If you’ve read my bio, then you know that I started this blog because of how much of a difference switching to a non-toxic lifestyle made for me, and that I want to share that information with others. I’ve been passionate about health and fitness my entire life, but it went from being something I did to improve my looks to something that I MUST do to be able to function on a daily basis while living with hypothyroidism.
Recently, though, I’ve taken some time to delve deeper into why I developed this passion in the first place. I had been focusing on when I developed hypothyroidism, was struggling with symptoms, getting worse on medication, and how making lifestyle changes helped relieve many of those symptoms. But when I reflect back on my life so far, that doesn’t really explain why I’ve been passionate about health and fitness from a very young age. Recently I received a private message from someone telling me she was loving the videos I was posting of my workouts on social media. She asked if PiYo was good for the midsection (it is!) and pointed out that it didn’t appear to be my problem area (it was).
Typing my reply made me realize that the reason I became so passionate about fitness and nutrition is because I had a fat stomach my entire life. Every other part of my body was thin, but I had all this fat on my stomach that was holding me back from doing things that I wanted to do. In grade school, I quit acrobatics because I was embarrassed of my belly and the leotards we had to wear only emphasized it. On my 9th birthday, I didn’t want to go to my Slip & Slide party (yes, I’m dating myself here, lol!) because I didn’t want my friends to see how fat my stomach was. Not long after that is when I started running laps around our house, refusing to eat high fat foods, and declaring to my mom that when I grow up all my food will be nonfat. Of course, now I know that the body needs healthy fats, but you get the idea. I spent tons of time obsessing over working out, dieting, etc. trying to get rid of that belly fat.
In my early 20s the tummy wasn’t as noticeable, so I had a few years where I was somewhat confident with my body (but still unhappy with the belly). As I got older, my stomach got larger, despite increased workouts, decreased calories and making healthier food choices. It was heart-breaking that my body didn’t reflect all the hard work I was putting in. No movement of the scale, no decrease in measurements, and no difference in the way my clothes fit. Getting dressed was an ordeal: most of the time I would start crying because I couldn’t find an outfit that I looked good in. I was constantly trying to hide my tummy with a handbag, loose shirts, or slouching over and putting my arms over my stomach. I wouldn’t go for a run if it was windy because I couldn’t bear the thought of someone seeing my t-shirt blown against my belly. My desire to become a personal trainer was overcome by my fear that no one would take me seriously. Who would listen to a personal trainer that doesn’t look fit? All this anguish was affecting intimacy with my husband. He’s always loved me as I am, but he hated that I was so unhappy with the way I looked. I finally realized that no amount of diet or exercise was going to change my belly’s shape. That’s when I decided I was getting a tummy tuck!
In 2009 I moved forward with the decision to get an abdominoplasty. During the consultation, the doctor said I had abdominolaxity, which basically meant the muscle was just hanging there like a rubber band without any tension on it. In order to give me the flat stomach I always dreamed of, they had to remove a few pounds of muscle, fat & tissue. The upper part of my stomach was stretched down so that my scar would be low enough for me to wear a two piece. My belly button had to be recreated because I had so much extra skin that my natural belly button would have been practically down to my pubic bone! The recovery took quite a while since it was a reconstruction of a core muscle. Since our room was upstairs, I spent a week sleeping on the couch. For about 4 weeks I couldn’t stand up straight. My skin doesn’t scar well, and the scar goes from hip to hip. Even though it’s lighter than it was, the scar is still purple-ish colored, raised and very visible. The featured image in this post is my after picture. I’m having trouble finding my before photo, but once I do I will come back and update the post.
Despite all that, this was one of the best things that’s ever happened to me! Today, I’m happy to say that I can now get dressed without crying, and I can go through life without worrying about trying to hide my tummy. No more feeling uncomfortable all day because I’m no longer worried that someone will notice my fat belly. That is honestly the best thing that came out of having this surgery. I can just be! Gone are the days when I hold myself back from doing the things I’m passionate about.
All those years, I just knew that exercising was going to fix my problem. After all, that’s what we’re taught – exercise enough and you can change your body. While that is true to an extent, there are some things that diet and exercise simply will not fix. My tummy happened to be one of them. No matter what, I will always promote a healthy diet and exercise program before surgery. I myself tried it for years before I decided to get surgery. There is no substitute for the health benefits you’ll receive from practicing a healthy lifestyle. Surgery should be considered a last resort, not an alternative to eating healthy and working out.
Do I think that God made a mistake with my body? Absolutely not! Do I wish I hadn’t developed hypothyroidism? Of course, but if I hadn’t I wouldn’t have discovered how detrimental toxins in our everyday environment can be to human health. While both of these experiences have been a significant source of anguish for me, that anguish has inspired me to help others who are dealing with similar issues. No matter how empathetic a person is, they can’t truly understand a situation they’ve never experienced.
If you’re dealing with hypothyroidism and/or body image issues, I would love to help you get and stay motivated. I’ve been there, and I still struggle with some issues today. The insight I’ve gained from my own life experiences will allow me to help you in a more understanding way. My goal is to provide judgement free motivation and support. Please share your story in the comments below or feel free to send me a private message.
Thanks for reading!