There have been so many moments in my life where I’ve been on cloud nine and others where I felt lower than the tramped on flattened disregarded piece of gum stuck to the burning asphalt.
I have loved so many people, been loved, been hurt, been rejected, I’ve forgotten who I am I have found her again, I’ve left her on the side of the road, I’ve turned around and picked her up and there are times where I’ve left her there, left that part of her to die, buried her and moved on.
I wanted to tell you that I am a real person. I really love reading uplifting About Me blog pages, but they all seem the same? Don’t they? They scratch the surface saying “I dealt with obesity” “I had an eating disorder” “I was unhappy with my body” “I had poor self-worth” etc, etc. For the sake of avoiding redundancy I will acknowledge that I have felt varying degrees of all of these but I wanted to try to extract the essentials of who I am, especially in regards to my health journey and share my authentic and raw self. Please read with kindness in your heart, for this is my heart opening for you.
I grew up in a large family, fourth child out of five. I had a great childhood full of laughter, love, acceptance and lots of church potlucks, friends swimming parties, movie nights, road trips, chores and of course eating. My mother instilled in me a strong understanding of health but at the same time she was fixated with being ‘thinner’ and she would always be on some new health craze. I realize now that this was a double edged sword: I had the knowledge but not the positive outlook and acceptance for food. Food was something to be feared, avoided; not celebrated.
I love my Mom and she did what she thought was correct and I don’t feel any shred of regret over how she raised me. She introduced us to whole wheat bread (which I absolutely despised) and bran flakes and everything else flavourless to a 12 year old. We were not restricted entirely in our diet but we never had unhealthy snacks on hand. So for me, junk food was always a treat. Like any child, I sought out the things that gave me joy. I got joy from eating snacks: potato chips, gummies, cakes, cookies, sugary drinks. You name it I loved it! I didn’t have a limit. If the bag was open, you’d be sure I was going to finish it!
When I was fourteen I was cut from my soccer team and that’s when my weight began to increase steadily. My inertia mixed with puberty, stress, lack of confidence, bullying at school led to my weight gain. I was unhappy and I found solace in food. My best friend and I would spend our weekends going to Bulk Barn, the Dollar Store and the grocery store in search of all the snacks we would need for that nights movie marathon. Of course I wanted to be thin, I wanted to have a boyfriend, I wanted to have real authentic friendships, I wanted to feel happy and holistic but I didn’t have the tools/didn’t want to change my lifestyle.
Let’s fast forward to when I was eighteen years old. I was about 30 pounds overweight and my high school life was coming to a close. I had just had a falling out with my group of friends and I was in search of a new group, this is really hard to do in your last year of high school! I found a few good friends who were of the ‘alternate lifestyle’ category. They liked to smoke pot and talk about music and indie movies and just go for endless walks. I found a tribe, something I had been searching for my whole life. Unfortunately, my acceptance came at the cost of my relationship with my parents and some of my teachers. I started skipping classes (something I had never done before) my grades went down slightly and my parents were catching on to my activities. But I loved the way I felt when I was smoking with my friends. It was illegal, it was a subculture I could participate and be a part of. It was easy to make friends at work, at school and I finally felt that I could be myself. Or so I told myself. I began losing weight at this time – I’m not sure if it was due to my increased self confidence or the amount of walking and biking I was doing, but needless to say I lost about 20 pounds and I felt better and stronger. I kept most of that weight off until I was twenty-three years old.
The in-between years were interesting. I was always on a scale from 150 pounds to 165 pounds. I would lose ten pounds, put it back on. Become a vegetarian, become a vegan, eliminate gluten, dairy. But every time I went on these diets I was restricting myself and I still had this really fearful relationship with food. I had some real big stressful moments in my life that I feel I should share, if not for the catharsis but also in alignment with my previous statement of being a real person.
1st: I was drinking almost everyday/smoking pot/experimenting with more dangerous drugs. This was one of my lowest moments in my life. I was honestly crying out to God I need help! I need to change my life!
-I was thinner at this moment, maybe 150 pounds in my life but I was so unhealthy.
2nd: In my last year of University I went through a really strange and very real mental breakdown. I was having hallucinations, I was thinking about suicide I thought that I had disappointed everyone in my life, my school work load was too much for me to handle and I couldn’t sleep or trust the thoughts in my own head.
-I was 140 pounds at this time, but I wasn’t sleeping or eating much.
