A fit chica tells her story v.8

Here we are on the eighth version of fit chica friday and I've realized that I've yet to share the amount of details that the women on these posts have shared, and this is my blog. I've decided that this week, I'd answer my own questions - and give you a little peek as to who I am and why I choose to lead a health conscious lifestyle. First off, tell us about yourself.

My name is Melissa. I was born and raised in the Bronx. I wasn’t always so interested in a healthy life . . . dinner to me was once ice cream and cookies; well just because its what I was in the mood for. I love to dance, sweat, and test my limits. I enjoy any opportunity to be near the water – whether its sitting by the Hudson River or going on vacation. Something about the ocean brings me peace and makes me feel alive.

What gave you the motivation to take working out and fitness seriously?  Was there a catalyst?

As a kid, my calorie burning activities consisted of dance

classes. I was a student of Ballet for many years. Up until my Junior Year in High School, I attended Ballet classes non-stop. In hindsight, I realize that it was my form of exercise - as a kid ....it was just fun.

My senior year in High School, I took my VERY first aerobics class. I hated gym class. I hated the competitive aspect, the running, everything. So I signed up for an aerobics class and I LOVED it. It was like dance but different. I think that class laid the foundation for "the future me" to seek aerobics instruction as a part-time job.

Once I graduated High School, I attended Pace University. At the time, there was no fitness center and unless you were an athlete or had a car, the opportunity to workout was not very easy. I silently struggled with knowing what to eat. Sometimes I would choose not to eat at all. Once I stopped caring as much, I was 145 lbs. I’m short (5' 3") and small so that makes a difference. I sit comfortably at 125 lbs now. Use your imagination and math skills.

Fitness has CHANGED ME. It’s changed who I associate with, what I do everyday and how I feel about myself. Due to being a sick child, I always thought of myself as a weak person, someone who needed people to take care of them. I believed there were things “I couldn’t do.” It’s no ones fault - my experiences made me feel that way. Working out has given me confidence I never thought I could have. It feels good to say, “I did 15 pushups today because I could, because I built up to it.” I’ve learned that you can accomplish anything if you take it step by step. It’s also improved my leadership skills and focus. After deciding I would teach my own aerobics class, and becoming certified in Zumba, I’ve seen a new me emerge – a leader - a person who wants to help others take their lives into their own hands. It's amazing.

Any tips for someone who may feel overwhelmed by the idea of changing one's lifestyle?

It’s a task like any other. It’s been 10 years for me and I’m still learning. You need to commit to yourself to start. Always start slow. If you want to add more vegetables to your diet, begin by introducing some of the more common ones slowly into your lunch or dinner plate. Don’t do a complete overhaul or else you will overwhelm yourself. Add some broccoli, and then some carrots perhaps once a week to start off and then make it more frequent. It’s a necessity for me to have vegetables with every meal but I had to build myself to get there.

When it comes to fitness, it’s the same story. You need to lay the foundation. You can’t expect to get to the gym – do an hour of cardio, lift weights, do crunches ... etc etc. and not feel the horrible soreness the next day. It’s also not healthy to do that. Many trainers say two hours at the gym is too long. I say two hours at the gym is too long if you are new to the game. Some people love the gym and spend more time there but they know what they’re doing (I hope) and if that’s theit happy place – then go for it. As a beginner, take it easy . . . find something you love and do it often. You will see results and start looking for more things, just because.

Currently, what's your favorite workout? Why?

Dare I say it? KICKBOXING. I just started taking Kickboxing lessons at Grandmaster Kim’s and I love it. The instructor is great. He pushes me and takes advantage of the entire hour. And of course, I LOVE ZUMBA.

How do you incorporate fitness in your everyday life?

When I plan my days, I think, “when can I find time to workout?” I don’t believe in lifting everyday, doing cardio everyday, etc. I do what I want, when I want. There is some method to my madness – but for me its no longer “will I workout,” it’s “how (or when) will I workout.” It's a priority for me and I fit it into my schedule whether I have to wake up in the morning to do it, take a lunch break at work, or find time after work.

Anything else you'd like to share with our readers?

Without sharing too much about my family, I have many family members with some serious diseases, that in my eyes can be maintained with a healthier lifestyle. Blood lines run deep, and while I was in college, I realized that I needed to take control of my lifestyle or else I too could fall victim to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity etc. When I first started working out, many people thought I was crazy. I heard things like, "you are skinny, you don't need to" or "that's for bodybuilders, do you want those man muscles?" Not everyone will support your decision to say no to that chocolate cake or to skip happy hour because you are going to the gym, but in the long run, it's up to you to decide what's better for you.

You can control your health so go for it and if you need help . . . just ask me! Many of you were once active - perhaps you played a sport as a kid. Bring that inner child out to play with some exercise! Get ready to feel life and feel fabulous.

If you or someone you know, should be a fit chica, please send me an email at funfitchicblog {at} gmail.com