I get asked a lot about how I stay in shape and look great at my age. I do have articles coming up specifically about health and fitness from my perspective but before I delve into those things, it’s really important to share my struggles and inner issues that led me to make huge changes in my life, which consequently contributed to my “Glow Up.”
I really think and believe that if you’re looking to look and feel your best that the work comes from inside first.
So here is my story.
Growing up, I never really had issues with my weight. I grew up in a family where everything pretty much revolved around food and eating, but I was still able to naturally control myself and never really struggled with food and dieting until later on.
But my sister on the other hand, suffered from a terrible eating disorder. We all knew it, but no one really talked about it. It was always a secret and none of us in the family knew how to help her. It was a constant rollercoaster, and I remember as a teenager vowing to never do that to myself. I tried to be there and support her, but we couldn’t force her to get help until she was willing to face her issues herself. Nothing I ever said to her really mattered, she had to help herself.
When I was around 17 years old, my sister took me with her to the gym and I worked out for the first time in my life. The feeling of moving my body, the endorphins, etc. I was instantly hooked. It was almost life changing. That’s when fitness and health took a big part of my life.
When I was about 20 years old, I decided to become a personal trainer and that is when I was introduced to the whole concept of dieting, counting calories, food trends, counting macros, etc. After getting certified, I was hired at a personal training gym that was heavily focused on body building. My boss would tell me that he would weigh me every Monday and that I needed to be under a certain amount of body fat.
It was brutal and the obsession with food began. The concept of not being allowed to eat certain food groups, having to limit calories even though my body was screaming for food seemed unnatural to me but I was forced into it.
I left the job a few months later because I started to feel like I was developing an eating disorder and I wanted to avoid going down that slippery road.
Years later, I moved to New York City to be with my current ex-husband. It was a very hard time in my life. I was alone in the big city, in a new relationship, in a new job. I knew no one, didn’t have my friends or family.
So I started eating more… it was comforting. I would come home from work and just eat till he came home. Would make him dinner and eat again. I would walk around Manhattan on my breaks, and buy myself treats. Food was my only friend.
Naturally, I started gaining weight. I was at the gym one day and decided to weigh myself. I got up on the scale and saw I had gained 5 lbs (which is really nothing, but a the time I was devastated). Instead of going home, I went right back on the treadmill and worked out for another two hours.
The obsession began.
I started a 4-year cycle of binge eating, exercising, abusing supplements, even going vegan for a year. I was obsessed with food, dieting, and exercise.
I had an eating disorder but never wanted to admit it.
It got so bad that I would hide and eat until I was sick. I remember my ex-husband once went to shower, and I quickly inhaled a whole jar of peanut butter and crackers. It was like a drug. I just couldn’t stop.
I wasn’t purging or taking laxatives, so it was easy for me to hide this issue. But it was there. It was bad. My weight would go up and down for years. All I could think about was food. I looked forward to every meal. That’s the only thing I would look forward to in my day. I was obsessed with the scale, with how I looked. I tried every diet you can imagine. I forgot how to listen to my body and it’s natural eating patterns like I used to.
It was awful.
It stopped for a year while I was pregnant with Mia, for some reason once I got pregnant I was so focused on the pregnancy that my weight and food didn’t matter anymore. I focused on eating healthy for the baby, I moved my body as much as I could because I knew that would also be good for my baby. For once, I wasn’t thinking of myself. It was nice. I felt free for the first time in years. I was eating naturally. I had a glimpse of what it was like to love myself in whatever shape I was in.
Then she was born and after I stopped nursing, the stress of getting back to my pre-pregnancy weight began coupled with postpartum depression (that’s for another post). I think it was a very low point in my life.
I hated myself. The yo-yo dieting began again. But now I had a baby to take care of so couldn’t exactly spend hours at the gym anymore. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t go through this again and again.
I committed myself to eating healthy and working out regularly, and decided to eat a mostly plant-based diet. I really thought I was on the right track until I started becoming obsessed with this way of eating. Trying to eliminate everything I could from my diet would make it easier for me not to eat.
I lost all the baby weight. I was in great shape, but deep down still unhappy with myself. I didn’t understand why. I achieved my weight loss goals. But still was miserable.
Around that time, I started ChicpeaJC.
Doing something that fulfilled me so much was my new escape, so I no longer obsessed about food and dieting. But then, I started writing about food and restaurants started inviting me, and within a year I gained all the weight back and more.
The difference this time, I didn’t care. I was literally at my heaviest weight in my life (other than when I was pregnant) and I didn’t feel anxious about it. I was so excited about this new found passion that I started being gentle with myself. I started making a conscious effort to love myself no matter what size. I carried myself with confidence and didn’t beat myself up for gaining all the weight back.
Then about 3 years ago, I realized that even though I did feel better about myself from the inside, that I still needed to be the best version of myself, and get back into shape. Not because it would make me look better but because I wanted to FEEL better. I wanted to FEEL fit. But my approach to getting there would be different this time.
No crash diets, no over-exercising, no self-hate. I vowed to get back into shape the healthy way, that I would learn to be in touch with my body again.
It took time, but I did it. I really focused on loving myself, and making necessary changes in my personal life that would make it easier to not emotionally eat anymore.
I learned to listen to my body, I no longer have the urge to over eat or binge because I feel fulfilled in all aspects of my life. I don’t need food to comfort me. Food now brings me joy. I enjoy every bite and never beat myself up when I have too much. I also don’t think about it anymore until my stomach wakes up and says “Lynn, you’re hungry!” or when I am at a restaurant and I look at the delicious food. I enjoy every bite and I am capable of saying “I’m full.”
In the next few weeks/months, I will be writing more about food and exercise and my thoughts on dieting and why I think it just doesn’t work. On emotional eating, why we do it and how to manage it. It’s a constant battle and I will still have my bad days. But the most important thing is to be gentle with yourself. When you love yourself, like really love yourself you desire to take care of your body because it feels good.
I feel so good you guys. I want you to feel the same way.
If you have specific questions, feel free to drop me a note: lynn@chicpeaJC.com
Be well, my darlings.