A Little More About Heather
My Story – The Long and Short of It
So if you have made it this far along in my blog, you must be a little bit interested? Maybe? Want the long? Read on… Want the condensed version? Skip to the short …either way, this is my story.
I am a Midwestern girl, born and raised in a small town – a farmer’s daughter, actually. Some might describe my upbringing as a little like living in Mayberry… in a good way, of course. Looking back, it was truthfully the best upbringing I could ever imagine. While I love and appreciate the country now, at the time, I thought I wanted to live the fast-paced city life. So after college, I worked for a Fortune 50 company in a large city. There were so many fantastic things about it… the culture, the food, the shopping, and the opportunities were amazing! However, I eventually found that, for me, the grass was not greener. In fact, there was not much grass at all, just a lot of concrete and a little smog :-). After a few years, I decided to return to graduate school to earn my Master’s Degree in Kinesiology. I had been working as a fitness instructor and personal trainer as a side job and hobby for several years, and I had found that I wanted to devote much more time to this area than my corporate cubicle home. While quite a leap from finance to kinesiology, the in-depth study and research opportunities in the exercise science/biomechanics field became my passion. I had found my first true love! Following graduation, I accepted an internship position as a researcher and later a permanent clinical position with a well-known orthopedic sports medicine group in Colorado. Living in the mountains – and I actually lived in the mountains – was an amazing experience, especially for someone who spent much of their life looking at the horizontal. However, I had come to realize how important my family was to me, and I missed them terribly. So I eventually made my way back home. Not to mention, the mountainous topography was not friendly to a heel-lover like me… literally. I broke my foot wearing a mule-style shoe and came back to the Midwest in an attractive white walking boot. Okay, so a little wine may have been involved. Not my best look. Despite the walking boot look, I managed to snag a wonderful guy, fall in love, and tie the knot. Who says a white walking boot should not be a key accessory in every woman’s wardrobe?
Shortly after the hubby and I exchanged vows, I began work on my PhD at the University of Iowa, where my research involved studying physical activity and bone health. During that time, I also accepted a full-time position as a tenure-track professor of exercise science at a private university, teaching everything from exercise physiology to sport nutrition to exercise prescription. In addition, I conducted research on muscular and perceptual responses to weight training and conditioning. After a tremendous amount of blood, sweat, and tears (yes there was a bit of blood, I think), I earned my PhD, as well as rank and tenure in my professorship. I truly poured my heart and soul into those endeavors – I loved my field, and I loved teaching and doing research. Presenting and publishing my research at the national and international level was enlightening, and I treasured the ability to impact lives on a daily basis through teaching. However, due to a number of unusual circumstances in combination with my workaholic tendencies, I found myself working 80-100 hours per week for nearly 10 years. This caused a number of stress-related health issues that were a bit scary, difficulties having a family, injured relationships, and a life that was passing me by. Eventually, after a lot of thought, prayer, faith, and planning, my husband and I decided that it was best for me to step away from that position for my well-being. I needed to focus on my health and regain some life-balance. Health and wellness were at the heart of my career field, after all. Shouldn’t I live that way? Although it was a very difficult decision that took more than two years to make, and I would have given anything for things to work out in my career, it turns out it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Since then I have learned to put God central in my life, and to lean on Him through the good and especially through the bad. I have been able to focus on my marriage, spend time with family and friends, and take care of my home. I have been filled with joy in raising a puppy, and I have experienced a heartbreaking loss of life. I have been blessed with time to actually see the sunset rather than realize it had set hours before, workout each day, grow a garden, and play around with recipes. I have enjoyed reading literature not in the form of an academic journal, taking on home projects that would have been ignored, and starting a small business. I am discovering that simpler is sometimes better, that I am continually inspired and energized by others… and that I can seek a life that is more beautiful, healthy, joyful, and well. It is definitely not perfect and there are many new challenges and sacrifices that come along with this decision – some might call it a work in progress. But this new journey is worth it, and, for me, making the most of what you have been blessed with is what life is all about… and it never hurts to be wearing a great pair of shoes along the way.
So here I am – my life in a nutshell (or more like a page). Ten Years Exercise Science Professor turned Blogger. PhD. Twelve Years Strength and Conditioning Specialist and Certified Athletic Trainer. Eighteen Years Certified Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer. Fashion and Style Enthusiast (my hubby would say addict :-)). Maker of Healthy Food (okay, some unhealthy too – one has to live a little). Lover of Jesus, Family, Friends, and Lifelong Learning. Wife. Mom to a Furry Baby (that is puppy, in case you were wondering). Vertically Challenged. Country Girl at Heart. A Little Casual.
So about this blog thing…am I a bit nervous about putting myself out there? Yes. Do I have a lot to learn? Absolutely. But if there is one thing I miss after stepping away from my career, it is having an avenue to help and inspire others about those things I am most passionate… and I hope through this blog, I might be able to do that – even if just a little.