My Fitness Journey: 9 Years of Ups & Downs Part 1
It’s been a while, but I believe that this blog has grown up with me, and that means it has changed quite a bit from what it was in 2008! I’ll be turning 28 in just 8 days and life is busy. Daily blogging just isn’t what I want to be doing right now in my life, and I’d rather have great content than just content. This blog houses almost 7 years of posts (on and off) and documents so much of my fitness journey. From the days of competing all the way until now with my focus mainly being hitting PRs. I’m so thankful for this outlet and hope that at some point, it’s been helpful to you as well.
I want to discuss something today that I’ve been thinking about a lot over the last few months. If you are sensitive to food-related or eating disorder topics, I suggest skipping this post.
Let’s start from the beginning: 2007
It was August 2007 when I started working out for real. I had played sports my whole life and briefly had a personal trainer when I was in high school (thanks mom!), but I was not really committed and probably only went a handful of times. I count the start of my journey as the day I walked into Bret‘s gym and worked out for the first time. Up to that point, I had eaten whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I was thin most of my life and because I was so active, the plethora of junk food and fast food never really settled into my body. I did start to notice that changing a little bit when I was 19 and wasn’t active at all anymore, which is why I decided to do something about it. I didn’t start dieting then, but Bret and Jordan (my coaches at Lifts) encouraged me to start making better food choices. I vividly remember sitting in the lounge at Lifts eating turkey and grapes after my workout almost every day. (Maybe that’s where my love for grapes started).
I eventually started incorporating cardio into my life (because I thought that’s what you were supposed to do when you worked out) and then started counting calories. I was using Spark People (a food tracking website) at the time to track my food intake. I didn’t pay any attention to the types of foods I was eating other than I tried to eat healthy food most of the time and my goal was to keep my calories around 1800 each day. I ate a lot of Kashi heart to heart, fruit, frozen dinners, and other low-calorie foods on the market. I lost about 10lbs in a short time and I was skinny. I believe I was about 132 lbs at this point and didn’t have much muscle. (I’m 5’7)
I remember the summer of 2008 is when I started having some issues with food and was slightly battling the urge to binge eat. It wasn’t a huge problem at the time, but I do remember being obsessive over my weight and body. I gained back the 10 lbs I had lost over about 6 months and I remember going into Lifts and we would all joke about the fact that I was now closer to 140 lbs. “EEK” was the term we used. It didn’t really bother me that much, but over time I started to feel out of control with my eating. (side note before anyone thinks this wasn’t cool: the coaches and clients at Lift were like family to me, so we all constantly gave each other a hard time about stuff..it was all in good fun and i gave it right back)
Towards the end of 2008 I had had enough. I had been reading articles on bodybuilding.com for long enough and had started to see that they were introducing a Bikini division in the NPC (a bodybuilding federation). The first show was going to be in March and while I wanted to do that, I knew it wasn’t enough time so I decided to prepare for the next show in July 2009. A few days before 2009 began, I swore off binge eating, jumped right into clean eating, which meant nothing artificial, lots of chicken, egg whites, sweet potatoes, vegetables, fruit, oatmeal, and brown rice. For the first several months, I felt really damn good and it was actually pretty easy to follow. I didn’t follow a set meal plan, but instead made sure I had protein at each meal with a complex carb and a veggie. I included fats a few times per day and kept my calories at around 1800-2200 each day (via Sparkpeople lol). I didn’t have any urges to binge, I was just on a roll. I was working out several hours per day and was finding that I was so motivated and seeing results so quickly, that eating clean became really easy for me. It all became easy actually. I was boxing 2 hours per week, doing cardio 5-6 hours per week, and lifting weights 5-6 hours per week. I wasn’t restricting too much with food on a caloric level, but I was restricting food choices a LOT. (I wouldn’t add salt to anything, I wouldn’t eat ketchup, I wouldn’t use spray oil on my pans, etc.)
Eventually, as with anything, it became harder to stick to. I was getting super lean (see above) and was planning to compete in July, but I had done so well with training and eating (and being 21 years old with a fast metabolism) that I was ready to compete by May-ish. This gave me some lee-way and I started incorporating a 1x/week cheat day. I would get up early every Saturday, go to Sprouts or Whole Foods, buy “healthy” junk food and eat about 2000-3000 calories over a 2-3 hour period. Then I wouldn’t eat for the rest of the day and I’d keep myself busy hanging by the pool or with friends. Still, at this point, things were manageable.
I competed in July 2009, placed 2nd, looked amazing, and then all hell broke loose….
-To be Continued…