[box]Not every transformation is about losing weight. This week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week so we are honored to share an incredible story of recovery and transformation. Katie Greiss was hospitalized and diagnosed with anorexia but fought back using the power of fitness. The difference between going the extra mile and giving up is often being inspired. We hope our transformation stories inspire you on your own transformation.[/box]
I grew up in a normal, loving family, and was never pressured into looking or eating a certain way. There was no single moment or situation that prompted me to lose weight; it just kind of happened on its own.
I was naturally thin as a child, but in my freshman year of high school when I started to see the number on the scale go down, I felt a strange sense of pride and accomplishment. I started exercising more often (which turned into overexercising) and restricting my food intake to lose weight until I was at a dangerously low weight. In December 2009, a doctor diagnosed me with anorexia and told me I should be hospitalized immediately, but my parents and I decided that I would gain weight and recover on my own.
It wasn’t a quick process and it wasn’t easy either – it took me 3 years to gain the weight I needed to be healthy. I began to eat more than I had before, but I was still exercising far too much for what my body could handle. I didn’t believe I needed to gain weight, I thought I was perfectly healthy, not underweight! It wasn’t until a year after I was diagnosed that my dance teacher as well as a teacher from school expressed concerns to my parents that I didn’t look healthy.
At that point, I realized that I really wasn’t healthy, I actually looked very sick. I started eating with the intention of weight gain, and decreased my exercise slightly. In May 2012, I began weightlifting and soon fell in love with it. I stopped doing hours of cardio and started focusing on building muscle and strength. I also started eating a lot more food to support muscle growth.
I loved (and still do!) seeing the changes in my body from hard work that I had never seen before. What came most as a surprise to me during this time, was that the more weight I gained, the happier I was and the more I began to appreciate and love my body. I felt that I looked better and better as I worked toward a healthy weight, and my lifts improved so much from the proper nourishment I was finally giving my body.
I’ve been in a healthy weight range (117 lbs currently – 35 more than my lowest) for about a year now, and I’ve created a much better relationship with exercise. I work out to feel good and become stronger, and I listen to my body and rest when I need to. I eat healthy foods to nourish my body, but I’m also not afraid to treat myself and eat what I’m craving. I’m so much stronger, both physically and mentally, and recovering has allowed me to discover a passion for fitness and health; I’m even a certified personal trainer now.
Some days I still struggle, but I never give in to the negative voices in my head. I always try to keep both my physical and mental health in mind, because both are equally as important.
Was recovery easy? No. Was it fun? Most of the time, no. Was it worth it? Absolutely. I’ve gained so much back, from the sparkle in my eyes, to the fun I have with friends, to the love I have for my family, and to the genuine, whole-hearted smile on my face. I gained back my life, and I’m so, so happy I did. Recovery is possible, and it’s more than worth it.
Follow Katie Greiss on Instagram here!