The Year that Changed My Life

ChangeI’m on a mission to transform myself from normal woman to badass, and so far I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. But I think it’s important for me to remember where I really started, back when I was carrying 194 pounds on my 5′ 7″ frame, and was miserable. The worst year of my life.

Truth is, it should’ve been the most exciting time of my life. I graduated from college and moved to New York City for a summer program at NYU. I shared a dorm with three other girls (beautiful, skinny girls) in Manhattan. It was an experience of a lifetime. I returned home in July – two months later – unemployed, homesick, and unhappy with my body and health.

Within a couple of months, I got a job in the San Francisco Bay Area. Again, it should’ve been the best time of my life, being a single young woman just miles outside “the City.” But I was still homesick, alone, and, as it turned out, I didn’t like my job at all. I missed my family, especially my mom, sisters, and nieces, whom I was really close with. We chatted on the phone and on Skype regularly, but when my six-month-old niece launched herself at the computer screen to try and hug me, I turned into a sobbing mess.

But suddenly, I started losing weight – and I shouldn’t have. I exercised every now and then, but nothing significant, and Taco Bell was still a regular dinner stop. It happened so slowly at first that I almost didn’t notice. Within the year, I had gone from a size 14 to just shy of a size 6.

After about 11 months in California, I moved back home. It was right before my 24th birthday. My old friends and some family members were amazed and happy for me at the weight I’d lost, and I was so pleased that I didn’t really tell anyone how it had happened.

Truth be told, I had gotten sick while living in California. I kept thinking it was depression, or that I’d somehow developed a food allergy – something to explain why I felt terrible and was losing weight. Within a month of moving home, the condition worsened, and I started seeking out answers. I went to doctors and specialists. Around Thanksgiving, two months after returning home and down to 150 pounds (and still declining), I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, an autoimmune disease and an ugly stepsister to Crohn’s.

Once I was diagnosed, my doctor started me on medication, including Prednisone, which made me feel like I was going crazy. (When you throw a book across the room because of a grammar error, you know you’ve lost it a little.)

After some trial and error, the doctors helped me get my medication right, which I’ll have to be on for the rest of my life, and I am back to living a mostly normal life. But my condition had caused me to become complacent. I never had to worry about actually trying to keep my weight down, exercise, or watch what I eat. My disease, even while I was trying to get the medication right, kept my weight in check – until I realized I had gained 25 pounds and my clothes didn’t fit.

So, here I am. Relearning how to live healthfully. I guess that’s where some of the desire to “become a badass” comes from. Just skinny, to me, looks sick (ill sick – not gross sick). But building the muscle working toward a strong, lean body is my own personal proof that I am stronger than my illness, and that I define who I am, in spite of how it all started.

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