This blog was really hard for me to write. I have so many things I want to say, each of them all subtly relating to each other, yet in the same way so different. I would start typing about one thing and suddenly have a light bulb go off and it would lead me down another path of me spewing these passions at you. I don’t use that word lightly but it is my passion to impact as many lives as possible so when I started writing this, it was hard to nail down where to start. I want to talk to you all about self love, about going after what you really want, about insecurities and mindset. About how much I really do care about every single one of you and although I know you’re scared and I know its a lot of work, that we can get you to your happy place if you would just have some faith in the process and faith in yourself.
I wanted to share a little bit of my current story today for a couple reasons. I have so many people who call me coach, people who I get the opportunity to speak with weekly and hear about their personal struggles and challenges. I get to work with them on conquering those challenges and building their confidence and it is SO amazing. And its not just Flex Fuel members, I speak daily to others outside of Flex Fuel about their fears, their insecurities, and those long engrained cultural concepts about diets and the way we “should” look as society states. I try my hardest to share the knowledge I have, without judgment, because ultimately we all make our own choices and if I can educate you, I’m at least giving you the power to make the right choice.
I’m hoping that by giving you a glimpse into my journey, it’ll help you see that no one is immune to the pressures of society as I’ve struggled with them myself and I’ve been where you have been and still have my daily struggles. I work with a lot of people where the commonality is shame and guilt for getting to the place they are in when they come to us for help with their nutrition. Then they add more guilt on top of that for feeling bad about feeling that way, its a vicious cycle. I’m here to show you, I’m human too and not perfect by any means and I dont expect you to be! I am constantly striving for progress and to make my health a priority but there have definitely been hiccups along the way.
I grew up as a middle child in a small town with awesome parents and two sisters, who I am very close with to this day( shout out to the fam!). We didn’t have very much money. In fact, I can remember the only time my mom let us buy candy was for New Years Eve. In the summer we would get a box of otter pops or a case of grape soda but aside from that, we didn’t really buy those treats. My mom loved to bake so I grew up having fresh cookies in the kitchen pretty regularly and we always ate dinners at home. Since money was so tight, the only time we ever ate fast food was the occasional Sunday after church and we would go to Wendy’s and order off the 99c menu. My mom would always say fast food wasn’t healthy for us so although we would stop occasionally, we didn’t eat it often when I was younger. Peanut butter & jelly and Kraft mac and cheese were staples in our household but since they were made at home, I thought they were healthy.
Fast forward to my middle school and high school years where I had the metabolism to eat whatever I wanted. In high school I worked which meant I had my own money and trips to Dairy Queen or Olive Garden were pretty frequent with my friends. I knew eating at those places wasn’t the best choice but I wasn’t noticing any negative impact yet. The only deciding factor behind that thought was if I could still fit in my size 2 jeans and since I could, well, it must be okay! Looking back and knowing what I know now, my diet was really leading me down a dark hole. I was tired all the time, I slept more than anyone I knew and had terrible skin. My moods were all over the place, I had some pretty big low’s during my late high school and college years and I’m sure some of that is adjusting to life as an adult but I know a lot of it could have been helped if I had cleaned up my diet.
In my early 20’s I bought my first house and lived on my own for the first time. This is when reality struck. My weight started creeping up, my clothes stopped fitting and I was still tired ALL the time. I hadn’t really had to worry about my weight until then but suddenly I wasn’t recognizing my body in the mirror and it sent me into a tailspin of insecurity and desperation to lose the weight. Thats when those ugly old diet myths started wiggling their way into my life. I tried weight watchers and calorie counting and neither of them really worked. I really had no concept of healthy eating because again, I thought if you made it at home, it was healthy. When I tried weight watchers, I would try to get the biggest bang for my buck which meant me buying all of the weight watcher desserts and weight watcher meals and my diet consisted largely of over processed junk! When that really didn’t work, I started counting calories and gave myself a hard limit of 1200 calories each day. I had no idea about protein/carbs/fats, I had never even heard the word macronutrient and figured that whatever I ate, as long as it didn’t’ surpass that calorie limit I would be fine.
I did that for YEARS with little success. I had started running in hopes of burning off the body fat I had gained and was running about 5 miles every day on a 1200 calorie diet. It wasn’t working for me, I was still tired all the time but I was TERRIFIED of eating more than 1200 calories because if I was fat and didn’t like my body eating 1200 calories, I surely wouldn’t like myself eating more. I was burning the candle at both ends, running all the time and not eating enough to fuel my body which is why I could never see progress. Then came my saving grace, crossfit. My friend had tried it out at our local gym and encouraged me to go. I was scared, all my close minded insecurities were very loud and I tried to think of every reason I could to get out of it. Thankfully my friend wasn’t going to let me get away with skipping that easy and came to my house to pick me up. 7 years later and I’m still going strong.
