My Story: The journey thus far

September 20, 2011

** I started writing an email to my beautiful boot camp women with the intention of telling them a brief story of my weight loss/gain journey. It turned into a therapeutic release and I couldn’t stop writing. Until I was finished. Its raw, its honest, and its me. **
As promised, I wanted to share my weight (loss and gain) story, just so you know where I’ve come from, where I’ve been, and where I am now.
I’ve been “over weight” my whole life. I was a huge baby, a very chubby toddler, and just continued to be a big girl as I grew. My younger sister was a skinny little thing, wiry and full of energy. She could wear anything and my mom always made sure I wore clothes to help cover my chubbiness. I was fed “healthier” food because of my weight, while my sister could eat anything she wanted. I always felt different and I never quite felt ok with myself. mostly because there was always someone trying to change the way that I looked. I think at that young of an age, a child wouldn’t know the difference of being skinny versus chubby. But it was instilled in me from the beginning.
As I got older, I endured bullying at school. Because I was bigger, I couldn’t keep up with the other kids during kickball or basketball. So sports really wern’t that fun. The good thing was that I was on the taller side, so I could keep up with the older kids, and usually made better friends with them. But in P.E. and inter mural sports, I was almost always picked last, etc. I spent a lot of time home “sick” trying to avoid the kids at school. And wanting to spend time with my mom. She would take me to her Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig meetings. She thought it was a good idea for me to learn, and I just wanted to spend some time with her. My weight was always an issue.  Elementary school really wasn’t much fun so I hoped that middle school would help me turn a new leaf.
My family moved so I was in a whole new school district. I knew only one girl who I was friends with from elementary school. I thought I’d go out there and just be myself. First day of sixth grade I signed up to run for student council (i think it was secretary) and started making some friends in my classes.  I did not win that election but it was one of the gutsiest things I had done.  The summer before I started sixth grade, my parents thought it would be a good idea for me to attend an away camp for over weight adolescents. They never referred to it as a “fat” camp but more of an active camp. We talked about it a lot and together came to the decision that it would be a good idea for me to go. It would be the first time I would be away from my family for more than a few days. This would be 4 weeks. I remember being there, thinking that I actually felt pretty good about myself because I wasn’t as big as everyone else (for the first time ever lol). All of the girls looked at me like, “why are you here?” And I honestly ‘really know what to say, other than “because I need to lose weight”. I had an awesome time with the girls that I met, still though dealing with some bullying (from girls bigger than me!) and for the first time, dealing with a guy that was interested in me.
[In elementary school, I dealt with a boy who would constantly comment on my chest (I was developing at a very young age) and made vulgar comments that made me feel very uncomfortable. ]
The guy at the camp coincidentally was going to go the same middle school as I was (very strange). So I wasn’t qite sure how to deal with this boy who was giving me more attention than I had ever had in my whole life. And it seemed like good attention. He liked to hang out with me. He did sweet things, write me notes, poems, etc. At 11 years old, this was a big deal.
He of course ended up having some of his own personal issues that bled into our friendship and we ended up needing to stay away from each other (at the request of my parents).  He ended up making me feel very uncomfortable about myself, my body, etc.  The rest of middle school started to look up when I discovered volleyball. I tried out (having never played before) and made the 6A team. At the time I had been tap dancing for a few years and playing piano. But when I discovered volleyball, I knew I found my thing. I gave up piano and I gave up dancing.  I was tall-  5’6 for a 6th grader, and I was good. I was a big girl and I loved volleyball. My parents were on me about losing weight to be faster, losinng weight to jump higher. Lose. Weight. That’s it. My coach never mentioned it. However,  It came up in PE… my PE instructor always thought I was on the larger side too.
I was living a life where no one really thought I was “ok” as I was. So I threw myself into volleyball. However, in 7th grade I became closer with a girl who was struggling in her own skin like I was. We spent every moment we could together (me always at her house). her family loved me, they fed me, I could eat anything and there was no question. But by 7th grade, we were became more interested in the way we looked. I felt like I needed to lose weight, and so did she. We both tried making ourselves throw up. We tried not eating. We tried only eating cereal. Running every day. Going to the gym once a day, twice a day. I learned how to use the strength machines at the gym and the elliptical machine. I made it a game to see how many calories I could burn, how many reps I could do. Then we tried diet pills. I dont know where she got them, I dont know where they came from. But we both tried them. She ended up getting caught at school and the principal called me in as well. He happened to be a good friend of my dad, and I told him the truth. He was more concerned than mad (which shocked me) and I told him I would never take those again. By 12 years old I was struggling with an eating disorder I didn’t know I had.
When eighth grade started, I was in good shape. I was 13 and spending 2 hours at the gym every day. My volleyball skills improved, and my obsession with my weight continued. I was still “bigger” almost 5’7 (i dont remember my weight) but a bigger girl. I had boobs, I didnt like my body, my hair was a wavy mess that I straightened every day. It was hard to keep up with.
High school was an interesting transition. I played on the freshman volleyball team. I met a guy through a family friend who liked me for me. However, my mom approached me and told me both her and his aunt agreed that my face was a little heavy. That I could lose some weight. Atkins was big at the time, so I decided to try that. I think I lost between 10-20 lbs (im not sure) but it helped me get rid of my “heavy” face. Everyone noticed when I lost weight and everyone talked about it. My family, family friends, etc. I went to an all girls catholic high school, so the pressure to be thin/look good was not as bad as it could have been at a public school. We wore a uniform and I started going to school wearing make up, but by my senior year, never wore it (unless I was seeing a boyfriend lol) I became better and better at volleyball and was getting more attention from guys. I started dating more, breaking up more, starving myself more, trying different diet pills. Just trying to stay thin.  Girls all around me were losing weight, trying diet pills. By sophomore year, my classmates were noticing my weight loss. They said I was looking a little “tired”, and “too thin”. In my mind there was no way I could be too thin, I was still bigger than most of the girls I went to school with. My weight fluctuated throughout high school, but I managed to keep it within 5 lbs with pills, not eating, and volleyball.
And then I was in college. Freshman year I partied, a lot. I gained the freshman 15 by the time I began sophomore year had gained around 25 lbs. I lived in pants with elastic bands, big shirts, sweatshirts, etc. My mom was embarrassed for me, and no one understood why I had no desire to lose weight. At the end of my first semester sophomore year, I decided to sign up for weight watchers. I lost 4 lbs the first week and thought,  “ok- I can do this.”  So I began my first weight watchers journey.  By March of my second semester, I had lost 20 lbs. I was working out every day, running, taking spin classes, doing ab workouts. Every. Day. Without fail. At the end of my sophomore year I went through a tough break up and stopped eating for a few weeks, which helped me lost about 10 more pounds. I was the thinnest I had been in a really long time. It gave me the courage to transfer to another college, to start fresh in my new body. I was really excited.
My junior year started off with a bang. Single, in the best shape of my life, and living with 7 girls. I was doing things I watched my friends do (dating multiple guys at once) going to parties and actually feeling like I belonged there. I was getting hit on, guys asked for my numbers, guys actually wanted me. Liked me. Thought I had a nice body. It felt amazing. And then I met him. A fraternity guy that I noticed from across the party. I fell in love with his muscular arms and attractive face and asked my room mate who he was. He happened to ask her who I was the same night. We ended up starting to date and falling madly in love with each other. A few months into our relationship,  I went through a pretty tragic event. I was sexually assaulted. The drama that ensued after that engulfed me. The doubts, the questions, the rumors, the trial. It became a living nightmare, and I dealt with it by drowning myself in my prescription anti depressants and alcohol. I checked out, for a long time. I ate when I couldn’t sleep, I drank when I didn’t want to deal. I thought I was fine. But I gained 40 pounds in less than a year. For me, it was fine. It actually felt good. For my family- it was their worst nightmare. I was at my heaviest weight. Ever. No one knew what to do with me. My parents talked, my family talked. People talked at me, offering advise, telling me what I should eat, what I should do. But I just hung out at that weight. I was still with my boyfriend and thought that if he loved me like that, it was fine.

