Movement has always been a part of who I am in some capacity.

 

I grew up playing soccer, wiffle ball, and field hockey. In high school, I filled the girl quota ran for the track team. I was always a dancer, taking lessons since I was four, dancing competitively in high school, and continuing through college as a member of the PC Dance Company.

 

In high school, I discovered group exercise when my mom brought me to Jazzercise classes with her.

 

In college, I was a cardio queen plugging away on the elliptical, but college is also where I started teaching group fitness classes.

 

After college, I continued my cardio days and took group exercise classes up the wazoo, much to an unhealthy degree, but I overcame this when I began strength training and reigning in my cardio to incorporate more effective methods of conditioning.

 

And for the past few years, my fitness routine has been pretty steady and consistent. Lifting heavy weights. Doing a moderate amount of cardio in the forms of spinning, boxing, metabolic circuits, sprints, stadium runs, and an occasional run outside here and there, but never all in the same week or double workouts anymore. Including more restorative stuff like hot yoga and walking.

 

Basically, I am at a point where I do whatever feels good for my body on any given day and don’t force something for the sake of getting a perfect workout in. 

 

 

I often talk about the importance of being grateful for our bodies, how they can move, and what they allow us to do.

 

But this month, I’m realizing just how grateful I am for 1) movement ALREADY being such a consistent healthy habit in my life, 2) how I no longer freak out if my workouts aren’t perfect, and 3) how I know how to listen to my body and give it exactly what it needs and is asking for.

 

You see, at the beginning of the month, my sister unexpectedly passed away. And my life has flipped upside down as my family continues to grieve our enormous heartbreaking loss. 

 

My emotions are all over the place, as everyone continues to tell me is normal during the grieving process. One day I can’t stop crying, and then I’ll have a week where I feel NOTHING at all. It’s a rollercoaster of anger, shock, numbbess, sadness, stress, and more.

 

Not surprisingly, what hasn’t felt that important in the midst of all this is my fitness routine. But even though it hasn’t felt that important, I’m realizing just how grateful I am that movement is already a consistent and established part of my life. A huge part of my life!

 

I am so thankful that my fitness is automated at this point because it’s keeping me going.

 

My fitness is providing me with some much-needed distraction, it’s interrupting negative and sad thoughts, and it’s allowing me a healthy avenue to get it all out.

 

My fitness is boosting my mood, if only temporarily. Yesterday I went to town on some row sprints and ball slams, and it did help me feel better. 

 

My fitness is giving me a sense of control, but not in the ways that it used to. I find comfort in knowing that I have control over how I choose to take care of myself so that I can continue to life my life to the fullest. So that I have the strength to grieve. I find comfort in knowing that my emotional outlet is one that’s good for my body.

 

Of course there’s a fine line with this, as many people who experience tragedy or go through hard stuff turn to food or fitness for control in a not so healthy way (over-exercising, under or overeating). 

 

The key here is gentleness. 

 

I’m being gentle with myself, as there are many days I feel exhausted, drained, and very weak. During the first week after we got the news about my sister, I was in a fog. All I could muster was some slow walks to give me some sort of morning routine during the most non-routine week of my entire life. And as the month continues, I’m just doing what I can. I’m not doing max lifts, I’m keeping things short and sweet.

 

But my fitness is giving me some purpose right now, as well as the energy to keep going every day, and I’m so grateful that I barely have to think about it; that it’s already an established habit in my life. 

 

 

If there’s anything you can get out of this post, I hope it’s to see yet another really important non-scale related reason for prioritizing movement and establishing an exercise routine. 

 

It’s so that when your life flips upside down, you ALREADY have a healthy outlet already at your disposal. 

 

Readers, Achieve with Athena is more than just a business to me. It’s a personal brand, and if I were only to share the rainbows and butterflies, I wouldn’t be keeping things real. Many of you have followed along with my journey for years, and this is just another part of it. As always, I will write as lessons come to me I think are worth sharing, but I’ll be back to posting regular fitness and health content as well. Thanks for sticking with me and for all of your outreach and support. It means the world to me. 

  1. Athena, I am so sorry for your loss – you are such a strong person, inside and out – my heart is with you ❤️

  2. Athena, thank you for sharing this moment in your life. May God bless you and hold you and your family close as this transition occurs to living without your sister here on the earth. May you continue moving with grace filled steps.
    My best to you,
    Koletta

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