Because of crossfit, I’ve done Paleo and completed several whole 30 challenges. Paleo/whole 30 kind of blew up in popularity at the same time crossfit was growing, they seemed to go hand in hand. I had zero clue about either of those eating styles and if I hadn’t given crossfit a chance, who knows, I would probably still be eating 1200 calories and feeling like crap. Both of those diets pulled me out of hole I had dug myself in to and gave me a really strong foundation of eating quality foods. Once I saw how great I could feel and what eating quality foods did for my performance and energy levels, I wanted to know more about nutrition. The problem I ran in to with paleo is there really isn’t any quantity control. I was eating a jar of almond butter every couple days, putting grassfed butter in my coffee every morning and just simply way over eating those “healthy” foods. My physique didn’t look how I thought it should with how much work I was putting in to the gym and how clean I was eating so I looked further into the world of nutrition and found flexible eating.
I signed up with a well known macro company and was assigned a coach long before I ever became a macro coach. It was a new world for me and I wanted someone there to help me along the way and guide me down the right path because I had messed things up in the past, I didn’t want to do that again. I had amazing success with that coach and got the leanest I had ever been in my life. I’ve always had a little belly pooch, I have a picture of me in my first bikini at age 10 and I had it then and for once, I had abs! Well surely this must mean I made it then right!? I let those abs define me which meant I was terrified once again but this time, of losing them. Not only was my mindset f*cked, my hormones and health started to be too. I stopped having a period. Weights that used to be a breeze felt impossible and I started having the urges to binge. My meals that had trustily gotten me that lean were no longer satisfying and I had an incontrollable hunger and war in my head. If my thoughts weren’t obsessing over my imperfections, they were focused on food and how I would be a failure if I ate outside of my plan. I felt shame if someone saw me eat something I had deemed as “bad” and so I snuck it…..creating even bigger shame. I had zero clue about nutritional periodization, it had never been mentioned to me by my coach and being new to the world of flexible dieting, it was just a word I hadn’t heard before. Calorie deficits should not last long term and looking back and knowing what I do now, my coach should have started adding food back in once I had gotten so lean, but instead, I was kept on a big deficit which when coupled with my past dieting history, was a recipe for disaster.
It has been quite a journey to get to where I am today. I had little success cutting last summer to lean down. My body just did not respond the way I had hoped it would and that progress I was aiming for didn’t happen. I was frustrated, insecure about my body, and thought everyone would compare me to the times I was leaner. I had to face the harsh reality that my system needed time to repair and rebuild after all those years of restricting my diet and even when I had first started macros and was kept in a deficit for too long. Thus began the long road of reverse dieting. Its a mental battle for sure. I already felt heavier than I’m comfortable with and had to be okay with gaining. I’m working with an awesome coach(shoutout to Brandy) because coaches need coaching too and have been adding in food slowly for a really long time to repair the metabolic damage and get my body to a healthy state. Currently I weigh the heaviest I have ever weighed in my life. There are days when my insecurities try to run the show and I want to hide from the world. I’m afraid people are thinking I shouldn’t be coaching because I dont have abs right now, I’m thick, its distorted thinking and something I’m constantly working on but I’m human!
I’m telling you this now because summer is approaching and many of us, myself included, is starting the next phase of our journey to lean out a little. We all want to feel and look good during the summer and there is nothing wrong with that! I’m heading into week three of my cut but there is a key component that is priority to me now and should be to all of you and thats self love. Through the years, the one thing that had remained consistent was the ugly negative self talk I had with myself because I always thought “well if I can just get to that weight” or ” if I can just have abs” then I’ll finally be happy. Guess what? That is not how it works. We all have our battles and unless we put in the time to work on our mindset and the way to speak to ourselves, that no matter how lean you get, or how strong you get, or whatever “finish” line you get to, it will NOT matter unless you’ve done the work mentally. I’m excited to see where I can take my progress this time around with a healthy body and happy mindset. I’m going to be as vulnerable as possible and give you a real, no filter look into my life in these next few months of cutting in hopes that it will show you that you’re not alone.
I had abs once… yet when I looked in the mirror, all I could see were the things I didn’t like. Its been a challenging road but I love the path that got me here. It wasn’t ideal and it wasn’t always healthy, but I’ve made it a priority to learn as much as I can and its shaped me into the person I am today. My hope for all of you and the people I get to work with is to educate you and smash those diet myths so that you don’t make the same mistakes I’ve made when it comes to nutrition and to help you see just how amazing you are!
Wishing you the best in whatever phase of your journey you are in!