Progression to a Healthy Lifestyle

Health and fitness haven’t always been a top priority for me. As a kid, I loved playing sports, especially soccer, but I was overweight my entire childhood. I was always aware that I was heavy, but as I went on to middle school, I became increasing self-conscious about it and wanted to change.

Unhealthy Weight Loss

At age 14 and 170 pounds, I started the Prism diet, which is a low carbohydrate diet similar in theory to the Atkins diet. Over the course of a summer, I stayed on the 1000 calorie a day diet and lost 30 pounds. I was thrilled by the changes I saw despite the fact that I was constantly dragging both physically and mentally. Throughout the next couple of years, my weight fluctuated a lot based on whether or not I was currently on the wagon with the Prism diet. The concept of eating healthy foods intuitively was foreign to me- either I was restricting carefully or I paid no attention to what went into my mouth.

I spent my junior year of high school studying abroad in Coatepeque, Guatemala through Rotary International’s Youth Exchange Program. Before I left, I was warned that exchange students tend to put on a significant amount of weight during their stay abroad. Food is a huge part of culture, and let’s just say that I embraced Guatemalan culture to the maximum extent possible! I was also less active during this year, as sports for women were much harder to come by.

Over my senior year of high school and my first two years of college, my weight remained high and my health remained poor. Exercising and eating balanced meals were far from the top of my priority list, as I was focused mainly on studying and doing well in school. I was sick countless times during that period due to my stress levels and unhealthy lifestyle.

Christmas 2004. Cropped to protect the innocent.

Making Progress

In the spring of 2005, I joined an intramural soccer team at school and was appalled to find out how out of shape I had gotten. I felt terrible about myself and decided that I needed to make major changes to my lifestyle. I started using FitDay to track what I was eating and began exercising 5-6 days a week at my college’s gym. Within 3 months I had dropped a significant amount of weight (from 185 to around 150 lbs) and was feeling great about myself! I maintained the weight loss for the next couple of years, but I was not consistent with healthy eating or exercising. Like when I was in high school, I would go through spurts of devoting myself to working out and eating well followed by spurts of not taking care of myself.

Healthier, not quite “healthy”

The Turning Point

I believe that my real turning point in terms of living healthfully was in January 2008 when friend of mine tried to recruit me to train for a marathon with her. With the exception of my short-lived track career in high school, I had never devoted a whole lot of attention to running, but I thought that it sounded like a great challenge! Over the 18 week training program, I fell in love with running as a physical, mental, and emotional outlet. Read more about my running adventures here.

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