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I was a premie and I blame that for my being smaller than everyone growing up. Clocking in at 3 lbs 14 oz when i was born, i was really behind everyone else and growing up i was always the shortest in my class and could eat anything i wanted and stay tiny. I remember in junior high girls started talking about “thunder thighs” and paying attention to the fat that was in things. My mom was always on weight watchers or jenny craig and suddenly the cookies and ice cream i was eating daily seemed like a bad idea. mind you i hadn’t hit 5 feet tall yet nor did I weigh much more than 50 or 60lbs. But still- everyone else was concerned so I was concerned. So I took my baby sitters club calendar and I wrote down each day how many snacks I was allowed to have. Some days I could have 2, some days 1, and some days 0. And I stuck to it like a champ!

Fast forward to high school where I met someone who told me fat doesn’t matter- the new science says it’s all about the calories. So i became obsessed with looking at how many calories were in things. I was finally now hitting 5 feet tall and puberty was starting to hit. Still I was short but I wasn’t as skinny as I was growing up. Food was starting to matter. But I lived on a diet of bagels, cherry coke, and laffy taffy and was a cheerleader… what did i care? I did start to become more self conscious as my once effortlessly thin frame was becoming more curvy, but I was still small. I think I maxed out at 115 in high school. Around me almost everyone I knew was suffering from some form of eating disorder whether it was anorexia, bulimia, people that wished they had bulimia, or overeating. It got me to a point where I have a very low tolerance for eating issues- if you’re hungry but whining about not being able to eat enough calories or if you brag about only eating an apple all day, I have no patience for that, and I’m pretty sure it’s because of what I was surrounded by all through high school and even into college.

In college I put on the classic freshman 15. Closer to 20 my freshman year. I got a lot bigger really fast. I dropped my vegetarian diet and started eating tons of fried food at every meal. I also started working out, which led me to believe I could eat anything I wanted. My new boyfriend spent hours in the gym and ate a ton and looked great so my 30 minute trips to the gym should have the same effect, right? Wrong. After putting on so much weight and going home for the summer looking like a different person, I was disappointed in myself. Fate had other plans for me, however, and after taking a medication to remove a cyst behind my ear, I had a GI issue that prevented me from basically eating without throwing up or having a really bad stomach ache. I couldn’t sleep on my stomach any more and at its worst even water make my tummy hurt. But I was still going to the gym even after eating barely a slice of bread a day. So i dropped a ton of weight, but felt miserable most of the time. Back down to my normal size, I headed into sophomore year feeling confident I would keep the weight off, even after the GI issue went away (apparently yogurt was the cure). I actually started spending more time at the gym and paid a little more attention to what I was eating. The rest of college went OK weight-wise until I started drinking. My senior year I got really into the pre-packaged white russians. Everything else about my diet and exercise stayed the same, but I was drinking a bunch of those white russians every weekend. Little did I know they were packed with full fat cream and had a few hundred calories each. In a night I’d drink 4-6! So I put on a bunch of weight for a few months until I realized what was going on, and then I switched back to mixed vodka drinks.

After college I maintained my mediocre college body for a year or so. I developed some really unhealthy habits, was smoking all the time, and would skip breakfast, have a coffee for lunch, and binge eat at dinner. When I moved into my own apartment a year out of college I started eating a bit more regularly but still was making incredibly unhealthy choices, smoking half a pack of cigarettes a day, and hardly working out. This continued for many years until I got up to 170 lbs. On my 5’3″ frame that’s obese. I didn’t really think about it as it was happening but looking back at pictures I can’t believe that happened to me. Then a coworker started getting really into fitness DVDs. He was a beach body coach and he was introducing the DVDs to all of our coworkers. I figured if everyone else was doing it, I might as well give it a shot. So i started ChaLEAN eXtreme. Completely life changing. I absolutely love that program and the accompanying audio CD that taught me about the importance of building lean muscle and believing in myself. After ChaLEAN I did P90X. And then I was hooked on fitness. After p90x i tried Insanity (a little too insane for me!) and since then I have done les mills pump, TurboFire, les mills combat, P90x2, P90x3, and T25. Not only do I love the DVDs but I started getting into running as well. Again with coworkers I signed up for the Shamrock Shuffle, an annual 8k run. I had only ever run as much as 2 miles in my life but somehow managed to pull off running 5 after only doing my DVD training. The running addiction wasn’t immediate but after the 8k and a subsequent 5k, I signed up for a half marathon. It was incredibly challenging and rewarding. Afterwards as soon as i finished i said to my mom “i know i’m going to forget how painful this is right now… don’t let me do this ever again!”. and then two years (and countless races) later i did the Chicago Marathon.

Everyone has a journey and everyone gets there at different times. My life has changed in so many ways because of fitness and I truly believe that adding regular exercise to your life- whatever that is for you- can dramatically change not only your body but your entire life.

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