Firsts are an exciting topic of conversation, especially for the individual sharing the first. There is usually a sense of nostalgia, sometimes a tinge of regret, and it is often palpable as the person relives the moment as she explains it. I have a favorite first. It was my first foray into the world of fitness which was so exciting because it was such uncharted territory for me.

I never had followed an exercise plan or counted calories before. In college we were beer and pizza fed, but kept our slim to “normal” sized frames because, well, we were in our late teens and early twenties. And because our group of friends was always hiking, camping, biking, or playing intense games of soft, well, slosh, ball. Calories consumed while watching Simpsons and Seinfeld were quickly burned as we humped up the hill to Settlers’ Park in north Boulder, CO with a keg in tow. The keg beers were burned as a late night game of tag and moonlight hike filled the rest of our evening. I never thought about what I ate and in retrospect, I was lucky that I was just drawn to chicken sandwiches for almost every meal and did not like mayo, fried food, and never had a sweet tooth in my younger years.

My first venture into the world gym-bound exercise started when I was 22 and living in Boston. I was not tired at night, couldn’t sleep and started to feel a little bit lonely in the middle of city so far from my outdoor days and outdoor friends. My friend Cyndi suggested that it was time for me to start exercising. I joined a gym the next morning. It was so exciting. There were so many different choices: machines, free weights, bands, blocks, and balls. I met with a trainer who took me through the paces and explained to me for the first time the right amount of calories I should be consuming and how many I should be burning each workout.

It became a game to think of the day as a caloric equation to follow. It was impressive to see the minutes added to my runs and to see the weight increase on the machines he had woven into my routine. This is a first that will always stick with me. And a first I constantly revisit after holidays filled with overindulging and too much couch time put me back in the unfit zone. Every time I let myself get a little out of shape and spend too much time drinking beer and not enough time paying the tab, I always find my way back to fitness. It reminds me of the excitement with which I approach the summer and the zeal with which I start each New Year. The possibilities lay ahead of me and the miles tick up as I become committed again to a new cardio or weight routine.

Every time I go to the gym or hit the trail after a break, it still feels like the first time. The great thing about a repeat first is that you know all the benefits that lie ahead. The miles and hours are worth it; all of the sudden a five mile run is no big deal. And it’s much easier to be and stay positive when I’m exercising. And the best, the most satisfying is when I hump up the hill near my house that is similar to Settlers’ and it still feels like I am 21 years old. The only difference is that I don’t have a keg in tow (as often).
Katie K