It’s Better on the Other Side

I can’t tell you how to get better. Whatever it is that’s holding you back, I can’t tell you how to overcome it. I can’t convince you to stop your unhealthy habits- that’s all is up to you. What I can tell you- is no matter how hopeless your situation seems or how much it just doesn’t seem worth the trouble to “get better”—it is better on the other side.

That being said her is a little recap of my past couple of years:

I am naturally thin but my weight has gone through a 25-pound yo-yo since I was 16. The lows and the high within that range were usually when I had some pretty unhealthy habits.

[October 2012] Almost two years ago, I hurt my knee and without running and other high-intensity cardio, I snapped. It was not just my inability to run though—it was that I felt lost. I had friends and a job and I have a great family. But I did not like who I was. I have always disliked little parts about myself (sometimes I disliked myself more than other times), but something in me just boiled over and everyday I began to loathe myself more and more.

I started to become obsessed with getting smaller. I began to crave the feeling of hunger, it was like some challenge that kept me engaged in my life and before I knew it I had dropped down to the size I was when I was 14/15 (I was 19 at the time).

I knew what I was doing was wrong, but part of me just didn’t care. Part of me was proud of how I could shut up my voice of reason for the sake of being skinnier.

People say that this kind of obsession is about being able to control something in your life, but I think its the opposite—its about surrendering control of your life to an evil little voice in your head. I think because I always felt like I had to be in control that I just wanted something else to “take the wheel” for a while.

I relinquished my emotions- I smiled, but I wasn’t happy. Bad things would happen, but I Wasn’t fully sad. I was kind of just numb.

[January 2013] I got to a point where it is not an even a debate of “should I eat this”, because that voice had already told me “no.”

I remember not wanting to gain control back over my health and happiness because it was so much easier being wrapped up in the sick numbers game of “how low can you go.”

[May 2013] But then there was the “bright light” in my life (here I get a bit cheesey)—my boyfriend. I had been dating him for few months and began to fall for him more and more. He made me feel like there was so reason to care. I didn’t want him to worry about me not eating enough or not being able to enjoy the little things like splitting a sundae.

I started to see that there was to life than being numb to the world. Did I really want to be so cold all the time? Did I really want to have inverted boobs? Was I really okay with letting my body waste away?

I wanted to be happy. I was with someone who actually made me forget about the little voice in my head and I was ready to take advantage of that.

[October 2013] Skip to last October, I had gained some of my weight back and was starting to get a little bit healthier physically and was starting to gain more control mentally. I found all these girls on instagram who had changed their life for the better by restoring their metabolism through reverse dieting. They all seemed so happy and I wanted to be like them. But I was scared. I did not lift weights, I ran. And Lord knows I was not comfortable with eating more than 1500 calories a day (still an enormous leap from my 600 calorie days). I tore three muscles in my right quad and decided that was a sign to turn to weight lifting and to begin my reverse diet.

[December 2013] The first couple months were a struggle, but around Christmas time it hit me—I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life with memories of how I dreaded holidays because I had to avoid all the food and questions from my family. That is not how you make good memories. And starting that Christmas, I started to feel free.

[February 2014] I stopped counting macros in February. I made the conscious decision to focus on all the wonderful things in my life. Sometimes I would still stress about hitting my untracked macros and some days I would track again- but it slowly became less and less important to me.

[October 2014] In the last 8 months I have changed my workout routine more times than I can count. Sometimes I work out a lot and sometimes I workout a little.

I no longer fit in the same clothes I did when I was in high school, but I am okay with that because I am happier and healthier than ever.

I realized there are so many wonderful things in life and there is no way I am going to let a voice diminish all the wonderful experiences I will have.

I know I could never let a voice of negativity take over my life again and that is a feeling of happiness and a freedom that I wish anyone who feels trapped in an emotional, or otherwise negative, situation could feel.

If you feel you aren’t worth the change for the better- trust me you are.

If you think it isn’t worth the fight for your happiness- it is.

We all struggle through things, but it is through those struggles that we can appreciate the greatest happiness.

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”

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Setting Priorities and Enjoying Vacation

This will probably be a part 1 of 2 thing… BUT here it goes!

In three days I leave for a cruise to Mexico. In order to prepare, I have admittedly been eating less processed foods and working out a bit more than I had been a month ago. I was just trying to peak on my confidence in a bikini. I wanted to be as “firm” as I could when I went on vacation. And this thought has me torn. Do I not think I look good enough in a bikini now? Is it some crime against humanity to have a little meat on my bones? Why did I instantly think “vacation- oh better slim up”?

I don’t think there is anything wrong with what I was doing physically (If you want to eat a little healthier to firm up a bit before a beach vacation then great- just don’t kill yourself doing it), it was more of the mental pressure I was putting on myself. I hit a breaking point when I went bathing suit shopping and all the bathing suits didn’t cover any of my butt and pinched at fat I didn’t want to believe I had (seriously though, why is the bathing suit trend to have 75% of your ass hanging out? I don’t get it…) and I started crying. In a target dressing room. Definitely not my proudest moment. 

So I called my boyfriend that night and let it all out. I said I hated that nothing fit and that I work so hard and my hard work just doesn’t show. I said I was dreading getting in the bikini and that I had initially wanted to get a “cute poolside bikini picture” but now that was out of the question. And here is what he told me: “Do you think Beyonce or J Lo fit in those itty bitty size bikinis?! Do you think they can get just any old pair of jeans or bathing suit bottoms? They are not the smallest women, yet they have some of the best bodies in the world! They have fat and muscle and look AMAZING! And so do you. Plus who says you have to be an extra small or a small to wear a bikini?! Just go up a size! You look incredible and you are healthy.” My rebuttal was that he was right, I just wished my size was more muscle and less fat. 

