Athleticism. I had never given it much thought. I knew when my parents first hooked up my Dad was a competitive cyclist. I learned at some point that he had 4% body fat at the time, and his resting heart rate was in the 40’s; something that meant nothing to me as a child, but today tells me tons about his athleticism and what kind of shape he was in.
As a child I didn’t notice my mother’s physique, not until I was age eleven or so. Up until that point, the most I noticed were her “Mom pants” and questionable taste in shoes. My mother has two children, myself and my younger brother. When I was ten and my brother was seven – after we had moved to the PNW from California – my mother had a fitness revelation. She began playing sports and weight training daily, sometimes as early as 5:30 am.
I went with her sometimes. I was starting to notice my body, especially in comparison to other girls. My budding adolescence was the onset of more than a decade of low body confidence and self-hate. My body issues I mostly attribute to my sedentary lifestyle. When I wasn’t interested in competitive sports, my parents never pressed the issue. I began writing and producing art, becoming more idle with time; until I was old enough to do something about it, and by that time all I cared about was partying with my friends.
I remember looking at my mother’s calves in her “church heels” hoping that someday I too would have her figure. I knew nothing at the time about the science and physiology that went into that sleek, lean look. My peers who had thin moms were also thin. That’s how it worked, right?
Now, reflecting on this time, I’m in awe of how my mother learned so much about fitness without the internet. She was eating “clean” and “organic” long before it was cool or DYEL memes existed.
My Dad was in sort of a downward spiral at this time. He was working long hours as a retail manager and was usually too tired to do much other than watch TV and do yard work. My Dad is 6’4″ and I estimate that he topped out at 300 lbs. He never looked morbidly obese or anything – his large frame wouldn’t allow it – but he was a big ass dude. He, like many people, had success in the late nineties with the Atkins Diet. He lost probably seventy pounds, and kept most of it off, but it didn’t do anything for his health or longevity. I had heard stories of this lean, giant, force of a man, but I didn’t know him, yet.
My younger brother had been an athlete his entire life. Supported 110% by my father, who did what he could to find and afford him the best pitching coaches in the area. Hoping that, someday, he’d find his ways into the major leagues. My brother had tremendous highs and lows both personally and professionally (as an athlete). He’s always followed his dreams until it made sense to stop. My respect and admiration for his unrelenting determination to succeed are endless.
But it wasn’t my mother’s new found passion or my brother’s natural talent that motivated my father to change. It was a job.
My father was laid off at some point in my early teens. This lead to a few years of my dad trying new career paths, like real estate. He returned to retail but, this time, he’d be leading a graveyard freight team. My Dad realized although he was getting old and he was sick, that he was going to have to keep up. The ever-present awareness that he must change to live his life set him on the right track.
Since then my Dad works out five days a week. He gets off work at 7:00 am, goes to bed, wakes up around 2:30 pm and hits the gym. He uses mostly the stationary bike and does an upper/lower weight training split. His commitment to fitness at 62 astounds me, and he’s in great shape. He’s been an active gym rat for over five years, and I love him for it.
My mother endured a couple of soccer injuries over the years. Over the past seven years, she’s leaned out a lot by augmenting her diet, and she primarily uses Jazzercise and long walks to stay fit.
It had never really occurred to me how active my family is. I feel so lucky to not only have been raised without prejudice and hate in my life but to have been given what’s turned out to be such a great fitness foundation.
My mother’s commitment to nutrition and health has indeed changed my life. I never had white bread or highly processed trash as a child; Of course, I had granola bars and fast, “kid friendly” foods that I wouldn’t eat nowadays, but my foundation was solid. My Mom didn’t use butter or salt in her cooking. We ate well-rounded, lean meals. As a result, I don’t have the taste for disgusting processed crap.
Now, my life is full of fitness. I want to become a fitness trainer and change how people view fitness as a lifestyle and themselves as human beings. I’ve found joy, confidence, and strength in something I always thought I hated.
What seeds did your parents plant that impacted who you are today? Do you have a history of athleticism too?