My Health and Fitness Journey

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Unlike much of today’s generation, obesity was not a huge issue during my childhood. While computers and televisions were present in most homes, outside play and physical activities were still the main source of entertainment for kids. I believe it is because of this that I was able to maintain a very average and healthy body throughout adolescence even though I paid no attention to the amount of food I consumed and am not naturally thin. Fast forward to high school when physical activities became much less of a priority and body image became much more of one. At this time I had no idea what a fit and healthy body looked like I just wanted to be skinny. My wish came true during my senior year of highschool (2008) I became very sick immediately after getting a flu shot and lost more than 20 pounds in a month off of my already fairly small frame. At the beginning of my illness, I couldn’t consume any food without my body immediately ridding of it. After many, many doctors’ visits and tests, I was diagnosed with IBS.  At the worst stage of my IBS,  I had no control of my bodily functions. This caused me to become a complete hermit and develop some pretty intense social anxiety. Thankfully, my health started to improve with time and medication.

Jump forward a few months to my freshman year of college. I went to a college only about two hours away from home but without any friends. Still experiencing constant digestive issues, in order to attend classes I would starve myself all day then binge all night once I was back in the comfort of my single room and bathroom. As college progressed, my digestive issues improved but the social anxiety that came from them did not. This is when I began turning to food for fun and for comfort. My diet was so restricted during the height of my illness that I loved being able to eat candy and take-out without severe repercussions. Redbox movies, candy & take-out became my Friday night ritual. During this time I was getting zero exercise and the weight gain began. I lived very close to campus and would be completely fatigued by the time I walked to class. I became incredibly self-conscious and just walking through busy areas of campus would give me extreme anxiety. At this time I was waitressing part-time so between classes and work my eating patterns were episodes of binging and restricting to accommodate my IBS. Days I didn’t work were a food free-for-all.

I had a very heavy school load my senior year of college and quit working to make sure that I graduated on time. For months I would work on school work for 20 hours a day, eating McDonalds and other various processed foods. During these few months I gained at least 15 pounds. I weighed more than 160 pounds when I graduated in May 2012. This didn’t make my 5’4” body obese, but it definitely wasn’t a weight I was comfortable with or looked good at. After graduation I moved back to my hometown and began a waitressing job there while looking for full time employment. I was still battling IBS symptoms, but nothing nearly as bad as before. Restaurant work is very hot and humid, especially at the restaurant I was working at during the summer which included dark jeans and a thick long sleeved button up shirt as the uniform. Heat is a major trigger for my IBS so everyday I had the same schedule to reduce flare ups at work. I would wake up at approximately 10:00am and eat from 10:00-1:00 so that everything could be out of my system before my shift began at 4:00. I would work from 4:00-10:00pm then come home for a tv and food binge session. With the increased activity at work and limited time to eat I lost about 15 pounds during my 6 months there, weighing 145 pounds when I began my full time job in November 2012. My full time job was as a dispatcher for an electric company, working nightshift and usually 12 hour shifts. As you can imagine, this schedule and sedentary job were not conducive to my continued weight loss. Not wanting to take steps backward, I started watching my diet and making better food choices. I was happy with the progress I was making and wanted to make even more. In April 2013, I began doing light cardio almost every day and really wanting to reach bigger goals with my body. I was finally realizing that it was a possibility for me to truly and unconditionally love my body. I was so happy to be done waitressing and wanted to take control of the rest of my life; continue to lose weight and really be happy.

I became introduced to various fitness instagrams in September 2013 and this is truly where my life changed. I saw these strong, beautiful women lifting weights and I wanted to do that. I started doing research on weightlifting which was quite overwhelming for my newbie brain. I watched countless exercise demos on bodybuilding.com and started trying out a different exercise every day with my cardio until I felt comfortable enough with what I was doing to do full resistance workouts. I began putting together resistance routines, mostly on the cable machines because free weights were still far too intimidating at this point. Even with the limitations of only using the cable machines I was getting stronger every day and I loved it. I started lifting every day in October 2013 as well as meal prepping. I was eating pretty clean, lifting pretty heavy and I watched my body transform. Weighing 128 lbs. at the end of December 2013, I was not only developing muscles but developing confidence…shedding fat and insecurities. This change in mentality wasn’t happening just because of how my body was starting to look but because of what it could do. I knew 2014 was going to be my year. Slowly I continued losing fat and gaining muscle. My diet was never 100% on point during this time. I still constantly struggled with episodes of binging, usually followed by a few days of restricting to “make up for” the food I had eaten and to limit its impact on my progress.

In January 2014, I met Corey, the man I now call my husband. Corey also had an interest in weight lifting and together we continued growing this passion. We also ate out…a lot. My weight fluctuated between 123 – 127 pounds for most of 2014. I was consistently workout out, slowly and steadily making progress but more than anything just enjoying the process and loving my body. Throughout the 2014 holidays, I started to gain some weight back and wasn’t feeling as great about my body.

Throughout 2015 I fluctuated a LOT. I would do a popular fitness program or challenge then as soon as that specified time of intense (usually very cardio heavy) workouts were over, the weight would come back. I was hot and cold with my diet, eating super “clean” aside from my far too common binging episodes. I became introduced to flexible dieting (IIFYM) and thought it would be the answer to ending these binging episodes and restrictive eating cycle filled with guilt. IIFYM helped tremendously in improving my relationship with food. I still struggle with days of wanting to eat the whole kitchen just because I slightly went over my macros. I know that binge eating tendencies don’t go away overnight and I’m working everyday to continue to decrease the amount of binges and increase my positive mentality with food.

Through my experiences and the knowledge I gained researching various health and fitness topics, I became very passionate about not only developing healthy and sustainable habits for myself but wanting to spread that knowledge to others. In December 2015, I started studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Through my studies I became even more invested in expanding my knowledge of developing individualized, scientifically based, progressive training programs that would change women’s lives and help them break the diet and exercise roller coaster that I had ridden myself for so many years.

As of May 2, 2016 I am now a Certified Personal Trainer and could not be more excited to continue my journey in becoming my best self and to begin helping women transform their lives in the same way.

 

**Props if you made it all the way to the end! I know that was a long story but I feel that it is important to show not only that I am human and that I make mistakes, but to share that we might have had similar experiences and I would love to help in any way that I can with the lessons that I have learned throughout this entire process!

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