My Personal Transformation


While this is my personal transformation, this is also my story. It’s not eloquently written, or beautifully prosed.. but rather it’s a little gritty, a little long, and full of things that I faced as a young person & how I found my identity and finally – self peace. So if you’re down for a little story-time, pull up a chair!

 

Let’s rewind to when I was around 8 years of age. I remember standing in line and my friend (Jessica) was standing in front of me. Another child made the comment about how we were both so tiny. They then proceeded to compare the two of us – wondering who was actually the thinnest. At the age of 8, I sucked in my stomach when they looked at me so I would be seen as the skinniest.

 

Fast forward a few years, I’m11. I have just begun to work out, and hearing the 90’s to early 2000’s logic fat was bad. It was all about low calorie diets. I remember doing the elliptical a lot and occasionally doing strength training.

For the next few years I as an avid runner, body weight exercise connoisseur, and I focus on extremely restrictive diets.

I tried weight loss pills, 400-600 calories a day, 8-12 miles to the pavement, and a whole lot of self-loathing. To the outside person I looked fine because when you’re on an extended restrictive diet, you WILL eventually cave and engorge yourself in thousands of calories, thus making up for the calories you missed during the week.

At the age of 15 I realized I could eat what I wanted… ifI found a way to dispose of it directly after. This is the part where most people are scared to tell their story… its almost taboo to talk about it. But by not talking about it, we force more and more people into hiding… people who need help and guidance.

 Just three days past my 17th birthday, I had emergency surgery performed on my back. Within the span of the three weeks before, my spine collapsed and was starting to displace my organs. I had two foot-long rods put in, along with twelve 6-inch screws. I went from 125lbs to 95lbs within a few weeks time due to extreme nausea and loss of muscle tone. I recovered rather quickly and my fitness routine soon fell into place – along with all of the past struggles.

 At the age of 18 I finally told a friend about the things I had been struggling with. It wasn’t a continual thing – but rather a conditional thing. It would hit when I was at my lowest spot, or when I wanted to lose weight “quick” – which is how many eating disorders get started. What most people need to understand is that most eating disorders aren’t completely related to the “appraisal” of others. Many times it is something within the person that is never satisfied with their image, no matter how they look. People could be telling me left and right about how skinny I was, or how fit I was - but when I looked in the mirror I still saw someone that was larger than she should have been.

 At the age of 19 I was exhausted with the lifestyle I was in. I cried out to God, sobbing that I couldn't do it anymore. I saw these girls on Instagram who were lifters and they were eating so much! They often talked about strength and not about their body fat percentage. I finally walked into a gym knowing nothing about lifting or fitness beyond running + bodyweight exercises. I was alone and relied on the internet for absolutely everything. A few weeks into it, I realized some old family friends of mine went to the same gym. They helped me learn more about lifting, and in exchange; I would train them in plyometrics and cardio– what a good tradeoff! As time went by, I eventually became more and more proficient in the ways of lifting, and I fell in love with the style of powerlifting. It was always fun trying to compete with myself and what weight I was last able to do!

 Through God and lifting, I found my confidence! I found that I was stronger than I ever thought possible. I found that because I was strong, I loved myself more than I ever thought I could. Lifting not only changed my mindset, it changed my body as well. All along I had been running to get the perfect “body image” that I wanted… but cardio only makes you a smaller version of yourself. Lifting changes your entire body composition! This may be a little taboo to talk about, but I feel honesty is the way to go to get my point across.

For example: Growing up I was never curvy. There were times I felt like I had the shape of a 12 year old boy.Running never changed that. As a runner and weighing about 115lbs, my waist was 29-30 inches and stick straight, right along with the rest of me. As a lifter and weighing around 130lbs, my waist was 24-26 inches, and the rest of me filled out appropriately.

Moving on – At the age of 20 I was in a wreck that changed my way of life. It ruined what little good I had left in my back, and I had to stop powerlifting. It busted my knees, and blew all of the disks in my neck. As a result – migraines became part of my every day life. Three of my ribs were torn out of my spine and never healed properly, leaving me with severe nerve and muscle damage to that area. I have had over 50 procedures done since that time (not major surgeries, things like steroid injections, nerve burnings/ablations etc…) and I go to therapy twice a week for my back & neck.

A month or so after the wreck, I developed a “thing” called colitis. It was due to the stress from the wreck, and it took 8 months to heal from it. During the first month of that time period, I lost 24lbs and once again… all of my muscle. My body couldn’t tolerate any foods and so I would force down oatmeal and eggs once a day just to keep nutrients in my body.

As you must have gathered, I healed & put some weight back on. I was physically strong again and though I wasn’t powerlifting, I became more active in calisthenics, more agile, and was able to handle my own body weight in any way, shape or form.

In early 2017 I was “hit”with an unforeseeable trial. Finishing out my semester in school, and trying to manage everything else along with navigating my way through the storm – I couldn’t eat. I lost my appetite for absolutely everything. There was no way around it either. If I ate – it would come up. So for a few months the gym was put on the back burner and once again, I lost around 26lbs.

From around the age of 19, my mindset had completely changed. I no longer wanted to be called “skinny“… I wanted to be fit. So when all of the“skinny” comments started rolling around in 2017, I had no clue how to handle it. It had been such a long time since I had heard that term used to described me. The thing that bothered me most was that most girls were saying it as if they desired to be that way and that grieved me. I wanted to shout “It’s not okay for me too look like this!I don’t want this!” But no one believes the skinny girl when they say they can’t put on weight.

Since May of (2017) I have been working to get back up to my original weight (130lbs). I am now over 125lbs and it feels so good. While that may not seem like a big deal to some of you, not all transformations are the same. I have struggled with gaining weight too easily in my past, but my current situation is different.

I have said allllll of that (lawd have mercy, I know it was a lot) to encourage some of you. It may look murky. You may think you have no way out of your current lifestyle, or no way of escaping your past demons – BUT GOD! He is able!

I do not pity myself and the situations I have been through – they have only made me stronger + smarter, and with Gods help 1000 times more determined. I am physically capable of doing so many things (besides God, it’s mostly attributed to the fact that I never gave up on fitness despite my ailments) and I am so incredibly blessed. I can choose to list the ailments in my body (which are more than was written today), and use that as an excuse, or I can list the things I CAN do, and work towards those with a purpose and a vengeance.

For those struggling with body-image, eating disorders, depression and more – there IS a way out. Seek help + guidance, and I am always, ALWAYS here to talk!
Much love to you.

xoxo,

Leah