No Body is Perfect

“But you don’t look anorexic…” Yet I was. I struggled throughout high school. I was never clinically diagnosed. I didn’t know I had a problem. I was never super skinny or an unhealthy weight.

L-R: High school >> College >> Now

It was during National Eating Disorder Awareness week last month that this came to mind. I open up about so much…yet I never really opened up about my own disordered eating. I spent most of my life not even recognizing it as a “real” problem. I always thought that because I wasn’t diagnosed and because I was never underweight…I didn’t have a problem. But I did. I just didn’t know any better. I do now…so I’m sharing my story. Maybe it will help one of you out there to recognize a problem that you don’t even know exists.

I suffered from a variation of Anorexia known as Atypical Anorexia. A person suffering from this disorder will have many of the same symptoms as those with Anorexia. The difference is that the person will exhibit those symptoms without weight loss. They are often within or above normal weight range, making their appearance “atypical.” According to the National Eating Disorder Association, a person struggling with Atypical Anorexia may exhibit an extreme fear of being fat or of any weight changes and resort to abnormal eating behaviors such as calorie counting, cutting out certain foods/food groups, avoiding social events and functions that involve food, and more. Many individuals who have Atypical Anorexia may not even realize that they are struggling with a severe and deadly eating disorder, simply due to the weight stigma that surrounds this disease. A person may think, “I am not sick enough to have an eating disorder,” because he/she may be within or above a normal weight range. That’s exactly what happened to me.

My weight struggles began as a child. By the time I entered high school, I weighed in at 180lbs. Teen years are hard for every kid but it was especially hard on me. I watched as all of my friends got boyfriends, went on dates, had their first kiss…while I was left behind. Looking back on it now, I wasn’t all that far behind…but back then it felt like the end of the world. I was bigger than all of my friends. I couldn’t wear the same cute clothes everyone else did. Shopping was my worst nightmare. By sophomore year, I felt lost. I had plenty of friends but I hated myself…and how I looked. I went into a very bad depression. By senior year, after numerous diets failed to make me look how I wanted, I decided to control it myself. I decided that I would eat one thing per day. It started as one meal. It morphed into much worse. It got to the point where I was eating one thing per day – a cracker or a sour gummy worm (if I thought I needed a little sugar). This went on for a while until eventually I made myself sick to my stomach. I remember thinking that night about the day camp that I worked at every summer. Thinking about those little girls who I sometimes babysat…and whom I was a cheerleading coach during camp. I was only 17 but I distinctly remember that being the point where I changed my mindset..somewhat. I decided to start eating again. I didn’t want to set a bad example for those little girls.

While I did begin eating, it wasn’t a lot…probably not nearly what my body actually needed. However, I WAS eating. That fall, I began college at SUNY New Paltz. I got to be away from home and make a lot of new friends on a beautiful campus and town!  That mystique was short lived. A couple of months into my first semester, I developed severe stomach issues (which still plague me today) and ended up having to come home. My weight struggles weren’t over and neither was my poor relationship with food. I was eating but I definitely wasn’t eating well. I looked to celebrities and various articles for guidance but most of them steered me down a bad path. I tried every diet from one my doctor recommended called the “Scarsdale diet” to the South Beach diet, which I only did because Jessica Simpson did it for Dukes of Hazard. The summer before my senior year of college, I LIVED at the gym. I divided my time between the gym and the beach. I commonly refer to that as the skinniest (and best looking) summer of my entire life. It was. I got down to 130lbs, which to date, is the smallest I’ve ever been. While the number was great…nothing else was. I wasn’t eating well. I was partying a lot and compensating with extra time on the treadmill. I always did fasted workouts…even if i was doing strength training. The scale may have been nice to read…but my body didn’t really reflect that number. I wasn’t super toned and I sure wasn’t healthy. That lifestyle caught up with me once I got into a serious relationship and stopped my 2+ hour daily workouts. I put a lot of weight on. I tried to control it and maintain my hard work but because I never changed my lifestyle…it was next to impossible. Over the next few years, I was in and out of jobs and kept myself in an unhealthy relationship. My weight continued to climb as my confidence kept plummeting. By 2010 I was up to 210lbs, my all-time highest weight. I knew it was bad but I had very little motivation and no idea how to change it.

Two years later, I  finally had enough. I was done going through the motions of life. I was watching the Biggest Loser (season 14) and really connected with the contestants. I realized at that moment that I could do it – I could actually turn my life around! I started educating myself properly on nutrition and exercise. I began going to the gym a few days per week. I started out doing mostly cardio but as I learned more, and built more strength, I was able to incorporate weights into my routine. My metabolism is all but broken but after about a year of very hard work I was able to lose a little over 70lbs and go from squeezing into a size 14…to comfortably wearing a size 2/4.

I won’t lie and say that I’m 100% cured. I still struggle with things everyday. I worry that my recent surgery and modified workouts are setting me back. My clothes still fit but I see the scale climbing and my body losing the muscle that I worked so incredibly hard for. I’ve become very busy with my job(s) and while I love what I do and where I am…my diet has not been the best. There are meals that I skip. There are late dinners. It makes me worry…but I don’t let that stop me anymore. My mindset has completely changed. I may have these worries but I don’t let them consume me anymore. If I want to have a beer, a piece of candy, or buffalo wings…I have it. No guilt. I have finally realized something I should’ve realized years ago – life is way too short to spend it at war with yourself…and with food. For the first time in my whole life, I can honestly say I am not just existing…I’m actually living (and loving) life. Things aren’t perfect but I am doing my best to make the most of everyday.

