My Happy Birthday Message

by tinareale on August 23, 2012

It’s my birthday! It’s my birthday! Although, I’m thinking you might know that by now – between the birthday giveaway and my birthday treat fest I already shared this week. But still. It’s my birthday and that deserves a special birthday post.

Ohhhh, I could recap the past year and all the wonderful things that have happened. Like running my first half marathon…then my first full marathon…then the marathon that is dealing with injuries. I could talk about some of the great trips I took or the blogger meet-ups I attended. I could talk about the changes I went through last year. Nope. Not gonna do all that.

Instead, I’m going to ramble. It means something to me…and I hope it will maybe mean something to you too.


What have I overcome?

Many emotionally abused years…even including my own father telling me to take my own life.

Two serious attempts at following that “advice”.

Years of thinking only the worst about myself…since you could only be “worthy” if you were “perfect”.

A time period of severe sexual promiscuity. I’m not talking promiscuity of sex before marriage, but seeing multiple guys in one night type of promiscuity. It pains me to think of how little I valued myself and my body at that time. 

A time where I also couldn’t remember multiple nights out of my week due to an overabundant consumption of alcohol. I numbed myself with booze. Then, I left that behind and turned to food.

Binge eating. YEARS of food addiction.

Habitual lying. Anger. Resentment. Violence towards myself or loved ones. It should still shame me so much to think of some of the ways I acted.

It doesn’t shame me, though, because I know without a doubt that while those things shaped me, they ARE NOT WHO I AM TODAY.

I am immensely thankful for all things I experienced, because I am what I have overcome. I am freed. I am worthy. I am strong. I am loved. I am all the things God says I am. I also believe that YOU are all those things too. You are not your past…you are so much more. You are strong. You are worthy. You are loved. You can be freed from it all too, if you aren’t already. I believe that to my core. So much that tears run down my face as I type this.

We are not what we’ve done. We are what we’ve overcome…and that includes what we’re striving to overcome in our actions today. Thank you, Lord, for helping me overcome…and thank you that we all have what it takes inside of us to continue overcoming, because our pasts do not define us. That’s all I wanted to say on my birthday. I can’t think of anything else I would rather have on my birthday than the knowledge of that truth.

Inspiration for these thoughts came from this song by Fireflight. I encourage you to give it a listen.

if only you could see me yesterday – who I used to be before the change
you’d see a broken heart – you’d see the battle scars
it’s funny how words can’t explain – how good it feels to finally break the chains
I’m not what I have done – I’m what I’ve overcome

Your Turn – Please share something you have overcome…then think of how AMAZING you are!


1 [email protected] Palate August 23, 2012 at 7:05 am

I’ve over come binge eating, bulimia and anorexia as well as all the associated lying to myself and others! Woohoo for birthdays!!! Hope you have a great day!

2 Geraldine @Go Ger Go! August 23, 2012 at 7:14 am

Happy Birthday Tina! Before I started reading your blog (about 2 years ago)you had already come so far, but in the past couple of years you have reached for the stars and achieved so much. You’re an inspiration!

3 Lindsay @ Lindsay's List August 23, 2012 at 7:16 am

AMAZING!!! Truth and light! I love all of these things about you, friend.

4 Glenneth August 23, 2012 at 7:17 am

Happy birthday Tina! Hope you have an amazing day! Thanks for sharing everything with us.

5 Lauren August 23, 2012 at 7:26 am

Happy Birthday love!!!! Wishing you the very best today and always! xoxo

6 Emily August 23, 2012 at 7:35 am

Happy birthday!

I’ve frequently wondered whether being in the worst of situations is what propels us to the very best of situations later. Like if we hadn’t experienced those depths, we would never have had to dig so hard to get out of them. I know I hit a tipping point where it was too painful to stay where I was and think that if I’d not reached that point I might still be pottering along in a so-so state, none the wiser as to how good it really can get.

7 Katie @wishandwhimsy August 23, 2012 at 7:39 am

Wow. Thank you for sharing your story and your faith. I really appreciate how real you are on your blog and the positive message you promote. You are sharing your experiences to touch the lives of others in a positive way. Thank you. Wishing you a very happy birthday!

8 Heather August 23, 2012 at 7:41 am

Happy happy birthday, Tina!! Hope today is a fantastic day!!!!!!!!!!

