I can genuinely say that I am in the best shape of my life. I work out 4-6 days a week and eat a clean, balanced diet. On top of that, I live by the mantra, “Drink your water and mind your business.” I feel so blessed to say that I am reaping the benefits of this lifestyle. In my first year of college, I avoided the Freshman 15. In fact, I am proud to say that I have the freshman minus 15 (I have lost about 15 pounds since last year). My body is getting toned, my skin is flourishing, and thanks to my mantra, I am living a relatively stress-free life. While this is all nice and dandy, I was not always like this. For you to get a clear picture of where I am coming from, I have to take you way back.
If you look at my baby/toddler pictures, you will see a child with chubby chipmunk cheeks. Although you could attribute it to “baby fat”, I ate excessively. Fortunately, my family took precaution and I never fully experienced childhood obesity.
In the early 2000s, a surge in the fitness industry began. I have vivid memories of doing at-home Tae Bo videos with my grandma. Also, I remember the day when my family cut out white bread cold turkey, and switched to wheat because Dr. Oz explained the benefits.
The chubby toddler quickly became the active sports star in her family. I remember the light bulb moment when I learned that I could change the way my body looked through exercise. As a young girl, the images in the media perpetuated the idea of being thin.
However, playing sports such as soccer, and running did not get me the waif ballerina-look that I desired. I remember dreading my muscular arms and legs and how different my body looked compared to some of my other friends.
My first diet was when I was in the fourth grade. This pattern of dieting would exacerbate as an adolescent.
Middle school was probably the worst, most awkward period in my life. As an adolescent, my body was changing into a curvy woman, and I did not know how to handle it.
Weight and appearance were constantly on my mind. I remember making countless Google searches “How to lose weight fast” or “Weight loss tips.” I neurotically counted calories and obsessed over serving sizes. There was no fulfillment in what I was doing, but I continued anyway.
My lowest point was when I made the decision to eat only 900 calories a day and work out for almost 2 hours. At one instance, I looked up how to make yourself vomit. Thank goodness I never had the courage to go that route. Yes, I lost weight every day, but my family knew that my relationship with food and exercise was unhealthy.
I am grateful to them for the support they gave to me. To stop my obsessions, my mom got rid of our scale, and limited the amount of exercise I did.
This time in my life was the beginning of body positivity and self-love. I accepted the fact that I was a curvy, muscular woman. Also, during my high school period, there was a shift in people’s body goals.
In other words, “thin was not in.” Nonetheless, the new love for “thickness” came with negative implications too. Although I resonated more with being thick, I saw the toll it took on some women, with the advent of waist trainers and cosmetic surgery to get the “hourglass figure.”
Sports allowed me to center my attention on healthy fitness goals. I ran cross country, track, and played soccer. I knew that I had to fuel my body right, and I became interested in alternative healthy diets.
I went vegan for 100 days. I cut out processed foods. I drank plenty of water.
You would think I was getting to the climax of my fitness journey. However, life happened, and the stress that I had resulted in me having a nervous breakdown. Being hospitalized for months was devastating. I did not have my outlet of exercise and my teammate’s motivation to stay healthy.
By the time I got out, I had gained a whopping 30 pounds.
Ironically, at my heaviest, I had body confidence like never before. I think my focus was not necessarily on the physical aesthetic, but on appreciation for the strength and resilience that I had to snap back from a breakdown.
I could genuinely say that I was happy with my “happy weight.” Despite this, being a short girl (5’4), I was slightly overweight according to my BMI (Body Mass Index).
When I came to college, I was so thrilled to have access to a free gym. I had never worked out in such a state of the art facility. The gym at my university is 3 stories with machines galore, and fun group exercises for days. For someone trying to lose weight, I was having a field day.
Starting in the summer of 2016, I made it a priority to go to the gym as often as I could. I tried classes, such as Zumba, kickboxing, and boot camp, that encouraged me to love working out again.
By the end of the summer, I had only lost 5 pounds. I was not discouraged. It wasn’t even about the numbers. It was about being active and fit again.
Fast forward to 2017, and I have seen the most progress so far. I finally have an effective gym routine. I learned how to overcome my weight loss plateau by tweaking my diet.
I have peace with my body. I believe that this is what comes with maturity. I know my body is not perfect, and I have even more goals for myself. The difference is that I have learned to love the process.
I know I can get better one day at a time.
What was your fitness journey like? Let me know in the comments.