I started Carol Covino Fitness because I wanted to promote the idea of women being fit at every age and stage of life. Over the next few weeks I will be presenting the stories of women in various age groups and how they are living active, healthy lives despite the challenges they have had to overcome. This week I want to introduce Amberlyne Malecki, a beautiful, young woman in her mid-twenties.
I first met Amberlyne several years ago when she set foot in one of my strength and conditioning classes. This was the start of a friendship that initially revolved around fitness and later became so much more. Amberlyne has matured in every way possible-from career and fitness goals to self acceptance, confidence, and love.
Here is Amberlyne’s story in her own words.
Throughout my life, the term “fitness” has always been around, but I never really understood what it actually meant until these past few years. Growing up, sports and physical activity was always something that was present and top priority. The physical aspect of “fitness” was the easiest part and that came natural. I have always been that girl who played sports, went to the gym regularly, and was naturally strong and athletic.
I started playing softball when I was 8 years old and officially stopped playing fastpitch softball in the middle of my freshman year in college. Softball was my life. It was the one thing that made me feel free, and I was able to be my true self. I began pitching when I was 9 years old. Between little league, club softball, and high school softball, I ate, slept and dreamt of softball. My dream was to be in the Olympics and play college softball. I trained and worked so hard to get to a place where I could prove myself to anybody who would watch and listen. Throughout all the training, there were plenty of injuries that ultimately left their mark on my body. Junior year of high school was one of the hardest years I ever faced physically and emotionally in my softball career. I injured my ankle in the beginning of the season and was out for awhile. I pushed myself to extreme limits, because I was not going to miss my first game of junior year. I played that first game, but because of that my ankle has never been the same. In the middle of my junior year softball season, another injury sidelined me for a longer period. I collided with a player on the opposing team and ruptured my bursa sack within my knee. I was devastated and scared that my softball career was over.
After the season was done, I took the time to heal my body so that I could do the things I needed for softball. Within this time and heading into my senior year, I made a decision that this was going to be my best year as an athlete and that I was going to play college softball. I trained everyday and had my own pitching coach that I worked with multiple times a week. Throughout this training, I pushed my body to its limits and it paid off in the short time. I decided to attend college in New Mexico, tried out for UNM’s softball team, and made the team. I was beyond excited and so happy that I was able to show my abilities and my hard work. Well, all of the training and pushing my body to its limits finally caught up with me right after the fall training season. I had to make the hardest decision at that time of my life. I decided that I had no choice but to walk away from the sport, the thing that I loved the most. My body physically could not handle it, and I was also not mentally and emotionally strong enough. It was devastating but I made the choice that if I could no longer play at a competitive level, I would coach and teach young girls how to fall in love with the sport of softball. I have coached on and off since my freshman year of college, and I currently do private softball lessons.
As I mentioned before, the physical aspect of fitness was always the easiest for me to achieve. The hardest part of fitness and the real struggle for me was the eating. From the time I was in middle school until a year ago, I was that girl that had been on every diet possible. You name the diet, I can guarantee you I have done it. Unfortunately they failed every single time. Living in a world where you felt like you were never good enough, pretty enough, or skinny enough really takes a toll on your perception of “fitness.” Within this world, the idea of being healthy and fit included unhealthy behaviors and habits that ultimately caused damage in many different areas. There was a sense of being out of control when it came to eating, and I needed to find a way to get in control. Unfortunately, finding control sent me down a secretive dangerous path for 7 years. It was and is a daily struggle and constant reminder, but where I am now has allowed me to see the eating aspect of fitness as a positive rather than a negative.
In 2015, my perception of “fitness” began to change. I was approached by two very influential individuals in my life about competing in a fitness competition. This was by far the scariest thing that I have ever been approached with. I made the decision to try and do this. I used it as my goal for the New Year. Throughout the first few months of 2015, I turned my whole fitness journey around and did things I did not think I was capable of doing physically and within the eating aspect of this journey. While all of this was happening I was in the midst of getting my Masters in counseling. I thought I could do it all. Train for this fitness competition, go to the gym for hours, eat every two hours, go to my classes, and see clients. Well, unfortunately I was wrong. I was not able to do it all. I had to put aside the thing that I wanted most in order to finish school.
After I walked away from the training, I began to fall back into old unhealthy eating habits, and I ultimately stopped working out for a period because I was so engulfed in school. Somewhere in the middle of 2015 to somewhere in 2016, I lost myself and who I was and what I wanted to accomplish. At some point in 2016, I got the motivation to get back on track. With my newfound motivation, I found a love for paddle boarding. It is an outdoor sport, a great workout, and it makes me feel free. Paddle boarding also gives me a sense of safety, where I am able to release all my thoughts and clear my mind. The motivation factor goes hand in hand with the eating aspect of fitness which is my weak point. But, fast forward from the past to now. I have the knowledge that I have gained throughout my life and most importantly these past few years. I know what is good for me, what I struggle with, and how I can conquer those bumps that seem to randomly appear.
I feel like my fitness journey is constantly changing and that’s okay. It allows me to grow and see what is right in front of me. Currently, my greatest goal for this year is to take the word LOVE and put that in every aspect of my life and in every part of who I am. This includes health and fitness. Instead of focusing on how much I weigh or what I look like, I want to be able to love me to the core. I want to be healthy, fit and ultimately one day do a fitness competition. But, in the mean time, I need to utilize love for myself.
In achieving this, I am currently trying to find the balance of fitness with my work, family, and social life. I make it a priority to meal prep every Sunday in order to get prepared for the week ahead. However, I am allowing myself to make mistakes. Mistakes are a part of life. Instead of me hating myself or being negative, I put the mistake behind me and start again. I also am currently going to the gym 5-7 times a week. My ultimate goal is to go once a day every day. Some days, due to life and work, I do not make it. Yet, again, I am working on accepting that it is going to be okay. Each day is a new day to show up and do something different and with the love that I am working on to show myself, I know I can accomplish bigger and better things.
My view and understanding about fitness is very different than it was in the past. Fitness is not necessarily just physical or all about eating. It includes those things, but it also includes emotional and mental health, and overall mindset. Everyone’s life looks completely different and because of that our fitness perspectives are different. For most, like myself, my “fitness” varies everyday. My work consumes me physically, mentally, and most of all emotionally. So, I really have to be aware of where I currently am each day and do frequent check-ins with myself. Understanding my limits and what I am able to do in a workout for that particular day is a huge component to staying fit. Again, each day is different and some days I can handle more than others. I am completely okay with that.
In the past, I would have beaten myself up for missing a workout or not eating what I was supposed to. I have and still am slowly learning to be gentle with myself. When I do go to the gym, I use this time as time for me. I am the first person to tell everyone around me that they need to take care of themselves first. However, sometimes, I lack in listening to my own advice. My “me time” allows me to de-stress, unwind and get back in center with my own self.
Throughout my fitness journey, I am still learning and wanting to grow as much as possible. Overall, who I am is one of the most important things, as well as allowing myself to accept mistakes and create a healthier mindset. My ultimate goal this year is to prove to myself that I am ME. I do not know what that looks like or what that means, but I am excited to find new and old things about myself.