My Journey

For as long as I can remember, I have struggled with my weight and self image.  Food has always been a comfort to me and I often find enjoyment in eating.  As a child, this lead to overeating and continued weight gain.  I’m not sure how old I was when I first weighed over 200 pounds, but I remember shopping at Lane Bryant when I was in the 6th grade.  Nothing more mortifying than having to wear knit pants and sweaters that scream ‘Mom’s closet’ as a 6th grader. Growing up overweight was extremely difficult for me.  Being teased, left behind, and isolated… I still cringe when I think about grade school.

When I was in middle school

In grade school, I tried anything and everything to avoid taking PE.  I would literally breakdown when physical fitness testing rolled around.  Running the mile was not only a physical challenge for me but also a mental battle.   Failing fitness exams was incredibly defeating for me which in return pushed me towards my comforts…. FOOD.

The first turn around for me occurred when I was in the 9th grade.  Instead of being place into PE, I took an “advanced fitness” class… AKA football practice during the school day.  It was then that I began lifting weights and quickly learned that I was MUCH stronger than some of the football players.  I loved lifting weights.  I was good at it and my fellow classmates were impressed.

Lifting weights changed my life.  In the spring of my freshmen year I began throwing the discus on the track and field team as a result of my weight lifting skills.  After moving to Texas during my sophomore year, I joined the powerlifting team.  Throwing the discus was my first love, but I really enjoyed powerlifting.  During my senior year oh high school I weighed 236 and was classified as a “super heavy weight”.  A mortifying term but sadly enough, I was one of the smallest women in that weight class.  That year I won the state championship in powerlifting, which was awesome!!  I benched 195lbs, squatted 400lbs, and dead-lifted 400lbs.  Just shy of 1000lbs total.  I may have been overweight, but I was strong.

Sports took me far, as I became a discus and hammer thrower in college.  I loved throwing the discus and the hammer and the life of a collegiate student-athlete.  At the same time though, it was OK for me to be overweight because of my sport.  It wasn’t until my collegiate career ended that I realized how unhealthy I was and how much I needed to lose body fat.

Throwing the discus

Throwing the shot-put

In 2006, I moved to Vermont just after college to begin my job at Dartmouth College.  At that time  I weighed 261 pounds!  I hated the way I felt and although I was still clinging to the fact that I was a college athlete, the reality was, it was time for me to change my life!

The summer I moved to Vermont (2006)

In Vermont at 261 lbs.

I joined Weight Watchers in the Fall of 2006 and I began the program counting my points and finding ways to eat lots of foods with the lowest points value.  In all reality, I was eating a lot of processed foods.  A few weeks later I decided to switch to the “CORE” program in which you were allowed to eat as much fruit, veggies, lean meat, and fat free dairy in moderation each day.  You were also able to eat one serving of brown rice, potatoes, or whole grain pasta a day.  You really had to listen to your body and decide when you were hungry and when your body was satisfied.

Whole grain right?

I also started working out, more than I ever had before.  Although I was a college athlete, cardio was never really a part of my workout.  I stuck to the weight room and to my sport (discus and hammer throw).  Reacquainting myself with the gym was interesting to say the least!  I’ll never forget the first time I walked into a spin class with my room mate at the time.  About 40 minutes into the class I thought I was going to throw up and/or pass out, so I made up some lame excuse that I had to get to work and excused myself from the class.  I also started playing squash with my co-workers, which ended up changing my life!

I was prone to getting hit!

By the summer of 2007 I was down to 208 and had lost 53 pounds total.  I felt great and was so proud of myself.

Summer 2007 at 208 lbs.

From 2007 to 2009 I went through a lot of major transitions.  I moved back to Washington, DC after a fantastic year at Dartmouth.  I felt like I had really learned more about myself, who I was and who I wanted to be.  Moving back to Washington, DC wasn’t all I thought it would be.  People had changed and I felt as though I had closed myself back into the box that I worked so hard to get out of.  I was suffocating and didn’t know what to do.  I felt depressed, alone, and lost in, despite what I though would be an exciting move back to a city I loved.

I also lost a lot of friends from 2007-2009.  Moving around, leaving a church I had been tied into for some time, and just going in different directions seemed to be the cause. I was on a physical and emotional roller coaster.  Over those 2 years I gained 20-25 pounds.  I began integrating processed foods back into my diet, stopped watching my portion sizes, and slacked on my workouts.  The spring of 2009 was especially tough, but you know what they say… “once you’ve hit rock bottom the only place to go is up”.

In the summer of 2009 I met my amazing boyfriend, God love him!  I am not going to say that he changed my life, but in many ways he did.  He opened my eyes again to the joys of life and the way things should be.  He loved me despite the state I found myself in and enabled me to take all of the baggage off that I had horded over the past 2 years.

2009-2010 are what I’d like to call my “foundational years”.  Much like building the foundation of a house, there are many steps to the process.  Sometimes rain and snow delay your process and other times rocks are thrown into your freshly poured cement.  It’s not the time it takes to lay a foundation, but the process you go through to lay the foundation that matters.

2010 Country Music Marathon (I ran the half)

2011 was the start of a beautiful awakening for me.  I began to define more of who I am, the places I am going and I am truly feeling pure joy. In January of 2011 I rejoined a gym, taking myself back to a place that I love.  I love spin classes, bodypump, running on the treadmill (some days), elliptical machines and pumping iron.  I feel so comfortable at the gym and am so happy to be back!  I am also trying to change my eating habits, one day at a time.  Over eating is my biggest weakness, but with each day, I hope to learn and apply habits that will change my life forever.

This blog is a window into my life and the journey I am on.  I welcome you into my life and hope that I can help to motivate and encourage those around me. 

Every person has a story, a beautiful story… just take a minute to listen.

Disclaimer:  All the information presented on this blog is for educational, entertainment, and resource purposes only. This blog is NOT a substitute for any advice given to you by your physician. Always consult your physician or health care provider before beginning any weight loss, nutrition or exercise program. Use of the programs, advice, and information contained in this website is at the sole choice and risk of the reader.

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13 Responses

  1. Hello again Ashley,
    I just finished reading this entry. I commend you for your honesty and the hard work you have been doing to make yourself healthier and happier. Indeed you are an encouragement . Here I am at 64 and STILL
    need encouragement. So thanks.
    Where was the above picture taken. It is great. Wish I was there. Is that you?
    Charyll

    P.S. I hope that your brother does well in Las Vegas. Best wishes to him.

  2. I just found your blog. Your story is so motivating! I have a kind of similar story and its so nice to hear about someone who started where I did and has (and continues to have) success!

  3. Hello! Your story is incredibly inspirational and honest. Thanks for sharing your story 🙂 I’m with you on finding the healthy eating habits! Weight Watchers has truly helped me. Can’t wait to read more!!

  4. Well i already know all this information bc i am your best friend and to be totally honest with you i never noticed when you were gaining or losing wait bc your hear and character were what I loved about you and i was just so excited to be part of your life and spend time with you. i love you and miss you terribly!!

  5. WOW… I’m so excited I found your blog and to follow your journey. We have a lot in common, although… I only THINK about running and don’t actually do it. Looking forward to reading more! 🙂

  6. Hey there, I just found your blog.

    You sound like you have such determination that I’m sure you’ll complete your goals.

    I’m very jealous that you’ve been able to deadlift such a weight! I’m still a newbie in weightlifting terms but maybe one day I’ll get there…

  7. I’m hooked! Looking forward to reading about your journey!

  8. Beautiful story, and really imrpessive pictures. Totally inspirational!

  9. I just happened to come across your blog and I can relate to your story in so many ways.

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