My Healthy Living Journey

I meant to post this last week but then my mom came and surprised me and blogging got put on the back burner!

First, all the comments on my post about Binge Eating blew. me. away.

It is not easy putting stuff like that out there but you guys make it so much easier with your support and thanks for touching on the topic. I plan on doing a complete follow-up post next week.

Since my blog has been getting a lot of new readers lately AND I am kind of taking it in a new, healthy living direction I thought it would be good to re-touch on my healthy living story. The last time I wrote about it I had, like, 5 readers so it would be good for a refresh!

You can find the five original posts I wrote on this subject here.

My Healthy Living Journey

For as long as I can remember I felt fat. I can distinctly remember being 8-12 years old and cutting pictures out of magazines of the women (models) that I wanted to look like. I would pour through women’s magazines for “dieting” tips and had a scrapbook full of them.

I have always been active; swimming, volleyball, baseball, hockey etc. and I’ve been working out at the gym since I was 14. My problem was with food. I had a very unhealthy relationship with food.

I was teased for being “fat” when I was a kid and for a long time, I truly believed I was. Sure, I was a bit chubbier, but I was not fat or overweight by any means. I’ve had an unhealthy relationship with food for a very long time. I did not feel comfortable in my own skin and it was a terrible thing. I’m sad to say, that when I look through old journal entries there is one common trend: Weight Loss.

In journals from 2001-2002 when I am 13-14 years old, I am writing about how I need to “stop eating junk food so I can get skinny like the girls in the magazines”. Looking back on that now makes me sad.

My relationship with my body changed a bit when I turned 16. I was in high school by that point, playing hockey 6-7 days per week and going to the gym. I felt pretty good and ate relatively healthy (though not healthy at all compared to how I eat now, but healthy for a 16-17 year old I suppose).

Here I am at 16. And if I remember correctly, this photo was taken after getting home from the gym! Looking back at this now I am SO MAD at myself for ever thinking I was “fat”.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, yes, I did date Ashton 😉

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When I went away to college in the fall of 2006 I had already gained about 10 pounds after my first summer of working full-time and I gained another 10-15 pounds in college. Drinking and eating junk food caught up with me. Despite my active lifestyle, my weight skyrocketed. In the summer of 2007 I was my highest weight ever.

Summer of 2007:

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I went back for my second year of college in September 2007 and once again got caught up in the college lifestyle. Drinking, eating and drinking some more.

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Don’t get me wrong. I had a freaking blast in college. But I also gained weight and was really uncomfortable in my body. New Years 2008 I knew it was time for a change.

I started carrying a small notebook around with me and writing down everything I ate. I also started reading healthy living blogs on Glamour.com and recording my food intake through Body by Glamour.

Once I started keeping track of my food, my whole perspective changed. I had NO concept of calories in vs. calories out before, and once I figured it out I realized that I didn’t have to give up my favourite foods to lose weight, I just had to eat less of them.

Also, even though I’d always been active to an extent, I would go through periods of 2-3 weeks where I wouldn’t work out at all. Then I’d get back on the wagon for 4-6 weeks only to stop working out again. When I started recording my food intake I also started recording my workouts and stopped “falling off the wagon”.

The weight started falling off and in six months I had lost 25 pounds.

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Clothes were baggy on me.

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I felt better then ever!

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As I delved more into the blogging world, I started experimenting with new foods. Oatmeal and Green Smoothies are just a couple of things I learned about from the blogging world!

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Then, in February 2009 I did something kind of crazy.

I signed up for a half-marathon.

Despite always being active, I had never been a runner nor had I ever even enjoyed running. I mean, running is painful. I had never ran a 5K, 10K or any sort of organized race and I signed up to run 13.1 miles. What!?

My long-time readers will know that I went on to run that half-marathon, and two others in 2009. Somewhere along the way I fell head-over-heels in love with running.

Just under a year later, in January 2010, I signed up for my first full marathon, which I will run in Portland Oregon on October 10, 2010.

In May 2010, I read Eating Animals, which opened my eyes to a whole world and concept I did not know about: Factory Farming. I have not ate chicken, pork or beef since May 18, 2010. I still eat seafood occasionally but am planning on taking steps to eliminate that soon as well. I don’t know if I will ever eat meat again, but for now this lifestyle has allowed me to spend less money on groceries and I have more energy than ever before.

Now?

Now I exercise for an average of 60 minutes a day. Sometimes more. And I love it.

Now I rarely drink other than the occasional glass of wine.

Now I eat healthy, wholesome ingredients.

Do I have a perfect relationship with food and my body? Hell no. But it’s 100 X better than before. I still track my food using Spark People and I still have fat days but I take it one day at a time.

