Today I heard something on a podcast I was listening to that went something along the lines of “it’s not just about fitting into your jeans, it’s about being happy”. So simple and so true. It made me think of my why, which is very simple, and yet very multidimensional and super personal at the same time.
This “before” picture is me probably middle school aged right before I went on my “first” diet. I was miserable growing up. I always felt like I didn’t fit in anywhere whether that was with my family or peers. My family was a mess. Never did I feel anyone believed in me. They didn’t even believe in themselves. I was painfully shy and would just melt into the wall hoping to go unnoticed. I really had no confidence whatsoever and could not relate to the girls my age. I was too shy to act out and rebel against my dramatic and unstable surroundings and yet I didn’t know how to deal with it in a positive way. And so I ate.
Food was my comfort. I was always the quiet girl either tagged as “nice” or “snobby” depending upon how my shyness and lack of confidence was interpreted. One night, my mom sat me down on my bed and told me I was getting fat. Well, she didn’t say it, she just said, “you’re getting…” and she puffed up her cheeks and held her arms out to paint the picture of a fat person. Hmmm. What a moment. Burned into my heart. Although there are far more loving and tactful ways of addressing such a topic, I took it seriously. I lost 20 pounds on my first diet. I was in the 7th grade.
I will say that I ended up gaining confidence through taking control of my weight. I followed a diet that allowed me dry toast and plain peppermint tea for breakfast, cottage cheese, pineapple and walnuts for lunch…I think chicken and veggies for dinner… I remember getting candy from friends at Christmastime and just saving it all up in my room, proud that I didn’t touch even one piece. And so the cycle began.
My weight went up and down over the years and so did my family. I had already been in therapy and continued, participating in group and individual therapy. (I HIGHLY recommend this and will talk more about it in a later post). Fast forward on this crazy journey. I realized that food was my drug of choice. I ended up struggling hard with an eating disorder for many years. Food offers you that substance that is not only legal, but necessary. I was able to hide my abuse of it by keeping my actions secret and using exercise and not strict dieting to cover up the damage I was doing. I could go days hardly eating a thing because of the binging I would do. Exercise became my saving grace. It was another addiction, though. If I didn’t get in my certain amount of minutes/days each week I felt out of control. I irrationally thought everything would unravel and I would turn back into that girl sitting on my bed when my mom told me I was fat. That was my nightmare.
In the midst of this, though, began my relationship with God. I knew that I was made for more. I knew that, I was more than the dysfunction I was born into. I knew I was more than my struggle with food. I knew I was more than my struggle with self-esteem. I knew that somehow, my life had purpose. What that was…I had know idea. But, I was determined to find it.
So, on life went, very touch and go with my disorder, always working on myself in therapy, a strong relationship with exercise, dysfunctional choices in men…and on and on. However, my faith has always been my true saving grace. God has truly been my rock, even when I felt that I was just flat on my face. There has always been an underlying, undying belief that there is meaning even in my pain, despite so many mistakes…
So, here I am. I have a nine year old son who I consider a miracle, simply because children are just that. I have been a single mom since he was 2. During these single mom years I have earned a masters degree in Health Psychology, gotten certified as a Health Coach and as a Fitness Instructor. Life is often far too busy for my own taste, but I am so very thankful. I finally can say that I believe in myself.
My “why” when it comes to health and fitness is about fighting. I refuse to be the person I believed I was growing up. It is never too late to become who you know you can be. It doesn’t happen overnight, but the journey is a beautiful thing. This is why I love doing what I do. Sure, it’s thrilling to see people lose weight and fit into their jeans. But, what I live for is those moments you see tears in someones eyes because they have found hope again. I have watched people get back in touch with this belief in themselves and I am SO honored to be a part of it. It takes great courage to “go there” and be that real with yourself and others. It is incredibly worth it, my friends!
So much love to you this Chirstmas!