I have been in the fitness and health industry for over 15 years. I was very active as a child in all sports, but I never considered myself an athlete. It wasn’t until I entered my late teens that I decided health and fitness was the route I wanted to pursue professionally – but it took more of a struggle than I’d ever expected to get there.

It’s no shock to hear how cruel teenage girls can be; if you ever have been one yourself, or have any of your own, you are already an expert. I became an expert the hard way; in my small town everyone knew not only my name, but my ongoing weight issues. The local bullies also had a keen eye for the problems I faced, and found it funny to blame my failed relationships on my weight. I decided to change things.

But when the moments seem to surface, just remember: there’s always room for more damage. The first love I’d ever truly experienced (as much as one can trust in young love) had just broken my heart, and because my town was so small it had only been a day before the cruelest girls found out what had happened. They told me I’d been dumped because I was too fat – even today, the thought seems ridiculous. Although back then, I never wanted to show my face to another living soul until I was as skinny as they were. Skinnier.

It shouldn’t come as a shock that I didn’t get my boyfriend back, either. The older I got, the less shocked I became when I realized that my methods for getting thin were as ill-guided as the bully girls who tried to “guide” me. Their methods were easy enough to adopt; the internet, advertisements, and everywhere I looked: there was thinness around me, being promoted, praised. I had to be a part of it.

So, the wicked formula was simple enough. Every day I skipped breakfast, ate only a leaf or two of lettuce for lunch, and had a few crackers for dinner. I took diuretics on a regular basis, flooding my body with so much water I felt like I was drowning from the inside. I was so thin I had to shop in the children’s section to find clothes that would fit – which seemed like a perk for the prices, but I would have gladly paid the extra $20 per shirt if I knew it wouldn’t kill me. My hip bones protruded so severely, it hurt to lie down on my stomach. I was weak and I couldn’t think clearly. Could you? How did girls live like this?

Funny how they say snack foods can kill you, right? Well, one night I was binging and I ate almost an entire package of Oreos. This sounds like the punchline to a sad joke, but it’s not – with my digestive system already damaged from all the diuretics I was taking, the cookies made me so sick I couldn’t get out of bed for two days. My body shut down; I couldn’t even go to the bathroom. Two days without the toilet or movement, all because of some cookies. Just imagine.

Looking back on it all now, I realize the girls bullying me were just projecting their own insecurities, as many weak-willed girls tend to do as a defense mechanism. Looking back at my healthy body in the mirror, and the photos of myself from back then, I also realized that there wasn’t actually any truth to what they were saying. I was a young, developing girl simultaneously scared and confusedly hateful of my own body. At my heaviest I was 5’ 3” and 130 pounds; not skinny, but far from fat. This is easy to see now, but from the perspective of a teenage girl being bullied, my values were twisted and my thoughts infected with doubt and shame.

This isn’t easy for me to talk about, especially in such an open way, but nothing important ever is. It took me years just to admit that I had an eating problem – let alone put an ugly word to it. Anorexia. I was better than that, and still am – and if I can stop even one person out there from making the same mistake that I did with their body, all of the struggles about my past will have been worth it.

After about a year full-blown diagnosed anorexia I finally started listening to my family’s pleas to take better care of my body. With my family by my side, I adopted healthier habits and my faith in God grew. They say you never fully recover from anorexia, and I believe it. Even recovering addicts, ones that haven’t used in years, still have that part of their brain that wants the disease to live on. That said, I no longer let the disease run my life. I love being me and I forgive myself for treating my body, my temple, so carelessly.

The Healthier Me

In 2002, I received my Personal Training Certification from the National Endurance & Sports Training Association, along with my Certification in CPR, Fitness Nutrition and Pilates Instruction. Now, what professional adventures to behold next? I instead decided to dive in and try a little bit of everything. In addition to working a full-time job as a marketing assistant, I began building my personal training client base. I also started teaching a few exercise classes at the local gym, which was of course a personally rewarding experience because I got to witness people just like me, people that wanted their bodies to be better, doing it the right way. Seeing that kind of endurance and dedication, something that took me years to learn and grow into, was nothing short of inspiring. However, in 2003, I decided to return to college and I put the personal training aside to focus on school and my “real job”. I also discovered how much I enjoyed teaching both yoga and Pilates classes, something I’ll always recommend.

Four years later, I graduated with a B.A. in Psychology. Immediately, pursuing an advanced degree in Psychology seemed like the ideal route – it would enable me to help

others, and maybe even people suffering from the deadly diseases of anorexia and bulimia. No one “got it” better than me. The only issue was, I was already entirely engaged with, and excelling in, my marketing career – so eventually I decided it wasn’t the right time for me to start another few years of schooling to get my PhD. When the time was right, I knew that schooling would be the way I’d end up making the best change. I continued to practice yoga, Pilates and work out on my own, but my passion for helping others with health and fitness remained on the back burner.

Becoming a Team Beachbody Coach

In 2010, after going through a painful divorce resulting in a debilitating bout of depression, I lost my way. This deep sadness left me feeling emotionally and physically weak and out of control, a feeling many of us are too familiar with. I stopped working out and I gained a substantial amount of weight for my small frame. Time passed and slowly as I’d realized what was happening I began to put my life back together again, one piece at a time. This is when I met Christi, a Beachbody Coach who changed my life.

I had heard about Beachbody before, but I knew it only as “the company that markets P90X”. So when I met Christi, I was in for a big surprise. Beachbody is so much more than just P90X. P90X is enough to scare a non-regular gym-goer, especially one out of shape. Christi dissolved that fear and changed my whole view on the concept.

Beachbody is a fitness company that truly cares about the well being of others. The company operates according to the following four Core Values:

  1. Deliver on your promises.
  1. Treat people with respect and be courageously forthright.
  1. Take initiative to improve everything.
  1. Work with passion, enthusiasm, and common sense.

By talking to Christi, and then doing a little research on my own, I soon realized that Beachbody is a company full of people who believe in the potential of others. It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme. Being a Beachbody Coach means you have a passion to help others get healthier and live more fulfilled lives. Beachbody supports the ideal of people helping people – from all across the country – working towards one common goal: Reversing the Trends of Obesity One Relationship at a Time. Wow. I realized that this was my calling! I signed up as a Coach immediately.

Focus T25 (aka my FIRST soulmate workout program)

Beachbody really knew what they were doing when they invented this one. We all have our first loves, and in the fitness world, Focus T25 was mine. Even after now being certified to teach the INSANITY program, I still know a simple truth: those willing to put the effort and dedication into changing their attitudes and lifestyles will also see those changes in their bodies. Just like I did. And for me, Focus T25 was the start.

Even as a Beachbody Coach, I had trouble finding a workout program that excited me. I felt like such a hypocrite – believed in the Core Values so, so very much, but I just wasn’t finding myself stimulated. Then I found Focus T25: an intense program that only takes 25 minutes to complete each day and produces ridiculous results.

I have now completed the 10-week program 4 times along with Gamma, the 4-week add-on program. During that time I dropped 4% body fat and gained more strength and endurance than I have ever had in my life. I also tightened and toned up everywhere, even in places where I didn’t realize I needed it.

Focus T25 gave me the confidence I needed to sign up for INSANITY certification. While I don’t teach it, the knowledge I gained from certification has benefited me in greatly from a coaching perspective. Plus, I love Shaun T (who doesn’t?)

21 Day Fix/Extreme (Simplicity at it’s Best)

Last year, I was lucky enough to find another great system that I truly, truly support: the 21-Day Fix. I’ve blogged a bit about it, so feel free to check out some articles I’ve written proving just how much I love it. The promise is a tempting one – if done properly, the Fix is supposed to make you lose up to 15 pounds in just three weeks. For someone as experienced in sifting through fitness-scam fool’s gold, I knew I had to try it myself. The results were honestly better than I could have imagined, which is why I recommend it so highly and really think everyone should try it – especially if you’re one of those people who like quick results (that last) – and don’t we all?

The best thing about the 21- Day Fix is that you don’t have to change everything about your schedule in order to do the program comfortably. As I’ve said before on my blog, the beauty is in its simplicity: All you have to do is use the specially designed portion-control containers and do one 30-minute workout per day. The results are just a special treat you get to see for yourself.

Also, as a side note, and speaking as a woman writing this during bikini season, I can tell you that three weeks isn’t a lot of time for such rewarding results. Spread the word and see for yourself. Contact me if you have questions

The Hammer & Chisel Program (Weight Lifting Rediscovered)

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Sagi Kalev and Autumn Calabrese mean business. Both are renowned and seasoned trainers and award-winning fitness competitors. Who better than to have trained you? I’ve written about how great the program has proven to be in my blog, but here is the official website so you too can get in on the action.

Both share the common goal in their work: to help define muscle growth, while teaching people to manage their portion controls. As any trainer will tell you, learning how to live

the lifestyle of health and fitness is almost impossible without guidance. The Hammer & Chisel program, as literally as it sounds, is to sculpt your body into a work of art.

The program does so through training specifically one’s stabilization, strength and power – which, according to Sagi and Autumn, are three qualities that make a powerful, defined body (and mine, after trying it, agrees).

Shakeology (Coincidentally, My Favorite Meal of the Day)

Being fit involves more than just exercise. It’s a lifestyle choice; we all know that. In my conversations (and sometimes confessions) with Christi I mentioned that my diet was healthy overall but lacked something. The problem was, I had no idea what it could have been. I’d seemed to be doing everything right – I tried many different protein shakes, vitamins and supplements but I still didn’t feel as energized as a woman of my young age should feel. She recommended Shakeology and gave me a few samples. I have to admit, even though I was sold on Beachbody as a company, I was a bit skeptical about a meal replacement shake being the answer to my low energy. Boy, was I wrong. This stuff is incredible.

Three days into drinking Shakeology I was amazed at how great I felt. My energy was sky – high and I lost the craving for sugary and salty foods. (That was a personal first in my entire life.) And all of this happened within just three days. So I made the obvious move: I purchased my first 30-day supply and I couldn’t wait for it to arrive at my door.

This was in March of 2012. Since that time I have not missed one single serving of Shakeology and I have enjoyed all of the benefits I still see today: my energy remains high, my complexion has cleared (for someone who had cystic acne, this is huge), my cravings for unhealthy foods are gone, my hair and nails grow like crazy, my mind is clear, and ultimately I feel terrific. I have everyone I love drinking it and they all whole-heartedly agree. It is an ah-mazing product.

Yet the Journey Continues On…

It is amazing where life takes you – it’s definitely a series of ups and downs. That said, for any journey you go on you must have the ability to adapt and change. We all have that power within us; sometimes you just have to dig really, really deep. Life is not to be taken for granted. Live, love and open your hearts to others. That is what Beachbody is all about, and becoming a Beachbody Coach is one of the best decisions I have ever made.

On the surface, these might seem like advertisements. But they’re not. They’re real reviews, written by someone who is real and has tried all of it. Someone, like you, who

has struggled, had to work through my own issues and later worked my butt off to get where I am. For me, Beachbody helped guide me to do something I never might have, and I am happier for it. For this reason, I also want to be open to you, as readers – share your experiences with me, tell me if any of my tricks work for you. I want to know at least somewhere out there, I can help someone.

I am always looking for people to join my team – I’d love to hear from you if you are interested in changing your life the way I did!