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Finding a New Identity

April 3, 2013

March Madness is quickly coming to a close and as I reflect, I realize it has already been over a year since I last wore my own college basketball jersey. For as long as I can remember, when someone asked me to describe myself, one of the first things I said was that I was a basketball player. While my education was always incredibly important, I ultimately chose where I went to high school and college based on basketball; whether it was my performance or that of the schools’ basketball program.

In September of 2011, I applied to USD and it was the first time I had the opportunity to choose a school based solely on the academics and the location. Clearly, I chose well.

I was so excited to move to San Diego and start working at USD that I left my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio and all of my family and friends just 4 days after my college graduation. I was ready for a new start, a new place, new people, and a new identity.

I arrived in San Diego with my Mom and we spent a week exploring the city, getting me settled, and spending some mother-daughter time before she left me on my own. The first few weeks felt like an extended vacation—I wasn’t in school yet and was just working two part-time jobs with plenty of time to spend at the beach. I quickly fell out of my normal work out routine and despite the fact that California is stereotyped as being a health conscious state, the food is unbelievably good and it’s EVERYWHERE! By the end of the summer, I had noticed I was getting out of shape.

Then school started. I thought being a full-time student-athlete for four years was rough! The stress of being 2400 miles away from home, out of my normal routine and comfort zone, plus a new job, the death of a close family member, different types of classes and a new learning environment totally threw me for a loop! Needless to say, the fitness and eating habits that I had learned in college had disappeared. By the time winter break hit, I had a new identity, but one I did not like one bit. I had ex-athlete syndrome! Most of my clothes still fit, but not the way they used to. My arms and legs weren’t toned anymore, I didn’t feel good, I was tired all the time and was drinking more caffeine than I ever had before.

I decided I needed to find myself again. I not only needed to increase my workouts, but needed to get competitive again because I knew it would keep me motivated. I decided to sign-up for a half-marathon. I completed the Carlsbad Half-Marathon at the end of January. It was amazing how quickly my body bounced back and I did another one a few weeks later around Mission Bay and I had my best time out of the three that I have done and finished in 1 hour and 56 minutes! I’m now training for the full Rock ‘n Roll Marathon in June and have also started doing Cross-Fit workouts at CrossFit 619 (in Linda Vista across the street from USD) and playing intramurals at USD. My older brother also recently moved to San Diego and we have found some great running trails! Check out http://www.sandiegomagazine.com/San-Diego-Magazine/April-2012/Get-Outside/ for some great suggestions from San Diego Magazine. I also rented a paddleboard from USD’s Outdoor Adventures office this past weekend and got a great core workout paddling around Fiesta Island.

Now that I have gotten back on track with my workouts, I have more energy and naturally want to eat better so that I can better refuel my body and I am reclaiming my identity. It may not be as a basketball player, but this time as a healthy and successful graduate student.

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