I grew up being fairly “thin.” My mom and dad cooked most of our meals at home and almost always packed my lunches. Up until my brother was born when I was 5, I never even ate junk food. I was a really active kid- riding my bike, exploring the woods, building tree forts, swimming, playing sports and taking gymnastics classes. You name it, I was out doing it.
My speedy metabolism stuck with me up until around 9th grade. I stopped playing outside and started sitting around. Of course, I also started packing on the pounds. I distinctly remember being put on an antibiotic by the dermatologist. The medicine was supposed to help clear my skin, but would give me an upset stomach if I didn’t take it with food. For some reason I really took the last part to heart, and had a heaping serving of Ritz crackers with peanut butter before bed every night, not wanting to take the medicine on an empty stomach. Obviously, this led to weight gain.
At the same time my peanut butter binges were happening, my family was dealing with some tough issues. It’s more than I really want to delve into in this happy space, but suffice it to say, my life quickly became much, much different. My mom could no longer cook dinner every night and we started relying on packaged, prepared food more than ever before. I started buying lunch at school, including pizza, French fries, and ice cream. The pounds continued to pack on.
I knew I was getting bigger and I didn’t like it. But, I didn’t really know what to do about it. My dad and I started running and it helped a little. I started to read about nutrition and exercise, and began to watch what I was eating. I lost a little weight, but nothing major. I still ate sweets regularly and ate pretty poorly most of the time. My friends, who weren’t struggling with their weight, ate fast food and pizza regularly. Of course, I ate it right along with them.
Then I graduated and left for college. Oh. My. Gosh. I arrived at Ohio State at probably my then-heaviest weight, I’m guessing around 135. Now, I’m 5’5” so 135 isn’t exactly obese, but it wasn’t healthy on my frame. I exercised occasionally but I didn’t have any muscle tone and I wasn’t exactly in great shape. I was introduced to the world of “meal swipes,” which is what each meal on your meal plan is called. My parents, afraid I would starve to death, sent me with 250 meal swipes. This is basically a football player’s meal plan. It was way, way, way more meals than I ever needed. But, I had them, so I intended to use them. I would get a full pasta meal (probably at least two servings) plus a large salad on the side (read: cheese and ranch dressing) plus sometimes a candy bar or ice cream. I would eat all of this. Then, I would go out and party, where I would drink more than my fair share of Natural Light.
What happened? I got huge. At my heaviest, I was right around 155. Weight is such a relative thing, and someone else could weigh 155 without being overweight. For me though, that number was downright unhealthy. I saw my family at Thanksgiving freshman year and I can only imagine their surprise. I had gained almost 25 pounds in about 8 weeks. Can you imagine?? There is a photograph my dad took of my brother and I during that weekend. At the time, I knew I was big, but I didn’t realize just how big I had gotten. My family would later refer to me as “a tick” in the pictures. Yes, a tick. Because I was so large, I looked like I was “about to pop.” Yuck!
I went home after freshman year and my dad made me start running. We ran 3-4 times per week, usually 2-3 miles. We went on hikes, and even went on an overnight backpacking trip. Some weight was starting to come off. Eventually, I went back to school, and I felt good. Everyone said I looked great- I was probably down 10-15 pounds from my highest weight. I discovered cycling classes at the RPAC (Ohio State’s amazing gym) and went once or twice a week. I started to fall in love with cycling classes. But, football season took its toll, and I started partying and eating gross food more than I was working out. I still ran and went to the gym, but it wasn’t enough to make a difference.
Then, I met Andy. Yes, Andy, my husband. We met just before my 20th birthday, when I was a sophomore in college and he was a senior. All of a sudden, I wanted to exercise more. He was thin and in shape, and I wanted to be too. I gradually started working out more and focusing on eating well. I still partied a lot, and ate a lot of terrible food, so I didn’t see much progress. However, I finally started to get motivated. I started to have a passion for fitness, and I researched it constantly.
I worked as an Orientation Leader all of that following summer and had a busy, fun schedule. I fit in fitness when I could, but it was infrequent to say the least. Anyone who’s stayed in Columbus for a summer knows, there is way too much fun to be had. However, I went home for a month at the end of that summer and things really started to change. I worked out almost every day with my dad. We would run, go for hours long bike rides, hike, and swim. I dropped almost all the weight I had gained and I was fit, slim, and confident.
I went back to school that year feeling incredible. I finally had the motivation and passion to stay healthy and make fitness a priority. I tried out to teach Buck-I-Robics, the fitness classes at Ohio State. I got into the program and started a 3-quarter journey to becoming certified to teach group exercise classes (Unfortunately, I never finished the program because I was too busy with my sorority). I worked out regularly, even though I still had fun on the weekends. I was definitely at the thinnest I’ve ever been.
Fitness became a part of me. I can’t explain what clicked, or why, but something did. I discovered that I not only love to exercise, but that I need to exercise for my mental health. I am a very high-strung person and generally become unbearable if I don’t work out. I got really into running and over the past 4 years have run 3 half marathons and 1 full marathon. I discovered hot Vinyasa yoga and fell in love with it.
I by no means have the best physique, nor do I have all the answers as to how you can obtain that. But, I am healthy, I am fit, and I love to exercise. I have a passion for nutrition and discovering new ways to cook and prepare healthy meals. My fitness level and interests ebb and flow based on my schedule. I’m a busy person and I’m sure you are too. But, I’ve finally come full-circle in my fitness journey- I lost 25 pounds and have managed to keep it off for going on 6 years. Hopefully my journey can inspire others- if I can do it, you can too!