My Fitness Journey
By: Britney Elizondo
I feel I am blessed to say that my fitness journey began when I was merely 3 years old. In a town where your neighbors are not yards, but rather acres away, you’re limited in your extracurricular activities. And in a town such as Buna, TX, you didn’t dance, cheer or tumble; you twirled.
Then and there began a 15-year “career” as a baton twirler. Yes, I twirled in both Middle and High School but that’s not what did it for me. It was being a part of a team, traveling and competing. When you think “baton twirler,” you’re probably thinking of the girl with the baton, waving her arms in front of the band at the local Friday night football game. Yes, I did that too. But that was not what got me excited. For 5 of the 15 years I was a part of a team. We practiced together; traveled and competed together. It meant overnight and weekend-long practices as a team; 2-3 hours of practice a day on my own; giving up Friday and Saturday night outings with friends to stay in and practice or travel state-wide to compete. There was definitely a lot of blood, sweat and tears. It was here I learned lessons in hard work, commitment, perseverance, attitude and what it meant to play as a team member sharing a common and ultimate goal. We danced. We tumbled. We twirled.
While twirling is where it all began, growing up I didn’t just twirl, I was always super active overall. I wasn’t “allowed” to play sports because my dad wanted his girls to be “girly.” And while I love shopping and dressing up as much as the next girl, and yes, I did do the yearly local pageant (and no, regardless of what Todd says, I was NOT Miss Texas); if you know me, you know I would much rather be outside simply playing. In the country you know it’s time to go home for “supper” because the street lights turn on. I would literally stay outside from sun up to sun down. I was the girl going from door to door getting my neighborhood friends to come out and play. Kickball. Hockey with broom sticks and roller blades. Basketball. Football. Getting lost, exploring in the woods. I didn’t care what it was I just wanted to be outside and I wanted to play. A valuable lesson I still hold true to my heart today.
But I didn’t learn the valued lesson of playing and how it pertains to your health until I was in college. All of a sudden I wasn’t a kid playing kickball until sundown anymore; and no longer being a member of the twirling team meant no more daily 3-hour practices. Man was I surprised when I started packing on the pounds my sophomore year in college. Seems so obvious but I was never taught the importance of movement and healthy eating. I was just always super active, lean and built muscle as a default.
I remember the exact moment the light bulb went off. I was a sophomore at the University of North Texas and they had just completed the brand new, state-of-the-art fitness facility. It was by far the most fancy pants gym I had ever seen and decided to give it a whirl. I knew it was important to shed the pounds but I only realized how it was important to my health with a startling call from my dad. My mom had been admitted to the hospital with her blood pressure so high the doctors were surprised she hadn’t had a heart attack. My mom has always had asthma and now with this new diagnosis, she blamed genetics. To her, being overweight and always out of breath was her destiny. It was “acceptable” because that’s how her mom and dad were so she was destined to be this way too. And with modern medicine, she wasn’t told to go on a diet and get her butt in the gym. No. They gave her 6 different medications to experiment with while her weight skyrocketed. At that moment I REFUSED to fall in that line. Sorry, but I’m not going to be “destined” to high blood pressure and obesity because a buffet of pills is the only cure. From that very moment I cleaned up my eating and got more serious about my workout regimen. I wasn’t making life choices to “look good,” I wanted to prove that if you take care of yourself, you can FEEL good too. Fight the good fight and live a healthy lifestyle without swallowing a handful of pills each and every day. Luckily my mom saw a specialist and they’ve regimented her prescriptions, she joined a gym and cleaned up her eating as well and is doing MUCH better. But I want to be proactive. I don’t want to take care of myself as a result of a near death experience.
So “My Fitness Journey” is a lifetime of simply being active. Twirling. And remembering to always be a big kid and PLAY! I was one of the lucky ones in the sense the art of playing and creating healthy habits was instilled in me at a very young age. I’m not going to fall in line and let ANYONE tell me I’m destined to a certain outcome or lifestyle because of what is in the family genes. I want to lead by example; stay active and fight prescription meds. Since joining Fitness Quest 10 my older brother has become a certified personal trainer and my sister has joined two local gyms, changed to a Paleo diet and shed 20+ pounds. My younger brother ran cross country in school and is a Marine so he already knows the importance of living a healthy lifestyle. My dad rides his bike probably 20 miles a day and is constantly asking for healthy tips in eating and working out. And now (following the rest of the family’s lead and with a little nudge from my dad) my mom does Zumba weekly, cleaned up her eating and no longer drinks 4 Dr. Pepper’s a day. It’s a domino effect. It’s the daily choices I make that I know affect those around me. I choose to lead by example and refuse to let the family genes determine my well being. I’m returning to my childhood mentality and making play as a part of my daily routine for both fun and health. “We don’t stop playing because we grow old but rather we grow old because we stop playing.” Love this quote. May each and every day you find a reason, way and desire to play.