Does anyone else have a healthy living journey to share? If you have any questions, ask in the comments and I will reply to you and answer! I have a lot more to say but this blog post is getting really long as it is 🙂

37 Responses

  1. I’m glad you shared this!

    It was also college when I started to actually learn more about the concept of calories, how to effectively work out, how healthy/unhealthy some foods were, etc.

    I like to think because info is more readily available and because there’s a whole wealth of us healthy living bloggers out there that maybe the next generation will be quicker to learn these things for themselves so that they may adapt a lifestyle that works them as well. 🙂

  2. Heather says:

    I read this as I take a HUGE bite of Cinnamon Toast Crunch…..

    But honestly that was so inspiring. I have had such a roller coaster ride with weight loss.And I also have a very weird relationship with food that I have had for most of my life. I am not sure where it started or how, but Im slowly (being the keyword) trying to tame it. Ill have to think about my journey and write a post about it. Maybe it ends up being the breaking point I need.

  3. Keri says:

    Wow, wonderful story! Its so funny I have been working on a post just like this that I recently finished but have been working on getting the courage to post. Thank you!

  4. Nicole says:

    I’m glad you touched on this again. Look at my latest post about food and eating. I’m curious to hear your thoughts!

  5. Amber says:

    You always, always, always inspire me! I really needed this post, Amber! With how busy things have been I have been eating horribly! I have not had time to grocery shop or cook so I have been letting other people do it for me and making very bad decisions… Stopping today!

  6. lisa says:

    Great story. You really turned your life around! I waited until I was much older. You are way smarter than me. 🙂

  7. Becky says:

    Love love love your story. I really want to meet you now so I can give you a BIG hug – you’re such an inspiration, Amber! And I think we’re redheaded brain twins because my post today is kind of about the same thing. I’ve always been pretty confident in who I am – I didn’t have to worry about weight issues until after I got married and that rocked me a little bit, but lately even at a higher weight (that I’m trying to bring down!) I’m more confident now than I’ve ever been and I think a lot of it is due to a more active lifestyle I’m achieving. My goal is to start Eating Animals sometime in September – thanks for the loan!

  8. Lo says:

    Wow Amber, I’m glad you wrote this. I feel like for the fourth or fifth time I’m on the beginning of my journey. I’m learning how to eat again and this time I’m learning how to cook. I’m trying to take more responsibility with my body. I hope that this time can be the last time I start the journey.

  9. Nora says:

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us 🙂 I’m in constant awe of you and your accomplishements. Figuring the whole food + body thing out at your age is awesome! I’m still working on it and I have a few years on you… 😉 You look fabulous!

  10. Beautiful, thanks for sharing. I just read your B.E. post and thank you for being so open. I resonated with SOOO much of it and it is great to hear people share similar experiences and know that even though it may feel like it, we are not alone. I loved reading your journey, I feel like I am constantly starting mine over and over. I feel fit and healthy and exercise a lot but the food part remains a challenge.

  11. Emily Jane says:

    I think you have such an inspiring story, and it’s amazing that you work out for an hour every day. You prove that anybody can take control and become what they want to be! 🙂

  12. Thanks for posting this! Your story is so inspiring. Good for you for making a change. Its not always easy, but its so worth it!

  13. Tammy says:

    Wow!! Amber, thank you for sharing your story, and the honesty!!
    I totally relate to your teen years when you thought you were fat. I thought/ think the same thing about myself.
    I have been reading woman food and God, and she talks a lot about loving yourself in your skin right now, and monitering what you put in your mouth. One part I really felt she was talking to me was about the ‘mindless eating’ eating when you are not hungry, or bored, or sad, or happy. Getting in touch with how you feel when you are hungry and when you are not.
    Really good book so far!!
    Thanks again for your wonderful post Amber, You are such a beautiful wonderful inspiration!!
    xox
    tam.

  14. I think it’s very brave of you to chronicle your relationship with food. It’s a sensitive subject for most and blog posts like this allow it to be OK to talk about such topics. I’ve never had a real journey with food. I wasn’t ever really skinny, though I’ve always been very active. Dieting never worked well for me … and so, despite trying things here and there, I generally go with how I feel. I don’t have a scale in my house … if I’m feeling good, then that’s what matters. Being pregnant totally changes things, because trying to lose weight now isn’t an option even if I wanted to … and I’ve got to admit, it’s kind of glorious!

  15. Lisa says:

    It’s funny because I always felt FAT too. Even as a kid. I look back at pictures and I was NEVER fat. Not until I was about 19 or 20 and then I started to put on the weight. Funny how our perspective changes.

