Monday, March 25, 2013

My Health and Fitness Journey on The Island

I didn’t really think I would find myself saying that exercise and a healthy lifestyle have become some of my “hobbies”. Some of my friends back at home think that sounds crazy and chuckle. I have gone on health kicks before, but most only lasted for 3-4 months. This time around I currently find myself at more than 7 months and still going strong. Such a great feeling! I remember how excited I was when I passed the three-month mark.

A few summers ago I spent the whole summer (3 months) exercising for about 1 hour after work each day while substituting a few meals a day with protein shakes. I did end up losing about 15 pounds that summer but ended up gaining it back over the next few years back at college. I exercised a few times a week but was not consistent. I also found it was harder to go to back to eating regular foods.

This time, I have continued to eat more sustainably (not substituting with protein shakes). I eat a rather good sized breakfast, a normal lunch, and then dinner usually isn’t as much. I generally only have a bowl of oatmeal or a peanut butter sandwich along with some fresh fruit or vegetables, which I really enjoy. I love fresh fruits and veggies! I am much more sustainable with my healthy diet this time.

Why did I find so much motivation while down in American Samoa to do this? At first it seemed like I had a little extra time on my hands, but now when I think about it I should never have an excuse for not being healthy and exercising regularly. I have so much more energy after I exercise. Plus, simply put, I just don’t buy unhealthy foods that much. I also buy fewer groceries at a time. If it isn’t sitting in the cupboard, then I don’t have the temptation to eat it.

I began doing some little exercise routines on my own during my first three weeks living in American Samoa before moving to my apartment. Then, I began with a regular routine. I began with some videos I had from The Firm workout program every day when I came home from work. A Zumba class also started up for the staff at my high school, and I jumped right on board with that having sessions twice a week. I wasn’t really eating less at this point. I was eating three rather full meals, and yet I could already notice a difference before Christmas as my clothes began to feel baggy and friends back home and friends here started making comments.

For a few weeks back in October, I had joined a few friends with some workouts from Insanity. I had tried this one other time with a friend back in college but struggled with my coordination. I could not believe how I was able to keep up with the guys at this time and was excited to find myself in some decent shape. I also found I enjoyed it. We did not do this regularly, though, but I still kept up with my workouts on my own and Zumba class.

Then, as I reached December, I felt like I was on a plateau and needed to add a change into my exercise routine. I decided I would officially do the whole 9-week program of Insanity beginning after holiday break as I traveled for one of the weeks. I marked this as a challenge to myself – no intention of losing weight, just wanting to keep it up with exercising regularly and push myself. I had the calendar posted on my wall, crossed out days only after I completed the workouts and kept track of the extra things I was doing like any hiking, Zumba, or other exercises. My students knew this was my SMART goal and have been following my progress, as well. The nine weeks were here and gone before I knew it. Felt so good to make it. As I was finishing, I already had intentions of potentially doing the whole program another time through after Spring Break to finish of my last few months here in American Samoa.

Some other motivation that drove me while living on this tropical island in the South Pacific was reading all about the prominence of obesity of overweight residents here. I read about it before I moved, friends back home knew about it, and I recently had a guest speaker in my classroom that discussed health and these striking statistics in this territory. According to information from the World Health Organization in 2007, American Samoa was listed as the #2 Most Obese Country on Earth with 74.6% of the population being obese. Furthermore, it ranks as the #1 Most Overweight Country on Earth with 93.5% of its residents being clinically overweight.

Wowza… Some of my Samoan friends have commented how most people gain weight when the move here, and I’ve done the opposite. I hope my story helps provide some encouragement to others. They are such friendly people, and we all could be a little healthier. There is so much fresh produce here, although I had read it was hard to come by. I did not find that to be the case at all. Just have to avoid more of the processed junk foods, which I do see a lot of around here.

Just for fun, here is a little photo trilogy that shows my progress physically. Once again, I never had the goal in mind of losing a certain amount of weight – simply being healthier, so that is why I do not have official photos in my bikini or anything showing the progress. I chose these photos as they are at appropriate times in my journey, and I am wearing the same dress in the three photos. The first photo was taken at my college graduation (May 2012) prior to moving to American Samoa and beginning my regular exercise and healthy lifestyle. The second photo was taken at my staff Christmas party here, and I began the Insanity 9-week program first week of January. The third photo was taken while on Spring Break here in American Samoa, one week after I successfully completed the 9-week program. Nine weeks and not a single workout missed. I also continued to attend Zumba class regularly, did some other exercise, and ate healthy most of the time. I’ve lost around 20 pounds, I think, based on what I remember the scale saying at my last physical in April. Guess I can more officially compare when I have one again this summer. Pictures are worth a thousand words, though. People back home, you can hold me even more accountable now. I should look more like the girl on the right when I’m back in June than the girl on the left that flew out last summer.

Interesting story... One girl who has been accepted to serve with WorldTeach here in American Samoa for the upcoming school year found my blog, began following it, and was inspired to start the Insanity program herself. She had sent me a message telling me as much, and then commented again on my post saying I had completed my goal. That’s kind of cool.

Also, I’ve mentioned exercise and healthy living so much in m blog that someone from Beachbody (who produced Insanity) stumbled upon my blog. Crazy but cool. After speaking with her a bit, as she reached out, I checked out a few of the other programs they have on their website, including one of their newest ones coming out. Seemed like an appropriate time to write a post solely on my health and fitness journey, which happened to take place while I was living on the slightly remote, tropical, mountainous, and pebble-sized island of American Samoa I have come to know and love – my third home.

So, if any of you are more curious about what it is I’ve been up to, you can read more about the Insanity workout here straight from the source:

Also, Team Beach Body offers several other programs if you’re interested or curious. All pretty cool depending on what gets you motivated. Videos are helpful for me or live classes with an instructor.

T25 workout (their newest that is set to be released in June)

I like the sound of the last one. 25 minute workouts pounding through. Plus, good ole Shaun T yelling at me from the screen to “dig deeper”. ;-)

If you ever have questions, comments, or need a little extra motivation for yourself, I am more than happy to help out. Remember, I’m a “crazy” girl that really enjoys exercising six days a week while keeping up with an all-around healthy lifestyle with a full-time volunteer job. I am bound determined to keep exercising regularly when I come back to the mainland, which is one reason I have started doing my Insanity workouts in the morning. Training my body to doing it in the morning so I never have an excuse later in the day on why I don’t need to workout that day; it will already be done. I started doing this for the last few weeks on my first round of the Insanity program. Now, to continue with round two. First workout already complete on this Monday morning. May 25th, I will see you on the other side :-) Have a great day, everyone!

1 comment:

  1. I can't even begin to tell you how very proud I am of you for making a committment to the Healthy Lifestyle. You look amazing and I can't wait to see you! Not only to see your tiny little figure but SEE YOU! in person! :)