3rd: My boyfriend and I broke up. I had flown to Paris to see him and he stood me up in Paris. I remember when we finally met up he said “Well, you were the only foreigner in Fukui (Japan) and you’re kind of chubby.” Needless to say, after being rejected and ridiculed by my first boyfriend and being utterly alone in a foreign country I slowly began gaining weight and participating in more weekend binge drinking and unhealthy relationships.
-I was about 155 pounds at this time.
Everything changed for me two years ago. I had again been in the cycle of drinking too much and eating unhealthily I was really lost and I had no clue who I was. I had been living in Japan for two years. I had not a clue what I would do in my future, who I wanted to be, what kind of person I was becoming and what motivated me. I had hit rock bottom in the fall of 2015 when a friend of mine had finally convinced me to try Whole30. For those of you who don’t know what Whole30 is it is a thirty day cleanse that eliminates basically most food groups from your diet. Although you might think that eliminating whole food groups is again repeating the cycle of unhealthy food relationships I want to say that it’s a yes/no answer. For me eliminating whole food groups allowed me to see how my emotions were intertwined with what I ate.
I would always use food as a reward, a comforter, a friend and an enemy. I realized how much I ate when I wasn’t really hungry. The best part about Whole30 was that I could eat as much of the options in the program that I wanted, so I didn’t feel completely restricted. My friend and my sister did the thirty days together and we cheered one another along the way and celebrated when we finished.
The hardest part for me was abstaining from alcohol. Alcohol for me was my social tool, it had always been. Without it I wasn’t sure how to navigate my social life. The biggest triumphant moment for me was when a group of my friends were going camping for the long weekend. Of course there would be drinking, eating and partying. I told my one friend about my Whole30 program and that I was nervous about joining in on this trip.
But the minute someone offered me a beer my friend said: “Oh no, Grace isn’t drinking this weekend, she’s doing a cleanse.” Everyone asked me about it and I told them about the program. They were all really sweet and no one pressured me to drink that night. I think if I hadn’t told my friend I might’ve caved in. Having her speak for me was great and after that weekend I felt so invigorated. I had an amazingly sober time, no one judged me, I had a natural high I hadn’t felt in years. The stars shone brighter the colour of the ocean was crystalline clean – like my new found determination to establish a new me.
Since the fall of 2015 I have realized that alcohol isn’t necessary to make or sustain friendships and if it is, those friendships are not worth having. It is really hard to break the habit of social drinking and it still remains a difficult task for me but it is something I work at every day.
In the winter of 2015 I met my boyfriend. We always say that “we saved one another”. He loved me with such ferocity and acceptance and I in return found someone that I could truly invest in and grow with.
This past spring (2016) both my boyfriend and I were slightly overweight and we kind of stumbled upon being a ‘fit couple’. Truly, we always wanted to be fitter, we would periodically go for jogs and eat healthy but those habits never stuck.
It wasn’t until we changed our diet and our daily habits that we began to see results. My boyfriend’s new job was physically demanding and he began shedding pounds like dead skin cells. I began exercising lightly in the afternoons and stopped eating late at night. We both decided to stop eating fatty foods and going out for dinner. We started jumping rope every night for ten minutes and going for weekend hikes. After a month we started to see the change in our bodies. It was at that moment that changing our bodies and our health habits seemed obtainable. Previously, becoming healthy was always a far away, foggy picture – totally unobtainable.
I remember after that first month we decided to take a video of ourselves. I was very hesitant, because I never really looked at how much fat my body actually had. I never thought I would get rid of it, so taking the video was hard for me because I had to come face to face with my unhealthy reality. A month of exercising a few times a week and eating healthier had produced results, my stomach was significantly smaller and I had WAY more energy and my clothes fit better. These were the exterior results but the interior results were much more significant. I felt I had purpose and the strength to achieve more in my life. If I could conquer this supposed ‘unsurmountable’ goal what else could I conquer?
I am just at the beginning of my journey and I can’t wait to see what happens in the next year, two years, ten, twenty.
It’s not always the destination but the journey that contains truth.
Thanks all for reading and I hope you could really get a sense of my journey and understand that it has not all been sad moments (I’ve of course I’ve had numerous moments of joy while being overweight, underweight, healthy and unhealthy) But I wanted to highlight my struggles in a way that is identifiable to you. Please feel free to share any thoughts or questions and if you’d like you can follow me on Instagram graceturner89.