Lindsey

Growing Up:

I grew up a pretty active kid.  My parents always signed my older brother Michael and I up for sports and clubs. I tried soccer, swim team, and gymnastics to name a few.   While my brother always seemed to excel at sports, I seemed unable to find my niche.  I did, however, stick with soccer for many years.  I considered myself just “ok” at the sport.  I really enjoyed the physical activity part of playing, but I had a fear of competition and suffered major anxiety from competing.  Once I hit high school I decided to not even bother trying out for soccer since it made me so anxious.  I often regret not facing my fears, but I guess I just was not meant to be the high school star athlete!

My Family: Michael, Mom, Me and Dad

 My parents said that if I didn’t play a sport I had to at least do something after school.  So I ended up working at a pizza place (hmm, perhaps this started my pizza obsession?!).  Along with working I became interested in ‘getting in shape’.  I was not overweight by any means, but I began to realize my strong interest for fitness and wellness.  My parents signed our family up for a YMCA membership and my fitness journey began.  My good friend and I started attending aerobics classes each night after school.  We tried Kickboxing, Group Cycling and Pilates.  I loved them all! I also found that I was pretty good at catching on to choreography and picking up steps.  Finally, something I am good at! 😉

College

Once I graduated high school and went off to college I vowed I would not gain the dreaded Freshman 15. I went to the Rec the very next day I had moved into my dorm room.   After seeing the amazing recreation facility the university had to offer I was officially hooked and became the gym rat that I am today!  During college, I also met my boyfriend  Andy who was my neighbor at the time.

Sorority Days

Andy and I

Group Exercise Instructor

During college I studied to become an aerobics instructor and obtained my certification through AFAA.  I taught all through college, including Spinning, Kickboxing, Step, Water Aerobics, Pilates, Yoga and Turbokick. I was able to stay in great shape through out college even though I spent a lot of my time being social 😉

Along with teaching I also ran and biked several races.  I love doing races for fun, as I said before I dread competition! (**Side Note: I’m also level 1 certified in YogaFit and PHI Pilates but did this after college).

My Fellow Instructors and I at College

10 K Race at the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati, OH

 Figure Competition Prep

After college I went on to Graduate School. Around this time I got really into lifting weights and reading weight lifting magazines like Oxygen.  I also really wanted to do a Figure Competition.  So, I decided that I would hire a coach and train and diet for my first show in April 2009.

I had never been overweight and always maintained a healthy weight for my body, so I had no experience with dieting.  I pretty much ate what I wanted, but making sure to always include nutritious meals and snacks.  But dieting was another world.  I never restricted what I ate nor did I count calories or weigh my food.   But if I wanted to get lean for a figure competition, this is what I had to do.

The Diet

I started my diet in January 2009.  It was strict.  I ate the same exact thing for 3 weeks at a time.   At first, I was able to take the emotional aspect of eating completely out.   I ate purely for “fuel”.   It was not so bad at first.  I actually never felt hungry or ‘starving’ even though I was dieting and eating less food then I was used to.  But after a few weeks I started to feel the aftermath of being on a diet.  Keep in mind I was working out VERY intensely.  On top of my workouts from my prep coach (1-2 workouts a day), I was teaching group fitness classes. My body was put through a lot!  I also was taking diet pills, which made me feel like a complete zombie, while at the same time made my heart nearly beat out of my chest.

The Side Effects of Dieting

I discovered the body fights you when you don’t feed it enough. I started to get incredibly moody and irritable.  If anyone asked about what I was eating or why, I’d get angry and defensive.  I also started to be very forgetful and even forgot to go to a presentation for work.  I felt very spaced out and lethargic.  I wanted to stay in on weekends and go to bed at 8pm.  I just had no energy to be social.  Plus, I couldn’t enjoy a meal or drink with anyone, which was just no fun!  I became a total hermit.  My relationships suffered, especially one of the most important ones with my boyfriend, Andy.  I was just not a fun person to be around!

