We are pleased to introduce you to our new guest blogger, Erica Gray. We are excited that Erica has shared her story about what led her to live a healthier lifestyle, and will continue to take us on her journey as these healthy changes help her manage her endometriosis. We think Erica’s perspective is important, because it represents a common yet often overlooked group within our Skinny Gene Community – those who are “deceptively skinny” (aka skinny but unhealthy).
Erica’s story begins with a candid account about what happened when she put down the butter and picked up running. 🙂
ERICA’S STORY- The Beginning
I think to really understand my journey, you must go to the beginning.
I have always been naturally pretty thin. A blessing I know, but in some respects a curse. On the outside, I was a thin girl that my friends/family were always trying to “fatten up”, but on the inside I was a mess! Slowly but surely I was destroying my body. I was eating fast food everyday sometimes several times a day. I couldn’t eat most things without ranch, cheese, or butter on them. I would eat a bowl of popcorn with an ice cream scoop of margin to dip it in every night. Plus, I would eat close to a pound of chocolate after that. The amount of butter I would use at dinner was so noticeable that my husband’s family would joke that everyone better get the butter before I do because there wouldn’t be any left if I got to it first. I never had a reason to change because what the heck I didn’t look that bad and when I would try to eat healthy I would be given a hard time, “you already thin! Why are you trying to diet?”. Plus, I was feeding my addiction to fat and sugar that stems back to every dish my mom cooked had at least a stick of butter in it. Just think Good old southern cooking. My eating was out of control, but my physical fitness level was even worse! I would get winded going on a short walk with the dogs. I never wanted to do anything even slightly active with my family. My daughter would ask me if she could walk home from school and I would tell her no because that meant I would have to walk too.
With my Thirtieth birthday approaching quickly, I began to take some though looks at my life. I was not the mom or wife I wanted to be and I wasn’t getting any younger. My father had a quadruple bypass at 55 and that age suddenly didn’t seem that far off. I knew that I had to make some changes. I had always been what I like to call a flash dieter! I would go through phases or have events coming up. So, I would start “working out” and go on some incredibly restrictive diet that would last a couple of weeks or so until I started slipping back into my old ways. To me working out and eating “healthy”was always about how I was going to make myself look better not feel better. I’m not going to lie, this time I was partially motivated by the 2 sizes I had gone up in the last 2 years, but I didn’t want to just do what I had done in the past. I wanted to make real changes so I wouldn’t end up with the heart problems I was already predestined to get.
That’s when I decided I wanted to make a lifestyle change not go on a diet! I went to the store and came home with a trunk full of leafy greens and other fresh produce. The look on my husband’s face was priceless!!! You know the “who are you and what have you done with my wife” look. I was going to have a salad everyday or at least that’s what I told myself. I vowed to give up fast food and start slowly making healthier choices.
Now that I had a plan for eating habits, I needed to get active. I didn’t have a gym membership. I also didn’t want to spend the money and not use it like I had so many times before. So, I decide to run but I needed a goal and one big enough to really push myself hard! That’s when I said to my husband, “Do you think I can run a half marathon in 5 months?”. To which he responded, “That is a pretty big goal! Are you sure about that?”. It wasn’t the response I wanted, but it was the one he knew I needed. He said, “Well… get out there and prove me wrong.” I was so determined and I vowed to not give up! The decision was the easy part the running was the hard part. I could barely run a quarter of a mile. So, I signed up for a 5k(3.1 miles) and I got to work.
A couple of months in to me eating better and running my daughter looked at me and said, “Mommy how come you don’t get so frustrated with me anymore?”. That’s when it hit me. My change wasn’t just about me. Not only was I becoming a healthier and happier me, but I was becoming a better example and role model to my little girl. It was my job to show her how to build healthy habits now. Our family bonding used to be centered around going to get ice cream or going out to eat dinner. We still do that some, but now it’s going on family hikes and bike rides. When it’s nice outside we walk home from school together. It is amazing how much more talking you do on a walk home from school vs a car ride.
Over this journey I have grown so much. I have managed my anxiety with exercise more than any medication ever could. I have learned to use food and exercise to help manage the pain and inflammation that has plagued me from endometriosis. I have gone from barely being able to run down the street to finishing my first half marathon and 2 more before the year was over. I have become a happier healthier me. However, the most amazing accomplishment on my journey came a couple of months ago. It was the morning after I had completed a race and Cameron (my daughter) came up to me with sleepy eyes, threw her arms around me and said, “Mommy, I am SO proud of you! You did such a good job on your race yesterday.” It is that comment that will continue to drive me to improve myself. There is absolutely no better feeling than having your child proud of you. Proud of you for the right reasons! I will continue to push myself to be the role model my daughter deserves.