How Exercise Changed My Life (that doesn't have to do with my body)

March 19, 2014

I write a lot about how fitness is my biggest passion. And it basically is. However, there is one other thing that comes in at a very close second. That is empowering women. I am a girl's girl. I want women to feel great about themselves; be confident, feel loved, and have a strong sense of motivation. We live in a world where women are pinned against one another. We are almost genetically inclined to come out of the womb ready to tear down the woman next to us. I am not wired that way. I want that to change so that change starts within me.

The media is all about a woman and her looks. On magazine covers you always see women and something about their physical appearance. This woman gained X amount of pounds, this woman lost her baby weight in record time, this woman has a killer body, and it goes on and on. Physical looks and sex almost define a woman in this world... it seems.

When I was a teenager, I fell victim to this in a huge way. 

When I was growing up, I was an "ugly duckling". I was teased and bullied a lot. I hit puberty when I was about 7. I remember in second grade having a big butt and needing to wear a bra. I loathed it and I was so embarrassed. Thus I wore baggy clothes that were far too big for me. I never wanted any of my clothes to show my body. I had big glasses too and never cared how my hair looked. I was pretty content. My neighborhood was nothing but boys and I was close with my younger brother, so my days were spent playing sports, riding four-wheeler's, and playing video games. I thought nothing of it.

Time goes by and I grow older. The summer before 8th grade, when I was 13 years old, for the first time, I exercised and started to lose weight. I began to like my new found muscle and curves. I then started wearing contacts, and learned about hair and makeup due to making more friends who were girls. I also bought more fashionable clothes that fit me. That year, things changed a lot for me in school. I had more "friends" than ever, boys were taking notice, and I felt a way about myself that I had never felt before. I was becoming addicted to the attention. 

I learned that if I looked pretty, people would "like" me.

My last year of middle school was great, but then high school comes. I transfer out of the school system I grew up in the second month of my freshman year. I then joined MySpace in 2004 to keep in touch with all of my old friends. That was when I first laid eyes on a model on there. Her screen name was "ForbiddeN" but her real name is Christine. She was the most popular woman on My Space and was featured on talk shows and magazines from it. I thought that was so incredible and I wanted to be just like her. She had platinum blonde hair, extremely tan skin, huge boobs, and a skinny body. I wanted to be that. 

However, that did not quite happen. My freshman and sophomore years in school took a turn for the worse because of all of the bullying I went through and abuse from my then step-father (my mother has since divorced him). I was walked to class by the Student Resource Officer because I would skip class or show up late because if I walked to class alone, people would yell at me, throw paper, and things like that. My mom came up to the school countless times on my behalf, and having the SRO aid me to class was the only option to help the situation. I was a cheerleader and during basketball games people would sit on the bleachers while I was on the gym floor doing a cheer or dance routine, and make faces at me, point at me, and laugh. Another time, I had to run on a mile on the track outside one day after school since I missed gym class the day before. The football team was running the steps on the stadium and every time they would see me run past them on the track, they would yell really mean things. My list could go on for what happened for those two years. I exercised at the gym during that time, but I ate my feelings. I ate a lot. I binged, a lot.

When I got my license the summer before my junior year of high school and started working, my weight was under a better control. I was able to enroll in the co-op program so I only had to go to school until 11:15 AM everyday and then I graduated early. I was finally fit, attractive, and I was getting good attention. I had never been "pretty" before or had good attention, so this was unbelievably euphoric. 

Physical beauty and promiscuity ruled my entire life. I was not going out in the world sleeping with everyone, but I made sure people noticed my body. I made sure I stood out. The attention became an addiction, and I was so stupid at the time to not realize that the only reason I was getting this attention is because men wanted sex. Not because they liked me or thought I was an awesome person to befriend; they simply wanted to get  in my pants. I was so caught up in the moment that I did not have the intelligence to differentiate attention because of my body and attention because of someone liking me for who I am.

