(This was written in 2012 – an oldie but a goodie!)
Oh boy, get ready for a long winded post. Sit back, relax, grab some coffee. I knew I had this post coming for a long time and have definitely resisted it. But here goes nothing… layin’ it all out there.
I think that it’s interesting to know the background behind someone’s writing. Why does someone believe in the things that they do? Why do they have a passion for what they do? Where does that come from?
So since I write a blog about food and healthy living, I want to tell you a little bit about my story.
Although I can say that I have a really healthy mindset regarding weight, food, and my body now, it was certainly not always like this. Not even close.
I grew up really thin. Thankfully, I have good genes and am by nature a very active person. I was always really skinny and generally didn’t really worry or think too much about my body prior to senior year of high school. Right around this time, a couple of things happened. First of all, I became very very serious about school. AP classes started, the pressure of college was laid on us hard, and I grew up in a very strict household that focused a lot on getting the best possible grades. I was good at school, so I quickly fell into a very serious mindset, trying to achieve as much as I could and work as hard as I could. I could sense myself getting irritable, more serious, and overall stressed out, but I thought it was par for the course.
The other big thing that happened at this time was that my boyfriend at the time and I went through a really messy breakup. It was hurtful and the whole thing just knocked the wind out of me.
With the breakup and the stress from school, I think these two things led to my first experiences with emotional eating. It wasn’t anything major at the time, but I remember knowing I was eating because I was bored, upset, stressed, or just generally down. I did gain some weight from this, but I was still very thin. However, I knew that something was off, and it was then that I learned about dieting. My first diet was Body for Life. It spelled EVERYTHING out for me– workouts, eating, everything. During a time when I felt like I was adopting strange eating habits, and I was starting to feel a little lost, I needed some control. This did it for me for a short period of time.
Throughout senior year, I dabbled in various diets, and very strict exercise programs. I just tried to control everything. Control was the theme of this time in my life. I was about to head off to college and wanted to look and feel awesome. The summer before college was definitely a restrictive time. I ate super healthy and worked out a ton. I left for college looking and feeling great… except for one thing…
(right before I went to college)
(beginning of college)
Do you know that feeling where you are being SO restrictive and/or SO extreme with yourself that you know you can’t possibly keep it up and you are just waiting for the ball to drop? Well I definitely had this when I went to college. I knew deep down that there was no way I was going to be able to keep up with such a clean diet and constant workouts. I was just waiting like a ticking clock until I lost it. What a horrible feeling.
College. Oh man. I won’t delve into all the details here, but it was really just constant up and down with my weight, tons and tons and tons of diets (really, I think I tried all of them), trying to make exercise “click”, trying to make a certain diet “click”, eating when I was stressed, eating when I was upset, eating when I was bored. I was a hot mess.
(sophomore year, had gained some weight at this point)
On the outside? Everything looked peachy. Other than my weight fluctuations, I honestly still had a great college experience. I was generally happy, I excelled in school, I got great internships and had a lot of accomplishments, I had a lot of incredible friends, things were great. I’m not saying at all that I had a horrible time in college, but deep down, I was NOT a happy camper. The inner turmoil that I put myself through with all of the dieting, the disappointment, the bad body image, the helpless feelings, the ups, the downs, the inability to deal with my emotions… these things took an immense toll on me in so. many. ways. I left college feeling good about my life and its direction, but torn up on the inside with some pretty bad self esteem. Everyone always told me how confident I came across, and its true, I was confident about certain things, but so not confident about other things.
(sometime after college, this is probably at my heaviest)
(right after college)
I knew that there had to be a better way. I have a really positive attitude on life and I just knew that there was a way around all of the struggling I had gone through and there had to be an easier answer out there.
This is when I reached out to a “nutritionist”. I wanted to lose weight before starting my first job. I had gained about 25 pounds in college, and just didn’t feel good. Well, the Universe works in interesting ways, because it led me to a “Health Coach” named Cora who changed my life, seriously, forever.
When I had my consultation with Cora, she said “I want to get you to a point where you can listen to yourself and your own body instead of dieting, restriction, deprivation, etc.” I probably cried when I heard these words. I was so tense and so stressed out about finding the right diet, and how good did it sound to just find my own answers, learn how to pay attention to my body instead of ignore it, and most importantly, learn why I was turning to food for emotional reasons. I knew I needed help, deeply, and I was so relieved to hear that Cora sensed that and was going to help me.
Well, she helped me more than anyone has ever helped me before. She opened up my eyes to a hell of a lot of self exploration and for the past four years, I have delved into a serious journey about understanding myself, peeling back my emotions, peeling back my habits, peeling back my thoughts about how things “should” be, and getting to the raw, pure sense of who I was. I learned to trust myself, to come up with my own rules, to live from the inside out. To live “intuitively”.
So where am I now?
I am constantly learning, changing, and growing, but I can honestly say that I am finally at peace regarding food, exercise, my weight, and the image I have of myself and my body.
I’ve lost most of the weight I gained in college, but beyond losing the weight, I’ve lost the need for control, the anxiety regarding food and my weight, or the thought that some “diet” or some rules out there are going to make it all right. I have total trust in myself, in my own intuition, in my own cravings, in my own body. I don’t ever have anxiety about food anymore. I eat what I want, when I want. I exercise when I want in a nurturing, fun way. I don’t put pressure on myself.
I feel free. Free from all of the stuff I tormented myself about for so many years.
Most importantly, learning to trust myself with food/dieting has also helped me trust myself in every other area of my life. So although my “struggle” had to do with food, the journey and the outcome had to do with my entire life.
It has been a hell of a ride and I am still on the ride. I will always be on the ride. I’ve worked really hard to get to the point where I am at. I’ve worked with people, I’ve read a crap load of books, I’ve experimented, and I’ve done a lot of trial and error. Turns out that my issues ran so much deeper than food. It was about understanding myself, living a life that I truly want, being confident in who I was – not who I thought I should be- , and living intuitively. This is tough stuff, and it opened my eyes up to a lot of not-so-pleasant realizations, but in the end, so many beautiful, incredible and life changing realizations.
I wouldn’t change ANYTHING about my journey. I am happy I gained weight in college. I am happy I did all of those diets. I am happy I went through it all. All of my “issues” were clues, they were a way for me to peer into myself and really understand who I was, what was truly bothering me, and what parts of me needed to be nurtured and taken care of. We all turn to different things or fall into different habits when we are struggling. I definitely developed unhealthy habits, and once I realized that I was using food and diets as a cover up for something that was wrong, I decided to jump in head first and figure it all out.
It’s because of this journey that I am now determined to help other people. For the past ten years, I have gone through a lot of ups and downs, and I can’t explain how life changing it feels to be at peace with all of this. I want to help other people find that, and it’s because of this story that I feel so deeply committed to doing whatever I can to make an impact.
If you got to the bottom of this post, thanks for listening. Now, go fill up your coffee 🙂