An "Athlete" Making "Small Changes"

Thursday, August 3, 2017

This essay, written by long-time member, Maryann Noniewicz, touches me for a couple of reasons: first and foremost, her athletic history is quite similar to mine.  I classified myself as horrifically unathletic for all of my childhood, gym class also being the worst part of my day.  To this day (and I consider myself athletic now), I get palpitations when I enter the high school gym where I work.  Secondly, because it showcases the importance of focusing on small changes.  Sometimes, cliches are cliche because they are the truth.  Not everyone loses 100 lbs and becomes a Games athlete.  In fact, no one does.  For most of us, it's the small changes that add up over time...


Small Changes



"It's the small changes that add up over time." I always hated those words of 'inspiration' when I expressed feeling frustrated with the slow progress of my fitness and health journey. You know what, though? Those who said it to me were right. 


I recently experienced that moment of terror when you are tagged in a Facebook post and you have no clue what picture of you has been posted on social media. This particular photo was not a good one. It was from a wedding I had attended 14 years ago. Let's just say it was not my best shot. 


I quickly removed the tag and prayed not too many had seen it. I admit, I have privately revisited the photo numerous times since. It proved to me that the small changes do add up. 


My 40's were a rough decade for me. Two young daughters, a demanding job that had me traveling way too much, the loss of one of my best friends to breast cancer, and a sick mother who eventually also passed after a long and brutal fight with cancer.  It took its toll on me mentally and physically. That's apparent in the photos of me at the time. 


I have never been the athletic type. My parents were more cerebral, and never really promoted athletics to me or my four brothers. I hated gym class all throughout my school years. The only reason I was ever picked for teams in gym was because I had good friends and was funny. Those scars of fearing not being picked run deep though (hence my aversion to partner workouts... or anytime we need to be in groups).


Fast forward to early 2013. After never having attended any of my high school reunions (I have no clue why? I loved my school and classmates!), for some reason I was inspired to attend my 30 year reunion. There I reconnected with so many--in particular, Kim Walsh--who was rockin' her sleeveless number in January. "Holy cow! How did you get those guns?" I asked.  She smiled and replied, "Shoreline CrossFit. My sister-in-law is one of the owners. You should join."


Wait, what? Me? Crossfit? I don't think so. Yet I couldn't get the conversation out of my head and contacted her the week following. 


The rest is history. I'm over 4 years "in" and although I will never be a remarkable "athlete" (I giggle every time DP refers to us as such), I feel better than I ever have, my overall health has improved, and I have had an incredible experience at Shoreline.  This is largely due to the amazing coaches and their ability to challenge me when necessary, cheer me on when I feel like bailing, and show mercy when I need it. In addition, it's the incredible members who make up the Shoreline community that have become both a source of inspiration and friendship for me. 


I probably do not fit the typical demographic of Shoreline’s membership.  I don’t lift heavy weights, run very far or fast, and am only a part-time member. It’s okay though.  I know I am better off as a result of my efforts, and am proof it is never too late to get started on your own health journey. Never in my life have I committed to any exercise regime for this length of time. In order to stick with something-- be it a job, a relationship, or a fitness routine--you must love it, and that I do.


I am still very much a work in progress. I remain committed to my membership, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, working with a nutritionist--and my other health care professionals--with the goal of living a long, healthy life. It really does need to be a combination of things to succeed long-term because… it's the small changes that add up over time. 


 Maryann, picture with her two lovely daughters





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