Where does it begin, and how do you change?

Since changing my relationship with food, I have started to follow bloggers and influencers who inspire me based on their day-to-day routine. Making good food that is good for you, sharing exercises and their inspirational stories, and making me feel like we have all gone through something together – even if it isn’t the same experience. Before that, I was following models hoping that someday I would just magically look the way they do. Well guess what? I woke up.

It was in 4th grade at a friend’s sleep-over for her birthday, and I don’t think I had ever seen a scale outside of a doctors office in my life. We had all gone into her parents bathroom together and took turns weighing ourselves. We were 10 years old – why would that even cross our minds? Clearly it wasn’t for health reasons, but because we all wanted to look like the next Britney Spears.

When it was my turn to step on the scale, I found out that myself and one other girl were the heaviest of the bunch. That’s when I made my first vow to myself that I would start dieting. AT AGE 10!! I don’t know if it was so much the media, the people I was hanging out with (who I would never want to blame, I loved my friends), or everyone else around me at school, but that moment changed my relationship with food for the next 14 years of my life.

I will say, I was an overweight child – my grandpa would always clip articles of childhood obesity out of the newspaper and give them to my mom… then take me to Burger King…

So by age 12, I had my first personal trainer. I was so unhappy with myself, and my parents (whether they admit it or not) did not want to see me unhappy OR sick from such a deadly disease. This was also when I was diagnosed with PCOS, which no one had heard of at that time. My mom’s best friend at the time was the best trainer in town, so we started working together, and holy sh*t did I change. I had learned how to eat well, exercise the correct way, and how to take care of myself. I kept up the work while we were training, but shortly after we stopped working together, I started to fall back into old habits. From the ages of 14-16 I was yo-yo dieting, exercising to the extreme then not at all, just to end up where I started off – unhappy and even heavier than before.

This is when I moved onto my second trainer at 16 years old. She was recommended by my first trainer, who I trusted and adored, so of course I decided to work with her. For three months, all this woman told me to do was lift weights. She never showed me the form, how much weight, NOTHING about diet – basically a huge waste of money. So I left her and decided to just be comfortable where I was. Turning 17, overweight, and unhappy with myself.

Now don’t get me wrong, I had a great high school and college experience – awesome friends, great family, loving boyfriend – but there was always this internal problem I was fighting with that I never wanted to share with anyone. If I ask for help I’m weak, right? …if only I knew then what I know now. It took me until I had gone to Europe for a week through a school trip to see how desperately I needed to change. My excuses to myself were enough, I couldn’t listen to them any more. Looking at these pictures – with such amazing memories attached to them – thinking, ‘look at me… how did I get here?’

So April 2017 I called my cousin – Dr. Frank – and I asked him to help me, and that was the start of my story. We worked together for four months. Not one day would go by where we weren’t texting about progress, me asking him questions about food, and focusing on ingredients and **NOT CALORIES** because of this, my life has now officially changed for the better. It took 120 days of someone holding my hand for me to realize that this is something I can do on my own to better myself inside AND outside. Did I lose weight? Yes. But is that the takeaway from this story? Absolutely not. My mental health has improved, my PCOS is at bay (which includes my acne, hair growth, irregular periods… that list can go on forever), and I wouldn’t trade my energy level for anything.

My biggest issue before this was mindless and emotional eating. Something good happened? Food. Something bad happened? Food. Stressed? Food. It was the answer to every question I had. And like I said, I had to text someone for 120 days straight to break that habit. Now when something good happens, I take time to me grateful for what I did. When something doesn’t go my way, I reflect on why that situation happened the way it did and realize that it is over. When I’m stressed, I rub lavender oil all over my chest and take a yoga class. You need to find a way to celebrate, reflect, and calm yourself without depending on the consumption of comforting calories. Because those are just going to leave you feeling even worse than you did before, and you won’t realize what could have happened to change whatever situation you were in.

Growing up, what I didn’t know was how having a good relationship with myself, food, and exercise could change my whole life. Now that I have that, I want to share with everyone – including young people – that you need to take care of yourself from the inside out. Your body is going to react to everything you put in it, good or bad. So while those fries look amazing, treat yourself to them once a week – not every night. Look at your ingredient labels on the food your consuming if they are not whole foods. Treat your body with the respect it deserves from day you think that you might not be good enough, or that you want to look like someone else. You will be blind to the mental and physical harm you are causing to yourself.

Take it from me, treat yourself with the upmost respect. Listen to your body because it will pay off in the long haul.

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