26, You Were Too Good to Me.

Tomorrow I’m turning 27… (insert over-the-hill joke here). Yes, I know it’s just a number, but the fear/shock/curiosity of entering my late twenties has officially set in. And as I blow out my candles tomorrow, I’m going to figure out if these jitters are from the common dread of getting older or the heartbreak of parting with 26, which was undoubtedly my favorite number so far.

Looking back, I accomplished so much with 26. It was around my 26th birthday last year when I decided to embark on my craziest fitness journey yet: becoming a bodybuilder. Well, let me clarify. My goal wasn’t to become a female Arnold, but instead to master the weight room and develop a more toned, bikini model physique. I started logging my transformation through progress pics and eventually decided to share my story on Instagram. And that is how Nathletix, my social media fitness diary, came to life.

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With Nathletix, the vulernability of sharing my stories and my physique to the world built a newfound self-confidence that I didn’t see coming. And it’s funny because I quickly learned that documenting my fitness journey on social media kept me more accountable than ever. In fact, I rarely missed a workout, kept my nutrition goals forefront, and took every free moment I had to brainstorm new, exciting workouts to share with my fit friends on Instagram. I can proudly say that this unwavering dedication lead me to achieve the best shape I’ve ever been in.

And even though my sights were set on obtaining weightlifting goals, my racing was pretty on point as well. Some brag-worthy races include: Carowinds Run & Ride 10k (1st place finish in F25-29, 45:10 time), Rocktoberfest 5-miler (2nd place female finish, 1st in F25-29, 37:58 time), and the CPCC Skyline 5k (2nd place finish in F25-29, 22:59 time). Although, in May I did decide to significantly decrease my mileage, in hopes of adding some mass to my figure. And unfortunately this set me back a bit for my current racing goals.

My proudest moment of 2016 was being featured in the September issue of Oxygen Magazine. I will never forget when I received the e-mail from the Oxygen team, informing me that I had been chosen as one of three girls who would be featured in their Future of Fitness section. I was overwhelmed with disbelief, followed by intense pride, and I couldn’t wipe that goofy smile off my face for days.

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In my personal life, I made the biggest decision of my career: to quit my comfortable, corporate job to start my very own graphic design business. I’m only a month and half in right now, but so far, it has been a dream come true. I’ve always heard that working for yourself can be both the hardest but most rewarding thing you will ever do, and I’m quickly understanding and LOVING exactly what that means.

But now I’m entering my 27th year, and I have no plans of letting this hard-earned momentum come to a halt. I’ve already began training for my next big race: the Charlotte Half-Marathon on November 12 and I have several smaller races on my radar to help me prep for that big day. I’m also going to continue growing these mini muscles I’ve built by staying active in the gym 3-4 days a week.

27 is going to be a big year for me, I can feel it already. My goals are lofty, but I’ve never felt more equipped to conquer them. I’ve learned so much this year, so much about myself and what I’m capable of. And I can’t wait to see how I grow even stronger and braver this upcoming year.

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