In 2004, Hurricane Frances forced the university campus to go on lock down and I had to pack up my car and my best friend and head home to Tennessee.  Naturally, there were some pictures and scrapbooks at my parent’s house that I would have preferred to keep out of sight.  No such luck.  My friend was casually flipping through my senior memory book from high school, and he blurted out, “You were fat!”  What good are best friends if they aren’t outright, brutally honest with you, right?  When I look at that scrapbook now, I no longer cringe because I like to see who I was and how far I have come— both physically and as a person.

Four summers later, I was watching the 2008 Summer Olympics, completely mesmerized by the marathon runners.  At that point, I had been running a maximum of 30 minutes on the treadmill or outdoors, but I could not fathom running for an hour, let alone 2 or 3 hours.  I am still not sure what came over me, but I decided then and there that I was going to complete a half-marathon.  I signed up for a race, and I had 17 weeks to train for the 13.1-mile distance.  I had visions of me and my six-pack runners’ abs gracing the cover of Shape magazine and possibly even Vogue. (On certain occasions, I can be a bit of a dreamer; I am still working on those abs.)  Other than finishing the race, my goal was to run the whole distance without stopping. And so, on January 25, 2009, in Miami Beach, FL, I completed my first half-marathon in 2 hours and 7 minutes, and I ran the entire distance without stopping.  Was it easy?  Looking back, it actually was easier than I thought it would be.

I say all of this, not to have recognition but to encourage others. I went from hearing, “You were fat!” to becoming a genuine runner.  Please believe that if I can do it, anyone can.  Whatever your goals are, stick to them.  I have found that when it comes to fitness, the physical aspect will happen with time but the rest is mind over matter. You have to believe that you can complete your goal, even if other people think it sounds a little crazy. (Part of me still clings to my Shape/Vogue dreams!).

Fitness Tips of the Week: 

  1. Set a clear goal and/or goals:  For example, “I want to run a 5K.” or “I want to complete a triathalon.” (As always, consult a physician before embarking on a new fitness/diet regimen).
  2. Find a training plan or make a workout schedule for yourself and stick with it! Try It is an excellent resource for fitness tips and training plans.
  3. Give yourself a break. Stick to your training plan but don’t be discouraged if you need an extra day to rest or if you just can’t reach your goal for the day.  That is what training is for!
  4. Push yourself when you can. Stay at the gym just 10 more minutes. Run just one more mile. Do one more set of strength training.
  5. Get pumped up! Trade workout playlists with a friend. Change up your scenery; run/walk on the beach or try out the elliptical or stationary bike.  Go on a hike or for a swim.

Complete your goals and be proud of your accomplishments! Doing anything at all ALWAYS beats doing nothing. Always. Remember:  If I can do it, anyone can!

Playlist Songs of the Week:
“Closer” Ne-Yo
“Disturbia” Rihanna
“Crazy in Love” Beyonce (Ft. Jay-Z)
“Pump It” Black Eyed Peas
“Blow” Ke$ha



Ashley Shih has lived on the Space Coast for the past 5 years, and she can be seen training for marathons on the beaches of Brevard. Her goal is to share the ups and downs of her fitness experiences with readers in order to help them with their lifestyle goals. Feel free to email her with questions or feedback at