9 Brittany @ GOtheXtraMile August 23, 2012 at 7:45 am

Tina, this post literally gave me the chills. I completely agree with you, we are what we have overcome. You are such a strong person, I admire you so much! Happy Birthday, love! <3

10 Meredith @ DareYouTo August 23, 2012 at 7:46 am

Beautiful quote, and thoughtful words. Thank you for sharing, and happy happy birthday !!! All the best wishes to you

11 Tiff @ Love Sweat and Beers August 23, 2012 at 7:50 am

Keep on getting stronger, girl!

Happy Birthday! We’re all happy you’re here to share it with us.

12 Becky Przy August 23, 2012 at 7:55 am

Happy, happy Birthday Tina!

13 Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat August 23, 2012 at 7:57 am

Happy Birthday Tina!! You are so amazing and inspirational, not just because of what you’ve overcome, but because of what you do every day to motivate your readers and clients. Congratulations, and have an amazing day!

14 Patty August 23, 2012 at 8:02 am

Happy Birthday my amazing friend! Your words are what needed to hear today. In thi year alone I am overcoming losing my dad to cancer. Just going through the days is a challenge no words can explain. I ended a relationship that was no good for me. And I’m recovering from a surgery that took one of my ovaries but thankfully wasn’t cancer. It’s been a rough 6 months but I can still see each day as a gift.

Thank you for the awesome inspirational message!

15 Alex @ therunwithin August 23, 2012 at 8:12 am

You are such an inspiration, have a wonderful bday!

16 Jess August 23, 2012 at 8:16 am

Why am I not surprised that even on your own birthday you find the time to inspire the heck outta me and all of your readers with your words. You are who you are today and you are a beautiful and strong and passionate person, one I’m very happy to ‘know.’ Happiest of birthdays today my friend, enjoy every moment! xoxo

17 Lee August 23, 2012 at 8:21 am

Happy Birthday!

18 Cheryl @ Happy is the new healthy August 23, 2012 at 8:29 am

Happy Birthday — you amaze me all the time and I realllllly look up to you. Sharing all the things you’ve overcome just reinforces WHY you’re such a kick butt role model for me to have!

I have overcome my eating disorder/exercise obsession and in the process have realized just how happy and healthy we all deserve to be! :)

19 Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table August 23, 2012 at 8:35 am

Tina, your story is so inspirational.

Happy Birthday – I hope you have a wonderful day celebrating the awesome person you have grown into. Lots of love to you. :)

20 Heather (Where's the Beach) August 23, 2012 at 8:35 am

Happy Birthday! I love that quote and so glad you were able overcome so much. It’s made you the beautiful person you are today.

21 jobo August 23, 2012 at 8:39 am

wow, I love this so incredibly much, Tina. You ARE who you are because of what you have overcome, not what you have done. you could not have said that any better or any more perfectly. I completely agree. I look at the me I was before my divorce, and what I went through as part of it, to who I am now and think I am more grounded, more real, more ME than I have ever been. It was worth it. Happy birthday friend!!

22 Amy Lauren August 23, 2012 at 8:44 am

Happy Birthday Tina! I love that picture and am gonna share it with some friends. I overcame severe anemia that kept me from running for awhile a few summers ago, as well as an ED. All your blog posts are super inspiring and today’s is especially, it just reminds us that we all have a brighter tomorrow and can make our lives better if we choose to.

23 Sydney August 23, 2012 at 8:54 am

Happy Birthday Tina! You’re such an incredible person and your children are very lucky to be raised by such a strong woman!

24 Kelly August 23, 2012 at 8:54 am

Happy Birthday Tina!!!!!!!! Hugs.

25 Angela @ Happy Fit Mama August 23, 2012 at 9:00 am

Happy Birthday! You are proof that the human spirit is more powerful than anything else. Thank you for sharing and inspiring!

26 Mellissa August 23, 2012 at 9:01 am

Happy Birthday! Thank you for posting all these things, I choose not to go there on my blog but love the encouragement. So many things in my life, abuse, being in a relationship with someone who abused alcohol and drugs, starting over at 30. But all so worth it in the end.

27 Kaitlin @4loveofcarrots August 23, 2012 at 9:08 am

happy birthday! Hope it is fabulous! I am overcoming having negative thoughts about myself and how I look!

28 Brittany @ Delights and Delectables August 23, 2012 at 9:08 am

What a testimony!! Isn’t God good?? I have overcome feelings not being wanted and not being good enough that was planted by family. Thank you Jesus!

29 Jaime August 23, 2012 at 9:11 am

You rock! Happy Happy Birthday!

