Living LifeWise: A Fitness Journey of Gasps and Deep Breaths

Living Lifewise Sunday, October 6, 2013 Written by

Living LifeWise is a regular column provided by LifeWise Ambassadors – LifeWise employees whose healthy choices are helping them live better lives. Today’s column is provided by LifeWise Ambassador Richelle Nielsen.

In junior high, I was the kid who walked the halls sucking on an asthma inhaler. When forced to run a mile in gym class, my trip around the track usually ended with a call to my mom from the school nurse’s office. Even in college, doctors’ notes were the only thing that allowed me to receive the physical education credits every student needed to graduate.

When I entered adulthood – and eventually motherhood – I found that while a doctor’s note can get you out of gym class, they also exclude you from experiencing the many physical and emotional benefits of exercise. Plus, after nearly 20 years of trying, I finally found a medication that kept my asthma in check most of the time. I was officially fresh out of excuses.

Today, I would compare my relationship with exercise over the course of my adult life to the children’s book The Tortoise and the Hare – with me playing the roles of both animals at different points along the way.

After getting my asthma under control in my early 20s, I approached fitness like the hare. I would bolt across the starting line full of good intentions, but ultimately end up sipping a cocktail just a few yards from reaching my goal.

My first real, honest (and dare I say enjoyable) relationship with diet and exercise started at the beginning of 2012, when I let myself step into the role of the tortoise. I needed to shed the 30+ pounds of baby weight I’d carried since the birth of my almost 3 year old. I was lethargic, unhappy and struggling keep up with my daughter. As she became more active, I knew I needed to do the same. I didn’t want to be the parent on the sidelines.

Applying the age-old formula of “eat less, move more,” I was able to shed 30 pounds over the course of a year. I even started jogging for the first time in my life, completing a handful of 5K races along the way. It was this “slow and steady wins the race” approach that really worked, giving me both the energy and the strength to be the kind of parent I want to be.

Today, I am pregnant with my second child and I admit it’s hard to watch the pounds come back. Still, I haven’t completely dropped out of the race and I can’t wait to be the tortoise at the starting line again at the beginning of 2014!


RichelleRichelle Nielsen is senior public relations manager at LifeWise who is committed to staying healthy and active with her family, while inspiring others to do the same. A native of Colorado, Richelle lives in Edmonds with her husband, daughter and black lab.