December 14, 2022

The Gift of Choice: by Michelle Lasiter

The Gift of Choice: by Michelle Lasiter

I remember this time 14 years ago, December 2008, when I was faced with the significance of my decision to move to a new state by myself 3 months prior. It was a very challenging time for me. I felt depressed and I had started gaining weight from emotional eating; it had gotten to the point where I was hiding bags of sweet trail mix (the gourmet kinds from Target) in the bottom drawer of my dresser in my little sister’s room so I could eat as much as I wanted to in private.

As a 24 year old, I decided that it was time to make a big life decision- I had graduated with my B.S. in Biochemistry and Cell Biology that summer and I was still working as a bartender at the same restaurant I started working at out of high school. My twin sister, also my roommate, was about to move out of our apartment and into an apartment with her boyfriend and his brother. I had gone to an interview to be a laboratory tech in Solana Beach and nailed it with a job offer but felt underwhelmed and bored. I didn’t want to be stuck in a lab all day everyday making stock solutions and cleaning glassware and maintaining bunsen burners. . . . blah! My dream back then was to cure cancer. Then reality hit: to get to that job, I would have to do the jobs that I didn’t want to do. Luckily for me, I had discovered my love of fitness and completed my very first certification (Turbo Kick LIVE) with Michael Saure in December of 2007. I was also newly single… yep, there’s another kick in the pants huh? After 5 years, my boyfriend and I split up for good. There was something he said the first time we split up, I know I know, that struck a chord with me and I’ll never forget it: “You’re a very reactive person. I’m looking for someone who’s proactive.” Yes, he broke my heart. The second time it was my decision and I took what he said to heart. It was time for me to move on. Not only from that relationship, but from my job as a bartender and from the in-between of being a graduate and not quite happy with my career options.

Feeling that pull towards the fitness world, I told my sister that I would be moving to Arizona to pursue my Masters degree in Exercise and Wellness. She was as shocked as I was. To be honest, I did check out the universities in San Diego to see if they offered a Masters degree in what I wanted but they came up short. I didn’t want to move away. I was comfortable there in Santee with my work friends, my school friends and my gym friends, but I knew I didn’t have any opportunities in fitness there. Although I would miss my life, I couldn’t stand another year of dealing with rude customers, smelling like fried food and wearing shoes sticky from walking around on black mats covered in alcohol behind the bar while going on interviews for jobs that were an hour’s commute away. I had to be proactive. This was it. This was my time. I wanted to become a fitness professional and I had to make a lot of sacrifices to do just that.

So here I was, in December of 2008. Sitting on the floor of my little sister’s room (my family lived in Gilbert, AZ and that’s where I went with my car stuffed full of everything I owned) feeling like I was all alone even though I was with my dad, stepmom and half siblings. Yet, these were the people that I would visit for a couple days and then go back home, so this just didn’t feel right. No friends around, no gym with my favorite classes and Instructors, no work friends to hang with after shift. I cried and cried, just like I did on my birthday 2 months earlier (the first birthday I spent without my twin sister and one of my best friends from junior high). And yes, I pulled out one of those gourmet trail mix bags and stuffed my face as I cried with the scent of lasagna filling the air because it was dinner time. I was seriously a sad sight. I was working and school would be starting in January but I was lonely and bored. This gets better, I promise.

That next morning I woke up and went to work. It was still dark because it was 5:30am and I was the opening beverage cart girl for the golf course nearby; as I was grabbing my coffee, my hand warmers, and loading up the cart for my shift, I decided that enough was enough. I would work my shift and then I was going to do something about my depression. After work, I got home and changed into a workout outfit and went for a walk around the neighborhood. It was a small choice. Not a huge life-changing one, just a simple choice to go back outside after being outside all day at work to go for a walk. By myself. To think. To get some clarity. That small choice changed my mindset. If I could get some time to myself, I could start to find ME again. The walks became a daily routine and just a couple weeks later I had saved up enough money to move into my own apartment. Yep, right after Christmas. . . that was a sweet Christmas gift to myself. From there, my perspective changed. School started, I joined a gym and I was making new friends. I was able to better connect with my family because I wasn’t living with them. At the gym, I found a Turbo Kick LIVE class and fell in love again. Amy was the Instructor and she became my mentor. Eventually I got my own class on the schedule and also started teaching at another gym. At the same time, I had the opportunity to teach undergraduate classes at ASU where I was completing my Masters degree. Everything was getting better. It felt like I finally got to the point where my big life-changing decision was making sense and it was paying off. Teaching at both the gyms and at the university opened up the opportunity to become a Master Trainer for Beachbody Live which then led me to Michele Park which then led to where I am now. I also met my husband that next year. . . hey now!

All because of the small choice to go on a walk.

I used exercise, walking at first, as a tool to find myself again. I used exercise as a tool to find joy again. I used exercise to improve my mental and emotional well being. It became my sweat therapy even before I had children.

Our small daily choices have the power to influence how our day/week/month/year will go. They may be small but they are impactful. They affect how we think, how we feel and how we behave. We can choose to let our current situation overwhelm us and bog us down, or we can choose to let go of the things that we have no control over so we can focus on the things that we can change. Easier said than done, I know. That small choice to go on a daily walk was something I had control over. It changed my mindset which influenced my behavior. That proactive me was back baby! If you’re feeling stuck, like I was, I want you to know that you can make one small decision each day that will start to snowball into something bigger for you. Did you catch that? Snowball? Because it’s winter time? Yep, I got you 😉

This time of year can bring about so many challenges. It’s so easy to let go of your routine and let chaos ensue with all the things. It doesn’t take much to feel overwhelmed. We can all be motivated by a quote or a video for the hour or maybe for that day, but can it last? It’s a hard thing to stay motivated day in and day out when life throws everything at you, and not just in threes. It’s more like fives and sevens. Oy. Discipline is what will get you through this season. Small choices each day. How lucky are we that we get to make these small choices for ourselves? And if you’re reading this (via Michele Park’s newsletter), I know you know that our bodies are a gift. Our bodies were made perfectly and uniquely for us and they want us to move. Here are a few small choices you can make each day that will have a huge impact on your mental, emotional and physical well being. After all, exercise is sweat therapy. Exercise is about more than just the physical.

Have a routine:

  1. Set out your workout outfit the night before.
  2. Get to bed on time so you’ll get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep.
  3. Have a plan for what kind of exercise or workout you’ll do.
  4. Wake up and start your morning with 20oz of water to kickstart your metabolism and hydration. You won’t feel so sluggish once this step is done, it truly wakes up your body after being dehydrated from sleeping.

When you start to make these small choices each day, you’ll develop discipline which will take you farther than motivation ever will. It doesn’t have to involve exercise, that’s just what helped me get the clarity I needed to move on and move up (along with not buying those dang trail mixes anymore). Your small choice could be something like writing down one thing you’re grateful for each day or starting your morning off with a song that makes you happy. Maybe it’s a small choice you make in how you will end your day, for example: reading an inspirational story or listening to one of your favorite podcasts while you get ready for bed. Choose something that will directly impact you right now. Something that your head, your heart, and your soul needs in this moment. That’s the gift of choice. We get to choose our daily routine; how we start each day and how we end each day. What an amazing gift!

I want to leave you with a few things to think about:

Have you been reactive or proactive this month? This year?

Is there something that you could be proactive with that would get you unstuck?

What small choice will you make today to make your life just a little bit better?

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story and my lessons from that challenging time in my life. I’m grateful for where I am today and so thankful to Michele Park for allowing me to share a little about myself. Have a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year! Cheers to 2023! Let’s make it an AMAZING year!


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