Welcome and How I got Here

How I got here 

    I want this blog to be a place of positivity, encouragement, and hope for people who have struggled, or are struggling with losing weight, being happy, beating depression or anxiety, maintaining health while being a student, getting motivated, not knowing what to cook for dinner, the list goes on. I guess you could say this will be a lifestyle blog, that serves as a way to track my progress, but also as a place where people can seek comfort in knowing someone else is dealing with something similar too– and actually talking about it!

    While I want the majority of my posts to come from a place of happiness and light, I feel it is pertinent to share my story of how I got to this place of change and personal growth.

I’m going to tell the story of how I lost my identity, got depressed, felt hopeless, and started to turn my life around.

    The thing about being an athlete in high school, is that you never really have to focus on what you eat. When you are 17 and running three to eight miles per day, your body takes care of the calories for you. I often was in charge of feeding myself at home, and because my mother was home hardly ever, I never really learned how to put together healthy, balanced meals.

When you are a part of a team, something bigger than yourself, it becomes a huge part of your identity. You are constantly surrounded by a group of people who try to push you and themselves to be the best because that is what will win races or help you to score goals. You exercise to get better at your sport because you are an athlete, you don’t think about it, you just do it.

When I arrived at University of Oregon, no longer a part of a team, things began to fall apart. I had a hard time adjusting in the dorms because I had a difficult time relating to many of the people in my hall. I could interact with them on a surface level, but because of my difficult upbringing, it was incredibly hard to open up to anyone new about where I came from. Since I was no longer on a team, I felt like I was missing a part of my identity.

Despite joining greek life and being invited to lots of parties and date-dashes, I began to feel incredibly isolated. I couldn’t bear the thought of staying in on a weekend to catch up on sleep or homework, because I didn’t want to be alone, despite feeling incredibly lonely. At that point, I still looked athletic, and for a while I never had to worry about being invited somewhere or having a shortage of cute guys to talk to. Almost every weekend I would drink an entire 5th of Burnettes to myself, drinking fraternity boys under the table. When it got late, I would walk back to the dorms and eat grilled cheese sandwiches until I no longer felt too nauseous to go to sleep. I skipped the gym because my body was constantly playing catch up on sleep and my liver and stomach were forever pissed at me.

I started feeling self-conscious about my weight but I told myself that when summer came, I would lose the weight. By June, I had gained the freshman 15, and 20. When Sophomore year began, I had gone from 125 to 150. I moved in to my sorority house and I started feeling even more alone, despite living in a house of 50 other women.

I continued to party too much, cure my hangovers with greasy food, and use food as a way to connect with others. I spent way too much money, money that I didn’t really have, on going out and buying cute clothes that would fit me. My depression got increasingly worse until I had to move out of the sorority house in Spring term, and in with my Dad.

I dated someone and they stayed with me for a year and a half, and were incredibly supportive of me despite how debilitating the depression was. I had changed completely from when we first met, and by my Junior year, the depression had a grasp on me in ways that I never would have thought possible. I was feeling seriously suicidal, completely out of control of my own life, and had almost zero confidence in myself.

I applied for the Family and Human Services Program at U of O, and I was rejected– the first time something like that has happened to me. I also gave up my position as a Volunteer Coordinator at my job because the weight of my depression made everything else feel impossible.

I no longer felt like the upbeat, bubbly person that my friends often described me as. My speech slowed, I began to have short term memory problems, and I felt like the thought of losing weight, getting healthy or being happy again seemed like a fantasy I would never get to experience. I wanted to sleep all the time, and every time I tried to go out for a run, I would end up getting shin splints or some other type of injury.

I ended up having to drop classes because I was getting behind and feeling overwhelmed. I was behind in credits, and my relationship with the kindest person in the world was failing.

In Winter of what was supposed to be my senior year, I decided I would kill myself. It was finals week and my partner would be moving away in a few days because they graduated. I felt like I had nothing left. I had given up my leadership position at work, been rejected from my major, and I had lost a lot of friends because I had a hard time mustering energy to see people or act like my old self when I was around them. My partner agreed to take me to the hospital because I couldn’t see a way to fix how I was feeling on my own. I felt completely hopeless. My doctor, counselor, and Dad were notified and I faced a turning point.

I decided not to register for classes in the Spring, and for the next three months, I did nothing except for try to be happy. I went to the gym, reached out to old friends, and felt like I was starting to get a shitty version of my old life back.

I got excited at the thought of having old friends and I over zealously tried to spend time with them, often at a bar drinking and smoking cigarettes- a habit I had picked up.

In the Summer,  I worked full time, and when Fall arrived, I decided to take a leap and go back to school. I was scared what the pressure would do to me, so my doctor started me on a low dose of anti-depressant, and for about the first month, I felt numb. I didn’t feel happy or excited, per se, but for the first time in a while I felt like I could just focus on what I needed to get done, sans tears. I started to feel like myself again– something I hadn’t felt for three years. I was feeling more in control, despite drinking a lot in social settings.

Unfortunately, during Halloween weekend of this year, the feeling of control was once again stolen from me when I was sexually assaulted by a long-time acquaintance.

I reached out to get all of the support I had learned about from years of working at an assault prevention shuttle, but no matter what I felt scared I couldn’t bounce back from this. I didn’t feel depressed anymore, but I started drinking even more and chain smoking cigarettes to deal with the stress. I turned to food even more than I had in the past, I felt like if someone else could violate and disrespect my body and my soul to that degree, then what was the point in even trying taking care of it?

I made it through Fall term with a 3.8 GPA, but I felt like my power had been taken away from me. I had joined a student assault-survivor’s support group and they introduced me to Bullet Journaling and I decided to try it out over Winter Break.

I went to visit my relatives in Minnesota for a month, and while there, a family member pointed out my weight gain to me, encouraged me to weigh myself, and for the first time in months I was hit with a wall of emotion. I had gained 70 lbs. I’ve always been one of the thinner people in my family, and this was nothing short of a wake up call.

Being in the Midwest during the holiday season is the most difficult setting to try to start eating healthy, I also knew I had a birthday coming up, so I chose to not worry about it until then.

As a birthday gift to myself, I decided that  I will lose the weight and I will do what I can to achieve my  other goals. I might not always have motivation, but I have empathy and determination that I know will benefit my future self.

I used the bullet journaling as a way to keep track of my habits, how I was feeling, and start a gratitude and dream log to keep tabs on my mindset. I also wrote a list of goals I had for myself. It filled up two pages, but the most important ones to me were,

  • Lose Weight
  • Maintain my Happiness
  • Stop Eating out as much
  • Quit Drinking as much
  • Quit Smoking Cigarettes
  • Journal Every Day
  • Save Money
  • Get Rid of Toxic People

The day after my birthday I cleaned the smoke smell out of my car, threw away all of my half-empty packs of cigarettes, and gave my remaining bottles of alcohol to my roommates. I threw away all of the junk in my house and I joined Weight Watchers.

I have tracked every single day since January 11th and as of right now, I haven’t smoked a cigarette, binge drank, or gone a week without exercising– I’ve lost thirty pounds, gone forever.

If you read all the way through this, wow, thank you! You are a champion of patience!

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Bye Bye Muffin Top!

XOXO Kenzie