How Did I Get Here? Hope’s Wellness Journey

Taylor and I decided that part of being food- and fitness-obsessed bloggers means sharing our personal food and fitness journeys with our readers. We weren’t always where we are now— our pasts have helped us arrive at where we are today and will affect where we end up tomorrow.

That said, my food and fitness journey is by no means complete. I believe this journey will last a lifetime; but I am in a better place now than I have ever been before. I have accomplished goals, I am currently working towards goals, and I have already set future goals. Wellness is not an area in which to grow complacent, in my opinion.

Sitting down to write this post was not an easy feat. It’s a long story, I wasn’t sure where to start, who would care, or how I would feel about people knowing my story. I am also generally very uncomfortable talking about myself, but now that I’ve decided to take the blogger plunge, I’ll be throwing that caution to the wind. Adios, comfort zone!

So, here we go…

Ever since I can remember, food and I have had issues—nothing extremely serious, but not healthy or positive. Starting in middle school, I had this obsessive thought that I was “fat”. Spoiler alert!: I was not even close to being overweight. I would try to avoid eating whenever possible —throwing my lunch away and lying about it, among other shady things. Middle school is a freaky time, people. Teenagers are weird. Hormones are raging. Did I do these things for attention or for some other reason? Who knows. But my relationship with food and body image continued on a rocky path until last summer, when I grabbed it by the [fat] balls.

Starting in middle school, I had this obsessive thought that I was “fat”.

Growing up, I was an athlete, so I never had to go out of my way to exercise. Nevertheless, I was motivated to work out on my own because of this constant feeling that I was “fat”. *Cue the “I wish I was as fat as the first time I thought I was fat” meme.* By work out on my own, I mean do cardio, because cardio burns calories, and that’s all I cared about. Sometimes, I would even wake up for school early and run up and down the stairs in my house for 20 minutes. (WTF!)

Throughout high school, I was a dedicated yo-yo dieter. I did not follow any particular trends, but I obsessively tracked calories. My only goal was to lose weight and quick. I would weigh myself once a day, if not more. It was like a game seeing how low the number could get. I would aim to eat 500 calories per day. *yikes* And, I would write down every single thing I ate. By hand. There were no “apps for that” at the time. I would even go back and leave myself notes, like the encouraging words, “STOP EATING SO FUCKING MUCH!” When I could no longer sustain dieting, the binging would occur. I would crave junk food, eating it quickly and secretly. Post-binge led to overwhelming guilt and disgust. Then, REPEAT.

I was never “too” thin, so I could fly under the radar with these habits, but by no means was I achieving mental or physical health. I don’t think I ever consciously thought what I was doing was problematic or unhealthy. I was just obsessed with this false body image I had ingrained in my mind, and I thought I was doing something about it…aka, losing ten pounds in a week and then gaining it all back. Not helpful.

I was just obsessed with this false body image I had ingrained in my mind.

When I went to college, my first year was actually relatively healthy compared to my previous “efforts”. I wasn’t playing team sports anymore, so I went to the gym frequently, adding in some strength training, and making healthy food choices without crazy restrictions. Yay! The transition to college is such a chaotic time. I still weighed myself daily, but I was otherwise preoccupied with getting acclimated to my new life.

Moving off campus sophomore year took my journey downhill again. For the rest of college, things pretty much followed the same pattern: I exercised here and there, but would go through unexplained dry spells. I was grocery shopping and cooking for myself, but would really just make things that were quick, without any rhyme or reason, and without putting much thought into the nutritional value. (The thought of going to the grocery store now, without a list in hand, is truly bewildering to me.) At this point, I wasn’t really obsessed with my weight anymore. I’d stopped weighing myself all the time, and kind of just accepted the negative body image I’d forced on myself; however, I also gave up the strong desire to do something about it. Great.

Senior year essentially revolved around food and drink. Drinking to excess and “drunk eating” several nights per week certainly took a toll on the body. When I would realize I had gained weight, I would find a “quick fix” and move on.

After my senior year of college, I went to Hawaii with my mom and sister. I was running in the hotel gym every day, and I was having trouble breathing. Urgent care prescribed me an inhaler for exercise-induced asthma. Of course, going to urgent care required me to step on a scale. I saw a number I had never seen before nor ever wanted to see. I freaked out and joined Weight Watchers (while on vacation in Hawaii…who does that??), and got it together…sort of. My relationship with food and fitness was still undefined. I was constantly trying to do damage control, and I didn’t really understand the concept of a lifestyle change yet. Well, I did. I majored in Kinesiology, after all. I guess I should say I wasn’t ready to recognize, admit, and commit. Recognize I had a problem. Admit I was the problem. And commit to making a lasting change.

