MY BEFORE & AFTER STORY
It took me over 30 years to figure out a meal plan and fitness routine that has given me the physique I’m happy with (I mean really, how many women can say that?) and more importantly, the mental freedom from obsessing over every single thing I ate and how I felt about my body. But let’s go back to the beginning, so you can see for yourself that I haven’t always been thin and fit.
I grew up in a family of delicious Southern cooking, where most dinners as a kid were served with cornbread or biscuits. Sounds like a Cracker Barrel-lovers dream, right? It was common to have a pint of Ben & Jerry’s after dinner for dessert. My grandma and mom are incredible cooks, but they’re just from a different generation that’s not as knowledgeable about how to eat a balanced diet. Once I began competitive cheerleading at 13, my weight and what it “should be” in order to go up in the air, became something I became very aware of. I would have an orange juice, giant bagel with cream cheese and a banana for lunch in high school, and I thought I was eating so healthy and somewhat restrictive. Looking back now I realize there was very little protein in my lunch and zero vegetables. But at the time, I just wasn’t educated. Some days I barely ate anything and the feeling of hunger actually made me feel in control. I realize now how crazy that sounds.
When I left for college, my diet got worse. I would go back and forth between being very restrictive to binging. At a routine doctor’s visit, I learned my sophomore year that I was up to 126 lbs. I’m 5’3” and throughout my cheering years, my weight could not exceed 110 lbs, so imagine my shock and disgust with myself when I learned that I had ballooned up 16 lbs. That may not sound drastic for some, but it was for me.
Moving to New York City after college, my journey of trying to figure out diet and exercise continued as a constant tortured sub-thought. I was very focused on trying to figure out my career and have fun with friends on the side and meet guys, and I wasn’t taking the time to figure out how to eat healthy or take care of my body. I was constantly obsessing over how unhappy I was in my body and what I ate. I continued to go from being super restrictive and eating no more than 1200 calories a day and often having Tasti-D-Lite fro-yo for dinner (with all the toppings), to eating pizza late night and whatever else I wanted. I just had no clue.
My exercise routine was just as bad. I would go to the gym and pound away on the treadmill (side note: I hate running), bumble around using 5 lb hand-weights for some arm work and do a few crunches. I would work so hard to sweat my brains out, but never enjoyed working out. I just knew I needed to do something. I didn’t have the money for boutique fitness classes, and they weren’t really popular yet.
Before I met my husband, I took a barre class out in the Hamptons while visiting a friend. I loved the fast-paced music and the class flew by. The next day it literally hurt to sit down, and I remember thinking, “ok, that was a good workout.”
I moved back to the DC-area after meeting my husband and dating long-distance for two years. Fashion careers were limited, so I took a marketing job at AOL. And while the people I worked with were lovely, I was totally unhappy with my job.
I started driving into Georgetown on weekends to take Xtend Barre classes at a small Pilates studio and fell totally in love. The weekend classes always had crazy waitlists and there were no barre studios in Northern Virginia yet. I knew opening a studio and teaching classes was something I wanted to do. I’m extremely lucky in that my husband totally believed in me, encouraged and helped me to start my own business.
I began my Pilates and Barre Instructor certifications in 2012, and learning about eating healthy was the next natural progression. How could I spend all this time learning about the body and exercise, and not consider what’s going inside my body? I started learning about eating healthy, how to cook and the rest fell into place.
I have to say that during this time, I received A LOT of comments from people about my body and their thoughts on my eating habits. It wasn’t easy. And I was a bit restrictive in the beginning, but it’s what I needed to go through to get to where I am today. The comments definitely bothered me, but I stayed true to my journey and I’m proud of where I am now, because I know that I’m healthy and happy with myself, and free of tortured food and body thoughts.
So this is the briefest story of how I got to a place of a healthy mind and body. But the pivotal point for me, was learning to Count Macros. So head there next!