To learn more about eating disorders and what you can do, check out my article with The Arena: http://thearenafitness.com/no-body-is-perfect/

If you or someone you know is struggling, please seek help. Encourage open dialogue with the people in your life…especially children/teens. Let’s break the silence on this horrible epidemic. Let’s Fight to be Fit together.

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

Gina

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2 Years & Still Going Strong!!

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You guys…this week marked my 2 year blogiversary! I can’t believe it’s been so long – where the hell has time gone?!? First and foremost, I want to take the time to thank everyone who has supported me and read any of my posts. This really has been the little engine that could but I am truly grateful for you all. My goal with this blog has always been to share my journey in the hopes of inspiring or motivating someone else who may be struggling on their own journey. Hopefully, I have achieved that goal and some of you see that if I can do it, so can you! I truly appreciate all of you sticking with me…and I promise you even bigger and better things in 2016!

With that out of the way, I want to get into some of the updates and plans that I have in mind for this year. For starters, I am very proud to announce that I have FINALLY become a certified personal trainer! After years of being miserable in Corporate America, it feels amazing to be able to pursue such a life changing profession…and I can’t wait to get started!

As far as fitness goes, one of my biggest ideas/plans for this year is to create a free, outdoor boot camp. I want to share my knowledge and experience with you all…and the best way to do that is to practice what I preach. Ideally, this will happen in the spring…so as the warm weather approaches, more details will follow.

Another thing in the works involves an amazing supplement company, 1st Phorm. They have an incredible weight loss transphormation challenge going on now. In addition to that, I have been working on my own weight loss challenge that will, in a way, piggyback off of it. I’m very excited to share that with you all – so stay tuned for that in the next couple of weeks!!

As far as this blog goes, my overall plan is to post much more often and perhaps switch this whole thing up a bit. I post pretty regularly on Instagram but the plan is to add a lot more workouts and recipes on here…while still giving my same motivational posts.

There are so many exciting things to come this year and it’s only just begun! Thanks for sticking with me over the last two years – I promise that the best is yet to come!

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

Gina
TheFight2BeFit@gmail.com

Taking Time to Reflect

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Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

Like many others, I am taking time to reflect today. Though it’s been a rough year (perhaps one of the worst of my adult life), I have many things to be thankful for.

For starters, I’ve spent many years floundering and being truly unhappy with my job. The career that I planned on didn’t pan out and I was left to take any job that I could get. Which never worked well…or lasted long. I struggled a lot this year to find stable work. When I finally did, it wasn’t enough money and I ended up working two jobs…for 70 hours a week. My body shut down and so did I…mentally. I finally had enough. So once I had enough money saved, I quit one of the jobs and immediately began pursuing my passion. I am so incredibly thankful that I was able to finally take control! And I can proudly say that the new year will begin with a new career – Good bye Corporate America, hello fitness industry!!

Secondly, with all of the stress and overexertion this year, my health began to deteriorate. However, despite how bad I feel some days…I know it could be much worse. I am thankful that I am able to do as much as I do and that I’ve been able to accomplish so much in this journey thus far.

I am also thankful for the amazing friends that I’ve had to get me through one of the worst years of my adult life. Without their support, it scares me to think where I’d be…and I feel truly blessed that they are all part of my life.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I am truly thankful for my family. This has been a very challenging year but we made it. As it’s been said, “We may not have it all but we have each other.” And after a very scary year, I am beyond grateful this holiday season for just that ❤

I know some say we should reflect everyday…not just once a year. However, when you are in the midst of chaos and stress, it’s hard to see that light. This has been one horrible year for me but I am thankful for the struggles. Without them, I wouldn’t have found my strength.

Enjoy your holiday everyone 💕

-Gina
TheFight2BeFit@gmail.com

IG/Twitter: @FinallyFit23

Dreams DO Come True!

If you would’ve told me a couple of years ago that my life would be this amazing, I would’ve laughed in your face. I can’t believe how much good can come in such a short time!

The Biggest Loser was my motivation on this journey and continues to inspire me. Today I was featured on their website!! I can’t begin to describe how grateful and honored I am.

Here’s a sneak peek at the feature 😉

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“There was a time in my life when I was truly miserable. After letting health issues, toxic friendships, and an abusive relationship take over my life I decided enough was enough. I took control of my life…and my destiny…a little over two years ago and I haven’t looked back. At my heaviest, I weighed in at 210 lbs and wore a size 14. Today, I am over 70 lbs lighter and wear a size 2/4. Along with dropping weight (in pounds and with negative, toxic people), I have also freed myself of a lifelong obsession with the scale. Instead, I have become more focused with how I look and feel rather than what number the scale says.

The best part of this journey has been finding myself again. I spent so many years miserable that I lost myself. It has been truly amazing getting the real me back! I still struggle with various health issues and some mental roadblocks but at the end of the day I am the strongest, healthiest, and happiest that I have ever been in my whole adult life. The Biggest Loser continues to teach me that you can do all the physical transforming in the world but if you don’t overcome the mental demons you will never truly succeed. I am forever grateful to the Biggest Loser and to my gym, Planet Fitness, for guiding me on this journey.”

To read the rest of my story, check out my amazing feature on the Biggest Loser RunBlog: http://www.biggestloserrunwalk.com/runblog/inspiration-ginas-story/

Dreams really do come true! Work hard and always remember…nothing worth having comes easy.

Stay strong & stay in the fight!
-Gina
TheFight2BeFit@gmail.com