Last night, my husband & I were discussing our “beginnings”… how we met & how our relationship began. I asked him if there was anything about me back then that’s different than how I am now. He thought for a second & then said, “I think more than anything I’ve watched you become a more confident person. You’re less self conscious than you were back then & you’re just confident in who you are, and that’s very attractive.” This struck a chord with me & we talked a little bit about the transformation that I’ve gone through in the (almost) 8 years we’ve been together.
Back then, I was so obsessed with my weight & self image that I was blind to the fact that I was beautiful. I was just never good enough for myself. I worked out hard every day, no matter the cost (lack of sleep, skipping a meal, etc) & if I didn’t get a workout in one day, I’d beat myself up & would instantly see myself in the mirror as 5 pounds fatter that day. On top of being obsessed with my workouts (mostly long duration cardio), I obsessively counted everything I ate. I ate everything low fat, low sugar, low calorie, low carb (AKA low nutrition), to stay under my 1,200 calorie limit, & played a game with myself to see how low I could keep it (sometimes only 700-800 a day). I remember moments during my senior year of college, stepping on the scale & crying that I couldn’t get it below 125 pounds no matter how hard I was working (yeah…. 125 lb’s). When I think back on it now, I can honestly say I had an eating disorder. Food controlled me, even though my twisted mind at the time thought I was the one in control.
After my wedding in 2012, I indulged at our honeymoon & my shorts barely fit me on the day we left (talk about a shot metabolism). I continued to fight this battle with my metabolism for the next year… working out hard, eating little, trying desperately to control my weight but gaining immediately when I’d indulge ONCE or eat a few too many calories that day (like 1,500 – oh no!). The next year, a heart to heart with my best friend (who is now an integrative dietitian) inspired me to free myself from calorie counting, focus on the QUALITY of food I’m eating, not just quantity, & listen to my body for what it needs rather than trying to “outsmart” it by calculating input vs. output. It finally clicked that our bodies don’t work that way, & I finally faced the realization that I had been in a very unhealthy place for a long time & I was going to try & dig myself out of it.
I’m not going to say it was all butterflies & rainbows. It was hard as shit. Because I had messed up my metabolism so bad through years of restrictive eating & over-exercising, I gained weight when I started eating a normal amount of food, even though it was healthy. My “rock bottom” came in 2014 (picture #1 below). I couldn’t lose the weight no matter what I did. I had shaken the calorie counting obsession, but I was still working out hard every day & was eating healthy food. I cried trying on my summer dresses & swimming suits for our winter trip to Mexico because nothing fit me & I felt like crap. I was tired all the time. I felt sluggish. I had no sex drive. I hadn’t had my period in a year. I felt like my hormones were literally shut off. I was sick. Bottom line.
Another life changing conversation with that same best friend (she is truly a God send!) inspired me to seek help from a functional medicine practitioner in Kansas City. The test results were what I expected. My thyroid was low from years of self-inflicted damage, which caused my metabolism & sex hormones to say good-bye as well. I was also deficient in some other key nutrients. A gluten test indicated that I had a gluten sensitivity & that I’d be better off without it. My “prescription” was as follows:
- Get rid of gluten in my diet & eat REAL high quality food (note: taking out gluten naturally helps you “unprocess your diet”
- Get rid of all high intensity exercise which is MORE damaging for people with low thyroid problems, & focus on MOVEMENT instead (this is when I fell in love with walking & eventually yoga)
- Take supplements (several of the key nutrients I was deficient in)
That’s it people. That is it. No medications. No crazy procedures. No hormone replacement. Just very simple lifestyle changes.
I started this protocol in September of 2014 & by January 2015, I was a new person. I had energy. I had my sex drive back. I got my period. I lost weight. I felt invigorated. I felt balanced. I felt healthy. I remember trying on my summer dresses & swimming suits for my winter trip to Jamaica that month (picture #2) & crying tears of joy because I felt completely different than a year before when I was so sick & miserable.
Picture #3 is from this summer. Nothing has really changed, & to me, that is music to my ears. I finally have BALANCE. I eat well, most of the time. I indulge sometimes, but that’s OK. My metabolism is now healthy enough where it won’t make me blow up like a balloon if I’m not perfect in my diet. I walk every day, focusing on movement rather than exercise. Sometimes I like doing higher intensity exercise too, so I do. If I’m hungry, I eat. If I’m not, I don’t. If I feel like exercising, I do. If I don’t, I don’t. I listen to my body & do what it tells me instead of relying on tracking devices to tell me how many calories I consumed, how many I burned, or how many steps or miles I got in that day.
THIS IS HOW EVERYONE SHOULD FEEL!!! I’m no longer that self conscious girl that I was. I’m not perfect, & I have my days. This world makes it a constant battle. But, the majority of the time I look in the mirror & I’m happy with what I see. I tell myself positive things instead of breaking myself down. Am I as skinny as I was on my wedding day? No. Do I have cellulite? Yes. Do I have some junk in the trunk? Yes. (haha) But, guess what? I’m healthy. I feel great. Those “imperfect” things about me are what make me ME & after working on my MIND day in & day out for YEARS, I am finally at that place. That’s why it breaks my heart when I see other people struggling with what I struggled with, & that’s what made me finally write this blog post today.
Balance, people. It’s not about eating less & exercising more. Please don’t make the mistake I did. Just listen to your body & guess what, if you exercise less you probably won’t feel like eating as much & if you exercise more, you’re probably going to want to eat more. BALANCE. Eat well. Live well. Move well. Be kind to yourself. TRUST yourself. Not the app on your phone that’s telling you what to do. Not the crazy fitness model instagram posts telling you how you should look. BE YOU & be confident in that. THAT is what is most attractive, take it from my husband 😉
PS: If you would like some more resources & people to follow who believe in this same thing, here are a few of my favorites:
–Shawn Stevenson (specifically his podcast, the Model Health Show)
– Abel James (specifically his podcast, Fat Burning Man)
– Erin Mullins, Fit Rocker Chick (she has my SAME STORY, I swear…it’s craziness
– Natalie Jill ~ she’s very into fitness but from what I’ve heard her talk about with her new book, “Unprocess Your Diet” her views on nutrition are on point