30 Betsy August 23, 2012 at 9:13 am

Happy Birthday!!! You are such a strong woman! Thanks for sharing all that you have overcome. You should be so proud! I have overcame a troubled marriage that left me feeling that I wasn’t worthy of being happy. In two months I will be divorced and I am the happiest that I have ever been! :)

31 misszippy August 23, 2012 at 9:14 am

Happy, happy birthday! And I am wowed by all that you have overcome and where you are. Congratulations to you–something to really celebrate today!

32 Mary Beth August 23, 2012 at 9:22 am

Happy Birthday! It is so awesome that you have been able to overcome so much and become the strong and happy woman you are today. You’re such a great inspiration to all of us!

33 Sarah @ Blonde Bostonian August 23, 2012 at 9:28 am

Thank you for posting this Tina! Happiest of birthdays to you!

I have overcome feelings of unworthiness, emptiness, and loss. I am finally beginning to feel whole and worthy of all the good things that have come my way.

34 Maria August 23, 2012 at 9:49 am

Tina, you are such a beautiful person and deserve the happiest of birthdays! Thank you for always opening sharing your story and your passion about God – I’m sure you’ve touched more hearts than you will ever know.

Have a wonderful day!

35 Paige @ Your Trainer Paige August 23, 2012 at 9:53 am

Great decision – you have overcome SO much and are an inspiration to many. Happiest birthday, Tina!!! :)

36 Ashley @ My Food 'N' Fitness Diaries August 23, 2012 at 9:55 am

First off, Happy Happy Birthday! :)

Also, thank you for the powerful post. You are amazing, and I admire you willingness to share your struggles and past to help others. I’m sure you have inspired many others out there! xoxo

37 Lisa August 23, 2012 at 9:57 am

You are a true INSPIRATION Tina. Have a wonderful day today. Happy birthday!

38 Erin @ Girl Gone Veggie August 23, 2012 at 9:59 am

Happy birthday Tina!! You are such an inspiration to so many, I am so happy you have made your life into what you wanted it to be!!

39 Caroline August 23, 2012 at 10:01 am

Happy Birthday! I know you’ve already celebrated quite a bit, but I hope you find something fun to do today as well! This post was fantastic, and it’s great to see all that you’ve overcome in your life!

40 Sam @ Better With Sprinkles August 23, 2012 at 10:04 am

happy birthday Tina!! I hope it’s wonderful! (I’m celebrating my bff’s birthday today too, I’ll do a cheers to you as well!)

I overcame my eating disorder. In your face, anorexia. :-)

41 Debbie @ Live from La Quinta August 23, 2012 at 10:26 am

Thanks for sharing. Have a wonderful birthday!

42 Purelytwins August 23, 2012 at 10:29 am

First Happy Birthday!!!!
Second, love this post! Love your message and honesty.
We have overcome so many mental battles with ourselves, overcoming the fear of food being a big one!

43 Rebecca August 23, 2012 at 10:37 am

Happy birthday Tina!! You were one of the first healthy living blogs I found and I have loved watching your journey for the last year or so. You are such an inspiration! It takes such courage and humility to share what you have overcome. Thank you for being an example of what Christ’s love looks like in the flesh. You are a bright shining light :) Hope you have a fabulous day!

44 sabrina August 23, 2012 at 10:46 am

Happy Birthday Tina!! You are an amazing women! You make be want to be the best ME I can be!! Thanks and Keep up the great work!

45 Amanda August 23, 2012 at 10:47 am

Beautiful perspective! Happy Birthday!!!

46 Jodi August 23, 2012 at 10:52 am

Just an amazing post! Happiest of Birthday to you, Beautiful! What a way to celebrate! Thank you for sharing this! I will certainly be giving some thought to your closing question today! Loves!

47 [email protected] August 23, 2012 at 11:00 am

What an amazing post. You are awesome and so selfless to share something like that on your birthday, thank you. Congratulations on finding the strength to get through what you have. Something I’ve overcome- feeling like I need to put everyone else before myself. I was always the “peacekeeper” in my family, and felt like I had to please everyone even if it made me incredibly unhappy. Being able to break through that and realize that making decisions that make me feel good is one of the most freeing and empowering feelings ever. :)

48 Bethany @ Accidental Intentions August 23, 2012 at 11:16 am

Happy birthday, Tina!! I truly hope you have a fantastic day. Thank you so much for such a positive and encouraging post :)

49 Becky August 23, 2012 at 11:17 am

Amen! I am so glad we have such a Gracious Saviour who loves us all so much!

