I'm no longer at war with my body.
If you asked me in April of 2015 if I was happy with my body I would have said no. I would have went through the list of things I was 'working on' and I would have been pinching & pulling my skin showing you what else I wanted to 'lose'. I would have told you about the amount of cardio I was doing to 'burn fat'. And how very, very little I was eating.
In 2015 I was at war with my body. Because in 2014... my body decided to fight back. From the years of restriction, skinny teas, and meal replacement shakes... and the extremely skinny girls that I would make my screensaver and add photos of to my 'dream body' board on Pinterest... in 2014 my body said to me:
"That is enough. You want to pick and pull at me? You want to say how much you hate me? You want to starve me? You want to be ungrateful and unappreciative of all that I do for you? I'm going to hold onto as much fat as I can until you learn to love and appreciate me. I'm going to keep that extra weight until I feel safe again. I'm going to show you that you can't escape this with harsh words and bullshit products."
This was January 2014.
Before we get into where I was, I want to point out that I feel like I blacked out and woke up having an eating disorder (I won't call it disordered eating to make it sound lighter).
I stared at myself and posed in front of mirrors for as long as I can remember. I would get out of the shower and immediately suck in my stomach and stick my butt out to the side. I would turn and pose and see how I looked. I didn't think anything was wrong with it considering it was really a majority of what girls talked about and all that I knew.
I saw magazines with titles of the same things my friends were talking about...
"I want to lose 15lbs"
"I can't wait til I'm old enough to get lipo on the back of my legs"
"x, y, z celebrity has such a tiny waist and the best butt"
Before I knew it, the mirror issue turned into a scale issue. I checked my weight sometimes upwards of 5-10 times per day. The scale issue then turned into the sizing of my clothes issue. I knew that in 8th and 9th grade I fit into a double zero-- so that was the standard I set for myself. Moving into a zero... and then a ONE in jeans was a moment in the fitting room I'll never forget. I was sweating and hot flushed in my face feeling like I needed to change something I was doing because I 'gained weight'. "My scale said the same number so WTF" I thought. I forced myself into 00's and XXS's. I wouldn't button the top of some of my too tight jeans and just pull my shirt down over it instead. I mean... I'm getting nauseous writing this.
Anyways. The clothes issue then finally turned into a food issue.
At this point I was googling about anorexia and bulimia because I thought most models used it as a way to lose and keep off weight. I'm serious when I say I ignored the fact that it was a clinically classified eating disorder. After reading about these E.D.s I got in the shower after volleyball practice one night and I tried it. I tried making myself throw up and I just sobbed because I couldn't do it.
In that moment, yes I was broken.
But it didn't stop me...
I wasn't trying to throw up but a new phase began.
My parents packed me my lunch almost every day in high school.
And for almost an entire year I threw away my lunch every day and instead ate from the salad bar or sometimes not eating at all.
Somedays I felt guilty that I was wasting food and embarrassed that one of my friends would notice I was throwing it away-- so I took it to... a whole... new... level.
Guys, I started throwing my food in the bathroom trash before school started.
If there was someone in the bathroom I just kept my lunch in my backpack.
And if I couldn't throw it away at school I would try and throw it away at home and cover it with trash so my parents didn't notice.
If that wasn't possible, if there were too many family members in the kitchen, I would throw the lunch OUT OF MY BEDROOM WINDOW INTO THE BUSHES.
I want to pause and note that I was pretty much blacked out during this period of time. I remember my parents finding the lunches old and dry outside when doing yard-work, but I don't remember it going much further than a small argument of why I did it... I honestly forgot about this part of my life until I was in yoga teacher training and went deeeeep into my personal work. I had to keep going further back into my food issues and keep diving into it until I dug this up. And it was horrifying. I remember not being able to catch my breath I was crying so hard.
Baby pictures of me. Pictures of me when I was younger and so just... full of bliss. What happened? Where did things get so bad? That's all I could think of. I just kept retracing time wondering how I began this war...
All of those issues spiraled into me drinking Herbalife and Isagenix shakes and trying skinny fit teas and viewing half of an apple as breakfast. Just... not even going to go there today. This isn't what I'm journaling about. Lol.
Anyways... Back to 2014.
I was eating again. And I thought that I had been better because this time I wasn't fucking with starving myself or squeezing myself into clothes that didn't fit or checking my weight a million times or drinking shakes and taking products. I learned my lesson that these things were bullshit, and an awful way to live... So I thought.
I felt better.
My periods were still really painful.
My chronic migraines were still there.
My hunger cues were present 1x/day.
I avoided mirrors.
I wore bigger, baggier clothes.
And I started lifting light weights at the gym.
These things didn't stand out to me as feedback I should've been paying attention to and monitoring. I assumed I was fine (and looking back now, I was. my body had just been through trauma and needed hella time to feel safe with me leading the way again).
And then this photo was taken at a trip to St. Maarten.
I remember posing in front of these beautiful waters and incredible mountains behind me on this quiet dock-- I grabbed the phone from the person that took it, turned the phone around, saw the photo, and I declared that the trip was ruined.
My mind was made up.
