Find Yourself Through Fitness

By Lauden Baker

Being Fit for Life is having a body and mindset that not only aligns with your goals and daily objectives but further helps you accomplish them.

So often, our self-imposed mental barriers prevent us from pursuing a healthy lifestyle. We compare ourselves to the often unrealistic expectations held by Hollywood icons and social media stars. The key is to understand healthy looks different on everyone, and though an eight-pack may be nice, a body that can do what is required of it is far more valuable.

Growing up, my mom did an incredible job teaching me what a healthy lifestyle looked like. We were always enjoying physical activities together. She would teach me and my little brother how to dissect the nutrition facts on some of our favorite snacks. She showed me being healthy and feeling good is fun and something to be proud of. This foundation would prove to be vital as I navigated my adolescence.

My passion for health and wellness carried me through high school as I participated in sports like basketball, track and cross country. However, my freshman year of college was a wake-up call. For the first time, I was only accountable to myself. With my new freedom, I frequently stayed up too late and ate unhealthy foods in large portions. I developed severe acid reflux, which made sleeping and basic activities uncomfortable. I was eating Tums like candy, and I knew it was time to make a change. At that moment, I realized I was the only person stopping me from accomplishing my physical goals. I made significant diet improvements, embraced gym culture and found empowerment in physical training at the university recreation center.

Toward the end of my freshman year of college, I discovered Midwest Regional Ballet, and though I was already 19, I jumped in feet first to the world of dance. I practiced 4-5 days per week, taking everything from ballet to aerial classes. My fellow dancers became my family, and we created beautiful shows together. I truly learned about my body and how to safely push my physical and mental limits as I danced my way through college.

In 2017, I was hired as the marketing and events specialist at the Joplin Family YMCA. It has been such a blessing to work for an organization with an intentional emphasis on health and well-being. I have been so inspired by the trainers, instructors and staff. Each one brings their passion for wellness to their classes and clients, and I never have an excuse to skip the gym since it is only a few feet away from my desk!

A person doesn’t make one choice to be healthy. Health requires a series of choices and a focus that perseveres. Being Fit for Life is an ever-changing concept that will adapt with life’s different seasons. Identify the activities that make YOU excited to get up and move and embrace them! At one time, I was training for 5k’s and lifting girls over my head for dance productions. Now, my fitness regimen may include a walk with my mom, a workout at the Y or a dance class to brush up on my technique. The beauty about being Fit for Life is the realization that a healthy body and mindset not only enhances what you are already doing, but shows you how much further you can go.