So since I'm planning on writing a lot about my efforts to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle, I thought it might make sense to talk a bit about what I've been doing up to this point. Be warned, it's a bit long.
Growing up, I was always a healthy and active girl. I played soccer from the time I was 5 until my junior year of high school, and was also an elite competitive horseback rider. Fitness was a big part of my life, although it was more a byproduct of competitive sports than an active choice to stay healthy.
My last horse, Gabby. (I can't find any pictures of myself riding at the moment, but I'm sure I'll dig some up at some point. Isn't she beautiful though?)
Midway through high school, I fell out of love with both sports. I quit soccer my junior year, and the stress and time commitment of horseback riding led to the end of that as well. I wanted to spend time with my friends and be a normal teenager instead of spending all of my free time at the barn, horseshows, soccer practice, or tournaments. Unfortunately, although I changed my exercise habits, my eating remained completely the same, and I began gaining weight. I lost a bit towards the end of my senior year of high school, but wasn't happy with my body.
Senior Prom. I'm second from the left. Is it really any surprise I had body issues when you take a look at my gorgeous friends? Dayum!
And then, a bomb dropped. Three weeks before I left for college in a foreign country, my parents separated. It was a shock to just about everyone, and started off the most difficult year of my life. The stress of the separation and subsequent divorce, coupled with drama in my extended family and the stresses of the college transition I already faced made for a really hard time.
Unfortunately, I am not one of those people who channels stress into working out or keeping busy. No, I slept, ate, sat, and steadily gained weight for my entire first year, and ended up about 30 pounds heavier come May. I was uncomfortable, unhappy, and unsure of how to move forward. The depression and confusion I felt about the end of my parent's marriage dragged on for another year, and brief periods of commitment to diet and exercise never lasted long enough to make a difference.
I tried really hard to hide myself in photos, but you can see the extra weight I'm carrying around my face. So uncomfortable.
My weight reflected my life in general. I felt out of control, useless, and miserable, and punished myself by eating horribly and indulging in self pity.
Luckily, I had some great friends and family to help me get through this time. I really don't know what I would have done if it wasn't for my support system - even at my lowest, I knew that there were wonderful people all around who loved and believed in me. All that I really needed to do was believe in myself.
More on that later.