If you were meeting me for the first time today, you would find a strong, confident, self-assured, beautiful, healthy, self-loving, smart, sexy woman. Many of you reading those first few lines are right now thinking man, she is full of herself. Just being able to write those few words and believing every one of them was a hard-fought battle. You would  never guess that a few years ago I was 220lbs, depressed, angry, hated myself, and overall just unhealthy.

At four years old I was diagnosed with a kidney disease.  I would literally become the fat kid within weeks due to medication and the effects of the disease. I already genetically had a thicker build, thick thighs, and broad shoulders. The combination of my sturdy build, along with the side effects of the medication I was placed on by the doctors caused my physic to grow and my self-confidence to shrink.  Until I was 17 my life would be a roller coaster ride of weight gain and weight loss depending on weather I was in remission or not.  The constant pain from the disease and medication culminated in, anger, depression, and an unhealthy relationship with food. The medication I was on would make me hungry all the time.  Through all this all I ever wanted was to not be the fat kid and to feel accepted.  Despite it all, I was athletic; I played softball and was a cheerleader and I had friends but most of them only wanted to be my friend only when I wasn’t fighting obesity. I never got invited to parties or sleepovers.

I would go into remission for the final time at 17,  yet I continued to go down an unhealthy path… I wouldn’t eat breakfast, or lunch, and I would often binge eat at dinner. I had a job at a local grocery store and over a period I tried every diet pill on the shelf.   Within a couple months the weight had literally fallen off and, yet I still wasn’t happy… and then… I got pregnant.  I ended up being one of those Mego- Prego women. I was all in. I literally took the saying eating for two to heart and went with it.  I exploded; and at delivery time I weighed a whopping 215lb. A short time after this I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. The following years would result in me continuing to try every diet imaginable, to no end, and yet the weight remained.  I met my the most amazing person ever, who I now get to call my husband, and we got married the following year, within months we found out we were expecting. I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes… I gained 30lbs with this one and I was 220 lbs. going into delivery. Within weeks of me delivering my daughter my aunt was diagnosed with colon cancer.   This is when my journey to self-love and the commitment to change both mentally and physically truly emerged. I started with Zumba classes, don’t laugh…  Then my friend Jill invited me to join her one morning at the gym and I did. I would begin to take class after class sometimes 2 a day every day during the week and sometimes on the weekends. I would become more than a little obsessed. Despite my attempts to lose weight and get in shape, the scale, however, would not budge. Despite my efforts I was still fat, depressed and frustrated, I ended up surfing the internet for nutrition and training inspiration.   I met  with a nutritionist who asked me to keep a food diary only for her to tell me “you’re eating all the right foods”  and to exercise more. Ugh… seriously wrong answer.  It was time for me to dig deeper. I began researching, I mean hours poring over blogs and articles by and about people that had hypothyroidism and how they lost weight.  I started eating clean and lifting weights. Little by little the weight started coming off; I was seeing results  and I had muscles. Unfortunately, I soon discovered the weight creeping back on and I needed a change. In stepped ForgeRx. The place, no, the home where I had the most growth both mentally and physically. I can’t even begin to describe the profound effect this gym and its people have had on my life. Here I learned about eating food and making it fit my lifestyle. It’s okay to be a strong female and ‘lift like a girl.’ I’ve learned to embrace my body for the way that it was made, I’m never going to be a size 2 and guess what that’s okay because somewhere along the way my mind changed from “I want to be skinny” to “I want to be strong and healthy.”  This is the way God made me. This is what matters, this is what I want my daughters to understand. Your body is powerful, and it will surprise you with things you never thought possible. Food is good, no, food is great; let it nourish your body. Eat food that makes you healthier and happier. Choose healthy over thin and the healthiest version of yourself instead of an idealized version of someone else. My journey has taken time and I still travel it everyday. Stick with . Remember your health is 80 percent mindset and 20 percent physical.

And just as the Phoenix

Rose from the ashes,

She too will rise.

Returning from the flames,

Clothed in nothing but strength,

More beautiful than ever before.

Meagan, meaganb@forge-rx.com