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Sometimes, You Just Need A Cookie

Meredith Atwood shares the moment when she finally started craving fitness—not just for her family, but for herself.

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The Moment That Changes Everything

When my children were one and two years old, I was practicing law full-time, commuting way more hours than was sane, grabbing coffee and a scone (sometimes two) every morning and putting myself down to bed each night with a super-massive dose of chardonnay, after a dinner of pizza or Mexican food.

This is exactly what I’d hoped for.

Ha. But, the truth was: I had orchestrated every single iota of that life. I had planned meticulously to become a lawyer. A wife. To have those two precious children. It was exactly what I had wanted—and I was completely lost in it. I had lost sight of who I was, what I wanted and forgotten any semblance of a body I once had. I was a giant bowl of tired, hungover mom-jelly.

I needed to move my body. But I was tired. I wanted to have way more sex, but I felt so damn gross. I needed to quit drinking. But I was scared. I needed to find time for myself—but where?

I started with a treadmill run and ended up with bruises on my feet. But I started there, and I continued to be lost because, well, it was all just so very hard.

One thing changed, however. I showed up to a lunch and learn event at work. My 250-pound butt wanted cookies, but what I got was a kick in the ass. The lunch and learn event was hosted by a gym, and I was in it for the hour. By the end of the hour, I had “learned” myself a gym membership and more cookies than I needed.

My life began the day I walked into that gym. Truly. Not because I had made all the right choices. Not because I had made anyone proud. My life began because I realized something in that first spinning class with my instructor and friend, Gerry Halphen.

Repeating the song lyrics blaring over the speakers from his seat on the bike at the front of the class, Gerry said, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life! What are you going to do with it?”

In that moment, with my big, out-of-shape buns on the teeny-tiny bike seat, I began to weep. Cookies had brought me there—that was the irony. I wanted cookies, so I went to a lunch and learn. In my embarrassment at the topic of the lunch and learn, I joined the gym. Then I showed up. I was “in it.” I was in that gym, on that day, for a bigger purpose.

I knew that I could do better. For my family, yes. But also for myself. I had chosen this (amazing!) life. And while it was very hard, and more than perhaps I anticipated, it was my responsibility to make it better—for me and for the people I loved. I was better than the mess I was living in. I was better than the destructive path I was running upon.

With those words “today is the first day of the rest of your life,” I knew I had an entire life to live. And I could do it.

Life certainly didn’t change overnight, but that one “spark”—that one moment—was absolutely the beginning. If we find a spark, we can find a flame. With light, heat and passion, we can accomplish anything we dream.


Meredith Atwood (@SwimBikeMom) is a weekly contributor to Women’s Running. She is a four-time IRONMAN triathlete, recovering attorney, motivational speaker and author of Triathlon for the Every Woman. She is also the host of the hit podcast The Same 24 Hours, a show which interviews interesting people who make the best of the 24 hours in each day. Meredith has two books coming out in 2019. Read more at


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