Happy Monday, friends!
I hope you all had a fabulous weekend and that your week is off to a great start. Aside from this nagging cold that doesn’t seem to want to go away I’ve had a pretty fantastic couple of days over here. On Thursday I celebrated my quarter-of-a-century birthday…the big 2-5! It’s crazy to think I’m already 25…I remember my 19th birthday like it was yesterday. Well..sort of 😉
My actual birthday was pretty low key. I had a senior’s fitness class to teach in the morning before going for coffee with a friend, and then since Jordan and I were both sick we decided to stay in and order pizza and eat cake with my parents instead of going out for dinner like we had originally planned. I had another mini celebration on Friday, which started out with Japanese food with a group of friends. We went to a great place near the hotel I work at that I always rave to guests about but had actually never been to yet 😉 The food was delicious and I’m disappointed in myself for being so hungry and forgetting to take pictures of my food before eating it!
After sushi we went 5-pin bowling which was a lot of fun. I played a pretty shitty game (see below) but I had a great time and am super thankful for everybody that made it out. After our walk home Jordan and I tried out some new tea I got from David’s Tea (thanks Angela! 🙂 ), worked on finishing the rest of my birthday cake, and called it a night. It’s been a few years since I’ve had an actual birthday party and this year did not disappoint! If you had told me two years before that I would stop on my sober walk home from my 25th birthday party to pick up a carton of coconut milk I would have laughed in your face.
Saturday also marked kind of a special day for me. It’s what I like to refer to as my “fitversary”. January 11 marks the day that I decided to throw myself into a life of health and fitness. As I’ve said before I’ve always been fairly active, and I had really been getting into it the few months prior to that, but January 11 was when I had my “ah-ha” moment and up until recently I haven’t really shared why.
Rewind about 8 years back from January 10, 2012 and you would have seen a very different Ariana. The big difference was that I drank. A lot. What started out as harmless fun when I was 14 (and by harmless I mean lying to my parents so I could sleep in parks and drink all night with my friends) quickly progressed to an every-weekend thing within a year. I had my first blackout when I was 16, and by the time I hit grade 12 I was drinking throughout the week and occasionally getting drunk at school.
The few years after high school it got pretty intense. I did a fair amount of drugs, blacked out multiple times throughout the week, and treated my parents like absolute shit after they were kind enough to pick my sorry ass up from whatever mess I had gotten myself into. I passed out multiple times on strangers’ bathroom floors, couches, and beds; rode loops on the skytrain because I was too drunk to realize I’d reached my stop; and lost my purse and wallet so many times I lost count. But each time I came out without not much more than a really bad hangover and really low self-esteem.
When I moved to Manning Park the problem got worse, but it just seemed more acceptable because I lived in the mountains and everybody was doing it. So I embraced it and identified myself through my alcoholism. After living in remote areas for 2.5 years where day drinking was the norm and was even encouraged, I began to isolate myself after being home for a little while.
Besides Jordan I didn’t have a lot of friends who I felt like I was on the same page with, so aside from a few outings here and there (which of course always involved booze) I tended to stay home and drink. “Jordan’s home, so I’m technically not drinking alone…”was my though process on many an occasion. He had a few drinks here and there, but he never reached the level that I did. He took a lot of shit from me and I spent many mornings in shock that he still wanted to be with me. Countless times I thought to myself about quitting drinking, but I never said anything out loud because I just “wasn’t ready”. “I can control this” I would always tell myself.
At the end of 2011 we went to Australia to spend Christmas with his family. I knew I needed to keep myself in line because I had spent so little time with them and didn’t want to embarrass either of us. I somehow managed to keep myself in check and came home feeling great. I thought I had a handle on this whole drinking thing. And then I blacked out three times within one week of coming home. After the last one I had a horrible morning and an even worse night at work because I knew I needed to face myself.
It was time to ask myself “WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?” After all those nights waking up in strange places and on skytrains without anything terrible having happened, after having strangers who found my purses and wallets call me in the morning to ask if they can return them, after yelling at my boyfriend countless nights and having him still love me….what else did I need to have happen before I decided to make a change?