50 Becky August 23, 2012 at 11:18 am

….and Happy Birthday!

51 Britta Kallevang August 23, 2012 at 11:36 am

Happy Birthday to my alltime favorite trainer! Kick up your heels and some nummy cake!

52 Amanda @ Click. The Good News August 23, 2012 at 11:45 am

Happiest of birthdays- may it be filled with love & joy =)
What a wonderful celebration of who you are & where you’ve come from!

53 Heather (Heather's Dish) August 23, 2012 at 11:47 am


i love this post and that it’s focusing on the positives of something that’s easy to beat yourself up over. i’ve definitely overcome a lot of the same things, and i love that it’s molded me into a happier and more patient person!

54 Christa August 23, 2012 at 12:06 pm

You are simply FANTASTIC!

I’m still working on my struggles with food and the bits of anxiety that go with it. It’s a process, but it’s part of overcoming :)

55 janetha August 23, 2012 at 12:41 pm

happy birthday, beauty.

56 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats August 23, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Wow Tina!!! What a great message on your birthday, you are an amazing woman and so inspirational! I AM overcoming binge eating, negative thoughts about myself and my desperation to be perfect, none of which I could do without God, and I need to work on remembering that every day! Each day is a gift, as is each birthday! Have a good one!

57 Angie @ Losing It and Loving It August 23, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Happy Birthday! Hope your day is as awesome as you are!

58 [email protected] August 23, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Amazing, amazing lady, you are!! Happy BIRTHDAY! <3

I have overcome anorexia, binge & emotional eating, and perfectionism. ;) I am awesome b/c of having gone through it, and trying my best to help others recover!

59 Melissa August 23, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Happy birthday fellow Leo! I’ve been reading your blog for a while but this is the first time I feel compelled to comment. I could have almost written your post myself, having been through some of the same things. I too have done a complete turnabout in my life and have found health and happiness through respecting my body and God and my life. Although, I still have moments where I feel guilty and completely shamed for things I have done in the past. Just today I was standing in the shower feeling horribly embarrassed for something I did over ten years ago while stupidly drunk. I have no idea where that memory came from or why it was nagging me this morning, but it wasn’t a great start to my day. Your blog spoke to me and really helped me today. Thank you for the reminder that those things ARE NOT WHO I AM TODAY and I do not have to continue to be ashamed for them. We are not our past. You are a great inspiration for me! :)

60 Lisa August 23, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Happy Birthday!! This is such a great post! It is so great that you can share all this inspiration in an open forum like this because a lot of people shy away from the hard topics in life.
I can honestly say your blog has been a great blessing out here in the blog world! I relate to so many of your past struggles and really took and absorbed your posts so that I could become a better person and overcome some struggles that I have had.
You are a beautiful person inside and out and you seem so kind and genuine, which is why I always come back to your blog! I always know you will have great posts that inspire a lot of us!
Have a simply fabulous day!!

61 Leonor @FoodFaithFitness August 23, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Your transparency is something that is a light to others. You are doing exactly what God called us to do. What a great testimony to share with others!

62 lindsay August 23, 2012 at 2:34 pm

and cheers to many more years of GOD GIVEN strength. Happy Birthday!

63 Tricia August 23, 2012 at 2:56 pm

Happy Birthday! Thank you for such a beautiful post and for making a difference.

64 Amber @Exsoycise August 23, 2012 at 3:37 pm

Happy birthday to you! I love that despite all the negative events that occurred during your life, you did not let consume you and now you SHINE with positivity. You are amazing!

65 Tempie @ The Texas Peach August 23, 2012 at 3:46 pm

I hate that you had so many painful years, but it is so awesome that you are turning something bad into something good by sharing your testimony with others. I hope that you have a wonderful birthday!

66 Rachel @ Eat, Learn, Discover! August 23, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Happy Birthday, Tina! You’re really an inspiration, don’t ever stop :-)

67 Cori August 23, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Happy Birthday!! I hope your day is as special as you are!!