After 6 weeks of contest dieting and losing some weight, I was over it. It was Valentine’s day to be exact.  I was actually “allowed” to go out to eat.  Of course I had to get plain chicken, steamed veggies and a sweet potato to eat.  I began researching menus online for a place I could get those types of foods.  All of a sudden I just got filled with so much anxiety that I burst into tears, ran into the living room to tell my boyfriend I was done with this crazy diet, and made myself a martini and ate a chocolate bar!  It felt so good to actually make my OWN decision about what I wanted to eat and drink! I felt free!

I Quit!

So, I quit. I never went through with the competition.  I have ZERO regrets.  I don’t have “what if” thoughts at all.  I actually feel like I wasted 6 weeks of my life being miserable.  I weighed less than I had in years, yet I was the most unhappy I had ever been.  I guess being skinnier isn’t always that great.  I do feel like I had to go through that experience though to find out that it’s not the sport for me, nor the lifestyle.

The Rebound

It took me a while to adjust to “normal eating” again. My body “rebounded” and I had no idea what was going on.  It was my first experience with “binging”.  My appetite was crazy.  I would eat, eat, and eat and not be full.  It would be trance-like, going through box after box of cereal.  I felt like a failure.  How could I lose control like this? What is wrong with me?

Come to find out there was nothing wrong with me.  It was the body’s response to dieting.  It was desperately trying to get back to where it was comfortable.  Although I know this now, it was a horrible experience.  I was very depressed and felt almost lost without my strict diet.  A couple of times I tried to eat like I was in prep, but I just couldn’t anymore, it would send me into binge mode again.

After about 6 weeks of a crazy binge cycle, my body seemed to normalize.  I gained back the weight I lost (remember, I was never even over weight! It was pretty pointless for me to even diet).  And I was able to become my normal, happy self.

After the contest prep experience my thoughts on what fitness and wellness are have really changed.  Before I decided to do the contest I had really enjoyed my workouts and how I ate.   Suddenly working out became a chore and eating became something I feared.  This was not a “healthy” way to live.  I thought that healthy meant looking perfect  and to me (at the time), a perfect female body was lean and muscular with little body fat.   Well, what it takes to look like that is NOT healthy and NOT attainable for long periods of time.  Most women that lean do not even have a menstrual cycle, so they are unable to even have children.  Does that sound healthy? No.  So why the heck did I want to make that my goal? It makes NO SENSE!

A New Outlook On Health

I have come full circle and now find a healthy female body to be most attractive.  A body that HAS body fat and shape.  Not skin and bones. I don’t ever wish to look like a girl on the cover of a magazine because ALL of those images are photo shopped and I would bet all of those women diet strictly before the shoot to look like that.  It’s just not realistic to compare yourself to that.

I hope that those of you who read my blog are inspired to be happy with who you are and with the body you were given.  Being healthy is not just about what you look like.  It’s not about what you eat or how much you exercise.  Food and exercise are actually just a small part of life.  A healthy life is so much more than that!  It’s about being happy with who you are as a person and having  fulfilling, loving relationships and memorable experiences that add something meaningful to your life as well as others lives’.

My Current Workout and Diet Style

I like to exercise most days of the week, doing a combination of cardio, Yoga and weight training.  I teach Group Exercise classes throughout the week and definitely count that as part of my workouts.  I also like to walk and run with my dogs, Sophia and Boo, most days of the week.  I take rest days each week from the gym as well. You can see exactly what I do for my exercise each day in my workout log.

The way I eat is very simple: I eat anything I want.  I do keep nutrition in mind and definitely eat my share of fruits, vegetables, plenty of whole grains, greek yogurt,  healthy fats, and lean proteins.  However, I love me some DQ blizzards, french fries, and of course pizza!

I don’t think any food should be off limits.  I do, however, think that it’s important  to be mindful of what you are eating to ensure you are getting a good amount of the healthy stuff so that your body feels and runs well.  I love trying and creating healthy recipes that taste great, yet offer great nutritional value.

Thanks for reading!

If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you!

