Between the age of 11 and 22 you could figure out my weight by adding a zero to my age. By the time I hit my early 20’s I was well into the 220+ lb. range. As a 5’2” female, 220 lbs. placed me solidly in the category of obese.
Despite countless diets, and exercise “programs” I struggled endlessly to manage my weight. Each time I started something I would be devoted for as long as I could manage the self-control. Yet ultimately, my self-control would wear thin, and I would always crack at some point.
In my junior year, I was in a minor car accident that gave me some pretty rotten whiplash. Due to my injury, I started physical therapy. In an unexpected turn of events, I found that I really enjoyed having the weekly activity. Over the next year I started consistently working out and I actually lost ten pounds.
Encouraged by this unexpected progression, I decided to try something else. I decided I would simply not eat when I wasn’t hungry. While I didn’t have a name for this practice, I essentially started what I would now call mindful eating. And it did result in weight loss. In fact, this will-power, intuitive eating, portion cutting, with regular exercising, resulted in losing 70 lbs. over the next 3 years.
Yet, in the summer of 2007 everything unraveled. I went through four separate, emotional blows, in the course of two months … and I was devastated. I tried to keep doing what I’d been doing for my health, but it was becoming harder and harder.
Unfortunately in the process of my mindful eating, I had not done a good job at focusing on the quality of my food, and my body was beginning to show signs of nutrition deficits. I was suddenly always hungry and craving.
Worse yet, I begin to develop other symptoms that didn’t make sense. My legs would ache constantly, along with my chest. I talked to doctors, and they suggested things like sciatic nerve? But nothing was diagnosed. My chest pain was eventually called costochondritis—but it remained a mysterious name with no information about what caused it or what to do with it (other than take ibuprofen to dull it’s ache.)
I struggled with constant carpel tunnel, and developed consistent hormonal migraines, that cropped up at both ovulation and menstruation. My energy became non-existent. Getting out of bed was a challenge, not to mention anything social would suck the life out of me. I could feel myself withdrawing, and pulling back into myself, just as I had in my teen years.
I started to regain weight. Despite still eating as little as I could… I regained 10, 20, and eventually 40 lbs. from my original weight loss. Needless to say, I became massively depressed.
Shortly after my 29th birthday, in an act of desperation, I picked-up my first book about fibromyalgia. As I read through the author’s description of symptoms, it was like reading from my journal. So many of the aspects were familiar.
At the end of the book there were some recommendations, and I begin to follow them. As I did changes begin to happen. And I begin to wonder: Maybe my body actually needed something that it hadn’t been getting.
I started reading more about nutrition and found it fascinating. The Paleo and Ancestral Nutrition movements were just beginning to gain notoriety, so I started experimenting with grain-free eating and lowering carbohydrates.
Over the next few years my health radically changed. I lost the 40 lbs. I’d regained, and then some.
I also became intentional about reprogramming my self-talk. I started telling myself what I wanted to be true, rather than what I feared was true. I started talking to myself the way I would talk to a dear friend.
Over the past 7 years, my health has continued to improve and change. Accordingly, I continue to learn about myself and adjust my own wellness practices.
And that’s just it — a wellness story isn’t composed of before and after moments.
Wellness Stories are not about ‘weight loss success’ or ‘beating a disease.’ Wellness stories are about finding our own resilience, understanding our own value, owning our own creative power, and about understanding the role we can play in adapting to new chapters and seasons.
These days I am thankful that I was able to go through this experience, because out of it I have learned so much about myself, and through it I am able to now come along and offer you that same hope. I started writing a new wellness story years ago, and it changed my life.
I promise — you have that same creative power in you.