Putting my story out there into the world is pretty scary, so be gentle with me…

Hold up everyone, I’m going to drop the F-bomb. I was The Fat Kid. Not the kid with chubby cheeks, not the kid with cute puppy fat or a little tubby belly, nope- I was The Fat Kid. The locker room joke. The red-faced teenager who nobody wanted to date. The one whose uncle called her “Fatty Arbuckle” at family gatherings.

Growing up as The Fat Kid is tough. When I met other kids, at school or at other activities, that was my identity. Not that I was good with animals, or smart, or could draw really well- I was just Fat Lisa. I didn’t participate in sports (because of physical problems related to my weight but also because of the crippling embarrassment) and ate everything that was put in front of me, while also binging in secret. Using food as medication/love/comfort.

The change came in two very different stages- when I decided I was going to be thin in my late teens, and when I decided to be healthy in my mid to late 20s. There is such a crucial different between the two- physically, emotionally and psychologically.

What started out as eating less, working out more, seeing results, became an obsession that quickly spiralled out of control. The hardest part was losing around 75lbs total (at 22 I was 30lbs smaller than I am now) and still seeing Fat Lisa in the mirror. To the world I was fit and thin, but man was I unhealthy and miserable. It took me 7 long years to realize that this isn’t the way life should be.

This destructive cycle ended when I realized that the key factor in having a healthy body is that you have a healthy attitude that goes along with it (thanks Yoga!). That means loving your body for everything that it is- every inch, every roll, every stretch mark, every scar. I don’t work out to get thin- I work out to get strong, to stay healthy. I work out because I love this meat suit that I walk around in! Once you figure out self love, putting good stuff in and on your body (and taking it outside often, or going to class) doesn’t become a battle, it’s just you taking care of the most precious thing you have. I’m not saying that the road to health is easy, but inner health has such a massive effect on the outside and on the decisions you make. And I know it’s a hard lesson to learn sometimes- but it really is 25% exercise, 75% nutrition, which means making the choice to love your body by working out and taking in good, clean whole foods every. damn. day. (and not beating yourself up when you have a “treat”! Just make a conscious decision to find balance.)

The most important quote I ever read is:

“There are no neutral foods.”

EVERY single thing we eat has either a positive or a negative effect on us- physically, or psychologically. Once I started making my food choices based on this thinking, I was amazed at the changes in my shape, muscle tone, energy and, most importantly, attitude.

When you grow up as The Fat Kid, you will always see yourself as The Fat Kid- I still thought it when I was 30lbs lighter and to some extent I think I always will. But now when I look in the mirror, it’s easier to see Strong Lisa, or Warrior Lisa. I don’t see my “rugby player thighs”- I see my strong quads that carried me 26.2 miles to finish a marathon. I don’t see my flabby arms- I see what my wonderful boyfriend affectionately calls “the gun show”. I have a layer of insulation over my 6 pack but you can be damn sure I know it’s there when I show my strong form in plank or starfish (“shoulders, hips, heels in line!” AmIright Warriors??)

Learning these things about myself and knowing the profound effect they have had on my life led me to my passion- sharing health and wellness with others, to my soul-sister Nickie Carrigan, and to my second family at The Warehouse. It all starts with a simple choice to love yourself, regardless. Love yourselves as much as I love all of you.