One of the big reasons I wanted to start this blog was to share my health and fitness journey. I think that term “journey” can get overused these days and feel a little cliche, but there really isn’t a better way to describe it. It has definitely been a journey for me. One that I have been on for years, and will be on for the rest of my life. The reason I am so passionate about sharing this part of my life isn’t because I am totally confident in where I am, and it surely isn’t because I am proud of where I have been. My struggle with weight and body-image has been the biggest struggle of my life, and has plagued me since I was quite young. It is a difficulty I don’t think you can fully understand unless you have experienced it, but you might be able to relate with a similar struggle in your life. The reason I am passionate about sharing this part of my life is because not only am I incredibly thankful that God has released me from these chains and for the growth he has done in my life in this area, but also because I pray I am able to help others who have been where I have been. Throughout my years of struggle, I was encouraged and inspired by people I am sure were not comfortable sharing their story, but because they decided to do so anyway they were able to be a light to me (and I am sure many others).
I always thought I struggled (it was all in my head) with my weight growing up. I remember from the youngest of age always thinking I was the “fat” girl in my group of friends. It didn’t help that I started physically developing at a young age, and by the 2nd grade was wearing a bra. I remember always looking at my legs as I sat in my seat at school thinking how wide my thighs looked as they spread out on the chair. Looking back, I wish I could go back and shake myself to not be insane. While I wasn’t one of those super skinny twig kids, I was far from “fat”. I was actually a healthy and athletic child. I was always outside and active, I was never a “girly” girl and if I wasn’t in the library reading I was out playing sports with the boys. Unfortunately, all through this time I never saw myself as healthy or athletic, I saw myself as fat and ugly. I am not sure how I developed such a poor self image at such a young age, but it set me up for a lifetime of struggle that I didn’t even realize was coming my way.
I continued to be in this vicious cycle my entire childhood and adolescence. Viewing myself as this fat ugly girl, and comparing myself to everyone around me. I would intentionally find a way to get out of picture day at school, and there are very few photos of me during this time because I would avoid cameras at all costs. I wasn’t ever the naturally skinny or pretty girl, and while I never had anyone call me fat directly, I would get backhanded comments from people that were just enough to fuel my dislike of myself. To put this all in perspective, throughout this time I never was above 120 lbs or a size six pant. So while I wasn’t a size zero, I was far from this huge (I literally looked in the mirror and saw a HUGE reflection) person I saw myself as. Unfortunately around the time I hit 16, the years of mental destruction combined with a changing body began to add up, and the fat person I always viewed myself as began to become a reality.
In my mid to late teens I began to actually put on weight. Ironically, because my body image had always been so skewed, I didn’t even realize I was now beginning to gain actual weight, because I just continued thinking the same things about myself. I am not sure of the exact reasons I began to gain weight, I am sure it was a little bit of a combination of everything. Not having a healthy relationship with myself or food, “eating” my emotions, and facing some other physical issues as well all combined to make the perfect recipe for developing an unhealthy body.
Throughout the next 10 years my weight would yo-yo. I have learned my body is incredibly emotionally reactive, and anytime I am going through an emotionally difficult situation it is instantly recognizable on my waistline. My body began to feel like I was getting house points in Harry Potter. Stressed out? +5 pounds. Relationship issues? Lets gain 70. Sad? How about 10 more!
Once I found an authentic relationship with Jesus everything began to change. It wasn’t immediate, and it has continued to be a process that has peaks and valleys, but the Lord has been incredibly faithful in helping me along this journey. In breaking my old chains and mindsets that were so painful and destructive. In showing me who I really am, and where my value lies.
The most dramatic difference has been in the past year. Last year, January 26th to be exact, I decided enough was enough and I couldn’t let myself continue to be so controlled by something such as my weight. I think I will always remember that day, because it was just the most sudden and dramatic shift in my mindset. I was ready to be free from the hurt that came along with my weight. The years of not feeling good enough. Of being afraid to go to public events. Being afraid of people seeing me. I was sick of hating shopping, hating clothes, hating pictures. I have over a decade of years from my life where there are virtually no photos of me. I don’t have many photos of myself during all these years of change because I didn’t allow photos to be taken of me. And while I still don’t particularly love photos, one day while looking through old photos of my mom at different ages, I realized my kids will never know what their mom looked like as a teen and twenty year old because I didn’t allow pictures to take place due to something so silly as my weight. That was a big wake up call because I know how much I enjoy looking through old photos of other people, and yet my insecurity robbed my own family of being able to do that with a giant chunk of my life.
This journey is far from over for me. I am about half-way to where I want to be, and there are still struggles. While my general mindset is dramatically improved, I still have bad days and I am by no means doing this perfectly. But my outlook on myself, food, health, and fitness is so totally different. I now know I was made by God exactly as he wanted me, and that my worth is in him. I don’t look for acceptance through my body, but instead for growth in my mind and heart. I love food, but not for stuffing my emotions, but for using it to fuel my body so it performs its best. I am fascinated by learning about health and what that means. I don’t look at exercise as a chore or something that is miserable, but it has become something I truly love and can’t wait to do every single day. I love seeing how far I can push myself.
This post was a little lengthy, but I hope to make health and fitness a regular feature on the blog and I wanted to give you a general idea of where I’ve been. I want to share my journey as I continue to improve myself. I want to share the lessons I’ve learned, and the knowledge I’ve gathered. Discovering how to live a truly healthy life is something I have become incredibly passionate about, and something I hope I can one day use to help and inspire other people the way others have helped and inspired me.