  16. Kyla Roma says:

    You’re such an inspiration, Amber! I love that you’re in a better place now. I’m still working on figuring out exactly what works for me, but taking those little steps closer makes such a big difference in knowing who you are & feeling confident in yourself 🙂

  17. Thanks for sharing your journey w/ us… I should do a similar post like this eventually.. I am just too lazy to put my thoughts down I guess! I was always the super skinny kid. I had a super high metabolism but even though I was thin, I still thought I needed to diet. So dumb. I never really was active until I graduated from college and started running. Then I stopped running when I dated Ryan and was in grad school, which was a terrible decision. But I got back to a healthy weight and haven’t looked back. I have finally figured out that I have a much better body image when I am active… I am by no means perfect but I am so much kinder to myself now that I am runnign consistently. Now it’s rare for me to say things like, “I hate my ____.” But I used to say things like that quite a bit in the past. I think now I just respect my body for what it can accomplish – it seems too cruel to insult it anymore…

  18. Jen says:

    I LOVE your blob, and so does my mom!!!
    xoxoxo

  19. Amanda says:

    Amber! You are so inspiring. I graduated almost two years ago and I am just now starting to try and lose my excess weight, and I just started running. I haven’t seen the healthy living blogs at glamour, but I am definitely going to check them out now.

  20. steph anne says:

    You’re such an inspiration, really! I used to think I was fat when I was younger too and when I look at old pictures, I was DEFINITELY NOT fat at all. I was tall so that made me feel like a giant no matter what. Now I’m overweight and I’m mad at myself for allowing myself to think I was fat before when I wasn’t and now I am, pfft. I’m struggling to lose weight and am aware it will continue to be a struggle. I definitely don’t plan on giving up though!

  21. erin says:

    i was always somewhat chubby but never fat. but i always had this mind set that I don’t ant to be like my parents, but i just never understood how food/calories/working out really worked. Now i just do what works best for me!

    i know you’re a great inspiration, it’s been really amazing watching you go through this process. I hope one day we get to meet!

  22. aron says:

    i love reading people’s healthy living journeys 🙂 my first couple years of college i was SO unhealthy and put on a lot of weight and ate and drank a ton… gah. i think its good to give us perspective and a choice. when we can look back and see how far we have come it makes it all worth it 🙂

  23. It’s always helpful to look back on our journey to healthy living. It’s crazy how once something seemed so normal and all of a sudden you find yourself with a totally new sense of normal that is even better for your life and body. And I too gave myself a hard time as a 16 yr old. There are so many negative thoughts flying around in one’s head always trying to fit in, wear the right things, hang out with the right people and of course look good while doing it. I wish I hadn’t been so self conscious about my body because I would have been a much happier kiddo.

  24. Lindsay says:

    Lately I’ve been contemplating vegetarianism, but I haven’t been motivated enough to really give it a try. I may read the book you mentioned in your post to give myself that added push.

  25. Kelly says:

    I enjoyed reading about your journey. It’s amazing how far you have come, not just from your pictures but in your attitude. 🙂

  26. Thanks for sharing Amber!! This is definitely a BIG success story 🙂

  27. mandy says:

    Thanks for sharing your story Amber, you really are an inspiration.

  28. Thanks for sharing your story.

    You are beautiful! 🙂

  29. kilax says:

    Thanks for sharing this! It’s so inspiring. 🙂

    I never even knew to think about how I looked or my weight until college. I wish I never would have picked that up!

  30. Megan says:

    In high school, I was always a great weight, but since then, I’ve gained around 10 lbs (in just three years). Not sure if it had to do with starting birth control or starting a desk job, but I feel unhealthy. So, I’m basically STARTING my healthy living journey. I started reading Caitlin’s blog (Healthy Tipping Point), and her meals have inspired me!

    Your blog has inspired me to start running. I want to learn to love running & biking again. 🙂 Right now, I’m okay with my weight, but I’m not okay with how it looks. I want to tone up some more.

    Thanks for sharing your story!

  31. Stephany says:

    I just love your healthy living story. It’s really an inspiration for those of us who are trying to lose weight and live healthier. It’s just pretty crazy/scary how much we value being skinny when we were younger. I mean, I still struggle with that and feeling comfortable in my own skin at 22.

  32. Angie says:

    I just LOVE fresh, healthy and sustainable food!
    and activities for dessert

  33. heather says:

    amber~you are such an inspiration to really be open about the issues you have not only with food, but your body…i too, look at pics from high school and college and just can’t believe that i thought i was fat…it is very sad that i spent so much time during those years obsessing about my body and weight! the part that is even sadder is that i still do…but no more! after reading your post, i am no longer going to be a victim to society or anyone else…i am taking responsibility for what i do/don’t eat and do/don’t exercise…i have posted a link from my blog to yours in hopes that others will also stop the self abuse regarding their bodies. God made us and He loves us and wants us to see ourselves as He does…
    i praise you because i am fearfully and wonderfully made…psalm 139:14
    heather

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