My Fitness Journey

Well…here I am.

Pictured: Not me, but a representation of my goals.

Well…here I am. Starting a fitness blog. I’m not at this point sure what will come of it, but I figure it’s time to turn my life back in the right direction, and this is as good a way as any. Some of you may already know me from my more successful passion project, ArtTravelEatRepeat.com, but I have put some thought into it and I think I’m ready to share my struggles with the world as well as my passion for exploration. You see, I seem to have gotten…well….fat. I’m not obese or anything like that, and I tend to lead a fairly healthy, active lifestyle. I snowboard, I hike, I go on walks and even throw in the occasional yoga and CrossFit class in there. I prepare a lot of my own meals and I love fresh foods, fruit, vegetables…you know, healthy things. I also love eating out, lazy nights spent binge watching shows on Netflix, cookies, and my personal favorite…Mexican food. It’s not that I don’t have healthy habits, it’s just that I also have some pretty unhealthy habits.

Me…

My health is good. I do annual checkups with my doctor and she always tells me the same thing: your health is good…but you’re fat. The first time she said it to me, it stung. I didn’t used to be fat. I was a track runner. I was a lean, mean, athletic machine at one point of my life. Maybe that’s part of the problem, however. You see, when I was in high school and I ran track and cross country, I was working out constantly. That coupled with my teenage metabolism meant I was hungry…ALL the time. Being hungry all the time with a hummingbird’s metabolism means you can eat like a truck driver and not gain a single pound. It was a delightful time of my life in which I pretty much moved through the world in a constant state of consumption. I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted it. I needed the calories, but perhaps taking down an entire large pizza or challenging men twice my size to mashed potato eating competitions wasn’t the healthiest way to go about it. I had no fears, no regrets, and lived my life doing precisely what I wanted all the time. What I wanted most of the time was to eat all the delicious things I could get my hands on. No harm done at that time, but things changed after high school when I entered college.

The old me…

I attended a small, prestigious art college in Laguna Beach, California. In those years, I went from a high school athlete who spent her days running around and burning calories to somebody who spent her days sitting on stools in art studios, painting nudes; or in computer labs, zooming in on pixels as I perfected my graphic design skills. My friends and I spent our weekends sketching animals at the San Diego Zoo, dining out at Laguna Beach restaurants, and casually strolling around museums like the L.A. County Museum of Art and Pasadena’s Norton Simon Museum. We would get together to work on our school art projects and order pizza. It also being college, there was plenty of booze floating around, particularly in the evenings. Art school parties were considerably mild compared to the stories I’ve heard from my more traditional college attending friends, but even though we mostly stood around discussing philosophy and/or arguing about some nerdy movie, the weight gain was all the same.

For a couple years, I kept a fairly slim physique, but at some point I met Norwood, who was to later become my husband, and we did what any newly dating couple in love does: go out to eat. All. The. Time. It was delightful! We tried new restaurants all over South Orange County. We munched on appetizers, desserts, and everything in between. We ate pizza, Indian Food, Thai Food, Mexican Food, Burgers, French Food, Italian Food, Chinese Food, Japanese Food, Pub Food, and more. It was so much fun, but for some reason that is now inexplicable to me, I didn’t notice myself becoming fatter during that time. It wasn’t until one day, I looked in the mirror and saw a chubby girl looking back at me that it hit me…I had gotten fat. There was no gradual realization. It was as though one day I was this beautiful athlete, and the next day I was fat.

This realization left me incredibly depressed. One might think this would motivate a former athlete to get her act together, but it had the opposite effect on me. It sunk me lower and lower into a depression. Because I was depressed, I comforted myself with comfort foods like nachos and macaroni and cheese. I would cry, and then I would eat because I was crying, and then I would cry because I ate. I can’t begin to describe the psychology to you and what it feels like to be in that state, but it’s such a dark place to be. Intellectually, I knew that I needed to get my act together, but some unseen force was stopping me at every step of the way.

Eventually, I started to slowly improve my habits. I started cooking at home more. I started walking. Walking became running, and running became monthly 5K races and epic hikes. I started counting calories and became a diligent exerciser. I added yoga to the mix, and spin classes, and boot camp classes at the gym. I became obsessed. I was a woman on a mission and I willed my body into submission. It worked. In 2010, I was as svelte as ever and I was so happy and proud of myself.

Still, it was an incredibly rigid way to live my life and it was ultimately unsustainable. The moment I allowed myself to relax the routine a little bit, it all came crashing down. First it was a day without counting calories. Then it was a plate of nachos here and there. Before long I was back to my old routine and my weight was creeping back up. I lost control again, and again I slipped into a depression of not working out and eating whatever. It really is a vicious cycle.

In the years since, I’ve half-heartedly tried a few attempts at getting back into shape, but I haven’t managed to muster that old fervor that worked so well for me before. I’ve tried counting calories again, but I can’t seem to garner the same enthusiasm for it. I’ve tried running, but I just don’t enjoy it like I used to. I’ve tried CrossFit, and although I really do love it, it’s really, really hard, and I often scare myself out of going. I’ve tried counting macros and other such plans, but I can’t seem to be as rigid as I need to be. I fizzle out and then I find myself back on the couch, eating cake. I’ll go to great lengths to get cake, by the way. I haven’t mentioned this yet, but in 2012 I found out I have celiac which means I can’t eat gluten. Explains a lot of mysterious health problems I had been having for years, and I do feel better, but I’ve managed to still eat just as horribly as ever. Can’t get cake easily? My fat ass will drive to the store, buy all the ingredients, drive back, and straight up BAKE a gluten free cake. I’m nothing if not industrious. Clearly laziness isn’t my issue…it’s just willpower.

I was sort of doing ok and going to CrossFit fairly regularly, but in November of 2016 I sprained my ankle hiking in Catalina Island. It’s weak now but mostly healed, but the stress of that lingering injury and the limitations it put on me has left my motivation in tatters. I tried going to CrossFit but it always needed to be modified, and I started to shy away from going for that reason. I stopped hiking and running and walking. It was depressing, so I ate some fatty foods to drown my sorrows. What resulted was a total breakdown of all the good I had been working for.

And…well, here I am. It’s 2017 and I’m a chubby desk jockey. My job, though I love it, doesn’t exactly require a lot of physical fitness. My eating habits, while mostly healthy, also involve plenty of plates of nachos and chocolate cake and quite frankly, just too many calories. I don’t look horrible or anything, but I’m certainly not svelte. My butt and legs have some jiggle. My pants are tight. My muffin top spills out over the top of my pants. I don’t like the way my chin looks in a lot of photos. I’m not obese…but I’m fat, and it’s about time I did something about it.

So I’m going to turn things around, one day at a time. I’m going to focus on my eating habits, particularly my caloric intake. I’m not going to be as rigid as I was in 2010 because I know it’s unsustainable, but I’m going to focus on creating better habits in general. I’m going to focus on movement and fitness. I’m going to go on more walks during the work day. I’m going to go jogging again if my ankle holds up, and I’m going to walk if it doesn’t. I’m going to swallow my pride and return to CrossFit after a couple months away. I have to, because if you don’t have your health, what do you have?

This blog is to chronicle my journey from a chubby desk jockey back into health and fitness. I invite you to join me along the way and to share in this bumpy road we all call life.


Here is me, about 3 weeks ago in Tokyo. It was hard to find a recent full body photo of myself because I’ve been generally avoiding them.

GUNDAM style!

A post shared by Heather Hopkins 🎨✈️🍕🌮 (@arttraveleatrepeat) on

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