Despite what you may think, I haven’t always been this active.
In fact, there was a time in my life when I was actually a little chubby. I didn’t work out. I ate way too much Trader Joe’s mac & cheese. I couldn’t do a push up or pull up to save my life.
Born into a family of extremely active people, I was constantly bitter that being healthy and active didn’t come naturally to me as it seemed to for most of my family. Even now, despite being in his mid 60’s, my Dad still skis, kiteboards, windsurfs, SUPs, surfs, bikes, goes on crazy hikes, does CrossFit and is always looking for a new sport to try. He’s my inspiration. But I used to think I was nothing like him.
Because for a long time, I thought that the ‘active gene’ in my family had skipped me—since I hated the thought of exercise so freaking much.
Along with this lack of desire to exercise, I also suffered from near constant depression starting in my early teenage years. In short, I hated myself. I was restless and always unhappy. I hated what I was doing (or not) doing with my life. I hated the way I felt every day. I hated the way my body looked. I hated how helpless and unbelievably unconfident I felt.
I also had a lot of energy and frustration that I didn’t know what to do with, so I took it out on people or things instead of sweating it out. I gave myself bruises. I punched some walls. I cried a lot.
It took finally finding a type of exercise that I actually enjoyed to bring me out of that terrible funk. Specifically, HIIT, like the workouts on 12 Minute Athlete.
With HIIT, I discovered a part of myself that I never knew existed—I could be strong, confident, and powerful feeling. I could like working out.
And I didn’t even have to spend hours in the gym to get there. Just around 12 minutes a day was all it really took. And everyone has an extra 12 minutes, right?
I want to tell you about who I am because I want you to know I’m not perfect, and never have been. I haven’t always loved to work out. I didn’t always eat healthy. I didn’t know how to do a burpee, or a reptile push up, or even a proper air squat. And I couldn’t have done them even if I’d tried.
I also still don’t eat like a fitness person “should.” Yes, I eat a lot of kale and veggies and fruits and whole foods. But I also like chocolate. And wine. And a good meal out with friends.
But though I’m always striving to be the best person I can be—and get to the highest level of fitness possible—I’m happy with where I am today. I feel strong and independent. I have a ton of energy. I don’t worry about having a cookie here and there, because I know I’ll just burn it off later.
And I want you to feel happy with yourself, too. In fact… that’s the main reason I started 12 Minute Athlete to begin with.
Because nobody’s perfect… and that’s perfectly ok.
So here are 39 things you should know about me, in no particular order:
1. I am extremely passionate about health and fitness. I love working out. I love how strong it makes me feel, how much more confident I am than before, how it makes me feel like I can conquer the universe. And more than anything in the world, I want to help others feel this way as well.
2. I played basketball in high school, and dominated playing defense. I was a pretty aggressive player and would often foul out.
3. I’m an extreme self-proclaimed introvert. I like being by myself a lot, I prefer one-on-one company to large groups, and I get grumpy if I don’t get enough alone time.
4. I still like to punch things when I’m angry or have extra energy. Yes, I’ve mentioned this a few times before. Yes, I’ve put a few holes in walls and hit things that shouldn’t be hit (like my old MacBook Pro). Thankfully I now have a punching bag, so that makes it much easier to take out my aggression on something without ever damaging anything.
5. As a kid, I was a total tomboy, incredibly awkward, and insanely shy. I became worried and self-conscious way too early in life, and found it easier to be around adults than kids. In my adulthood, I’ve gotten a little less shy, but I’m still a tomboy—and still pretty awkward.
6. I think about food constantly. I’d say I’m fairly obsessed. I always plan my meals in advance, and if I don’t know when I’m going to eat next I get anxious. I also get grumpy and can’t think straight when I get too hungry, a fact I try and warn people about when I first meet them.
7. I got put on the “C” team after volleyball tryouts in 7th grade because I’d never played volleyball before. Many of my friends were put on the “A” team and went on to play varsity volleyball in high school. Of course I quit immediately, and am still bitter about it. I’m pretty sure if they’d had a little faith in me I would have kicked ass at volleyball, being as tall and broad-shouldered as I am.
8. I get seriously depressed when the sun doesn’t come out. As a kid growing up in the Portland, Oregon area (where it pretty much rains for nine months straight), this was really tough on me and I was even officially diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Conversely, when the sun is out, I can’t help but get really, really happy. Hence why I now live in California.
9. I lived in Amsterdam for two years and speak a little Dutch. It was a pretty amazing experience living there, and I had a ton of adventures and got to travel to tons of incredible places while I was there, but it was tough at times too. I missed my family, I missed normal American things, and since I was just out of college I felt like it pushed back my career in ways. I still miss it sometimes though.
10. My current favorite author is Haruki Murakami. I first read the translated version of 1Q84 last December, then preceeded to read every single other book he’d written in his 30+ year writing career. It took me six months to finish them all. Afterwards, I felt like my world view was forever changed by his incredible stories.
11. I volunteered in Spain with my mom teaching English to 6th graders when I was 15, and have been hooked on traveling ever since.
12. I went to five different colleges, switched majors at least six times, and still graduated in three and a half years.
13. I worked at various Starbucks locations for three years starting at age 17. When I first got the job, there were times I’d have two or three pastries in a single day. I’m sure you can guess what happened after a couple of weeks of eating like that.
