Growing up, I was always a “skinny” girl. I’ve always enjoyed being active, and I played a lot of different sports when I was younger so being a “skinny” girl wasn’t hard for me to maintain. In college, I started to put on weight. Whenever I noticed I was gaining weight, I would step up my gym routine and eat a little more cleanly for a week or two which would usually be enough to get me back down to my “normal” weight. 

About a year ago I noticed that I had gained a significant amount of weight and couldn’t pinpoint why. I went back to my usual coping mechanism of stepping up my exercise routine and watching what I was eating, but for the first time this had no effect on my body. I stood on the scale and was now officially the heaviest I had ever been in my life. In panic mode, I decided I would do something active every day for the next 30 days. After a month, I was 4 pounds down, but I still wasn’t happy. I determined it was time for professional help, and that’s when I noticed posters for a 60-day challenge coming up at my gym.

I started working with my trainer Lindsey, and I couldn’t have asked for a better match. We dove into my eating habits, what exercises I liked to do and my goals. I started to meet with her twice a week (bright and early at 6:00 am!) as well as track what I was eating.

When I started recording my meals (using my fitness pal) my mind was blown. Foods that I thought were healthy and “assumed” were covering my nutrient needs, actually weren’t. I wasn’t new to the field of health and wellness as I work as a wellness program coordinator. Imagine my disbelief though, that I, someone aware of the value of health and wellness, still had so much to learn. It just goes to show, you’re never done learning. 

Shortly after I started working with Lindsey, my Dad started experiencing Transient Ischemic Attacks or TIAS, also known as mini strokes. My family is from California, and my dad was visiting friends there when he experienced a long-lasting TIA and was hospitalized. At the hospital, they prescribed blood thinners and referred him to a neurologist back home in Oregon. A month later, he visited that neurologist who recommended he keep taking the blood thinners and scheduled him for a follow-up appointment. My Dad drove home, parked his car and went for a walk at a park behind my parent’s house. During the walk, he suffered a massive stroke and passed away instantly.

My Mom called me that evening, and one of my first thoughts after the initial shock was, “I don’t want this to break me.” I had come so far, and I had been so happy with all my progress. I soon decided that this wouldn’t break me. I was going to keep going and pour my heart into habits that would serve me during this difficult time. I continued to meet with my trainer twice a week, and she was so supportive through it all. Participating in this 60-day challenge, I met some wonderful people and made friends who became my support system telling me, “We’re all in this together.”

Your life can change in an instant, in ways that you never could have seen, for better or for worse. Sometimes things or situations that we think are bad, really aren’t. That extra weight I gained that made me so angry and uncomfortable was the catalyst for something beautiful to come into in my life. It brought me knowledge, it brought me Lindsey, it brought me a new love for my body that goes so much deeper than simply what it looks like.

In this time when we are all unsure of what the next day holds, we can still determine every day to be excited about life. Focusing on the good in our lives and being present, we just have to wake up in the morning and decide, “Today I will!”

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The Future of Connection for Women

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Ariana Rabette

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