July 24, 2013

How I Conquered My Negative Body Image

I've been putting this post off.  Remember last week when I said I had a very personal post coming?  Yeah.  It's that one.  It has to do with body image.  I've written on this topic before, and it wasn't easy then either.  It's hard for me to practice what I preach on this subject.  You see, I feel like I'm in a constant state of trying to lose weight.  I've spent most of my life being overweight.  Body image is something I STRUGGLE with.  I spent a lot of high school and early college teetering on the edge of various eating disorders.  I know I'm not alone in this, but sometimes it just plain feels lonely.

At the end of my sophomore year of college, after ending a TERRIBLY unhealthy and abusive relationship, I lost 50 pounds.  I felt incredible about myself, finally.  I really came out of my shell.  I still had a few more pounds to lose, but I felt really great about my looks for once.  I was, however, still greatly wounded from my previous relationship, and the bad thing was, I lost the weight in a very unhealthy way.  I had restricted my calories to between 700 and 800 a day while going to the gym and burning all of those calories back off in one session.  BAD BAD BAD.  It began from being depressed in that relationship, once I noticed I was losing weight pretty rapidly, I consciously began restricting my fuel intake.

I spent the next year healing from the bad relationship, and I met the beau.  We began dating, and I was extremely happy, and I sometimes these things happen, the weight began to creep back up.  I was no longer obsessively watching everything I put in my mouth, but I had gained 30 pounds back.  This past November, I realized I had to do something ASAP.  I didn't want this problem hovering over me for the rest of my life.  I wanted to do it for me and for my future family.  I would die if my children spent their life suffering from extreme body image issues like I have, and I knew it had to happen the healthy way or it wouldn't stay off this time.  So, I began researching.

I starting running every day, lifting weights, and really focusing on a balanced, clean, and healthy diet that I could maintain for a lifetime.  My body had never felt better, and I began noticing some growth in my muscles, but I wasn't losing any weight.  Don't get me wrong, the number on the scale isn't the sole thing you should be focusing on, but I knew that number had to come down because I was still considered overweight.  By March, there was still no significant change in those numbers, so I decided to talk to my doctor.  After discussing with her my issues, she decided to check my thyroid, but nothing seemed to be wrong in that area.  It was my metabolism.  It has been so significantly damaged from dropping weight the unhealthy way, I was having difficulty losing it the healthy way now.  I couldn't believe that it had come back to haunt me like that.

She gave me a few pointers for remedying this problem, and I am happy to say that after months of hard work, those 30 pounds are finally back off.  I'm not stopping here though.  I have a few more pounds to go, and when I finally hit my goal weight, I will share all the numbers with you.  I need a little more time to get comfortable with doing that!  It's scary!  I have more goals ready for when I reach that ultimate goal weight, don't worry!

From L to R:  heaviest ever, 50 pounds down, 30 pounds back up, and now

I've become so infatuated with health and nutrition and the way being healthy makes me feel.  Learning the proper way to care for your body has really pushed me to come to terms with the way I feel about my body.  Instead of hating my body for the way it looks, I've come to love it for the things it can do and the way I can make it feel.  I want to test it and push it to its limits now.  Don't get me wrong, I still have days when I don't like the way I look, and I want the rest of the weight to just fall off at once.  It feels so good, though, to truly love myself for the first time in pretty much ever.

On a side note:  I've recently just discovered that I have a gluten intolerance.  After suffering from eczema for my ENTIRE LIFE, it's become painfully clear that gluten sensitivity is the cause.  Weird, right?  Just another helpful lesson from my health and nutrition research.

I hope y'all enjoyed this post.  I know it's a little out of the ordinary compared to what I usually post, but I felt like I should share it.  If anyone ever needs to talk about your body issues, wants an accountability partner, or has any questions about my past struggles, please feel free to contact me.  I'd love to talk to you!

For more from me on learning to love yourself and body image visit this post.

