“Health is like MONEY, we never have a true idea of its value until we LOSE it.” – Josh Billings
Already by the title of this blog you might be thinking to yourself, “oh no, not another new year new me propaganda!” But rest assured, this blog is not meant to list out my endless new years resolutions in terms of health & fitness. Rather, I decided to write about this topic as a reflective piece. A work of art that symbolizes my own personal growth towards wellness and true self-love.
My story began around the time of my 16th birthday. Excitement filled my home as I celebrated the arrival of a milestone. A day to remember surrounded by family friends and great food.
Later that evening, I was browsing through all my photos we had taken at dinner and I was completely shocked. Was I really looking at myself? Isn’t it true that the camera adds 10 pounds? Utter DENIAL.
Resistant to admit that I had a problem, I continued to live my unhealthy lifestyle that consisted of fast food binges, inactivity, and mental fatigue. The bubble of denial burst when I weighed in the next morning at a whopping 210 pounds. Seriously! What had I done to my body? I felt ashamed at my lack of self-control and realized that I couldn’t continue down this deadly path any longer.
Like all those who have bought into the weight loss commercials and expensive fitness equipment; I’ve tried everything out there. From ‘magical diet pills,’ to considering weight loss surgery. I’ve tried fad diets, starving myself and over exercising to the point of physical exhaustion. Yet, I was stuck in the rubble of my poor personal decisions. There was no easy fix to replace the combination of nutrition and exercise.
This journey of mine was sparked by a fear of hypocrisy. Throughout high school I developed my passion for studying the human body and continued to work towards my goal of being an allied health professional. How could I be an honest representation for a community of physically active individuals when I was covering up my own failures and mistakes? Now that I look back on this 5 year journey, my passion for helping others and being an embodiment of physical and mental wellness has completely saved my life. Had I not found my anchor to keep me highly motivated, my journey would’ve ended before it even started. The images below show what I looked like right before I walked on the road to health.
Ashna 5 Years Ago: obese, participated in emotional eating, episodic bingeing followed by hours of exercising and hid behind clothes.
Before Photographs: 2012
Honest to god, just like many who want to make a change, I didn’t know how to get going. But the truth to success is that you have to start somewhere. You have to push through those mental barriers and give yourself a chance to live your best life. Luckily, my start to change was kickstarted due to my health teacher and p.e. coach. Absorbing the knowledge I needed on nutrition and physical activity assisted me in developing healthier habits. Slowly, my energy levels were rising, the mental cloudiness was fading and I was inching towards my goal of getting under 200 pounds.
The next step was to focus on my diet which at the time consisted of a high carb & high fat intake with very little fruits and vegetables. Mind you, I’ve been through a phase in my life where I consumed an entire pizza in one sitting. Where a normal plate consists of a protein component, vegetables & grains. With every meal – breakfast lunch and dinner I had to have potato chips. It was nothing short of an addiction… I felt like a junkie who had to get her high. I knew this behavior was self-destructive, but I had to develop a healthier relationship with food – one that wasn’t based on fluctuating emotions.
Fast-forward a year and a half.
It’s my first semester of college and I’ve continued to keep up my healthy eating habits. I cut out processed foods and started exercising regularly. Learning more about the profession propelled my growth in achieving my health goals. Through the skill of application, I began implementing the foundational principles of nutrition and exercise into my daily regimen.
The results were clearly evident. For the first time in my life, the fear of falling back into old habits was dwindling away. I knew that at this turning point I would do everything in my power to live a purposeful lifestyle.
30 pounds lighter…
This time period in my life took place during the summer before my junior year of college. I wanted to challenge my self-discipline and test out the waters by attending a bi-weekly 6:00 am spin class followed by a 7:00 power yoga class. The first day I was BEAT! Probably the toughest thing I’ve done up to that point, but so worth the feeling of accomplishment.
Never in my 20 years of life did I ever picture myself waking up at 4:30 in the morning to commute 25 minutes to campus, all for the sake of getting physical activity. My energy levels skyrocketed and I discovered a new love for yoga. I even attended my very first “Yoga Out Loud” class and met some beautiful souls.
My Favorite poses: Child’s Pose, Crow, Pigeon and Warrior!
Ashna Today in 2017: working hard towards all her goals, learning to respect her body, accepting and loving every stretch mark blemish and imperfection, continuing to improve her healthy habits, exercising at least 4 days a week, practicing self-love and choosing HAPPINESS 🙂
After Photographs: 2016-2017
Not everyday is perfect. Not everyday is the same. All we can really bet on is that a new morning brings with it the power of choice. Ultimately you have the power to choose happiness and contentment over depression and lack of self-worth. Your mind is a powerful tool that can shape your reality. I truly believe that if you desire something with all your heart, the whole universe conspires to guide you towards it.
5 years later, I am continuing forward on this journey towards optimal well-being. I finally feel ALIVE! Although I have my moments of insecurities and feelings of self-doubt, I know I’m not perfect. Embracing my imperfections was the best decision I ever made.
Sharing my journey was a way for me to be transparent with you all. I wanted to show you that what we see on the surface level is never the whole picture. We have to dive into the depths in order to shed light on the daily struggles of many. My goal was to convey that anything is possible with the right mindset, hard work and tenacity.
I hope I was successful in inspiring you to go out into the world and chase your desires and make your dreams a reality. Speaking from experience, it really is possible.
Give yourself the chance to be the BEST VERSION of you! You won’t leave disappointed.
2017 & Beyond: what does the future hold?
We’ll have to wait and find out… but I’ll keep you posted 😉
” Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t.” – Rikki Rogers