A Change of Pace

by: Kelly Leighton
July 8, 2011

"At the gym"

It was the summer before junior year, and per usual, I was sitting at my computer on AIM (remember that?), IMing my friends and reading people's away messages. I was stalking my college crush and this was his status.

Great, I thought, he's going to come back all ripped and I'm still going to be Fatty McFatterson in old band t-shirts.

I was overweight and I was lazy. Sure, I was on swim teams, but that was motivated mainly by social aspects. I showed up to practice, and I went through the motions to get it done. While I was good enough to swim for my university, I certainly wasn't winning any races.

When I came home for summer break that year, my weight gain was evident. The freshman 15, in addition to being sidelined for most of the swimming season with a shoulder injury my sophomore year, had added about 25 pounds to my already stocky 5'4" frame.

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And I wasn't happy. These things happen gradually, but hit you suddenly. Whoa, I thought. When did I start to look like this? When did I start needing the biggest size American Eagle had to offer?

It was time for me to start giving a shit.

Keystone5 Maybe I didn't need to drink lukewarm Natty Ice six nights a week with people I didn't even really care about or eat french fries every day. Maybe I should start caring about swimming – something I had dedicated considerable time to. Maybe I should start caring about myself.

This is the only life I had. And maybe this would be the time I'd change it for the better.

I started using my parents' elliptical in our basement every morning before leaving for my summer internships. I packed my lunches, and I thought about what I was going to eat before I even got to the kitchen. Sure, I love pizza and ice cream, but I don't need it every day.  

And that's not to say I started eating only salads sans dressing … In fact I've never liked salad. I just made a conscious effort to eat "better," as well as watch portion sizes.  

When I went back to school, I actually tried at swim practices – and finally started winning races.

252835_566709927034_43300087_32355628_4914505_n And the weight gradually came off. It's small victories here and there, and sometimes I had that extra dessert or had too much to drink, but I never quit trying.

Still, I was a slave to the elliptical or swimming practice every day for three years. And then, I graduated, quit swimming, but ellipticalled [Ed. note: If this isn't a word, I'm giving Kelly credit for making it one) daily. I ellipticalled to burn calories, not because I liked it. I would watch the screen for the hour, wishing the time away.

But I wanted to look forward to exercise, not dread it. And that's when I started running – and fell in love with it.

And now? I swim, bike and/or run every day. I rarely use the elliptical. Running and biking became my favorite hobbies. And I learned to love swimming again. It's not how many calories I burn. It's about bettering myself as an athlete and a person.

Even today, it's not black or white. I thoroughly enjoy having several drinks on a night out and my love for grilled cheese is well-established. But I don't do it every single day. And even if I do have a few drinks on a Tuesday, I'm at the pool by 5:30 a.m. Wednesday morning regardless.

Oh, and that guy from college? I coincidentally saw him at the Manhattan Half Marathon in January.

I still didn't talk to him, but I beat him by 12 minutes.

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Categories: Running

One thought on “A Change of Pace

  1. Valentine on said:

    Great inspirational story! Thanks for sharing it.

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