I was never a healthy and active kid growing up. Instead of being outside running around or participating in sports, I’d rather sit myself in front of the TV for hours. My parents (my mom, in particular) noticed the bad eating and exercise habits our family had established. When I was in elementary school she took the initiative to sign our family up for an activity program.
The program allowed parents the opportunity to learn about how to implement a healthy lifestyle for their families. Once this kicked off, my mom’s awareness for what our family was eating and our exercise regime grew immensely. We started cooking more meals as a family at home, going on family walks, and decreasing our fast food intake.
(Side note: my mom is my role model; she challenged herself to make this change, not only for our family, but for herself. She lost close to 30 lbs while turning our family’s habits from bad to good.)
As for me, I became more aware of my body throughout middle school. I was not overweight; I was heavier than most kids though. I struggled with how I looked, being called names, and not having the confidence to do things that others around me were doing. By high school, as most teens do, I grew. Luckily taller. I felt better about myself; I started to become more aware of the changes my mom had made. This allowed me to notice what I was eating, how often, and how often I exercised.
It wasn’t until my senior year that I felt my best I had in high school. I overheard a classmate tell someone she ran a half marathon, and then it hit me – ‘I want to do that’.
Running into Trouble
I put together a running plan for myself, bought some new running shoes, and started eating better than I ever have. I fell in love with running; I was able to accomplish something that I never thought possible for myself. This training plan led me into my freshman year of college.
I was running and working out everyday. When it came to nutrition, though, I was eating the bare minimum. I finally felt happy with my body and I was afraid I would gain weight with the slightest indulgence. I thought I looked good. While I did loose the “freshman 15”, I was too thin. Family and friends were worried about me. Looking back, I was worried about myself.
I let this fitness ‘high’, so to speak, take over my mind and body. Yes, I looked good, I was eating healthy, and I felt good. I didn’t realize that this goal of losing weight was still implanted in my mind.
Related: a registered dietitian shares tips on how to realistically have a better relationship with food. Check out the post here.
Three years have passed since my freshman 15 ‘drop’; I work out everyday, eat incredibly healthy, and feel more confident in how I look and who I am. Being happy with how you look and who you are is challenging. There are times I struggle – allowing myself a rest day, or when I want to count macros.
Someone once told me to ask myself “Is this a helpful thought?”
So I continue to do so, I talk to my brain when it tells me not to eat the pizza or cupcake. I think, ‘is this helpful?’ Or ‘will it affect me to have one slice of pizza?’ Generally, the answer is no, and doing so allows me to be self-aware of my thoughts and the impact they have on my choices.
I challenge you to do the same on your own journey.
Post written by FFC Park Ridge Kids’ Club Supervisor Carolyn Perry; photos provided by Carolyn Perry.
Follow along with Carolyn on her Instagram here!