I rebelled a lot during this time period. I put my father and step-mom through so much pain. They are devote Christians and put strict curfew's on me, but I constantly disobeyed everyone. My mom was more laid back and gave me more freedom, however I ended up taking even that for granted. I got to the point where my parents had to sell my car for a couple of months to try and teach me a lesson. It was a horrible period of my life. One that I am so, so ashamed of. I was so obsessed with the attention I was getting that I let everyone else around me, who loved me, hurt. You see this attention was unheard of for me. I grew up as a tom-boy and ugly duckling. Then I was bullied and teased relentlessly throughout high school, so when I all of the sudden become "hot and sexy", the attention was a drug for me. 

It was not until I started my weight loss journey at 19 years old in September of 2008 that I finally snapped out of it. After nearly a year of hard partying, drinking, binge eating, and fast food trips, my body suffered a tremendous weight gain. I literally could not believe I had gained over 100 pounds in a 14-15 months. I was so caught up in a partying lifestyle that I did not realize what was happening myself. I felt so stuck. I was only 19 years old and was 276 pounds. I thought to myself: "how in the world can I bounce back from this?". My plan was to not get so overwhelmed and take it one step at a time. And that is what I did. I told you guys how I initially lost weight: hard research, obtaining my NASM certification (not because I necessarily wanted to train people, but I wanted the education), clean eating, and hard training. I made one healthy choice at a time.

Every day that I would go to the gym, I felt myself getting stronger and more fit. I would see myself in the mirror drenched in sweat and think "damn I look beautiful". I did not look beautiful because I had perfect hair or makeup, I looked beautiful because I was working hard. I was out of my comfort zone, but doing the exercises anyway. I never had the best gym clothes. My body was never the best in the gym. However, I stayed dedicated. That impressed me. That made me feel like I could do anything.  I would be so scared going into the gym sometimes, but I would make myself go. I would make myself not care what anyone else was thinking or saying. Because no one out there can make me lose weight except for myself. If I wanted to get fit, I had to put in the work. I was on my own personal mission. No one knew the pain and agony I felt inside. So I pushed on.

The gym in a sense has changed my life. It changed the way I viewed myself. It helped me learn to love myself for who I am, not because of the way I look. I know that may sound kind of crazy, because exercising helps our outward appearance so much. But let me tell you this, you will never move mountains without a strong a mind. Your body can do whatever you want it too, it is your mind and inner strength that must conduct it.

Over time I watched my body transform and that transformation changed the way I thought. I suddenly realized I could do anything I wanted. The gym was hard work and I was so uncomfortable in there sometimes, but I did it anyway. Imagine where else I could use the mentality! I realized that I have a worth and my worth was not my outward appearance. I made people start to respect me. I made people get to know me for who I was on the inside. I realized that it was my determination and dedication that changed my body. It was my hard, raw work that did this. That is an incredible feeling.

That is what saved me in November when part 2 of my journey began -- the confidence the gym taught me. I knew I was overweight. I knew I did not look the way I used too. More so, I knew I could get back to the place where I used to be. I knew I was better than the old me who binges when they are sad, who gets hurt when people talk about me, who feels sorry for myself - I am better than that. It was time to cut off my self loathing and hit the gym again. All of my clothes had grown too tight, I was embarrassed seeing people I knew, because I knew they could tell I was bigger, but I pushed anyway. I know in my heart that I am strong, confident, and intelligence. I have all of the tools I needed to get back to where I was. It was time to dig deep again and find that inner love I used to have and put it to use.  

As I would watch other woman battle with these same weight issues, I wanted to wanted to help them. As I would see other women battle with their on self-worth, I wanted to help. I wanted to scream to everyone who was going through what I did; "I know your pain! I know it all too well. Please listen to me because you can get past this". I suddenly wanted to tell every woman in the world that we are not creatures to be used as a dolls and for sex. We have hearts and minds and that if we work hard, we can do anything we want. 

The gym saved me from a downward spiral and a dark place. It not only transformed my body and health, but my mind and morals.

