Growing up, I had a healthy body. I remained active with cheerleading and ate well-balanced meals.
I never struggled with my weight and certainly didn’t face severe body image issues.
My junior year of college, I got more involved with fitness. I had a healthy relationship with exercise and it served as a wonderful outlet for stress, anxiety, and other issues. Unfortunately, I also tried to control food during that time. I restricted my food severely for months, before I ended up falling into a binge/restrict cycle that controlled my life for years. While I never appeared unhealthy on the outside and always fell within a normal weight range, I was far from healthy on the inside. The constant roller-coaster in weight gain and loss took a toll on my body.
I binged for years. I never felt comfortable in my skin, so would try to “diet”. Inevitably, the diet would fail because I tried to deprive myself too much…and the cycle would continue as I turned to food for comfort. You may read about my binge eating experiences in my Overcoming Binge Eating post and the Stuffed With Emptiness series I write.
Eventually, I took steps to overcome those challenges. My faith, support from loved ones, finding appropriate emotional outlets, working through the internal matters, and seeking a healthier balance with food all helped me gain strength and break free from binge eating disorder.Around this time, I also became pregnant with my daughter, Makenzie.
My pregnancy helped solidify more balanced eating habits that I carried with me after the pregnancy ended. I continued to enjoy exercise throughout the pregnancy and picked it up again right at the 6 week post-partum mark. Over the next nine months I watched my body change with consistent exercise and balanced nutrition.
At that point, I decided to go for a goal that had always loomed in the back of my mind. I had achieved a greater level of fitness than I anticipated and wanted to see just how far I could go. I signed up for a fitness competition.
I feel so proud to have made it through the training for that goal. While I learned through the experience that competing doesn’t fulfill me, I loved the experience and learned a lot. I trained myself and feel very satisfied with the package I brought to the stage just a year after birth.
Following the competition, my husband and I knew we wanted to have another baby. We started trying to get pregnant right away. I had to take some preemptive measures to make that happen. During the competition training, I had lost my menstrual cycle and had to regain a good bit of weight quickly to get it back.
That time definitely challenged me emotionally to go from the extreme of fitness competition fit to no exercise and fearing losing control with my eating again. As I look back, I also know it helped confirm my thoughts on body image and self-worth even more deeply. Now, the importance of internal health and wellness means just as much to me as any other part of our physical wellbeing.
Around six months later, I found out I was pregnant. This pregnancy was harder, but I made sure to still maintain my fitness level and practice healthy habits. The weight still piled on more than before. I still lost energy and had much more pain.
I didn’t feel quite like myself, but it was all worth it to welcome my son, Braedon.
And after the delivery, I felt better than I had in months. Within a few short weeks, I felt ready to get back to the gym. With clearance from my doctor, I picked up the Couch To 5K program three weeks post-delivery. I eased into my fitness routines and gradually began adding in other forms of cardiovascular exercise and resistance training. I designed workouts that I would enjoy and that would continue to challenge my body in new ways. I remembered the changes a body can make with consistency, dedication, and determination. And patience.
I shared that journey through a series called “Body After Baby”, which I will conclude in a little over a month as Braedon reaches the one year mark.
During that time, I also took my fitness knowledge to new levels and picked up new fitness goals. I continue to train hard because fitness adds so much to my life. I continue to hit the weights, my first true fitness love, and also hit the pavement, with my new fitness love of running. I have raced two half marathons and plan to go even further and race more next year.
I can’t imagine my life without fitness, a healthy lifestyle, and striving to treat my body well. I think we all can achieve so much if we put our hearts into it. I’ve come a long way. I know you can to! And don’t forget – I’m here to help any way I can!