I don't remember much about the trip besides the fact that I drank a lot of alcohol and ate a ton of food and couldn't wait to start my new gym regime.
Hop to summer of 2015.
My gym regime was anything from 2-3hrs at the gym every day. "Ab circuits", elliptical and treadmill, and using some machines. Seriously, I had no idea what I was doing. All I knew is that I learned that calories in, calories out was the goal. I needed to burn more calories than I was taking in according to the internet.
I tracked my food into Myfitnesspal and used the goal it gave me with my goal to lose 20 POUNDS (???!!!!). I saw my total calorie intake was set to 1150.
Until my fitbit or the elliptical and treadmill said that I burned anywhere from 400-700 calories, I wouldn't leave the gym. It didn't matter how late at night it was... I didn't leave. I remember friends making comments to me about how I was 'withering away' or how I 'needed to eat a cheeseburger'. I still saw the St. Maarten picture when I looked in the mirror. I started a fitness blog and strictly ate salads (eventually going vegan but thats another story for a different day).
Even though that was me on the left... I didn't see skinny when I saw that photo. I didn't think I was 'there' yet. I thought I had more to lose, more work to do, less to eat...
And before you knew it I was leaving the gym at 10pm some nights so lightheaded from being so hungry. I would go to McDonald's and then sob afterwards from the guilt that I wasn't being 'fit' and 'healthy'. I would sob about how I didn't 'have enough willpower' and wonder 'how those other girls could do it'...
I don't know when it truly happened.
I don't know when I woke up.
But I did.
I started working for lululemon and was introduced to Crossfit.
I couldn't believe that I felt like the wimp in the room. I was surrounded by these fit, happy, healthy, strong, powerful women from ages 15-60+. They were fitter than me. Faster than me. Stronger than me. And they fucking had beer and pizza at happy hour together.
I had never been in this kind of environment. I had been to Orangetheory and hot yoga and cycling studios and bootcamps and the list just went on & on... I had been to it all. And every single place made me feel focused on calories burned and my body and eating less food. The three things I had been at war with all this time.
There were no mirrors in Crossfit.
There was no specific age group.
There wasn't any eyes of shame around booty shorts and shirts off.
And there wasn't any shame around leggings and long sleeve shirts.
There wasn't any certain body type in the room.
There was a lot of happy.
There was a lot of grit & hard work.
There was a lot of encouragement.
There was no judgment.
There was no escaping who I was in THIS moment.
There was no focus on being at war with my body.
There was only my workout, surrounded by a lot of people doing their workout (which was the same as mine), and a lot of mental toughness being built.
I left feeling accomplished.
I left viewing food as fuel.
I left looking in the mirror for muscles, not at fat (AKA skin) I wanted to lose.
I left excited to do it again the next day.
I spiraled off into my current lifestyle... But it took a while.
It took a while to understand that I can't run from myself or my lifestyle.
It took a while to see the importance of journaling and having a coach by my side.
I had to learn how important my surroundings were.
I had to experience what it was like to have people around me that didn't focus or talk about being skinny. They talked about being strong and happy and fit and healthy for the rest of their lives.
They talked about being able to pick themselves up off of the ground if they fell at age 70 because they had the strength and function to do so.
They talked about having fun and getting better every single day.
I had to see how the words I read and the things I listened to really put me at risk to view my body and food as the enemy.
The real enemy was this culture that there was something wrong with my body to begin with.
The real enemy told me that 00's and XXS's, liposuction, detox teas/meal replacement shakes, calories burned, and mirrors were what I should desire and look to for fitness and health.
It's taken 4 years of effort to love this one body that I have. I've had to shift my focus on what it means to be healthy, in shape, fit, and balanced. 4 years ago no one would have believed the war that I was at with my body because I was skinny. They wouldn't have believed it because on the outside I would seem like I'm so lucky to be 'toned'. And yeah, some girls would have probably pinned that photo to their 'dream body' board on Pinterest...
But this photo.
This photo was today. I still have days where I'm unhappy. I still have days where I question my level of discipline and willpower. I still have days where eating higher volume food and more calories makes me cringe. But nothing could ever be as horrible as those 5 years. Nothing could ever convince me, not a 30 day challenge, not a new miracle product, not a certain food group being eliminated... nothing. Nothing could ever convince me that those quick fixes and drastic attempts were better than spending a longer period of time figuring it out with a person by my side. Going through the mindset work. Journaling. Learning about food and why it is fuel. Having a plan of what to do and when to do it (shameless plug: my business is something I'm really, really proud of for this. www.functionalnutritionfitness.com)
I'm no longer at war with my body.
And damn, I want this for every woman I know.
To feel at home in their body.
To write their body love letters.
To make a list of all of the things their body does for them.
To jot down everything I was grateful for with fitness, food, and my body.
To massage it with oil in front of the mirror after showering every day, lovingly.
To give up the clothes that no longer fit and just buy bigger clothes that do.
To focus on being strong than skinny.
To view food as fuel and a healing tool and a balance of finding pleasure and enjoyment from it.
To see fitness as fun, challenging, ever-changing, and encouraging-- rather than punishment.
This is my life now, and I'm so done with being at war with my body.
...this is life without the filter,