Hey guys! I have a different type of post today. This is something I’ve had on my mind and in my thoughts for a while, and that I’ve also been excited to share with you.

There’s been another sort of journey over the past 4 years that was eluded to but maybe not always totally transparent: my health and fitness journey. I feel like I’m finally at the point where I’m confident in myself and who I am. I am happy. I enjoy what I do, what I eat, and how it makes me feel. But honest, it’s been quite a ride to get where I am today, and I’ve struggled a bit over the past 4 years.

If we’re being honest, reading old posts sometimes make me cringe. But it really is a testament to how far I’ve come. In this little mini-series, I wanted to dive in and be real about where I was, and where I am now. I feel like i am at a place where I can look back and reflect, because as I said before, I am happy about where I am now. These posts may be raw. They may show some pictures that were deemed not suitable for the blog in the past, and were scrapped in favor of more flattering angles. But I hope someone can maybe get something out of this. I know when I was struggling with my college weight gain, I looked for bloggers’ success stories about how they found balance again.

For many many reasons, I am not going to be sharing exact weight numbers, but I may give + or – numbers.

#TTedit

After just over 3 years, I found myself +30 pounds from when I stepped on campus at the beginning of my freshman year.

Now, I’m +6.

Honestly, my body is completely different than when I left home freshman year, those +6? Probably not important. I have no goal, I’m not trying to lose more weight, I’m just going to see where my body wants to be.

This is my story.

Part 1 will be Freshman year, 2 sophomore, 3 junior, and 4 senior. I hope this series resonates with someone out there who experienced similar things.

When I began my freshman year, I was in the best shape of my life. I basically spent the summer before college working out, because I enjoyed it and didn’t have much else to do! I also wanted to be ready to walk on to the rowing team.

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(Move in Day)

Leading up to this point, I had always been a really health conscious, if erratic eater. I considered sugar to be the plague (although I struggled somewhat to avoid it), and I was used to controlled meals, especially for breakfast and lunch, since they were often packed.

When I started rowing, I dropped a few pounds. Partly due to exercise, partly due to some muscle loss. I had been weight lifting regularly for several years prior, and the novice rowers didn’t really lift. Freshman 15? What Freshman 15?

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At the same time, my eating habits were declining, which caused endless stress for me. I spent a lot of time feeling disgusting. I got into the habit of eating a big pancake breakfast with my team after morning practice, and I would crash HARD mid-morning. That, plus lack of sleep! Practices start at 5:45am, so I was perpetually sleep deprived (and getting my butt kicked in classes).

When I went home for the holidays, I was a stressed mess and gorged myself. School stress, rowing stress, freshman year adjustment stress.

Christmas break was especially hard. I was miserable because I was only home for a week or so because I had training camp the day after Christmas, so I was sad to miss time at home. Again, the stress directed itself in my eating habits, and I ate so much junk that I felt not only terrible, but stressed about the junk.

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(Effortlessly ran a sub-25:00 5k, have been killing myself trying to beat it ever since!)

By the time I made it to training camp, I was a little heavier than when I left for college. I started my blog around this time.

I started the new quarter optimistic, but things quickly spiraled out of control. My classes were so hard, and rowing was crazy. It was a 5 hour a day time commitment, and I quickly fell behind in classes. I was extremely sleep deprived, and due to the high volume of our training load, likely clinically overtrained. Food was becoming more of a struggle, because it was both an outlet for and a cause of stress. I’m not going to link to posts, but if you look at the early 2013 posts in my sidebar, you can get a sense. I felt out of control. My life felt out of control. I was a freaking. mess. Then things came crashing down. I came down with mono, and was the sickest I’ve ever been in my life. I had mono, stomach flu, strep throat, a cold, an ear injection, and a sinus infection, at the same time. I couldn’t eat. It was a struggle to get down a piece of dry toast ever morning to take my medicine. I was taking 32 pills a day, because I needed Tylenol and Advil around the clock to control my raging fever. I did not so much as sit up in bed for 3 weeks. (I went home.)

