She looked down and her heart sank.
How could that be right? Could it? It must be. It is. It’s right. I hate myself. I can’t do this. Nothing works. I’ve been dieting and going to the gym, and this: I weigh 221 pounds?
I can still remember this. I remember standing on the scale in my parents’ bathroom. I remember what I had on. I remember walking out of their room, feeling hopeless, sad, at a loss. My insecurity heightened.
I was 15.
Dieting had always been a part of our life at home. There were good foods and bad foods and foods you should never have, and foods you have for celebrating. I loved food so I’d figure out ways to celebrate, always created a reason for a treat. I was a student-athlete and went to the gym when there were no sports happening.
I thought I was doing all the things, but I was missing the most important thing.
I kept punishing myself. Exercise was a punishment for what I ate. My relationship with food was disordered and abusive. This went on for another decade. I thought the reason I never got asked to prom was because of how I looked, that people were embarrassed to be with a fat girl at the party. When I went through rush at college and didn’t get the house I wanted, I believed it was because of how I looked, and I started to hate myself more. Everyone seemed to be having so much fun, and I was a tangled mess. I’d order a whole pizza for myself, and then hurl it back up.
I finally got down to 168lbs (within healthy range for my body type) by Christmas and remember my mom showering me with compliments and taking me shopping. It was fun. I liked what I saw in the mirror, it felt good. But what I was doing wasn’t sustainable, I couldn’t be proud of who I was or what I was putting my body through. By the time spring break rolled around, I was up 18 pounds, I felt like a prisoner in the bikinis watching my skinny friends with envy, seemingly having it all together.
The yo-yo continued after college.
Living in New York City, with a job at a startup sports marketing and events business, I found myself surrounded by men, mainly football players most at least had achieved stardom in college, some had earned super bowl rings. The job was fun, and as the only female around, I was enjoying the attention and acceptance. I was a professional and everything was platonic, except for the time I fell in love with someone. He said all the things I’d longed to hear and believe to be true about myself. “FINALLY” I thought. It’s happening.
But that relationship wasn’t for me, he was already in one, the kind that are meant to last forever. I should have known better, I did know better, “You’re better than that....” But I wasn’t. A couple weeks later, I was made redundant at work.
Unemployed and heartbroken. There I was, flat-out at rock bottom.
My friend gave me the phone number of his life coach. In New York, everyone seems to have a therapist or a coach, an analyst, someone helping them through life, so I felt at home giving her a call.
Over the next two years we spoke every week, working through my issues, one by one. The lesson every week was the same: it started with me. Over 2 years and over 100 hours of coaching, lighting candles in front of vision boards, and sobbing as I began to see hope and the truth of who I am (not the lies I had believed that were defining who I was, determining my self-worth) I finally learned to love who I was and that was when everything began to change.
I got on the scale one Saturday morning after finishing a double spin class. It said 196. Three days earlier it had said 194. I remember stepping off the scale, walking to the mirror and saying, "I’m done with this. I’m done with this battle with the scale. I’m going to train for a triathlon.”
Triathlon was growing in popularity and my favorite spin instructor was starting a women’s only team, so I joined. I told everyone I knew that I was doing it so that I couldn’t quit, and my best friend joined to support me. We finished our first triathlon together in 2008 alongside 30 other women who were also wearing bright orange and black spandex - if that doesn’t bond you to a group of people I don’t know what will!
The second phase of my transformation was complete.
When in learned to love myself I grew confidence to call “bullshit” on the old messaging of what the scale was telling me about myself. None of it was true. I no longer let it hold meaning for me. I was choosing to love myself, who I was, for my heart and my mind.
Loving myself gave me confidence to pursue a triathlon, and surrounded by a team of inspiring women and with the support of incredible coaches, I crossed the finish line of my first triathlon and discovered all that my body is capable of. This was when I began to stop hating my body, and began to learn to understand and love all the ways it shows up for me.
Over the next decade, I’d become a coach and go on to do some pretty amazing things... cycling down the coast of California, a couple of amateur phases of the Tour de France, two Ironman races, and nine marathons including 5 in 2015. Then I became a mother, and learned that pregnancy is the most challenging test of endurance (really) that the human body can undergo, and that we women are stronger and more beautiful than we ever give ourselves credit for.
I want for every woman what I know to be true - that you have to love yourself wholly, like your life depends on it - because it does - and that you’re stronger and more beautiful than you can imagine.
Today, I’m not training as I was before, I’m up at 5am not to run or bike for miles, but to mind a 10-month old who rises with the sun each morning. Prioritizing my workouts is hard. I genuinely use my Fit in Five workouts to keep me connected to who I am, to remind myself of the power and beauty my body and mind hold. Yes, you really can be fit working out for only 5 minutes a day.
If you’re reading this, I want you to know you’re beautiful. I want you to know you’re strong. If you’re ready to believe this for yourself, and to have for yourself a life-giving transformation, let’s talk. My Find Your Fit program will equip you with the power, knowledge and tools to love yourself and to create a sustainable, judgement-free relationship with food and your body. Are you ready?