I had initially planned to post this story on my Instagram but Insta has a post character limit and when I dug down deep, I realized that I actually needed to write this fully out. So if you ended up here from my Insta feed, welcome! I should also disclose that this post is about disordered eating and weight gain on my way to taking control of my health and fitness in a healthy way. If those are topics that will trigger you, I would encourage you to not read this post.
I’m not sure if this is a #TransformationTuesday or a #TruthBombTuesday. Maybe a little of both. Let’s start with the Truth Bomb – being skinny does not necessarily mean that you’re healthy – physically nor mentally.
I was skinny before and based on how this post started – I’m hoping you guessed that I wasn’t healthy – or happy. I still wanted to be skinnier. Google “eating disorder” and you’ll see it’s considered a psychological condition.
It all started the summer before my sophomore year of high school. I was taking drivers ed and I didn’t like the weight that I had to mark down on my license. Couple that with my grandma giving me a hug and telling me I had a huge butt and my younger sister telling me that my stomach was too big for my shirt and well, I needed to take some action. I never really considered myself an athlete so without having fitness to turn to – I decided to evaluate my diet. Immediately I decided I was no longer going to drink soda, eat french fries nor ice cream. That need for control is how it started.
I can’t remember the name of it now, but I read a book about a girl with anorexia and how she allowed herself to eat a cheese cube and a handful of almonds for lunch. By the time I got my drivers license I was down 20 pounds. My clothes fit better and people were noticing. My mom thought I was too skinny but the doctor said that according to my BMI, I could be skinner and still be “healthy”. (More on BMI measurements and my thoughts on them in a later post.)
My senior year of high school I was captain of the volleyball team and sneaking my mom’s diet pills. I was so wrapped up in not just my appearance but how people perceived me. Did they think I was fat or skinny? In my mind, everything was defined by my weight. The popular girls were skinny and they were pretty. And to me, that was everything. I couldn’t think of a single thing worse than being fat.
I’m sure you heard of the freshman fifteen, right? Yeah, that wasn’t me. My first college class was psych 101 and my instructor’s specialized focus was on eating disorders. We got bonus points if we participated in a Senior Thesis study that required we wear a swimsuit, get our photos taken, and have our body fat percentage measured. I distinctly remember thinking I was too chunky in the photos and finding out that my body fat was was 15%. (A healthy range for women is 15-25%). The only reason I remember this so vividly is because another girl in my class participated too and her fat percentage was higher than mine and I couldn’t figure it out because she looked skinnier than I did.
Although, I will say this, somewhere around my sophomore year of college I considered myself “cured”. Granted, I was spending 90 minutes in the gym, 5 days a week, but I had been prescribed anti-anxiety meds, was eating somewhat healthier and had a great, solid group of friends. Then at the end of my sophomore year of college I got injured and couldn’t work out for awhile. When I was finally able to exercise again, I was no longer interested in doing so.
Finding myself in a couple of (looking back now) unhealthy relationships, I went the opposite direction on the scale. I tried diets and cleanses and I absolutely beat myself up mentally for losing control of the one thing I could control – my body. I felt like an absolute failure. I’m sure I was probably pretty toxic to be around because I can’t say I’m still friends with a single person I regularly hung out with at that time (save for my family and best friend.)
Ok, let’s fast forward a little bit. My relationship officially ended and I moved out on my own. The wife of a coworker was a fitness coach and told me that I should join her fitness accountability group. I said yes and started working out to the original 21 Day Fix DVDs. I lost some weight but fell off a few months later. After that I went on the weight loss roller coaster of up 2, down 1, on repeat. The scale kept going the opposite direction.
In January of 2018 it got to the point where I could barely walk. I remember it so well because it was my 28th birthday and I could barely walk to the conference room where I was turned down for a job I had worked my butt off for. Sitting in the conference room, I remember thinking how I was way too young for this bad of back pain. I increased my chiropractor visits from once a month to 2-3 times a week for a couple months. I even had x-rays taken by my doctor. Everyone said I was fine – but hello! I could barely walk without being in tears. I asked multiple times if they thought it was due to my weight but everyone I saw said no. In an effort to strengthen my core, my chiropractor gave me a list of daily, at home stretches to do.
Much later that year (October) I switched fitness coaches and started 80 Day Obsession. Once again, I committed to the program and eating healthy and my weight dropped and so did my back pain. Then about 60 days later I fell off the workout train again. And wouldn’t you know it? Within a few months my back pain returned – not nearly as crippling – but definitely back in full swing.
Summer of 2019 I decided to start working out again but I wasn’t seeing any sort of progress. At my wedding reception in November I weighed the most I have ever weighed in my entire life. After getting the photos back from our photographer I sat in tears because I couldn’t believe how fat I looked. All I could look at were my arms and how huge they were and for months I kicked myself for not grabbing my shawl. My mother made me a beautiful dress that fit like a glove – and from the front I looked positively gorgeous in it. But all the photos taken of me from the side make me want to cry. My favorite photos are the ones where my stepdaughter is standing in front of me because you can’t see how huge I was.
I was honestly absolutely disgusted with myself. Something needed to change.
An Updated Mindset
January rolled around and instead of trying to lose 20 pounds I decided to change my mindset from just losing weight to working out. My goal was to work out 75% of the year. I committed to doing 80 Day Obsession again – only this time I would make it all the way through. I cried when I finished the program, gave myself a rest day and started doing 6 Weeks of the Work. Focusing on nutrition and what I was putting in to my body, I started eating to fuel my body. I drastically cut back on added sugar and processed food and and I increased the amount of veggies I was eating. The rest, as they say, is history.
I’m getting stronger every day – physically but more importantly, mentally. You see, it’s still a challenge to fight that voice inside my head that tells me that I’m not skinny enough. I’m not sure if that will ever go away – it’s just easier to fight her now. I focus on what my body can do and how good it feels to eat healthier and work out regularly. I’ve equipped myself with the knowledge that eating a few unhealthy things will not derail all my progress and I’m not supposed to starve myself to overcorrect. I’ve got the tools to succeed and a community of women who hold me accountable!
So what’s transformed the most? I mean, my body looks a lot different now – but my mental health is the real winner. I genuinely believe that I am strong and that I am worthy and that my body deserves to be treated with respect. Don’t be fooled, it took a lot of hard work and soul searching to get here and like I mentioned earlier, there are still some days that I struggle with tying my worth to my weight. My main message for you, especially if you’re struggling, is that not all changes can be measured by the scale, just remember that.
If you’re in an unhappy/unhealthy place right now, my inbox is always open and I’m here whenever you want to commit to getting back on track. If you’re willing to put in the hard work, this is a battle that can be fought and won. I am so much happier than I used to be and I absolutely want that for you! For more information on what’s helped me, I’ve included some links below. You’re stronger than you believe. You are worthy. You are not alone. I’m here for you.
Interested in getting your health and fitness back on track? Fill out my accountability group interest form. No commitment required, but I’ll send you some information and we can navigate options together. Again, I’m here to help YOU!
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