Naturally, all the weight I gained was gone. I was weak, I hadn’t moved in a month. And my body was still so, so out of whack.

In addition to that, I was no longer rowing, so I was no longer constrained by rowing since I stopped when I got mono. Between those two things, I entered some type of manic state for the first 3 weeks of spring quarter. I didn’t sleep. I stayed up until 3am talking and hanging out, and I was up at 7 to go to the gym. My eating habits were insane. I had zero control, and ate an absolutely absurd number of yogurt bowls.

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I was having fun with college life, but I was putting weight on at an alarming speed. In several short weeks, I was up 20 pounds. I didn’t recognize myself. I didn’t feel comfortable in what I had become. 296105_10151513830477449_1921496723_n

In addition, thanks to mono, I was super out of shape, so I had way less muscle than in the past. I carried most of the weight in my arms and stomach, and was just so uncomfortable. By the end of the year, I was ready to go home, reset, and take a break.

This post actually is a pretty decent overview of my freshman year, but a bit of a rosier outlook.

That summer, I started to find some control and some balance but I still struggled.

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I was about +20 from arriving at college. I was looking for a cure, for answers. I briefly tried Paleo. I briefly tried Whole30. Nothing stuck.

But I did make progress. I started Crossfit that summer, and ran my first half marathon. I was no longer in my super crazy end of freshen year state, and I showed up to college at the beginning of my sophomore year fitter and saner, but still not satisfied.

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(Hawaii right before school started)

In terms of my sanity, I think freshman year was the biggest journey. It is interesting to look back on old posts from that period, and feel what I was experiencing. Lots of frustration. Lack of control. Stress over what I was eating. Labeling foods as good or bad, trying to restrict the bad, only for that to backfire in my face. Eating junk and feeling terrible. As I said before, feel free to check out the archives in the side bar for more details. I think I definitely struggled with eating in a dining hall too. Muffins and pancakes were my weakness, and they usually left me feeling yucky. Once I had them, I couldn’t stop, and things spiraled. I remember one instance where I was supposed to be going for a run, but stopped halfway through to go eat muffins in the dining hall! (How things have changed….#glutenfree)

Stay tuned for next’s weeks #TransformationTuesday, a recap of sophomore year!

What has your health and fitness journey been like?

7 comments on “#TransformationTuesday: The Story That Was Left Off the Blog #1

  1. rosedaughter1427

    Oh man, my health and fitness journey has definitely had a lot of ups and downs. Well, I think mostly downs. To put things succinctly, I got into running and eating healthy my freshman year, but was pretty much orthorexic about my eating. Then I joined cross country my sophomore year, and through absolutely no fault of my lovely coach or teammates, I became orthorexic, anorexic, and addicted to exercise. The fact that I was juggling a full load, a very problematic relationship, volunteering at a hospital, and TAing didn’t help. I was pretty tiny at that time, and weighed a good 15 lbs lighter than I do now, which is scarily low for a petite woman.

    I continued running and recovered a little during my junior/senior year (I graduated a year early), enough to start being less restrictive regarding food and more permissive regarding exercise routines, and entered therapy of my own volition. However, I had a bad relapse of anorexic tendencies last summer, thinking that because I was injured and couldn’t run, it would be a smart idea to eat 1,000 calories daily while doing fasted elliptical workouts in the morning. Then developed binge-eating disorder, which I am in the process of recovering from.

    Today I am not as fast as I was in cross country, partly because of my mental health, partly because I haven’t been fueling my body correctly for the last 6+ months. But at this point, peak fitness cannot be my priority unless I get my relationship with eating and exercise back into balance. I think I can safely say that both eating and exercise are slowly becoming more balanced.

    1. astottler Post author

      Thank you for sharing your journey, I know it isn’t easy to do. It sounds like you are being conscious about what is best for you, and I wish you the best of luck in the future!

      1. rosedaughter1427

        Thank you for sharing your journey as well! It’s good to know that someone else out there is also dealing with these sorts of issues, and I think that you are quite brave for sharing your health/fitness story in detail. It means a lot.

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