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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Life is meant for LIVING.

“Don’t exist.
Live.
Get out, explore.
Thrive.
Challenge authority. Challenge yourself.
Evolve.
Change forever.
Become who you say you always will. Keep moving. Don’t stop. Start the revolution. Become a freedom fighter. Become a superhero. Just because everyone doesn’t know your name doesn’t mean you dont matter.
Are you happy? Have you ever been happy? What have you done today to matter? Did you exist or did you live? How did you thrive?
Become a chameleon-fit in anywhere. Be a rockstar-stand out everywhere. Do nothing, do everything. Forget everything, remember everyone. Care, don’t just pretend to. Listen to everyone. Love everyone and nothing at the same time. Its impossible to be everything,but you can’t stop trying to do it all. Make this moment your reckoning. Your head has been held under water for too long and now it is time to rise up and take your first true breath.” -Brian Krans
I have done some incredible things in my life. I have been to more countries than I have states, which has resulted in endless adventures. I have sky dived, cliff dived, been on a canyon swing, climbed Mayan Pyramids, and even swam in the Blue Grotto!
This past summer I backpacked through Germany, Austria, Belgium, and Spain- an experience that SHOULD HAVE topped them all. I don’t want to live my life with regret and though there are a few things I have done that I am not proud of, I also feel I learned a lot from them. My back packing experience, however, is probably my greatest regret.
I saw some of the most incredible cities and sites but I did not care- I let my anxiety take over my trip and I severely diminished the experience for both myself and (for the real reason I regret how I treated the trip) my brother. Even if part of the experience involved bad luck, I can not deny that the real problem was my bad attitude.
The previous summer I studied in Florence, Italy and had the best six weeks of my life. I had a very anxiety filled year leading up to that experience, but I still allowed myself to let loose and enjoy every moment of my trip. The attitude I upheld during my study abroad experience is the one I will carry with on all my travels from here on out. I want to live, experience, and thrive.
Life is too short to hold back and be bitter. There is so much to see and learn in this world and you simply will put a hindrance on living if you let a negative attitude determine your outlook. Smile and experience all that you can! Take risks, be bold, travel, and try to discover all you can about yourself and the world around you because chances are, you will like what you find!
And a quick montage of my travels the past few years (I don’t have many pictures from my back packing trip because my camera broke on the third day):
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Because you deserve it.

To my girls:

You are more beautiful than you know.

I know most days you wake up and see an ugly person, a fat person, a disappointing person. You want to be thinner, have more muscle tone, weigh less, have better abs, a bigger butt, smaller thighs. You feel that your progress isn’t worth it, that it is tedious, that it will destroy all you “worked” for. You think to yourself “I should eat less.” You finish with the gym and think “I could’ve done more.” You hear success stories, but you think, “but I am different. That wouldn’t work for me.” You want to stay positive, but you are filled with self-hate. You want to be happy, but you can’t feel anything but hopelessly sad.

I despise that you feel that way. Every time I feel like giving up on my progress, I think of you. I think of all those horrible feelings you are filled with and have to deal with everyday. I remember when those were the only things I felt. Now I have so much hope and happiness. I want that for you. You are worth so much more than how you treat yourself. I refuse to give up because I want you to know it is possible to move on. I want you to see that it can get better. I want you to love yourself. I want you to have bright future. I want your to care more about the things you love and are passionate about—things that bring you happiness and internal freedom—and less about whether you gain a few pounds.

I have spent the last 5 years in a horrible little bubble, where every other thought was centered on how low that number on a stupid square of plastic, metal, and rubber could go. Literally basing my happiness on how much I could minimize my force of gravity.

Well if that number means so much to you, do this little test. Weigh yourself. Drink a few glasses of water. Weigh yourself again. If your scale is accurate—you should weigh more. Did that water just make you fat? No.

If a friend came to you upset because she was working out all the time and gained a pound or two, would you say “I think you should eat less.” Or would you say : “You are still beautiful. It is muscle.“ “A couple pound really aren’t a big deal, you still look fabulous and healthy.”? You would give them encouragement, because you know those few pounds really don’t matter. Until they happen to you. Take your own advice.

Beyond that, there is size. I am a bigger size now than I was. I no longer wear the same size I wore when I was 14. Which is supposed to happen. Your body prepares itself to bear children. You may develop hips, boobs, and a butt. It’s natural and healthy. You may start to see some fat getting stored on your stomach, legs, and hips. And that is fine! It’s not what you may want initially, but it’s all about perspective. If you don’t shake off that desire to be as skinny as possible, then you will always see yourself as “fat.”

Let it go. I plead you to go and look in the mirror and tell yourself you are beautiful. Look at all those “flaws” that you have always been self conscious about and smile at them. They are part of the details that make you the wonderful person that you are.

You are priceless. You deserve unlimited happiness. You are an individual and I want you to see just how incredible that is.

Love yourself and treat yourself right— you deserve that much.

Much love,

Tracy

Post Script: I wrote this because of a few wonderful women I have talked to recently, but I wrote this for everyone who forgets their true value.

 

 “Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” -C.S. Lewis

It didn’t quite go as planned.

“I cannot always control what goes on outside. But I can always control what goes on inside.”

Today I woke up early, went to a group weight class at my gym at 5:30, went to my three back-to-back classes starting at 7:30, got out at 11:45, went to work, and I had planned to come home and run 6 miles.

Well that didn’t quite go as planned.

I tweaked my knee 8 days ago after my first 8 mile run in over 3 months. Since then I have worn my knee brace, slowed down my running pace, and taken it easier with my leg workouts. Last night when I arrived at the gym I realized I had forgotten my brace, but I completed my interval-training workout on the treadmill anyways. I tried to complete a leg workout after, but my knee was in too much pain so I left.

This morning, my knee was aching throughout the weight class even though I was wearing my brace, but I was still determined to run tonight. I got home from work and confirmed my plans to run with my friend. As the run approached, I asked myself why I was so determined to run despite the pain. I immediately thought “because I am eating so much.” And my reaction if I didn’t run? Eat less at dinner.

I kid you not, those were my immediate reactions. And I thought I was doing so well.

At 2200 calories a day, I am still eating below a maintenance level for my height, weight, and activity level (assuming my workouts are 60 minutes long I should be eating almost 2400, but in reality my workouts are usually at least 90 minutes and I am still working on increasing calories). I worked out for an hour already today. Yet I still felt the need to either run or eat less. Old habits die hard.

But if I have learned anything in the last few months, it is that just because I can’t control what goes on around me, doesn’t mean I can’t choose how I handle it. Last year, if I hadn’t been able to run, I would have had lettuce and salsa for dinner. Tonight I didn’t run and I thoroughly enjoyed my turkey tacos, rice, beans, and veggies all topped with a little bit of lettuce and followed up with a tasty treat!

Things will not always go the way we planned— whether they be small things like me not being able to run today or things with a greater impact—but we control how we handle those changes. I know now, we can choose who we want to be. I choose not to be a slave to calories consumed and calories burned. I choose to listen to my body. And I choose to be healthy, happy, and to properly love and nourish myself.

 

 

 

Post script: this is not my original draft. The first time I wrote this my computer deleted it all. I literally wrote a post called “It didn’t quite go as planned.” And it got deleted. I don’t like this version quite as much, but I am not going to let the little things get me down. I did my best with the rewrite and I hope you all enjoyed reading. 

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.”