My journey to becoming a healthier and fitter twenty something is what lead me to starting this blog. I have just recently discovered the awesomeness that is health, fitness, and food blogging... and I am addicted! So I thought, why not share my
escapades experiences with the rest of the world... and so the blog was born.
The bloggy is called "A Beautiful Mess" because that perfectly describes my life. It's messy and painful, sweaty and exhausting, emotional and draining; but in the midst of all of that there are moments of beauty, moments of clarity and startling realizations that make it all worthwhile. An alternate title would be Girl Meets Protein (but more on that another time!)
As I was going to write this post, I started thinking about "where does my story start?" It's not as simple as saying it starts at the beginning because I'm not really sure where that is. For now, I'll start in my childhood... I was never athletic, in fact I hated sports (Yup, I was the girl that would regularly fake injuries to get out of PE) and was about average size. I grew up nearby my two beautiful (and tiny) twin cousins. As I got older, I remember comparing my body to theirs and they were always tinier. Even at a young age, I felt that I didn't measure up.
Fast forward to high school where I thought I wanted to lose weight but didn't know how. Little did I know that feeding full of processed carbs and ice cream was not the way to do it! I maintained an average weight (about 155 lbs.) on my 5' 9" frame. I was slightly pudgy but not overweight by any means. I ate whatever I wanted and occasionally walked with my mom for exercise.
Me at my high school graduation in 2004
Post high school, I attended a local community college and also joined the YMCA. Between the two I picked up a love for yoga, pilates, and cardio, and a distaste for lifting weights. I was in great shape, in fact pilates helped rehab my back after a bad car accident shortly before graduation. I still ate pretty much whatever I wanted, but severely restricted calories to lose weight. I was calorie and weight obsessed. I agonized over those numbers from week to week.
Italy in 2005
Once I went away to finish up the last 2 years of school, things spiraled out of control. The first year I gained a "freshman 30." I ate junk food all the time, at all hours of the day. Even though I was consistently working out at the rec center every morning, I would sit around (and be miserable) and eat the rest of the day when I wasn't in class. I bottomed out around 190- 195 in June. I was way to embarrassed and miserable to check the scale to know for sure, and when I did there was always an excuse attached. "Oh I'm wearing shoes." "I just drank a lot of water." "This isn't my normal scale." and on, and on, and on it went.
Spring 2007. It's one of the only
full body pictures I have. Kind of hard to tell
but those jeans are a size 14 and the only
pants that fit at the time.
A picture mid-way through summer 2007.
That summer, I was miserable. I was at my heaviest weight ever and I felt disgusting. I couldn't believe how far I'd let myself slip. So I did the only thing I knew how to do. I stopped eating. Literally. I read somewhere that if you restricted to a ridiculously low amount of calories a day then you would lose 1 pound a day. So just like that, I gave up food and fueled my body with Diet Pepsi, rice cakes, running on the track, self loathing and misery.
This was also when my scale obsession started. I would often weigh myself 14- 20 times a day. Before and after every meal, before and after exercising, before and after using the bathroom, first thing in the morning, and last thing at night. My entire mood rested on those three numbers decreasing, and heaven forbid, if they went up the rest of my day was shot until it went down. I was getting thinner by the day but I was so miserable, I couldn't even enjoy it.
That fall, I went back to school 40 pounds lighter at my lowest dieting weight. Thanks in large part to my body's survival mechanism, I maintained my weight. Somehow I maintained my weight loss for that entire year and started hitting the gym frequently and toned up. By that winter, I was down into a size 6... my smallest size ever. I was happier but still gripped by calorie counting and scale obsession. All I could see was how fat I still was and how far I had to go to reach my "ideal body." I was also terrified by what would happen when I did reach that goal. It was one of the worst times in my life. I was so horrified by my body, but so scared that once I hit that "magic number" it wouldn't be enough.
That next summer (2008) my body's survival mechanism kicked into high gear and said enough. I was busy with work, a significant other, and finishing college an so the gym waited. By the time I moved home in December I had gained about 15 pounds. By the time I signed up with Gold's Gym in March, I had added another 15.
December 2008. I had re-gained about 15 pounds here,
but I don't think it shows as much. Still wasn't wearing
anything form fitting.
And this is where the story looks up :O) I worked hard at the gym, hitting both cardio and weights. I met up with a great trainer who gave me some good strength routines. But after a few months, I was stuck. I had lost about 5 pounds initially (the healthy way!) and couldn't get past that barrier. I was hovering around 175 lbs. which was still a little heavy on my frame. And then I found Vinnie. Vinnie will always be referred to as "the trainer" or some form of "awesome" in this blog. For, whatever reason, he walked up to me in the gym one day, said he saw me working out and thought he could help me reach my goals. He must have sensed how desperate I was because he pushed through all my bluster and convinced me to say yes. He told me that if I followed his program, he would promise that he would get me into the best shape of my life. He put me on a strict diet, he gave me brutal workouts, and I did everything he asked. He pushed me to my limits and then showed me how to push my own limits, he showed me how to fuel my body with good food and with enough of it. He monitored my workouts, my food, my supplements, my water. And through it all he supported me, answered endless questions, believed in me when I didn't believe in myself, and never once gave up on me (even after a pumpkin pie fueled binge :O)).
The best part is.... I'm not finished. I'm currently hovering around 158 pounds and I'm ecstatic with where I'm at. I work out harder than I ever have before, for longer than I have before. I can run now, in fact I love to run now. I can lift "big boy" weights. I take a bootcamp class with 2 of the toughest ladies in the gym. I see myself as strong, and every workout gets me stronger. I am an exercise addict (in a good way!) and hit the gym 6 days a week because I want to, not because I have to. But I'm not done yet. I still have more body fat to lose. I still have more muscle to gain. I still have marathons to be trained for and run. I still have issues to sweat out. I still have confidence to gain. I still have room to improve and learn more.
(April 2010) Me doing some of my favorite things:
Walking my dogs
If you made it through all of that, I thank you. I thank you for listening to my story and letting me share with you. I thank you for joining me on part of my journey. And I hope that you will continue on with me. This blog will be a hodge-podge of my messy, stressful, sometimes beautiful life. It will follow me as I try to eat healthy and stick to my workout schedule. It will have great recipes, workouts, and tips from my experiences. But mostly, it will be personal; It will be my personal experiences, both successes and failures. It will be real. It will be raw. And it will be honest. That's all I can promise. Thank you for reading, and I hope you'll continue on this journey with me :O)