Welcome to our third summer of #WhyIExercise. I hope you had an exceptional 2017-2018 school year. Summer is the perfect time to relax, reflect, and recharge. Through the journeys of six exceptional educators, we hope to inspire you to start, recommit, or find a renewed motivation to exercise. Our first spotlight educator is a reading teacher from Virginia. Please welcome Kim Dinga. Kim has been an educator for 14 years. She grew up in Johnson City, New York and received her bachelor's degree from SUNY Cortland and master's degree from the State University of New York at Binghamton. Kim can be found on Twitter @MSLiteracy.
Here is Kim to kick off this year’s #Why I Exercise!
I joined ski club in middle school and continued to ski throughout high school. Also, I played varsity soccer and softball. While I played softball, I earned two awards, most improved player (MIP) and most valuable player (MVP) as shortstop. Later, I continued to play soccer at Broome Community College. I was always energized by interacting with other people who were on the lookout for a challenge and a way to invest in their well-being.
Sadly, when I was in my 20’s, I tore my ACL and lateral meniscus. Instead of choosing surgery, I finished physical therapy over the summer and joined the Finger Lakes Cycling Club in Ithaca, NY immediately to strengthen my quads. During recovery, I got back on my skis and continued cycling. I became a triathlete, crossfit athlete, and fitness addict. I was inspired by so many stories of other athletes who did not quit on themselves even when life got hard. To be an intrepid leader like them, I knew I needed to crave adventure and not be afraid of failing, falling, and finishing last. Opting out of the surgery was the best decision for me because I proved to myself that I could have fun and finish over twenty triathlons, three century bike rides, dozens of 5k’s, and hundreds of rides between 20-60 miles with a physical setback.
I realized that I was becoming addicted to excitement and I knew I could not keep up with this lifestyle forever, so I changed my workout routine. Currently, I go to the gym about three times a week. I swim for 20 minutes, which is about a half a mile. This decision helped me maintain and build endurance, strengthen my muscles, and improve my cardiovascular fitness. I also like swimming because it takes stress off my body and knee joints while keeping my heart rate up. Finally, I weight train to improve my form and gain strength without bulking.
As a 30th birthday present, my friend asked me to join her in a group cleanse, a Master Cleanse. She said I would most likely feel full of vitality, so I took a chance! Then I had a life changing experience. As she expressed, I felt energetic. I changed my diet completely by eliminating sugars, processed foods, and sodas. Ten years later, I became a vegan and I no longer “cleanse”, instead I eat a plant-based diet on a budget. I am human and I like eating cake when my friends bake for me.
Staying fit helps me rarely miss a day of work. It increases my brain power and helps me stay motivated at work.
Personal: My goals are to let go of control as much as possible and not take life so seriously.
Professional: I want to strengthen my professional relationships by listening actively, appreciating others, managing boundaries, and avoiding gossip.
Athletic: I want to stick to a 3-day a week challenge.
My one word next year will probably be “integrate” because we live in the digital age where students are digital natives familiar with computers and the internet from an early age. That said, “integrate” means to me combining digital natives, agencies, and things into a whole so that engagement, collaboration, and enhancement of overall interactions can occur.
I’d like to sincerely thank Kim for sharing with us. I don’t know about you, but I love Kim’s energy and commitment. If you already follow her on Twitter, you know exactly what I mean! Kim’s story reminds us that finishing strong is where our focus should be. No matter where you are in your fitness journey, take that first step and soon you’ll be making gains that you may have never even imagined, just like Kim. I love her quest for adventure, commitment to a healthy diet, and more recently her sense of balance.
#MuchLove . . . Marilyn