From Overweight to Skinny to Fit
My (LONG) Story
Many people assume that fit individuals were just born with the right genes, and that isn't always the case. The majority of my adolescence I was overweight and always shorter than most kids my age. My dad was Italian and he and the majority of his family were short and stocky and it looked as though I was going to take right after them. I have 3 sisters, all of whom are naturally thin, beautiful and taller than me, so I always felt like I was the ugly duckling and if I'm honest, I was always envious of their looks even when I was very young. I would say my obsession with my weight and how I looked began around age 6. I went through puberty starting at age 10 ... so not only was I on the chubby side, but I now had breasts before anyone my age, including my sister, who is a year and a half older than me. My looks began to dominate my thoughts and it was in middle school that I started to exercise frantically in my room for hours. Of course, at that age, I had absolutely no clue what I was doing but it would make me feel better for the time being.
Fast forward to high school - as a freshman I had made the cheerleading squad and was excited about that but was dreading wearing the short skirts and being in front of people. I had thinned out somewhat by that age, but in my eyes, I was still fat and ugly. When I say I hated myself - from my hair down to the shape of my toes (yes, my toes!), I am not exaggerating in the slightest. I continued with my exercising at night, even with the physicality involved with cheer practice and games. I also now began to be more aware of what I was eating and started to really restrict my calories and eat what I thought was healthy. That was just the beginning of the unhealthy relationship I began to establish with food. While I was at my full adult height in high school (5'1") and I was no longer what would be considered to be overweight, my obsession with my looks continued and actually intensified. I was in high school in the mid-ninties and that was the era of ultra skinny models such as Kate Moss, whom I was completely enthralled with. I had an entire wall in my room filled with cutout pictures of her from magazine ads. I wanted so badly to be that thin and I was willing to do whatever it took to get there. By my junior year I was starting to get noticed by boys and began dating and that further catapulted my need to be skinny. The calorie restriction got extremely severe at points - there were days that I would isolate myself and only consume 10 saltine crackers, an apple and water. I began to really drop weight and my parents started to grow very concerned. My dad, in his worry and feeling helpless would tell me I was "too thin" and I had "no reserve" - meaning I didn't have enough body fat. That actually made me feel like I was making progress in my quest for being thin. He would make me a protein breakfast drink every morning because he wanted to be sure I was eating before I left for school. My mom decided it was necessary for me to start therapy. The psychologist diagnosed me as having Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) as well as disordered eating habits and while the regular sessions did help me, the feelings of inadequacy and hating my body were always there.
Starting adulthood, things had improved somewhat - I was eating more than in high school, though I still very much restricted my calories and was definitely not eating nearly enough. I even dabbled in "natural" diet supplements such as Apple Cider Vinegar pills which resulted in some pretty severe medical issues with my esophagus. I was now in college and drinking beer combined with those sorts of pills is a disaster waiting to happen. I continued to hate my looks and could never understand why people would compliment me or why my boyfriends were with me. I figured everyone pitied me. I no longer went to therapy. I exercised pretty regularly, but only did cardio and way too much of it. In my mid to late twenties I was a bit healthier, but my relationship with food was still pretty bad as was my relationship with myself. I compared myself to EVERYONE. No matter how skinny I got, I still didn't like the way I looked. I would eat an "unhealthy" meal at a restaurant and would restrict what I ate for the days following the splurge. I always tried to balance out my "bad" choices with simply not eating. Not eating enough caused instances of other medical scares - including fainting on several occasions.
Once I hit 30 I grew so tired of always feeling anxious and being obsessed with my diet and looks. I just wanted to feel better. I read self-help books, listened to podcasts and scoured the internet for a solution. I found a new therapist and began going weekly to sort through my issues and move past my limiting thoughts and beliefs. The therapy was now starting to work! I began to look at myself in a kinder manner and heal my relationship with food. I started researching working out and joined a local gym where I began to lift weights and completely fell in love with it. Not only did lifting weights improve my mental state but I started to feel strong and for the FIRST time in my life, actually love the way my body looked. I, like many women, thought picking up weights would make me look muscular and bulky. I was wrong! Lifting weights tightened up my body and accentuated my curves. Gone were the days of being "skinny fat". Exercise in general was no longer a punishment for how I looked or for what I had eaten, It was now a celebration of what my body was capable of. I was finally exercising because I loved my body, not because I hated it. The number on the scale was no longer important but instead, how I felt. It was then that I decided to complete my Bachelor's Degree in Fitness and Wellness and became passionate about becoming a personal trainer. Sharing and spreading the joy of feeling strong mentally and physically is what I believe to be my life's purpose. Helping as many women as I can feel good, put themselves first, and learn to love their bodies at all stages and ages is my mission. All of that being said, do I have times where I am down on myself and slip back to my old ways of self-judgment? Yes! I think most everyone does! But, I remind myself how far I've come and I choose to focus on all that I am grateful for. Not everyone has the ability to exercise and not everyone has access to healthy food!
If you have read my whole story, I thank you for making it to the end! My intention in this was to share that I've struggled with my weight, had a terrible relationship with food and horrible self-esteem/Body Dysmorphic Disorder. I believe overall wellness is not just about our physical body but also about our mental health and that our focus should not just be on aesthetics. Sometimes its necessary to seek help from professionals, such as licensed therapists, and there is no shame in that. I hope that you are ready to invest in yourself physically and mentally and I look forward to working with you!