The Beginning to Now

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For as long as I can remember, I struggled with my weight. I remember a summer spent on weightwatchers at the age of 11, to lose 7 lbs, only to gain it all back again. I have many memories of siblings and parents portion controlling my meals. I remember feeling so good when I would lose a pound, and so horrible if I gained one. 

Coming from a family where my mother was always naturally slim, and my older sister was quite thin, where my oldest sisters were average and athletically built, I always felt out of place. I snuck food, and binged often, I couldn't stop. 

As I got older and got a handle on my eating, where I still ate large portions, my meals were overall quite healthy. I was active and played sports but I still gained weight. I felt lost. I had very few friends, and was extremely bullied throughout my entire childhood and teenage years. I hated myself and I tried so hard for so long to lose weight, to fit in, to be liked, to be thin. 

I would eat my feelings, cry myself to sleep, and break down in every change-room I was in. I hated shopping for clothes, and I would order plus size clothing from expensive online stores since there was nothing in my small city. I was a lifeguard for years and just accepted my body in a bathing suit because I had no choice. 

But even at work, I wasn't safe from the bullies. I was made fun of for being a "Fat pig" at work, laughed at behind my back, and mocked to my face. There was one instance in particular where a group of my coworkers stood around making fun of me, not realizing that I was in the other room and could hear everything. They called me weird, a loser, fat, ugly, and embarrassing. I had to walk through the group to leave. I was beyond mortified, beyond hurt, and I went home to cry alone in the bathroom before re-contemplating suicide. For the next month, I cried before each shift that I had, I needed the money and no other pools were hiring. I was so disgusted in myself, not in the other people that hurt me. That moment in my life was a breaking point. I had never felt so low or despised. 

I tried desperately to lose weight after that, with no luck. I biked everyday to work and back, I packed my lunches. But nothing worked. I didn't understand my body and that each body is different and requires different things. 

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The following year, I turned 17. This was it, now or never. I just wanted to be pretty, to look nice at my prom, and to be popular. I began loosing weight, I was determined. I bought a workout and diet program from Gaia, thin in 30. I was committed. I did the program for 2 months and lost 30 lbs. I started running and doing weight machines. I lost 60 lbs that year. And then I took it all too far. 

People began to treat me nicely, people started complimenting me -- "you're so much prettier NOW, you look so much healthier NOW, you look so great NOW". Every time I lost another pound it seemed like I was more worthy, even though I started feeling like I desperately needed more validation. 

I ended up having an accident, where I fell out of the tub, and hit my head. I had a mild concussion, bruised ribs, and was embarrassed. I had restricted my food so much that the heat of the shower overwhelmed me and I fainted. This was not the last time that something like this happened to me. My mother took me to the doctor and I was referred to a psychiatrist for my evident Eating Disorder. 

I struggled with my eating disorder, on and off, for about 5 years. I relapsed and recovered, countless times. It effected my entire life and I was exhausted from the vicious cycle. It had plagued me throughout the majority of university and I couldn't let it continue. I looked up weight lifting because I had heard that you could eat well and lift weights and look better. What a generalization that turned out to be but it saved my life. 

At 21, I walked into a gym. I approached a squat rack, armed with youtube tutorials and a lot of research, and I tried it. I loved it. I began to base most of my workouts around a barbell -- and still do -- and it did what it was supposed to. I could eat, manage my weight, and be healthy. Lifting weights changed my life. 

I lost all of the weight that I had gained back from recovery, this time in a healthy way, put on muscle, and finally began to develop the body that I never knew I could have. I changed the way I looked at myself, my relationship with food, the way I interacted with people, everything! Things fell into place. BUT, I was disciplined and worked hard -- I still do. 

My eating disorder caused a lot of damage to my body that still over 2.5 years later of recovery, I am trying to overcome. My stomach was severely damaged, I was malnourished, my hair fell out, I developed a heart arrhythmia, etc.

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The weight came off, the loose skin remained, and I was fortunate enough to be gifted a tummy tuck and diastis repair by my parents. The recovery was excruciating, and I love my new stomach. I stuck to my old habits and got back to the gym as soon as I was able, this time I developed an even stronger love for lifting heavy weights. I find solace in the gym, it's a time to work through my problems, stresses, emotions. I feel at ease, at home, in the weight room. Some days I go twice just because of how cathartic it is for me, that feeling is one I struggle to find elsewhere. 

Through exercise I have found balance, I have developed a self-worth stronger than I ever thought possible. I made lasting relationships, connections, and new passions. Now, a powerlifter, I look at my journey and am so proud of not only my physical strength, but the internal strength. The old Angie was so so strong. She overcame so much. And I'm so proud of her.  

Angie Taylor