This past Saturday I was talking with my aunt in Rochester when she asked about my past eating disorders. I realized then that I rarely talk about my relationship with food or the struggle I’ve had with nutrition my whole life. I’ve come a long way on my nutrition journey since moving to Los Angeles. I feel like it’s a topic that I need to talk about more.
From birth, I was allergic to almost everything. I was put on antibiotics for the first three years of my life. This killed my gut, making nutrients that more difficult to digest. Even though I only ate natural homemade food at an early age, I was sick often. I look malnourished in many of my childhood photos.
Every allergy test yielded different allergies that I supposedly possessed. I went through periods of giving up certain foods, but nothing seemed to work. I continued to feel ill after almost every meal. As a result, I started to hate eating, and it turned into a chore that I didn’t wish to partake.
I recall skipping meals pretty early on. It was either kindergarten or first-grade when I would leave my lunch in my backpack till it turned too spoiled to eat at all. In second grade my teachers began watching me eat to ensure I actually ate my lunch.
Even though I was often tired, I was still a fairly active kid. I was almost always outside playing and constantly moving. I always had the desire to be active, I just never had all the energy needed. As a result of my active lifestyle, I remained pretty skinny even with the random spurts of not eating.
By fifth grade, food became more about a way to control how I felt. I thought I was ugly and fat, therefore being skinny was my only objective. I was significantly underweight back then.
As I ate less, my water intake also suffered. In fifth grade, I was sent to the emergency room for severe dehydration. It was terrifying and I felt like I was dying. After I was discharged, my mom and doctors threatened to hospitalize me and put a tube down my throat if I didn’t start eating. So I forced myself. Food was still difficult and I continued to skip some meals. The meals that I did eat weren’t necessarily healthy (I once spent an entire weekend in December eating nothing but sugar cookies). I became less active at this point in my life. This on top of not eating enough resulted in weight gain. Which happens when your body goes into starvation mode.
In sixth grade, I needed a jaw surgery to correct a TMJ issue I acquired from childhood. I was wired shut for a few months, and swollen for much longer than that. During this time I was only able to consume liquids. My liquid of choice was usually a milkshake and not much else. I lost a ton more weight and became obsessed with how flat my stomach was. Because I wasn’t on a consistent diet, nor was I eating healthy, once I could eat solids again my body reacted accordingly. I became inflamed and bloated.
I had four more surgeries after the first one. Two of which had me wired shut. Which again, led to prolonged periods of not getting the proper nutrients. This pattern of on and off eating continued throughout high school and well into college. I still didn’t fully understand what healthy eating meant. While I was working out, I was inconsistent, and I yielded little results.
I started to believe that I would always have fat on my stomach and that having abs would never happen for me.
When I moved to Los Angeles I made friends at a nutrition club called FitLife. I loved the community, but I wasn’t consistent. I’m also hypoglycemic and pre-diabetic which means that I do need to eat or I’ll pass out. So I would eat prior to working out, but as a result, I would feel ill during the workout. Which is one of the reasons I wasn’t working out. I knew that many of the people I met were on a nutrition plan, but I was skeptical. I used money as an excuse, and I put it off for a long time.
It wasn’t until May that I gave in and started on my own nutrition program. I started drinking shakes and tea every morning and a shake before every workout.
The first thing I noticed was that for the first time ever I didn’t feel sick while working out. I felt more energized and no longer wanted to be still for long periods of time. Back in Rochester, I was never able to partake in a morning workout due to low energy, but that’s not the case anymore. I’m suddenly way more energized and I wake up without an alarm at 6:30 every morning.
I’ve consistently weighed the same since 9th grade. The difference now is that the weight I do have is mostly muscle and water. I was called skinny my whole life, but I had a lot of fat around my midsection and I was pretty out of shape. Since starting on the program I’ve lost inches around my waist and I’m getting back to being the active kid I once was. I’m becoming the active adult that I’ve always wanted to be.
But beyond having more energy, I also don’t feel sick after eating anymore. I don’t hate eating like I used to, and I no longer restrict myself to the same extent. I’m not sure how it happened, but it has to be that I’m getting nutrients from the shakes. Nutrients that were missing from my life up to this point.
I’m no longer chronically fatigued, and because I’m healthier and stronger, I feel happier. I’ve found that while positivity is a lifestyle choice, it’s also easier when you feel good about yourself. I still struggle with eating enough throughout the day, but I’m grateful that I have something that keeps me moving. I’m in uncharted territory right now, and it’s the best feeling.
I’ve had much success with my new healthy lifestyle and I’m beginning to help others too!
Let me know if you have questions about my journey, or if you yourself want to start on your own nutrition program.
All I want right now is for others to feel as great as I currently feel.