My Fitness Story: How Did I Get Here?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

I'm writing this blog in order to tell my fitness story for my 30 Day Challenge with Adie of Four Fit Sisters. It's long overdue.

I have never been skinny. Or thin. Or small. Or tiny. Or petite.  Whatever words you want to use...they’ve never described me.  Even at birth, I was a “big” baby.  At 9 lbs 7 oz and 23 1/4 inches long, I was born via C-section.  My family often reminds me that I was the second largest baby born that day in January. 

Growing up, I was always in the top percentile for height and weight.  I wasn’t grossly overweight or obese, but I always had “a little extra.” I think I fell somewhere in the middle when it came to athleticism and activity.  I tried all the sports available to girls my age - soccer, softball, basketball, karate, swimming, and volleyball; but my really loves were horseback riding and cheerleading/dance. That said, I never had a really aptitude for sports requiring much hand-eye coordination or skill - it didn't interest me. I was a pretty quiet, gentle kid who much preferred reading or playing games. I could entertain myself for hours making up stories about my dolls and beanie babies - very self-contained.

I don’t remember being bullied much, although there always seemed to be a few kids with something to mean to say about my weight. Most of the criticism came internally - those trips to the mall to try on clothes, getting fitted for my cheerleading uniforms, or dreading any activity involving a swimsuit.

I can’t exactly pin point when I became aware of my weight but I do remember being weighed during gym class in 4th grade.  That was the first and last time I remember seeing 100 lbs on the scale - I cried and cried that day when I came home from school. I probably had no concept of how much that was but I knew I was bigger than most of the other girls in my class.

8th grade - 5'4" 145ish

Around age 13 was when I started paying more attention to my weight and also when I developed a desire to change what I looked like.  Unfortunately this was when I started getting my weight loss information from very sketchy sources.  The whole concept of eating clean and finding enjoyable exercise activities completely alluded me.  I was enticed by images of bony, thin models and “thinspo,” - I wanted to be just them. I wanted to be skinny and I didn't care how.  My research showed me many ways to go about this - starve yourself, exercise excessively, purge - basically everything we know is horrible for you and your metabolism.

Summer between 8th and 9th grade (got my belly button pierced)

Even with all this pressure and misinformation, I never had a full blown eating disorder...I guess I like food too much, though I certainly developed a terrible relationship with food - The enemy. I yo-yoed throughout my teen years, losing and gaining weight through severely restriction my calories and then bingeing. I do know that since I was a young girl, there hasn't been a day in my life where my weight hasn't been on my mind.  

 10th grade summer - 5'7" ~150 (One of my "thin" years)
 10th grade school year ~155
 Senior Pictures - summer before 12th (please excuse the orange glow)

At the end of my senior year of high school, the prospect of starting college at Indiana University prompted me to join Weight Watchers with my mom and sign up for the local gym. During just a few months, I manage to lose about 20 pounds by counting points and slaving away on the elliptical - I felt great about the results but it still hadn't clicked for me. 

 Senior Prom 2008

That summer I went to Germany for three weeks - my daily workouts ended and my love of food was satiated by daily trips to the gelato cart and the bakery. I couldn't understand how all these European girls were so skinny yet they didn't head to the gym everyday and ate pretty much whatever they wanted!  I came back to the States about 7-8 lbs heavier than when I left.

 Germany Summer 2008

Off to college I went, determined to utilize the campus fitness center and make healthy choices - easier said than done. The food options at IU were unlimited - and the pizza.  ALL THE PIZZA.  I could eat whatever I wanted (and then go workout). Notice I haven't said anything about partying yet.  I wasn't much of a partier.  I never drank in high school - a result of hanging with all the smart, nerdy kids. At the beginning of second semester at IU, things changed.

In January, I joined a sorority. That really didn't change things much - I still wasn't interested in drinking, I just really wanted to find a place to belong.  In February, my dad passed away very suddenly.  (I'll save that story for another day).  That's when I started going out more.  And eating more. And working out less.  I started to get more anxious.  I struggled a lot emotionally.  I did the best I could to cope with that aspect of my life while still trying to be a normal college student. Thanks to maintaining a somewhat regular workout schedule,  I didn't gain all that much weight in my first two years of college - I even lost some during my sophomore year.

Fall 2009 Spring 2010

At the end of my junior year of college, I had reached the point where I couldn't cope with the anxiety on my own anymore.  I saw a psychiatrist who put me on some medication. Things started to get better emotionally but the summer I was on this medication, I gained 20 lbs which is a well-known side effect of the medication. I didn't like any of the side effects and I decided to discontinue the meds. I had a good support system in place at school and I had finally found my niche, things were looking up. 

