"You're the quintessential girl -- you've struggled with your weight, and you finally have figured out how to manage it. You should help others with food and exercise too."
I'm not one to back down from a challenge, so why not take my sister up on this opportunity and share my fitness and food journey with others? And I definitely could use the support myself!
So here goes...
I never liked exercise. Period. I was the girl in P.E. who hid behind the varsity soccer players, praying that the gym teacher would never notice me. My junior year of high school, the gym teachers started a new exercise option for gym class: walking around the field outside. I'm pretty sure the "walking" option was initiated for me.
My food intake was pretty horrific at times. I grew up in the "You feel sad? Have a cookie" and "There's nothing for dinner? Let's make Kraft Mac 'n Cheese" household. (Don't get me wrong -- at times my mother would whip up a pretty fantastic dinner, but I think a lot of American families can relate to the "food in a box/can for dinner" and "food is heavily attached to emotions" syndrome.) I managed to maintain a somewhat normal weight, but I definitely wasn't fit.
Then came college.
Unlimited access to food! I felt entitled to eat whatever I wanted, just because I could! And it was yummy!
And I hit this:
Which is hardly the heaviest I got. I think I destroyed the really heavy photos.
I started college at about 130 pounds, and here, I was about 155 pounds, which is a lot for someone who is 5' 3". At most, I was tipping the scale at around 160 pounds, and that scared me.
What was perhaps the most startling was realizing that my clothes didn't fit. I had always been a size 4 or 6, usually a small or a medium. And now, I was trying to find pants in a size 12. How did that happen? But instead of figuring out how to fix it, I condemned myself to always being overweight and struggled with my body image.
After college, I continued to yo-yo up and down. I tried everything imaginable to lose weight: Lean Cuisines, fad diets, hours of chugging away at cardio, personal trainers... and nothing stuck. I continued to bounce up and down, and here's how I looked with I graduated from graduate school, three years after I graduated from college:
Less than college, but maybe 10 pounds lighter, and hardly fit.
And then I realized I was getting married in two and a half months, and hit the gym hardcore.
At the time, I thought I was being hardcore, but I was chugging away on the elliptical, doing "girly" push ups, and punishing myself by meticulously watching my food intake and stressing over every little bite I put in my mouth.
On my wedding day, I had reached the fittest I had been in a long time -- 137 pounds, and looked like this:
Compliments abounded! But I didn't know how to maintain it, and started a new job in August, where lunch is provided and cookies and brownies are in abundance. Even though I was going to the gym on a regular basis, I ballooned back to 149 pounds without realizing what had hit me.
And then, in June 2010, I was introduced to Melissa, CrossFit and Paleo guru (aka a personal trainer). Honestly, this moment is what changed my life, and I would not be where I am without her.
Here I am today -- about 131 pounds, size 2, and still working towards finding my best self. And I did it by changing my relationship and perspective with food and adhering to a Primal lifestyle and realizing that I could be a strong, athletic woman through CrossFit. Once my perspective on my weight and food changed, everything else could change, too.
Why am I writing all of this to you? To share how I've come on this journey, and to discuss ways to be fit and healthy in a busy society. I work full time, and finding a work/life balance is exceedingly difficult, but as I'm learning, not impossible. I'm also a teacher at an all girls school, and it's important to me to set a healthy example for my students and to teach my students that they can be strong, healthy women. I don't want to see them struggle the same way that I did with food and body image, and while I know they will, I want to teach my girls that they can be everything they want to be -- and that a healthy lifestyle is important for their physical and mental selves.
I still have a lot to strive for, but I plan on sharing workouts, recipes, and tips for leading a healthy life in a busy, stressful, and fast food world. I hope you'll join me in my simple challenge!