In the summer of 2007, my life changed drastically … I graduated from high school, moved 3,000 miles away to college, and developed an eating disorder that caused a mysterious and drastic weight gain. I was baffled as to why I was gaining all this weight; I thought I was eating well. After consulting with a doctor, I discovered that I had developed sleep-eating disorder, which caused me to sleep walk, and “sleep eat”. I would eat foods high in fats, sugars, and bad carbohydrates. The disorder stemmed from feelings that I was suppressing from a very emotionally abusive relationship. I have always had a very small build at 5’5” and 120 lbs., so when I gained 30 plus pounds in a few short months I started to freak out. After finding out the root of all the evil, I tried to take back both my life and my body. Looking for a quick fix, I turned to yo-yo and fad dieting. However, any weight I did lose was gained back, PLUS SOME! This caused even more frustration with my weight, and I became stuck in what seemed like an endless cycle of dieting and gaining what weight I had lost, with an additional ten pounds each time.
In 2009 I weighed in at my highest weight of 176 pounds. I was sick of feeling tired and sluggish, and knew that I needed change. My confidence, happiness, and self-esteem were gone, and with a new man in my life (whom I now call my husband) I wanted to feel attractive and sexy for myself.
I had to change my mind frame because everything I had done in the past had ended in failure. I needed a goal to work towards. I decided on something I was familiar with: A PAGEANT. Pageants were something I had done for 5 years, starting in the seventh grade. I spent months running like a madwoman, eating a low calorie diet and sometimes not eating but once a day. I never thought about the damage I was doing to my body. When I competed in the pageant, I won “Pennsylvania’s Prettiest Smile” but not the crown. Although I was proud of myself for giving it my all, I was not happy and knew that participating in pageants was not the answer to my problem. I wanted to lose the weight I gained from my eating disorder. I wanted to be healthy. I wanted my confidence back. I wanted to be proud of myself. Knowing this, I began searching for the answer that would grant me the happiness I knew I deserved.
A year later I stumbled across stories in fitness magazines about women following the clean eating lifestyle with wonderful success. I especially fell in love with Oxygen magazine and came across the success story of fitness inspiration Kelsey Byers. Her determination and passion inspired me. Seeking advice, I sent her an email. In almost no time at all she emailed me back and the moment I received that email I became instantly emotional, crying at my computer because I felt the answers I had been searching for a very long time were now answered. After sending a few more emails back and forth, Kelsey encouraged me to create a fan page to help share my passion and love for fitness and clean eating while helping to inspire others with my story. She directed me towards all of Tosca Reno’s books, and I started reading them from cover to cover. I did more research on clean eating, bought tons of fitness magazines, hired a trainer at the gym to show me what and how to lift weights properly. I even purged my apartment kitchen of all “unclean foods.” Boy oh boy was my husband in shock. At this point, thanks to Kelsey’s advice and friendship, it’s safe to say I was finally ready to hop on board the clean eating and weight lifting train!
On September 4, 2011, the day after my wedding, I truly began my journey to a new and improved healthier self. First I wrote a list of all the groceries I needed to buy. Then I reorganized my daily life in such a way that allowed me to be more focused on meal prepping and my workouts. The first two months were the most challenging, but not because of the diet. I was very satisfied by the flavor and the amount of food I was eating. The challenging part was saying “no” to friends asking to go to lunch at Applebee’s or Olive Garden, and turning down fruity cocktails, beers, and wine. I will also confess that giving up certain condiments, such as mayo and ranch dressing was difficult, but all I had to do was remember why I had started, and suddenly it became much easier to say “no.” After three months of being completely immersed in this new way of living and finding new friends that shared the same interest, I realized how important all of this was to me.
This was my lifestyle. I had begun my fitness journey. Even though I was familiar with working out and exercising, it was necessary that I learned the proper techniques and the science behind building lean muscle and burning fat. Briefly hiring a personal trainer and doing my own research allowed me to find a stronger me. Since I was still just a beginner, I did what my body could take. Cardio, tracking my heart rate, using lighter weights with high repetitions were vital to achieving my new goals. Based off of my growing strength and the changes in my body, I altered my workouts and weight training sessions.
It took about three months for me to start seeing results and get my metabolism back to where it should have been. During this time it is safe to say my husband became annoyed hearing any self-doubt I had, which I often expressed by saying things like “Why am I doing this? I’m NOT seeing results! I haven’t lost anything!” He remained supportive through it all and never let me give up. It was difficult to push through those first few months, and it took all I had to NOT set foot on the scale.
About a month later, when I was four months into eating clean and lifting weights, other people started seeing change in not only my body, but in my confidence. That’s when they started asking me about what I had been doing. It was then that I realized that my new lifestyle was impacting those around me. People were noticing that my hard work was paying off! I loved hearing comments from friends and family like “You look amazing! Tell me about your new lifestyle.” Losing 15 pounds in only 3 months was such an accomplishment, and I was so proud of myself. This was when my mind starting wandering, dreaming, and setting new goals. I’m the type of person who needs goals to focus on, so I began writing down short and long term goals to hang on my vision boards, bathroom mirror, and in my daily fitness journal so I could be reminded of them every day. This is when I took Kelsey Byers’ advice to start a fan page on Facebook. My fan page became a way for me to inspire, motivate, and help others find the information I once was searching for. I believe if I can help inspire or motivate one person then everything is worth it.
After two years of hard work, dedication to the clean eating lifestyle, and undergoing the removal of my gallbladder, I’ve never felt so proud and empowered by who I am now! Since my lifestyle and mindset have changed I can honestly say I’ve never been so happy with who I am and where I am going. There was never a magical number on the scale or clothing size I wanted to achieve. I just wanted to feel healthy and fit; to accomplish the better vision I had of myself.
I am more gratified not with what I’ve lost, but what I had gained. I had become emotionally sound, spiritually centered, and mentally healthier. Fitness and clean eating had not only transformed my body, but also completely changed my life.
If I could share one secret that helped me to be successful in reaching my goals and continuing to strive for more it would be that what I did is NOT a diet. It is, however, a LIFESTYLE, which is something you must be ready to take on without looking back to the “old” you for comfort.
This lifestyle is something that you must be ready for because it’s challenging, demanding, and requires an open mind. You must be open to a whole new beginning and a whole new you! It wasn’t until I DECIDED to make small differences, each and every day, adding them all together, that I achieved my goal and lost 50 lbs.