Happy Hump Day!

xoxo-Chelsea Eli


  1. Chels! You look amazing! You were, of course, gorgeous always, but I love reading stories like yours! I was right there with you freshman year. While I wasn't overweight, I did NOT take care of myself! Who knew that eating Taco Bell every night wasn't healthy?! haha! Just kidding! After having kids, I realized that I have been lucky my whole life with a great metabolism, and I don't have that anymore! I didn't lose all of my baby weight after having Emma before getting pregnant with Elliot, and I was almost devastated about getting pregnant and having not lost my weight! I knew then I had to do better! I couldn't use pregnancy as an excuse to eat anything and everything like I did the first time, so I started my journey there! There have been ups and downs, but overall, I am much healthier overall than I have ever been, and it feels great! I love that you shared your journey. It definitely takes courage to do so! Now that you mention the gluten sensitivity, I wonder if it has anything to do with my girls' eczema. It might be worth a try!

    1. Thanks, Ash! Yeah all that Taco Bell was not helping my cause, but those are good memories! Haha! I'm proud of you and your decision to lead your family in a healthy lifestyle. Try the gluten thing! I've been doing lots of research and going gluten free helps with so many things. Check it out! Love you!

  2. Hey Chelsea,
    I just came across this body image post and I have to say it is very relatable. I recently finished my freshman year of college and put on about 20 pounds. I recently did a popular diet on the market and lost 10 pounds and felt great. However as soon as the diet ended I felt so deprived the previous month I began binge eating daily. I've put on the 10 pounds again and am really frustrated with myself. My biggest obstacle is the work outs. I have a hard time motivating myself for longer than a week to work out. Do you have any tips on how you became and stayed motivated during your amazing weight loss? Also what did you doctot recommend about your metabolism.. based on my recent habits I may have that issue.
    Thanks so much.

    1. I'm so glad you found my post. First things first, try not to get so discouraged. Tell yourself that you can and will do it the healthy way and commit yourself to doing just that. Changing your mind set is the most important part. Something that really helps me avoid those food temptations is saying "I can have that, but I don't want it" instead of "I want that, but I can't have it." As far as workouts go, I always struggled with motivation until I came across the Tone It Up program. It is a healthy and clean eating plan as well as constant motivation from the creators, Karena and Katrina. Go to toneitup.com to learn more. They are so incredible, and it's a huge community of women working to do the same thing you are. Everyone is very encouraging. Karena and Katrina post a weekly workout schedule that's free and fun. They switch it up and keep it interesting which keeps me from getting bored. You can also do all of their work outs at home or in your dorm room! As for the tips from my doctor, she recommended a doctor supervised diet called Ideal Protein. This isn't a fad diet or anything. It's just an extremely high protein and low carb diet with a maintenance plan that you can live on forever. It's full of lean meats, vegetables, and proteins, and I never really felt like I was being deprived or missing out. There's a lot of information out there about it. Some are negative and say you will gain as soon as you get off, but that's simply not true if you follow the maintenance plan and continue to lead a healthy lifestyle. The same would go for any diet plan. It's truly all about making it a lifestyle change. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any more questions or just need someone to talk to about it all. I can definitely relate to your struggles. I wish you the best of luck, and I know that you can do absolutely anything you set your mind to!

  3. Chelsea! You look amazing. Any advice for me? I've struggled with my weight all my life even as a child. I have a really hard time working out. I would love to want to work out and not dread it. Also, I struggle with the diet. I'm constantly on and off of a diet. If I don't lose weight I get discouraged and give up. My senior year, I lost 30 pounds, but I have gained most of it back. I felt great at that point in my life! I'm so encouraged by your success. I know how hard it is to struggle with body image and make a change.

    1. Thank you so much! I'm so honored that my story has encouraged people. That's what it's all about! First of all, whatever it is you do, you have to make sure that it is a healthy, and doable, lifestyle change. Diets don't work. You have to choose to eat healthy for your health, not just to lose weight, and stick to it. If you're being healthy and making the right choices, the weight will come with it in time. Don't get me wrong, I have days when I feel so discouraged. I've had to really learn to not focus on the number on the scale so much as the changes I recognize in my body like having more energy, being able see more muscle definition, or even climbing the stairs without being out of breath. You have to commit yourself to being healthy, not dieting. As far as exercising, you have to make it fun. The Tone It Up program completely changed my life and outlook on exercise. Check out the website at www.toneitup.com. They put up weekly workout schedules that are always different, fun, challenging, and keep you from getting bored. They're set on the beach too, and you can do them at home. They're great. Karena and Katrina, the founders, are soooo incredibly inspiring. They really keep me motivated. If you have any more questions, need someone to talk to or anything else, don't hesitate to contact me! You can do it! :)


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