I’ve always had problems with my weight. At 5ft tall, losing or gaining 10 lbs can mean the difference between healthy and obese. When I was in high school, I kept my weight down by joining my school’s dance team. We practiced 6 or more hours a week and performed on the weekends. And to be honest, I probably didn’t eat enough, skipping both breakfast and lunch.
But just like most people, when I went to college things changed. At my university we didn’t have a cafeteria, and I didn’t know how to cook, so I survived on spaghetti, peanut butter sandwiches and diet cola. My weight sky-rocketed.
This photo was taken at the Inaugural Ball in 2005. I was probably around 145 lbs but honestly can’t remember. When I came across this photo to post on my blog, I hardly recognized myself. I had completely forgotten that I had been that big.
Back then I did the only thing I knew how to do in order to lose weight, I danced. Freshmen year I joined the competitive ballroom dance team. The weight started to slip off even though my eating didn’t change much. By sophomore year, I was training 3 hours a day, 6 days a week. But when I was at competitions, I realized I was still the heaviest girl on the floor. I needed to do more.
I stopped eating. I survived on protein bars and multiple redbulls per day. I dropped to about 105 lbs but refused to admit that I had a problem. Everyone said I looked great. Once my mother found out, she forced me to come home for two weeks during the summer to make sure I ate.
But the problem was I didn’t learn how to eat. So my weight started to creep up again. I was stuck in a cycle of gaining and losing. Until I stopped making my diet about my weight and made it about my health.
In 2010 I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Not many people know what that is (including the first 9 doctors that I went to with my symptoms). It’s a chronic disorder that causes widespread pain, fatigue and tenderness. Doctors don’t know what causes it and there is no cure. There are very few medications to treat it and most of them don’t work. The only option I had was Vicodin.
In August of 2011 about 6 months into blogging, I began hearing that cutting out gluten and dairy might help. I decided to try it. Jake, my boyfriend, and I began to eat Paleo. I cut out my spaghetti habit completely and learned to cook meat and vegetables. I gave up my cheese (I really love cheese) and stopped going out for ice cream. Cooking together became our favorite date night.
My weight stabilized, which was nice. But it was about more than just the weight. My pain started to disappear. I found myself taking Vicodin less and less until I didn’t need it at all. Stomach issues such as gas and bloating disappeared. And in January of 2013, my asthma disappeared too.
I changed the name of my blog to Pain Free Kitchen because my blog isn’t meant for those who are looking for a quick fix to lose weight. It’s about taking a closer look at what you’re putting into your body and how it affects you. I want others with Fibromyalgia to know they aren’t alone and to learn how food might be able to help. I’m not a doctor or registered dietician, a professional chef, personal trainer, or a certified fitness instructor. I’m just a normal person. But hopefully we can learn together.