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Today I want to share my personal story with food obsession and overexercising.  This is a little different for me because I don’t spend much time focusing on myself on this blog; When I write it’s not about me, it’s about what will help YOU succeed.

My goal here at Youtrition has always been to be the resource I wish I had when I was struggling with food and fitness… which is why I do everything in my power to provide both the best free resources, and the best premium resources and coaching available, without getting lost in the weeds of my own personal story. 

However, most of you also know that I spent many years struggling with food and weight and it was something that overran my life. 

Right now, I can say without any reservations that I am in the best shape of my life. I am lean, strong, and fit. I feel great in my clothes, and feel confident rocking a swimsuit. But what’s really key is that I don’t stress about food or weight at all. In fact, I would say the less I think about my fitness goals, the easier they are to maintain at this point. 

Recently, while reflecting back on how far I’ve come on this journey, I realized that there are some vital lessons that I learned along the way, and today I want to share those lessons with you, because if I can spare you the experience first hand, it will have been worth it. 

So here are the biggest lessons I’ve learned from my own personal struggle with food and fitness: 

Lesson #1: reasonable changes work, but everything and everyone wants us to be unreasonable. 

When I graduated from nursing school at 21 years old, I was on a mission: to get ridiculously fit and good looking – because I was 21 and single. I had always been the “chubby kid” growing up, and I was ready to feel better in my own skin.

Plus, the years of a rigorous nursing program (really the m&m fueled study sessions) while working night shifts as an EMT in the Emergency Room left me with some extra pounds, and not enough pants that fit.

So I started a reasonable, healthy way of eating. I started running with my roommate (but had to stop and walk before even hitting 1 mile!) and started eating more lean protein and vegetables. My pants started fitting better, yet seeing what everyone around me was doing, I somehow that didn’t feel like I was doing enough.

Lesson #2 – If you jump into the deep end of the pool too soon, you may get hurt.

Because I needed to “do more,” I registered to run a triathlon so that I would feel motivated to do something.  The truth: I had no idea what I was doing. I bought a training program online, did as much research as I could… and every morning would brace myself to walk down the stairs of my condo because my joints hurt SO BAD.

I didn’t lose any weight running the triathlon, in fact I may have gained a few pounds. But at least I had bragging rights (and a permanently tweaky left ankle).

Lesson #3 – it’s not you, it’s the diet.

Then, a friend talked me into buying the latest workout dvd, shakes, and diets that went with it.  

The truth is, I hated the workout DVD’s they were so boring, and the shakes were disgusting, the diet was complicated (this was before the days of the portion containers).

I started finding myself bingeing on the weekends and in stressful situations (at this point I realize it was because I was SO hungry).  I also started skipping the workouts (because they sucked).

Lesson #4 – Be careful who you take fitness advice from; Just because someone looks fit, doesn’t qualify them to support you.

Because of my “lack of discipline” I took the extreme to a new level. I started working out at a local gym with a trainer. Working out with a trainer isn’t extreme, but the way I approached it was. 

My trainer was a sweet and supportive woman, but also somewhat obsessive about food and exercise. I thought that in order to look like her (she looked amazing) I had to be like her… and found myself cutting out entire food groups, weighing my food, avoiding carbs, and over-exercising.

Lesson #5 – if you don’t love it, you won’t stick with it.

After that I jumped on the paleo bandwagon… I was so enthusiastic I could have driven the bandwagon. I listened to every podcast about carb intolerances, diagnosed myself with a thousand ailments, started a paleo food blog (now defunct, don’t go looking for it) cut out everything but the “purest” foods… and still found myself gaining weight and fat… and my digestion and skin were AWFUL.

In fact, I remember being incredibly strict with my diet, eating only the “approved” foods for 90 straight days… and I got my body fat tested and I measured in at 30+% body fat. Which is considered bordering on obese. The truth is: the night time nut-binges weren’t helping.

This approach clearly wasn’t working… so I switched to counting calories instead. Because calories-in calories-out right?

But calorie counting led to a new level of obsessiveness and neuroticism that I never anticipated. I spend HOURS a day thinking about food… I went to sleep dreaming about breakfast, and as soon as breakfast was over, I started counting down the minutes to my first snack…

I lost weight this way… but it was absolutely NOT sustainable. It wasn’t enjoyable, and took up so much time and brain space.

Final lesson: don’t let your fitness goals destroy your life

It wasn’t until one day, sitting next to my brand new husband, I realized that my relationship with food was destroying my relationships in life… and something had to change.  

That’s when I gave up dieting for good and SWORE I would find a way to get healthy and fit without the extremes…. And you know what? I did…. But it took years. 7 years to be exact. Yes, 7 years from the day I looked at my husband and said “I’m never putting you through this again” to the day I realized that “wow, I actually am fit and lean.”

Now you’re probably hearing 7 years and getting a little stressed at how long this process takes…. But here’s the thing. Remember how I said that my goal is to be what I needed 10 years ago? If I had these resources I provide here, both the free online resources and the premium courses, I could have knocked years off of my learning curve.  

The key to success: learn from others so you don’t have to repeat their mistakes. 

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Ashley Palmer
Ashley is a Registered Nurse with a Master’s Degree in Human Nutrition. Ashley loves her son, her husband, and lifting heavy things then putting them back down repeatedly. She is a nutrition, fitness and weight loss coach and blogs at www.youtrition.net.

 

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