Growing up, I was never the "skinny girl." I was always athletic to a degree, and liked being active, but I could see that I was just a little bigger than those around me. My body image wasn't great, and I compared myself to my friends all the time. In college, there was more of the same. Going to a strict Christian college for the first two years meant I didn't gain the Freshman 15, and I stayed active throughout. A transfer, another school, and more of the same.
In 2007, I moved to Hong Kong to be closer to my family. Within a year of living there, I had gained about 20 pounds. In a word: Booze. There is such a social aspect to living in Hong Kong, and every night there are invitations to go out and drink. Plus, no driving and lots of public transportation mean there's never an excuse to abstain.
I had absolutely no respect for my body or my health. I smoked, I drank, I ate whatever looked good in the moment. I once prided myself on having a McFlurry every day for 3 months. WHAT?!
I was so uncomfortable in my body. At 150 pounds, I realized my BMI was officially overweight, but I didn't quite see how I looked. I took a short beach vacation with some girlfriends, and when the pictures came back I was shocked.
That was my wake-up call. I started exercising regularly. I had several friends who lived nearby who would walk with me, and it became a new social activity instead of drinking. I started running with my mom. We covered short distances, but it felt so good to be active. When I met my husband, we discovered we loved hiking and eventually trail running together. Today, if a day goes by without any exercise I miss it. Not for the calorie burn, but for the way it makes me feel. Healthy. Alive. Strong.
My eating has changed along the way too, of course. When my running ramped up, I realized I felt better when I ate real fuel for my runs, instead of nonstop fat and sugar. I learned to like salads (even if they weren't covered in dressing, bacon bits, and croutons). I decided that a lot of dairy and meat made me feel sluggish, so I made those extras to a meal instead of the stars. I made friends with fruits and veggies.
Today, I weigh around 117 pounds, give or take. I can run a mile in under 8 minutes, and tackle 50 "real" push-ups at once. But better than all of that is the way I feel. I get excited about waking up early for a run. I have energy I thought only came from a 16 ounce can of Red Bull. I feel comfortable in my own skin, and proud of what my body can do. And that's worth breaking the McFlurry streak.
Have you ever lost/gained a significant amount of weight?
I was always around 130 pounds until I quickly gained those 20 pounds. Then, it took me well over a year to lose 30 pounds in total.
Where are you now in your journey--do you want to gain, lose, or maintain your weight?
Right now I want to maintain my weight. I tend to gain a bit when I'm doing more strength training but I'm ok with that since muscles = awesome!