My story may not be as dramatic as so many others are. I didn’t looses 100+ lbs or come back from the brink of death but that doesn’t make it less valuable than any other story. It’s my story and that’s what really matters…I was always pretty athletic growing up, as I played soccer for 9 years and swam competitively for 1 year in high school. I was in shape and have always been of an ‘athletic build’. As many others, that all came to a screeching halt once I graduated high school. Activity levels plummeted while I continued to eat horrible, nasty things. Can anyone say, “cereal, spicy chicken sandwiches and Coke?!’ Ya, I thought so. The lbs started packing on and I became frustrated. At that time my skin had become pretty bad, fluctuating between breakouts, dry skin and my old friend Eczema started to appear again. I had eczema as a child and it resolved on its own when I was about 7 years old.I started to see a dermatologist regularly and was prescribed a cocktail of oral steroids, steroid creams, washes, lotions, Tar treatments and UV light therapy. I continued this cycle for the next few years of putting anything and everything on my skin. And what added insult to injury, was that every time I would ‘cure’ one spot, another one would appear! I had eczema on my eye lids, under my eyes, my neck, behind my ear lobe, shoulders, back, legs and arms. Talk about driving a person crazy! I had my daily ritual of rubbing my creams on, walking around in minimal clothes around the house to let it all soak in and then get dressed. I feared a rainy day or getting splashed by water as it would wash off my creams and leave my skin dry, tight, crack and bleeding.
Pre Army (Left) 2007
Graduation from Basic Training (Right) 2008
**What I find very interesting is that I went in to the Army at 160 lbs and left Basic Training at 160 lbs! Truly weight is just a number!
As I continued my constant battle with eczema my weight continued to increase. My heaviest weight for me was 185 lbs. While some people may say, ‘Oh that’s not much’ or ‘but your tall, you carry your weight well’ I was still uncomfortable in my skin and knew I was headed down a path of destruction. Looking at my familial fate, I knew I was at great risk for Diabetes, Obesity, and heart disease. I knew I didn’t want that, but didn’t know how to change my path. So I reluctantly kept walking down the conventional wisdom path.Fast forward to 2008 when I joined the Army. I was excited and terrified at the same time. This was going to be my ticket in life to be healthy as PT (physical training) is mandatory (I hated exercise) and they were going to advance my nursing career. I did well in Basic Training and was on my way to become a Medic. Over Thanksgiving while I was awaiting to start my medic program I became very ill. High fevers, vomiting, GI distress and lethargy. At this point I had had several episodes of passing out and was rushed to the ER. There they found out that I had a very irregular heart beat and that it was suspected that I had a case of viral endocarditis, which meant the virus that I came down with attacked the endocardial sack that surrounds the heart and caused damage. This damage lead me to be medically separated from the Army due to so many irregularities in my heart rate, low blood pressure and frequent episodes of passing out which resulted in me falling down the stairs and injuring myself further. So I packed my bags and was sent home.
Our wedding day May 2011 looking very ‘skinny’. I lost so much weight my dress was slipping off and my bra would show in the back.
A few years later, as my wedding day drew closer and closer I started to concern myself with something every bride wants. I wanted to be ‘skinny’ for my wedding dress. At that point, a few months before I walked down the aisle, I put myself on a crash course of diet pills and lack of food. I basically starved myself to look ‘skinny’ on my wedding day. (I wish I could go back and slap myself) and yes, I was super successful. So successful that I lost too much weight and my bra was hanging out from loosing too much weight and my dress was falling. At this point I was down to around 140 lbs. And with every crash diet, the pendulum started to swing back the very next day and regained everything plus some in the following months!
I can say at this point, this is when I hit my lowest of low. I was 185 lbs, depressed, disgusted with myself and feeling very ugly in my mind. I looked to conventional wisdom for guidance with very poor results. I jumped on the ‘low fat’ train and held on with both hands. Kept counting points and putting margarine on everything. I would loose a couple lbs to only gain them right back. This frustration all changed when two of our very best friends came into town to visit.
Late 2011-2012 with family. This was my heaviest time at 185 lbs and climbing. This was also my saddest of times
We went to dinner and I noticed she was eating a lettuce wrapped burger. I thought it was strange, “who doesn’t eat a bun?” I started asking questions and my thoughts were what so many others say, “OMG! She’s going to die from a heart attack eating all that fat!!” and “but you need carbs like bread for fuel!”. They suggested to me to watch a movie called Fat Head and to keep an open mind. I put that conversation out of my mind (I thought she was crazy!) and continued on my low fat/high carb quest. With continued frustration, I finally texted her to ask what the name of the movie that they recommended and anything I could read. I watched Fat Head and started dealing The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson and was sold. I haven’t looked back since and never will.
Within a couple weeks my skin cleared, my inflammation went down and I started loosing weight. My depression lifted and I started thinking clearly. It was amazing. Today, my skin is healthy and free of eczema. I have flares if i eat things that contain gluten or eat too much rice. I weigh about 170 lbs and am happier than ever. I’ve learned to completely ignore the scale as that number has no bearing on my metabolic health. Could I and would I want to loose more body fat? Of course, Id like to but I won’t obsess over it. (who wouldn’t want to look like a Victoria Secret cover model?!) I still have my irregular heart beat and low blood pressure. I take medication to regulate my heart rate and see my cardiologist every 6 months to make sure there have been no changes.
My body is finally happy and healthy. To me that’s my biggest accomplishment. Without my health I can’t be the wife, friend, nurse, or educator that I want to be. Invest in yourself!
Me today. I have a very different mine set when it comes to exercise and healthy eating. I love lifting heavy things and am so grateful for everything I have learned
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