My Road to Health & Happiness

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As lots of women do, I grew up fighting a love-hate battle with my body.  The first time I remember feeling “fat” was in the 5th grade.  I was growing faster than all the boys… upward and outward.  I wore baggy clothes to cover up.  By my junior year in high school, I was at my heaviest… 5’7” and over 200 pounds.  I saw a picture of myself with a friend, and decided it was time for a change.  I taught myself about calories and nutrition.  I started packing healthy, low-cal lunches.  By the time I graduated, I was 50 pounds lighter.  Sounds great, right?  I was certainly looking healthier on the outside, but on the inside, I was far from it.  I never sought professional help and was never officially diagnosed with an eating disorder, but I battled an unhealthy relationship with food for much of my college years and early 20s.  I was so terrified of re-gaining the weight I had lost, that I’d starve myself for days.  Then, I’d binge on things I’d never normally allow myself to eat.  Pizza, ice cream, chips, cake… you name it.  Occasionally, I’d purge… or eat so much that I’d throw up.  I’d go on hating myself until I felt “skinny” again.  I was out of control.  I never felt pretty.  I never felt healthy.  I never felt like I was good enough.  What a horrible way to live, right?  I was embarrassed, so I kept my struggles a secret.  And to make matters worse, while all of this was happening, I was competing as a division one college athlete!  Imagine practicing for 3-4 hours a day on nothing but Diet Coke, dry salads, and canned green beans.  No wonder I always sat the bench.

Then… in 2003, during my junior year of college, I underwent foot surgery for a broken bone.  Almost immediately afterward, I began experienceing intense, debilitating pain in joints all over my body.  It wasn’t long until a doctor diagnosed me with rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic auto-immune disease with no known cause and no cure.  I was forced to quit the team because of the pain.  I became depressed.  It took years to get a handle on the disease.  Finally, thanks to a great doctor, great drugs, and a healthy lifestyle, I’m almost always pain-free.  And nearly 10 years after my diagnosis, this past October, I finished my first marathon.

marathonI only share this story, because I think a lot of you out there can probably relate in some way, shape, or form.  Acceptance of yourself and your body isn’t easy.  It takes some time, but I’m proof that there’s health and happiness on the other side.  Food is fuel.  Food is nourishment.  It is NOT the enemy.  Our bodies are incredible machines that deserve respect, and if you give yours the love it needs, it will love you right back!

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2 responses »

  1. Great to see you progressing in your fitness goals, came across this as I was eating a tasty Mosher Roth dark chocolate (Vegan).

    Key to fitness and health goals is making it fun, and what I find the MOST fun is cycling!

    Get yourself a road bike and explore new places. Heaps fun and you will burn the fat away.

    Happy cycling

    Reply
  2. I’ve always struggled with my weight for most of my life. I’m only 22 but it has been an up and down battle the whole time. I would notice that I’ve started gaining weight and would go about losing it all the wrong ways. I’m already a vegetarian and still find myself eating a lot of pasta and breads. So, as a solution I’m going to try and transition to being vegan, eating mostly raw foods throughout the day except for dinner. I’m glad I’m not the only one that struggles with this and I’m somewhat trying to find support online because my family and most of my friends already think that I’m crazy for being vegetarian. They would think I’m insane if I told them I’m going vegan.

    (It has been about a week now and I haven’t phased out all dairy but I’ve already lost about 4 pounds without being hungry once. (using it up so it doesn’t go to waste. I’m on a pretty strict budget also.) If I’m hungry I eat a sweet bell pepper =D lol.

    Thanks for sharing your story =D

    Reply

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