68 Beverly Aragon August 23, 2012 at 6:06 pm

Happy birthday, dear Tina! May God’s amazing grace touch you today and keep giving you strength for the awesome year ahead. :)

69 Yaara Leve August 23, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Happy Birthday Tina!!
I hope this year is an amazing one for you! I read your post this morning and have been thinking about it all day. It seems like you’ve been through hell and back–yet you are strong and courageous. I just wanted to thank you for sharing you story with us. I am happy for you that you found hope and peace in your life. You truly have a lovely family–your kiddies are adorable–and you seem like a strong and well-rounded person. It is so difficult to move past the darkest times in our lives–but as you say–I think it makes us stronger and reminds us what it means to be human. Thank you again for sharing your story.

70 Michelle August 23, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Happy Birthday Tina! Thank you for always inspiring us and for always been so honest and open. Your life makes a difference in so many and I continue to be in awe of your brave and positive attitude!
Enjoy your special day and I hope this next year is even more wonderful!!

71 MCM Mama August 23, 2012 at 6:20 pm

Happy Birthday! You’ve come so far! Can’t wait to see what other amazing things you do.

72 Danielle August 23, 2012 at 8:29 pm

You are such an inspiration!! I’m so glad you’re willing to share what you’ve been through and what God has done. Its proof that He did it and that you’ve healed because you wouldn’t be willing to share otherwise!!

73 Alicia at Poise in Parma August 23, 2012 at 9:06 pm

I hope you’ve had a wonderful birthday Tina! What a great post to kick off a new year.

74 Sandy August 23, 2012 at 9:30 pm

I’m adding that song to my workout playlist. I’m going to read this over and over to remind myself that I can overcome too. Happy Birthday!

75 Liz (Little Bitty Bakes) August 23, 2012 at 9:50 pm

First, happy birthday!! So many great things for you to celebrate today (and everyday!).

Your ability to share such personal things you’ve dealt with & overcome must be so helpful to so many others. We’re so much stronger and tougher than we think, and you’re proof positive of that. :)

76 Kierston August 23, 2012 at 10:45 pm

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I hope you had a fabulous day!

77 Heather @ Better With Veggies August 23, 2012 at 11:58 pm

I know it’s late, but I’m here to wish you a VERY happy birthday! I hope you had an awesome day celebrating. :)

78 Jen August 24, 2012 at 1:15 am

Wow…this is simply beautiful, Tina! Hope you’ve had a wonderful day & wishing you the BEST year yet!!!

79 Jen August 24, 2012 at 10:49 am

I just happened upon this blog and I am glad I did. I am currently overcoming binge eating. It is one of the hardest things to lose the weight, but keeping it off and learning to love food and do it with no guilt is harder. Thank you for your honesty and heart in this post!!!

80 Christin August 24, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Thank you Tina…I really needed to hear this message today. God Bless you and happy birthday.

81 Cara August 24, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Happy Birthday! I hope you had an incredible day!
I absolutely loved this post! God’s grace and love are a beautiful thing! He is sooooo good :)

82 Beth August 24, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Tina, I know it’s your birthday but I feel like I got the gift. This is such a great post and very well worded. I am working on overcoming binge eating and some other things, and your post was so inspirational!! Thank you for this great message!!!

83 Teresa August 24, 2012 at 7:30 pm

Happy belated birthday! Thanks so much for sharing. Your words were exactly what I needed to hear today as I was negatively thinking of my birthday approaching next week. So many times it is easy to focus on what is missing or not perfect and forget about all the great progress. Thanks for the early birthday gift :)

84 Bek @ Crave August 25, 2012 at 12:46 am

Happy Belated Birthday Tina! :) Oh I’ve overcome many things I’m proud of but I’m going to mix up a bit and tell you what I WILL overcome- anxiety, depression, eating disorders and all that unhappy stuff!

85 Alyssa @ Don't Look Down August 27, 2012 at 10:59 am

Happy belated birthday! I very much enjoyed this post. It’s a great reminder that no matter what’s happened in our past, we can overcome it. And it’s also a reminder that God loves us ALL THE TIME even when we make bad decisions or have rough patches in life.

86 Megan September 4, 2012 at 4:36 pm

Thanks for this post Tina. My birthday is a week after yours – and your words about leaving the past behind rang true for me.

87 geedzmeegz January 9, 2013 at 9:19 am

It is my Bornday on Saturday…just i am Happy even my Mom Past away Last month….!!!!! Happy Birthday….for myself….:-)),Love myself than to others first…!

88 Jennifer Abatayo January 23, 2013 at 1:11 am

its inspire me a lot…i love your blog!!!

89 IamRR January 24, 2013 at 10:16 am

You said everything that i wanted to say to everybody. Bravo!

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