motivating ones. The ones that said “who the hell are you to waste this life?” or “dad would kill to be doing what you’re doing right now”. I remember the moment I sat staring at the ocean in Barcelona and said to myself “we are f%@ng done with this.”
Something you should know, when I decide something, I tend to go all in. While this had led to some impulsive decisions, in the case of my health, it was crucial. I spent the entire flight home thinking about what to do, where to start. I got home, got out my running shoes and ran to the end of the block. I knew thats all I was going to be able to do so I set no further expectations. Then i made a commitment to myself at the end of that block. Every single day, 6am alarm, run to the end of the block. NO MATTER WHAT. Heat, rain, headache, hangover. every. single. day. I knew for myself it was the only way. I had to be all in or it was not going to happen. A few months after I started running I joined the yoga studio I had walked by every day on the way to work. And i committed myself again ; 3 yoga classes a week at least, no matter what. The commitments continued.
And then SHiFT enters my story. Once commitment was fostered. . .Once I started seeing results. . .Once I had pride in myself . . . Once I stopped spending hours on the website debating whether to try a free class; unsure if i had the athletic ability. Once i finally said to myself “why the hell not “ and went to class. . .SHiFT became a big part of the WHY I am still connected to this path.
Throughout this journey, I started posting pictures from my runs on social media. Mostly, as a way to stay accountable that I was actually going out and doing it. I had no desire to share the reasons that led me to start. Then, along this last year I kept interacting with people who said they were affected by what i was doing, by what i’d done, by what i was saying online. Signs kept coming and another small motivating thought was growing. I had been afraid. afraid to tell people my story. Afraid by exposing my truths, it didn’t leave room for struggling in the future.
And then one day when someone asked me WHY, I SHiFTed my relationship to that word. In the mere seconds it took for me to have the conversation, I knew this was my next moment to recommit, to go all in, to share the whole story. Why? Well, you know what? WHY THE HELL NOT?
written with SHiFT Blogger Emily Webster