THE YOUNGER YEARS
I was 21 and a sophomore in college. After gaining 40 pounds in the last two years, and spending my evenings sneaking down to the vending machine to buy super-size Kit-Kat’s in my dorm, I couldn’t fit in my size 14 jeans anymore. I couldn’t wear anything but sweatpants and, after crying to my mom, I was offered her jeans. Everything had to change.
I wanted to be happy. I didn’t want food to make me happy — I just wanted to BE happy. To love my body, love my life, feel playful, and SHOW UP in life. I wanted to have a body I loved. I wanted to wear the trendy clothes, to be able to swap clothes with my friends, and to fit into about anything I tried on.
Overeating and emotional eating was familiar to me since I was a little girl, and I became very good at it. I remember stuffing my tummy with onion rings from Long John Silver’s when I was 6 years old and throwing up because I ate too much. At parties, I’d eat with my friends, and when they ran off to play games, I’d keep going back to the food tables. I sneaked extra food with me pretty often, and I’d get nervous about when my next snack would come. I came home from school and ate so much food. My mom was often asking where all the jam went. Oops.
I was a pretty girl with a personality that everyone enjoyed. Very smart, great group of girlfriends, active in sports/marching band/work/volunteering, I actually did have a wonderful life. But I was never happy in my body. I craved to know what it felt like to be genuinely satisfied and confident.
After I hit rock-bottom in college, the first big transformation came. It literally was like I began living a second life. Long story made short, I lost 80 pounds, kept it off, and my journey of self-discovery and personal growth has led me to feel so much joy, radiance, passion, peace, and enthusiasm on a daily basis. I AM THE HAPPIEST PERSON I KNOW.
I lost the first 40 pounds through consistent healthy eating and exercise. Then I began long-distance running — 4 marathons and 4 half-marathons in 4 years — and I hit my big plateau of 4 years. I was frustrated about not seeing much change in 4 years because I had more weight to lose. However, learning to maintain my weight was a huge gift! How may people can honestly say they lost weight and kept it off?! I am a PRO at this.
I met the coolest 50-year old woman who was my personal trainer and she taught me that strength training, more consistent nutrition, and positive self-talk were the 3 things I needed to add to lose the rest of the fat.
Strength training changed my life and my body. I began in February 2009, when I was finishing grad school for nutrition communication, and haven’t stopped. The first thing I loved about it, was that it made me feel stronger in every aspect of my life.
I LOVE MYSELF FULLY.
ENTER: JOY, RADIANCE, GRATITUDE, LOVE.
A parade of phenomenal self-help books has transformed how I live, work and love. I’ve created this banging body that, and I cannot express it emphatically enough, I LOOOOOVE. My body looks nothing like it did years ago. I am strong, I built a nice booty, I’m lean, but I am not thin at all. I love my arms, I love my back, and I’m almost loving my tummy 😉
When I was wearing size 16, I dreamed of being around size 4, and I didn’t believe it could happen for a long time, but I did it. I did it by creating love and happiness internally, and aligning my actions with my values, not by actually focusing on the size. I’ve never owned a scale, and I weigh myself about once a year. Seriously, it’s been 1.5 years since I’ve been on a scale.
For the last couple years, I’ve learned and cultivated self-love. When you ask God to help you love yourself, be prepared. You’ll be shown everywhere you need to heal. Loving yourself is not “outside” work. It’s loving your own soul and all your “stuff.” I love my curiosity, my passion, and my dedication to caring for myself. I love that I’m bold and also a little shy sometimes. I love that I’m colorful and expressive, thoughtful and kind. I love that I create boundaries with people, and have only A+ friends in my life.
I’m living the life I dreamed of on a daily basis: acceptance and nurturing of mind/body/spirit. I have it all. I feel amazing, I look amazing, and I love myself. It requires daily (and sometimes hourly) attention and intention, but it’s more than worth it. I realize this is rare, and it’s why God put me here — to help women achieve a similar happy, peaceful feeling in their minds, bodies and spirits.