For as long as I can remember, I have always struggled with my weight. I went to a private grade school and in 5th grade, the other girls made fun of me, because I had to start wearing a skirt – a privilege reserved for girls in sixth grade and up – because the jumpers didn’t fit me anymore. Girls can be so harsh. Between the seventh and twelfth grades, I dieted on and off, trying my best to get small enough to fit into the all-the-rage clothes at the hottest stores, but I always ended up gaining back what I lost … and more.
Then, I hit the road for my first year of college. While most kids gain the dreaded Freshman 15, the pressure of fitting in and looking as good as all the other scantily clad girls prancing from house party to house party encouraged me to lose weight. I crash dieted, over-exercised, and successfully dropped about 30 pounds.
For me, the end of high school and beginning of college was a very unhealthy period in my life, both physically and emotionally. I invested myself in an almost-five year relationship with an individual who showed a complete and utter disregard for my feelings. To put it simply, he cheated on me, pointed out each and every one of my imperfections, and made me feel worthless. To make matters worse, I was unhappy being away from home and realized that the “giant university” college experience didn’t suit me at all. However, I put my feelings on the back burner, because I didn’t want to leave the “love of my life.”
At the end of 2008, I made a decision – a decision that I believe led the way for many more positive changes in my life. I decided to transfer to a schools and move back home. Although I remained in that toxic relationship for years to come – and my unhealthy relationship with food still lingers – I truly believed that I finally started to see the bigger picture and realized that the importance of putting myself first in order to be there for everyone else.
Still, living at home meant that I constantly surrounded by food. The house was stocked with every snack food imaginable, and I showed no restraint. I ate when I was hungry; I ate when I was bored; I ate when I was sad over the latest disagreement in my now-long-distance relationship. Basically, I ate too often, and I ate too much. I wasn’t as educated about eating disorders and healthy eating habits back then; I now know that there’s a name for the eating that I did, and sometimes still do: binge eating disorder.
During the 2009 holiday season, I took a trip to Australia with my mom to visit her fiance. It was an amazing trip that I was insanely lucky to take, but I couldn’t help but feel self-concious for three weeks straight.
The once-in-a-lifetime experience of holding a precious little koala … and a picture that I was embarrassed to show anyone. In reality, I couldn’t stand to look at almost every picture from this trip. It was the beginning of a much needed wake up call. Still, the changes didn’t begin immediately.
I continued working out semi-regularly. I was a Jazzercise instructor, after all. I had taken Jazzercise classes on-and-off since age 15 and became certified in 2008. Still, these well-rounded workouts were negated by my out-of-control eating. In April 2010, I attended a Jazzercise Convention in New Orleans. Surrounded by healthy women, I felt a blimp and decided that I needed to make a change.
The next month, my mom and I joined Weight Watchers. I vowed to carefully count points and work out daily. I was dedicated – more committed that I had ever been to anything in my whole life. In fact, looking back, I was probably a little bit manic about it. But I lost over 60 pounds by my 21st birthday in September 2010.
I felt beautiful, confident, and healthy! Even better, pounds and inches weren’t the only thing that I got rid of. I also found the strength to close the book on my relationship from hell, and in August 2010, I can confidently say that I met the real love of my life.
In October, I walked 5 miles for Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, feeling fit and fabulous. I was a mere six pounds from the WW goal weight. I even had the opportunity to share my weight loss on a local morning TV show.
Unfortunately, in September of that year, I gave myself the “week off” to celebrate my birthday, and after, I struggled to completely reel-in my eating habits for a few years. At some point, I realized that this could have had a lot to do with the fact that my weight loss journey was 100% healthy eating with ZERO indulgences.
After attending a second Jazzercise Convention in summer 2011, I decided to resign as a Jazzercise instructor for various reasons. However, nearly a year away from Jazzercise proved to me that I need it in my life. I missed my favorite workout terribly and found myself turning into a couch potato. I reinstated as an instructor in July 2012 and haven’t looked back.
Still, weight “maintenance” has not been easy. Although I love to Jazzercise and have even come to enjoy various types of workouts, I still fight and give-in to the urge to binge eat. Since reaching my lowest weight, I gained almost 30 pounds back. But I’m not giving up the fight.
In January 2013, I recommitted to my weight loss journey. I set up a Biggest Loser challenge with some friends and lost 29 pounds and 24 inches! While I am proud of my progress so far, I know not to take my success for granted.
Living a healthy and fit lifestyle may never come naturally to me, but I am working really hard to make it my normal. Stay posted for open and honest posts about the struggles and triumphs of an average girl navigating the world of healthy living.