I was constantly trying to do damage control, and I didn’t really understand the concept of a lifestyle change yet.

A couple years post-college, I arrived at the beginning of the end. I got into a relationship, and over time, became comfortable, which led to me not obsessing over my appearance anymore. I knew I was gaining weight and was not super pleased with how I looked. I would even make joking comments about it, yet continued to ignore it. Throughout this year when I was gaining weight, I somehow convinced myself that I was trying to lead a healthy lifestyle. I packed nutritious lunches, I started cooking real meals and more frequently—so why wasn’t I losing weight? In hindsight, I actually can’t believe I fooled myself into thinking I was trying. I was making excuses. I’d have the healthy lunch, but then would not put much thought into what I ate when I got home. I would eat healthy all week, and then go HAM on the weekends. I would go to the gym here and there and do tons of cardio, but I wasn’t losing weight. My efforts during this time period could be described as delusional and half-assed. For some reason, I could complete half marathons or other physically strenuous activities without really training, so being super “out of shape” was never a wake-up call I received.

It wasn’t until June 2017, when I went to Peru with some friends from high school, that I received my wake-up call. I had a doctor’s appointment scheduled for shortly after my trip. For years, I avoided the doctor, because I knew if I did go, I would have to get weighed. Preemptively, I stepped on a scale in Peru. Once I got home, I saw all of the pictures from our trip, FREAKED TF OUT, cried, while simultaneously, frantically texting my friend in sheer panic. How did this happen? I had always not liked what I had seen, but now I was physically uncomfortable, too.

After I had this post-Peru panic, I decided it was REALLY time to make a change. I knew I had dug myself deep and I had to be serious. Not a crash diet to see quick results. How I got myself into this unsatisfying position I like to describe as eating and drinking with a “YOLO” mindset—justifying everything as a special occasion.

On August 1, 2017, I set out to make a real change. I started tracking calories again. Not 500 per day, but a healthy and sustainable amount. My eating was in such a state of chaos that it was helpful to keep track of exactly what I was putting into my body at first. *Shout out to MyFitnessPal.* Tracking calories is not for everyone, and I don’t really do it anymore now that I’ve lost—and kept off—weight (25 pounds weeeeee!). But at the end of the day, weight loss is calories in vs. calories out, so it’s a reasonable starting point if approached with the right mindset.

On August 1, 2017, I set out to make a real change.

My friend got me a month of ClassPass for my birthday, and I swore I wasn’t going to sign up after the month she gifted me. But, alas, I [thankfully] got hooked. And now, I can confidently justify that monthly payment as an investment in becoming my best self.

Through the process of taking control of my personal wellness, I’ve learned more about myself, strengthened relationships with others, and even discovered new hobbies, like cooking! Coming from a family of fabulous cooks, I was truly worried I would never give a shit about cooking. But now it’s one of my favorite pastimes.

At the end of the day, I truthfully still struggle with body image issues. But when it came to achieving a healthy lifestyle, failing to follow through and hold myself accountable wasn’t cutting it anymore. I had to grow up and take responsibility. Food was many things for me: comfort, boredom, fun with friends, guilt, bad, good, etc. But why wasn’t it nourishment? Fuel? Energy? Mindful? Fitness was weight control. Now, fitness is fun, healthy, self-empowerment, stress-relief, socializing, strength, [welcomed] work, challenging, and so much more. I continue to constantly research and read about anything and everything food, cooking, exercise, strength training, meal prep and wellness related. I have happily achieved balance and moderation, which are two keys to my success in my journey.

To be continued…

(in my life, not on the page…don’t worry!)


2 thoughts on “How Did I Get Here? Hope’s Wellness Journey

  1. Hope, you are eloquently explaining what many of my clients, whom I work with everyday, feel. In the profession, we call it disordered eating. There is a wide range of normal, but your self-esteem need not suffer because of a number on the scale. I will send my clients to read your blog! Your mom’s friend, Sharon, Nutrition for Living.

    1. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment, Sharon! It is great to have you [and your clients] as a reader, given your expertise! 🙂

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