Today is Day 23 of April and Day 23 of the Health Activist Writers Month Challenge (HAWMC)! I’m going strong with a post each of those 23 days so far.
Today is a “Free Day” for the challenge and I decided to take advantage of the freedom of my choice and share an incredible guest post with you.
Jeanette is the sister of a good friend of mine. Although I have yet to meet Jeanette in person, I feel as though I already know her and have shared so many similar experiences. Please read through her story and let us both know what you think. Maybe this hits home for yourself or someone you know. Either way, it’s totally motivating.
Between 2005 and 2008, I weighed anywhere between 105 and 160+ pounds. I weighed the most in January of 2006 and the least in December of 2007. I was approached by friends and family who would try to shake some sense into me. I was anorexic with workout bulimia. I would eat around 800 calories a day, making sure to record everything. And I mean, everything. I also spent at least an hour at the gym daily, sometimes going up to three times. I was irritable after 3 p.m. until I ate some soup and a piece of bread at dinner. I slept a lot because I didn’t have much energy to do much else… unless a friend asked me if I wanted to workout in which case my answer was always yes.
So, how did Semester at Sea save my life? I stopped caring about my weight and focused on new experiences. I wanted to do and try everything.
Here’s my story: Before I started college in the fall of 2005, I was warned of gaining the freshman 15. I’d never really been overweight and didn’t have to watch what I ate so I wasn’t too worried about it. I had a high metabolism from playing sports in high school. I would eat what I wanted at the cafeteria, purchase snacks, munch on candy while studying, drink, etc. I didn’t notice how much weight I was gaining until someone said something to me over Thanksgiving break. I was a bit embarrassed by the weight gain but many other people I knew had gained some weight so I continued to think I was fine.
My university gives all of January off. Since I had so much time off from school, my mother decided to take us on a little vacation to Hawaii. It wasn’t until we were in Hawaii that I realized I had gained a lot of weight. In high school, I probably weighed around 130 pounds. In January of 2006, I weighed close to or over 160. While I wasn’t thrilled, I didn’t change my habits much. I ate some more vegetables and went to the gym a bit more often. Just before school let out for the summer, I became appalled at my appearance. I looked around my university and saw mostly girls that wore a size 2. I felt like I didn’t fit in. I felt like the fat girl.
That summer I hired a trainer, who I saw twice a week, and would go on 5 mile walks several times a week. I was very careful about what I ate, skipping dessert most of the time. It helped that my family tends to eat well-balanced meals. When I came back from summer vacation, boys were starting to notice me. Everyone saw that I had lost weight and told me how great I looked. So, I continued to eat healthy and go to the gym. I wasn’t used to the attention and really liked it. I loved hearing that I was looking good from friends and boys alike. I decided that if a little weight loss got me some attention, a lot would get me even more attention. This was when I started to spiral downward.
At my lowest, I weighed less than 110 pounds. I looked fragile and a bit sickly. I was too thin for my frame. I loved shopping because I could fit into a size two, sometimes zero. I always wanted to go to the beach because I liked the way I look. Little did I know, my friends were worried about me and knew that how I looked wasn’t right. My best friends at Chapman made several attempts to talk to me about my eating habits. One friend even said she was going to eat like me to lose weight and I cautioned her not to. I had some bs reason but deep down I knew I didn’t want anyone to go through what I was going through. My boyfriend at the time would always take me out to dinner, knowing I would eat at least half of a high caloric meal. He was very supportive and great. He would always tell me that I was beautiful, no matter what, and he would always love me.
Semester at Sea was what truly changed me. Food was limited on the ship and I couldn’t get by on power bars and romaine lettuce. So, I started eating peanut butter sandwiches. Whenever we were in port, I tried everything: crepes in Mauritius, paella in Brazil, sushi in Japan, anything and everything that caught my eye was fair game! I was finally eating again. You could say I went a little overboard and gained a little too much weight back, but I really needed it. I’m thankful every day for Semester at Sea, not only because of the wonderful experiences I had but also because it saved my life.
Today, I maintain a healthy weight by eating well, exercising and enjoying treats in moderation. I love sweets! I don’t know how I ever counted calories every second.