Finding Your Inner Strength

Emily before losing 85. lbs.
Emily before losing 85. lbs.

Trying to describe my lifelong journey with health and wellness seems like an epic task. I was born into a world of obesity. My entire extended family struggled with weight and health issues my entire life. I grew up knowing what it was like to feel like the fat kid – the outsider to the party of life. I never felt quite strong enough to handle anything. My youth was spent idolizing strong female role models who seemed to possess all of the physical and mental attributes that I wanted. I lacked confidence and the belief that I could be like the strong women I idolized.

I let fear and self-doubt dictate all of my twenties where I struggled with my weight yo-yo dieting up and down on the scale for almost a decade. I had success on multiple occasions with losing lots of weight in short amounts of time by exercise binging and food deprivation. In the end I was always dissatisfied with myself and the results because I had never really learned how to properly take care of myself and enjoy being healthy. It was always a ‘diet’ and never a real lifestyle change. I never really learned to love myself completely, which in hindsight makes all the difference in the world.

Emily after losing 85 lbs.
Emily after losing 85 lbs.

In October of 2012 I found myself in unhappy, if not, familiar territory when I stepped on the scale to see that I weighed 220 pounds. I knew I had to do something about this, and that I did not want to waste my thirties in a constant battle with myself. I started slow and made simple changes that I could truly live with for the rest of my life. It’s like when you suddenly have the light bulb moment where the switch gets flipped on and you understand that this is not a joke, not a game, and that this has to be a real change. Instead of depravation, I focused on health. By June of 2012 I had lost 80 pounds all by myself thru hard work and determination. But I also knew that in order to truly make this a forever change that I had to do something different this time around.

In June 2012, after having lost 80 pounds, is when everything REALLY changed for me. This is my ah-ha moment. I decided to join a gym. It seems like a small simple thing, and yet the impact it ended up having on my entire life is indescribable. I met with a personal trainer who tried to instill in me the importance of strength training, something I had neglected my entire life. She told me that if I worked hard, and listened to her that my body would physically change. I was skeptical at first. After all, I was a cardio-queen. I could not wrap my head around the concept of building muscle, but I decided to give it a try. I told myself that I would give myself over to the experience for a month and see what happens. I have never been happier to be proven wrong. I started taking classes at the gym, doing my one on one personal training and embracing strength training and weights in my free time and almost immediately saw stellar results.

Emily feels better than ever.
Emily feels better than ever.

The more I grew physically, the more I wanted to learn. I became educated about the benefits of protein (like the amazing amounts found in each Quest Bar that I adore!) in your diet which suddenly left me feeling full and satisfied. I was eating more food than I had ever before while gaining muscle and a growing inner strength that I could not have predicted. In five months’ time, I was able to lose an additional 5 pounds but more importantly I was able to reduce my body fat percentage by 7.5%. My body was not the same by any stretch of the imagination. My body was starting to look like the mental picture of my wishful adolescent dreams. And it was all only possible because of learning to embrace the benefits of strength training.

There is an amazing correlation between physical and mental strength. As each day passed I became more and more confident in myself and my abilities. I was finding not only my inner athlete, but my inner strength, long dormant from a lifetime of believing I was not good enough. I started embracing the challenges that once terrified me. Despite always considering myself a runner, I was never brave enough to run an organized race. In the last 3 months I have completed 2 half marathons and have plans to complete many more in 2014.

I look forward to heading to the gym nightly to see what challenges I can tackle and what kind of growth awaits me. It is not always easy or glamorous but it is always worth it. The proof is in the way my body has responded to the changes I’ve made. Eating healthy nutritious mini meals every couple hours and the combination of strength and cardio have left me feeling more energized daily. I smile every single day and try and never take for granted what my body is capable of. I am so thankful that despite the torture of yo-yo dieting for so many years, I am strong and capable. My body is amazing and treating it with love is the only way to really see positive results.

Strength training played a major role in Emily's transformation.
Strength training played a major role in Emily’s transformation.

The growth in me that I have seen over the past year has been transformational. I know I will no longer ever return to my old ways, I have truly embraced this as my lifestyle that I love and am committed to. Turns out that my lifetime spent idolizing strong woman was because deep down I was a strong confident woman too, I just had to learn to tap into my own inner strength. I have no desire to sit on the sidelines and let my life pass me by now. I am excited and incredibly passionate about what adventures are waiting for me. Always know that beyond a shadow of a doubt that you can achieve anything you put your mind to. Suddenly the world becomes limitless when you embrace the power of your own inner strength.

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