May 10, 2016

#GirlsAre Fierce: By Joy Bauer

I was lucky to find my first passion early in life: I took a gymnastics class at 10, and was instantly hooked. I loved how the sport made me feel — strong, confident, focused. I poured my heart and soul into it and was eventually rewarded with an athletic scholarship to college. 
Unfortunately, after a series of injuries and several surgeries to fix them at age 18, I was forced to hang up my leotard and leave the sport I had loved for years. My gymnastics career was over.
But there were two bright spots for me. For one, through all the years I’d trained as a competitive gymnast, I’d developed and strengthened many important traits that would help me not only through my recovery but also any obstacle I’d ultimately face in life. I learned how to be persistent, resilient, resourceful, and even fierce.

Nothing would keep me down — not a career-ending injury or a painful recovery. I would be back on my feet again.

Plus, I’d uncovered a very valuable lesson: Activity — whether it’s an organized sport or any form of movement you enjoy — is absolutely essential. This is true, of course, for good health (whether you’re talking about weight maintenance or disease prevention), but also overall wellbeing. Exercise helps build character and self-esteem. It can boost mood, increase energy levels and sharpen your thinking. The benefits are endless!

I haven’t been on the balance beam in quite some time, but I still make being active a priority. For years, I was an exercise instructor, personal trainer and gymnastics coach. I love to bike and hike with my family. I “wog” marathons (haha, that’s a combo of walking and jogging). I enjoy dancing and swimming. And when life gets so busy that I can’t squeeze in a formal workout, I make sure to log my 10,000 steps with a snazzy fitness tracker.
I exercise because it makes me feel good. I also want to be a healthy role model for my three kids (and especially my two daughters) and hopefully pass along to them my passion for activity — and the countless health perks that come along with the sweat. People may know me as the food gal, but I have a deep love of exercise that has made me who I am and continues to shape the person I’m becoming.