With gratitude and a runner's heart

by Amy Ruvalcaba

My fitness journey began in 2015. I got this crazy idea that I wanted to run a half marathon. Never having been an athlete, this was completely out of my comfort zone and I knew it would be a challenge. I convinced a few coworkers to join me and together we started running in June of 2015 in preparation for the Brownsville half marathon in October. My baseline performance was the ability to run a half mile. That tells you how out of shape I was. During this training, I developed a strong love for running. Running helped me clear my mind, provided peace within me and gave me confidence. Running showed me that I could do absolutely anything I set my mind to. Experiencing the “runners high” was the best feeling. All the other runners out there know exactly what I’m referring to. I couldn’t believe I had become that person who ran 10 miles on Saturday mornings just for fun. Each mile and each run gave me a strong sense of gratitude for my health and the overall ability to just get out there and run. I went from running a half mile to running 13.1 miles. This was a huge accomplishment for me all while creating a bond and friendship that would last a lifetime. 

One mistake that I made during my half marathon preparation was not incorporating weight training which I believe led to my ankle injury. From 2016-2018, I found a balance between running and strength training and was in the best shape of my life. In 2018, I made the shift from teaching to administration and found that over my administrative years my workouts dwindled down while my stress and weight increased each year.  4 years in and I am currently at the heaviest weight ever and struggle to find motivation and consistency. Finding the right balance between work, family, and fitness is not easy. We all know that we can’t pour from an empty cup and my family and staff need me at my best. 

Through the Fitleaders movement I have found a tribe of women that encourage and inspire me to be better everyday. My FitHermanas, Zandra, Diocelina, Ro, Betsy, Rose and Val have been a great support and encouragement. We share a common goal “making health and fitness a priority.” Seeing their Twitter workout posts remind me that we are all busy with work and family and there are no excuses.  Thank you ladies for the push. Leadership can be a lonely place and I have found connections and support with my FitHermanas who live miles away. 

Following a primarily plant based diet has been in my heart for a few years now. I yo-yo back and forth between eating plant based, totally unhealthy and anywhere in between. Still haven't quite found my groove. Diabetes and cancer run strong on my mother’s side of the family and I know I need to be proactive and take care of myself. My mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 Bile Duct Cancer in October 2019. 6 weeks later she passed away. During her last days my mom kept reminding me I need to eat healthy. It's as if she felt her poor nutrition contributed to the cancer. Seeing my mom’s health rapidly deteriorate was very painful to witness. She wasn't able to walk or breathe on her own and was very frail. I remember her words as she lay in her hospital bed for weeks, “All I want is to walk again.” 

Here I am able to walk and breathe and for that I am grateful. Here’s to you, Mom. I will not give up. For everyone reading this, we are all at different points in our fitness journey with different goals and different experiences. Just remember, movement is life! Get out there and move while you still can.


With gratitude and a runner’s heart,



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