Southern California – Lifestyle Change for the Better
“You are so skinny,” is just one of the sentences I got to hear from co-workers, friends and family when living back in Germany. I mean, I was never overweight or had to worry about the number on the scale, but I was not in a great shape, even though I apparently was “skinny” (which I didn’t consider myself). I didn’t work out on a regular basis. When I was 21 years old, I had a gym membership, which I used about three days a week. Sometimes, I went for two hours straight, partaking in a body works class followed by an aerobic workout.
I definitely did get my sweat on. But when I came home after my workout, I usually got comfortable on my couch, accompanied by a bar of chocolate (and not only one) or a bag of chips. I wasn’t realizing at that time that, in order to get a lean body, I had to take nutrition into the equation as well. So basically, my workouts didn’t show any other results than staying in the same shape I was in. What didn’t help though was the fact that, during that time of my life, I really didn’t care.
I usually held this attitude until summer rolled around, which meant that the weather became warmer and the clothing shorter. At that time, I did start feeling uncomfortable. I wanted to lie out in the sun, but not necessarily with a huge crowd around me. I tried to avoid too crowded pools or lakes, even though I loved (and still do) getting my tan on. I hated seeing myself in a bikini, but didn’t understand (or was willing to admit) that I had to change my eating habits big time. This behavior went on for several years, until I permanently moved to Huntington Beach.
I witnessed fairly quickly how active and fit people out here are. The weather was so inviting for outdoor activities, I wanted to join in the fun. But since I hadn’t worked out on a regular basis for a while, I had to start it slow. My roommate at that time and I began to go on hourly walks along the beach boardwalk, moving my unfit body while enjoying the beautiful beach scenery at the same time. I started doing walks on a regular basis, but I still didn’t get the nutrition part: I was eating so unhealthy and, as a result, wasn’t able to see results.
After getting used to regular walks, I upgraded my personal fitness journey to a gym membership. I love, love, love taking gym classes, including Yoga, Zumba, or Body Works. Therefore, this was the next best step for me in the right direction. But still, my nutrition was far from perfect. I just loved to try out all those unhealthy foods we didn’t have in Germany. But one particular fitness community helped me to finally change my eating habits for the better.
I just got back from a recent trip to Germany in January 2014 when I started watching a reality show (you know I love those from one of my recent posts) about two women who own a fitness brand. I was impressed by their fit, toned physiques. That is what I wanted to look like, not skinny, but strong and healthy. I undertook some research about the fitness business, and found an amazing community of strong women of all ages and from all different backgrounds, who shared their progress, meals, and workouts on social media. I became hooked pretty quickly, not only with the fitness lifestyle, but also with cooking healthier.
In November of the same year, I purchased a nutrition plan with plenty of nutritious food options. I enjoyed cooking and experimenting in the kitchen more. As the younger generation would say: I really started to dig this lifestyle. Countless workouts and healthier meals later, I can finally say that I am comfortable in my body and am not afraid to lie out by the beach. I have never felt better and more confident, and working out became a daily habit, which I do not want to miss out on.
But not everybody approves of my lifestyle change. What I now get to hear from some of my German friends is that they are worried I work out too much. Some of them hold the misconception that working out equals wanting to lose weight. I never had the intention to excessively lose weight. For me, it is to get a toned, sculpted body I am finally feeling confident in. To them, I am getting too skinny. Some of them even told me to not exaggerate with my gym visits. This makes me really upset. I do not tell you to work out more, so don’t tell me to work out less when it makes me feel good.
I am not starving myself, I eat healthy and enough, and I am the happiest I have been with my body. Looking back I would say that this move to a healthier me was the best decision I made. I like the new me and would not want to go back to the stage I was in when I was in my 20’s.
Anne-Kathrin Schulte, is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes on her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She has been living in Southern California since 2011.
If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at)gmail.com and place her name in the subject line.