Comment below or you can shoot me an email at cardiopizza@gmail.com

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45 responses to “Lindsey

  1. WOW! I am so glad that Tina referred us to your blog. I mean seriously I can really identify with you on many things. I have emailed Tina back and forth as well and it is so comforting to find people who have been in the same similar situation. I totally agree with on you the happiness factor and love how you took control of your life. I will for sure keep reading your blog and look forward to your thoughts and ideas on fitness.

  2. OH MY GOSH I ADORE THIS! wow, you have been through so much and you look amazing now! WOW! i am so impressed. what is that wax stuff in one of your meals? weird!!!! i cannot WAIT TO READ MORE! ❤

  3. Thanks for sharing your story with us, a lot of us can relate to it (I definitely can). Will be following you along! I did previously say this but will repeat it again: I love your dogs! 🙂 They are so adorable and I bet they bring you joy everyday!

  4. I came across your blog on o2 and I just have to say THANK YOU. As someone who has battled eating disorders my whole life I find your approach to fitness and your attitude about food very refreshing. I’m finding that I can’t really visit o2 anymore because all the talk of diets, macros and what not just stress me out. Thank You for sharing your journey : )

  5. Shelley (findinghappinessandhealth)

    i am so impressed by your honesty and ability to come out of the place you were in while dieting and be so confident with who you are!! you should be, you are stunning and I think your approach is healthier than anything else 🙂 it is so important to ‘indulge’ and not restrict (within reason)! you are amazzing!!!

    xoxox

  6. This is a really great story. I love that you just gave up on the fitness competition because you were true to yourself knowing that it isn’t for you! Plus you are right, you were by NO MEANS overweight AT ALL before. You looked great then and now!

  7. I just came across your blog and love it already! I am with you on being obsessed with pizza! I just started home-making it as I’m trying to get better in the kitchen! I give you major props for trying to do a competition, but don’t blame you for giving up… it’s great to admit that your life is more important to you than how you look!

    I am definitely interested to hear more! =)

    Maren

  8. Im so happy I found your blog! Am glad you kicked the whole ‘diet’ mentality. Nobody needs to be tied down to a diet! Sounds like your living a healthy life style, cant wait to read more !

  9. great blog! can’t wait to read more! come and check out mine 🙂
    jenna

  10. Wow, your story is just crazy. When I saw the photos of you I was like hmm, maybe I should try this — but don’t worry, I read the rest of the story and I won’t!

  11. Lindsey, what a GREAT lookout on food and exercise. I love your “I eat anything” attitude! It’s all about moderation, right? 🙂

  12. Hey! I am so glad I found your blog, especially this post. I am actually going through something sorta similar…not training for a competition, but trying to look like one and eat like one. I read Oxygen and dream to look like those models. But I’m restricting my eating and it really does suck! I have to ask myself, what is more important, looking ridiculously fit and toned and being on a crazy diet, or being in good shape and having freedom to choose what I want to eat and have fun with friends when out…..sounds like a no-brainer eh? I feel like its going to be hard to switch my ways of thinking but it needs to happen!

    Thank you again for inspiration 🙂

    • Yes, definitely take some time to really think about what it is that’s important in your life. Even when I had lost some weight during my prep and saw numbers I had not seen since high school, I was miserable. So being lighter on the scale did not equal happiness for me. I am very happy with my life not trying to a certain way! I hope that you can find a balance with your training and lifestyle. Sticking to a diet of chicken and veggies is so not worth missing nights with friends and family!

  13. Just found your blog and I feel we have so much in common! I’m adding you to my Google Reader right now! Good job on the blog!

  14. I found the link to your blog from “I’m an Okie” and I’m so glad I did! I read your story about the effects of dieting for a competition, and I’m grateful to you for putting that out there. I debated doing a competition for a long time, and when I started trying the diet the effects were terrible. I’d struggled with various eating disorders anyway, and dieting definitely exacerbated the problem. I think you are incredibly courageous and admirable for having the strength to opt out of competing before the show. It makes me feel better about my decision not to go through it, because I always wonder, “What if…”

    I love your approach to fitness and nutrition – you’re very inspiring! Out of curiosity, do you ever count calories?

