Chandler's inspiring story on overcoming a destroyed metabolism, an injured knee, and a broken spirit.
diet[ ˈdī-it ]
NOUN - the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats
VERB - restrict oneself to small amounts or special kinds of food in order to lose weight
My struggle with weight began around age 10 or 11. This was the year I entered 5th grade and for the first time noticed the girls around me starting to have shape to their bodies whether small or large, straight or curved. But as we all know, the world’s standard of beauty is recognizable early in life.
Why don’t I have a pretty, flat stomach like all of my friends?
Why do my blue jeans never fit right? They are always too baggy or too short!
I play sports! I am active all the time! Why don’t I look “right”?
I guess.. I need to.. go on a diet?”
That’s right. Age 10 is where the battle began in my life. I spent the next several years going through developmental changes and wondering if there would ever be a day when I looked like the “pretty girls”, a day when one of the boys in our class turned and smiled at me. As an adult looking back, this process breaks my heart and as an educator, my heart breaks daily for other young children going through the same struggle.
I stopped eating my favorite things at lunch. I didn’t always get to go out for ice cream with everyone else. I started running the hills around my house to kick start my efforts. Surely this would solve my problems in a jiffy! After all, I know none of my friends put forth effort into their physical health.
But no… while I became increasingly successful in sports and while my performance thrived, I did not notice any difference in my physical shape.
So began the high school years. This was a dangerous time when I went through dramatic mood swings over food. Some days I refused to eat dinner, determined to drop a few pounds. Other days… I binged on anything and everything I wanted out of spite. This was my new way of “dieting”.
“Why does nothing work?!?! Why am I the only one trying and the only one who cannot seem to change my figure?!?!”
We all had those friends who could throw down 4 slices of pizza and 2 bottles of coke every night with seemingly no consequences and we all also had “friends” or influential people in our lives who fed and manifested our insecurities. The amount of times I was labeled “fat” in high school by people close to me is appalling, especially for people who knew me during that time (because I was not fat).
Junior year, I tried the Atkins diet for a while, which worked temporarily but eventually failed like everything else.
When I went off to college I began to read about health and fitness for myself. Through various, unreliable resources on the internet, I decided if I could burn off more calories each day than I consumed, I would have to lose weight.
New Diet… Commence!! And for the first time in my life.. SUCCESS!
I went to the gym multiple times each day. Sometimes I would spend 3 hours working out, while making sure not to consume more than 800-1,000 calories.
While I initially lost weight rapidly, I unknowingly destroyed my health and metabolism in the process. When I finally hit 138lbs, I jumped for joy but the journey did not end there.
Sickness set in, my immune system seemed to have disappeared. I laid in bed for days before consulting the campus doctor. They informed me that I was not eating enough food for my body to function correctly and if I did not adjust my diet accordingly, I would seriously injure myself.
“Okay,” I thought, “time for a new diet!”
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The “diet” my coach wrote for me changed my life. There was SO MUCH FOOD!! It took my 3 or 4 weeks to even finish all of the food that I was supposed to eat each day.
“But wait a second… I’M LOSING WEIGHT?.. what is happening?!”
Building up my body, discovering strength and understanding the power food could provide me saved my life. For the first time since age 10, I did not really have to use the word “diet”… instead, it was just a meal plan.
I was not depriving myself.
I was not starving. It was just an intentional plan for how to fuel my body. The next 9 months were shocking to say the least. I transformed the shape of my body, competed in my first bikini competitions, then spent the following 12 months restarting the process, building more muscle and cutting back down for my second show season where I not only placed 2nd, but qualified for and competed at the national level.
I can guarantee that if someone had told me where I would be 3 or 4 years ago, there is no way I could have believed it in my wildest dreams.
Toss the diet!
Forget the starving.
Treat your body like the temple it is and it will reward you.
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