Updated: Oct 13, 2020
“Omg you look so good!”
“You were always beautiful, but wow, look at you now!”
“Woah, where did the rest of you go? I can actually see your face!”
“Seriously, what plan are you following? I need to sign up now!”
Comment, after comment, after comment, after comment, my body became a topic for conversation and I become broken, hitting one of the lowest points in my life.
I have always been on the “thick” or “curvy” side, but let me remind you, the Kardashians weren’t a thing when I was in my preteen years. Skin and bones were the trend and my natural body was missing the mark.
I was very aware of my body from a young age which you can read more about here:
By my late years in high school, I had a strained relationship with my parents, was battling some first time triggers of childhood abuse, and experienced my first real heart break (which was obviously accompanied by hours of listening to Keshas CD on repeat). After extreme teenage hormonal lash- outs mixed with my first time being diagnosed with clinical anxiety and depression, I knew I needed to move away from my small home town to get a breath of fresh air.
I chose to go to college out of state and off I went from small town Minnesota to a suburb of Milwaukee, WI. When I left for college I had one hell of a relationship with my body and food. I was in a constant state of desperately wanting a thinner,
more accepted body, but I equally loved food. Like really loved food.
I remember ending nights at work or with friends by driving through fast food chains just to grab a burger or drumstick or whatever would give me the serotonin rush my depression insisted I needed. I would then sit in my car and eat it because I was so ashamed of the idea of someone catching me in the act. I was full on addicted.
Even through all that shame, I was one hell of a “confident” girl. I will be the first to admit that some
fashion trends were extremely questionable but I went against the crowd and rocked the hell out of my overly teased hair, complete with all outfits hot pink and cheetah print. I would go to party’s and wear short skirts knowing darn well you could see my cellulite but I didn’t care.
My weight continued to increase (most likely due to an embarrassing amount of underage drinking followed by mornings filled with hash browns with egg + cheese mcmuffins). One day, I remember stepping on the scale, and seeing a number that was WAY higher than I anticipated. In early high school I would range between 135lbs and 145lbs. I now was around 210lbs.
*side note - I am a firm believer that the scale is not an indicator of health, however, I’ll be referring to numbers throughout this post as they were so strongly tied to my story at the time*
I can’t think of a one-time, single event that led to the lifestyle change, but I do remember waking up one morning and deciding I was going to go on a walk. A couple of days later I remember then going to the cafeteria and instead of getting wings, I ordered a chicken breast and ate a couple of cuties.
I honestly came from a pretty conservative, Christian home and I believe it was that upbringing, combined with having supportive people who never gave up on me, allowed me to always have a good sense of right from wrong. I had finally had enough.
I knew I desired graduating from college, getting married, and settling down with 273628619 kids so the lifestyle I was living was no longer even an option. When friends would go out to parties, I started staying in and literally practicing yoga in my dorm room (I swear by good YouTube workout videos!) On the weekends I would drive to my families house about an hour away from campus so I wouldn’t be tempted by all of the choices I could have been making back at the school. (Thank you Aunt Jenny + Uncle Keith!)
Looking back now, I felt most motivated when I started talking with my now hubby, Jacob. Not that he had it totally together (sorry babe), but he definitely made me want to be a better person. He made me want to respect myself and be the best version of myself so I could achieve all of the hopes and dreams I had been working towards.
Throughout my last semester in Wisconsin I lost about 55lb. I honestly didn’t have a ton of responsibilities at the time, so eating healthy meals, and making time for exercise were easily top priorities.
People around the school would make slight comments here and there, but it wasn’t until I moved back home, that I started to really feel the pressure. Every person I saw would say something about my weight loss and how good I looked. (And I don’t blame them! I looked like a complete 180 from the last time they had seen me and people are naturally curious.) And ohhhh boy did my facebook mesenger start flooding with messages from guys I barely knew or hadn’t talked to in years. Convenient timing, right?
Of course, those were innocent, flattering comments! However, at that time, I was at a point in my life where I was insecure, about to dive into a deep state of healing, and still desperately seeking validation from whoever would give it to me.
Ugh ladies! Why do our early 20’s have to be that way?!
Aside from eating healthy, I started to really restrict my eating. I would quickly say “no” to any unplanned food like cake at birthday parties, only order salad (with no dressing, cheese, or crutons so basically leaves) when going out to eat, and set specific times of the day I would allow myself to eat or not allow myself to eat. If the food wasn’t organic and minimal I couldn’t eat it. (This was my first taste of orthorexia nervosa, which I will be discussing in another blog post soon.) I would put food in my mouth, chew it up, and spit it out just so I could get the taste. And then I’d cry because I knew even doing that put extra calories or unwanted gmo’s in my body.
For workouts, I continued my obsession with Jillian Michaels at-home videos (still love them btw) and added running. The running though? It became obsessive. I had to run every day. It did not come from a place of joy, but rather hating my body. I wanted to run until I couldn’t feel another jiggle. I remember there being times I would run outside along the river and cry and cry and cry because I obsessivly hated my body and couldn’t handle how it felt to be in my skin. I would become so weak, I’d have to call somone to pick me up because I knew there was no way I could make it home.
I wasn't vocal with others about what was going on, but my closest girlfriends could tell I wasn’t healthy despite the obvious weight loss. When everyone else was telling me I looked so good, one of my best friends would say “girl, you need to eat!”
I truly was desperate to understand why I was working “so hard”, yet could still feel my body jiggle, had cellulite down the back of my legs, and felt uncontrollably bloated every time I ate.
During the search for answers I had my first appointment with a dietitian who forever changed my life. I stepped on the scale, and tried to hide back the tears as the number was 2lbs higher than I wanted it to be. She knew. She sat me on the chair, looked me in the eye, and told me it pissed her off that the scale can do that to women. She said I am worth so much more than that, and she shared her personal struggles and how faith brought her through. This was the first time I heard anyone tell me I am enough, just the way I am.
I began researching eating disorder recovery and I began praying a lot. I started saying daily affirmations, and practicEd deep breathing in moments I would feel triggered. I learned to identify where my worth truly lies.
I cried. I sat in the pain. I called and vented to my gramma, my aunt (thanks Aunt Kim!), and my bestie (Jamie, you’re my life savor) because they knew my heart better than anyone else. I saw a therapist. I prayed more.
I had to heal and nurture my mental wellbeing before I could truly reap the benefits of my new physical self.
Body Update: I gained weight + muscle through recovery, as I added more strength training and yoga into my routine. I also began eating a lot more spin dip at Blue Moose and allowed myself to enjoy food when the occasions arose. I gave birth to my daughter and refused to ever let her see what it looks like to not know your worth.
My happy place is now between 150-165lbs and that continually moves up and down as I have babies and recover postpartum.
I stopped weighing myself years ago because:
1. The scale is not an accurate indicator of health
2. At times, it can still be a trigger
3. Why does it matter if I am feeling great and making mostly healthy choices? What am I trying to validate or prove?
Ladies, if you are ready to take the next step towards positive health, I HIGHLY reccomend taking the time to explore any healing that needs to happen, before you dive deep into a new nutrition or fitness lifestyle.
Yes, they go hand in hand, but let’s be honest - you can loose all the weight in the world, but at the end of the day your sh*t is still going to be there.
Define your purpose and live it.
I promise, if you do these things, you will experience true joy in your journey and love yourself through the process, every step of the way.
And girl, you deserve that!
P.S. Ladies, can you relate? I’d love to hear what moment you had when you finally accepted yourself for the beautiful woman you are! If you’re still on the journey, send me a DM and I’d love to hear more.