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Down 100 lbs! My unconventional path to a healthy lifestyle

Hi!  I’m Ashley and this is my story of how I lost 100 pounds.

I am an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, Vegan, and perpetually upbeat, healthy person.  But this wasn’t always the case.  I grew up in the standard, middle American farming family, and with it came the meat & potato diet with vegetables and fruits from a can.  Butter and bread and milk made everything better!  My whole family was overweight, or “Big Boned” as we liked to call it, and we were ignorant to the fact that our diet wasn’t healthy.  So how bad was it really…well, I am 5’7” and at the age of 16 I weighed a whooping 240lbs! But this wasn’t the worst of it. 

So, what was my moment?  That moment when you decide you are going to change your life.

Well, mine came following an abusive relationship in high school.  I was with a person for 1.5 years that degraded me down to nothing and I believed every horrible word.  Only after building enough strength to walk away did I find the strength to make changes in my life.  Feeling hurt, uncertain, and useless, I did the one thing I could and that was to work on my diet.  If I could just loose the weight, maybe I could feel less useless and feel better about myself.

So, I did just that!  Only things got a bit out of hand…

Not knowing where to start, I did what most people do – DIET.  I tried every fad diet there was. I even read the latest tabloids looking for inspiration!  I tried cabbage soup, maple syrup & cayenne pepper, low-carb, high protein, extreme caloric restriction, and more! Sure, I lost weight, but it wasn’t sustainable, and I would plateau or gain it back.  And then I came across the app MyFitnessPal.

I fell in love with tracking my calories and macros…but I took it too far.  I found that by cutting my calories a little bit the weight would come off.  So, I went a bit further, then a bit further, and so on.  I was losing weight and people were noticing.  This only fueled my addiction to this new “magic pill.”  It went so far that I was only eating 500 calories a day! A year into my health journey and I developed anorexia nervosa.  I feared food, and had strict rules on how, when, and what I ate. 

On top of the restrictive eating, I was exercising hours a day.  I would walk, do at-home workout videos, and anything that would help the weight fall off.  I had lost over 100lbs! I loved feeling my rib bones and hip bones.  It was like nothing I had ever felt.  But even though I looked better, I felt awful.  I had no energy, was always cold, and my body grew fine hair in places where hair doesn’t normally grow (lanugo).  The hair on my head started to thin – YIKES!!!  Something clicked and I realized this wasn’t sustainable.  My body needed food!  It needed calories! And then something in me snapped.

I soon found myself binging – eating everything in sight.  During a binge I felt outside myself.  I couldn’t control what I was cramming into my mouth.  My calories were on extremes.  I would be super restrictive for a day and then follow it with 6,000 calories of junk.  I never made myself throw up, but I would follow my binges with extreme amounts of exercise and calorie restriction.  Bulimia nervosa was as bad or worse for me than anorexia.  Maybe I had both at the same time and just swung back and forth between the two. 

Then I hit my rock bottom.  It came after a particularly bad binge.  My heart was palpitating, and my stomach felt like it was going to blow up, and I remember thinking I may die.  I told myself that if I made it through the night, I would tell my mom and get help.  And that was just what I did. 

The next morning was the first day on my road to recovery. 

It was one of the hardest things I have ever done.  To face my issues, deal with past demons, and fight the urge to fall back into familiar behaviors with food and exercise.  Because there are unhealthy extremes on both sides of the food and exercise spectrums.  You can eat too little and exercise too much – all while saying it is because you are being healthy. 

I had found a passion in food and exercise, but my ignorance led me down a dangerous path.  So when I went to college, I knew I wanted to be in the health field and I found my calling with exercise physiology.  I loved every minute of it and soaked up everything I could about proper nutrition and exercise.  As I learned more, I applied it to myself.  My weight came up to a healthy weight and I loved it.  My desires to binge were gone, and I felt whole.  I felt happy.  I graduated in three years, suma cum laude, and top of my class. 

I was proud, healthy, and passionate to start helping people.

Fast forward to today.  I no longer weigh myself, I intuitively eat (meaning, I listen to my body and how food makes me feel), and I work out 6 days a week.  My life is about balance.  I lost over 100lbs with some horrible methods, but I have overcome these eating disorders, found healthy ways to eat and exercise, and I am proud to say that I have kept the weight off, feel great, and I am the healthiest and happiest I have ever been.  I don’t recommend people take my path, but the lessons I have learned through my trials are what has made me the person I am today.  And I am proud to share it with you. 

Hopefully I can help a few people avoid the issues I have faced, or to find the strength to identify their issues and ask for help.  

In Health and Happiness,

Ashley

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1 comment

  • I know exactly how it feels I have loss 40 pounds in 10 months. I feel like a totally new person. It’s very inspiring too see story’s like this one. It feels awesome to live a healthier lifestyle 💚

    Carina

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