And I was running…I have been athletic my entire life, playing soccer since elementary school, being in marching band in high school and enjoying every type of activity you could think of.  In college I played soccer, volleyball and football for intramural activities and even tried out fencing for a while.  I just thought of it as fun.  I never really thought of it as fitness and as a means of taking care of myself until I tore my ACL my freshman year of college playing a game of soccer with a bunch of friends.  The next thing I knew, I had a surgery scheduled for spring break to replace my torn ACL.

After the surgery I was hit with the terror of never being able to play sports again.  My first day of physical therapy was just trying to flex my quad muscle.  I could barely do that, let alone walk.  The journey of healing was long, but I persevered.  There was one problem though, I just wasn’t well educated in how to take care of myself physically.  Being active my whole life, I never really cared what I put into my mouth or how fit I was.  It seemed pretty natural for me.  I could eat as much as I wanted of anything I wanted, but I was pretty active at the same time.  Then, all of the sudden when I could barely walk, I knew if I continued my eating habits, I would gain weight.  I didn’t want that to happen.  So I started eating a little less and tried to eat healthier.  I started to try to care what I put into my body and how much.  What I didn’t understand was that my body needs calories to function on a daily basis, even when I don’t do anything; even more so after surgery.

As I continued to get better, I started losing weight, but I just blamed it on all the muscle tissue I had lost since I wasn’t able to be as active.  I also picked up the new sport of running when I had gotten to that point in healing.  I never liked running in high school.  In soccer, we would be told to run 3 miles on the weekend and I hated it.  It was like a new world had been opened to me though when I could finally run after surgery.  I went back to college that fall and the stresses of school and my perfectionism began to overwhelm me.  I turned to running.  I would run to relieve stress, run to take a break, run because it was beautiful outside, any reason at all: I would run.  I also took aerobic classes to break things up.  Then I would also be super particular about what I put into my mouth and tried to be “healthy.”  My version of healthy was eating a little carbs, a tiny amount of protein and then fill the rest of my plate with vegetables or fruit.  Not near enough calories as I needed for all of the activity I was doing.

The semester rolled on and I consumed myself with writing and constantly thinking that I wasn’t doing enough, even though I was making all A’s, and I was running miles a day or doing hours of aerobics to relieve my head from all of the studying and to top it off, I was eating less than 1,000 calories a day!  It’s a wonder I could even think.  As time continued, I lost more and more weight, and I never really realized it was a problem until I had trouble putting the weight back on.  One of my best friends from college confronted me one day and asked me if I was ok.  I told her I was fine and she told me I had been losing so much weight.  That’s when I realized that I was digging a hole and that I was so far in that I didn’t know how to get out.  She asked me if I felt beautiful and when my answer was no, I knew I needed help.  I was running, running for more reasons than I realized.  Running from feelings, running from failure, and running from myself.

I ended up telling my dad about how I struggled with an eating disorder and he responded the best I could have asked for.  He loved me for who I was and not what I had gotten myself into.  We immediately sought after help and started visiting a specialist every week.  Let’s just say that the journey was rough, not pleasant at all at times, but we made it through.  I could never thank my parents and friends enough.  They stuck with me even though it was hard and fought for me when I didn’t feel like fighting anymore.  My parents have always supported me and loved me, and I owe so much to them.  My friends are the truest friends I think I’ll ever find.  I’ve never felt so loved by a group of people.

The process has been long.  It started in 2008 and now in 2012, I am doing a million times better.  My faith in Christ has been the foundation of every step that I have made.  I still struggle with it, but I have an amazing support team that I can talk to when I am having a down day.  My husband is the biggest supporter I could ever imagine.  He has helped me gain more weight than I ever did when I was going to the doctor and he has helped me stay at a steady healthy weight for the longest that I can remember.  I also have to thank Fitness Institute for helping me understand fitness and nutrition as they work together.  I now know how to truly be healthy. 

This is where I would love to help all girls.  We all dream of being beautiful and feeling beautiful.  You are beautiful.  I really want every girl to believe this.  There is something unique about every single person out there that makes them beautiful.  The hard part is pushing through all of the lies and misconceptions about what beauty is and finding the lovely truth.  I think taking care of yourself is a way of loving yourself, a way of telling yourself that you are beautiful and deserve to be taken care of.  I want to clear the misconceptions of calories and exercise.  I want to help girls be fit and healthy.  I want to create confidence, creativity, self-appreciation and the mindset that you are beautifully built.

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