I call this my Transformation of Heart. We all want happiness and what I have discovered over the past five years of going through the roller coaster of life is that happiness can never be found in how we look, what weight we are, how much money we have, who has the coolest car or hottest boyfriend because happiness already has a home…right inside you. It’s our job to go through the challenges, the fails, the tears, the day to day action towards what we want and the never giving up so that we can unleash that happiness that is waiting for us. It just takes the right key.
LEFT PHOTO: I remember standing in front of my mirror, weighing the most I have ever weighed in my life and wanting to throw in the towel. I couldn’t bear it any more and wondered what would happen if I ended it all. I realized in my weakest moment that I had a choice in the matter, that I didn’t have to go backwards, that I could choose to move forward. Something happened in that moment where I realized I didn’t want to give up and it was in my weakest moment that I found my strongest self. Everyone has a before and this was mine. I took this photo the day after I had this realization, the day after I chose to move forward. It was everything I did up until this point that I was fighting. I was sad, depressed, having anxiety attacks and eating to escape reality and feel better. See emoticons
2ND FROM LEFT PHOTO: That first year I literally ran my weight off, I left my job, became a personal trainer and a spokesmodel for Bodybuilding.com and started competing. I lost forty pounds the healthy way until I got a tip from a trainer to lose more weight quickly for my next competition so I could be leaner and she told me to cut out all carbs. So I did. I remember one day walking out of the grocery and I couldn’t find my car because I couldn’t remember where I parked. The effects of this created a huge drop in fat and muscle, memory, energy and screwed me up hormonally. I was sad, bingeing and soon began purging food I would binge out of guilt. Suddenly, everything that I had worked to be (healthy, happy) turned into a nightmare of self obsession with losing fat and getting “leaner” because someone said I would look better. At this time, I fit into skinny jeans, was the smallest size I’ve ever been and had this inhumane obsession with how good I thought I looked but yet, I never felt good enough. It was extremely twisted and I recall at this time not having much substance in my life aside from my obsession with my body being lean, leaner than hers, leaner than the magazine girl, leaner than mine.
CENTER PHOTO: Later that year after cycling this no carbs for months at a time with bingeing, I began gaining fat and had never worked harder. Two a days, walking out of the gym, legs shaking, barely eating, I made my way to my last event in the fitness industry as this girl. I left because I knew I had to get back to my original mission of being healthy. At this point, that is all I wanted. I just wanted to go back and take it all back but I had to accept the past. Even though I was not ready or would not be prepared to accept my past for years to come…I let go so that I could regain control and find me again. In the mean time, I gained weight rapidly while continuing to lift and be healthy minded. My hormones were screwed up but more disturbingly, my mind felt like it was imprisoned. I couldn’t wrap my head around how this could be happening. But I continued to never give up because I knew I couldn’t. I remembered my choice on day 1. I remembered the strong woman who had come this far and I wanted to find her again.
2ND PHOTO FROM RIGHT: With a few years under my belt since the “rebound” as people in the industry call it, I was navigating my way back into a healthy lifestyle. IT TOOK ME 3 YEARS to get here. Even though this was just last year, my weight never went down, but it did stand still and my muscle never left. I felt like I was back to building Ash again but at the same time, my company was in year two of it being a business and as it was growing, I put myself on the back burner. There was still a big part of me that didn’t want to face my past, this thing I felt chained me….I just wanted to focus on something else and so I did. I focused on building FF and kept my head to the grindstone and worked.
PHOTO ON RIGHT: As I write this I realize that my train of a story is not leading us to a destination that makes someone go, “wow, she really lost weight” or “she is a rockstar, look at how far she’s come” but what’s most important is where my story leads as I share with you who I have realized I am through this journey. I have found in myself a warrior heart. I am tenacious, caring, hungry and FIERCE and I am at a point in my journey where I’m not fighting the old, but happily releasing it from my kung-fu grip of control and fear because it no longer serves me. I release it from having an effect on my present or my future because it is the right here and now that I am being called to focus on. I have lived a long while in my past and as I feel it all unfold with me, I can see that I am in a better place. My focus is no longer about losing fat, it is about doing what I love every day and giving back to my body by nourishing it with movement and healthy food and BALANCE. To be able to enjoy the things in life that I love without feeling regret or guilt but to wholeheartedly be ALL IN with my life and with my Self.
There may be a few messages hidden, exposed or easy to feel in here but what I know for sure is that the most important thing we have as people is our heart. If you can wake up every day grateful for everything you have and everything you are and go to bed knowing that you are a good person, that you did good in the world today and that you are living from your heart and loving…then that is worth a thousand challenging journeys. I look at this photos, at these moments in time of my life and know that other people have and will go through a similar journey, maybe not in weight related terms but in things not always going how you envision and finding a way to work WITH that obstacle. I look at all five photos and remember her in each of them and it has taken me a while to write this but I am here, I am present and my heart is ALL IN as I share that nothing matters as much as who you are, how you feel about yourself and what you do for others. Everyone has a different code of living their lives but through mine, I have found that the most important thing I hold with me as I sit here today is that I am happiest when I am operating from a place of love and operating that love straight to others and right back at myself. I wonder what your journey has been like. Remember that we all are on this journey together and sometimes what may seem like two completely different people is just two people with two different experiences. So empathize with your fellow people and accept them as one of you because we are all one. Be kind to yourself. Have a gratitude journal that you write in each night before you go to bed. Practice giving every day. Do more of what makes you happy. Remember that the answer is always within. You have all the tools you need. Never give up and never stop fiercing forward!