Monday, December 2, 2013

Finding a Balance to Conquer: An Entrepreneur with a Purpose

 I am here to share my testimony and give you an insight on my journey as a mother, step-mother, devoted wife, Christ follower and fitness entrepreneur. Finding a balance to conquer all of them is difficult. My name is Scarlett, and I am living proof that while it is difficult, it is possible.

Childhood Dreams of Fitness Competing 

   This specific blog is my testimony into my journey and struggle with fitness. My journey with fitness started well, really when I was a kid. I loved to be active and loved doing all kinds of sports. When I reached high school I would talk to my dad about nutrition. I would watch him eat all these different types of foods I did not like and that did not taste good to me. I don't think he even liked what he ate some of the time. I asked him why he would eat something that didn't taste good if he didn't really like it?  His response was that it wasn't about the taste that it was simply about having the proper fuel for his body and the health benefits the "nasty" type of foods gave him.  He would lift weights and took many vitamins. I thought it was crazy at the time. It wasn't until I started asking him questions about fitness competitions that it clicked. By my junior year in high school I had made up my mind that one day I would compete in a fitness show. He told me it would be hard work and that it could be strenuous on the body.

     As I entered college I started to workout more and more on my own in the gym. I decided I would get a trainer to help me get closer to my goal of one day doing one of these competitions., and being comfortable enough with myself to get on stage. I trained day in and day out. I even earned the nickname "Beast". No matter what my trainer threw at me I would do it, and I would do it hard. I would go to an early morning spin class and by early morning I don't mean 9 am-  it was a 4:30am spin class to get my cardio in. At that time I wasn't big on running so spinning to me was great. Sometimes I would do back to back classes.

My Sister April and I - Childhood Best Friends

Personal Training: Little to No Personal Results

     My eating was on point. When this girl is determined I am DETERMINED!!!! I was very regimented. I ONLY ate what my trainer would tell me to. I eliminated dairy, sugar, all the "fun" foods. BUT... I wasn't seeing the reults I expected to. My trainer did not understand it either. I was strong... boy was I strong. Despite that, you could not look at me and have a response like : "Yeah that girl works out." I was doing things in the gym that some of the trainers didn't do. Despite that, I didn't look the part like I thought I should. My results didn't show themselves; even with the countless hours of hard work. I continued with my workouts, changed my meals up and still didn't see the results. Because nothing was working, I became discouraged. As I was in one of my classes I started to fall asleep (sounds normal for a college student right? NOT in my case). This continued even when I was behind the wheel of my car. I knew there was something really wrong with my body. So to the doctor I went.

Cortisol Resistence: A Genetic Disorder

     My regular doctor could not find anything wrong with me. It just so happened I had my gyno check up a couple weeks later. They always do tests and I told him what was going on and how I was feeling. He decided to do a hormone panel to see if everything looked okay. The results came back and my hormones were off the charts. He then sent me to an endocrinologist. There I was expecting to find out what was wrong with me but it didn't happen. Not right away anyway. After running many tests and by process of elimination my doctor was finally able to give me an answer. I had a rare disorder called "Cortisol Resistance" Uhhhhh what??? I had heard of thyroid issues etc, but Cortisol Resistance? What was it and what did it mean for my life ahead of me?

     I soon found out that it is a rare genetic disorder where my body did not respond to the hormone itself. My brain was telling my body that I was not producing this particular hormone so to compensate it would produce even more.  I over produced double the amount of cortisol a normal person produces. When a person works out, they produce cortisol. So as you can see I was producing 3 to 5 times the amount that I should have been producing because I was working out multiple times per day, thinking I would have a better fat loss result. Cortisol is also known as the "stress hormone" so stress can bring it on as well. Doctors say to do the thing that brings you stress relief, well that would be working out but obviously that didn't help my personal issue. By over producing the cortisol no matter what I did I would have this layer of fat all over my body. I was so discouraged about the news I had just received.

Crushed Dreams 

     My fitness dreams were crushed at that very moment. I knew with this I would never achieve my fitness goals, they would never become a reality for me. This being a rare disorder and less than 200,000 people being diagnosed with it in the world there was obviously no cure nor a particular type of medicine to reduce the cortisol. Instead I was prescribed a diabetic medicine - Metforamin. I seriously had no idea if this medicine was even working. If you knew my mom you would know she is a researcher. I think she read everything that was published at that time about "Cortisol Resistance" which wasn't much. She then took me to our local health supplement store where we chatted with a lady about what was going on with me. The lady then directed us to a supplement called Phosphatidylserine. The body naturally produces this but it gets most of what it needs from food. It can improve many things in the brain. Alzheimer's disease, age decline in mental function, it can even improve the thought process in younger people, depression, ADHD, and exercise induced stress (WebMD). I decided I would give it a shot. It had to be better than taking diabetic medicine; especially when I wasn't a diabetic. I still didn't see the results I expected. I guess I thought it would make it all go away.