It was absolutely fucking terrifying but I had to be open and admit that I was ready so that I could be held accountable. I looked into things like AA but I’m not religious and didn’t feel like I could really identify with anyone in those groups. But I felt lost. From the time I was 14 and onwards I always defined myself as being the party girl, and in later years as the “fun” alcoholic. With that stripped away from me I felt like I didn’t really have a clue as to who I was. “What do people do on weekends if they don’t drink?” “What am I supposed to have with dinner?” “What am I going to do with my free time?” “Who am I going to be?”
At that time the only answer I had was to the question “what am I going to do with my free time?” Two months earlier I had purchased a new gym membership so I decided to use it to its fullest extent. I went to as many group fitness classes as possible. I spent mornings on elliptical machines and treadmills and did at-home workout DVDs when I couldn’t make it. When I wasn’t working out I spent time learning about different exercise techniques and how to eat properly. Yes it was obsessive, but it gave me purpose.
And that obsession quickly grew into a passion. I loved learning about the human body and how it responds to exercise. I loved learning about nutrition and found it absolutely fucking mind blowing that so many little processes inside our bodies contributed to digestion and health and disease. I was starting to learn who I was without alcohol.
I was a total science nerd. I was an endorphin-junkie. I was passionate and driven. I was motivated and inspired by all the other stories I read about people overcoming their own obstacles. I was shy and anxious but also kinda good at the whole “fake it till ya make it” game. I wasn’t the extrovert that drunkass Ariana was, but actually an introvert. I was me. Not the perfect that I always strived for but felt I could never achieve. But me.
Two years earlier when I went back to school for hospitality management, the thought of becoming a personal trainer crossed my mind. But I can’t be a trainer. I’m not fit enough. I drink too much. I’m not motivating or even motivated. I can’t do that. And so I did what I knew and I was comfortable with, even though it didn’t necessarily make me happy.
But after beginning to learn how to love myself I learned how to take better care of myself. I found that when you feel good, you do good things that make you feel even better. My confidence in my ability to motivate others grew as I completed my first Sun Run, managed to convince Jordan to workout with me, and answered the fitness questions that people asked me. I started to believe that I really could do whatever I wanted. And I wanted to help others and become a personal trainer!
It’s scary facing the facts and jumping into doing what deep down you know you need to do. Scary is an understatement. But it’s never too late, or too early, to dive in and go for what you want. Submersing myself in the life of health and fitness taught me about a lot more than calories and running and lifting weights. It taught me perseverance. It taught me dedication. It taught me compassion when I watched others just starting out on their own journeys. And it taught my self-love and confidence.
There are still days where I’m unsure as to whether I’ve taken the right path or not. There are still days where I question whether I’m capable of doing what I’m striving to do. There are days where I feel anxious and afraid of the world and wish I could just sleep the months away under the safety of my blanket. There are even days where I miss sitting in the sun with friends drinking beer all afternoon and sitting on a couch with a girlfriend and drinking wine all night.
But those days are getting fewer and farer between. More often than not now I feel good about the choices I’m making. I feel confident in my ability to help someone change their perception of life like I did. I feel excited to make goals for the upcoming years, months, and even days. I spent my first year avoiding alcohol at all costs for fear of turning back into a raging alcoholic. But within the past year I’ve had a few glasses of wine (I could count the number on two hands) without any fear of returning to who I once was. I have too many goals, too many dreams, and too much love for myself and those around me to do that again.
If you feel like your life is missing something, or if something’s not working for you, then just go and do something about it! Yes it’s scary. It’s supposed to be scary. I’ve seen a quote all over these “fitspo” pictures that says “If it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you”, which I totally agree with. Where has being comfortable ever gotten us? And yeah, it’s hard. Really hard. But being unhappy with yourself or your life is hard too. See where I’m going with this? Yeah….just go and fuckin’ do it.
If you have stories of scary leaps you’ve made and you’re comfortable sharing them I’d love to hear them. As I said above, I’m motivated and inspired by all of you that overcome your own obstacles, no matter how big or small they may seem.