 Junior Year Fall 2010

A few months later, I turned 21. That's when the real changes happened. I don't know if it was the stress of preparing for the MCAT and applying to med school, the increase in my course load, other life stresses, or some combination of it all but I really stopped paying attention to my health and my weight for the most part. I knew it was going up but I didn't have the tools to fix the problem while in such a toxic environment. I knew HOW to lose weight but I didn't know anything about clean eating or any of the things I know now about nutrition.  I wasn't willing to give up my $2 Tuesdays or $3 Thursdays or Wine Nights with girl friends (that often led to cheesy bread and ranch)- obviously drinking was a HUGE part of it. I wanted the college experience and I got it but it came with a huge price. (pun intended)

22nd birthday with FH

When I graduated from college, I knew I didn't look good because I didn't feel good. I felt bloated and slow. Fatigued. I didn't feel like working out and I didn't know where to start.  So I made a couple half-hearted attempts at dieting - honestly I don't remember much up until this photo below from spring 2013.  I decided something needed to change. I had hit rockbottom. 

I started doing more research online. I started putting all the things I had learned over the years to good use - clean eating (it matters WHAT you eat just as much as HOW MUCH), the need for accountability, finding physical activity I loved, stress relief, etc.  I became a big fan of several blogs and then I got a crazy idea - why not start one? Medical school was going to start soon and I wanted a way to connect with others and share the journey I was about to start.  This blog officially started May 2013.

I started small. I had a gym membership so I started actually going. I discovered in high school and college that I enjoyed group fitness classes so I went to Zumba and my aunt's Boot Camp classes. Eventually I decided that I wanted to start running, too.  I had started and stopped a few times over the years and I never really enjoyed it.  I decided in May 2013 that I wanted to sign up for my first 5k

After that, I started to  I signed up and completed a few more 5Ks, a 10K, and now I'm training for my first half marathon. For me, it's all about finishing and pushing myself to be a little bit better each time - except in the cold. I hate the cold so my running has suffered a lot this winter. 

I started cutting out processed foods and drinks and focuses on upping my water intake (self-proclaimed Coke Zero addict). More recently, I've been trying to limit my dairy, gluten, and meat intake while focusing on a plant-based diet - which I break a lot but I'm getting better at.  I try to eat organic when I can and try to limit my exposure to added hormones and pesticides. Basically, I'm trying to do better which is all we can ever do.
For me there have been two obstacles in this whole journey - CONSISTENCY & BELIEF in myself. This journey to find fitness, lose the weight, and get healthier has been a lot slower than I anticipated but I know that means it will LAST.  Instead of looking for a quick fix or drastic change, I am making small changes in my daily life while going through a lot of stressful events all at once - moving to a new city, getting married, and going to medical school. 

A LOT has changed in the past few years and I know I'm not the same person I was as the insecure teenager or overindulgent college student - I'm learning that I'm capable of a lot more than I ever realized and that I have the power to make and maintain these changes. I know I have what it takes to reach my goals - even when I want to give up. 

So that's my long story, short - the highlights.  Thanks for sticking around and for the constant support from my blog friends and family. There's something so freeing about getting all of this out! 

May 2013 to Februrary 2014 
Slow and Steady Changes


  1. Thank you for sharing. You look wonderful and should be proud of all that you have accomplished..

  2. I am soo proud of you! You ROCK and are going to be a GREAT Doctor :)

  3. Thank you for sharing your story! You are doing an amazing job and getting fit & healthy in any graduate program is SUPER difficult. Way to go, chica! XOX

  4. Good for you! The most important part is being healthy and feeling good which it sounds like you're doing!!

  5. First of all, sorry about your dad. I know it's been a while, but still.

    Second, it is SO hard to be healthy and fit during university. The fact that you even worked out at all is awesome.

    Third, I think you're a gorgeous girly and I think you'll make a wonderful doctor! :)

  6. I relate so much to your story. It's like I'm reading MY story!!!

    I'm sorry to hear about your Dad, that had to be very tough.

    You're rocking it lady. :)

  7. Thank you so much for sharing your story! Mine is also similar! I was diagnosed with a neurological disorder after college, so the weight that I had worked so hard to lose at the beginning of college all came back, plus more, when I was depressed and anxious. Recognizing the pattern was half the battle. Now I'm in it to win it!

  8. It sounds like, from what you described as an infant/child, you have an unfortunate set of genes and lack of healthy parental role models working against you!! :( That's tough, because I think your body's "set point" might be higher to begin with, which makes it even more difficult to stay at a healthy weight. I think you're doing a great job moving towards changing your lifestyle instead of being on another diet. Have you come across any articles that discuss whether losing weight before having kids decreases the chances of them being overweight? I would be interested in reading about that. It's something that scares me because I want kids but I don't want them to get my fat genes!!

  9. I'm a new follower, just starting to add my weight-loss journey over on my own blog. I must say, your 211 looks A LOT better than the 211 that I am currently sitting at! Thanks for being an inspiration as I get started!

  10. AWESOME results!!!!!!! I am Adie's sister. Just wanted to say how proud I am of you!! Your after pictures are amazing!!