My health journey | weight loss + loving my body

I am passionate about health.

I love learning about it and putting new things into practice.

In the fourth grade I was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease — an autoimmune disorder that causes hyperthyroidism. To a kid, that’s a terrifying name for a diagnosis and it was just the beginning of the long thyroid road.

I didn’t understand much then, but I think this diagnosis is what ultimately turned me on to health and taking care of my body. I wasn’t like the other kids. I had to do things a bit differently.

Cheerleading and dance entered my life in middle school and I continued dancing into high school. Middle school was the first time I truly remember the body comparison. I wasn’t built like many of the other “thin” girls. Couple that with an autoimmune disorder that affects your hormones (thus weight gain/loss depending on which way it was swinging), body image was a challenge.

Still, I didn’t understand much. But I did understand that I needed to be strict with my calorie consumption and get to the gym. I loved working out at the YMCA and would go pretty often. As a teenager it felt pretty easy to lose some weight if I wanted to. Unbeknownst to me at the time, my thyroid and mismanaged habits would turn that weight loss into a struggle.

The “Freshman 15” didn’t actually hit me until after graduation. During college I ate terribly (cereal and ice cream was a common dinner choice…), but I went to the gym regularly. At this point I still hadn’t learned much in the gym beyond a treadmill, some machines, and weights, but it was good enough then.

In college my thyroid started acting up again. At the recommendation of my endocrinologist, we used radioactive iodine to “zap” my thyroid which means forever I’m chronically hypothyroid and need to take a medication to give my body a synthetic form of thyroid hormone.

Around 22 is when all my choices started catching up to me. I had gained a lot of weight and just felt crappy. I don’t recall viewing my thyroid diagnosis as a crutch. I didn’t blame it, although I believe it contributed. I knew I didn’t want to continue down that crappy, weight gaining path, so I needed to change.

I set a big goal which felt unreachable, but also exciting to go for something that would help make me better. I discovered at home workouts and my passion for health grew as my knowledge expanded. I found workouts I enjoyed and realized I’m strong — stronger than I ever thought.

Our engagement season and upcoming wedding gave me the extra motivation I needed. I was treating my body well and learning to love myself. The overall fittest I’ve ever been was our wedding day.

Knowing what I know now, I wish I could do some things differently. The biggest one is not blindly following my endocrinologist’s advice for the radioactive iodine and instead try to heal it through lifestyle and nutrition.

Who knows what things would look like today had that been possible, but hindsight is always 20/20. Of course, I can’t change it, so all I can do is move forward.

The thing about a health journey is that you never arrive. You don’t reach your goals and then just get to sit there. You have to keep going forward or you’re going to slip backwards.

I have been slipping… the slip for me wasn’t a huge, obvious fall. It’s been little choices adding up over time. At this point, I don’t feel my healthiest. I’ve gained weight since our wedding day, which isn’t the end of the world, but I don’t want to stay here.

I have a desire to lose weight. I’d be lying if I said there were absolutely no vanity reasons for this. Of course, I want to look good. But more importantly, I want to feel good. I want to feel confident and healthy. I want to be vibrant. I want to be healthy so that I can show up as my best self.

Health means feeling my best. Feeling my best means showing up as my best self. Focused, strong, confident, peaceful, joyful. It’s not dictated by a certain number on a scale. I’ve learned the scale can be a liar. Health is determined through my compounding choices and it’s something I have the ability to improve each day.

It’s interesting to see how this journey has come full circle. I’m back to a place where I feel something needs to change, but my mindset is completely different than it was when I was here before. I’ve slipped back into some poor habits, but I’m equipped with compassion and information.

I know more now. More about science and the way things work, but also more about me and my body specifically.

I know that I can challenge myself. I know how certain foods and exercises make me feel. I know that if I don’t drink enough water, I’m going to feel like crap. I know that I really need at least 7 hours of sleep. I know that scheduling the doctor’s appointment in advance will cut any excuses for not going.

All of this knowledge is so helpful in caring for myself well. It helps me to make adjustments — I can give myself what I need when I notice something is “off” and I can do things preventatively to keep from getting to that point.

I’m more mindful and I’m able to make better choices. I don’t always make good choices and that’s what has brought me back here. Back to a place of needing change. But even so, my “bad” choices now are so much better than my “bad” choices way back then. So I give myself grace and keep trying to do better.

know better | do better

I’m learning how to challenge myself when I’m making choices that don’t benefit my body. I’m getting real with myself. I’m questioning why and being more open to the answer.

“Are you craving chocolate because you’ve had a stressful day and want to feel better?”

“Are you grabbing for the chips (or cookies, or whatever is quick sugar) immediately after work because you didn’t take a good snack and now you’re starving?”

The answers help me identify challenges and gives me ideas to help overcome them. I finally feel like I’m a friend to myself.

This time instead of setting goals (and then being discouraged when I don’t hit them in the time I designated) I’m going to make commitments to myself. If I keep these commitments, I believe the rest will fall into place.

I will not compare myself to others – friends or strangers on the internet.
I will ask myself questions and actually listen to the answers.
I will love and care for myself well.
I will celebrate life’s moments and not feel guilty.
I will be a positive example of health and body image.
I will eat and move in ways that blesses my body.
I will speak kindly to myself.
I will be a student – of general health, but more importantly of what works best for my unique make up.
I will be grateful for this body and health.
I will not participate in conversations that compare, tear down, or discourage.

We’re all doing the best we can with that we have. I know that you’re a loving person. Don’t forget to love yourself first.

It’s okay to love yourself and want to improve at the same time. It’s okay to challenge yourself. It’s okay to want to look good. But please don’t get it confused.

You do not have to earn your worth through a number on a scale or a pant size. You are more than enough already. You are deserving of a healthy, happy life!

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