“When we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our stories, we get to write a brave, new ending.” - Brene Brown
This is my story. I am a Christ follower, wife, mother of two beautiful girls, speech therapist, current yoga junkie, food enthusiast, and former daily 1/2 marathoner. My life is messy and I love it. It wasn’t always that way…..
In high school, like many girls, external pressures and forces flooded my life and psyche to the point that it registered as uncontrollable chaos. I had a desire to have the “perfect” figure. The attempts at attaining that ideal were really just attempts to control the uncontrollable. It was a revolving door— restrict, binge, run. Rinse and repeat. Letting the chaos define me. Just doing. Not living.
I came to Charleston for college. A fresh beginning, a new environment, different people. Although the pressures and forces shifted, the uncontrollable chaos seemed to remain constant. As they say, old habits die hard.
Fast forward after graduation and marriage…. I was STILL silently struggling with self-destructive behaviors, food addictions, guilt, shame, self-love, zero confidence, self-criticism and self-doubt. Exhausted. The same story on repeat…restrict, binge, spend hours at the gym or pounding the pavement to wake up and do it all over again. And now PREGNANT! Ecstatic, thrilled for this precious gift to be a mother, something I was told may never be my reality because of the many years of self-inflicted abuse my body endured. For someone with food issues, pregnancy is very scary; eating more, gaining weight, and exercising less. I was tired. So Tired of the YEARS of yo-yo dieting, feeling ashamed of how I looked, tired of saying no to girls nights because I could’t find something to wear, tired of feeling envious of friends who didn’t struggle with weight, tired of anxiety surrounding food. I felt desperate to make a change. This time, not for me but for the little girl growing inside of me. She deserved better. More. The gift of new life was the hope I needed to end this cycle. The glimpse of hope I needed to make a change. Little did I know the person that would experience the greatest impact would be me.
That realization of that Hope started when a wonderful person shared a way to flood my body with whole foods: The simplicity and convenience of 30 fruits, vegetables, and berries in a capsule. I had a fairly basic understanding of nutrition but I knew I wasn’t fueling my body with the right foods. I was nutritionally starving. I was malnourish. I had NO idea that when I said YES to swallowing those tiny little capsules, that my life would be changed forever. I thought my physical health might improve but I had no idea, that it would have an impact on my emotional, spiritual, and mental health. Those capsules served as a catalyst; I could feel my body coming back to life. I began to crave these foods. Today, I feel a freedom; a freedom I really have never known. A freedom that allows me to be more present in every area of my life: my marriage, my relationships, being a mom. I don’t miss a night out with girlfriends anymore because I can’t find something to wear or make up an excuse as to why we can’t have “date night” because I am ashamed of how I feel. I don’t miss family dinners anymore to go on a second run because my morning workout wasn’t sufficient. I’m more accepting of my imperfections…with my body, with my words, my conversations, in my relationships.
As anyone who has healed from an eating disorder can attest, it is anything but a linear process. As I began to feel better because I was feeding my brain a wide variety of whole foods consistently that I had restricted for YEARS, I noticed some changes: more energy, improved complexion, brain fog lifted, chronic fatigue improved, sugar cravings reduced, and slowly with time (and I mean SLOWLY) those obsessive, crippling, controlling behaviors and thoughts became less consuming. I dove into the research, watched the documentaries, learned about the power of plants, and why God’s farmacy heals the body and mind; after all, we were created and put in a garden. My thoughts surrounding food as the problem began to shift to food as the solution. I began to witness that eating healthy whole foods did not result in weight gain, I began to trust food again. At the height of my dieting obsession, I had denied myself the nutrient-dense foods my body so desperately craved and needed. Disordered eating is not just a psychological battle. Our relationship with food affects our hormones, neurotransmitters, immune system, and gut bacteria. Now I know why those whole food concentrates made all the difference in the world!
As I began to learn about the power behind plants, my body, the innate wisdom we have to determine the right food choices, hunger and satiety cues, a gradual transition took place. I became a student of my body. When choosing foods, the focus was pulled away from, “will this make me fat?” to “how nourishing is this food for my body?” “how do I feel?” “what do I need?” Y’all, I have not arrived. I am still on this journey of self-discovery, listening, learning to love my body for all of it’s imperfections and practicing gratitude daily! Our relationship with food is much like the relationship that we have with ourselves and with others. Any successful relationship makes room for flexibility, understanding, and love.
As my relationship with food evolved, my relationship with exercise shifted as well. I had spent many hours on the treadmill, headphones on, tv on, reading a magazine, “checked out.” Today, exercise is a way for me to “check in”; what do I need, what does my body need, how do I feel both physically AND mentally. This is where my love affair with yoga began. The science of yoga does not dictate where the body ends and the mind begins, but approaches both as a single, integrated entity. It is a never-ending circle of influence! The skills I’ve learned on the mat have influenced my life off the mat. During times of stress, I have to get really honest with myself because old patterns creep in and the enemy rears his ugly head. The solution is always more of the good stuff…gratitude, yoga, sleep, self-reflection, greens, getting curious about what ACTUALLY is happening, sitting with the uncomfortable and looking INward for the answer! It’s always there if we are open to it!
During this journey, probably the most revolutionary change has been my relationship with MYSELF! When I came to truly believe that life wasn’t happening TO me but FOR me, the heavens parted. I took back my power. I get to decide how I show up in every situation. For YEARS, “perfectionism" was in the driver seat and “shame” was riding shotgun. This journey to more self-love, self-awareness, acceptance, grace, and gratitude has not come easy but is so worth it. For me, it is a daily dance; committed to show up, practicing gratitude, checking in, taking inventory on how I feel (without judgement), giving myself permission to BE or do what is needed to move to a more authentic space. By showing up as the most genuine version of myself, I have so much more energy, time, and space to do more in this world.
Here I am 6 years later! I have not “arrived” but I am making one simple change at a time! This is my sweet family, healthy and thriving. It’s become my life’s purpose to pay this gift forward and help other who are struggling. Jeremiah 29:11 reads “ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I believe the things that happen to us in life, they are not designed to stop us. They are designed to reposition us so we can come in contact with what God really has for us. I truly believe every trial and struggle I faced happened for a reason. "Rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5: 3-5). Whether you know me personally, through social media, or the divine spirit has brought you here, my prayer is that my story brings you Hope. The Hope you need to take that first (or next) step. And about those tiny capsules I mentioned above, reach out if you have questions! Are you ready to write your Brave new ending? I'm here to help! xoxo
The picture on the left is my senior year in high school, a year after being hospitalized for anorexia. Even though I am 90 lbs, my face is as round as a basketball! Can you say inflammation? The picture on the right was taken the week we found out I was pregnant!