Before + After
I hesitate to call this page my “Before and after” because I really don’t think there is an after. My journey to health is just that – a journey – and each year has its ups and downs and different challenges along the way. One thing I do know for sure is that I’m at a much better place than I used to be. From the age of 11 or 12, I struggled with an eating disorder until my mid-twenties. I would restrict my intake too low, over-exercise, and engage in binge eating. As a result, my weight – and mood – went up and down over the years. I had amenorrhea for a couple years because my body fat was too low to function. It’s a common misconception that you have to be deathly thin to have an eating disorder. If you saw me, you probably wouldn’t have thought that I was suffering as much as I was. Eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes and much of the grief is mental.
After entering recovery and getting professional help, I’m now at a place where I don’t count calories or restrict my intake. I eat a plant-based diet that makes me feel amazing and I do activities that I enjoy, not to burn calories. I’ve experienced a huge shift in my perspective over the past 4 years and I finally love life again. Food used to be the enemy, but now’s it’s a huge source of pleasure in my life. I no longer feel the desire to binge eat like I used to because my body doesn’t feel deprived. I still struggle with a negative mindset at times, but I’m better at dismissing those thoughts and sticking on this healthy & happier path.
Here are some pictures that document my journey over the past 10+ years:
Last year of high school:
My weight was steady around 125 pounds. I met Eric, my highschool sweetheart, when I moved to Ontario from New Brunswick with my mom.
We started dating just a month after I began at my new school. It was puppy love that blossomed into a real, beautiful, can’t-be-without-each other- love. I always say the reason I moved to Ontario was to meet my soul-mate. :)
2003 (2nd year university):
I had gained about 20-25 pounds since 1st year university. My highest weight was 148 pounds.
My eating disorder, something I had been struggling with since 12 years old, surfaced a lot in 1st and second year university. Exam stress, living in a dorm, and new social opportunities led to late-night binges, alcohol, and unhealthy cafeteria food.
I was trapped in a starve-binge cycle.
I lost a bit of weight, but I was still struggling and going up and down on the scale.
I went through lots of hair changes! Eric’s did not. ;)
I also graduated university with an undergrad degree in social psychology.
We moved to Toronto because I got accepted into graduate school for psychology. I lost a lot of weight- but not in a healthy way- due to the stress of grad school and the demands that it brought.
2007 was a tough year due to the pressures of grad school. I dropped more weight and was really struggling on the inside.
However, it ended on a great note- we got engaged in December 2007 in Mexico.
2008 was a year of ups and downs like no other I have ever experienced. I was stressed to the max and my weight kept dropping. My lowest weight was around 114 pounds. I was juggling being a full-time Master’s student, writing a thesis, part-time teaching assistant, working at a new FT research job, and planning my wedding. I defended my thesis at the end of July 2008 and we got married just one month later- all while working a stressful new position.
I looked happy on the outside, but was really struggling on the inside. Everyone told me I looked great, but they had no idea how I truly felt.
The summer of 2008 was when I first dabbled with running. However, I did it mostly to burn calories and did not appreciate fitness for fun.
Then I finally graduated, passed my oral defense, and got married. I had so much pressure lifted off my shoulders and we had such a great wedding and honeymoon.
2009 was a monumental marker in my life. I finally got the courage to leave my job after being miserable for a year. We also moved out of the city to a town that was a better fit for our love of nature and peaceful surroundings. Things were starting to come together.
I learned to have FUN with food and I fell in love with cooking! This is when my mindset about food started to shift.
In 2009, I started up my own business and started being good to my body again. I stopped obsessing about my body and weight. I worked out for fun and not to burn calories. I decided to ditch the scale and to go by how my clothes fit instead. It was the best thing I have ever done. I did things that made me feel happy. I also switched to a vegan diet after many years of experimenting on and off with a vegetarian diet. I felt amazing eating plant-based foods.
After battling back from a pelvic injury from Jan- march, I ran my first race ever in June- a 10k- and got hooked on running! This time not to burn calories, but to enjoy it.
We also celebrated our first wedding anniversary! What a year it had been.
2010 brought an even better year. I trained for my 3rd half marathon and my first try-a-triathlon (with Eric). These challenges keep me motivated to stay on a healthy path. I need lots of food for energy to keep up!
I am learning to be good to myself a bit more each and every day.
Eric also experienced many healthy changes. He went from a highest weight in university of 210 pounds to 172 pounds (April 2010). He has cut down his meat and dairy consumption by about 75% and he has recently eliminated pop out of his diet for good in March 2010. You can read about his changes and see his progress pictures here.
As the years go by, I find myself getting stronger and more confident in who I am. I appreciate my body (most of the time, I’m not perfect though) and what it does for me each day. I try my best not to take my life for granted and worry about things that don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.
(Sorry for the poor picture quality, was taken on my phone!)
The saying “life is a journey not a destination” really rings true for me as I update this post in 2012. I’m trying to appreciate each day and live in the moment. Who knows how long we have while we’re here.
Stay tuned for updates on my journey!