WEIGHT 80 lbs
BODY FAT 13%
WEIGHT 112 lbs
BODY FAT 18%
Why I Got Started
There came a point in my earlier years when I realized I didn't want to be miserable anymore. I was stuck doing hours and hours of cardio a week and nothing else. It had gotten to the point where exercise had become a chore and I dreaded every minute of it.
I was suffering from anorexia nervosa at the time, so I was set in my ritualistic ways. I looked sick and I felt even worse. Food had become my enemy.
Now, working out is one of the highlights of my day; I can't get enough of it.
Lifting weights has allowed me to view exercise and fitness not as punishment, but rather as a valuable, fun asset to my life.
Whereas before I would think about my upcoming workout all day with my stomach in a knot, wishing it would be over already, nowadays it's often the only downtime in a day that I get.
Being in the gym and training has a way of calming me down - almost like my own form of meditation of sorts. Gripping the iron, pulling the barbell off the floor … I don't think of it as "work;" it's my own personal me-hour. And food? I love food; I'm not afraid to eat big.
Fitness has given me the confidence to excel in other areas of my life. It takes guts to go in there and squat heavy. It's not easy; it hurts. But when you finally reach that elusive number you've been striving for so long to hit - there's no feeling quite like it in the world.
It's addicting and puts you on a complete high. You can hold your chest up high and know that yes, you do have the strength it takes to succeed. Nothing beats that.
How I Did It
When I first discovered weightlifting, I spent many, many late nights perusing the Bodybuilding.com forums. I combed through anything and everything I could get my hands on.
I learned exercise technique through the Bodybuilding.com exercises page as well as what I should be eating by visiting other members' Bodyspace profiles.
In addition, I hired my first online trainer in the summer of 2008. This turned out to be a great decision for me, as that was when I really started to learn about proper nutrition and training. I studied each new program that I got in order to understand the how's and why's of every little detail.
I asked questions, I read fitness writers' blogs, I invited feedback, and I associated myself with other fitness-minded individuals.
This last component was absolutely key; I needed to be around those who would support me in my endeavors instead of sabotage me.
Today, fitness has grown into such a passion of mine that I've recently decided to make a career for myself in this industry. I'm progressively dedicating more and more of my time and energies into working on my business, writing articles, making a name for myself, and networking.
Am I outside of my comfort zone? I'm hardly ever inside it anymore. But I know that this is what I need to do in order to grow as a person, and so far, I've been having an amazing time!
While I initially started out eating six meals per day every three hours, I've learned over the years that doing so was not necessary. It took me a while to really learn what my body wanted and how I functioned best, but now I've found a system that works for me and I'm very happy with it.
I follow a rather unconventional method to diet called intermittent fasting in which I only eat during an 8-hour feeding window each day. Studies have found no evidence of slowed metabolism, decreased blood sugar, or any other negative side effects from not eating for more than 3 hours.
This allows me to eat much larger meals while still meeting my macros for the day, which is great for me because I love the feeling of being full. Depending on how busy I am and whether or not I am training that day, I will consume all my calories in 1-3 meals.
I also believe that you don't have to eat clean 100% of the time to achieve a lean physique. If I really want to, for example, I will squeeze in a little bit of candy into my day and fit it into my macros. Doing so has not hindered my progress in any way. I am incredibly wary of the all-or-nothing mentality and strive for moderation, especially given my eating disorder background.
My food varies somewhat from day to day. Unlike many individuals, I like to sit down in the evening, pull out the Calorie King software program I've been using for over four years, and plan out my next day's food depending on what I feel like eating.
When I feel my sweet tooth kicking in, I'll start off my day with 500g berries mixed with Stevia, cinnamon, and some cottage cheese. Yes, I eat it all in one sitting!
Suggestions For Others
If you're someone who's struggling with insecurities, body issues, or lack of confidence, I have one thing to say to you: weightlifting has saved my life.
Never underestimate the power of becoming physically strong - doing so transcends beyond the confines of fitness and will have a positive impact on you in so many ways. You are so much stronger than you think!