This was a tough one to write, but I feel like someone out there will be able to connect with it. I do talk about eating disorders, so if you are sensitive to the topic, you might want to sit this one out.
I have had a long relationship with fitness. It began when my mom met my step-dad, Steve, in the weight room at a YMCA. I believe I was 7 years old when they met. Steve was a power lifter and my mom’s background was in competitive swimming and gymnastics. Between the two of them, they gave me a great foundation for eating right and exercising.
I played softball, volleyball, and swam competitively growing up. Swimming took priority and became my main focus in high school. I also became a certified personal trainer when I was 17. I loved reading about nutrition and finding the right food and workouts to get people to achieve their goals. I also decided to focus on coaching instead of competing in swimming around the same time. My passion was people and still is. I love helping people do what they thought is impossible for themselves.
Fast forward to right before I joined the Air Force. I planned to do a special operations job that required me to be in tip top shape. I was swimming, running, and lifting weights or doing calisthenics every day. I also worked with two Air Force pararescuemen to prepare for the mentally and physically tough road ahead. Even with all the training and time I spent getting in shape, things didn’t go as planned and the Air Force ended up putting me into an aircraft maintenance job.
I still maintained my running and lifting in a high capacity and I thought my (ex-) husband would be a great work out partner during our short marriage. I was dead wrong. He was obsessed with body building and insisted I try to look like the bikini competitors he drooled over. He constantly nagged me for my weight and would pinch my sides while making rude comments about my body. I weighed 124 pounds at the time, standing 5’4″, so I definitely shouldn’t have let him get to me. Various aspects of our relationship were broken and I eventually lost myself. I obsessively weighed myself and took 2-3 diet pills a day. I was eating maybe 1,000 calories daily. It got to the point if I didn’t lose a pound per day, I ate less and worked out harder the next day to see that number drop. I was consumed with that stupid 3 digit number on the scale. I wasn’t even sure what magic number I was chasing. At first, I wanted to be under 120, but then I wanted to weigh 105.
One morning, I went to weigh myself and I was shockingly at 97 pounds. I looked so unhealthy. My hair was brittle and my once athletic build had dwindled down to bones. I didn’t know who I was anymore. I was embarrassed, ashamed, and defeated. I was already seeing a therapist about my marriage and that day I told her about the eating disorder. It wasn’t easy, but I knew I’d never be happy chasing numbers. My first homework assignment was to throw away the evil scale that I had become so dependent on. I decided to flush my diet pills down the toilet so I couldn’t fish them out of the trash later. I felt like I had hit an all time low. I was in the process of a divorce and facing the uphill battle of an eating disorder.
After some therapy and having a wonderful health guru as a boyfriend, I am back on track. There’s so many things I’ve learned and realized since then. I will never again let the number on the scale define my self-worth. Looking back, I can’t figure out when I decided to blatantly ignore all the knowledge I have of eating right and exercise. I destroyed my metabolism by eating too little and exercising so hard to lose what little fat I had left. I had to retrain my mind on how I thought about food, my weight, and exercise. Starving myself and over exercising on such little fuel was not healthy! I may have thought I looked healthy, but internally, I was killing my body. The list of health consequences of anorexia nervosa is fairly long. I was causing myself to have constant low blood sugar, loss of bone and muscle mass, and had constant stomach pain. I became anemic and the doctor feared I’d suffer from infertility because I wasn’t getting my period for almost seven months. Luckily, I’ve been able to reverse all of those, but the mental damage still lingers. There are days I have to remind myself to eat after I’ve tried on old clothes and they don’t fit like the used to. I have to remind myself that I’ve had a baby and my body is different. I now weigh a healthy 133 pounds.
If you are ever struggling with your weight and self image, just remember your self worth isn’t a number on a scale. Your weight doesn’t define you. The way you kiss your kids, leave your husband notes, and dance around the kitchen while cooking are things that define you. Your body is just the shell of your soul. It really doesn’t take much to start living a healthy lifestyle. Whether it’s to lose weight, eat healthier, exercise more, or to gain weight, just a couple small changes over time lead to BIG changes long term.
You’ve got one body to transport that beautiful soul of yours around. Take care of it!
I’m sorry this post was such a downer! I wanted to give you guys insight as to why I’m passionate about food, exercise, and health.
Each week, I’ll post a tip or story on health, fitness, and/or food! I promise the next one will be more positive! 🙂