Fitness has always been a struggle for me. Notice my choice of words – I used fitness – not weight loss, or gaining muscle mass or working on that post baby body. You see, all of those things come relatively easy for me. I can lose weight quite quickly. Consider it the years of posing in front of a camera, pre-photoshop, that taught me how to trim down in a matter of days. And muscles – I never really cared for – I play a few sessions of tennis and my arms would be noticeably more toned. My four pregnancies may have expanded my hips, but my waist remained the same, which gave me even more of an hourglass, allowing those around to consider my svelte figure pretty sexy. And yes, breastfeeding always made me lose weight. A consolidated four years of it kept me quite slim over the past 15 years.

Though this might make me seem lucky, and cause many eyes to roll at my majestic gene pool, the truth is, I was never really very healthy, and FIT was not among the list of adjectives that could be used to describe me. I could barely walk a kilometer without getting tired, and I definitely could not climb a mountain or even carry my babies for too long.

One day, I read an article on the term ‘skinny-fat,’ and as I delved deeper into the piece, I realized that I had I ticked every box on the list. It spoke about how unhealthy and dangerous my lifestyle really was of eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and not exercising. Even though I ate a well balanced diet – a lot of home cooked meals (and I am quite fond of vegetables) – I ate a lot of it and I also constantly gave into junk food and sweets because, well I was thin, and thought “I can afford it.”

Last January, I decided I needed to make some real changes to my lifestyle. Even though I don’t really believe in New Years resolutions, I knew that I was right smack in the middle of my mid 30’s and if I didn’t start now, I might miss the boat. So with the mindset of not wanting to set any strict promises or rules I wouldn’t be able to stick to, I made small decisions everyday to make better choices.

The first was that I chose to be active, for even just 20 minutes a day. With that, I began going to the gym inside our village. What might seem small for most, was just right for me as it had everything I needed – a treadmill, weights, and a few key machines. Asides from that, it has a direct view to the park, where my children oftentimes play. What started out as just brisk walking has turned into brisk walks with running intervals, and even my weights have gotten heavier through the months. I still stick to a 30 minute routine (that’s all that this mother of 4 can commit to on a daily basis) but sometimes, I mix it up – doing hour long classes when I have the luxury of time such as a dance class, yoga, or even a tennis rally.

Something that has really helped motivate me is wearing a fitbit. I have a small goal of 7000 steps a day, which I really try to accomplish. Checking my progress excites me and really pushes me to keep moving.

Another conscious choice I make everyday is the food I eat. From better choices when I am dining out, to sampling healthier recipes when I cook at home. I also try to stick to only water, treating myself to the occasional cocktail or glass of wine when out with my husband or friends. Of course, I still give in to my cravings and treat myself, but now I don’t feel so guilty because that is the exception rather than the rule.

Lastly, and this may sound cliché and ridiculous, but I try to no longer ‘sweat the small stuff’ when it can be helped. When I am less stressed I notice I find so much more time in my day to do things. It might be the reverse effect – wherein I am actually less stressed because I am exercising and maintaining a healthy level of fitness – either way, I am sleeping better and feeling better all around.

Almost half the year has gone by, and to be honest, I can’t believe I have managed to keep up this new found love for staying in shape, but I am so glad I have, and it seems like it is here to stay.