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. :)

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2003 (2nd year university):

I had gained about 20-25 pounds since 1st year university. My highest weight was 148 pounds.

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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.

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I was trapped in a starve-binge cycle.

2004:

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I lost a bit of weight, but I was still struggling and going up and down on the scale.

2005:

 

2006:

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I went through lots of hair changes! Eric’s did not. ;)

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I also graduated university with an undergrad degree in social psychology.

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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.

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2007:

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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.

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2008:

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. 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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2009:

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.

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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.

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We also celebrated our first wedding anniversary! What a year it had been.

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2010:

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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!

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I am learning to be good to myself a bit more each and every day.

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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.

2011:

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.

December 2011:

2012:

(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.

2014:

My husband and I are excited to welcome our first baby this September 2014! Here I am below just 7-8 weeks pregnant.

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and here I am 39 weeks pregnant!

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2015:

Life is busier than ever as a business owner and new mom! I’m currently working hard on my second cookbook which is due out early fall 2016.

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Stay tuned for updates on my journey!

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