Self Destruction: Eating Disorder & The Importance of Accountability

      I had to face reality that it wasn't going to just go away. I became depressed and then became a victim of thoughts like "You aren't beautiful", "You are fat" , "No one could ever like or love you", "Skinny is beautiful and you will never be skinny", "Failure". This then resulted in an eating disorder. Something I was so against when I had started my fitness journey. I became addicted to throwing up. Even if it was healthy food for my body I would throw it up. I felt like I was in control. It almost made me feel like I was in control of the disorder I had. In my mind this eating disorder didn't rule over me but in all reality it ran my whole life. When someone would plan a dinner I would time from the time I swallowed the food to the time I had to throw it up so I did not ingest it. If I was at a restaurant with friends I would quietly excuse myself and go to the bathroom. I thought I was discreet about what was going on with me, but little did I know one of my best friends was on to me.

     My friend Kira also my workout partner realized what was going on and called me out on it with some women that cared about me. These women were a part of my bible study. They pleaded for me to go to counseling but I told them I could beat this on my own. Kira would check on me daily and pray for me constantly. She would sometimes cook for me while I was at her house and sit there and eat with me. Making sure I did not go to the bathroom after. I realized as she continued to check on me I found myself not wanting to lie about it. So I told her when I threw up and how many times that day I did . I went from 10 or more times a day down to 8 and so forth until I was down to one. I started to except this genetic disorder and except that I would have to find a different goal/dream to chase.

At a Scholarship Fundraiser "Inspire Me Mommy!" September 2013

Admitted I Needed Help: Power in Self Analyzation

     I realized I did need more help and that I could not beat my eating disorder on my own. Though I had accomplished not throwing up as often during the day anytime I felt stressed thats what I turned to. I still felt like that I was in control even though I was far from it. So I sought council at my church. First step was admitting to one of the pastors in my church my secret. Then he started to get down to the root of the issue. This eating disorder stemmed deeper than I thought. I had to face many dark places in my life that I had stored away thinking I would never have to visit them again if I pretended they did not exist. I realized that when I looked in the mirror I didn't see what others saw. I saw something that was ugly, broken, and useless. A woman who put a smile on her face to pretend that everything was always okay. A woman who would take on everyone else's issues and problems, but not deal with my own. Something this particular pastor told me has stuck with me. He said I was like an old wooden chair. That wooden chair had been painted many many times. Then someone (Jesus) comes a long and decides to strip the chair of the hundreds of layers of paint to get to the original look of the chair. Realizing the chair was more beautiful in its' original condition than with all of the layers of paint. I thought to myself "wow I have been hiding for so long I don't really know who I am."

Eating for Healthy, Not to be Skinny

     Fast forwarding a little bit I changed my life completely. I ate healthy to be healthy. I worked out to be healthy. I did not let working out rule my life anymore. I still struggled everyday not to throw up, but I would tell myself that I am bigger than it. I won't pretend or lie to all of you that it is not an everyday battle not to throw up. I also won't lie to you and tell you I haven't done so since this realization 4 years ago. But what I will tell you is that if I do relapse I tell someone immediately that day or the next. It has been a while now since I have had a relapse, and now I have a bigger reason than myself to be strong for. I am now married to my wonderful husband Aaron of two years who supports me in all that I do. I have a beautiful 11 year old step-daughter that I would never want her to struggle the way I did. I also now have a baby boy whom I have been blessed with even though I wasn't supposed to be able to get pregnant. He is 16 months old now.

Hormone Regulation: Pregnancy, Hormones and a Newly Realized Identity

     Getting pregnant was a blessing and my pregnancy went smoothly. After having my son I noticed my body felt different. I was losing weight and quickly got down to my pre-pregnancy weight. The weight continued to almost melt away. It seemed like pregnancy had done something to my body to make it "normal." I started working out again to gain my strength back. I don't live at the gym but I try to be active daily. I am not addicted to the gym like I was before and I don't let bulimia run my life. My dreams and goals of being on stage in a bikini competition are back on my list. It will not be a life style but something I would like to accomplish. I don't know how being pregnant reversed everything nor do I know if it will last. What I  do know is that I am living a healthier life all the way around.

Affirmations: Discovering your Truth and True Beauty

     What I want to say is that even if you don't look fit that doesn't mean you are not healthy or fit. It DOES NOT mean you are not beautiful. A person who is skinny does not mean they are fit or healthy. Also if you struggle with an eating disorder I plead you to get help. I know it is hard especially when it has become a routine or your safety net. Large, medium, or small. Pear shaped, box shaped, or apple shaped, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. Scars or no scars, small breasts or big breasts YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. No butt or big butt...YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. I challenge each reader that reads this to look in the mirror on a daily basis for a week and tell yourself 5 things that is great about you and after that tell yourself YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL or handsome if you are a guy :) I know men struggle just as much as woman do with their image. That's it for this blog. More to come soon. Thanks for reading and remember 

There is power in affirmations.

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