Me at my heaviest weight

Until I saw a picture of myself from one of his corporate events. I was huge. I was bigger than him. I asked him to weigh himself, and it was confirmed. I weighed more than he did. That gave me the wake up call I needed. Dont think that this was was helped me deal with the assault. Oh no, this all just focused on my weight. I started working at a gym, signed up with the head trainer and got to work. My diet was an issue so I tried weight watchers because it had worked for me in the past. the weight started slowly coming off, and my trainer slowly started crossing the trainer/client line. I was only there about 3 months when one night he completely crossed the line. I walked in and quit the nex day. I felt violated, ashamed, gross. I graduated from college having lost only 10 pounds and didnt really care. I moved home, started looking for jobs and started working more on my weight. I lost another 10 pounds through Jenny Craig and started my first corporate job. I continued with weight watchers and met a new personal trainer (a woman) who changed my life.
We began working out once a week for a while and after about a year, I started working out twice a week with her. At this point I had lost another 10 pounds or so and liked how strong I was getting.  I changed jobs and began working with my dad. I had moved a few times with roommates and back home. My boyfriend of four years and I ended our relationship. The anxiety, loneliness, loss- all of those feelings settled in my stomach. I had an upset stomach for about two months. I tried dealing with my feelings by working out more, harder, and longer. In one month I lost 10 pounds and another 5 in the next few weeks. My parents became concerned because I couldn’t eat, and I was on a high because I could do 50 push ups in a row. Yeah my stomach always hurt, but I was thin! And toned! And strong! I loved working out, I liked that I wasn’t always hungry, that I could control my hunger and what I ate. It was empowering! But during that time I knew my diet wasn’t healthy. The constant upset stomach and no desire to eat was hurting me. So I began looking more into diets, nutrition, researching everything I could get my hands on. I learned a lot, and created my own diet that worked for me.
So I decided I  wanted to help others. I wasn’t liking my job in sales, and I was searching for something to do. So I became a personal trainer. I thought it would give me the motivation to keep up my own fitness level and I would be able to educate other women on fitness and nutrition (at this point I knew what was healthy and what was not. I was clear enough to know that the last 15 pounds were not lost in a healthy manner). I maintained this weight for over a year. I met my now boyfriend about 9 months after the break up. I maintained my weight through most of our relationship. I had been dating since the break up, but I never let anyone get in the way of me and my workouts. They were my everything. And I was proud I could do more push ups than my body guard cousin (Hi Nick!)

