I wanted to share where I came from before I found fitness and a healthy lifestyle that worked for me. I never thought I would find myself here today, but I couldn’t be more thankful that I am. It wasn’t easy, and I went through many struggles and failed attempts before I found the relationship with food that worked for me.
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My journey to fitness was no cake walk. I had a lot of medical issues as a child that shaped the way I ate early on, and it effected my entire life… until March 2013. When I was very young (about 4 years old) I was diagnosed with a skin condition called eczema – which was a condition that caused itchy rashes all over my skin – similar to poison oak. This condition was triggered by “food allergies” according to my doctors. I had a laundry list of foods that I absolutely had to avoid: peanuts, whole wheat, coconut, tomatoes, berries, cheese, eggs, spices, peppers, chocolate, shellfish, citrus….. and so on. My food choices were so limited that I basically lived off of some sort of processed meat and bread, or pasta with butter. Back then there were no concerns about gluten intolerance and “Paleo” wasn’t even a topic of discussion yet. I had food allergies and there was no cure other than to avoid the foods that gave me these miserable rashes that made me incredibly self-conscious.
On top of my food allergies I was also diagnosed with sinus allergies and asthma. A kid who (according to my doctors) was allergic to most fruits, veggies, nuts and eggs, couldn’t exercise for fear of dying from an asthma attack, and sinus allergies to boot – it was no wonder I became “the chubby kid” in school. I was made fun of in PE class for not participating, and all of the kids would see my rashes and yell out, “don’t touch her, she has a disease!!!” My weight was a constant struggle all through my childhood and well into high school. In the 5th grade a couple of kids from school showed up on my doorstep calling me a fatty and telling me that I need to go for a run. In high school, my PE teacher literally told me my asthma was “Just an excuse for me being fat and lazy.”
(Notice the miserable rashes on my face in the above photo. This was my life, and I hated it. I wanted nothing more than to have normal skin.)
My weight fluctuated all through junior high, and on occasion I would find a crash diet that brought temporary success in weight loss, but it would slowly find its way back. By my junior year of high school I was pushing almost 200 lbs, on a 5’2″ frame, but by the beginning of my freshmen year of college I had lost almost 45 lbs of that and felt pretty damn good about it. I even kept it off for about a year, but not in the healthiest of ways. I was borderline bulimic. Trying to throw up anything that I deemed “unhealthy“, which was basically anything over 100 calories. Because I had no idea what healthy eating was and lost the weight the “wrong way” by essentially starving my body and working it to death in the gym on cardio machines, I slowly gained ALL of my weight back.
By the time I was 22 years old I weighed 187 lbs, and I was devastated. I remained that weight for nearly 5 years, fluctuating about 10 lbs here and there, but always finding my way back to the mid 180’s. I always put on a good face, but behind the smiles I was still miserable.
I had nearly accepted the idea that this was the way I was genetically supposed to be. I was not a thin girl, and never would be. I would cover myself up with sweaters and actually convince people that I was cold.
And then, in March 2013, I was finally fed up with my eczema, my allergies and my weight. I found this book: The Clean Program, by Dr. Alejandro Junger and it changed everything.
His philosophy on processed foods and the way we are programmed to think about food in this day and age really resonated with me. He also mentioned food allergies and food sensitivity many times in his book, which was something that really struck my interest. So I gave his 3 week detox program a try, and lost 11 lbs in 3 weeks. Not only did I lose 11 lbs, which was something I hadn’t done since I was about 19, I also managed to ween myself from my allergy medicine I had been taking daily since I was a child. My sinus allergies were gone and my skin started clearing up, not to mention I couldn’t remember the last time I had an asthma attack. This was a serious awakening. Food was curing all of my problems, when all of my life I was being told that food was my biggest enemy.
I continued to eat CLEAN, and eventually, at 15 lbs lost, I hit a plateau. I was a little frustrated with this. after knowing I was eating properly and working out harder than I ever had before. What was I doing wrong? What was my body trying to tell me? After doing some research I found the Paleo lifestyle. The main difference between what I was doing and this way of eating was grains. I was still eating brown rice, and generous portions too. So, I embarked on a Paleo adventure and lost another 10lbs in 6 weeks without ever detoxing or feeling deprived. In fact, during that time period of going “full paleo” I ate some of the best meals I’ve ever had. I loved this new lifestyle. I was hooked.
After eating clean / paleo since March of 2013, I am 43 lbs down and only 6 lbs away from my goal. I am also allergy free, medicine free and my skin hasn’t been this clear in my entire life. For 28 years my body was trying to tell me something was wrong, and because I finally listened to it and gave it what it so desperately needed I am healthier than I have ever been.
Now I am able to run a 10K without walking in under 10 minute miles. I am able to work out 5-6 times a week and want more. I’ve even completed a Spartan Super 8 mile obstacle race!
I don’t have to wear sweaters to cover up my body. I don’t want bread, crackers, chips, or any junk food. I love REAL food.
I have learned to love myself and have fallen in love with fitness as well. So much so, that I decided to pursue a certification in personal training from NASM. In July of 2014 I passed my exam and officially became a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine.
Now I am trying to navigate my next move. I am figuring out what style of training I would like to do and how to get started, and thought – why not document this? I am incredibly proud of how far I’ve come and am so excited to see what is in store. I will forever believe that food is medicine, working out is the best therapy, strong is the new skinny and fitness is the key to a happy life.