    Thank you again!

  15. I apologize for a second comment – I forget to check the “follow-up comments” box. 🙂

  16. ha just confirmed! I have been to your classes before! So funny that I stumbled upon your blog! Excited to follow! I will add you to my blogroll!

  17. Okay so I am actually more proud of you for not going through with the figure competition than if you had! Seriously, Lindsay I think it is awesome that you didn’t continue doing something that was wrong for YOU. I just love your blog….truly! I have to check your site everyday!!

  18. I admire your honesty and ability to take a step back and realize what you were doing was not healthy and NOT go through with it. I really look up to your attitude(like I’ve said many times before) and this post really hit home for me. I am trying not to spend as much time on O2 because it just makes me obsessive and question what I’m doing…this blog is a much better way to spend my time on the internet 🙂

  19. Wow, thanks for sharing your story! I totally agree with everything you’ve said. I hate when people think that a healthy and fit figure means six pack abs and zero body fat. That’s probably only healthy for about 1% of the population due to straight up genetics. I’ve never understood how people with strict diets like that can have an enjoyable social life. When I hang out with friends, we usually always end up doing some kind of eating/dessert/coffee. And I love that! I love going out or inviting people over for dinner.

    So glad you’re in a good place now 🙂

  20. I love your blog and your story 🙂 I can’t wait to read more!

    ps. your dogs are adorable!

  21. Hey Lindsey! I was wondering if I could ask you a question about cardio machines. Today I went on the cardio bike for about 35 minutes and it said i burnt 230 calories (my average heart rate was around 150). I then when on the elliptical for about 28 minutes and it said I burnt 300 calories. (My average heart rate was around 174). Since you are a fitness instructor, how accurate would you say cardio equipment gives accurate estimates to calories burned? I go to a brand new 24 Hour Fitness and all of their equipment is new and up to date, if they may play a factor at all.

    Thanks. Very much appreciated.

  22. I love your outlook! I found you over at Lisa’s! I’m in love! I am currently stopping to “purge” my calories. I’m learning it only gives me excuses to overeat more and more and therefore purge through exercising…more and more!

  23. LOVED your story. My jaw is still dropped as I can completely relate. Our stories are sooo similar!! I used to teach kickboxing, circuit classes, spin, etc. I never felt like I had that perfect enough body, so I trained for a figure competition in July 2009…for 9 weeks. And it was total hell. It was okay at first, I told myself I liked the diet…but then after a while, I felt like I was a walking witch. I placed 2nd and did okay, but it was so unhealthy….I didn’t have a period, I was always freezing, etc. I came home to two weeks and more of complete binging and felt as though I lost my mind. It led to an ED. It’s almost 2 years later and I am still struggling…but now I sought out help. I have been doing Intuitive Eating for almost 2 months. I’ve gained a little weight, but I think this is where my body likes to be.
    Anyway, I just had to share as our stories are remarkably similar. I am glad you have found peace with this. Thanks for getting you story out!

    • Wow, that is is so similar! I am glad you are getting help now and finding your peace with food. Sometimes gaining weight is needed, even though we don’t really like it. It’s healthy and you’ll benefit in the long run! Keep at it!

  24. wow, thanks for sharing your story Lindsey! this was sooo refreshing and inspirational, and one of the coolest stories I have read on the blogosphere to date! a lot of hard-hitting realizations and i think your current outlook on health is awesome – it’s the exact one i’m trying to grasp right now!

  25. Just curious, what sorority were you in? I’m a new reader and I can’t wait to read more of your posts.

  26. LOVE your story. Would that I could have listened to my body the way you had with your competition prep experience. I want every girl to read this page. You’re lovely, thank you for sharing. Adding you to the blogroll stat.

  27. I just came across your blog & I’m glad I did! You have such a nice story. I can imagine how draining it was to prep both physically and mentally. I don’t think I could ever do it! I’m glad you had no regrets!

  28. Just found your blog and loved reading your story!! It is amazing how much the body fights back when you don’t give it what it needs – a feeling that I am far too familiar with!

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