Friday, November 11, 2011
"Good Health is Gorgeous" - The Long, Courageous Road to Feeling Gorgeous
Today I am 24 and a 1/2-years-old. I am a preschool teacher. I am a student at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I am a Health Counselor. I am active. I am an aunt to a beautiful 1-year-old girl. I am a girlfriend, who has picked out my ring. I am terribly fortunate. However, like most girls, regardless of age… I am often insecure, and I can my worst enemy.
Rewind 20 years, I was a happy, loveable, excited little girl who had terrible stomach problems. I loved my mommy and the outdoors more than anything. My (insert expletive) uncle and my sister (who was young and not to blame) used to tease me saying I was ugly… it NEVER phased me. That was until I grew up, and although I have been told I “grew out of that” and am now beautiful… I still have moments when I think otherwise.
Fast forward to middle school. I was confident. I had a great group of friends, and I even met the love of my life (my future fiancé, yep, we met and dated, and even were each other’s first kiss in the 6th/7th grade). But, I heard my mother talk about weight. All. The. Time. I watched my big sister who I admired so, so, much, battle with mean girls, and then become a walking stick. I heard my grandmother talk about “fat” people. My aunt talk about how she gained a pound from Christmas Eve to Christmas day. So, what did I do? I stole a few yellow pills from my sister. A few pink pills from my mother. And even Chromium Picolinate from my father, because I over heard my mom tell him that they may help him lose weight. He was taking them for his diabetes. Did I mention I had terrible stomach problems? Oh, and the scale? My new best friend. I was obsessed with numbers, and I was 12-years-old.
Throughout high school I was happy, confident, but building this obsession. I was very lucky, I could eat a lot, and really not gain weight… if anything it went to my bubble butt. The problem was that I would eat like crap, go home, get sick, and then beg my mom for a laxative because I ate too much. This vicious trend lasted until I was 18 and finally saw a gastroenterologist about my stomach problems. I had IBS, which pretty much puts me in a category with all other people in the world with stomach issues that they have no idea what they are. And, I had acid reflux. The cure: of course a prescription for Zelnorm and Prevacid.
My grandmother had mentioned how she never took her Prevacid, and that someone my age should not be on such a medication. So I never took it. Zelnorm on the other hand, I loved. So, Zelnorm did reduce my mysterious IBS, but Zelnorm was the fuel to my obsession. I was a senior in high school, within two months I dropped ten pounds, I weighted a mere 105/108lbs (I weighed myself so often that this my was range…) Being 18, I thought this was amazing. I swore I looked hot, I was skinny! Even my bubble butt shrank. So, with the weight loss I joined a gym, and although a healthy obsession, I became obsessed with exercise for all of the wrong reasons.
In the spring of my freshman year in college, I remember like it was yesterday: I had called my father to refill my prescription for Zelnorm. Then I received a call from my mom telling me that Zelnorm had been taken off the market for causing heart attacks and strokes. What did 19-year-old Amanda think? I need Zelnorm, I don’t care about having heart disease or have a stroke! I need to be skinny. I will get FAT. I begged my mom to find out how I can still get it. “I will get sick!” I cried. But, my mom, she knew better. She said to me, “Amanda, I know, your scared you are going to gain weight.” Nailed it on the nose, mom… I used to hate when she could do that!
So, I spoke to my sister who was now battling Crohns disease, and because of this, switched over to a plant based diet. She suggested I try flax seed. I put the ground seeds over my cereal every morning. My stomach issues pretty much vanished with just an occasional attack- usually after I ate too much crap! That conversation with my sister was the beginning of my journey to wellness.
That following fall, I moved into an apartment with my boyfriend (same boy I dated in 6th and 7th grade… and still together today). His one request: no scale. He and I had been dating pre Zelnorm, and he watched my obsession build. He was so sick of sitting at dinner with my family, and hearing everyone talk about how much they weighed that morning. So, I left the scale at home, and instead became obsessed with counting calories.
After a year of living with my boyfriend, I started to relax a bit about my weight. I gained a few lbs, and was happy at 112lbs. After almost two years of measuring my portions and recording everything I ate, I dumped the calorie-counting obsession, along with meat and dairy (thanks again, to my big sister’s suggestion). At this point in my life, I cared more about the nutritional aspect of my food, rather than the caloric intake. As a result, this vegan diet completely cured my stomach issues. I have had one attack in 3 years (when in France: butter). The vegan life style has transformed my health, my thinking, my entire life. I now exercise to feel good, not to burn calories. I may not weigh 112lbs anymore, but I feel great, I feel gorgeous!
Today, I am a teacher, a student, a Health Counselor, an aunt, a future fiancé. Today I am healthy. Today I am happy. Today I am gorgeous. Today I am grateful for my past, because valuable lessons were learned. Tomorrow I am going to help other girls like the 13, 18, and 21-year-old Amanda feel gorgeous!