Less fat for this vacation. Looking firmer for a picture. Becoming “bikini ready”. And now I am sitting here thinking, “who the heck am I trying to impress?! Am I trying to get an effing swimwear modeling contract on this boat?!” Uh no…

So now I am re-evaluating and putting things in perspective. I have fat, but really nothing even close to excessive… just a healthy amount. I am also happier than I have ever been. I also am going on this vacation to have fun with my boyfriend, who thinks I look great in a bathing suit. And why did I want a poolside picture? To post on Facebook/ instagram- BUT WHO THE HELL AM I TRYING TO IMPRESS ON SOCIAL MEDIA?! Nobody. That’s who. I need to not focus on impressing others and just focus on having a great time.

The only reason I want pictures now is to remember this amazing weekend. And if I post them awesome! If I don’t who cares?! I am happy, in love, and going on a cruise with my favorite person… that’s a whole lot more important than having a poolside pic that shows off a six pack (that I most likely will never have-but I am cool with my tummy as is it because it isn’t half bad).

NOW WITH THAT BEING SAID, this is how I plan to enjoy my vacation:

Phone off and away

Working out ONLY if I want to

Eating what I feel like (without over-doing it- no tummy aches from over-eating!)

Enjoying poolside drinks

Dancing my heart out at night

Putting away school work 

Not giving a flying f*ck what anyone else thinks (except my boyfriend, but he loves and supports anything that makes me happy- so I don’t need to worry about that)

ROCKING THE HELL OUT OF THE BIKINI BECAUSE I SAY SO AND NOT BECAUSE I FIT SOMEONE ELSE’S STANDARDS

I gained my life back.

In the last year I have gained about 20 pounds and several pant sizes. And I am proud of it. When I tell people how much I have gained, they usually say something like, “Oh- but you are still skinny!” or “Don’t worry, you still look good!” What they don’t realize is I know I look good and I know I look and feel better!

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Here I was on April 29th, 2013, just a few pounds above my lowest weight and I was trying on a bathing suit at Target. I thought I looked fat. The bandaid on my arm is from donating blood a few days prior. They took my ½ the blood they normally would have because of how thin I looked. And even with them only taking half the blood, it took so much out of me that I nearly passed out and had to go to sleep at 7 that night because I felt so sick and tired. What else would you expect when eating significantly less than 1000 calories a day?

My rib cage stuck out without me sucking in. My lower tummy popped, not because of a food baby, but because of lack of nourishment. My skin clung to my shoulder blades and collarbones. There was no muscle, no color to my skin—I was wasting away. This is the most revealing picture I have of me near my low weight and I hate seeing it, but it also reminds me of everything outside of the number on the scale that I have gained.

Now here I am today:

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I have gained 20 pounds, but I have also gained confidence, a butt, boobs, my health, my happiness, my life back. I no longer walk around looking like a ghost. I no longer look in the mirror and see nothing but flaws. In fact, I am starting to really like what I see! Despite the areas that have more fat or when I have a food baby (which I proudly rocked this morning after all my post-graduation burgers and Sprinkles cupcakes)—I know I can flex and feel strong. I really am proud of who I have become. I feel like I am myself again. It has been years since I felt this happy. And it all happened because I decided I was no longer going to teeter between healthy and skinny. I fully dedicated myself to being positive and eating enough to fully sustain and nourish my body. I have never looked back. My progress over the last year has taught me I can never give up. Anything is possible with the right mindset! Love yourself and believe in all the things you can achieve and great things will happen.

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Forgiveness

“People can be more forgiving than you can imagine. But you have to forgive yourself. Let go of what’s bitter and move on.”

I was writing an email to a friend that I met through my “fitfam” talking about my experiences the past few months and I realized what has pushed me forward the farthest was forgiving myself.

Growing up, we are taught the importance of saying, “I’m Sorry” and forgiving those who apologize to us. With all the anxiety and crazy emotions that have followed me around for last five years and even more amplified in the last year, I did my fair share of lashing out. And I have had to ask for a lot of forgiveness from those who were at the other end of it (most frequently my incredible and endlessly supportive boyfriend)– forgiveness was always granted to me.

But each time I lashed out, I disliked and blamed myself that much more. 

The moment I knew I had moved into the “next chapter” of my life that I life to refer to, was the moment I told myself, “It’s okay.” Because sometimes we are ready to be healthier and stronger than ever, there is just that one final barrier. This was mine:

It’s okay that you hurt yourself. It’s okay that you tried to recover and failed once, twice, three times, or more. It’s okay that you let your fears define your social life for months or years. It’s okay that you became so self-centered that you didn’t realize how your actions affected others. It’s okay that you are scared of the future. It’s okay that you fear things that are really so small. It’s okay that you hurt people around you. It’s okay that you lost sight of what’s really important. It’s okay. It’s not good, but it’s okay and I forgive you.

I was so sorry that I had done everything I had done, but I never actually forgave myself. And that was my liberating moment. Forgiveness is a powerful thing, especially when we are strong enough to forgive ourselves for our own wrong doings. The past is the past- it will always be a part of us, but it should not stop us from defining our own bright future.

“Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.”