My health journey took a lot of turns over the years. As a teen, I struggled with anorexia nervosa eating habits. As a college student, my weight changed directions and the numbers on the scale soon began piling on quickly. When I reached a point where I refused to buy clothes in a bigger size, I realized it was time to commit to regaining control over my health.
I needed to take an honest look at my eating and exercise habits.
Growing up, my journey with eating and exercise started with complete absentmindedness. Over time, it unfortunately spiraled downhill into an eating disorder (anorexia nervosa), before turning a complete 180 into the mindset of “ignorance is bliss!” eating wrecklessness.
In the beginning, sports were always top priority. Therefore, extreme exercising coupled with the natural metabolism of a young teenager kept thoughts of weight and calories as a mere afterthought.
That was, until the scale tipped in an unhealthy direction.
My senior year of high school, the degree of emphasis I placed on exercising skyrocketed. Unfortunately, my caloric intake (intentionally) plummeted.
I specifically remember enjoying the feeling of going to bed starving at night or thinking that the consumption of eating just one cracker would derail what I worked so hard to create. Thankfully, my Primary Care Physician was quick to identify my eating disorder and successfully intervened.
The following year, college began.
As much as I thought I could escape the “Freshman Fifteen,” I was in for a wake-up call. Disproportionate eating/drinking habits made it challenging to counterbalance my caloric intake with my exercise efforts.
I remember at one point completely giving up. I gave myself permission to eat how I wanted, what I wanted, whenever I wanted.
Graduate school eventually followed. More stress and time commitments chewed up any remaining time toward the gym. With my eating habits still careless, my weight continued to climb.
My PA (Physician Assistant) Surgical Residency year came before I knew it. Eighty -100 hour work weeks took a huge hit on my work-life balance. The exhaustive hours coupled with chronic sleep deprivation essentially created an unhealthy consumption of caffeine and sugar in order to help maintain my stamina for that demanding year.
My weight was the heaviest it had ever been.
Now, when I look back at pictures of myself during this time in my life, the saddest thing I see is how out of control I felt about my relationship with food and exercise.
Taking Back Control
Once the pace of my life slowed down, I sternly decided it was time to make Me a priority. I was ready to clean out my diet and was introduced to the Whole30 by my Aunt. Together, we completed the program from Day 1-30. If you want to talk about feeling turned upside down and shaken by your feet for 30 days, that’s exactly how I felt! With that said, by the end of the program, I felt upright again and completely refreshed. I finished the program with a newfound relationship with food and a completely new outlook on how to live a healthy lifestyle. I was hooked and bought the sequel books:
I felt great, I looked great, and I became that chatty person who couldn’t stop raving about this new direction I was taking in my life!
Building in the Exercise
With my eating habits under better control, I needed to re-establish some discipline in the exercise arena. I’ve always enjoyed participating in classes at the gym- especially HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts (ie: P90X, Insanity, and any boot camp class). I stumbled upon Beach Body On Demand and learned that I could have access to all of these classes remotely on my computer and laptop with an online subscription. This was perfect for me because my apartment had a private gym and I knew it would leave me no excuse when all I had to do was bring my iPad downstairs without actually having to leave my apartment. Even on days when I didn’t want to do an intense workout, I’d load a Pilates/ Yoga workout on my Beach Body On Demand App and take it easy.
The journey to where I am now has not been easy. It has taken a lot of education on food and wellness and some serious work on identifying and breaking old ingrained, unhealthy habits around eating and exercising. By no means am I a perfect eater or an elite athlete. However, I now strive to take full responsibility for what I feed my body and how I treat it.
I could not have done any of this acting on my own. Healthy relationships with food and fitness are bolstered by healthy relationships with close friends, family, and loved ones. Join me in building a community of Healthy Habiteers!
Building an Exercise Routine:
Clean Out Your Diet [Books]: