My Weight Loss Story

With my competition prep officially starting, I’ve been thinking of how many times my body has gone through a transformation. Everyone has their story of how they ended up here, and I’m no different. My weight has fluctuated for a variety of reasons – both good and bad.

People always assume I’ve been tall and thin my whole life, that I have it pretty easy. While that may have been the case for some parts of my life, there were phases where I packed on the pounds. I’ve always been active, but I haven’t always known how to eat well. I had really low confidence and found comfort in alcohol and food. I’ve lost weight in both healthy and unhealthy ways. Now, I’m on a mission to create a totally different physique than I’ve ever had – with more knowledge, control, and confidence than I thought possible. Here’s my story.

Left: taken during my Master's degree (2011) Right: taken after my third bikini competition (2013)

Left: taken during my Master’s degree (2008)
Right: taken after my third bikini competition (2013)

Growing up, I was active and athletic. My parents made sure I ate well, especially around sporting events. I was tall and gangly – so weight wasn’t an issue during the years kids are at their meanest. I loved sports and I loved being better than the boys, that was all that mattered to me (kind of still does, really…).

During my final years of high school, I was on a synchronized skating team which represented Canada at international competitions. I started to suffer from anxiety and panic attacks, often causing me to feel nauseous or vomit. Coupled with the hours of practice, I lost weight – which seemed like a lot when I didn’t have much to lose. Not the healthiest way to do so, but definitely not on purpose.

When I went away to university, I continued skating on the varsity team and kept up with my off-ice training. I also didn’t drink, which was a huge bonus for my weight. My anxiety attacks lessened over these four years, too. When I moved on to my Masters, I found myself in a city where I knew no one, 8 hours away from my high school boyfriend, friends, and my family. I made new friends, and learned how to drink. My friends were great teachers! I once texted my mom telling her she should be proud because I’d (finally) gone out drinking the night before.

drink2

Always up for a party. 2009

The distance, and a difference in lifestyle views, caused my boyfriend and I to break up. Partying became my favorite hobby and I longed for each night I could drink. It wasn’t uncommon for me to get black-out drunk a couple times a week (sorry Mom!). Match those events with your typical hangover foods (yup, McDonalds and Burger King) and the pounds added up pretty quickly.  I was still going to the gym, doing a little bit of cardio thinking it was going to erase everything else. Obviously it didn’t work that way, and the scale crept up to my heaviest and most unhealthy weight – around 160 lbs.

Binge drinking during my Masters became my favorite hobby. (2008)

Binge drinking during my Masters became my favorite hobby. (2008)

I started dating someone new, got a job teaching fitness classes at the gym, and life evened out again with far less drinking. I threw myself into classes, spending tons of time in the studio practicing, teaching, and attending other people’s classes. I still didn’t know how to eat properly and wasn’t fueling myself for all the cardio. Then I found energy drinks.

Clearly, I enjoyed some drinks on occasion. Taken in 2010, when I was doing endless cardio.

Clearly, I enjoyed some drinks on occasion. Taken in 2010, when I was doing endless cardio.

They seemed like the perfect solution – they gave me the necessary energy for my day AND suppressed my appetite. I was living on my own, finishing up my Master’s thesis and logging plenty of time at the gym, so no one could monitor how little I was eating. I dropped weight quickly, and in a very unhealthy way. I felt like hell, and had no idea the potential damage I was doing to my body. All that mattered was that I was getting through my days and starting to look better.

I was “doing life” – I was done school, had started my career, and was still teaching a lot of classes each week – things felt pretty good overall. I taught a lot because I wanted to pay off my student debt as quickly as possible, plus my new boyfriend was looking for work, sitting on his own mountain of student debt. We ate poorly – if I left it up to him, it would be restaurant food or pizza every night. Again, I figured all the classes I was teaching would cancel out the poor nutrition. I was essentially skinny fat… but moving away from the skinny aspect pretty quickly.

Looking back, hindsight is always 20/20 so it’s easy to see how toxic the relationship was. There was a lot of drama, some stable points and some really low lows. We got married, because that was the next “logical” step. I became more frustrated, short-tempered, miserable, and heavier, but I didn’t want to admit the root of the problem. I was constantly stressed about everything, physically burning myself out and not giving my body what it needed to replenish its energy.

The marriage only lasted seven months. I was blessed to have my parent’s full support, as well as some terrific friends behind me during that time. While I felt like a failure, I also felt FREE. I think divorce can do one of two things – devastate or liberate. I fell into the second category. Obviously there were a lot of tough days with plenty of drama, but in the long run, it was the right thing for me.

I threw myself into a previous passion of mine - running. I entered a few races locally and loved focusing on something positive.

I threw myself into a previous passion of mine – running. I entered a few races locally and loved focusing on something positive.

I was able to focus on just me again. I took care of myself and rediscovered my love of running. It was a mental escape for me, nothing felt better than plugging in my music and getting outside in the sun, logging miles. The extra weight melted off again, and I felt like a new person. It was the best I’d felt in a long time.

Then I met Kyle… well, I already knew him, but then he asked me out. Things have been perfectly right since that first date. We compliment each other, have the same values and work ethic, and push each other to be better (while never feeling lacking). He joined me in my running obsession, not complaining when I entered us in races. In return, I started training with him. We both decided to start competing and haven’t looked back since.

Vacation

On vacation in Mexico, where we made the drunken decision to try getting into bodybuilding.

Bikini was an obvious choice for my first competition season, but deep down I always wanted to build some muscle and move up the categories. I lost a little bit of weight to compete, maybe 10 lbs, and was proud of my physique each time I stepped on stage (even though I didn’t always place very well). I threw myself into training with Kyle and put on some weight in order to build muscle – the first time I’d ever tried to do this. When I started to prepare for my second competition season, it became clear that I needed to move out of bikini. My heart lies in physique – from the posing, to the challenge of building muscle, and the overall athletic and strong look, it’s where I belong.

On stage in what would be my final bikini competition, 2013.

On stage in what would be my final bikini competition, 2013.

Now, at the heaviest (but healthiest) weight I’ve ever been in my life, and carrying far more muscle than I ever have, I’m excited to start prep for my next competition. I truly believe I was made for this, it’s a life I’m happy to live all year long, as long as I still find it fun.

Over the last 15 years my body has gone through many transformations – weight gain, weight loss, muscle gain. Lots of ups and downs have been experienced. I’ve learned a lot about training, nutrition, and my own body. No crash diets, energy drinks, or burning myself out with cardio. I’ve now learned how to change my body in healthy ways.

Runner turn bodybuilder  (2012 - 2014)

Runner turn bodybuilder
(2012 – 2014)

That’s my story, but it’s certainly not over yet. As a female, an athlete, and a bodybuilder, I’ve covered a lot of ground and am thankful for each and every life lesson I’ve learned. I think the most interesting chapters are just starting!

Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.

 

About Ashleigh

I'm passionate about health and fitness. I work as a Health Promotion Specialist, a group fitness instructor, and also a coach for physique competitors / weight loss clients. I grew up as a competitive athlete, and have continued with this passion as a Women's Physique competitor. Research and writing is another interest of mine, which I use to share my knowledge with the general public.
This entry was posted in Body Image, Bodybuilding, Fitness, Fitness instructor, Food, Health, Lifestyle, Mental Health, Motivation, Nutrition, Personal, Training, Uncategorized, Wellness and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to My Weight Loss Story

  1. Jamie says:

    Great story Ash. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Kym says:

    Thanks for sharing your journey!

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