Believe it or not my first attempt at a healthy lifestyle failed miserably. I was in college and in a new relationship with someone I felt like I wasn't good enough for. We were so opposite. He was an athlete, handsome, flashy, and I was a couch potato from years of unhealthy habits including cigarettes, overeating, inactivity, and lots of weight gain. I was embarrassed- I felt awkward in pictures and didn't really like being seen in public with him. I thought that surely this relationship wouldn't last and that he'd find someone prettier, and skinnier than me before long. I wish I could go back and just give myself a freaking HUG! I was so young. So naive. Unfortunately, the HOW and WHY are what ultimately caused me to fail even after I achieved my weight loss goals. Friends, unless part of your WHY is YOU, you're just not ready for the journey yet.
No more than 10 years ago, our fitness industry was just starting to go mainstream. Lifting heavy wasn't really trendy, eating carbs was a huge no no, and ultra skinny was the "sexy" that every girl was trying to achieve. And so my fitness journey began, one that I truly wish I could go back in time and stop before it even started.
Having no idea where or how to start, I took to the internet to quickly learn the ins and outs of "losing weight fast". Diet pills and drinks were in, but I had no money to spend on them *thankfully. Then I read about low carb eating and calorie counting. Every article I read told me that lots of cardio and burning calories was the best way to get skinny. Without any true understanding or knowledge of how calorie counting really worked, I randomly picked a low number and would occasionally glance at some nutrition labels. I just kept telling myself, the lower the better. So off I went-- with absolutely no true understanding of what I was doing, I embraced disordered eating and endless cardio in search of the size 0. And after about a year, I got there. Size 25 jeans, 115 pounds, skin and bones, and still absolutely miserable. I was tired, my hair was falling out, I was glued to the scale in my bathroom, and my relationship with food was so distorted that I actually took my hunger pangs as a good sign.
Friends and family noticed and would voice their opinions, but it only made me more defensive. I pushed everyone away. (I'm so sorry.) I couldn't understand why I was so unhappy. I was skinny! I achieved my goals! I preached about being healthy when in fact, I was quickly spiraling out of control. I was still insecure with my relationship, had even less confidence than I did before, and after about 3 years my then turned long-distance boyfriend and I had fizzled out. Now what? I thought.
I was starving, both physically and mentally weak, and absolutely alone.
I went and stayed with my parents for a few weeks. I slept. I ate. A lot. And for the first time in a very long time, I started to CARE about ME. I knew I was unhealthy. I knew that healthy was supposed to feel good. I knew that I shouldn't be hungry all the time. I knew that skinny wasn't what I should be focusing on. So little by little, I let my body lead the way. I ate when I was hungry, walked or ran a few times a week, and I slowly started to incorporate bodyweight exercises into my fitness routine. For the first time, I felt like me- the real me. The lightbulb flipped on and was shining bright- my heart was healing, my mindset was changing, and my WHY was finally all about ME. I wanted to feel good and I didn't care how that looked, as long as I was truly healthy.
Almost a decade later, I am proud and relieved to say that I have completely undone what I once thought was my end all be all to fitness. I have now fallen in love with the journey, which is never-ending. My life and fitness goals have aligned:
1. Love Hard: Love without a doubt. Love yourself, love your family, love your journey even when it's hard.
2. Lift Heavy: Strengthen your mind and body so you can overcome any obstacle that may come your way. Be strong enough to lift up and carry anyone else who may need your support along their travels.
3. Run Free: Live without regret. Run without restriction. Run because you want to. Let the wind blow through your hair, breathe in the good and release the bad. Run towards the future.
My life's work is now dedicated to helping women find their strong. It's not about fitting a certain size or hitting a certain number on the scale. It's about LIVING the best life you possibly can and FEELING great. It's about creating a community of strong women and LIFTING everyone else up around you. It's about inspiring, empowering, and thriving.