Finding Confidence Outside Her Comfort Zone

"I hated my body for as long as I can remember. By 11, I was already hiding my body in baggy clothes and comparing myself to skinny friends. I was very aware others saw me as 'chunky.' Even my father, on more than one occasion, would point out my 10-20 extra pounds.

That’s when my relationship with dieting began.

In high school, there were times I would do 100 sit ups before bed and eat nothing but a small salad for lunch and a small portion of dinner. Trying so desperately to be skinny, I would simply try to starve myself.

In college, the common freshmen 15, or should I say 25, reared its ugly head. One year, I returned home for winter break where, during a holiday meal, a very honest family member pointed out the fact I 'put on a few pounds.'

By the end of graduate school, I was now 50 lbs. heavier. I was horrified, depressed and mad at myself for not doing anything about it. I now longed to be that 'chunky' girl in high school. I looked at pictures of myself in disbelief. I was skinny back then! What the heck was I thinking?

Post-college, I was on a mission. In that first year after graduate school, I lost about 45 pounds through some extreme measures like fasting and appetite suppressants, but the weight started coming back on. I just couldn’t maintain a loss with my negative body image and horrible eating habits.

In 2005, I had my first child and my perspective shifted a bit. Quite a bit. I didn’t want to be a self-conscious, unhealthy mom who used her body image and weight as an excuse not to have fun with my child. So I started pushing myself out of my comfort zone, getting more active and adventurous. I discovered that as long as I was food journaling, eating nutritious foods, being honest about what I really was eating and staying active, I would lose weight.

The more I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, the more confident in my body I would become. My journey may have started as a quest to be skinny, but I’ve gained so much more then I have lost, especially in the diet and exercise realm.

When I started, I hated to exercise and my food choices were pretty typical — 100 calorie packs, microwave convenience meals, fast food. Over the years, however, as I’ve learned to maintain my loss and healthier lifestyle, my food choices slowly changed. I started buying more produce, cooking more at home, and seeking less processed snacks like fruit and pistachios. The healthier I ate the healthier I would want to eat.

Interesting enough the same was true with exercise — the more active I was, the more I wanted to be active!

Now I simply do what I can when I can without striving for skinny or perfection and, at almost 40, I’m the healthiest and fittest I’ve ever been!"