14. I had pink hair when I was 14. It was short and spiked, and I also wore a lot of black and spikey things. I stopped dressing like this when I went to Spain for the first time.
15. I was a personal trainer for two years, and it did not come easily to me. I hated the hours (typical hours were 5 or 6 am to 9 am, then again from 5 pm to 9 pm). I hated being forced to sell supplements (as is true at Crunch, where I worked in NYC). I was also a horrible group instructor. Although I did OK teaching boxing classes, since I could just make people punch each other and do a lot of burpees and sit ups.
16. I didn’t have a car for three years when I lived in Amsterdam and New York. This left me looking like a crazy bag lady a lot when I went grocery shopping and would end up carrying eight or more bags at once.
17. I walk faster than almost anyone I’ve ever met. I get a lot of funny looks walking around, but I’m secretly proud of it because I’ve read studies concluding that people who walk fast live longer.
18. One of my favorite things in the world is to blast music out of my cherry red Mini Cooper with the windows down on a sunny day. I sing my heart out while bopping around in my seat, and don’t even mind that other people might be looking at me—I figure that maybe it makes their day to see someone being such a happy dork. Or at least they can make fun of me for it.
19. I left high school a year early and got my GED then went straight to college. I lived in a small town, and my parents got a lot if criticism from the comnunity about that. But to this day, I’m incredibly grateful they let me do it. High school was not an easy time for me… and I just needed to get out.
20. I became a vegetarian when I was 6 because I loved animals so much. But I’ve avoided telling other ‘fitness people’ that I’m a vegetarian many times because I’m embarrassed about it.
21. Ever since I was a little kid I’ve wanted to change the world. I also never wanted to work for someone else. Ever.
22. When I was at my heaviest (also at the peak of my Starbucks days), I wore a pant size of 32. I was incredibly self-conscious, hated how clothes fit me, and still remember the feel of the roll around my stomach every time I walked. Now I’m a size 24 or 25, depending on the clothing company. I feel way better, in so many ways.
23. I really hate rest days. I get insanely antsy (and I’ll admit, a little bitchy) and try and find something as active as possible to do to get my energy out. Taking my dog for a hike, biking around the city, and walking for hours and hours all help.
24. I hate the idea of ‘growing up.’ I want to always be a kid at heart, no matter what age I am.
25. I tried to be anorexic in high school after watching one of those horrible videos in health class on anorexic teens (yeah teachers, those don’t work). I lasted three days, and was a cranky bitch the entire time. I also tried to be bulimic once, but could never figure out how to force myself to throw up. Thank goodness that never became a habit.
26. My biggest fear is going through life without accomplishing anything meaningful.
27. I was such a bad cook growing up that I couldn’t even figure out how to make a grilled cheese sandwich when I was 16 or so. My big brother thought I was pretty pitiful because of this, and now I can see why. These days, I don’t love cooking but I do it a lot because I love healthy food.
28. My Dad is a dentist and owns his own dental practice in Vancouver, WA, and therefore I am obsessed with teeth. I have a really hard time looking at someone without looking at their teeth.
29. I consider myself a nerd at heart, and want to punch anyone who mistakes me for a dumb blonde.
30. I have a short attention span and like to try new things often. My current bucket list consists of: gymnastics, muay thai kickboxing, and rock climbing.
31. I used to binge eat in high school and college a lot. I’d eat when I was sad, lonely, even just bored. I’d go to the store and buy a bag of M&M’s, ice cream, popcorn, you name it… then just eat till I felt sick. Then I’d remember how much I hated how I looked and I’d eat some more.
32. I joined Weight Watchers with my Mom when I was around 16. I don’t know why I thought I needed it back then, but it did help me learn the nutrition values of food. When I learned how many points fettuccini alfredo (my previous favorite food) had in a serving, I swore to never eat it again. I haven’t touched it since.
33. I cried once when I was a kid because my Dad put spinach in a salad. I thought I hated spinach, mainly because my idea of spinach was that disgusting canned stuff that people eat when they don’t realize how good fresh spinach is.
34. I’m still pissed off that I didn’t get an ‘Excellent’ on my Presidential Physical Fitness Test in elementary school. The only reason I didn’t get it was that I couldn’t do a single pull up. My friend and rival Reneé could do one, but due to my spaghetti arms, I couldn’t.
35. I have a huge sweet tooth. For a fitness person and a dentist’s daughter, it’s surprising, I know. I need to have something sweet every single day. Yes, need.
36. I’m pretty much obsessed with Nike. I embarrassingly have something like 40 pairs of Nike shoes, and also a version of pretty much every jacket, pants, shorts and shirt they’ve ever created. I like my Nike gear to be as bright, crazy and patterned as possible.
37. I really hate running. I find it one of the most boring, mind-numbing activities possible. So I never do it. I don’t really understand people who actually like to run.
38. One of my very favorite things to do is simply to walk. I walk everywhere. It relaxes me. I probably walk an average of two to eight miles a day.
39. I credit discovering HIIT to saving my life. Seriously. I don’t know where I’d be today without it. It’s made me a stronger person inside and out. It’s given me courage and made me feel confident about myself as a whole. And most if all, it’s made me realize that I can do anything I put my mind to.
More than anything, I want to help others feel the same.
Thanks for reading.