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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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