Imagine a world where Michael Jordan was captain of his basketball team in high school instead of getting kicked off the team, would he still have become one of the greatest players of all time? Would Steve Jobs be able to invent Apple if he had completed college instead of dropping out? There are events within everyone’s life that serve as turning points and moments of impact. These moments are the ones that help define who we are today and without them who knows where life would take us. What is my moment you ask, well let me tell you about my story.
My moment started when I was in the fifth grade at Suntree Elementary school in Florida; there I had my first encounter with mean girls, you know the ones who expel you from every group and make fun of you. I had those plus one more who made it her life’s objective to strike me down. Sadly she succeeded and every day after school I would eat my feelings. I was a young ten-year-old eating whole box of animal crackers before dinner to the words “you’ll never be loved” …”no one is ever going to want you” …...” you will never have a boyfriend” ….” you are fat, you don’t own the clothes we do”. As I ate, the mantra would sound off in my head over and over, my soul would cry for comfort, but I stayed still as a stone. I remember being exiled from playing with others feeling as if I had no friends just acquaintances that would casually talk to me. This feeling would only increase when I had to complete a physical test for P.E, something that all the kids could do and so could I under false pretenses. Feelings of inadequacy raged up in me as I failed to do one push up and my peers did 4 or 5 but I was average because my “friend” wrote down 3 when the teacher wasn’t looking. After every day my ritual of eating whole boxes of crackers and bags of potato chips continued, my emptiness I felt was a direct correlation of how much I ate. Later in the year I would beg my mother to home school me or to transfer me somewhere else, but I did not disclose the reasons why because I did not want her to go to my school and cause a scene. Instead I would seek solace in food as my only friend. Later that school year I would find out that we were moving to a different part of Florida and I would attend a new school! The joy I felt when I heard that gave me hope and for a brief moment my binge eating would stop, but I would soon find out the move yet disguised as a blessing would soon become a curse. Now I am in the sixth grade a happy and healthy 12-year-old girl, at my new school Theodore Roosevelt Elementary. Here I would find my best friends who made me feel important and cared for, I couldn’t ask for a better school. My teacher was a tough cookie, but she gave us snacks every day which made her my favorite. I no longer binge ate at the end of my days after school, I just nibbled on a little snack instead. Then came the time of the dreaded physical fitness test, I paid no mind to it because I felt healthy and was content with myself. The only thing was I could not run for long and I could still barely preform a push up, but those factors didn’t bother me, it was my weight that drove me. When everyone received their results, it was addressed to the parents of, but all my peers were looking at their scores, so I decided to open and compare mine as well. When I opened my letter, a red line caught my eye; little did I know that red line would be my turning point. The red line indicated that I was on the border of normal and overweight. When I saw that, my heart sank and the thought of being “fat” ran through my head. After that I started to pay close attention to my size and what size pants I wore (I was a size 6/7 in petites and 16 in girls). Trivial things started to bother me that I never noticed before, like my 5”8 mom going through my closet because she needed some pants or my 5’7 friend who wore a size smaller than me and still looked “healthy”. When I noticed these aspects, I started to see myself as someone who was big and that is when I vowed to become healthier.
My first 10 pounds was just that, ten healthy pounds lost through eating less and intentional exercise something that I had never done. I was happy being able to wear my clothes instead of using them to cover my filled stomach and thick thighs. I practiced healthy eating habits like saying no to excess sugars and not drinking sodas daily but having water instead. I also cut my portions down to having one serving of dinner instead of two. I also found that I enjoyed walking to places instead of getting rides everywhere, the walk helped to clear my mind. My brother also tried to teach me how to run…. which was not a success. I lost the weight but could not run one quarter of a mile without stopping one hundred times. Besides that, I was feeling great receiving compliments from my church family telling me how great I looked. This boosted my self-esteem and I could not have been happier. Correction I could have been happier with the next 10lbs after that. The next 10 was when my habits started to become obsessions, I would wake up before my day and would walk on the treadmill at the highest incline possible and as fast as my legs could take me for 1 hour every day (this burned 500 calories). Then I would keep decreasing my food intake and would start rejecting the cookies that were offered at school but would still eat the healthier cracker options. This would continue for a few more weeks, till the disease would completely take over. Every day I would weigh myself and when the scale didn’t go down I would punish myself by not allowing myself to eat. The mirror was my enemy spewing words of hate every day making me feel like I could be skinnier than the day before to just go a little more.
