It’s amazing how one small change can have a lasting effect. I made a conscious choice to participate in a charity run after high school, but I had no idea of the ongoing impact that it would have on my lifestyle. It was the annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. I didn’t really care that I only power walked it, I was still raising money and awareness for breast cancer treatments so that my grandmother could have a better quality of life. It felt good to exercise outside, but I was still learning about how I was going to live with Autism, so the feeling faded. I wouldn’t feel that way again until I turned twenty-one and the trajectory of my well-being took an upward swing.
After my twenty-first birthday, healthy living suddenly made sense to me. I discovered ways to exercise without feeling like it was a chore and strength and coordination that I lacked growing up with Autism. I bought exercise DVDs and learned how to run properly. Over the next few years I could see and feel the extra weight dropping off of me. I was inspired to continue running in the Race for the Cure every year and even became involved in the Breast Cancer 3-Day Walks. Even after my grandmother passed away I still continued to run, walk, and volunteer in memory of her. However, the impact of those decisions was greater than I ever imagined.
Before I knew it, I was signing up for a gym membership and developing my own routines for staying in shape. Several healthy eating choices helped to strengthen my inner transformation. One of the added benefits was the boost to my mental and emotional well-being. I was able to eliminate the need for prescription drugs to manage my anxiety and depression; some of the side effects of living with Autism. There was also a newfound confidence that inspired me to look into different gym classes, which was something I couldn’t have done years ago. I discovered the power of changing up my routines to avoid boredom and lack of motivation. I even became more social and outgoing with the people that I met in classes. Connection is truly a beautiful thing.
Today I’m happy and proud to be in the physical, mental, and emotional shape that I’m in. I’ve discovered the amazing joy of endurance running, boot camp challenges, cycling, kickboxing, swimming, and even dance! I was able to run my first ever marathon back in 2009 and I look forward to doing even more events for Breast Cancer support, Autism Awareness, and other causes that are close to my heart. Although I sometimes wish I could have discovered it sooner, I feel even healthier and more alive than I was in high school.
I’ve learned that it’s never too late to live a healthy lifestyle. What I’ve done may not work for everyone, but my choices have improved my quality of life and lifted me out of the worst parts of living with Autism. I’m blessed to have the wisdom to take charge of my own well-being and I’m happy to just be running for love.
P.S. the 2013 Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk is happening on November 15th through the 17th. I’m signed up with the crew of volunteers. Wish me luck!