*My blog hop will be back next Wednesday. It has been a rough week with my father's cancer as his time is quickly approaching. I am in and out of town and blog posts have been previously scheduled. 


  1. XO - you and your family are in my prayers~! Love you and your blog! Thanks for the daily inspiration to be better!

  2. Your family is in my prayers, love. You are sooo strong!

  3. liz, i'm so sorry you had to go through such terrible times. kids are so cruel and i hated seeing anyone bullied so i usually stuck up for them. but you're in a different place now and although your past has influenced you in a lot of ways, i love how you're focusing on your strengths and what gives you strength. this is what i love about fitness - the power it gives you over everything.

    big hugs to you and your family.xoxox

    -kathy | Vodka and Soda

  4. Sending prayers and good vibes your way! Thanksf or keeping up such an inspirational blog (:

  5. Praying for you and your fam. You are an amazing lady! I love hearing about your past even though it's probably painful to write. You are such an inspiration to me!

  6. Seeing that you overcame all the rough parts only serves to prove how really strong you are as a person. Love that you are focusing on that strength now. Thinking of you and your family right now! Big Hugs.

  7. You are an amazing woman and we are so lucky to have met you!!! You keep doin your thang lady!!! Such an inspiration.

  8. I really identified with you reading that!!! I was made fun of a lot in school and thought I was super ugly. I used to think HOW can my relatives love me and want to be around me in public, I look SO horrible!! Isnt that sad??? I hate that I ever felt that way! But yes when boys started paying attention it made me feel SO much better about myself. I went through a rough transition too but I am glad that we can look back now and identify why we felt that way. You look sooo precious in those photos girl. I wish we only knew how adorable we were back then!! Thank you for sharing!

  9. You're an amazing, strong woman, girl! My prayers are with you and your family through this extremely difficult time. You've accomplished SO much after facing so many struggles. Admirable to the max! Xoxo!

  10. You are a beautiful person on the inside, and that shows on the outside! I, too, think I look the most beautiful when I'm drenched in sweat after a hard workout. I wish there were more people like you that REALLY wanted to lift and inspire other women. I know I do!!

  11. This was inspiring to read.

    You've got my prayers!

  12. Thank you for sharing your story....I imagine it was difficult to hit the publish button, so thank you.

    **thinking of your family**

  13. You are constantly impressing me with your drive, your strength, and your heart. Keep on keeping on, kid... You're amazing. Love.

  14. Kids can be so cruel and so mean. But it doesn't end there...adults can be cruel and mean too! In a society obsessed with celebrities, thigh gaps and body fat %, it is so hard to be confident if you dont "have it all." You have been through so much and you are so strong and have such a drive! It is very inspiring!

    Big hugs to you!

  15. You are amazing! This is a great post!

  16. Thank you for sharing your personal story. I think it will help so many women out there who can identify with your story. And my thoughts are with your family.

  17. I am so glad you fought back from that dark time in your life and you are so right you can overcome anything with a strong mind. I am working on getting my fight back at the moment and it's hard but I do know I can do it. Your story will inspire many people so thankyou so much for sharing it.
    My heart and prayers are with you and your family.

  18. Sending prayers your way sweet girl.. & I am proud of you for all that you have accomplished :)

  19. Wow - what a great post. First time commenter...just wanted to say thank you, and you are truly amazing! You are such an inspiration!

  20. Many times people think that just because a person is young that they have not experienced much.... especially heart ache. In fact, it seems like that is really when we begin to learn heart ache.

    I am happy for the way you have overcome the trials and tribulations life has thrown at you. Prayers for your dad!

  21. This is a beautiful post. Your story is just so inspiring! Currently I am trying to lose the 10 pounds I gained this past year after getting married. I am only 6 pounds away!!

    I am so sorry about your father - please know that you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

  22. This is such a great inspiration story as are you!!!

  23. You my dear friend are AMAZING and such an inspiration!! Love you :)

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  25. I needed to read these today as I am trying to motivate myself to get back to the gym! Thanks!

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