My days now started earlier, my workouts were now longer, and I was sneakier. My mom started to get upset with me if I woke up too early to work out, so I started to sneak off where the treadmill was. A successful workout would be two hours of the highest incline and the fastest pace my legs could go without making too much noise (this was a brisk walk which would burn 1,000 calories). Every day I went to school I would now reject all snacks telling my teacher “I am not hungry”. I wouldn’t eat lunch but talk instead while moving food around my plate to make it look like I ate. I would go through the motions of being “normal” but I was beyond normal, I was sick. I refused to eat dinner with my family but was forced to, so I would drink all the water my stomach could handle and then move food around my plate taking microscopic bites. Every bite was a sentence striking me with the fear of gaining all the weight back, my mind was rejecting my bodies signals of hunger. I soon would exclude myself from block parties with “I ate before this”, “I am not hungry”, “I don’t feel good, I am just going to lay down”. All these sayings were ammo to my illness keeping me captive in a war against myself. I would loose 40 pounds this way and would be admitted to treatment at the Orlando Children’s Hospital under doctor’s orders. This frightened my mom and I was so consumed in the illness that when I looked in the mirror if I couldn’t see my ribs I was fat. Seeing my ribs was my marker of progress at this point that the more they showed the more progress I was making. During the 3-4 weeks I was admitted I discovered sugar free Jell-O eating only that and bananas to keep my calorie intake low, so I could still lose weight. I lost 3-4 pounds while I was admitted and then I was transferred to Dallas Children’s Hospital to the psych unit where I would call home for about 3 months. The transfer process was not the easiest challenge to undertake, at this point, anorexia was controlling me and I was merely a spectator. My parents drove me to Dallas while I slept the whole way saying my normal phrases of “I am not hungry” then going back to sleep. When I arrived at Dallas they took my weight, affirming my parents' fear of me losing more weight, but I thought to myself “good job Tiffany you are a success”. Being inpatient was the hardest experience I had to endure because I was monitored 24/5 making sure I ate even when I refused to. The re-feed process consisted of a granola bar for a snack which I did not touch, at lunch was a small sandwich or sticks of cheese and crackers which I also did not touch. I refused to eat any of my initial meals then was threatened with a feeding tube if I still would not eat. Many times, I coerced my way out of the tube; how, I do not remember but I do remember the feeling of success whenever I saw the scale go down. I would fight the system day in and day out for weeks till I finally gave in. During this time I would soon find out my heart was mourning. For almost 3 months I was confined to a wheel chair because my heart was weeping for my life, it grew smaller and was surrounded in its own fluid. A valve had broken off and now my heart was too weak for any activity whatsoever. I would not find out about this till years later. Not knowing what was going on I still found ways to stand and walk. Still seeing myself as a fat 80lb 12-year-old girl who still was worthless, I experienced suicidal thoughts and depression. I coped with these feelings by crying and standing in the hot shower till my skin was a vivid ruby red. This would go on for weeks while I was both in and out patient of the hospital. I would soon start to comply so that I could be outpatient and go home. It would take me a few weeks but with the new school year starting I was being released. The trip home was grueling because I still was not well and would only eat enough to convince my parents I was well. When I arrived home, I would receive threats of being sent back because I was not eating enough and was caught running around the neighborhood. It would take me almost 3 years of battling the disease to finally be released from my sentence.
I am now healthier than ever, being able to accomplish my dreams at a youthful age of 19 and helping others in the process. I am a proud personal trainer who enjoys educating people about the importance of nutrition and fitness. I am also an NPC competitor with myself being my nutrition coach and training coach. Fitness and the science behind it is my life because I know firsthand what will happen if you don’t take care of your body. That is why I also am going to college to study Kinesiology and nutrition, so I may further educate myself and others. Currently I am training for a marathon and eat accordingly to my trainings, so I may fuel my body and meet its requirements to function. I wanted to write this so you all can get to know my back ground and why I am so passionate about fitness and the body. I did not disclose everything but instead pointed out the important aspects of my journey. I hope you enjoyed my story and will continue to read my posts. Just know you can do all things you set your mind to and you are beautifully and wonderfully made!