Hooray!! I finally took the initiative to jumpstart my physical fitness, which has been a part of my life that I’ve taken for granted ever since I was a kid. My younger sister came out of it pink-faced and exhausted, but I think we both feel a little more energized and alert from running and power walking up and down our street for just 45 minutes. I know that I need to start making time to exercise — and desperately — because I’ve never put much effort into making sure I push my body to stay fit. I remember in middle school I made a fitness schedule complete with cut outs of simple exercises from Seventeen magazine, inserted into shiny clear page protectors. I thought making the schedule and tracking my activity like we were taught in P.E. would encourage me to keep at it, but all my creation (deemed “Alyssa’s Exercise Binder,” which was scrawled neatly on the bright blue vinyl cover) did was sit on the floor tucked in between the wall and my desk. I loathed that desk as a kid. I hated — and still mostly do — sitting on a hard wood chair in a stiff upright position or bending over schoolwork and projects. Maybe that’s why the binder never got opened: I associated it with the evils of hard, creativity-stifling desks. So when my “Exercise Binder” faded into the recesses of my teenage brain and other activities took priority, my desire to stay fit went along with it. Sure, I did a few fitness-related things growing up; I ran around outside spending time with my little sister, from age three to around fourteen I took dance lessons after school (ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop), and I did color guard for four years with a few of my girlfriends. But I did those things for fun — I never went for a jog like a few of my friends did to stay healthy. I just thought I was happy with the way I looked, I was too skinny to begin with, and I ate decent meals, so what do I need to spend an hour a day sweating for? This was not a great mindset to have growing up — now I’m a skinny 20-year-old who huffs and puffs after going up a set of stairs to catch a train every other day. Stairs have become something I need to prepare myself for (“ok take a few good deep breathes and go slowly but steadily, here comes the first step… breath, breath…”). It is pretty funny to watch me struggle at the last few steps but it’s mainly just terrifying because I’m so young yet have trouble climbing stairs. It seems silly but even though I hate that about my self and my body, I’ve only visited the gym (that I can attend for FREE at my school!) a measly handful of times. If I want to be able to breath like a normal human being of 20 years, I need to put my foot down. And pick it up. And put it down again, over and over, whether I can get to a gym or I have to do it on our street over its janky messed up sidewalks. Regardless, I’m marking the beginning of a life that supports physical health. I may not eat how I’d like to eat, living at home while I finish out college, but I can feel how I want to feel, and exercise will help me do that.