This was at the peak of my weight loss and strength training

The smallest my waist has ever been

I fell in love. Hard. And my priorities began shifting. I was training a few clients  few days a week. I changed my schedule so that I could spend more time with him. I chose seeing him over my workouts at times. My healthy cooking slowly began fading as I would choose his favorite grilled ham and cheese sandwiches for my grilled salmon and couscous. He used miracle whip while I used greek yogurt. We were an interesting pair, broadening each others horizons with food, traditions, etc.
I slowly began gaining weight. This did not happen as fast as the last few times. I had multiple chances to catch myself, to do an intervention, kick up my workouts, watch my calories. But none of my interventions stuck. I just didn’t want it that bad. I was losing my fire- that feeling when I could do 30, 40, 50 push ups. But I ignored it- blamed it on other things. My weight slowly crept up. And my confidence slowly started dwindling. I didn’t feel comfortable training women when I couldn’t train myself. So I took a break from training, and focused on my day job.
About ten months ago I began seeing a life coach with the intention of getting some sort of grip of myself. I was having issues with almost everyone in my life. Angry days outnumbered happy days, and I didn’t know what else to do. I continued to put myself in situations that I wasn’t 100% ok with. I continued to make decisions that weren’t 100% in line with my own integrity. And I knew I needed to change.
Its been about 10 months since I began seeing my LC and I’ve been through some big changes. Dealing with issues of my past, and issues of the present is a challenging but rewarding decision. Talking about things I’ve buried my whole life, admitting fault, acknowledging mistakes, and letting go of things that weren’t my fault.
About two months ago I got the itch to start working out again. Really working out. I started looking up 5k’s in the area, found one and signed up for it. It gave me something to work towards, a new goal to set. I ran the 5k and met my goal that day. I started strength training again, and focusing on my diet. Asking myself, how was I feeling. How do certain foods make me feel. I realized that all of the prescriptions I was on were hurting me and had been for a while. I started eating foods that made me feel good, taking supplements to help cleanse my liver. My acne started to go away (for the first time in my life) and I started feeling better. The scale wasn’t budging, but I didn’t really care.
A few weeks ago, a girl I grew up with contacted me about starting a boot camp for her and a few of her friends. With the mindset that I wanted to make decisions that were right for me, in line with myself, and that felt good, I thought about it for a few days. It felt so right, I emailed her immediately. We’re on our second week now and I couldn’t be happier. I decided I’m going to do the boot camp with the girls, track my progress with the hope (god I hope) that I can help be some inspiration (and because I really miss my Hudsons… and Joe’s… and Sevens).
So this is my story. Mentally, I’m in a better place than I’ve ever been (regarding my weight). I’m dealing with other issues in my life, trying to make changes and decisions that keep my integrity and that I feel good about. Right now, I’m at a weight that would normally be my “starting” weight for losing weight. Its one of the heaviest weight Ive been, but not the heaviest. But, I feel healthy. I feel good. I workout when I want, and I eat (pretty much) what I want. I know what is healthy for me, I’m still learning what feels good, and I’m trying to take care of myself. Right now I don’t have any real goals. My goals are geared more towards the women I’m working with. I want to make each session enjoyable and challenging for them. I want to be there for them if they need me. I want to be the best trainer I can be. And that’s what I’m trying to do.

This is me today with J

Its important to live a happy and healthy life, but its also important to live your life.
In love and health,
Shelley
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One Response to “My Story: The journey thus far”

  1. TodaysTopix Says:

    I Think you look beautiful in all of these photos :-*


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