Ever look at your day and say, “Well, that didn’t go as planned!” We have all been there, especially with the advent of social media, allowing instant comparisons of our lives and where we should be. It is easy to feel less-then like you drove into a ditch or, elitist and condescending if you dug your heels in early, riding smoothly on the “right path.”
My life has been one of very exciting ups and terrible lows and it has truly made me who I am in all my glory (take that for what it is haha). But I am proud to say, my resilience is at its peak and it will not waver. However, I do sometimes compare my life at this point in my thirties and feel like I’m not alone in being affected by the “less than/more than” culture in which we live.
I grew up in a small, quiet town in Cleveland, Ohio with parents who are still married along with a younger brother and younger sister. We had good times and not so good times but overall, I know everyone does the best they can with what they have. I was inherently a perfectionist, wanting to have the best grades, appear the skinniest and be the best. Unfortunately, this came at a cost. I fell to the despair of eating disorders, anxiety and depression.
Pictured: A couple years before my issues arose.
On the outside, I held it together, being “normal” with boyfriends, friends, getting straight A’s in middle school, high school and college, competing as a dancer and cheerleader, being involved in extracurricular sports, placing in writing competitions, and more. More so, I became a certified fitness instructor my freshman year of college. I wanted to be an entertainment reporter so I was accepted into a top two journalism school in the country. I also had fun. Lots of it. But I also would have horrible relapses with my eating disorders starting at 13 years old and with bouts of depression and anxiety. I just couldn’t have a seamless year without dealing with these problems. But my resolve to follow my dreams, pray for my health, and not let my much hidden, personal issues take hold became much stronger.
A few particular moments in my life solidified my ability to get back on track and it always came back to having a goal. I remember having “weigh-ins” at home and being faced with the constant threat of having to go to a psychologist. I prayed for my health every night and began to eat normally, albeit for a short time. I remember reading my mom’s Prevention and Shape magazines and was fascinated by all the exercises to build lean muscle and gain strength. I recall the day my mom said I could only join the basketball team if I was 100 lbs. I was 15 years old, fearing I could not gain that much weight. But I had a goal. It was all I needed. I started to eat and workout to build muscle and gain the weight I needed. I tried out and made the team.
Pictured: A beautiful sunrise driving in Southern California. A place I have wanted to live my whole life and a huge goal of mine.
In college, I discovered yoga but it wasn’t until I few years out when I was living back in Cleveland, that the feeling clicked and the breath, movement and community of people around me helped me better accept what is but more importantly, envision what could be. Yoga became my go-to when I was in distress or felt weighed-down by the world.
Pictured: Photoshoot|Weston Carls.
Another goal that helped shape my resolve to get healthier was deciding to move to California in 2012. That year, I faced “real-world” problems aside from my personal and family issues. I partially lived in my car at one point and also crashed on friend’s couches while I tried to secure extra work to afford the rent and my bills at the same time, I also had to learn how to date again after going through a painful break-up with a long-time ex who moved out to LA with me. On the flip-side, I achieved my goals: I secured commercials, infomercials, fitness videos, print work, and guest spots on tv shows while continuing to focus on my wellness and fitness ventures.
Pictured: An exciting booking – My casting for P90x videos with Tony Horton.
A third goal I’ll share is competing in NPC Bikini. Ironically, the structure of eating a certain way and working out helped me feel more confident in myself and gain control over what I had in the past had no control over – my eating habits. I felt strong, powerful, beautiful and happy. I had a goal to compete on stage and look like fitness models that I had seen in magazines and although, the prep was very tough (especially for me with all my past insecurities), I had learned how to push them aside for this goal! I achieved 4th place.
Years later looking back, I feel like all my goals saved me along with my amazing friends, family and my faith. I still work hard everyday to keep balance in my life. What is second nature to some people is something I need to consciously acknowledge. I don’t always feel great as I haven’t used medication nor seen a counselor in years (but I highly recommend for anyone who is currently dealing with these or any similar issues!). I do feel great most of the time and I’m always grateful. ***I’ll share in a future post my tips to help achieve balance!***
I think if I were living the “normal” life, I would be married, with children, living in a home in the suburbs. And I do want to get married, possibly have children (dog mom for now haha) and have a nice home. But even though that path is not in the cards for me right now, I have faith, goals, incredible people in my life, freedom to date, explore, take adventures… And the freedom that we all have: to change or accept where we are at and where we are going.
I believe the fanciest roads are the ones you unapologetically take on your own, whether or not, they have been easy, tough or somewhere in between. Your path will always lead you to a better path. So lets get moving and enjoy it along the way 🙂